Let’s start with a softball question. What’s your happiest memory?

I don’t think I can point to a single moment as happiest, but there are periods I would cite, like the year I lived in Serbia.

You were famous there.

I was, yeah. I’d acted in a movie entitled Rat uživoWar Live in English—and there was a lot of publicity for it. I flew back for the premiere, and my first day in Belgrade, I noticed that people on the street were staring at me. I didn’t know how much publicity there’d been, so it took me a while to realize why people were staring. I thought, Did my nose fall off, or did I somehow become incredibly attractive overnight? Then it dawned on me that I was being recognized.

Making Rat Uzivo

Was it an ego rush?

I’d say it was more a chance to learn how people deal with celebrity from the opposite side of the equation. I remembered making eye contact with celebrities in the past and thinking it meant we had some kind of special rapport, when in fact they were probably wondering if I was staring because I recognized them or if I just found them intriguing without knowing who they were. You always want to think people are interested in you, as opposed to representations of you, so you sometimes find yourself staring back. Which, unfortunately, can lead to being approached at moments when you don’t much feel like talking.

Was your celebrity part of the reason you liked living in Belgrade?

No. I liked Belgrade because of the friends I’d made while shooting Rat uživo, and it was just so extreme to live there. This was during and right after the Milošević period—the Yugoslav wars and all that—and Serbia was estranged from the rest of the world. Plus I was enamored of this Moscow alt-weekly called The eXile, which badly made me want to live in Eastern Europe. I’d always wanted to have that Hemingway expat experience, but in updated terms. I got it with Belgrade, which at the time was kind of like a Slavic Pottersville. You know Pottersville, yes? It’s the town in It’s a Wonderful Life that Bedford Falls would’ve been if Jimmy Stewart had never existed. Well, I much prefer Pottersville to Bedford Falls. Fuck Jimmy Stewart and the goody two shoes he walked in on.

And you wrote your novel, Banned for Life, in Pottersvillepardon me, Belgrade—right?

The first draft of it, yes. It was conceived there, in a hotel room one night, which sounds sexual, I know, but I regard Banned as my child—a common attitude among writers. Anyway, I’d just finished reading Get in the Van, the diary Henry Rollins kept during his Black Flag days, and I thought, Whatever happened to [Black Flag bass player] Chuck Dukowski? and suddenly this novel sort of unfolded, based on the premise of a mysteriously-vanished punk icon. I saw the book in its entirety, almost, in a minute or less, like an embryo passing through all the stages of gestation at hyperspeed.

So, is Banned a “thinly disguised memoir,” as one review put it?

It’s not. I tried to make it read like one, but despite some biographical overlap, the narrator and I have led very different lives. I was never in a band, for instance. I wanted to be, but it never happened.

Why not?

Well, when I was at the age when most people are forming bands, I was too obsessed with getting my acting career off the ground. Also, I wasn’t as crazy about music as I later became. I hung out with musicians—I lived with a number of them—but in many cases I considered seeing bands a chore; something I did to support friends. I felt like, if I didn’t respond to the music—and I often didn’t—I was still forced to stand there and listen. It was like being held prisoner, in a way.

But at some point you changed your mind.

Obviously, yeah. I was bored with making movies and with the cultural climate overall, and I was looking for something that would shake me up and get me excited again, and I realized there was this thriving scene right under my nose. It had always been there, but I’d been too preoccupied to appreciate it. I started going out three and four and five nights a week to see bands, and I learned to play guitar, and lived the life of a musician in every way except by playing in a band. Although I jammed with bands, and friends would put me on the mic at shows. The picture below, for instance, comes from a show last July with a band called Memory. It was two nights before my first bookstore appearance—Brad Listi, who founded The Nervous Breakdown, read with me—and I completely shredded my voice.

But you got it back in time for the reading.

Just barely, yeah. I had some communication with Greg Olear, who’s the author of Totally Killer, and his wife Stephanie, who’s a totally killer singer, and Steph gave me some advice on how to recover. This is one of the many wonderful things that have come my way from TNB.

Do you still see a lot of bands?

Not so much. The current music scene is pretty dull, it seems to me. I tend toward heavy, cathartic stuff, and there’s not much of it now. I don’t think younger audiences are seeking catharsis, which requires an emotional intensity they lack. I realize that’s geezer talk, but omnipresent technology is a palliative. Kids are too distracted by all the screens around them, so feelings are experienced dimly, and rock & roll can’t cut through the murk. I don’t think it’s a case of rock & roll being passé; I think contemporary kids are overwhelmingly too passive for rock & roll. They want the karaoke version—the American Idol version—when they want it at all.

What about movies? You recently outed yourself, so to speak, as having written the screenplay for—

Don’t. Don’t mention the name of the movie. I already said everything there is to say about it.

All right. But how would you compare the experience of writing a novel with the experience of writing a screenplay?

They have practically nothing in common, as far as I’m concerned. Prose style doesn’t figure in screenwriting. Many people ignore the descriptive bits when they read scripts; they just read the dialogue. Scripts are skimmed, as newspapers have always been skimmed. Close, careful reading of any type of material is, I’m afraid, extinct or moribund, though rule-proving exceptions will naturally survive.

So, you learned nothing at all about writing from working on screenplays?

Well, I’m sure I learned something about storytelling. And I also learned about economy, since you only have, with a screenplay, 120 pages or so in which to do what has to be done. But I probably learned more about writing from acting than I did from working on screenplays.

How so?

It made me more sensitive to character. Acting is like detective work, in a way. You put yourself in a particular place emotionally, and report, in a sense, what you find there. It’s like: “Well, if I want [another character] to accept my apology, I can’t approach her the way the scene’s been blocked. I’ve got to keep my distance.” That kind of thing. You’re always making these discoveries, and the better the actor, the more astute and refined the discoveries are going to be. Narrative writers have a similar imaginative process, but the majority have never benefited from an acting class. Not that such classes are necessary, but I do think they, and my overall background as an actor, have helped me as a novelist.

Corman movie

Well, in the character department, maybe. But there are other areas—

Yes, and music, for instance, has helped me in writing prose. Rhythm and the sounds of words, the ways they combine—that’s everything in shaping a sentence.

And the shape of the narrative?

Well, I’m pretty straightforward in that way. I’m not an innovator. I used to try to be, because I was trained by mentors in the idea that narrative is for idiots, and who cares if the love affair of character A and character B turns out one way or the other? And that attitude hampered me for a long time, because I was so busy trying to be clever in a narrative sense that I was neglecting what I see as my strongest suit, which is portraiture. I demonstrated a talent for visual art from a very young age, and to this day I can draw photorealistically, and the thing I most liked drawing, and painting as well, was people. And acting is an art of portraiture, which is what I now think appealed to me about it, and the novel is likewise an art of portraiture. I mean, you can write a poem without people in it; and there have been novels with animal protagonists—The Call of the Wild, for example—but they’re anthropomorphized. Now, obviously, you can be innovative with portraiture, but if a portrait is well observed, it’s already going to be, if not innovative, then certainly unique.

Do you use real-life models?

I don’t tend to use them literally. For instance, Peewee, who’s the character most cited in Banned, is a hybrid of six different people. That was a conscious choice, but there was also an unconscious element in the way he came about. He was a gift. If we’re lucky, we get a great gift every once in a while as writers, and Peewee, for me, was the greatest gift of all. It was like conducting a séance, writing him. I just hope he didn’t tap me out in the gift department.

Do you think that’s a possibility?

I was really afraid it might be, especially when it took me as long as it did to make a proper start of my next novel. I’d been thinking about the fucking thing for three years, and when I finally sat down to write it, I kept getting stuck. But I think I’ve got a handle on it now. Not that I have the time to work on it. That’s something I’m going to have to buy, and I don’t know where, or how, I’m going to come by the money. Fortunately, I don’t anticipate it being a lengthy book.

Does it have anything to do with music?

No. I may write about music again—in novel form, I mean—but not the way I did with Banned. I was really writing about rebellion with that book, anyway. That’s something I should really emphasize when I describe Banned. I think people without a background in punk are probably scared off by the idea of reading about it, so maybe I should never mention the word “punk.” “What’s your book about?” “Oh, rebellion.” But, you know, in contemporary America, that’s probably a liability too.

America as in Bedford Falls?

Bedford Falls with TV and computers and cell phones and kindles, yeah. And Zuzu, the girl with the rose petals, going on American Idol.

Do you think Simon Cowell would like her?

Hell, no. “Zuzu, that was dreadful. That was the worst thing I ever heard. You are vile. You are vomit.”

And how do you think you’d fare?

Oh, for me, they’d roll out the guillotine.

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D. R. HANEY is the author of a novel, Banned for Life, and a nonfiction collection, Subversia, the inaugural publication of TNB Books. Known to friends as Duke, he lives in Los Angeles.

399 responses to “D. R. Haney: The TNB 
Self-Interview”

  1. Zara Potts says:

    Just when I thought I knew it all….
    Gee, you give the best answers. You’re always so thoughtful and precise. I wish that I had the same quality of awareness that you have.
    Whenever you write, in whatever form, it inspires me to do better.
    Do better. That’s a gift you give me and I thank you for it.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      You’ve been the more generous gift-giver of the two of us, by far. And I had an unfair advantage in that I was responsible for the questions, and that I was writing the answers. I’m an oaf as a conversationalist. I don’t know how anyone ever makes sense of anything I say, though I appreciate the effort.

  2. Debbie says:

    How is it, that as much as you talk, I didn’t know most of this about you?
    As Zara said, you really do give the best answers.
    I find it interesting that acting has made you a better writer, but has writing made you a better actor?
    I know I’ve said it before, but you inspire my creativity. You make me work harder at my writing. Thank you for that.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Make you work harder, how? With a whip? Come now, you exaggerate.

      That’s an interesting question about the effect of writing on acting. I think I matured at both at the same time, so it’s possible that first influenced the second as much as the reverse, but it happened unconsciously if that’s the case. Writers are always being told that they’re too reflective to act. I disagree, at least where I’m concerned. I’m temperamentally a performer, but intellectually a writer — though I shouldn’t use the i-word in the latter case. I’m just too addled at the moment to think of another.

      (Thanks for all you say. You’re too kind.)

      • Debbie says:

        Well, now, you know my fondness for whips, but…..I know you understood my weird thought process. I should have used the word inspire, but I was tired and last week just about killed me.

        Its probably true that most writers are too reflective to act, but you are so expressive I can see why it doesn’t apply to you. 🙂

        (You’re welcome.)

  3. Simon Smithson says:

    I’m always intrigued between the synergies between different creative professions. To tap into the discussion being had on Hemingway in another piece’s comment thread, it was his journalism (I’m told) that was responsible for his terse, factual style. Interesting to consider, how screenwriting might influence storytelling traits, and acting writing, etc., etc.

    If they force you to dance with Madamoiselle Guillotine, Duke… please blink afterwards if your head remains conscious.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      I don’t think it’s true about journalism in Hemingway’s case — not altogether. His style owed a lot to Sherwood Anderson and Gertrude Stein, both of whom he knew in his early twenties. Any glance at the writing of either will reveal similarities to Hemingway’s prose style.

      Also, what works for me wouldn’t work for another, except, I would guess, in a few cases — that is to say, you won’t see many good novels written by actors, just as you won’t see many good performances by novelists. I seem to have some kind of all-purpose art gene — but as I’m sounding conceited, I’ll stop. I’m not at my most articulate this evening.

      Did you know that a despairing someone apparently once rigged a makeshift guillotine after deciding that decapitation would be the most efficient and painless method of suicide? If I ever do meet Madamoiselle, I expect it will be under similar circumstances.

      • Zoe Brock says:

        A special shout out to the first Mrs Hemmingway for leaving that suitcase on the train…

        Nice self interview Duke. I smiled as I read.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I can see that by your gravatar, Zoe. I’m humbled, and I’ll drop by Chez Zoe (on TNB) any moment now.

          Yes, Hadley Hemingway passive-aggressively rid herself of her rival, Ernest’s writing. Some have said the marriage was doomed from that point on.

    • Greg Olear says:

      I read something where Hemingway said that his style came about because he had difficulty expressing himself, so his sentences turned out clunky, and then this clunkiness was celebrated as style. Either way, he has a distinct voice, which is, as a writer, what you want more than anything.

  4. Brin Friesen says:

    This was great, Duke. You speak so well about really tough stuff to articulate. The process and all that. And yours is always so damn interesting.

    Speaking of which. Catching a train down yonder. March 2-8th I’m keeping an eye on a Cuban prize fighter training in LA. I think a drink is in order.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Thanks, Brin. I does my best. I suppose that’s all we can do, yes?

      It will, of course, be a pleasure to see you. Does your visit to see the fighter have anything to do with your book?

  5. Brin Friesen says:

    Yes indeedy. You wanna come watch him?

  6. Brin Friesen says:

    I can send over a fleet of groupies to retrieve you.

  7. Brin Friesen says:

    Now you’re getting the lower-tier groupie fleet.

  8. Brin Friesen says:

    Loni Anderson is leading your welcoming party.

  9. Slade Ham says:

    I remain fascinated by you, Duke. You seem to be miles up a road I just happen to have ended up on as well… not that I have any idea where I really am or where I’m headed for that matter. But writer, actor, screenwriter, etc, though my singing voice is possibly a violation of the Geneva Convention – they all tend to be things that hover around my perimeter yet just out of my permanent grasp. For now.

    My point is this though – it seems I am in the majority when I say that both you and your output are inspiring.

    Very.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Well, Slade, if my singing voice had followed the Geneva code, I wouldn’t have lost it, you know.

      Also, nobody knows where they are or where they’re headed. It’s always a good guess at best. People marry and have children and assume it’s permanent; but it isn’t, necessarily.

      Honestly, my present circumstances are not to be envied in any way, though it’s nice to be told that I’ve somehow inspired others. I only wish I could inspire myself to pull my feet out of the mud — which feels like dry cement at this point.

      But I don’t want to bring you down — especially when you’ve just kindly supplied me with a much-needed boost. It’s a hard road for everyone — the so-called creative life, I mean — and yours is bound to be far more exciting than mine. Do me a favor and toast me the next time you’re in some far-flung location, will you? Then, at least, I’ll be there in spirit.

      • Slade Ham says:

        It’s not envy. I watch other artists from too far away to ever be envious… but there’s a respect. That’s a better word maybe, and one that applies regardless of your “present circumstances” and applies more to where you’ve been and what you’re capable of? If that makes sense.

        Sorry… today has been all travel and the mind is jello.

        Consider the toast request noted and pending. For now though, slainte’, to the creative life.

        • Slade Ham says:

          “artists” and “sense”

          See? Jello.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I don’t see, because everything is mysteriously now as it should be, as per Richard Cox’s recent post about magic.

          Also, I knew you hadn’t spoken of envy, but my comment undoubtedly reads otherwise. I was just trying to say that, for all my experience and so on, I haven’t landed softly. I was complaining, in other words, which is bad form, I know.

          In Serbia, when you toast someone, you look them in the eye and say “Chin-chin,” so I’ll do the same with your gravatar when I actually have a glass in hand. I mean, I could reach for a glass easily, but I can’t afford liquor at the moment. Which, I’m sure, is for the best. Putting it away is one of most less enviable talents. But here I am speaking of envy again, and you never mentioned the fucking word! Jello-brain is apparently contagious.

        • Slade Ham says:

          No, permission to complain granted. My day will certainly come – most likely sooner than later – and you (okay, maybe not you, but someone) will have to listen to it.

          You’re making me want a glass of James now when I should really be in bed sleeping off what is inevitably going to be a cold tomorrow.

          And the mysterious S’s are as they should be now. It’s digital witchcraft.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Well, you know, I don’t mind hearing complaints — within reason, I mean. There are those who do it endlessly, and I’ve been so accused — by people given to complaint, usually. But we’ve all earned the right to bitch here and there, as I see it, and I know the tables will inevitably be turned at some point, so if someone makes use of my shoulder, I hope they realize they’ve struck a tacit bargain.

          But I think you just said the same thing, more or less, yes?

          Should there be an “o” and an “n” at the end of that James? Jesus, I hope so. Best. Shit. In. The. Fucking. World. Have at, brother!

  10. Connie says:

    Duke , I feel as though you just invited me into your home, brought out the family photo albums and introduced me to your inner self.

    I love that you have explored more than one artistic medium, this gives me hope , even if I never become a master of any art, I want to at least make a few honest attempts.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      It’s funny that you mention family photo albums, because I just wrote a piece along those lines the other day. You didn’t happen to see that, did you?

      Also, I think a great many artists (to see the term loosely) have explored more than area, so if you’ve done the same, you’re in good company. And I do, of course, appreciate hearing that I’ve given you hope. I could tell you were a sweetheart the second I met you, so you’ve given me hope also, sweethearts being an endangered species, it sometimes seems.

      • Connie says:

        oops… Sorry no I did not catch the piece about photo albums. hmmm.. now I guess I have to search for that one to read.
        You flatter be with the term “sweetheart” but I will accept it graciously and say . .. Thank you kind sir.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          That wasn’t to induce you to read it; your choice of words just struck me as coincidental. The piece is in the upper right hand corner of the TNB home page, under News and Events. That’s the TNB blog, and I felt the piece, being very light, belonged there.

          Also, I wasn’t trying to flatter, so what I said wasn’t to be kind. It was my honest impression, and I thank you for thanking me.

  11. Connie says:

    love it when it posts twice.. duh

    • D.R. Haney says:

      It’s just more of you to love, Connie. But do you want me to get rid of one? I have that power, you know. Well, actually, you probably don’t know.

      • Connie says:

        Yes please. Get rid of the first one, please, I am sure I muffed it up to begin with tho, cuz that’s how I roll.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Your wish is my command!

        • Connie says:

          I dabbled in music as a youngster, I am only mildly talented. I had more talent as a DJ but didn’t have the self confidence to try to make a career DJ’ing. I still crochet and quilt but more out of love than talent .
          Most likely my fear of failure and ridicule is stronger than my desire to succeed .

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Oh, but that can be rearranged. Also, fear can be a friend. I always tell people to be as ruthless with themselves as possible — in terms of critiquing their work, I mean. If you can do that and improve on what you see as your mistakes and like what you’ve done afterward, it’s bound to be good. But you have to be as honest with yourself in the praise department as you are with criticism, which can be tricky if you’re naturally given to modesty.

        • Connie says:

          ahhh.. the crux of the matter, I was raised to believe self praise is the worst sort of sin. That’s a hard one to conquer.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I was raised the same way. But honesty has to be paramount, even if it works in your favor. That, anyway, is my philosophy.

        • Connie says:

          I am not adverse to being honest with oneself. I wish I were better at recognizing and saying to myself– good job! and meaning it.
          Life must be more pleasant and less angst ridden if you can actually practice this honesty consistently.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          It’s a matter of repeated application, that’s all.

          Of course, you can be honest with yourself and see value where there is none, which is the troubling thing. But we’ll leave that alone for now.

        • Connie says:

          I may have to re-read that comment in the morning, after I have refreshed my brain. 🙂

          • D.R. Haney says:

            Yes, well. The very talented Slade Ham said somewhere above that his mind is jello, and I immediately noted that this condition is contagious. So go to sleep, Connie, and all will be cured. That comment isn’t going anywhere — I assume.

  12. Greg Olear says:

    More later, but as I told you already, this is masterful. The bar for the self-interviews has been raised considerably.

    The part about celebrity is particularly enlightening, having seen it from both sides as you have.

    And, of course, thanks for mentioning me and my better half.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      How could I not? You and Steph have been just fantastic to me, and continue to be.

      Of course it won’t surprise you that I’m awake at this hour. I keep checking the site every few minutes as I sing for my supper. In fact, I wish I were singing for my supper. Anyway, it’s a bit hard to concentrate. For some odd reason, I’ve never been so excited about another of my posts as I am about this self-interview. I don’t know why.

      • Greg Olear says:

        I’m going to explain that for you by saying — for, what, the seventh time this week — that this is probably the best post you’ve ever done. Which is saying something, in your case. It comes the closest to capturing the magic of BFL.

        I did notice that you took the day off yesterday, as did I (mostly). It does clear the head, right?

        • D.R. Haney says:

          It does, though I have to confess to checking the site every once in a while — not to comment but to act as the catcher in the rye, so to speak, for falling posts. I caught three, in fact. I hate to think of contributors chagrined that their work can’t be found.

          It means a great deal that you praise the interview as you do. Maybe I instinctively recognize it as the best thing I’ve put up, though I would (and do) lack the objectivity to say for sure. Also, it’s interesting that you say what you do about it in the context of BFL, since I found the beginning of the book by writing an interview with Jim. I’m sure I’ve told you that story. If not, I’ll have to bore you with it the next time we speak.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Yes, I noticed that, when I logged in in the evening to “catch,” and saw the pieces already safely nestled below, with the requisite and brilliant summaries. Thanks.

          Incredibly, I have not heard that story. When next we speak. Which I’m sure will be soon.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Ha. Expect the phone to ring in thirty seconds. Not.

          As for the summaries — I learn from the best. But you do it much better.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Oh, and:

          GREG DID THE GRAPHIC FOR THE INTERVIEW.

          I should’ve put up a comment right away to that effect, but I got started in a weird way. Sorry. It looks great.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Before I read your comment, the phone did ring, and I thought, “Cool, it’s Duke.” But it was our friend bailing on today’s playdate because her daughter was a fever. Double bummer.

          Glad you like the graphic.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I let Brad choose which version to go with.

          Is your friend’s daughter Abbey Road? I’m stoked, of course, that you say “Double bummer.”

        • Greg Olear says:

          I prefer the one he picked, although I’m fond of the other one as well.

          Just wanted to make sure you knew I wasn’t being sarcastic when I said “which I’m sure will be soon.”

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I didn’t assume you were. But I appreciate the clarification nonetheless.

  13. Duke,
    I actually forgot, though, I knew going in, that you were the interviewer.
    I got completely swept in. And I haven’t even had coffee yet!

    And as a rabid fan of Banned, I love hearing about how the pitch hitter
    started out as a twinkle in his papa’s eye – in a hotel room in Belgrade – how romantic.
    Wouldn’t we all have liked to have our start there? And like making a person, it’s a chance encounter
    with fate and willingness – the right combination that gives the baby its life.
    You know how I feel about your book and Peewee, Jason, Jim, yes, even Irina – which
    is why I even started being invested in TNB. Even though Greg wrote for the site, I never read anyone else – but Banned is what sucked me in to TNB – because I wanted more D.R. Haney, dammit!

    And thanks for the singing mention – awwww – that was nice.
    I remember telling you to do the monster walk and to hum.
    Glad it helped. I love that picture of you on the floor there with the mic.

    Oh and you made me laugh with the phrase “geezer talk”.

    More later – kids up – this was great, D.R. – bravo!

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Well, if I’ve in any way inspired you to become a TNB reader, then TNB owes me a huge debt, since you’re now as much a part of TNB as those who officially contribute.

      Yes, you did tell about the monster walk and hum. Also, there was some advice about tea, I think — and didn’t you say to gargle? Anyway, I did all of it, and had a voice by the time of the reading. I could barely speak at all for the first half-day or so after that show, which was on Thursday night. I was a little better on Friday, and I think you passed on your advice to me either late Friday or Saturday morning. I think it was the latter.

      Hey, you want some geezer talk? Check out the second half of the above paragraph! “Well, it was in 1975. No, ’76. No, no, I remember now, it was ’75.”

      Finally, about the form of the interview — you know, I just decided to proceed in as straight a manner as possible, forgetting that the interviewer was me, and that was partly because Greg had done the split-personality thing so well that I knew I couldn’t top him, and I threw away the interview I already had, which also had the split-personality thing, and started fresh. I’m glad it did well by you — and by Greg, obviously.

      Thanks so much for everything, Steph. You guys have been such great friends — to me and the book both.

      • I only wish we lived closer, we could more for you than what we can through wires.
        Like, we could bring you soup if you were sick, we could have you over for dinner, you could be our in resident writer/manny – that kind of thing. And if you were up all night commenting on TNB – I would insist that you turn off your computer and get some sleep.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Well, occasionally, Zara does that kind of thing. She’s a big one for telling people to go to bed. Ask Reno Romero. Who phoned me the other day, incidentally, and I had to go because I was busy answering comments. Then I further got sidetracked with Lenore.

          I’m back to geezer talk again.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Go to bed, for God’s sake. ALL OF YOU.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I feel like one of your neighbors before they got old enough to hit the clubs.

        • seriously, I feel like I need to give everyone a bath, brush your teeth and get you all in your pj’s.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Duke – Yes, but I swear at the neighbours, in my curlers with a rolling pin. You know that.

          Steph – Have I told you how much I am looking forward to your porch? Oh boy.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Ha! I’ve got the bath going right now. I’m going to nap, and there’s a tentative plan to meet up with Ducky later. She’s in town for the weekend with her TNB-famous dog.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I really do hope to one day be screamed at by you, Z, or somebody else (preferably of the fair sex) in curlers with a rolling pin in hand. It’s on my bucket list.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Be careful what you wish you, D!!!

        • Zara Potts says:

          For.. be careful what you wish FOR. Man, what is wrong with me? So many typo’s…

        • D.R. Haney says:

          You may have caught Slade’s jello thing. (I am really wearing that one out, huh? Apologies, Slade.)

          Meantime, don’t I know it on the careful-what-you-wish-for front!

        • Zara – I can’t wait for the porch either – I promise you that you will not be disappointed.
          Especially, if I can come running out with my rolling pin and curlers (i have both).
          Duke – glad you’re doing a bedtime routine – don’t forget to floss.

          And have a great time with Ducky – give her our warmest St. John Olear and Olear regards.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I’m not certain where I caught this gelatinous, digitally transmitted brain disease, but my sincerest apologies for infecting you guys.

        • Zara Potts says:

          It’s alright, Slade. I’m glad to hear that you’re in with the TNB compound. I’m sorry that Richrob’s ‘Lost’ numbers didn’t come up for us this weekend, but there’s always the lottery next week, right?

        • D.R. Haney says:

          No apologies necessary, Slade. But I believe you caught while traveling, yes? I blame Korea, even though I know that’s not where you were. But, you know, after David’s most recent post…

          And, Steph, I will indeed pass on greetings from the Olears — and I promise to floss!

        • Slade Ham says:

          I must have picked it up in San Diego – just heads up to the California folks, in case it’s working it’s way up the coast. Thanks for bringing up the dying wails of dogs again. Now I’m jello and a little nauseous.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Oh, shit. Dude, I live in California, which means I’m stupid, okay? Yeah, now the jello thing makes perfect sense.

  14. Tawni says:

    This was a really compelling self-interview. I am in awe of the fact that you lived in Belgrade. I haven’t been anywhere outside of America and my sheltered world view really bothers me. And makes me love reading about my friends’ travels that much more.

    At what bar are you singing with Memory (in that picture)?

    • D.R. Haney says:

      It’s called 3 of Clubs. It’s on the famous Vine Street in Hollywood, but the sleazy part at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard. I really like seeing bands there. It’s intimate, and, as you can see in the picture, it has a round stage, which for some reason appeals to me.

      I don’t think travel necessarily broadens people. I’ve met former soldiers, for instance, who seem to have been barely touched by their experiences abroad. Ask them about this country or that one and you get: “I don’t know. It was okay. The women have bad teeth.” “That’s it?” “Yeah.”

      So it likewise follows that to have stayed in one place for a lifetime doesn’t make necessarily make you sheltered, as Eudora Welty — a permanent resident of Jackson, Mississippi — once commented. (She had a great line, by the way, when she was asked, as she was routinely, why she’d never married. “I wasn’t raised to ask questions like that,” she used to say, “and I don’t believe you were, either.”)

      I couldn’t be happier that you liked the interview, Tawni. I’m strangely very proud of it — much more so than I expected to be.

  15. Kim says:

    Hey Duke
    I’m the friend of Greg Olear / Stephanie St. John Olear who gushed over your book on Goodreads. Steph gave it to me as a gift (thanks again Steph!) and I have since recommended it to many.

    Love the self interview. Fun and insightful—although if Mr. Potter crosses my path I’m rolling his damn wheelchair off a cliff.
    It’s hard to believe Peewee is a creation based on six different people. I see why you acknowledge him as a gift. I’m still sad over losing him.

    I also acted for many years. Although my writing is fathoms below what you’ve achieved, I do think that dialogue is a strong point of mine that I can directly credit to my acting experience. There’s also that echo of the exasperated acting teacher in my head, “What’s your character’s intention?” and “Why is today different than any other day?”

    I raise my glass (coffee for now…) to you – “Chin-chin.”

    • Greg Olear says:

      Yay, Kim.

      Also, just so we’re clear, Kim is a world-class actress, Duke.

      • Double yay, Kim!

        She really is – seriously and also writer. And friend. Awwww. I hope we see her more of her here on TNB. It’ll be like worlds collide for me – I personally would love it.

        and Kimmie, might I add from an acting class we took (maybe not the same teacher you’re referring to) “What is your moment before? What time is it? What’s the temperature?”
        Hard to do at an 8am acting class. But I can see how all of this has formed your dialogue writing skills.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          All of this, Steph, is bringing back a lot of memories of early-morning acting class. I also had night classes, which had a completely different atmosphere.

          These comments are going to nest weirdly, damnit. Anyway, yes, Kim, please visit TNB as often as possible. Consider it charity. You’ll be helping those of us moored here to feel better about ourselves.

        • Kim says:

          Hey Steph! ox
          This is a very strange TNB land you all live in…I don’t totally get it all…and all it’s “nests”

        • D.R. Haney says:

          It is strange, isn’t it? That’s all the more reason that you must join us. We need to be persuaded that it’s strange, or, by your joining us, that it isn’t. Which side will win? I see reality TV potential, with immunity challenges decided by comments and the like.

          This really isn’t very funny, is it? My humor battery could use a recharge.

      • D.R. Haney says:

        I can well imagine that about her, Greg, even though I haven’t met her in the flesh. I can imagine it based on a remark she made in her GoodReads review of BFL. I can’t quote it exactly, but it was something to the effect of: This is the how a life in art actually turns out. Only someone who’s lived that life, and lived it well, could make that statement with such authority.

      • Kim says:

        Aww shucks. Thanks Greg.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Of course, Kim, I remember very well! You know BMac, right? That’s what we always called Brian McEnroe — “we” meaning my circle of friends in NYC.

      I agree about Mr. Potter. I was just reminded me of what a scumbag he was because I again watched It’s a Wonderful Life on YouTube when I was writing this piece. However, Pottersville was full of great bars and music and paddy wagons right out of Weegee. The only bad thing I saw there was a pawn shop. Here’s a clip, if you, too, want a refresher:

      http://www.youtube.com/user/TheLionKing94#p/u/15/Md6Iz4LffMI

      Pottersville begins around 0:45.

      Did you study acting in NYC? I studied with Frank Corsaro and Mira Rostova, among a few others. I always got into arguments over the “intention” business. I insisted that we don’t always have an intention. I eventually developed my own philosophy, which placed importance on a “doing” instead of an intention (or “objective,” depending on the teacher).

      Have you ever written a play? My first stabs at serious writing were plays, but I was never that interested in theater, though I faked it for a while, since an interest in theater was considered the mark of a serious actor.

      Oh, and Peewee is a bit of a Frankenstein monster, I’m afraid, but if I laid out which part came from which source, I think he’d lose his magic. Yet he still has it, even for me, and I know everything about his creation except that part of it that remains a mystery. And losing him? Oh, man, I was a wreck for a fucking week, tears included. I’m not kidding in the slightest. His death destroyed me.

      Chin-chin to you as well. I’m so glad you read and commented. The self-interviews at TNB have generally been neglected, and I’ve been hoping this one would beat the curse.

      • Kim says:

        Yes, I know Brian, or “Mackie” as people in the catering industry call him. We’ve served many an hors d’oeuvre together. I’ve had my share of survival jobs too. You and I could probably share many war stories.

        I hate to admit it, but that clip of Pottersville makes it look a little…fun.

        I first studied acting at Syracuse University where I earned a BFA that has kept me in poverty ever since… (* note: BFAs should only be given to students with rich parents) It was good basic training, but very in-the-box “method” stuff. Got a little taste of “outside-in” work doing a semester at the National Theater Institute at the O’Neill Center in Ct. Then during 6 of my 10 years in NYC, I studied with Bob Krakower, which was the best experience I had. The beginning year was tedious. Literally breaking down text line by line answering: What am I literally saying? vs. What am I literally doing? Unfortunately for me, some of my best acting was done in that class. I always sucked at auditions.

        And yes, I wrote 1 play that was produced in the black box theatre at Syracuse, and I cringe as I write this just thinking about. Blech. It was awful. Since then, I’ve written some sketch comedy one acts that I’d like to develop further.

        I envy you for still keeping a toe in the acting pool. Who knows, perhaps I’ll jump back in later in life. You know, like that old lady in Titanic.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I generally act when I’m asked to do it. Like you, I was always bad at auditions. It takes me, usually, a day to relax on a set also. I’m a shy person at heart, and I only begin to operate at optimum speed once I’ve determined that I’m on friendly ground.

          The breaking-down-of-every-line thing is another instance in which, I think, the study of acting benefits writing. I would be curious to know if lit majors are ever required to do such things. I doubt it seriously. But a good scene-study class teaches you how to turn a text upside down and shake it for everything it’s worth.

          I laughed out loud at your line about Titanic, recalling George on Seinfeld: “The old lady — she’s a liar, huh?” I just laughed again. And, yes, we could definitely trade war stories about shit jobs in NYC. Catering paid for a trip to Europe. As for Mackie (it’s hilarious to me that you call him that), I wish I had time and energy enough to tell you about my last trip to NYC, which had me snorting heroin with Mackie (we drunkenly thought it was cocaine) and a blitzed journey through the Village on our way to Hoboken, where I ended up passing out on Mackie’s kitchen floor as we prepared to do still more illicit substances. That’s the short version. Anyway, he’s a hell of a guy. He’ll go the distance and then some.

        • Greg Olear says:

          When did that happen? Was it awhile ago? I lived in Hoboken, you know. Alas.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          This happened in December 2006. Were you still living there at the time?

          Also, there was a famous party at BMac’s place — a different place in Hoboken — in December 1991. Something about that year strangely sticks in my mind.

  16. I missed this somehow.

    I caught a link on facebook.

    Weirdly I was just thinking about resurrecting our joint piece… Like, that was what I was thinking about whilst I was waiting to the computer to load up…

    I’m going to read Banned For Life again, in the hope that it’ll have the same effect it had last time.

    I can’t believe you were never in a band… I’ve just started one… a sort of grunge/punk band…

    • D.R. Haney says:

      I’m so damned jealous. Very recently I was trying to talk someone into sneaking me into his side-project band, if one can “sneak” into a band. It’ll never fly. Some people simply don’t understand that I’m a world-class frontman waiting to happen.

      We really should think about resurrecting our piece, James, but I’m a little apprehensive about your re-reading the book. I wouldn’t want it to go the way of Catcher in the Rye. (James on TNB: “Jason is a whiny bitch! What a pussy! I wanted to fight him the second time I read the book!”)

      • the thing with our band is that none of us can really play our instruments very well except dave, our guitarist, who is insanely good.

        three of us spent hours talking about grunge bands, and we went back to dave’s. my other friend nick had this riff (he can play, but not as well) and in under an hour this little riff had become a full length piece of music. I contributed by arranging the guitar intro which sounded more… awesome.

        I’m the bassist. of course i can’t play. neither can our drummer. we’re going to be an rhythm(less) section.

        but we do have two original songs and a few Nirvana covers ready to go. I’m pushing for a few Ramones and Stooges songs as well for when we start playing properly next week.

        Almost every book I re-read I love as much or more when I read it. The thing with Catcher in the Rye is I read it aged 15 and then about 18, during which time I sort of grew up. So the ‘me’ that identified with Holden first time around had sort of evolved a little. And I still think it’s an incredible piece of writing. Just an annoying character. I think I mentioned that in the tribute— it takes a special writer to evoke that much feeling over a character.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Which Nirvana covers? And don’t worry that you can’t play; you’re in the great tradition of punk, and you’re bound to be better than Duran Duran (which I’m only saying to wind up Greg).

          You did indeed mention your reappraisal of Holden in the Salinger tribute, but you also mentioned it before, on one of my old comment boards. (“Child Porn Model,” I believe it was.)

          I saw a teenaged Mexican girl reading Catcher on the bus the other day, which was sweet to see. “There are probably a lot of people reading that book right now,” a friend said to me when I spoke of this girl to him. That hadn’t occurred to me. Duh!

        • Greg Olear says:

          I was going to ask which instrument Jedi played, and would have guessed bass.

          Duke, I’m ignoring your Duran slight. When Jedi can play slap-bass like JT on “Rio,” we’ll talk…

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I’m just happy to see that the bait still works. You’re apparently hungry like a wolf.

        • Duke— Drain You, Breed, Lithium, Lounge Act. If I get good enough on bass we can play Polly. So far the band are kind of split on Smells Like Teen Spirit— some think it’s too ‘obvious’ whilst others, including myself, think it’d be fun to play live because almost everyone knows it…

          I don’t like Duran Duran, but I don’t hate them and they can definitely play their instruments…

          I do tend to repeat myself when it comes to things I have strong-ish feelings on.

          Greg— why would you have guessed bass?

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Yes, Greg, why?

          Let’s see how quickly that brings him, if at all. It’s not like I’m Simon yelling “Uche!”

          I think I’d put myself on your side of “Teen Spirit,” especially if you guys can work out a radically new version of it.

          I repeat myself because I either forgot that I said it the first time, or because I’m fucking obsessed.

        • Greg Olear says:

          1. We were at a playground in Rosendale most of the early afternoon (see rhino photo on View From Your Phone), so I may not have appeared with Uche-like speed.

          2. Jedi: Because if you were a guitar player, you would have mentioned it by now, and bass is the easiest instrument to pick up, if not the easiest one to master. Punk songs especially, you’re mostly just playing the bass line, and its maybe five chords all told.

          3. Tori Amos does the best cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcHNZVrxEts

          Or just type in “Tori Amos smells” in YouTube.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I’m going to have to click on that link, Greg, after I’ve taken a bath, put on my PJs, and flossed. But I honestly didn’t expect you to appear instantly. I hoped — but that’s another matter entirely.

          And now to see the rhino.

        • Duke— I want to do a version more akin to the way Nirvana performed it on Top Of The Pops. You may or may not know, but Top of the Pops was a weekly chart countdown that aired on Friday nights for years, until it died along with the CD single. But for years it was the only way kids in Britain could watch their favourite bands perform.

          Except TOTP has a practice of forcing the bands to mime to tape. I protest Dave Grohl just sits motionless behind the drum kit, Krist Novoselic just swings his bass around and Cobain doesn’t even pretend he’s playing. The only live bit is the singing, but he changed his delivery to ‘Morissey style’ and changed the words to be more controversial— ”load up on drugs/kill your friends…”

          Otherwise, like I said, it’d just be a great way to end a show— a high-energy song that pretty much everyone knows…

          Greg— I used to have a guitar, but I didn’t have the drive to get close to mastering it. I can hardly call myself a bass player now, but you’re right on. I’m the bassist because it’s the easiest instrument to take up and relatively simple to play in the style we’re aiming for…

          I’ve heard that cover.

          I’ve literally just turned on the radio: Smells Like Teen Spirit. Weird…

        • Greg Olear says:

          Smells Like SSE, actually…

          And good, I’m glad I did appear right away.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I totally agree with Greg on the Tori version of Spirit. However, the most fun version of the song is by a Japanese guy named Dokaka. It’s very Bobby McFerrin meets Fraggle Rock. He’s a beatbox artist. It is… well… just listen to it. I heard it years ago and couldn’t even begin to tell you where to find it now though.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I’ve still yet to click on the Amos version. But I’ll get to it. All in good time, all in good time.

          I’m very aware of TOTP, James, and I think I may have seen a clip of Nirvana on that show. But even if I didn’t, I love the idea of running amok under those circumstances.

          Did the Doors play “Light My Fire” live on The Ed Sullivan Show, or was it just Morrison singing live to a playback of the band? Does anyone know? Either way, I think it’s true, as poor the Doors movie, that he sang “We couldn’t get much higher,” or however the lyric goes, in spite of agreeing beforehand to a change.

  17. Connie says:

    I am going to request “Banned For Life” as a bday gift next month. I am sure one of my sons would be happy to buy the book for me.

  18. Duke- as many have said before me here– you indeed have raised the bar on self-interviews. I forgot it was you asking you the most brilliant questions and giving the most amazing and thoughtful answers–(that also may be due in part to the awful cold I’m rocking and the fact that I cannot even taste my coffee)– but I’m guessing it owes more to your talent.

    You are on fire here on TNB lately– go you.

    ~ r

    Belgrade + Banned for Life? Ah– love that, love that!

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Yes, that’s it. They’re a lively people — the liveliest I’ve ever known — but, in fact, they were banned for a long time. The media coverage of the wars was very lopsided. But enough about that.

      I loved your self-interview, Robin, as Greg will corroborate; I was just talking to him about the entire self-interview project (so to speak) here at TNB, and I cited yours as a favorite. I vibed (to sound like the hippie I’m not and never was) very strongly with what you had to say about the process (to sound like the actor I was and am still occasionally).

      I also love that you say you’re “rocking” an awful cold. I just shook mine, which came on about ten days ago. I’m a favorite host of the common-cold virus. It apparently regards me as Disneyland or some such. I hope and trust that isn’t the case with you.

  19. Jeannie says:

    I love how quickly it seems BFL was conceived. Its funny how everything can align just right, all the right creative energy flowing in the right direction to give birth to a wonderful story.

    This is a great self interview Duke. The bar is set high, three cheers, and looking forward to more!

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Another self-interview, you mean? Will comments suffice? I don’t want to quickly get tagged as the guy who does nothing but self-interviews.

      By the way, the conception was fast, but it was a year and some months before I found a way to start. None of the early stabs worked. So it wasn’t completely magic. Not much is, but I won’t say it never happens, since there are bounds to be exceptions.

      Thanks for the three cheers. Did you, by any chance, recognize Danny in the photo?

      • Jeannie says:

        Ahaha, no I meant that I look forward to more of your work. Brain+morning=mush.

        The story I told you about, Chicago is Dead—I drafted the whole thing in the course of a few hours from a dream. (Nick will kill me if he knew) However, didn’t actually attempt to write it until two years later. NaNo is brilliant for kicking your ass and making you actually write.

        I did! I actually thought, ‘oh, hey, I met him.’ Was Memory a side project from DPD, or was it after they broke up?

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Memory is sort of the sequel to DPD, which had gone on hiatus that’s since apparently proved permanent (though you can never say for sure with those guys, one in particular). Bryce and Danny are from DPD, and Gregg is a friend of a friend of Justin, who was in another band with Bryce, and Phil is friends with Shane, who knows us all, and who just called me five minutes ago. (Shane, if you read this, hello again. I wasn’t lying about dying from lack of sleep.)

          Do you really refer to Nick as “NaNo,” or is this another case of mush-brain, or, as Slade Ham put it somewhere above, jello?

        • Connie says:

          Jeanie , what does NaNo mean? clue me in.

        • Jeannie says:

          Band sequels are always interesting. Sometimes it’s brilliant, sometimes it falls flat. Think Nirvana and Foo Fighters. I’m not going to step on any toes and give my opinion on which fell flat.

          No, I don’t refer to Nick as NaNo, though I could see him walking around saying it as if he were Mork. Mush/Jello theory +1. I often forget that NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month) is still not that well known. Le sighs.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Well, since you’re asking, Connie, it must mean that it isn’t Nick, thus answering my question and proving that my brain is mush — as if proof were required.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Oh, Jesus. Of course, Jeannie. Will Entrekin, here at TNB, wrote about NaNo some time ago.

          And I think I know which band of the two you mention fell flat, even though I have a weakness for “My Hero.”

        • Connie says:

          Well NaNo sounds intimidating , write a novel in a month? shoot me now! ( just teasing of course)

        • Jeannie says:

          Connie: NaNo or NaNoWrimo is National Novel Writing Month. It’s done every year in November as a way to get people to finish a novel. Well, er, um–the first draft of a novel. It really helps you with two things: allowing yourself to suck for the word count and then realizing that you can finish a large body of work within tight deadlines.

          Several NaNo novels have gone on (after many, MANY revisions) to become critically acclaimed works. i.e. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoos & Water for Elephants

          But, really, NaNo helps people to find out that writing has to become a discipline. nanowrimo.org

        • Anon says:

          And, in a way, it also helps people find really cool sites like TNB. Just sayin’. (;

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I can’t imagine that anyone’s who ever attempted a novel wouldn’t know that it’s a discipline. But it’s certainly true that big works can be “completed” on a tight deadline, albeit with significant revision afterward in almost all cases.

          Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying in maybe a month and a half, while holding down a full-time job. That’s certainly inspiring.

        • Jeannie says:

          Duke, I too have a weakness for “My Hero” so, yes, you indeed know which band fell flat.

          • D.R. Haney says:

            But we share the same weakness. I can’t help it; I really like that song. Also, one time I saw Dave Grohl, and I was starstruck as I’ve almost never been starstruck ever, just because he was in Nirvana. I would never have predicted I’d feel that way, but I did.

        • Jeannie says:

          Apparently I am one step behind my emails. *facepalm*

          There are times when I hear people say that they could never do it because they don’t have the time. NaNo can help you realize that even if you just write 1600 a day it accumulates so quickly. Even if you don’t finish the novel, it helps you to set up that routine to sit down and write. That is the part which many of us lack.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          It’s lacking in many because it’s an unnatural thing to do. Novel-writing is tantamount to foot-binding! But love makes us do all kinds of crazy things.

        • Jeannie says:

          Wait, you said this to me the other day. How is it like foot-binding? Is it because we censor ‘normal’ operations in order to make ourselves beautiful? To make our work become loved by more people?

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Oh, my brain is mush. You know that. Or jello, as caused by the jello virus that infected Slade Ham.

          But the foot-binding metaphor has nothing to do with beauty. Rather, it’s a way of attempting to describe the disfigurement that occurs after repeated hours of sitting and concentrating in complete isolation. The isolation part alone goes against human nature, seeing that we’re social animals.

          I could obviously do with a better metaphor. I’ll attempt one when my brain has again hardened.

        • Jeannie says:

          Ah, okay. I see now. It’s interesting how a metaphor can be taken in two directions. Same coin I guess. You’re looking at it from the outside, and I, from the inside.

        • Greg Olear says:

          THere was a clue back there about ANon’s identity…NaNoWriMo.

          I feel like it’s an episode of Blue’s Clues with Anon, and when we figure out who he is, Steve will come out and do a little dance.

          I don’t know why I made that joke…have you ever watched that show, Duke?

        • Anon says:

          Oy vey. There is no mystery, no clue and certainly no Blue’s Clues dance. It is simply that my interest in finally attempting to write a novel led me to find this wonderful place which, in turn, inspired me to sit the hell down and commit to the NaNoWriMo challenge.

          As an aside, please don’t mention Blue’s Clues to me. Long story involving bad decisions, missed opportunities, all sorts of frustration. So very sad. Blue is dead to me now.

        • Jeannie says:

          Hell, my first NaNoWriMo was born out of a long story involving bad decisions and all sorts of frustration. Unfortunately, it was much to personal to publish but it helped me to fall in love with NaNo. And now, I participate every year. I don’t ‘win’ every year but that’s besides the point.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Okay. Initially, being bleary-brained, I read Blue’s Clues as Billy’s Clues and said I’d never seen it.

          Now that I see my mistake, I can report that I have in fact seen Blue’s Clues. My nephews watch, or watched, it. However, I didn’t follow closely enough to know about this dance.

          Didn’t the host of Blue’s Clues kill himself? I seem to recall reading that he did, and thinking: Jesus, no wonder!

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Oh, and Anon, I’m not at all surprised to hear that you’re either working on a novel or you propose to work on one in the future.

          And Jeannie, I’m assuming that to ‘win’ on NaNo is to complete what you set out to complete, yes? Pardon my ignorance.

        • Jeannie says:

          Yes and no. It’s preferable that you actually finish the story you work on. However, in order to win and get the swag you have to write 50k words within the 30 days.

        • Jeannie says:

          *you are working on*

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Ignorance, once again: “swag”? (I still have yet to recover from mush-brain.)

        • Anon says:

          Catching up (read: avoiding work) and noticed your questions. “Swag” (a.k.a. “schwag”) is, at least in my experience, random branded free stuff. All I took from NaNo – aside from motivation – was their “You did it” PDF download. I hear there’s other NaNo-labeled stuff you can get, though.

          Now, my s(ch)wag collection in general? Whoo! I am a cheap bastard and dig the freebie/cheapies. CamelBaks, two-way radios, ridiculously-sized cups and “sports bottles”, utterly useless magnets. Yeah. I can send you the magnets, should you ever take me up on the scotch.

          And I don’t know if Richard will see this but I like the new look. This could turn into a “Body Snatchers” kind of thing – The Greys colonize TNB. Or, given my current mental state, “The Crazies”…

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I saw Richard’s gravatar before I’d seen this comment and remarked on it elsewhere. But I hope his weight-lifting example inspires you, Anon.

          Meanwhile, thanks for the definition of “swag.” I think my mush-brain finally put off Jeannie. But are these freezer magnets you can send? And are they pornographic? If so, I don’t think they count as “useless”. My refrigerator door could use some spice.

          Come to think of it, I’ve heard of swag in connection with pirates, and possibly Oprah.

        • Jeannie says:

          haha, Duke even your mush-brain can’t put me off. Though, TNB frustrations, 7 hours of drawing and a 5 hour meeting to discuss ‘how busy we are’ puts my brain into the, ‘oh look that’s a good bottle of wine’ mode.

          Anon is indeed right Swag is really just proof that you won. However, I admit I have a coffee tumbler with the NaNo insignia. I may not have pornographic magnets but my brother brought me back some that show how to kill kittens–you know in a ‘cute’ way–from an adult convention. Swag in any form is awesome in my book.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Sorry to steal your thunder, Anon. But my gravatar muscled me out of the way and posted itself. Although I think he’s been favoring his left side because it seems a bit over developed to me. Or maybe he’s injecting the HGH in that shoulder.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Maybe he’s had surgery there. But I don’t think I’d want to mess with him — even though he’s only, what, two inches tall, allowing for the missing (and no doubt muscular) lower half.

          I wonder if his hands are round and devoid of fingers? I have a suspicion they are.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Oh, and Jeannie, I have a freezer magnet of a cat about to have its head sheared off by a boy pushing a lawnmower. It’s a cartoon — a gift, which probably doesn’t count as swag — with the caption: Evil is an art form.

          Oh, look, that’s a good bottle of wine.

        • Jeannie says:

          I’ve popped the cork and am letting it breathe! *offers a glass* nothing’s better than a good book and cheep wine.

          I love magnets like that, cute and devious!

        • Anon says:

          Oh, no, no – they are utterly useless. I think they were going for “faux meteorite” but, really, they’re just they weirdly misshapen (Richard, that is not a dig on your gravatar) and polished… um… magnetic lumps. But, hey, they were free, they’ve got the Sun logo (which could make them collectible, since they’ve been purchased by Oracle) and my kids might find them cool.

          Richard, I’m guessing that your gravatar is either doing some isometric tension move or is wearing an iPod for workout music. I’m trying to talk mine out of juicing and getting some tribal tat to catch up on his manly points. Assuming, of course, “he’s” a man. I mean, it’s just my gravatar – we’ve never met in person and haven’t ever actually seen below the belt.

          Jeannie, what are you working on? I’ve already had my dessert Sambuca and have moved on to a nice Blackstone Merlot.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh my God. What’s happened to Richrob???

        • Anon says:

          Stunningly handsome, isn’t he?

        • Jeannie says:

          Anon, I’ve finished off my Chateau du Prias Bordeaux and have moved on to a Cabernet Sauvignon from Ste Chateau Michelle. Yes, it’s one of those days.

        • Anon says:

          Lord, woman, every day is one of those days! Salud and bottom’s up. Chateau Ste. Michelle makes my favorite sauvignon blanc, btw. Mostly a summer wine for me – chilled, a little cheese and sliced apple, maybe some homemade bread, watching the sun go down. Yum.

        • Richard Cox says:

          My gravatar is on the hunt for a lady friend. Hence his inflated ego…I mean, shoulders.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Dear oh dear, Richrob. I would suggest your gravatar stays away from online dating sites. The positioning of his arms might give the ladies the wrong impression…

        • Anon says:

          My son is potty-training and I’ve hollered “Hey! Hands off the junk, punk!” so often that my daughter has taken to repeating it. Rich, try it from a safe distance – I don’t know how serious gravatar ‘roid rage might be.

        • Jeannie says:

          Anon: I just finished making Rosemary and Feta loaf. I’m waiting for it to cool. The Chateau Ste Michelle sauvignon blanc is now on my wine dry erase board. Tres chic, no? I have a soft spot for sauvignon blanc.

          Zara: your comments always make me laugh!

        • Richard Cox says:

          That’s the muscle flexing position! In any case it seems your gravatar is quite admiring mine. But I saw her looking at Duke’s that way, also, so I don’t know.

        • Anon says:

          I love feta and am officially envious now. CSM is definitely my favorite but both Sterling Vineyards and Ferrari-Carano also put out some really nice ones, as I recall.

        • Anon says:

          Gravatrollop!

        • Zara Potts says:

          Muscle flexing, Richrob? It doesn’t look that way to me…
          And yes, my gravatar is a complete hussy. I can’t take her anywhere.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Jeannie -thank you!!

        • Jeannie says:

          Gravatrollop! I love it!

          I do like Sterling Vineyards, I’ve had it a few times. But the Ferrari-Carano I have not tried. Another to add to the list. Thank you! Now, off to eat said delicious bread.

        • Anon says:

          By definition, if she’s a hussy, I bet you could take her anywhere. Repeatedly, most likely. (;

        • Zara Potts says:

          Well, maybe not to meet the Queen.. but then again, she does have impeccable manners when necessary…

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Good God, you leave for a little while and the party takes off without you!

          Yes, Jeannie, I’ll have the glass of wine now. Thanks. I have a number of remarks to read here.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Okay, now that I’ve had my first glass of imaginary wine and I’ve soaked up the atmosphere a little…

          Jeannie: What do you make of Anon’s description of his magnets? (Which, on closer inspection, reads like a loaded question.)

          Anon: I still intend to write you about that very inviting bottle and now about the magnets as well. It’s just been a bit madding of late, what with having so many posts up at once. (It was sort of an accident, that it happened this way, which is what I imagine many expectant parents saying.) Also, if you put coffee beans in your Sambuca, how many?

          Zara: Will your new gravatar in any way resemble those of Anon and Richrob? The latter is seeking female companionship, as you know.

          Jeannie (again): It’s now one of those nights, yes? And may I have another glass of wine?

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Ah, Jeannie, I now see that you’ve moved on to Zara’s party. Very well, I’ll pour myself another glass of wine and continue.

          Anon: The homemade bread and the setting sun each sound great, but together? Sublime.

          Zara: Your gravatar has a dirty mind.

          Richard: It’s now been established that Zara’s gravatar is looking at a large spider about to drop from the ceiling. The smile you think you see is, in fact, a frozen reaction of horror. However, a new gravatar appears to be on the way, and I’m hopeful that it may just the companion that your gravatar is seeking.

          Zara (again): A hussy? Yes, that’s just what I had in mind when I spoke of your gravatar a minute ago.

          Anon (again): I see that I neglected to mention how strange it is that you and your gravatar have never met. But, then, I now know that you’ve been very involved with your son’s potty training. I hope his insomnia has now passed, and that goes for your daughter as well.

          Jeanne (again): Everybody around here seems to have be having bread except me. I think I’m going to go get some.

          All: Thank you for making this a wonderful party, so far — you and your gravatars alike.

        • Jeannie says:

          Well, I will have to bust open another bottle, but yes you are more than welcome to more wine.

          Anon’s description as a faux meterorite, poc? Um, I enjoyed it?

        • Jeannie says:

          You are more than welcome to have some of my bread, though you may have to fight off Anon. He’s been drooling ever since I said it was Rosemary and Feta.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Thanks. It was the wine that made me ask. Also, I was trying to be a good host and all.

          I trust you enjoyed the bread. And thanks for making a trip back to my party. Zara makes a far better host, I’m sure.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Rosemary and feta, huh? Wow, that’s a vast improvement on the Von’s shit I have here. Anon is right to drool!

        • Jeannie says:

          Don’t be too impressed. It’s from Fresh & Easy, pop it in the oven and voila, fresh bread.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          My oven is broken. But it’s nice to know that I can have it fresh and easy, care of Fresh & Easy.

        • Jeannie says:

          How do you live without an oven? Liquid diet? *goes of to pour more wine*

        • D.R. Haney says:

          The stove works but the oven does not, if you see the distinction.

          You do have a designated driver, don’t you?

        • Jeannie says:

          Oh okay, though I bake so much it would be hard to live without an oven.

          Crap I knew I forgot something!

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Maybe Nick can give you a ride?

          Meantime, I know I should have my oven repaired, but will involve a call to my landlords, and I avoid them as much as possible.

        • Jeannie says:

          One of the many reasons I love my apartment, the landlord is a family friend. That, and I think my manager loves me (she lives next to me).

        • Zara Potts says:

          Gosh. It’s a long way down I have to scroll to leave my comments….
          Duke – my new gravatar is fully formed and not simply a shadowy figure with dodgy arms (unlike the other two). She is still quite hussy like though and is a bit more smirky than the one last one.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Jeannie: I don’t suppose your family has any friends who own buildings in L.A.

          Zara: So, when do I get to meet this new gravatar? She sounds like quite a character, but she hasn’t materialized so far. Have you met her? Because Anon has never met his gravatar, you know.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I think you have to clear the cache and then log in again to see her. She likes making trouble for people obviously. The little minx…

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Oh, there she is. Wow. Yes, “minx” is just the word. She does look like a troublemaker, huh? I know I’m going have problems with her.

          Do you think she likes Richrob’s new gravatar? Or is she of the same mind as the laughing/screaming/head-holding gravatar of old?

          It’s gravatarmania around these parts of late!

        • Zara Potts says:

          She’s definitely trouble, D. I hope she doesn’t give you a headache. I think she may be a big talker.
          As for Richrob’s gravatar -she was the minx that made those offensive remarks about his gravatar’s arms. The old gravatar would never had said that!
          Meantime, your new gravatar looks very studious. I think mine will need some tips from you.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I think my gravatar is likely depressed. Yours looks like it knows where all the hot spots are, as in Pottersville. I think yours should take mine drinking. That should help to rouse him out of his lousy state of mind.

          Oh, and another thing about your gravatar: she doesn’t look like a big talker. She looks like she has a lot of very interesting secrets. But you were right about the hand still being in place. You do love that hand, huh?

        • Anon says:

          Being a married man, Zara, I will simply say the following regarding your gravatar: Woof! Other comments – predictably – to follow but only after I’ve had coffee, showered and gone to work so I can be unwittingly paid to do write….

        • Anon says:

          “Paid to do write”. Lovely. Knew I should’ve had coffee before clicking “Add comment”. I’ll pretend it was some sort of clever turn of phrase for “doing right” or something….

        • Jeannie says:

          Duke: I don’t, though if you are willing to relocate to Morro Bay…

        • Anon says:

          Okay, somewhat more caffeinated and now on the clock. So, Duke…

          I grew up in a very traditional (in regards to food and drink) household so Sambuca was always enjoyed with three beans. However, I tend to simply drink the liqueur as a chaser to my coffee. Or sometimes simply alone. And, making matters worse for my asymmetrical stones, they are housed in this dangling sack thing….

          Thank you for your kind wishes re: my children. They conspire against me, I think. My son will now sleep until slightly after 6:15 but my daughter, coincidentally, has reverted to waking about an hour earlier. At least she has the decency (wisdom?) to stay in her room and read/play quietly until she hears me moving about downstairs.

          If you wish to enjoy bread but not fix the oven, I’d suggest a bread machine. No, seriously. For creative experiments, I still prefer the bread makers at the ends of my wrists but for more “utilitarian loaves”, Sunbeam all the way. It’s the epitome of fire-&-forget. Dump in water, oil, sugar, salt, flour and a pinch of yeast, push two buttons, pull out your bread less than an hour later.

          And, if I may, allow me to say that these exchanges – with creative, expressive adults who are able to discuss more than just best bargains on children’s shoes – have saved and revitalized me. My upcoming five hours of meetings (in an eight-hour day) will now be tolerable. Of course, lunching at my favorite coffee shop despite today’s schedule helps, too, but nothing holds a candle to you good folks.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Jeannie: Can I live there for free, or next to nothing? I know what you’re going to say, but I figured I’d ask anyway.

        • Jeannie says:

          There, no. However, I forgot about the one in Capitola. $400! Um, though, you’ll have to live amongst my pot smoking, surfer brother who’s never home. It’s a beautiful place to be if you can ‘deal’ with that brand of crazy.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Anon: You don’t ever have to add a correction to a typo if the comment is for me (and almost certainly for everyone else). I always know what the writer intended to say, just as I know from firsthand experience how easy it is to err, though vanity usually causes me to edit too late.

          The Olears have had similar problems with their kids waking in the middle of the night, or waking at the crack of dawn. Even if I weren’t aware of this, I’d know about the sleep problems of small children, having watched a few episodes of Supernanny as an armchair anthropologist. (“That’s unesseptubull” appears to be Supernanny’s catchphrase, which was at least half of the anthropological payoff.)

          I used to wait tables in NYC at a restaurant a block south of the World Trade Center, and I had Tony Soprano-type regulars who’d order several rounds of espresso and Sambuca after lunch. (For lunch they had bloody rare NY cuts — all of them, every time, without exception.) The bartender (I occasionally tended bar at the place) would pour the Sambuca, and I’d add the coffee beans. One day I put four coffee beans in somebody’s drink, and I got a lecture to the effect that it’s always three coffee beans, and if it’s not three, then it’s five or seven — anything but an even number. The lecture was a friendly one. Those guys (I’m sure they were mobsters) were great tippers, too. I don’t know why I tell you this, except to demonstrate that while I never drink Sambuca, I know a little something about it.

          Thanks for the bread tip. I love bread. My maternal grandmother was a great Southern cook. She baked rolls and biscuits every day (on a wood-burning stove), using fresh milk and eggs (she lived on a dairy farm, where she also raised chickens). She spoiled my palate for life.

          I know I speak for almost everyone at TNB when I express thanks for your kind words about the site; and if it’s true that you’ve felt revitalized by your exchanges here, then please know that the feeling is mutual. It’s refreshing to interact with someone other than members of the club. It’s not really a club, of course, but I’m afraid it may appear that way to those who read and never comment — all twenty of them. We need more of your kind. Here’s hoping that others follow your example, though there will always be but one Anon.

          Chin-chin.

        • Jeannie says:

          Anon, I must be an idiot because for the life of me I cannot make bread in a bread maker. When I chose to make some I usually do it by hand. It might be my bread maker. Yes, I blame the bread maker! It can’t be ‘user’ error.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Nesting weirdly:

          Hey, Jeannie, if I can deal with my present landlords and neighbors, I can deal with anything. More when we speak, as we will, of course, shortly.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh, you don’t think the new gravatar is a big talker, D? I can’t get her to shut up.
          But yes, lets your gravatar and mine go out drinking. Sounds like a plan. Perhaps you could help her remove her permahand from her head.

          Anon – Thank you!!!

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Well, it’s just that I had so many talks with your other gravatar, who never let on that she was frozen in horror due to the spider that was about to descend on her. What a stoic!

          But I don’t care if your new gravatar talks a lot or she doesn’t; she’s hot as hell, as Anon has already observed. I observed the same, but my gravatar was all depressed and shit, so my immediate concern was that he receive liquid enhancement.

          Talk away, sultry gravatar! I hope the obstructing hand allows her to hear.

        • Anon says:

          Zara: Madam, the pleasure is mine entirely. However, the change has made me a little less open when my wife inquires, “Who are all these people you keep chatting with?” Seemed much less fishy when you were doing the whole blue-checkered farm girl thing instead of “Kiwi Vamp”. (:

          Jeannie: That’s it. When I get home, I’m checking for the exact make/model of my machine so you can purchase a suitable replacement for your obviously defective one. Seriously – my almost five-year-old daughter actually makes the bread most times, with me only measuring.

          Duke: You have no idea how much you have me idiotically (and a little self-consciously) smirking right now. And I envy your upbringing! I’m getting more and more “countrified” myself – gardening, canning, the works. My daughter asked if we could “grow meat” this year. I explained that we don’t grow it, we have to kill animals for it. So she asked if she could go hunting with me. I explained that she is much too young – you need to read to pass your safety test – but that she could come with me in another three or four years. So then she asked if we could raise chickens in the meantime so “we could have eggs and when they don’t make any more eggs, we can fry them”. Sigh. I love my daughter. She’s as pragmatic as her father.

        • Jeannie says:

          Anon: *snort* obviously it’s defective. And it would be much appreciated to know of one that even I can’t mess up.

          Duke: you say that now, but you’ve only met me and I’m the sane one. BTW being from the south have you tried Chocolate Gravy? Anon have you? And I’m not talking the watered down version that they sell ‘southern’ restaurants but the honest to god, stick to your ribs, homemade, full of death and goodness gravy.

        • Anon says:

          Chocolate gravy?!? Um… no. But I’m going into another meeting in… twelve minutes and hope to find out about it before then!

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh my gravatar is getting a big head. Lucky she has her hand at the ready to hold it up.
          D – I love your gravatar, I just hope mine can behave herself around you.
          And Anon – believe me – there’s nothing vampish about her, she’s really just a poser.

        • Jeannie says:

          Anon, I’m busting my concentration to make it under your 12 min mark.

          It’s basically sugar, coco powder, vanilla extract, flower, and water. I have a family recipe from Oklahoma that was carried to California during the Dust Bowl. Very secretive you know, my mom won’t even let me photocopy the stupid thing. You serve it on toast, which is where many people make it incorrectly. They try to make it fancy by serving it on biscuits and it’s just not the same.

          It was meant to fill you up when you had a ton of kids. The ingredients being things that everyone had on hand.

        • Anon says:

          Well, a beautiful pose it is, Zara, and an impressive effort – and recipe – Jeannie. One of my aunts went to her grave without sharing any recipes, not even with her own daughter. Sort of a strange quirk – generational, maybe?

          I’ll have to try it in the near future but should probably wait so my kids don’t get spoiled. Mom was away this past weekend so I treated them to a dinner of waffles, berries and fresh whipped cream. Screw the Surgeon General!

          Oh, hell – thirty seconds….

        • Zara Potts says:

          You crazy Americans and your strange cuisine. Chocolate on toast??
          Oh, and I think your biscuits are quite different from our biscuits, right?

        • Jeannie says:

          it’s more gravy than chocolate Zara. If my abroad memory serves me right, NZ is related to the UK and their biscuits are our cookies then yes much different.

        • Zara Potts says:

          And gravy? That’s different too. I always am surprised when I see Italian recipes talking about gravy in relation to tomato sauce. Gravy for us is brown, meaty sauce. Biscuits re usually filled with cream and have chocolate on them.
          Oh how I love cultural difference!

        • Jeannie says:

          I don’t know about meaty but brown yes. Ours are more like a French gravy, butter, flower, milk/water and burn, I mean brown…

          Cultural differences are made of win!

        • D.R. Haney says:

          My head is spinning from so much activity at TNB. I’ve been going back and forth between a number of parties, two of which I’m myself hosting, while unintentionally neglecting this one. Apologies! And now I forced to nap or give up the ghost permanently, but will you all please drop by for a quick drink later? Is there anything I can say to induce you? I’d promise to serve chocolate on toast, except that my oven is broken, and Zara thinks chocolate on toast is weird anyway.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Okay, I’ll come back. But only if there’s more compliments for my gravatar. She’s very needy, you know.

        • Anon says:

          An affliction shared by other saucy, sultry sirens.

          (Was that sufficient?)

        • Anon says:

          Jeannie, hope you can dig your way down to this comment. Try a Sunbeam 5891. Works for my daughter. (;

        • Jeannie says:

          Zara I love that your gravatar changes at night, which I’m presuming it’s night you are after all in the future and it’s sunny here so logically it’s nighttime for you.

          Anon, thankfully there is the wonderful ctrl+f which helps me find my name easily thus not having to scroll so much. Still though, this is way far down even from my name.

          If a five year old can do it, well, I may be able to do it. It is now on my list of kitchen things I need to have. I would love to make quick bread to sell. My loaves sale out when I make them so logically, it would be better to make more. 🙂

          Apparently my brain is still in logic mode as I’ve made two ‘logical’ statements so far. I need to switch into creative mode soon!

          Duke: I’ll join your parties later tonight. I have a much needed round of writing, so it may, um, be late. Better late than never right?

        • Anon says:

          Hmmm… It’s evening and you’re making logical statements. Obviously, it’s time to drink!

        • D.R. Haney says:

          When it is ever not a good time to drink, Anon?

          However, Zara’s gravatar appears not to have been sufficiently praised, since she hasn’t returned. All hail Zara’s gravatar!

          Also, Anon, your daughter thinks like a farmer-to-be, but do you think she’s ready for the grisly missing step between having chickens and eating them? Then again, as grisly steps go, it’s unfortunately a comic one. Also, as she’s ready to go hunting — yes, she does for a fact sound ready.

          Jeannie, I can’t make out if your gravy is the same one my grandmother used to make. I think it is. It’s the stuff they put on chicken-fried steak. I can’t help but love it.

          But I would like to point out that I have never had biscuits with chocolate. Although it sounds good, even though I’m not much of a chocolate person.

          Drinks on the house!

        • Anon says:

          My friend, I can only do so much Zara-flattering within the bounds of marital propriety. I must leave it to you and to fate. And, there actually are times when drinking is a lesser choice. Granted, in my book, they all involve threat of immediate unemployment and/or bodily harm but they do exist!

          And my daughter? Sigh. My daughter. My children are the nails both securing the coffin of my life and keeping my world together. Funny how that happens. Can’t do a thing I want to with this responsibility hanging over my head but wouldn’t want to draw a single breath in a world that didn’t have them in it. Go figure.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I hear you loud and clear. There’s in fact a line in my novel somewhat in that vein, about a girl who’s driving the narrator batty: “She was the thing most holding me together, but she was also the thing most tearing me apart.” That’s not an exact quote, but it’s in the vicinity.

          I also hearing you on the (non-) drinking front. Yes, maybe I’ll go dry this evening. I have work to do myself.

          I will continue to attempt to placate Zara’s gravatar, but it doesn’t appear to be working. Maybe she’s impressed by sporty types, in which case a few words from Richard’s new gravatar may do the trick. I’ve now learned elsewhere that it is, fact, Richard pictured. The showoff.

        • Jeannie says:

          Anon, obviously. I don’t know what you do for work but you sound like you know what I’m talking about! Thankfully though, tonight I’ll be at the Random Writers Workshop, no wine needed.

          Duke, no I don’t think it’s the same. I’ll make it for you at some point. It’s not really chocolaty, it’s just a sweet gravy. The gravy for chicken-fried steak is a typical brown gravy ala french style as I’ve described above somewhere. Yes, that gravy is a vice.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Ah, well, you’ll have to say hi to me everyone at RWW. I’d try to ride up on a Greyhound or something, but you know how that worked out last time, and I haven’t been invited anyway.

          The gravy you mention sounds like mole sauce. I love mole sauce. And, yes, the other is a vice. I crave it terribly now. Thanks, Jeannie. Thanks a lot!

        • Anon says:

          What a remarkable coincidence, Jeannie. I have no idea what I do for a living either. Near as I can tell, I attend meetings at which we talk about all the things we would be doing if not for the fact that we were in so many meetings. But they continue to pay me so I continue to show up and point out their foibles in such an amusing fashion that it passes for wisdom. My manager once eyeballed me and said, “I’m trying to figure out where to find the line between apathy and disengaged is with you.” I leaned back in my chair and said, with as much sincerity as I could fake, “The line is integrity.”

          Whoa. Heavy shit. And now, I’m the office philosopher-genius. In meetings. Sigh.

          Okay, kiddie-bath time followed by other parental duties.

        • Jeannie says:

          I’ll try to remember, Connie and I tend to talk way more than my brain can hold on a Wednesday. And um, Duke you are always welcome to come. If you need an invitation, I invite you. But I’m sure Nick would love to have you back as well.

          You’re welcome! Go ahead, give into your vice.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Great line, Anon. I’m not surprised that you authored it, but I am surprised that your manager sounds halfway intelligent. I never expect it from their side of the table.

          Will you be ready for a drink when duty has been fulfilled?

        • Jeannie says:

          haha anon, do you work for Lennar? That sounds like every meeting I ever had when I worked there.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I’ll take a raincheck on the invitation, Jeannie, but thanks for extending it. (Raincheck, get it?)

          I think I may owe Connie a message. My inbox has been a bit of madhouse of late. Also, I think I saw somewhere that Nick publicly declared his love for me, then wondered aloud if that sounded “gay,” only to decide it didn’t matter. Anyway, I’ll follow his example and declare my love for Nick, which you may pass along, if you wish.

          I am now going indulge, if not that vice, then probably another. TNB is something of a vice, given how much time I put in here.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Did I read above that you like mole sauce, D? Is that fucking mole sauce by any chance?

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh, and I have returned, by the way! Compliments received and gratefully acknowledged!

        • D.R. Haney says:

          One and the same, Z. Except it’s pronounced “mo-LAY.” Or is it “mol-AY”? Oh, where to place the “l”?

          I have a terrible feeling I’ve just set myself up for a bruising rejoinder.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Damn. I’m lost for a comeback. This new gravatar is too busy preening to be witty. Shit.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Tell your gravatar to have a drink. Wit will follow.

          Or she (or you) could just do the obvious thing and say, “Shove that ‘l’ up your arse!”

        • Zara Potts says:

          Do you know, I WAS going to say exactly that! But then I thought better of it. The new me is much more mature…

        • D.R. Haney says:

          It must be. I was practically begging for it.

        • Anon says:

          Man. Back from being SuperDad, I am most definitely having a drink (we’re killing off the merlot tonight) and I thank you for your compliment about my line of corporate bullshit (although I see I typoed it in my hurry to attend to the “I WANT DADDY!!!” chorus). But what in hell went on in my brief absence? There appears to be mole-fucking, pleas for violations with the letter “l” and all sorts of awful stuff up there. Oh, and I think it’s “mo-LAY”.

          And good evening, Miss Zara. You are a vision, as always.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Good evening, Mr. Anon. And thank you. But I was just saying elsewhere that I am a little intimidated by the new you. You look very stern.

        • Anon says:

          Madam, I must plead ignorance. I have not change my gravatar. I mean, I considered it and uploaded a new pic but neither accepted is as my default nor see it here. What are you seeing? And is anyone else?

          And, of course, you need never be intimidated. I am harmless.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I am seeing a bald old man with a beard and a very stern nose. He looks very wise, but very grumpy. And he could do with a bit of sun.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Now, you see there? I went refreshed my cache in order to be intimidated by the new Anon, only to learn that Anon remains the same. However, Zara appears to be on the verge of adopting a new gravatar, which, as I understand it, Richard is now preparing.

          Thanks for setting me straight on mo-LAY. And I don’t know what came over me, begging to be violated by the letter L as I did. I take it back.

          • Zara Potts says:

            Oh? Is that the old Anon? The ancient Greek looking man with a beard? I thought that was the NEW Anon. Oh dear.
            And where is Richrob and my new gravatar???

        • Anon says:

          Gasp! It’s “Anon the Greek”! Damn you, Gravatar.com, I expressly said do NOT use that image!

          My apologies. I shall revert immediately to my harmless, skinny semi-pseudo-self. Excuse me a moment, please.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh thank God. I thought I was maybe seeing visions.

        • Zara Potts says:

          And now.. introducing the new me. (Thanks to Richrob!)

        • Anon says:

          Not much of a vision – my apologies. I have removed the offending image (though gravatar also insists that my active one was the “classic Anon stick figure”). Please refresh your cache if you are still seeing the ancient philosopher.

          Yes, Duke, Anon remains the same. Much like “The Dude”, Anon abides. Anon also runs to the supermarket around the block to fetch his wife some ice cream because Anon is a big lummox for his woman and isn’t impaired yet. Please try not to have any alphabet orgies while I’m gone.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh shit. It’s the same old me.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I never got to see Anon the Greek, damn it. Oh, well. But I am now seeing a huge hand about to squash a lollipop, or possibly stroking it for being so sweet, or possibly attempting to shake it off.

          This requires a long session of psychoanalytic interpretation.

        • Zara Potts says:

          HAHAHAHAHAH.
          Yes, I am a lollipop stuck to a hand. My head is a funny sort of shape, don’t you think? Like an acorn…

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Or is the hand “you” and the stick figure someone else? Or is that even a hand? It could also be the snout of a chinless crocodile, or the beak of a very ugly bird.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh! Oh! I feel like I am having an ‘identity crisis’. I feel confused and anxious. I feel that I could now use some ‘therapy.’

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Lenore is a ‘therapist.’ Maybe you should ‘speak’ to her.

          Thank you for reading this comment.

        • Anon says:

          Did you get your own therapy or shall I pour you a glass?

          Duke, Google ” “anon the greek” philosopher “.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Glass, please Anon.

        • Zara Potts says:

          It seems that the ‘hand’ on my head is saying ‘there, there.’ This makes me unsure. I feel that I may need to go back to my former ‘self.’

        • Anon says:

          Zara: Yes, Madam – *clink* – and don’t hesitate to ask if you need more.

          Duke: Indeed!

        • D.R. Haney says:

          You mean, Z, the ‘hand’ on your ‘head’? I can ‘see’ why that would ‘make’ you feel unsure. Here’s a ‘glass.’

          But won’t ‘Richrob’ feel ‘slighted’ if you go back to your old ‘self’?

        • Zara Potts says:

          Thanks Anon – pour me another please.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I feel unsure about ‘Richrob.’ It seems he would have ‘no problem’ with it but then I wonder whether he would ‘talk’ to me again.
          I like the colour green. It feels like it is a ‘happy’ colour.
          LOL.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Anon: I understand Z’s apprehension of Anon the Greek philosopher now. However, don’t let her get too drunk, okay? Otherwise Matt might show up and start razzing her about her drunkenness in L.A.

        • Richard Cox says:

          I would not feel slighted. I would simply never make you another Gravatar for the rest of my humanly life so there.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I’m beginning to see that image in a different light. I believe Z’s hand is stroking Anon, possibly to praise him for his weight loss.

          Anyway, Z, I wouldn’t worry about ‘Richrob.’ I’m sure he’ll ‘talk’ to you again. Just ask him for his recipe for ‘manly’ chocolate cake.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Well, I can’t have that. The gravatar stays. It’s going to be difficult making your manly chocolate cake with that large hand stuck to my head however.

        • Anon says:

          Duke, I am new here and will abide by the house rules but I’ve made it a point to never refuse two things: accepting money for doing nothing and refilling the drink of a lady in need of one.

          Madam? My pleasure.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I’m nearly at my limit now, Anon. I’ll be calling on Tony’s herring fairy if I keep this up…

        • Richard Cox says:

          Hahaha. I think I must have missed the thread that led to the desire for such a Gravatar. Was the ‘hand placement’ supposed to be different?

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Oh, I see, Z, it’s now been decided that it’s Richrob’s hand in the gravatar, is that it? But won’t your lollipop head present a problem on the golf course, if it’s stuck to Richrob’s hand?

          And you’re a gentleman, Anon. I hope you’ll make another gravatar for Z when she’s in need of one, seeing that Richrob is now out of the gravatar business.

        • Anon says:

          Although I suppose we may have hit upon the perfect weight loss program for men. No supplements, no gadgets, no real plan at all. Just lose ten pounds any way you can and get a congratulatory, um, stroke on the head. (:

        • D.R. Haney says:

          That was fair due, Z, on Richard’s part. Remember when you said that the arms on his bulked-up gravatar appeared to be doing something shady?

        • Zara Potts says:

          No! No! I’m keeping the gravatar. Richrob is still in business.
          I don’t know whose hand it is now. Mr Slade ‘ninja’ Ham thought it was God. And a Tulip.
          Things have got so confusing around here. It’s all Anon’s fault. His staggering weight loss made everyone have an identity crisis. Now, I don’t know who anyone is anymore.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Yes, well, Anon. You would also need to reduce in height by approximately five and a half feet in order to qualify for the pat.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Yes, I did say that about Richrob’s arms. But you have to admit, they DID look like they were doing something that would offend the Church.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I hadn’t considered the tulip, Z. Meanwhile, I have yet to see Slade as a ninja. Must I clear my cache again?

        • Richard Cox says:

          And, Zara, you also said something about ‘hand placement’ a week or two ago, to which Matt replied similarly. Double comment reference score!

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Yes, I just saw and commented. Shades of Don in drag, yes?

          However, I would never have seen what you did in Richrob’s gravatar if not for your prodding. Or was that your gravatar’s prodding?

        • Anon says:

          I am undeserving of said pat, having unintentionally caused a monochromatic identity crisis here.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          And a one-track mind, Richard?

        • Zara Potts says:

          Did I, Richrob? I am obviously unconsciously obsessed by hand placement. I need to consult Dr. Freud.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          But is it really your fault? Aren’t you having monochromatic identity crisis?

        • Zara Potts says:

          Duke, yes. It was all my saucy gravatar’s doing. I am usually above such smuttiness. As I said to Richrob above – I will consult Freud to work out what is going on my gravatar’s one track mind. I’m sure he will tell me that it’s because I don’t have a penis.

        • Anon says:

          In fairness, placement is everything….

        • Zara Potts says:

          As for the monochromatic identity crisis – again, I blame Anon.
          Actually. No. Wait.
          I think it was YOU who started the current crazy gravatar changes, D! You lost your hand and kicked off this trend!

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Lenore is, I’m sure, Z, much less expensive, and more convenient, too, seeing that she’s alive. As for the missing penis, where’s Smibst when you need him?

        • Anon says:

          Sigh. Yes, but I started this grey thing. My apologies to all afflicted.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I think Anon and I can share the blame together. He got Richard going, and you decided to change yours after I changed mine, and now look! You’ve got me so confused that I can’t even come up with a witty rejoinder to Anon’s “placement” crack.

        • Anon says:

          In fairness, should that be the diagnosis, it is far easier for a woman needing a penis to acquire one than for a man needing a vagina. At least, if I recall correctly. Been married awhile….

        • Zara Potts says:

          No need to apologise, Anon. We love you, whether you are skinny and gray or a grumpy looking greek.

        • Zara Potts says:

          And just for the record – I don’t need a penis.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Suck on that, Freud.

        • Anon says:

          He would but, you know, he’s dead. So I guess you really got the last laugh on him, eh?

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Lenore, who may or may not be treating Z, would agree with you, Anon, on the search-for-genitalia front.

          And Z, apparently you somewhere asked if I’m going to be in later, though I can’t find the comment. I should be around, but I’m very behind on work. Very.

        • Zara Potts says:

          This time-eater called TNB can do that… I have taken up more than enough of your time this afternoon, so I shall leave you to your work tonight!
          X x

        • Anon says:

          And a very good night (day, Zara?) to you, my newfound virtual friends.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Day is just heading into evening here, Anon.
          A very good night to you, my friend!

        • Jeannie says:

          Zara, Nick just informed me that you will be coming down (up?) to teach one of the Random Writers Workshops in June. Very cool. I look forward to meeting you!

        • Zara Potts says:

          Yeah, hopefully Simon and I can be a double act! It would be wonderful to meet all you kind, lovely folks!

        • D.R. Haney says:

          They’re all very nice, it’s true. But you’re going to have a very full agenda in June. I think you need a manager.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Oh, and you didn’t ‘take up’ any of my time. I chose to spend time here. It’s hard to remind myself that I don’t make my living this way. I don’t make really make a living at the moment at all.

          Oh, and a belated good night to you, Anon. In fact, by the time you see this, if you do it, it will be day, so good morning to you. I trust that the Merlot didn’t lead to a hangover.

          Actually, red wine doesn’t tend to leave me with a hangover. I just wake up really parched, with the usual black tongue.

        • Zara Potts says:

          We totally need a manager!

        • Anon says:

          I rise after a restless night (kids again) to find such an offensive notion, Zara! I’ll blame the long evening and not enough drinking. You are forgiven. I’m big on self-management… sometimes lack thereof.

          Doing quite well, thank you, Duke. I don’t really get hangovers, except for the few times I attempted to keep pace at altitudes > 10,000 feet. Then again, I was trying to keep pace with local moonshine so, um, maybe it wasn’t the altitude.

          And now – children must be fed, dogs must be tended and coffee MUST BE HAD. Good day, good people.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I never used to get hangovers, either. Then one day I started getting them. No headaches. Just a complete void, mentally, and incredibly, incredibly tired. A good drunk now requires two days to fully recover.

          I like the new gravatar, I hear myself saying for what feels like the fiftieth time in three days. I see that you’ve stuck with your gray motif, which has inspired, among others, Jude. Once a trendsetter, always a trendsetter — or so I imagine, never having set any trends.

          And the manager, Z? Hmmmm. I’ll have to think on that. Maybe it can be covered in a forthcoming phone chat.

        • Anon says:

          Hm. Based on your description of the symptoms, it’s possible that I am hung over every waking second that I’m at work. Interesting theory.

          I was iffy on the new gravatar – still am, a bit – but Erika Rae suggested that a fedora might clear up any gender confusion caused by the generic stick figure. This was the first mostly anonymous usage pic I came across after reading her comment and, well….

          • D.R. Haney says:

            It’s film noir-ish. It recalls the Shadow of arcane radio. It’s classy and goes well with “Anon.” Call me easily pleased, but I can’t see any cause for complaint.

        • Anon says:

          Well, sir, given your appreciation of a good single-malt, I believe you to be a man of taste. The new look stays… for now.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Much depends on your definition of “now.”

        • Anon says:

          Sigh. Doesn’t it always? And, as is often the case in my life, “now” is defined as “until requested otherwise by a female”. Ah, well. There are far worse weaknesses. (:

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Didn’t Adam say that? Or maybe he just said, “Damn, those fig leaves hurt.”

        • Anon says:

          “And The Lord looked down upon His creation and saw that it was stupid. And so He spaketh to Adam: ‘Dude. You have to remove the twig part if you’re gonna – Oh, for fuck’s sake. Sigh. That’s it. I’m making you a helper. One who can sew. Sheesh.’ And God created woman….”

        • D.R. Haney says:

          “And woman immediately attended a gender-studies class with other females in the Garden — the ewe, the mare, the lioness — and spaketh to Adam and the Lord alike: ‘Why am I expected to sew? That’s a stereotype. I haven’t even eaten the apple yet, so we don’t need fig leaves in the first place. And that’s something else that pisses me off: I refuse to take the fall for the Fall!” And having spaketh, woman formed a riot grrrl band with the mare on drums and the lioness on vocals.”

  20. D.R. Haney says:

    So, it’s not simply coincidence, Anon, that your name, spelled another way, could be NaNo?

    Well, then, I already like those people, since I hope that they’re going to inadvertently get me very drunk.

    • Anon says:

      Actually, it is simple coincidence. I’m just too lazy to type “Anonymous” this often. Plus, as with most things in life, there are… hidden meanings.

      And I take a little umbrage there. I am “a person”, not “those people”, and there is nothing inadvertent about the inebriation. Incidental, possibly, but not inadvertent. I am merely offering a token of goodwill and respect. It is your choice as to whether it is enjoyed to the point of intoxication. Free will and all that.

      Hm. Maybe I am the devil….

      • D.R. Haney says:

        I know you’re a person, Anon, even though you look like one of the aliens from Close Encounters in your gravatar ever since you lost weight. I just meant that, if you were in any way an agent of NaNo, I would be mighty indebted to those fine people for sending you my way. Also, I really did know that “Anon” was short for anonymous. I mean, my brain is jello at the moment, thanks to Ham, but I haven’t been completely reduced to the intellectual level of an earthworm. Close, but not quite.

        Anyway, apologies extended for any umbrage taken.

        • Anon says:

          Oh, I was just feeling foofy – no actual umbrage was taken in the posting of the previous comment. It actually takes quite a bit to get my dander up, regardless of my grumblings. And I knew you knew that it was an abbreviation, you know, but didn’t know if you knew that it was unrelated to NaNoWriMo. And earthworms are far smarter than one would think. They know when to lay low, they keep their mouths shut, you may not know if they’re coming or going but they sure know what they’re up to. Granted, they’re piss-poor conversationalists and drivers but you can’t have everything.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Hey, I’d rather have an earthworm at the wheel than Billy Joel. Still, if earthworms are so smart, why do they find themselves threaded on fish hooks? You’d think they’d protest a little, even if they are given to silence. I think it’s about time that earthworms form a resistance army and fight back, you know? They just need a charismatic, Che Guevara type to spearhead the movement.

        • Anon says:

          They are simply transcendent and realize that the physical realm is unimportant, a minor inconvenience. Like little Obi-Worm Kenobis. “If you feed me to fish, I shall only become stronger….”

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Well, we’re all fed to something, one way or the other, and so become part of a greater something. Then again, we always were a part of it, even before birth.

          What a hopelessly unfunny response!

        • Anon says:

          It need not be funny to be amusing, especially when it’s absolutely correct.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Thank you, Anon. Here, let me refresh your drink while I lecture on metaphysics.

          Anon? Where’d you go? Oh, there you are. Yes, the lampshade does make a cool hat, huh?

      • Jeannie says:

        I’m intrigued by you Anon, and yet I don’t know why.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Anon is awesome.

        • Jeannie says:

          That would explain it!

        • Anon says:

          Stop! I’m blushing! I fully support the “don’t know why” aspect. Just a simple, slightly-less-than-generic Grey alien/recovering generic snowman who drinks a lot and surfs the net too much. Nothin’ to see here.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          But you’re very witty, and you obviously have a fan base here. I now count myself among your constituents. It may be only a matter of time before you’re on the TNB roster, as you already are without “Anon” being listed under “All” on the upper right hand corner of the home page.

        • Anon says:

          I am humbled into silence. Should last about twelve seconds…. Yup, there goes the silence. Still humbled, though. You are far too kind.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Untrue. I’ve been a little jealous of you, to be honest. I was like: Who is this guy who makes Zara (among others) laugh so hard? Only I make Zara (among others) laugh that hard, even if I do write about depressing shit like weeping during snowstorms and Elliott Smith killing himself and being photographed naked as a child. Come to think of it, I don’t make anyone laugh, least of all myself.

          So, well done, sir. Well done. You’re family, whether you like it or not. One hopes it’s the former.

        • Anon says:

          This was… unintentional. Most certainly the former.

        • Zara Potts says:

          D… Nobody makes me laugh like you do. And as I have said to you many times before, nobody has such a great laugh like yours. We need to find a magic way to bottle your laugh and sell it. It could net us a fortune…

        • Jude says:

          Send him the f**k book Zara… I woke up laughing and I’m still laughing now…

        • Zara Potts says:

          That bloody book… it’s going to get you into trouble, Jude.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Which bloody book do you mean, Z? And why the modesty with f**k, Jude?

          Oh, and Z, I think you may overvalue my laughter on the basis that it’s seldom heard. And Anon? It’s unintentional for many of us, believe me. What is it about this place that ensnares the (relative) few who know about it?

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh I bought Jude a book for her birthday which is just a whole lot of signs from around the world where people have stuck stickers that say ‘FUCK’ on normal signs.. so instead of saying ‘Turning traffic give way to pedestrians’ the sign will say ‘Fucking traffic give way to pedestrians.’
          She’s been laughing at it all day. And of course there are a whole bunch of FUCK stickers in the back of the book which she is now planning on taking out and sticking them on signs around Auckland. Which may very well be FUCKLAND by tomorrow…

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I’m sorry to report — or am I? — that I am presently laughing.

          I still am, after pausing before hitting “Add comment” for a good minute or so.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Hah! It is pretty funny. I think I will be sending you one. It’s called ‘FUCK the world.’
          It’s amazing how much laughter can come from a well placed Fuck.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          In more ways than one, no doubt.

  21. Richard Cox says:

    I was wondering where this was, because Greg had mentioned it was coming, and only now did I realized I’ve been scrolling past the Flash image without waiting for it to load. What a fool.

    Greg’s right, though. Bar has definitely been raised. I loved your answers and sort of forgot you were the one asking the questions. I think my favorite part was about being recognized in Belgrade. How surreal.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Very surreal, as was being mobbed at McDonald’s by autograph seekers. But that’s a subject for a future post. I mean, it’s too good a story to pass up.

      I’m glad the interview seems to have lived up to the advance word. You’ve got one coming, yes? I remember you mentioning it in a comment some weeks back.

      • Richard Cox says:

        I can’t wait to hear the McDonald’s story. And I’m also curious to know what special items there are in a Serbian McDonald’s. In Switzerland they sell the McFarmer, some kind of pork sandwich that I never bothered to try.

        Not sure how the interview thing works. I assume the book must be recent? The comment you’re thinking of is when I mentioned the manuscript for book #3, but even if my agent places it tomorrow it would be a while before it was published, obviously. I thought about doing something for TGP since it’s received a bit of new publicity with the switching on of the LHC. But the book is a few years old. Maybe I should ask Greg about it.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          The menu was identical, though the food tasted even more like cardboard than it does here. But the Serbs were obsessed with it, even though they have some of the greatest street food I’ve ever eaten, which they shrugged off in favor of McDonald’s, just because it was so new to them, and so American.

          I could’ve sworn that you said you had a Featured Author thing coming up. But, no, I don’t believe the book has to be recent. Greg should know more, and Gina definitely.

        • Richard Cox says:

          The funny thing is I never eat McDonald’s unless I’m out of the country. I don’t eat fast food much and specifically not McD’s. But my day job sends me to Switzerland occasionally, and when I arrive I’m usually so tired that McD’s is somehow comforting. Aside from that, the best part of traveling abroad is the food. I know a guy at work who, when he travels overseas, all he does is look for American chain restaurants. He won’t try anything new. He’s an idiot.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Sounds, alas, typically American, if such a thing can be said to exist.

          Meantime, I’ve never been to Switzerland. Let me know if your day-job company is hiring. Not that they’d hire me. I’d just like, for no good reason, to know that they’re hiring.

        • Richard Cox says:

          I do web marketing for a company that sells tools, etc. for construction. Needless to say, new construction is among the worst markets hit by the recession. Our business is down tremendously. Most of our competitors have laid off huge percentages of their work force. If ours wasn’t a privately-held European company, if we had to answer to stockholders, we would have laid off workers as well. And may eventually. It’s a testament to their long-term strategies that we’ve weathered the economy as well as we have.

          So no, unfortunately we are not hiring.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Richard: Gina handles the self-interviews and all that, so she will know. And I wondered if you’d been to Switzerland, as the beginning of TGP is of course set there.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Fruit for a forthcoming Richard Cox Featured Author slot.

          Q: Why Switzerland?

          Only I guess we know why now.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Ah, I see that Richard’s gravatar has hit the gym. Well done, Richard! Anon said his gravatar was going to hit the gym, but it must have been one of empty promises, like cutting out dessert. I expect it will be fat again before too long.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Good God, Richard’s avatar has changed again. But is that you, Richard? Or has this been covered elsewhere? I’m sure it must have been.

          Gravatarmania continues!

  22. Greg Olear says:

    OK, new thread.

    Reading this over — I had the privilege of seeing this earlier in the week, before the comment boards were installed — I am struck by your comment about the relationship between acting and fiction writing. I’ve thought this myself. Especially in third person, when you’re moving from POV to POV, you are essentially acting as that character: talking like someone else, thinking like someone else, different voice, different priorities, different opinions. In a book like Robin’s, for example, which is told from five (or is it six?) points of view, this certainly comes into play. Ditto something like The Darling, the Russell Banks novel told first person by a (female) former member of the Weather Underground. Or Norman Rush’s Mating, in which he sounds so much like a woman that it’s freaky.

    My own “acting” in fiction is sort of like Cary Grant’s — the narrator always has my voice, and is some variation of me. I don’t know if I’m good enough yet, or ever will be, to pull off a radically different voice. I don’t know if I want to.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      I had the same thought about Robin’s book, Greg, as I worked on this interview. I haven’t yet had the pleasure (as I’m certain it will be) of reading Summer, but I know it’s written from multiple points of view, and yes, that to me is very much related to acting.

      The rest of your comment raises a matter that I’ve considered quite a bit — i.e., voice and flexibility and imagination and so on. I never regarded myself a versatile actor, and yet, when I look back on the things I’ve done, I see flashes of a versatility that I didn’t initially recognize as such. But they’re subtle. I think something in me distrusts elaborate characterization, because what I always prized most in acting was the ability to be naked, so to speak, in public. I don’t like tricks of any kind, and while skill can be impressive, I’ll always opt for emotional vulnerability, though one doesn’t necessarily cancel the other of course. I suppose I believe it’s harder, in the end, to reveal oneself than to hide under makeup, costume, and vocal and physical affectation. To many, that’s “acting,” and it is, granted; but so, to me, is living truthfully under imaginary circumstances, which is another definition of acting. That’s the kind that inspires me more.

      And so it is with writing, I think. I sometimes tell myself that I only have one voice as a writer, which is either myself or a slight variation on myself, when the truth may be that I’m capable of other voices, but I don’t trust them, because, as with acting, elaborate characterization strikes me as obfuscation.

      I wonder if the same is true of you when you say that you don’t know that you’d want to write in a radically different voice. Is that possible?

      • Greg Olear says:

        I think that’s a fine way of putting it, yes. It’s much more work, of course, developing a new character that it is to write as yourself with a twist.

        I also wonder if, having invested so much in developing a voice, it’s working at cross purposes to not use it. In acting, you see this with George Clooney. He clearly read too many reviews of critics bashing his acting as “Clooney being Clooney,” which led to him attempting other things, with mixed results. But I don’t think there’s anything pejorative about Clooney being Clooney, because he’s like Cary Grant — I want to see him. He has a natural charisma that maybe five other people on earth possess. This is one of the reasons I enjoy the Ocean’s movies so much. And it’s also why his best work — Michael Clayton, and probably Up in the Air, although I haven’t seen that yet — is him being him with a twist — he doesn’t turn off the Clooney; he just modifies it a bit.

        Not to suggest that I am anything like George Clooney, or that my writing resembles him in any way. I’m more of a less-good-looking Matt Damon. But, you know, I can live with that.

    • Don Mitchell says:

      Rush’s Mating!

      I’ll hijack Duke’s thread a little about it. It’s one of my favorites and I used to teach it when I taught “Humanistic Anthropology.”

      Greg – did you ever notice that she has no name? Nowhere in Mating does she reveal her name.

      Then . . . in “Mortals,” Rush brings her on the scene briefly and names her, and also reveals that, yeah, she did marry Denoon. Cute.

      And of Rush’s portrait of Denoon I’ll say that I spent a little time in the company of one of the great mystical development theorists (Ivan Illich) once, and also with a similar guy, Rene Dumont, and oh yeah, Rush nailed that type. Totally.

      Now back to your regularly scheduled Duke program.

      • Greg Olear says:

        I did notice that, about her namelessness, and the friend who recommended the book told me that the name is revealed in a different work, which is very very cool. I love that sort of thing.

        Also, if I would have guessed one person at TNB who would have loved that book, it would have been you. It seems right up your alley.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I feel terribly left out of this discussion, not having read Rush and all. Plus, you know, Don has rudely hijacked the regularly-programmed Duke program. Way to go, Don! I have never hijacked any thread ever.

          I think some male novelists regard the idea of a writing novel in the voice of female character as a great feat, and possibly some female novelists have the same idea in reverse, but I never gave it much thought. When I write dialogue for a female character, I’m already writing in her voice, so an entire book written that way doesn’t seem out of reach.

          But do you imagine Todd, Greg, as being a Matt Damon type? I didn’t imagine him that way. I’d have to draw a picture to convey my impression of him. For one thing, I see him as having curly hair.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Not Todd; me. I picture Todd as tall, with a biggish nose and long hair, trying to pull off an Ethan Hawke-in-Reality-Bytes look and not quite achieving it.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I remember that. I saw him with a bit of a mullet. And I understood your meaning immediately; I’m just playing at being dense today. It comes easily to me.

  23. Connie says:

    another thread..
    just finished proofing a friends story, holy cow, redundant, awkward, I need to look at my stuff from a fresh perspective, make sure I am not making the same mistakes.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Oh, man, Connie, wait till you’re writing a novel and you read something with obvious, ugly flaws. You think: Jesus, is my work as bad as this? It’s especially scary with a novel because it’s so long and such hard work, and you hate to think it’s all going to come to naught, which wouldn’t such a big deal for an essay or the like.

      But we learn from the best and the worst alike.

      • Connie says:

        I am not sure if proofing is helpful for me or more intimidating but for sure it is educational.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          If it’s educational, it’s helpful, I would tend to think. But I understand you very well on the “intimidating” front.

        • Connie says:

          It’s odd but when I am writing I KNOW what I mean, what the characters are like, what the background is and my brain fills in all the empty spaces . It really does take someone else to point out the garbage, mistakes, holes etc.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          It’s difficult to proof your own work, to be sure. I literally can’t see many of my own typos. I’ll having missing words, for instance, which, to adopt and adapt your phrasing, my brain fills in. Also, I have an increasing tendency to mistake one word for another, which is how I myself have come to use “your” instead of “you’re” — and that’s one of my pet peeves.

        • Connie says:

          For spelling and grammatical errors the trick is to read from the bottom of the page backwards, time consuming but effective. (Yes I used to proof business contracts, resumes, etc as a profession-boringggg)

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Ah, I see. So that you don’t get up in the narrative? Is that the idea?

  24. Holy crap, you’re dominating the TNB most read list this week more than usual… Three posts in the top four? That’s got to be a record.

    It’s interesting that Peewee was based on 6 different people… I do the same thing to an extent, but never as many as six. I think I usually start by writing about more or less real people, and then rewrite until they’re pretty much fictional – or based on several different people.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      My overexposure here was unplanned, and the results were very unexpected. I didn’t anticipate much response at all to this piece, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not gratified that it’s apparently being read, since it strangely meant more to me than other pieces. I still haven’t figured out exactly why.

      I started writing Peewee with three models in mind: one supplied his intellect, another his punk side, and another his physicality. Then I drew on yet another person for his background, and as I got deeper into the writing, I found myself drawing on his intellect from yet another person, and certain neurotic aspects from somebody else besides.

      Here’s the funny thing, though: twice, I’ve had good friends (one of them Wade, who I hope reads this piece and discovers this comment) say that they see the three principle male characters in BFL as representing three different aspects of myself. I think there’s a lot to that notion, but I was only dimly aware of it during the writing of the book. I was most conscious of it with Jason, the narrator, but, as said in the interview, even he differs from me in a number of significant ways.

      I’m fascinated by the workings of the psyche; the way it absorbs and mixes this experience or observation with that one. But I don’t analyze it too closely, for fear of interfering. I’m sure this attitude is common to many.

      • I’ve heard that artists always paint themselves in portraits of others… and not in some subtle way, either. Often they’ll unconsciously shape the jaw or cheekbones to what they normally see in the mirror.

        And indeed, I think most writers write what they know, even in pure fiction. No matter how hard I try to write about people different from me, I always end up looking at myself. Maybe it’s a female me, or an American me, or a gay me, but it’s always me.

        Well, I guess that goes for every writer. Our imaginations only go so far. And even if we ourselves cannot perceive it, others probably notice the similarities.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          It’s like the old thing about dreams, I think: every character in a dream is an aspect of the dreamer. And i can can certainly verify what you say about portraits. I’m always doodling faces, and the faces have an unfortunate tendency to finally resemble myself.

  25. Can I just say that after I first saw this interview, I meant to go look up all your TNB archived posts to see if I could find some about your time in Serbia, because I don’t remember reading any in the time I’ve been active at TNB. Now I’ve been reminded to do it–your time there sounds unbelievably intriguing and interesting, and I’d love to hear more about it. I’m guessing it’s here on the site somewhere. Send me some links if you have a moment!

    • D.R. Haney says:

      You know, Gina, I’ve only really written about Serbia twice, and neither of those times was at TNB. I prepared an article for The Exile, the alt-weekly I mentioned in the interview, which never ran. I also wrote about it in my novel. It’s such a big subject to me, and so much went on there that I haven’t figured out how to do justice to it here, though I’m proud to say that I’ve had requests, which I intend to honor. It’s a fascinating place, and it was especially at the time I lived there. Unfortunately, I understand that the economic crisis has hit Serbia, and the rest of Eastern Europe, especially hard, and things there were bad enough already. But I’m sure it’s still worthwhile to visit, as I mean to do so again when the opportunity presents itself. I hated to leave, but I had no choice, having run out of money, with no prospects for employment.

  26. Duke,

    You are the shit. I adore you and your genius.

  27. Zara Potts says:

    DOOK! You have changed!

  28. […] 5. We are famous in Belgrade. […]

  29. Becky says:

    Why do I always think Belgrade is in Ireland? Is it because of Belfast?

    This is one of those things I will never learn, no matter how many times I am reminded.

    …Like that the proper spelling of “woah” is “whoa.”

    Just not going to happen.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      It’s an understandable mistake. I’d never even heard of Belgrade before I learned I was being sent there. Or maybe I had heard of it, but it faded a moment later from memory.

      Interestingly (to me at least), Serbs like Irish music, which was explained to me as owing to the Celtic background that Serbs and the Irish share.

      • Becky says:

        That’s the problem, though. I have heard. More than once. There are a handful facts that I will simply never accept, for reasons unbeknownst to me. My brain simply rejects them. I hear them, remember for a day, maybe, then forget.

        Among them is that Belgrade is not in Ireland.

        It’s a dysfunction of some sort.

        But it’s interesting that they share a Celtic connection. I did not know that.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I believe the Celts cut a swath through Europe, including Serbia, before reaching Ireland and Britain. Which begs the question: Why isn’t Irish music as popular in other parts of Europe as it is in Serbia? So I think the explanation I received is erroneous.

  30. Erika Rae says:

    Duke, reading this I have the impression that you have lived all 6 lives that ended up in PeeWee. I must admit, I’m fascinated as hell. If I were to ever meet you in person I would get ridiculously and uncharacteristically quiet for, I dunno, at least a few minutes.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      I think I’d be quiet, too. As I think you know, our first conversation was brought about when Rich and I were conferring as to which TNBers we’d most like to meet. At the same time, this didn’t produce silence on my part when he handed the phone to me. But shyness sometimes the form of garrulousness.

      And there definitely was something of myself that went into Peewee, though I don’t like to admit it, you perspicacious person, you.

  31. Lenore says:

    why, i missed this entirely. i want to interview you, duke. i would have asked stupid questions but at least we could have eaten french fries together.

  32. Ducky Wilson says:

    Great interview, Duke. I’d like to second stories about Serbia. Sounds like a weird and wonderful place.

  33. Citizen Gurzog says:

    By the time I scrolled to the bottom of this web page I had already forgotten what I’d intended to say. F*&%!!

    GREAT INTERVIEW!

    Angus beef farmer huh?

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Yep. My dad’s a cattleman. Though lately he just bitches a lot about the shitty marketplace, and threatens to pull the plug on the farm.

      Angus cattle are stupid anyway. I preferred the dairy cows on my grandfather’s farm. They had way more personality.

      Thanks, Citizen, for taking the time to read and scroll all the way down to leave a comment. I know it was a trek, but much appreciated on my part.

  34. Dana says:

    Dear Duke*,

    I’ve had your book for MONTHS, but I simply wasn’t reading anything other than what I would find online (usually TNB) and that I could read in a few minutes. But this weekend I promised myself that I would get back to my favorite hobby and curl up and read. And I did. Start to finish, I read “Banned For Life”. And I fucking loved it. Your characters were so fully drawn that I was convinced that it was a memoir. And that’s why the second I finished the book this morning I got up to see what else I could find out about the author, and found myself back here. So after reading through these comments (months old, but still illuminating and often hilarious) I felt the need to leave my own.

    Peewee and Jason and Irina will stay with me for a very long time. They’re close enough to people I’ve met and stories I’ve heard, that I feel like they were my friends, warts and all… in fact that you were so honest about foibles that it felt that much closer to reality. It may be that one day I’ll even recall some of these memories as if they were my own. Count on it.

    Since your family is from Virginia and I live here, I’d like to extend an invitation. If you’re ever in the area (not far from Va Beach) I’d love to buy you a drink. Or more.

    I look forward to reading much more of your stuff. As is, I’ll be going through the archives to see what else you’ve got here. So in summation – You RULE and I want to personally thank you for a great weekend. 🙂

    Dana

    *Duke = My much beloved, deceased father-in-law who stormed the beach in Normandy. Seemed apt to mention that as today is Memorial Day. Duke also = my close friends ex whom I also adore. Three Duke’s in one lifetime? What are the odds?

  35. D.R. Haney says:

    Dear Dana:

    Your generous message has coaxed me out of TNB retirement. Not that it was ever intended to be a permanent retirement; I simply haven’t been able to put any time into commentary and the like, being massively busy, as I still am. All will be be clear shortly.

    If you thank me for a great weekend, I must thank you for giving me a weekend in the first place. I know better than anybody how hard it is to come by the time to read. There are so many books that I’d like to be reading: books that I put down, to my regret, because of some pressing demand, as well as books I never started. One day I hope to be able to read as much as I used to do.

    I tried hard to make Banned read like a memoir, since I personally love fiction that reads like fact, and vice-versa. Banned is caught somewhere in the middle, though significantly to the fiction side, despite personal experience that informed it, not to mention secondhand experience. I’ve heard so many terrific stories from friends, and they regularly turn up in my fiction, with a bit of tweaking. Sometimes I recycle them unawares.

    I could never quite get the language of the book to read precisely as I wished, but I have to confess to a fondness for the characters, and I’m humbled that you say what you do about them. Some readers have despised Irina, but she strikes me as so very human. Yes, she treats Jason badly at times, but, then, we never get to hear her side of things. At one point I even contemplated an appendix in which she would comment on Jason’s portrait of her, as well as supplying a portrait of Jason. He himself admits that he wasn’t always the ideal boyfriend.

    I hear you on the “Duke” front. I only know one other person with that nickname. For a couple of years before we met, mutual friends would say, “Oh, do you know the other Duke?” Then, when he and I did meet, we instantaneously became friends. I’ve mentioned him in a few posts at TNB, but never as “Duke.” He more or less gave up that name to eliminate confusion, though not at my request.

    And Virginia Beach? So many good memories! Thanks for the invitation. I won’t forget it, just as I won’t forget any of your kind remarks, as well as your causing me to take another glance at this comment board. Yes, there is some funny stuff there, huh? I hadn’t thought about it in months, assuming it was dead. Thanks (to employ that word still again) for proving me wrong.

    Happy (a day late) Memorial Day —

    Duke

  36. […] D.R. HANEY on D.R. Haney […]

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