That's right, I'm doing another round of performances for the Boston Chapter of Mortified, showcasing the worst of the worst romantic songs I ever tried to write as an angsty/horny teen.Read More
Thom Dunn is a Boston-based writer, musician, homebrewer, and new media artist. He enjoys Oxford commas, metaphysics, and romantic clichés (especially when they involve whiskey), and he firmly believes that Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" is the single greatest atrocity committed against mankind. He is a graduate of Clarion Writer's Workshop at UCSD ('13) & Emerson College ('08).
And if you want to buy the audio...
Maybe if I vote for Donald Trump
I'll finally get to be
a big ol' billionaire bank bastard
eating wagyu and the weak.
Oh, and the gub'mint ain't gon' touch me
if I don't keep money here.
Lord please let me vote for Donald Trump this year.
No I never trust authorities
They're always after me
But those cops, they best come runnin'
when there's black kids on my street.
We need more rules, but just don't regulate
my shotgun or my beer.
Lord, please let me vote for Donald Trump this year.
Oh yes I hate the net-gross paycheck part
that the taxman takes from me.
No my hard-earned cash ain't goin'
toward your stupid schools and streets.
Why should I subsidize the ER trips
for hobos, sluts, and queers?
Lord, please let me vote for Donald Trump this year.
I deserve every right and resource
That the world has given me.
Not like all them other takers
full of laziness and greed
Ban all the brown-skinned Muslim terrorists,
we'll have nothing left to fear!
Lord, please let me vote for Donald Trump this year.
Ambling sloth-like through the wasteland, breathing in a noxious haze of tryptophan and sickly sweet liquor, I plod past the pestilent pond of porcelain piled high in endless pillars, towards the puddles of putrid fat liquidized and pooling on the plates, once poured steaming over broken bones now dripping down the drain while the last vestiges of flesh hang threadbare off that osseous matter. Small hands have left their mark behind them, stained and sliding down the wall as if grasping for some invisible rungs to rescue them from wrath. Meanwhile, that gelatinous glob of congealed red mass continues to vellicate on the floor, a ceaseless tremor that suggests its sentience. Yet somehow, the empty glass and glasses have survived the slaughter mostly intact, only weathered and worn by overuse though now dirty, discarded and disheveled down among the grateful undead whose virile corpses litter the living room furniture until such time tomorrow that consumption might continue.
A: YES YES A MILLION TIMES YES.
People are dying at alarming rates. Our current laws are unambiguously failing and yet NRA lobbyists have managed to make it illegal for government scientists to study gun-related violence. Time and time again, data continues to disprove any connection between mental illness and violent crimes — and in fact, gun violence is a major contributor to the suicide epidemic, the tenth highest cause of death in the United States.(admittedly, there are major problems with the way we address and deal with mental health, but it is separate from issues of gun control)
So let's stop deflecting from the fact that our country engenders a culture of gun violence. Let's break the NRA's stronghold on politics and find a way to enact firearm regulations that actually work.
And let's do it NOW.
rounded wax wedges, waning; a tawny
base that tapers towards a soft point
white like tundra, in taste and texture,
bleeding out from burning copper ribs
hardly mellow hardened creme
of candle crops to harvest fat
free treats, a sign of times once pagan-
human, uncivilized, re-captured,
re-claimed, costume the dead alive
and turn the season, turn to shovel
handfuls into mouths full of rotting
teeth a special offer, a limited time only
exciting when available but hardly
missed in memories of stomaches
turned to sick, in children as in men
but indulging in each dish we find it
harder to resist the solstice sweets
and let ourselves get lost inside
that sadistic sugar maize
(see also: "It's 'It's decorative gourd season, motherfuckers!' season, motherfuckers" by the inimitable Will Kaufman)
Just a friendly update to show what I've been up to at Upworthy these past few weeks! First, here's a slideshow put together by our Editorial Director, Amy O'Leary, detailing the company's new direction (with the secondary purpose of pre-emptively shutting down your rehashed "clickbait" jokes*):
While I'm still getting the hang of the system (it's only been 2 weeks, after all), I've still got a few stories up that you can check out. It's mostly coincidence that the subject matter is, well, pretty much right my alley. I've also got a new Official Writer-y Facebook page, if you want to follow all of my (strictly professional!) adventures.
*I can say that, because my own jokes are half the reason that I work there now.
First of all, sorry for the lack of updates — as you'll see below, things have been pretty crazy 'round these parts.
For one thing, I'm already a week late on announcing my participation in the Clarion Write-a-thon to raise money for the Clarion Writing Workshop at UCSD, which I attended in 2013. I kind of, uhhh, messed up when I was filling out my sponsorship profile, and I meant to write a goal of 800 words a day in pursuit of this novelization that I'm working on. Instead, I accidentally wrote 800 words total for the entire summer. Ah well. Either way! Give me money to give to Clarion!
I've written before about the incredible personal and professional impact of my Clarion experience, which is why I feel so strongly about providing the same opportunities for other young writers. I came away from those 6 weeks not only with some amazing new friendships, but a stronger grasp on my own strengths and faults as a writer, as well as a greater familiarity and confidence in the genre publishing industry as a whole. And while it might not seem a direct correlation, I feel confident in attributing much of my success as a current full-time professional writer to the Clarion Workshop.
Oh. That's the other thing that happened: starting July 1, I will be a full-time salaried staff writer for Upworthy.com. "Isn't that that click-bait-y website with all the happy liberal stuff?" you might ask, in which case, well, you're not entirely off the mark. But in truth, Upworthy does tremendous promoting and supporting numerous progressive causes, campaigns, and charities, and getting their stuff in front of millions of eyeballs every month (also, they've all-but-sworn-off the "click-bait-y" stuff in the last 2 years, after indirectly creating an Internet monster out of it). They're going through a bit of a renaissance right now as well, part of which involves a shift towards more original storytelling and content, which is where I come in. The specifics of my storytelling work is still in their formative stages, but suffice to say that it's a very, very, very exciting time to be a part of the company, and I can't wait to see what happens next.
(also fun fact: Upworthy themselves have never, ever, ever used the click-bait-y headline suffix, "...you won't believe what happens next," despite the fact that that's the thing that everyone thinks about when they think about Upworthy and clickbait and whatnot) (also also, I'd argue that "clickbait" refers specifically to misleading links that are gravely lacking in content, whereas Upworthy has simply mastered the art of Vague But Intriguing Headlines That Compel You To Click and actually have good content on the other side to backup what they're saying) (also also also, this is genuinely me saying this, and not just the company line)
Finally, there was...I swear there was something else, something...cool, some good reason why I've been mostly MIA and why I'm still a week behind on the write-a-thon and —
OH! That's right. I got married. So, ya know. I guess that's kinda cool.
We're so close to the goal! Go team!Read More
You have 10 minutes, and if you got one answer wrong, then sorry, you can't vote today.
Granted, the above test is not explicitly racist. But even the worst apologist can't deny the inherent classism of it. Technically speaking, this test was only administered to voters who couldn't prove a certain level of education. Which is kind of arbitrary, no? That's not like carding someone to buy alcohol. There's no visual indicator of someone's education, is there?
Well, sure, if we consider that education is a privilege, not a right, one that is much more easily accessible to people of a certain class. And in Louisiana in the 1960s, most of those people "of a certain class" were of a certain pigment as well...
(and hey, don't get me wrong: there a lot of dumb people in this country, and that they have a voice in our so-called democracy could be seen as an impediment on progress. But as appealing as it sounds to oppress those faces, suddenly your progressivism borders eerily on fascism...)
It's a fairly well-known fact that the British empire all but obliterated the Irish language. But at some point in the 1560s, Queen Elizabeth I decided that having a few words of the Irish might come in handy with the whole let's-conquer-the-whole-damn-island-and-convert-all-the-heathens-to-Protestantism thing, and so she recruited an Anglo-Irish nobleman named Christopher Nugent to put together a basic guidebook for her to use when trying to speak with the savage inhabitants of the island. Some of the pages from this document (seen below) remain in the collection of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, and are one of the oldest known attempts at translation between Irish, English, and Latin.
Clearly, it's kind of weird to be talking about Great Britain on St. Padraig's Day, but I thought this was a fun way of sharing some basic Irish words and phrases with all 3 of my loyal website followers. 'Cause who knows — it might come in handy if you're, I don't know, trying to communicate in code in order to protect yourself from a corrupt government. So here you go!
And to top it off, here's some Irish tunes that I've recorded over the years, for St. Paddy's Day enjoyment. Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!
Plus a few poems I've written for the occasion...
Oh, and one last thing...
That's right folks, everyone's favorite all-male hard rock Lady Gaga (+ other female pop artists) cover band returns to Boston — this Thursday night at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge! Be there, or be having less fun than the rest of us.
And here's a little taste of the tunes...
...No, probably not, because this is clearly just a political smear campaign, but still. I guess it's nice then that whoever wrote this piece of propaganda was kind enough to misgender him at least. That's something, right?
A discovery has been made on this continent that will astonish the whole world. Our great and excellent General Washington is actually discovered to be of the female sex. This important secret was revealed by the lady who lived with the General as a wife these 30 years, and died the 6th instant at the General's seat in Virginia, to the Clergyman who attended her.
What is extraordinary, the last knew his circumstance previous to the ceremony of marriage, and both agreed to live together from motives of the most refined friendship. Perhaps there are fewer influences in female nature of such rigid charity than of manly fortitude.
Anyway, happy (almost) birthday, Mr. President. Er, can I say that?
It's only funny 'cause it's true. Welcome back to the MCU, Spider-Man!
I have lots of complicated feelings when it comes to tribute bands. On one hand, people want to hear stuff they like, and that's entirely respectable. On the other, my belief in creativity and originality wavers when I see tribute bands selling out venues and going on tour just for pretending to be another band (seriously, have you seen how many professional Beatles cover bands there are out there? And that's to say nothing of Bad Fish). On the third hand, as a musician, I completely understand the impulse to get together with your friends and play some music that you enjoy and also make money while you're at it.
And then there the Weird Tribute Bands, towards whom I have absolutely no misgivings (obviously; I play in an all-male post-rock Lady Gaga tribute band, who the hell am I to judge?). Bands like Mini KISS (all members have dwarfism) and Lez Zeppelin (all female). And now, there's something even better:
Mac Sabbath, the world's first and only (so far) McDonald's-themed Black Sabbath tribute band.
You know what they say: nothing can kill the Grimace.
Here's some fun weird history for your Friday enjoyment!
"Boulevard du Temple", taken by Louis Daguerre in late 1838 or early 1839 in Paris, was the first photograph of a person. The image shows a street, but because exposure time was over ten minutes, the traffic was moving too much to appear. The exception is the man at the bottom left, who stood still getting his boots polished long enough to show.
I gave this 4 stars on GoodReads but it's really a 3.5. I'm generously rounding up because it reminded me of my excitement when I got to open up for Dr. Frank's band, the Mr T Experience, in high school.
Overall, I really enjoyed King Dork. Tom was a funny narrator in his anti-Holden-Caulfield-but-still-so-Holden-Caulfield way, and as a former aspiring punk rock star myself, I definitely saw a lot of me and my high school friends in the story. That being said, I was disappointed with the exposition-y ending. As a writer myself, I was somewhat bothered the whole time through with how much of the story was told in summary exposition, but I was willing to give it a pass because it makes sense diagetically with the narrator that this is how he would convey this story (similar to Holden Caulfield in that way). But Tom's main two journeys -- Fiona, and the relationship with his dead father -- were literally summed up and resolved without any effort on his part (even his hospitalization, though it certainly made sense that he wouldn't have a good memory of the specific events leading up to it, was so blasé: "and then I was hospitalized for a month because I got beat up NBD.").
All that being said: it's probably a good book to help get adolescents into classic books and help with their vocabularies (and the glossary was *hilarious*).
Also, the women in the book left...much to be desired. In some ways (again, diagetically, that is, within the world of the story), I got it, because it was absolutely how a 14 year old King Dork would probably talk about and depict women. It certainly sounded like some of my friends at 14, anyway. But as an adult feminist male, it was a little, well, exactly the kind of subtle misogyny that people are finally and rightfully paying attention to, and I wish had been approached with a more deft hand.
Anyway, here's the MTX song "King Dork," which actually has very little to do with the book (which I assume was named more for brand recognition than anything else, as this is generally seen as one of Dr. Frank's "hits," if you will).
I'm just going to say it: Jonathan Hickman pisses me off. Everything he writes uses the exact same pseudoscience and cryptic philosophical posturing, with cipher characters defined by one Irresistibly Charming Quirk or Twist whose actions are motivated entirely by Hickman's Next Cool Plot Twist rather than, ya know, actual human desires or anything.
And yet...he does all of that REALLY well. So well, in fact, that you hardly notice unless you are specifically aiming to scrutinize (such as I am). It probably helps that he's also a tremendous art director who gets paired with talented artists and that his books demonstrate such impeccable design sense. But in the process of reading his stories, you get so wrapped up in the big ideas and crazy twists that you don't notice how soulless it is.
The Manhattan Projects is certainly no exception to this. When you break it down, you're like "WTF? This is how a sociopath imitates storytelling." But when you're reading it, you're absolutely carried away and enamored by the strange, surreal, and epic world he's created (with tremendous assistance from Nick Pitarra's creepy-weird artwork).
Damn you, Hickman.
It's hard to break new ground on the "artificial intelligence turns sentient" story. And yet, Alex + Ada somehow manages to feel fresh even while treading somewhat common tropes. It could be the crisp, clean artwork, or the simple, straightforward dialogue that still strikes a chord in your heart, or maybe the way that the technology feels more like jailbreaking an iPhone than awakening humanity within a person, but that similarity still draws some interesting connections in your mind. Either way, this was a delightful read, and I'm looking forward to the next one.
My time travel love poem "I Loved You More Last Time" is now available in the February 2015 issue of ASIMOV'S Science Fiction Magazine (along with a poem by my Clarion classmate and recent winner of Apex Magazine's Story Of The Year, Marie Vibbert).
As far as I can tell, Asimov's is erm, not very good at making online purchases easy for anyone. But you can pick up the current issue or subscribe on Kindle, Nook, and iTunes Newsstand (unfortunately, I don't know the exact cut-off date for when the current issue ceases to be "current," and I can't figure out how buy specific back issues either). I'll also have a small stash of hard copies available for direct purchase (more info to come).