Sunday, December 30, 2007

American Cool—4 1/2 Stars!

American Cool is Susan DiPlacido's hot collection of short stories. So hot, in fact, that Romantic Times gave it 4 1/2 Stars in its latest edition, on newsstands now. Congratulations Susan!

Realistic jargon paints the settings, and the use of unusual points of view is refreshing. A bit like a literary Pulp Fiction, this book offers a glimpse into the exciting, sometimes dangerous lives of people living on the edge.
—Reviewed by Jennifer R. Wells-Marani, Romantic Times

Be Cool too:

Don't forget to read an interview with Susan here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tuesday Shorts, and a Free Story!

Hey, I want to tell you about a cool weekly literary blogazine called Tuesday Shorts. Their challenge is to write a short story of 100 words or less. They have a short submission window, so read their guidelines carefully. These very short stories that are accepted run on the following Tuesday, hence the name Tuesday Shorts. So take a crack at it, and show them your shorts.

Here was my (rejected) attempt:

A Bad Day
by Donald Capone
99 words

The day started out just like any other—except for the fact that Tim's penis fell off.

He had gotten out of bed, as usual, swinging one leg then the other from under the covers, his feet sliding into his waiting slippers. Then the walk through the kitchen, where he stopped to get the coffee pot going, before continuing on to the bathroom for his long morning pee. This was always a time of contemplation—the bubbling stream of water issuing forth from his bladder relaxing him both physically and mentally.

But then, a Plop! His day was ruined.


Friday, December 14, 2007

The Mitchell Report

Former Senator Mitchell issued his report on illegal steroid use to baseball commissioner Bud Selig yesterday. He spent 20 months and supposedly $20 million conducting the investigation. (I could have given MLB a very similar list for free, and about 19 months and 29 days earlier, but I don't have the street cred Mitchell does, who helped broker peace in Northern Ireland.)

Roger Clemens was the one who took the hardest hit. Clemens probably juiced by the looks of him, but the "evidence" in the Mitchell report is pretty lame. Here is a good article by Boston writer Dan Shaughnessy on the subject of Clemens, the lack of hard evidence, and how the greatest pitcher of his generation got thrown under a bus by MLB solely on hearsay:
Dan Shaughnessy

Selig (or the Nutty Professor, as I call him) said this report was "a call to action," and that "I will act." He also said, "Discipline of players and others identified in the report will be determined on a case-by-case basis."


I wonder, what kind of discipline? None of these players tested positive for the biggie of steroids, HGH (human growth hormone). That's because there IS no test yet for HGH. Besides the fact that when these players allegedly used steroids, there was no drug policy in MLB. Can you get fined for breaking a rule that didn't exist yet?

Even if fines/suspensions/wrist slaps/wedgies/purple nurples are doled out by Selig as punishment, how do you determine it so far after the fact? Take someone like Andy Pettitte. He allegedly used HGH to heal an injured elbow. Should he be punished the same as someone like a Bonds, who juiced every week for seven years just to hit more dingers and break the hallowed all-time HR record held by the classy Hank Aaron? Do you erase the phony homerun records of Bonds, Sosa, and McGwire from the record books? And what about the Hall of Fame voting (McGwire was already shut out in his first year of eligibilty)?

Or do you just go forward with a clean slate?

Edit 12/23: OK, Pettitte owned up to using HGH twice. So have a few others, like Brian Roberts of the Orioles. Now let's hear from the record setters. Bonds, Sosa, McGwire? We're waiting.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Imagine Peace; Sean Lennon's Friendly Fire

Today is the 27th anniversary of John Lennon's death. Check out the Imagine Peace website for a message from Yoko, and video clips of her and John talking about peace.

I also want to mention here Sean Lennon's Friendly Fire CD. It's been more than a year since this album was released, and I still listen to it on a regular basis. There are just ten tracks on Friendly Fire (there is also a companion DVD that has a video for each song), but each song is solid, polished, and even better when listened to with headphones. I've seen Sean twice live in support of this album, and the songs and his performance were excellent.

It's hard to believe that not only such a solid CD, but also John Lennon's son could fly so far under the radar. Maybe it's better that way. Sean has a loyal following, fans who attend his concerts, know all the lyrics, sing along to each song. Maybe it's easier this way; maybe Julian Lennon's early career so soon after John's death eased the way for Sean. Or maybe Sean's music is different enough from his father's that the comparisons just aren't made (as opposed to Julian, who suffered the comparisons, especially since his voice sounds so much like his father's). Whatever, this is a CD that deserves a wider audience, and I'll continue to listen to it and enjoy it as I wait for Sean's next one.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Breaking it Down

I had the pleasure of meeting author Rusty Barnes at the Boxcar Lounge in the East Village recently. This was the first of a new reading series hosted by Tuesday Shorts' Shelly Rich. He read three stories from his book Breaking it Down, an excellent collection of 18 flash fiction stories in a handy pocket-size paperback.

It's truly amazing what Barnes can accomplish with so few words. A story is considered flash fiction if it is not more than 1,000 words, and Barnes uses even less than that at times. But the characters he creates, their worlds and histories, their dreams, hopes, and regrets speak volumes. His prose pulls you right in, as with this opener to "Beamer's Opera":

Every morning when Beamer milked the cows he sang from his favorite operas, attaching the nozzles to their bags and patting them each on the flank, bursting into vibrato-laden songs of despair and longing while his hands were occupied with his very necessary tasks. He imagined the cows with their deep brown eyes and kind souls were listening to him as he roared forth regret and lust and love and sorrow in an alien tongue.

I definitely recommend this book. I couldn't put it down; as soon as I finished one story, I was on to the next before I even realized it. You might say I read this book in a flash. ; )

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Living Glove

I have these houseplants in my apartment, the kind that you can't kill, the kind that don't need much attention. Just some water and an occasional stick of plant food. Sometimes I'll take a shoot off one and create a new plant. They are all thriving, with leaves that extend for many feet.

One particular plant has grown so much, it has actually incorporated my baseball glove in its expansion (which speaks to how much I have used the glove recently). Look at the above photo. See how one of those tendril things has wrapped around the glove's stitching? What do I do now?

I've left it like that.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

New story in Skive magazine

My story Change Is Good is in the December issue of Skive Magazine, available now! It's a paperback, 250 page, 6" x 9" perfect bound book—perfect for gift-giving. It includes 46 stories from a great group of international writers. (It's also available as an e-book.) Support independent writing and publishing!