Saturday Show is a live recording of the Austin Writing Workshop, a grad-level fiction-writing workshop led by a former professor of literature and philosophy. The group aims to improve their craft of writing literary stories, within which can be explored profound themes of philosophic and existential importance. Also, too, much wine is consumed and merriment had by all. To add to the merriment, please contribute a buck or two to the Cheap Wine Fund on

A listing of the topics covered along with approximate timestamps are provided below.

0:00 Excerpt from a draft of “Valhalla House” by Frank Marcopolos

2:38 Frank’s introduction to the podcast

5:48 Group discussion of the movie “Bliss,” including being able to stay with the movie the whole way, happy endings, Netflix, other Bliss movies, two cartoon squirrels, subtitles, Merlot, message-based movies, Nietzsche, morality is slavery to custom, the movie changing, defying customs, the YUPPIE professor, waiting for the great plot twist, the story not turning quickly enough, checking out of the movie, drab cinematography, The Wizard of Oz, Gilligan’s Island, the professor’s boat, Turkish Gilligan’s Island, almost hanging herself, knowing the whole movie in 5 minutes, struggling with the customs he grew up with, character development, intuitive narration, flash forwards, changing the pacing of a story, Momento, The English Patient, linear storytelling, predictable stories, lack of need for dialogue, real acting, heavy-handedness, cardboard characters, surprise ending, the number of characters trying to have sex with the main character, flocks of sheep, hurdles, different perspectives and cultures, random fish jobs, sailing around the world, suddenly deciding to become philosophy majors at University, Scottish independence, screen formatting, the lack of Hollywood glam, and female frumpiness.

26:55 Group discussion of the novel “Women”by Charles Bukowski, including guiding the group with weekly topics, “Born Into This” documentary about Charles Bukowski, autobiography, reality TV, the crazy crap of Chinaski, Harvey Pekar, American Splendor comic book series, R. Crumb, Ralph Steadman, Hunter S. Thompson, specific sexuality, grossness of the narrative, graphic nature of the novel, Marie Calloway, Marla Singer, Tao Lin, recycling Charles Bukowski material, gross and good parts of sex, lizard-beings, descriptions of the vagina and clitoris, the fact that there are no lines, blackheads and pimples, God, drinking like mad, voyeuristic quality of the novel, Barfly, capturing drunkenness on film, likeability of Charles Bukowski/Henry Chinaski, iconoclasticness, sympathetic quality of Chinaski, characters being open with their bodies, double standards, toxic relationships, misandry, stabbing a guy right in the face, managing your main character, undercutting of the character, alcoholism, Woody Allen, stand-up comedy, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Sherlock, Chinaski undercutting himself, audiences laughing at the wrong places during readings, humor, darkness, throwing up every five minutes, Barf-ly, Leaving Las Vegas, the absurdity of character vs. believability, truth stranger than fiction, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, round characters, vicarious living, Trainspotting, Requiem for a Dream, Vanilla Sky, Obre Los Ojos, Aronovsky, The Fountain, Jennifer Connally, rewatching movies, visceral stories, Almost Famous, brilliant minds, the tree of knowledge and the tree of life, Black Swan, meth ads, Werner Herzog movie on texting, laws against driving, Austin City Council banning everything including plastic bags, Austin traffic, the trappings of fame, fame as a character’s problem, mundane or trite situations, Chinaski’s ugliness, the Olson twins, Cory’s perversions and many husbands, Elizabeth Taylor, serial monogamy, co-dependence, more on Chinaski’s shallow aspects, Cat Stevens, “Cats in the Cradle and the Silver Spoon,” Henry Nilsson, and the use of old-fashioned phonograph players.

1:03:19 Group discussion of a draft of the short story “Valhalla House” by Frank Marcopolos, including character empathy, lack of plot, lack of tension, relateability of circumstances, adding insult to injury, social ostracizing and its affect on the brain and emotions and life quality, Ted Bundy, Philosophy Live, the numbness/impotence of the main character, snapping out of his doldrums, thematic elements including communications and community and belonging, home base, stylistic similarity to J.D. Salinger and “Franny and Zooey,” enjoyability, feel of a novel, class considerations, The Art of Fielding, plot lack of clarity, description of the house and ramp-up of tensions, disdain for family, quoting Nietzsche, the desire to read more of the story if it were longer, heavy-handed descriptions, close writing, James Joyce, Cats in the Cradle, el-bees, liking of the title, Norse Gods, choice of how to start the story, en media res, understanding setting, feeling setting, pacing like a novel, lack of rising tension, lack of unusual situations, The Sportswriter by Richard Ford, lack of plot, confirmation bias of critiquing, genre and literary writing, point of view issues, vernacular, Natty Lite, Pabst Blue Ribbon, The Three Stooges, Arrogant Bastard Ale, word choices, only having 12 beers, difficulty of writing a logline, thematic structure of home/houses, Michael Ward, extending the narrative further, collecting stories about these same 2 characters, being good at sports being like winning the lottery, subtext of the narrative, missing out on the bus of fame, the ultimate American story, Harvard, Bukowski, and working at the post office while being an alcoholic.

“Valhalla House” is story #8 in this collection.

1:46:16 End of Podcast

Posted by Frank Marcopolos

Frank Marcopolos founded "The Whirligig" literary magazine in 1999, which has been called "a landmark, demonstrating the power of the literary underground." It has been said that "you get this true lion-roaring sense that Editor Frank Marcopolos knows what he likes, and how to read, and how to publish, and he has guts, and eats insects on Wheaties with bleach." His long-form fiction has been reviewed with such praise as "thorough-goingly entertaining" and "highly readable...recalls the style of Michael Chabon or John Irving. A literary gem that should not be missed." A broadcasting-school graduate, his unique literary-audio work has been featured in movie trailers, scholastic environments, and on YouTube, with one of his audiobooks achieving over 100,000 "views" there.


  1. […] Suddenly she felt alone, truly alone for the first time in her life. She felt a despair, a sort of fleeting yet enduring despair, like not knowing which street to go down to get to where she wanted to be. Now, like in such a scenario, she would choose one and see where it led, then adjust. This was New York City, after all, and the streets were numbered for the most part. AND there were landmarks, always landmarks. Walk toward the Twin Towers and you’re going South. Once you find South (downtown), you can navigate the rest. Mary was pretty sure she would navigate her way past her current loneliness, eventually. But that didn’t make it feel any better, now. Now, it was still a dark, dank place filled with the haunting ghosts of bad memories, past mistakes. Now, more than anything, she wanted a drink. […]

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