Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Quick Thoughts on New York City

When I first went to New York City, I had one hell of a time. But I didn't quite get it. I was there for the party, and I didn't understand how people lived there, because it was like trying to read a book or take a nap in the middle of said party. This time, with less lofty touristy aims, it clicked. The town is still a monstrous beast, for sure, but it's so beautiful and wild, and it makes itself stunningly available to you. You sort of create your own New York within the city.

Anyway, an exceptional amount of gratitude goes to Chris, who put me up for the week and more or less played the role of indefinite tour guide and drinking buddy (dude also slayed his play both nights). Thank you to Chris's friends for treating me like immediate local. Thank you to the whole C5NY crew for welcoming me into their trivia night inner circle. Thank you to Nicole, Wyatt, and Danika for staying out late on a school night. Thank you to Diana for planning a radical night out. Thank you to Kristen for offering up a lazy afternoon of pints. Thank you to Emily, Greg, and Isabella for doing up a dinner of old school catching up. Thank you to Greg and Karissa for letting me crash their lunch spot. Thank you to Kenzie, Castle, and Ashlee for trusting me not to be insane. And my most sincerest apologies for everyone I missed out there in the east.

If I were to create my own New York, it'd be the High Line, Little Branch, and pizza all the time. Thank you for having me, big city. It was a lovely time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day (Sort Of)!

Happy St. Patrick's Day (Sort Of)!
by Jake Kilroy

When I was younger, I, like most Americans with Irish heritage, swore allegiance to the Emerald Isle without ever doing the research. Saint Patrick's Day has become a reminder that I still haven't. I've done the bare minimum of understanding a culture that more or less made me who I am. There's beautiful and glorious Italian, German, Polish, and Luthanian blood in me as well, but I tend to most often identify with the pale-as-a-ghost storytellers who consume grief and celebrate everything. I read Dubliners, but not How the Irish Saved Civilization. I read Angela's Ashes, but not Emigrants and Exiles.

The Irish, like any culture ever, are complex. But we do a weird thing with stereotypes in this country when we land on celebration terms, where we boil a heritage down to a few marketable items. It can't be avoided. In a time of dwindling attention spans (of which I take part and promote), there's no way in hell anyone can expect an in-depth discussion of the Easter Rising. At large, it's sort of screwball what comes to represent an entire people with eons of history. The Irish have a billion playwrights and artists, and they invented things like the boycott and the tattoo machine, but last night, Midnight had an Irish-themed hashtag, and half the jokes were about the Scottish.

I don't really have a takeaway with all this, and it's certainly not relegated to this particular culture or holiday. It just struck me funny today, as I saw online photo collections of blackout bros in green throwing down the shaka brah (bless their hearts) and heard radio ads that bordered on lazy with leprechaun impressions hyping a sale that would "make ol' Patty weep" or something even stranger. I just thought, once again, what the hell is today even supposed to be?

Anyway, I'll close on what remains my favorite joke about the Irish (from 30 Rock): "The Chinese built the railroads, the Irish built and then filled the jails." Happy Saint Patrick's Day, all!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Hey, I made some poetry chapbooks!

Hey, hey! I put together three chapbooks of poetry! It’s 28 poems in total. You can have them if you want ‘em. They’re free. Give me your address, and I’ll mail you printed copies. Give me your email, and I’ll send digitals. Or just tell me to bring ya them next time we hang. You also don’t have to read these. I just have hundreds of poems sitting around, and I decided to finally do something with them. Woo!

Monday, February 23, 2015

"now tell it again"

"now tell it again"
written after another doubtful weekend by jake kilroy.

was this whole theater built with the planks we didn't walk?
it's likely, but we'll tell everyone a different story:
they're the hundred thousand crosses christ was nailed to
over the centuries by all who dared charge the mountain.
grief and pity is all anyone here remembers eating.
self-sacrifices slur out with whiplash tongues
at the dinner party too white for comfort.
brain-damaged on the dance floor,
we all cup the body parts
that shouldn't be in public
just to slander our spouses,
so we have something to talk about on the way home.

where do you hail from, all?
what basement lounges? what temple bars?
what cemeteries where you shot photos for school?
it feels like all we do is wake up.
i can't remember the last time i went to bed satisfied.
i can't remember the last time i drummed my knuckles
out of boredom instead of this brutal nervous tick
i scooped up from my grandparents,
once they saw the world for what it was:
ending.

come tomorrow, this will be the same conversation.
it's day in and day out of too many people repeating themselves.
yes, we know you've been trying to eat healthy.
yes, we know you're making time for yourself.
yes, we know that your marriage is working for the time being.
we've seen the pictures. we've heard the fights.
the only true thing we know is that we'll hear it again.

we're like lapdogs suddenly bursting into flames.
get the best painter you know so we can document in portraits
and nail real-world observations to this furiously drunk forum
before we lose our terrible awful nerves in the next round of fits.

god, there's a woman i miss too much on this earth,
and the best i can do is sell myself short on the weekends,
as i stomp around my neighborhood coming up with errands,
just to wait until i can dive head-first into any party
that will have me as good and true as she once did.

that ain't the half of it, and i don't know what is.
i'm barely able to figure out a budget, let alone solve poetic math.
i'm only a writer, i tell myself. we're supposed to be bad at life.
yet every man knows the tortured artist bit is good for teenagers,
but it's just a madhouse excuse that goes unchecked otherwise.

so pull it together, poets.
we've got truths to sell to the highest bidder.
hell, it's the only way we'll ever make a living,
by telling everyone what they already know
and don't want to hear again.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"the heavy king"

"the heavy king"
after a long lunch by jake kilroy.

with too many lovers, not enough money,
and no excuses, a man finally considered l.a.
it had been in his nerves the whole time,
mugging classical music,
caroling street graffiti,
making waste of youth.
it cracked sharp teeth
and bled light to attract
the dreamers and the bingers,
offering a home away from home
when all they needed was a map and a blessing.

what good is the pulse
if it stumbles, a bent clock
with hands flagging down anything resembling a passing christ?
jesus, why did we retell all these stories
if they were to mutate into idioms?
is that how it happens?
is that how we all become the patron saints of the afterlife?
yeah, yeah, carve up a grave in reincarnation bulk weight
and tell yourself you'll avoid the madness and kill the cancer next time.
surely, these hands were constructed
by Mother Nature or Lord Supernatural
for more than holding prayer beads
and patting the backs of local desperate monks.

i was wild once!
i was the battering ram of night.
i was the only blanket in a lover's house.
i was clothes on the floor, drugs in the system, blood unsure of source.
and now i'm the last king of land so barren you couldn't plant a foot.
every merchant elsewhere, all churches gone, nobody home but crows.
but here we are waiting to buy into anything that resembles the past.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Jake Kilroy's 2014 Year of Reading

In 2014, I read a lot of books and graphic novels, and I listened to a lot of audiobooks. These were my favorites.

Novels, Novellas & Collections
1. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugendies
What a gorgeous, honest read. What a vivid, heartbreaking, wonderful history created from nothing. All the weirdness of existence is here, especially for a character that thrives as their own anomaly. Cal(liope), the intersex narrator of the tale, reccounts the family's progression through the whole of the 20th Century. Real life is almost impossible to write, and it's done here with majesty, enthusiasm, and sincerity, painting a rich portrait without ever overusing literary devices.

2. Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
Even at his supposed "most accessible," Pynchon and his chaotic tale criss-crosses itself a dozen times a paragraph. It's all-out jivey in narrative, not just dialogue, and it's written in the immaculate slang of a doper, not as one of the most enigmatic authors of the 20th Century. It's got a mouthful of noir with tastes for surf lit, and it's totally wild to read and rewarding to dissect.

3. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
This book is so much goddamn fun, both in dialogue and narration. Philip Marlowe is the smoothest blend of tough guy, goof, and wise-ass. It allows him to be capable of pretty much anything (without having the luck of a saint). Sly and stylish.

4. The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman
With Gaiman, it's always the real world that's been shaken up. And he makes it seem easy, almost obvious. Why not? Why can't our perceived reality be just a shred of existence?  Here, a boy narrator takes notice of the very great darkness that lurks in the corners of the quiet countryside, and then everything goes haywire.

5. Without Feathers by Woody Allen
This collection is just as silly, satirical, and ridiculous as it is thoughtful, philosophical, and diligent. It's so precise with its absurdism with each short story, essay, or play. It knows the bounds of every joke, with a tone that could challenge an academic or crack wise with the class clown.


Graphic Novels
1. Scott Pilgrim (Complete Series, Volumes 1-6) by Bryan Lee O'Malley
All of the details of a man's early twenties can be found here. Those minute, tiny, perplexing cracks in existence every young adult has are evaluated here without ever dwelling too long. This series is so over-the-top goofy (with the premise of a spaz musician defeating Nintendo-like exes) and yet strangely accurate in its tenderness and "What am I doing?" moments of hopeless efforts. It's also legit funny. I loved the shit out of it.

2. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi 
This should be required reading. Written with the ease of a conversation, we witness extremists employ Islam as a cultural weapon and turn Iran into a different country altogether in the late 1970s. Told from the point of view of its author, evolving from naive girl to worldly woman, it's charming, painful, educational, and, above all, sincere. Easily one of the most triumphant examples of memoir.

3. Saga (Volumes 3 & 4) by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
It's still Star Wars with sex, violence, and swear words, and it continues to be so rad. That's all. It's just cool as hell. You should be reading this.

4. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Memoirs are an especially delicate bag of tricks, and Bechdel nails it as true without glory and emotional without tragedy. It's breathtaking in its scope of reality, with themes ranging from sexual discovery to familial loneliness. With a focus on the complicated relationship with her father, Bechdel  remembers summers and holidays of the 1960s and '70s. Expansive and engaging.

5. Astro City (Volumes 1-4, 8) by Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson and Alex Ross
No other series crafts its own world of superheroes so articulately and passionately while remaining so balanced. Heroes and villains are created and then given histories and identities as defined as DC and Marvel characters, but their stories are told with way more focus on humanity than unreality.

6. Daytripper by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá
A beautiful story, and an equally alluring collection of artwork; a man's life measured if he died continually. Nothing sci-fi, mind you. Just an abstract acknowledgement that life is valuable and fragile. It takes its time to set a tempo of experience, noting how magical and important the mundane can (or should) be.

7. East Of West (Volumes 1-3) by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta
Sci-fi, fantasy, and western genres mash up and kick ass in one of the coolest, loudest outings ever. Three of the four horsemen show up for the apocalypse. Death's missing, and it pisses off the other three. This is all while the dystopian U.S. comes to a boiling point because of the cowboy-twang of a quasi-religious war.

8. Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughn and Niko Henrichon
A balanced work, Vaughn tells the story of a pride of lions that escape the Baghdad Zoo after the city is bombed by the U.S. in 2003. The animals' interpretations of the fallen world around them is extraordinary (what great beast a tank is, why their keepers have fled, etc). So basic to mean so much.

9. Sex Criminals (Volume 1) by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
So witty, so endearing, so fun, so self-aware, so alluring, so real, so out there. It's fantastic. A man and a woman can stop time when they have sex. They decide to rob a bank. It naturally gets complicated, and its voice is the best narration in comics.

10. Superman For All Seasons by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
Loeb takes everything I've ever liked about Superman and carefully assigns him a deep, thorough identity and then examines it. It's a strange, fragile existence for the Man of Steel, as someone who sees the world as a human with entirely different capabilities and, therefore, fears.

11. Ex Machina (Complete Series, Volumes 1-10) by Brian K. Vaughn (and various artists)
Former superhero with enduring power to communicate with machines becomes mayor of New York City and deals with his past heroism and current politics. Humble in its humanity, wild in its weird, the story balances it all. It even makes use of some of the damn good political debates.

12. Pretty Deadly (Volume 1) by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Ríos
Contemporary magical realism meets old-world fable, featuring Death's daughter riding a horse made of smoke. Reads like it's told around a campfire in the Old West. Lush, mystic, and unruly.

13. Clumsy by Jeffrey Brown
Crudely drawn, but conveyed with joyous awkwardness and honesty, Brown tells the story of his first love and adult relationship. It has the most complete collection of scattered moments that I otherwise thought only existed in somebody else bringing them up. Fleeting instances of sex, fights, tenderness, all of it is remembered here in glorious true detail.


Nonfiction
1. Man Without A Country: A Memoir Of Life In George W Bush's America by Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut understands and explains humanity as if he were an alien doing a century-long thesis. He gets the humor of bullshit, and, here, he really comes to terms with how much mankind is destroying the planet and, more accurately, mankind. This is the angriest I've seen the poet laureate of the humanist movement, and it's really just a super pleasant man pretty damn annoyed.

2. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Success is a hard thing to articulate. This might be the closest we ever get to process: what matters, what should, what doesn't, et cetera. It's easy to get ramped up on rags-to-riches tales, but it's better to look at how and why. Often, it's the right person at the right place at the right time. They definitely work their asses off, but circumstance lends itself to the thrilling story more often than not, and it's so very easy to forget that.

3. SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt
Like its predecessor, this was a grand time. The economy is a spectacularly bizarre deal, and there's so much happening in the crevices, and the larger picture isn't typically even econ. The book jumps between bold stats and human interest stories, showing how cause and effect might be much different from what you thought.

4. Thunderstruck by Eric Larson
Total history, told like fiction. Mixes the Northend Celler Murder with the development of wireless communication. Carefully crafted, extraordinarily well-written. History is fascinating. It just needs a good storyteller.

5. I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections by Nora Ephron
I just enjoy Nora Ephron. This collection was fun. Even the most saddening observation of aging is told with a "oh, well, you know" class. As a human semi-landmark of the last era of "classic" New York (to me anyway—that late 20th Century New York—pre-9/11, I guess), her writing style reminds me of someone's favorite customer or client recounting a story.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014: The Why Of It

2014: The Why Of It
by Jake Kilroy

Where​ did you begin​ 2014?​​
Politely ringing the new year with the family, ending a 5-year streak of torching a Christmas tree on a beach in Mexico with the usual beloved maniacs and lunatics.

Have any life changes in 2014?​
I got a resident freelance gig that could turn into actual travel writing next year (not holding breath, but fingers crossed).

Where​ did you go on vacation?​
The usual Big Sur. The very rare Argentina

What'​​​s the one thing​ you thought you would​ never​ do but did in 2014?
Understand how and why people give up art. Consider a future without marriage or kids.

What was your favorite moment?
Not my favorite moment exactly, but I do remember lying on the floor of the Mexico City airport during an 8-hour layover, listening to music and reading. I set my book down and people-watched before I spaced out. I was so content. It was just an odd realization of thinking, "Not many people get to have this life."

What was your biggest accomplishment?
Actually copyrighting something. I kind of always forget that part of the creative process.

What was your favorite TV programs for the year?
Mad Men. Sherlock. Bob's Burgers. New Girl. The Mindy Project. The Newsroom.

What was the best book you read this year?
Middlsex, by Jeffrey Eugenides.

What was your favorite film of the year?
Birdman, by Alejandro González Iñárritu.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept this year?
Trying my best. Someone at a party recently described it as "that classic Jake Kilroy lived-in look."

What song will always remind you of 2014?
"The House That Heaven Built" by Japandroids.

What did you do on your birthday?
I was in Buenos Aires. During the day, Ryan and I wandered La Recoleta Cemetery (easily one of the coolest places I've ever been). In the evening, we had a radical homemade dinner with his friends and then headed out to the bars at 2 a.m. By sunrise, we were at a local apartment-turned-bar dive (easily one of the strangest places I've ever been). There, I danced with a local woman who told me in broken English, "You don't have to apologize after every move. Also, you laugh a lot."

What was your best month​?​​​
October. I spent the entire month of November detoxing. What a fuckin' time. I was living like an up-and-coming actor in the Golden Age of Hollywood.

What one thing would have made your year more satisfying?
My mom not having breast cancer, that's for goddamn sure (though one hell of a recovery!). Winning the screenplay contest Scott and I entered (placed somewhere in the top 45 out of a thousand or two though!). Also not, to borrow an old phrase of Katy's, "working like an unhappily married man."

What kept you sane this year?
Cleaning.

What celebrity did you fancy the most?
Sandra Bullock. That Sandy is so tight. And that's why Scott and I made an app called Bullock Points (coming next year)!

Drinking buddy of the year?
Scott. Dudettes.

Smoking buddy of the year?
Scott. Dudes.

Whose behavior merited celebration?
Forgiving women folk.

Whose behavior disappointed you?
The government's. The media's. Social media users'. Mine (but not for the usual cooler reasons).

Any regular activities?
Running. Not eating like a scumbag. Reading. Bathing. Drinking. Being a recluse.

Favorite night​ out?
From all third-party accounts, it sounds like my favorite moment was a few missing hours at a cabin mansion in Big Bear the evening after Halloween. I can't remember a time I've fully left my insanity unchecked that hard.

Start​ a new hobby​?​
Making soap. Like Tyler Durden, but more like Jack. Staying in at night to a reclusive degree (by my standards), totally like Jack, not even a little like Tyler Durden.

Any slumps?
Too many.

Been naughty or nice?​​
I'm getting nicer, but I need to be safer with the naughty.

Any regrets?​​​
Too much work, not enough play. Too much brain-dead, not enough creative.

Do you have any New Year'​​​s resolutions?​
Be happy. Doesn't that cover all resolutions?

Overall,​​​ how would​ you rate this year?​​​
50% pretty whatever, 50% trying to arson my own life.

What do you want to change in 2015?
​I want to get what I dream. I want the big goals, and I want the big achievements.

What are you wishing for in 2015?
Thrills.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Unbelievable Day of Grant Brooks

"The Unbelievable Day of Grant Brooks"
a jovial take on the life of the surfer poet Grant,
if it was hastily written by Kurt Vonnegut.
by Jake Kilroy

Grant shifted his toes in the sand like drunk soldiers on sloppy patrol. In fact, Grant looked like a squadron leader with his mustache. A boastful brute napped above his lip. Grant could keep quiet for hours, and passers-by would listen to what his mustache had to say, if it came down to it.

It hadn't (not yet at least!), but that's the kind of respect Grant's mustache commanded. The ample forest above his smirk caught the wind that jogged up the coastline with its fat, heavy breaths. He sucked in the sweet air of the world and then he pushed it out. Grant was talented, but this was basic breathing. You, delightful reader, are too easily impressed.

The beach was quiet. It was the afternoon and only three were on the beach: Grant, his dog, and that trifling wind. The locals were asleep and the tourists weren't there yet. It was Heavenly. Or if you're the type to hate sand in your shoes, it was Hell.

Grant was the first type. The good type. He was a man with a plan, and that plan was to sit on a beach on a beautiful day. There's no better type, really.

That's why bad men are given prisons and good men are given beaches.

God made it this way so men would value the sun and the moon, so that it would become a universal understanding that to lose time is to lose life, and then where would a living man be? Up a creek! But still to this day, nobody's discovered the creek that gives everyone so much damn trouble.

Benson, the dashing rogue that was half dog and half dog, bonked his way through wave after wave. The sun poured over him like lemonade. He was also the good type.

The bad types of dogs are hard to spot. They aren't the ones that bark at the mailman. Those are also the good types, since they make it clear they don't trust government messengers. Actually, the bad types of dogs might just be cats. Cats are mercenaries. And then hamsters are hippies, ferrets are junkies, and so on. People aren't the only ones with society. That's their biggest problem—they think they are.

In a pile next to the lone star of the dune was enough Batmans to form the world's greatest army. It was grand. A pile of comic books is the closest thing a civilian can have to a harem.

Grant's shirt said Big Tits, Small Government, and he had more to say on top of that.

"Benson!"

The dog bounded out of the ocean. He looked like the world's only furry sea creature, the way his tongue flapped around like a tentacle. Benson made it to the man he called dad in a language only canines have the determination to speak.

And then there came a rumbling.

It was the only thing to ever quiet the damn gulls.

Grant looked up. The sky was as bright as it was when he arrived, and then the sun disappeared. In its place was a spaceship. An unpolished junkyard piece. A bluish-gray disc that had either come from another dimension or from being kicked down the whole of an astroid field. Campbell's Soup could've sponsored its launch.

It floated down with the grace of a paper airplane filled with thumbtacks. It did everything post-WWII Americans expected it to: hummed, beeped, blooped, jabbered, the whole deep-space nine yards.

Grant, who had never seen a spaceship before, wasn't having any of it. It was dirty and noisy. He stood up and brushed himself off.

"Now what's this shit?"

Blue lights swirled. The ship coughed up a few measured exhales. The door dropped as slow as a half-hearted apology. In its frame stood two dark green aliens—one tall, one short. They waited for applause. Or maybe horderves. Neither came. It was only Grant, Earth's most respected and only host, and he still wasn't having it.

The two aliens scurried down. They moved like octopuses who dabbed all their puckers in some bad speed. They looked tired, but they forced confidence. It was the only time in history anyone had ever hoped for a nosey photographer.

"Now, listen," said Grant gently, "before you launch into some wild spiel about me taking you to our leader, it's my day off and I don't know the guy. He lives on the other side of this country, and I'm not even sure he follows me on Twitter. Besides, he's only got this country under his belt and maybe a good number under his shoe. The rest have their own leaders. I don't know them either. They live even farther, and I know they don't follow me on Twitter. Now...what can I do you for?"

"We're here for the dog," said the taller alien.

What a thing to say!

"This dog?" said Grant, pointing at Benson, who rolled around in the sand, taking just enough notice of the aliens to pass the final.

"Yes, that dog," said the shorter alien.

Grant's eyes wobbled. He clicked his tongue and crooked his neck and put his hands on his hips and then he said this: "Well, you can't have him."

And that was that.

The aliens were confused. "But we've come from so far, and we aren't even invading," said the taller one.

"Listen, I don't care if you came from Timbuktu or Mars," said Grant.

"It wasn't Mars," said the shorter one.

"And it sure as hell wasn't Timbuktu! Let me finish, little man."

"We aren't men," said the shorter one.

"Dude. On your planet, is it customary to interrupt another human being?" asked Grant.

"We don't have human beings on our planet," answered the shorter alien.

This made Grant laugh. His laughter was the good kind. It sounded like a flute that could dance. They don't have those kinds of flutes on Earth. They might not even have them where the aliens came from. His laugh was unique. It tickled the air, and it could make a girl go weak in the knees. Hell, it could make a skeleton go from wallflower to prom king too.

"Alright, well, you got me there," said Grant. "But you still can't have Benson."

So the aliens' shoulders sagged. It was a sad day for them. They'd have to slump into their spaceship (a lonely deal, no matter what species you are) and get in trouble at their jobs back on their planet, once called Smeenok, now known as Hyperbase. They changed the name because it was flashier. No matter where you travel, someone has something to sell.

"But do you not wonder why we want this dog and—"

"No, I don't wonder why you want Benson. Of course you want him. He's Benson! He's been with me through four houses and a dozen couches. I finally taught him how to play NBA2k, and Bridget's got him on Pinterest now. He's perfect."

"But he's destined for—"

"Destiny's the universe's way making it look like it has 20/20 vision. I'm not buying that philosophy, and I sure as shit ain't selling this dog."

"But—"

"Look, you seem like nice enough dudes, but...you can't always get what you want. I mean, come on...right?"

Grant and the aliens shook hands (were they hands?). He wanted them to be happy. He also didn't want to start a galactic war on account of bad manners.

"Good luck though."

The aliens nodded. Their shoulders sagged (were they shoulders?). Disappointment is a universal language because math is a universal language. It's just always a ratio of 0 for 1.

The spaceship drifted into the wild west of stars, sluggish in its exit. Grant understood. Who would want to leave Earth? It has dogs, Dylan, hip hop, and slow-motion videos of cheetahs running.

Oh. And breakfast burritos.

Grant picked up his belongings and turned to Benson. "You earned a burrito for once. Thanks for not leaving the planet."

They walked toward the parking lot. Benson nuzzled his face into Grant as he trotted.

"But don't forget," said Grant. "I could always decide to eat you one day."

And so the story ends here. Or at least this particular one. Master-commander and destined dog have other adventures, don't worry. But we don't have time. This is just the one about the beach and the aliens. Have a good day. How could you not? You're on Earth!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

10 Books That Made/Make Me Want To Be A Writer

My friend Valerie tagged me in a social media chain that drew up my immediate interest: 10 books that have stayed with you (in some way). Don't have to be favorites or classics. Just gotta be books that dove into ya and swam around each summer since. Shouldn't take much thought.

So here now, in order of my age reading them, are the ten books I remember finishing and thinking, "Dear god, be a writer."
  • The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois
  • Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins
  • The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  • The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
  • The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  • Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
  • House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman
*Most Honorable Mention*
The book Australia: Land Of Contrast by Lesley Van de Velde was the first book to really blow up my imagination. It's just a gorgeous photo collection of Australia, but it's stayed with me in a powerful sense since I was in grade school. It made me want to travel and tell stories.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Craiglist Ad for Scott's Piano

The Piano That Can AND WILL Save Rock 'n Roll is Now for Sale
by Jake Kilroy

When I was unjustly kicked out of the greatest Ray Manzarek cover band to ever come out of Cincinnati, I promised myself three things:

1. Get tested.
2. Find love.
3. Never betray rock 'n roll.

The first promise was originally in regards to paternity (the kid wasn't mine, but the dog and No Fear shirts were). Since then, I've made it my life's duty to always get myself tested. Even in my pre-date pep talks, I always make sure to ask, "Are you ready to rock?" And guess what? The answer's always yes.

But, sure, down the road I was, in fact, tested again and diagnosed with "the alphabet soup of hepatitis" by a doctor I'd like to diagnose with poor beside manners. I simply had too many dreams. Though, yeah, okay, one of those dreams was to have unprotected sex with 1,000 Denny's waitresses.

As for the second promise, I did find love. Her name was Dinah, and she worked at a Denny's. The right girl is always where you least expect it, I guess. Months later, she was gone though. Tragically diagnosed with a cheater's heart. And, later, assumedly some hepatitis, courtesy of yours truly. I mean, I'm no saint. Hell, I'm barely even a hardware store assistant manager or a Bob Seger fan!

Now, we come to the last promise. I owe rock 'n roll my life. Literally. I was born to a dice inspector father and a riverboat pickpocket mother, but in actuality, it was the ghost of Eddie "Guitar Slim" Jones using my daddy's dong to pork Janis Joplin in my mama's body in that county fair detainment center. I mean, come on, that's basic science. Just because Neil deGrasse Tyson didn't narrate that cosmo-spiritual avatar sex, which I have to assume was extremely raunchy and somewhat bewildering with two adults handcuffed and drunk off "loonshine" (one part whiskey, one part gasoline from a stolen car), doesn't mean it didn't happen just like that.

Yet, decades later, thanks to Obama, I'm all of a sudden hard up for cash. I need to pay rent or my landlord will evict me. I think. His accent's pretty thick. Might be from Boston. Maybe Laos. I don't know. Geography's pretty dumb, and I did not finish high school (you just need life experience for a resume anyway).

So, after generously donating most of my belongings to local creditors, I am selling my treasured 1983 Yamaha P22.

This is a hard day. This piano got me chicks in every dive bar from Cincinnati to Covington. When I was diddling the keys, those leathered up babes thought I was playing them. And I would. Later. After I'd get too loaded to finish the set.

For the record, though, that's not why they kicked me out of the band. Let me be clear. They kicked me out because their friend Reggie owned a keyboard, and they said it made more sense to have a keyboard than a piano, and I said it made more sense to shred with real musicians instead of band geeks. And that was the last time I saw them. Well, as a member anyway. I saw them a few years ago at a BBQ. They were alright.

But back to the archangel of rock piano! Did you know, according to a survey of Ohio's greatest rock pianist, the Yamaha P22's birth was the raddest thing about 1983?

It beat out the release of the totally awesome and kick-ass Return of the Jedi, the debut of the friggin' Chicken McNugget, and the long-awaited break-up of those asshats, The Carpenters, finally quitting after they single-handedly tried to kill music like the tone-deaf children of the corn. Why Alice Cooper never ate their fingers is beyond me.

Anyway, speaking of fingers, this superbabe-magnet, once nicknamed "88 Keys for 88 Beans" by a guy who looked like Lemmy from Motörhead himself, could be yours for just $3,000.

That's right, only $3,000! And you seem like just the right kind of cool dude or dudette I'm looking for. I can only trust you or any friends or family you may know that want to save rock music and/or have a few grand. Tell them about me and this fierce wooden dragon of rad. Please. At $3,000, this blessed masterpiece is practically a gift, and rumor has it the wood is from all the stakes used in the many attempts to find out once and for all if Prince is a vampire.

This piano is like a jet ski that can magically play the intro to Meatloaf's "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer than They Are" by heart. In fact, this piano may legally be classified as an aphrodisiac. Bet you won't find that section of Guitar Center! Shoot, this may even be the same kind of piano Billy Joel nailed his "uptown girl" on. This piano is borderline a secret that I'm only telling you about (or, again, any friends or family, maybe some well-to-do co-worker you sometimes get lunch with). Tell yourself and everyone you know that this piano could potentially make you the next Mozart (high-flyin' '80s version). Like me, you could become the class act you always promised your older brother Ted you'd be one day.

I'm telling you, here and now, this is the single greatest deal I've heard of since my French landlord told me I could keep half my security deposit.