It has been a tough couple of weeks for future hit musical Sweatpants Wedding. Two Wednesdays ago, in an effort to acknowledge and understand the project’s imperfections, we yielded our Tropspace to a known pants hater, Mr. Patrick Benjamin. Not only did he viciously attack us, but he plagiarized the lovely and talented Sinead O’Connor (a confirmed SW fan) and in so doing impressed top Trop brass (who deny the plagiarism), convincing them to promote his—Mr. Benjamin’s—alcoholic crime fiction into half of our—Sweatpants Wedding’s—hard-earned Wednesday timeslots. Trop corporate sees this new every-other-week arrangement as “mutually beneficial” and “innovative.” We see it as sabotage, perpetrated by a liar and a cheat. But we will persevere, dear readers, for you. We will, starting with the interview below, fill your every-other-Wednesday with a heaping helping of thrills, chills, music, romance, and loose pants. And, if you ever need to peek back and jog your memory, all of Sweatpants Wedding, the meta-musical, is available on this well-organized webpage.
For those of you who don’t know Patrick Benjamin, he wears khakis, sunburns easily, and runs social media for Trop. His official bio reveals that he is a “writer” based “near Los Angeles” who “lives with his sister and grandmother.” His unofficial bio reveals that he is a “man” who lives “on a hill” and spends a “disproportionate” amount of his “money” on “cigarettes,” high-end sparkling water like “Pellegrino,” and “one-man poker.” Nobody knows what one-man poker is, but that can wait—we have a Sweatpants Wedding slot to fill, and we’d like to welcome Patrick, our brand new antagonist, to the show.
Stephan McCormick and I conducted a portion of this interview over email, which means that Stephan is now officially writing about Sweatpants Wedding. I consider this a positive development for two reasons:
Last week, Trop social media master Patrick Benjamin complained to our readership that the three-dimensional and ever-perplexing joke of a “musical” that is Sweatpants Wedding had gone on far too long. (Sweatpants Wedding is a play that will never be completed and therefore is manifesting itself in the form of a making-of Sweatpants type thing, which you are reading right now; yes, what you’re reading now counts as reading; click to read earlier installments because clicking is easy.) Patrick’s complaint was a problem partly because his publicly expressed opinion didn’t generate much traffic, partly because it’s just plain demoralizing when your own in-house booster gets tired of you, and partly because Patrick said this after only installment four, and Sweatpants Wedding is set to run weekly until deep into 2014.
Sweatpants Wedding Without Any Qualifiers, or, The Sweatpants Without Qualities: Sweatpants The Interview, Part 1
In this, Part 1 of “Sweatpants The Interview,” Jake de Grazia talks to Tom Dibblee about Sweatpants Wedding, the musical that’s nowhere close to done but that Tom insists on running in The Weather anyway, in part to goad Stephan McCormick, his writing partner in this affair, to get some work done. Click away to read earlier installments of Sweatpants, or just keep on going to read this one.
When Trop first decided to have podcasts, one of our ideas was to record readings of Trop writers’ short fiction. This was a pretty natural thought. We are, after all, a collective of fiction writers.
Ever told a fish story? Want to tell it again? I do. Right here. On this website. So email me: jake at tropmag dot com.
This is our very first Tropcasted fish story. It’s a postcard to Alex MacInnis, whose postcard to me was our very first Tropcasted postcard. Enjoy.
There are three Thompson children. Michael, the youngest, won’t be back from Mexico until March. Justin, the oldest, missed Christmas because he had other obligations. And Kathy wishes she didn’t have to do this.
It’s not a bad idea to listen to the first episode of Overheard before you listen to this one, but we don’t think it’s necessary.
A fictional story pretending to be a work of journalism within another fictional story that’s also sort of pretending to be a work of journalism? We’ve been wanting to get this project started since summertime. J.R. Nutt was our original muse, but he went to see about a girl. Luckily, though, we met the Thompsons: Caroline Slaughter, Nic Stanich, and Shawn Dempewolff.
Parts of this story take place in a Jeep Liberty. If you listen closely to those parts, you’ll hear quite a few off-mic giggles. The giggles, like the Liberty, belong to Katie Browne. Katie doesn’t want to sound pompous, but she considers herself an expert in driving. “You can’t be sheepish when you make left turns,” she says. “You have to be a stallion.”
I asked Naomi what her grandmother has taught her over the years. “Everything in life,” she said. “But I didn’t learn the one thing that she really wanted to teach me, the one thing she’s tried to teach me every day, every time I’ve seen her, which is that love doesn’t pay the rent.”
Adam looked at my microphone and asked if I’d ever been to the place where his brother volunteers. I told him I’d never heard of it. “You should really go there,” he said. “It’s a good place for interviewing. It’s a place for senior citizens that are like eighty, eighty-five, ninety-five. Some of them can’t really hear well. Some of them get really grumpy. Some of them say, ‘Oh my god, I’m gonna throw up.’ And that’s when you want to get out of there. But you shouldn’t go right away, because you don’t want to embarrass anyone.”
Peter paused and put his shirt on. “What did I learn in the mountains this summer? Things that could help Stephan? Um, simple things, I guess. Like always keep track of your lighter. It’s a good idea to keep it close to things that you’ll need to set on fire. Um, that tomatoes and grapes are some of the best things to shoot out of slingshots. Oh and I think I learned that badgers and coyotes will work together to hunt prey. A coyote will chase down a rabbit, and it’ll go into its den, and then a badger will waddle up and dig it out. I don’t know who feasts first. I don’t think they feast at the same time. But, still, that’s cool. That’s a symbiotic relationship right there.”
She was dyed, permed, and backlit. Two of her fingers were curled and poking into the inside of my cheek. She tipped her head in front of the light, changed her angle. “When’s the last time you flossed?” Careful not to bite her, I told her I always brushed twice a day. “Do you ever floss?” she asked. I shook my head and licked some chalky mint off the backs of my bottom teeth. She tightened her fingerhook. “How many cavities?” None, I said. “That’s gonna change, you know. You’re nineteen. You’ve never had any reason to be afraid of coming here. But good teeth don’t last forever. Start flossing.”