Awkward Press

Independent publishers of imaginative fiction and daily meditations on the ridiculousness of the universe.

Archive for ‘Greatest Hits’

How to Not Get a Literary Agent

January 30, 2012 By: Category: Greatest Hits, Publishing

At the end of 2010 I decided I would write one story every day in 2011 and post them on a website called, appropriately enough, The Story of the Day. At the end of the year, I figured, I’d have enough material to put together a really entertaining book. By that time, word of my project would have spread across the Internetoverse. I would be feted as the next so-and-so (is it Mike Birbiglia now? Is that who we like?) and literary agents would be crawling all over each other to sign me up, like maggots on a tasty piece of rotten banana.

As so often happens with projects that are started for all the wrong reasons, this one flamed out rather quickly. It wasn’t an abject failure … I followed through in January and February, fell off a little in March, and then totally went to pot in the months after that. By June I’d posted 86 stories. That’s not a bad total, and some of those stories are pretty darn entertaining. But it’s still a far cry from 365, which is how many days there are in a year (in case you’re one of those people who doesn’t know about time and math).

The project wasn’t a complete waste of time, because out of it came a series I consider one of my finest creations – Professor Blowjob and the Storm-Fighters of Courage. (You can read the series for yourself starting right here.) Prof. Blowjob embodies everything I enjoy about writing – ridiculous characters, absurd situations, juvenile humor, and gloriously awkward turns of phrase. It is most certainly not for everyone. But the people it is for, it is so, so for. And those people are, in my opinion, a criminally underserved market of readers. (more…)

The 15 Best Albums of 2011 that You Probably Will Not Like

December 21, 2011 By: Category: Best of 2011, Greatest Hits

At a certain point, you just have to say “fuck it.” Every year, I go through the records I picked up over the course of the previous 12 months and find a handful of albums I truly loved and a bunch of music I barely spent any time with. So I gather all the albums into a playlist and spend the last month of the year (which is usually December) furiously listening in the hopes that I will stumble upon a bevy of hidden delights that somehow remained hidden upon initial listens. And I listen to them all with clear eyes and a full heart and inevitably end up saying “fuck it” and writing down the records I liked before the end-of- year listening marathon began.

This year presented some particular difficulties because this is the year I became a dad. I don’t want to be one of those guys who becomes a dad and totally loses touch with new music, because music is still really important to me. True, I haven’t seen a band play all year. Ugh, I just wrote that and felt a little sick. But that makes sense because seeing a band means leaving the house at night when I would rather be sleeping. Listening to music, on the other hand, is something you can pretty much do during every hour of your waking life, particularly if you’re someone like me who sits in front of a computer all day and doesn’t ever need to talk to another human being. I hope for your sake you are not someone like me.

You can even listen to music with your kids, if you want. Although I also don’t want to be one of those guys who’s like, “my kids are only allowed to listen to the Velvet Underground and Captain Beefheart.” Because every kid needs to have his or her crap music phase, right? Thankfully my daughter is still at the age where I can listen to adult-oriented stuff in her presence without her bothering me all the time with questions like, “what’s a gat?” and “why is the woman in the song making those horrible moaning noises?” I mean, I turn it off when her ears start bleeding. I’m a very conscientious father.

But having said that, I didn’t really have the time to sit with records as much as I would have liked this year. And very few albums really blew me away, aside from my number one album, which is one of my very favorite albums of the last several years. With all those caveats in mind, I’m just going to say “fuck it” and present the fifteen records that did the best job of breaking through the clutter.

15. Los Campesinos! – Hello Sadness
There are bands you want to fuck and bands you want to cuddle. Los Campesinos! is decidedly in the latter camp. But that’s okay … the band you want to fuck will only disappoint you and leave you miserable in the end. On the Campesinos! fourth record, they cover much of the same territory they’ve explored on their previous albums: heartache, loss, sorrow, and the impossibility of finding true love. The genius of the Campesinos! is that even when they’re nursing broken hearts, they still sound like they’re having a good time. Even if you’re not bowled over by their recordings, be sure to catch them live … if you can leave that venue without feeling like you’ve had a spiritual experience, I’ll give you your money back.

That’s not true. I won’t give you your money back. But I will be like, “whaaaaat?”


Awkward Podcast #4: Johnny Astronaut Chapter 2

November 21, 2011 By: Category: Greatest Hits, Podcasts

The new Awkward Podcast is finally here! This here is the first chapter from the audiobook version of Johnny Astronaut by Rory Carmichael. Yes, it starts on Chapter 2. Wanna know why? Buy your own copy of Johnny Astronaut right here for only $.99!

Johnny Astronaut Chapter 2

Music totally stolen for this podcast:

“Fables of Faubus” by Charles Mingus
“Rye Bread2″ by the Price Is Right Band
“Green Jeans” by the Fabulous Flee-Rakers
“Heaven and Hell” by El Michels Affair
“Disgruntled” by Rancid

Baby’s First March

October 17, 2011 By: Category: Greatest Hits, Opinions, Politics

Baby and Daddy, fighting the power.

My wife and I took our 10-month old daughter Zellie on the Occupy LA march over the weekend. It was a very peaceful, if somewhat subdued moment of people coming together to express their common frustration with the state of our country. I was pleasantly surprised at the diversity; I know the coverage of Zuccotti Park tends to focus on the punks and hipsters, but every age and walk of life was represented at Occupy LA. I would even say it skewed old. Turnout felt somewhat sparse when I was in the thick of it, but the local news estimated the crowd was between 10 and 15,000 strong, which sounds like a pretty impressive figure to me. Zellie did not seem that impressed, but the only thing that really excites her at this age is bananas.

It was the first march I’ve ever been a part of. I’ve always been more of a complainer than a protestor. My civil disobedience mostly takes the form of snarky Facebook status updates and rambling emails to my friend. That’s not a typo, I really only have one friend. My only real involvement in politics to date consisted of attending the Ralph Nader rally at Madison Square Garden in 2000 (Tim Robbins showed up as Bob Roberts! Don’t worry; no one got it then, either) and making a few hours worth of phone calls for Obama in 2008.

Oh, I also went to see George Bush Sr. speak in high school, but that was for a girl. The President was on a Whistle Stop train tour that whistled to a stop 20 miles from my hometown, and the highly crush-worthy Julie C. invited me to join her family at the station. Under those kinds of circumstances, how could I refuse? You show me a guy who won’t drive 20 miles to watch the President wave from a sweet-looking vintage train with the girl he wants to bone and I’ll show you a guy who doesn’t believe in America. (more…)

Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig Are Not Very Good at Their Jobs

July 28, 2011 By: Category: Greatest Hits, Movies, Opinions

I do not have any interest in being famous. I’d like to be respected. That would be nice. I’d like to make works that people enjoy. I’d like to be wealthy enough to not have to think about how that box of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream bars is going to affect my grocery budget. All of those things would be great. But famous? For the birds, in my opinion. The worst part would be having people bother you all the time. Leave me alone, dammit! I’m just trying to get my legs waxed in peace like a normal fellow!

That’s why I would not want to be an actor. Because the only way to succeed as an actor is to be famous. I mean, I guess you can be that guy who’s in those things that no one has ever heard of. But I would doubt there are a ton of actors striving to be that guy. If you’re an actor, the winning trajectory is to make the most of a small role so you can get better roles in bigger movies where you will be seen by more people and make more money.

Not that it’s all about making more money – I would imagine most actors sincerely enjoy pretending to be other people. But what I’m saying is it isn’t a job that can exist in a vacuum. Sure, you can pretend to be other people all by yourself in your bedroom, but I’m not sure how to turn that into a viable career path. A successful actor doesn’t just love pretending to be other people, he loves pretending to be other people in front of other people.

Unfortunately, along with all that pretending to be other people and making lots of money comes a few job requirements. One of those requirements is publicizing the movies you just got paid a shit ton of money to be in. Sometimes this promotional period can last for weeks. You might have to do one interview after another for a whole day. A whole day! Can you imagine? Like, 20 interviews in a single day, talking about the same thing. You might have to say the same thing 20 times! You will be fed and coddled and you will sit in a comfortable chair and you will almost certainly be treated in a very deferential manner by everyone who talks to you. But you might have to say one thing 20 times in a row! (more…)

The Awkward Movie Challenge: The Lost Boys

April 28, 2011 By: Category: Greatest Hits, The Awkward Movie Challenge

According to Netflix, Mike and Jeffrey agree with each other on movies 84% of the time. In their regular feature, The Awkward Movie Challenge, they search valiantly for that sweet 16% that results in big arguments and big laughs.


Phew. Boy oh boy, did we just take a long hiatus from the movie challenge. A lot has happened since we last talked. Segretto had a baby and I finally became a man, officially, in a tribal ceremony that involved a lot of painful tweezing and embarrassing obstacle courses. Being a man is harder work than I imagined. There’s a lot of construction and swearing involved.

But now we’re back, and we’re ready to “sink our teeth” into an 80s classic, The Lost Boys. Ha ha ha, that’s a joke, because The Lost Boys is a movie about vampires, and one thing about vampires is that they like to put their teeth in things. Another thing about them is that they all look like members of Aerosmith during Aerosmith’s very bad period. These are the kinds of lessons we learn from watching The Lost Boys.

Let me get this out of the way right off the bat: I love this movie. I haven’t seen it since I was a kid, but when I was a kid, I watched it many, many times. I was not aware how many times I had watched it until I rewatched it last night. Every line of dialogue is ingrained in my brain. I know every song inside and out because my sister would listen to the soundtrack over and over again. If you know the soundtrack, actually, you already know half the movie, because it is basically a music video with occasional dialogue. And unexpected special guests!

Hi David Cross!

Hi Bill S. Preston, Esquire!


The 15 Best Albums of 2010 that You Probably Will Not Like

December 16, 2010 By: Category: Best of 2010, Greatest Hits

2010! What a sneak surpriser of a year. Until I sat down and started compiling this list, I had a suspicion that 2010 had been kind of a bust. But once I really took a hard look at the records that came out over the last twelve months, I realized that this was, in fact, a kick-ass year for the art form known as music. In fact, I could expand this list to 25 records without batting an eyelash. But I won’t, because neither of us has the time. Or maybe I’ll just toss the final 10 in at the end as a bonus beat for all you hardcore readers who really want to know what’s up.

So then! On with the show!

15. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest is a difficult record to critique, because it sounds like a completely different album every time I listen to it. It’s not the kind of record that normally gets high marks from me … as an avowed fan of the pop hook, I generally gravitate toward music that gets stuck in my head. And every time I listen to Halcyon Digest I immediately forget what the songs sound like, making every listen a fresh experience. It has nothing to do with the hookiness of the songs … there are plenty of hooks, from the 60s radio shimmy of “Don’t Worry” to the Brit-pop of “Memory Boy” … but the hits rise up like sneaky venus flytraps out of the foggy audio swamp that permeates the record. Or swamp is a bad word, because that makes it sound like the record is muddy or bluesy, which it isn’t at all … if it’s muddy at all, it’s angel mud. And the venus flytraps are those Super Mario flytraps that climb up into the sky when you hit the right block.


Awkward Podcasts #3: Brand Monsters

October 29, 2010 By: Category: Greatest Hits, Podcasts

Awkward Podcast #3 comes just in time for Halloween. I wrote this spoooooky monster story for the “Will Wright Reads …” event the other night. The event took place in a restaurant, so even if you were there, this may be the first time you’re able to hear it.

Brand Monsters

Music totally stolen for this podcast:

“Throw Aggi from the Bridge” by Black Tambourine
“Globetrotter” by The Tornadoes
“Adventure” by Be Your Own Pet
“Meniscus” by This Mortal Coil
“Count in Fives” by The Horrors
“Atlantis to Interzone” by Klaxons
“Sex Your Corpse Up” by the Psychos

The Faith Project: Bon Jovi—New Jersey

October 25, 2010 By: Category: Greatest Hits, The Faith Project

Inspired by their mutual love of the INXS record Kick, Matt and Jeff have decided to take another listen to their favorite classic and forgotten records from the 80s. This is the Faith Project, and it is 100% guaranteed to contain absolutely no analysis of George Michael’s Faith.


New Jersey was the first CD I ever owned. I won it in a radio contest in the summer of 1989. I was the right caller. I wrote down the previous night’s top twenty and recited it back to the DJ. I didn’t have a CD player then. My parents didn’t have a CD player. I went to the neighbor’s to listen to it because they had one. I listened to it a lot for not having any way to play it back myself.

So I was expecting this one to sound like the summer of ’89 all over again, which maybe it does. It’s just that summer is a lot cheesier than I remember it being. Which, why is this a surprise? It was middle school. I liked a lot of cornball Top 40 hair metal in middle school. Slaughter, anyone? But Bon Jovi had to have been doing something right in the late ’80′s because they’re still around and literally everyone from that era isn’t. I am not counting Brett Michael’s second career as being “still around.”

So what did they do right? Well, they found a way to make hair metal less about the metal and more about the pop rock, more so than any of their contemporaries. Nobody was confusing them with Judas Priest. They had a charming and versatile front man who could also sort of act—and I don’t believe I’ve seen David Coverdale make a cameo on 30 Rock yet. They hired Desmond Child to write their hits. And they never took themselves terribly seriously. (more…)

The Awkward Podcast #2: The New Words

October 19, 2010 By: Category: Greatest Hits, Podcasts

The second edition of the Awkward Podcast features a story I wrote a couple of years ago entitled “The New Words.” I’ve submitted this to a number of different magazines in the hopes of getting it published, but no one seems to want it. Which is too bad, because I think it is a damn fine story. So in the interest of getting it out into the world, where it belongs, I am giving it to you in podcast format. Please enjoy!

The New Words

A side note: We’ve submitted the Awkward Podcast to the iTunes store, but it takes them a few weeks to approve such things … if you’re interested in adding the podcast to your iTunes podcast subscriptions but don’t know how to go about it, here’s what you have to do. Go into iTunes, and click on the “Advanced” tab at the top. Scroll down to “Subscribe to podcast.” In the box that says “URL”, paste the following link:

Done! You will now receive all of our delicious podcasts automatically. You’re welcome!

Music totally stolen for this podcast (in order of appearance):
- “Rollerdisco” by Black Moth Super Rainbow
- “The Shore” by The Cansecos
- “Endorphin” by Burial
- “Titus Andronicus” by Titus Andronicus