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What’s going on here?

Highly experimental storytelling and poetry via a cluster of websites. 


Yes, really! But very few people are buying that story. Not the District Attorney’s office in Los Angeles. Not the literary scholars and poets holed up on an Ozark hay farm. They keep litigating and annotating and writing poetry as if there might be more.  Forcing, in fact, a second “season” of this experiment beginning on June 21, 2011.

Attorneys and poets together?  If you tell me the basic storyline, maybe I can follow it better.

No doubt. Ok, a poet and hayfarmer named Demod Smith from the Missouri Ozarks dies right after writing an exceedingly long poem called The Hayfield. His widow pays an alleged scam artist (my boss!) in Los Angeles to annotate and publish the poem online.  My boss, the cyber-publisher Dr. Edgar Scattergood, allegedly fails to publish The Hayfield, which triggers a fraud case against him by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office.  On this website that the court ordered Dr. Scattergood to create, we follow the posts of scholars forced by the court to annotate the poem from the Ozarks as well as the attorneys litigating the fraud case in LA. 

Interesting. And from two locations?  Isn’t that expensive storytelling?

You’re telling me? No kidding. We are considering a switch to Vancouver. : )

But for now, one location is Los Angeles where the District Attorney’s office charges that Dr. Edgar Scattergood and his staff have been defrauding consumers into purchasing his Posthumous Vanity Publishing services over the internet.  He targets the widows of people who couldn’t write but wouldn’t quit. Scattergood’s array of websites and complex hyper-linking convey to his customers a false sense of depth that trick them into thinking he’s a legitimate and influential publisher.  Allegedly. (Remember, I work for him.)

From the Missouri Ozarks, after Scattergood allegedly refused to publish the entire poem, much less provide the expensive line-by-line annotations, the widow Smith complained to the District Attorney’s office.  Scholars were sent to the Smith farm to do the annotation and hopefully fend off the DA’s lawsuit (which was eventually filed and Judge Asa Hornscar has already issued an injunction that keeps the scholars on the farm and annotating until the job is done).  The scholars, led by Dr. Odie Leucas and Dr. Catherine Shockley, post their annotations on a weekly basis as well as their impressions of life on the farm.  The poem that several scholars initially scorn soon intrigues them as evidence unfolds showing that the poem’s fictional protaganist, a drunk farmer named Arnie, has a bone to pick with his creator.

The action begins on September 23, 2010, the first day of Autumn, and what we call Season One ended on the first day of Winter. It’s picking up again as we enter Summer 2011 and the volumes of a March 7 court transcript are released one by one.

Is your boss guilty of fraud?

Good follow-up question! Clearly, we have an critical mind putting these questions to us, a mind that refuses to be spoon-fed tripe by a disgruntled widow and a Deputy District Attorney with an axe to grind.

At this point, inquisitive readers have to wonder: who is in charge of the overall “scam” and is that person up to good or evil?   Suddenly the so-called “deceptive” depth of Dr. Scattergood’s websites and hyper-linking is turned against him and used for highly experimental storytelling. We have the riddle of the TV show Lost wrapped in the enigma of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and electrified by the comedy of The Sting.

Experimental storytelling, you say?  Again.  So this is an experiment in online fiction?  I knew Arnie was just a character in a poem, but to call all of this fiction would mean that no one here is real.

It’s absurd, isn’t it?  The only thing we’ll quibble with you about is the question of Arnie.  According to Professor Stephen Hawking* he is very real. More real than his creator.  Or the creator of his creator.  Next question.

Who are Demod Smith, Lucy Acres, Bill Evans, and Samantha Evans?

That’s three questions.  But Demod, Lucy and Bill were are posthumously published by Dr. Scattergood.  They had wonderful passions for writing but were terrible at their craft.  Lucy is at www.thecartooncowgirlforever.com while Bill’s work is at www.seeminglyforever.com. Samantha Evans is a very cute 12 year old writer for her school newspaper who will be interviewing characters on all the websites until she meets her hero, the Rolling Stone writer Risa Marquez.   Then she will interview some more characters, but with even more improved journalist’s skills!

All the other folks annotating or litigating over The Hayfield are described under the Characters tab.

The bugs are just a motif, right?  They’re not real are they?

First of all, no insect was harmed in the telling of this story.  Second, they were released into the stanzas and bales and courtrooms of The Hayfield Forever to keep the creators on their toes and to promote genuine moments.

My head hurts.  Is that common after poking around The Hayfield and these websites?

Yes, but it’s not a reflection on this cluster of websites.  It’s the inevitable first sign of the beginning of your slide toward an inevitable death.  Sorry!  We’re all mortals, but luckily Dr. Scattergood’s PVP services and eGraves give you some insurance toward immortality.

Wait a minute.  So this is real after all?  Can I really purchase an eGrave or have my story published posthumously?

Absolutely!  Just wire us $11,990 and we’ll set it all up for you after you die.

I just saw the zombie movie “Night of the Living Dead” at the Hollywood Forever cemetery .   It was %$&*ing scary and that #%^$ should be illegal.  The wisdom of showing a zombie movie to a plump audience a short sprint from thousands of graves aside for a moment (I mean, what could be a greater provocation/temptation for decaying cannibals), my question is:  will people be able to see movies near my eGrave after I die .

We have struck a deal with Netflix to stream movies into your eGrave.  After you die.

There are many complaints about your Posthumous Vanity Publishing (PVP) Services on various consumer websites, including the BBB’s.  I also understand that the District Attorneys and Attorney Generals in several states have been investigating your operation.   Will my digitalized remains and unpublished works be safe in your hands?

I can see it’s almost time to end the FAQ.  Your frequently asked questions are getting much too long.  But to answer this one, we serve unpublished writers and their survivors.  There is not a more insecure or retaliatory demographic to be found, so it is natural that there are a few complaints.  Our attorney Simon Singh has helped Dr. Scattergood quash all such complaints, leaving only Penny Smith from Missouri.  Like we said in response to your first question, the real question here is who is scamming who.  Dr. Scattergood would like to assure you that if anyone’s doing the scamming, it’s him.  But unfortunately, there’s another puppeteer around.  The devil we don’t know.

I just wired you $11,990.  Is there anything else I can do while I wait to die?

Please have someone else proofread your submission before you die.  Otherwise, you can interact with the annotation of The Hayfield by going to the The Hayfield Forever Facebook Page and clicking on the Like button.  That way you get updates on posts and can post comments yourself about the poem as it unfolds.   The professors, grad students and even lawyers will consider your input before making any final judgements about how to annotate Demod Smith’s final lines or how to prosecute Dr. Scattergood’s good intentions.

My head still hurts. Should I thank you?

Yes, because it builds character. And you’ve certainly become a character by the end of this FAQ (Fictitiously Asked Questions).

I’m a fictional character?

Which makes The Hayfield Forever even more important for you to read. It’s a guidebook for those of us who are the creations of others.


2 Responses to “FAQ”

  1. Walter Weinstock of Los Angeles says:

    Is Arnie real?
    Where is he right now? Is he lost in a hayfield? Or the web, after your publishing, forever condemned to roam it’s 0s and 1es?
    Who’s doing the headshots of the imaginary characters? My imaginary friends in LA are always looking for good cheap photographers to update their pics.
    At the end of Lost, what the hell was the dog doing there?
    Can also pets publish with you? Is that question grammatically correct?
    And finally, as a recommendation, don’t attend a show at a cemetery without your shotgun. And aim at the head.

  2. Telemachus, Exec. Assistant to Dr. Scattergood says:

    Dear Walter,
    As always, thanks for your comments. As you may recall, I’m based at Dr. Scattergood’s beachside offices in Venice, CA, far removed from the hayfield where the scholars are excavating “The Hayfield.” But I would guess the scholars would have originally commented that Arnie is a fictional character from a poem, stuck forever in a hayfield just as Keats’ lovers were and always will be caught in a vase-like grip. Now, no one is so sure about Arnie . . .
    By the way, you seem to know your dogs and imaginary friends–you are very welcome to purchase PVP services on their behalf from ForeverPrized. We’re already holding http://www.howlforever.com for Allen Ginsberg and http://www.hippetyhopforever.com for Harvey the Rabbit but all other pet and imaginary friends options are open.
    Let me know.
    Take care,
    Executive Assistant to Dr. Scattergood

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