Category Archives: blandishments

Commencement

[Ruffles papers at the dais]

In conclusion, here at the outset

[deafening applause]

[group of deaf students applaud]

[group of students wearing shirts that say Jesus Gave me Tinnitus applaud inaudibly]

[group of highly politicized roll-carts roll by, somewhat audibly, as if of their own volition. As though they are operating under their own control. Sentient roll-carts? Some blue, some black, some brown, some green. The roll carts do not have eyes, though they be sentient. Aye]

and so as a lunch-time option, I will suggest, it is of vital importance that snacks be “factored into the equation.”

[A tropical fish, who had been gazing with deep inattention at the square of linoleum floor framed by his idly hanging flippers, now slowly and deliberately looks up at the speaker. His attention has been piqued. What’s this about lunch? Snacks? ]

A snack isn’t what we make it. Even if it is we who have made the snacks. I’ll often make a snack for myself, mid-afternoon, as though a dog left alone at home had the ability to open the fridge, unscrew bottles, spread nut-butters with nut-butter knives…

[A very pink fish is lost in her own reverie. She imagines a chocolate laborador, left home alone, unscrewing a jar of peanut butter, dipping in a long blunt knife, and spreading the peanut butter across three saltine crackers. It is, needless to say, an erotic fantasy. The fish is transmuted into a feline. The feline is transmuted into an unopened tin of sardines. The tin opens itself, with a great deal of volition, and begins snacking upon itself, heartily, its lips — such as they are — smacking.]

And so women. And so men. And so students of the region, who are gathered and fed and assembled and educated here, under these eaves, under this aegis, be-chancelled by this bewitching chancellor–

[The Chancellor, whose name is R. Bowen Loftin, gathers himself up in a great mawkish burst of plumage, then shits himself into a garbage pail; exeunt.]

And so, at the outset, or in conclusion, the class of 1999 now leads you, seniors, graduating class of 2016, into blinkered victory. I hope you’re OK. I hope you all inherit a great deal of money and then squander your inheritance on graduate education and activism and travel and charity. And love. Squander everything for love, my children. Because love is the most pragmatic tool you can wield in the economy into which you’re graduating. And I needn’t remind you that all of your love is concentrated in your genitals.

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TFP1

DARREN: My favorite kind of music is trust-fund punk.

KARREN: My favorite kind of tunnel is carpal. My favorite academic trend is the linguistic turn

DARREN: like in the 80s?

KARREN: yeah. I felt so good when scholarship took a linguistic turn

DARREN: One time you told me that you thought my blog was really well proofread

KARREN: it is!

DARREN: But I only thought, Ouch! faint praise!

KARREN: what’s faint about well proofed?

DARREN: i want it to be blazing and arresting, not clean

KARREN: well

DARREN: who will run the frog hospital?

KARREN: who will boost our followers?

DARREN: Steve Roeggenbuck will run the frog hospital

KARREN: we can’t name our son Ben Smith because he won’t be googleable

DARREN: I didn’t study search-engine optimization in college to help inform what we’re gonna name our son. anyway i thought we were gonna name him derrick?

KARREN:  like oil derrick?

DARREN: Like derek jeter?

KARREN: you’re embarrassing me. Have we gotten everything on our list?

DARREN: we still need salt-breath

[they turn down aisle 9, where the salt-breath is stocked]

DARREN: here’s the salt breath

KARREN [selecting a less-expensive brand]: let’s get this kind. that kind is eleven dollars!

DARREN: OK. I like this brand tho

KARREN: 11 dollars!

DARREN: OK, get the cheaper kind, but it’s not as salty. Or as breathy. It tastes like evaporated seaweed milk

KARREN: kan we talk about theater and radio and improvisation and the experience of reading plays or reading radio drama scripts

DARREN: darling i’d prefer not to in the supermarket. can it wait till we get home?

KARREN: I dunno. did you hear annie baker on WTF?

DARREN: yes. a fine reminder  that self-deprecation can sound 100 times more self-involved than self-aggrandizement

KARREN: or you mean that self-deprecation can just be another form of self-aggrandizement

DARREN: that’s a finer way to put it

KARREN: do we like these Deep Noodles?

DARREN: I’ve never tried them

[tosses the Deep Noodles with nonchalance into the brimming cart]

[a loud trust-fund punk song begins playing on the supermarket stereo]

KARREN: but Baker was sharp and charming in that interview

DARREN: i know. it was just when they were talking about the Pulitzer that it bummed me out

KARREN: what if I’m more interested in writing dialogue that’s read on the page than I am writing something that’ll be performed?

DARREN:  watching tv or film, the only time i’m conscious of the writing is after the fact. i only think “that was well written” once it’s over. as opposed to obviously reading a novel or a poem where every sentence is another opportunity to evaluate — and consciously appreciate — the writing

KARREN: sure because the writing is submerged in film or tv or theater — you have so much else to evaluate first — the performance, the images, the sound

DARREN: why don’t more people publish novels in dialogue?

KARREN: Because they have to feed their families.

[Throws a vegan suckling pig shrink-wrapped in hot-pink plastic into the cart, which buckles and implodes]

A: I HEAR YOU HAVE A BABY

F:  YERP

A: When you have a baby you don’t have time to do ANYTHING

F: That’s because babies take up so much time

A: I know

F: What is it that babies take so much time doing?

A: The babies are very busy, they are constantly reading dense texts and challenging your preconceived notions about things

F: Like what sorts of things?

A: Like … arbitrary–

A+F [in unison] …arbitrary taxonomies of genre!?!

F: Whoa.

A: Luv.

F: I’m bummed out again about how I don’t feel like I know how to make sense. Or, maybe, I hate making sense. Making nonsense is much more fun.

A: It’s hard to tell the difference between making nonsense is more fun in the way that smoking lots of pot and watching Adult Swim is more fun, or making nonsense is more fun in that you are an acolyte of Jarry and Ionesco and Stein and live your life in a radical subversion of standard bourgeoise modes of expression etc

F: I think I sometimes milk that ambiguity. Like I pretend to be a highbrow Dadaist when in fact I’m just waiting for the next fortnight of pajamas and Xavier Renegade Angel

A: Xavier Renegade Angel

F: But Xavier Renegade Angel is made by guys who split that difference. They’re students of Gordon Lish, they seem like they’ve done their homework, and they might have pretensions for their show to have a depth or at least a terminal bleakness that makes the comedy that much more “fucked up”

A: Did you ever check your email during the dark time of hospital visits and black veiled hospitalizations

F: There’s never been a time in my life when I haven’t checked my email every fifty minutes

A: remember when you first went camping and they explained what the trowel was for?

F: Yes. The trowel is for digging a little pit for you to shit into. Then you wipe with leaves, and bury your poo like a tiny funeral rite.

A: That’s a lot of work for a poo.

F: You’re not pooing so much in the forest. Maybe once a day if you’re lucky

A: Also not a lot of urgent emails to respond to in the woods.

F: Are you pining for the pines, blood?

A: The grass is always greener in the other bong. I had my dream job, and now I have my other dream job. Someday I won’t have any dream job and I’ll be shooting squirrels for sustenance

F: Shooting them with what?

A: An inherited crossbow.

F: Inherited from who?

A: A girl I met on the internet

F: Why did she leave you the crossbow in her will?

A: She said she liked my blog.

F: How did she die?

A: She faked her own suicide.

F: So she’s still alive?

A: No. She actually killed herself, but she didn’t mean it.

F: You know how if you commit suicide you don’t get in to harvard I mean heaven?

A: yes

F: that’d be funny if whoever the last person you slept with got to rewrite your will if you ended up killing yourself

club

—Really wish I was a peace activist right now.

—Why, for the tax breaks?

—Peace activists get special tax breaks?

—I thought they did. Maybe they don’t.

—I don’t think they do. I think the biggest perk to being a peace activist is occasional free lentil soup from potlucks.

—That sounds pretty yummy.

—It is! Garam masala and roasted carrots, yum.

—Yum!

—I know, so yummy.

—And all that shit is vegan.

—I know! Yum.

—Although can I make a confession the other day at Paul’s I had some of this frittata?

—Vegan police!

—So yummy though. The olives were from Israel.

—Yum.

—So should we talk about these poems?

—OK. Let’s start with yours.

—Oh no! [Laughter]

—Your poems are amazing.

—No they’re not.

—They are! They’re like Rilke.

—Shut up! I’ve actually never read Rilke.

—Read his poems. They’re amazing!

—I know OK!

—I have constructive criticism. All the raven imagery is bullshit.

—I know, I already cut those parts.

—Oh really OK well I don’t have any other comments actually so now let’s talk about mine.

—OK. My main thing was I don’t like poems about rape.

—Wait, did you get that my poem wasn’t about sexual assault?

—What?

—The poem is  about rape, or Brassica napus, a bright yellow flowering member of the family Brassicaceae (mustard or cabbage family).

—Fuck, I actually read the poem over the weekend at my mom’s cabin which doesn’t have internet so I couldn’t look it up!

—You couldn’t look it up on your phone?

—You’re right, I should have. I’m sorry.

[The oven’s electronic timer beeps, signaling the “ontological arrival” of the “popovers”]

Bear-Leg Alan Cheuse

If there’s coffee inside that samovar a fake smile — more of a wince

If Plato if Platonic if there’s a Platonic sort of Platoish Plato vibe here

Fussy sugar bowl, heaped high with hepatitis

Paul “Fussy” Titus and I had a motocross moment together, piggybacked on an amusement, then there came a “gift from the chef”

Rapeseed and hemlock, Vance put a quarter in the free jukebox, the bartender’s face as he watched Vance was a scrim of novelty fake puke,

My father in law’s gastroenteritis flared up on Halloween, just as my favorite writer‘s hard drive failed on the upper east side, while he was stuck somewhere waiting for the A, C, E

My impish sister registered a Twitter account for my grandfather’s pacemaker. @Peacemakerzz

I hoped we cancelled that order before it shipped

Plain song plain wrapper, Barnes and Noble’s / shawarmas in love

ex girlfriend knows bounds

perfect wife brushes an elegant lock of the universe from her eyes

probably gave myself type two diabetes eating leftover Halloween candy

I think she went to Yale

Pressure pretty labial twilight; a hangover in the Metreon is worth two in the Bush administration

My ambition is to eat the rest of this candy and then an hour later eat a hearty normal dinner. His ambition seemed to be to write a masterful novel

The worst kind of writer is a brilliant one; necessary is a euphemism for working-class, intelligence is overrated and superabundant among men and women. If you think most people are stupid I think you’re a part of the problem; Hey these leggings aren’t going to wear themselves, buddy:

A shapeshifting Native American shaman enrolled in our MFA program this afternoon! I can’t wait to read his poems. His name is Bear-Leg. I saw his driver’s license–it said Bear-Leg Alan Cheuse.

Wales

—Here, you don’t have a job?

—No, I’m all alone, on a computer not hooked up to the internet, drinking a craft beer out of a can, composing an email to you.

—It’s almost like we’re having a beer together.

—How romantic.

—How are your studies?

—You mean the life of the mind?

—How is your life?

—My mind hurts.

—How is your salad duty?

—I’ve been making bad salads. Bag salads.

—How is your girlfriend?

—I had a dream that she died.

—But she’s alive?

—She’s working on a new translation of Émile Zola’s Germinal (1885). It’s an experimental translation where she takes liberties with the text. Instead of mineworkers, her version of the novel centers around a group of flowers.

—Anthropomorphic flowers?

—Is there any other kind?

—Yes

—Non-anthropomorphic flowers?

—The flowers take place in an election year and the gummy part of my car’s tyres.

—Huh. I think Uncle’s gone into one of his Tish-rages again, Paulice–

—Right. Grab the corduroy. A wide wale will be wanted for tonight. Oh, hush, Uncle; please don’t. Stop fussing. It’s Auld Hallow’s Ween, for aunt grable’s sake. We musn’t brackish the whoolinancy — I mean the whoolery.

—Genre’s got a beer-boner for stoners tonight, Barbara. Barbara.

—I can’t tell if you want this exclamation mark.

—I don’t want just any exclamation point, Mark. [Pause, applause.] I want yours. [Renewed, sustained applause. A child is born.]

—This boner’s gone free.

—Now that you’re a dad, and a city councilman, you mustn’t post pseudohomoerotic flash fiction on your blog. You must only post outspoken 5 point rejections of Romney’s 5 point plan and so forth.

—You remind me of the news.

—Witch part?

—The fuzzy part with no skin.

—That’s called the Purloined Lettuce. [A mouth.] I am studying Botany with your Aunt.

—My nude aunt?

—I have a newborn baby. A child. I haven’t slept. No longer drink coffee. Go Tigers.

— I expect you’ll want to tell me about your craft beer in a can, now.

—Yes. I bought it at the supermarket with some hummus and the halloween candy. Came in a six pack just like a set of Diet Dr. Pepper, but in fact it’s an intensely hoppy microbrew from Whole Foods, Colorado!

—Durango. That candy’s not vegan

—Let’s get personal. I know writing on your blog makes you miss San Francisco.

—Of course. Who doesn’t? But the thing San Francisco doesn’t know is that I took all my shit with me to Missouri so I still have it so if I want to look at my shit like my books or the only one person I love more than anything

—Hang on, there are trick or treaters at the door. [Inaudible] [Audible] [Inaudible]. Fucker just took my last Krackel. [Pause.] Nice costume… What are you?

—Desert clown.

[Doug Liman, director of Swingers (1996), The Bourne Identity (2002), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Jumper (2008), and Fair Game (2010), walks in with Studio Monitors around his neck. Curtain.]

Tengo sueño, yo soy dueño

Hola. No he practicaba mi español. Fui a Londres. Fui a San Francisco. Ví mis amigos Californianos. Hice nuevos. Mi esposa esta embarazada. No quiero decir eso en “Facebook”, pero en español en mi blog, pienso que es OK. Anoche no pude dormir. Esta mañana me levanté a las seis para viajar a la granja. Que granja, Andres? Mi CSA. Que es un “CSA”, andres? Es mi fucking Community Supported Agriculture. Agricultura con Apoyo de la Comunidad: AAC? Sin embargo, me gustaría mucho. Las personas, las verduras. La tierra. Pero mucho trabajo. Después regresé a mi casa nuevo — nuevo, Andres? Si, mi esposa embarazada y yo acabamos de comprar UNA FUCKING CASA. Una casa viejo y stucco. Una hipoteca. La tasa de interés es muy bajo ahorita, pendejos. En Missouri, es posible comprar una casa si no tienes nalgas de oro. Mi esposa tiene un feto — un bebe creciendo — en su cuerpo. ¡Milagro! ¡Ciencia! ¡Amor!

Entonces despues de regresar de la granja de CSA fui a mi casa nuevo con mi esposa embarazada y su padre. Su padre es un dueño real — un maestro de casas y madera. Madera madura, si? Me entiendes, pendejo? LOL. Mi suegro me enseñó como usar instrumentos basicos de construcción — taladros, sierras, etc. Despues, compramos una cama! Y por fin, fuimos a fucking Buckingham Smokehouse para BBQ. Despues fuimos a Andy’s Frozen Custard. Fue 91 grados a las 9 por la noche! Una dia Missourieño, sin dudo. Para un hombre — un esclavo de ordenador como yo, esta dia de manos y masculinidad fue agradable. No hablo español. Te amo.