Greg Bardsley



Our depraved litle baby is walking

It’s been a long time coming.

Been talking about this idea, working this idea, executing on this idea (slowly) for more than two years.

The idea? To publish a collection of fiction inspired by Dick Cheney.

Long story deceptively short, co-editors Kieran Shea and Jedidiah Ayres and I recruited 23 wonderfully sick writers and artists to help create something really kind of special: D*CKED: Dark Fiction Inspired by Dick Cheney [be sure to check out Shea’s behind-the-scene’s report on the making of our book].

I’m proud of our depraved little baby; it’s packed with great writing, creative storytelling and inspirational artistry.

Expect coverage from some major outlets in coming days and weeks, but for now I suggest you get yourself D*CKED.

Some kind of inspiration

3amNot too long ago, I saw a guy walk past my desk eating something on a stick.

It looked like it had little legs, that thing on a stick.

It jarred me.

I soon realized it was just a corn dog, but it gave me a great idea for a short story. Well, that and the troubling reality of acronym-inflation.

Add an interesting item from my son’s recently acquired book on Northern California insects, and I had some of the primary elements of my new short story, “Some Kind of Rugged Genius,” which now appears in 3:AM Magazine.

Of course, if roasted rat on a stick, California stink beetles and acronym insanity ain’t your thing, you may wanna pass on this one.

Huffin’ & pantin’ & moo-moos

About 17 years ago, when I was fresh out of college and at my first daily newspaper, an older, morbidly obese woman would periodically saunter into the newsroom — always huffing and panting, and always wearing a floral moo-moo dress.

She was nice enough, except for her unwanted shoulder rubbing.

What would happen was, I’d be on deadline, finishing yet another story on mosquito abatement, when she’d approach from behind and start rubbing. The first time it happened, I was paralyzed — shocked beyond movement. The second time, I gritted my teeth, cringed and hunched up my shoulders, waiting for it to end.

“You like that?” she huffed in my ear.

“Um, thanks.” Still cringing. Shoulders still hunched. “Well, better get back to work.”

She panted closer, whispering in her husky voice. “Well, I’m just doing what I wish someone would do to me.”

All these years later, that line is still a favorite around my house, especially after a long day. The kids are finally asleep after another evening of unleashing boyish aggression throughout the household. Everyone’s bones are aching. Everyone is exhausted. Everyone just wants to veg on the couch. But you muster the energy to massage your spouse’s shoulders for a moment, and he or she sighs in relief, eyes closed, totally exhausted, thanking you profusely, which is when you say in a husky voice under your breath, “Well, I’m just doing what I wish someone would do to me.”

Good times.

So dope

When you’re 40, you just don’t have the time anymore.

You don’t have time for phonies, snobs and career sharks. Conversations about someone’s endless pursuit of the latest luxury item not only prove exceptionally boring, but feel empty. The clock of mortality, after all, is ticking, and I’d rather not waste my time.

Last week, it was in this spirit that I stopped reading a recently released crime novel. Eighty pages into it, I found it to be poorly written with a boring story and unconvincing set of characters. In a word … Blah. The fact that others who are passionate about writing have enjoyed this book reminded me of just how subjective this whole business is. I kept telling myself, An editor bought this book. What did he see that I don’t?

Regardless, I’m 40. And I didn’t have the time.

dopepb3.jpgSo I moved on and picked up a sublime, tightly crafted slice of noir that my boss Terry had given me — “Dope,” by Sara Gran. “Dope” follows a recovered drug addict in 1950s New York City as she navigates through a world of fiends, whores, con men and crooked cops in her search for a missing Barnard coed. Between the great characters, the enveloping sense of place and time, the tight and graceful prose and a phenomenal series of plot twists, I was captured. I devoured the book in no time, and loved every page.

Time well spent for this 40-year-old.

I know what’s going on

I’m on to you, buddy.

I have to admit, you have a good game. When we see each other, you smile and you charm and you engage. In fact, it’s quite apparent you don’t have a malicious bone in your body. After all, you like people – you really like people. You care about saying the right thing at the right time, and you shudder at the thought of being rude or offensive or hurtful. You want people to like you, just as you like them.

But I am on to you. I’m so on to you. In fact, I have given you a name — the nice asshole (N.A.) — and have identified some of your telling characteristics and behaviors.

Most importantly, the nice asshole does whatever he wants, regardless of who he puts out. So what if someone, for instance, has spent the better part of a Saturday preparing a nice meal for him and others? The nice asshole has found something better to do, and he’ll cancel with little notice — but always in a charming and gracious way, in that special way that doesn’t really annoy the host until hours later.

So what if a nice asshole’s children rev their muscle cars and lay down rubber in front of your house at 2am each night, despite your polite interventions? He will just shake his head, release a concerned sigh and identify with your frustration, saying things like, “I know, those boys wake me up every night, too.” But will the nice asshole do anything about it? Will he be considerate of his neighbors and take the unpleasant step of confronting his overgrown children? Hell no.

That is because nice assholes do not like confrontation. And as a consequence, they will utilize their above-average emotional intelligence to sidestep awkward moments of extreme candor and confrontation. They have found that if you’re gonna do someone wrong, if you’re gonna be exceptionally self-centered, you might as well do it in the most non-confrontational, charming and gracious way possible.

But don’t think you’ve fooled me, Mr. N.A. You’re still doing people wrong. You’re still being an inconsiderate jerk. Your self-obsession still manifests itself in a variety of ways — from your loud cars to your slight-of-hand tricks of corporate-offloading. You’re still more than willing to put people out, to treat others poorly, albeit graciously, to do what you want, when you want.

I am lucky. I really don’t have any nice assholes in my day-to-day life. Of course, we all encounter few from time to time, but my N.A. exposure is minimal. So friends and family and colleagues, please don’t think I’m writing about you. I’m not.


But for anyone who’s suddenly worried they might fit the N.A. profile, reform now. There is hope for you yet.

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