Category Archives: 1

Not to get all sentimental

…but Gather Round Children Dot Com turned two this week. First GRC post.

Hey, you should read Anjali’s new story. It’s good.

Also, I like Andrew Bird’s Blog. He’s recording an album and talking about it.

Liz and I spent last summer watching Media Education Foundation DVDs and now she’s going to intern there in the fall. Awesome.

Finally, it seems like the Cure spent the last couple of years asking themselves, “What makes us good?” Because it’s all there in the new single, “The Only One.”

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Gimmickey/Premisey

I like to read and write premisey things. (Haters call them gimmicky things, but so does Chris Bachelder, who is not a hater but, in fact, a lover and writer of premisey things.) Donald Barthelme spent most of his career coming up with wacky premises and then redeeming them.

Here’s a story by Chelsea Martin that redeems a premise through hilarious logical jumps: McDonald’s Is Impossible. I was going to email her about it because I am trying to get better about emailing people I don’t know when they do something I like, but I think it’s probably even better to go public

This year, I’ve written a bunch of stories in a similar pattern:

1. I have an idea for a story and think, “That would be funny” or “That would be a fun way to get at what I think about x issue.”

2. I write the story and it is kind of funny. But then there’s also something in the draft that interests me more than original thing.

3. I chase the new thing. I write a lot more. I delete some funny parts. I delete some topical parts.

4. I end up with something that baffles me a little bit but is much closer to the kind of story I’d like to read than whatever my original plan was.

5. I hand the finished product over to a man in with expensive shoes and he gives me a check for $10,000.

6. Liz and I gorge ourselves at Osaka.

7. Our sushi lust creates greater demand and more fish are killed.

8. We worry about the mercury content and order only rolls with sweet potato, avocado, cucumber and fake crab (aka krab).

9. I publicly disclose the time (7pm every Sunday) and location (corner of Bright and King) of my meetings with the expensive shoes man. I publicly disclose that he pays me in cash and that in the bag there isn’t GPS tracking or an 80’s No Country For Old Men-style tracking device.

10. A bad person reads it and beats the pulp out of my benefactor before I arrive. The bad person takes my money. I do not give chase.

11. I find a new benefactor.

12. Repeat.

I like to write gimmicky/premisey stuff because its easy to get started. It’s fun to watch good stories come out of terrible first drafts. The flip side is that I abandon stories all the time, like that one, “The Process and the Benefactor.”

Unrelated: I’ve been reading Tao Lin‘s blog for a few months. It’s always interesting and sometimes he writes his way to something really cool, but I wasn’t sure what to think until I sought out some of his stories. Now I’m convinced he’s legit. This one’s great, from his book, Bed: Love Is A Thing On Sale For More Money Than There Exists. Something about these sweeping national paragraphs rubbing up against the personal and embarrassing, the terrorists and the late girlfriend.

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Comic Strip #1 – Pilot

Following another failed attempt at a radio reunion, Darnell, Tom and I used technology to create a comic strip. It looks like this:

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Copy Pasty White Skin

Mike said he’d write a blurb poem about my writing if I wrote a blurb about his poetry using the phrase “comic enjambment.” Well I’m no fool so I took him up on it. Some day I’ll have a book and on the front cover it will say, “‘Hot Mormons!’ ~Mike Young,” and then people will buy it.

GABE DURHAM ON MIKE YOUNG: “Mike Young’s poetry has the “good fat” of a ripe avocado and everybody knows it. When he concluded his collection, “The Kindhearted Enemies of Mike Young,” with “I want to dip / my comic. In jam,” all of America wondered what “comic. in jam” meant.”

MIKE YOUNG ON GABE DURHAM: “Into a lineage that intersects the pastiche of Barthleme but dawned somewhere around Ezekiel 69:69, Gabe Durham somersaults or maybe limbos, touting anxious post-thumb-and-forefinger narratives of displaced class struggle and hot Mormons. Durham’s main themes of syncopated baby grinding, Africa, and solid-color polo shirts execute a mouvement gracieux in and out of his overriding conceits. In and out and in and oh my god oh my god oh my god. This interplay allows him to strive toward a unified weltanschauung that aligns him with such diverse poles as Richard Hell, Mallarme, and the guy who played the interactive chicken in that online Burger King commercial.”

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