Disgruntled Vegans


Las Vegas is a place for the very angry, the very disgruntled, and those who choose to express themselves via all sorts of physical objects and writing utensils. (The first note was one of several stapled to a post--each handwritten with the exact same angry message. Whoever wrote it clearly preferred angry repetitive handwriting to the convenience of angry photocopying. And if you're against cops, gangs, or work--what better medium than the back of a bus stop? Even better, you get to correct those who came before you. It's like the Internet, but with less porn.)

Late night addenda: I said, in the paragraph above, that vegans clearly preferred angry repetitive handwriting to the convenience of angry photocopying. I may be wrong.

By extension, then, Las Vegas seems like a treasure trove of ephemera. Witness Eavesdrop--which I can't wait to see a show of (see also the Las Vegas City Life article for more information). A flyer for a recent show was hiding somewhere on the telephone post to which the first missive was found.


The last message--posted months and months ago--was a self-absorbed little missive on my comings and goings, and why should this one be any different? Here is what's been going on. With me. Me me me me.


Not-So-Disgruntled Me 1/4

Two of my pieces, "Your Significant Other's Kitten Poster" & "Liner Notes for Renegade, the Opening Sequence," can be found in the UNLV English department's Sceal, and Sceal can be found at


Not Me 1/1

If you find yourself in the library and near the elevators on the first floor, you might want to take a look at the glass case to your right. The case displays the works of David Schmoeller, an assistant professor at UNLV's film department. Professor Schmoeller is also responsible for UNLV's wonderful, eclectic, short films program:


More importantly, however, and of more interest to me, is that Schmoeller is also responsible for directing/writing/guiding Lorenzo Lamas through freaking Renegade:


Perhaps equally cool (or maybe even cooler) is that Schmoeller is responsible for writing the very first Puppet Master, the original w/ all the characters, the one that spawned five or so sequels:


This is just to say hello, I guess, but also to say that at one point or another it would be wonderful to sit down with the man who may well have written the following: He was a cop, and good at his job. But then he committed the ultimate sin and testified against other cops - gone bad. Cops who tried to kill him, but got the woman he loved instead. Framed for murder, now he prowls the badlands. An outlaw hunting outlaws, a bounty hunter - a RENEGADE!

And also, there's this--is there other faculty (outside the English department) who have done very odd, very cool things that we may not know about? If UNLV is home to creator of Renegade, who else are we home to?

Me, Not Disgruntled 2/4

I wrote a sonnet, and it's been set to music. A news bit is available here:


And information on the composer, Moya Henderson, can be found here:


and here:


and an interview is available here:


Information on the event is available here:


More Me 3/4

I was interviewed for my old English department's newsletter. The interview, along with a far more interesting profile--wittier, funnier, more interesting--of my thesis director, Susan Hubbard, can be found here:


The interviewer was terrific, and sent buckets of questions but ended up using only a small fraction of the answers. In service of exactly absolutely no one, the full Q&A follows below.

All of Me 4/4

1. What is your full name?

Joan Manuel Martinez. (My dad was a big fan of Joan Manuel Serrat, a Catalan singer, but when we first moved to the States I changed it, since it got old way fast to explain that Joan was not a girl's name in a small Spanish province. But Serrat is a terrific singer, and a sharp writer--more a writer than a singer, really, like Lou Reed or some of Paul Simon's later work, or even the Fiery Furnaces. You may be able to find some of his songs on iTunes: I suggest "Tu Nombre Me Sabe a Yerba" and his adaptations of Machado poems.)

. Where were you born?

Bucaramanga, Colombia.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Reading. Reading buckets and buckets. And running. I love the treadmill more than I should, but it's been a lifesaver: when you're done you feel new and scrubbed and ready for anything.

1. Why do you write? How did you know you were going to be a writer?

I write to eventually (hopefully) create a book that--had I forgotten its provenance--I would love to pick up and read.

I didn't know that I was going to be a writer. I still don't. If I had a decent singing voice and wasn't as shy as I am, I would have gone into a band. If I had the requisite talent and again, wasn't as shy, as excrutiatingly self-conscious, I'd love to go into film or television. My only claim to being a writer is that I do love to read--that reading is the one activity that I return to daily, compulsively, and which totally nourishes me and infuses me with unalloyed pleasure. Writing, on the other hand, feels like a series of small failures that I keep returning to, fixing, and hoping people will not hate too much.

1. What is your favorite book of all time?

Nabokov's Pale Fire--funny, sad, teeming with riffs on literature and love and death, and so beautifully constructed it can read like a thriller or a murder mystery or a meditation on the metafictive properties of life or like pure slapstick comedy. All at once.

My favorite novel published in the last few years has been Alice Sebold's _The Lovely Bones_.

1. Who has had the biggest influence in your life as a writer?

It changes, though George Saunders has been a pretty steady guiding light for the last few years--his stories seem to be doing all the things I wish I could do. Alice Munro is also terrific. And I've always felt that Garrison Keillor has been unjustly ignored as a stylist. His sentence structure is worth stealing, and _Love Me_, his last novel, is gorgeous. Vladimir Nabokov is my favorite writer of all time, but I have done my best (these last few years) to avoid doing anything that Nabokov already did--because he's inimitable.

1. Do you consider yourself a writer? Student? Teacher? All of the above?

I am primarily a student, and one of my biggest realizations of the past few years is that I'll always be lagging behind, that I have so much to learn that I'll never not be a student. But I do love teaching, and much as I hate to write I always sit down--every day, pretty much--and write. So (d) All of the above.

1. What was your major at UCF? When did you graduate?

I got my BA in creative writing with a minor in applied computer science in 2000.

1. Did you go to graduate school at UCF?


1. If so, why did you choose to go to UCF for graduate school?

Laziness. I didn't want to move, I was an international student and so needed to be in school to stay in the States, and I had a pretty good job working as a computer lab manager. So it was, you know, well, why not? I'm here already. Which I know sounds awful but hold on, because what started as a way to keep my visa turned into a legitimate, life-transforming, wonderful experience.

1. What degrees did you earn at UCF?

An MA in creative writing.

1. What experiences enriched your life at UCF?

The writing center and the academic computing support labs were both terrific places to work at--you could not ask for better managers and co-workers.

My thesis director, Susan Hubbard, showed me that there were viable professions for committed writers--that if you kept at it and did so with a good deal of humor and understanding you could make small advances. Susan, Jeanne Leiby, Judith Hermschmeyer were terrific: supportive, engaging, and willing to show you what worked and what didn't. I really haven't answered the question, but it's hard to pin down the specific experience.

OK. So what did it was the shift from undergrad to grad, where you are in a room full of people whose commitment to writing is real and--maybe more importantly---a little more realistic. You realize that it's not like you're going to write this brilliant novel that's going to bring you instant fame and a movie adaptation. Instead, you dive into journals you had hardly ever heard of, you read them (and if you do a little digging, you realize that your not knowing these magazines has lots to do with your own massive ignorance and not with any flaw of the journals themselves; these are the places that discovered Flannery O'Connor and Tom Perrotta and anyone worth reading), you submit, you get rejected, you get rejected a couple more times, and you keep submitting.

The biggest, most revelatory experience at UCF was having these wonderful professors, these wonderful classmates, and slowly discovering the etiquette and rigor of the writing life. That it's work. That you can't really half-ass it.

1. How do you remember UCF ? how was your graduate experience here?

Fondly. I'm having a wonderful experience right now as well, and it's matching the MA, though the UCF individuals themselves are missed like nobody's business. What amazes me is the energy generated by the friends you make in the program--you end up writing for them. You are writing for an actual specific audience. And the trick is that, while you may write for them, your primary responsibility is to do so while keeping true to whatever blurry, half-understood impulses triggered the story in the first place: you want your story to be satisfying as a story. You're not writing for yourself while writing for yourself. You're doing both simultaneously: writing with an audience in mind while doing your own thing.

1. What were some of your favorite courses at UCF? The most memorable ones.

Dr. Omans' Shakespeare class as an undergrad. Professor Hermschmeyer's undergraduate poetry class, where we wrote sonnets and other forms and which infused me with a deep respect for a genre that is not my own--plus professor Thaxton's workshops, and professor Hubbard's.

The graduate courses were all fabulous, and to list the most memorable ones would pretty much just devolve into a listing of my transcript. So let me just repeat that the entire experience was a revelation. And that it provided me with a wide range of material--all those literature courses, all those workshops.

1. I know you taught a few course at UCF ? how was that experience?

Terrific. And to anyone who might be doing it, I recommend the Faculty Center for Teaching & Learning's semester-long course, which is as good an introduction to the practice and theory of pedagogy as you'll find, everything from the basics on preparing a lesson plan to dealing with plagiarism to structuring things so that students don't fall asleep on you.

2. How has graduating from the UCF English department helped you get where you are today?

It's helped a great deal in both making me aware of what to expect, how to submit, and why literary journals matter so much. What's most important, however, is that it's introduced me to all sorts of truly fantastic people. I'm terrible at connecting with people, so the investment made--the tuition and the time and the tradeoff (because you could make more money doing just about anything else)--is significantly repaid in not just knowledge but in finding a circle of similarly inclined colleagues.

1. Where are you working now? What are you doing there?

I'm a GTA at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where I'm pursuing a PhD in literature and teaching a couple of introductory courses--last semester it was all composition and this semester it's world literature.

1. You are being published in the anthology Dr. Milan?s is editing, as well as in Glimmer Train ? where else have you been (or will be) published?

Right now the goal is to get at least a few critical essays published, and there are two under review, though one of the two needs a lot more work. I just presented a paper at Stetson for the Southern Conference for Foreign Languages and Literature. Some of my stuff has appeared in the online versions of McSweeney's, Pindeldyboz, and the Morning News. The Milanes story originally appeared in the Santa Monica Review, and I'm recycling it (for the third time) into a novel chapter.

1. The article we?re writing is about honoring you and letting others know how much of an exemplary alumnus you are? can you give us a timeline of your accomplishments since leaving UCF?

I've been away from UCF for nearly a year, and in that time I've managed to watch far too much reality tv. I have gone to Freemont street and consumed 50% of a deep-fried Twinkie. I have met a number of very accomplished magicians. I have gambled $2.35 and come out roughly even.

1. What factors have shaped your life and led you to where you are today?

My wonderful, supportive, understanding parents are at the heart of it all.

1. Where would you like to be in five years? Ten years?

This is the question that breaks your heart when you open a brittle copy of the newsletter thirty years from now, and you're a nightshift manager at a Denny's, and your apartment is all stacks of crap piled high. The problem with this question is that it's terrible to get it wrong--to see one's unspeakable ambitions unrealized, unmet, and unacknowledged--and it's equally terrible to find confirmation. (The 7Up documentaries offer plenty of both, though the biggest epiphany from these films is in knowing that we are all swimming in time, that the current's fast, and that it pulls us swiftly, so it's important to keep moving.) I'm hoping, all the same, for more of what's preceded this moment: bliss, tranquility, plus physical and mental rigor. And access to a well-stocked library.

1. Anything else you would like to add? Any advice for future graduates?

My advice is to read and read and read--to keep up with a couple of standard canonical book-review periodicals (the New York Times and the New York Review of Books, for starters), a couple of good literary sites ( MaudNewton.com and themorningnews.org), and to read a wide range of novels, articles, and short stories outside of whatever's assigned. And to set up a half-decent web site where you've linked your writing. It's good to have at least a CV somewhere, and it doesn't cost much.

Speaking of which: feel free to visit my web site, drop me a line, all of that. You can find me at http://www.fulmerford.com/

What else? There are no squirrels at the UNLV campus. The UCF squirrels are missed.