Friday, December 17, 2010

Cemetery Preservation Bills

I'm currently outlining a new writing project, one of a sort I've never done before: legislation.

I'm trying to put together a bill that will mandate cemetery security and maintenance in Kentucky, and one has only to look at the declining state of historic graves in our fair Commonwealth to see why this is necessary. I'm also working on a similar bill aimed at the national level.

Thousands of bills die before they ever get anywhere, and many more die as soon as they get their foot in the door. I have no illusions about the chances of success in this venture, but someone has to try. And as Han Solo said, "never tell me the odds."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kangaroos in Kentucky?

Readers of my Unusual Kentucky blog and my Weird Kentucky book already know the lowdown on anomalous Kangaroo sightings in the Commonwealth, but now I've hipped the Kentucky Monthly crowd to the concept in the latest installment of my Commonwealth Curiosities column! Check it out at your local newsstand or bookstore!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Ghost of Paramount Joe

Ashland, Kentucky - especially the legendary spirit said to haunt its Paramount Arts Center - is the topic this time in my monthly column Commonwealth Curiosities. Pick up your copy of Kentucky Monthly magazine at reputable newsstands and bookstores everywhere!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Acer is Aces!

After running into insurmountable technical difficulties with my favorite laptop, I rushed out and grabbed the first and cheapest netbook I could find, which turned out to be the Acer Aspire One D260. It's a mouthful to say and to type, but it's a mere trifle to pack around. I love this planet.

A month into using it, I just wanted to note that I am still every bit as pleased with my purchase as the day I laid down the lucre. There have been no major surprises or snafus, although I have to say: I thought I could stand having no CD/DVD drive on it, but it's really starting to chafe me now. I keep reaching for a disc tray that doesn't exist, and I never realized just how much I depend on one. Would it be stupid to buy an auxillary USB CD drive now to go with it? It would, wouldn't it?

I'm also a bit puzzled that this version of MSPaint has no "invert" function, and that this version of Windows Photo Viewer has no "fix" functions. And I suppose there's no point complaining that the thing came loaded with all kinds of software and games that I don't want, and had to take considerable time to uninstall - that is just the way of things nowadays.

But these are mere trifles, my friends - if you haven't tried the new generation of netbooks because of bad experiences with older ones, or with laptops, give this one a spin. It's fast, it's powerful, it has a battery that lasts long yet charges fast, and if all you really want to do is surf the web and write (like me), you're all set. And in an increasingly wi-fi-saturated world, it's nice to be able to pack this lightweight doohickey around and start writing whenever and wherever the muse mocks me (like Ernesto's Mexican Restaurant!).

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Mystery of Irma Vep

I'm not a fan of writing theatre reviews. I hesitate to give a negative review of any production just because it didn't speak to me, because I know from my own personal experience how hard it is to mount a serious production and my hat's off to anyone who pulls it off, regardless of the end result. But when Theatre Louisville (who I occasionally write a column, Suspension of Disbelief, for) asked me to report on an Actors Theatre of Louisville production of Charles Ludlam's The Mystery of Irma Vep, well, it made me even more of a hypocrite than I already was. (I worship Charles Ludlam.)

Read all about it by clicking here.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

For the Love of Beer Cheese

Brillat-Savarin once wrote, "A dinner which ends without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye." And that's doubly so when it comes to my favorite Kentucky delicacy, Beer Cheese. My regular readers already know what lengths of fanaticism my love for Beer Cheese can reach, and now I'm droppin' that knowledge for the Kentucky Monthly crowd in this month's installment of Commonwealth Curiosities! Scope out the October issue at your favorite bookstore or newsstand.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Local Monster Legends

I did a piece in the new October issue of Louisville Magazine about some of Louisville's legendary monsters, crypto-critters, and things that go boomp in the night.

This article acts as a sort of a teaser for one of my current book projects in progress - one which ties together several different mythical beasts, including the Pope Lick Monster. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Find Me!

"Well, if she wants to see me, you can tell her that I'm easily found..."
- Bruce Springsteen, Darkness on the Edge of Town

The other day I had to send a cease-and-desist letter to someone who put a bootleg video of one of my bands up on YouTube without asking my permission. I know it's hip to pretend that the internet means we now live in some sort of magical bizarro world where copyright no longer exists, but guess what? It does. And I most certainly am not hip.

His excuse for not asking permission was this: "I lost all your contact info."

Now - never mind that losing my contact info doesn't explain why one would go ahead and post the video anyway - how can you be computer-savvy enough to know how to use YouTube and yet not be intelligent enough to know about this here space-age thing called "Google"? I hear tell, if you type stuff into it, it tells you about that stuff. Ain't that somethin'?

A Google search for "Jeffrey Scott Holland" brings up, in the first page of results, at least three different sites on which my contact info is clearly provided. The very first hit in the results is, which has my contact info on a link cleverly labeled "Contact".

The Catclaw Theatre Company site even lists my personal cellphone number. If I'm hard to find, I'm hidden in plain sight.

(Of course, I suppose shouldn't be surprised. Hundreds of thousands of people use "answers" sites like Yahoo Answers and WikiAnswers, even though the answers to almost all questions asked there could have been obtained in seconds by simply typing them into a search engine instead.)

For the record, I receive mail at all of my branch offices listed on the web - Los Angeles, Washington DC, NYC, etc. - and I can always be reached anytime by anyone anywhere on the planet, via e-mail at I am always happy to hear from my readers!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mystery Bottle

Readers of my column Commonwealth Curiosities in the September issue of Kentucky Monthly will get an early report about a very special and very mysterious bottle in my possession; one that I plan to open at a special event soon. More details to be announced.

Check it out!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

"Son of Grimaldi" Bits and Pieces

I rarely write a linear story in drafts, preferring to arrange it piecemeal as potential fragments I assemble slowly begin to come together and form the story. Two of my heroes, William S. Burroughs and F. Scott Fitzgerald, worked in this manner. (Some of Fitzgerald's collected random pieces, unused ideas, and notes were published verbatim in the book The Crack-Up, and I actually think it's his best work.)

What follows are just a couple of random fragments from the play "Son of Grimaldi", a work in progress. The story concerns the aging clown Joey Grimaldi desperately trying to mold his son into following in his footsteps.



No, no, NO!!! You don't start pulling the sausages out of the baby carriage until after you've juggled the grapefruits and sung the "Skippity Sunshine" song!! What kind of imbecile are you?


(a beat)


You asked me what kind of imbecile I am and I said "butterscotch". (widens eyes, waves hand along as if to say, "And...? Get it?")

(silence. JOEY stares, confused.)

(losing his temper)
I'm being sarcastic. It's a JOKE!!!

(JOEY's eyes narrow, he trembles with rage, then slaps JOEY JR. hard across the face)

Clown rehearsal is serious business!!! This is NO PLACE FOR JOKES!!!


"And O mother dearest, though a silly and persnickety short-pantalooned lad I be, let no man judge my follies without that especial soupçon of salt. Let the forest come alive with the sounds of a thousand flatulent owls, perched among the...."

(JOEY JR. has pronounced "soupçon" as "soop-kon". JOEY, who has begun to doze off, snaps out of it, rouses himself and consults the script)

WAIT a minute! WAIT a minute! Did you just say "soop-kon"?

That's what it says in the script, papa. "let no man judge my follies without that especial soupçon of salt...." (mispronounces it again)

It's pronounced "soupçon". (correctly pronounces it "soop-sun".) Soupçon. Say it with me. Soupçon.

What kind of word is that? It's no kind of word.

It's French.

Ugghhhh, I hate the French. (to audience) Why do they have to use a different word for everything? I like my way better: soupcon! (continues mispronouncing it)

(JOEY JR. begins grinning idiotically, making sweeping gesture with his hands, delivery almost like Jason Alexander on "Seinfeld")

Yessir, I just like the sound of it. SOUPCON! ha ha ha! SOUPCON!!!

(JOEY momentarily puts head in hands, then reaches for decanter of wine)

Let's take a ten minute break.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Commonwealth Curiosities

My new column, Commonwealth Curiosities, debuts in the current August issue of Kentucky Monthly magazine! More of my musings on what's weird, wild, wondrous and worthy in our fair state; you know the drill.

In this issue, the "back to school" special, I examine points of interest to be found on college campuses and universities around Kentucky.

Look for Kentucky Monthly magazine at your local bookstore or newsstand, and if they don't have it, ask!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The USB Typewriter

It's almost like this gizmo was created with me in mind: an antique typewriter transformed into a fully functioning keyboard, compatible with PC, Mac, and iPad. The $700 price tag gives me pause, but I have to admit it is a thing of beauty and I do deserve nice things, don't I?

Jack Zylkin, the brain behind this bionic typewriter, says on his website:

The USBTypewriter™ is a new and groundbreaking innovation in the field of obsolescence. Lovers of the look, feel, and quality of old fashioned manual typewriters can now use them as keyboards for any USB-capable computer, such as a PC, Mac, or even iPad! The modification is easy to install, it involves no messy wiring, and does not change the outward appearance of the typewriter (except for the usb adapter itself, which is mounted in the rear of the machine). So the end result is a retro-style USB keyboard that not only looks great, but feels great to use.

I have to wonder, though - does it really have the feel of old-school typing? Using a typewriter is a lot like a piano - you can touch the keys softly or you can pound them, reveling in the staccato slamming of the typebars against the paper, sometimes so hard that the interior of the letter "o" gets cut out and your finished product is perforated with little holes. There's a real Zen to the highs and lows of key-slamming intensity of manual typewriter usage, and those of us raised on them know it does make a difference in one's writing. Much was gained in the move to word processors and laptops, to be sure - but something was also distinctly lost.

I have a feeling that, lovely a device though the USB Typewriter is, it cannot withstand the abuse that an old Remington jockey such as myself would surely inflict upon it. If a typewriter is indeed like a piano, then I am its Cecil Taylor.

I suppose I'm just going to hold out till someone invents a true Clark-Nova, William S. Burroughs' sentient typewriter that dispenses two different types of intoxicating fluids when it likes what you've written.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


July 14th (7-14) has inadvertently become something of an official "714 Day", as people never fail to point out the date to me. In the late 1980s I wrote a novel called 714, which I then revised and expanded upon in the early 1990s. It was not a very good novel, but it did provide, in a Bukowski/Kerouac sort of semi-autobiographic manner, a look at what I was up to in the "grand productive days" of the early 1980s followed by my prolonged period of hoboing around the country.

Will it ever be republished? Oh, probably. All in time. But for now, to commemorate 714 Day, here's a brief excerpt:

"Dipsy Donut", the sign said. Well, employment is employment.

I'd hoped for a real old-school manly kind of bakery, you know, dusty with the powdered sugar of ten thousand mornings, and some Popeye-armed fellow pounding enormous globs of dough into shape while his wife delicately troweled still-hot iced cookies onto long sheets of wax paper. But it wasn't to be. The place was clean as a whistle and decorated in a nauseating soccer-mom-pet-project kind of way.

I smiled at the church-lady looking woman at the cash register. "Might you be hiring?"

She gave just a momentary pause and a dead stare to let me know that I was wasting my time, then sighed and handed me an application. She tapped a cup full of pens with her skeletal finger, but in that same instant I'd already pulled my own pen out of my pocket. That seemed to annoy her greatly and she walked away.

I hate filling out applications. This one asked for my five most recent previous employers. Do I list my own self-employment? Do I list odd jobs, part time help, and jobs where I was paid in cash? They wanted to know the addresses and phone numbers of these places. Hell, I don't remember. Why would I memorize the phone numbers and addresses of anyplace I used to work? I don't even remember the names of the employers.

They wanted references. I listed some good friends but I don't even know the street addresses of some of them and had to leave the address field blank. Will they think that's weird? Probably. They wanted to know how long I'd known each reference. I don't know. Do normal people carry around all this information in their head and have it ready at a moment's notice? Is there something wrong with me? Should I just make up something? I could spend hours trying to figure all this crap out. If I fill out the application too quick, will they think I just made it up anyway? Are they really going to contact these references and employers? It's just a fucking donut shop. Someone says, "give me two crullers" and I say "here's your change", end of transaction. Why should I even have to fill out an application for such a job?

There was an annoying high pitched grating sound in the store that seemed to grow louder in the silence. It was the way the whine of the fluorescent lights merged with the hum of the milk fridge. I saw speakers mounted in the corners of the room, so why wasn't there any music playing? My body began to feel heavy, and my head began to feel light. And I'd been here scarcely fifteen minutes. I can't work here. I folded up the paper and stuffed it in my back pocket.

Polly was looking bored and impatient when I came out. "Any luck?"

"Well," I said, "I filled out an application. We'll see."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Writing About Writing

Of my numerous blogs, I've decided to set this one aside to strictly focus on my writing career. It remains to be seen whether "writing about writing" turns out to be an exercise in redundancy, but let's give a shot, shall we? I promise to keep the B.S. to a bare minimum here.