Here are my impressions of some of the people I’ve met at The Nervous Breakdown.You might think of this as a TNB “Who’s Who.”   (Please note that I’m only listing people I “met” before the “re-launch,” because this post is already way too long.)


AARON DIETZ: Author of Spaceballs: The Prequel.Takes pictures of himself displaying books by friends of his, in which his shirts match the book covers.I don’t mind getting “spam” from him.


ALEXANDER CHEE: “Alex.”  MFA apologist.  Professor.  Literary heavy hitter.  Impressive bona fides.  Likes the films of John Hughes, especially Sixteen Candles.


ALEXANDER MAKSIK: Did the expat Paris thing.Now he’s at Iowa.I am intimidated by reasons of his male aggregate size.


AMELIA X: My Facebook friend.Not sure how I know her.Through Megan, I think.Hands down, the funniest writer of Facebook status updates.The Michael Ian Black of Facebook status updates.Often “shares” TNB pieces.


AUTUMN KINDELSPIRE: Met her in New York.She’s funny and cool.Her husband is Dave of Apocalypse.Claims she’s giving up writing in favor of editing.Which begs the headline: “Autumn Leaves.”


BECKY: You shall know her by the sign of the tiger.Likes ice hockey, T.S. Eliot, and a good argument.Author of some of my favorite Facebook status updates.


BEN LOORY: His full name sounds like it could be a last name.But then, I used to think the Stones’ lead singer was McJagger.Deceptively simple writing style.Very funny.  Has a thing for octopi and other sea creatures.Fellow fan of Arvo Part and Julian Jaynes.Often described as “quiet.”Bummed I didn’t get to meet him in L.A.


BRAD LISTI: Our Fearless Leader and resident saint.Hung out with him in Los Angeles.Gave me a ride in his car (an Escalade).Wound up liking him even more after meeting him.I think he might be a socialist.A real socialist, not whatever Obama is.(Just kidding about the Escalade, by the way; he drives a Prius).


BRANDON SCOTT GORRELL: Lives in Seattle.Pretty sure he used to live in Portland.Seems to like the rain, American Apparel, and indiscriminate scare quotes.His chapbook contains the words “nervous breakdown.” “[P]urpose is the temporary relief of boredom” is a good line.I’m ripping off his template for this piece.  Sorry, dude.


BRIN FRIESEN: May or may not be married, may or may not be living in Cuba, may or may not be Canadian.Likes telescopes.


D.R. HANEY: Goes by Duke.The nickname derives from John Wayne’s, but it is an apposite moniker for TNB royalty.When he posts, the comment board lights up like the phone lines at a Jerry Lewis telethon.The 700 Club is in his reach.The only person other than my mom, my wife, and my brother who I talk to on the phone with any regularity.Like him a lot.Hung out with him a lot in Los Angeles.And you may not know this, but I’m a big fan of his book.


DARIAN ARKY: Works for the U.S. Department of State.Writes about God’s female reproductive organs.The two are not necessarily related.


DAVID WILLS: A Scotsman living in the Orient.His tags often contain these words: Korea, poop.Because he hides behind the collage of pictures in his Gravatar, you might be under the impression that he’s not handsome.You’d be wrong.


DON MITCHELL: Erstwhile professor of anthropology.Possibly the only person on earth who maintains residences in both Buffalo and Hilo, Hawaii.Runs marathons.Has great taste in classical music.Knows how to tell a joke.  Was supposed to meet him in New York, but I had to bow out because my grandmother died.


DUCKY WILSON: Talented filmmaker.Great taste in music.  Can’t say more about her, or I’d have to kill you.


ELIZABETH COLLINS: “Liz.”Went to high school with her.She was orders of magnitude cooler than Yours Truly.In her yearbook, she wrote, “future plans include creative floundering.”I thought it was brilliant then, and I think it’s brilliant now.


ERIKA RAE: Married her high school sweetheart.Mischief lurks beneath her innocent smile.It was her idea to have all the dudes on the site dress up in women’s bathing suits for Rich Ferguson’s birthday.I still feel bad about not doing that, but come on.I wasn’t going to look as good as Simon.


GINA FRANGELLO: Her trilogy about her father remains the gold standard of TNB writing.Hope to meet her in New York when she’s in town for her Slut Lullabies book tour.


GLORIA HARRISON: Winner of the Totally Killer contest, which made me happy, because she is in fact totally killer.Longtime commentator, relatively new contributor.Her first two posts were about boobs and having a baby on the showroom floor of a Toyota dealership.What’s in store for Number Three?


GREG BOOSE: Has the same first name as me, but not the same last name.Met his wife, Claire, via TNB, and is the father of the first TNBaby.Continues to root for Lebron James even though Lebron James eighty-sixed him from his, Lebron’s, birthday party.


GREG OLEAR: Definitely Team Jolie, not Team Aniston.Likes cigars, or pretends to.Talks about Duke’s book too much.Comments too much.Wore a silly hat to the TNB thing in New York.Rocks back and forth when he stands, or sits, or writes—an annoying habit.His wife is much cooler than he is.


IRENE ZION: Does it count as a celebrity sighting when the celebrity isn’t a celebrity yet?If so, chalk up Michael Douglas for her.She’s a painter, a mother of twelve or thirteen children (she is prone to hyperbole), a comedienne, and a onetime resident of Trieste.And you may also be surprised to learn that she is Lenore’s mother.


J.E. FISHMAN: The “J” stands for Joel.I don’t know what the “E” stands for, but I’m guessing Edward.Cadaver Blues is good.You should check it out.


J.M. BLAINE: TNB’s Mystery Man.A character out of Pynchon.Write “W.A.S.T.E.” on an envelope and he’d show up to collect it.But that’s all you’ll know about him.His Gravatar suggests an adult who will only admit to enjoying Frosted Flakes if backlit.A music guy.Comments in verse.


JAMES D. IRWIN: His initials are J.D.I., so I decided to call him “Jedi.”That literally came to me in a dream.He’s I think sixteen years old, and British, so he spells stuff with “s” when there should be a “z” and adds “u” to words arbitrarily.Likes classic rock.Very funny bloke.


JASON RICE: Like Don Draper, lives in the suburbs.  Like Don Draper, is a good father.  Like Don Draper, does not have an iPhone


JEFFREY PILLOW: “Jeffro.”  Starting power forward on TNB basketball team.  Connoisseur of malt liquor.  Nice guy.  When he publishes a novel, I will call it The Pillow Book.


JESSICA ANYA BLAU: Her parents were naked a lot, but she turned out just fine.Met her at the first TNB-LE in New York, back when it was called “Off the Blog.”Great reader.A real pro.Absolutely delightful in person.Is going to be in one of the guests in the pilot of On the Road, the TNB original program you’ll hear more about as the weather warms up.


JIM SIMPSON: Egregiously nice guy.  Off-the-charts nice.  Big Elvis Costello fan.  Has an affinity with James Fenimore Cooper.


JOHN SINGLETON: Hustler of words.  WordPressario.  Is not in any way affiliated with “Boyz in the Hood”.  Came to my reading in Los Angeles.  Is younger than his photo makes him look.  Has cool tattoos and a very Zen-like quality.  Nice guy.


JONATHAN EVISON: Has forgotten more about publishing than I’ll ever know.Has helped me a lot.Knows everyone.Frequent guest at book clubs.Likes beer and rabbits.Also sweatpants and bathtubs.Has great taste in literary agents.Brought me to TNB.In the parlance of True Blood, he is my Maker


JOSIE: Self-styled TNB groupie.  Oracle, seer, keeper of secrets.  Really likes the GnR design I did for the re-launch promos.  I think I owe her a present.


JUSTIN BENTON: Master of observing trends concerning things I don’t ever think about, like rollerblades and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.Used to be my Facebook friend.Used to be a fan of “Totally Killer By Greg Olear” on Facebook.Committed Facebook suicide.Really needs to relocate to a more pleasant part of the country.Looks like my old college buddy Gates.In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he actually was Gates.


KIMBERLY M. WETHERELL: Talented filmmaker who made my book trailer.The doyenne of the Breakdown.Hung out with her in NYC.Like her a lot.Definitely pro-emoticon.  Really a blonde, not a redhead.  Hates to be called Kim.


KIP TOBIN: aka Tip Kobin, Lip Robin, Rip Bobin, etc.For some reason I picture him as Brad Pitt’s character in Ocean’s Eleven.Official TNB DJ.


LANCE REYNALD: Likes Warhol and Salinger.Posts cool videos on his Facebook feed, like that remake of “99 Luftballoons.”Enviably photogenic.


LENORE ZION: Heart & soul of this web site.Dislikes midgets.Thinks George Clooney is gross; prefers Christopher Maloney.Tends to be attracted to gay men and vegans.Hung out with her in Los Angeles.Met her cats.Also her neighbors, who are way cool.She drove me and Duke around.She drives like a Neapolitan cabbie.Sweet as all get out.


MARNI GROSSMAN: Vassar girl.Calendar girl.(Disclaimer: I know “girl” is not the accepted equivalent of the French mademoiselle; I use the word ironically).Winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.Met her briefly in New York.She was very nice.  Hope to meet her when we shoot the pilot of On the Road.


MATTHEW BALDWIN: A black belt in some martial art of Asian origin—I get them mixed up—he’s fought alligators, disarmed knife-wielding muggers, survived Katrina, and kicked a sensei’s ass in Sin City.I’d think he was Batman, except the Dark Knight would never high-five a check-out girl when buying Bat-rubbers.


MEGAN DiLULLO: Was never gangbanged by the Lollipop Guild, despite her claims, and thank God for that.Has tattoos and a very nice speaking voice.Once had a dream about my wife.


NICK BELARDES: The pride of Bakersfield, perhaps one of its Lords.Random obsessive.Dreams of underwear.One-man media blitz.Used to go by N.L.Really nice guy, generous and helpful.


PHAT B: One of my favorite commentators.Cracks me up.Once challenged me to a duel because I poked fun at Kim Kardashian.Later sent me a cigar in the mail.Didn’t get to meet him in L.A., unfortunately


QUENBY MOONE: “QB.” Late addition to the team, in the same way Pau Gasol was a late addition to the Lakers when they won the title.  Very funny.  She and my wife would get along better than Angelia Jolie and my wife would.  But all three together would make for a fun porch night.


RACHEL POLLON: Doesn’t post much, alas, but she’s a dear.Would have met her in Los Angeles, but she had the flu.Bummer.


REBECCA ADLER: “Becca.”  Book blogger at The Inside Cover.  Just back from Istanbul, by way of Prague.  Enjoy her Twitter feed.


RENO J. ROMERO: Not sure if he’s really a rock star, but he looks like one.His posts have long and funny titles.Used to live in Vegas, which is somewhat ironic, given his first name.Fan of the Oakland Raiders, unfortunately for him.


RICH FERGUSON: When I first came to TNB and saw his Gravatar, I thought he was using a picture of Johnny Depp.Then I felt like a tool for thinking that.Although you could do worse than have people think you look like Johnny Depp.Met him at my reading in Los Angeles.Really nice guy.He’s from New Jersey (my home state is the Ireland of the USA; we produce artists who leave the place and never return).I’m a big fan of his spoken-word stuff.Love love love “Bond Girl.”


RICHARD COX: Texan now living in Oklahoma.Writer of speculative fiction.Scratch golfer (not sure if he really is scratch, but I like using golf jargon).The titles of his pieces are lines from cheesy 80s songs.Songs I like, in other words.Zara calls him Richrob for some reason.Not sure why.


ROBIN ANTALEK: Fellow resident of Upstate New York.She lives right near the Corporation of Yaddo, but wrote her book without a residency there.Super, super nice.Is going to be in one of the guests in the pilot of On the Road, the TNB original program you’ll hear more about as the weather warms up.I still think about the piece she wrote about her dad and the clothesline.


RONLYN DOMINGUE: Grew up in New Orleans.Whereabouts now unknown, because her dateline used to involve longitude and latitude, and I’m not down with that.Likes insects and flowers.  Seems very nice.


SHYA SCANLON: If lit blogs were reality/daytime TV, he’d be Joel McRae in The Soup that is the TNB Feed.I’m jealous of his mustache.


SIMON SMITHSON: Debonair and handsome Aussie who may one day realize his dream of living in Frisco, if not his dream of boinking Janeane Garofalo.Originator of his eponymous “Effect,” or “SSE”.Has so much water in his chart it leaked all over my computer.Is going through his Saturn Return, which is causing him to ponder the meaning of life and rub the magic Uche lamp.I won’t say he’s a clever wordsmith, but put it this way: if he had to choose the body part of any hot actress, he’d pick the Portman toe.


SLADE HAM: Stand-up comic from Houston.Funny guy (you can watch his clips on YouTube).Perfectly named for his vocation.“What a Ham!He Slade me.”


STEFAN KIESBYE: Don’t know him well.  Friends with Don Mitchell.  Runs marathons with Don Mitchell.  Wears a cool hat.


STEPHANIE ST. JOHN OLEAR: Rock star (that’s her song in my book trailer).  My helpmate and better half.  Singer, songwriter, psychology graduate student.  Mother of my children.  Hottie.  Recovering musical theatre major.  Recovering TNB addict.  Future plans include Skyping with Zara and playdating with the Jolie-Pitts.


STEVE SPARSHOTT:Londoner.Managed to pull off both the long hair and the short hair look successfully.Makes cool iMovie videos.


TAWNI: Rock star.Lovely writer.Lovelier person.Often on Facebook at 5:30am, when I first check the news feed there.


THOMAS WOOD: Being held prisoner by his cat, who is apparently the Kim Jong Il of the feline set.Quirkily funny.


UCHE OGBUJI: He’s, like, way smarter than me.


WILL ENTREKIN: Renaissance man: chemist, personal trainer, professor, graduate student, writer…I think I’m missing a few.Recent devotee of massages.And ruum.Since he said he loves Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, I keep picturing him as one of the leads in the play.Haven’t met him yet, but will soon, as he is also slated to appear in On the Road.


ZARA POTTS: New Zealander, or Noo Zellendr, as it were.Partial to words that begin with f: fury, fear, flowers, friendship, fuck.Talked to her on the phone once briefly.Can’t wait to meet her and Simon this summer.She’s a doll.


ZOE BROCK: Also a Kiwi.Old friends with Zara, whom she brought to TNB.Also recruited Simon.Looks like a model.  Is one.




Thank you for reading this piece.

Also: I know I’m missing someone, or sometwo or somethree, and I apologize in advance.

For more on Breakdown society, hitch a ride on Duke’s stolen car.


GREG OLEAR is the Los Angeles Times bestselling author of the novels Totally Killer and Fathermucker and founding editor of The Weeklings.

508 responses to “Dramatis Personae”

  1. Joe Daly says:

    Thanks! Key information for newbies to TNB (like me). It’s nice to be able to put a quirk behind a profile pic!

    • Greg Olear says:

      You’re most welcome, Joe. It’s sort of like Cliff’s Notes, I guess. But remember, they are to be used as a study guide, and never as a substitute for the actual text…

  2. Gloria says:

    Very comprehensive (is that redundant?) and wonderful. 🙂

    And it was a Nissan dealership, not Toyota. For the record.

    The third one? It’s about the apocalypse. I’m reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy right now. I feel inspired.

  3. Becky says:

    Wow Greg. I feel famousy. I keep feeling famousy this week.

    I would like to say, for the record, that I wrote some poems, too. Almost no one has read them, but not because they’re not out there.

    Nevertheless, it’s basically true. Most of my writing is on facebook these days. I don’t care for that at all.

    That vexes me. I am vexed.

  4. Gloria says:

    Also: Your wife is pretty rad.

  5. Becky says:


    “I think he might be a socialist.”

    He’s going to kill you.


    Like try to hug you to death or something.

    Or maybe I’m the only one who isn’t allowed to call him that.

  6. ‘Autumn Leaves’ is the name of a song by the ‘band’ I co-founded last year. It’s word play.

  7. J.M. Blaine says:

    This was like the TNB Star
    next to Twix at the checkout counter.
    You could do the TNB gossip page!
    Probably one of the most interestingly
    readable TNB posts
    like – ever.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      In a way, Greg has been doing the TNB gossip page, 11.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, man. Gossip columnist would be a fun gig. Not as much fun as programming crappy classic rock tunes, though…

      • Thomas Wood says:

        But oh Jesus, Greg, please don’t blacklist me as the cat guy. I insist on a personal meeting to rid you of this catty impression. There, vanity aside (though never completely), thanks for the gossip.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I spent a couple of hours with Thomas in SF last fall, Greg, so I can supply you with impressions for a rewrite. His cat was nowhere in evidence.

        • Greg Olear says:

          I wrote this last night in alphabetical order, mostly, and I was too tired to come up with something better for you. My apologies. But the cat piece is funny!

        • Thomas Wood says:

          I see how it is. Just like all those years of grammar school, seat in the back of the class, always called last, always partnered up with slow-to-comprehend Meagan Woods. Bloody Alphabatism if you ask me.

          I’ll bet miss Brock and her front and center B never get this treatment.

          But no, jesting aside, all this means I just need to do more official TNB business travel until my uncatish mark is made.

          Oh, and “the fat one” is reading all of this and approves of this message.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Brock and her last-but-not-least Z, you mean…

  8. J.M. Blaine says:

    JM Blaine prefers
    blacklit Cocoa Pebbles
    and will also pick up
    envelopes labeled

  9. Thomas Wood says:

    Incidentally, you can give credit to Zoe B for bringing me to TNB as well. She starred in a short film I produced for the 48 hour film festival. About her you should consider adding that she is shockingly pleasant to be around and manages to use the word ‘fuck’ in a way that seems work-place appropriate.

    • Greg Olear says:

      It’s all making sense now! Zoe B and Jonathan are the two big recruiters, seems like.

      Kiwis do like their f-bombs, I guess.

      • Simon Smithson says:

        She’s a great big pimp – feathered hat, lowrider, glass-topped cane… the works.

        Also, she goes upside my head if I ain’t be bringin’ enough payin’ ass back to the crib.

        • Greg Olear says:

          She gots to keep her pimp hand strong, feel me?

          (Also: this was another of your comments that pop up in the inbox, and I think, “Where the fuck does THAT go in the thread?”)

  10. Hey! I’m 20, not 16!

    Although my gravatar is 16 year old me, because it’s the only good photo available to me…

  11. Zara Potts says:

    I feel like there should be a pop quiz to accompany this!
    Well done, Greg – you managed to encapsulate everybody so perfectly.
    I can’t believe you left out the fact that I like to send surprise deadly spiders through the mail, however… That would have made me sound BAD ASS.

  12. Richard Cox says:

    It would have been funny to post the descriptions without the names and have a contest to see who could guess the most correct. As it stands I still predict at least 300 comments on this post.

    I’m not quite a scratch golfer. Close. My goal this year is to shoot at least one round under par.

    I’ll let Zara tell you why she calls me RichRob.

    • Zara Potts says:

      No, Richrob. Let’s keep it a secret. Keep ’em guessing…

    • Greg Olear says:

      Damnit! I should have done that!

      I do love the golf lingo: bogey, eagle, birdie, and so forth. For a guy who has played golf twice, and hit balls at the range maybe a dozen times in his life, I’m a pretty decent golfer. I can hit the ball straight most of the time, and that’s the key, right?

      This is kind of a comment-whore piece. Oh well.

      Zara, out with it.

      • Zara Potts says:

        Some things must be kept hush-hush….

      • Richard Cox says:

        Hitting the ball straight is the most important skill to learn for a new golfer. But you’ll have to learn to hit it 300 yards or farther if you want to make an albatross.

        Funny story, considering “birdie” and “eagle” and “albatross,” as a kid I naturally wondered if the word “bogey” meant some kind of bird. My uncles (who I was playing with) laughed at me for an entire round of golf. Every time I made a bogey they would say “Did you make another bogey-bird?”

        They thought they were funnier than they actually were.

      • josie says:

        I know why she calls him that. But then a really good groupie knows the details to things like that. Like the missing detail of the name that should be wedged in between Jonathan and Justin. . . !

        I’m soooo offended I’m boycotting this blog


        • Zara Potts says:

          Here’s what it should say:

          Josie misses nothing. Josie is the keeper of TNB’s secrets. She is like the wise, all-seeing oracle. She is AWESOME.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Josie: what are you talking about? You must have skimmed past yourself. ; )

        • josie says:

          “Wise all-seeing oracle”
          Ooooo, I like that Zara.
          That totally trumps TNB’s #1 oldest and biggest groupie.

          I don’t know about secret keeper tho’. I kinda already leaked that video of you and Richrob to Greg.

          Or was I just reading about something like that?


        • josie says:

          LOL – You’re such a pushover Olear.
          I love that in a guy!

          Someday the view from my phone will reveal my rockin’ TNB T-shirt.

          Cuz you gotta have the shirt!

          (It’s also my phone screen and gets a lot of attention.)

        • Greg Olear says:

          I’m glad someone still keeps it around…I was pleased with that one.

  13. Richard Cox says:

    I also would like to conduct a survey to find out how many people first scrolled to their own entry before going back to read the post in its entirety.

  14. Slade Ham says:

    “I wrote this last night in alphabetical order, mostly, and I was too tired to come up with something better for you.” is one of the most honest things I’ve ever heard another human say to another.

    And “the Portman toe”? I’m clearly starting slow today.

  15. Matt says:

    Hah. I love how I come off as TNB’s answer to a character in an old pulp action/adventure novel.

    I think maybe I need to have business cards printed up with that on it. “M.Baldwin: Literary Action Hero. Tales scribbled, villains defeated.”

    Very well done, Greg. And really, not a bad place at all for the new reader to get acquainted.

  16. Simon Smithson says:


    Portman toe…

    That put a giant smile all over my Portman face.

    Damn it. That doesn’t work nearly as cleverly.

  17. Irene Zion says:

    Thanks, Greg, but I think it’s more like 18.

    Uche is smarter than everyone.

    I’m glad you mentioned Lenore’s driving. Scares the pants off me. I have to keep my eyes closed.

  18. Irene Zion says:


    You’re wrong about Brad.
    He has a Ford F-350 that’s all detailed with flames all over.
    A sight to see.

  19. Quenby Moone says:

    Shit! You didn’t have to add me–I completely respect the rules of the draw. I also don’t know anything about basketballs so I’m not up on the lingo. It has heft, and people throw it across places with goals? There is dribbling involved. I do that on occasion myself, so I feel this is a pretty apt analogy for me.

    Thank you sir, for your warm embrace. I’m totally hotter than Angelina, anyway.

    • Greg Olear says:

      You’re most welcome.

      I figured you’d have no idea what I was talking about with the Gasol. Neither does Steph. This was really an excuse to have Phat come in and explain it.

      • Phat B says:

        Pau Gasol is a 7 foot tall Spaniard that the Lakers acquired when Shaq left. He is much skinnier than Shaq, and can actually shoot the ball, pass, and make free throws. Like most European players in the NBA, he is viewed a soft in the paint, and can easily be elbowed and booty bumped out of position. Oh, and when he makes a good play, you have to yell “Spaaaaaannniiiiaaaarrrdddd” at the TV like they did in the Movie Gladiator.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Also: the beauty of having an “online” literary magazine is that we may go back and add stuff on a whim. Why not take advantage of the medium?

    • You are. By leaps and bounds. I know this and I have not even met her, or you, for that matter – YET!

      And for the record, it’s really Greg who wanted the Jolie/Pitt friendship, not me.
      (unless they’re reading this – hi! Offer still stands!)

      • bad nest! above comment was a reply to Quenby, the hottest girlfriend
        that I’ve never met and want to – can we?

        • Quenby Moone says:

          Bad nest! No biscuit! Thanks future porch monkey!

        • Quenby Moone says:

          We can visit! I just don’t know when…what is happening and where? I need to throw my hat into the funny little NB ring, where people might realize that I’m not nearly as charming and funny in person as I am online.

          Wait. What? Never mind.

        • Oh dear – I know.
          And I am a total goober. Greg kept saying in his piece
          here how I’m some kind of cool person or whatever.
          And let me tell you that I am not.

          (actually it would be kind of funny if/when we all meet that it’s this awkward painful situation, like a bad blind date – though Greg assured me when he met TNB-ers in LA and other places
          that it was this beautifully seamless transition)
          wait – whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

        • oh duh – and I never responded to the where and when…
          In June there’s an L.A. thing and then maybe some
          people are coming to NYC and then to our porch.
          Do you think you’d make a trip out east??

        • Greg Olear says:

          You two will love each other. I can already tell. And Mr. QB and I can discuss history books, and why it is that Billy Joel of all people wound up with a kick-ass drummer.

        • Quenby, you were in my dream last night.
          Well, not really you – but I’m sure it was inspired by this last post, here.
          It was actually a nightmare – where we had this playdate set up where we finally met, but you were not nice, kinda like Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl. And there was all of this bathroom stress – like you had a stall of bathrooms for me and Dominick to use – but none of them worked. And then you (well, this dream nightmare you that was really Sigourney Weaver)
          made us watch this indie movie starring Kristen Stewart where she’s this pot smoking lesbian, that you made before Twilight. And we all had to crowd with our kids on this old futon and watch it. Sounds not as bad as it felt in the dream – but it was kind of nightmarish.
          Now it just sounds funny.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Kristen Stewart as pot-smoking Lesbian…yeah, that works.

  20. Becky says:

    I just want you all to know that I have done, like, zero work today because of the recent spate of lively posts on this site, and if I get fired, one of you mofos is putting me up until I can find a new one. I blame you. All of you. Already.

    I like 2% milk and potato chips, so please be sure to keep some on hand.

    • josie says:

      You should have couch privileges at all the contributor’s digs, Beckster – you’ve usurped my groupie status. I feel confident retiring and leaving the title to you. Though, you’ll never be as old or as big as me, sister.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      I’m not literally at work, Becky, but I have a mountain of work before me that’s been put off because of TNB. This has been going on since last Thursday, when I start work on a couple of forthcoming pieces, one of which had to be delivered as soon as possible. (It was something of an assignment that’s yet to run.) Anyway, I sympathize.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Yeah, I should have spent more time sending out story pitches today. Or resumes. Or just cleaning the kitchen. But one needs to find one’s pleasure where one can, I say.

      My best friend from college owns a potato chip company, so I have the hookup with that. But we only have skim.

    • Becky says:

      Can I object, momentarily, to this “groupie,” word?

      I mean, I have a number of reasons for doing so, some of them top secret, but most important among them is that I consider myself a reader who is a member of a community and other hippie stuff like that, so I don’t think I, or anyone, should be called a groupie (unless I am doing it).

      It implies that we’re unwanted hangers-on. In fact, we are who this site is meant to serve, in large part.


      • Greg Olear says:

        I think Josie has reappropriated the term. It’s OK for her to use it, but not me. Hence my referring to her as “self-styled groupie.”

        I included you guys in this because you are an important part of the community. Even if you don’t let us read your poems.

      • josie says:

        Damn right sister!
        TNB serves US!

        Power to the People Groupies.

        Objection overruled.

        • Becky says:

          This is mutiny.

        • Greg Olear says:

          It’s a cat fight! Between a tiger and a dandelion…which is French for “tooth of the lion.”

        • josie says:

          Nah. Beckster and I go way back to pre-TNB days. Why I used to be one of the top four readers on her rant blog on myspace back in the day. ‘Course that was before she went all soft and poetic on us. Our tiger is turning into a lap cat.

          Besides, I think she has pollen allergies.

        • Becky says:

          Actually, I was writing poetry then, too, Josie. Mostly, actually. I just didn’t put it on my Myspace blog because the poetry was my serious writing.

          Too pristine and pure for those dingy surroundings.

          Looking back at some of the poems I wrote, though, I think they probably belong someplace much worse than Myspace. Like a dumpster, maybe.

    • I feel like Child Protective Services is going to come here – seeing how often Greg and I were on here today to make sure our kids were fed and clothed and whatnot.

      (I assure they were.)
      ……….(seriously – they’re both in bed now – fed, clothed, teeth brushed, stories read to, songs sung – we can be back here – ok CPS?)

  21. J.E. Fishman says:

    Thanks for the shout-out, Greg. Coupla things.

    The E. is for Evan. The Edward guess made me laugh because I just saw Arthur Miller’s A View from a Bridge. Liev Shreiber plays Eddie, a lustful and dyspeptic petty tyrant of questionable morality. Gee, well maybe you were nearly half right.

    Also, you and I will meet and break bread when the Philadelphia reading comes together. Are you listening, Liz?

    • Greg Olear says:

      Evan. I never would have guessed Evan.

      Yes, we will! What’s a good indie bookstore in town? I think we should do it at a store, like Belardes does in Bako, and then go have drinks after. 20 people at a theatre is sparse. 20 people in a bookstore is a sellout.

      • D.R. Haney says:

        Ha. One of the two main characters in my new novel — the one I’m never going to finish — is named Evan. I always liked that name, and now I propose to make it immortal, as if Joel weren’t in a better position to do that. Not that I’ll ever finish the book anyway.

        • J.E. Fishman says:

          Let’s agree that I’m not going to say I’ll never make Evan immortal if you’ll never again say that you’re never going to finish your next novel. Hmm. On the other hand, I do keep my names masked for a reason.

      • J.E. Fishman says:

        I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know jack about Philly bookstores, living 45 minutes away (and having only moved down this way a couple of years ago). But I agree that twenty people in a theater that seats 150 is a disaster and 20 people in a bookstore that stands 18 is, well, KILLER.

    • Irene Zion says:

      I almost married an Evan.

      I feel really, really guilty about falling behind in “Cadaver Blues.” I SWEAR I’ll read it front to back when I get it in my hands!!!

    • Elizabeth Collins says:

      Aha, yes, now I am reading (sometimes I need reminders–thanks, Greg).

      J.E., you and I should chat re: reading. Different ideas are floating around…but I have to get on that. The snow screwed with me; I am thinking spring is safest.

      Thanks for your kind words, Greg, but I have never been cool…

      Also, what I really would like is for someone to describe me as “leggy,” since I actually kind of am, if not terribly tall, and I am determined that one day some interviewer shall write of me, “When Liz Collins walked into the bar, every man turned around…” and then I get to shrug it off and say, “Well, those men turning around was not a big deal, believe me. Did you see them? It didn’t inflate my ego.”

      • Greg Olear says:

        Spring works for me, O Leggy One.

        You were cool in high school, although I don’t think you were aware of it. Which is, of course, one of the main components of cool.

  22. Finally, a guidebook. I love guidebooks. They are like those maps of the stars homes in Los Angeles. Except hardly anyone buying those maps even remembers Douglas Fairbanks or Myrna Loy to care enough to know where they lived…. at least here, as I read, I had a higher than fifty percent name/TNB piece recognition.

    Which might mean a guidebook on how to detox from a serious TNB addiction, yet still remain connected might be useful….

    You think?

    As always— a pure pleasure, Greg.

  23. Kimberly says:

    I feel like a dork because I had to look up doyenne. Which only illuminates that I am so NOT.

    I’m just humbled to be here.

  24. Zara Potts says:

    Oh there are so many other TNB writers and readers I would like to add…

  25. Phat B says:

    You forgot my “Internet Commenter Of The Year” awards from 2004 and 2009. Now when people introduce me, they are required to say “This is my friend, internet commenting sensation Phat B.” It comes with the title. Like being knighted.

  26. Jessica Blau says:

    Love this summary of TNBers!

    Do you mean to say that Kimberly DYES her BLOND hair red?! I love her red hair. I want her red hair. Tell me it’s real!

  27. AXS says:

    Awwwww, Greg. You’re the best. But sadly, I’m not trying to be funny with my FB status updates (aka taglines). That sh*t really happens to me. So more of a series of never-ending tragedies really.



    • Greg Olear says:

      Even the ones about murder? You’re being modest, methinks.

      • AXS says:

        Of course the ones about murder were complete fantasy–as are the blood stains on my favorite rug. And if you rat me out again, I’m giving you the ol’ Colombian necktie.

        • Anon says:

          Um, hey, uh… There’s this stuff called “Petzyme”, you can get it at any pet store. It’s designed to eliminate stains and odors from pet “accidents” by using natural enzymes to break up the organic compounds. It also happens to work really well on blood, if you should, say, clip their nails too short. Or something.

          Now for DNA compromise, you still need good old fashioned bleach but that leaves telltale discoloration on anything but whites.

          Just sayin’.

        • Greg Olear says:

          I sort of assumed [read: hoped] that those were fantasy…but god damn they were funny.

        • AXS says:

          Can’t they be both real and funny? ’cause they were to me.

        • Greg Olear says:

          I would prefer it if they were real. So yes.

          Also: pls see the comment way on the bottom about your FB URL.

        • AXS says:

          Then baby, prepare to be delighted–you know, until spring comes and the bodies thaw, and the stench wafts over the fence into the Swedenbergs’ yard. Oops, did I write that?

        • Greg Olear says:

          The Swedenbergs are old. No sense of smell. I’m not concerned.

        • AXS says:

          The Swedenbergs are no good narcs. I really shoulda taken care of them with my French boning knife last Flag Day when I had the chance.

          Love ya!


  28. Lenore says:

    i love kip’s and don’s. i am secretly very obsessed with don. i don’t know why. don, i swear i’m not as creepy as i seem. but i am so obsessed with you.

    this was fun.

    jesus christ we are all so cool.

  29. Ok, your depiction of Aaron Dietz made me snot.

    I had totally forgotten about the Books with Matching T-Shirts photo essay he did.

    Nice one Greg, it’s cool that you like us all.

  30. what’s amelia x’s facebook url?

  31. Hi Greg:

    What a wonderful post! And you know, it’s kinda funny about the whole Johnny Depp thing. I was once at this Wild Oats supermarket in Santa Monica (wearing my hat and shades), and this guy behind me in line leaned in close, and whispered in my ear: “I just love all your movies.”

    I kinda knew where he was going with this, as this whole Johnny Depp thing seems to go in phases. Sometimes it won’t happen for months and months and months. And then without warning, a few people will say something. This was one of those periods. So as soon as that guy whispered in my ear, I couldn’t help but grin.

    Then he got this look on his face, and said: “You’re not Johnny Depp, are you?”

    To which I responded, “Nope.”

    To which he said, “Duuuuuuuuuuuude. I’m so, so sorry.”

    All I could say was, “How could I get upset with something like that? Now if you’d mistaked me for Marty Feldman, then maybe I’d be a little upset. But Johnny Depp? Forget about it. I’m flattered.”

    Anyway, enough about Johnny. And enough about me. Let’s talk about you, Greg.

    You’re the absolute best, my friend. I look forward to seeing you again when you have a chance to once again grace us with your presence. Be well…

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, man. Hopefully will get out there sometime soon.

      Ha! That’s a funny story.

      And it reminds me that you were also once recognized as Rich Ferguson, but Duke, in a restaurant in LA, if memory serves.

      You’re lucky to get Depp. I get, “You’re a better-looking Stephen King.” Swell.

      • D.R. Haney says:

        Memory indeed serves. Maybe a month after I started contributing to TNB, I was at a coffee shop literally a block from my house, and the guy at a nearby table looked awfully familiar. Finally I approached him and said, “Excuse me, but do you write for the Nervous Breakdown?” I hope it made Rich feel like a celebrity. Which, you know, he is.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Apparently Einstein’s defense, after people kept stopping him in the street and asking ‘Yo, E, what up with that theory of yours?’ (after his patent clerk and beach volleyball days), was a simple one.

          He’d say ‘Apologies! Always I am being mistaken for Professor Einstein!’

        • Greg Olear says:

          Smart fellow, the E-Man.

          I have my own equation: E=MC Hammer

        • Zara Potts says:

          Best laugh I’ve had all day! Thanks, G.

  32. Ben Loory says:

    no one ever told me my name sounded like one name before. though i don’t think it’s a very GOOD one name name. i’d much prefer prince, really, i think. or snake, or donovan, or something.

    i’m not really quiet, i’m just not speaking.

  33. Rachel Pollon says:

    Thanks, Greg, for including me in the line up even though I suffer from Infrequent Posting Disorder.

    I love how it feels with so many of the TNB writers, that even though we haven’t met in person, if we did, we’d be friends. I guess such is the power of the word. Word!

    Oh, and very funny about Brad’s Escalade. He is probably the only person who could make the idea of driving one okay. Cadillac should consider hiring him as a spokesperson.

    Fun to read about everyone!

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, Rachel.

      Escalade now makes a Hybrid model. The ultimate it cognitive dissonance. If I ever win the lottery, I’m totally buying one. Will be perfect for blasting my Tupac.

      The result of meeting people you’ve never met was, for me, exactly that. Like greeting old friends. After a few minutes, you forget you haven’t actually met them before.

  34. You know, Greg, I think the time has come to change my Gravatar. I picked this photo because… I don’t know. A Korean girl took it about two years ago and I don’t know how she blended them altogether. But I liked it. It’s fuzziness made me look like the victim of some paparazzi attack.

    And once I find the time to swing by the US, I’m going to hunt down every person on that list and give them a bottle of soju, a bag of kimchi, and a tin of boiled silkworm larvae. It’s time to reverse all the damage I’ve done to Korea’s image.

    • Greg Olear says:

      It’s such a pain to change your Gravatar. Stephanie wants me to change mine, but I’m so used to it, and it’s easy to spot. Yours is perfectly fine, but it makes it difficult to see what you look like.

      I will be on my porch awaiting my shipment of boiled silkworm larvae. Mmmm. Makes a really nice fondue.

  35. lance reynald says:

    thanks for the music props…
    and I’m cracking up that the words “novel” & “book” appear nowhere in my description…HA!
    as for the photos…lighting and a most strictly controlled environment.

    team jolie all the way! ‘cept when I’m cheering for team Steph St. J O.

    hey…how’s Pru’s lineup of summer coffeehouse gigs comin? I’ll totally help her pick material to cover.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, Lance. I don’t think I wrote “book” or “novel” in anyone’s except for Duke’s, and only there because I’m making fun of myself…I was going for more “beyond the bio” stuff.

      Prue’s latest craze is listening to “the little boy”: the stripped down Jackson 5 track of “ABC.” When she saw MJ on YouTube as not a little boy, she thought it was really funny. But man, she digs him. Any suggestions, she’s game.

      Team Steph St. J O all the way!

  36. Marni Grossman says:

    I think “nice” is a pretty accurate description of me. I remember meeting you, of course. You read and were absolutely hilarious. But I imagine that meeting me wasn’t quite as memorable. This will go well with my forthcoming post on being a boring person.

    Also, I’m pretty excited to be rubbing up against Lenore here. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather “sit” next to.

    • Greg Olear says:

      I met you for all of sixty seconds, while K-Dub was whisking me around the room, and I think it was before the reading, so I was nervous. If I’d talked to you for more than a minute, I’d have a better word than “nice,” I’m sure, and I doubt it would be the one you suggest.

      As for the Marni-rubbing-up-against-Lenore, I’m going to leave that alone.

  37. Becky says:

    This is so out of hand. I request that the comments be sorted and indexed for easy access. Most important category: Conversations I am a part of.

    My email tells me there’s comments, but I can’t find them.

    I just slide into the thready abyss and find myself here. At the end. Shaking and weeping. Again.

    • I agree with you, tiger lady.
      It has me in such a tizzy that I had nightmares all last night – not kidding.
      Like I need a serious TNB detox, now.

      I actually tried to comment to something you said and it “nested” in Timbuktu.

      • Becky says:

        I think that was one of the ones I was looking for.

        I remember the conversation.

        I know it is near-ish the end…or what was once the end and is more like the half-way mark now. And I remember related comments. I know it must be there.

        But when I look, when I get close, it disappears. A mirage.

        Some kind of anomaly in the Interwebs or the Stargate or the Flux Capacitor. I am going to have to cut myself off as well.

        It’s interesting. Maybe we will actually discover the maximum density of a TNB comment board.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Becky, meet Stephanie. Stephanie, Becky.

      We had 15,000 comments last month at TNB, by the way. That approached maximum density, in that it blew the limits of whatever imposes limits on that sort of thing. Jeepers.

  38. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    Damn, there must be a warp among dimensions because I’m one nerdy schmo who never ran with the cool kids. What’s going on?! I’m honored to be listed, Greg. For the record, I grew up in Lafayette, LA. New Orleans is my blood and writing.

    Seriously, your profound essay “Soldier On” is part of the loop in my head when I start thinking about violence and evil in the world. Few things stick with me like that.

    • Greg Olear says:

      I would guess that almost everyone on this list is a nerdy schmo who never ran with the cool kids. I certainly was…whenever anyone suggests that I’m cool, my wife giggles.

      Thanks for the props on “Soldier On.” I worked for a long time on that one (especially when you consider how long it took to read the Littell book!)–much longer than, say, this piece–and it’s good to hear that it’s appreciated. Both Baker and Littell are wiser than I am; I learned a lot from those books, difficult though they were to read from a subject-matter standpoint.

      • D.R. Haney says:

        I very much liked “Soldier On,” as I think you know. I wish I were capable of writing something like it, since we could use more of its kind at TNB. I suppose, with the right subject and enough time, I could do something like it. But it’s not the type of writing that comes naturally to me.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Thanks. It’s not the kind that comes naturally to me, either, which is probably why it took so damned long to write. And I’m of course hopeful that you will try your hand at something in the same vein.

          My next piece is going to be about something stupid, like K-Fed. So much easier. Fish in a barrel.

  39. Tawni says:

    Awwwww. You said nice stuff about me and my freakish early morning-riser tendencies. Back at you, brother. I think you (and your rock star wife) are totally top notch peoples.

    Reading this was good times. I love that you and Duke (via The Feed) are giving us personalized glimpses into the world of TNB. It makes it that much more enjoyable to read all of the wonderful writing on this website. Thank you.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, Tawni. I always enjoy a glimpse myself, living, as I do, not close to NYC anymore. Hence my inspiration for the “On the Road” project, which I hope will come to fruition.

      “Have your cake and eat it / But don’t feed that shit to me.” Love it.

  40. Brad Listi says:

    That’s it, I’m getting a Hummer with a vanity plate that reads “SOCIALIST.”

  41. Greg, you are the best! This post made my entire week, not only for the kind words about my dad-trilogy, but just because I’m now salivating even more to meet and hang out and drink-in-person with the whole TNB family, so many of whom I look forward to meeting this spring/summer on my tour–and you’re at the top of that list! Keep a cigar for me (ack, actually, don’t; it just sounded good. I like to smell them before they’re lit.)

  42. Erika Rae says:

    This is so great! I’m particularly indebted to you because I was thinking of putting together something like this to help catch people up for the TNBLE Denver. This is how far I’d gotten:

    Ben Loory – Likes cupcakes
    Lauren Becker – has sexy feet

    Your list clearly is the more comprehensive of the two.

    Also, if you’re still inclined to dress up in “Bond-age,” please be assured that we would all still love to see it.

  43. Erika Rae says:

    Also, I would just like to state that you’re right about Uche. He might, in fact, be smarter than all of us combined.

  44. JB says:

    Working the other day I came across the intersection of Merrywood and Gayland. Maybe I should move there. That sounds pleasant enough.

    (Raising pinkie all foppish-like whilst having a gripping fever dream about pleasant places!)

  45. And let’s not forget Dykeman and Beek – that was part of the song, too.

  46. Oh my god – I love that grave.

  47. Jim says:

    Hey, you can’t spell ‘egregiously’ without Greg! Nice touch.

    • Greg Olear says:

      I think that’s why I’m partial to that word. But then, my name is an anagram of LARGER EGO.

      • AXS says:

        Your name is an anagram for LARGER EGO? God, that’s awesome. I don’t know what mine is but I’m positive it’s lame.


        • Greg Olear says:

          It is…it’s untoppable, really…and that was the title of my old blog, the subtitle of which (“Fighting the power since 1972”) I’ve modified for one of the taglines here.

        • AXS says:

          Greg, yes, that is awesome and unstoppable, but here you go. Here’s mine, which I think we can agree really rocks: Lime axis math. Hmmm? Pretty…yeah, still really lame. Boo.


        • Slade Ham says:

          My name isn’t long enough to get any good anagrams. I definitely think HEAD SLAM sets off less red flags though than HAMAS LED.

        • AXS says:

          You’re a wise man, HEAD SLAM.


          AXS (aka LIME AXIS MATH)

        • Greg Olear says:

          Slade – Ha! HEAD SLAM is pretty good.

          AXS – How about just Alexis Mamith? I like anagrams of names. Vladimir Nabokov wrote himself into some books as Vivian Nightbloom, which is a pretty awesome name, as anagrams go.

          Spiro Agnew is an anagram of “grow a penis.” I think this was very funny when Dick Cavett pointed it out in 1970.

        • AXS says:

          Ok Greg, you got me; I’m a convert. Alexis Mamith it is. And btw, I just wrote two nice violent back-to-back FB taglines just for you.


        • Greg Olear says:

          LOVE the taglines, Alexis. Well played.

          Maybe Hammit. Alexis Hammit. One or the other.

          GREG OLEAR is also an anagram of ROGER GALE, in which guise I appear in my book.

        • AXS says:

          Well thank you. Nicely done with the Roger Gale bit. And for the record, if I’m not AXS, I’ll go with Hammit.

          AXS (Hammit)

  48. Richard Cox says:

    Surely we can bump this baby to 400.

  49. Zara Potts says:

    Shit. Why stop at 405? Roll on 500…
    Anon, I’m getting concerned that you are losing yet more weight.. I think maybe you should stop the diet now.

  50. Anon says:

    Of course, after Zara’s comment, I’m thinking about revising the skinny-tar to give him decent delts and pecs.

  51. Uche Ogbuji says:

    I love you guys so much that I spend all day and all night reading Encyclopedia Brittanica just so you think I’m so smart. Oh…wait…it wasn’t that smart to admit that, was it?

    And yes, I say we turn this thing up to crunk (AKA 500 comments).

  52. D.R. Haney says:

    All right, all right, goddamnit, you win. Should I deliver the concession speech here or elsewhere?

    • Greg Olear says:

      I think we need to wait. We still have to determine the electoral votes…

      Also, I’m not convinced your self-interview won’t knock me off. If the maxim is that pieces do well which are a) written by Duke, or b) about Duke, then the self-interview is the best of both worlds.

      Plus, if you make a concession speech, I have to make a victory speech, and I’m not doing that, although I am, of course, grateful for people reading and commenting.

  53. I’ve been known to dunk on people and write stories about them.

  54. Ducky Wilson says:

    Greg – you may live another day since this was funny as shit.

  55. Darian Arky says:

    Unfortunately, it’s all too often “dicks”, rather than female reproductive organs, that are most closely associated with government work. (On the other hand — or in between the other legs — there are at least two words for part of the female reproductive ensemble that occasionally resonate too…)

  56. Four hundred and eighty-FIRST!

    Sorry. I haven’t contributed to TNB for a couple of months so I thought I’d post an insightful and witty comment. However. Good intentions and all that.

    I have a rant in the works; an actual essay, which isn’t really my forte. I’m more of a storyteller/raconteur/bullshitter and, as mentioned above, (extremely) amateur video editor. This thing has potential, I reckon. Don’t hold your breath, though.

  57. I’ve realised what my real TNB claim to fame is – I am the least qualified, least published “writer” on this site. Oldest Brit, biggest piss-taker. Marvellous.

    • Quenby Moone says:

      You and I will have to duke it out (hi Duke!) for that particular piece of notoriety. The only place I’ve been published is here, so we might tie for first.

      I can’t compete in the Brit competition, but I might be the shortest American on TNB.

  58. Aaron Dietz says:

    This was awesome, Greg!

    I feel like I know everyone about 2000% better, which basically goes to show how little I know everyone.

    It was especially nice for me, though, since I’ve been basically hiatused (I’d like that to be a word, now) for a bit while I was putting finishing touches on a book–sooner or later, I’m going to schedule some time to breathe, but don’t worry, everyone–I do make time to use the restroom (usually while multitasking).

    Oh wait, where am I? Is this the bar? What am I doing at a bar? I’ve got work to do! Anybody seen my work?

  59. […] of my blues are of a regional variety, eloquently addressed by some guy named Greg Olear. Last June my wife and I uprooted from Illinois and moved to Kentucky. I’ve lived in Illinois for […]

  60. Brin Friesen says:

    I miss my telescope. But then I just might have access to some fairly good cigars…

  61. Wow. I can’t believe I made this cool list and I’m the 501st comment, which sounds like some kind of airborne unit in Band of Brothers.

  62. […] was not as widely read as the one about how Angelina Jolie should hang out with my wife, or the one in which I summarize the various personalities at TNB—I politely disagree with both Kakutani of the Times and Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, but […]

  63. mild hearing loss…

    […]Dramatis Personae | The Nervous Breakdown[…]…

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