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Review of The Municipalists in Booklist

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Thanks to Booklist for this cool review of The Municipalists:

Fried’s buddy-cop science-fiction debut features an infrastructure-obsessed bureaucrat and a rogue AI system teaming up to try and take down a mysterious conspiracy set on destroying the idyllic city of Metropolis. The obnoxious antics of artificial intelligence OWEN, who finds both children and seniors suspicious, and who spends much of his time figuring out how to replicate the sensation of becoming drunk, contrast brilliantly against the serious Henry, a man with few friends and a love of trains and transit, whose main personality trait is dedication to his work. Fried’s skill at making their friendship so dynamic, mismatched, and often ridiculous is what makes this novel so effective—OWEN and Henry’s quest to defeat an evil genius becomes a touching and funny caper that keeps the reader intrigued through the final pages. Meanwhile, in the background floats a quiet debate about the modern city. Fried gestures to city-planning thinkers such as Ebenezer Howard and Jane Jacobs, revealing his careful research and thought into the ways that targeted infrastructure and funding can encourage neglect and gentrification. 

I don’t know about you, but I think that sounds pretty good. I mean, I’d be skeptical if this review came from a publication called Boogerlist or PullMyFingerlist. But this is Booklist we’re talking about. I’m willing to bet they know a thing or two about books (and maybe even lists). So this feels like a pretty compelling recommendation.

Mendelssohn in Tin House

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When my grandchildren ask me what it was like to be alive during this time in history, I will tell them that I published a short story in the Winter Reading issue of Tin House and that you can read it online for free. Then I will shoot this clickable hyperlink out of my mouth because technology will have advanced by then:

http://tinhouse.com/mendelssohn/

I don’t have a million dollar idea, but here are twenty $50,000 ideas:

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  1. A bicycle that goes sideways

  2. A zoo that just has all the different types of dogs

  3. Instead of a bunch of french fries, one big one

  4. An envelope that looks like a dollar bill and comes with four quarters in it

  5. A shirt with an extra armhole in case one wears out

  6. Instead of a boomerang, a frisbee with your return address on it

  7. A toilet with animatronic eyes that nervously look away as soon as you enter the bathroom

  8. Perfume for goldfish

  9. Resolving a sports rivalry by encouraging a sexual encounter between both teams’ mascots

  10. Cigarettes that come in different shapes

  11. Lip gloss for your feet

  12. Kites for horses

  13. A poster that goes on your floor and that you can walk on

  14. Double-decker sewing machines

  15. A pen that looks like a pencil and doesn’t write

  16. A television shaped like your favorite television character so when that character is on he or she will be the only thing you see

  17. A helicopter that only works underwater

  18. An odorless gas that enrages wasps

  19. One of those machines that shoots out tennis balls except this one shoots out basketballs and there’s nothing in the rulebook that says it can’t play on the team

  20. Seven words: A clock that is also a limousine

Eight Signs Your Cat Can Play the Harp

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Your cat’s meow is always in tune.

Whenever you say, “I think I’m just going to throw out that old harp in the basement…” your cat viciously attacks you.

Your cat’s favorite CD is Harp Jams Volume 3.

There is an ad in your church bulletin with your cat posing next to a harp. The ad includes your home phone number as well as the slogan, “Prrrfect for weddings.”

All your cat’s sheet music is heavily annotated around the harp solos.

Instead of mating with other cats, your cat primarily dates members of the local orchestra.

Your cat always tells really long anecdotes about having been to Harp Camp.

Your cat’s New Year’s resolution is to, “practice more.”

Some Viral Videos I’d Like to See

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A four-month-old baby does a perfect backflip, then catches a tossed fisherman’s cap on its head. Once the cap touches its head, the baby falls asleep as if by magic. 

A man in red running shorts plays Twister with a Bengal tiger wearing matching shorts.

An elderly woman dressed as Captain America is taunted by TSA agents.

A local television anchor doesn’t realize she is on the air when she accuses the station manager of secretly being a lizard person.

Two otters hold hands while fighting each other to death.

A young boy in a pterodactyl costume begins cradling his father’s head and referring to it as his, “egg.” He savagely attacks anyone who comes near it.

Some children are given wine and then asked to describe their parents to a police sketch artist.

A pit bull in a Guy Fawkes mask rides a Roomba.

A bear slaps its paw into a river and instead of coming up with a fish is surprised to see that it is holding an open umbrella.

A gorilla feeds a shirtless teenage boy a bottle of formula.

A trailer for the Phantom Menace is recut so it looks like an erotic thriller.

Auto-tuned footage of a man tuning his guitar.

A skateboarder grinds down a thirty-foot railing, does two complete 360s, lands perfectly, then bursts into flames.

A bunch of Civil War reenactors are chased off a battlefield by geese.