Re-Cap of the Best Lines of 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

Gary and I are cultural junkies ... TV, movies, music, books, magazines, billboards, T-shirt slogans are basically our meth.

Which is why moving to the country and trying to live for a time w/o such "nonsense," as my parents call it (all of which is documented in my upcoming memoir AT LEAST IN THE CITY SOMEONE WOULD HEAR ME SCREAM) was so damn difficult.

But we're back ... like Britney ... and, herewith (is that even a word?), are my picks for best lines of the first quarter of 2009 (think of this as your cultural economic quarterly report):

"Fill my love tank!"

GABBY, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (after angry stylist nearly slices off her bangs)
"That's why you don't get your hair cut in a mall!"

TOM BERGERON, DANCING WITH THE STARS (to jilted bachelorette Melissa)
"So, is The Bachelor really like high school, just with better lighting?"

"Does she make your penis get off the couch? I mean, even I can't do that for you."

APRON GARY OWNS (with arrow pointing to his crotch)
"I've got your low-carb diet right here!"

"You think I look like her?" (referring to Angelina resemblance)

MY FATHER (to me, about Gary, after a few drinks)
"You've got a good wife there, son!"

GARY (screaming at woman who pissed him off at coffeeshop)
"You wanna play crazy? You wanna play crazy? I got a deck full of crazy!"

ME (to party-goers, after falling down wet hillside in slides while trying to spy on said party being held in condo near us)
"Could I borrow a cup of sugar?"

More to come ... and I welcome your suggestions!

This Blows: A Life in Hair

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I've long wanted to write a memoir on hair.

I already have a title: "THIS BLOWS: A LIFE IN HAIR"

It would be about how our hair defines us, from birth to death ... the hairstyles over time ... our infatuation with our stylists ... the incredible time most women and gay men spend on our their hair, for first dates, school photos, job interviews, speeches. I can remember my time with each and every one of my products, my brushes, my blow drier, my styles intimately.

Hair, like clothes, define an era. Moreover, I think our hairstyles defines us as people ... our willingness to take risks, be individuals ... or not.

Ever since I was a fat kid who shopped for Husky's, the only thing I had going for me was my hair. I used to char my scalp trying to obtain the perfect feather -- from front to back -- with my hairdryer and built-in bristle brush. I spent nearly an hour every day as a young boy, burning through a can of Rave or Aquanet, working up a lather just to look like a faux-Farrah.

As I aged, my hair has changed radically, from feather to George Clooney, from brush to pick to nothing but product.

And, as I've aged, I've moved multiple times, and the hardest part of relocating for me hasn't been moving to a new city, but trying to find the perfect hair stylist.

I'm a bit of a hair whore ... I've cut stylists not just for giving me a bad cut, but also for talking too much, or spraying water in my face. One snipped my ear -- ala Van Gogh -- and tried to cover although I was literally hemorrhaging, but I stuck with him because he made me look pretty.

Gary and I are currently on an extended vacation in Palm Springs, and recently found ourselves in need of a haircut. We Googled "best stylists" and asked tons of people whose hair we liked where they went. On a whim, we passed a shop in downtown Palm Springs and saw a man cutting a woman's hair into the sleekest, most beautiful bob we'd ever seen. We went in, and immediately scheduled an appointment.

I was so nervous the day we went in to get our hair cut, that I almost sported a pair of Huggie's Cruisers with Comfort Control. I was at six weeks with my hair -- three weeks overdue for a cut -- and when my hair grows, it doesn't get long, rather it expands, ala a Chia Pet.

I made Gary go first the day we went to our new stylist; Gary is always the guinea pig. If he ends up looking like a carney, I know I can just walk.

Gary looked fabulous.

The stylist sat me in the chair, put his hands on my shoulders, and asked if I had ever considered going short ... "really short."

"How short?" I asked.

"Really short," he said again.

"We're not really getting anywhere," I said. "Army short, or I-can-still-get-my-hands-and-some-product-through-it-short"?

"Have you ever had the sides clippered?" he asked.

This is the equivalent of asking me if I find Patch Adams to be a great movie.

"Trust me," he said.

The last time I heard that, I thought, a man ended up spanking me and making me pot roast.

The clippers buzzed, leaving me, finally, with a mound of hair on top of my head and none on the side. I looked like a Standard Poodle, the only dog on the planet to officially scare the hell out of me.

"Trust me," he said again.

I shut my eyes, wishing I had on my Pampers, and the stylist spent the next hour, scissoring, clipping, texturizing, layering. When I was done, my hair was short -- shorter than it had been since I emerged from the womb.

And I'd never looked better.

Very short hair suited me; it shaped my head; it made me look young but age-appropriate. I looked, well, kinda, hot.

I hugged my stylist. And gave him a generous tip.


It's so silly, really, but it defines me ... us ... and it will until the day the mortician lays us all in our coffins.

I just pray I end up with a mortician who really knows hair and his way around product.

Blurb Heaven!

Friday, March 6, 2009

"Beggin' for blurbs," as I call it, is the author equivalent of a wedgie. You know what's to come is painful, but you're unable to stop it.

Publishers and editors ask that an author reach out to well-known writers in order to read his manuscript and provide a glowing quote that will not only influence reviewers and critics but also consumers.

But well-known authors are busy.


And trying to lead normal lives.

Doing laundry, hitting the grocery, buying milk, eating at Chili's.

Beggin' for blurbs can often be an excruciating exercise in humility and embarrassment. If an author had any ego before sending his manuscript out to famous authors, it is nuked via the blurb process.

I have spent weeks crafting personalized pitch letters to famous writers I've never met but long admired, asking them to spend their precious time reading a 300-page manuscript from an emerging author. I have perfected prose that was complimentary but not stalker-ish, hilarious yet poignant. I have killed myself trying, bending over backward, whoring myself out, all trying to make it seem natural.

Basically, I was a porn star.

I once received a response from a well-known author, nearly a year after I'd asked for them to blurb the book, and just weeks before the book was about to publish.

"Do you know who I am?" the rather catty note inquired.


Which is why I had asked in the first place.

I assumed this author despised the book and/or me, and, thus, opted not to send, "This is the Worst Piece of Crap I'll Ever Read in My Life!"

Which is a shame, because my publicist could easily have edited that to read: "This is the ... Piece ... I'll ... Read My [Entire] Life!"

I sound bitter, but, honestly, I harbor no ill-will.

In fact, I've learned a great deal beggin' for blurbs ...

... first and foremost, I now try and help serious, emerging authors who seek help and advice in the publishing process. More than anything, I help emerging authors who have worked tirelessly on their first books, and polished them to perfection, with their query letters to agents. I feel I can help ... and, though I am often not timely, I do try and offer as much assistance as I can.

And while I do not read unsolicited manuscripts, I do read manuscripts, when asked by an author, editor or publisher, when they have have a finished book that is set to be published and one they feel strongly about. And I will blurb a book, but only if I believe in and feel strongly about the book.

Now, I am one of the most anti-Secret guys you'll ever meet.

I still make fun of folks who wear fanny packs and Crocs, who still write checks, or give clerks exact change. If there's a bad weave in front of me at the grocery, I'll politely point it out by telling everyone standing in line behind me.

But, I think my Secret is beginning to pay dividends.

With my upcoming memoir, AT LEAST IN THE CITY SOMEONE WOULD HEAR ME SCREAM: Misadventures in Search of the Simple Life, set to publish June 2 from Harmony/Random House, I targeted three bestselling authors whose work I greatly admired, those who have made me laugh and cry, who have challenged me to become a better writer.

I waited, my gut cramping, Tums and Wet Wipes on stand-by, expecting the worst.

But then something happened ... something great ...

I got fabulous blurbs from:

-Tom Perrotta, bestselling author (and Oscar-nominated screenwriter) of such novels as Election, Little Children and The Abstinence Teacher

-Jen Lancaster, bestselling author of the memoirs Such a Pretty Fat, Bitter Is the New Black, Bright Lights, Big Ass, and the upcoming Pretty in Plaid

-and AJ Jacobs, bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically and The Know-It-All

I'm so thrilled with their reactions to my upcoming memoir and, truly, their sheer joy over my book, that I wanted to share their blurbs.

I'm proud, yes, and happy, yes, but, mostly, I want writers to continue believing in their own work, their writing, their dream. And I want them to keep beggin' for blurbs, no matter how trying the process can be.

Here are the fabolicious blurbs my upcoming memoir will feature prominently:

"In At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream, Wade Rouse details his quest to shed the trappings of his fabulous life to live more simply ... except no one told him how hard the simple life would be. ROUSE IS A MASTER RACONTEUR, and his transition from city slicker to country mouse is filled with side-splitting humor, heart, and, of course, bands of marauding raccoons. THIS BOOK HAS NOW TAKEN ITS PLACE AT THE TOP OF MY FAVORITES LIST!"
-Jen Lancaster, bestselling author of Such A Pretty Fat and Pretty in Plaid

"Wade Rouse is a true oddball: half Henry David Thoreau, half Oliver Wendell Douglas. At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream is A FUNNY, GOOD-NATURED CHRONICLE OF A FISH OUT OF WATER, SLOWLY LEARNING TO BREATHE."
-Tom Perrotta, bestselling author of Election, Little Children, and The Abstinence Teacher

"In At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream, Wade Rouse's inner Eddie Albert does battle with his inner Eva Gabor. I won't tell you who wins, but the fight is IMMENSELY ENTERTAINING!'
-A.J. Jacobs, bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically and The Know-It-All


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

After 110 inches of snow on February 1 -- which was just HALFWAY through our winter -- Gary and I packed up the SUV and headed to Palm Springs to escape winter in Michigan.

We were the Joads: Two dogs, two crates, and more food and luggage and shoes than Imelda Marcos would pack. The trip took three days, with us driving roughly 1100 miles and 12 hours a day. We took much of the Old Route 66 on our drive, and witnessed the Ozarks of Missouri, the dusty terrain of Oklahoma, the other-worldly beauty of Santa Fe, blizzards in Gallup and Albuquerque, and the desert of California.

We are now firmly ensconced in a mid-century modern condo in a complex with pool and spa that butts the mountains of Palm Springs. To say we have escaped winter would be a vast understatement: It is 80 and sunny nearly every day.

Gary and I have become immediately entranced with Palm Springs: The mountains are magical and spiritual, hugging the desert valley on every side. They seem to be alive, breathing, watching, and each range has its own personality: Some rugged and brown, some verdant and low-slung, while others are snow-capped, rimmed with pines, stretching for the heavens.

If you must know one thing about Gary and I it's that we are immersion travelers. We love to immerse ourselves completely in every city and area where we travel or live. We explore every neighborhood, we eat every native food, we live and breathe a place. Thus, in Hawaii, we surf, though we might die. Or we swim with the sharks, though we might die. Or we eat octopus, though we might die.

Here, in Palm Springs, we hike the mountains, though I might die.

I am in fine shape, that's not the problem ... I run eight miles here, and it's a breeze in the cool mornings with zero humidity and no city smog. We swim in the pool for hours.

It's not the strain of hiking that is a problem; I can run up a mountain, I can hike all day, it's the whole down-hill thing. The fact you have to, eventually, head back down to the desert floor.

I am a faller. I fall in the kitchen making a bowl of cereal. I fall walking the dogs. I fall getting out of the shower.

In fact, I fell down a hill just outside our condo last week, tumbling into the road, while walking the dogs at night in Kenneth Cole slides. Who knew the sprinkers had been on earlier?

We hiked the San Jacinto mountains this weekend -- three hours straight UP. It took me the rest of the day to get down. I slipped, I tripped, I held onto mountains, boulders, the rocky ground. I initiated avalanches. I nearly knocked an octogenarian hiker using a walking stick off the side of the mountain, Gary grabbing the man's shirt when one of his feet was dangling into nothingness.

Check out my dazzling footwork on YouTube (link is on my homepage). My goal is to get famous enough to go on Dancing with the Stars, so I can dance with Derek Hough, have his children, and, of course, fall on national TV.

The change of scenery is good for me: I am finishing a memoir and my first novel. More news to follow!