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Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Andrew Johnson


October 18th, 2009
by Andrew Johnson


My best friend and I met a man on the cross-Channel ferry from England to France during a summer of blissful ignorance in the late 1990s. We christened him ‘Kaffir Jim’, mainly because neither of us could remember his name after an embarrassingly short period of time.

Like ‘Dave’, ‘John’ and ‘Joe’, ‘Jim’ was generic enough to be amusing, and ‘kaffir’ served as a convenient synechdoche for his identity as a fairly right-wing white South African; a representative of a people who, from F.W de Clerk to Joss Ackland’s villain in Lethal Weapon II, have had a chronic PR problem at least since the turn of the last century.


Kip Tobin

Curiosities, Absurdities and Other General Silliness Overheard In and Around the Greater Dayton Area Between June ‘08 and October ‘09

October 12th, 2009
by Kip Tobin


Summer ‘08

“Sleep yourself tight.” –Alice Tobin

“Hey Jim, this headstone says W. A. Goner. That’s funny.” –AT, to Jim Tobin while walking through a cemetery. The headstone actually read “WAGONER”.

“I deserve a paper plate that’s as strong as I am.” Paper plate commercial

“I’m a connoisseur of my own taste”.— AT

“Next thing we’re gonna get is a miniature one of these that has the attitude of a rabid lion.” –Overweight, overly-friendly 50-year-old man talking to a young woman in reference to the chihuahua she’s petting on her lap, which was clearly already pretty miniature, at O’Hare airport, Terminal G, gateG1A. The woman smiled flatly in response, and then, after a second the man added, “Ah-heh-heh”, somewhat nervously.


Simon Smithson

Decompressing from TNB - LA

October 3rd, 2009
by Simon Smithson


I’d been warned about Los Angeles. They (the same ‘they’ in ‘That’s what they say’) warned me that it’s a city where people smile at your face and stab you in the back; that the whole town only exists to exploit people of youth, beauty, and talent; that everyone there is obsessed with making money, making their cut, and then getting out of Dodge as fast as their new Lexus can carry them.

People characterised the city as soulless, shallow, and desperate for a quick buck.

Why people thought they should warn me, I’m not really sure. Because it sounded like I’d fit right in.

But seriously - LA, man. Now that’s a fun town. (more…)

Zara Potts

So Like Totally Awesome

September 28th, 2009
by Zara Potts


I’m a black and white kind of person. I either like things or I don’t. I love them or hate them. It’s one or the other. Hot or cold. Black or white. Get it? There’s not much grey in my life.

So, just to be totally clear that there’s no sitting on the fence here…

I love LA.

I totally heart it.


James D. Irwin

A Thousand Words: When I Think of California, I Think About Her

August 12th, 2009
by James D. Irwin


Goddamnit woman!’ I remember thinking. ‘SQUEEZE! YES! But for the love of God please shut the hell up!”

I hadn’t travelled all the way out to California to hear a rubenesque Midwestern woman squat out a deuce. We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert, and this, apparently, was log country. I was not sat in a glamorous and expensive convertible — clearly. I was on a coach, heading to Las Vegas. I had the good fortune to be seated in front of the chemical toilet at the back, able to hear the whole dirty performance.

Whilst chewing on cold curly french fries, an ill-advised purchase from a stop at Arby’s, I had an horrific and horrendous thought: What if she’s pleasuring herself?! She’s been in there a damn long time! How can I know for sure? How can any of us know? And will the mental scars ever heal?


James D. Irwin

The Most Evil Square Foot, or: How to Humiliate Hitler With Spandex

July 13th, 2009
by James D. Irwin


The Frankenstadion in Germany was a venue for the 2006 World Cup.

It is where England managed a 2-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago, where Mexico thrashed Iran 3-1 and the USA were defeated by Ghana.

The stadium is much older than it looks. In its current state it looks like a very modern soccer stadium, but this is the result of several rounds of renovation.

Its original purpose gives a clue as to the evil that lies directly behind it.

The Frankenstadion was built in 1928 as a marching ground for the Hitler Youth.

The soccer team that now plays there is 1FC Nuremberg.

And behind the Frankenstadion lie the Nazi Rally Grounds.


Matt Baldwin

What You May Find With Your Hand Up Their Shirt

July 6th, 2009
by Matt Baldwin


I plan on having a low-key 4th of July. I’m pretty dead-set on staying in, as come the holiday weekend crowds of tourists flock to the beaches and downtown, often heavily drunk; traffic becomes a snarling nightmare, and ever since a drunken brawl broke out a few years ago, SDPD has taken to patrolling the beaches like a paramilitary force during the summer holidays.

Not for me, thanks. I’m well past the point where I have the patience to deal with huge out-of-town crowds, and anyways, I’ve managed to sunburn my back fairly badly while out boogie boarding the weekend before, which is only just starting to heal. From what I can see in the bathroom mirror, there is no discernible difference between my dorsal side and an iguana’s.


Tyler Stoddard Smith

I Want to Protect the Institution of Marriage Between a Man and a Woman (4th of July Special)

July 4th, 2009
by Tyler Stoddard Smith


With the 4th of July upon us, my neighbor screaming from a lost extremity at the hands of a Black Cat and enough potato salad in my gullet to occupy Paris, I got to thinking about America. And American institutions. Well, people, the hallowed institution of marriage is under attack in America, not just from Communists like Barney Frank and the state of Iowa, but also from other insidious forces both seen and unseen. So, in the interest of preserving the kind of marriage that God and Texas intended, here are some things to be especially mindful of:


D.R. Haney

“Farrah! You’re beautiful! I love you!”

June 26th, 2009
by D.R. Haney


I was a teenager living in New York. George was my brilliant roommate, and sometimes, if we weren’t doing anything, one of us would say, “Do you want to walk aimlessly around?” That was our standard joke. But we did indeed spend much time walking aimlessly all over Manhattan, and one early-winter night on the Upper East Side, far from the one-room hovel we shared near the Williamsburg Bridge, we saw flashbulbs popping a little ahead of us on the sidewalk. A celebrity must be near—a celebrity being hounded by the paparazzi. We kept walking, and I saw that the celebrity was Farrah Fawcett.

James D. Irwin

A Bitter Riposte to the Banality of Life: Remembering America

June 19th, 2009
by James D. Irwin


I normally always wish I were somewhere else.


I mentioned in one of my first posts a vision I have, the sort of thing that would be a recurring motif in an artsy movie.

I never said where it was; it was San Francisco. Along with an abundance of other clichés, that’s where I left my heart. I love that city; I loved every moment I spent in California. I want to roll out towards LA— perhaps soon they’ll be another TNB live event there and enough money in my back pocket to be able to fly out.

As it is, I just have to sit here and be content with a dwindling bottle of Havana Club rum and my rose tinted memories; a bitter riposte to the world of broken beer bottles, unsupervised kids who are probably drunk and willing to kill me for a cheap thrill.


D.R. Haney

And a New Chapter Begins

June 16th, 2009
by D.R. Haney


I spent nine years writing Banned for Life, my recently published novel. I consider that a long time to work on a book; James Joyce, whose name I’m unfit to mention by way of comparison, worked on Ulysses for eight years, and that book is longer than mine by over three hundred pages. (I post this on Bloomsday.)

Was it worth it? I don’t really know, yet. It will depend, I suppose, on how it’s received. At the moment, a number of friends are reading Banned, or maybe some of them have finished reading, only they haven’t told me, either because they haven’t had time to write me or call, or they didn’t like it and they’re afraid to tell me, or they did like it and they aren’t quite sure how to express it. I’m an Author now. It’s not a big deal at all to me, the title of Author, but maybe it strikes some of my friends as a big deal, because so many people have vague plans to write a book someday but they deep down suspect they’ll never get around to it. I’ve had two friends announce their jealousy, or as one of them, a comely Scot, put it: “I’d like to slap your face!”

Irene Zion

Hungry Sara

June 5th, 2009
by Irene Zion


Of all my children, Sara was the one who excelled in adventurous eating. The top two were only 14 months apart, so I can time when I learned this fact precisely. Lonny was all skinny legs and dead weight in my front carrier and Sara was no more than 15 months old.

Sara was playing in the bedroom with her imaginary friend, Jack, who lived under the bed. I was in the kitchen and thought to look in on her since she was unusually silent. She and Jack were usually quite boisterous.

As I entered the front hall I met up with Sara. Her mouth was all chocolaty and she was holding what appeared to be a Baby Ruth. She was chewing. She was smiling.


Kip Tobin

Reflections on the Land of Sunshine and Joy

May 29th, 2009
by Kip Tobin


Dear I-

In the several week run up to my exit here from your beautiful country, many people, including yourself, have asked me what I will miss about Spain. The main reaction of those who find out I’m leaving resembles this: “You been here how long - six years? Shit man. That’s a long time. Damn.” Most follow with “Why are you leaving?”.

These reactions naturally force you to consider the reality of your exit. These final days have been flashing before me like a movie reel, unable to to see one frame and appreciate it. As I type these words, I can already feel the credits starting to roll.


James D. Irwin

The Nexus of the Universe

May 13th, 2009
by James D. Irwin


The first time I was in America my brother and I watched an episode of Seinfeld.

We’d never seen it before, living in England, it being about ten years since the show finale and not having cable. We’d heard about it and numerous references to it of course, but never actually seen the show.

It was a classic episode too, the one where George thinks he’s seen Saddam Hussein and Jerry uses that weird cookie to make light of racism. I forget the name of the episode— it must be something like ‘The Black and White Cookie’ or something.


Ryan Day

Tomb Sweeping

April 12th, 2009
by Ryan Day


Spring is here, and it’s time to sweep off the dead. Campus was overflowing with buses and well-dressed Chinese people the other day. I assumed there was a conference of some sort, but all of these well dressed people seemed to be heading from their buses into the mountains. They descended quietly from a long line of coaches parked along what we refer to as ‘the million dollar road’ (I’ll let you guess why), and took serene, rehearsed steps towards the mountain paths. I felt as if I was watching the result of some sci-fi mind control plot in which the communtiy had been infested with a bug that drove them into the mountains where they would be summarily eliminated by a giant ray gun, or maybe just a really loud note played on an inter-stellar harpsichord. It turns out, however, that the mountains surrounding the campus I live on are filled with tombs, and this was Qing Ming Jie, Tomb Sweeping Day, or the Chinese equivalent of el Dia de los Muertos. (more…)

Irene Zion

The Party Began Before We Even Got to Africa

March 4th, 2009
by Irene Zion


We recently went on a trip to Africa.  Plane one:  three and a half hours to New York.  Plane two:  fourteen hours to Dubai.  Plane three:  ten hours to Johannesburg.  This does not include the waiting times between planes.  We all hoped to get some sleep, but it is not easy to sleep when your body says that it is daytime.  Victor decided that for the last flight, the ten hours to Johannesburg, he would insure his rest by taking a sleeping pill.  Victor had never taken a sleeping pill before, in fact, he rarely takes any medication except the very little prescribed by his doctor.

We were served a meal. (On these kinds of flights you are served meals on a regular basis. You eat these meals because they are right there in front of you. They taste like airplane food.)  Victor and I were sitting in the middle of the cabin in the middle of the plane in a four-seat row with our friends, Ken and Cindy.


Suzanne Burns

Candy is Dandy or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Sugar

February 13th, 2009
by Suzanne Burns


With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I am sitting here with a frown stretching the corners of my mouth, realizing that I have an inherent distrust of people, especially women, who shun sugar. Those who know me know my obsession with baked goods. And no, I am not sedentary. I love to workout just as much as I love to eat M&M’s. I am not lonely, fat or “unstable” unless you count my weekly reading of The National Enquirer, my weekly viewing of VH1’s Sober House (Did Shifty really go into cardiac arrest, and who knew Andy Dick was actually a sensitive and thoughtful man?) and my illicit trips to Wal-Mart to buy laundry soap and light bulbs. What I want to know is when sugar became taboo.


David Breithaupt

That Blood Pumping Organ

February 5th, 2009
by David Breithaupt


Fourth grade, 1968. Ohio. It’s February and my hands are dry and caked with that elementary school paste we all love to smell and eat. Piles of red construction paper. Scissors. Scraps are all over the floor. We are making valentines for the whole class and a stack of crudely cut hearts was growing atop my little desk which doubled as a Duck & Cover shelter in case the Big One ever dropped.


Zara Potts

Beware Little Children Everywhere…

January 22nd, 2009
by Zara Potts


You know me. I’m the one who gave poor Snow White the poisoned apple. Or the old hag who treated Cinderella as a slave. In fact I feature in over two hundred fairy tales as a bringer of doom to little children everywhere. Even Euripides had a go: ‘Better a serpent than a step-mother.’

But let me tell you, it can be hard work trying to live up to the stereotype. I have tried at times to give my stepchild a malevolent glare but she ends up asking me if I’ve got pink eye. I’ve given her food to eat that I wouldn’t touch myself, but only because I hate seafood and she loves the stuff. Try as I might, the evil stepmother gig just doesn’t come naturally to me.

I do however, feel a pang of empathy for my fairy tale sisters in crime because it’s not an easy job and most people would run a mile if they knew the half of it.


Laura Waldon

Life is Better When You’re a Giant Wiener

January 5th, 2009
by Laura Waldon


I have found that it’s difficult for people to be rude to you when you’re dressed as a 5’4” hot dog.

Desperate for cash like so many others in this crap economy, I took a seasonal job this fall working as a cashier at iParty, a party supply store that sells costumes by the truckload during Halloween season. One afternoon in early October, I walked into the store looking for a costume and left with a job. The assistant manager looked over my application, saw my degrees and my years of teaching and writing experience, and said, “Yeah, you’re way overqualified. You’ll start on Thursday.”

Yes, I was overqualified. And yes, I hoped that the manager wouldn’t actually call my references, thus informing these respected individuals that I was putting my master’s degree to use as an iParty cashier.