Tag Archives: B. Frayn Masters

Summer Splash

Hi friends,

Summer is officially here and I’m planning on doing some fun stuff and getting a few important things done. Here’s a quick rundown.

Tomorrow night, I’ll be hosting a kick-ass outdoor reading at Colonel Summers Park. It starts at 7pm and the weather is supposed to get clear and nice by then so we’ll probably even get there early and play some basketball or frisbee or something. I’ll be introducing Eirean Bradley, Diana Salier, and Chloe Caldwell for their short readings and fellow Future Tense peeps Bryan Coffelt and Becca Yenser will also be there. Check out the details here. It was also a featured pick in the Mercury and Oregonian!

Bryan Coffelt and me, pimping some literature (from AWP 2012)

In July, I’m going to fly down to visit my brother in Houston and also read alongside some of the coolest ladies in America (I’m reading at the Houston and New Orleans stops on their tour). I love going to the south, so this should be a blast.

While I’m down there, I’m hoping to finally finish up some of the final edits and revisions of the novel I’ve been working on for twenty months (feels like twenty years). More updates on that as they come.

Summer reading? Well, right now I’m about to finish Ryan Boudinot’s Blueprints of the Afterlife, which is one of the weirdest and funniest books I’ve read in years. I also have the debut issue of Radio Silence that looks fantastic, Pauls Toutonghi’s new beauty, some more poetry by Sharon Olds and Matthew Dickman, the new novel by Padgett Powell, and that newish dirty Nicholson Baker book that I still haven’t gotten to. I like to do a lot of my reading on the Max train or at Bipartisan Cafe, where they have the best pie in Portland.

Summer literary happenings? I’ve set up a reading for Justin Maurer and Lindsey Kugler for Friday, July 27th at Ampersand that should be awesome. And then in August, I’m helping coordinate the Portland stop of the “Lil’ Bitch Tour” with Chelsea Martin, Elizabeth Ellen, and Scott McClanahan. That’s on August 17th, location TBA.

Summer movies? I saw Prometheus with my son a couple of days ago and it was pretty fun I thought. But most new movies have looked real crappy lately, so I’m not sure what else. Ruby Sparks could be a guilty pleasure. Maybe The Bourne Legacy too? I don’t know. Where are the slow, depressing dramas about fucked-up people when I want them?!

Summer songs? I hope to listen to Peggy Lee a lot. Mates of State always sounds good when the sun is out too (I hope to see their show in Portland on June 30th). That new Best Coast is also playing around here.

Peggy Lee!

Also, I’m not a strong swimmer, but I may put some floaties on for this year’s Big Float. (Watch for the awesome promo videos coming soon–written and produced by B. Frayn Masters!)

That’s all for now. See you in the sun!

2011 is Dead. Long Live 1997.

Hey–First off, I have new little stories at Unshod Quills and Hart House Review!

And since 2011 is just about over, I thought I should post a little year-end thingamajig. A few of my favorite things:

Novels: Donald Ray Pollack’s The Devil All the Time and Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers were both pretty kick-ass rough and tumble kind of novels and both steeped in a dark Americana style.

Mr. deWitt

Short story collection: How many times do I have to tell you. Lutz is a master. Divorcer simply destroys.

Memoir: Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy. So, yeah, it was all popular like ten years ago but I just finally read it and it’s pretty awesome. Some people say the Ann Patchett book, Truth & Beauty (about her friendship with Grealy) is even better. Can’t wait to read that one. I’m sad that Grealy is not around anymore.

Poetry: Gregory Sherl is the new leading man of the drug-addled emo poetry scene. Does that make it sound bad? I hope not. Because it’s beautiful. He’s also kind of like the Rob Pollard of the lit world now too–so many books coming out (including Monogamy Songs from Future Tense, summer 2012), so many words coming out of him.

Surprise Manuscript: Chloe Caldwell sent me a query in 2010 that piqued my interest enough to have her send me more stuff in 2011. In that short amount of time, her essays became even more powerful and I signed her on for a Future Tense release in spring of 2012. Legs Get Led Astray is gonna kick your butt and give you a heartache. Helping her edit her essays the past couple of months has been a constant thrill. She’s my favorite writer of personal essays. Watch out for her!

Movies: Oh, man. Has it been a shitty stretch of years for film? It feels like the quality of movies is down lately. I did really like Drive (like everyone else, I know) and Buck was great as well. My favorite DVD release was definitely Dogtooth, the strange and brilliant Greek film about a fucked-up family in a world all their own.

TV: There are many shows that I once really liked and have lost interest in (Dexter, Weeds, maybe even American Horror Story already) but the ones that have stayed awesome are Breaking Bad and Mad Men (in other words, the usual suspects). The saddest goodbye this year was for Friday Night Lights, one of the greatest and most realistic shows about small town living and family life to ever be on TV. Luckily though, FNL writer Jason Katims also does the AWESOME show Parenthood, which has a lot of the same great qualities of FNL. I never miss it–and yeah, I have a crush on Lauren Graham. So what?


Music: I feel like I got more and more behind on the music scene this year. I’m just not as on top of it as I used to be. I remember people would ask me, ten or fifteen years ago: How do you find out about all these cool bands that you listen to? I would usually answer that I hung out at listening stations a lot, had friends with record store jobs, and that I read a lot of music magazines (NME and Melody Maker, Copper Press, Spin, or whatever). Now my answer is: the library. I get stuff at the library all the time. Just recently, I snagged a CD by Sarah Jaffe, thinking it was my friend Sara Jaffe. It wasn’t, but now I have a new favorite singer. Also discovered this year: Ayvett Brothers, Blind Pilot, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and I got to interview The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy and Jenny Conlee for Relix Magazine, which was cool. My 17-year-old son has reached the point where he’s listening to all these weird bands I’ve never even heard of.

The Decemberists

There were a lot of other personal highlights in 2011 as well. Getting married to B. Frayn Masters in January was a beautiful moment that keeps turning into more beautiful moments.

Married Bliss Attack!

Now come on, 2012!

I’m reading at If Not For Kidnap on a special Friday night edition, January 20th. I’m joined by Bryan Coffelt, poet, designer, Future Tense co-hort, and 49ers fan. There will also be Edward Mullany, a musical guest, and a secret special surprise reader at this event. Not to mention booze. House readings: They’re the best.

Alright, folks. Have a great Christmas and New Year.



When Did August Become the Busiest Month Ever?

This is one of the craziest Augusts I’ve had. It just seems like a ton of stuff was happening every week. Here were some of the highlights (and there’s still a couple of days left before September!):

B. Frayn and I had a long overdue dinner with the wonderful Cheryl Strayed and her husband, Brian Lindstrom.

Cheryl and B. on a hot August night

Went to the wedding of friend and Back Fence PDX co-babe, Melissa Lion.

Hung out with new Portland friends Leni Zumas and Luca Dipiero.

Read at the release party for the book, Nouns of Assemblage, with a bunch of other friends. I’m super happy to have a story in this killer book, published by my friend, Riley Michael Parker.

Read in Seattle with Lidia Yuknavitch and Kerry Cohen, then went out with pals Richard Chiem and Frances Dinger after.

Had some food and drink at the new Trader Vic’s with longtime friend from Chicago, Rob Christopher. (Psst: I didn’t really like Trader Vic’s)

Saw Ned Vizzini, Sabra Embury, and their baby at Powell’s and gave them a mini walking tour of Portland’s Pearl District.

Hosted a reading at Ampersand with Emily Kendal Frey, Sarah Bartlett, and Jamalieh Hailey.

Went to the big Plazm 20th anniversary party at Disjecta.

Played ping pong on the rooftop of Nancy Guppy’s Seattle condo (B. Frayn is the ping pong champ!).

Found the newest Future Tense acquisition (to be announced soon, for a summer 2012 release). And did some edits on other upcoming books.

Got to the revising, editing, and sequencing stage of the novel I’m working on.

Got a story accepted for the 2012 issue of The Fairy Tale Review.

I was interviewed a couple of times too. Including this one at Used Furniture Review.

Started getting ready for the Literary Death Match!

Also–I taught a flash memoir writing workshop, visited my son at his Youthcorps summer camp near Wenatchee, went to other friends’ readings, took my wife on some dates, paid rent on time, and went to the dentist!

ALSO ALSO– I made this list!

Talk to you in September!

Who Is B. Frayn Masters?

B. Frayn Masters is reading at the Smalldoggies reading series tomorrow night at the Blue Monk. It’s been a while since she’s done a reading, what with all her time being occupied as producer of the super-popular live shows, Entertainment For People and Back Fence (which she also co-hosts), freelance writing, and getting married to me earlier this year. I told her that I wanted to interview her for my blog, to catch people up on what she’s doing, and to also excavate some of her personal secrets myself. Here’s what the smokin’ blonde bombshell had to say for herself.

What is it that you do all day while I’m at work?

It depends.

If I get really anxious about something I might suddenly watch three episodes of Project Runway in a row, making a deal with myself to work extra hard to get what is on my list done, quickly. Slowly I get up from the couch and have the show on in the background until I can fully engage in work. Then I mute the show. Then I turn it off. It is a form of weaning myself away from my anxiety. I usually do get it done. Also, I’m really embarrassed about this practice and often think of you and think, Shit, if he knew I did this…like I’m some kind of coke whore or something.

If I’m decently motivated I sit at my computer and work in my underwear with unwashed hair, maybe some food in my teeth. The tabs I have open while I work are various email accounts, Facebook, twitter, Gawker/CNN/Jezebel/Forever21/McSweeney’s/This American Life, and toggl.com. The latter because when I stop working on my scriptwriting/copywriting project I can easily stop counting my freelance writing time. It wouldn’t be fair to make my clients pay for my voracious surfing appetite. Usually in the middle of the day I open Photobooth and horrify myself with how I look. I pose several different ways and take pictures. Sometimes I let out little screams because I’m scared.

Then I put my hair in a bun and put a hydrating mask on my face. Whenever I work at home I make tons of lemonade. Juicing four lemons at a time, adding cayenne pepper or ginger and always stevia. I suck down glass after glass with a straw so as not to damage the enamel on my teeth. You know how much the dentist loves my teeth. I think, if he could, he might like to unload on them. That’s gross. I’m gross and dirty, but you knew that when you married me. You like it.

If I’m feeling really motivated (read: there is a deadline looming that I have procrastinated) I get up really early and go to a coffee shop to write. The coffee shop across the street—this comes in handy because I usually forget some very important document/research I need to complete my writing. I leave my purse and my laptop at the coffee shop and walk back to our place to retrieve whatever I’m missing. I leave them there, these valuable things, like a total bitch dumbass. I need to stop doing that. Recently I’ve adopted a strange workout behavior. I call it ‘cumulative bathroom exercise.’ I read some article in Glamour Magazine in like 2001 about some similar practice. It really stuck with me I guess. Though I guarantee you I’ve made it my own. When I go into the large unisex bathrooms at coffee shops around town, after I’ve done my business, I either do 25 wall push ups or 25 full-on squats. This has been great and I do feel stronger. I end up doing about 125 of each before the end of the day. Sometimes I do both exercises and typically more than 25…I *really* focus on form…I only do both if there is no one waiting. When I say both, I mean both exercises. Not both 1 and 2.

I also clean a lot to avoid work. And I try clothes on in hopes that they fit. I play with the cat a lot too, but that’s no surprise.

What are some other jobs you’ve had?

Ima try to think about stuff I’ve done I’ve never told you that much about.

I had a job for a half day where I was selling something like the Chinook Book over the phone. Most of the people who worked there were in their 30’s and 40’s, the place smelled like the fumes from people circling the cul-de-sac of their lives. I went to lunch and never came back.

I had a job at a juice bar for two days. I just couldn’t care less about memorizing what went into each drink, so I applied for and found a job at an art gallery.

The gallery was owned by a fucking crazy lady. She was married to a man who was 16 years her junior. He was 27 at the time and far more mature than her. They would scream at each other across the Chihuly glass sculptures. It was ridiculous and she was MEAN. They would actually drive customers (agog people actually herded their children) out of the store. I took notes thinking they made for good characters. I quit after three months. I had taken a study guide about the art home with me when I was hired. Totally forgot I had it. A week after I quit, the owner sent a notified letter to me from her attorney saying that if I didn’t return the notebook filled with Kinko’s-copied pages immediately she would file a notice with the police that I was in possession of stolen property. This was her first attempt to contact me about returning it. Her methodology worked: I returned it, in person, with a big smile, post-haste. I had that letter for a long time. Wish I still had it.

I worked at the reception desk at the hoity toity San Francisco Press club as a fill-in for two weeks. I was in town visiting friends and ran out of money. My friend found me the job. It was a fancy place with dark wood and the lilting fabrics of the Brat Pack. Rich, old people went there. I read Writing in Restaurants by David Mamet while I sat there doing very little, but getting paid a lot. There was an essay in that book that made me cry. I still think about it. It nailed a huge flaw I had/have so perfectly, so pointedly, I could no longer be in denial. I read it over and over and cried over and over.

What was the Mamet essay about?

It was about performance. The thing that stuck out was a passage about how if you get all pissy when you perceive yourself to have done a bad performance, or get a bad review and, conversely, soak up the glory when you perceive yourself to have done a good performance or get a review then you’re headed for a life of trouble. You have to, he says, take account of what you set out to improve on, like say, ‘did I hit my marks, not lose my British accent, and make my partner onstage/screen look good’? Whether you did or did not do those things is the only thing you need be concerned about. This is the only way, he suggests, for you to become a better artist—to look at the tangibles. Petulance will get you nowhere, you will build no character, and you’ll be unhappy.

I was a really petulant 21 yr old. Not surprising, I’m sure. I loved to sulk and to supplicate compliments. “I’m so bad. I suck. Bad. Did you *really* like my performance? Really? Can you sign this document saying you *liked* it? Blah, blah, blah.” I don’t react to that shit as much now, but those synapses still fire with little silencers on.

What are you working on, writing-wise?

These projects are in all states of progress.

1. A novel called, HUGE.
2. An untitled screenplay.
3. An untitled video short series.
4. 2 personal essays
5. A short screenplay based on a Mary Miller short story for Spork magazine. It is way more work and pages than I anticipated.
6. Stuff for different websites I’d like to get published on.
7. Pitches for a magazine I’d like write for.
8. A couple of animation scripts for corporations. They even have a little humor in them.
9. A pitch for a radio show I’d like to be on.
10. Other flotsam and jetsam.

Who are some of your biggest inspirations?

For various reasons…
1. You. And Zach.
Then, in no particular order…

  • 2. Jenny Lewis
  • 3. Wes Anderson
  • 4. Alexander Payne
  • 5. Jason Bateman
  • 6. Preston Sturges
  • 7. Ray Bradbury
  • 8. Dorothy Parker
  • 9. Drew Barrymore
  • 10. Lidia Yuknavitch
  • 11. Jack Black
  • 12. Nikoli Gogol
  • 13. Jim Thompson
  • 14. Katherine Dunn
  • 15. Dolly Parton
  • 16. Miranda July
  • 17. Cheryl Strayed
  • 18. Joel McHale
  • 19. Louis CK
  • 20. John Hodgman
  • 21. John Moe
  • 22. Arthur Bradford
  • 23. Chris Ballew
  • 24. Judy Blume
  • 25. Chris Ware
  • 26. Daniel Clowes
  • 27. Eric Spitznagel
  • 28. Charlize Theron
  • 29. The Guppy’s
  • 30. Dan Kennedy
  • 31. Rothko
  • 32. Sam Lipsyte
  • 33. Barbra Stanwyck

So many more…these are off the top of my head.

Who were your childhood heroes?

I really didn’t have any childhood heroes, I guess. If anyone was they’d be on the list above. Is that sad? It’s not sad to me.

Here’s a stab at it. STAB.

Ray Bradbury because he could see the future. Katherine Dunn because Geek Love showed me a kind of writing that absolutely marked my brain. And Nancy Drew because she had the cool job of detective.

What are five of your favorite things to do in Portland?

1. Go to Ringside Steakhouse happy hour. I especially like it when we order three orders of steak bites and they pile them all on one plate. Every time I’m surprised that we eat them all. Every time. (There are about six or eight small bites in each order. That didn’t help. It still seem glutenous.)

2. Read/write at a coffee shop with my feet touching yours.

3. Hang out with friends. Hiking, eating, drinking.

4. See friends kill on stage

5. Curate and co-host Back Fence. I meet really cool people who tell me intimate details about their lives. Also, Entertainment for People. I like doing things that I can bring my massively talented friends into.

What’s it like to live with me?

It is the absolute best. We can really let our indoor selves come out to play. Not to mention a hot cup of coffee is handed to me each morning with a smile. I like the running jokes and stories we weave out of the blue, we make up lots of stuff about our kitty, Boo. I like that we blame any spillage or dirt pile on him. Maybe we could shoot an episode of Hoarders where he has a bunch of humans running, sleeping in, and pooping around his house. Boo just takes them in off the street. It is hard for him to keep the place clean because paws just ain’t hands, you know? And he has a bit of a shopping problem. He buys clothes, but never wears them. They just sit in piles, piles that grow like the Matterhorn out of the carpet. What I like about you is that you would go along with the story and simply add to it.  I often think about how many people would  be perplexed by this sort of antics. But, you get it, baby. You get it. According to the ideology of hack stand-up comics I ‘ve got it real good when it comes to the “Men are like this….” stuff. You are super tidy and you are the opposite of an asshole. You are the whole ass baby, the whole ass that has no hole whatsoever. 

Tell me something that I don’t know about you?

I’m trying to think of something positive. I need to end this by painting a better picture of myself than I did with the answers to question one.

I have at least 50 items in various shopping carts all over the internet. Wait, that’s not positive.

When I was an ice skater I could skate perfect figure 8’s. I would skate them forwards and backwards over and over. I don’t know why but it filled me with immense joy to do this. It must have been my 7-year-old version of mediation. I still think about skating them. Whenever we’re in Lloyd Center I always want to go to the rink, rent skates and see if I can still do it. Maybe that’s just cheeseballs, but I don’t think you know that? Do you?

It’s List Time Again

It’s that time of year when a bunch of year-end lists start popping up everywhere and I’m glad to say that A Common Pornography has landed on a couple of them.

Every year–especially now in the 21st century–there are so many books published, so I feel fortunate and grateful to people who liked my book enough to still remember it and talk about it months later. Jonathan Messinger at Time Out Chicago calls it one of the “best unexpected books” of 2010. The Book Lady’s Blog says it’s one of the best memoirs of 2010, and Jason Diamond lists it in his Top 10 over at Vol. One Brooklyn.

I even talked about some of my faves of the year at Big Other.

I want to thank everyone for such a great year. 2010 was maybe the best year of my life so far. 2011 should be pretty great too. I’m hoping to finish up the novel I’m working on, This Is Between Us. I’m publishing some killer books by Jamie Iredell, Myriam Gurba, and Shane Allison. And I’m starting out the year by getting married (January 15th) to my long-time love and best friend, B. Frayn Masters.

I’ll make sure to share more photos with you in the weeks ahead!