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Archive for May, 2007

Rich Ferguson

Over the Airwaves, Under the Skin, God is a Beat Machine

May 31st, 2007
by Rich Ferguson




Author’s Note:
My very first Nervous Breakdown post was for my  dear friend, Jett, who passed away a year ago. On this anniversary, I’d like to take a moment and say a few more words to him…


Over the airwaves, under the skin
God is a beat machine

But the song he’s playing
Ain’t for you, my brother

It’s for the preacher man standing over your grave
Shouting “Hell Mary Full of Rage…Hell Mary Full of Rage”


Roy Kesey


May 30th, 2007
by Roy Kesey



The diagonalness of this photograph is important without being intentional. More on that in a moment, but for the time being, this: I am not a great fan of puppets. I am, however, a fan of puppet emperors. Or, rather, not a fan of them as such, but intrigued by their lives: the gilded cage, the symbols removed from all practical context–absolute powerlessness in the guise of absolute power.


Jonathan Evison

Accepting the Charges; How I Almost Became a Father and Other Near Misses

May 30th, 2007
by Jonathan Evison




Writing caregiving essays recently, has put me in the mind of my first marriage, and its disastrous conclusion (recall the surfing Buddhist who happened to be my best friend), which in turn got me to thinking about its disastrous beginnings, which got me to wondering how we ever made it six years in the first place. 


Sean Carman

Boswell in London

May 30th, 2007
by Sean Carman

Washington, D.C.-

At the time of his death in 1795, Scottish lawyer James Boswell, author of The Life of Samuel Johnson, was considered a literary one hit wonder, a kind of 18th Century Buffalo Springfield. At that point the “Life” was Boswell’s only publication, and everyone just assumed it was the only thing he ever wrote.


Grant Bailie

On the Clock

May 29th, 2007
by Grant Bailie


I hate my job. Don’t tell my job that—they are paying me right now while I write this. And I am writing this on a company computer, and will post it while in my office, connected to the company internet line, so what kind of ungrateful asshole am I?




Paul A. Toth

All the Critics Hate You in New York

May 29th, 2007
by Paul A. Toth



Don’t ask me why, because I’ve long ago stopped asking that question when it comes to anything related to publishing, but Don DeLillo’s Falling Man has been critically raped and murdered. The charge that will stick: Unaggravated murder. The last time I’ve seen a novel delivered this level of inaccurate critical response was (not-at-all ironically) DeLillo’s Underworld.


Claire Cameron

Looks Like a Boot, Feels Like a Slipper

May 28th, 2007
by Claire Cameron


A book is published somewhere in the world every 30 seconds. Less than 1% of books sell 1000 copies or more. My first novel, The Line Painter, joined the fray on April 7th. Since then, I’ve learned a few things.

The first lesson is that truckers generally prefer to wear sneakers, or something equally comfortable, while driving. This presents a problem, however, when they get to the warehouse to deliver a load.


R Kent

May in France: One Long Holiday Featuring Right Wing Extremists, Dying Old People, and Secular Catholics

May 28th, 2007
by R Kent


French people don’t like to work.

That was the first sentence of one of the first stories I published on The Nervous Breakdown last July.

Nearly a year later, I can safely say nothing has changed.

Even the word they most commonly use for work, travail, literally translated to ‘travail’ in English means not just ‘work’, but ‘painfully difficult or burdensome work.’

To combat this blight on the people of France, the government infamously reduced the official French workweek to 35 hours in 2002.

Of course, this was not done in an attempt to give French people more time to read Rousseau and eat cheese.

It was in reality an attempt by Prime Minister Lionel Jospin’s government to reduce the high level of unemployment.

Less hours, more workers. (more…)

Maureen Quinlan Jouhet

Exporting American Culture Isn’t So Easy When All That It’s Known For Is Pancakes & Syrup and Ross & Rachel

May 26th, 2007
by Maureen Quinlan Jouhet


Years ago my friend Liz and I had a conversation.

It went something like this:

If Belgium has beer, Ireland has music, France has wine, Spain has tapas, Italy has gelato, and New Zealand has kiwi fruit…what exactly does the United States have?

Our little make-your-own-country forged from immigrants has everything from everywhere, but nothing of its own.

Well, maybe we can offer the world high-fructose corn syrup and gas guzzling cars, but again this is not that kind of post. (more…)

Doug Mulliken

The Medicine Cabinet

May 25th, 2007
by Doug Mulliken

Warrenton, VA -


In television shows and the like, digging through someone’s medicine cabinet is the ultimate invasion of privacy.  In sitcoms, the action invariably results in the digger getting dumped by the person he/she is dating, who also invariably happens to be the person whose medicine cabinet is being dug through.  In dramas, the action invariably results in the digger finding out that the digee (as it were) is addicted to oxycontin or something.  Either way, as soon as that mirror is opened, shit is about to happen.


PD Smith

My Precious

May 25th, 2007
by PD Smith


I have to admit it: The Lord of The Rings was one of my favourite reads as a child. By the age of thirteen I’d ploughed through it three times in total. I can still remember the pure escapist bliss of reading it while lying in a hammock beneath the fruit trees in our Essex garden during the summer holidays (no school!), following the hobbits on every step of their travels through Middle Earth.


Meghan Elizabeth Hunt

The Contemplative Conversations of Two People Stuck in Limbo, Part Two: Lessons in Irish Drinking Habits, the Difference between Crack and Craic, and Why Boston is the Greatest City in America

May 24th, 2007
by Meghan Elizabeth Hunt


St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, as have the hordes of drunks, decked out in green.

There were drunken girls in green.

There were drunken guys in green.


R Kent

R Kent’s French Movie Reviews VII: Hell Phone Dials Up American Teen Movies of the Past in James Huth’s Latest Damnable Cinematic Creation

May 24th, 2007
by R Kent


James Huth seems to have made Hell Phone just so France can say to America, ‘See ? We can make incredibly sophomoric teen films too!’

As if this were a good thing. (more…)

Dawn Corrigan

On New Wings: An Interview with Gail Andersen Newbold

May 23rd, 2007
by Dawn Corrigan



In 1992, Gail Andersen Newbold published On New Wings: Mormon Women Rediscover Personal Agency and Conquer Codependency.


Rebecca Adler

My Adventures in Trash Part 1: How It All Began

May 22nd, 2007
by Rebecca Adler


As I look through the glass window on the observation deck I count 26 workers sorting through discarded paper, plastic bottles, soda cans and wine bottles as they whiz by on a conveyor belt.

I’m watching this and wondering how they can possibly be sure they’re getting everything sorted into the right slots, but then my tour guide tells me that each person on the sorting line is assigned one item so they don’t have to concentrate on too many things as the mounds of recyclables pass them.

One person frantically searches for colored glass, while another one looks for #3 plastics (PVC, found in your household through food wrapping, blister packages and vegetable oil bottles). (more…)

Paul A. Toth

The Golden Bowl

May 22nd, 2007
by Paul A. Toth



First it was chick lit and now dad lit. Kill me twice in case I return from the dead. These categories, which I can only guess appeal to those who want to read about others with lives much like their own, gleefully reduce fiction to a mirror that doesn’t even offer an accurate reflection. If it did, why would anyone need to read it? No, this “lit” does not exist to illuminate; rather, it reinforces the reader’s sense of identity, like a bumpersticker that proclaims certain drivers’ worship of fish. It’s nothing of which to be proud, worshiping fish, and even worse to read or write what the bones have been or will be wrapped inside.


Lance Reynald

Seven Year Itch in Stupid Shoes

May 21st, 2007
by Lance Reynald



Sometimes I think my wiring might be a bit screwy. I just can’t seem to synch up with the stuff I’m supposed to synch up with. Upward mobility. Status quo. Home ownership. Decent credit score. Dress for success. A new car. 2.5 kids. Investment strategies. A good name for oneself. Retirement.


John Box

How to Teach English Awesomely

May 21st, 2007
by John Box



As part of my training, I observed Trevor tonight. It was my first time watching an 8th grade class, which will be the 2nd oldest group of kids that I’m to teach.


Kip Tobin

Looking for the Heart of Sunday Afternoon with Wayne Bender Part II

May 21st, 2007
by Kip Tobin


“First, a man takes a drink. The drink takes a drink. The drink takes the man.”–AA refrain

We order some tostas and a couple cañas (6 oz draft beers).

The tostas are topped with a tender cut of red meat, grape jelly and leafy greens.

Toast, flank, and purple preserves.

We’re nestled into the corner of this tiny, crowded bar, trying not to look like assholes.


Rich Ferguson

Here It Is a Friday Night In Los Angeles, and While Friends Are Out Partying, I’m Sitting At Home Alone, Imagining My Death…

May 18th, 2007
by Rich Ferguson






The initial separation is the hardest thing.

The tearing away from flesh, bone, and old habits.

A corrosion of loss clots in my still unformed wings.

Somewhere a woman’s kiss lingers in my ghostly remains of memory.

The kiss smells of gardenia.