Monday, December 31, 2012

The Dork E.P.: Track List! Art! My Inner Madness!

Tomorrow I'll be posting, here and anywhere else I can think of, an E.P. of new spoken-word poems. I wrote them in a flurry last month, when I realized I hadn't written any poems lately; and I recorded them all at once, more or less, on a Saturday night when Shabbos ended early and I put my kids to bed and said goodbye to Itta when she was off doing a social thing and then realized that my house was particularly quiet -- too quiet, you'd think -- and I needed an excuse to start talking to myself.

This is the prototype art for the cover, which is by Katie Skau:

It's called (unless one of us comes up with something I like more before midday tomorrow) the Dork E.P. There's one track called "Dork 2.0," and I could call it that, except that it feels like a bit too much for a tiny little album that's less than 10 minutes long. I'm actually sort of proud of having it so short. When I was in high school, and did the recording trick of recording one track on my tape player, then playing it back close to the tape player while I recorded another track, the goal was to make songs as long as possible -- my favorite R.E.M. songs were four minutes long! some were almost five! they was practically symphonies! -- but for Dork, brevity seemed to be the thing.

Here's the track list:

1. Get Back Here New York City, I'm Not Finished with You Yet
2. Dork 2.0
3. Shit Girls Don't Say
4. Love in the Time of Attachment Parenting
5. Born to Run
6. Shit Girls Don't Say (other people version)

Originally I'd asked people to film themselves reciting the poem "Shit Girls Don't Say" for a music video (well, a non-music music video). Due to my computer being about 27 years old and not being able to crunch the recordings on iMovie, I had to mix it as an audio track better. And I kind of like it that way, in the end: The more-or-less proper closing track is "Love in the Time of Attachment Parenting," which is sort of my cover version of this great book you should read, and then my actual cover version of "Born to Run" (which I am praying doesn't sound bad), and then other people doing a cover of my thing.

Yes, I realize this is an immense amount of thought to put into a 9-minute recording -- let alone, one I'm giving away for free, and with no clear (to me) motive (I mean, I'm not really thinking that Sony will buy the rights, or that Kanye will hear this and ask me to record a song with him) -- but it feels right. And I really hope you come back tomorrow and download it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Free Stuff! For all of 2013!

Stand back. I'm trying something new.

One way or another you guys have ended up here, reading random stuff that I write, either my books or my movie or my tweets or something else -- and for that, I freeam incredibly, overwhelmingly grateful. And I have a bunch of stuff I've been working on since Losers happened. My new book (a picture book collaboration with Mr. Rohan Daniel Eason and Mr. Franz Kafka) is coming out this summer, and day-job-wise, I'm working on this top-secret video game thing that you'll hear about as soon as it actually exists.

But I've been feeling like I've lived too much in my head, and not enough time in the actual world, and although I have all this stuff going on, you probably aren't going to see most of it for a long, long while.

So I've decided to throw it out in the world. For free, for however long I can.

I'm going to start releasing things mostly monthly. Starting on the goyishe New Year's Day, on 1/1, then something else on 2/2, up till My First Kafka comes out in the summer, and maybe beyond, if I'm not too insane for it? The first one's going to be a little spoken-word album. Then maybe a Kindle/iBooks/whatever-else-there-is book. Maybe some short stories mixed in. If you have requests, or ideas, or if you've read anything of mine and want to illustrate it or adapt it on YouTube or whatever, please, go wild, go crazy, email me and lend a hand.

I'm still not sure I'll be able to manage this thing! But right now, I really want to. I can't believe some of you found me ten years ago doing a poem that ended up on Broadway, or five years ago in a used bookstore with a neon green cover, or doing some late-night reading on a street or a bar somewhere, and I'm flattered and honored and frankly baffled that you kept in touch.

You're the best. Thank you so much.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Project I'll never have time for:

Visit gun stores where people who've gone on mass-killing sprees have bought their guns. Interview the people who sold them their guns. What kind of mood were they in? What did they say? Was there a difference between the time they applied to buy a gun and the time they picked it up? Then interview the cashiers about their own lives.

Slightly more aggressive and questionable project I'll never have time for:

Visit local gun stores. Take photos of people who work there. Hang them all over town, mugshot-like, or like the pictures of the Joker from the Dark Knight ARG. Picket outside their houses. Treat them like protestors treat doctors who perform abortions.

No; that's wrong. It's more than this, and deeper. It's wrong to target these people: it's like cutting off a nose to stop a cold. Friends are visiting me this weekend who own, and use recreationally, automatic weapons, and they're way more responsible and levelheaded than I am.

Really, I think, we all just need to find a way to take care of each other better. Last night a homeless guy asked me for change. I didn't have any and he started shoving me. Why didn't I just stop and get some money? I'm too busy. I needed to get home to my kids, who I also don't have enough time for.

This world has me so scared and so mad.

Monday, December 10, 2012

WANTED: Be in My Music Video

Hey, I'm about to put together a little free spoken-word E.P. and I'm making a music video as part of it -- only, of course, without the music, because it's spoken-word.

And I need your help.

There's a poem. Email me, at matthue at gmail, and I will email the text of the poem to you. Then, if you would be so kind, film yourself using an iPod or iPhone, reciting all or part of the poem. I'll splice it together and make it into a video.

If you have any questions, send them to me too! I'll do my best to answer.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tron. Avatar. Me?

OK, just saying: According to Hollywood Reporter, a sequel to Tron Legacy is in the works. And since I was in the Tron3 prequel -- or a character named after me, whatever --

-- I just want to let you guys know, I am, in fact, available for major motion pictures. Also weddings and bar mitzvahs.

TRON The Next Day - Flynn Lives Revealed (TR3N... by daftworld

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Introducing Alice Mattison

Sorry I haven't been writing! Great things are afoot at the day-job, but of course I am not allowed to talk about them. And there are all these things I've been meaning to say, but they're all percolating, and they'll probably all bubble to the surface at the same time and I'll be unable to speak coherently. For a change.

Last night I was asked to introduce the writer Alice Mattison at a reading at Brooklyn College. I wasn't going to share this, but I got asked a few times and her book is wonderful and unexpected and wild. Here's what I said:

There’s a part in Alice Mattison’s latest novel, When We Argued All Night, in which Harold, a self-conscious intellectual Jewish guy, is flirting it up with Myra, who’s this hot, reserved WASP. They’re talking about Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady, which she swiped his copy of.

It had not occurred to him that Myra would have read the book, much less have an opinion about it. He was charmed, though he disagreed. He tried to explain what he believed to be true about the ending. If James thinks Isabel Archer should stay away from her husband, what is the book about? Why would it end just there? What has she accomplished?

Myra scoffed. What does anyone accomplish? She should have stayed away. She could manage.

In college, they did not speak as if characters in books could have chosen to do something else. Harold couldn’t think how to explain that this wasn’t the proper way to read.

This is one of Alice Mattison’s favorite things to do (not that I have any idea whether that’s actually true or not) : To introduce us to characters, a scene, a reality, and then subvert it by completely reversing the tension, upstaging the power dynamic, and yanking the carpet from beneath the reader’s feet.

Mattison is a remarkable, piercing, unsettling and versatile writer. She teaches fiction in the graduate writing program at Bennington College in Vermont. She’s published five novels and four collections of short stories, and, as far as I can tell, is equally at home in both forms. She has a knack for details, quirks, surprise turns, and single lines that could be novels unto themselves. She also might be one of our finest living book titlers: the novel The Wedding of the Two-Headed Woman; the collection Men Giving Money, Women Yelling; and her previous book, 2009's Nothing Is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn.

When We Argued was released this summer and . It was a New York Times editors’ choice book, and received a wholeheartedly geeking-out review: “Mattison makes you care about her characters right to the end, and care so deeply that you take their every disappointment personally.”

In an alternate universe, Mattison’s acts of world-building might belong to a science fiction grand master. Among the several achievements of When We Argued, Mattison takes us back to the mid-1930s in Jewish America and, with startlingly little explanation or set-up, gives us a vivid picture of what it’s like to be a Jew in a world where half the population is trying to kill you and the other half has no idea that it’s happening. In one line, the novel is straddling a fence with Catskills hookups a la Dirty Dancing, the next it’s sharing Holocaust-era guilt and aggression with Maus.

She gives the same weight to police beatings, family fights, and a strip-tease in a 1930s Catskills bungalow. When We Argued might be a secret epic, one that takes on the grandest scope--two best friends, an entire lifetime--but also breathes life into the smallest of moments.

Here she is.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

G-d Dialogue

Internal dialogue while bringing cereal back to my desk.

ME: I already have a spoon at my desk! Thank G-d I remembered to leave it there before.
ME (smarmy): You know, it really isn't G-d's fault. You kinda got that one on your own.
ME: Yeah, but people are always blaming G-d for stupid things when they go down, and it isn't really G-d's fault at all; it's their own. So why not thank G-d for something that isn't necessarily G-d's direct doing for a change?
ME: Ah, but G-d created the universe and everything in it, and therefore, nothing that happens is an accident. So one way or another, G-d really manipulated you to leave a clean spoon at your desk earlier...right?
ME (undeterred): Thank G-d there was soy milk in the refrigerator. I hate it when they're all out.


(Well, the end of the dialogue. The beginning of my very late breakfast.)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Joshua: The Movie

A while ago, I helped produce this series of movie adaptations of the Torah with G-dcast. Our plan at the time was to hit the Prophets and Writings and just not stop. "No sleep till Malachi" was the actual phrase used, I believe. It's taken a little while, but today G-dcast launched the next book. Here's the three-part series "Joshua," which I wrote, which Sarah Lefton directed, Richard O'Connor animated, and Matt Ryd wrote the theme song to.

 ...originally I was trying to convince them to let me play shofar for it, too, but that didn't really happen.

 This is Part II:
And Part III:
Next up is Judges, but don't ask about that yet -- apparently it's a lot faster to write words than it is to draw a few thousand animated icons. Who knew?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

grad school confidential

a new question from the FAQ desk. weirdly, three people asked me this today. so here is what i said, more or less.

Why are you going back to grad school?

if i could do anything with my time, i'd do a degree in physics or math. that, i think, is where real religion flourishes. it's the actual fulfillment of the biblical commandment to "know g*d and know g*d's work." but life is the way it is, and i need (a) constant practice writing and challenging myself, (b) connections in the literary world, and (c) willing people to read my work on a mass scale, and this program is being very generous with all of them.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Kafkaesque Mess that is LAX

Oh, man. I hate complaining, but sometimes in life it's either (a) really therapeutic or (b) really necessary. This might be both, but hopefully it's also entertaining. Yesterday, we were stuck at the airport for hours. I tweeted:

And they very nicely (if obliquely) replied:
So this is what I wrote back. (Start reading from the bottom, if you're curious.)

Or come back tomorrow? I promise I'll have something more fun.

 And then during landing, an overhead compartment popped open and the luggage almost fell onto people. That's all.
 I don't approve of censorship at all, and I appreciate sex and violence, but not when my 4-year-old's asking me about it.
 Half an hour later, there were naked people getting it on onscreen.
 5 minutes in, my daughter asked me why all the soldiers were getting dead by explosions.
 I know I'm pushing this. But the ACTUAL film you showed? On the one monitor for our section? "The Lucky One."
 On the plane, squished together and miserable, we had to watch a promotional video about how AA just bought spacious new planes
 We finally made it on the THIRD flight. And the gate attendant was incredibly nice (I forget her name.)
 Then we stood by AGAIN. My kids responded with uncharacteristic good humor--they played Fruit Ninja for an hour.
 And, turns out you guys don't have any special consideration for parents. So the first-class standbys got on and we didn't.
 We were put on the next flight. But, oh wait! It was oversold.
 We made it. Except, no! It was 5 minutes to takeoff, and the door was already closed.
 But THEN we raced to the gate. The TSA helper couldn't come. So my 4-year-old pushed the luggage. I took the baby.
 That part was actually kind of cool, because our older kid was fascinated by the explosive-testing wipes.
 Then, guess what!--because we had a baby bottle, we had to get additional X-raying and testing.
 When we were 5 people away from the end, a TSA worker (!!) finally offered to help push a stroller.
 My wife stayed behind. I took both kids. But try getting through security with a 2- and 4-year-old -- it is REALLY HARD.
 We checked one bag, then time ran out on checking the other--so we had to either abandon it in the airport or miss our flight.
 Then your system took forever printing tickets, & wouldn't recognize my wife's married name (we used it on both ID and ticket)
 First, we got to the airport (LAX) and there were only 4 attendants to handle a waiting-room that was like a mosh pit.
Baggage claim. Never have i been happier to type these two words. My face says it all: 

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