Tuesday, November 25, 2014

On Set Photos from This Modern Man is Beat movie.

Below are some amazing photos from This Modern Man is Beat movie. Based on my short story published at Acentos Review in 2011 and adapted into an award winning short script by my mentor David Schroeder. Directed by Alex Merkin and starring Jordi Vilasuso from One Life to Live and All My Children will be coming to a film festival near you. My mind is blown, how the characters I created are now jumping from the page/brain to the silver screen. I would like thank everyone involved, specially David Schroeder. Stay tuned for updates on the release of the trailer, and future screenings. Post-Production begins now. And yes, that is the same pawnshop that was used in PULP FICTION.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Proust Questionnaire: Poet Dom Schwab

Dom Schwab is a poet from Chicago I met online via Twitter and theopenend. He kindly read and reviewed my novel. Since I'm always sending out requests for Proust Questionnaires, I figured I'd ask if he wanted to do one and he said yes. His excellent answers are below. You can check out more of his work at the links below the questionnaire.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Ease of mind in terms of living situation (living space, finances, etc.), but, more so to “happiness,” being acknowledged, if only slightly, for my writing. Primarily I’ve been writing poetry lately, so that’s what I’ve been perfecting and submitting into the (online) world.

2. What is your greatest fear?

My finances. I know everyone worries about finances, but I feel as though I get close to the edge of plummeting into inescapable debt. But this may be a widely held fear, given the state in which the world/America exists, particularly for young people who must be burdened with the decisions of past generations. While I do not wish to sound as though I am assigning blame (although I fear I sound as though I am [or am, in fact, assigning blame]), I cannot help but feel and think as though we young people have been given the short stick and then commanded to “fix” everything that is wrong with the current financial situations.

3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

A lack of niceness. Lately, I’ve been trying to be nicer to people. I work in customer service, which makes being a nice individual difficult at times, particularly when people are angry and taking out their anger on me. But I’m trying to be more conscious of others and, thus, trying to be nicer. While I don’t beat myself up when I am not extra sweet to everyone, I am more aware of when I fail to be just plain nice or decent.

4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?

A lack of common sense. I’m sure most everyone feels as though everyone else lacks common sense, but I cannot help feeling as though many people simply lack common sense and, as a result, are unkind or unthinking towards me/others. When one fails to be kind/considerate toward me, that frustrates me.

5. Which living person do you most admire?

I had to give this question a great deal of thought, and the ultimate conclusion is: Not really anyone. Typically, I learn of people who lived in the past, and then greatly admire those people, wishing to emulate them, but they have lived and died years, decades, or centuries from today. To be honest, I do not greatly admire anyone who is currently living, with, possibly, two exceptions: 1) Christopher Hitchens & 2) Bjork. Now, when I was in college, I learned of Christopher Hitchens and fell in love. A man who lived and embodied the supremacy of the intellect…that was the person for me. As such, I adored Hitchens and admired him more than any other living person. Then, in 2012, he died, so I guess he cannot count with regard to this question. The other person, Icelandic singer/songwriter Bjork, is sort of a default for me, which is why she did not immediately come to mind. I cannot even begin to explain myself as to why I love her so much, except that she is a creative person times 100; a purely creative entity who has sought the accomplishment of her unique vision more than any other thing; that’s something I admire in her more than in any other living person. So, I guess I’d say Bjork, if pressured to give an actual answer.

6. What is your greatest extravagance?

Spending money. I know I said I fear falling into debt, but my greatest extravagance is also, in certain regards, my biggest fear. That is, I cannot help but buy unnecessary items (alcohol, books, and cigarettes, mainly), which contribute to a “bohemian” life, which I wish to have. (On an aside, I have only read Chaucer’s “Prologue” to The Canterbury Tales, but in the “Prologue,” he briefly describes a man who spends more on books than on food, which is rather characteristic of me.)

7. What is your current state of mind?

With regard to what? Currently, I am drinking a glass of wine, although I am not tipsy or drunk. Or my state of mind in general? I suppose I am simply trying to live my life: go to work, be a good person, try to make a name for myself in a literary sense.

8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Faith. I immediately think less of a person who espouses faith as a high and/or as the most important virtue.

9. On what occasion do you lie?

Most consistently to my mother, especially with regard to my personal life. Now, however, they rarely ask about such things, so I do not have need to tell them lies.

10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?

I have had many issues with many aspects about my physical appearance, but most of that is gone; however, currently I am dissatisfied with the lack of hair on my abdomen. I used to have a hairy belly because, as a descendant of Italians, I am quite hairy; but, due to my having to wear an apron for work, the rubbing of the apron upon my midriff has basically erased my “happy trail,” so I am unhappy with my bald belly.

11. Which living person do you most despise?

I had to get this some thought, but if pressed to give an answer: The man who, in grade school, I referred to as my best friend.

12. What is the quality you most like in a man?

Intelligence, especially with regard to common sense and being a “well-rounded” educated person.

13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Intelligence, especially with regard to common sense and being a “well-rounded” educated person.

14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“Like.” And, in answering these questions: “with regard to.”

15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Literature is the greatest love of my life, although the first boy I fell in love with will always possess a special corner of my heart until the day I die.

16. When and where were you happiest?

My senior year of college, fall of 2010 to spring of 2011. My academic “game” was “on point.” That year, I found out I would be able to pick up a minor in Philosophy (my other love, besides Literature) if I took on full course loads both semesters; I did that and excelled, graduating that year with all As.

17. Which talent would you most like to have?

The ability to wield courage at will.

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would give myself the immediate strong will I desire. But, as it is, a strong will, like a muscle, must be sculpted over time, and I am inpatient.

19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I guess, writing and writing and writing, such that I am producing poems which are now being accepted to places. I’ve worked hard and honed my skills (although they are still weak), but they are starting to be recognized, which is humbling and fulfilling to me.

20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

If I were to come back with all the knowledge I now possess, I would want to come back as a person do things differently, the way I wanted to do them all along. Otherwise, probably as a tree, I guess.

21. Where would you most like to live?

Iceland, because it is beautiful naturally and humanistically. The tropics/equator, because I crave the heat…I cannot abide winters any longer.

22. What is your most treasured possession?

A way to write (phone, computer, pen & paper); a way to listen to music (mp3-player, computer); whatever book I am currently reading.

23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Utter isolation from others while allowing the mind to dwell upon repeated/looped paranoid thoughts.

24. What is your favorite occupation?

Being a writer, film director, or musical person; namely, anything involved with the arts and writing.

25. What is your most marked characteristic?

My bushy, red beard.

26. What do you most value in your friends?

Their ears, for being the receptors of my thoughts and words. Whether they wholly retain the information I share with them is less important as the ability they possess to tolerate my speaking to them and bouncing ideas off of them.

27. Who are your favorite writers?

In chronological order: Roald Dahl, Stephen King, Friedrich Nietzsche, Plato, David Foster Wallace, Walt Whitman, Sappho, Tao Lin (honestly, I still admire his writing style), Megan Boyle, Allen Ginsberg, Michael Davidson/herocious, Christopher Hitchens, Hayden Carruth, Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

28. Who is your hero of fiction?

Specifically fiction? Authors or characters? Specifically of fiction authors: David Foster Wallace, for I see a lot of similarities (perhaps [in a succinct way] because both he and I share a love of both literature and philosophy; we both sought/seek to engage active thought in/through our writing; we both dealt with/fought depression & viewed writing as an outlet for depression). Specifically of fiction characters: Not really anyone, I suppose.

29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

I’m not well-versed in history, so I don’t exactly have an answer. Unless, I can count Christopher Hitchens, since he is dead and now “in the memory of history,” because he esteemed the intellect.

30. Who are your heroes in real life?

David Foster Wallace (see above), Christopher Hitchens (see above and for being everything he stood for), Walt Whitman (for refusing to let current conventions hold him down), Gertrude Stein (for questioning linguistics via literature), Friedrich Nietzsche (for daring to question popular convention), Socrates (for questioning), Hayden Carruth (for pursuing poetry ceaselessly), Joshua Jennifer Espinoza (for being brave), Stephen King (for being ungodly successful), Steve Roggenbuck (for being endlessly positive and for proving that people can change for the better), and George Carlin (for softening the blows of reality with humor and for personifying the cranky old grump that I am)

31. What are your favorite names?

I don’t really think about names.

32. What is it that you most dislike?

Injustice in any/all forms. But, to pinpoint one very specific example, I get hopping mad whenever I hear mean/rude remarks made against lesbians and transfolk…not sure why, but I lose rationality and can feel violence within me whenever someone says something truly despicable against feminine and/or female-bodied persons, especially when what they say is meant towards a specific person.

33. What is your greatest regret?

That I never took the initiative and made the first move with that boy I fell in love with when I had the chance a few years after we first met, after I first fell in love. Occasionally, I still think about that and it kind of pains me.

34. How would you like to die?

If it has to be by means other than old age, I want for it to be quick: car crash, airplane falls on me, etc., or like, if I am diagnosed with an inoperable cancer and I only have a handful of grueling, painful months ahead of me, I would absolutely opt for euthanasia, once I’ve quickly gotten my affairs in order. If I live my entire life and make it to my old age death bed, I will be aware the end is near, but I would want for it to be in my sleep or, again, euthanasia.

35. What is your motto?

My motto changes depending on whatever phase I’ve come up with or whatever snippet of a song lyric is stuck in my head. Currently, the latter: “Time; You are Light / I guess you were afraid of / What everyone is made of: / Time and Light” – St. Vincent, “The Apocalypse Song”


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

This SS-Waffen Tuxedo is Stained With Salty Tears By Fawzy Zablah

He thought he was at the wrong church because he didn’t recognize anyone in the Wedding party of which he was suppose to be a part of. But once he got a good look at the people, he confirmed that he didn’t know anyone at all. He looked for the name of the church to make sure he was at the right one. It was the Church of Our Fuhrer Adolph Hitler. It was the right place.

After taking photos with the other groomsmen, where he stood out like a sore thumb despite his rented SS-Waffen style tuxedo, he went and stood outside the church. This was only the second time he’d wore a tuxedo, let alone a Waffen uniform and he didn’t know what to do with his hands. He tried to put his hands in his coat pockets when he realized that it looked funny and it was uncomfortable. He looked at the other men in their pale gray uniforms and Swastika arm bands, paying attention to how they put their hands in their pants pockets, under their jackets or just stood with their hands in front of them. He copied the hands in the pants pocket look and checked his jacket button. He realized he still felt uncomfortable, so instead he took out his cell phone and began to text, but then midway through he saved it to draft.

It was 6 o’clock and the South Florida evening was wrapping itself nicely in the mid-February climate. It was cool and windy, and there hadn’t been many days like this recently. He took out his cell phone again and started to read his inbox text followed by his outbox text. There was a group of three young women standing across from him in the church. He would glance but he didn’t try to get anyone’s attention. When he put his head down to read his text, he felt their eyes on him.

His brother arrived twenty minutes later and he went out to meet him in the parking lot. His two little nephews were in their tuxedos. One was six, and the other three and you could tell they were brothers. The younger one initiated rebellions wherever he went. The older one had found maturity in a way, and just simply watched and commented. He could not stop talking about being the ring bearer.

Are they here yet?” his brother said.

No, looks like we’re the first from our family. There’s like eighty people on the groom’s side. We got like what -- six?” 

“Isn’t that funny?”

I guess.”

They thought it was hilarious the other day at the dinner.”

His brother’s wife came around from the other side of the mini van with a small baby bag filled with toys.

Hey you,” she said. “Are we all ready? Is Gretchen here?”

Nope,” he said.

Well let’s go,” she said. “Michael, grab your uncle’s hand.”

He grabbed his nephew’s hand and they walked all together to the church.

Once inside the church, and before the bride arrived, he stood on the side and began to text. The text read:
I’m here. There are hardly any people on the bride’s side. I don’t know anybody.

Five minutes later, a text came back that read:

Oh my goodness! That is crazy, but good so you can meet lot’s of ladies!!

He sent back another text that read:

I don’t know why I agreed to do this. I basically got roped in. I’m not even close with Gretchen. I think she asked just because she needed one more person to fill it.

He pressed send and put the cell phone back in his pocket. When the limo arrived he looked for Marcela, the girl he was supposed to walk with in the ceremony. She was the third girl out. They went up to each other and he gave her a kiss on the cheek.

How are you?” he asked.

I’m fine,” she said, kissing him on the cheek.  

What do I need to know?”

Just watch the couple in front of you. When they reach halfway, then we go. And don’t walk too fast. Your nephew stubbed my toe yesterday.”

Is it bad?”

No it's not. But just walk normal - there’s no special walk.”

Got it.”

She looked at him once more and walked off to talk to the other bridesmaids. He stood next to the other groomsmen, and he couldn’t smile no matter how hard he tried. His nephews were making the flower girls laugh. His brother was over-seeing them. His sister-in-law was chasing around the bride in the special room where they get ready. It seemed that his problem was that he didn’t know what to do with his hands. If he could solve that, then he would be alright and he could make it through the night.

When Mendelssohn's Wedding March started he
stood in his place next to Marcela and ready to walk. She waited until the last minute to place her hand in his arm. When the couple in front of them reached the half way point, they began their walk into oblivion.

Above the groom, he could see a framed photograph of the Fuhrer below the Nazi eagle and Swastika. There were also two huge red banners draped to the right and the left with big, black swastikas. Next to the groom was of course the SS Notary holding a copy of Mein Kempf. Hail Hitler, he said, and with that enthusiastic Nazi salute, the official ceremony began.

He told his brother that he would follow him to the reception. But right before he arrived at the banquet hall, he called him up and told him he was feeling sick and that he was going home. His brother was fine with it and asked him to call him later so he can tell him how it went.

When he made the U-Turn on the main road, he began texting at a red light. The text read:

I’m coming over. What do you want to eat?

A text came back and it read:

Nooooop I just ordered something. I didn’t think you were serious! Stay and enjoy the party!

He quickly started texting back while driving. When he finished and it was sent off that particular message read:

I don’t like those people. They’re assholes. I’ll show u the pictures I took. I didn’t even really want to do this. I’m just gonna hang at the office for a little bit and go home.

Then a text came back which read:

Well, let me rephrase. You can stop by of course, but no need to bring me food, unless you are only stopping by to feed me out of obligation ;)

Then before he could respond, another text came after that one and it read:

I am scared here by myself!!!

He wrote back: I’m on the way :)

When he arrived at the empty office building he parked his yellow Volkswagen one space away from the black one. When he got out the car, he made sure to put on the jacket and button it up. He stopped in front of the door and fixed the tie. The parking lot was empty with very little light. The office where he had parked in front of was the only one with the lights on. Through the glass door you could see the entire office. It appeared empty inside. He took out his keys and opened the door and locked it behind him.

I’m here,” he said.

He walked deep into the office and around a corner to a room with six cubicles. The girl, who was a brunette with dark brown exalting eyes, turned around in her chair.

You look handsome.”

He took a chair right in front of her cubicle and sat down with the smile still in his face.

And you smell good.”

I clean up well.”

How was the wedding?”

It was fine. I didn’t wanna be there. I walked the girl and that went as well as expected. She kept telling me to walk slow.”

She looked at his tie.

She chose the Gray SS-Waffen uniform, well it makes sense since the groom is in the party.”

Yes,” he said, looking down at his tie. “Do you like it?”

When I get married I think I want the bridesmaids to wear traditional colors. What color was the Groom's uniform?”

It was black.”


She turned her head to keep checking at the computer.

So you ordered food he said,” looking at her shoes.

Yes, I didn’t really think you were going to come. I thought you were joking with me.”

I wouldn’t have come just to drop off food anyway, I wanted to see you.”

So the reception just ended?”

I didn’t go.”

You didn’t go? Why?”

I didn’t want to. I'm not too fond of Nazis. I mean, I don’t know them but I just didn’t want to go. I’d rather spend time with you.”

She gave him an uncomfortable smile.

I can’t believe you. Well why should you be there if you didn’t really want to be there. 

Did you bring the photos?”

He took out his digital camera from his back pocket and switched through the three photos of him and his nephews he took before leaving for the church.

Cute kids those nephews of yours.”

She smiled and looked at him.

What did you order?”

A salad and fried Zucchini. They’re taking long. I’m glad you’re here. I didn’t want the delivery guy to see me alone.”

Their fried zucchini is good,” he said.

After the food arrived, she shared her fried Zucchini with him. And they sat on her desk and ate and talked some more.

Did you make your decision?”

Yes, and don't be mad.”

I won’t.”

His chest ached. She smiled brightly.

I talked to them that I will be leaving.”

Okay and you're sure?”

Yes, pretty sure. We need to take risks in life, you know? And it’s the perfect time. Klaus and I are not married yet. We don’t have any kids. This is the best time for me. It’s either now or never like they say. Are you mad?”

No, but I’m gonna miss working with you.”

We’ll still talk and text each other all the time. Are you sad?”

A little bit. Are you really sure about this? We have job security with the Third Reich. It’s hard to find that again. I know I’m being selfish. I just don’t want you to leave me.”

I’m sorry I can’t. The Third Reich is bloated and on the verge of collapse, all the satellite states are breaking away. The Fuhrer is a dying religion, and I already made my decision. But I will still be here for a little longer, I wont be leaving for at least three weeks. You can have my desk.”

She smiled at him.

Okay, I’ll get your desk,” he said with a half smile.

After eating they watched television. He looked at her while she watched the sitcom. She didn't take her eyes of the television.

An hour later they stood outside the office under the night sky right in front of their cars. They looked at each other.

Are you going to eat more when you get home,” she said.

Maybe. I don’t know. The Zucchini kind of filled me.”

Are you going out tomorrow?”

Yes, I don’t know where yet.”

Are you going out tonight?”

No, would you like to do something?”

Not today. I'm tired.”

Are you going out tomorrow?”

I rented that Knut Hamsung movie. Becoming Becoming Knut.”

Tell me how it is.”

I'll let you borrow it when I finish watching it. When I first got it, Klaus didn’t want to watch it. So we watched a a wanna be Hollywood cowboy movie set in Berlin.”

What was it called?”

Once upon a time in Berlin.”

Was it good?”

The beginning was slow but the ending was good.”

At this point, they both looked up at a very bright star in the night sky. After a few seconds, her head came back down to look at him. He was still looking at the star.

Well, I must be going, Klaus must be wondering where I'm at.”

He didn't say anything.

They both got in their cars and followed each other out of the parking lot. When they took different exits he stopped looking for her car in his rear view mirror.

As he continued driving tears began to fall down his cheeks like people going down a giant water slide. And those bob sled tears raced to his chin and all the way to the neck of his SS-Waffen tuxedo. He didn't wipe his face. He started thinking about what the older gentleman at the Tuxedo Rental had said about not charging him the deposit because he had an honest face and was confident he would bring back everything in order.

He had to return it tomorrow before noon or he would be charged extra. He saw himself returning it in the dead of morning explaining to the gentleman that the tuxedo was stained but only with tears. And the man would say, 'what?' It's stained with tears. With what? This tuxedo is stained with tears. Tears are fine, they can be washed away, they don’t really stain. No, You are wrong. Tears do stain, and I’m telling you that this SS-Waffen tuxedo is stained with tears! My tears! Okay, the gentleman would say. I get it. I get it, you need to relax. Calm down. I understand now. The tuxedo is stained with your tears of deep sorrow. It’s understandable. I get it now. I will not charge you extra. And his response to the gentleman’s assurance would be to put his head down on the glass counter.

And how was the ceremony, the gentleman would say.