- Ladies and gentleman, Worcester's own Mr. Billy Squier, and all those people I remember watching on MTV growing up. You know...the people who shaped my life while I waited for Motley Crue videos to come on.
- So Mike Lowell is...back? Um. Awkward.
- I'll admit: I don't mind wearing a Santa's hat around the house at Christmas time. It's warm and festive and gay (Am I punning? Can you pull off a Santa's hat and still look straight? Does it matter? Are you following me?)
- I watched Santa's Slay, a slasher film in the darkly comedic vein of The Evil Dead. It was free On-Demand on Fear.net. I truly enjoy slasher films. Good or bad, they oddly relax me.
- What the fuck is the deal with Billy Squier's sweater in this video clip? I know, it's the 80s, but is that a blanket excuse for wearing something that resembles visual vomit? I don't know. Maybe it does. Does that near-kiss with J.J. Jackson signify a type of Huck/Jim love affair? Do they wear Santa's hats? I'm confused.
- If you sprinkle sugar on a piece of shit, will it taste like a cookie? Ask Senate Democrats.
- Favorite Christmas song: "Carol of the Bells" (particularly Gary Hoey's version).
- John's Lackey's wife, Krista is from Maine. She graduated from UNH. Great. But John Lackey is from Texas. Does any of this mean anything? Not unless you're desperate for copy.
- Martha Quinn is not hot. Sorry. I'm sure she's a wonderful woman, but I always saw her as a babysitter, one who would let us stay up a half an hour later because she was cool. Maybe I'm dating myself.
- Favorite Christmas movie: A Christmas Carol (1983, starring George C. Scott). It's still the best Christmas story ever told---Dicken's didn't dick with us.
- We have a poster of Obama in our house, on the wall in our living room, and I'm not sure what to do with it. I'll keep it there. And "hope" it'll move.
- If you've never seen this, you have to see it. Still one of the funniest SNL skits I've ever seen.
- Whether you follow this blog or have stumbled upon it; whether I know you and love you, or whether you know me and hate me; whether you're a Sox fan or a Yankee fan (somewhere inside you, there is a soul), I wish you a Happy Holiday. You deserve it.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
First, there's pie in my face. In fact, Theo has been holding his cards so close to his chest that I don't think anyone saw this acquisition coming. Am I happy about the signing? Of course. I'm fucking thrilled! Would any baseball fan bitch about their team having a starting rotation with three legitimate aces? Lester, Beckett, Lackey---the sound of that is musical, isn't it? If Theo can come up with a big bat---and, no, Mike Cameron is NOT the solution---then I can't see how The Sox would not be the favorites going into the 2010 season.
Next, I need to retract all of the terrible things I've said about John Lackey when he was pitching for Anaheim. For example, I will no longer call him "Lenny," which is a reference to the character in the Steinbeck novel, Of Mice and Man. I came up with the nickname two seasons ago when I decided that Lackey looked mildly retarded: it's his eyes. Now, I don't care if he IS mildly retarded; if he goes out and wins 18 games and shuts down The Bronx Boners, I don't care how well he scores on the SAT's.
I do, however, have to mention the fact that his contract, the money they're paying this guy, is obscene and obnoxious. Listen, if I were someone who takes the ethical high ground, I wouldn't be a baseball fan, or a professional sports fan in general. I would be sitting outside the labs where scientists are working on a cure for cancer and cheering them on, which, in all fairness, is what we should be doing. But every now and then, I have to take a step back and point out the obvious, especially during this holiday season in this economy, where decent, hard-working people are out of work, losing their houses, and unable to put presents beneath the tree for their kids this year. To think that these athletes make more in a game than most of us make in a year is truly a sad commentary on the misplaced priorities in our society. But, again, I watch baseball and buy merchandise; therefore, I'm part of the problem.
Finally, when I'm wrong, I'll admit it. Last week, when we were putting up our Christmas tree, my son Owen and I each put up one of the two Red Sox ornaments we have celebrating Sox 2004 and 2007 World Championships, respectively. As we were hanging them on the tree, I told Owen to "get used to these two bulbs because we'll never see another one. The freakin' bums have already tanked the season."
I was wrong. Merry Christmas.
Friday, December 11, 2009
To summarize, the management---mainly, former-Boy Wonder Theo and the world's biggest creep-o-zoid John Henry---is all but conceding next season and calling it "a bridge" year for the Red Sox. Meaning: they realize they can't compete with the Yankees (especially after they signed Granderson) so they're going to use 2010 to give their prospects some time to mature, rather than trading them for a big name and going full-blast at dethroning the Spankboys in pinstripes. Fine. Despite the fact that John Henry is a billionaire who could afford to pay some big game players without clearing out the prospects, that's fine. It's a long-term investment in youth. It siphons all thunder and anticipation for fans going into next season, but fine. It's a plan, nonetheless.
But here's the thing that really irks me: they're still raising ticket prices to get into that crack den on Yawkey Way.
This harkens back to my inexorable loath for the goddamn Pink Hats, the clueless masses of assholes who will pay the money for overpriced tickets to watch a second place team rot in mediocrity just so they can sing "Sweet Caroline" in the 8th inning with the rest of the retards who believe they're taking part in some long-standing Fenway tradition.
Am I bitter? Hell yes, I'm bitter. But it's righteous indignation. The last time I could afford to go to a Red Sox game was in 2003---and even then I couldn't afford it, but my wife bought me tickets for my birthday. But for two of us to go to Fenway for a night now, we're looking at an easy two bills (not including the eight-dollar Dixie cups of Bud Light). When I was growing up, I went to Fenway Park with my father every year, and it was far more of a tradition than singing Neil Diamond with 36,000 other white people who couldn't tell you three other Neil Diamond songs. Granted, my family wasn't poor, but we were solidly middle-class; the same as my wife and I are today. And my son is getting to age where I would like nothing more than to take the boy to a Red Sox game, but it financially isn't going to happen. Why? Not because I couldn't save the money and take him anyway. It would be tight, but I probably could. But it's the principle of it. How can the Red Sox organization, in good conscience---yes, grumpy pants, I realize it's a business, but allow me to be slightly sentimental here---do this to their fans, the people who pay their salaries?
The answer is: they don't give a fuck. They're rich and getting richer. If The Crypt Keeper Henry is reading this right now and would like to send me two free tickets, I'll recant, but that's highly improbable.
So next year, the Sox are playing for second-place in the AL East. Here's the upside: maybe The Pink Hats, having grown so used to watching winners, will grow bored, stop going to the games, and soon, you'll have the real fans back in the park, giving hell to everyone who deserves it.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Here is a digital story of one of my most confessional and candid poems, "Cracker and Me." I've gotten a lot of mileage out of this piece. It originally appeared as a broadside by Hemispherical Press in 2003. Then it appeared again, in a slightly different form, in my 2005 chapbook Honey, I'm Home, which was published by sunnyoutside. Most recently, it appears, sans the Part VI, which I put back in for this movie, in my book After the Honeymoon.
Speaking of After the Honeymoon, if you're looking for a thoughtful gift for any newlyweds in your life, may I be so bold as to recommend it. In fact, if you buy a copy and can somehow get it to me before Christmas, I'll sign it whomever you'd like and do my best send it back to you. Just give me a heads up.
You can purchase the book from Amazon.com: here
Or directly from the publisher, sunnyoutside: here
Enough shameless self-promotion. I hope you enjoy the piece, and a special thanks to my good friend Dan Cray for allowing me to use his stellar tune "Every Bar."
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Seeing tomorrow night is, for all intents and purposes, the completion of my program, I figured I'd muse a little about MFA programs and share some of my opinions and experiences with anyone who might be interested in pursuing an MFA, possess an MFA, or hates MFA programs with every fiber of their literary being and believes the programs are elitist shams that produce cookie-cutter writing.
Now, close to twelve years later, I'm finishing an MFA program. Did I need this program to become a writer? Absolutely not. Did it help me become a better writer? Absolutely.
I'd should preface this by saying my situation at UNH is a little unique. While most full-residency programs don't, to my knowledge, off many part-time slots, I was grandfathered into the program. I started at UNH, part-time, when it was still an MA. The next year, the English department switched the degree over to an MFA, and I was offered the option to changing programs and taking 16 more credits to get the terminal degree, so I did it. I mention this because one of the reasons many people believe MFA programs are for the privileged few is that it is simply impractical for someone with a family and financial responsibilities, especially in this economy, to quit their job and enter a writing program for three years. And it's equally absurd to assume that the minute you finish the program there will be a cushy college position waiting for you. Ask people who are currently in the market for those college teaching positions how competitive it is. They'll tell you.
However, there are many low-residency alternative MFA programs for people who simply can't drop everything and go to school full-time. Do candidates with their MFA's from full-residency programs have a competitive edge over people with diplomas from low-residency programs when it comes to hiring for college positions? I have no idea. Listen, if you write and publish an award-winning book, you'll going to have the competitive edge anywhere you go.
Currently, I'm not in the market for a teaching job---I teach in a high school, thank you very much---and, really, a discussion of MFA programs should center around writing. And as I said before, if you want to be writer, you don't need to get an MFA, but I do believe a program, if you choose a program that fits with you and your writing style, will serve you well in your endeavors and cut a lot of time off the learning curve.
At the very least, an MFA program will force you to finish, or push you in the direction of finishing a longer body of writing. And if you want to write books, this is invaluable practice. Also, you have the benefit of being around people who are just as passionate about writing as you fancy yourself to be, and you'll work with writers who are better than you, on both sides of the desk. This lesson in humility is also invaluable when it comes to publication and submitting your work for publication.
But what about the finances? How can you afford a program that doesn't guarantee you anything--- economically speaking--- when you finish? I don't have that answer. Many full-time programs have fellowships and tuition wavers for MFA students, but it still might leave you scrambling to live. I was fortunate that the high school where I teach will pay for one class per-semester for faculty. In other words, they want their teachers to be more educated and models of life-long learners: that makes sense to me. But I know a lot of districts can't afford it. I just don't have any answers. For some reason, I keep thinking back to Bob Dylan's line in "Like a Rolling Stone" that goes: "When you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose." It goes a long way in explaining the quandary---of life.
If you're still reading this, congratulations. You have a hell of an attention-span. In short, the MFA program at UNH was well-worth it for me. I got to work with some incredible writers---Alex Parsons and Tom Paine and Ann Joslin Williams in the fiction department---and I've seen some of my classmates go on to publish books, like Tim Horvath and Jason Tandon.
Ultimately, and always, the important thing is the writing and getting the writing done; and as far as that's concerned, no one gives fuck how you do it. So stop reading this, and get it done.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Before some hipster starts bemoaning the fact that this "is so cliched," let me acknowledge that "Alice's Restaurant" on Thanksgiving is cliched and un-hip and predictable, unless it's being played ironically (this is not being played ironically). Because hipsters, as you know, thrive on listening to bands that no one has ever heard, except, of course, other hipsters who really get irony. For example, The Hipster might see that I posted Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant," roll his eyes, and say, "Der Furz, the German death-metal band, does a better cover of this song. Ever heard it?" Which is, naturally, a rhetorical question, because no one--including 90-percent of the band members' families---has heard of the band, much less their cover of "Alice's Restaurant." But The Hipster has. In fact, he's been listening to Der Furz since their first album, Widerlich, which he'll tell you was by far their best. In fact, The Hipster might even have the CD in his car or a Der Furz bumper sticker on a filing cabinet or an electric guitar case (he doesn't play, but he's friends with a guy in an indie band who gave it to him).
So, yes, hipsters, I understand my transgression in posting this. I'm lame. But it's Thanksgiving and, like most Americans who don't get irony, I want to stuff myself like a true hedonist, watch some football, nap, and listen to this song.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
So I will be returning tonight, which is the last reading this year from After the Honeymoon. I will be reading from my novel on Dec. 2 as I complete my MFA at The University of New Hampshire next month, and I will be reading with a host of other New Hampshire poets at Gibson's Bookstore in Concord as part of a holiday celebration of poetry on Dec. 12. But this is it for my book tour this year. More information to come on those readings. I also have a handful of venues set up for 2010, but that's a year away---oh no, I'm officially that tool who says "See you next year" on Dec. 31.
But tonight I ride at The Frost Commons at 7 p.m. My friend and former-professor Paul Rogalus will be riding with me. We ride. Hope to see you there.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
1. There's a review of After the Honeymoon in the Hippo Press today. What do you think, folks? Nate Graziano as Manchester's official city poet? Rockin'. I'm going to put up a link to write Mayor-elect Ted Gatsas and a template to copy-and-paste to him. The official city poet should have a mustache. No?
2. I'm now rockin' the 70s porn star mustache (see above). Yup.
3. To anyone who comes out to see me read this weekend in Cambridge or Kingston: If you buy a book from any of the readers, you will receive a free copy of the chapbook Men of Letters, the final installment of the Idiot Trilogy I wrote with Cracker.
4. Tonight will be the world premiere of the one-act play "Pack O' Smokes." One of the characters in the play rocks a mustache.
I hope to see some of you this weekend. The world looks different when viewing it from behind a mustache.
First, the Yankees deserve congratulations: They won the World Series. And regardless of the money you spend in assembling an All-Star team, the said team needs to perform in order to be champions. Since the All-Star Break, the Yankees have been one of the most dominant teams in MLB history. They deserve props. Definitely.
But, really, is any of this shocking? Has there been any drama leading up to this? Seriously, who didn't expect them to win after they went on their $423.5 million dollar spending last off-season?
I have no interest in getting Nietzschean here, but in order to be successful, you can argue, you do whatever it takes, whatever is in your means, to be successful; otherwise, you need to embrace failure. The world's biggest creep, John Henry showed us this lesson when he failed to pull the trigger on Texiera, failing to pony up what turned out to be a nominal bucket of cash in respect to overall spending. And while the Sox cut their payroll, ticket prices continued to sky-rocket in one of the worst economies since The Great Depression. One of the few past times that can relieve Boston diehards from their dire financial woes is now unaffordable. Talk about a kick in the nuts.
Shame on you, Red Sox.
But the real disturbing thing about the Yankees winning the World Series is the message it affirms: money does, in the end, will prevail. We can tell our kids tales about prodigal sons and Robin Hood's and Jesus, but in the end, the person with the most cash wins. This is what we learn from the New York Yankees. And that's not meant to be bitter or dramatic; it's a fact.
While I'm sure I'm not the only one flashing these stats today, take a gander at the team salaries for 2009:
1. Yankees: $201,449, 189
2. Mets: $149,373, 987
3. Cubs: $134,809,000
4. Red Sox: $121,745,999
Now, Yankees fans will argue: The Mets and The Cubs didn't make the playoffs, and the Sox were eliminated in the first round. Very true. See the second paragraph of this blog. But here's the thing: the disparity between the Yankees and the Mets is over $50 million bucks! This is more than the Padres, Pirates, and Marlins pay out for their entire team! And Yankee fans will say: If the Sox spent the cash and won The World Series, you wouldn't be complaining. This is all sour grapes.
I don't know. Something about this disturbs me on an ethical level. And, listen, I'm by no means a man of unshakable ethics, but this just feels wrong. Maybe this is knee-jerk Sox fan indignation. Maybe it is sour grapes. But there's more to it than that. This is what's wrong with the bullshit we feed our kids. We tell them that money can't buy happiness. Really? Money looked pretty fucking happy on the pitcher's mound last night. And will the Sox go out and spend a butt-load in the off-season to keep up with Jones' and keep the affluent population of Boston paying $300 a ticket for box seats at a Yankee game in Fenway? You bet your ass they will. Because in the end, it's all about the bottom line. Don't kid yourself. It is.
Maybe that's what we should be teaching our kids: it's all about the bottom line. There are no Jerry Maguire endings in the real world, kids. It doesn't happen. So congratulations, New York. You bought this fair and square.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Here is a little more from the reading Indianapolis. This clip also includes some of Andrew Scott's short fiction, which was exceptional. The video, unfortunately, cuts out before he finishes; it's a blue balls video. If you're interested in reading more, he has a chapbook out from sunnyoutside titled Modern Love, or you can find him at the short fiction on-line journal he runs with his wife, Victoria Barrett, called Freight Stories.
Here's a letter I wrote to God asking that the Yankees don't win The World Series.
May the Yankees be humiliated so our holidays, particularly Your son's big b-day, aren't ruined this year. May Gay-Rod gone oh-for-The World Series and Kate Hudson (the former-girlfriend of uber-douche Lance Armstrong) dump him publicly from the announcer's booth on Fox and declare her engagement to Tim McCarver. May CC Sabathia get shelled for 10 runs and pulled out in the first inning, and then gets so depressed he eats his way into an emergency stomach pumping. May we please, please, please, God, not have to suffer through a winter of "new stadium/new dynasty" horseshit from Yankee fans. Please, God, I promise I'll be good if you just, please, stop the Yankees from winning The World Series. Use whatever omnipotent powers You have---get Old Testament on their asses if You have to---just please don't let The Yankees win. Isn't there already enough wrong with the world, God? Even if You can't make the other stuff happen---for example, maybe Kate Hudson won't run off with Tim McCarver---that's cool. Just don't let them win. Please, God.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Holy fucking shit.
Not only is my FFS epidemic, but the over-sized shirt makes me look pregnant. Seriously. I look like a pregnant woman, sans the beautiful glow that only a woman carrying a child can exude. On top of that, I used to think vertical stripes were slimming. Wrong.
My only consolation will come in an Anaheim victory tonight. Mind you, I hate the Angels, but if the Yankees were playing the Third Reich, I'd be conflicted as to whom to root for. If the Spankees win...well, with my FFS and a Yankees World Championship this year, you might find me fist-fighting a mall Santa.
Do you have any bail money?
P.S. If you're a fellow sufferer of FFS and willing to come forward with it, please feel free to contact me. I understand. I'm here. We shall not suffer alone.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Think about the subtext buried in this question for a second; in fact, it really isn’t a question at all. With few obvious exceptions, the person is not asking you if you gained weight because they’re genuinely interested in you or your body, or they think you look good with weight on you. The question, obviously, is rhetorical, and what it implies is pretty clear.
Here is what the other person is saying to you: Wow, you were once fit and attractive, but obviously, you’ve been sitting on your fat ass and munching out on pizza and Cheese Puffs since I last saw you. Because now, quite frankly, you look like a fucking pig. It’s amazing anyone will still sleep with you, Porky. I bet you had to buy new pants. I bet those old pants, the ones you wore way back in those halcyon days when you were dignified and healthy, are in a second-hand store right now and someone attractive is buying them. God, I am so happy that I am NOT you right now, a tub of lard having to greet the world. You must be disgusted with yourself.
Or something like that.
Recently, my best friend Cracker pulled the question on me, knowing that I would freak out, stop eating, and not want to face the world again without a bag over my head. You see, some pictures from my recent book tour were posted on Facebook in which I looked, according to Cracker, like I “gained some weight.”
Now, for a person as insecure, self-conscious, and emotionally brittle as myself, Facebook presents a bit of paradox. While I want to have friends and pad my numbers and have people leave comments on my wall as an affirmation that I’m loved and popular, it also involves a certain amount of exposure that can be downright terrifying. In my case, I was tagged in the photos, and admittedly, in many of them, I have FFS.
About eight years ago I diagnosed myself with Fat Face Syndrome, or FFS. FFS is identified by the following symptoms: an unnatural width in the face from cheekbone to cheekbone, a lack of a definable profile due excessive flab under the jawbone, additional chins, and the appearance of what I call “the jellyroll”, or a thin roll of fat that circumnavigates the entire neck (see picture and video below; exhibits A and B). For close to ten years, I’ve being growing facial hair as a means of diverting the attention away from my FFS; however, each time I trim my goatee, the true horror of my fat face presents itself.
In 2004, after a shocking set of pictures from a wedding my wife had developed, in which I looked like someone stuck eyes and hair on a ball of pizza dough, I started exercising, thinking this might help to assuage my disorder. But no.
Next I bought a digital camera and started erasing photos where I had FFS, keeping only the pictures where I sucked in my cheeks and craned my neck to make my face look thin, therefore believing my own lies and illusions, believing that I had defeated the disorder. Wrong again. Now, again, it has reared its ugly head (literally) and it seems I have a terminable case.
“So, Nate,” Cracker asks, “did you gain some weight?”
I sigh and try to laugh, but it’s not funny. And I answer with the only response with which I can answer the horrible question, summoning my last shred of dignity. “I’m still not as fat as you,” I say.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
So tonight I went to a Texas Roadhouse after the reading in Appleton. For two hours, I was assaulted by modern country music crazily cranked up in the restaurant. At first, I resisted, making snarky remarks about the lyrics, snickering at them, until I realized I may have been misdirecting my literary efforts for the past ten years. Here is a list of ten country music song titles that I believe will prove saleable (inspired by the line "I want to check you for ticks," no shit):
1. "I Want to Be Your Bra (Just to Give You Support)"
2. "If I Were the Teen Wolf, I'd Want To Stand on Your Van"
3. "I'm Only Drinking Beer to Get Over the Pot"
4. "If You Fart in the Truck, I'll Still Love You"
5. "Get Rid of the Restraining Order, and I'll Be Loving You Tonight"
6. "My Love Steams for You in Cleveland (Come with Me to Oxford)"
7. "Your Toes Taste Like Fried Chicken, so Let Me Lick 'Em"
8. "If You Were Your Sister, I Couldn't Help But Miss Her"
9. "Even with the Runs, I'd Still Hold You"
10. "Your Ex Is a Terrorist"
I'm going to start writing the songs soon, as soon as I finish this book tour. Look for me. I'll be writing my country music songs under the pseudonym Daniel Crocker.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Here are some comments, observations, and all things esoteric.
- I met the world's biggest book-douche after the reading in Cincinnati. This grad student in poetry accosted me and proceeded to blab about how poetry ought to be written for an elitist audience of other poets and academics, like himself, who can understand it. Apparently, my writing is too facile for such a beautiful mind as the uber-book-douche. And poets wonder why everyone hates them and no one reads their work.
- Much to my surprise, I pronounce Louisville incorrectly. Bob Penick and Jason Jordon brought it to my attention. The locals say the word using only two-syllables.
- Micah Ling is not an Asian man, and she has a business card that says as much. She is, however, a very cool person and a fine poet.
- Bob Penick's poodle Scooter really likes me.
- The Sox have had me shaking my head, cursing under my breath, and feeling a lot like I used to feel in the pre-Pink Hat era.
- It's hard not to like Josh McDaniels; almost as hard as it is to like Bill Belicheck.
- It's my wife's birthday tomorrow. Happy birthday, honey. I miss you.
- It seems road trips were considerably easier on my body when I was 22 years-old than they are at 34 years-old. For some reason, my body now rejects Arby's. Very strange indeed.
- I'm running out of clean boxer shorts. If you're one of those people fortunate enough to step into a clean pair underwear every day of your life, you live a charmed life, my friend. It takes some real guts to go commando. Real guts.
- For here forth, we shall start calling Dave McNamara, the publisher of sunnyoutside, the ambassador. Yes. That's an esoteric reference.
- Once again: Go Sox! Go Pats! And happy birthday, Liz! Before you know it, I'll be home and annoying the shit out of you again.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Then we rocked our asses off.
As the synthesizers for "1984" broke through the speakers, I became buoyant, clenching my fists in anticipation of "Jump." And my mirth would not relent, knowing it would be followed by "Panama" then "Top Jimmy" and the side would finish with "Drop Dead Legs" and a riff that ripped through my chest. Oh yes. Diamond Dave and those beautiful songs about nothing.
"What do you think 'Jump' is about?" I asked Jim.
Spot on. The age-old debate of Sammy vs. Dave was broached, but both Jim and I decided that it was moot because they're really two separate bands. I happen to like the band who put out their first five albums better than the band with the same name who started getting too political and lovey-dovey on our asses in the 90s. As Jim pointed out, the beauty of David Lee Roth is the fact that it really doesn't matter what he's saying in the songs---although, personally, I find partying and cruising for chicks to be perfectly acceptable material to write all your songs about---because the rhythms drive the music. Dave then pointed us in the direction of this gem of a website. If you have some time to kill, go nuts.
After Van Halen, Jim spun (in order, I wrote them down) Chuck Brown, Led Zeppelin, Band of Gypsies (Hendrix at his best), Sly and The Family Stone, and then an album titled Erotica: The Rhythms of Love, which as far as I could discern was basically couples screwing to some trippy 60s backbeats. I ended up staying awake until two a.m. listening to tunes.
Today, I read at Buffalo State at 4:30 p.m. then Dave and I hop in the car and start driving to Cincinnati for another shindig tomorrow night, which hopefully ends before 9:47 so I can catch the Sox game. In the meantime, my twenty-five friends, I'll leave you with this:
Go ahead. And jump.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Okay. For many of you---or the twenty-four of you (we're growing kids!)---who read this blog, you're probably thinking this is nothing exceptional. But you need to realize that I've denounced cell phones, like I once derided my beloved Facebook, as spoiled amenities. In my new book, there's a poem titled "The Ameoba Man" railing against these iniquitous forces, and how, stubbornly, I clung to my virtues. No, dammit, I will never, ever be one of those assholes who clings to their cell phones like nursing child on the tap (there are many levels of crudeness clinging to that simile, too). And I said I would never depend on Facebook as my main...okay, singular means of social interaction, or purchase a cell phone. In fact, I went so far as to say I'd use smoke signals to communicate before I'd buy a cell phone. I was a man of virtues.
Then virtues went out of style.
At this moment, I am sitting in a gallery in Buffalo, where tonight I will kick off my book tour with my first reading. In fact, there was a little write up about in a Buffalo news site this morning. Yesterday, The UNH school newspaper did a piece on me. Are you impressed with me?
I want you to think about this before you answer because, in actuality, this cuts to the core of my neuroses and personality flaws. The cell phone, Facebook, book tours, readings, email, blogs, websites, bombastic anti-Yankee rants are all manifestations of a deeper insecurity: the irrepressible fact that I really, really, REALLY want people to be impressed by me and really, REALLY want the Yankees to suck ass in the playoffs. While the aforementioned this is the case for most people---and those who say they don't want others to be impressed by them are either liars, narcissists who are literally in love with their selves and scream their own name while masturbating to the thought of their selves performing naked yoga, or liars---for me, it's become something bordering on pathological. For example, right now I can't wait until I finish this blog post, so I can post my blog on Facebook. Does anyone else see the problem here? I need help.
Right now, my cell phone is beside my laptop, and I am waiting like a wolf for it to buzz, to receive my first text message. Thus it begins again: a new compulsion and insanity.
For the next couple of weeks, I will posting frequently with pictures of my readings, stories from the road, reactions to the Red Sox (by the way, while I'm parenthetical mode, last night I went out with Dave, my publisher, for wings at Duff's in Buffalo, and noticed a bunch of Yankee hats. Immediately I thought to myself, Look at all these trouble-makers, wearing their Yankee hats out. Then I realized I was in New York, and I was the troublemaker in my Sox cap. Fuck 'em. The wings were great.) and other general ephemera. But let my objectives be clear: I want you to be impressed. I have a compulsive need to impress others.
So join my blog, write to me, text me, chat me up on Facebook, or email me, if you're not up with technology like certain bloggers. I don't mind. Use me. I have to run now. My cell phone just rang.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
However, for the past couple of weeks, I've been hearing some strange rumblings from Red Sox fans, and not just The Pink Hats, who don't know a baseball from a testicle, or a suicide squeeze from a bout of constipation (think about that one). No. I'm hearing real Sox fans saying, with an usual amount of audacity, that The Sox are going to win it all this year. In fact, this arrogance is spreading quicker than the swine flu virus. And, yes, I have been infected, too.
Since opening a Facebook account, I have pretty much avoided any face-to-face human contact. Conversation, for me, just doesn't compare with posting what you have to say on someone's wall. These days, instead of whispering, I send people private messages. Full disclosure: I'm a total and complete Facebook whore. My point being, and you can verify this yourself if you're on Facebook (friend me! friend me, please!), yesterday I posted that the Sox are going to go all the way.
What the fuck was I thinking?
While I was jogging this morning, trying to exercise my body a bit before parking my ass in front of the computer to Facebook for the next ten hours, it occurred to me that what I've been saying is completely counter-intuitive to my Sox fan upbringing. Now, I'm not going to argue the existence of a god, but isn't it strange that as soon as Sox fans start getting a little too complacent, a little too sure of ourselves because we beat up on Baltimore (there are tee-ball teams that could compete with the Orioles), Melky "mmm, it tastes really sweet" Cabrera takes down our horse? Is this a cosmic sign to shut the fuck up?
So you will hear no more of this nonsense out of my pie-hole. Let's take last night as shot of reality. The Sox will need to get lucky to win this thing. But that's obvious. They need to get hot. That, too, is obvious. The hot team takes the trophy. It's always been this way in baseball. So, in the meantime, Sox fans, I think we need to collectively shut the fuck up.
P.S. I have some new poems on Thieves Jargon this week. Check them out.
P.P.S. The winner of the contest will be announced tomorrow.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
judge has first-grade to attend to during the busy
work week. Come on, people. I literally can't give away Crocker/Graziano. I understand we offend your sensibilities, but can't you at least use the chapbooks in your fire pit?
My friends, if you're one-one-thousandth as a neurotic as me (unlikely), you've noticed that my blog reached the coveted "20" followers today. I've been mouthing off about some big surprise forthcoming when we reached 20, but honestly, I got nothing for you. Therefore, I decided to ransack some old boxes and found some copies of Idiot Warriors and Men of Letters, chapbooks that I published with my good friend and heroin-addict Dan "The Big Flan" Crocker.
So here's the deal. I will mail copies of these chapbooks to the person who best answers the following question, posed by my 6-year-old daughter Paige:
What do all My Little Ponies have to possess in order to be authentic?
Post your answers in the "comments" section. The contest will be judged by Paige and close after Monday Night Football on 9/21. The winner will get their copies mailed on Tuesday morning. Good luck.
Note: Dan "Smell My Balls, They Reek Like Bleach" Crocker can't win.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I'm not a whore in the literal sense that I sell sex for money (I'm cheap), but the very nature of writing books and publishing in the small presses necessitates whoring your work. While traditional and romantic ideas of the writer's life might lead one to believe that writers emerge from their log cabins in the woods with a manuscript that goes directly to the publisher, via bike courier, gets published, and the next thing you know, you're signing books for a line of fans that stretches out the door of the Barnes and Noble, and later, you're knocking back drinks with Don DeLillo and Russell Banks. Maybe that happens for some writers (though I tend to doubt it), but for me, it's been over ten years of working full-time as a high school teacher and writing, much like I am right now, when the family is in bed with The Red Sox game in the background. Every few years, I have enough decent material to put together a manuscript, and so far, I've been fortunate enough to have a few of them published.
But it hasn't been glamorous---no book groupies, or hobnobbing with the literati , or reviews in major newspapers. It's been doing whatever I can to get my books in the hands of readers and working my ass off to try to make sure the publishers at least break even on their investments in me. So the publication of my new collection of poetry, After the Honeymoon, is, in many ways, bitter-sweet. While it's always a thrill to see your book in print, your labors materialized in front of you, I also know that if I'm going to sell any of books I'm going to have to whore myself; meaning, I will have to do anything in my power to get my work out there.
This means doing a book tour in October with my publisher, Dave McNamara. We don't have a publicity budget or any monies, for that matter. We're doing it by jumping in a car and hitting the road for three weeks. We're doing it with our shoulders to the wheel. You can look at my reading schedule and see for yourself: This trip is all about attrition.
While on the road, however, I will be updating this blog frequently. In fact, with it looking like the Sox "should" be playing in October, this blog is going to be renamed Nate Graziano's Big Baseball and Book Tour Blog. Depending on what the brackets look like for the post-season, I could possibly be infiltrating enemy territories during the games in October, friends. But I promise, regardless of where I am or where I read, I will be wearing my Red Sox hat.
Back to the book: While my book is a collection of poetry, and I understand that many people, much like myself, may get very frustrated trying to untangle a lot of the arcane metaphor and language gymnastics in modern poetry, my poems use common, straightforward language to deal with real life/gritty topics. I promise you won't need an MFA in poetry to understand it. As a writer, my goal has always been to communicate emotions and ideas using language that my family and friends, who are mostly not writers, will understand and appreciate. If a reader doesn't like my work or what I write about, I can understand that; it comes with the territory. But if a reader doesn't get what I'm saying, I feel as if I've largely failed in my endeavors.
Here is the information for purchasing my book, if you're interested. You can purchase it directly from the publisher here (preferable), or through Amazon.com here. The book will be on the shelves in certain bookstores, but if it's not at your local bookstore, you should be able to order it through them.
Finally, I want to thank everyone who takes the time to read this blog, follow this blog, or read any of my work whatsoever. I love hearing from you, so please don't be bashful to write me with your cheers, jeers, or fart jokes. Thank you, and namaste.
How's that for a rim job?
P.S. ALEX GONZALEZ, BABY! I'll definitely be blogging baseball in October!
Monday, August 31, 2009
O me, O life, September is upon us, and the playoff races are heating up in baseball, and in a paltry two weeks, the NFL football season starts (if you're a college football fan, your mirth comes sooner). Ah, my brothers of the Y-chromosome, let us rejoice, celebrate, eat and drink and watch porno. Our time is now, the Time of Man.
Let me put aside the astract jubilation and put this in more concrete terms: It's Sunday morning on Sept. 27, 2009, and you're wondering whether or not to go ahead and make yourself a bacon and sausage omelet for breakfast. While sipping a cup of piping hot coffee and watching a well-endowed young woman jog by your house in a sports bra, you envision the day ahead. The pre-game show starts at noon. It's already 10 a.m., so you say to hell with showering and put on the same pair of smelling jeans you've been wearing for three weeks---the ones where you can faintly smell your crotch when you sit down---and you put on a beat-up sweatshirt with your alma mater's crest, trying to summon some long dormant fratboy inside you. You haven't shaved in a week, and your wife won't go near you, BUT the Pats are playing the Falcons at 1 p.m. You make the omelet.
As the Pats game draws to an end, you prepare to watch the 4 p.m. game, or if you have the NFL Network, your life opens like a pair of legs. You try to stay in the game's moment, try to remain Zen, but you can't quite suppress the restless excitement, a childlike giddiness gathering like a storm in your chest as you anticipate 8 p.m. and Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN where the Sox will play their final regular season game against the Yankees.
Look at your schedules, my friends, this is not a pipe dream...okay, maybe the omelet is over the top, but the rest will soon be our reality. Rejoice, rejoice, fucking rejoice with me!
As we move into September, a lot of questions surround our hometown teams. What will happen with Wakefield? Is Billy Wagner going to be worth a wag of the tail? Is Douche-K coming back, or is he complacent to get lit up by the New Hampshire Fisher Cats? Will Beckett stop tossing batting practice? Is Tom "My Man-crush" Brady's shoulder going to plague him all season, or will the Brady/Moss magic of 2007 propel them back to the Super Bowl? Right now, we can thank Teddy Bruschi (and Kennedy) and trust our genius in the cut-off sleeves has it all under control. Oh, there are so many things to talk about, to see, to anticipate.
All of these things, in their due time, in Man-time, will be answered. For now, September is upon us, and if you stop, scratch and sniff, you'll feel yourself getting lighter. Tis' the season, my friends.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
- If you still think the Red Sox are going to make the playoffs, you're not a Sox fan.
- Aside from my diligent work as an imaginary sportswriter, I moonlight as a poet. Here's the cover for my new book, After the Honeymoon, coming out Sept. 17. Be sure to buy a copy when it's made available. Make the Baby Jesus smile.
- Is it me, or does a sick human being deserve medical treatment? Think back to college and all of the indiscriminate sex you had. Now imagine if you got a case of the nasties and couldn't see a doctor at the campus clinic. It's horrifying, isn't it? Why not take the campus clinic model and offer it to everyone?
- Junichi Tazawa takes the hill today. Doesn't Fox have anything better to show? How about a Full House marathon instead?
- Watching the Yankees win makes my soul hurt.
- Thanks to Erin Ruttan and Dave McNamara for their work on the cover. My original idea of putting a picture of my ass in a pair of tight jeans didn't fly. Maybe next time.
- iTunes has revived numerous scratched CD's that I wrote off as dead. Right now, I'm listening to Black Sabbath's Paranoid. My wife isn't home.
- Brad Penny, you stink.
- Have you noticed that straight men feel unusually comfortable talking about Tom Brady's good looks? The dude is impossibly handsome.
- I have never tired of "War Pigs" and highly doubt I ever will.
- Thanks to On-Demand, I've been able to share my love for the ThunderCats with my son. I still think Cheetara is babe. For a cartoon, that is.
- JD Drew embodies everything that makes me sick about professional athletes.
- Does anyone own a copy of Dark Side of the Moon that isn't scratched; that hasn't, at some point, seen the floorboards of a shitbox car?
- Entourage is jumping the shark this season.
- iTunes and On-Demand and the cover of my book, there's a lot to be thankful for these days. Then there's the fucking Red Sox.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Given this information, one might be inclined to think that the movie selection, our compromise as man and wife upholding our vows, would be paramount to the entire movie-watching experience. You would be wrong. Basically, we choose from the free movies On-Demand, movies that the programmers at Comcast realize no one, unless they're jacked up on crack, would pay to watch.
Friday's selection: Roadhouse starring Patrick Swayze as Dalton, a much-coverted Zen-bouncer who takes on an entire town of rednecks with guns and kicks all their asses, one by one, without ever messing up his mullet. If you've never seen Roadhouse, you're missing one of the most awkwardly written, embarrassingly acted, ridiculously conceived movies ever made. It's brilliant. Every single line in this movie is cliched to the point where I found myself cringing, recoiling in vicarious humiliation for the writers, actors, producers, and anyone who was within 20 miles of the set when this monstrosity was made. I loved it.
Fast forward to Saturday night. Again, I find myself cringing, recoiling, and vicariously humiliated, only this time I was watching the Red Sox play Texas, not Roadhouse. While I took ironic pleasure in Roadhouse's brutal badness juxtaposed with Patrick's ass-kicking mullet, irony eluded me when I was watching the Red Sox get spanked in Arlington. I was plain pissed.
It's fair to ask, What now for The Red Sox? When you take a look at the line-ups the Sox have been putting out the last couple of games---and, in fairness, Youk has been serving his suspension---and you see Varitek, Kotchman and Alex Gonzalez coming to bat in the next inning, there's cause to be concerned. In fact, you have every right to change the channel, watch a movie with your wife, grow a mullet.
To quote Dalton, the bouncer extraordinaire of Roadhouse: "Pain don't hurt." Dalton, you haven't been watching the Red Sox lately.
Monday, August 10, 2009
So it happened: the worst-case scenario. The Red Sox went into The Bronx and got swept. They've basically lost all hope of winning the AL East and The Wild Card is a big question mark. At least the Yankees gave us some variety in the ways they pummeled the Red Sox; they blew them out in the first game; strung them on for 15 innings before A-Rod ripped out hearts with a walk-off; we had a good 'ole fashion shut-out in Game 3, the Sox bats invisible again; and finally, after 31 innings without a run, The Sox get a lead in 8th inning, only experience the come-from-behind, late-game heroics of the Yankees, and more pie in our faces. If nothing else, the Red Sox have managed to show us how versatile they are at losing. Way to go, Boston.
As I said, however, this is not the first time Sox fans have been humiliated at the hands of The Evil Empire, nor is it the worst. After many years of being accosted by smug Yankee fans ready to gloat, I developed "The 4D's Method of Dealing with Yankee Fans" (admittedly, Sox fans are just as obnoxious, so these may be applicable to Yankee fans, or applied to any fan of a professional sports team dealing with humiliation). Pay attention, kids. You're about to learn the fine art of avoidance.
1. Defensiveness. This is fairly new one, seeing we had no defense until 2004, and it is not always the best approach because if you're careless and don't know your statistics, the defensive method will backfire. In short, you're attempting to lash out from the defensive position and try to get the Yankee fan flustered and off-topic. You're rechanneling the humiliation you're currently feeling into passive-aggression.
Example: A Yankee fan comes up to you at work and says, "That was a great series. The Sox looked good. How many games are they behind now? Is it 6.5?" Your response: That's fine. I remember in 2004, they were behind 3-0 in the ALCS. Who was that they were playing again? You know, the team responsible for the biggest choke in sports history?
2. Denial. There is nothing like denial in dealing with any crisis in your life. Denial is simple, and if practiced correctly---barring an intervention by loved ones---is basically bullet-proof. All you have to do is convince yourself that, despite all the irrefutable evidence to the contrary, the problem in front of you is simply not happening. It does not exist.
Example: A Yankee fan comes up to you at work and says, "That was a great series. The Sox looked good. How many game are they behind now? Is it 6.5?" Your response: It wasn't that big of a series. It's only six games in the loss column. I'm not worried. Everything is fine.
3. Diversion. You can avoid a conversation with Yankee fans by being prepared to launch into another unrelated topic. Topics that play off the human heart-strings are typically the best at deflating the buoyant Yankee fan. Comb the headlines for horrific current events, or you might invent a personal tragedy. Your goal is to divert the focus toward something entirely unrelated to baseball, which will simultaneously make the Yankee fan feel bad about bringing up something as irrelevent, in the grand scheme of things, as baseball.
Example: A Yankee fan comes up to you at work and says, "That was a great series. The Sox looked good. How many games are they behind now? Is it 6.5?" Your response: Did you hear about those typhoons in Asia? They're saying dozens are dead and hundreds of people are reported missing. I'd love to donate some money, but with economy, I can barely afford to feed my kids. Did I tell you my kids' puppy has cancer?
4. Diplomacy. For anyone who still believes in the Bush-Cheney approach to dealing with problems, i.e. bomb the shit out of people, this option is off the table. In fact, this is the most uncomfortable method because it involves exhibiting kindness, humility, and reason: all things that Red Sox fans struggle to practice in their own lives. Your goal, in a nutshell, is to kill the Yankee fan with kindness. It doesn't have to be genuine; in fact, you'll probably find yourself seething behind your smile, but it will immediately frustrate the Yankee fan looking to bust your balls and promptly diffuse the situation.
Example: A Yankee fan comes up to you at work and says, "That was a great series. The Sox looked good. How many games are they behind now? Is it 6.5?" Your response: You know, I did watch the series, and I think the Yankees have the better team this year. They're pitching was nearly flawless, and what a line-up. You must be really happy The Yankees got Texeira. It's looking like he's really worth the money the Yankees paid for him. Ditto Sabathia and Burnett. They're going to be a tough team to beat this year. Maybe I can take you out for a beer during the play-offs, and we can watch a game together?
Friday, August 7, 2009
Now, is it me, or was watching former-Red Sox pitcher and future Hall of Famer John Smoltz last night incredibly depressing? At the risk of making an analogy that flirts with profane, given Smoltz's impressive resume, last night's game was akin to watching Rocky IV where an aging and washed-up Apollo Creed gets, literally, killed by the Soviet roid-robot, Ivan Drago. Somewhere around the fourth inning, I found myself yelling at the television, "Throw the towel. Throw the damn towel!" Now, as I mentioned, comparing a 90-minute Cold War propaganda music video with John Smoltz's illustrious career may come across as crass, but hell, I'm not the brightest bulb on the tree, nor the most sensitive guy on the block; my stable of cultural references begin and end with the Rocky movies.
On that note, right now, the Red Sox are getting smacked around by Clubber, Micky's in the locker room dying, and it looks like one of those vicious slow-motion flurry of punch scenes is starting. Their chins are about to hit the canvas. Thud.
It's getting ugly, folks.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Unbelievable. I can't sleep. I'm so pissed, I can't sleep. The Sox just dropped two games at Tropicana Field to the Rays---weren't they the fucking Devil Rays; is Tampa such a pussy city that they won't stand up to the Christian Right bible-thumping maniacs in the Deep South?---and the season is OVER! Please excuse the dialect, but, growing up in Rhode Island, this is how I just screamed it at my wife: It's fuckin' oh-vah!
And here's the other thing: These fucking guys playing for the Red Sox are hopping a plane right now, texting their New York City girlfriends, saying. We land at 3 a.m.; here's my hotel room number; don't wear clothes.
What I am doing? I'm writing this, watching footage of Johnny Damon---who intellectually has as much to contribute to the ongoing human dialogue as a pubic hair in a drain---talk about the upcoming series with the Sox. Let me package your verbal diarrhea for you, Johnny: It's oh-vah!
The Big Phony is a bigger and bigger ass-clown each day he waits to explain. Do you really think, Big Phony, that every baseball fan is as obsequious as the Pink Hat frauds who blow you for hitting your first home run in May? Wait until you're announced in New York.
It's oh-vah, my friends. Unbelievable. It's unbelievable that I care.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Strangely, I feel most comfortable, a sense of nostalgia even, when The Red Sox are losing. Without missing a step, I go back to my pre-2004 self, throw up my hands and say, "Goddamn bums, it's over. The season is the over. The past five years have been an aberration, and buckle up because it's going to be another 86 years before these fucking idiots win again."
After the Sox abysmal 1-5 road trip, I've gone past hitting the panic button and have officially given up. Why? The answer to this question gets to the root of my indignation with these fair-weather Pink Hat bozos who claim that they shit in the shape of Yaz but couldn't tell you The Sox starting right-fielder.
I have given up because I'm a fucking Red Sox fan!
For those of us who are over five-years-old and have been following the Red Sox our entire lives, you are not going to undo a lifetime of misery and disappointment with two World Series championships. Being a Red Sox fan is more than following a baseball team; it's a way a being, a psychological condition. And when things are going bad, a little switch goes off in your head that tells you that the sky is falling and nothing will be salvaged. Therefore, you give up. I've given up on these assholes who, standing in a verdant meadow, couldn't hit the grass with a stream of their own piss lately. Fuck them. Fuck the Red Sox. When does football season start? I don't care anymore if my wife watches Project Runway when the game is on. It doesn't matter because it's over. Do you understand me? It's fucking over!
And if the Sox happen to start playing well again, I'll be right there with them, denying I ever wrote this, in spite of the irrefutable evidence that's right here for everyone to see. This is what it means to be a Red Sox fan.
And as for you Pink Hat dildos and your stupid optimism: you don't know dick. Put on your your $200 Big Papi jersey and go fuck yourself.
And one more thing. Go Sox!