Friday, June 27, 2008

The Kitchen Gangster

Today I had a funny idea. I was in Sur La Table and my mom, my sister, my brother and I were at the checkout when a saw a grill spatula. Not any spatula, but a foldable one. This gave me an idea for a character called the kitchen gangster, a chef that terrorizes all the other chefs. His favorite weapon is the foldable spatula which he can hide in his clothes. Other weapons include a paring knife because it is easy to conceal and very sharp, the chicken tenderizer because it is very dangerous and heavy but can't be hidden easily, the flavor injector for chickens and turkeys because it can be used as an interrogator if he needs to find out who the owner is planning to fire and other useful kitchen information.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Week 2

“Jazz, Fried Okra Afternoon”
by Devan Cook

Fried okra, hot coffee, bacon grease melting in black iron skillet from the drippings can on the stove, jazz on the radio, mid-afternoon, sun behind the little live oak with the three trunks that shades the trailer, windows open, dirty screens, two horses outside asleep beside the viburnum hedge, 85 degrees, breeze from the woods, okra from the woods garden. Flowers like cotton, like sticky fuzz. Okra comes from Africa. Cut the pods every day. Slice young and tender into rounds, 1/4 inch wide, roll in meal and egg and meal again. Salt and pepper, red pepper too. Fry in hot bacon grease and stand back: it spits. Eat with green beans, green onions, bacon, corn bread with lots of butter, coffee: strong, hot, black.
Black iron skillet. Jazz on the radio. Shoes off, air thickening in the kitchen, dark, heat from cooking lingers around the stove. Wash dishes. Windows face west: watermelon red sunset lights the stove, then faces, then the last green line before it’s over. Sun sinks into the woods—vines cover it. Sun buries in old leaves. The trailer cracks and settles, letting the heat go, rise. Dogs wander off toward the woods. Swallows above the barn and garden, then sounds of the first whippoorwills and a hoot owl in the woods where a breeze rises. Birds. Children catch fireflies. We sit on the steps and listen.
Breezes rise. Open doors and windows, breath, blow through the whole hot place, bacon smells, coffee, okra, corn meal, jelly smeared on the bedspread covering the couch, blow into the bedrooms in back. Cooler now. Stained curtains puff. Heat lightning, clouds stack toward the west, the Gulf, over the woods. Baths, clean white cotton pajamas folded flat under white cotton pillowcases, sheets stretched taut over still warm beds, spreads folded down to air bedding. Smell of sun, light, grass, bleach. Children eat cookies and drink kool-aid. Dark is think and sweet, muscadines ripen behind the barn, woods move toward the road. Lights on in the house above the pasture. Dust settles on road, leaves. Another hoot owl answers the first, fireflies hover, doors close, lights out. Lightning closer now, leaves scratch screens, breeze over beds. Dogs under the trailer. Rain’s coming.

∑ List the foods different members of your family like. Choose one and have the person eat that food.

∑ Write about eating in relation to times of day—morning, noon, night, late night, while traveling, while doing something else.

∑ In the above selection, Cook joins two ideas: jazz and food. Do the same with food and something else. Maybe a different style of music, or sports, or relatives…whatever you like.

For next week:

Long Assignment: 750 words
Choose one and write about it. If you can, please type it up. If you want, submit it to the website.

∑ Write the "story" about yourself that you tell strangers.

∑ Holidays are often landmines. Family gatherings can trigger some pretty interesting old memories and their accompanying tensions. Write about such a memory/tension, but try to find the humor in it.

∑ Talk to your grandparents. Ask them what it was like at the dinnertable when they were 10 or 15. Write a descriptive narrative in which you "recall" a dinner at your grandparent's table.

∑ A young friend of mine carries with her the blue collar worn by her dog who was put to sleep. She tells me she would be devastated if she lost it, but yet she carries it with her. Do you have something like the dog collar that you carry with you? Write a short narration/description about the item and its significance.

∑ Write a scene of a very early, vivid memory. What are the odd details? What in this scene seems to matter to you? What are you leaving out? If you get stuck, keep repeating the phrase “I remember” to start off your sentences.

∑ How many firsts can you remember in your life? The first meal you remember enjoying. The first book you read. The first music you bought. The first time you rode a bike. Pick one and write about it.

Bring a small box of things that mean something to you. As many as you want. They should be somewhat small, so we aren’t overcrowded. If you have something large, see if you can bring a piece of it, something that can stand for it. For example, instead of bringing the whole guitar, just bring a guitar pick.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Reading the Scene

Pick a place that you regularly visit. A place in your house, a park, somewhere in the neighborhood, the car restaurant. Go there and deliberately see it for the first time. What do you notice that, because of familiarity and routine, you ceased to notice. Become aware of the scene as much as possible. Look in odd corners, make the peripheral central. Take lots of notes. Record conversations. Observe the familiar in a writerly way.

Monday, June 9, 2008



This is our blog. Right now, it's not much of a blog because there hasn't been much of class. Mostly just me emailing one or two parents. Them emailing me. Us writing about you. Yes, we've been talking about you. Extensively. You should probably be a little paranoid. But only a little.

We'll use this medium to help keep the mojo working while we are apart for the better part of the week. And for some of you who think it is perfectly cool to skip class--well now that I think of it, you all have pretty much skipped class your whole lives you miscreants, but you haven't skipped any of my classes, and that's a whole different ball of twine--however, some of you may need to donate a kidney and miss an odd Tuesday. This blog will help keep you afresh of the magic.

I'll make this blog somewhat private. One of the first things we'll do on Tuesday is to give everyone proper access to the site. Then, only those of you in the course can access what's written here. It'll be our little hideaway.

I'll see you all (or most of you) next week. If you end up poking around here, or your legal guardian fails to tell you about the first day, here's what you should bring:

A totally awesome pen. Something that will inspire millions with its words.
A blank notebook or journal. A repository for greatness.
A favorite book, poem, article, bit of graffiti, tattoo or encyclopedia.
A well-rested mind--preferably one that hasn't seen a tv in 48 hours.

Let's start writing.