rocketblogged which the Hero makes mundane statements, pontificates the meaning of life, and suffers an incredibly satisfying series of panic attacks because He can't get his damn book published.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Writer and House Manager in Chicago. Currently shopping for an agent or publisher for my first novel, "THE ROCKET HYMNAL: A Practical Guide to Messianic Psychosis, Erectile Dysfunction, and a Fantastic Funeral Potato Salad." Also working on two other novels: "KINGS AND CARTOGRAPHERS or The Great Betrayer Hath Sounded the Trumpet, It's Time to Hit the Road" and "RAINY DAY JESUS MUSIC." Also on the near horizon lie "THE ROCKET CONCORDANCE: Sources, Contexts, and Realities in The Rocket Hymnal" and "THE ROCKET APOCRYPHA: B-Sides and Rarities" (short stories and deleted scenes).

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Table of Contents

The Rocket Hymnal:
A Practical Guide to Messianic Psychosis, Erectile Dysfunction, and a Fantastic Funeral Potato Salad

a novel by
Matthew Monthei



Chapter 1: A Brief History of the World (in 500 words or less)

Chapter 2: Give a Man a Fish and He Will Eat For a Day, Teach a Man to Fish and He'll Shit Caviar for a Week to Ten Days

Chapter 3: A Face Only a Mother Can Love

Chapter 4: Nativity

Chapter 5: The Mark of Youthful Folly (momento-mori)

Chapter 6: The Voice of the American Lesion

Chapter 7: House of Cards

Chapter 8: The Rainbow Connection


Chapter 9: The Ballad of Jack and Joe (Part 1) (Part 2)

Chapter 10: The Book of Black Magic and Pacts (Part 1) (Part 2)

Chapter 11: The Bridge Over Troubled Waters (Part 1) (Part 2)

Chapter 12: The Fortress of Solitude

Chapter 13: The Dead Places

Chapter 14: The Star on the Tippy-Top of the Gosh Damn Christmas Tree


Chapter 15: Brief Notes from the Gravitational Underground

BOOK THE FOURTH: THE HOLY WAR (A History of Stars Resumed)

Chapter 16: To Have and to Hold (Denkwürdigkeiten eines Nervenkranken) (Part 1) (Part 2)

Chapter 17: Selling My First Book

Chapter 18: Handsome

Chapter 19: The Art of a Mobile Station

Chapter 20: The Rainbow Connection (Revisited)

Chapter 21: Renaming the Stars
Chapter 22: Remembering to Breathe
Chapter 23: Joe's Book of Revelations
Chapter 24: Lewis and Clark
Chapter 25: The Emerald City
Chapter 26: The Taking of the City
Chapter 27: Benediction (The Shining Hour)
All items Copyright 2005

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Taking a bit of a break from Rocketblogged for a while.
Please join us over at Myspace for my novel THE ROCKET HYMNAL, which will be released a chapter (or partial chapter) at a time over the next three months. (You don't have to be a member to read the blog, but you do to leave comments and to subscribe to the blog. If you're already a Myspacer, send me an add and let me know you're reading!)


Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Iowish Trilogy

People often ask, "What exactly is it that you write?" It's a hard question to answer. Writers are always told "write what you know." Good, but difficult, advice. I do it anyway. So what is it exactly is it that I know? Four things have consistantly plagued my life thus far, so they are what I write about: Sex, Death, Religion, & Small-Town Iowa. And they constantly crack me up (they're funny, I swear!).

I asked one of the many people who have now read The Rocket Hymnal to describe my first novel and this is what was said: "A tragic love story disguised as a light-hearted, bare-footed romp through the cornfields while skipping church. The heart-warming tone of Garrison Keillor's Lake Woebegon Days mashed up with Christopher Moore's (Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal; Fluke; The Stupidest Angel) laugh-out-loud outlandish spiritual shenanagins and the glib nature of Augusten Burrough's f*cked up memoirs."

Serious. That's what they said and I didn't even pay them.

Then again, someone else (who shall remain pleasantly anonymous) said, "I...didn't like it."

Eh...what can ya do. I write what I know, and I know what I write. And I hope someday someone will think it's worth something.

Until then, the easy answer is "dark comedy."

Book 1 (completed, currently seeking publication or representation): The Rocket Hymnal: A Practical Guide to Messianic Psychosis, Erectile Dysfunction, and a Fantastic Funeral Potato Salad

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"Mighty Joe Moon can't control what is Heaven-sent..." "Mighty Joe Moon" by Grant Lee Buffalo

Welcome to Iowa, where the corn grows tall and nothing much ever happens. The heart-warming and often hilarious memoir of a small-town preacher's kid who discovers that his penis is the Grim Reaper.


"The perfect ode to the Great State of Iowa, and the fact that it is essentially the butthole of America." Fred Grandy, former Iowa Congressman (better known as Gopher on Love Boat)

"This sorry excuse for a first novel is a complete travesty. Inane and thoroughly ridiculous. But what is most tragic is the complete bastardization, total irregard and hapless misuse of my classic novel, Gravity's Rainbow, as a major plot point. I hope the author dies a slow and painful death. I am speaking to my lawyers and plan to sue the author's gay ass for all he's worth." Thomas Pynchon, author of Gravity's Rainbow

"OH MY GAWD! I LOVED THIS BOOK! More coffee, hon?" Annie Phillips, the waitress from Chapter 26

"You know, I'm sure I would've enjoyed this comical novel more had I not died so early on. Oh, what the hell, it was a good read anyway. God bless the author!" Rev. Joseph Moon, Sr. of the First United Methodist Church of Woodbine, Iowa.

"I'm having a hard time discerning whether this novel is the epitome of Christian faith or if it is so sacreligious that I shouldn't bother to finish reading it. It could be that we have found Ourselves a new gospel, or perhaps the author is Satan himself. I dunno. But I did giggle a few times. And I liked the parts about Me. Those were super-awesome." God

Book 2 (in progress): Rainy Day Jesus Music

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Set at Ashbury Park University, an extremely conservative Christian institution, three students--a preacher's kid whose best friend is a foul-mouthed puppet, an energetic but habitually suicidal actress named Amazing Grace, and The Bastard Son of the Last American Shaker--face spiritual warfare, over-zealous professors, and bad cafeteria food against the backdrop of a massive religious revival.

Book 3 (in progress): Kings and Cartographers (or, The End is Nigh, You May Want to Pack a Few Extra Sandwiches)

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"Time is relative." Albert Einstein

Spanning nearly a decade and thousands of miles across the dusty roads of America, four souls--a linen salesman by day/poet by night who becomes the unwilling father of his orphaned nephew; an over-ambitious high school student who writes to a college professor like a diary for four years in hopes of entering a prestigious writing program; a wheelchair bound artist taken under the wing of a patron who has ulterior motives; a controversial author (whose latest book has infuriated the Christian right all the way up to the White House) who hitch-hikes his way across America to either forgive or murder his father, who may or may have not already been killed by an alligator--are divinely interconnected by a single, one-of-a-kind book. Part love story, part coming-of-age novel, part road-movie, part mystery--the final puzzle pieces fall into place in a conclusion that breaks all logical rules of time and space.

Don't forget, excerpts from each are available to read here at Rocketblogged in previous posts. Check them out and leave a comment!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Fun Times in the Old Stomping Grounds

Well, well, well....the small town I spent the latter half of my school years in has finally made headlines. I received a call from my older sister two days ago about what happened, as it involved two of her classmates/friends (I also went to high school with them).

Check out the video news report here.

ARMSTRONG An Armstrong couple was found shot to death at their home Monday evening.

According to the Emmet County Sheriffs Office, police responded to a 911 call that two people were dead at 146 Golf Course Drive in Armstrong.

Three young children, ages 8, 5 and 4, were found upstairs asleep in their beds.

The couple was identified as Nathan Anderson, 35, and Amy (Ulrich) Anderson, 34. Both lived at the residence.

Amy Anderson was found dead in a living room chair, while Nathan Andersons body was found lying outside in the yard near the garage.

Authorities say the incident appears to be a case in which one parent shot the other before committing suicide. The sheriffs office did not identify which of the Andersons shot the other before committing suicide. [although another paper reports that the .22 was found lying next to Nathan in the yard]

Armstrong Police Chief Blake Diekmann said no other information was being released until autopsies were complete.

The Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation was called to assist the Emmet County Sheriffs Department and the Armstrong Police Department with the investigation.

And since it's no longer en vogue to blame senseless killings such as these on Marilyn Manson lyrics, I shall opt instead to blame The Arctic Monkeys(keep an eye out for my soon to be published article "Why Won't You Just Shut The Hell Up About The Arctic Monkeys Already?"). I hope Bono sings on the Anderson Family Tribute Album.

Disclaimer: The Ego Defense Mechanism definition of Humor: The individual deals with emotional conflict or external stressors by emphasizing the amusing or ironic aspects of the conflict or stressors. In other words, I'm not the unfeeling bastard everyone thinks I am, made evident by the glib nature of this post. I'm not. I'm a sensitive soul, soft as Charmin Ultra except I won't wipe your ass. I will, however, pat it gently.

And while I'm thinking about life and death and chocolate...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Rocketblogger's Irreverant and Irrelevant Holy Week Mix!

In honor of Easter and the closing of Holy Week, I present to you...

Rocketblogger's Irreverant and Irrelevant Holy Week Mix!

1. Palm Sunday! Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey and everybody celebrates. Hey! It's the Son! (The Polyphonic Spree: It's the Sun)
2. Maundy Thursday, or The Last Supper. The boys eat and discuss metaphors. Mary Magdalene keeps their glasses filled. The disciples are still kinda pissed about that whole perfume thing. (Belle and Sebastian: Dear Catastrophe Waitress)
3. Jesus breaks the news that one of his own will betray him. Oh no! Who will it be? (King Missile: Betrayal Takes Two)
4. Jesus goes to the mountain to pray. (Blonde Redhead: Magic Mountain)
5. Judas turns Jesus over to the soldiers with a kiss. (Ryan Adams: A Kiss Before I Go)
6. Peter slices off the ear of a guard with his sword, which then Jesus glues back on. That really must've hurt! (Rainer Maria: Ears Ring)
7. Jesus is put on trial in front of Pontius Pilate. (Old Crow Medicine Show: Trials and Troubles)
8. Jesus is beaten and whipped. Ouch! (The Allman Brothers Band: Whipping Post)
9. Pilate puts Jesus' fate up to the public and washes his hands of the whole mess. (Alanis Morissette: Hands Clean)
10. Jesus carries the cross to Gethsemane. Man, it was heavy! (The Hollies: Jesus was a Crossmaker)
11. While on the cross, a soldier stabs his spear into Jesus' side. Ouch! (Tonic: Wicked Soldier)
12. Jesus cries out on the cross, "Why hast thou forsaken me?" (Har Mar Superstar: Cry 4 Help; alternately 13. Travis: Why Does It Always Rain on Me?)
14. Jesus takes his last human breath. The ladies weep as he is taken to the tomb. (Chad VanGaalen: Clinically Dead)
15. The disciples scatter in fear. Peter says "I don't know him." (Gregory Douglass: Usual Denials)
16. Judas hangs his head in shame, and in turn hangs himself in Potter's Field. (Sugar: Judas Cradle)
17. The ladies encounter angels at the tomb, where the stone has been rolled away. Oh my! Where is Jesus? (The Decemberists: Of Angels and Angles)
18. Jesus rises from the dead! Whoo hoo! (Embrace: Ashes)
19. The disciples celebrate and the early church is born. (The Polyphonic Spree: Light and Day/Reach for the Sun)

Download it here (zip) for a limited time only! Or here (if the previous has timed out or expired).

Monday, April 10, 2006

Two More Reasons to Look Forward to Summer

Reason # 1: The Polyphonic Spree: The Fragile Army

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The Polyphonic Spree Want Peace Now
Dallas pop choir tackle the war in Iraq on "The Fragile Army"

The robe-wearing, good-time promoting, pop-rock orchestra that is Dallas' Polyphonic
Spree will release their third album, The Fragile Army, this summer.

The twenty-plus-member band have become known for their wildly celebratory material
-- about the joy of love and relationships -- since their 2003 debut, The Beginning
Stages of the Polyphonic Spree. But frontman and primary songwriter Tim DeLaughter
says that, this time around, expect the ensemble to deal with the political issues
of the day -- something the Spree haven't done since the Iraq-inspired "Soldier

"It's definitely going to have that [orchestral] element, but it's our most urgent
record to date. It's a bit resonant of the times," DeLaughter says of the new cuts.
"There's a song called 'The Fragile Army,' the title track, and it's basically an
ode-to-Bush song. It's disgruntled with how things have been going and how split up
it seems we are as Americans. There is a sense, for me, of trying to create some
sort of unity with people."

In order to push themselves in the studio, DeLaughter enlisted John Congleton,
singer for punk trio the Paper Chase, as producer. "[His band] is kind of a complete
opposite of Polyphonic Spree, and we just thought it'd be interesting," he explains.
"It's been a great relationship."

Currently laying down the string parts in Texas, the Spree have also visited
Minnesota, where they put down the drums, and the Illinois studio of producer Steve
Albini (Nirvana, Pixies), where they recorded the group's signature choir parts.

"John does a lot of records there and he's friends with Steve," Delaughter said of
Albini's Electrical Audio in Chicago. "John said the B room would be great room for
the choir, and it was awesome. I'm super-excited about how that turned out. The
girls did fantastic."

The Spree are already working on changing the look of the gospel-style robes for
their upcoming live dates in support of The Fragile Army -- as well as a new stage
show. "It's a rock record!" says DeLaughter. "It's high-energy and electric. And I
think my 'Tripping Daisy' days might be slipping in there as well."


Reason #2: Sufjan Stevens: The Avalanche
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The little secret behind the Illinois record is that it was originally conceived as a double album, culminating in a musical collage of nearly 50 songs. But as the project began to develop into an unwieldy epic, common sense weighed in—as did the opinions of others—and the project was cut in half. But as 2005 came to a close, Sufjan returned to the old, forsaken songs on his 8-track like a grandfather remembering his youth, indulging in old journals and newspaper clippings. What he uncovered went beyond the merits of nostalgia; it was more like an ensemble of capricious friends and old acquaintances wearing party outfits, waiting to be let in at the front door, for warm drinks and interesting conversation. Among them were Saul Bellow, Ann Landers, Adlai Stevenson, and a brief cameo from Henry Darger's Vivian Girls. The gathering that followed would become the setting for the songs on The Avalanche: Outtakes and Extras from the Illinois Album.

Sufjan gleaned 21 useable tracks from the abandoned material, including three alternate versions of Chicago. Some songs were in finished form, others were merely outlines, gesture drawings, or musical scribbles mumbled on a hand-held tape recorder. Most of the material required substantial editing, new arrangements or vocals. Much of the work was done at the end of 2005 or in January the following year. Sufjan invited many of the original Illinoisemakers to fill in the edges: drums, trumpet, a choir of singers. The centerpiece, of course, was the title track—The Avalanche—a song intended for the leading role on the Illinois album but eventually cut and placed as a bonus track on the vinyl release. In his rummaging through old musical memorabilia, Sufjan began to use this song as a meditation on the editorial process, returning to old forms, knee-deep in debris, sifting rocks and river water for an occasional glint of gold. "I call ye cabin neighbors," the song bemuses, "I call you once my friends." And like an avid social organizer, Sufjan took in all the odd musical misfits and gathered them together for a party of their own, like good friends.

A careful listener may uncover the obvious trend on this record: almost every song on the Illinois album has a counterpart on the outtakes. Carl Sandburg arm-wrestles Saul Bellow. The aliens landing near Highland salute Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto. The loneliness of "Casimir Pulaski Day" deepens even further in the foreboding soundtrack to "Pittsfield." At its best, The Avalanche is an exercise in form, revealing the working habits of one of the most productive songwriters today. As an illustration, the avalanche refers to the snow and rubble that falls off the side of a mountain, or, in this case, the musical debris generously chucked from an abundant epic. It's unlikely you'll find a mountain in the Prairie State so the metaphor will have to do.


The Avalanche
Dear Mr Supercomputer
Adlai Stevenson
The Vivian Girls Are Visited In the Night by Saint Dargarius and his Squadron of Benevolent Butterflies
Chicago (acoustic version)
The Henney Buggy Band
Saul Bellow
Carlyle Lake
Springfield, or Bobby Got a Shadfly Caught in his Hair
The Mistress Witch from McClure (or, The Mind That Knows Itself)
Kaskaskia River
Chicago (adult contemporary easy listening version)
Inaugural Pop Music for Jane Margaret Byrne
No Man's Land
The Palm Sunday Tornado Hits Crystal Lake
The Pick-up
The Perpetual Self, or "What Would Saul Alinsky Do?"
For Clyde Tombaugh
Chicago (Multiple Personality Disorder version)
The Undivided Self (for Eppie and Popo)

Friday, April 07, 2006

Another excerpt from RDJM

So I've decided to just post anything I write, as I write it. Not necessarily in any particular order (except the order in which I write them). Because of this, most excerpts are completely out of context.
Today's excerpt is the one in which the Hero pretty much does nothing. He gets out of bed, looks in the mirror, and decides to take shower.
It's funny how these things just make themselves up...I set out to write a completely different chapter about something completely different, and, well, once sentence leads to another.
I kinda like it that way.

Highly energized by the previous night’s freshman invocation, I woke up feeling, well, invoked. Despite the hard mattress and the faint sounds of gunshots and periodic hungh! hungh!’s from across the room, I slept rather well. Deep, really, and dreamless. I said a brief prayer as I fumbled out of bed, thanking God for the first real rest in months.

Oliver gave me a look that seemed to say, Yeah, that’ll do you a lot of good.


I was determined to start the day on the right foot, so I did. And then the left. Gathering up my “ditties” (as my mother called them)—my soap and shampoo and razor—I glanced over at my snoring roommate. He nearly looked like a corpse, white and pasty as if he’d never stepped outside in his life, his dark shaggy hair in contrast to his skin—speckled by late puberty, but nearly good-looking nonetheless. In our first twenty-four hours of living together, we’d shared a total of three minutes of conversation, one word at a time. He was from Atlanta, a slight southern accent slipped out occasionally. He was an only child, like me, but he wasn’t looking forward to having a roommate (unlike me). Here I was, a kid who’d spent his whole life sleeping in a van full of other people, and then there was Dan, who’d never slept in the same room with another human being in all his eighteen years. I’d long grown used to the rise and fall of a chest, the wheezy sleep-breath of nocturnal rest. It’s not really all that different than daytime breathing, and we’re all familiar with that whether we know it or not if we’ve spent our lives in the presence of other living beings, be they actual humans (parents, let’s say) or the pet dog that sits on your lap and sleeps at the foot of your bed.

I never had a dog. I had Oliver.

I found myself staring at my roommate as he slept—not directly at him, of course, that would be creepy. But gazing at him through the mirror, I saw some strange sort of peaceful aura surrounding him.

“He snores like a fucking rhino,” Oliver said matter-of-factly. “He’s an interesting specimen, don’t you think? I have a hunch that he may be a Communist.”

“A Communist-Methodist?” I retorted.

Dan rolled over, his blanket slipping off his lower-regions and off the bed.

Oliver started to sing “The Star Spangled Banner.” I averted my eyes and felt my cheeks turning a faint shade of red.

Now here I am talking about how much of an expert I am with living with people, but you’ve got to understand that everyone I’ve ever lived with have been adults. Adults with their own lives and old enough to know better. I’ve never really had any friends my own age. We were never in one place for more than a few nights at a time, and most of the time with host families. Only once or twice can I recall staying in a motel, and that was only when we had a really long jaunt between gigs. But now, now I had a home, for a few months at least, and a roommate my own age, and—

“Danny’s got a bo-bo!” Oliver said in a sing-song voice.

“Shut up,” I whispered as I finished gathering up my items, threw a towel over my shoulder, and left for the hall showers next door.

“Don’t forget your flip-flops!” I heard Oliver call after me. “I don’t wanna catch something you got from the bathroom floor! You don’t know where that floor has been!”

The showers were fairly quiet, considering that there were five other people doing their morning duties. Since each of the five shower stalls were occupied, the slightly clouded doors dripping with moisture, I saddled up to one of the sinks and set upon shaving, using my towel every few moments to wipe the condensation from the mirror.

My dad taught me how to shave when I was thirteen. I probably could’ve started earlier than that, as my upper lip started to darken with fine hairs around my tenth birthday, but later mother admitted that she had been frightened of me growing up too quickly so she let it go as long as she could, or at least until I could start twisting the ends into handlebars. So Dad taught me how to wash my face properly, lather up, and shave with the grain. There were many bloody mishaps that came with this training, but over time the scars faded and bumps receded.
But the memories never did.

Shaving makes me think of my dad.

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