Friday, May 29, 2009

Idea 45 - Cymbalta 'n Me

At this point in the blog, we all know that the print publishing industry is a flailing one-eyed carp in the raging river of battery acid that is the global financial system. Changes are afoot, and there's a good chance that your next copy of The Iliad will be stuffed with ads for seitan-flavored tomato paste and decorative press-on fingernails. Writers and readers will be equally whiny about it.

But what if, as an alternative to bitching, we smartly embrace these changes and actually build our new works of word-art around our generous corporate benefactors? Okay, an example:

The aging subway train doors slowly clattered shut, shuddering as they rushed toward each other, like long-lost lovers with late-stage Parkinson's.

The doors' disheartening dance obscured Brandy's view of Marcus, he on the inside, she on the outside. The symbolism was obvious to both, and they shared a sorry smile through the graffiti-scratched window. The train departed, dragging the scraps of their relationship in its rat-filled wake.

"Thank God for Cymbalta," a relieved Brenda noted aloud. "This innovative anti-depressant has made it possible to practically float through life's little rough spots." Flashing a smile that felt nearly genuine, she enthusiastically scaled the station steps, forgetting Marcus' name along the way. As her gaze and mood reached toward the heavens, she experienced almost none of the drowsiness or stomach upset that are often caused by Wellbutrin and many other Cymbalta alternatives.

Not sure if you even noticed the product messaging in that passage -- go back and give it a look -- but that's what great writing can bring to both readers and advertisers. Wait a minute... I've been dicking around trying to get money from book publishers, which is like asking a homeless guy for a job. Why haven't I been offering to write ad fiction for large corporations? Holy shit, I just invented another new type of book.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Idea 44 - Oats: The Inside Story

It's all too easy to take things for granted, and not just oats. But oat appreciation is something I hold very dear, and while it may not be the drippingly sexiest subject on Earth, I'm betting that there are a lot of closet oaties out there who would welcome this book like a molting nighthawk welcomes a swarm of golden Aphids:

It's thought that early homo habilis, one of our simple-minded ancestors, were the first to partake of the oaten bounty in any significant quantity. And while oat bran was prized by foraging females for its satiating prowess, it was most often mashed into a thick paste and forced deep into the tracheas of weaker clan members in order to suffocate them, thus thinning the man-herd.


When Lord Ludvig Von Quartermaine received the first shipment of oats from dusky Persia, he believed it to be a dried clotting agent for seeping war wounds. It was the well-traveled Prime Minister Chauncelory who educated the royals on the process of baking the oats, separating the chaff, then grinding, watering, and boiling the meal into a palatable beige mess. Of course, the State Vicar denounced the process as witchery, and both Chauncelory and the entirety of Persia were burned to embers.

I'm not just in this whole book deal thing for the money, although that's about 95% of it. But if I can teach just one person to appreciate what we have in the noble oat, while concurrently being paid a revoltingly large sum for harnessing my idea-talent, then it will all have been nearly worthwhile.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Idea 43 - Ultra-Kicks: From Old Skool to Future Steez

You have no reason to know this, but there are an alarming number of sneaker addicts out there -- people who obsessively collect rare, odd, and sometimes even Japanese athletic shoes. These people are commonly referred to as "sneakerheads". Seriously. I didn't make that up. Google it, I'll wait.

Obviously, these people have a significant amount of disposable income and make questionable purchasing decisions... sounds like it's time for a ridiculously overpriced coffee table book:

At left: limited edition Adidas Stan Smith "Spiders", owned by Jezz Navins, 28-year old graphic designer/t-shirt sculptor. Made entirely of spider silk, they dissolve immediately upon wearing, which explains their bargain basement retail price of $899.

Pictured at right are one of only 40 known pairs of the mythical Reebok Pump Plazzma, in which the eponymous air bladder is filled with the blood of former NBA star and Reebok spokesman Dee Brown.

I've even got a cool buzz marketing idea -- the first 1,000 copies will be assembled by retired workers from the fabled Southern Myanmar Nike factory, some as old as 14. And there'll be an even smaller run in which every single page has been stained with genuine Korean child tears.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Idea 42 - Woodwinds in the Ether: a collection of verse

Poetry. Holy shit, can't believe I haven't thought of this before. I could easily be "a revelatory and lyrical new voice, undoubtedly poised to uproot all that's sacred within the cloistered world of verse" or some shit like that. Let's light this wick:

Caterwauling, she emerges
Snip, cry, hold, cry, cry, die

(That part was about a baby being born, with a quick hint about how she'll die eventually, not sure if that was clear)

Mortgages, re-mortgages intertwine with aspirations of gilded
nonsense, placeholders for the actual, keep the seat warm, keep the
seat warm

(I'm just sort of going with this, I'm pretty sure it's great, but I haven't written poetry since I felt sort of isolated that time in high school.)

Watch age barrel up the dusty driveway, grandfather's rotting truck, bumping
through ruts, first gear grinding, dimming headlights, see through yogurt cataracts,
wish for it, wish for it

Jesus. I kind of freaked myself out there -- it was pretty eerie how I managed to pretty much sum up the human experience without really trying. It was like I was channeling Edie Brickell or something.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Idea 41 - Next Stop, Surpriseville!

I'm tired of all this effort. I need to crank a couple novelty book ideas out. Here's one all you subway-commuters out there will love: I'm gonna make note of one totally funny and surprising thing that happens on the subway on the way into work -- yes, every single day. Why not? It's an accessible hook, and that's pretty much all you need.

(NOTE: This one actually happened to me yesterday, but I'd have to make most of them up, of course.)

Day 1:
This morning, a homeless man was walking down the subway car begging, and he was either blind or faking blind really well. Since he was probably special, I decided to give him a dollar. But I was stuck in a weird seat where I couldn't reach the begging-basket, so I tapped the guy next to me on the shoulder and asked him to pass the dollar to the (probably) blind dude. But! That guy next to me was totally confused or crazy or foreign, because he kind of mumbled something then started to put my blind-money is his own pocket! I was like "No, it's for the blind guy!" and I pointed at the guy with the cane, and then my seat-neighbor finally figured it out and gave it to him. I was like "What a city!"

It seems like this'll be an easy one -- I could bullshit 20 or 30 of these things in an afternoon. Like "Oh wow, a pregnant lady started singing", or "Can you believe it, the conductor had this crazy way of announcing the stations". It's a sure hit -- people love bemusedly shaking their head and thinking "Man, everyday life isn't boring after all!"

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Idea 40 - The Summit Of Our General Discomfort

Hemingway ain't got nuthin' on me. I mean, he does, or did before he bought it -- you know, he had actual talent, and an amazing collection of experiences, and he was good in fights and stuff. But that doesn't mean I cant write a terse, spare short story in which the matter-of-fact depiction of extraordinary lifestyles seems to somehow judge the reader for living so boringly. See if you can tough this one out:

McCutcheon neared the summit with Gabongo trailing. He knew he would have to leave the damned Sherpa behind and he was angry. "Mister Mac, you slow down some, you will die of the height sickness."

He knew the silly fool was right, of course, but there was climbing to be done and the peak beckoned and he would either survive it or he wouldn't.

"Go back to the village, you old donkey. Tell Missus Mac to go shopping in town, tell her I'm simply resting." McCutcheon burned from his last failed attempt at summiting, from the scorn he either received or imagined from the fellows at the Antler Cafe on the Rue de la Montagne, where the last light of the heartless arctic day reached through the Pass and reflected gaily off the small tables where the soldiers sat over their grappas and wept.

"Useless bugger," he muttered, as his ancient guide shambled down the slope.

A moment later, he observed how cold the night had become when his fingers fell off.


I'm the one who wrote this, and even I feel like I'm on that mountain with McCutcheon, or perhaps in the cafe with those soldiers, those old-young souls whose wounds will never heal.

Crap! I'm still writing like him! What if I'm stuck like this?! I'll be such a dick!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Idea 39 - Now Lighter Than Ever

Sexy, sexy advertising. The press can't get enough of Mad Men, and I think that other current-day ad guy show might still be on the air. Bonus: I've been in the ad biz myself for quite a while, so I totally have an insider's view of how incredibly exciting and arousing it all is. Buy this on for size:

"Your assignment--"

"--if you choose to accept it!" Copywriter Mark Blanham had unleashed one of his trademark zingers. He laughed wildly. Mark was well over thirty.

Edie Narson, senior account executive and unremarkable mother of two, continued.

"Your assignment is to generate awareness and purchase intent for Eatwell's innovative yogurt product, Aireolus."

"Aureolas!" Art director Nate McClantock enjoyed breast-related ribaldry as much as the next Renaissance man. Inevitably, Mark and Nate high-fived.

"It's called Aireolus," Edie impassively continued. "It's a major innovation in the yogurt industry, because it has a lighter texture."

Then came a long moment during which no one spoke.

All seemed to be waiting for something else, some additional information that would make it all okay.

But of course, nothing came. Nothing but the deadening weight of the truth: they would all spend the next five months of their lives dedicated to creating a surprising, exciting, and compelling advertising campaign to promote a yogurt with a debatably lighter consistency than many other yogurts.

The silence in the room was the space between and the hammer and the bullet.

Then someone was passing out some papers.

So yeah, I'm not really sure where this one's gonna go, I could have a lot of fun with it I think. Mark and Nate seem like fun guys (although I don't know them very well yet!). I guess I could try getting a Don-Draper-like character in there, but I'm pretty sure those guys are all dead.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Idea 38 - iSleuth and the eCaper of the Online Century

Cyber crime. Hell, cyber anything. There's no way I can miss, right? Intellectuals, dorks, secret dorks -- totally fascinated by how technology could affect their favorite formulaic genres. Log into this one:

Professor Diode put on a nice show for the Dean, discussing android metaphysics ad nauseum, despite the fact that they don't exist. Meanwhile, his army of sentient bots were cleaning out the university's huge endowment. The e-sweepers typed furiously to erase any trace of the bots' activities, with their nanomeds at the ready to wipe their own memories clean. Only the professor would remember how their master plan had unfolded, and of course, his personlity would soon be uplaoded into the secure server, outside of legal jurisdiction. It was all so digi-perfect.

Even Gumshoe247 was impressed. His photobot snapped away as it floated outside Diode's office window, while he drank himself stupid on Virtual Booze. "Dammit, 'shoe" Fungrrl purred. "You're a washed up, no-good disaster of a Private Dick, but I can't seem to tear myself away." He had programmed her to say that early last month, and he still hadn't grown tired of it. Then they started doing it.

What's going to happen?! Will Diode get away with it?! Will Fungrrl ever become a real woman?! Does Gumshoe even care?! The answer is "no" to that last one, but you'll have to find the others... in the book. Zounds!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Idea 37 - Staring Down The Barrel Of A Recycled Glass Gun

Harrowing/romanticized autobiographical tales of near-suicidal drug and alcohol abuse always make great gifts -- think Augusten Burroughs's Dry or Jerry Stahl's Permanent Midnight. The problem is that my white-collar, work-a-day relationship with alcohol has become embarassingly non-self-destructive. And the only drug I've ever abused was pot, which doesn't count.

But fuck it, I'm just plain tired of exagerr-lying about myself and my exploits. You've gotta write what you know, even if it's not interesting.

"Hon, do you want another IPA?" My wife, the enabler, fed the piranha of my problem with a second hoppy microbrew. It had only been 55 minutes since I had finished the first one -- tragically short of the full hour that's necessary for human body to fully process the average bottled beer. Shuddering, I realized that this was going to one of those nights.

As I washed down my organic, grass fed mushroom risotto with that conceivably fateful glass of "barley crack", I couldn't kid myself anymore -- if I didn't drink a glass of water soon, I might wake up faintly dehydrated the next morning.

"God help me," I whispered aloud in my head.

Huh. That actually came together really well (as I'm sure you noticed). Sure, I may never have found myself vomiting blood into my tattered breast pocket in an alley behind an abandoned methadone clinic, but... actually wait, I think I did do that one time back in college. Spring Break '96!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Idea 36 - Drunk On Love, Life, and Alcohol

It's time for a good old-fashioned genre-bender. See if you can resist this hot mashup of self-help, romance, and home-brewing how-to:

Without warning, Chet had whisked her away to breathtaking Munich -- birthplace of modern progressive lifeology and the classic German lager.

"You've come a long way toward investing in your emotions," he drawled. Their eyes met over the pillowy heads of their well-balanced pilsners, whose subtle aroma and crisp finish had been achieved with aged barley and a low initial gravity. "But I'm not sure if you're ready to truly own your goals."

His hand slid slickly into hers -- it dripped with the sweat from his traditional fluted Weissbier glass and foreshadowed the coming night's events. "Show me," shuddered Elaine. "Teach me." She could no longer sustain eye contact. "Help me gauge the street value of my dreams."

This one strikes a very personal chord with me. I'm a a big beer guy, and I'm also into quietly masturbating while dreaming of being a different, better person.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Idea 35 - Nun Guns

War. It puts the worst and best of us on display -- our brutality, our bravery, our madness, our... spunk. Any war story well-told is enthralling, and if you add some nuns in there I bet it'd be hysterical. Here goes:

Crossing herself with one hand, Sister Mary Margaret lobbed her last grenade with the other. While she couldn't see where it landed in the darkness outside the nunnery walls, the sound of the explosion and accompanying screams brought a rueful smile to her wrinkled mouth.

"Send me a postcard from hell, sinners!" she snarled. "My address is 123 Fuck Yourself Lane!" But the French separatist hordes showed no signs of flagging, and she knew the sisters would soon be forced to retreat.

"Listen up, ladies! Grab your dresses and tie up your tresses, we are OUT OF HERE, CAPICHE!?"

Okay. Catch your breath. Are you ready? Video game adaptation. Yep. All of sudden, we've got a property that's perfect for history buffs, Christian nuts, gamers, veterans, nuns, military fetishists, and probably priests, as I'm imagining that a lot of them have dreamed of characters like Sister Mary Margaret for a long, long time. Hell, we all have.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Idea 34 - Polk Alive!

All those enormous presidential biographies are huge right now, like John Adams -- I think the appeal is that they let people feel smart without the threat of plot twists or an unexpected ending.

My problem is that I know almost nothing about the presidents and I'm generally opposed to research. But if I cover somebody obscure like James K. Polk, no one will know if I make it all up, right? Like so:

Polk refused to let the Whigs delay his railroad construction initiatives, and so began laying the Paramus-Waukegan line with his bare hands.

For 21 days, the President swung a sledgehammer he had fashioned from a large tree branch and a copy of Homer's collected works, driving home each spike while lecturing passersby on the virtues of temperance and women's suffrage.

On the 18th day, a young girl shyly brought "Ol' Polkie" a large bottle of ether that had been distilled by her dying schoolmarm. The sweating president was charmed to tears, and slugged down the ether in one sip -- a scene that was famously captured in Ezekiel Frome's "Ether Girl" daguerrotype, now on display in the Smithsonian's Polk Annex.

See, that's a book I'd actually read, instead of continually telling people that I soon plan to, which is normally what I do when people try to make me feel guilty for not devouring some heaping pile of old facts.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Idea 33 - The Hopes Of Clara's Dreams

Epic novel. This genre pushes the limits of the amount of work I'm interested in doing, but I guess I need to cover all my bases, even if they're boring.

How about an early 20th century young woman who breaks free from a stifling arranged marriage to pursue her dream of becoming an all-powerful business magnate. It's like Wuthering Heights meets The Aviator, if that was ever a book (not sure).

Jesus, this does sound boring. I'm gonna have to sex it up somehow:

"Blast it, Clara, put down those silly books about the fish canning industry!" Arthur was in a foul humour, but she simply couldn't lay the tome to rest.

"And you're nude!" he wailed.

While he had been tender toward her in loving matters, at least toward the beginning, Arthur simply couldn't compare to the group at the shore house. As he fumed and stomped around the reading-room, she couldn't help but mutter a winsome wish: "Oh, to be the female Rockefeller of canning, and simultaneously a strumpet of historic proportion."

Wow. Things just got a little steamy in here. I might have to take a lot of breaks while I write this one.

I see a lot of potential for a sweeping story arc that transcends era and place, as well as a whoooole lot 'o titties.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Idea 32 - The Scrummykin Twins Are At It Again

There's no one dumber than kids, which means that no one's easier to write for. People build whole careers out of non-threatening "stories", like how the littlest teddy bear lost its rainbow purse or some crap like that. Well hell, if all you have to do is fart out cutesy drivel without an interesting narrative or anything resembling artistry, I can do that shit in a heartbeat:

The Scrummykin Twins couldn't believe their goddamn luck. "Motherfucker!" yelled Tinkleberry. "I haven't seen this many magic fish since dad left!"

"Oh, great, let me go run and get my magical fishing pole or whatever," exclaimed Poodlegums. "I guess this is supposed to be a big deal for me, even though no one has any sense of who I am, because there's no room for character development in this pandering pile of goose shit!"

Just then, Uncle Wuzzlebear splashed his splashy way into the lemonade river. "I have a wasting disease," he said with a sigh.

I'll be honest, I'm not sure I have the stomach for children's books. I'd love to bring something of goddamn value to the genre -- I've been working on an adaptation of Grapes of Wrath where there are actual grapes that can sing and fly -- but I doubt the world is ready. Then again, if a publisher is reading this, I'll do my best to squeeze out whatever brand of brain-dead pap you need.

I seriously hate kids.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Idea 31 - Do It & Sue It Yourself, Volume 1: Guestimation and Personal Injury Law

Women nest, men build, and gays get to to do whatever they want. That's the natural order of things, which means that roughly half of the populace needs help with home improvement. And out of all of these millions of would-be fixer-uppers, only a few type-A assholes actually measure things or obtain the right equipment for the job. Which means that the rest of us are left with bleeding stumps and no one to sue. Until this book happens:

When using a chainsaw to shorten a plastic Ikea knicknack shelf, the poorly handled blade may "kick back" violently, meaning both a deep shoulder laceration and a chance at roughly a hundred grand.

The key to cashing in is to invest in a high-end saw, so the manufacturer is more likely to settle out of court to protect their reputation. If you go the cheap route and pick up a saw from some half-ass operation like those cheap bastards at
Kwality Tooooolz, they're more likely to close up shop and move back in with their parents instead of dumping an enormous sum into your remaining hand.

I'd totally buy this book, and I haven't even mentioned the fact that the whole D-I-Y thing is so hip right now.

Blogs? They love it.

Well move over D-I-Y... I'm feeling a little... D-I-S-I-Y! That's trademarked.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Idea 30 - Serialized Serial Killings

Jesus, it seems like the average American and old people just can't enough books and TV shows about grisly, often rape-related murder. What does that say about us? And how can I capitalize? I'll need to do something new...

Wait a minute... I could make it interactive!

See, all serial killers ultimately want to get caught (like when you subconsciously let yourself get caught cheating on your significant other so you have an excuse to break up without just telling them that you dislike them). So I'll find one of these consistent murderers and get them to agree to get caught by... The People!

In each serialized release, I'll ghost-write the killer's account of his latest brutal homicide. We'll drop just enough clues so that the CSI-crazed masses run out to the crime scene armed with their vague, overly glamorized notions of forensics. They'll interact with each other, pretend they're impossibly attractive scientist-cops, and of course email me their terrible theories, which 'll incorporate/debunk the next edition!

I could make it a podcast!


Kindle 2!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Idea 29 - Win at Non-Competitive Brainstroming

Everybody needs a leg up in the business world today, but it's hard to compete when nearly everyone is smarter or more talented than you. That's why you need to beat them when they're not aware that they're competing: during a group brainstorm.

The most crucial mantra to keep in mind is "Don't Suggest, Destroy".

Think of that old guideline that when someone asks for volunteers to step forward, you take a step backward. Then think of how you can use this new strategic position to shoot everyone in the back of the head with a crossbow.

Techniques include:
  • Agree in a condescending manner
  • Repeat someone's idea in a way that makes it sound asinine
  • Laugh at someone's idea, then say "Oh I'm sorry, I thought you were joking."
  • Use a threatening smile
  • Mention successful ideas employed by other companies, to sound like you're contributing without actually having an idea
  • Stay awake by subtly punching yourself in the groin below the table
Businesspeople without confidence or the skills to back it up are always searching for some obvious collection of common-sense guidelines about business. You just package it up in a title that sounds like they should have known something already (think "7 Habits Of Highly Effective Whatever"), and they'll feel like they've fallen behind. They'll fucking flip over this thing.