Posts Tagged ‘blog: fiction’.

Fiction: Dispatches from the Mirror Universe

Ack!

 

I got to thinking about how dispiriting it must be to be a principled Republican right now, forced to choose between a candidate you can’t comprehend supporting (Clinton) and a candidate who is a total sleazebag maniac.

And I think people who support Clinton might just have easily been the target of Trump (or someone like him) ginning us up and telling us whatever we wanted to hear. We are not so smart that we would never possibly fall for it, and we would happily rationalize away all their flaws.

And I marvel about the place we’re in as a nation where Clinton is so hated that she could even lose to TRUMP, I mean c’mon, and also Trump is such a trashfire that he might even lose to CLINTON, hated as she is.

So I wrote a news report from an alternate universe where Trump decided he wanted to be a Democrat instead, and principled liberals were faced with the choice of either buying into his sales pitch despite his manifest terribleness; or voting against him, which would mean reconciling themselves to the prospect of voting for someone they loathed — his opponent, Dick Cheney.

Now, I think Democrats had something like a promise-the-moon candidate in Sanders, and clearly that didn’t work out. I’d also like to think that Democrats would be less accepting of abhorrent personal behavior than Trump’s ardent supporters seem to be.

The point of this piece isn’t quite “Trump could have fooled Democrats instead, had he chosen to.” The point is to try and give Hillary supporters a visceral way to feel what many conservatives are feeling right now:

“Imagine what it must be like to have to choose between someone your party canonically hates, and Donald Trump.”

Read the whole piece on Medium:

DISPATCHES FROM THE MIRROR UNIVERSE: Republican Dick Cheney and Democrat Donald Trump each remain the only presidential candidates that could possibly lose to the other

 

Here is a poem I made using only phrases from Jeb Bush’s fundraising emails

beat me to the ! by a good 2 years

We’ve come to the end of Jeb!’s candidacy for president.

While he never had my vote, I have some sympathy for him, because he seems like a fundamentally decent human being — especially compared to the gargoyles and bridge trolls he’s been up against.

This New York times article I think puts it interestingly:

He is a candidate so dry that flights of wit can become indistinguishable from a sober default setting…

Those who defend his comedic instincts are compelled to hedge, contrasting Mr. Bush with his brother George, a wisecracking extrovert.

“Jeb appreciates humor,” Jim Towey, a close friend who served in the administration of George W. Bush, said diplomatically.

“It depends on your definition,” said Mac Stipanovich, a friend and former adviser, when asked if Mr. Bush was funny.

“It’s very droll,” Mike Harrell, a longtime golfing partner and Tallahassee lobbyist, said of Mr. Bush’s sense of humor. “He looks at you like he just told you his mother is dead.”

I, too, am drawn to deadpan. Sometimes that impulse makes it extra difficult to seem, or even to be, sincere. Earnestness can seem boring; it’s more fun to comment or riff on something, rather than respond straightforwardly.

So I know the struggle, Jeb!. You’re a dork, but unlike the other dorks running for president, you tried to embrace it, instead of papering it over with meanness or self-righteousness. Sorry it didn’t work out for you.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for all the candidates’ email lists. The thing that stood out immediately about the fundraising emails coming from the Jeb! camp in particular was their unique tactic of attempting to guilt the recipient into feeling bad for not contributing to the campaign.

In honor of this week’s Jebxit!, I composed a poem, using only phrases from Jeb!’s own fundraising emails.

You can read it here: “A Letter To My Friend.”

The Day After Halloween (A Peanuts Pastiche)

aaaaaugh

I watched It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with my family (as is their wont) and a few thoughts went through my mind.

Today’s comic (#1170) explores a few of them, but I also decided to play in the Peanuts ballfield for a little while too, and explore the same question from a different angle.

This was the result!


UNRELATED KICKSTARTER UPDATE: Things are going super great!! Lots of people are ordering the new sets of Multi-Purpose Cards. For a while I had been afraid that if we got too successful, I’d run into certain supply problems, but I’ve spoken with the relevant parties and have been assured that it won’t be an issue. Which is good news!! It means NOTHING CAN EVER GO WRONG.

Seven days remain in the campaign!!

I wrote some Bad Neil Gaiman

IMG_2748

Wits is a very fun radio show — it’s a comedy and variety show, hosted by John Moe and produced by American Public Media (don’t call them NPR!).

I like Wits — my only complaint is that I wish it were longer. It’s got a podcast and/or it may be on your local public radio station. Here in Los Angeles, it’s on KPCC on Saturday afternoons.

Last week, one of the guests was author Neil Gaiman. See, there was a contest: The Bad Gaiman Challenge.

Neil’s tremendous imagination can be found in novels, short stories, graphic novels, theater, and film. There’s no one like Neil Gaiman.

Or is there?

No, probably not. Still, we invite you to try and fail to be like Neil. Wits proudly presents THE BAD GAIMAN CHALLENGE.

Submit your worst Neil Gaiman knock-off story…There are no prizes beyond the deep satisfaction that comes with knowing you’re the author of the worst Neil Gaiman-esque short fiction in the world.

I submitted a very short Gaiman pastiche.

And I was very pleased to learn that it was one of the winners! Neil Gaiman read my piece, among a few others, live on the show!

I was very tickled to hear it. Here’s the episode.


The whole thing’s worth a listen, of course, but if you must pick and choose, the Bad Gaiman Challenge begins at about 23:05.

Neil, if you read this, thank you for handling the dramatic pauses so well.

EDIT: Sweet, there is video as well!

55 Classic Improv Initiations With Alligators

I’m on an improv comedy team! One of the house teams at Westside Comedy Theater in Santa Monica, CA. We perform (free) shows on alternate Mondays — we perform tonight, actually!

I like improvising because it’s a very different discipline from writing, but it can, as a mental exercise, help inform the craft of writing. A while ago I wrote a post about how thinking like an improviser can be helpful in writing short stories:

Improvisers are taught that whatever the scene starts being about, is what it’s about. If one person says “I’m hungry,” then the second person could say “Well, of course! You haven’t eaten for days!” And the scene would be about that person being hungry.

Why are they hungry? What has prevented them from eating? A diet? A stomach trauma? Torture? Are they too poor to buy food? Are they on a hunger strike? Are they always hungry, no matter how much they eat? Do they have a tapeworm? How do the other characters feel about the hunger? How does it make them react? […]

If you don’t know what to write, start with anything. If you dig into it, if you ask “why,” if you ask “what does this mean,” if you ask “who does this affect” — I promise you that any small thing at all will be enough.

As a rule, improvisers try not to pre-plan anything, and build a scene collaboratively with their fellow players, and create characters rather than trying to tell jokes.

But a lot of time, in doing so, we forget to talk about alligators, one of the most well-worn improv tools. So I’ve compiled this handy (and exhaustively-researched) reference to the 55 classic scene initiations featuring alligators.

Feel free to use any or all of them, in any situation you encounter, as needed.

55 Classic Improv Scene Initiations Featuring Alligators

  1. “Jeremy, there’s an alligator in the kitchen, and I think you know why.”
  2. “Thanks for coming on such short notice, I know you’ve been dealing with an alligator problem.”
  3. “Well, I managed to pick up most of what was left of your alligator.”
  4. “Madam Windocker, are all these paintings of alligators?”
  5. “To be honest, no, this was my first time eating alligator.”
  6. “Gentlemen, I think you all know the esteemed Dr. Alligator.”
  7. “Alligator, alligator, alligator, crocodile, alligator…Hold on just a second!”
  8. “The crone waved her wrinkled fingers and then an alligator tail just started to…grow.”
  9. “I go to work, and clock in, and clock out, and every day I wonder if I was supposed to be an alligator instead.”
  10. “You’ve clamped down on my heart, Riley, like an alligator without a sense of personal boundaries.”
  11. “I’m afraid the alligator will have to wait outside.”
  12. “If we try to swim for it, the alligators will gorge themselves on two of us, but the rest are likely to make it.”
  13. “That alligator-skin clutch — why, that was Mom’s!”
  14. “Relax, Dennis. Be an alligator, floating in the reeds.”
  15. “You know I won’t rest until the partners of this firm make me Senior Alligator.”
  16. “Rutherford and I were just admiring your very old alligator.”
  17. “I’ve never seen a sexy alligator costume before, but you really pull it off!”
  18. “You and I are both crusty alligators in the big old swamp of humanity.”
  19. “Before we start…my safe word will be ‘alligator.'”
  20. “You can’t hide behind that alligator forever, Julius!”
  21. “My friends, you misunderstand! The most dangerous game is, in fact, alligator.”
  22. “Four score and seven years ago, our alligators brought forth on this alligator a new alligator.”
  23. “Is that an alligator on your shirt or are you just happy to see me?”
  24. “Actually I can say that, because my grandfather was one-eighth alligator.”
  25. “Let’s go, Alligators! Eat the other team!”
  26. “I made you a birthday cake, and of course, I shaped it like an alligator.”
  27. “Alligator, honey, baby, sweetie, they’re just bullies. You’re still my precious muffin.”
  28. “Sometimes I feel like you only love me for my alligator impression.”
  29. “And for my third wish, I wish everyone else on Earth was an alligator!”
  30. “I can’t believe that alligators made it to Mars before humans. Maybe it’s time to just give up.”
  31. “The new car? It’s OK, but it’s clear that the last owner was an alligator.”
  32. “Mr. President, the alligator will see you now.”
  33. “Get inside! The plague of alligators will start any minute!”
  34. “Wow, you really did have all your teeth replaced with alligator teeth.”
  35. “If you wade through a swamp, what do you expect? The alligators just let you pass?”
  36. “How many alligators does one person need, Barbara?”
  37. “Oh, I’m terribly sorry, I didn’t realize you were still in here with your alligator.”
  38. “Captain, the sonar blip appears to be an alligator.”
  39. “Becky, your father and I are concerned that you don’t realize you’re dating an alligator.”
  40. “Santa brought me a magic whistle that forces any hidden alligators to reveal themselves.”
  41. “Kensington, why aren’t you dressed yet? Put on your alligator suit!”
  42. “This neighborhood was great until the alligators started moving in.”
  43. “Everything in this meal was made from various disgusting parts of a single alligator, and let me tell you, it was a chore!”
  44. “Gerard, this is the third time this week you’ve shown up handcuffed to an alligator.”
  45. “That was me! I was the voice of the cartoon alligator!”
  46. “I want some alone time with you. Without the alligator.”
  47. “Please forgive my granddad. My family has always had a superstition about alligators.”
  48. “Wowza! I’ve seen alligators with better skin.”
  49. “Oh, no, I hope that alligator outside wasn’t yours.”
  50. “No, honey, those pants don’t make you look like an alligator at all!”
  51. “I’m worried that those fools are going to make that — that alligator the next Pope.”
  52. “Everything I have to say in this arbitration will be delivered via my alligator.”
  53. “Here’s your problem. You’ve got most of an alligator crammed in there!”
  54. “We don’t use polygraphs in this precinct. Bring in the alligator.”
  55. “Alligator Kaszmierski, private eye. I’ve been watching you from a half-submerged position.”

As a bonus exercise, you can also apply these lines to any randomly selected New Yorker cartoon.