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Word to your mother

Archive for the ‘International Affairs’ Category

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.

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Irene Zion

The Flying Pedestal

October 17th, 2009
by Irene Zion

MIAMI BEACH,FL-

When my family moved to The Free Territory of Trieste, it was a time when people did not fly across the ocean. Flying was prohibitively expensive and rare. No one really believed that airplanes made with all that heavy metal could actually fly safely when they were full of people. It was counterintuitive. I personally still have trouble believing that those enormous things get off the ground at all. (And don’t even get me started on those helicopters from the mosquito family!)  Back then, everyone had the same reservations. We sailed across the ocean to FTT on the Saturnia. I suppose that if I had thought about it, I also would have questioned how a ship made out of metal that should obviously sink, could float. I’m glad I didn’t think about that at the time, or I would have worried my way all across the ocean.

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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…)


Paul Clayton

IeBAF 2001

October 10th, 2009
by Paul Clayton

SAN FRANCISCO-

You’re a writer, right? You’ve been writing for eight years, ten years, fifteen… and you’ve had a few small successes. But not with ‘the book,’ the one you poured your heart into over the years, the one that is not merely an entertainment, but is true, containing the essence of yours and others’ experiences, and the little bit of insight it all gave you. You’ve submitted it to the big New York houses hundreds (sometimes it seems like thousands) of times… with no result other than enough rejection slips to stuff a queen sized mattress.

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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.

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Ronlyn Domingue

How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Russians (Iraqis, North Koreans, and so on) and Hate War

October 1st, 2009
by Ronlyn Domingue

NEAR 91 DEGREES LONGITUDE-

I confronted eschatology too young. Although benign compared to some beliefs, my Catholic upbringing placed me at the sidelines of Armageddon—strange references to a kingdom come, the Second Coming, Judgment Day. I got queasy at the mention of the Book of Revelations. Sermons and syntactically-strained Bible readings led me to infer a tremendous destructive end to all life, human, animal, insect, plant. There were drawings in books, filled with fire, angels and demons, a sea of the damned. For a child, it’s impossible to reconcile a loving Father with one who will kill every one of his children with wanton violence. Children also don’t grasp metaphor.

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Rebecca Adler

The Fear of What’s Out There

September 14th, 2009
by Rebecca Adler

ISTANBUL, TURKEY-

After traipsing around Europe for weeks with a giant backpack strapped to me, I’ve finally made it. I’ve arrived. And oh, how things are so different here than I could have ever imagined. After all of the warnings and strange looks from friends and family, I’m here and I can finally say with confidence and first-hand knowledge: You don’t know what you’re talking about. Istanbul is amazing and beautiful. The people are kind and the city is modern. There’s nothing to worry about.

I’ve thought about misconceptions a lot in the few days since I’ve arrived here, and I’ve talked about it a lot with the new friends I’ve made since arriving. It’s sad to me that the only things we ever hear about each others’ countries are the negative things. After all, it’s always going to be blood and guts that get people to read the newspapers. Nobody wants to read that the sun is shining and the birds are singing. No, we all need to be whipped up into a constant state of paranoia over What’s Out There, The Other. (more…)


Claire Bidwell Smith

A Thousand Words: Why and Why

September 8th, 2009
by Claire Bidwell Smith

CHICAGO, IL-

Home was Los Angeles. And my life there was one of aimless, tipsy grieving. My father had died six months before this story begins and ever since I’d been casting about listlessly. One of my best friends, Lucy, lived down the street and we spent many a day together, drinking cocktails before 5pm and pondering the meaning of our mid-twenties. One such afternoon we decided that the best possible solution to our problems would be to go into business together importing t-shirts from Thailand. This may have just been an excuse to conduct “business meetings” over Bloody Marys at a restaurant in Culver City called Dear John’s, but whatever the case, we forged ahead with the plan.

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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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Gina Frangello

A Thousand Words: A Decent Proposal

August 31st, 2009
by Gina Frangello

CHICAGO, IL–

I’m in an elevator, with my 10 month old twin daughters in their obtrusively large twin stroller. We are headed to the pediatrician’s. Several other people are in the elevator with us, and most of them are staring at my daughters, which is a common response to babies in general, twin babies in particular, and Chinese twin babies with a Caucasian mother most of all. Though I have only had the girls for a few weeks at this point, I am already used to the stares. My husband says that going out with them is like going out with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman (who are still married; it is 2001) because of all the attention. We make jokes like this; we think we are unflappable. We think people who adopt children from other countries and then freak out because people stare or ask questions are freaky and uptight.

A woman in the elevator turns to me and says, “Oh, they’re darling!” and I smile. I am still smiling when she says loudly, “How much did they cost?”

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Paul Clayton

Le Voisinage de Monsieur Roger, First Blood, Part I, Chapter 7, addendum 1.2, or Wally Gator gets down with the crew at the sauna…

August 17th, 2009
by Paul Clayton

SAN FRANCISCO-

As usual, I drove to the municipal pool last Sunday.  My route takes me past the soccer field.  A game was in progress, one team wearing green shorts and jerseys, the other blue.  Soccer is really big here in South City with the Mexicans and Central Americans.  They’re out there most Sundays, their families picnicking on the grounds, watching.  There’s always a truck parked alongside the field selling burritos and tacos.  We also have a baseball field adjoining that.  They usually play Saturday and some evenings under the lights. (more…)


David S. Wills

The Worst of Weeks: Fleeced Like a Rube, Pt. 2

August 8th, 2009
by David S. Wills

DAEGU, KOREA -

Rodney Munch is the sort of guy you’d normally consider pretty damn lucky, but lucky folks fall, too, and they fall harder than the rest of us.

I once saw Rod being dealt a Royal Flush, only a week after his first game of poker. Another time, I saw him decline to choose heads or tails in a coin toss, only to have the coin land on its side.

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Zara Potts

Don’t Judge a Journal By Its Cover

August 7th, 2009
by Zara Potts

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - 

I fell in love way too easily when I was young. 

All it took was a playing-hard-to-get smile or a mysterious hairstyle and I came over all beating heart and sticky palms. 

And given that most of my love falling happened in the early ’90’s when interesting hair ruled, it wasn’t hard to make a mistake. Or three.

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Doug Mulliken

Not a Thousand Words: Marvin Gaye, Mexico, and Patriotism

August 1st, 2009
by Doug Mulliken

United States of America, North America, the World -

I am an American.  I am an American because I was born in the United States of America.  I was born in the United States of America because my parents, and their parents, and their parents’ parents, and their parents’ parents’ parents, were born in the United States.  My family can trace its genealogy in this country back to a man named Robert Mulliken who was born in Scotland and arrived in the Massachusetts Bay colony in the 1680s.  Think about that for a second.  My family has been in this country since the 17th century.  I am about as American as you can get.  My ancestors may have come from Scotland or Ireland or wherever, but for me to suggest that I am a “hyphenated American” would be a slap in the face to those Americans whose connection to the country of their ancestors is, say, three years instead of three centuries.  I’m not Scottish-American, or Irish-American; I’m just American.  And yet I feel no connection to my country.

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P.T. Winton

The Bastard Child of Jackson Pollock and Claude Monet

July 30th, 2009
by P.T. Winton

PARIS, FRANCE -

Emerging from the Metro station in Montmartre, Paris, the sun plays through a haze that makes all the edges of the city drip with dew. I think back to the maps that got me here.

I came from Germany — a trip in a couchette as resilient as birch wood, to the Metro sub-station in France. Then a quick and jarring ride on the Metro to Montmartre. Paris was going to be a different experience than Germany. The Metro map told me so.

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Darian Arky

A Thousand Words: The First One to Die

July 9th, 2009
by Darian Arky


Andrew Johnson

No Men Clue Chore

July 8th, 2009
by Andrew Johnson

HONG KONG, CHINA-

No matter how far and how resolutely Hong Kong remains off the terrorist radar, a young Semitic chap in a backpack, stepping into an underground railway carriage, muttering and clutching what appears to be a Qur’an to his chest, is a particularly acute species of brain violence, as far as I’m concerned.

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Stefan Kiesbye

A Thousand Words: Ghost Story

July 5th, 2009
by Stefan Kiesbye

LOS ANGELES-

In her last years my grandmother Ida Mattern, when visiting my parents in the small town in Lower Saxony, could be seen sitting neatly dressed on the brown plush sofa, her back to the tall windows. A crocheted kerchief in her hand, she read the yellow presses and did crossword puzzles. She had taken to Boris Becker and tennis, and if he was playing, she watched the match on TV. (more…)


Stefan Kiesbye

Korean Dumplings

July 3rd, 2009
by Stefan Kiesbye

LOS ANGELES-

My wife and I drive to a nondescript mall off Wilshire, park the car in the shade, so the dog won’t suffocate, and make our way to the Korean Dumpling restaurant. The specifications we read in the LA Magazine are all wrong and the owner laughs at us and explains that Mandu and King Dumplings are the same and that the King Dumplings can be had with beef or Kimchi and that the panfried dumplings come only with pork. (more…)