Monday, April 30, 2012

boys who dance are far more likely to pass along their genes

And, speaking of blogs and such, I was recently contacted by a blogger who asked me a list of "interview" questions about writing and Young Adult literature.

I found the following question to be particularly interesting:

Why do you think there are so few male YA authors, compared to females?

Here is my theory on that:

There are fewer male YA authors because we get beaten up, taunted, and picked on constantly!

Most guys simply can't endure the torment of relentless bullying. Guys are sensitive about that kind of shit, so to protect our fragile egos, we often pursue "softer" careers which provide built-in ego strokes and no harsh societal prejudgements: Firefighter, Professional Athlete, Police Officer, Crab Fisherman.

Oh! Those guys have it easy!

I am weeping as I write this.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

blog party

In the next 17 months, there will be three brand-new Andrew Smith books on the shelves.


On October 2, Passenger, the sequel to The Marbury Lens, will be released, followed in spring of 2013 by Winger, and fall of 2013 by Grasshopper Jungle.

I know this is crazily egotistical to say, but they are all very good books, and as different from one another as an phone book is from a quail egg.

In any event, four amazing bloggers have gotten together to host Saturday read-alongs starting in June and focusing on my first four novels: Ghost Medicine, In the Path of Falling Objects, Stick, and The Marbury Lens (coming out in paperback this fall, too). This is being done as a run-up to the release of Passenger.

I really have to say how much I appreciate the book-blogging community for getting behind my work. It's sometimes hard to get noticed as a writer when you're a guy, and you're also adrift in a sea of monster-human love stories (I can change you! I love you for who you are! You've been "watching over" me since I was just a child and now we're in love, love, LOVE! Okay, that's a little creepy.), epic and endless series, and books with those brooding, pouty, dark-haired girls whose faces you can't entirely see on their covers.

So, great thanks to the following blogs:

Lady Reader's Bookstuff

Roofbeam Reader

Smash Attack Reads

Not Now... I'm Reading

If you click on any of those links, they will give you details of the four bloggers' plans, with more specific chapter assignments coming in May.

I'm looking forward to popping in on some of the comments and seeing what they say about those books.

I also have to give special thanks to all these bloggers for contacting me and ASKING if they could do this. Who would ever say no? What an amazing thing for them to do.

I think the mastermind behind it was Amy (at Lady Reader's Bookstuff), so yesterday I sent her a big box of STUFF for the bloggers to use for their Saturday read-alongs. Here's what some of the stuff in the box looks like:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

the redesigned company symbol

So, the other day a young reader said this to me:

You know how, in English classes, your teacher always says shit like -- Oh, THIS is what F. Scott Fitzgerald was symbolizing with the green light in Gatsby -- and you are never allowed to argue with it, and if you ever write an essay about The Great Gatsby, you have to say EXACTLY the same thing about what the teacher says F. Scott Fitzgerald was symbolizing or else you will get an "F"? Well, I just want to know: When you write books, do you authors really sit down and decide about definite things you are symbolizing, or do you just make shit up?

That is a true story.

I was actually asked that exact question.

I think the young person who asked me it was symbolizing confusion.

Here is what I answered:

Yes. Yes we do. It is how we tell the SMART people from the stupid ones. SMART people know EXACTLY what we authors mean when we use obtuse symbolism and shit like that, while the stupid ones go on, quite frequently, to become English teachers and political speechwriters. Now go away and leave me alone.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

news from the stew of los angeles

I have some updates on my appearances at this June's American Library Association Annual Conference in Anaheim, California.

On Sunday morning (June 24), I will participate in YALSA's YA Authors Coffee Klatch, which is probably one of the coolest things that happens at ALA, besides maybe getting a signed ARC of Passenger.

Some people will undoubtedly do both, in which case they can face the end of days knowing there is nothing left to experience on life's satisfaction scale.

So, on Friday evening (June 22), Michael Grant, Daniel Handler, Jon Scieszka (I did not Google his name this time to see if I spelled it correctly. I am living life on the edge today, mostly because of my intensely bad mood.), Daniel Kraus, and I will be speaking at Booklist's Youth Forum on the topic of how guys don't know how to read, write, or spell Jon Scieszka's last name.

Friday evening is the Macmillan publishing party, too.

There are never enough parties at ALA.

Saturday morning (June 23), I'll be speaking to librarians at Macmillan's breakfast preview (I'll be talking about, and holding up a copy of Passenger), and then off to Macmillan booth 2534 - 2535 to sign copies of Passenger from 10:00 - 11:00 A.M.

I've got some other stuff coming up on Saturday afternoon and evening, too, which I will tell about later.

I'll try to not be so grumpy.

Then, on Tuesday morning, after the whirlwind gala that is the Printz reception the evening before, I am going to be abducting the great author A.S. King and secreting her away to el Rancho de Drew, where she and I are working on a secret project that will make heads explode.

Hallucinogenic cupcakes.

Her people are aware of this.

Monday, April 23, 2012

news from the soup of the universe

This, apparently, is how it starts, people.

They are coming to take over the planet, and I have proof.

Over the weekend, I received an email from the O--- Corporation. I am not going to reveal the full name of the corporation or its representative, fearing potential reprisal against me.

They want me to be their minion.

The email included this line:

We need a trustworthy Human as our company representative who will be working for the company...

Who capitalizes the word Human?


Nobody, that is, unless you are NOT a human.

If you are a Being from some godless part of the universe.

Apparently, these beings from the O--- Corporation also have had poor luck in finding a Human who is trustworthy. And they go on, to do something more evil than I can imagine.

They make up words that do not exist!

Here is the rest of the line from above (note again the mysterious capitalization of certain words): a Representative with a good beneficting Payment as salary.


Be warned.

They plan on beneficting Humans.

Well, it's not going to start with me, Emperor Ming the Merciless, or whoever -- whatever -- You are.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

the best and the most difficult

Before Passenger comes out on October 2, the paperback edition (whose cover is a complete mystery to me) of The Marbury Lens will be published in September.

That paperback will have a lengthy excerpt from Passenger in its appendix, as well as an author Q&A and... um... author photograph, too.

Anyway, I wanted to share a question and response here the people at Square Fish (Macmillan's paperback imprint) asked me about The Marbury Lens, and then, since I actually have, like, four books (counting that paperback) coming out between now and fall of 2013, respond to it for each of those other -- brand new -- books.

The question was this: What was your favorite scene to write, and what was the most difficult?

Here are four answers for you:

1. The Marbury Lens:

My favorite scene to write was the one where the boys -- Jack, Ben, and Griffin -- find the anomalous train sitting in the middle of a salt flat in the Marbury desert. I think the qualities that appeal to me most in that scene are the dark mystery of the train, and the sense of wonder and discovery at all the cool and horrifying stuff the boys find inside. I had always intended to write the backstory about how that train got there and what happened to the passengers inside it. I actually started to write a comic book -- just about THAT train in Marbury. Needless to say, the story of the train is an important element in Passenger.

The most difficult scene to write in The Marbury Lens was what finally happened to Seth and his adoptive father, Blake Mansfield after the accidental killing of the minister named Uncle Teddy. That scene upset me for a long time. It still bothers me to go back and reread it.

2. Passenger:

To be totally honest, there were so many exciting scenes I had a blast writing in this book. I enjoyed writing all the scenes with our new character -- Quinn -- because he's so sneaky and annoying. But I think the scene in the London Underground, when Henry and Jack try to "get back home" and Quinn is chasing while Jack bleeds to death and everything falls apart around them was one of the most enjoyable to write. (Not really a spoiler)

The difficult scenes to write involved the couple times when Jack's friends -- Ben and Griffin -- blame Jack for letting them down and ruining their lives. It happens a few times in the book -- when they're in "the box," and again in Marbury's "Under," and even again after that, too. Friends are going to sometimes let one another down, and young kids like Griffin can lash out emotionally, and those are the kinds of things that hurt. You'll see.

3. Winger (coming next spring from Simon and Schuster):

No doubt about it, my favorite scene to write in this book happens when Ryan Dean, his best friend Joey, and Ryan Dean's tormentor Chas have to suffer the "consequence" for losing a poker game and go into town in the middle of the night to buy Halloween costumes. Ryan Dean and Joey end up being stuck inside a car, in the middle of a flash flood, with a guy named Screaming Ned. Best scene ever. I laughed out loud while writing it. I still laugh at that scene. Maybe I'm insane.

The most difficult scene to write happens between Ryan Dean and Doc Mom -- the mother of Ryan Dean's girlfriend, Annie. That's all I'll say about that.

4. Grasshopper Jungle (coming next fall from Dutton/Penguin):

This book was a pure joy/adrenaline rush to write. I have actually done a few out-loud readings of chapters in the book which can practically stand alone as short stories, and I like them very much. The first one is called Stupid People Should Never Read Books, and it's about how Austin (the narrator of this "history") gets in trouble for writing a book report on Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War. The second is a chapter called Rat Boys From Mars and an Unfortunate Incident Involving an Inflatable Whale, which is about Austin and his best friend, Robby, being mistaken for alien invaders and getting shot at by Austin's next-door-neighbor, Earl Elgin, and Earl's son, EJ. And there is an inflatable whale in it, too. All I can say is Ouch. Both those chapters seem to go over very well as read-alouds, as long as the person doing the reading is not easily embarrassed.

I can't say there was any part of the book that was difficult to write. One time, I sat down and tried to compile a list of all the characters and people who are mentioned in the book. I couldn't do it. There were parts of the book that made me very angry, though. A chapter called Soup From Paint Cans comes to mind.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

a wager on the ponies

The Kentucky Derby is approaching again, and once again a writerly wager has been placed.

I guess we couldn't get enough of it last year, so authors Catherine Ryan Hyde, Brian Farrey, Kimberly Pauley, and myself are once again choosing our mounts and awaiting the results.

Here's how the bet works: whoever has the lead horse at the end of the race (it doesn't have to win) gets to make up the title of a short story, and the next author-horse combo has to write the story and post it online. This gets repeated down the line to the last finisher. So, the person whose horse comes in ahead of the others only has to create a title, but everyone else has to create a title for the next in line as well as write an assigned short story. The person at the end doesn't need to make up any title.

There may be other authors involved, too. But the first four from last year are coming back to do it again.

The big winners? Readers who will get a pack of fresh short stories from some pretty sharp authors.

Happy races.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

winger tuesday

Here is another question I get asked just about every time I speak to kids about my books: Did the things in your novel actually happen to you in real life?

The answer is yes.

Although it's not really Winger Tuesday -- I just made that up -- I thought I'd talk a little bit about that second-in-the-queue book of mine today.

Winger is coming out next spring from Simon and Schuster.

Winger is a different kind of Andrew Smith book (what two are similar, anyway?) because it's kind of funny, and it also includes comic book pages, drawings, charts, diagrams, poems, plays, love notes and other stuff.

It's about a kid named Ryan Dean (that's his first name) who attends a school for misfit rich kids, where he plays rugby, which is the greatest sport known to man.

Rugby has been a part of my life for a very long time.

See this picture down here:

That kid raising his hand there on the far left is my son, Trevin, when he was about seven years old and starting off playing on his first rugby team. Kids at that age (in America, at least) play touch, as opposed to tackle rugby, and with only seven kids on a team.

Trevin was pretty tall for a seven-year-old. Um, now that he's seventeen, he's six-foot-five. He goes to UC Berkeley, which I mention because Cal happens to have the best collegiate rugby team in America. Trevin no longer plays, but if he did, he would be a hell of a lock, which is a second row forward. In Winger, one of the characters -- a jerk of a kid (who also has a soft spot) -- named Chas plays lock.

Unlike his dad, I don't think Trevin enjoys hitting people.

So I was feeling a little nostalgic last night, thinking about Winger. I coached a terrific high school rugby team for a number of years, but just don't have time for it any longer. I'd really love to do it again, though.

See this kid down here:

Okay. This kid showed up one day when we were conducting summer practices. His name is Davis, and I'm pretty sure that picture was taken on his first day of practice. He rode his bike down to the field, where about 75 boys were trying out for the team. He was 14 or 15, and had just moved to California, and came up to me and asked if he could play. The kid ended up playing for the US National team over in Europe.

Anyway, so I was feeling nostalgic about rugby last night, because, out of the blue Davis, who lives two states away now, phoned me and asked me to come to his wedding next month.

It's been a long time.

He's read my books, and I told him that my book about rugby would be coming out next spring.

He said, "It's about time, Coach." (I think he will probably call me Coach for the rest of my life).

Anyway, an awful lot of the little stories that happen in Winger actually happened to the kids on my teams over the years. Some of them are kind of embarrassing (and the kids -- now men -- will definitely remember them).

One of those stories -- about when three punks showed up at practice looking to knife one of our players -- also actually happened.

I've been trying to think of something dumber than showing up at a rugby practice with the intention of knifing a rugby player, but can't come up with anything.

I'll leave it at that. You'll have to read the book.

This is when we played a team from Perth, Australia (the Aussies are in green):

This was after the game, after the kids had beaten the living shit out of each other for 80 minutes.

If they look like they really like each other, they do. It's part of the game. Five minutes before this photo, they were trying to kill each other.

I can still look at that photo and tell you just about every nickname the kids on our team had for each other. Nicknames are permanent things in rugby.

The photo below is a close-in shot from a scrum. The kid on the right was one of the best loosehead props (sometimes he played hooker if we had our really big props in the game) I ever coached.

His nickname was Chicago. I think people still call him that.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

heaving collarbones and menacing sexuality

Here is a YA book cover for your imagination.

Picture this: A pouting girl with voluptuous lips sits, turned at an angle with her chin down, on a cane rocking chair in a firelit, dusky cabin. Her wild black hair swirls unexplainably about her face, and her dress is open beneath her neck, revealing her obviously heaving collarbones and alabaster pale skin. Her eyes are unnaturally emerald-hued and she appears heavily burdened with sadness, mystery, and wild, insatiable sexuality. Behind her is a four-paned window, through which we see the menacing shape of a tree with more leafless and sharp spiny branches than a clustering orgy of spawning sea urchins, while three silhouetted birds fly off, ominously, into the ashy sky. There is a faint image of a muscular, shirtless young black man watching the girl through the window. For some unmedical reason, his eyes are yellow. The insanely beautiful girl with black black black eye makeup is trying to thread a very phallic needle.

Okay. Did that get you sweaty?

I figured that's the cover I'd design if I were trying to get The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to be placed on the YA shelf of Barnes and Noble today.

I'd be an outstanding marketer!

The scene -- although liberally interpreted for the sake of art and sex, sex, sex! -- is right from the book, after all. Nobody needs to know ahead of time that it's the famous transvestite scene -- that the sexy maiden is actually Huck.

Yesterday, I spoke with my friend A.S. King about my idea to "redo" YA book covers if they had to be marketed to the only national chain bookstore today.

Oh! We had fun!

Just wait till I tell you about my To Kill a Mockingbird cover!

You'll have to take a cold shower!

I wanted to actually use elements from real YA bookcovers, but I would be sued, sued, sued! And some of those YA authors out there are known to be real scrappers.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

observations from a literary gandhi

I got this new kind of coffee.

It is really good.

You don't even have to brew it.

The reason you do not have to actually brew it is because it isn't really coffee. It is crystal methamphetamine, which is more like coffee times atomic weaponry.

I figured if writing is so dependent upon the ingestion of the stimulant, caffeine, then it would greatly be enhanced by nuclear caffeine.

Nuclear caffeine is a more pleasant way of saying "crystal meth."

I think about Gandhi a lot.

I thought about Gandhi one time -- I said to myself, What would Gandhi do in this situation? -- when I was walking in Paris, France, and was punched in the back of my head by a prostitute.

Imagine that!

It is a true story, the details of which I like to keep mysteriously vague, but, trust me, it did happen.

I think this coffee is interfering with what I am actually supposed to be doing right now, which is writing. Instead, I am rekindling memories of my youth in Paris, France, which is where I was not only punched in the back of my head by a prostitute (and, man, was she ever angry!), but was also thrown off a train.

That is also a true story.

These are also questions I am frequently asked: Drew, why did you get punched in the back of your head by a prostitute in Paris, France? and, Drew, why did you and your luggage get thrown off a train in Paris, France (Did I mention I had a sleeping compartment?)?

There is always some "tone" in the questioners' voices, too, which implies some prejudgement of initial wrongdoing on my part.

I am an innocent man!

I'll leave it at that.

This coffee is good.

Where was I?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

my favorite book

Over the weekend, I wrote about a question I am often asked, one that I don't see many other writers blog about.

Here is another one I get asked with almost predictable regularity:

What is your favorite book that you have written?

Can I say that they are all my favorite books in their own ways?

Because each one of them does something, tells a story, that the others do not. And my favorite book changes from time to time. It is almost NEVER the book I am writing, and it is absolutely, positively never, never, NEVER a book that I am finishing the edits on.

In the "finishing the edits" stage of the process is the precise time when I can certainly make a decision about which of my books I hate the most.

Right at the moment, though, I do have to admit that my favorite book that I have written is next year's Grasshopper Jungle. I like it for a number of reasons, not the least of which is how twisted and demented -- and funny -- it is. I also like it because the book is like a hundred books all put together. It's a kind of tessellation, where all the little sharp pieces all end up clicking magically together and making something groutless and simultaneously unbreakable.

You will see.

I am really excited about this book.

Ask me again in 6 months, and chances are I will hate it.

But I doubt that.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

target and audience

Like most writers, I suppose, I get asked the following question with frequent regularity:

Who is the target audience for your novel?

I think that's kind of a weird question in a lot of ways, because I always answer the same way:

Me. I am my target audience.

I have never thought about anybody else when writing a book. It is a completely selfish, self-absorbed endeavor for me.

It's one of the many reasons why I bristle at the (I suppose necessary) labeling of what I write as "Young Adult" literature. The problem with labels is that they cause people to make narrow-minded and prejudicial assumptions, and then you get these stupid clusterings that are so confident and determined:

I'm an adult, and I LOve reading YA!!! YA is the ONly thing I read!!!(squee)


YA is for kids, and grownups shouldn't read it, but it's okay for grownups to play video games!!! (I am an acerbic, erudite social commentator!)

Labels are for idiots.

They say things like "Do not ingest" on bottles of Clorox.

You know who I'm talking about.

I refuse to say his name. And I'm not going to call him names, either. But... O! How I want to!

I truly believe he is not smart enough to read any book I have ever written.

I have never seen anyone reading porn on an airplane.

I need more frequent flyer miles!

Here is a mistake for writers who want to be good: Thinking of a "target audience" before anything else. And envisioning that target audience as being a circle in your cosmic Venn Diagram that excludes the circle of you -- the writer.

So, if, for example, you set out with a mission: I am going to write a satiric and biting commentary which will appeal to lovers of smug, sententious columnists who really have a take on manhood and masculinity -- it is going to be crap.

And -- By the laws of nature! -- if you are caught reading it on a plane, you deserve to be punched in the throat!

[Note: I would LOve to hear from the particular author I'm speaking about, and would welcome the opportunity to engage in civil debate in any forum with him. If you are going to comment, please do not mention his name, the publication in which his essays appear, or offer any links to the piece I am vaguely referencing, because I won't post references to him.]

Friday, April 6, 2012

something always happens while someone else dances


That photograph is a clipping from yesterday's Publishers Weekly Rights Report about a book of mine I have been making myself sick over from wanting to talk about.

Before anything else, let me say this: Despite a description which includes an apocalyptic, monster-filled premise, this book is NOT horror/scary/terrifying. It is not intended to be. No. No. No. It is insanely funny, so don't expect a doubt-filled self-hating romp through Marbury. After all, it takes place in Iowa. How can you not smile about Iowa having anything at all to do with the end of the world?

Now here are a few things first:

1. The title: Grasshopper Jungle

Here's where that came from. I run every day in the open and unpopulated hills around my home. Every day, no matter what, which includes rain, snow, wind, and sometimes blistering heat. The trails I run on are nameless, but in my mind I have names for certain stretches based on animals I see there, dead things, rocks, trees -- shit like that. There is one curving stretch of trail where, during the summer, I get pelted by grasshoppers when I run. At first, I thought it was really disgusting. I hate bugs. But then I started calling the place "Grasshopper Jungle" in my mind, and a story started to come to my head.

That's how I write.

2. Dates: The story goes back centuries and continues through the end of the world. There is, in that case, no need to ever read another book.

July 7, 2011 was the day I began writing Grasshopper Jungle.

I don't know why I know that, I just do. I don't know the precise "birthday" of any other book I've ever written.

It took me longer to write than any book to this point. I finished on exactly October 14, 2011. It is 104,000 words in length.

Around the time I was finishing the book, I decided I wanted to make a change in my "job," and I asked Michael Bourret from Dystel and Goderich Literary Management if he would be willing to take on a particularly challenging client with an absolutely insane novel.

Truly, I doubted my sanity with this book. So I kept asking Michael if he thought I was maybe insane.

Michael doesn't joke around. He thought I was insane. But he also thought the book was good.

We submitted the book after the holidays -- in the first week of February.

Julie Strauss-Gabel was on our agreed-upon list of coveted editors/publishers.

She was also on jury duty that week.

Let me apologize now to the family of the defendant she no doubt hastily convicted in order to read the book.

She said this about the book: "Holy shit."

I did not know if that was a good holy shit or a bad holy shit.

Bad holy shits can be really bad.

On February 13, 2012, I spoke with Julie about the book.

Holy shit!

On February 14 (Aww... Valentine's Day), we accepted her offer to publish Grasshopper Jungle.

3. I have a tattoo of something iconic that appears frequently in this book.

4. Speaking of questioning my sanity: I wanted to know if my son thought I was insane. I never ask family members to read my books. They usually have no idea what I've written until ARCs are published, but I asked my son if he would read Grasshopper Jungle if I sent it to him. He is, after all, an intellectual English major at a prestigious university (and a damned good writer, by the way). I was kind of nervous because I thought he would tell mom to call the psycho squad on me. He read the book in a day, then told me he thought it was one of the best books he'd ever read. But he also thought I was insane.

5. The "playlist" for this book -- in order -- consists of 7 Rolling Stones songs from the albums Exile On Main Street and Let It Bleed. These albums and the songs are very important to one of the characters in the book, a troubled, sad kid named Robby.

This is the list:

  • Sweet Virginia
  • Gimme Shelter
  • Ventilator Blues
  • Love In Vain
  • Rocks Off
  • Let It Bleed
  • Let It Loose
I listened to that playlist, over and over, for hundreds of hours writing the book. I cannot get tired of those seven songs, and when they play I can visualize specific parts of the book where they are mentioned.

6. If I made a cover for the book, it would look like this (modeled after the brilliant cover to Exile On Main Street, which, by the way, I have framed in my room, a gift from my son.

This is NOT the cover of the book, but every single thing on this image appears in the story:

Yes, there is an inflatable whale.

Let me just finish with this: I admitted to Julie Strauss-Gabel that I was a bit starstruck chatting with her. I can not wait to see what we do with this insane book.

Coming in fall, 2013.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

there wasn't anything until somebody made up a word for it

In continuing my periodic rants on linguistic determinism.

In the Beginning, well... it actually wasn't much of a beginning until people made up that word beginning and then came up with wrong conclusions about shit.

Second, while I was sleeping (I have been sleeping entirely too much this past week. The Che Guevara of my State of REM has been staging a rather successful peasant revolution against what I fondly refer to as THE WHORE BOOK) I received an email from an unidentified associate that began thus:

But he's been giving me insane and intense dreams. Last night, a real mash-up: my car got stolen, I stepped in dog poo (wearing my old slippers -- the ones with holes in them), my daughter and I could breathe under water.

How weird! I never step in dog poo.

Anyway, since one of the first real-world things I do every morning is read my email (my coffee makes itself automatically), I seriously had to spend a few minutes re-reading this one to figure out what the hell it was about.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

alarmist rhetoric

I am back from my road trip with my son.

Here is what happened while I was away: Nothing.

I can't actually be certain, though, since I was not here to observe it.

Here is one thing I did observe: (In truth, I am certain this really happened because my son and I both happened to observe it simultaneously) We were walking along a street in Berkeley, enjoying the sights and sounds -- the smell of marijuana mixed with gelato and urine -- and we passed two guys who stood at the curb, staring up at a sign on a storefront.

One of them said to the other: "That is an incredible font."

I looked at my son. He looked at me.

He said, "I rarely encounter people who truly appreciate the magnificence of a good sans-serif."

Here is something else that happened to me up in Berkeley.

After dropping my son off at his dorm, I went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. While I was under the shower, I heard this:


The smoke alarm in my room was alerting everyone on the fucking planet that there was some urgent matter involving smoke.

It would not shut up.

What do you do? I was... um... naked. And wet. And the alarm in the room stubbornly persisted:


By the way, I do not smoke. I also do not fire up the hibachi when I travel.


Standing there, under the shower, I decided a plan of action was necessary. My plan involved climbing up on the sofa and breaking the fucking thing, which I started to do just as there came a rattling at the door accompanied by the presence of the hotel smoke detector squad.

Did I mention that I was naked and dripping wet and climbing up on my sofa?


Oh yeah. Good times.

Luckily, before entering the shower I did something I rarely do: I closed that little-metal-thing-that-looks-like-a-seagull's-wing-on-the-door-that-I-always-forget-is-there-and-BAM!-surprise-myself-with-why-the-fuck-can't-I-open-my-door-thing-that-I-do-not-know-what-they're-called
so I spared myself the complete awkwardness of being taken to the ground while naked, wet, and standing on a sofa by the hotel's smoke detector squad, although I did have to explain through the crack in the door: 1) why I was naked and wet, and 2) that I did not set fire to the hotel room.

But the thing still did not shut up.


It is difficult to get dressed when you are being screamed at by a fucking plastic disc on the wall that refuses to be broken.

Later that night, this happened:

It was 3:30 a.m.

Exactly 3:30.

I was so asleep. It was wonderful. Right in the middle of this really bizarre dream about two superhero women (one wore a red suit, and the other wore white) who were fighting -- kicking the living shit out of each other -- in the branches of a very big, tangled tree.

It was a cool dream!

Guess what happened?


Someone had set the alarm clock beside the bed to go off at exactly 3:30 a.m.

What do you do?

I was in alarm hell. I can't turn off strange alarm clocks. I don't ever use an alarm clock at home, but a foreign clock is entirely unmanageable to me. Besides, I am totally blind without my glasses.


So, I had to get out of bed, find my glasses, turn on the lights, and figure out how to shut up the goddamned alarm clock.

I was done. Pissed off. No more fighting female superheroes in trees.

My nerves are shot.

I hate alarms. They do not save lives. They make people angry and stressed out.

Alarms -- all of them -- are killers.