Category ArchiveTalent Show
“AFTER MANY YEARS, STOPS BREATHING, WHILE ASLEEP, WITH SMILE ON FACE,” by William Grallo. Read by Bradley McLaughlin. (19 min)
“You gotta be fucking kidding me!” says one of Jill’s friends, leaning forward to get a better look at my shirt.
On Toe Tag Night no one wears tags on their toes. What we do is use a template on our PCs and print a graphic of a toe tag, which we then wear attached to our clothing somewhere, like on a t-shirt. The graphic looks like the toe tags you see on dead bodies — or at least on dead bodies in movies — and yes, sometimes people also include a cartoony image of a toe, or a even a whole foot. Often bloody. Printed on the tag is your Name, and How You Are Going to Die.
For mine, I had to use a smaller font size.
William Grallo is the son of Lou. He was the winner of the Will Inman Award for Poetry and a runner-up for the Ursula K. LeGuin Award for Imaginative Fiction. He has had fiction published in Rosebud magazine and online at alwaysblack.com.
In the book, “AFTER MANY YEARS, STOPS BREATHING, WHILE ASLEEP, WITH SMILE ON FACE” is illustrated by Scott C. This podcast episode was edited by Matt Schwartz.
At our Talent Show on April 26, 2011, Brad also performed an original song that he wrote based on this story!
Talent Show 12 Jun 2011 06:01 pm by David !
It’s been a few weeks now since the Machine of Death Half-Birthday Party and Talent Show, the date we announced that there would be a Volume 2 at all. That fact — that this book will be coming out, hell or high water — seems incontrovertible now, but it’s interesting to think back to a day not so long ago when it was still only a notion, a subject of debate for Ryan, Matt and me: “Is this a good idea?”
We’re still a month away from the submission deadline, but I feel confident in saying: yes. Yes, it is a good idea to encourage people to create, to participate in something, to try something and to complete something. If we have no greater ethos than simply that, that’s fine.
I can’t speak for Ryan or Matt, but in the last eight months I’ve realized that the thing I want to do more than any other is to encourage people to get off their butt and try things. Our enemy, as creative people, is not ignorance. We know how to do things — we’re experts! It’s inactivity.
So as far as that’s concerned, the Talent Show was an incredible validation. People made stuff. People came. People performed. And everyone seemed to enjoy it! We packed the house, and I know I personally left with an incredible buzz of energy. It was amazing to see a bunch of half-cocked ideas come together, be made manifest, and work. So: thank you. Thanks for watching, being a part of it, or even just reading about it now. And if you missed it the first time around, I’d like to share a little of the night with you here.
Zachary Bernstein performs music as The Bicycats. Originally from New York, he now lives in Los Angeles, and joined us at the talent show to play his original song “When We Found Out On Our Own.” Here’s what Zachary has to say about the song.
I only heard about the Machine of Death talent show and the whole book enterprise a few days before the extended submission deadline. Between my mother being in town, and going to work, I didn’t actually get to focus on writing an MOD-related song until the day of the deadline, but my friend Jim, who eventually sang the song with me, encouraged me to give it a try.
I’m fond of older songs where the song titles are the refrain ending each stanza, the ones that serve as a jumping point for material. A song like “I Only Have Eyes For You” spends the entire song listing things the singer can’t see; the stars, the moon, millions of people. That’s because the singer only has the ability to see this one particular person. Dangerous for driving, but romantic as hell. “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm” repeats different ways in which the singer is impervious to cold weather because s/he is deep in love. The love keeps the singer warm. And so on.
I came up with the MOD-related refrain “When We Found Out On Our Own,” which could be sung from the point of view of a cranky, technophobic old man. Personally, I can relate. It took me a long time before I got a cell phone, and I still don’t have or want an iPod. I used that same ire to lay down some lyrical ideas.
With my refrain, I tried different ways that particular lyric could be sung, chose my favorite, and made a list of all the words that rhyme with “own,” choosing the meatier words that fit into the context of the Machine of Death. “Unknown” and “outgrown” were good ones. “Home” was a tiny stretch I made work, and as a curveball at the end I rhymed “own” with “easy”. Ha! Bet you didn’t see that one coming, didja!
From those words, I worked backwards and wrote lines that promoted nostalgia for a bygone, pre-MOD era which ended with the words “unknown” and “outgrown”. After an hour or two, I had a new song with lyrics and music (6/8 time; some key changes; grand, soaring notes Dusty Springfield might’ve spilled her heart out over). Because I didn’t have much time, I tweaked the lyrics to my liking after submitting a recording to the talent show. My favorite line, “we need to move on from the way we move on,” was originally in the middle, but because it was a clever way to sum up the basic idea of the song’s narrative, I moved it to the end.
Thanks so much, Zachary! For more of Zachary’s music, visit his Bandcamp page, thebicycats.bandcamp.com.
Machine of Death Volume 2 submissions are now officially open! The full details of how to submit a story or illustration portfolio for possible publication in our next guaranteed-amazing anthology are right here. Please, spread the word!
We announced that there would be a follow-up volume at our talent show last week. Here’s the first piece of video from that — my incredibly successful performance of “Boom! And a Bear Comes Out” (the party hit of the summer).
Then, at the very end of the show, after a packed lineup of amazing performances (which we’ll see more of soon), we made the formal announcement. Here’s the video of that — I apologize that the camera cuts off my head! I didn’t frame it very well, and for that I take full responsibility. To make the video more watchable, I’ve added some extra Malki-heads here in the blog to compensate.
Also, here are some submissions questions folks have asked, along with our answers! Feel free to leave more questions in the comments, or use our Ask Us Anything form.
Q: Will every submission (of reasonable length and proper SPG) be read?
A: Yes, of course! Though it should not be surprising that our patience is greater earlier in the reading period. So take the time you need, but it’s probably to your benefit to submit earlier than the very last second.
Q: By previously unpublished, do you mean ‘not appeared in print before’ or ‘not appeared anywhere before’? ’Cause I wrote a story almost immediately after I heard about the first book, and I put it on my livejournal. Do I have to write other stories, or take that one down, or nothing of that, to submit?
A: In this case, we mean ‘not appeared in a commercial publication before.’ We’ve heard from several folks who wrote their own stories on personal blogs right after reading the first book, and it’s perfectly fine to submit them! If it’s already been posted on your site, it’s okay to leave it up.
Q: Is there any problem with having multiple authors for one story?
A: Nope, no problem at all. One person should be chosen to be the point person for communication, though.
Q: I don’t know what quality/number of submissions were received the first time (and I do plan to submit a story myself), but I really hope that volume 2 will include a lot more diverse authors and characters than before — I was disappointed in the tiny handful of female main characters, for example. Definitely passing the word along to fellow writers!
A: To be honest, the balance of male/female characters wasn’t something we paid close attention to the first time around. We are definitely hoping for more diversity of all kinds in the next book, so more female points of view would be a great start! Thanks for sharing that challenge with our potential writers!
Q: Do you take submissions from people under 18?
A: We do, but it’s up to you to ensure that your parent or guardian is willing to sign a contract on your behalf in case your story is chosen. If so, great!
Q: I am a writer. My partner is an artist. Would you consider a submission that is, instead of a 7,500 word story, a 7-10 page (i’m just guessing here) comic?
A: We’re reluctant to ask anybody to do that much work just for a submission — but if you want to, you are welcome to! The final book will be 6 x 9″ black & white, so just keep that in mind when laying out the art.
Q: By “no simultaneous submissions,” do you mean not to submit another story in general until you email me back with a decision, or are you referring to emailing multiple stories in a single email? I am working on a second story, and was wondering if when I finish and get it refined enough, whether or not I can just send it out, or if only one un-judged story can be in your inbox at a time per author.
A: In publishing, “simultaneous submissions” refer to stories that are submitted to more than one publisher at the same time. We won’t be announcing anything about the Vol.2 stories until we’ve read everything and made our final decisions, so you can feel free to submit your stories whenever you like!
Now! What are you waiting for? Get writin’ and emailin’! We can’t wait to read your work. You have until July 15 to submit!