Wednesday, March 23, 2005

how precarious things really are

When I wrote Picasso Burns, a few people asked, "Don't they have insurance?" or "Can't he ask for help?" Perhaps I was at fault for not being crystal clear about the situation, but I wanted to leave some things to the readers to figure out. At any rate, I had a situation very like the The Political Gets Personal--A Rant in mind when I wrote it. This is the reality we're living in today. Although the writer and her husband aren't in the same financial situation as the couple depicted in "Picasso," they very well could be. With insurance caps at $100,000 and no access to Medicaid or other similar programs, where exactly is the money supposed to come from? And how, exactly, does someone in this situation ask for help? "Hey, can you spare a half million dollars?" This was exactly the thought I had in mind at the point when Mrs. Andrews asks James if there's anything she can do to help. When the problem is that freaking huge, what can one possibly say?

At any rate, I'd urge all of you to read the rant. And if you have any ideas on options for this couple, let's hear 'em.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Poetic Licensing


"So, what?"

"So, how did it go?"

"I failed."

"Crap. What'd you miss?"

"I forget. Lemme look. Here it is. 'Alliteration.'"

"You missed alliteration?"

"Yeah. What the hell is it?"

"It's like... um... parallel parking."

"Damn, that's what got me on the driving test, too."

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Issue Eight is live!

Woohoo! Go check it out! Lots of great stuff to read! Wheeeeee! Click the pic.

Monday, March 07, 2005

a very sad day in the lit world

Some of you may have read InkPot, one of the most beautiful literary magazines available over the last few years. If you're like me, maybe your work appeared in its pages. And again, if you're like me, receiving that acceptance letters was one of the greatest thrills of your writing career.

Alas, InkPot is closing its doors after its final October issue. And they could use some help getting that final issue out. Levenger has, alas, decided to discontinue its sponsorship of InkPot. There are other reasons why Bev Jackson has decided to discontinue the magazine, but this is certainly a very large one. If you can help out in any way, I encourage you to do so. For donations above $25.00, Bev is offering copies of previous publications (which also include some novels).

Please take a moment to read her most recent letter. And do your bit to help out if you can.

another college roommate

After reading about Dwight's passing, I hit the alumni database for Northwestern to track down one of my old roommates who was also a big fan of Dwight's. John Lehr's had an interesting career. He was on "Jesse" for a season or two and hosted "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!" He and I partied much, much, much too hard in our college daze and were both in an improv troupe called Mee-Ow that went to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival back in '86. Dan Patterson was a grad student at the time and directed the show, and later created "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" both for BBC and ABC. Anyway... John's sobered up since then and converted to Judaism. Veddy, veddy interesting. But, in many ways, he's still the same wild man, as you can see from clips of the shows that he does, "The Comedic Lectures." Check out his site at Hopefully, he'll be showcasing it in LA again some time soon, and then taking it to Chicago. He recently completed a run of it in NYC.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

RIP Dwight Conquergood

Just found out, while surfing bios of old college professors, that one of the best human beings I've ever known passed away a couple months ago. God, what an incredible loss. Here's the first line from one of his obituaries:

"Northwestern University Professor Dwight Conquergood took his desire to understand the disenfranchised to a Thai refugee camp, a dangerous Chicago neighborhood and vigils outside scheduled Death Row executions."

That barely begins to touch on what a beautiful person Dwight was. I was blessed to have had him as my faculty advisor. When I think of people who embody what is good, people whom I strive to be more like, Dwight is one of the three that immediately come to mind. My grandfather is another. One of my classmates with whom I moved to Seattle to start a theater company is the third. It's hard to believe that one of them is gone now.

More about Dwight from Chicago Tribune staff writer Tom Rybarczyk and from The Daily Northwestern.

Obituaries can barely begin to express what kind of a man this professor who remembered your name after meeting you only in passing was. He touched lives in the Gaza Strip, in Laos, in Thailand, in inner-city Chicago, at Northwestern University, and on Death Row. And those are just the obvious places.

Rest in peace, Dwight. We hadn't talked in years, but I miss you very, very much.

Million Writers Award Top Ten Announced

Well, none of SmokeLong's Notable Stories made the top ten, but it was still a thrill to have two stories recognized. Here are the top ten. Go read 'em and vote for your favorite at StorySouth.

Terry Bisson "Super 8" (
Jai Clare "Bone on Bone" (Agni)
Xujun Eberlein "Second Encounter" (Paumanok Review)
Alicia Gifford "Toggling the Switch" (Narrative Magazine)
Richard Grayson "Branch Libraries of Southeastern Brooklyn" (Fiction Warehouse)
Trebor Healey "The Mercy Seat" (Blithe House Quarterly)
Dave Housley "Ryan Seacrest Is Famous" (Barrelhouse)
Joan Shaddox Isom "Remade Tobacco" (Eclectica Magazine)
Corey Mesler "Madame Sabat's Grave" (Pindeldyboz)
Chika Unigwe "Dreams" (Eclectica Magazine)