Sunday, October 29, 2006

FOB October 26th

Fox 13 Salt Lake City, that bastion of good taste and high morals, has slithered yet again down that slippery slope of shameless ratings-mongering and featured Master Fob and his lovely family in one of their reporting spots. Yes, Ottorians, FOBWashington is now FOBWashington--As Seen On TV! Of course, and to the disappointment of many fans, the devilishly handsome King of Queen Anne, Weed, and Tolkien Boy were not part of the cast of thousands that performed this epic miniseries, but adherents were allowed a glimpse of the Fobcave, where the bulk of fobwork is performed. Additionally, Master Fob was able to assuage his mammoth ego, knowing that somewhere, someone was writing angry retributive things about the immorality of his chosen lifestyle.

Immediately after this reporting romp, Tolkien Boy arrived with his comically enlarged contribution to the weekly work, which he shoved under the couch, knowing full well that anyone with the eyesight of a cataracted octogenarian could read the script in full at fifty paces. Master Fob, Foxy J, and the irrepressible S-Boogie kept him company until the eleventh-hour arrival of the equally irrepressible Weed and his family.

The FOBs began with a rollicking story by Tolkien Boy in which a conflicted couple seek relief from their woes of incompatibility, and end up resorting to the kiss of a prince who charms the wife but freaks out the husband. Much umbrage came from the collected FOB concerning Tolkien Boy's remarkably top-heavy prose, but as no one made unflattering comparisons to Dolly Parton, Tolkien Boy's confidence was largely unscathed. Scathing occurred, however, when the peach-business-suit-wearing professor was called "too cute," and Tolkien Boy went into a snit that lasted at least ten seconds.

Master Fob surprised us next by delivering a tripartied story in which a weepy black man (straight, for interested parties) was put on a "list" by a motorcycle-driving mouse in drag, a girl walked out of a poppy-laden field to the skirt-stirring refrain of a dry, dusty wind, and a lion carried a puppy on its back. Rightfully claiming the work to be a new triumph in children's literature, the FOBs quibbled over whether the word "gibe" was appropriate for a work of such towering significance. And whether the obvious inferences surrounding things of towering significance applied to Master Fob's writing.

Weed then regaled the FOB with a story about a father's death and a teen's intervention. This confused Tolkien Boy, whose only experience with an intervention came in the form of of a play about reparative therapy written by Carol Lynn Pearson, and so when the teacher in the story bearing Tolkien Boy's name began making meaningful smiles at the teen in question, it all became murky until he learned that this happens often in junior high schools. Academic intervention, that is, not the other stuff of towering significance.

FOB hilarity grew even more hilarious when the King of Queen Anne arrived, though his arrival was met with the reduced hilarity of the Weedfamily, as they left when he arrived. Correlations to the King's hygiene habits and the Weeds's hasty departure were not made, but we're fairly sure Master Fob was thinking them. The depeleted and additionalied FOB stayed up till midnight, recalling the good times and forgetting the bad.

Of course, this wouldn't be a proper fobpost without a shoutout to all our kith and kin scattered across the globe. We hope you all take time out of your busy schedules to watch Master Fob and his family express mixed orientation bliss on your television sets or Internet-capable computers. Remember, it's the least you can do to make sure that FOB continues healthy and strong. WRITERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Going to the experts

I'm in the middle of my fiction unit for 218. And let's face it--everything I know, I learned from Fob. I've done a decent job of teaching character and character development, but I'm having a hard time teaching plot. It's just not my thing. . . and apparently my attempts have not been successful. Here are some of the questions/comments/concerns I've gotten from my students:

  • I usually know how I am going to begin and end the story, and I always know the climax and maybe one or two other scenes, but I never know how to write what comes in between that.
  • I need help writing good, satisfying endings.
  • How do I make my storyline both believable and entertaining? Are both equally important?
  • Where does plot come from?
  • What are good ways to begin a story?
  • I can create characters that are complex and developed, but I can't seem to be able to do anything with them.
  • How do I balance plot and character development?
  • How do you come up with the idea for a plot?

I know you are all brilliant, brilliant writers, because I've spent hours going over your writing. So what advice can you give my students, and what advice can you give me to teach these things? Or writing exercises that could help? Anything?

P.S. I love you all, and your wit, but I really need serious help here. Thanks. eg

Tuesday, October 24, 2006



According to the Dashboard, someone posted to this blog today, yet no one did. Unless I am blind or crazy.

I'm not blind.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Appropriate to the date


I currently have 17 stories/essays/queries/books out to magazines/agents/publishers. This is a personal best.

I say this not merely to boast, but, well, because it seems to be my job to remind you all to try and sell your work as well.

I mean, seriously.

We have seen what heroines and heros you have lying around, waiting for general acclaim. Let's give it to 'em!



Monday, October 16, 2006

A Brief History of FOB Heroes, Including Gay Men But Not Including Jeph or Queen Zippergut, Who Appear to Have Not Written About Men


Once upon a time, there was a young man who was very, very angry with his father. No, he was not just a little angry, as heroes in stories so often are, but very, very, very angry--so angry, in fact, that he was gay--or perhaps he only had a friend who was gay--but in any case, he or his friend very much enjoyed staring at the slowly revealed backflesh of his scout leader. And this was all, of course, because he was angry at his father (well, everyone, really). Which was unusual, because he was a test tube baby. This caused him to cry a lot (the father anger thing, not the test tube or gay thing), which demonstrated that he was black.

Now, this young man did a lot of sitting in gardens with snow on his lap, contemplating the order of the universe. At times, he was even uncertain as to whether he was himself, or whether he was a bunch of abstract stripes. The only time he could really be certain of himself was when he felt up his own scapula, or flew around on his wings--which strangely never seemed to work quite right. Sometimes, he worried because he was balding, but when he saw his shining (0ne might even say lambent) face in the mirror, he felt better.

This young man seemed to be mostly a bit player in other people's lives. He had a girlfriend that was a bit difficult to understand, as she would announce, variously, that she was a Wholly Moral Person (this was new, when she brought it up), and that she was morally irredeemable. Fortunately, not being religious himself, he passed no judgment upon her, and was even able to steeple his fingers and look at her over his glasses from time to time, spouting sporadic wisdom and semiotics.

Deciding to get himself another girlfriend, the young man moved to another city and messed up his apartment, certain that this was the way to seduce the purple-glassied women he ran into frequently. To his surprise, his foul-mouthed, foul-minded, and fowl-eating ex-wife appeared, determined to ruin his every chance for happiness. Eventually, her tactics prevailed, and he ran from her, uncertain whether he was in the present or the past. So confused he was that got a side job interviewing men who were incongruously gay, or gaily incongruous--he could never be sure. So affecting was the experience that, forever afterward, whenever he thought something was funny, he would chortle: "Byuck, byuck, byuck."

Around this time, a phone call from his mother reminded him that he was, in fact, in the family of Emily Post. This was remarkable, and he remarked upon it.

Having thus clarified things, the young man began to have vivid waking dreams in which he stalked a young woman and discovered magazines of salacious and Karen-Carpenter-loving material in his car. Transferring some of his rage to his mother, the young man declared that he would no longer be trapped by linear time and then went out to throw a baseball around with his friend.

Having thus declared his independence, he decided to retreat to English Austenian time and spout various witty archaisms, focusing on those which could be easily misconstrued as seduction while said in complete innocence. Then, reminding himself that he was, in fact, gay, the young man decided to help his friend get through a difficult bout of Crone's disease.

Having these medical experiences awoke the young man's sensibilities, and he decided that it was high time that he start producing little versions of himself. In short order, a new baby was born--messily--and the young man cleaned it up and noted how intensely, intensely hungry it was. He further reflected how much this intense hunger would have frightened his irredeemably moral, former girlfriend.

The young man demonstrated his supreme dedication to family life by dropping his new baby in favor of journeying to a far-off land to slay a sarcastic monster. Once there, however, he fell in love with a milkmaid and nearly killed her in trying to woo her. Driven to deep depression, he kissed a suicide victim and then nearly committed suicide himself. Scared by these disasters, he started into a series of highly volatile dating experiences, each one demonstrating how pathetic and yet clever he was. He reached his limit when a girl shot him because he didn't like her dress, and declared that he would never date again--at least, not for three months. A run-in with Death, however, got him thinking about mortality, and he was seduced in short order by a devil and then a witch, remembering too late that he was, in fact, gay.

And that, really, it was all his father's fault.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Brief History of Fob Leading to the Creation of Fob Northwest

Just a little over three years ago, Th. (who I knew well), Queen Zippergut (who I didn't know well), and I (who I knew quite well) gathered at the then-Fobcave (though not yet named as such) for the first meeting of Fob (also not yet named as such). This was a rather scary experience, as I knew that Th. and I meshed well as far as writing and critiquing styles go, but QZ was for the most part an unknown--particularly, I didn't know how she and Th. would work together, as they had never met, and I feared they would hate each other. My fear, of course, was unfounded. That night a beautiful thing was born, a sort of mutant love child of three deranged writers. Or, perhaps, a reincarnation of the American Idol judges, with the Queen as Paula, Th. as Simon, and me, naturally, as the big black guy.

Four months later, Melyngoch made our literary menage-a-trois a menage-a-quatre. Again, I was concerned that she wouldn't get along with Th. or that QZ would resent no longer being the token female, but again, I had no reason to fear. It was about this time that we adopted our nom de group, an acronym for the Friends of Master Fob (who was still not yet named as such) and a nod to the new immigrants in my homeland of Hawaii, so lovingly referred to as Fresh Off the Boat.

Eight months after that, Th. had the nerve to pick up and move to California. I might forgive him for this, someday. We tried to replace Th., perhaps too quickly, and Jeph had the misfortune of having to live in a great man's shadow. He also had the misfortune of making it to only about one in three Fob meetings, and it wasn't long before he withdrew himself from the group completely.

At this point I was especially hesitant to branch out again, but I also felt we needed another male presence and Melyngoch assured me that her friend Tolkien Boy was a perfect match for Fob, and indeed he was. A new Fob was born, and we are all the better for it.

Then, a little over a year ago, Melyngoch had the nerve to move to (of all places) Indiana, for which I will not forgive her, and about the same time Queen Zippergut got engaged, which effectively removed her from all things fobby, and eventually removed her even more than effectively, as she moved to England to live with her hubby.

So here Tolkien Boy were without anybody to fob with us, feeling quite sorry for ourselves. So what better to do than invite a couple of complete strangers to join? Okay, Marchioness was not a complete stranger to me and editorgirl was not a complete stranger to TB, but they were, in fact, quite strange. It took a few Fob meetings to figure out our new dynamic, but once we did, Fob was again the love of my life (in a mostly nonsexual way).

Then came the well-documented Fob Explosion of '06, in which we went from four members to six members and a mascot, welcoming Gay (ex-)Boyfriend Chick's Straight Liberal But Happily Married Friend and Edgy Killer Bunny into our ranks, and adopting the ever loveable Gay (ex-)Boyfriend Chick (whom we affectionately refer to as Petra) as our cuddly, adorable mascot. ( I'm not sure exactly what it means to be a writing group's mascot, but perhaps Petra can elaborate on this deep mystery of life.)

Alas, this SuperFob met its end during the Great Fob Migration of '06, in which Master Fob and Tolkien Boy both moved to Seattle (and, you know, Petra moved to Indonesia, but really, this story is about me--let's not lose our focus here).

So TB and I had been planning for quite a while to start up a new branch of Fob here in Seattle, and we were happy to know that our frequent gym collaborator, Weed, was also moving here. So tonight we were planning the first meeting of the new Fob Three, and randomly Tolkien Boy decided to invite Sir Jupiter to observe Fob in action, and then randomly, after the evening went well and we all seemed to jibe nicely (we also jived nicely), I decided to invite Sir Jupiter to join Fob permanently (and when I say "permanently," I mean he better know there's no escape now). And he accepted the invitation. So we are the Fob Four. Welcome to a new era of Fob, my friends. Can you smell the testosterone?

PS Melyngoch will be happy to know, even though we have yet to recruit a straight black man into Fob, Tolkien Boy did write tonight about a "black brick wall of a man" who is, apparently, good in bed.

PPS And then it turned out that I was gay.

PPPS the above PPS will not make any sense to anyone who was not here tonight. I would explain it so as not to leave out my non-Northwest fobs, but really, once you explain something it just isn't funny anymore.

PPPPS Which is not to say that it's funny now, with you not understanding it at all.

FOB October 10

At long last, the vagaries of vagrants and vissicitudes of vissicitudinals have calmed down, and FOBWashington is in full swing here in the dripping and cold pine forests of the Pacific Northwest! In reaction to the news, a parade was instituted in Ottoro, Maine, where the United Order of Housewives for Amicable Fobbery (UOHAF) commissioned floats, a town hall dance, and Lauryn Hill as Mistress of Ceremonies. Residents as far away as Mumford and Bildings Romane attended the festivities, and an official statement of support of FOB was drafted, ratified and hung in a gilt frame in the local courthouse.

Spirits were no less high at the home of Master Fob and Foxy J, where the newly consituted FOBWashington group met, partook of fudge ripples, and argued about the relative ickiness of the phrase"around her ankles." Tolkien Boy and newbie Sir Jupiter technically arrived first, but a quest for Oreos led them to Bartell's Drugs (motto: "Convenience in the Form of Single-Wrapped Cookies"), QFC (motto: "Despite the Name, We Are Not a Fast-Food Chicken Franchise"), and finally Safeway (motto: Use Our Card or Face The Mutated Aardvarks of Death"), and so they arrived both before and after the Weed family, but as their later arrival was laden with both the aforementioned Oreos and ice cream, they were greeted with relative joy and thanksgiving.

After introducitons and a quick round of "your mom" jokes to prime the pump, Master Fob described the intricacies of the rock, paper, scissors ritual, and the new acolytes were indoctrinated and then invited to join the rite. The sanctity of the practice was called into question somewhat by Tolkien Boy, who revealed that Master Fob consistently repeats the same sequence in his ritual performance. Due to this, the order of the evening was less than randomly organized.

Since everyone was rock-shy, Master Fob started the action off with a lengthy treatise on what can happen to a closely-knit group after a telephone pole comes through thier pickup truck. Despite a depressing lack of tags, the story of Master Fob managed to communicate an important message, and that message was...he turned out to like Karen Carpenter.

Following on Master Fobs heels (or would it be fobollowing?), Weed read a poem about childbirth that would have sent Melyngoch screaming towards the nearest mountain for safety. There was much question as to whether "munching on nipples" was a sympathetic way of typifying newborns, but as said Melyngoch was not present, discussion was free and easy. To commemorate the poem, Tolkien Boy drew an oviraptor (for ironic effect), which Sir Jupiter one-upped by drawing Barney.

Tolkien Boy then startled the Fob with a horror story that failed to horrifying, but instead included a Harlequin-esque sex scene that included, much to the author's chagrin, the phrase "trapezoidal muscles." It is hoped that any further output by the author will be limited to humorous fairy tales.

FOBWashington parted with many a promise to meet together soon, promising that the many, many fans in Ottoro will not have to wait too long for a reunion tour.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Fobutah Vignettes

"So, this rabbi, a priest and a Mormon bishop walk into a bar. You'd think that one of them would have ducked. Hyuck, hyuck, hyuck."

"I really don't think that it's realistic to expect your male character to do so much child-rearing. That never happens in real life."

"You really shouldn't hate us so much, even if we are the sexiest things to hit the Provo scene since...well, since Brigham Young."

"Little does he know he's going to get a faceful of flour in about ten seconds."

"I am Master Fob, the great and powerful..."

"So, if our children turn into blood-sucking monsters, will you have the guts to put them in an institution where they can't hurt me?"

"Enjoy your victory now, my dear, because it shan't happen again."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


...does anyone want to fill in the male side of the equation, or is it up to me?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A History of Fob Heroines, Not Including the Brief Interlude Where Everyone Wrote About Men and Questions of Effeminacy Were Raised

Jeph, who may or who may not exist,
touched on heroines by using his elbow and wrist.

Queen Zippergut's girlies were shallow and vain
but only half-started, so brief was their pain.

Ryan* wrote often of housewives deicieved
and shattered, subaltern, bereft and bereaved.

Theric wrote stories where girls with dark glasses
vied for attention with girls with svelte chasses.**

Marchioness's women had horrible moans
when the doctor revealed they were stricken with Crohn's.

Edgy pushed envelopes further than most
when he wrote of young women descended from Post.

Melyngoch's femmes all had bombast and flair
and a strange predilection for dyeing their hair.

editorgirl's women are half of a pair
or watching that pair with a basilisk stare.

Tolkien Boy's females are cast by the trillions
but disturbingly also are often the villians.

Master Fob's girlfriends are sidekicks supreme
and sometimes appear to their men in a dream.

And at last, Petra's women--at least, we can guess--
would be logical, canny, and hott in a a dress.

*Also known as The Happily Married Straight Liberal Friend of Gay Boyfriend Chick. Poetic critics and advocates of privacy will recognize, I am sure, the enormous metric excesses I would be pushed to in attempting to include this as part of the lyric line.

** This is the poetic plural of the word chassis, here used metaphorically to represent "piano-playing fingers." Having come to the end of the line, I simply could not think of anything which rhymed with glasses, and therefore had to make this somewhat obvious leap of diction. I hope that future generations of ode writers will be able to forgive me.