Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gummy Humps

Remember when I used to write fiction? That was stupid! But terrible old habits die hard. I have a short story in the new Oxford American, that's right, along with my regular column. As I am sure you will be thrilled to hear, my column features a reference to character actor Vito Scotti (pictured). I hear the sounds of millions running to their local newsstands. My short story, on the other hand, is called "Ghost College." Does it live up to its title? Of course not! That's what "writers" do. We sucker you in with a title and at the end you're all, "What was THAT all about?" And we are like, "Too late, you already read it!" And we laugh and laugh. On the plus side, the issue features Michael Martone, Steve Almond, James Whorton, Jr., and lots of other people who are truly good at what they do. As always, it's action-packed! Daredevil John T. Edge eats a school lunch. But at least we are lucky enough to get this sentence out of his loathsome experience: "The rice arrived in gummy humps." I've been saying that out loud a lot. It sounds like part of an Edward Lear poem! For some reason (well, the reasons are probably obvious) it makes me think of a sentence from A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN: "And a fellow had once seen a big rat jump plop into the scum." (Hey, my new story has the word "plop" in it. I'm just like James Joyce!) Gee, speaking of ghosts, I have really been falling down on the job of telling you about what's in the New York Times every day. A couple of weeks ago (?) there was an op-ed with a misty blue ghost in it. Let me look that up to make sure I'm not crazy. Yes: "the mist came down the hall, paused to consider him, and then curled into the room where my mother lay dreaming." That's an op-ed! At a later date, the New York Times gossip columnist was hanging out with the cast of the reality show GHOST HUNTERS, which just seems sad and forlorn somehow, especially for the cast of GHOST HUNTERS. And, on a somewhat unrelated subject, there was an obituary for "a distinguished Abstract Expressionist artist who — after what he described as a chance sighting of something flat, silver, airborne and unfathomable — became the father of the alien-abduction movement."