Friday, October 31, 2014

African Equids.

African Equids
by james bezerra

"Well hello and welcome!" shouted the man in the tan hat and khaki shorts. He had the practiced joy of someone who spends a lot of time leading school groups of children, which is what he will be doing today. "Is everyone excited to see some animals today?!"

The kids did not say much. Maybe a half-hearted Yay??. They had gotten up very early, before the sun had fully come up, then ridden the bus for over an hour along unfamiliar freeways.

"My name is Mister Andy and today I am going to give you a tour of the ..." He stopped himself. He was tired too. He made less working here then he'd ever expected when he'd gotten his degree. He had expected that he would be doing real and important conservation work, maybe on those vast African savannahs that he'd dreamed about as a boy. Instead though, he'd found himself here. Mostly leading tour groups of disinterested urban school kids. Additionally, he found ridiculous the constraint that had been placed up on all of them. "Today I am going to give you a tour of this establishment which maintains a collection of wild animals ... typically in a park or gardens of some sort, for study, conservation, or display to the public. Who is excited for that?!"

He led them down to see the gorillas, because those were always a big hit with the kids, but it was too early and they were asleep. He took them over to the reptile house, but too many of the little girls refused to go inside on account of a quickly-spreading rumor that inside the reptile house the snakes were allowed to slither freely in the shadows.
So he took them over to the Africa enclosure. It was big, almost half an acre.
"Mister Andy! Mister Andy! What are those?" A little boy was pointing at into the enclosure.

Andy had been dreading this. "Those," he sighed, "are a type of African equid. Notable for their distinctive black and white markings."
"Are they horses?!"

"Well, no." Andy said, "Not technically. They are very similar to horses though."
"What's an eqid?" A little girl with blond ringlets asked. "Are they called equids?" She looked up at him, in a way that was almost accusatory.
"Well no." Andy sighed again, "No one actually calls them that."
"Tell us what they are called." The little girl demanded.
"Well technically they are of the genus Equus. And of the subgenus Hippotigris. Can you all say 'Hippotigris'?"

"Those are antelope," one of the boys hollered while wiping snot on his sleeve.

"No," Andy protested, "those are not antelope."

"Yes they are."

"No, I assure you, they are not."

"Well then what are they?" The little girl was quite demanding now. 

"How would you all like to go see the porcupines?" Andy asked.
"No," the little girl insisted. "Tell us what those are."
"I told you already," snot boy said, "they are antelopes."
"No," Andy said, "No they are not. They are just kind of like horses, okay? You're fourth graders, how much do you really care?"
"Where are they from?" Blond girl asked.
"These are from ..." Andy stopped himself, "these are from the African nation west of Angola and north of Botswana."
"Where is that?" The girl was like a little prosecutor.
"Look kid, just go get a map, okay? Now how about some ice cream. How would you all like some ice cream?"
"We haven't even had lunch yet." the girl said.
"Well I won't tell if you don't, okay?"
Andy led them away toward the cantina as the African equids munched contentedly on the breakfast hay in their feeder.


The Cliff and this Bitch.

I am in the process of writing a short story for one of my workshop classes. I have been getting a lot of (very polite) blowback lately from numerous sources that all seems to indicate that I have sort of plateaued in my writing as of late. There are all sorts of very complicated ways to explain this, I could tell you what Proust said about such things and maybe break it down the way Derrida might, but really it just boils down to this: I have gotten pretty good at what I do and so now need to do some other stuff.

See how clearly and succinctly I articulated that?

Recently I met with a professor I respect (who is a writer herself) and she said that I need to “jump off the cliff” but she talks that way and I’m not exactly sure what that means. Though she was nice enough to shrug when I said that I desperately want to publish a novel. She shrugged and said, “You’re good enough now to publish a novel” and then went on to explain that I should be less concerned about that and more concerned with attending to the growth of my writing.

In an attempt to attend to the growth of my writing I have gone back to this idea I had a long time ago for a story about D.B. Cooper (the 1970s skyjacker) which I have never written because I didn’t know how to write it. I’d envisioned a sort of screenplay in the style of the third act of the movie Clue wherein nothing is really sorted out but many possibilities are imagined. Well I have started writing that as a kind of short story which doesn’t even care who the dude was, but rather revels in the possibilities and plays with the mythology of Cooper. And let me tell you, IT HAS BEEN REALLY HARD! I assume that if it is hard then I must be growing as a writer, or something. That’s how it works, right? That’s why the gym is so unpleasant to go to; because we have to do unpleasant things to make ourselves get better.

Anyway, I have been working my ass off on this story in a way I am not accustomed to. For the first draft I am writing it as an enumerated list story (I may remove that artifice later, but let’s just get through the first draft, shall we?). Below are a few of the first few sections that I have written so far. When this bitch is done I will post the whole thing here.


Vector 23 (Excerpt).

1.The man who bought a one-way ticket with cash at Portland Airport on the afternoon of 24 November 1971 - who was the 36th passenger to board Flight 305 to Seattle-Tacoma Airport, who sat in seat 18C, who carried with him only a black attache case, and whose FBI file is now more than sixty volumes long - most certainly existed. 

He gave his name at the Northwest Orient Airlines counter as Dan Cooper.

Clyde Jabin, a young reporter rushing to file his story with United Press International that night spoke hastily on the phone with a records agent at the FBI.

“D. Cooper,” the agent had said.

“Is that ‘D’ as in dog? Or ‘B’ as in boy?” Jabin asked.

“Yeah, that’s right,” the agent said back in a hurry. “Look, I gotta go Clyde. Lots going on here tonight.” 

Jabin’s story identified the hijacker as D. B. Cooper. This was an unfortunate coincidence for a petty Portland Oregon criminal actually named D. B. Cooper who was visited by FBI agents Thanksgiving morning.

At about 8:13pm on the night of the 24th the nonexistent D. B. Cooper of Jabin’s story leapt from the aft stairway of the Boeing 727 as it passed over the Lewis River in southwestern Washington. He disappeared. Which is no small feat for a man who didn’t exist in the first place.

2.Everything presented here as fact is actually fact. Except for the things which aren’t.

3. The man who would be DB might have been born in 1926 in Vancouver Canada. His father could have been a fisherman, tall with thick arms, and a big beard that hung from his otherwise thin face. DB could have stood at the end of the dock each time his dad’s sixty-foot salmon trawler put out in the direction of Vancouver Island. DB might have waited there every time watching as the boat disappeared around a bend in the channel on its way out to the sea; such a very small boat when compared to the vastness of such a dark sea. As a little Canadian boy he could have read the Belgian comic book Les Aventures de Dan Cooper about the adventures of a Royal Canadian Air Force test pilot named Dan Cooper. The comic was never sold in the United States.  


I'm a Fool to Love You.

Tonight is Halloween and I am not doing anything for Halloween because I have blocked off this whole weekend for getting stuff done because I am headed off to a brother’s wedding next week. Yes, The Texan Diplomat is getting married and so I get to do some fun traveling, but that means I have a metric fuck-load of things to get done before I get on a train Wednesday night.

So I am sitting here at my kitchen table doing my work and I have the windows open - it is a nice chill breezy and drizzly dark night - and I can hear the occasional hoots and woots and hollers of Halloween parties in the apartment complex. Longtime readers of this  blog know that I have great difficulty processing the fact that anyone anywhere ever might possibly be having fun without me, so tonight feels a bit lonelier than most. I spend alot of time alone - being both a writer and a grad student - and I’m fine with it and I have actually learned how to be somewhat graceful about this whole being-single thing, but tonight my Pandora is on a bluesy bender and so as I write this I am listening to to Donald Byrd’s “I’m a Fool to Want You” as college girl laughs roll in through my windows on air a little thicker and wetter than most nights and it makes me a little lonelier than most nights.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Big Ink.

I would very much like it if the international ink pen industry (“Big Ink” as I like to call it) could finally get its shit together and standardize itself in such a way that pens are ALWAYS the color of the ink inside of them. This is probably not a big issue for most people, but I correct a lot of papers and I give notes on a lot of papers and it would really streamline my life if ink pens stopped lying to me about what color they actually are. Every time it feels like a little bit of a deception. I think it needs to stop.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

The back of this bottle suggests that I pair it with real food #peppercrustedtunafuckyou

via Instagram

Blue Cow.

This is a picture of a cow that I came across online while looking for something else. I like it.


The Feels.

I did a reading tonight for the lit journal at my school and I read a piece that basically summarized the history of greater Los Angeles over the past seven thousand or so years (but, you know, interesting) and afterward a woman I know who is an adjunct professor said that it made her think of a lighthearted W. G. Sebald and it was one of the nicest things anyone has said to me in a long time. Not many people know of poor old sad and guilty German Sebald. He was a real downer that guy, but he wrote the sort of books that drive librarians crazy; books that confuse history and fiction and philosophy and autobiography and cartography and just about everything else.

I don’t have much to say other than that, but you know how weird I feel when someone says things that give me the feels, so I just thought that I would tell you about it.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

An Actual Text Message I Just Sent.

An Actual Text Message I Just Sent
by james bezerra

MY FRIEND: What are you doing?

ME: I am writing an email to a bunch of Marxists at the University of Florida trying to convince them that they should let me come read them my collection of poetry about Capitalism.

I am so happy that I find my own life so utterly fascinating.


The Ethos of Dentists.

I recently got to see some of the mid-term political ads that are running in not-where-I-live (they don’t bother running many political ads in Southern California) and it’s funny because in the Freshman English class where I am almost-a-teacher we have been dealing with pathos, ethos, and logos. Ethos is always a tricky one to understand. It is basically an appeal to credibility, like: 4 out of 5 dentists agree that brushing your teeth is a good thing.

Political ads though seem to use a different form of this rhetorical appeal. Political ads are more like: 4 out of 5 dentists agree that the 5th dentist is an asshole.

The really fun ads are the ones that invoke President Obama as the 5th dentist. Below I have written a midterm ad that the RNC should feel free to use, because it is as good as everything else they are producing, but also because it demonstrates the inversion of ethos that seems to just be the norm now.


Free RNC Ad Idea!

President Obama said that Hitler was bad ...

But look at this beautiful autobahn …

And all these happy children …

Why does Obama hate roads and happy children ...

This November, remember to vote Republican.

Because Hitler had some good ideas.


Friday, October 17, 2014

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

via Instagram

Look at this OTHER fountain I found!

via Instagram

Look at this neat fountain I discovered! #betterthanMagellan

via Instagram

It really seems like god wants me to go to all the bars because wherever I end up there always seems to be a bar.

via Instagram

I drove from Northridge to Glendale with no freeways and no map! And it only took two hours and I only ended up in Hollywood once! I'm basically Magellan.

via Instagram

I have a bunch of stuff to do but I don't feel like doing any of it so instead I am just driving around being lost. It's rather fun!

via Instagram

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." Anais Nin

via Instagram

The Humming Bird.

I know that I do not mention it here very often, but I do actually believe that there are good writers in the world who do not happen to be me. One of them is a guy who goes by the name “Brian Doyle” and I have never heard of him before.

He wrote this small essay called "Joyas Volardores" and you should read it because it will remind you what it is like when someone does something very very well.

This guy is so good that I would cross the street just to punch him in the face. And I am not a violent man.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Songs For My Band’s Next Album.

As some of you may already know, I am in a completely make-believe band. We are pretty good, as non-existent bands go. Below is the slate of songs I am working on for our next album, which is also not a real thing.

- The Bilabial Fricatives

- Prabhajak Jagdish, the Prophetic Janitor

- Blind People: Are They Just Liars?

- Topographical Poetry About Topical Putridity

- Practical Ways to Conserve Water

- Industrial Hygiene

- Apocalypse Then

- The One with All the Typhoid

- All the Folding Robots of White Castle

- Take the Ridge Route to the Sandberg Weather Station

- I Told You to Stop Touching Me There

- Comet Swift Tuttle and the Perseids

- Petroleum Geology and You

- The Meaning of Bamboo

- A Whirling Dervish Stole My Car Keys


Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Upcoming Synod: Edicts and Answers.

As you all undoubtedly already know, next week the Roman Catholic Church will convene a meeting of Bishops from around the world to discuss issues - both ancient and contemporary - which are of importance to the modern church. This gathering is called a “Synod”, which is a word derived from the Late Latin synodus which means “teeth together” and is also a genus of tropical and subtropical lizardfishes that look sort of like regular lizards but without legs, and also they are fish.

The Synod is expected to be seen as a referendum on the progressive policies of Pope Francis. The largely traditional and conservative group of Bishops is expected to discuss contentious issues such as homosexual marriage, premarital sex, birth control, divorce, and what specifically constitutes ‘getting to third base’.

The editors here at Standardkink have obtained an early press release concerning the decisions that will be reached next week at the Synod. Below are some of the edicts which will be handed down as well as answers to some of the most pressing questions of faith in our time.


  • Henceforth no one is allowed to make fun of the word “Synod” anymore. We are tired of the teasing. It was fun for awhile, but we don’t name these things after fish.
  • We totally got that whole Joan of Arc thing right.
  • Everybody who watches “Game of Thrones” has to stop acting like everybody else on the planet also watches “Game of Thrones”. It’s just a television show.
  • You too “Breaking Bad” people. You’re just embarrassing yourselves at this point.
  • Don’t even get us started on “Mad Men”.
  • Everybody stop acting like you aren’t totally digging on Iggy Azalea.
  • Martin Luther had some good points but he is still an asshole for handling the situation the way he did.
  • Henceforth the sportsball game knows as “futbol” is to be referred to only as “soccer”. The American sportsball game known as “football” is to be referred to only as “that racist, misogynistic, homophobic, bloodthirsty, sophomoric televised barbarism we watch instead of teaching our kids to read”.
  • Jeff Buckley’s cover of “Hallelujah” is the only acceptable version of “Hallelujah” and all other versions are apocryphal and are to be burned.
  • Stamps are getting way too expensive. The price just goes up all the time and we don’t like it. We don’t even know how much a stamp costs anymore.


Q: What if my copy of Rufus Wainwright’s cover of “Hallelujah” is digital?
A: Burn it.

Q: But it’s on my computer …
A: Burn your computer.

Q: So you’re telling me that Jesus wants me to light my laptop on fire?
A: Yes.

Q: Really?
A: Yeah. He told us so.

Q: What if I have the Leonard Cohen version on CD?
A: Burn it.

Q: Seriously? Leonard Cohen wrote the song. It’s his song …
A: What about this is unclear?

Q: Okay, fine. I have burned all that stuff.
A: It took you too long.

Q: So what’s the deal with the Pope’s hats?
A: They make him feel pretty.

Q: Iron Maiden or Metallica?
A: I’m coming back I will return/And I’ll possess your body and I’ll make you burn.

Q: Pirates or ninjas?
A: Leprechauns.

Q: Edward or Jacob?
A: Edward. Obviously. Get your head out of your ass.

Q: Have you guys been on lately?
A: Yeah, we know, it makes the Yahoo comments section look like the Nobel Prize committee.

Q: Who shot JR?
A: Seriously? This question is more than thirty years old.

Q: PC or Mac?
A: Linux.

Q: That’s surprising.
A: We’re old school like that.

Q: Which are the seven countries being referred to in now decade-old White Stripes song “Seven Nation Army”?
A: The Unites States, Great Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Turkey, The United Arab Emirates and Burkina Faso.

Q: Really??
A: No.

Q: So one last question: did you guys just make up this whole “religion” thing as a way to explain a world that you couldn’t possibly objectively understand two or three millennia ago? And then maybe get hooked on the power of telling people what to do?
A: We didn’t make it up.


I discovered a secret sportsball competition taking place.

via Instagram

Look at all these lanterns I found!

via Instagram

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Today I inadvertently ran straight into a wall. I misspelled my own name on some paperwork and I accidentally drew a penis on the dry erase board while explaining rhetorical strategies to my students.

Today I also wrote the story below. It is not particularly good or anything, but I had no intention of writing any story today, so at least it exists. I guess. I don’t know why I have been producing lots of these useless little narratives lately. Perhaps it is because the key to being generative is lowering one’s standards!

If you prefer quantity over quality, you sure are in the right place here!