The Smartphone Film


this short film

has been getting a lot of social media circulation, often followed by people gasping at the thought.


What gets me about the film isn’t the film itself, but the way people are reacting to it. People are reacting as if the film is eye-opening. They call it haunting, as if they never realized the world could be this way.


As someone who does not, and will not, own a smartphone, I can tell you that this is exactly what it’s like to live in this world without one. In fact, it’s been this way for a few years now. This is nothing new. This is not poignant. And it certainly is not an exaggeration.


What’s worse is that, if you try politely, or teasingly, to ask someone to put away their smartphone, you will get a bunch of shit for it. You’ll be treated like a grammar nazi, and either ridiculed, or ignored. Meanwhile, the fun, engaging board game that should take 30 minutes drags on the entire night and feels more like a chore. You’re not only missing out on life, you’re holding up the show.


I have come to accept this as yet another way people show their utter ingratitude for living to the world. I accepted it years ago. But I am blown away to see those same people only just now realizing it, probably because they saw a video on their smartphones.

Published in: on September 5, 2013 at 4:43 pm  Comments (1)  
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The Canary Press

My short story, “Hold the Pickles”, is appearing in the debut issue of The Canary Press (and they paid me real money for it)!

If you scroll down a bit, you’ll see a drawing inspired by the story.


Published in: on May 6, 2013 at 12:48 pm  Comments (4)  
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Coene the Kid

So my mother is moving into a new house. As with any big move, she’s been going through some boxes—some of which contain stuff from my childhood. Some of this stuff amused her, so she sent it to my inbox.


She found a piece of paper, on which she had scrawled something I’d said when I was five:

“Things that go too much fast, they get lost.”

Ernest, eat your heart out.


She also found some notes from my fifth grade teacher (with whom, I should add, I am currently friends on Facebook):

“He enjoys free writing time very much.”


“I continue to be very concerned about Mike’s lack of organization.”

This was before I’d earned, through sprouting beard, the right to be called Michael. And I stopped being concerned about seeing my bedroom’s floor a long, long time ago.


Lastly, she found this elegant little plea, written in what continues to be my penmanship:


Anyway, just thought it was kinda interesting and funny. Definitely confirms that being a writer is a child, not a choice—or, well, you know what I mean.

Published in: on February 22, 2013 at 4:47 pm  Comments (5)  
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Five-Star Reads from 2012

In 2012, I read a lot of books—among them, only a handful inspired me to slap down a five-star rating on the Goodreads.

Here is a list of five books that compelled five stars from me in 2012; also included are tiny samples of the books’ prose.


70% Acrylic 30% Wool
by Viola di Grado

“Leeds is like one of those sadistic pet owners that waves a piece of meat in front of his dog and then gobbles it down himself. You go out and you see that sun hanging from the sky and you feel happy. You think: Maybe the snow will end. You close your eyes hoping to feel warmth against your eyelids, but the sun has already disappeared, leaving the sky opaque and off-white, the color of a raw chicken thigh. The thing is that Leeds adores scarecrows…”

Say Her Name
by Francisco Goldman

“I took a Sunday morning train to the town nearest La Ferte. In the seat across from me sat a little boy dressed in a Spider-Man costume, traveling with his parents. I should dress like that, I thought. Maybe tomorrow I will. For a moment it seemed so plausible and even reasonable that tomorrow I might dress as Spider-Man that I felt a little scared.”

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
by Milan Kundera

“Graphomania (a mania for writing books) inevitably takes on epidemic proportions when a society develops to the point of creating three basic conditions: (1) an elevated level of general well-being, which allows people to devote themselves to useless activities; (2) a high degree of social atomization and, as a consequence, a general isolation of individuals; (3) the absence of dramatic social changes in the nations internal life.”

Donald Duk
by Frank Chin

“Big kids, little kids. Girls and boys. They rove in clumps of bobbing five-headedness. Five-headed babies bulging diapers crawl under the tables. Some five-headed people sit. Lots of five-headed hawkeyed people stand. Lots of five-headed people are caught up in the tide of milling children and torn away from their tables to clump up with other people, float on the roving children, sink in the quicksand of little hands waving to each other across islands of tables and rest against the shoals of straight-backed shiny-skinned old people who dye their hair charcoal black. The twins always elbow him in the ribs when they see dyed black hair on a head in Chinatown. Where is Arnold Azalea? A white boy should be easy to spot in this crowd of smoldering hawkeyes. Everyone acts like they live here. The kids look at Donald Duk like a stranger.”

Red Earth and Pouring Rain
by Vikram Chandra

“When we actually crossed into Texas I was asleep. What woke me up was the radio buzzing about Hindu-Muslim riots in Ahmedabad, and I fumbled with it until it clicked off. It bothered me not because of what it was about but because it seemed too messy, it had too much of the stink of belief and the squalor of passion. I wanted the blade-edge feeling I had, the keenness of my senses and the rush of the speed. ‘We’re in Texas,’ Amanda said. We flew in a long floating curve, the road smooth and the yellow line perfect and steady under us. I leaned low over the dash and peered ahead, straining as if I would see instantly the long white trail of a rocket far to the south. I looked at Amanda, and I said, ‘Cool!’ and I felt my lips pulling back from my teeth. She laughed, her hair a dark red and flying, I could see her eyes shining, and it was something like love.”


So, there you have it—books I liked a bunch in 2012.

Got good books from 2012 you wanna quote? Read one or two among the quoted five? Well, by all means, have some commentary! You’re among friends, here.

Published in: on January 18, 2013 at 5:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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