Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jesus The Egg Laying Bunny

Now, son, I know it’s difficult to understand, this whole Easter business and how we celebrate it. But you have to realize, Jesus was not as laid back as he would have liked to be. Son of God is a job that comes with expectations, obligations. Let’s face it: getting nailed to a cross is a bitch. Not even God volunteered for that gig.
So Jesus came down off the cross and was really ready for a break. I mean, we all need a little time off when work gets hectic. And this wasn’t just heavy stress overtime: we’re talking 24 hour days with nails searing through your skin while splinters jabbed you everywhere else. And Jesus was a carpenter, he knew what a lousy job they’d done nailing him up there. Every mistake they made during the crucifixion, it had to be killing him not to get down from there and show those amateurs how it’s done.
 Anyway, by the time he got down our Lord really needed some time off. And not that eternal peace crap, either; he had all the time in the world for that. He needed some time off right NOW, goddamnit. Jesus just needed a little time by himself to relax, a minute or two of not being the Lord. And as Jesus sat in agonizing pain, trying to figure what he could put his weight on that wouldn’t hurt, he happened to see in the grass a little rabbit. An oblivious little rabbit, a creature that knew nothing about sin or salvation or eternal damnation. And Jesus saw that nearly brainless bunny as a stress-free thing to be, too stupid to worry that it might be eaten at any time by an unseen predator. Not that instantaneous death seemed like such a bad way to go. That’s what a few days on a cross will do to your perspective.
Now, Jesus was an old hand at miracles remember, water into wine and that sort of crap. So transforming himself into a bunny was no big deal. Yet he realized as soon as he’d made the change that it wasn’t enough. Jesus was used to being something special; it wasn’t enough to be just another rabbit. He needed more than that. Just as he could stand to be a man but not like all the other men, Jesus wasn’t about to put up with being just like all the other rabbits. He had to be different. And it came to him as he twitched his little holy cotton tail: he would lay eggs. There was something he had never done as a human, and something no other rabbit had done. So Jesus the rabbit proceeded to sit and lay some eggs. But there were no other rabbits around to show them off to, so he gathered some grass and straw and made himself a basket, gently placed the eggs inside, and began hopping around the woods looking for other rabbits. After awhile he came across some bunnies in a clearing, and showed them his basket of eggs, explaining that he had laid them himself. And made the basket, another thing that none of them could do. But the
 other rabbits either didn’t care or didn’t want this sort of thing lorded over them; regardless, they did not praise Jesus the rabbit for his egg-laying miracle.
Sadly, Jesus hopped away, despairing of salvation for bunnies. It occurred to him that only humans would appreciate what he had done, that the rabbits were too fucking stupid to know they didn’t lay eggs. And as he came to a clearing, Jesus the rabbit saw some human children and approached them. He offered them his basketful of eggs, but the children were not that fond of eggs, however miraculously they might have been laid. What, then, could they want? Of course, Jesus realized, children do not want eggs, they want chocolate. So he performed another miracle then, and transformed the eggs into chocolate. The children gobbled up the chocolate eggs and ran from the enchanted bunny, not knowing what other types of tricks it might perform. And Jesus, disappointed that the children had not even thanked him, returned to the form of a man and trudged back through the woods.
And that, my son, is the true story of Easter, and of how Jesus became a chocolate egg laying bunny.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving As A Festivity

A lovely Thanksgiving concluded with eight of us in a room – four of us family by blood, the other four family by choice. The meal-sharing was a bit scattered, different people with different plans, although all of us live here – Susan and I don’t do much going out and socializing, but we like having people we like around.

So we made a bunch of food and watched a couple movies, comedies, and it’s weird that just laughing with people you know expresses solidarity. But it works, and yeah I already had connections with everyone there tonight but something as simple as enjoying the same jokes seems to solidify bonds. And the kitchen got cleaned between movies, which believe me was a helluva trick (that didn’t quite work – I missed a couple minutes of the second movie, but I’d seen it before).

Not the usual sort of leftovers with this method – little food and no alcohol will survive – but tomorrow there’s this batch of people who all enjoyed time together. And a bunch of us will be having coffee in the (late) morning.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I made up a bunch of stories for my boys featuring Fred the Bear, the biggest and smartest bear in the world. These stories were all verbal improvisations. A few made it onto the page. I think this is one of the few that actually was written down before it was told. So, if anyone ever accuses my children of having a warped upbringing, I offer this introduction to literature in my defense.


One day, Fred the Bear was walking through the woods, when he heard a noise in the distance. Fred stopped. He pointed his nose in the direction of the sounds. Fred sniffed. It smelled like something dirty, something that was not fish. He listened, and took a quiet step, and sniffed again. It smelled like people!
Fred liked people. They often did strange things that he didn’t understand, and he liked to watch. So Fred quietly moved between trees, walking on all fours, until he approached a clearing. Fred knew that in the middle of the clearing was a table, where people sometimes came to eat. Sometimes the people left food behind. Fred liked those times very much.
Now Fred, being the biggest bear in the world, had to be pretty good at hiding or people would see him all the time. And Fred was pretty good, but he was very big. So now, when he carefully peeked his head out from behind a tree, he had to just hope no one would look and see him. Fred hoped, and Fred looked. No one looked back. Fred looked some more.
What he saw was amazing. There was more food on the table than he had ever seen before. And there weren’t that many people, but the people who were there all wore very tall hats, with buckles on them like they were belts. Maybe, Fred thought, they had very tiny heads.
Fred didn’t know that he was watching a Thanksgiving party, and all the people were dressed like pilgrims. He only knew that he had seen many people, but never any who dressed like this, and he wondered just how small their heads were. And their food smelled so good, and there was so much of it. Far more than six tiny-headed people could eat. Fred took a deep breath, smelling all the food, and he sighed. It smelled so wonderful.
Fred hadn’t even known he was hungry, but now, smelling all the meat and the bread and potatoes and pie, he knew. Fred licked his mouth. The smell went up his nose and through his body. It woke up his belly. “Mmmm,” Fred’s belly said, and it growled hungrily. Fred growled back.
And all the people in their pilgrim hats heard that growl, and all of them turned their heads toward the tree Fred crouched behind. One by one, each person in his pilgrim’s hat saw Fred, a giant bear, looking down at the people and licking his mouth. And one by one each person shot to his feet, swung his legs as fast as he could over the picnic bench, and ran.
Fred was amazed and delighted at what he saw. The people were running away from their food! They were giving it to him! Fred got so excited, he ran to the table to eat. And every one of those people, who already thought he was running as fast as he could, heard and saw the giant bear running toward them and ran faster still. Their pilgrim hats flew off, and the people disappeared. And Fred was left alone with a table full of food.
Fred ate and ate. He’d never had so much food at one time, and it was all so good. He could eat more than he’d ever eaten in his life and there would still be plenty left for his cubbies. So Fred ate his fill, and he was going to walk into the woods and look for his cubs when he thought of those hats. They must be magic hats, he knew, for only people wearing hats such as those could possibly make so much food that they could leave this much behind.
Fred gathered the hats, all six of them, and took them to a spot he knew, a good spot for planting. And he dug big holes and buried the hats in a row, hoping they would grow soon. Then Fred went into the woods to find his cubs and bring them to their meal.
For a long time Fred remembered that day, the magic hats and the magic meal, but after a while he didn’t think about it so much, and after a longer while he almost forgot it completely. Oh, he would think of it every now and then, when he was daydreaming and something would remind him, a good smell or a growling belly, but he never saw those magic people again.
But one year later, Fred was out walking through the woods again, when he heard something pop. It was a strange sounding pop, something Fred had never heard before, and he had to see what it was. He ran in the direction of the sound, and as he ran he heard another pop. And as he drew closer, he heard another.
Pop. What were those pops, Fred wondered. And he hurried until he could see he was close enough, and then he stopped. Fred stopped at the spot he had known was good for planting. He hadn’t known it would be this good. There, above the ground where he had planted them, were three pilgrim hats. Fred had planted them, and they were growing.
Pop. A fourth pilgrim hat emerged from the ground. Fred had planted them one after the other, just a few minutes between hats, and that was how they were growing. After a few minutes, there was another pop, and out of the earth came a fifth pilgrim hat.
Each hat appeared to be the same size as when Fred had planted it, and the hats did not seem to be getting any bigger. But somehow, they were still growing. As the sixth and last pilgrim hat popped into view, Fred knew what was happening. He could see. The hats were growing UP. And for the hats to grow up, something had to be beneath them. As the sixth hat grew higher, it became clear to Fred what was beneath the first hat.
It was a head. A little tiny person head, strapped in tight by the buckle on the hat. And as the forehead rose higher above the ground and eyebrows appeared, Fred knew he was right. One by one six tiny-headed people were growing up out of the ground. And they were growing fast. Knowing how easy it was to scare people, Fred ducked behind some tall bushes and peeked out.
They were growing rapidly now. Once the hats were in the air, full heads were rising beneath them. Beneath the heads were necks, and beneath the necks were bodies. At least Fred guessed there were bodies there—the people were fully clothed, dressed in full pilgrim suits, just like the ones Fred had seen exactly one year ago.
And these new pilgrims emerged from the earth carrying large baskets of food, and before their feet were even out they were talking about finding a picnic table where they could set their baskets down. And once their feet were on the ground (instead of below it) the six newborn pilgrims set out in the exact direction of the clearing. They must have been told by the magic how to get there.
They must also have been told by the magic not to notice Fred yet, for in his excitement he made a lot of noise, but the pilgrims walked calmly onward. They reached their table and set it just like a year before, and Fred hid behind a tree just like a year before, until his stomach growled and he growled back, just like a year before, and the pilgrims heard him and ran away, leaving their food and their hats, just like a year before.
Now every year Fred the Bear goes to watch the harvest of the pilgrims he has planted, and Fred and his family and friends go to frighten the pilgrims, but not too much, and have a Thanksgiving feast. And there is always plenty for everyone.

Friday, November 5, 2010

In Defense of Genre Fiction And Related Rambles

Defending genre fiction is a familiar theme for me. As editor-in-chief for Swill, I have been able to support my beliefs by publishing fiction that fit a genre or two. The main point for me has been that genre fiction is not by definition independent of literary fiction. It's like asking, "Is rock good music? Is jazz good music?" The questions are idiotic. Give me an example from that style and I can give my opinion of your example, not of the entire genre.

The specifics of this defense began with something I read on Amy Sundberg's blog (http://practicalfreespirit.com/2010/11/04/wasted-talent-i-dont-think-so/#comments). To summarize, 
Gordon Duzois, one of the most respected editors in science fiction, had declared in a review that a "mainstream story" by Jay Lake was

"…a story good enough to suggest that Lake’s talents may be wasted working in the genre, as he has the literary chops to make it as a significant mainstream author instead.

Ms. Sundberg wrote what I considered a well-thought-out defense of speculative fiction genres. There were several comments in general agreement with the column, along with one from Jay Lake that suggested the word choice was meant to be complimentary and he took it as such. Well played, Jay.

My comment was:

"Of course, for an editor of Dozois’ reputation/pedigree to choose words poorly is surprising in itself. The idea that he might consider sf inferior to literary fiction is probably best left as a clue to be pounced on by a biographer.

The idea that one genre is inherently inferior to another (and, yes, “literary fiction” is a genre, and despite its pretentious label, a genre that I am often damned fond of) sets me off on a fairly regular basis. If a guy wakes up and he’s turned into a bug overnight, that’s clearly science fiction. Or wait, there’s no science in that, so it’s speculative fiction. But all fiction is speculative, it has to be or it isn’t fiction. So, does it become literary because the science is no good? Or because of how we already think of the author?
Of course, if it sells, it is by definition commercial, at which point it can be dismissed as inferior by all of us whose sales are either relatively or totally nonexistent.
Clearly, then, in terms of merit, fiction should be ranked as follows:
1. Literary
2. Genre
3. Commercial
In terms of profitability, just flip the list."
That was as far as I got before I had to peel garlic and pick up children. But, I wrote as I drove, pen and tiny notepad in hand against the wheel. I continued thus:

(Btw, I was going to continue "thusly," but that strayed from literary to pretentious, although maybe I'd gotten that far already. Anyway...)

Snobbery against commercially successful fiction is a case of biting the hand that potentially feeds. A writer who tries to get published would probably like to sell a few books. And without the books that sell millions and underwrite the publishing industry, where would these writers be? Many a writer might be willing -- that is, required to -- settle for a niche market, but could large publishing houses exist with only niche markets? (Some may say we're about to find out, but so far I know enough only to read about such things, not to write about them.)

I don't mean to suggest that serious writers necessarily want to be best-selling writers. However commercial a story might be, the odds are against its writer getting rich. Personally, I would love to make millions on my novel (not yet published, but if you're eager for it, keep reading the blog, I'm sure I'll remember to mention its publication pretty much the moment I stop screaming YESSSSS!), but realistically I need it read by people who don't know me because my ego is hungry. It doesn't count when friends like my writing: it's like when stoned people laugh at a joke. The pleasure may be caused by something else. And I say that with total respect for some of my friends and the people in my writers group to critique the hell out of my writing. The thing is, my friends already like me, they already know me, and when they read me it's an extension of the person they already know and like on the page. Strangers, who haven't spent years hanging out and discovering how fucking charming I am, have to be convinced exclusively by the words on the page.

So, while I would love to be a best-selling writer, what I really want is for strangers to like me because I write well. I don't need it to be millions of strangers, because I thoroughly distrust the tastes of the masses. But, you know what? I would prefer my number of fans to be in the millions, with the assumption that the cult that really understands me would be mixed in there. Realistically, of course, I'm going for a cult. My attitude matches up much better with John Cassavetes than it does with that Steve guy who made Jaws (that guy won a lifetime achievement award before his 35th birthday, which to me means people should have been allowed to kill him, even if my main problem with his early work isn't that it was bad but that it wasn't great and it was treated as though it were.)

Thing is, Steve (is that even his name? Just another pop director whose budgets got too big, I'm sure I'd like him better if that movie about the alien with the phone had ended one of the first three times it seemed too - oh, and if it hadn't stolen the flying bikes thing from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or whatever shitty Disney flick that was ripped off from) didn't need to come along to save American film. The 1970s may have been the height of American film, and some of the best of those movies did pretty well at the box office (compare the Academy Awards winners of that decade to any decade since - it's not even close.)

Some of what I've written here may go against what seemed to be this entry's theme. That's okay; I always hated themes, research papers, that sort of thing. The point that I began with was that stories should be judged not by how they are categorized but by what they are. I love some genre fiction, I hate some genre fiction, and I consider literary fiction just another genre with a snottier name than the rest. It pissed me off when No Country For Old Men received worse reviews than other Cormac McCarthy novels because it was considered a noir work. Not that I thought it was better than Blood Meridian -- ain't much of anything better than Blood Meridian -- but the latter is an extremely bloody work of "literary fiction." It's also a western, and noir.

I am available for long-winded discourse on all subjects raised here. Especially if the subject raiser shows up with something to drink. Cheers.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tooting No One Else's Horn

If you're here, presumably you know me from elsewhere. Like, possibly my other blog
(http://robp-swill.blogspot.com/) which I will continue to use, specifically for posts about Swill Magazine (www.swillmagazine.com). Or perhaps you know me through my Twitter moniker, @swillmag. Again, that account will remain active, but I am going to use it primarily for tweets about Swill. My new, even less altruistic than its predecessor Twitter account is @robpierce2verbs .

 I've started this blog and the new Twitter account because I've written a novel and I want to sell the damned thing. This is a separate activity from selling Swill. I've named this blog after a mnemonic that works - I tell people that my name is Rob Pierce, two verbs, and they remember my name. If I tell them just the name without the mnemonic, they tend to forget. So far this works at the bank and the pet food store. Soon, it will work with the entire world.

The title of this post is an exaggeration. I will continue to say nice things about people who deserve it (which makes me wonder - have I said anything nice about anyone besides myself on my other blog?) So, if it's not a continuation, I will start to do that. I know I am fascinating, but there is a longshot that someone visiting this blog would like to read about someone besides me. Of course, the best way to do that is to visit someone else's blog. My recommendations would be the blogs I like to visit, which should be listed on this page somewhere. If not yet, soon.

Anyway, that is why this blog is here. Now, to notify the curious masses.