because i’ve always wanted an excuse to watch every episode of seaQuest DSV, i have invented a character in the novel i’m writing who is obsessed with Jonathan Brandis. i’ll be updating you on my progress here. i just thought you should know in case i go over the cliffs of sanity.

i’m reading Stephen King for really the first time. reason being: i’m writing a horror novel. 

i was at Barnes and Noble yesterday and i picked up a copy of It. i’ve never seen the movie, but what intrigued me most about the book is how big it is. it really is an epic, the kind of thing i would like to write someday.

i’ve habitually passed on Stephen King because Harold Bloom hates him and, as a language snob, that was good enough for me. but as i’ve gotten years deeper into post-college life, i’ve started to care less about what Harold Bloom thinks. 
so i downloaded the sample of It that exists on the iTunes Bookstore. and i’ve discovered a number of delightful surprises about King’s writing. primarily, King is really quite good at characterized narration. what i mean by this is he knows how to stitched threads of consciousness into the paragraphs between the dialogue.

in order to be a good writer of novels, you have to be a great narrator. you get extra points, though, if your narrator inhabits the characters at their most vulnerable moments. here’s a paragraph from It i like very much:

i’ve highlighted the line that sticks out most to me as most conscious. that is, when we read within a novel (even if it’s narrated in the first person, as It is), we take the purely narrative parts (the parts that aren’t dialogue) as subconscious or a preconcious. it takes a clever author, though, to find appropriate moments to tap the reader on the head and remind him that conciousness is nothing to take for granted.

it adds charm and even suspense. and i can’t wait to read what happens next.

even five minutes in the Social Security office is enough to drain most of your lifeblood. they should offer doughtnuts and candy on the way out, same as when you give blood at the Red Cross.

worst part is i forgot to bring my passport, so i’m going to need to return next week. bring my own doughnuts.
i had no choice after but to pop into the last Barnes and Noble in Brooklyn, to see if maybe i could regain some of my joie d’vivre, and some of my self respect. oh boy. 

glad, though, for John Patrick Shanley’s Twitter feed. today, for instance, i discovered he shops at Bed Bath & Beyond. a Pulitzer Prize winner shops where i shop sometimes!

there’s an episode of the Twilight Zone in which a man wishes away all of the other people on earth. you can guess how it ends for him (in typical Twilight Zone fashion), but even that story can’t keep me from wishing for some solitude this weekend on all the errands i must run.

i’m very opinionated about musicals. very opinionated. i only really like about 7 musicals at a time, and i will only give you my list if you ask me personally. 

in general, you can tell i won’t like a musical by when it was written: after 1989. for some reason the collapse of the Soviet Union did terrible things for musical theater. 

also, i typically hate Broadway musicals. something about the bigness without cause, the 100-dollar tickets, the headliners with no talent, it all just turns me off. i’m reminded of something Roger Corman said of Star Wars (1977), that the money spent on the film is precisely what appears on the screen. this, i believe, is a very important principle in popular art: what you see is what you get. 

yesterday a friend posted on his Facebook wall that he had seen a new musical on Broadway and loved it.

i haven’t seen Dear Evan Hanson, but everything about it makes me feel like it’s something i would normally pass on: the big pop score, the warbly voices, the moody teen angst story. 

yet, this Facebook friend is a person i really enjoy, and i trust his judgment. not to mention, he talks about how the musical was written. which is something i rarely see considered

and now my world is rocked.

what do you do when someone makes you reconsider something you had every intention of ignoring?

i did a show last night and talked for a long time with a new friend about sketch comedy. it’s always great to find fellow Monty Python obsessives. we need more of those.

what i did not realize (what my new friend revealed to me) is that the Pythons had no idea what Flying Circus was going to be, not even on their way into the pitch meeting. and yet, because the BBC was still relatively new and they were just screaming for content, the boys were allowed 13 (important number) episodes to figure it out. 

i guess the lesson here is that if you want to be successful, sometimes the best place to be is where there’s a need for something new. 

look at the Internet now: there’s stuff getting created every moment of every day, God knows how many hours of video, zillions of words on Twitter alone, so much stuff that the we’re almost afraid we won’t have enough chips to fit it on. 
and everybody’s trying something new.

this week i’m thrilled to be working Instagram for a national comedy festival near-and-dear to my heart. first of all, i could publish an encyclopedia of all the nice things i have to say about festival producer Emily Winter. second of all, this festival makes a lot of sense: it offers people everyone a cheap and funny option to gather and peacefully protest the beginning of a New Era we didn’t ask for. and the money supports a great cause!

this Instagram project has been particularly fun to do. we don’t have a ton of followers yet, but it’s a new account and honestly followers are not our priority here. we need to sell tickets, and it’s my opinion that Instagram isn’t great at that unless you pay for ads.

even so, i hope you’ll come to one of the shows in over 20 cities and support the ACLU. 

here’s one of my favorite GIFs i created:

 As a Snob with limited time in the day, I mostly ignore science fiction writing. If this makes you angry, please don’t resort to violence against me. Or if you do, please do so as Etgar Keret does in his fantastic science fiction story A., published in this month’s Wired.

The way that Keret dramatizes action is particularly keen. I offer the following passage for consideration: 

Unlike most other scifi authors, who learn from the worst parts of science fiction film (the dialogue, the misguided satire, the botched symbology) Keret steals from the best parts of science fiction film: the cuts. Like a great cinematographer, he knows there can be meaning in a chapter break the same way there is meaning in a flashback or a dissolve.

This particular cut shows why Keret is a great writer: going straight from Goodman’s speech to moments later the outcome. This literary choice lends comedy to an otherwise heavy handed moment, and I’ll also add that the theme runs in concert with the chapter break: Goodman discusses the next step of A.’s development right before he’s interrupted by both a chapter break and A.’s assault. It’s as if A.’s and Keret’s choices to shut Goodman up happen at the exact same moment.

Most of the other stories in this month’s Wired will bore me to tears and do nothing to endear me to their genre. Keret might convince me to not only love his art but also to take the hit when I say I’m a Snob who doesn’t like science fiction.

i dreamt last night i was playing my show. Thunderstrike was there. the stage looked like the first stage i ever performed on, in the basement of the Congregational Church of Reading, Massachusetts, but it was blown out into a street on a high hill, like in the Bronx or Sunset Park, and we could see the back of the Statue of Liberty. i realized that, when you view the Statue of Liberty from a certain angle, she looks like she’s playing an electric guitar.

the show wasn’t prepared. we hadn’t rehearsed it. and there was a bachelor party in the audience who was on their way to a swim meet, as well as a bunch of Male Rights Activists, so no one really wanted to see our Radical David Bowie Parody / Future-Sexual Karaoke Trunk Show.

please come to the show so we don’t have to perform for bros?

Schlock Factor: 🎷🎷🎷🎷🎷 Good horror films are fairy tales. Better ones verge on psychoanalysis. The best horror films are always rituals, lulling us into attention before unmasking the collective dream experience. Many horror films we admire because of their twists and turns, but that’s just the trick of the game. Your rabbi might call …

i’ve decided to devote some of my time each day to studying attention. i realize that this might sound weird, but only if you’re reading this blog post out loud, otherwise it won’t sound like anything because reading makes no sounds unless you read with your lips and THAT’S GROSS. 
furthermore, i have been told by friends that i no longer am able to carry on a conversation without checking my phone. neither can they (although i dont point it out) but still i want to improve myself.
sure there are any number of apps that help one focus on the task at hand, but i was lucky enough to stumble onto a book by Howard Rheingold, published by MIT Press in 2012, which contains this passage:

With a goal in mind, I actively maintain attention on a specific objective, such as writing this sentence and simultabeously filter out information that is not directly applicable to my central task, such as the tiny icon that popped up in the corner of my computer screen to alert me of a new email. This skill at screening out information before it reaches full awareness is not something that social media itself can do for me; automated filters help, but the most important filter is a function of my brain, not my PC. Only you can know your goals, and only you can determine which stimuli are relevant at any moment. (Rheingold 42)

so i have decided to follow his book and his course of study to try and study my own attention. if you’d like to join me, i will be reporting my findings here. join me in my effort to make myself smarter!