1. Name That Film
The author would like to decry anti-wussie discrimination in such classic
films as The Karate Kid and Fight Club—that is, if the rest of you don’t mind.
2. Another Day in Wussie Paradise
How the author’s solo vacation in Waikiki and his terrifying encounters
there with streetwalkers, Starbucks baristas and Australians caused him
to confront his inner wussie and start researching this book.
3. Wussie FAQ: Who’s a Wussie? Hmm? Who’s My Big Ussie-Wussie?
So, who’s in and who’s out? Can women be wussies? What about them gay fellers?
Conservative talk radio hosts?
4. Profiles in Wussitude, Vol. 1: A Wuss of Biblical Proportions
Isaac glumly helped his dad Abraham prepare for his own sacrifice when
in his thirties, then turned to the same lunatic to find him a bride. That,
my friends, is some serious wussitude
5. The Wussie/Wookiee Test
Is that special man in your life a wussie? Or a fearless, yowling, intergalactic
6. Rolling Fella
The author waxes poetic about the lost love of his life—a battery-powered
fellatio simulator—and the sad difficulty of disposing of the, er, corpse.
7. The Wussies of Shakespeare and Leave it to Beaver
Beloved wussie characters Falstaff, Hamlet, Wally Cleaver, and Larry Mondello
at last laid side by side.
8. Profiles in Wussitude, Vol. 2: The Imperial Wuss
“Reticent,” “docile,” “physically weak,” “nervous,” “clumsy,” “anxious,”
“hesitant,” “maladroit,” “impressionable,” and “puny” were only some of
the wussie traits attributed to Japan’s young Crown Prince Hirohito by
those who knew him.
9. Wussies and Swearing: Three Moderately Diverting Anecdotes
A wizened factory worker parses the nuances of various synonyms for the female organ for the benefit of awestruck teenaged wussies; and the author goes out of his way to work the capital of Thailand into conversation.
10. Playing the Wussie Card
Don’t you simply despise the Jack of Clubs? The author sure does.
11. Great Wussies I Have Known, Vol. 1: A Tale of Two English Teachers
The sad tale of a high school drama coach not man enough to fill his flamboyantly
gay predecessor's shoes.
12. Profiles in Wussitude, Vol. 3: The Self-Evident Wussie
All about Thomas Jefferson’s weaselly efforts to conceal from the world
his authorship of the Declaration of Independence, the existence of his
mixed-race family, and pretty much everything else about himself.
13. One Wussie’s Obsession with Naked Ladies: Five Increasingly Disturbing Anecdotes
The author’s parents inadvertently doom him to a lifelong boob fetish by
bringing him to the movie Hawaii, an orgy of ethnic toplessness.
14. The Kitchen Murder Weapon Wussie Test
Could you kill a prowler with a carving knife? How about a spatula?
15. Great Wussies I Have Known, Vol. 2: Wuss-Off at the Lobster Table
On a cross-country quest to prove himself "not harmless" to his
three comely travel companions, the author encounters a wealthy, idle wussie.
16. Pornography: The Wussie’s Default BFF
The late Studs Terkel’s paean to baseball is perverted into an equally
spirited paean to porn.
17. Profiles in Wussitude, Vol. 4: Yammerin’ Hank
Educator and naturalist. Flogger of random schoolchildren. Forest-fire
setter. Great American wussie. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Henry David Thoreau.
18. Great Wussies I Have Known, Vol. 3: Mamoru
A gurgling Japanese college boy is cowed by sparrow-like female classmates
19. The Terminal Wussie
Wussies, it has been said, die a thousand times before their death, while the valiant never taste of death but once. The author finds this division of labor unreasonable.
20. Wussies and Drama Club: A Two-Act Play
The author recalls how a hug from his own “daughter” during rehearsal for
a high school production of Our Town reduced him to a quivering, sweaty mass of protoplasm.
Barnes & Noble Nook
In 1901 Hirohito was, to his subsequent lifelong regret, born. As if to add insult to injury, he found himself born into an ancient line of imperial rulers of Japan, much as Isaac before him had unwittingly been born into the biblical patriarch business.
But while Isaac had had to contend from infancy with the constant threat posed by a knife-wielding lunatic of a father, Hirohito was kept at a safe distance from his whip-wielding lunatic of a father by cooler heads. Humanity had come a long way in the intervening seven or eight millennia, ensuring that Hirohito had things just a tad easier. Moreover, Isaac was saddled with a father who was no mere madman but also a towering historical figure whose shadow could never be outrun. Hirohito’s father, in contrast, was a mere madman.
Indeed, the historical legacy of Yoshihito, aka the Emperor Taisho, begins
and ends with nostril-flaring, eye-bugging, booger-baking, jibber-jabbering,
naked-jumping-jacking, rolling-in-horse-manure battiness. Let us consider
his story first...
“Want some chocolate?” inquires the darker of the two.
“No thank you,” I mutter, in the tone of Tom Hanks in that movie where he plays a twelve-year-old boy trapped in a grown man’s body. A puckish temptation to say, “Why, yes, I’d love some!”—and then escort the young lady to some open-air café and see how far I could get in ordering us some chocolate milk and cake—flits through my head. But I know I could never pull that off. A wussie’s life is a life packed with such unhatched schemes—potentially great anecdotes that die in embryo.
“Hi!” says Chocolate Girl’s more persistent mocha friend as I round the corner onto Kuhio. “Looking for some company?”
“No. No, thank you. I’m fine.”
She’s moving at a good clip now so I try to lag behind her. Then she stops to confer with a colleague so I pass her again, only to get stuck behind another slow-moving pair whom I don’t want to pass for fear of calling attention to myself. In the meantime, I am accosted twice more:
“You up for a good time tonight?”
“You all alone, sugar?”
In a Bizarro world where it is dweebish middle-aged men who lurk on side streets to sell their favors to the self-loathing young bombshells passing by, what would my sales pitch be? “Hey there, honey! Looking for some vanilla gristle?” “You up for a thoroughly tedious time tonight?” I am pondering these and other slogans when Mocha Lass sidles up next to me again.
Mocha Lass: All these pretty girls on the street and you’re just going to walk on
Me: I’m honestly just out for a walk tonight.
Mocha Lass: Hmm… Okay…
A pregnant pause follows as we walk along together: Tiger, tiger, burning bright…
Mocha Lass: You have a good night now.
Me: Thanks. You—you’re very lovely.
Mocha Lass: Thank you!
On the way back to my room, I stop at an ABC convenience store to buy some ice cream that I don’t want or need, just so the security guard at the Royal Kuhio can see me bringing something back and understand that I didn’t go out to browse the hookers. He had looked askance at me on my way out. No, really. I’m sure he had.
About the Cover
As always, the great Gary Pettis was my cover designer. (He also contributed
some illustrations inside the book.)
If the concept doesn't work for you, blame me, not the artist. The viewer
is supposed to perceive that some of the other face cards, revolted by
the sniveling Jack of Clubs, have just beaten the crap out of him for their
cruel amusement. I've always found "Clubby" an insufferable,
pouty little nebbish, and have devoted a short but particularly vitriolic
essay to my loathing of him. (Chapter 10, specifically.)
Over Gary's objection, I insisted on inserting a disclaimer below the
author's name. Turns out it's barely legible even when you click to see
the enlarged cover on Amazon, so for what it's worth:
"Contains no essays related to card-playing. This book is about, like,
weak-willed men, men who are easily 'trumped,' and the Jack of Clubs is,
like...a stand-in? A metaphor? Something like that."
A Few Words from the Author
Careful readers of my ouvre know what deep and abiding pride I have taken
in the fact that my first two books made it into print without suffering
a single rejection along the way. Then again, more careful readers know
that this is simply because I never gave anyone the chance: I went straight
to POD with nary a query letter to any legitimate publisher or literary
agent. And still more careful readers (if any) will remember my announcement
last year to the effect that I was finally going to seek mainstream representation
for the marketing of my new manuscript.
To paraphrase Hirohito, one of the heroes of this book, the agent search
developed not necessarily to my advantage. Repeated rejection is, I suppose,
something like karate. Not that I'd know. I'm a wussie, after all, and
wussies don't do karate. But from what I understand, when karate acolytes
aren't frenetically waxing and dewaxing their mentor's cars, they are pounding
the sides of their hands or feet against unyielding posts or bricks. The
result is the buildup of a thick clump of callus that serves to block further
pain and allow the acolyte to continue this weirdly fruitless activity.
In the same manner, I was pretty numb by June when rejections passed the
Not really. It's incredibly wearing, being ignored and/or rejected day
after day, and by late summer I was thinking of abandoning the project
outright. Then, Newsweek arrived with this delightful article about the rise of self-publishing and how some very fine writers were ditching the whole New York agent
milieu--what I have cleverly dubbed the "lamestream media"--and
I took heart.
Indeed, since I had let my Newsweek subscription expire some months earlier, I found it downright providential
that I should receive that particular issue at just that dark moment. Clearly,
it was God's will that Wussie would be released as an ebook, that it would quickly enjoy brisk sales, and that
those agents who had either ignored me or sent form rejections to me would
gnash their teeth and rend their garments in the desert until they begged
God on their knees to just smite them, already, and put them out of their
While I helpfully provide some excerpts from the book above, remember that
with the free Kindle app for any number of devices, you can obtain a free sample of the book from Amazon--indeed, you'll get most of the first two essays. I do hope you'll consider
buying my book, and further advise you to steer clear of any literary agents
you might be palling around with--you never know who's going to get smote
February 6, 2011