• Creative Works,  Satire,  Traveling

    How to Act Now Before Your Total Abnilisation (All major credit cards accepted!)

    A Note to the Reader: “How to Act Now Before Your Total Abnilisation” is a work of cosmic pseudepigraphy by American fabulist Matt Muller, significant for its experimental style and its reputation as one of the most difficult works of metafictional advertisement in the American language. Its first draft written in Chengdu, China over a period of 3 hours, and first published online minutes later, just 24 hours before it would be made to disappear from Chinese cyberspace. The entire work is written in a falsely eloquent language, consisting of a mélange of standard American and neologistic jargon, which many critics believe attempts to recreate a simulacrum of expertise and…

  • Book Review,  Memoir

    Will reading the book Wired for Story really make you a better storyteller?

    In my 36th year as a would-be and penniless writer, I found myself exiled to a dark rough and tumble city in the Far West, guns blazing as a steely-eyed wordslinger for hire.  But then one day I stumbled upon Lisa Cron’s Wired for Story. The book’s first pages caught my attention.  But alas, the price wasn’t right for a poor, humble teacher on a Chinese salary.  I had bills to pay, a mistress to please, and habits to feed.  Plus there was the local research base full of giant pandas; the damn things generated reams of Chinglish prose I would have to revise for a pittance.  Already my inbox…

  • Creative Writing Exercises,  Memoir

    It’s All About Image

    I don’t remember ever planning on just being, much less being in Chengdu or even being a writer.  Yet here I am.  As an American in China I have hard time reconciling the fact that I had to come all the way to China in order to find freedom and success in the way H.D. Thoreau wrote about in Walden: I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined [emphasis mine], he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an…

  • Creative Writing Exercises

    The Mother of Books is Prompt (And So Can You!)

    They say that it takes 10,000 hours or 1,000,000 words (or some combination thereof) to master the craft of writing.  But who has time for that?  We got bills to pay, habits to feed, college loan statements to file away, the list goes on – which is why I’ve picked today to use a special technique I learned in kindergarten.  It’s called “Let’s Pretend!” For those of you from China unfamiliar with this game, “Let’s Pretend!” is one of the first tasks drilled into the little heads of foreigner children matriculating in pre-school and kindergarten.  They use their imaginations, pretending they are bourgeois scientists, astronauts, cowboys, capitalist roaders and sometimes,…

  • Satire

    US Department of Homeland Security agents to receive specialized surveillance training in the PRC

    By Matt, Know Knews (WASHINGTON – Know Knews) The US Department of Homeland Security has reportedly prepared its personnel to receive specialized surveillance training in the People’s Republic of China. The US agents will gain innovative solutions to improve national security. ­DHS personnel are to arrive at mainland China data mining hubs a month before the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, and stay a month after US commemorative ceremonies, according to a new agreement between PRC’s Bureau of Harmonization & Minority Affairs and the US Department of Homeland Security, Know Knews reports. “This partnership will slather on an extra juicy layer of security to boost and aid all the other security…

  • Rambling

    Back to the Future: My First Lesson in Cognitive Dissonance

    North central Pennsylvania is beautiful and temperate this time of year.  The day reveals a land of maze-like mountain ranges, each ridge roughly the same elevation.  Geologists describe this kind of rugged terrain as a desiccated plateau.  Here there are ridges beyond ridges lush with forest, waterways, bogs, valleys with farms, corn fields and cattle pens; and the sky blue with castles and archipelagos of cumulus.  At night the sky glitters sharply with stars while arches the diaphanous ribbon of the Milky Way.  The weather this time of year is almost always temperate and mostly sunny, except for occasional storm sweeping through, flashing here and there with electric yellow bolts,…