Category Archives: Shameless Self Promotion

Hang A Crooked Number: Available Now

cover_art_inside
Cover art by Tony Morais

I wrote a novel called Hang A Crooked Number. It is about a world where baseball is an elaborate front for the operations of a domestic intelligence organization called The Moe Berg Society. It is narrated by a minor league recruit who is mired in a horrific slump on both sides of his work, unable to work his way to the big leagues as either a hitter or a spy, while being caught between rival factions fighting for control of the organization. It’s about some other things, too, but we’ll start there. And it has serious parts and funny parts (parts I intended to be serious and funny, anyway). I’m letting you know about this because I think some people might like it.

As this novel made its final steps to becoming a Real Live Book, my first impulse was to write a huge post detailing its journey from idea to reality, why I took so long to write it, commentary on those Other Things alluded to above, the evolution of my thoughts about fiction in particular and writing in general…

I wrote this very lengthy post, more to remind myself of the journey this novel took from the time when the idea first came to me. Then I crumpled up that post and tossed in the trash, because it would be of no interest to anyone outside of my head. Maybe you’d care about how long it took me to write this novel or what I went through in the intervening years if I was Some Important Author, but I ain’t. Last time I checked, I was known (if at all) as a semi-pro enthusiast of Edgardo Alfonzo, Action Park, and Steampipe Alley. You are well within your rights to not give a shit about my “process.”

Furthermore, I shouldn’t attempt to explain a piece of work whose primary function is to explain itself. I’m reminded of something Elvis Costello once said during a live show: “People are always asking me, ‘What does that song mean?’ If I could have said it in a way other than how I said it in the song, I would have written another song, wouldn’t I?”

So, though brevity is not my strong suit, I will keep this as short and sweet as I can:

Hang A Crooked Number is now out in the world, available to eyes that might enjoy a novel about baseball and spies and some other things. If you believe you own such a set of eyes, it can be purchased at Amazon, iTunes, or Smashwords for the ridiculously low price of $2.99. (Other retailers to follow.) I figure that’s plenty cheap for anyone to take a chance on a novel about spies and baseball written by Some Dude. If you are fortunate enough to own an ebook reading device yet consider $2.99 too much to spend on an ebook, all I can say is good luck to you, sir or madam.

If you do take a chance on this novel and find you like what you read, leave a nice review on Amazon and tell a friend. Leave something nice up on Goodreads, if that’s a thing you do. Tweet or Facebook about it. Every little whisper helps. I’m just one person without any sort of machine working for me, so this is how more eyes will get a chance to read it. That is all I want and all I can want.

Thank you.

Me, Talkin Bout the Mets at Hofstra

So, there is a Mets 50th Anniversary Conference this weekend at which a whole bunch of awesome people will be presenting a wide range of papers, presentations, and discussions about the team from Queens. It will include ex-Mets like Buddy Harrelson, Rusty Staub, and Ed Kranepool, scribes like George Vecsey, bloggers like Greg Prince, and me.

Now, I think you would do well to attend any bit of this amazing (amazin’?) event, especially since proceeds will benefit a scholarship fund in the name of Dana Brand, late Hofstra professor and renowned Mets blogger. If you’re interested and want to know more, details can be gleaned from this New York Times article on the subject. New York magazine also published an excerpt from a paper about Mr. Met that will be presented at the event.

However, if you are specifically interested in my contribution, I will be moderating a panel on Saturday morning, and presenting a paper on the 1999-2000 Mets that afternoon. The paper is closely related to/informed by the book I am currently working on, Yells For Ourselves. This constitutes the first public “preview” of what this thing is. The short version is, it’s an alternate history. The long version is the book itself, the details of which are still knitting together, much like an infant’s skull.

Hope to see you there.

What’s Been Doin’

Hey! I haven’t written here in a while. Nor have I been writing all that much at Scratchbomb in calendar year 2012. One large reason is that, for the last bit and a half, I’ve been concentrating alternately on finishing my novel and working on a large-ish non-fiction thing.

As far as the novel goes, it is 98 percent done. I’ve completed a second draft, and will soon begin a third so I can dot the i’s, cross the t’s, remove superfluous adverbs, and so on. However, all the really hard work (the actual writing of stuff) is done, and very soon I will send it out to the world and onto a slush pile near you. I am close enough to completion that I feel confident enough to tell the world the following facts about this novel:

  1. The title is Love and a Short Leash.
  2. It is a spy novel that involves baseball.

Speaking of baseball, the large-ish non-fiction thing I mentioned above involves The Great American Pastime and it too has been consuming me of late. I’ve been kinda squirrely about exactly what this thing is on Twitter and elsewhere. I realize that vagueness such as this is maddening and I apologize for that. Here is what I can say about it:

  1. It is called Yells For Ourselves.
  2. It is a multi-volume ebook about the 1999/2000 Mets, or rather, about the narratives and media perceptions thereof.
  3. It will be available in a no-frills version and a souped-up version for the iPad that will include lots of extra goodies, the technical aspects of which I’ve (mostly) figured out.
  4. More details will become available upon the official launch of YellsForOurselves.com. (Nothing there right now, really, except a “watch this space” notice and one of my favorite Mets-related pics ever.)

I am pursuing traditional channels to get my novel published. (Speaking of which, if you’re involved with traditional channels, hey, hit me up, wouldja?) The non-fiction book will be self-published, more or less to prove that the souped-up version is something can be done, from a technical standpoint.

The other big reason I’ve been delinquent in my posts here is because I’ve been writing for other sites. (Scratchbomb and I have an open relationship.) I realize this has endangered my goal for Scratchbomb to be the M*A*S*H of the Internet (“where hilarity meets brooding introspection!”). However, I’m pretty proud of the stuff I’ve done elsewhere of late. Apart from my regular stuff at Amazin’ Avenue (which should ramp up now that spring training is upon us). here’s where you could have seen me so far in 2012.

  • Last Friday I eulogized Gary Carter at The Classical. The Kid was the first athlete I loved, and his death, while sadly unexpected, hit me hard. I hope did his memory justice here. On a less serious tip, I also took a look at how Ray Manzarek’s brought an otherwise fine HBO doc about John Wooden and the UCLA basketball dynasty to a screeching halt.
  • For Vice, I penned a brief assessment of the Marlins’ home run monstrosity as a sign of the impending apocalypse. If you think that take is a bit hyperbolic, I assume you have not seen this thing.
  • For Splitsider, I looked back at the Looney Tunes 50th Anniversary Special, possibly the greatest thing Bill Murray has ever done, if not humanity itself.
  • Last but certainly not least, I’ve scribbled a few things for Low Times: a review of Mitch Miller’s prog record, and an in-depth study of which exact city was built on rock and roll. And if you’re not listening to the Low Times podcast, get on the stick, fella. I have to say the Worst Lyrics discussion with Ted Leo and DC Pierson is one of the funniest things I’ve heard in many a moon.

Will I be posting here with more regularity in the near future? Possibly. What I can promise is that if I don’t, I will definitely put up another post apologizing for not posting.

Me, Talkin’: The Soundtrack Series

So: Next Thursday, December 22–a week from today, as the crow flies–I will be talking live onstage for The Soundtrack Series. This is a monthly storytelling event where participants choose a song and weave a tale around it. My tale involves John Phillip Sousa and a very high school brand of humiliation, two good things that go great together.

In addition to me, you can come see Franz Nicolay, who you may know from The Hold Steady, World/Inferno Friendship Society, or most recently of the Franz Nicolay. I can personally vouch for his storytelling abilities. If you doubt me, you can peep this tale of rock hubris he contributed to Scratchbomb a few months back. Also on the bill: Elna Baker, Cammi Climaco, and Jessica Halem.

If you’d like to get an idea of what this is all about, there is a Soundtrack Series podcast that I recommend subscribing to. (Julie Klausner’s entry on The Police’s “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” is a good entry point.) The show goes down at 7pm at Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street between Sullivan and Thompson (Manhattan’s fabled Cover Band District). Your attendance is mandatory, I mean, appreciated.

SB1K

Yesterday, this happened on Twitter.

YES, FOLLOW ME! FOLLOW ME ALL OF YOU! FOLLOW ME TO THE GATES OF HELL AND BACK!

I’d like to thank me for making this all possible.

See Me Talk Next Tuesday!

Hey, folks. Scratchbomb HQ is shut down this week for what passes for vacation in these parts. (So far it has involved a lot of highway driving and furniture assembly.) However, I did want to alert you to an exciting upcoming event.

Next Tuesday, September 6, I will be taking part in the Adult Education Lecture Series at Union Hall in Brooklyn. This month’s subject is TRADE NEGOTIATIONS, which I am interpreting in the loosest way possible. My bit will be a brief instruction on how to delicately negotiate your child out the door in the morning. Or my child, anyway. Your results may vary.

The event is hosted by Charles Star and will also feature stand-up comedian Dan Goodman and David Roth, who is one of the many folks behind the (hopefully) soon-to-be-launched sports website The Classical. I am also continually cracked up by his sporting chats with David Raposa (aka The Mercy Rule) at Vice. So even if I don’t bring it, I’m sure these guys will.

But fear not, I shall bring it! Consider it brought! I am renting a large cargo van in which to bring it! Doors are at 7:30, show starts at 8. If you need directions to Union Hall, consider Google! Be there or be elsewhere!

A Special Scratchbomb Thank You From Scratchbomb

thanksbuzz.jpgThe rapidly impending New Year brings with it many things to look forward to. For instance, Twilight Zone marathons, and bowl games I could not possibly care less about. But it also is a time to reflect on this year, which turned out to be a pretty good one at Scratchbomb HQ.

It didn’t start out well. We had another death in the family, the latest and hopefully last in a string of them that’s hit my extended family in the last five years. I was not enjoying my job very much, and then I was not enjoying it all because my entire department was eliminated. The novel I’ve been working on for years remained on flatline.

In general, I was in the same creative and personal funk I’d been in for years, one that made me feel like not only did I have no time to work on anything meaningful, but that I never would have any time. I had this self-pitying, self-fulfilling dread that the deck was stacked against me and nothing was ever going to get better. It wasn’t fun.

And then, out of nowhere, things got fun.

Most importantly, I got an amazing amount of support and help from tons of friends–online and off–during my unemployed period. Amazingly (considering the economy), I found a new gig in less than a month, one much better than my previous job for a multitude of reasons. I was honestly inspired by how many people helped me–from people who sent along my resume to folks who offered a “that sucks, dude,” it was a total George Bailey moment.

With the knowledge that I had so many people behind me, I made the biggest, most life-changing decision of my life: I would not be negative, at least about myself. I would pour myself into work and not get bogged down in the self-defeating mire of Who cares? Who am I doing this for?

The amazing thing was how easy it was to give up being negative. It’s my default setting, something I just lapse into when I have no other reaction. Getting rid of this was like taking off a heavy winter coat drenched with snow once you come inside. I feel 50 pounds lighter, in my head.

So I poured myself into my writing, and the results speak for themselves. This year, readership on this site EXPLODED, killing, I mean, reaching hundreds of thousands of folks. I started to do some regular Mets-centric writing over at Amazin Avenue, and that has been extremely fun and rewarding–as will the Amazin Avenue Annual, which should be available in your local book shoppe by Opening Day.

Speaking of books and baseballing, I’m pulling together something based on the two exhaustive look-backs I did on Mets seasons: The 1999 Project and In the Year 2000. Based on reactions to these efforts, I think there’s a book to be written/sold about them, and I would like to do that writing. (Someone else can do the selling.)

I’ve also ramped up work on the novel again and should have a shoppable draft ready in a few months. And I wrote a pilot for a thoroughly hypothetical sitcom, which will definitely change television once someone decides to actually make it. (Well, it’ll be funnier than Outsourced, anyway.)

Will all of these things bear fruit? Will any of them? I’m not even concerned about that right now. I’m doing the work, rather than wondering and wallowing in the wasteful space of Should I bother? It’s my belief that notice and success will follow, and the early returns on this belief are good. So while I’m apparently one of the very few people sorry to see 2010 go, I’m looking forward to more awesomeness in 2011.

Everyone who read Scratchbomb this year, commented on it, linked to it, recommended it on Facebook, tweeted about it–I can not thank you enough. You bought low on Scratchbomb, and I hope someday you all get to say you were on board when nobody was here and you can complain about all the newbies that ruined the site.

Onward and upward!

Hear Me! Feel Me! Touch Me! Wait, Just the First One

Do you enjoy the sound of my voice as much as I do? Then check out today’s edition of Behind the Bricks, a podcast hosted by Brian Mollica, a good friend and a very funny guy. On this show, I am interviewed on the subject of Artie Lange, Joe Buck, unfortunate Father’s Day experiences, and how I collected old baseball games on DVD without MLB’s express written consent (or even implied oral consent!).

I heartily recommend you check out the whole site, or subscribe to it via iTunes. But impatient folks can download the episode here. Personally, I think it’s the greatest thing in the history of time, but I don’t want to oversell it or anything.

A Bright Big Shining Star

If you came out ot last night’s WYSIWYG Talent Show, hey, thanks dude. Truth be told, I didn’t have too many allies in the audience, but that’s okay because it gave me a truer gauge of how I did–which I believe was pretty good, if I do say so myself. I knew I wasn’t getting too many pity-inspired “we’re laughing ’cause we know him!” laughs.

So I made strangers laugh. I had a feeling I did that. Now, it’s on purpose.