Monthly Archives: October 2010

FITZGERALD REMIX: The Disappointing Baby

**  All text taken from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” Pretty sequential. Differentness mostly achieved through deletion. Think “The Phantom Edit.” You hate Jar-jar? He’s gone. You hate Brad Pitt in old man makeup because the aging of Mr. Virility reminds you no one is spared? Forget him. Now read a nice simple story about a man and his disappointing baby. Sippin on coke n’ rum, I’m like so what I’m drunk. Original story available free here. **

I

Mr. and Mrs. Roger Button decided that their first baby should be born in a hospital.

This was their first baby—Mr. Button was nervous. He hoped it would be a boy so that he could be sent to Yale College.

On a September morning, he arose nervously at six o’clock, dressed himself, and hurried forth through the streets of Baltimore to the hospital.

When he was approximately a hundred yards from the Maryland Private Hospital for Ladies and Gentlemen, he saw Doctor Keene, the family physician, descending the front steps, rubbing his hands together.

Mr. Button began to run toward Doctor Keene with much less dignity than was expected. “Doctor Keene!” he called. “Oh, Doctor Keene!”

The doctor heard him, faced around, and stood waiting.

“What happened?” demanded Mr. Button as he came up in a gasping rush. “How is she?”

“Talk sense!” said Doctor Keene sharply. He appeared somewhat irritated.

“Is the child born?” begged Mr. Button.

Doctor Keene frowned. “Why, yes.”

“Is my wife all right?”

“Yes.”

“Is it a boy or a girl?”

“Here now!” cried Doctor Keene.

Then he turned sharply, and without another word climbed into his phaeton, which was waiting at the curbstone, and drove severely away.

A nurse was sitting behind a desk in the opaque gloom of the hall. Mr. Button approached her.

“Good-morning,” she remarked, looking up at him.

“Good-morning. I—I am Mr. Button.”

At this a look spread itself over the girl’s face. She rose to her feet.

“I want to see my child,” said Mr. Button.

“Oh!” she cried. “Upstairs. Right upstairs!”

She pointed the direction, and Mr. Button, bathed in cool perspiration, turned falteringly, and began to mount to the second floor. In the upper hall he addressed another nurse who approached him, basin in hand. “I’m Mr. Button,” he managed to articulate.

“All right, Mr. Button,” she agreed in a hushed voice. The basin clattered to the floor. “Very well.”

“Hurry!” he cried hoarsely. “I can’t stand this!”

At the end of a long hall they reached a room from which proceeded a variety of howls.

“Well,” gasped Mr. Button, “which is mine?”

“There!” said the nurse.

Mr. Button’s eyes followed her pointing finger. Wrapped in a voluminous white blanket, in one of the cribs, there sat his son.

“Am I mad?” thundered Mr. Button.

“I don’t know.”

The cool perspiration redoubled on Mr. Button’s forehead. He closed his eyes, and then, opening them, looked again. There was no mistake.

“Where in God’s name did you come from?” burst out Mr. Button frantically. “Who are you?”

The baby turned wearily to the nurse.

“Mr. Button,” said the nurse severely. “This is your child and you’ll have to make the best of it. We’re going to ask you to take him home with you as soon as possible some time today.”

“Home?” repeated Mr. Button.

“Yes, we can’t have him here. We really can’t, you know?”

Mr. Button sank down upon a chair near his son and concealed his face in his hands.

“I can’t. I can’t,” he moaned.

“Come! Pull yourself together,” commanded the nurse.

He turned to the nurse. “What’ll I do?”

 

II

“Good-morning,” Mr. Button said nervously to the clerk in the Chesapeake Dry Goods Company. “I want to buy some clothes for my child.”

“How old is your child, sir?”

“About six hours,” answered Mr. Button.

“Babies’ supply department in the rear.”

“Why, I don’t think—I’m not sure that’s what I want.” The notion of dressing his son was repugnant to him.

“How old did you say that boy of yours was?” demanded the clerk.

Mr. Button turned miserably away. Then he stopped, brightened, and pointed his finger toward a window display. “There!” he exclaimed.

The clerk stared.

“Wrap it up,” insisted his customer nervously.

Back at the hospital Mr. Button entered the nursery and almost threw the package at his son. “Here’s your clothes,” he snapped. “Never you mind how funny you look.”

Scraggly hair, watery eyes. The effect was not good. The baby swallowed uneasily.

Mr. Button regarded him with depression.

 

III

Ben. It was by this name they called him.

It was impossible for Button to ignore the fact that his son was a poor excuse for a first family baby. Clothes did not conceal this. In fact, the baby-nurse who had been engaged in advance left the house after one look.

But Mr. Button persisted. One day he brought home a rattle and, giving it to Ben, insisted in no uncertain terms that he should “play with it.” He brought home lead soldiers, he brought toy trains, he brought large pleasant animals made of cotton.

Mr. Button smoked more cigars than ever before.

A few people who were unfailingly polite racked their brains for compliments to give to the parents. Mr. and Mrs. Button were not pleased.

Ben took life as he found it. Ben and his grandfather would sit for hours. Ben felt more at ease in his grandfather’s presence than in his parents’.

At his father’s urging he made an honest attempt to play with other boys, and frequently he joined in the milder games—football shook him up too much.

He was as puzzled as anyone else.

When he was five he was sent to kindergarten. He was inclined to drowse off to sleep in the middle of tasks, a habit which both irritated and frightened his young teacher. She complained to his parents and he was removed from the school.

By the time he was twelve years old, his parents had grown used to him.

“Can it be——?” he thought to himself.

He went to his father. “I am grown,” he announced. “I want to put on long trousers.”

His father hesitated. “Well,” he said finally, “I don’t know.”

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Collagist Podcast: Prepare Yourself

My story, This Doomed Gift Before You, came out in The Collagist last February, and now you can hear me read it as part of their podcast series.

My rich voice tends to sound best on headphones that cost over $115. Go to Best Buy and tell the guy that you’re planning to listen to a dude read fiction from the little mic his friend got him at a tech fair for $3 in junior high and that said dude went to the trouble of using free software to do a background hiss reduction on the whole thing, so you need some phones that’ll catch his low-end booms without sacrificing treble, phones by a brand you’ve heard of, phones to adequately receive the high-caliber deal that’s already waiting on your iPod. Tell him you’ve been good and haven’t listened yet even though it’s killing you, that you want the first time to be just right. Then notice aloud that his shirt matches his baby blue eyes and ask him what time he gets off work. A little forward? I guess, but in this era, a girl’s got to go after what she wants, AM I RIGHT, ladies?

Web Love Liz

And from the enraging, divorce-inducing news department, my wife now has more Google Reader subscribers than me.  These last few months, she’s been posting stuff consistently and deliciously, so it’s been cool to see her develop a following. Still, I wonder if the source of her traffic is mostly posts like this one and this one and 1/4 of this one.

Are you following the most popular Durham? And if you only read my blog, isn’t it time to get with the winning team?

PS – Keyhole submissions are open.

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Keyhole 10 Wrap-up

Keyhole 10 is full. It’s so good! People wrote good things and soon you can read them! Late November is when we’re thinking.

The last things we accepted are these awesome Rob Talbert poems.

Last month, I met up with a couple of great gals from Nylon Magazine. They interviewed me about Keyhole for the Nashville section of their upcoming “cities of America” issue. They were basically on this big scavenger hunt to discover as much great local stuff as possible. Don’t know what they’ll use, but it was fun to be part of what’s cool about Nashville so soon after moving here. (Thanks, Peter!)

I’m putting together a one-page thing called “Keyhole Recommends,” a list of editor “likes” that we’ll tack onto the end of the issue in one big unattributed block of text.

What else? Bios, sure, we’ll have some bios. A cover too, you bet.

Now we’re already reading for the next issue, and we’ll be opening up to subs again very soon. We’re doing away with the gmail inbox in favor of Submishmash. Progress.

Incredulous America: How Come Edition (Part Three)

Culled from the web. Unedited for spelling, grammar, syntax, or taste.

How come nobody has brought up TRON yet?

If we are talking photos….how come nobody has brought up Gforce’s uncanny resembelance to most child molesters?

How come nobody has brought up the fact that most people who own Hummers are attempting to cover up some perceived inadequacy in the penis-size department.

How come nobody has brought up Dreams from My Father? It is basically identical to Mein Kampf.

How come nobody has brought up the fact that it simply is not possible to positively ID a fish from a fuzzy photograph? You can form an OPINION, but to say that it is 100% one thing or another is simply not possible.

How come nobody has brought up the jews?

How come nobody has brought up necrophilia? Now that’s a messed up fetish. I might be able to understand having sex with a recently deceased person, but some people like it when the people are rotting.

“How come nobody has brought up the issue of Islamic Terrorists sneaking into the United States from Mexico?”

How come nobody has brought up the fact yet that “crotch” is a gross, and IMO, unacceptable word?

How come nobody has mentioned those weird alien looking things floating in Wandy’s bathtub?

How come nobody has mentioned that Junot Díaz won a Pulitzer?

How come nobody has mentioned the Flaming Homer!?

How come nobody has mentioned that President Obama himself has family who are here illegally and have not been deported back to their country.

How come nobody has mentioned hydrangeas?

how come nobody has mentioned one of my perennial favorite rifles: the fn-fal,

How come nobody has mentioned “Do Anything You Wanna Do” by Eddie and the Hot Rods. Old tune but a real blast that makes you want to get up and go.

How come nobody has mentioned Chinese! The Chinese language is some 5000+ years old, and its written form is some 3500 years old.

how come nobody has mentioned “AS I LAY DYING”,they are awsome,as well as all the other christian bands.

But how come nobody has mentioned during this bash-fest that the lead singer of Rush is one of the UGLIEST lead singers ever.

now, how come nobody has mentioned Cheech and Chong. Classic!!!!

How come nobody has mentioned the 4×4 animal style. Now that’s a burger.

How come nobody has mentioned that the Olympic torch relay was invented by Adolf Hitler and the nazis for the 1936 Berlin games.

But how come nobody has mentioned anything about “Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County”?

How come nobody has mentioned the Snorks? lol.

How come nobody has mentioned Dr. Mario?

lol jared leto how come nobody has mentioned him getting axed in the face by christian bale in american psycho.

How come nobody has mentioned “Bitches Ain’t Shit” as covered by Ben Folds?

how come nobody has mentioned vin diesel or elijah wood?

How come nobody has mentioned those undies with the Elephant ears that goes along your hips & the elephants trunk covers the ….. you know….them bits…you know ‘down there’.

How come nobody has mentioned that the guy running the shindig was previously in jail for EMBEZZLEMENT?!?!

How come nobody has mentioned Mr McCormick, the most memorably bizarre supply teacher in the history of Newman. Please tell me someone remembers him

how come nobody has mentioned the genius supply teacher that was Mrs Froggatt???

How come nobody has mentioned how great the Pats def played yesterday?

But this guy gangstarr is pretty good………so how come nobody has mentioned him before!

how come nobody has mentioned prenuptial agreements?

how come nobody has mentioned South Indian filter coffee?

How come nobody has mentioned some of those shirtless scenes (and loving scenes) from the BBC’s drama Marie Lloyd?

How come nobody has mentioned Elizabeth Rohm from Law and Order? Or Fred Thompson for that matter?

How come nobody mentioned “Homicide Life on the Street”?

How come nobody mentioned Shawshank Redemption as on the best movies out there ?

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Three New Fun Camps in Dark Sky

I’m happy to be a part of the first print issue/web reboot of Dark Sky Magazine, which features three new Fun Camp Shorts.

Also, I forgot to mention earlier: An online showcase of UMass MFA writing called Route 9 went live some weeks ago. Sarah Malone is why it exists and looks good.

Great Moments in the Escalating Obesity Rate

Historians, when typifying the Era of Choice my generation grew up in, will cite as evidence the two simultaneous and polar opposite Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons that aired in ’93-’94, debuting within a month of one another.

The first, Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, was a wacky on-the-cheap slapstick weekday afternoon free-for-all featuring nonsense backgrounds and a cool/clever Sonic who just cannot get enough chili-dogs, voiced by none other than Mr. “Steve, go home, go home, go home / I don’t have to take this, I’m going home,” himself, Mr. Jaleel White.

The second, simply Sonic the Hedgehog, was a dark, self-serious hi-budg Saturday morning thing in which a mad scientist/war minister Julian Ivo Robotnik hosts a military coup of the planet Mobius, and only a team of woodland critters called the Freedom Fighters stands a chance at stopping him. Their leader? One Sonic the Hedgehog, nephew of esteemed-but-recently-captured community leader Sir Chrarles Hedgehog. (Inviting the question: Why would Sonic’s parents give him the middle name “the”?) Sonic’s voice? Also Jaleel White. An Urkel monopoly.

We kids, in our jammies and sugar cereals, had options regarding which interpretation of Sega’s most popular brand we wanted to see. Determined or goofy? Luke Skywalker or Pauly Shore? Power rings or chili-dogs?

This luxury was offered to us for free, historians—don’t forget to mention that—free as long as we watched commercials for toys that really did look great. Catered to as we’d always suspected we deserved to be, we came to distrust the outdoors.

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