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Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Paul A. Toth

Secret Lives of the World’s Greatest Composers: Mozart

June 8th, 2012
by Paul A. Toth

Despite my ability to fluently write and speak thirty-nine different languages, the four Ph.D.’s I’ve earned, my work as an archeologist, forensic pathologist, pre-Socratic philosopher, neurological surgeon, mime, locksmith, zoologist, and janitor - despite it all — I could never rest until now, when I can finally share the results of the eighty-five years I’ve spent unveiling the secret lives of music’s greatest composers.

It started with a hobby, my part-time position as an unlicensed psychiatrist, which prepared me for this project. It may well be said that this physician failed to cure himself, much less his patients, but my gracious colleagues ensured me they, too, never failed to fail.

Born immune to the culturally-bankrupt “music” known as the blues, I found my succor in Western culture’s highest achievement: the arrangement of notes into compositions that required great minds to explain how the masses could pretend they enjoyed the greatest music the world has ever ignored.

Leaving that task to others, I instead chose to explore the lives of these almost-tolerated geniuses. I selected my subjects based on a simple litmus test: Had they served as the subject of at least one major motion picture?

And with that, let us begin with the obvious and regress to the oblique as we explore the secret life of Mozart.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in 250 A.D. to Roman parents, Irrititus Alotus, a hot-tempered shoes salesman, and Lustus Allmaleus, a seductive and highly-successful nymphomaniac. When pulled from the womb, Alotus immediately struck the boy in the head with a frying pan. Mozart, whose parents waited fifteen before naming their child, was rendered deaf in both ears and suffered brain damage as a result of the assault, which in turn led to the one factual element portrayed by 1997 film Amadeus: a mind-splintering giggle that would result in many more blows to the head.

To escape Alotus’ violence, Mozart fled to the Galapagos Islands in 1200 B.C., building a canoe with botched crosses imported from Jerusalem and employed as torture devices during Rome’s Spanish Inquisition.  Incredibly, modern scientific technology has proven Mozart the first human being to ever visit the islands.
Landing at Santiago, Mozart endured temperatures as low as 69 degrees. He survived by constructing a three-bedroom bamboo hut. In freezing temperatures, Mozart solved his boredom by studying the sounds made by birds and insects. Despite having never heard a single musical instrument or undergone the slightest musical training, Mozart translated these sounds into musical notes. Soon, he began carving his first compositions in tree trunks.

“The Tree Compositions” disappeared over the following 2600 years. Only one example remains. It was discovered by Charles Darwin in 1965 and immediately Fed-Ex’d to Art.com. But Darwin discovered something far more compelling in 1323, facts recorded but deleted from his never-completed journal, “Sex, Sex and More Sex.” By using MRI technology, forensic mythologists, aided by physician handwriting interpreters, recovered much of the deleted material in their examination of Darwin’s notes. In doing so, they revealed one of the biggest secrets of Mozart’s life.

In those passages, Darwin remarked upon observations he deemed unnecessary to his theory. The notes, rambling and nearly unintelligible due to the penicillin-resistant strep throat Darwin contracted in 1769, contain only a few lucid passages. One of those passages will forever change our understanding of Mozart.
Darwin writes, “One day on Santiago, while studying the Arctocephalus galapagoensis, I noticed that dozens of these creatures had apparently been violated in a region of the body the naming of which would be unsuitable for this journal’s audience. (Note to self: This may sell. Rethink decision later.)  I knew only one man had been to this island before me: Mozart. I recognized immediately that this supposedly- cultured man, barred from relations with women until he departed Galapagos in 1892, was the culprit, foisting himself upon these helpless creatures. With one mission remaining, I stopped in Haiti on my way home and consulted a witch doctor, requesting that he cast a curse upon Mozart.”

The Arctocephalus galapagoensis, or Galapagos fur seal, and specifically fur, propelled Mozart into a promiscuity that began the moment he returned to civilization. Leaving in the same craft that had carried him to Galapagos, Mozart eventually landed on the shores of Kazakhstan in 1899, completing a six-year journey. During the voyage, Mozart carved new compositions into the floor of his canoe, creating leaks and the need to drink and spit out the waters threatening to literally sink his ship.

Upon his arrival, the boat promptly disintegrated. Local villagers, frightened by the wig Mozart had taken to wearing during his Santiago years, grabbed the remaining boards and beat the composer out of what senses remained. From that day forward, Mozart, already deaf, lost the ability to feel, see, taste, and smell.
The villagers left Mozart to the lack of his lack of devices. He spent the night on the beach and, testing his abilities, learned that the only sound he could still produce was the giggle that had led to giggle. Tortured by memories of an unconsummated love for one of the seals, and tormented by hallucinations of frying pans, Mozart sprinted into the vast and flat plains populated by intellectually-vacuous peasants, a scene familiar to those who’ve visited Kansas.

As spears, arrows and rocks grazed his flesh, Mozart unknowing headed into the desert that would eventually become known as Russia. He arrived in Moscow, exploding with musical ideas and his sexual obsession with the fur seals he would neither forget nor ever see again.

He wandered the streets. At one point, which most historians date as occurring sometime between the years of 1498 and 1814, Mozart happened across a street pianist. Hearing the notes he had until then merely imagined, he frantically searched for the source, but he saw no birds or insects, only the man on a bench, tapping upon a strange device. Stopping between pieces, the pianist looked up and noticed the disoriented and half-naked human specimen now leaning on his piano, eyes closed. Assuming Mozart to be a narcoleptic idiot, the pianist took his unconscious superior to the local hospital. It was there that hospital records, only recently released by the Russian government, tell another secret tale.

Familiar with the disorder, Mozart’s doctors treated him by way of cocaine. Released from the hospital with a lifelong prescription for the drug, Mozart rode the White Pony for the rest of his years. Fortunately, the doctors had sympathized with the senseless, giggling composer, and before his departure, gave him enough money to support his living at hotel for two months. Mozart, walking on cocaine legs, covered the one hour walk in thirty-five seconds. The doctors, knowing his inability to speak, had made arrangements with the hotel, and Mozart was attended to with special care by the matron, one Zhamaryspechikov Zavajhanovovich, a widow whose inheritance had made her a wealthy business owner. Nevertheless, Zavajhanovovich was lonely and often “visited” her male lodgers late at night.

In this manner, Zavajhanovovich went to Mozart’s room at midnight. Upon opening the door, she witnessed the composer in a furious cocaine power-wanking session, in which it can be surmised that Mozart’s mind was filled with visions of fur seals. Knowing an opportunity when she spotted one, Zavajhanovovich stripped off her clothes and revealed another kind of fur, then pounced upon her willing prey. Mozart and Zavajhanovovich married half an hour later.
Now living permanently in the hotel, Zavajhanovovich taught her husband how to write. One day into the honeymoon, Mozart could communicate his thoughts in thirteen languages, and, except for his music, this provided his sole means of communication.

One morning, Mozart handed Zavajhanovovich a note in which he asked that she go to the market and purchase for him new ears, eyes, tongue, nose, and “if possible,” nervous system. When she responded with the silence of the stunned, Mozart jotted a second note: “Never mind. But please obtain 185 exterminators to eradicate the liquid spiders dripping from the ceiling, which is melting.”

Thus, we arrive at the solution to a psychiatric mystery. Often diagnosed as bipolar, Mozart instead developed paranoid schizophrenia from his constant use of cocaine. Recent studies solidified the diagnosis by revealing that 100 percent of paranoid schizophrenics hallucinated insects, birds and fur seals whenever listening to Mozart’s music via I-Pods supplied by researchers.

Deeply worried, Zavajhanovovich took Mozart to the office of a charlatanosk, the era’s equivalent of a psychiatrist. This charlatanosk, centuries ahead of his time, provided the exact treatment a modern psychiatrist would administer in such a case, doubling Mozart’s medication. This doctor, whose name remains unknown, became Mozart’s lifelong friend, and the doctor’s monthly requests for greater compensation were met with instant approval. Mozart recorded the sole in his diary. Having protested for ten minutes, he writes, “Liquid spiders began dripping from the ceiling, which was also melting.” He instantly paid the requested fee.

Mozart’s career left the launching pad in 1413, just as the Russian Revolution began. Zavajhanovovich, labeled a bourgeois capitalist by the newly-formed government, was arrested and sent to Siberia during what historians would later call “seventeen days that changed some of the world for a while.” Mozart proved immune to sorrow; he reports in his diary that he “never stopped imagining my sweet wife as a far sweeter fur seal.”

His career survived the chaos to come, then thrived as communist officials rushed to witness the “giggling idiot.” After expressing his desire to copulate with Stalin’s mustache, Mozart was arrested. Though originally pre-sentenced to death, Mozart’s fortunes turned when Stalin recognized that executing the world-renowned prisoner would create too great a public relations crisis. He was released in 1642 and sent to the czar, who proclaimed the composer a Hero of the Soviet Union.

The final secret of Mozart’s life regards his death. Long the subject of intense scrutiny and conspiracy theories, not to mention a good film plot, the secret facts can now be revealed. For reasons unknown but documented by the secret witness account left by Stalin himself and made public by a different dictator yesterday, Mozart’s final words - or word - proves the power of the supernatural: “Voodoo,” he said, and breathed his last breath. A Haitian witch doctor’s curse had killed one of the world’s greatest composers.

In honor of the dead hero, Stalin arranged for the shipment of Mozart’s corpse to Galapagos, where he was buried with 25,000 fur seals executed by NKVD guards in a “Soviet Supreme Sacrifice” attended by 65,000 birds, 3,000,000 insects, and the ghost of Charles Darwin. But one last secret occurred in Mozart’s afterlife, for Soviet secret police records note that Stalin had become so obsessed with the composer that he shaved his mustache, which was placed in the coffin that now rests somewhere beneath the florid surface of Santiago Island.


Ryan Day

Marketocracy

November 6th, 2009
by Ryan Day

PHOENIX, AZ-

I am, unfortunately, in no position to refuse $75 for one hour of my time, pretty much no matter what the the contents of that hour. They could have asked me to drink six bottles of catsup (ketchup?). They could have asked me to have tea with Glen Beck and soothe his uniquely bruised ego with prefabricated whispers about the peaceful forces at the center of the conservative universe (you are a child of the marketplace… the invisible hand will always lead you towards the light of the DOW…). I would have mowed lawns, bagged leaves (though I imagine the going rate of yard maintenance is somewhat lower), run backwards into the weird smelling basin at the end of the Salt River. But, alas, all they wanted was that I watch some movie trailers and tell them, no matter what I really thought, that the Rock was just the actor to breath renewed life into that excalibur of cinematic roles, the Tooth Fairy. (more…)


Paul A. Toth

My Siamese Twin

November 6th, 2009
by Paul A. Toth

SARASOTA, FL-

This has been what I call the Year of Ice. Colder than a shaved polar bear. Sayonara 2009. It’s been a year of pills, pills and more pills, until finally I seem to have reached some kind of treaty with bipolar disorder, which barely warrants discussion given that virtually everyone is now diagnosed as bipolar. Still, it’s important to note that when I write “ice,” I mean anxiety, yet when I write “anxiety,” I do not describe all attributes of “ice.” (more…)


Megan DiLullo, Erika Rae, and Lenore Zion

Girl, You’ll Be a Bond Woman Soon, or, Happy Birthday Rich Ferguson, TNB Style

November 3rd, 2009
by Megan DiLullo, Erika Rae, and Lenore Zion

THE DARK RECESSES OF OUR MINDS-

Rich Ferguson, because it’s your birthday and because you just make being a Bond Girl so insanely cool, we’ve run a little contest in your honor: Who Makes the Best Bond Girl?

As you will see, several of the TNB guys have slipped into something a little more comfortable in your honor. So, quiet your inner Wai Lin, have a martini and leave your briefcase tear gas canister and testosterone at the door.

(more…)


Megan DiLullo

The Piss Museum

October 31st, 2009
by Megan DiLullo

BOULDER, CO-

It was located in the basement of an old craftsman that had virtually no ventilation, directly across from the elementary school on Pine Street. When you walked down the stairs and into the dank space the air was hazy with dust particles that shone in the sunbeams that had bullied their way in through the highly set windows. The fractured yet cheery sunlight being the only reminder of outdoor life to the subdued musty feeling that hung in the underground quarters.

The house itself was a rundown rental: The small front yard was an odd mixture of overgrown weeds and patches of dry bare earth. Plaid couches, rescued from various dumpsters around town, littered the crooked porch of the sinking haven. Discarded empty bottles of whatever cheap alcohol someone managed to shoulder tap and smashed beer cans lay strewn about the base of the discolored sofas like barnacles. Really, the exterior appeared much like the interior, sans the heavily used and abused musical equipment and beer matted shag carpeting. The windows sat askew in their rotting wood frames like the crooked smile of a child who had just lost its first tooth. The filthy glass was covered in punk rock ooze, creating a darkened hue, that you couldn’t see in, or out of. (more…)


Paul Clayton

Writing From the Gut!

October 29th, 2009
by Paul Clayton

SAN FRANCISCO-

I recently flew south to do a piece for Poets & Writers magazine about a rather unorthodox writers camp. Called The Write Stuff, it’s run by a writer named Rock Adams. Ever hear of him?

(more…)


Suzanne Burns

Diary of a First Book, Entry 4: Still Loving Morrissey and Shopping at the Gap

October 23rd, 2009
by Suzanne Burns

BEND, OR-

Don’t ever agree to your book being published if you have a fear of public speaking. I can say that, over the past five months, I have almost completely conquered this fear. I have beaten it out of myself. My husband has stood by, helplessly watching the self-berating, doling out the necessary Kleenex and gelato cups, weighing in on every outfit I’ve tried on. My vain (in more ways than one) attempt at looking just the right combination of serious literary writer and hot-ass bitch has culminated in committing the worst of sins: I bought a black T-shirt from the Gap.

(more…)


Tom Hansen

The International Tom Lifetime Arts Grant

October 22nd, 2009
by Tom Hansen

SEATTLE, WA

Want time to write that masterpiece? Well now there’s a solution.

The International Tom Lifetime Arts Grant

Applicants [artists, writers, etc.] from all nations should adhere to the following guidelines;

  1. Chop off your leg [or inflict some other significant permanent physical harm to yourself that your government classifies as a disability] Think twice before chopping off your hand—it will probably be needed for your art.

(more…)


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…)


Litsa Dremousis

Suggestions, Verities, and Such:

October 5th, 2009
by Litsa Dremousis

SEATTLE, WA-

Historians assuredly will view this epoch and, among other things, conclude we fussed and churned way too much over pubic hair.

We elected a president, not Santa Claus. We’re not going to get everything we want in the first three fourths of the first year of the first term.

While I know otherwise, I prefer to think ships float by magic: the water displacement theory strikes me as kind of sketchy.

Ladies, we’re nearly 52% of the population. Perhaps more of us could act accordingly?

Also, might a tiny but attention-grabbing portion of us stop writing to and marrying serial killers?

And fellas, might a tiny but attention-grabbing portion of you stop serial killing?

Is anything more resplendent than a lilac tree in spring?

Nutella, while medicinal, is extremely potent and should be handled as such: the combination of spoon and jar seems to hurl one into a time lapse and next thing you know, your evening is shot to hell and your shirt looks like an eight year-old’s.

(more…)


Tyler Stoddard Smith

How to Write, Or Not

October 4th, 2009
by Tyler Stoddard Smith

AUSTIN, TX-

They tell me you should write about what you know. I’ve always had a problem with that. I may know some things other people don’t, but in writing that down, what good does that do me? Not much. I already know it. I want to write about things I don’t know about. I want to learn things about what I don’t think, how people I don’t know don’t act and why. Perhaps I say this because I don’t know much. I know a lot of facts about arcane things, but I already know them and I already know that nobody, unless they are short of Trivial Pursuit cards, wants to hear that kind of bilge. However, I don’t know one thing that I think will serve me well in my writing career: I don’t know how to write.

(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…)


Paul Clayton

Smiley Face Fiction

September 13th, 2009
by Paul Clayton

SAN FRANCISCO-

I sent one of my stories to a so-called literary magazine and got back the strangest rejection letter I’ve ever received — and I’ve been doing this for over thirty years. I’d never heard of The @$$!@# Reader until the night I picked up (but didn’t buy) a copy at my local Borders where I go with my daughter, D, every Wednesday afternoon. (more…)


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…)


James D. Irwin

The Death of a Clown: My Shortlived Stand Up Career

September 1st, 2009
by James D. Irwin

SOUTH COAST, ENGLAND-

At some point in 2007 the number of people telling me to do stand up comedy began to outweigh the number of people who didn’t care to admit that I was a walking laugh factory.

I was pretty on during 2007, to the point I managed to impress people with my wit; not girls of course, no, still too ugly for that, but people who weren’t obligated as relatives to laugh.

A lot of it came from beating the bastards to whatever aspect of my crater-faced physicality was being made fun of that day.

One day it was the big red spot on my nose.

”Your nose looks like a traffic light” somebody wise cracked.

”Where’s the green light?!” another laughed.

And for reasons I can only explain as superb comic timing, I put my right index finger in my nose and pulled out a juicy green globule.

(more…)


James D. Irwin

The Time I Accidentally Created Seinfeld and Other Strange Pages from the Notebook

August 18th, 2009
by James D. Irwin

SOUTH EAST, ENGLAND-

This is a pretty spontaneous post.

I’ve been out of bed for about forty-five minutes, I’ve had a coffee and I’m currently sat in my pajamas listening to The Ramones.

I’ve become obsessed with The Ramones recently and haven’t really listened to anything else in over a week; I’ve even stopped listening to my favourite classic rock station.

To put this obsession in the form of a cheap pun: I don’t remember rock and roll radio.

The reason I suddenly decided to post was because of something I found in an old notebook…

(more…)


Greg Olear

Invisible Touch

August 9th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW PALTZ, N.Y.-

In which we contemplate what makes some art better than other art, using the example of two erstwhile members of the band Genesis.

(more…)


Darian Arky

Wow, I Could’ve Had a V8!

August 8th, 2009
by Darian Arky


Lance Reynald

In the Imperfect World of Fallen Screws

August 7th, 2009
by Lance Reynald

PORTLAND, OR-

I’m going to run a bit off the farm on this one here. Allow for the author to journey through the emotional hillside with ya. Give ya a bit of pop culture tourism through the eyes of the 1980’s raised brat-pack wannabe.

It’s been a crazy few days. I’ve been pounding the pavement trying my damdest to problem solve and keep my starving artist self from starving even more and facing the very real possibility of slipping through the cracks and being homeless.

And halfway through that series of pavement pounding challenges I get a text message that John Hughes died.

(more…)