Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Morning Questions: The Big Homecoming Edition

Many thanks to all you guys for being so nice while I was away, this last week. In answer to the several emails and tweets I've received, yes, my trip went well. My dad is fine. No, we didn't have any contretemps over my underwear, again. I did have to teach my elderly dad how, for the very first time in his life, to use an ATM. It was an experience that required over twenty minutes—approximately nineteen and a half minutes longer than it really needed to have—but we got it taken care of in the end.

I think. I'm still anticipating the phone call in which he plaintively calls to ask why the ATM screen is entirely in Spanish, or why it ate his card, or some such technological failure as only my dad can really pull off with style. I suspect I'll get there, sooner or later.

Let's get to some questions, so I can go type up some of the week's encounters for you guys. Again, thanks for hanging in there. And I'm glad to be back.

Writer's block. How to fight/get past it?

Sit down at your computer--or tablet, or notebook, or whatever. Turn off your internet. Ignore your emails and significant others. Keep pounding away at the keys or stare into space until you're bored enough that writing seems like a lot better alternative.

If you're seriously blocked, you might have some false starts and head in the wrong direction with your writing several times, but you'll at least be typing, and that's what's important. Keep going until the creaky pipes are flowing smoothly again.

When you write, do you do most of your research before you start or as you go along?

It depends on what I'm writing. If it's a non-fictional piece in which research plays a major role, I'll perform it and organize it well beforehand. If I'm just writing something off-the-cuff in which I'll need to check a fact or two as I go, I'll wing it.

How long do you wait before you give up on a trick coming over? And you've said before you double or even triple book tricks when you think there is a high possibility of flaking. Has this ever backfired and they all show up?

I wait a half-hour, generally. Sometimes an hour, max. I lose self-respect if I wait longer than that.

And no. I've never had multiple tricks show up, even when I've triple-booked a block of time in advance. Other guys have told me the same. There are many more flake-outs than follow-throughs.

Do you think men out east groom/preen themselves better than in the midwest?

I think they dress better in Manhattan. I also think they wear way too much cologne. In the suburbs where I live, though, everyone looks as if they've stepped out of an L. L. Bean catalog. I'm not really sure it's 'better'. Especially when the fashion involves grown men in flannel pants imprinted with mallards.

Men in the Midwest have a tendency to follow trends that are about five years gone for the east coast guys. They also tend to hang on to some old trends (goatees, for example) that are even older. Southern men are still wearing prepwear from the mid-eighties, though, so the Midwest guys should be congratulating themselves for staying ahead of that curve.

Did you get to say good bye to Scruffy before you moved?

Only via email. I know he got a new job he liked, and was happy about that, even as he was sad about me going. He's a good kid.

So what file are you on?


If you weigh 165 and I weigh 220, are you able to pin me down?

It ain't all about weight, son. I can pin you down.

Have you checked out local bathhouses in your new geography yet? I find the ones in NY very attitude-y but wanted to see your opinion

No, I haven't yet been to any of the NY spots (or really know where they are). I'll be happy to share my opinion once I go, but I'd be interested to know which you recommend and why.

Does anyone out east drive an American-made car?

No! Well, I do. So yes. But no! And it drives me crazy! My parents were union supporters when I was growing up, and I lived subsequently in Detroit long enough, that buying a foreign car is out of the question for me. Apparently here, people have no such qualms.


  1. I drive an American made car and I live out east! So you aren't the only one. And I agree on the cologne thing. I was in Boston yesterday and I passed a group of guys who were a cloud of some foul smelling formula that almost made me choke. Mind you these guys were dressed perfectly in every other way. Crazy.

  2. >It ain't all about weight, son. I can pin you down.

    oh fuk thats hot!!! damn!!!

  3. Back when I wuz well-to-do and had a car, it wuz Murrcan.

    Thanks for including those writing-related formspring questions.

    @Anonymous about a half-hour ago: Sure the hell is! Whether doing or being done, pinning down is brilliant.

  4. I would think how long you wait for someone to show up would depend on the time of year since where you live a winter snow storm/icy roads would slow someone down. But with 5 billion cell phones in the world for 6 billion humans on the planet (I heard that stat on tv this past week)there would be no reason to call/text you are on the way. And it's rude to make plans and not just show up.

    Do snow storms block signals?

  5. You are quite correct about Midwest scruffy goatees still being around. I like to think of my over grown one as a sexual aid...many a boy would weep if I shaved it off...

  6. Regarding the phone call you know you'll receive from Dad about the ATM machine: Just wait till he calls you one day to try to help him figure out why the TV/Cable/DVR/DVD (pick your combination of equipment) isn't working. He has six remotes, multiple components and nothing but snow on the screen. Oh....did I mention that you do NOT have the same remotes and equipment that Dad has?

    Now THAT'S a frustrating conversation! That was the day I gained a modicum of respect for CSR's who work the call center for consumer electronics manufacturers.

  7. I think your statement about how there are more "flake outs than follow-throughs" is true. Not just in your situation, but just in life, in general.

  8. Ace,

    I don't usually wear any kind of scent myself, but when I do, I generally wear it for the benefit of someone who'd be coming close to me--not in order to walk around in a miasma that reaches out and clutches anyone passing.

  9. FelchingPisser,

    Yeah, but I know for a fact you didn't grow yours eight years ago and let it timidly remain on your face out of fear of shaving, since. And yours is more aggressive than the average goatee.

    Which is why it suits you.

  10. PDQ,

    Oh, I've had many similar conversations with the man. I don't even want to recall the torturous week I had trying to find him a stupid digital antenna that he could work, during the analog-to-digital transition a couple of years ago.

  11. Myli,

    It's true in real life as well. Always plan for the flake-outs.