An idiosyncratic literary project with something new every day.


Poet for Hire

by Benjamin Aleshire

November 25, 2015 — creative nonfiction
September   The last few days I’ve been debauching myself in theatre dressing rooms after acting in a play by a friend of mine about love. Then the sidewalks, the cigarettes sanding my throat, the parade of faces, the pointless stories, the strange bachelor party that has suddenly taken over the bar.   It must be the end of summer. So waking up in time to set up my typewriter at the farmer’s market is a challenge, made easier by the last crumb of Adderol. (If amphetamine is good enough for Russian cosmonauts, it’s good enough for me.) I ask the guy at the coffee kiosk to crush up a few ibuprofen into my cup but he just looks at me funny. ... [Read More]


Fiction Addiction: Supercilious New Assistant Manager

by Jacqueline Baxter

November 24, 2015 — column
“I don’t get it,” said the Supercilious New Assistant Manager (SNAM). It wasn’t the first time he’d started a conversation with that phrase; one month into his tenure at the bookstore and I’d actually started to think it was the only way he knew to begin one.   In the double handful of shifts SNAM and I had worked together, it had become crystal clear to me that SNAM was not a Book Person. He did not take pleasure in organizing, selling, or discussing books; he had no knowledge of authors, publishers, or genres. He had not, he confessed on his first shift, read a book in over two years. To him, books were a product not unlike the athletic equipment he had sold at his previous job, except he knew nothing about books, had no interest in learning about books, and overall found books super uninteresting. ... [Read More]


Wrestling Is: Donald Trump

by Brandon Wetherbee

November 20, 2015 — column
The leader in every major political poll for the GOP presidential nomination is Donald Trump. Donald Trump is a heel. Donald Trump is the heel president we deserve.   Donald Trump entered the race for the GOP presidential nomination in an announcement at Trump Tower in New York City in June 2015. He rode a gold elevator and was accompanied by his wife Melania. Trump said controversial things about immigration, proclaimed his wealth and said America would be "bigger and better and stronger than ever before." ... [Read More]


Keep Your Friends Close, but Facebook Friends Closer

by Sarah Ruttinger

November 19, 2015 — humor
Today I saw you on the street and I did not say hello. I recognized you immediately, despite that when we used to work in offices next to each other three years ago you were 30 pounds heavier and had a pixie cut. I had no problem telling who you were behind your large sunglasses, because I know all about your recent obsession with Cross Fit and have seen your hair grow in incremental selfies. Thanks, Facebook. ... [Read More]


Confessions of a Cab Driver: on Uber, Environmentalism, and the Future of Transportation

by Jo Custer

November 18, 2015 — creative nonfiction
After a friend's cranky uncle shouted me down on Facebook while Uber was breaking into the New Orleans market, I knew I had my work cut out for me in writing a book about cab driving culture in our evolving economy. His perennial riff was that the city had conspired with the taxi cab companies. We've insufficient streetcars not because of cost effectiveness, he averred, but because the wolf of corruption always scratches at our politicians' doors; taxi moguls paid to keep streetcars off the streets in order to make a buck off those who couldn't catch one.   In a city where the police formed a queue in front of City Hall on Fridays for their pay-offs as recently as the 1980s, it can be hard to argue for the defendants. Even a month or so later, when long-planned reconstruction on the old St. Claude streetcar line finally began, his perspective hadn't budged by so much as a trolley stop.   Newspaper commentary on ridesharing articles over the past couple of years demonstrates the same hallucinatory disenfranchisement with our transportation system. Little of that commentary has demonstrated a working knowledge of the taxi industry. No one knows before climbing into my cab what full-time drivers are. We're standard-issue in Nola. One company with a whopping fleet of six cars still uses the 12-hour system of dividing cabbies into day and night shift drivers. Yet few know that, along with keeping the cab 24/7, I don't get a paycheck or a percentage of the meter. Fewer still grok that independent contractor status isn't a dodge unique to the newly-minted “transportation network companies” or TNCs. Taxi moguls had been ducking employee taxes, worker benefits, and OSHA safety regulations long before Danny DeVito played Louie to a miserly tee.   A cab company that won't credit me $60 for a lost day of work because my car was in the shop doesn't shell out money to a city's transportation department to make sure that we eat better. There's a cap on the number of licenses, which means there's a cap on the number of drivers, and cab companies collect their dues whether we're living on expired dollar store ramen or the market-price catch du jour. Most of us live somewhere in the middle.   But try explaining to the fast-food worker, the one who just paid you three hours' wages to go... [Read More]


Honestly Over It: Self-Check Out

by Cetoria Tomberlin

November 17, 2015 — column, grocery shopping, humor
Normally, you’d go through a regular check-out line, but not today. If you speak to any human today you might snap. You might say incredibly hurtful things to a complete stranger because you’re a human and humans make human mistakes all the time. No, today is not a day for human interaction. Today you have no patience. You’re in a rush, the person behind you is in a rush, the family of seven behind them is in a rush. The lonely older gentlemen behind them, on the other hand, is totally fine with waiting six hours. ... [Read More]


Touching Tongues: Stop Making Sense

by Roy White

November 16, 2015 — column, etymology, language, words
It’s never easy being an immigrant. When my friend Segundo first came to the US, he had to deal with disinformation (my 12-year-old twin brothers persuaded him that Americans eat tuna for breakfast) and incomprehension (people couldn’t understand his name, and we had to convince him that changing it to McDard would not make his life any easier). But Segundo is a resilient guy; he mastered English with an assist from Bob Barker and the cast of "Days of Our Lives," got a job as a mechanic, and took up martial arts, which he turned out to have a flair for.   One day he was showing us a move and explained that you have to protect your growing area. It seems that, not being familiar with the phrase groin area, he had substituted the closest thing that made sense. And we had to admit that there are at least two reasons a guy might think of that as his growing area. We laughed, but Segundo was only doing something that both learners and native speakers have always done: when a piece of language doesn’t make sense, we make shit up. David Byrne used to tell us to ”stop making sense,” but that’s not how we humans roll.   This process, in which we change a word or phrase we don’t understand to make it fit a story we’ve constructed, is called folk etymology. Maybe you’ve heard people say cold slaw, a fairly plausible mangling of cole slaw, which came from the Dutch for ‘cabbage salad’ (cole = ‘cabbage’ comes from the same root as the first part of cauliflower). When we borrowed the French chaise longue, which is nothing more or less than a long chair, we unconsciously substituted the English word lounge, originally a verb meaning to laze, or chillax.   In these cases, the word-alibi has at least some truthiness to it, but our drive to make everything meaningful can get pathological. English speakers who encountered an insect that the locals called a cucaracha — a word that isn’t even hard to pronounce— transformed it into a compound of cock, a rooster, and roach, a kind of shellfish. It must have seemed like a good idea at the time.   The lack of comprehension doesn’t have to come from a foreign language. Maybe one part of a compound has become obsolete: I mentioned in my last column that... [Read More]


Spoiled Cream

by Lydia Buchanan

November 13, 2015 — imagination, italy, memoir
My semester in Italy, we had classes in the Palazzo Simoncelli. Palazzo is translated into English as “palace,” and although there were no turrets or moats or golden chandeliers, the building had the feel of age and grandeur worthy of its namesake. This was the kind of palace that came from concentrated wealth in an era when only the rich had homes made of stone with many bedrooms and a separate kitchen. ... [Read More]


Bubbe: Charles Bonnet Syndrome

by Rebecca Katz

November 11, 2015 — bubbe, columns, comics, personal history, rebecca katz
  My Bubbe turned one hundred in June 2015. She is entirely blind from her macular degeneration and has lost most of her hearing. While I do not remember a time when she didn't have sight or hearing problems, she only recently began to lose her mind. I no longer find it funny to walk away unseen while she is in the middle of a particularly vicious rant about a family member. Two years ago, we could still debate whether the women's liberation movement had a longterm impact on stopping sexism. The last time I saw her, she could only speak about her own memories and hallucinations.     ... [Read More]


“My Summer Vacation” by Cormac McCarthy

by Taylor Lee

November 10, 2015 — cormac mccarthy, essays, kids, summer vacations
Cormac McCarthy Mrs. Kimbal 4th Period English August 20, 1943 “My Summer Vacation” by Cormac McCarthy     This summer was a good summer and I had lots of fun! I did lots of activities. Riding my bike, camping with my dad, and visiting my aunt and uncle are just a few of the things I did this summer.     For example, I got a new bike! It is my first one with two wheels. I got it for my birthday and once I learned how to ride it I drove it across the desert to the mesa that rises truculent out of the earth and overlooks an endless sea of bloodred clay. ... [Read More]


Manic Pixie Dream World: Never Have I Ever

by Ariella Carmell

November 9, 2015 — column, dating, love, manic pixie dream world, sex
There’s a game that’s less of an icebreaker and more of an ice-annihilator. It helps you get acquainted with new friends at hummingbird speed, and it teaches you things about old friends that will make you never quite look at them in the same way again. Here’s how it goes: Each person begins a statement with “Never have I ever” — fill in the blank. If you’ve actually done the thing in the blank, you clap and press one of your fingers to your palm. All fingers down, you lose — or win, depending on your definition.   Needless to say, things get sexual fast. Everyone usually ends up leaving the room blinking and dazed, like at the end of some post-apocalyptic movie where the characters see the sun for the first time. ... [Read More]


The Queer Travelogue: Flirting

by Laura Burns

November 6, 2015 — column, flirting, queer, travelougue
Flirting has never been hard for me. It's like a second language. I can talk to anyone about anything from their grandmother's crochet techniques to their childhood marital arts obsession. I can read body language through Snapchat interactions (which is a fantastic application for flirting, by the way). I was deemed "Most Flirtatious" by Delta High School's Class of 2005. It's definitely gotten me into trouble more times than I can count, but it's also worked out in my benefit on innumerable occasions. ... [Read More]


Essay: The Dalahäst, Sweden’s Red Horse

by Ryan Sparks

November 5, 2015 — essay, horses, nonfiction, Swedish design
Every Swedish home has a Dala horse on the shelf. Not a prize specimen, but perhaps a little knocked about, and probably painted red. There are white, green, blue and black horses too, but warm red is the commonest colour. Black is uncommon, green is almost a rarity. — Staffan Bengtsson, FORM magazine   The Dala horse is named after the region in Sweden it hails from, but it isn’t bred, it’s carved. You start with a wood blank. You saw the blank according to an outline. You whittle the Dala horse out of what isn’t a Dala horse. You prime it then add the red base layer of paint, visible for miles, visible for decades, recognizable to the old and the young, a tribute to the wood-hauling horses that inspired the toy. ... [Read More]


I Bought The Bargain-Brand Paper Towels: A Survivor’s Tale

by River Clegg

November 5, 2015 — anger, paper towels, sadness, satire, shame
You’ll save money, I told myself.   How naive could I be?   I’m just like you. A normal afternoon at the supermarket. My kids running through the aisles, one of their friends tagging along. Coming over for a playdate. A happy day. ... [Read More]


You Can Do It. ZUCKORETTE® Can Help.

by Jeff Albers

November 3, 2015 — addiction, facebook, humor, zuckerberg
It used to be so satisfying: the cool blue of the banner so enticing, those little red bubbles promising that sweet, fluttery feeling that would take the edge off. Now it just feels gross, passé, something you’re embarrassed to be seen doing in public. ... [Read More]


Help Us Survive

Or we will die.

November 2, 2015 — cats, fund-raising, magic, prizes
Hello Friends, Neighbors, and Countrymen,   We apologize in advance for needing to do this, but it's that time of year where we ask you for money. Unfortunately, we can't survive without your help. Luckily, we have wonderful rewards that would all (all!) make great birthday presents or Solstice gifts, so why not just get your Solstice/ birthday/ spoil-yourself shopping done on our Kickstarter, huh? ... [Read More]


An Open Letter to the Person Who Keeps Defecating in the English Department Copy Room

by Eric d’Evegnée

October 30, 2015 — bathroom, bathroom humor, humor
Dear Sir or Madam:   Was it the purr of collation or the duplexing rattle that nudged your tract from its circadian slumber? I try to imagine you making copies, feeling that most mortal of internal tugs. Confronted with the Sophie’s Choice of either leaving your handouts unprotected or just holding it in for a few minutes, you see the porcelain ram in this cinder block thicket, close the door, and multitask. ... [Read More]


Words to You Mothers: Advice for Stay-At-Home Moms — An Update

by Meg Thompson

October 29, 2015 — column, motherhood
  As a newly employed stay-at-home mom, so far things are going well. My boss, Mae, pays terribly but is so cute people give us free waffles.   I’m really figuring it out, especially in terms of time management and general upkeep.   Yesterday I put on a bracelet. In my world, this is equivalent to being runway ready. ... [Read More]


Fiction Addiction: Scene In A Bookstore

by Jacqueline Baxter

October 28, 2015 — column
Being a Book Person, working in a bookstore was about 70 percent ideal. I was surrounded by books; I got to unpack them, shelve them, talk about them all day every day. What I hadn’t thought about upon working there was that not everyone loves books the way that I do. For me, a book is an adventure: An opportunity to meet new friends and spark endless wonderful discussions. For some people, books are tiresome, weighty, dust collecting objects, and a trip to the bookstore is like a trip to the dentist: Something to be done as quickly and rarely as possible. ... [Read More]


Suicide Prevention: Sperm Count

by Nikcole Wiles

October 26, 2015 — column
I ask her to repeat the price because, as difficult as this may be to believe, I’ve never ordered sperm before. When my parents made the decision to have me, they did what every American couple was doing at the time — they had sex every single night until the line turned blue. I say all of this because the service representative just told me the sperm is going to cost $863. ... [Read More]