“An Ernie Yes or No” @ The Everyday Gay

Currently living in the six hours between my dad heading back home to Michigan and going to work.  In post-SOLO HOMO 9 mode, but also must get things together for more visitors and Pride.  Thanks to all who came out to the show this week–you rock!  Hope you had a good time.

So my Solo Homo 9 piece, An Ernie Yes or No, was recently published by my writerly pal Byron and the rest of the fabulous folks over at The Everyday Gay.  The publication happened a bit “fast” even if the piece has been in the works for a few years now.  Byron and I had been emailing about contributing–and then I noticed EG was doing a Father’s Day week celebration, so I struck.  Byron loved it, and wrote a touching introduction, which I am so thankful for.

The piece covers my evolving attitude about the possibility of being a Dad, incorporating family history, pop culture, my relationship with Ernie, and various other introspection.  Read it by CLICKING HERE.

The piece started in winter 2008 as a class assignment in my friend Kelcey’s Creative Non-Fiction class at  IUSB, where I did a year of graduate work. Over the last three years, I’ve been working at it here and there, and by the time this year’s Solo Homo came about, I knew I wanted to use the opportunity to finish it.  I think  of all the pieces I’ve done, this was the easiest to memorize, because so much of it, especially the final thoughts, have been bubbling in my brain for so long, that I’ve known it for a while.

In thinking about my family, it’s actually a comfort to realize that all parents have their doubts, fears, and demons to deal with when it comes to being parents.  Our parents are people too!  Who knew?  In the 24-hour period before my dad came to visit and see the show, I had a bit of panic and a case of writer’s remorse.  This piece gets raw and real–about my family and myself–moreso than any work.  And it freaked me out a bit.  Especially with my dad hearing it.  But Dad is well aware of his personal goings-through in being a young parent, and talking about it definitely calmed me down.  We’re good. 🙂

As per one of my final thoughts in the piece, about attempting to help raise any child of mine to not be an asshole, my Strawdog Theatre friend, Hank (who also bar tended Monday night)  pointed me to this article from Details Magazine: Are You Raising a Douchebag? It’s funny at first, but also gets real.  It’s no fluff piece.  While no kid of mine will ride around in a $2000 stroller, one of the more accessible things that the article touches on is the parenting trend of over protecting.  One of my mantras these days is Kids are so coddled!  Let them live and discover and take risks.  Falling off a bike will make them stronger.  As I approach 40, I hear myself saying “Back in my day….” more than I’d perhaps like….  The article cites a forthcoming book called Let them Run With Scissors…. which I’ll have to pick up “if we get there.”  I also like some of the user comments following the piece (a rare thing these days of so much general negativity in comments sections everywhere).  One in particular is by a mom of 19-year-old twins who was a single mom since the boys were 3.  Go her!

I hope you enjoy the essay.  Feel free to leave non-douchebag comments here and/or at the EG site. 🙂

Happy Pride!

UPDATE: October 2011 ~ Follow my new blog project, Memoirs of a Guncle: adventures in gay unclehood, to follow up on the themes (and more!) touched on in this essay. Cheers!

UPDATE: October 2017 – The EG site is now down. I’ve also taken down the Memoirs site but am looking to re-post entries here.

Solo Homo 9: June 20 & 21, 2011!

I’ve Facebooked and Tweeted and done all sorts of PR.  Well, here’s the official WordPress post!  Check out my latest show with NewTown Writers, the 9th installment of Solo Homo. I’ll be debuting a new pieced called An Ernie Yes or No.

For more info, visit Newtownwriters.org

To RSVP at the Facebook Event Page, go HERE.

To snatch up online tickets, visit Brown Paper Tickets. (Or pay cash @ the door!)

We can’t wait to see you there.  Cheers!

“Dance of the Ring” online at Q Review!

Hey Friends, just a few days after mine and Ernie’s 7th wedding anniversary AND on the first day that Illinois’ Civil Unions bill kicks into effect, the Chicago-based online literary magazine, Q Review, has published my story, Dance of the Ring, for its June 2011 issue.

Check it out HERE.

This story from our Indiana years was first presented last June in NewTown WritersSolo Homo 8 performance event (and is looking to be a part of my full length solo show, Battles With Boys). The next installment–Solo Homo 9–will be presented June 20 & 21, 2011 at Strawdog Theatre’s Hugen Hall.  RSVP at the event’s Facebook page HEREI will be presenting a “sequel” of sorts in that it tackles the next traditionally chronological milestone….

Thank you much to Q Review for including me!  And welcome to any readers who found this site through reading my story.

Happy writing, and Happy Pride!

UPDATE October 2017 – The Q Review is no longer on line.

Off The Rocks 14 Released!

NewTown Writers is proud to present the 14th volume in our on-going print anthology, Off The Rocks.  It also coordinates with  the group’s 30th anniversary this year.  This edition includes my piece, The PB Club, which I’ve previously presented to audiences of Solo Homo and Story Club.

For this time around, we’ve set up shop at Lulu.com to handle printing and world wide distribution. Seriously, we’re going to take over the world. 🙂  Copies will also be available at future NTW events.

Click HERE to order you copy!

Enjoy!

NewTown Writers Presents: Solo Homo 7!

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Hello Friends!  You should come see my latest show.  I am co-producing it with the wonderful Josef Steiff, as well as performing a “new” piece, Is Jimmy Stackpool Singing Too? I say “new” because it’s something I’ve been working on for a while now, on and off.  Like writers do.  I hope you like it.  Here’s all the official info:

Solo Homo 7: NewTown Writers (newtownwriters.org), Chicago’s oldest GLBT writer’s group, presents the 7th installment of its hit solo performance series, Solo Homo.  Mon-Wed June 22-24, 2009 at 7:30.  Join us in Strawdog Theatre Company’s Hugen Hall at 3829 N. Broadway, Chicago.  Tickets may be purchased at the door or online at strawdogtheatre.com.  Please, no phone calls to the Strawdog box office.  $12 or 2 for $20 on Tues-Wed; $6 or 2 for $10 for Monday’s “Preview.”

This year’s line up of storytellers includes Cookie Crumbles, Byron Flitsch, Sara Kerastas, Deb Lewis, Timothy Rey, Mike Rogers, Lisa Scott, Josef Steiff, and Michael Van Kerckhove.

And there will be a cash bar too!  Can’t beat that, yo. 🙂

* * * *

Lit Fest 09-2

Here’s a shot of me reading at this past weekend’s Printer’s Row Lit Fest.  NewTown Writers had a slot in the Arts & Poetry tent.  I read a pieced called Out of the Collective Blur. The events in the story took place in the spring of 2000.  I’ve revisited the story a handful of times over the years.  Still looking for a home for the story.  Interestingly, it’s about the homeless in general, and more specifically about a homeless woman I would often see in the Grand Avenue Red Line station.  It will find a place.  Even if I post it here on this site. 🙂

And here’s another photo.  Cos the Chicago Tribune banner makes me look more important, right? 😛  My photomate is Jill, NTW’s current president.  She’s cool.

Lit Fest 09-1

All right, off to do more show stuff….

All Kinds of Stuff

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So, much going on in the past month. First off, Ernie and I finished our semesters at IUSB on May 7.  My class presented their awesomely creative group projects–their productions of Oedipus Rex.  We had one set at Woodstock, a sci-fi production set into the future, a production set in the world of LA gangs.  And a Greek tragedy meets Dr. Seuss.  The parallels are actually quite fascinating with that last one. 🙂  I had another solid group and I felt things went well even as my focus was split there for a while between packing and everything else.  I received my last pay check from the university last Friday, so now it’s really over.  The teaching, my coursework, the experience was an amazing (if sometimes bumpy) ride that I’m feeling will be better served in more private reflection.  Whatever the ups and downs, I don’t regret our time in “the SB” one bit.  I’m glad we did it, and I’m beyond glad we’re back.  Sometimes I’ll be riding my bike home from work and think Wow, I live here again.  And the last 3 years feel like a dream.  Like that season on Dallas when Pam walked into the bathroom and Bobby was in the shower and he wasn’t dead after all–and the next season they had to pick up from the one before.  Crazy!  Like I almost have to pick up  my Chicago life from 2006.  And then there’s the finale of Newhart when Bob wakes up with this previous series’ wife.  That whole Vermont thing was just a whacky dream.  Yeah, I feel like that sometimes.  But I know I contributed for real.  For real.

Both Fiction and Creative Nonfiction/Solo Performance work inspired by my time has a Hoosier has already begun….

“Operation Chicago Re-Boot” is going well. I’m actually looking forward to what I’m referring to as “Operation 2nd Wave.” A friend is buying my futon which used to be in the guest bedroom at the Country House.  It currently lives in our storage unit.  Once she is able to take it to her new place, we’ll be able to tidy up around here–put some stuff downstairs.  And do some cleaning.  That’ll be good.  I’ll feel more settled then.

I’m figuring out my post-South Bend masage.  Grad school, teaching, both moves, etc.  It’s all in my neck and shoulders and the rest of me can use a tune up too!

I’ve been focusing on two stories this past month.  First, Playing Guns, a piece about childhood play, friends, family, war, stories, etc.  I made a recent submission deadline.  Yay!  I won’t say who or what cos I’m supersticious like that.  *Fingers crossed* just in case.  I’m not really focusing on Is Jimmy Stackpool Singing Too? for Solo Homo 7. We open in just shy of 3 weeks!  Click on the link for more, though I know I’ll be giving it its own post soon.  I’m also co-producing/co-directing as well.  That’s been a lot of good behind the scenes grunt work.  Love that I have the opportunity to do it.  It fits peachily into “Operation Chicago Re-Boot.”  It’s been fun and we have an awesome group.  Can’t wait to see the culmination of all our work!

Finally, I recently finished reading Kevin Wilson’s short story collection, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth. I got a copy in my Easter basket from the in-laws.  I love it!  I appreciate the quirkiness that to me does not slide into ridiculousness.  Many of his characters have–unique–occupations and I love how he explores them and connects them to their lives.  His fantastical elements are grounded in reality and sense, a balance I work to achieve as well.  I wish I’d written some of them!  One of his stories, “The Museum of Whatnot,” deals with similar themes to one of my works in progress–our relationship with objects–but they’re still, you know, different.  🙂  While all the stories are different, you can definitely sense Kevin’s sense of humor, his voice, etc.  If I had to pick a favorite, I’d go with “Mortal Kombat,” which interestingly is one of the less “quirky” ones.  It’s an honest and raw piece about two high school friends in the early ’90’s and their relationship and discoveries.  A looked forward to event is the release of the home version the Mortal Kombat video game.  What an amazing cultural phenominon to connect to their lives.  That one got me reaching for some tissue.  I look forward to reading more of his work down the road….

Other reading material this summer will include the 3rd book onward in the Sookie Stackhouse novels.  Can’t wait for the 2nd season of True Blood to start!  I also have my Walt Whitman to read, other story collections.  Etc.

When I’m finished with working on my current Creative Nonfiction, I’m looking forward to diving into some of my own fiction.  I want to make stuff up again.

It’s fun. 🙂

Hangin’ With Uncle Walt

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He was quite the dashing fellow back in the day!

So, up to this point in my life, my Walt Whitman experience has pretty much been limited to a section from 9th grade Honors English (a long time ago…) and several (!) viewings of Dead Poets Society (one of my all time favorite movies). The “barbaric yawp” scene between Robin Williams and a (teeny-tiny baby) Ethan Hawke still gives me shivers. Interestingly, said English class was taught by my own Mr. Keating of sorts, Mr. Bean. I haven’t watched the film in a while. I should. I have the video. This semester, for my 19th Century American Lit class, we read “Song of Myself” from Leaves of Grass (the original 1855 edition), including Whitman’s preface. Here now is very general, yet positive review: Amazing stuff!

For my response for class in January, I reflected on the lessons Uncle Walt (as Robin Williams called him in DPS) teaches us:

On the surface, what may seem to be self involved praise of himself and his profession as a poet, quickly dives into extremely inclusive territory. We are all poets. In the preface, he writes that we all have the power to think “thoughts [that] are the hymns of the praise of things” and that “the poet sees for a certainty how one not a great artist may be just as sacred and perfect as the greatest artist.”

Through poetry, he gives valuable life lessons. The preface passage which struck me most begins with “This is what you shall do.” He instructs us to “Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms….” Etc. He continues these lessons in the poem itself: “Have you reckoned a thousand acres much? Have you reckoned the earth much?” He tells us that embracing the great artist in all of us, “You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me, You shall listen to all sides and filter them yourself.” And later: “I think I will do nothing for a long time but listen, And accrue what I hear into myself and let the sounds contribute toward me.” In some ways these lessons remind me of a 19th century version of Sark’s “How to be an Artist.” She writes, “Make friends with freedom and uncertainty. Look forward to dreams. Cry during movies.”

While I was drawn to the personal and artistic lessons, one of my classmates wrote about how Whitman reminds us that these individual freedoms and expressions are so much tied to what it means to be an American, what it is that makes our democracy what it is, and how poetry was Whitman’s perfect way of expressing it. Unfortunately, I’m not sure our democracy has ever reached the status of what it could & should be in the eyes of Whitman. Have we truly listened to Uncle Walt? Have we all embraced all classes, professions, and races as he does in the poem?

For my recent mid-term paper, I continued my investigations into the poem. The assignment was to basically do a close read of a primary source with light to no research. Just come up with an argument and prove it with evidence from the text. While some of my classmates thrive on the research, I found it refreshing to just bond with the poem. Just me and Uncle Walt. The images of rugged masculinity and sexuality run rampant throughout the work. I know this isn’t real news–the poem’s been around–but I guess I’m finally just getting around to knowing this. These lines in Section 24 make me swoon:

Divine am I inside and out, and make holy whatever I touch or am touched from;
The scent of these arm-pits is aroma finer than prayer,
This head is more than churches or bibles or creeds.

My paper covered the connection in the poem between homosexuality and the divine. I think I found some pretty solid evidence (though I just turned in the paper, so we’ll see if my prof agrees…. Hi, Jake!) Of course, I admit to being slightly biased and perhaps reading into things what I’m looking for with little research about the period’s views on sexuality. Perhaps I can incorporate all that into my final paper.

I like that grad school really lets one build something. There’s a through line. Not that there wasn’t in undergrad–but lawd that was a long time ago. I guess it’s the freedom to really find something that interests us and then run away with it.

It’s been fun hanging out with Uncle Walt. I feel a connection with a literary and personal past that doesn’t happen with every author. Good times. I’ll have to keep up with it. You know, along with everything else. But it’s a start. 🙂

Okay, so while looking for the linked scene above, I found this clip which edits together footage of the film into a video for Liz Phair’s “Why Can’t I Breathe?”

Anyone who wants more homo erotic subtext to the film may have it here. It’s a good clip–and I give props to those who have the editing skills, time, patience, etc. for all that.

Enjoy!

UPDATE June 9, 2008: I’m seriously bummed that this video is no longer available. 🙁

UPDATE August 20, 2017: Looked for it again; no dice. 🙁