Thursday, February 16, 2012

Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots

A few months ago, a friend of mine introduced me to a book titled Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots. It was an old, stuffy-looking book that seemed like it would make your heart explode from sheer boredom if you ever dared to flip through it. However, once my friend started reading some passages aloud, I realized at once that Plotto is one of those rare volumes that is both indispensable and yet just crazy enough to make you pray for the author's loved ones.

It contains hundreds of amazing conflict situations like these:

-B, attacked by a huge snake, suffers a psychic shock.

-A hopes, by a surgical operation on his skull, to be made immune from the “master passion.”

-A, obsessed with a fear of burglars, places a wax figure in his bed at night and sleeps in a locked closet.

I knew the book had to be mine. Unfortunately, it was no longer in print. The copies I found online were all fetching sums that were roughly equal to what I tend to pay for a blazer. But just as I was processing the psychic shock that came from being attacked by the giant snake that was Plotto's absence from my bookshelf,  I learned that the good people at Tin House were going to be releasing a new edition of Plotto at a far more reasonable price (about what I pay for pants).

You can grab it here.

In order to celebrate the re-release of such an amazing book, I have come up with a few of my own conflict situations. Enjoy:

-An inventor, B, is attacked by D, who is a tickle monster.

-X, a man named Z, and Y, a man named T, are both addicted to punching.

-W is a genius cheese maker whose cheese is prohibitively expensive. X is a cracker maker whose crackers are affordable but bad-tasting. The two never meet.

-G, a pterodactyl, thinks it’s funny to use public restrooms without flushing the toilet.

-L, a karate champion, falls in love with B, who is against karate.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day? More Like Stupid-Booger-Fart Day.

It’s that time of year again, folks. Valentine’s Day. It’s time to pick out your sexiest outfit, stuff it with crumpled-up newspapers, and then put it in your bed so you don’t have to sleep alone. It’s time to dim the lights, take out the good silverware, and then eat a Hungry-Man dinner across from a framed photo of Glenn Close. It's time to drink half a box of wine, eat some ice cream with your bare hands, and then wander around town paying panhandlers to say the words "I love you" while giving you eye contact.

In short, it is time for the single grimmest holiday of the year. Or rather, the grimmest holiday of the year for singles.

For people in committed relationships, Valentine’s Day is just another fun reason to go to Applebee’s on a Tuesday. But for single people, it is a day of intense and focused hatred of other people's happiness. All the things about Valentine’s Day that couples enjoy (flowers, handholding, scented candles, movies in which Reese Witherspoon and/or Paul Rudd almost don’t get to be with a person of equivalent attractiveness but then do, hot tubs, cookie cakes shaped like hearts, back rubs, smiling, doing it, etc.) serve as painful reminders for a single person that he or she is alone, grotesque, and unlovable.

So for all you single folk looking to celebrate this holiday in a manner that reflects your actual mood, why not read a book that explores the theme of frustration and solitude in a cathartic, uplifting way? Instead of crying your eyes out while watching Something's Gotta Give on TBS, why not feel comforted in your solitude by stories like The Misery of the Conquistador, The Scribes' Lament, Lie Down and Die, and Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre? Drown out all the trite happiness of your couple friends with 190 pages of gleeful, existential havoc. That's right, it's the perfect time of year to read The Great Frustration.

Anyway, that's definitely how I would plan to spend today, if it weren't for the fact that I'm going to be making out in a hot air balloon with my fiancé Natasha.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Søren Kierkegaard wants to tell you about some of my upcoming events...


If you go see Seth Fried read at NYU’s Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House on Thursday, February 9 at 7pm, you will regret it. If you do not go see Seth Fried read at NYU’s Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House on Thursday, February 9 at 7pm, you will regret it. If you go or you do not go, you will regret both; whether you go or do not go, you will regret both. If you partake of the free wine and cheese, you will regret it. If you do not partake of the free wine and cheese, you will regret it. If you do or do not partake, you will regret both; whether or not you do or do not partake, you will regret both.

If you go see Seth Fried read at PowerHouse Arena on Wednesday, February 15 at 7pm for The Milan Review release party, you will regret it. If you do not go see Seth Fried read at PowerHouse Arena on February 15 at 7pm for The Milan Review release party, you will regret it. If you go or you do not go, you will regret both; whether you go or do not go, you will regret both.

If you go see Seth Fried on NPR’s Selected Shorts on Wednesday, February 22 at 7pm, you will regret it. If you do not go see Seth Fried on NPR’s Selected Shorts on February 22 at 7pm, you will regret it. If you go or do not go, you will regret both; whether you go or do not go, you will regret both. If you download the episode as a podcast on your ipod, you will regret it. If do not download the episode as a podcast on your ipod, you will regret it. If you cast the episode on your pod or you do not cast the episode on your pod, you will regret both; whether you cast or do not cast, you will regret both.

This is the sum of all practical wisdom.