Sunday, December 23, 2012

Puppet Shows by Michael Frissore: Interview and Excerpt


Welcome Michael.  Thanks so much for visiting today and letting me pester you with a few questions.  J  What was your first sale as an author?

I received $15 for an essay I wrote about the song Dangerous by Roxette. It was about how for years I thought the line, The eyes of a lover that hit like heat was actually, The eyes of a lover that Hitler eats. That essay is still online somewhere. I called it "VERY Dangerous." It was great to make any money for that. That doesn't always happen. I still think my lyric is better.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a rock star. When I was seven I saw Dexys Midnight Runners perform on Solid Gold and told my parents I wanted guitar lessons. So I started playing the guitar and became heavily into the hair band scene of the late 80s. I wanted to be a hair metal singer/guitarist, and I wanted to look the part. So I grew my hair long, or tried to grow it long. I wanted to look like Eddie Van Halen, Joe Elliott or Don Dokken. Those were the guys who looked the coolest to me. But it wouldnt take. My hair was unwilling to grow the way I wanted it to, and I just had the worst mullet anyone had ever scene. So, finally, I gave up and cut my stupid hair just months before Nirvana effectively murdered the hair band genre altogether.

What are your favorite TV shows?

I love British comedies, which I think shows itself in Puppet Shows. In particular, Monty Python and Fawlty Towers are favorites, as well as just about everything that Rik Mayalls done The Young Ones, Bottom, Filthy Rich & Catflap. Those programs influenced this collection as much or more than any literary writers did.  

Now that I have kids, when I watch TV it's usually SpongeBob, the Backyardigans, or Oswald. If you've never seen Oswald, find it and watch it. Run, don't walk. It's the best cartoon ever. The creator, Dan Yaccarino, became an instant favorite of mine. Oswald rules.

What songs are most played on your iPod

Despite my dreams of hair-band stardom, I'm like an angsty teenage girl stuck in 1995. All of my favorite music is that of grrly rock goddesses from the 90s: Juliana Hatfield, Letters to Cleo, Veruca Salt, Garbage, Belly, and anything that remotely sounds like them. There was an Australian band called The Superjesus that I really like; the Christian rock band Broomtree has a couple of kick-ass albums. I love Sixpence None the Richer. I'm into Paramore and Metric now. I went through an Avril Lavigne stage, and a Katy Rose stage, for Pete's sake. I stalk Juliana Hatfield on Twitter, by the way, hoping she'll notice me, but she never does. Sigh.

What group did you hang out with in high school?

I didnt really have a group. I was a little friendly with a handful of members from every group, but I was a member of none. I had played some sports in junior high school; so I was somewhat friendly with some of the jocks. I was a pretty smart kid; so I was a little friendly with a few of the nerds. And I played guitar and liked metal; so I was friendly with a handful of the freaks. I didnt have a lot of actual friends. My brother's friends called me "the Unknown Child" because I was pretty much invisible to a lot of people in high school. On most days after school I just went home and watched wrestling.

Do you have a milestone birthday coming up? If so, how are you approaching it?

Im going to be 40 in just over a year, and Im approaching it by panicking. My goal for 40 is to have the novel Im working on completed and ready to send out. Its about professional wrestling, which is all Ill say other than its not completely about wrestling.

What would you consider to be the best book you have ever read? 

I could read John Kennedy Tooles A Confederacy of Dunces over and over. I re-read it a few months ago and Im ready to read it again. I heard Colin Quinn call it the bible of comedy recently, and it really is. To couple that novel and how hilarious it is with the story of Toole himself is amazing and sad really. He commits suicide in 1969, his mother spends ten years trying to get the novel published, and, when it is in 1980, it wins the Pulitzer. His mother died shortly after it was published. Just amazing. Everyone should read that.

Beatles or Monkees? Why?

This is a funny question. I like the Monkees. I do, Daydream Believer and Steppin Stone, even though I think Paul Revere and the Raiders did the latter much better. But to compare the Beatles to anyone, let alone the Monkees, youre comparing the greatest songwriters of the 20th century to really, you might as well compare them to the Banana Splits or Josie and the Pussycats. I dont want to upset any Monkees fans. I actually like them. I teared up when Davey Jones died. I know all their hits: She, Im a Believer, Pleasant Valley Sunday, all great songs, but Jem and the Holograms had great songs too.

A kindly organ grinder and his performing monkey adopt a young boy after his father spontaneously combusts; a barber living inside a whiskey bottle confronts the neighborhood nuisance who wields a dead squirrel like a pair of nunchucks; and an unruly gang of sock puppets are born in a basement dojo. Welcome to Puppet Shows, thirteen outlandish stories from a writer Tucson Weekly called "a very funny weirdo."

Dinner with Reginald


He was a hard man to please, that Reginald – a diva if there ever was one, except he didn’t sing and he wasn’t black. He was just a very finicky eater; a food diva, if you will. Won’t you?

There was really no pleasing him. I started calling him Little Mikey, after the brat who hated everything in those old Life Cereal ads. Just try to cook for Reginald sometime; you'll see. Yet I kept trying.

One night when he came home from his job at the quarry, I had placed lit candles everywhere, and rose pedals and dirt on the floor leading to the bedroom where sat a single red rose. I was being pretty frigging romantic.

Then came dinner; I sat Reg down in his booster seat, as he was a very slight fellow, tied his bib around his neck, and set his plate on the table in front of him. He grabbed his knife and fork, did a little cutting, and took a bite.

"I don't like this," Mr. Hateseverything said.

"Well, of course." I threw my apron onto the floor. "Is there anything you do like?"

"Yes, indeed. I like sweet and sour chicken and Marx Brothers films."

This much was true. Even now, he was speaking with an Italian accent and eating a shoe. Okay, so the shoe was Chaplin, but it was this that he was protesting to in the first place.

"I don't like this. What is it?"

"It's a shoe."

"A shoe? Well, what's this bit, then?"

"That's tartar sauce. You can't eat a plain shoe."

"Oh. Well, I don't like this."

"Fine. Fussy bastard. We'll dine out. Chinese? Sweet and sour chicken?"

"No, don't like that." Then he dropped dead. I had forgotten that I stepped in rat poison that morning.

"Oh, Reginald!" I fell to pieces. "Why? Why?"

There was no reply. My attempt at a romantic dinner had ended in tragedy. I wept for eight months then killed myself with a toenail clipper.


Michael Frissore is the author two poetry chapbooks and an ebook called The Thief. He is currently writing a novel about professional wrestling. Mike grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in Oro Valley, Arizona with his wife and two children.



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