Every comedian took a poke at the subject matter, but Ian Frazier’s reimagining of the death of King Richard III as some medieval dispute over a parking spot was fun.
FLYMF Alum J.D. Smith has a nice poem, “Answering Midas,” in the Cresset. It’s a satisfying riff on a earlier poem by Zbigniew Herbert.
J.D.’s stories for FLYMF included The Great Tuvalu Liquidation Sale, My Fetishist Things and As a Matter of Fact, I Am the Person You Have to Blow to Get a Table Around Here. You can follow all of J.D.’s updates on his blog, Smitroverse.
I’ve really been enjoying Paragraph Shorts lately. It’s an iPad app that packages existing free stories on the web, giving you a sampler of favorites from publications like the New Yorker, Paris Review, etc. They also have a selection of video essays, mostly from The Moth series. I haven’t enjoyed those as much, but I was just wowed by one from Ed Gavagan (an ND grad!), who tells the story of having it all fall apart in New York City, then slowly watching it all come together again. Great stuff.
FLYMF Alum Ralph Gamelli gives us “The Retired Man’s Guide to Snow Removal” on Splitsider.com!
Ralph’s story, Rocky Balboa Launches Into Inspirational Speeches Too Frequently, was published in FLYMF’s Greatest Hits. He also contributed How Long Before I Use My Ejector Seat? and Twilight Zone Episodes For the Internet Age.
B.J. Mendelson’s “Social Media Is Bullshit” is a welcome counterpoint to conventional social-media wisdom, especially for those of us who have to produce, plan or monitor social-media channels for our job. Mendelson punctures a few key social-media myths, claiming:
1. Most businesses fail to benefit financially from their presence on the Big Six social media platforms.
2. Many cases trumpeted as “viral” triumphs actually have substantial corporate budgets behind them or other extenuating circumstances.
3. Despite the promises of social media, pre-“web 2.0” marketing strategies still hold the greatest benefit for most businesses.
4. Most “social media gurus” rely more on empty platitudes than clear metrics for success.
It’s an easy read, and many of his claims are persuasive. His authorial voice may alienate some readers. He can be glib and snarky; it would be easy to argue he’s just the flip side of the “cyber hipsters” he derides. But I think there’s a lot to consider here, especially when so many so-called authorities on the subject push the other way.
‘Cyber Hispter’ refers to two different groups of people who heavily overlap and travel in the same circles. The rhetoric they spew is usually to the effect that people today have the power to do anything without resources, funding, connections, training, education and so forth.” (p. 56)
“Cyber Hipsters often argue that the cost of producing content is approaching zero…The cost of producing content has gone down, certainly. But there are now other costs you have to factor in that make it just as cumbersome and difficult to get started as it has always been. Think of it like this: Yes, anyone can make a video on the cheap…but you need a decent editor to make it look good. That means either you have to do the editing (which means taking the time to do so when you can be doing other things) or hire someone to do it for you. And anyone who knows what they’re doing won’t be cheap either. Especially because there are way more ‘creators’ than there are ‘editors.’” (p. 57)
“Well, isn’t that how it’s supposed to work? What’s the point of having a million followers when none of them are clicking on your links (they weren’t), following your calls to action (they also weren’t), and not coming out to meet you (ditto)? Isn’t that exactly the effect your “social media” efforts are supposed to have?” (p. 170)
Any comic whose take on the afterlife is “Question A: Is there an afterlife? Question B: If so, is there a level cap on XP?” is all right by me.
FLYMF alum Laura Callier is getting some deserved acclaim for the synth tracks she’s produced under the name Gel Set. Give them a listen on her SoundCloud page!
Laura’s story My Washington Romance was published in FLYMF’s Greatest Hits. She also contributed Old Food, Seeing Other People, Nobody Likes My Pink Shiny Miniskirt Except Me, Prematurely Pruned and Holidaze.
Hell no we don’t need to arm teachers. My letter to the Chicago Sun-Times (published online only, unfortunately!).
Don’t arm our educators
It’s disgusting to see Illinois State Rifle Association executive Richard Pearson argue the best response to the Newtown, Conn., murders is to arm teachers, principals and custodians.
Maybe if the gun lobby hadn’t spent years pushing for easy access to military-grade firearms, the rest of us wouldn’t have to live in fear of the mass shootings that seem to happen almost monthly. We should be investing in mental-health treatment and cracking down on guns that can spray 30 bullets in a matter of seconds. If America decides to answer our gun problem by ensuring kindergarten teachers are strapped in the classroom, we might as well throw in the towel now.
This one’s overdue, but FLYMF alum Larry Gaffney published his second novel earlier this year: Abaddon! It sounds like a neat piece of apocalyptic fiction. Here’s the description from Amazon:
True-crime writer Ray Shannon has endured a terrible tragedy—the violent death of his wife. So the offer of a teaching job in a peaceful Vermont town sounds ideal for him and his son Mark.
But his arrival coincides with a series of disturbing events that soon unfold into horrors of apocalyptic proportions.
An air-borne flesh-eating plague centered in Boston threatens the entire planet. An Islamic terrorist is poised to unleash nuclear devastation in twenty major cities of the world. And Jared Riggs, a charismatic preacher with a sinister agenda, rises meteorically to national prominence. When shape-shifting monsters begin to appear throughout the land, it is clear that the End Times have arrived.
Against this backdrop, and with the help of a beautiful woman whose interest in New Age healing is balanced by a doctorate in quantum physics, Shannon tries to save himself and his loved ones while coping with the realization that he has unknowingly become one of the primary threads in a cosmic tapestry of evil.
Larry’s work for FLYMF includes Selected E-mails From Cabot Sinclair, Literary Agent And Really Nice Guy, Notes On Contributors, Scene From A Creative Writing Seminar Conducted By David Milch, The Lost Seinfeld Episodes, Things I Wish I Had Never Said, Christian Rock Group Days Of Fire Decides To Cover The Frank Zappa Catalogue, With A Few Changes, Writers Guidelines For The Salt Lick Review, Ill-advised Resume Objectives, A Correspondence, Larry’s Open Proposal
JUDD APATOW: I felt like a father to everybody, and I felt like everyone’s world was about to collapse. I felt responsible, like I had to fight to have it survive so that their lives would be O.K., so that their careers could get launched. And so to completely fail was devastating to me. And especially for Paul, because this was Paul’s story.
10 years after the show was canceled, the actors and writers look back at their time working on the show in a Vanity Fair oral history.