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Showing posts from November, 2010

ben tanzer's 99 Problems

Ben Tanzer, writer-editor of This Blog Will Change Your Life (with its ally This Zine Will Change Your Life) is also a published novelist whose most recent published work is a series of essays on running and thinking about writing stories while running and worrying about the rest of it--health, kids, time, etc.--yeah, while running. But in fact, the book will leave you feeling positive about Ben's life and perhaps even your own. At least, that's how it left me. It's called 99 Problems: essays about running and writing. (Be sure to follow that last link to learn more about the "pay what you want" publishing system and find cool links to the author and publisher's thoughts on producing this book.)

As it turns out, I found Ben's blog through another writer we've both connected with very recently, but Ben and I played on the same team in an Ultimate tournament in 1993, and we know many of the same frisbee players from the New York/New England scene of the…

good stories

I'm finding great stories everywhere I look, which currently happens to be the fall issue of Philadelphia Stories and the new edition of The Best American Short Stories (2010). From Philadelphia Stories, here is the full text of "The Sea Crest" by Jeff W. Bens. I'm just realizing that gambling is a theme in this one as well as my favorite so far from the Richard Russo edited 2010 Best of: "Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punched" by Steve Almond. I just googled the latter and found a link to this cool short story blog (out of Philly no less). The Almond story is noted (and was presumably read) on October 25, 2010.


I survived mortal combat with a huge bug by the door. It ticked me off when it slithered under my book bag, and so it's fate was to fail to survive the evening. Papa K defends the hearth! And then feels remorse, mixed in with the usual anxiety and fatigue. All good bugs must come to an end, but where's Hemingway when you need him to "Ca va" the situation and move on to the next scene. Yeah, I could never do for insects what old Hem did for fish. Or old men. So be it.

Don Riggs: "What I Do"

Don Riggs is back in action at the transnational and trilingual Contemporary Literary Horizon with a poem called "What I Do." If memory serves, it's his answer to all the folks who can't do anything at all but enjoy the age-old saying, "Those Who Can't Do, Teach." Although I must confess I've enjoyed my own ironic interpretive spins on that adage of late, it is also always bizarre and annoying that teachers do all kinds of things in hopes that their lessons might go well and that their students, might, well, um, for example, learn--and then with five words, get dismissed as people who don't do anything.

I suppose that it's all old hat. Anyway, good poem, good journal.

Robert Anthony Watts

Teacher-writer uberbrother Robert Anthony Watts fought through the novel and then survived an interview with the author and posted some great comments on amazon (with a full disclosure of his being stuck knowing me for 15 years).

He didn't, however, get into the details of our first meeting, so I thought I would. In 1996, we were sitting at a small table in the coffee shop at the old Borders location of 1727 Walnut Street, and we were in the company of the famous elder gent, Isaac Starr, one of that location's daily visitors. Isaac interrupted his reading of the French and German dailies to ask Robert, "Do you have any idea of what this man does for a living?"

Rob looked a little nervous even though I probably looked about as regular as regular gets.

So then Isaac told him I was selling cars, or that I had been up until the very recent past. We then figured out I was just beginning Temple U.'s MA in Creative Writing, a program Robert had just finished. But he wou…