The Bear Dresser’s Secret

My good friend Richard (Rick) Bowes has published a story at Electric Velocipede called “The Bear Dresser’s Secret”.  It’s a very different sort of story from the kind Rick is known for.  Instead of a gritty, contemporary New York City, or a working class 1950s Boston, here Rick enters a much more playful realm of pure invention, and his sense of humor gets a place to put itself on display.  I highly recommend this story to anyone wanting a silly, witty, fun jaunt today.

Interfictions update

Just a heads up.  Very soon this fall the second volume of Interfictions, which I co-edited with Delia Sherman, will be appearing.  And even sooner than the book is released, we’ll be releasing a new story in the Interfictions Online Annex every week until the book appears.

I very much hope that readers like what Delia and I have gathered for their reading pleasures in this second volume.  More to come, but until then, the launch dates for Annex stories are as follows:

On Sept. 15th we’re launching the Interfictions Online Annex, with 1 new, online-only, story/week until the book publication November 3rd:

Sept. 15: Genevieve Valentine, “To Set Before the King”
Sept. 22: F. Brett Cox, “Nylon Seam”
Sept. 29: Kelly Barnhill, “Four Very True Tales”
Oct. 6: Ronald Pasquariello, “The Chipper Dialogues”
Oct. 13: March Rich, “Stonefield”
Oct. 20: Kelly Cogswell, “For the Love of Carrots”
Oct. 27: Chris Kammerud, “Some Things About Love, Magic, and Hair”
Nov. 3: Eilis O’Neal, “Quiz”

Oakland Open House

For local readers:

The Oakland Center for the Arts announces its third annual Free Open House and Season Announcement Party on Saturday, August 29, from 6:00-9:00 pm. Hosted by the Oakland Board, the Open House is a chance for the community to get to know their community theater better. Free food, wine, punch, and beverages will be offered in the Star Gallery, where a retrospective of posters from 23 years of past productions will be highlighted. Attendees will also be treated to a preview of show selections highlighting the upcoming season.

The Oakland is celebrating their tenth season at the Boardman Street location with a bang! The 2009-2010 Season will be previewed live on stage, featuring local actors and a roster of up and coming directors including Robert Dennick Joki, Alexandra “Sandy” Vansuch, Christopher Fidram, Dr. John Cox, Shawn Lockaton, and Nathan Beagle. Local actor and media personality Brandy Johanntges will host.

The cast of The Great American Trailer Park Musical will reprise a selection from its recent sold-out smash hit production. Also making an appearance will be the cast of Rent, Jr., which will mark the premiere of the much-loved musical in the Mahoning Valley. Other plays which will be highlighted include Sandy Vansuch’s original one-woman show Love, Ludmilla; The Rocky Horror Show, which returns to the Oakland stage with a totally new look; the Oakland’s annual holiday fundraiser How The Drag Queen Stole Christmas; Dinner with Friends; An Adult Evening with Shel Silverstein; Wit; and Back of the Throat.

Never been to the Oakland but dying to find out what all the fuss is about? Stayed away for years and ready to come back? Been a loyal supporter since the Oakland was on Mahoning? The Open House is our way of welcoming, renewing, and saying thanks to our friends and family who keep us afloat. Stop by, grab a bite, take in a show, and meet some new friends. Flexpasses will be for sale all night with drawings for free tickets occurring on the hour.

The Oakland is located at 220 W. Boardman St. in downtown Youngstown. For more information, please visit or follow oaklandcenter on twitter, facebook, or myspace.

Oh, Meryl

I love Meryl Streep.  And so whenever she has a movie out, I go, even if the movie sounds totally ridiculous.  Okay, so I missed Mamma Mia.  I just couldn’t bring myself to see it.  It was too far out of my range.  But I did go tonight to see Julie and Julia, which sounded promising.  Unfortunately, the movie was trying way too hard to be cute and charming, and I’m not sure there was a complex character in the movie at all; it was very clear that there were good people who always said the most wonderful things and loved each other perfectly, and there were bad people who said nasty things or who gave other people trouble.  That sort of thing.  At a certain point, I felt the main character was so obsessively cute and nice that I found her in need of psychological counseling.  I also felt that the audience was supposed to feel very good about marriage, and that Julia Child is also a sexual being, not just a pop culture icon in relation to culinary subjects.  It was kind of…awkward in that aspect.  Also, the most drastic conflict that the movie managed to rustle up was a tiff between Julie and her husband, who gets upset because she has become a narcissistic blogger, in need of major amounts of comments on her posts (this in and of itself would have made a much better movie had it been the focus) and affirmation from her upper middle class striving for success friends, which is why she begins blogging in the first place.  Yuck.  What a source of inspiration and impetus.  These are likable characters?  Really???  And yet there it is, saying yes! these are unbearably likable characters!  You can’t not love them!

But I just didn’t buy it.  Sorry.  I feel bad for Meryl, who is always trying to spin straw into gold.  But the movie itself was a bit thin, a bit too flat, too blandly benign.  I didn’t feel anything as I left the theater.  Considering Meryl Streep was in this, that feeling is just wrong.  Now I need to go watch District 9 or else Ponyo, in order to cleanse my palette.

In other news, the movie did make me mildly interested in perhaps checking out Julia Child’s cookbook, and trying my hand at some French cuisine.


I’m thinking about this tonight, before a reading I’m doing here at Chatham University in another hour:


In my youth
I was opposed to school.
And now, again,
I’m opposed to work.

Above all it is health
And righteousness that I hate the most.
There’s nothing so cruel to man
As health and honesty.

Of course I’m opposed to the Japanese spirit
And duty and human feeling make me vomit.
I’m against any government anywhere
And show my bum to authors and artists circles.

When I’m asked for what I was born,
Without scruple, I’ll reply, To oppose.
When I’m in the east
I want to go to the west.

I fasten my coat at the left, my shoes right and left.
My hakama I wear back to front and I ride a horse facing its buttocks.
What everyone else hates I like
And my greatest hate of all is people feeling the same.

This I believe: to oppose
Is the only fine thing in life.
To oppose is to live.
To oppose is to get a grip on the very self.

Kaneko Mitsuharu

Translated by Geoffrey Bownas and Anthony Thwaite

A small taste of America in decline

An interactive segmented video about my home region’s loss of industry over the past thirty years, and how it may now lose its very last major manufacturer in GM.  It’s very well made, though a sad reality, and one that is now in the new century becoming the reality of more and more communities in America.  If you want to know what loss of economic foundations look like, watch this small portrait.  There are other documentaries I’ve watched that give bigger pictures, but this is a small taste of America in decline.

To watch it, click here.

Summer Stock

It is now August, and I’m at the tail end of what has been a very busy summer.  I managed to move forward a bit with the novel, wrote two short stories, and an essay, and also took two classes toward my MFA degree and will be taking a third one beginning at the end of next week.   I sold one of the stories, and am still tinkering with the other, but have high hopes for it.  It’s a much weirder story than I’ve written in a long time, and so I’m still sort of interested and intrigued by it, because it’s a different sort of weird than I tend to write, hence my own interest in it.  And then I was invited to read at Thurber House, and will be reading at the residency period at Chatham in Pittsburgh this month, too.  Also, like a cherry on top, One for Sorrow was optioned to be made into a film by the director Carter Smith, who won the Sundance Film Festival’s short film category in 2006 with “Bug Crush” (You can watch it by clicking here).  He went on to make his first feature film with The Ruins, based on the horror novel of the same name, and seems to be about to make a film based on the novel, Come Closer, by Sara Gran (loved that book).  He’s also optioned Troll: A Love Story, by Johanna Sinisalo (also loved it), so I feel like his option on One for Sorrow makes a lot of sense, considering the sensibility of his other selections.  There’s never a guarantee that an option on a film will eventually become a reality, but I would be absolutely crazy thrilled if this does go forth some day.

Aside from these literary movements, household renovations and restorations are afoot: a new front porch to match the original (the foundation beneath the porch/patio was eroding due to some factors the original builders, 80 years ago, hadn’t thought of) and plans for a restoration of the bathroom to something along the lines of its 1930s design, much of which was there, just totally screwed up by previous owners who had absolutely no idea what they were doing to beautiful old decor.  Front garden was gorgeous all summer, though the back gardens still need to be redone.  Everyone says that when you own a house, there is always something coming up that needs to be done.  And they are correct.  I wish I were fabulously wealthy, so I could just get it all done and be finished with it for a while, rather than this plodding one-project-at-a-time pace.

Back to Pitt next Friday for a residency period.  Looking forward to being in the city again, though I probably won’t have as much time to explore it as I did during early July when I was there.  The residency schedule looks like it will be keeping me busy for most of the time.  I will make sure to still get out and eat Ethiopian, Indian, (good) Japanese, and Thai as much as possible, though.  I could be made easily happy as a lark, as they say, if someone here in Ytown opened up one of each of those and I no longer had to cook them all myself.  Food options are the source of my happiness.

Even though all of August is still before me, it feels like summer, free time, is over now.  Ah, well.  It was a good run while I was able to run freely.  Next year, it should be even a bit more freer.  Till then, onwards and upwards.