Kansas City Reading Coves – Homer’s Coffee House

Posted on by Caleb J. Ross in Reading Coves | 1 Comment
I bring you #2 (heh) of a hopefully long-lived series: Kansas City Reading Coves.

When I can, I like my reading retreats like my collection of chained basement mimes: varied and quiet.

Today’s cove: Homer’s Coffee House7126 West 80th Street, Overland Park, KS 66204

Homer’s keeps bringing me back, yet rationally, it should not. The black coffee only is okay; the coffee drinks are adequate at best (they have a powdery, grainy texture); the pastries taste like grandma’s…if grandma worked at a Hostess factory; and most of the time the entire building has a gross cat box smell…sorry, cat LITTER smell…to it that can be tough to combat (if the place actually smelled like a cat box, I’d expect more coffee drinking male cats in the crowd).

Homer’s was originally established as as a ministry of KC Christian Business Men’s Connection so consequently it caters to a Christian demographic, which is fine, but it does make it more difficult to block out surrounding conversations. This is nothing against Christianity, just a comment on how difficult it can be to ignore any topic toting such emotional baggage.

If I had to deduce my reasons for returning as regularly as I do, I’d credit the couches. This place has two of the most comfortable, early 80′s era sofas I’ve ever had the pleasure of spilling coffee in. Strange, though, that no matter how crowded the building may be, these couches are usually available. Perhaps the cat litter smell emanates from them, which is why 1) I always smell cat pee, and 2) nobody sits there. I’ll bet people laugh when I get up to leave. As long as I have my couple hours of reading time, I’m okay with stinking of urine.

UPDATE: I stopped in yesterday for a quick read. To my delight, the cat litter smell was nowhere to be sniffed. Fingers crossed that the source has been addressed, and that I didn’t simply stop by post-Febreeze dusting.

Rankings out of 10:

Smoking accommodations 3 Two shady areas, but minimal seating. Also, smoking garners strange looks from the conservative clientele.
Furniture comfort 8 Two of the softest couches this side of your parents’ basement
Quiet level 6 Conversation is at a high, here. However, the music is usually soft and instrumental, which makes for a low level of distraction.
Temperature comfort 7 On nice days, the doors are open to encourage a breeze. Other times, things are nicely controlled.


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Have you heard about the new fake James Patterson book?*

Posted on by Caleb J. Ross in Book News, Marketing | Leave a comment

James Patterson new novel*neither James Patterson nor Stephenie Meyer wrote this book**

**Thank fucking God***

***though I wouldn’t mind their sales. Get to it, asterisks readers.


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The Velvet Podcast, Episode 005: INTERVIEW with Matt Bell

Posted on by Caleb J. Ross in Media | 1 Comment
Episode #005 of The Velvet Podcast is now live! In this interview episode I talk with Matt Bell, author of The Collectors (Caketrain Press), Wolf Parts and the forthcoming How They Were Found, both from Keyhole Press. Matt’s short fiction has been published and anthologized just about everywhere and is forthcoming to Ninth Letter, the ML Press chapbook series, and Kill Author.

We talk about live-writing with an audience over at Everyday Genius, editing for The Collagist, teaching writing to fourth graders, and mucho more.

Please, give it a listen. Subscribe via Feedburner, Podcast Alley, or iTunes.


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Signed Book Nerd

Posted on by Caleb J. Ross in General News | 3 Comments
Most of you probably don’t know this, but secretly, I am not the cunning stallion that I appear to be. Sure, I am a sexy reader, I can do the robot worm electric slide, and I dress in the finest clothes straight from snazzy street (Snazzy and 14th Avenue is where the local Salvation Army clothing depot is located; they always have the hippest fanny packs). But underneath all of this slathered-upon cool, I carry a potentially social-life threatening secret. I like signed books.

Sure, it’s not the most embarrassing collection out there. I know a kindergartner who collects rocks. Seriously. And not even cool rocks, either. Regular, gravel-style gray lumps of compressed sediment nonsense. I drove him down a country road once and his head exploded.

But this post isn’t about dumb kids. It’s about dumb adults. Here’s my collection for all of you to pick through and criticize.

A few of my most treasured (though I love all my babies):

  • Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson (personally inscribed)
  • The Fifty-Year Sword by Mark Z. Danielewski (super-rare
  • Altmann’s Tongue by Brian Evenson (first edition)
  • Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk (first edition)

Anyone else out there collect signed books? What are your treasures?

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Kansas City Reading Coves – Javanaut

Posted on by Caleb J. Ross in Reading Coves | 2 Comments
My living room couch is nice. My bed is comfy and relaxing. But the outside world is a too-neglected source of reading coves. A book can be influenced by its context. In the same way a vacation is as much about the promise of temporary joblessness as it is about the destination environment, reading is as much about the book as it is about the break from the normal domestic setting.

With that, I bring you the first installment of a hopefully long-lived series: Kansas City Reading Coves.

When I can, I like my reading retreats like my Mormons: welcoming and concernedly friendly.

Today’s cove: Javanaut1615 W 39th St, Kansas City, Missouri 64111

Right away, I have to say that I liked this place better when it was The Crave Cafe. The main difference between the former and the current establishment is the comparative sterility of the latter. The Crave was a outcast’s dream, with crazy wall paint, art hanging everywhere, and a staff that didn’t mind being a little bitchy if they had to. Javanaut is unfortunately cleaned up, but still it ranks among the best cozeries in the city. This place, literally a converted residential house, maintains the structure’s inherent warmth and comfort.

Get a spot upstairs if you can. The living room style chairs are only slightly less comfortable than similar chairs below, but the lack of speakers and music (meaning: the relative quiet) makes up for the comparative discomfort.

The food selection is small, mostly just pastries and cookies, but if you come here to read, chances are you don’t want a book full of crumbs anyway. The coffee drinks above average, and the lack of sugary syrups makes drinking a bit easier on the body. If you come here for coffee, you’re actually getting coffee.

That’s my upstairs chair to the left. I swear if I catch you in that chair I will politely pretend I don’t care. Fair warning. My book/chair arm/room shot. I try to cram as much into this photo as possible.

Rankings out of 10:

Smoking accommodations 5 A large front porch = good. No protection from the rain or sun = bad. Smoke-able only on the clearest days.
Furniture comfort 7 A mix of soft lounge style chairs and hardbacked table chairs.
Quiet level 8 Upstairs is usually quieter than the ground level. Bring headphones to help.
Temperature comfort 7 Things trend on the cold side, but overall the temperature is not a deal-breaker


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The Fringe Benefits of Writing Fiction

Posted on by Caleb J. Ross in General News | 6 Comments
Writing fiction is not a rich man’s game. Though some authors are able to attain and sustain luxury by writing novels, that club is quite exclusive. In fact, most of the authors whose books you see even in national bookstore chains (Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc.) have day jobs. Fiction is usually a supplement their better life decisions.

Did you know Jim Lehrer has published 17 novels? No, you didn’t. John Lithgow, Alan Arkin, Jimmy Buffet, Wes Craven, and so many others also wrote fiction. But they were smart enough to go to celebrity school instead of author college.

But, fiction writing is not without its fringe benefits. Here’s a few I’ve discovered:

  • I change into my pajamas at around 5:00pm, not out of laziness, but as a mimetic character channeling method. It’s entirely coincidental that I write about lazy characters.
  • Nobody expects me to be socially comfortable. Conversely, I can fart in public, and people simply assume I am expressing my angst at society or government or foreigners or something, and that I will eviscerate these areas of contention in fiction.
  • Despite the relatively few people who read (or perhaps because of it), fiction writers carry an aurora of mystery and sexiness. But because writers are socially awkward (see point above), I am not expected to validate that illusion. It’s like having cake and eating it, too…in front of people who don’t read.
  • Drinking counts as career advancement.
  • In most cities there is at least one person willing to buy me a drink. I reciprocate, because I’m a swell guy, but usually I match their top-shelf with well. I can do that; remember, I am socially awkward.
  • When I scribble on napkins, voyeurs tend to assume I am capturing literary greatness. The fact is, when drawing boobies, the porous napkin paper pretty much draws the areola veins for me.
  • Some writers complain about people always approaching them with “surefire bestseller ideas.” I pretend to be upset. Then I steal their ideas. So far, no bestsellers among them. No, Ronald, the Mormon werewolf idea didn’t pan out…wait, dammit Stephenie Meyer!
  • Writing a list of lies for a blog post technically counts as story, as long as there is a narrative arc. So, that lazy character I mentioned in point #1, he grew up wealthy, but now he has cancer, and a violent mother, and his estranged wife doesn’t let him see his kids. He’s probably dead, too. Or his he? Dah Dah Daaahhhhhhhh…

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    The Velvet Podcast, Episode 004: “Why can’t I write,” I write OR Inventing Trans Fat

    Posted on by Caleb J. Ross in Media, Study (the world/the craft) | Leave a comment
    Episode #004 of The Velvet Podcastjust went live a few hours ago. Me, Rob Parker, and Mark Jaskowski talk about:

    Most writers, whether hobbyists or professionals, would defend that writing is a compulsion. Yet despite this apparent need, writers find a lot a lot of ways to procrastinate (creating this podcast being one). In this episode, three Velvet members discuss why writing is so necessary, what keeps us from writing when we know we should, what keeps us writing once we start, and how helpful are writing exercises (Writers Digest would say “very;” their bottom line depends on it).(WARNING: We like tangents. Be weary)

    Please, give it a listen. Subscribe via Feedburner, Podcast AlleyiTunes.


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