Eric is making signing and speaking appearances to promote A Consternation of Monsters. (He also occasionally does some acting.) You’ll find those appearances and roles here.
November 10, 2018 — Eric will be leading a writing workshop called the Joe McCabe Memorial Short Play Writing Workshop as part of the Fall Writing Conference for West Virginia Writers, Inc. The first workshop Eric ever attended at a WV Writers Conference was one on the craft of writing short plays taught by the late and prolific playwright Joe McCabe. In this workshop, Eric will honor Joe’s legacy by using examples of Joe’s work (as well as Eric’s own short plays) as a backdrop to discuss the form. The goal is for participants to leave with ideas for short plays of their own to develop as well as resources for submitting those plays to theatres around the country who are actively seeking them.
A five year-old boy at the next table opens his fortune cookie and passes the fortune to his grandpa.
KID— What does mine say?
GRANDPA— (without taking even a beat, “reads”) “If you don’t start minding, things are going down hill quick for you.”
SETTING: It’s 10 p.m., time for be’bye nite nites and the dogs are dragging tail doing their business outside. Being sleepy, I mistakenly yell at our eldest and whitest dog, Sadie, to get her “brown butt” in the house instead of yelling the same at middle dog Moose, whose butt is genuinely brown. The wife, back in the house, thinks I’m saying something to her.
THE WIFE– Did you say something?
ME– (Entering bedroom) I was telling Sadie to get her brown butt in the house.
THE WIFE– Sadie’s butt is not brown. She doesn’t have any brown on her anywhere. Except her eyes. They’re brown. But they have cloudy gray cataracts.
ME– That’s the worst Lucky Charm ever.
THE WIFE– What?
ME– Cloudy Gray Cataracts are the worst Lucky Charm ever.
THE WIFE– What are you talking about?
ME– Y’know…. Pink Hearts, Yellow Moons, Orange Stars, Green Clovers, Cloudy Gray Cataracts, Blue Diamonds…
THE WIFE– You are an idiot.
ME– Come on, that was a nice piece of business.
THE WIFE– You’re a bad piece of business.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m pleased to announce that my latest audiobook narration, the award-winning short story collection HOW TO CARRY BIGFOOT HOME by writer/musician Chris Tarry, is now available.
It is a collection of beautiful, funny, bittersweet, and (in the case of one of them) Pushcart-nominated tales. It was a fantastically fun project to work on.
Please be so kind as to check it out on Amazon.com, Audible.com and (coming soon) to iTunes.
The wife and I dined at Shoney’s for Sunday brunch, both because we were very hungry, but also because I’d been suffering from a bit of constipation. Shoney’s buffet, we knew, would cure both.
Shortly after we were seated, a family consisting of a grandmother and four children–two boys and two girls of the age range of 7ish to 15ish–were seated at the table next to us. Eavesdropping on their conversations quickly became our mealtime entertainment. For instance, when the waitress explained that Shoney’s Sunday buffet contained both lunch and breakfast items, the youngest girl beamed with amazement and proclaimed “I like lunch and breakfast!”
“Yeah, I think she’s my favorite human, now,” I told my wife. For I also like lunch and breakfast.
We got some lunch and breakfast for ourselves from the buffet and a few minutes later the family members filtered up for their own grub. When the kids returned to the table, they were all atwitter about something. It was hard to determine what exactly they were excited about, but eventually we got enough clues to start piecing things together.
“Who is Tiger Woods?” the younger brother said.
“You don’t know who Tiger Woods is?” the older brother replied.
“No,” younger brother said. “Who is Tiger Woods?”
“He plays golf,” the older sister said. “Professionally,” she added. “At the Greenbrier,” she finished.
Oh, I thought. maybe they had watched some of the PGA Open a few weeks back. I assume he played in it, but I didn’t go and didn’t even watch any of it on TV, since my sports intake is pretty much limited to the Olympics and American Ninja Warrior. Then the older sister threw a wrench into my theory.
“He looks really young. I can’t believe I was standing right next to him,” she said. At first I thought she meant that she’d attended the PGA and must have somehow stood beside him there. Why this would come up again so long later, I wasn’t sure, but that was my working theory. My alternate theory was that he was in town again and was playing golf at the Greenbrier and the family had somehow seen him there. However, the way the two sisters on the opposite side of the table kept craning their necks to look toward the buffet in the room behind me gave me pause. I knew it was possible that Tiger was in the area, but was it somehow also possible that he was dining at Shoney’s? The girls kept craning to see.
“Do they mean Tiger Woods is here?” I whispered to the wife.
“No,” she said. “Tiger Woods would never eat at Shoney’s.”
“I dunno,” I said. “I think he’s demonstrated something of a taste for diner waitresses.”
The wife was not amused by this. She added that if Tiger Woods was really in the restaurant there would be far more excitement and whispering and craning among all the other tables.
A few minutes later, the waitress returned to the other table and the Tiger topic was still going strong.
“Did you know Tiger Woods is here?” the youngest girl asked the waitress.
“Oh, is he playing at the Greenbrier?” the waitress asked.
“No. I mean he’s here! He’s in Shoney’s!” the younger sister replied excitedly.
“We stood beside him in line,” the older sister confirmed.
“You did?” the waitress said in a confused tone. She looked around, but didn’t seem to see him.
My wife shook her head. “See, if Tiger was here the staff would have been told in advance about it.”
I wasn’t convinced they would, but I was also far from convinced Tiger Woods was breathing the same air as me. I finished my last bite of cheese grits and decided to go back to the bar, both for round two and for a scouting expedition to see if I could figure out who it was in the restaurant that those girls thought was Tiger Woods. I looked all around, scanning the horseshoe of booths near the bar, the double rows of booths stretching toward the cash register and front door, and the back room where gatherings are sometimes held. They were all full but I didn’t see any customers who could remotely be mistaken for Tiger Woods. In fact, the only African American male I could see in the place was a waiter, who in no way resembled Tiger Woods. Maybe these kids were racist and couldn’t distinguish between different black people.
Throughout the rest of our meal, the kids continued to talk about Tiger Woods, and crane their necks, and go back to the bar. Each time they returned they seemed to have a new story about seeing him again. I was on the verge of asking where he was, but decided that it would just lead to the kids’ illusions being shattered when I pointed out that whoever it was they thought was Tiger Woods was not really him, which was the most likely scenario to me. Let the kids keep their story. It was time for us to leave. Shoney’s had done it’s job.
The coda to this tale is that days later, while attending a public event in town, I was SHOCKED to my core to see a dude at the same event who was the spitting image of Tiger Woods. The guy was clearly 20 years younger than Tiger Woods himself, so I knew he wasn’t the genuine article. But he was dressed in a collared golf shirt and was wearing a ball cap much like ones Tiger might wear, and looked to all appearances like a long-lost Woods son. Just to make sure I wasn’t crazy, I asked a friend to take a peek for confirmation that the guy really did look like Tiger Woods. He confirmed it. Now, I don’t know for certain that this was the guy the kids saw during lunch and breakfast that Sunday, as I didn’t see him myself, but now I have to think it was highly probable. Of course the only way to know for sure would be to ask him, or to subtly inquire as to the regularity of his bathroom habits over the previous week. But I didn’t want to have that conversation. And so it will remain something of a mystery.
That feeling you get after you’ve spent half an hour editing the first few minutes of an audiobook file you recorded four days ago only to then hear your own voice on the recording say “Yeah, I kinda want to do this thing all over again,” followed by sounds of coffee drinking, the humming of a solid note for several seconds designed to visually mark the recording to signal your future self as to where to begin the edit, and then your own voice starting the chapter anew.
It’s only due by Friday.
With my latest audiobook narration Mississippi Nights freshly released, I want to draw your attention to a future release coming later this summer.
I am currently recording the narration for the audiobook of How to Carry Bigfoot Home, by Chris Tarry. I can safely report at this point that the stories within are just as impressive, funny, heart-breaking, and poignant as you would hope for a collection with a title like that.
Which is to say, it’s fantastic and I highly recommend it. The style of the stories varies greatly between each, but Tarry always has a clever turn of phrase, with equal parts comedy and tragedy, often within the same story.
It has also been one of the more challenging audiobooks I’ve recorded, as I’ve had to learn how to approximate a few different accents that I’ve never attempted before (Newfoundland Irish, for instance.) My hope is that they will be true to the emotions of the characters at all times, slavishly accurate secondarily, but I’m aiming for both.
If you enjoyed my own, A Consternation of Monsters, you’ll love this.
Look for How to Carry Bigfoot Home in August 2018.
Things in my life that are currently broken:
My Subaru’s driver’s side window, which, two months ago, stopped rolling down and presumably also no longer rolls up. Makes drive-through windows kind of a pain to deal with. In more positive news, I’ve begun eating less fast food, cause lord knows I cannot be bothered to get out of my car and go inside.
My lawnmower, which, three weeks ago, began making horrible noises (the kind of sharp-blades-of-metal-about-to-fly-in-all-directions kind of noises that most people don’t care to hear coming from some place beneath their butts. It has been sent to the shop where it has been for two weeks.
My desktop computer, which, two weeks ago, made a funny ozone smell upon startup, worked for another five minutes then shut itself off. I ordered a new power supply on the theory that my old one was bad, but this doesn’t seem to be the issue.
My bluetooth headphones, which have been ailing a bit since one of the arms of their neck-wrapable housing snapped, exposing fragile wires within. I “fixed” it by the use of some gorilla glue and some moldable glue putty on top of that. Then, the headphone earbud developed a gap where the wire-cover meets the earbud. I “fixed” this with some liquid electrical tape. Unfortunately, it didn’t last and the earbud went ahead and developed a break in the wire, killing that earbud.
My sense that anyone in government is decent or can be trusted, which has actually had several hairline cracks in it since the `90s, but which has finally gone ahead and shattered into multiple pieces. The best I think we can hope for is that a given politician’s self-serving interests might coincidentally line up with good policy.
I’m embarrassed to say it, but my wife and I have been harboring murderers in our house for several years now. Three vicious killers, in fact. Three slavering, fanged destroyers of life who enjoy nothing better than to wolf down baby bunnies as fast as they can get them. We call these killers, the dogs. And while we are horrified that this is their hobby, we are usually powerless to stop it. Yes, if bunny chomping were a team sport, the score would be bunnies 0—dogs in the double digits. To make things worse, the dogs often have co-conspirators in this carnage in the form of the cats.
One evening, from my office upstairs, I heard the high-pitched anguished cry of an animal downstairs. I recognized it as the chirpy squeak of a baby bunny. The doors were all closed, which meant that one of the cats had brought the bunny in through their kitty door. They’re fond of doing this, but I don’t know why they bother. In 100 percent of cases so far, the dogs have immediately taken the baby bunnies from the cats and then cheerfully devoured them. Now don’t get me wrong, we try our best to stop it when this happens. We scream “Leave it! Leave it! Leave it!” followed by “Drop it! Drop it! Drop it!” followed by “Eww, gyyahhhh, noooooo! Just… just take it outside! Outside!!!” It’s the worst episode of Planet Earth you’ve ever seen.
Hearing the squeak downstairs, I cursed at the inevitable devouring that was about to befall the squeaker, but I went out to see what I could do. From the landing, I could look down into the living room where I saw the squeaking bunny sitting all by itself in the middle of the floor near the dining room table. The cat had allowed it to escape so he could play with it, but didn’t seem to be in a hurry to do so. The bunny didn’t seem to be injured, and took the opportunity to run away, scurrying across the floor and then behind our entertainment center. Unfortunately, it was spotted by our middle-child dog Moose, who had also heard its cry and come runnin’ in to find it. He dashed behind the entertainment center after it.
What Moose failed to notice, though, but which I could see from my perch above the living room, was that the rabbit was no longer behind the entertainment center. It had instead dodged beneath a low cabinet and changed direction, because I then saw it run along the baseboard of the back wall, past the closed back door, and then disappear behind the arm of a piece of furniture we call “the dog couch.” (We call it “the dog couch” because it’s a ratty old sofa, primarily used by the dogs, and not to be confused with the “good sofa” which we reserve for ourselves and also often the dogs.)
I sighed and trudged downstairs to begin the no doubt futile process of trying to catch this stinking rabbit.
I crept in the direction of the dog couch, trying not to draw Moose’s attention to the bunny’s hiding place. Moose was still behind the entertainment center looking for it, though, and had been joined there by our other two dog-children to form a bunny search party. Meanwhile, our other cat, a remarkably dumb animal we call Fatty Lumpkin, had gone over to the couch to investigate the bunny. As Fatty started to peek around the edge of the couch, the bunny suddenly popped out from that very corner. This startled Fatty, who nearly broke a hip trying to flee the room. His flight, in turn, startled the bunny, who ducked back behind the couch.
I walked over and opened the back door, creating an escape route for the bunny. I then slipped over to the dog couch itself and began rattling the Venetian blinds which hung down beside the arm in the bunny’s hiding spot. Sure enough, he popped back out and began hopping toward the open door. And then he completely avoided safety and escape by hopping right past it. In fact, the bunny was moving toward the dogs, who were all three still behind the TV looking for him. I was pretty sure I was about to witness natural selection in action. However, the bunny then changed direction again and scurried along the front edge of the “good” couch. From there he hopped all the way over to the still closed front door at the front corner of the room.
As calmly as I could, I moved toward him, pausing only to pick up the soft green rag carpet we keep near the door, which I hoped to use as a makeshift net. Before I could get any closer, though, the bunny bolted along the side wall and I was forced to fling it early. It flew and landed, not directly on the bunny but in his path at the base of that wall. And the bunny dove beneath it. I then stooped over and gently wrapped the carpet into a tube, creating a makeshift bunny burrito, which I then carried outside, closing the front door behind me.
I waited a few seconds, praying that the dogs had not noticed any of that. Or, if they had noticed, that they would then not also notice that the back door was still wide open and run around the outside of the house. Hearing no thundering canine approach, I deposited our guest onto the patio. The bunny looked a little dazed as he peered around. Then he wiggled his whiskers and hopped off into the night without so much as a thank you. I watched him go, content in the knowledge that we’d finally scored one for the bunnies.
And back inside, the vicious bunny killers continued searching for him behind the TV for several more minutes.
I’m pleased to announce that my latest effort as an audiobook narrator, Mississippi Nights by D.M. Webb, is now available. It’s a Christian fiction romance/thriller set in my home state of Mississippi.
I had a lot of fun narrating this because, in addition to getting to voice some colorful characters, I was impressed at the how the author deftly and playfully lampoons many of the tropes of the Nicholas Sparksy-style romantic fiction genre while still writing a legit romantic thriller. I also appreciated that the book tackles some serious real world issues in a way that does not suggest easy answers to the problems.
I can also report that it got a little dusty in the ol’ recording booth at times, as I, the narrator, was sometimes unprepared for the emotional impact of the story. (While I admit to bawling my eyes out watching movies, I rarely cry reading books. This one got me more than once.)
MISSISSIPPI NIGHTS– Two brothers, one death – the bond of brotherhood and family faces its greatest challenge. When firefighter David Boyette’s fiance perishes in a car accident, he blames his brother, Sgt. Jeremy Boyette, for her death. Three years later, David returns home with a dark and devastating secret. With the help of family, a woman’s love, and a child’s devotion, can David overcome insurmountable odds as he and Jeremy face the bitterness that enslaves him?
(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my extensive TARDIS collection.)