Saturday, July 31, 2010

7/26/10: David Wong Fixes His Car at the End

I recently bought John Dies at the End, by David Wong. Don't ask me why. I normally don't buy into hype, or allow myself to be exposed to it to begin with, but somehow I got bit by the hype monster, and purchased the book. I read it rabidly at first, then halfheartedly, finding it way too TV for my tastes. In a nut, the novel was a barrage of dick- and fart jokes, punctuated by some truly great writing. A strange combination. Even so, I endured all four-hundred-odd pages of the text, to find out the devilishly clever way Mr. Wong had John die at the end -- but John didn't die. The book is concluded with John alive and well, with an afterword in which the author mentions that he had originally published the book because he needed to fix his car, a fact that I took notice of for no reason I could ascribe at the time.


That night, with the bitterly droll aftertaste of John Dies at the End on my tongue, I went to eat dinner, and found that my dad had left a newspaper article for me to read. He does this, as a favor to those he knows, tearing out articles of interest and furtively leaving them in places they'll be found. So, I read this latest leaving as I ate my meal, and the first thing that jumped out at me was a picture of a jolly, jowly, white-haired chap, a Mr. Ken Follett, according to the caption. And then, above it, the headline: Need to fix car spurred Follett's writing career.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

7/15/10: And God said, Listen to Michael Manring.

I write, as you've probably inferred after reading this blog in any capacity. Unfortunately, I've yet to reach that Promised Land of Published Writer, and since the bills absolutely refuse to pay themselves, regardless of how much I ask, I work a part-time job cutting grass. It's not such a bad job. Sure, I have to wade dog feces and play garbage man picking up trash, and a week of bad weather can mean food from my mouth, but there are worse occupations to be had. Furthermore, the job jibes well with my burgeoning writing career: you can get a lot of thinking done over an afternoon of murdering grass. Walking in circles for hours on end ... the engine noise drowning the music of the world ... jockeying the mower like a bellwether dog ... the sun smiling on your toil ... the endorphins kissing your gray matter .... It's only natural that your mind retreat into itself. I've composed entire short stories in the space of a lawn, jotting notes like mad during my water breaks. And to think I get paid for it, with a nice chunk of exercise and a tan thrown in the bargain. Yes, I like cutting grass.

But enough about that. I only mention it as context for yesterday afternoon, when I was cutting one of my larger properties. As I sauntered over the rolling plot of grass, dodging landmines and scaring up characterization for a zombie story of mine, an odd thought occurred to me. Out of nowhere, I absently thought of a famous bass player I had just as absently read about some five or six years ago, when I still actively played the instrument. I could remember the man's face, the basses he promoted, his reputation as a virtuoso ... but I couldn't remember his name. I wrestled with it for a couple laps, but it ultimately escaped me. I thought little of it, though, considering I'd never listened to the guy's music, nor had any ascribable reason for thinking of him to begin with.

Fast forward to a couple hours later, after I'd finished my cutting for the day and gone to cash a paycheck that had come that day. After I got the cash, the rascally stuff proceeded to burn a hole in my pocket, and I decided to go relinquish a percentage on some new CD's, having just that morning noticed my lack of new music. I then proceeded to my local used-music watering hole and bee-lined for the M's, where I hoped to find a select CD. The one in question was not there, but I did find one that jumped out at me: Book of Flame by Michael Manring. I stood studying the album a moment, and it hit me that the bass virtuoso I'd thought of just hours previous was, in fact, Michael Manring.

So I bought the CD. I listened to it once today, and I found it mildly enjoyable, if a tad stale.