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A Mile High in Paradise [Jim #16, Short Fiction]

Abdulaziz al-Omari stood on the corner of a busy intersection in Downtown Paradise. He rang a bell and wore a cardboard sign that said, 911 was an inside job. He looked weathered.

Jim watched him from the veranda of the ice cream shop, spooning sundae into his mouth. The terrorist didn’t wear much for an expression – maybe it was sober and kind of defeated – and he just rang his bell with long steady swings of his arm. Every now and again a passerby dropped a nickel in his tin can. Continue reading “A Mile High in Paradise [Jim #16, Short Fiction]”

Book of Jim – New Novel – Fiction

Book of Jim eReader illustration Internal Cover


The Book of Jim: Agnostic Parables and Dick Jokes from Lucifer’s Paradise – finally published.  Took me a few more months than I thought it would, but it was worth it.  The paperback is slick as hell, the kindle works great, the illustrations are fantastic.  Really happy with it.  If you’re a nook-head, the nook version will be available as soon as I can get it to work.  Epub is a nightmare when it comes to images.  Anyway, here are the amazon links to the paperback and kindle editions:

paperback

kindle

The stories are still floating around on the blog, free as ever.  Metadirt Part 2 coming soon.


Jim Novel and Short Film Status

Well, if you’ve been following these crazy stories at all, you’ll have noticed that there’s been a significant drop in the rate of posts lately.  I finally got another story uploaded – if you didn’t see it on the main page it’s right here.  It’s a two or three parter, so expect some more soon.

As for the novel, the manuscript is finished and the illustrations and cover are on the way, and all that’s left is the drudgery of formatting.  The Book of Jim will be available in paperback, kindle, and nook real soon.  For real this time.  I promise.  If it’s not, I’m either dead or insane or both, and you should probably look for something else to read.

The short film Limbo is finished.  I’ve seen the final cut, and it’s hilarious.  I love every second it.  Fangso and Haines did a brilliant job on it.  Most recently it’s been accepted to a film festival in Florida, and we’re waiting to hear from Tribeca.  If you’re one of those amazing and intellectually disturbed people who put money into the kickstarter, hopefully you’ve gotten all the updates and goodies you were promised.  If otherwise, get a message to me and we’ll make sure you get sorted.  The film itself, you’ll have to wait a little while longer while it runs through the festivals.  They can’t release it while it’s “on the circuit”.  How big of a while I’m not sure.  Probably a few months yet.  And after that, it will be available for free online.  Especially on this blog.

That’s it for now.  Expect the book and some more stories soon.

 

Metadirt – Part 1 [Jim #14, Short Fiction]

There was a knock on the door. Jim opened it, expecting cake or tits or something else that was nice. Instead he got a face full of Billy Mays.

“Hey Jim! Remember me? We met at Lucy’s party. Well we didn’t really meet, you wore my head around for a while before you bashed everybody’s limbs off with a baseball bat. Of course you remember me. It’s the beard, everyone remembers the beard. You mind if I come in? I think I should come in. This is a lovely house! Wow! I love the couch! Is that Chenille?”

“Um, I don’t know. What are you doing here?” Jim wasn’t wearing pants.

Billy sniffed the coffee table. “Pine was a good choice,” he said. “Have you ever considered purchasing insurance against the eternal, Jim?” Continue reading “Metadirt – Part 1 [Jim #14, Short Fiction]”

Indie Novel and Short Film based on Reddit Story

If you’re following these Jim stories you might have noticed there haven’t been so many new ones lately.  I’ve been exhausting most of my energy getting them into form for the short illustrated novel I hope to release before the year is out.  Or at least by January.  “From reddit comment to short film and novella in less than a year” – I like the sound of that.

The initial draft of the novella is complete, awaiting notes and a final rewrite.   So far, my favorite blunder is the inclusion of Bridgette Bardot on Lay Lady Lane.  Turns out she is very much alive and well.  Sorry Bridgette.  I heard your name in a Bob Dylan song and figured you were dead.  I promise to do some research next time.

As for the short film, Limbo (here for more info), I’ve seen some preliminary cuts and they’re fucking slick.  Congrats to Fangso and Haines and the cast and crew.  And thanks again to everyone who contributed to the kickstarter.  When the final cut is available online I’ll be posting all over this blog.

Also, when I release the novella, I plan to have the kindle version available for free for a few days.  I’m doing a test run with my first novel Jarmo, and the kindle version of that book should be free on Oct. 1 and 2.  This isn’t really a plug for it, I just want to make sure I know what I’m doing with this free promotion thing.  But if you want to grab a free book, here’s the link.  The promotion should run through Oct. 1 and 2.  If you go there and it isn’t free, it’s because I’m an idiot.

 

 

 

Cool Cogito, Bro [Jim #13, Short Fiction]

Small Town, Paradise. Green yards and clean air and split-level houses. A post office, a police station, a grocery store, five bars and a set of stoplights. Autumn in the afternoon and summer in the evening, and every evening a new episode of Financially Stable and Moderately Happy Family.

Jim watched from up the road as a man mowed his lawn. The lawn was lush and smooth, already clipped to quarter-inch perfection, and still the man mowed over it. He marched back and forth over his square of grass for half an hour before cutting the engine, putting the mower in his garage, and entering his house.

Jim waited five minutes then knocked on the door. The man answered with a beer in his hand.

“I was wondering when you’d come around,” the man said. Continue reading “Cool Cogito, Bro [Jim #13, Short Fiction]”

Behind the Truth Door and some Pics from LA

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I’m sitting with my back against the truth door. It’s a wooden green door without a handle and the Mexican that sold it to us parted with it easily. The U-Haul truck shakes at sixty and we’re doing sixty-five through eight lanes of traffic. I’m in the back on black rubber with the green door and the filing cabinets and discount drawers, holding the wire cage with one hand and wiping sweat from my eyes with the other. Through the cage – and it’s the kind a cage doomed puppies beg through – the Director is giving me a refresher on the Old Testament.

“The Bible is dirty, man. Genesis is dirty, Leviticus is dirty. Have you ever actually read through that thing? Yeah, of course you have. It isn’t Sodom and Gomorrah either, it’s the whole thing. It’s in the language and the obsessions. Circumcision and sister-fucking. Slaving. Two-dimensional characters. The stereotypes are true.”

“Are you religious?” That’s Production Design. She’s driving. The Director wanted a white truth door and she wanted a green one.

“No.” I’m loud and concise through the bouncing cage.

“You seem to know a lot about it. I mean, you’d have to.”

“It’s all interesting. I just never drank the cool-aid.”

“I’d be pretty surprised if he was religious.”

“Well you never know.”

The Director picks up where he left off, somewhere in Joshua maybe, and I close my eyes and lie down.
The Writer. It has a different meaning out here. There’s a wild and desperate energy in it, almost hopeless. Everybody is trying to get made. I think, Marketability is the god of all scripts in a city with nothing left to say – and I wonder what that means and whether it’s worth writing down.

Production Design swerves and the truth door bangs my shoulder. The cabinets rattle. She’s going to paint the cabinets black for the final scene.

“Are you okay back there?”

“I’m fine.”

The Director is on his phone. There’s a problem with a dolly.

“I really like the door,” I say.

“What?”

“I like the door. The green.”

“Jim’s color is blue.”

“What?”

“Your character, his color is blue. He’s a really blue character. That’s why the door has to be green.”

“Why blue?”

She either doesn’t hear me or it’s a trade secret. I sit back down. The dolly problem is getting worse. I drink the last of my water.

***

We’re on the side of LA where it’s 5 am and the buildings are old. I’m shaking hands with DPs and PAs, the AD and the DIT, and accidentally somebody just walking through. The gate to the lot is closed and the Director has to climb it and push it open from the inside. The building looks like a loading dock.

Somebody asks me what we do for fun in Minnesota and I tell them about the airport.

Production Design pulls up in the U-Haul and parks it by the metal stairs. She’s the exhausted kind of pretty, I think, the kind that only eats not to die and only sleeps not to go insane. Maybe I should write that one down too.

“Are you excited?” she asks.

“Yeah. I mean, here we are. 1 Truth Road.”

“Is it how you imagined it?”

I look at the building that looks like a loading dock. It’s gray bricks and covered windows and smells like asphalt and farts. A black stair leading to the roof is barred by a gate and a sign that says NO HIGH HEELS.

“It’s perfect,” I say.

I help her unload the black cabinets and the table and some chairs, a lamp, scraps of wood. And finally the truth door, dirty and cracked and green, laying in the emptiness. I grab the bottom, she takes the top, and we carry it through the lot and up some stairs and into the gray building.

***

I’m shaking another hand.

“We’re glad you made it. I really love your story.”

The Producer is taller than he looks. He sounds like he just went to the mattresses and somebody big is about to die.

“Thanks.”

“You liking what you see?”

The set is a white floor and two white walls. The crew is taping windows and plugging in cords and setting up work stations. The DIT is on a dark stage above us with headphones and a laptop. The guy on the ladder hanging lights is a Gaffer.

“I don’t really know what I’m seeing.”

“It will make sense when it’s all set up and Talent gets here.” The Producer gestures at the whiteness. “I’m not sure, but I think a few shots for the Matrix were actually filmed here.”

“Cool.”

“If you need anything, get it from me or the AD. Have you met the Assistant to the Director?”

“Yeah.”

“Great. Have some coffee, man. Settle in. We’re making your movie.”

***

There’s a problem with the door. Production Design is standing with a fist on her hip. She’s looking at the ceiling in frustration and I notice that it’s the same pale green as the door.

“Need a hand?”

“The door is too heavy,” she says.

I get a little chill up my back. The truth door is too heavy.

“Maybe – could you just hold this while I screw these in?”

We need a free standing frame and all we have is wood scraps. I hold the door flush and she drills in some hinges. When I let go the contraption leans with a strange gravity. The angles aren’t Euclidean.

“We just need something to hold it up,” she says. “Something on the bottom here. The corner. A block or something.”

I see what she means. The door is suspended and it’s falling away from the hinges. We find a suitable piece of wood and I hold the door up with my foot as she screws it in. We both take a step back. The truth door is standing.

***

The last shot of the day.  They call it martini. We’re fourteen hours deep and a haggard excitement is going around. The Director, I can’t tell if he’s surfing or directing or just passing the time, and I get the feeling he could do all three simultaneously and everything would come out alright. The Gaffer and the Grippers work like dogs under the hot lights and they’re ready for the wrap. The PA’s and the 2nd AD are half dead and sweating on a couch and the beautiful girls responsible for Make-up and Costume are whispering in a corner. The DP rides the dolly and when X marks the spot Talent lopes in with his ancient threads and moldy beard.

“Action!”

What looks like one white floor and two white walls is really an infinite white space. I’m looking at it through the Script Supervisor’s iPad. The pale green door and the tired and ragged Talent are etched stark and surreal. Talent opens the door and walks through and the camera rides the dolly out, fading out, pulling away and getting small. Smaller. It’s quiet now. Momentous.

A sad knock from the other side.

“I fucked up.” The deadpan is so funny it hurts. “I fucked up real bad. How do I get back in? Is there a side entrance?”

“Cut!  That’s a wrap!”


 

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Jon Benjamin on the first day of shooting.  Just a super cool guy.  Low key and funny as hell.


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Me and Katie Wallack in the smoky loft.  She was perfect as Angel.


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Me and Dan Mintz in the writer’s pen waiting to get fed.


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On the left is Kate, and Aella on the right.  They played Cherry and Blueberry.  I think the whole cast and crew fell in love with them.  Me too.  Some of you redditors might know them from /r/gonewild.


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A panorama of some of the crew, getting drunk after the wrap.  I’m going to get some of this wrong but from left to right is: Producer, Director of Photography, Assistant to Director, Camera, DIT, Writer, Script Supervisor, Director, Random Guy in Background, PA, Camera/DP, 2nd AD.


Thanks to everyone involved.  I can’t wait to see what Limbo looks like!


Limbo, a short film based on my reddit story, successfully kickstarted

Poster-4


 The Limbo kickstarter raised just over $31,000, a huge success.  Thank you to everyone who either put in five bucks or a hundred bucks or even just helped us out with a facebook share.  Because of your interest and your votes of confidence there will soon be a short film based on my Jim stories and with a crazy awesome cast and crew.

If you’re late to the party, you can find a whole bunch of info about the film on the kickstarter page:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/76132143/limbo-0

and all of the Jim stories are right here:

https://drowningdream.wordpress.com/jim/


The Crew

Director – Fangso Liu

Producer – Haines Landry

Consulting Producer – Dan Mintz

Cinematographer – Ryan Griswold

Production Design – Francesca Marciano

Editor – Michael Schatz


The Cast

Jim – Jon Benjamin

Lucy – Natasha Leggero

Angel – Katie Wallack

Man – Leonard Kelly-Young


Here’s an interview with Jon Benjamin.  I watched this and I could just hear Jim’s lines falling out of his mouth:


And Natasha Leggero is the perfect Lucy.  Here’s the sexy queen of Paradise getting shallow in her uptown hot tub:

[NSFW]


Keep an eye out for more Jim stories.  I think we’ll be meeting some of Jim’s family in the next one . . .


An American Dreamer in Paradise [Jim #12, Short Fiction]

“I don’t dream anymore.”

“Nobody dreams anymore.”

“Is it still possible to dream? In this place?”

“Well, anything is possible. But no, not really.”

“I miss it.”

“You miss it?”

“Dreams. Dreaming.”

“They’re just dreams.”

“You don’t miss dreams?”

“No.”

“When I was a kid I dreamed about the world series and hitting a homerun. You know, bottom of the ninth, two outs, down by a run, I’ve got a broken arm and I’m hitting into the wind – and then boom it’s out of the park. I march the bases, wave my hat, I stomp down at home. The crowd goes wild.”

“It’s a nice dream.”

“I think so.”

“You know, you can just do that now.”

“I have.”

“You’ve already done it?”

“Yeah.”

“Well there you go.”

“It wasn’t the same.”

“That’s because it was real.”

“I felt stupid.”

“It is stupid. Incredibly stupid.”

“You just said it was a nice dream.”

“A nice, stupid dream.”

“Well, I miss it.”

“I can’t give you your dreams back. Dreaming requires lacking and you lack nothing. Except for dreaming. Which is weird, but that’s just how it works. And if you try to dream about dreaming you’re in for a real headache. So don’t go doing anything like that.”

“Can you do anything for me? It doesn’t have to be the world series. Just a simple one maybe. I used to dream about driving down the highway. That’s it, just an open road and the engine and the sky. How about that one?”

“No dreams. Here’s what I can do for you though. I’m going to go ahead and diagnose you with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.”

“I don’t think that’s what I have.”

“Are you sure? It comes with a wagon full of dex.”

“What’s dex?”

“It’s pretty much meth. Your teeth won’t fall out, but it will stimulate your psycho-activity.”

“I can’t dream anymore so you’re giving me a wagon full of meth?”

“Dex.”

“To stimulate my psycho activity?”

“Take it or leave it.”

“Well, I mean, if that’s all you got.”

***

Jim pulled the wagon of dex along the top of the wall. It was like a little red wagon except it was big and blue. The pills were white and they rattled like teeth. The wall, forty feet high and ten feet thick, cut an erratic line through the Middle of Nowhere. Jim popped another pill and went back to stacking bricks.

Somebody called up to him from the ground.

“Hey! You! What’s the big idea?”

“Idea?”

“What the hell are you doing?”

“It’s a wall!” Jim said. “I’m building a wall! Eighteen million nine hundred thousand three hundred and sixteen bricks so far. You never knew how many bricks it took to make a wall!”

“Well who’s it keeping out?”

“Nobody!”

“Where’s it going?”

“That way!”

“Why you building it?”

“I was bummed out and unfocused because there aren’t any dreams anymore but then the doctor gave me all this dex and I started to build a wall. There’s an infinite number of bricks up here and I never even thought to build a wall before. Eighteen million nine hundred thousand three hundred and seventeen. Eighteen. Nineteen. Just look at this beautiful fucking wall!”

“Say, come to think of it, I don’t dream anymore neither.”

“Climb aboard! I’ve got a wagon full of dex and bricks for days!  Yaaachachachaka!

The somebody climbed up and turned into a George, who swallowed a fistful of dex and started scraping mortar. Jim stacked the bricks. When they finished a section George carried the mortar and the bricks and Jim pulled the wagon of dex.

“This is just great!” George said.

“Nineteen million one hundred and thirty-two thousand three hundred and forty-two!” Jim said.

“All this time I was just kind of wandering around I didn’t really know what to do I mean there’s so many things you can do up here I was just a little lost I was overwhelmed and distracted there aren’t any directions around here. You know? But now it’s like I don’t even have to think the thinking is gone and I can just do and do and do and I don’t have to think for myself I can just fucking do.”

“Fuck dreams!”

“Fucking do!”

Yaaachachachaka!

***

There were a lot of people like Jim and George. Everyone they ran into seemed to have dreams that didn’t work anymore. Pretty soon there were a hundred, then a thousand dreamless souls, all tweaking through the Middle of Nowhere and leaving a trail of bricks. Whole teams for mixing clay and mortar, excavating, rock-breaking and landscaping, brick-laying and brick-counting and bricking. They were very organized. A hundred new miles of wall went up every day.

The psychiatrists of Paradise discovered the wall and rallied around its cause and began recruiting every patient for its construction. Thousands more and tens of thousands were diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and soon a million men and women roamed the wall. The dex came in trucks.

They sang a song.

Fuck your boring dreams, and fuck your boring soul –
All you need is Dexedrine off you fucking go!
A zillion bricks to stack, eternity to roll –
A wagon full of dex will build a wall to
WHERE?!
Nobody really knows!

So heed this word from us, who build and build it high –
Fuck us living, fuck us dead – Let’s build it to the sky!
A googol miles to march, infinity to fly –
A wagon full of dex will take us all to
WHERE?!
Somewhere, Paradise!

***

For about thirteen years they built the wall. Their numbers swelled to thirty million and the wall stretched on for a million miles. The dex mines of Paradise passed the infinity test and no dreamless builder built without the bumps of Adderall or Ritalin or Dexedrine. Thirty million tweakers united by a single purpose – to build a brick wall through the Middle of Nowhere.

And they made it. Jim and George led them right to it. The great impasse loomed and the building of the wall came to a stop.

“What is it?” said Jim.

“I think it’s a university,” said George. “That there looks like admissions.”

“Can we build through it?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Around it?”

“It’s pretty big.”

Just then the gates of the university opened and a man rode out on a white horse.

“I am the Dean of the University of the Place Between the Middle of Nowhere and the Somewhere,” the man said. “What is your business here?”

“We just want to pass through,” Jim said. “We’re building a wall.”

“If you want to get to Somewhere, you have to go through the University. If you want to go through the University, you have to get a Diploma.”

“We don’t want Diplomas,” Jim said. “We just want to pass through.”

“Somewhere can only be reached by those who have Diplomas,” the Dean said. “And to receive a Diploma, you have to give me money.”

“What?! Like, how much money?”

“Lots of it.”

“Well fucking how much?”

The Dean of the University of the Place Between the Middle of Nowhere and Somewhere held up his hands, about three feet apart.

“He wants three feet of money?” George said.

“Three feet per person,” the Dean said.

Jim counted on his fingers.

“So if we get you ninety million feet of money, you’ll give as all Diplomas and we can pass through your University and get to Somewhere?”

“The cost of books is not included,” the Dean said. “There are also administration and athletics fees. And technology fees. And living expenses, such as parking and food.”

“Goddammit how much?”

“Two hundred million feet of pure money,” the Dean said. “I expect it in full no later than two weeks after the day before the beginning of the fall semester.”

The Dean rode his white horse back through the gates and they closed. Jim and George watched and scratched their heads.

“Where we gonna find two hundred million feet of pure money?” George said.

***

The banker spun her pen and clicked it then spun it again and tapped it on her coffee mug. It was a plain coffee mug. She was a plain woman with glasses.

“Let me get this straight,” she said. “You and all your friends got doped up on amphetamines and built a wall that serves no purpose in the Middle of Nowhere. You crashed your wall into a university, and you want me to give you two hundred million feet of money for diplomas that you neither know how nor intend to use?”

Pure money,” Jim said. “And the dean says the Diplomas will get us to Somewhere.”

“Okay.” She spun her pen and pressed it to the document, paused and looked at Jim over her glasses. “And I have your personal assurance that, following the catastrophic failure of all your ambitions, you will spend the remainder of eternity paying the interest on this loan, in a futile attempt to get back to where you were before you started?”

“Yep,” Jim said.

***

Thirty million people was too many to make the walk, so the University of the Place Between the Middle of Nowhere and Somewhere fired the Diplomas out of T-shirt cannons. The red-ribboned parcels flew through the air like grapeshot. Anthropology Diplomas, Philosophy Diplomas, Liberal Arts and Fine Arts and Commercial Arts and Graphic Design Diplomas. There were Diplomas for Physical Fitness and Taking Pictures. One of the red-ribboned parcels struck Jim in the face and he tore off the ribbon and as he read it his name appeared in black ink.

The University of the Place Between the Middle of Nowhere and Somewhere
The Board of The University of the Place Between the Middle of Nowhere and Somewhere, after verifying the purity of three full feet of his/her money, has conferred upon
JIM
The Degree of
BACHELOR OF ARTS
GENERAL ENGLISH
Together with all the Honors and Privileges belonging to that Degree.

“General English?” Jim said.

“General! Well shit on me.” George stood at attention and saluted. “I got Parks and Recreation.”

“I think it means English in general.” Jim held the paper up to the sky, turned it this way and that, squinted, sniffed it. “I don’t get it. Shouldn’t everybody just have one of these?”

Disappointment and confusion were ubiquitous. Thirty million graduates built a Great Wall through the Middle of Nowhere, and there wasn’t an Engineer among them. No Scientists either. Just a bunch of philosophers and artists. They all seemed to understand at once that a mountain of dex would never bury their shame, and as broken individuals they stumbled off into Somewhere, clutching Diplomas in their anxious fists.

“Hey. Hey.” George jabbed Jim in the ribs. “You’re General Talking, I’m Private Walking. Get it? Parks and Recreation. Get it?”

***

“The drugs didn’t work.”

“What makes you say that?”

“I didn’t get anywhere.”

“It says here you got Somewhere.”

“Well, it turns out Somewhere isn’t any place in particular.”

“So why are you here?”

“I need more drugs.”

“I thought they didn’t work.”

“They don’t.”

“I’m confused.”

“I owe the Bank of Paradise two hundred million feet of pure money. I couldn’t find any English work, but I’m pretty good at stacking bricks now. There’s a guy over on Cloud Fifty-seven with a brick fetish and he pays by the yard. So I need some more drugs.”

“Another wagon?”

“I need at least a truck.”

“Not a problem. So, it says here you were missing your dreams? How are things on that score? Do you still miss them?”

“Not really.”

“Well there you go. I can’t tell you the satisfaction that comes with helping a fellow soul in need. Here’s a prescription for an endless supply of any drug that keeps you productive, a flash-drive  full of NBC sitcoms, and a bucket to scream in. And here’s my card for when it all falls apart again. Good luck to you, Jim.”

“Thanks.”


 

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