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A New Book For You – Merry Christmas!

hippo-coverHi all, it’s been a great year. I’ve been so in love in 2015 that I spent the year writing a super-secret romance novel for Angela, featuring her as a main character, and me (or is it?) in a cameo role. I just gave it to her in Paris. There’s only one hard copy, which you can see over there on the right.

Yes, it is actually called Hippo Surrender and was written by someone named Josh Hippogarne. Over 300 pages of…well, you’ll have to be the judge.

Many, many authors enthusiastically contributed blurbs to the book, but they shall remain nameless and appear only in the one print copy that Angela has in her hands right now.

However, she has agreed to let me share it with everyone online. Therefore, if you are up to reading a romance featuring a hippo and a huge Amazonian adventure, now you can. (Yes, I know that hippos shouldn’t be in the Amazon).

For those of you who’ve been asking for a new book from me, Merry Christmas. I hope it doesn’t feel like a lump of coal.

PS: there is also a Bond-esque theme song for the book that I wrote and performed. It will be uploaded soon for your questionable listening pleasure.

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On the Proclivities of Rudolph

I had a peculiar argument with a man in Paris, in French, prior to purchasing a striped sweater and some underwear that should fit just fine. They appear to be supportive, but not too tight. They will give me the confidence I need to be my best.

But back to the commotion.

He insisted that Rudolph (of the red nose) was not gay. I said that I never said he was. The man disapproved of me, and as I took his measure, it seemed plausible that I would never hold him in high regard, in any language.

And then began the true lunacy.

It quickly became apparent that I was the only one in the conversation who knew who Rudolph was. As this unseemly business proceeded into the red madness of the setting sun, even though the lights were coming on all about the city, I felt that somehow I’d lost my way.

And just so you know that the tale be true, behold the French undies:

undies

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Paris, Taxidermy, Safe Words

Hi all, I’m in Paris and I have only one thing to report:

Jet lag is real. I’m typing this at what is nearly midnight back in Salt Lake, but I’m getting ready to go out to see the Louvre today. I’m at least five steps behind and probably think I’m way more clever than I am in actuality, given the mental fog, so I won’t say much now. (I do have to say though, that my French is holding up well. I can read and say just about anything I want, but this is my first time among native French speakers, and my listening is hit or miss).

However, after only two hours here, Angela and I managed to stumble into what has to be the creepiest taxidermy shop on earth. She said “It was like stumbling into Lucifer’s sex shop. Safe word, formaldehyde.”

See for yourself, although this picture doesn’t really do it justice:

taxidermy-shop-paris

Trust me. The skeleton guy was not enjoying himself.

More soon, after sleep.

 

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On Success

Recently my seven year old and I were talking about success and fame. This is because he’s obsessed with an animated reality show called Total Drama Island, which is even more dramatic than it sounds.

I asked him why they all wanted to go on the show.

“Because they want to be famous!” he said. This line–I wanna be, I wanna be, I wanna be famous–is built right into the theme song, a horrid earworm that I urge you to avoid at all costs, although the show does make me smile and I know why he loves it.

“Why?” I said. “Why be famous?”

“Because then they’re rich and they’ve got success!”

“What does it mean to be successful, what do you think?”

He got very quiet and then he said one of the more insightful things I’ve ever heard.

“I’m already lucky. All the people I love, love me back.”

I like his definition. If he’s right, I’ve been lucky enough to be successful too.

I hope you’ve had your own share, especially during this season. I’m always been grateful for the readers here. It’s good to be back and I hope you’re still there.

 

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RadioWest Interview – I’m still alive!

Hi all, popping in just to prove I’m still alive. I hope you are too.

Here’s a link to a short video documentary I did with Radiowest and Doug Fabrizio recently. I haven’t watched it–just can’t stand to see or hear my own tics in videos–but I’ve heard good things about the piece and they always do a great job.

Thanks!

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A Memory Regarding Crane Safety

We still don’t know where memories are stored. The brain is an odd and awe-inspiring machine. How else to explain the memory that just occurred to me, years past the experience?

I was on a plane coming back from a talk in California. Soon, a drunk man sat next to me. He was already a little sniffly, but by the time we were taxiing he was crying with real conviction.

“Why is it?” he said, tapping my shoulder.

“What?” I said.

“Why can’t I get anyone to, to…to buy into this culture of safety that I’m selling? I’m selling, but nobody’s buying. Nobody at all.”

“Where did you just come from?”

“A crane operator’s conference. And now I’m upset because I can’t get anyone to buy into this culture of safety that I’m selling.”

And all I could picture were destructive cranes, whirling in the city streets, smashing everything with wrecking balls, all because no one would listen to him.

A flight attendant made him quiet down by the time we reached cruising altitude. He cried quietly from then on, but he never stopped.

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A Happy Day For Word Economy

I have to say, given the Supreme Court’s ruling on the cumbersome phrase “gay marriage,” I am relieved to finally just start calling it “marriage.”

Never use two words when one will do, so the saying goes.

Also, I’ve finally started reading Outlander and am loving it.

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A Seven Year Old on Pride and Rules

This weekend my son, he’s seven, was asking about the Pride Parade that happens on Sunday here in Salt Lake. I told him why people were marching and asked him what he thought about it.

“I don’t think people we can’t see should make bad rules for good people we can see.”

Doesn’t get more concise than that. He said it better that I ever could.

 

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A Few Reading Recommends and Updates

Hi all, the latest draft of the novel is done, so I’m popping back in with a few reading updates. Here are a few eclectic choices if you’ve been looking for something new to try.

The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante. 

Perhaps the most scathing, beautifully written, cynical takedown of marriage and family life that I have ever read.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradhal

Very quirky, full of food, funny, and might give you some recipe ideas. I tried a ghost pepper recently. Between that and this novel I was reminded that I am a weenie with spices and heat.

Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd

If you are interested in memoir, personal essays, journalism, or any sort of reporting, this is a fantastic read. Highly practical, but entertaining.

The Familiar Volume One: One Rainy Day in May by Mark Z. Danielewski

If you read House of Leaves (I loved it, but don’t really pretend to “get it”) you’ll find The Familiar far stranger, and far more impenetrable. It’s the first of a 27 volume series, so this initial entry is almost a bunch of odds and ends by definition. It’s a fun book to look at; the design is incredible. Or annoying, depending on who you ask. If I didn’t have any history with Danielewski’s works I wouldn’t be as excited for The Familiar as I am, but I have faith and can’t wait for Volume Two in October.

I’m hearing great things about an upcoming book called Home on Fire. 

Just read a graphic novel called Smile that was adorable.

Reread The Little Friend by Donna Tartt and enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would.

I think that’s it for now. Anyone reading anything great?

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