Monday, March 28, 2011

LIEF: Twenty-Eight

Download  free"Twenty-eight" PDF
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    She inexplicably needed to spit.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Things I hate in popular music: hamfisted politic lyrics, shout-singing, non-rhyming couplets, unsubtle riffs repeated ad nauseum. But, still, somehow, I will never, ever, ever, not ever will I stop listening to Beds Are Burning by Midnight Oil.

I can't explain it. I should hate this song with every fiber of my being, but I just can't. This ridiculous bastard of a song comes on my radio and I crank. the. shit. up. Even though Peter Garrett isn't so much singing as he is practicing several different Muppet impressions, one after the other. Even though I'm highly dubious of any song that relies so heavily on a bass guitar riff. Even though it's no longer 1987.  Even though--I'm all for the Aboriginal people's rights, and deplore how they were treated by Western colonialists,-- I hate how overly simplistic Midnight Oil's solution to the problem is. But you know what? I still love the song. I would never put it on a mixtape if I was trying to impress a girl, I would never actively seek the song out to listen to. But when it shows up on the radio, jammed between "One Headlight" and something by the Avett Brothers, I will stare off silently into the sunset, one single tear trailing down my cheek.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Last Time I Will Ever Listen To

"Jane Says"

A new feature here on the Tresselweb. I've always worked a few minutes from where I've lived, so I haven't had a real strong relationship with the car radio in years. But the combination of moving (making me a commuter for the first time ever) and the tape deck on my car stereo breaking (meaning I no longer have the ability to hook up my ipod to my stereo) means I've spent more time listening to broadcast radio than I have since I was a teenager.

I'll usually listen to NPR, but sometimes I just want some good music. I really enjoy Emerson College radio, in that it usually alternates between hipster music and deep album cuts of older artists, but once 7pm hits it becomes all reggae, and I have to admit I don't think I could listen to an entire reggae song, let alone forty-five minutes of only reggae. On the weekends, it's worse, as it becomes all a cappella.  Nothing makes me want to drive my car off  Route 3 more a cappella  Verve Pipe. So it's commercial radio ahoy. 92.5fm is usually pretty good--and solar powered!--but they love Jack Johnson and Bob Marley way too much.

So sometimes I'm just flipping. And there are lots of songs that I realize I've listened to probably hundreds of times in my life--songs that I've never really had any strong feelings about, that I would listen to mindlessly while working around the house or driving---that I CAN NEVER LISTEN TO AGAIN. A song will come on the radio and something in me will snap. As if my brain has set a limit on the number of times it will allow me to listen to a certain song without comment and the DJ just played it for the n+1 time.

The first song that I will never listen to again is "Jane Says" by Janes Addiction.

When I was in high school, my friend Jesse asked me to dub him a copy of somebody's Janes Addiction VHS tape. I had the capability, and did it, but the few bits of the film I caught freaked me out. I know at some point I saw Perry Farrell's penis, and I'm pretty sure there was some drug use involved, but whenever I think of Janes Addiction, I get the skeeves.

This song is pretty grody on its own for one reason: steel drums. I think if I ever heard steel drums--wandering down the beach, or walking past some street musicians, I'd break out in eczema. And that all happens before Perry Farrell starts singing.

I also don't know how a song with only two chords and a very simple melody can be so damn long. It sounds like a eighth grader who just learned how to play guitar wrote it. I know because when I was in eighth grade and learned how to play guitar, every song I wrote sounded like Jane Says. But luckily for everybody none of the eight-minute long, two-chord songs I wrote in eighth grade have get played on the radio with the regularity that "Jane Says" does.

So, "Jane Says", it's time to say goodbye. We were never really good friends, more like friends of friends, really. But it's over. Good luck with the rest of your life, blasting out of college dorm rooms while kids are smoking pot out of old Dr. Pepper cans.

Monday, March 8, 2010

IMMORTALLO Available Today

You didn't know it, but today is the first day of the rest of your life. Well, everyday is the first day of the rest of your life, but please allow me to engage in a little hucksterism today as I proudly announce the release of my new novel IMMORTALLO. It's currently available directly from the publisher's website, using this handy link. It should be available from Amazon shortly in a print edition, but the Kindle version is up as we speak. The first two chapters are up for free at the Immortallo blog, and since I'm not allowed to sell eBook versions of the book for less than the Kindle version, I would never do anything like include a link to a free PDF of the book. That would be wrong. All of us here at Stately Tressel Manor (meaning me and the cats, right now) are immensely proud of this book and hope you check it out in one of the many forms it's being made available. Preferably the one that makes us the most money, since these cats need to eat. Thanks for your time.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Any audience for this blog justifiably dried up along with my irregular postings. But here's what I've been up to.

-As mentioned last week, the release of my new novella Immortallo is imminent. Here is a link for when the book becomes available. That is likely not the final cover, by the way. (I don't know how it became green, but we'll wait to see how the physical copy looks.)

-There might be more updating on the Immortallo-dedicated blog over the next few weeks, as I'll be posting sample chapters, cover variants, and a few behind the scenes posts for the die-hard.

-While I didn't end up sending in my disc (or even registering) to this year's RPM challenge (to write and record 10 songs or 30 minutes of new music in the month of February) I did end up recording new songs, an EP (does anybody still use these terms? Novella? EP?) entitled "Naming Names" I'm still working on mixing the tunes, but keep your eyes peeled to Tresselsound over the next week as tracks from the project start appearing.

-I wrote a ton of poems in the fall of 2008, and at least one of them is finally seeing publication, well over a year later. "Unified Field Theory" was written at the Stoughton Public Library some Saturday morning in late '08. There's an audio recording of me reading the poem, but I'd just ask you to ignore it, or at the very least heed the advice of Morrissey and "Don't Make Fun of Daddy's Voice"

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Next month sees the release of my new novel IMMORTALLO. It was written this past fall at the dining room table of my new home, and shucks if I don't like it. Here is the back cover copy:

Steven wakes up each morning in a bed next to his beautiful wife. He drives his two young daughters to school before heading into a job that is pleasant but mindless. He has as close to a perfect life as anybody could want.

But he remembers another life, a different life, in a world vastly unlike our own. A world of magic and wonder. And as these memories slowly seep into Steven's waking life, it threatens to unravel everything.

In this new novel by the author of The While, the nature of reality and identity is questioned. Can we ever be sure of who we are? How can we tell the life we know is real? And who, or what, is Immortallo?

Well, I never set out to be a copywriter. But look for more details about the book's release date, as well as sample chapters and even a free downloadable e-book, for people who don't mind reading things off a computer screen and don't like paying for things, here and at the Immortallo blog. Thanks.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Somebody Needs To Fight Me

I've never been in a physical fight in my life. I've been kneed in the groin, and punched in the mouth (two separate occasions, but by the same individual) but I never struck back. If my life were a movie, I would've been taunted for my inaction, and I would've scurried away in shame to find a stereotypically Asian older man to teach me some martial arts and also, maybe, some important lessons about life. But in my both cases, I took my lumps, and then went on to enjoy the smug superiority of the pacifist.

There were many times, especially as a teenager, where I seemed eager to broker some kind of physical altercation. One Fourth of July, stuck in traffic following the local fireworks show, I got out of the car I was in and started bothering the people in the cars surrounding us, including one with tinted black windows, thumping bass, and pot smoke seeping out the cracked windows. I asked the occupants if they would be willing to take a survey of Russian literature, and they took this to be an insult to their intelligence (which, looking back, probably was) and they spilled out of their car and started threatening to fight everybody I was with. There were, inexplicably, two German exchange students with us, and this almost literally scared the piss out of them, five giant wanna-be gangstas (we were in Abington, after all) shaking the chassis of our car and demanding we stop "frontin'" and come out and fight them. The police intervened, and somehow I found myself uninvited to the party we were all headed to later that night.

My first girlfriend left me for a young man in lock-up, and when he was released, he thought it incumbent upon himself to kill me, or at least stab me. He'd show up places I was, including the front yard of the new girl I was seeing, and so I sent him a letter, typed, that read: "I know gonorrhea sucks, but stop taking it out on me. Love, Ryan." I took great amusement at this, especially the "love, Ryan" part, and dropped it into the mailbox. One of my friends, I don't remember exactly who, shook his head at this. "I think you're trying to get yourself killed." I never heard back from the hoodlum, so I wrote a song about him, called "George Has Got A Knife" which was really one elaborate "small penis" joke, and then with my band opened our show at our high school with it, in front of several of George's friends. "I think you're trying to get yourself killed," somebody in the band told me, and I had to wonder if they were right.

I had many near encounters with physical violence, but all came to not. I threw some coins at a drunken table who were singing loudly (they invited me to join them). I called the boyfriend of a girl I worked with a prick one night when I ended up going out with her and him and about six of his stooges and he tried to coerce their former high school teacher into buying them booze (The boyfriend seemed kowtowed that I stood up to him). I humiliated men in front of women they were trying to impress, I openly and notoriously attempted to court away girls from boyfriends who I shamelessly mocked. From the ages of 15 to 20, I was literally begging for somebody to hit me.

I don't know if I would know how to hit someone, and the last ten years I've worried what would ever happen if I was forced into a physical confrontation. When I was young and seemed to be inviting people to fight me, I don't ever really thought that I would prevail in a fight, but I don't think it ever occurred to me that I would totally embarrass myself. But I would. I'd probably get dropped in one punch.

I think I imagined that adrenaline would take over, that I wouldn't need to consciously think about how to hit someone or how hard I would need to do it. That something animal would turn on in my brain, and, even if I didn't win the fight, I'd at least get some good shots in. In all likelihood, I don't know if I ever actually thought that much about it. I don't think I ever thought the words "I want to get into a fight" but clearly my actions demonstrated that's what I was angling for.

I live a pretty safe life now. I spend my mornings writing and lounging around with my cats, I teach teenagers about how to graph rational expressions and write papers about Steinbeck, and then come home and sit beside my bride-to-be as she watches terrible television. I happened home a few days ago to catch a few minutes of MTV's Jersey Shore, and while I was simultaneously amused and mortified at the behavior of the cast of characters (especially mortified when Lisa informed me that some of them were 30) I also recognized something, far away and distant, in the way the men on the show seemed to invite and relish violence. In one sequence, one of them literally pleads with a drunken passerby who is taunting him, pleading to not make him fight him. I shook my head when he finally did start swinging. I thought about the times that I had been hit, and how I had walked away. But, in the split second after it was clear the fight was going to happen but before it started, I turned my attention to the drunken instigator, the one who was taunting the over-muscled and greased up Jersey Shore cast member. Shit, I thought. I think I know that guy.