Friday, October 29, 2004

National Write Your Damn Novel In A Month Month

November, coming up quickly (with nary a cool breeze to be felt), is a month in which 'bloggers of all stripes come together in tedium and attempt to hammer out 175 pages of thematically unified something. Now the idea is to start from scratch and bulldoze your way forward day in and day out, five to ten pages a day, revision, verisimilitude, characterization be damned!

Having already started the novel in question, I am officially a cheater and therefore ineligible for whatever fabulous prizes are handed out at the end of the month (Herbal Viagra, invites to e-black jack tournaments and various masculinity aids are my guess, based on my internet experiences so far,) but I like the idea of kicking my discipline up a notch and becoming one of those frenetic, short tempered writers hand-cuffed to their typewriter that make such great fodder for TV movies. So, yesterday I sat down and made myself write 10 pages of "Automaton Reboot" and was quite pleased with the outcome. My goal for the month of November is to write 40 pages a week and I beg of you to wish me luck.

Will I post excerpts? Probably not, (but maybe) but I will keep updating on my progress...

Thursday, October 21, 2004


It's my toe, she's a turning purple.

Swollen, probably broken.

Ain't good.


See, we were running through the living room, the little dog and me. She was chasing, I was chased, back and forth to the bedroom, back and forth to the kitchen-

Disaster. Sharka tangled in my legs, corrective maneuvering attempted

The wall. Corner, specifically. Little toe on my left foot.

Such a pathetic injury. You hobble around for a stinkin' pinky-toe that's only purpose has ever been to go "wee-wee-wee-all the way home." And now it goes wee-wee-wee all the way up my synaptic relays, each wee an electric signal of *stop walking on me idiot!*

Oh, the hazards of unemployment.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Wage-slavery, take me!

It was almost Fall.

But pollution thick clouds have rolled in and now squat over the city suffocating us with a sickly heat. The light is dirty and yellow, every one walks hunched over and slow, their eyes squinting against the acrid air.

I'm not happy about this. I demand the autumns of my youth! The breezes were cooler then, the light full and golden, and by god, Halloween was full of mystery and darkness.

What happened? I blame the Bush administration.

In other news, I've been applying to wage-slave jobs lately, and, as we humanity majors know, the king of wage-slavers is the bookseller. True, it pays much worse than most non-fastfood places, but the opportunity to sate a serious paperback addiction, utilise a much practised elite/efete intellectual sneer and at the same time, well, avoid labor make it a sweet plum indeed.

Unfortunately, I'm not the only lost English major in Austin, and entry level $6/hr bookseller positions are continually circled by the hungry eyed. As a result, the bookstores have set up hoops for us to jump through. This weekend I applied at a local store that required an essay on my part. An essay. About how much I wanted to work for a book store. For $6 an hour. ("Be creative!" the instructions read, somewhat redundantly.)

This, my friends, is a hard essay to write. One can either go with the ass-kissing "all my life I have admired your fine store and dreamt of the day that I could be the one upsetting your customers" route, or one can shift gears and try to attract attention with the "peculiar non-sequitur" technique.

I chose the latter.

In the interest of BannGerald transparency, I present the essay below uncut and uncensored. A little schmaltzy, but true enough to my feelings on the matter.

The Bookstore at Night

Both bookstores I worked at were haunted. Flitting shadows in the back of the building, lone shelvers being watched, footsteps, of course. Footsteps down empty aisles.

“When this was a movie-theater, the projectionist hanged himself,” Lara at Bound To Be Read told me on a lonely night. She took obvious pleasure in sharing the story, and lowered her voice in conspiracy and mystery.

Zelda, who closed five nights a week for ten years at Page One Too and knew the store’s every secret, also testified, “Her name was Linda, she drowned in the back where there used to be a sauna.”

Do I believe these stories? Perhaps. Buildings change, people come and go, lives are lost on the ground you stand on, this is true. Perhaps a sad, stray spirit does linger in the corners of Bound to Be Read; maybe a dark presence does yearn for a long-ago life from the shadows of Page One Too. I cannot really speak to that.

However, I did feel something at these stores. Time and again, in a quiet hour in a quiet corner, a sensation of presence washed over me. But, I do not think that what I felt was due to a remnant, unhappy soul, for I feel the same sensation in other bookstores any time I pause and let myself notice it. It is a sense of the otherworldly, a watchful feeling, a peculiar, (for want of a better word) metaphysical weight that gathers itself around the shelves and prickles the hairs on the back of the neck. It is a sensation akin to the supernatural, yes, but somehow more generalized, and it makes me think that perhaps the ghost stories hint at an uncanny truth beyond the specifics of history and location, a truth that pertains to all bookstores, in fact, all collections of books.

Perhaps (and bear with me, for I am about to wax rhapsodic), what truly haunts the aisles, the presence we can feel nestling, rustling, trailing behind us and darkening the corners, has more to do with the words themselves.
Books are words, words are stories, stories are lives. Lives bleeding one into another, bleeding into me (another volume barely contained by a dis/integrating body), every shelf of every aisle is alive with story. There is an undeniably transcendent quality to books; crack open the pages and displace your time and space, touch lives long dead, places that never were, delve deep outside the here and now. In a bookstore, where shelf after shelf of book after book lies waiting, each life whispers and calls out to the open mind.

Try it. Find that hour of the night when the store is quiet enough for some real shelving to go on, take your cart and work in a lonely spot. Wait for an empty moment of peace, and then just let the combined weight of the words wash over you. If you have marrow, you will feel a chill.

This is beautiful to me. This is why, in an age where every conceivable title is available through the Internet, I seek out the physical space of a bookstore or a library. It is literally hallowed ground.

Monday, October 18, 2004


Crap. Just lost the entry I was about to post. I'll be back later when patience returns.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Radio Free Austin

The radio in this town kicks ass. At least when compared to 'Burque and Houston, both Clear Channel dominated cities where the dial takes you from KISS to ARROW to THE BUZZ and leaves you sobbing. Here we got two public stations, one more quasi public station (a community minded african american targeted channel with the best morning talk show I've ever heard) and 107.1 which plays a fair share of local artists as well as a general music mix that feels like it was selected by humans and not focus groups. Oh, and one more, 90.1, "All Crazy Talk, All the Time."

Yep, crazy talk on the FM band. And not just any crazy talk, no this is vitriolic left wing crazy talk. Crazy talk so far past liberal it's almost, but not quite, coming full circle and veering into liberterian. Splice Noam Chomsky with Lyndon Larouche, give the resulting philospher king a tab of LSD and a microphone and this is what you'd get.

In its way, I like it. I can't stand to listen to more than five minutes at a stretch, mind you, but I guess there are times when you want a reason to look over your sholder, to listen for clicks during your phone conversations.