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Smells like victory

Archive for the ‘Academics’ Category

Anne Walls

Anatomy of an Accent (Or How I Learned to Love the Brits)

October 14th, 2009
by Anne Walls

HOLLYWOOD, CA-

It started in childhood, of course. Everything does.

The year: 1987.

The film: THE PRINCESS BRIDE.

Starring: Cary Elwes…and his steamy British accent.

Oh that melodious accent. It was scintillating. It was fatal. It was official: I was obsessed. From that moment on, I’ve considered myself an accent connoisseur (pronounced with the proper French intonation which evokes thoughts of sweet nothings whispered in a darkened chateau whilst clutching Bordeaux in vintage stemware). I love accents both thick and light, both guttural and pleasant-sounding. European, Australian, even Southern. Accents are music to my ears.

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Tyler Stoddard Smith

Tyler’s Adventures in Cultural Literacy

October 12th, 2009
by Tyler Stoddard Smith

AUSTIN, TX-

What does it mean to be literate? That one’s pretty easy; it means you know how to read. What does it mean to be cultural? That one’s a little tougher; it means you know that in most situations, it’s unacceptable to put your cigarette out on a dachshund. And so what does it mean to be “culturally literate?” Many have posed this question (Harold Bloom, the Yale professor currently encased in acrylic and preserved for posterity does it a lot.), yet no one has truly come to terms with an accurate answer. My uncle Seamus once remarked that “cultural literacy is for homosexuals,” but he was urinating in a koi pond at the time, so who knows? I suggest we journey together to see if we can’t get to the core of this labyrinthine dilemma. Perhaps the most logical first step is learning how to read (I’ll wait for a few minutes)… Sweet. Our next step is to determine what exactly is “cultural.” Below are a few undeniably cultural items in the realm of architecture, literature and music. Let’s familiarize ourselves with these things, and then we can begin to get a handhold on what it means to be culturally literate. (more…)


Peter Schwartz

Heart VS. Head

October 8th, 2009
by Peter Schwartz

AUGUSTA, ME-

In my worst moments, when I’m awake and shouldn’t be, when I feel as though I am merely surviving this life, I think: what am I? I don’t know what I am but I do know a little about the habits of the creature that is me. Maybe the most important duality I inhabit is that between focusing on my mind and focusing on my heart. When I’m in my mind, I’m serious, possibly a little cranky, and doing something useful like accepting my next friend on Facebook. When I’m in my heart, I’m either writing my next new poem or practicing one of my more inspired hobbies like autoerotic asphyxiation or Reiki. (more…)


Rebecca Adler

My Life in Istanbul, So Far

October 5th, 2009
by Rebecca Adler

ISTANBUL, TURKEY

Basak meets me at the airport shuttle drop off point in the busy city center. We hail a cab and we’re off to my new apartment. She shows me how to get in and gives me a tour of the apartment. I drop my bags in my room and then we’re off again. She wants to show me the neighborhood so I won’t be lost when I’m all alone at home during the coming weeks. We walk, and walk, and walk. Where we’re going, I don’t know. She shows me her workplace, says I can come there anytime if I need help with anything. And then our destination is in sight: Cevahir, the biggest mall in Europe.

She shows me to the grocery store so I can stock up on a few necessities. I feel awkward shopping in front of her so I try to make healthy choices. I throw a couple of nectarines and bananas into the handbasket, then I head toward the dairy section. Without having to tell her what I’m looking for, and before I can reach for anything, she stops me: “That’s not milk.” (more…)


Suzanne Burns

Diary of a First Book, Entry 3: Voodoo Doughnuts and First Loves

September 28th, 2009
by Suzanne Burns

BEND, OR-

I have learned many things over the past few months of book touring. Number one, grabbing a book-buying audience’s attention in the summer months is like convincing me that Dan Brown, or Stephen King, is a good writer. Number two, if you read in a venue where they make maple-bacon doughnuts, they will come. Number three, there is no other bookstore like Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon. (more…)


Peter Gajdics

Gender: Weltanschauung

September 13th, 2009
by Peter Gajdics

VANCOUVER, BC

After a nearly twenty year hiatus I am back in University, continuing my undergraduate degree in the only field of academia that makes sense to me to study as a 44-year old gay man who’s spent much of his adult life struggling with issues related to sexuality: gender studies. Assignment number one was to ask as many people as possible: What makes a “real man,” what makes a “real woman”? Naturally, I asked all my friends. Responses ranged from the straightforward (“this is pretty simple to me”), to the more complex (“this really is an existential question”). They also seemed reflective of the two broad camps of evolutionary thought: the “nature” (men and woman are fundamentally biologically different) vs. “nurture” (men and women are socially constructed to be different) argument. (more…)


A. F. Passafiume

Make a Gleeful Noise

September 12th, 2009
by A. F. Passafiume

NASHVILLE, TN -

The new TV show Glee made its season premiere last week, and it seems like a good chunk of America is already hooked. I know I am. It’s a fun show that takes me back to when I was in Glee Club during high school. I loved being in Glee Club. I was thoroughly involved and was even Vice President during my senior year. Just to be clear, however, my high school Glee Club was nothing like the one depicted on Fox.

Granted, I was in Glee Club during the late 80s. Maybe things have changed since then. A lot. But in my day (and if you find yourself beginning sentences with “In my day” it’s a sure sign that you are about an inch away from yelling “You kids get off my lawn!”) our Glee Club was very proper. I went to a private all girls boarding school, which I realize could not have been a typical high school experience. We had curfews and couldn’t wear jeans to class or chew gum, we encouraged each other to excel academically, and it wasn’t nerdy to be in Glee Club. We didn’t have cheerleaders or a football team, you understand, so being involved in music was perfectly acceptable.

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Alexander Chee

Why Must the Novel Be Boring?

September 11th, 2009
by Alexander Chee

AMHERST, MA -

Yesterday, in my Fiction II class, as the students introduced themselves I asked them to speak about what they’d been reading over the summer. One student impressively admitted to reading both Underworld and Infinite Jest. Another, though, shyly said she was reading YA novels.

“I suspect they’re more fun,” she said.

“To read or to write,” I asked.

“Both,” she said.

“Well,” I said, “I think it has something to do with what Doris Lessing said once about 20th century literature, that it was a long cry of pain.” (more…)


Don Mitchell

Pictures of Makis

September 7th, 2009
by Don Mitchell

COLDEN, NY-

In the white shimmering overexposed one he’s looking through his chrome camera at Niagara Falls in late December. This was before black cameras were the common things they are now, so the only black in the print is Makis’ face, though little of it shows above the fur collar and below the knit hat. It’s 1978.
 
In another he’s holding what we christened the world’s largest chicken, a stupendous fowl as big as a small turkey. He cradles it in the crook of his arm as if it were a baby. We couldn’t decide whether to boil it village fashion or to roast it whiteman style. In the end we roasted it because we had neither bush spinach nor coconut milk, and anyway, what’s the point of bogus village cooking?
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Colleen McGrath

Herding Cats

September 6th, 2009
by Colleen McGrath

BERLIN, GERMANY

Trying to teach music to a room full of children under five years of age with no other adult in the room is a bit like herding cats. Most of the time it’s just not possible. I would guess in the forty-five minute period, the time we spend on actual music is less than fifteen minutes. “But how can that be?”, you cry. Let me clear it up for you. (more…)


Ducky Wilson

A Thousand Words: Blake Me Now

September 4th, 2009
by Ducky Wilson

BFE, TEXAS - 

As soon as I enter the room I want to fuck someone. A kaleidoscope of colors and words assaults me.

While other students filter to their seats, I’m bewitched by a canopy of poetry scribbled in bad penmanship on all the walls and ceiling. A banner of Blake reads:

The unfolding of the imagination is the only true education.

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Peter Schwartz

Faith Isn’t Stupid

September 4th, 2009
by Peter Schwartz

AUGUSTA, ME-

I’ve been noticing with greater and greater alarm that atheism is getting more and more popular in literary and academic circles. In fact, the majority of writers and scholars believe that anyone who believes in God must be naive and stupid. You aren’t smart enough, aren’t sophisticated enough to realize that God doesn’t exist and that life is pretty much shit. As the old saying goes, misery loves company. Now I don’t claim to be some highfalutin intellectual (fingers corn cob pipe thoughtfully for effect) but my great grand-daddy left me with at least this much sense: anything that makes you miserable ain’t all that good. (more…)


D.R. Haney

How I Became Human

August 30th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

Growing up working-class in a small Southern city, I early acquired a racist vocabulary. This was by no means encouraged by my parents, who were mortified when, at four or so, I referred to a fellow customer at Sears as a nigger. I have no memory of doing that — I was told about it years later — but I’m sure I was baffled by the punishment I received. The kids in my neighborhood used the word “nigger” as a matter of course. To them, it was an appropriate term for a person of color, and I followed suit, even after the Sears incident. Why punish someone for calling a bird a bird? And why would a bird object? So, I think, my reasoning went.
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Jeremy Resnick

Success is for Losers

August 24th, 2009
by Jeremy Resnick

LOS ANGELES, CA –

If one loves language, if one loves its power and beauty, isn’t it pretty stupid to spend all of one’s time reading writing that butchers it? That steamrolls it, shoots it a hundred times, hacks it to pieces with machetes, and then napalms it? And wouldn’t it destroy one’s spirit to repeatedly subject it to this torture?

By this torture, I mean this torture:

“Anyone who has seen or not seen a building can always enjoy looking at one.”

Or this:

“Our bodies enable us to get out of bed every morning, build ancient pyramids, or even watch our children play a game of soccer.”

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John McNulty

Inbox of Tears: An Ode To Old Emails

August 19th, 2009
by John McNulty

PARIS-

In the corners of my coffee stained eyes, a hollow blue reflection. I’m staring at my earth toy, my computer, my mistress, my bitch. My screensaver shows a classic western landscape not available to twentieth century globe dwellers anymore.

I mouse in with the oh so slight touch of my pinky finger.

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Erika Rae

My Top 13 Memories of the School Years

August 18th, 2009
by Erika Rae

BOULDER, CO-

School is starting Thursday and for the first time in my life I’m watching from the other side of the proverbial school bus window. Yes, it’s true. I am about to be the mother of a school kid.

Over the next thirteen years I will watch as my child returns to me each day a little older and wiser. She will learn to skip rope, make fake lava, exhale the multiplication tables, spit out the capital of the 50 states on demand, discuss Hamlet in detail, and learn to calculate pi.

She will also learn to dress funny, hide gum in her mouth, text message her best friend without being detected by teachers, cuss, and spell the word “obfuscate” with first-hand knowledge of what it means.

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Suzanne Burns

Diary of a First Book, Entry 2: It Ain’t About Unicorns, Bitch

July 26th, 2009
by Suzanne Burns

BEND, OR-

This book-pimping thing has brought both extreme highs and lows during the first month, as Misfits and Other Heroes has made its way into the world. I have cried and eaten one too many donuts, been routed to an Internet porn site when I Googled myself and been told by a local bookstore owner, “We don’t carry books about unicorns,” when I tried to explain how my short stories hover around the genre of magic realism.

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Zara Potts

‘But I Always Carry a Kitchen Knife…’

July 25th, 2009
by Zara Potts

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND -

It could be a courtroom anywhere. Small town or big city, it wouldn’t matter. It just happens to be here in New Zealand. A packed gallery, a witness box, a bench - everything in place for a murder case.

Nothing unusual there, murder has become so commonplace that it takes a really juicy one to shock us out of complacency. This case has juice in spades.

It goes something like this:

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Uche Ogbuji

Tongue of Warcraft, Part Two—Politics of Language

July 18th, 2009
by Uche Ogbuji

BOULDER, CO-

It’s common among the literati to carry around a bunch of grammar gurus, like¹ Erykah Badu’s Bag Lady. Usually you’ll find some mix of H. G. Fowler, E. B. White and Quiller-Couch, and perhaps some volume-by-committee such as The Chicago Manual of Style or Hart’s Rules.  I personally used to follow Fowler.  I would read from his The King’s English almost every day.  I enjoyed it only moderately, but I assumed it was a mandatory part of the writer’s daily diet and exercise.  I boxed like a fiend with Fowler in my corner.  I’d beat you down for any latent coordination of relative clauses, or any fused participle.

A funny thing happened early this decade. I realized I was in a quagmire and became disillusioned.  I’ve learned to make linguistic love, not war.  My attitude towards prescriptive grammarians has become “kiss my that-which-abusing, colon-and-semicolon-using, passive-voice-embracing arse, bitches!”

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Erika Rae

How I Learned That Drinking Brings People Closer to God

July 9th, 2009
by Erika Rae

BOULDER, CO-

I am a huge fan of fermentation. There are few things I enjoy more than a glass of red wine in the evening. Especially merlot. Yeah, that’s right I said it. Despite the best efforts of the writers of the movie Sideways, I am still in love with the “M” word. Give me a glass with a nice bowl to roll it around in and I am one happy chick. And while I am not an addict, I have come to look forward to this experience with at least some measure of regularity. For me, the hardest part of pregnancy is not the back pain, difficulty of sleep – or even the labor. No, it is the necessity to cut back from that sublime burgundy in the glass.

Unlike most of my peers within the conservative Evangelical church in which I grew up, I was not taught by my parents that the drinking of alcohol is a sin. Rather, my training was of a more subtle nature. It wasn’t that drinking alcohol itself was a sin – unless of course it crossed over to drunkenness, at which point it ranked fairly high in the seven deadliest. It was more that drinking in front of somebody else who might be inclined to have a problem with it was.

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