- Memorizing the conversations other people have about television programs, so you can later construct a decent narrative in your mind using the same names and locations.
- Walking into a J. Crew store and then turning around as soon as you smell the acrylic fabrics.
- Trailing your finger along the spines of the books in the Mystery section while thinking “The only mystery is why anyone reads this pap.”
- Buying brie and feeding it to your cat.
- Bringing a $50 bottle of wine to a dinner party and presenting it to the host; then after a short pause, saying, “Of course, that’s just for the kitchen!” and showing them the decent wine you brought.
- While in line at the grocer’s, converting the headlines on the tabloids into story lines for operas.
- Asking your maid’s opinion of one of the paintings on your walls, and later making fun of the cautiously fawning response with your spouse.
- Checking the score of the latest basketball game, so that you have something to say to the doorman.
- Watching the Super Bowl with the sound on mute, so that you can read from The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton between plays.
- Hiring assistants to make Facebook updates.
We have discovered a new principle that explains why so much dysfunction exists and appears to persist or even grow over time: flagrant incompetence attracts power.
In a meeting, you can always find something nice to say about your boss’ ideas.
not my life.
It’s true that if you hadn’t cut me off, you might have arrived at your destination 10 or even 15 seconds later than you did. But you might have arrived at your destination as a decent person, not a reeking asshole.
Photograph by Meg Furniss Weisberg
Meg is the primary photographer for The Stoneslide Corrective No. 1, our forthcoming print edition. Learn more and get a copy by backing us on Kickstarter.
We met our initial goal. Awesome! This magazine is happening. We can’t wait to send out the first copies.
We’d love to reach more readers and to raise the funds through Kickstarter to both pay our contributors more and improve the quality of printing. If we can raise just a few hundred dollars more, we can improve the paper quality, which will make the magazine that much more enticing to hold—and caress, and cuddle—while you imbibe the revelatory fiction and satire within its covers.
If you’ve already backed us, thank you so much. We’re overwhelmed by receiving so much good will. But we’re not so overwhelmed that we can’t ask for more. Please consider sharing this project with other friends and associates.
If you haven’t backed us yet, well, we’re not judging you. Really. You’re missing out on an opportunity to get an awesome reading experience and take pride in helping launch this new magazine. Hey, if you don’t want that, we won’t judge.
If you do want that joy and satisfaction, head over to Kickstarter.
Thank you, again, to all our friends, readers, and supporters.
Thanks. This is awesome. Didn’t you get the memo that parents are supposed to protect their kids, not endanger them? No, you probably didn’t. There’s a lot of stuff in this world you don’t get, isn’t there? You arrogant—for no good reason, by the way—you arrogant pair of douches. I’m here fighting for my life and I’m thirteen years old. Again, thanks.
This preventable disease that’s killing me pisses me off, of course. But it’s a disease; it’s doing what it’s supposed to do. Too bad you couldn’t do what you’re supposed to.
I hope you’re proud. It looks like my friend Timmy (you know, my best friend?) might have been infected, even though he was vaccinated, because apparently I’m host to a particularly virulent strain, so thanks for that, too. Yay! Timmy will survive, I’m told, but I’m sure he and his parents would like to share their sentiments with you as well. Look at you! So popular!
I get to cut all this school but won’t enjoy even a second of it. I can eat whatever, but have no appetite.
I do have an awesome fever, however. So I can lie here with ten blankets and still feel freezing cold. Oh, and I learned a new word, “febrile.” Way cool. That will come in handy on the SATs, if I ever get to take them. You guys are the best!
If I survive, I’m certain to take a year or two to recover. I’m so stoked about all the soccer goals I won’t have to score, all the basketball shots I won’t have to make, and all the other things you’re providing me relief from. Also, I will likely get to maintain my virginity much longer than I would have otherwise—maybe I’ll even get to die a virgin! I can’t thank you enough!
Sometimes, as I’m writhing in bed, I try to understand your thinking back when I was a toddler and someone asked you if you wanted to have me vaccinated. As the “bonebreaking” pains set in, I think illness must have seemed like just a possibility, and a distant one at that. What are the odds? you probably thought. You were concerned with more immediate problems, like where you’d left the fifth of whiskey. Now a normal life is just a distant possibility for me, so you really did a great job working the odds!
But should I die from this entirely avoidable malady, I hope you can ease your pain by producing another child. I hope you’ll allow this one to be vaccinated. That way, he or she can grow up to reach the age of majority, unlike me, and never attend a Thanksgiving or any other family get-together again.
More on Contemporary Family Life:
A Present for Parents of Young Children
Parents Use Big Data to Engage More Meaningfully with Children
Take Your Lazy-Ass Son to Work Day
A rash of intellectual property lawsuits has made news lately. Whether it’s Tom Petty suing Sam Smith over two songs that happen to sound eerily similar or the NFL attacking inappropriate use of the term “Super Bowl,” the message is clear: stealing someone else’s ideas can come back to bite you in the wallet.
A new app was released today in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store that can help parents of young children ensure they won’t accidentally wander into a minefield of lawsuits when they proudly display their kids’ artworks on social media.
The app, called SafeDraw, quickly scans drawings and three-dimensional creations, like popsicle sculptures and bottle cap collages, to check for possible copyright or trademark violations before allowing them to be displayed publicly. This new parenting aid was developed jointly by the Motion Picture Association of America and the nonprofit Council for Right Families. The groups have negotiated deals with most major movie studios, as well as toy makers and book and comics publishers, and the app enables parents to immediately make a payment to secure appropriate rights to their children’s drawings. SafeDraw then easily posts cleared image to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Former Republican Congressman Mark Lynch is now the head of CRF, and he says, “Millions of families are at grave risk, and many don’t even know it. I have personally heard of many terrible cases. There’s a plumber in Indiana who called us because his daughters made a chalk drawing outside his house that was clearly derivative of The Little Mermaid, a Disney product. Well, that drawing was captured when a Google Street View car went by, and he ended up in court. He lost his business and descended into drink, drug abuse, and eventually homelessness.” Lynch says his organization is focused on helping parents adjust to the new world, in which nearly every idea or expression is owned by someone. “We think it’s our duty to give parents the means to defend themselves against this modern threat, just like they should keep guns in the house to defend against other threats.”
The MPAA did not respond to requests for an interview, but the press kit accompanying the launch of SafeDraw quoted MPAA CEO Christopher J. Dodd as saying, “All of the businesses we work with bent over backward to offer reasonable rates for use of their intellectual property. Big business would hate to see anything bad happen to average Americans. But intellectual property is property, and society depends on a vigorous defense of property rights. This industry won’t fall down in its duty to make that defense.”
Leftist critics have attacked the app as one more attempt by businesses to use the law to their advantage. But Heath Snillfit, the Bertelsmann Professor of Legal Studies at the Wye Sprite University School of Law, argues that this app will help the common person. “I’ve been in this IP thing for 25 years,” says Snillfit, “and this is the best tool I’ve ever seen to help non-lawyers stay within the bounds of the law. Remember, law is meant to protect the weak from the powerful and to avert injustice and tyranny, and who would be weaker than those children who might be thrown into a lifetime of debt by one errant stroke of a marker? This is about the children.” Snillfit points to a yellowed sheet of paper taped to his wall. It has a large heart drawn on it, and the words, “Happy Fathers Day!” He explains, “My daughter did that about 15 years ago. She was really into Care Bears at the time. I wish I’d had an app like this to check her drawings. It would have given me peace of mind.”
Media analyst Eliza Halson hails SafeDraw as a step toward the future of culture. “We don’t have myths and folktales anymore to shape our worldview and help us cope with our greatest fears and challenges. We have TV series and other studio products. What would happen if this essential nutrient for our culture were to disappear one day? We would all starve culturally. We should be glad to pay a royalty or two to keep that from happening.”
Halson continues, “There is no personal anymore. We have to let go of quaint notions like individuality. With the everyone on social media, we’re all media companies now, promoting our individual brands, producing content. We need to take on the responsibilities of being businesses, not just people.”
Stoneslide Media will again inject a moment of reflection into the great American ritual of hedonism called the Super Bowl by airing an ad touting the virtues of the written word.
Stoneslide’s Sylvester Stonesman said, “We hope to spread appreciation for the written word at a moment when people aren’t thinking about reading much, other than, say, reading the names on various chip bags. And even then you recognize them more by the logos and the colors, don’t you? It’s true NBC claims they lost our check, and so the ad won’t be on the main broadcast, but I’m going to a Super Bowl party, and I’m going to bring my iPad and show it to everyone there, at least.”
Online literary magazine The Stoneslide Corrective has again turned things upside down. First, we created The Rejection Generator, a tool to help writers build rejection immunity by experiencing soul-lashing rejection without ever submitting work. Now, we’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to help print a new paper-based magazine. But instead of waiting for people to back the effort, we are preemptively thanking anyone who even thinks about doing so.
This “Kickstarter Thank You Generator” is believed to be the first mechanism for rewarding good intentions alone, or even the mere consideration of maybe having good intentions at some point conveniently in the future. As such, it is a rebuke to the cold, quid pro quo logic of gratitude.
The new print magazine motivating all this thanking is called The Stoneslide Corrective No. 1, and will include moving fiction, refreshing satire, and spots of pure zaniness. It will reach high enough to tickle the winged thoughts of a philosopher and low enough to stroke the feet of a giggly toddler. It will include contributions from great writers, like Mark Wisniewski, Douglas W. Milliken, Jude Polotan, Sati Melendez, Libby Cudmore, Will Mayer, Ellen Larson, and Kiik A.K.
Now, our Kickstarter campaign is already backed to the tune of $6,300 (as of 10 a.m. Pacific, Tuesday, January 27), but we’d like your help, too, if you haven’t pitched in yet. If you donate, you’re in line to receive a selection of thank you gifts. To learn more, and to be able to make a donation, simply go to our Kickstarter Page.
We hope you can help.
Oh, and here’s where you can find the Thank You Generator.
1) I’m very emotionally needy. Like, very, very. And as with so many emotionally needy people, I’m secretly an emotional bully. (I’m not a physical bully, because I’m such a twerp, but wow, emotionally I’m a big strapping he-man/warrior princess bully. Big time.) Share if you’re basically a piece of shit emotional bully who needs constant affirmation and coddling, too!
2) I’m clinging desperately to the image of myself that I had in my twenties. I’m so worried people who see me don’t think I’m sexy anymore that I spend hours every day trying to take selfies where I look young and hot. I’ve found I need just the right light and angle. And if I hold my shoulders back as far as they go and jut my head forward, the skin under my neck doesn’t look wrinkled. I order fancy cocktails just to hold them up to the camera; I can’t really tolerate much alcohol anymore. But I’m worried. I’m living a Dorian Gray thing where my pictures on Facebook are staying young, and I’m afraid to see what’s really happening to my body. Share if you’re a total fake, too!
3) I love the environment. I really, really love the environment. You know this from all the heartbreaking pictures and articles I post about how our wretched species is about to kill its own mother, Mother Earth. It makes me so furious. We have to do something! But I’m paralyzed with fear when I think about walking out my door. I find getting really upset and angry at the polluters and the people who don’t care helps me forget how I nearly wet myself when I imagine setting foot on a Greenpeace cutter. Who else is terrified of doing what they know is right?
4) I only post to Facebook when I’m drunk. I post a lot.
5) I post so many pictures of cute kittens because my ex-girlfriend Amy loves kittens. Every now and then, maybe one time in 20, she’ll like one of the pictures, and I feel like maybe I have a chance of winning her back. It lasts a second, but that’s the best I ever feel.
6) When I was a junior in college I got knocked out of bounds into the water coolers and up over into the stands and somehow I got spooked. After 15 more downs, I never played another snap of Division II football, or any kind of football, again. I think deep inside I’m still trying to deny that that ever happened. Think of that when you see all my posts about little Gunnar and Megan killing it at soccer.
7) People used to tell me I was smart. Teachers praised me and gave me good grades. The people at my first job all acted so impressed when they heard where I went to college. But being smart is hard work, and I’ve gotten too tired to go on doing it. Fortunately, people are always posting clever things here on Facebook, like this placard that says, “OUR DAUGHTERS MAKE THE FUTURE POSSIBLE. SHARE IF YOU HAVE A DAUGHTER YOU LOVE.” This is so much easier than thinking.
8) I’ve given up on getting people to like ME. All I want is for you to like this post. Please. Can’t you even do that for me?
9) I’m sitting here waiting, waiting. I have 463 friends. One of you must be doing something interesting right now. Come on, people! How can 463 of you not have any new anecdotes or pictures or check-ins? I’m waiting. If something doesn’t come up soon, I might have to turn around and look at the disaster of my own life or read the newspaper and have my mind slashed by all the disasters there. I’m still waiting.
by Sam Holloway
The bipartisan hold on the overwhelming majority of our nation’s elected offices may be linked to a previously unrecognized cognitive disorder, according to results of a recent university study.
Sociology doctoral candidate Karl Müdjen of Gulf Isthmus University announced the findings at a press conference yesterday in front of the university’s crumbling Social Sciences Hall.
Through a series of controlled studies, Müdjen and colleagues established that in a voting context, many Americans lose the ability to count past three. The findings may help explain features of American politics that scholars have long found puzzling. Müdjen explained, “It’s not only the dominance of the two parties, despite their logical inconsistencies and moral bankruptcy, it’s why policy discussion is so limited and alternatives are shot down so quickly.
“We have Democratic voters who claim to want peace, and then elect—and re-elect—a president who regularly slaughters civilians with drone strikes,” added Müdjen. “We have Republican voters who say it’s all about individual freedoms, but vote for politicians who attack the freedoms of large numbers of their fellow citizens. Yet, we see very little challenge to the two parties.” The research originated when Müdjen noticed that online commenters who raise these kinds of inconsistencies or point to possible policies outside the platforms of the two major parties are quickly dismissed as “promoting a third party.” The use of this term intrigued him.
Müdjen and his team staged a mock election, complete with mock exit poll, using a representative sample of moderate to left-leaning voters, monitoring each participant with an electroencephalograph (EEG).
Of the 113 subjects involved, 110 were registered Democrats, two were Greens, and one was an unaligned Marxist-Leninist. The ballots listed only the presidential candidates from the 2012 national general election. Predictably, the Democrats and Greens voted along party lines, while the Marxist-Leninist crumpled the ballot and walked out, saying “[Expletive] this [expletive].” What intrigued the study team, however, was the results from the EEG.
Junior psychology major Albert Loft handled polling and the EEG monitoring. “Like, 88% of the Dems had like close to zero activity in their, you know, parietal and frontal lobes. In every one of them, though, the cerebellum—especially, like, the amygdala and the hippocampus—was lit up like a Burning Man.”
“You should’ve seen the liberals’ amygdalas explode when I asked them about Nader in 2000,” said Loft, with a laugh. “But that was Karl’s idea. I have no idea what the question meant, but it was cool.”
The other exit poll question got to the point of what had initially piqued Müdjen’s interest.
“We asked all of them if they had ever voted ‘third party,’” he said.
All but three of the Democrats said ‘no,’ and both Greens disputed the question. “One of the Greens, she goes, ‘that doesn’t make sense. There are more than three parties out there,’” reported Loft, with a low chuckle.
During that portion of the questioning, the brain readings of nearly all the Democrats decreased significantly. “It was like everything but the reptile brain shut down,” said Loft.
Once Müdjen noticed this trend, he added another element to the study. He called back the participants the next week, and had them step into the mock voting booth again.
“I put in a different ballot, one with a Democrat and a Republican at the top, and then a Green, a Libertarian, and two other parties,” he said. “Instead of voting, I asked each subject to count the parties out loud using ordinal numbers.”
Every Democratic voter began by identifying the Democrat as ‘first’ and the Republican as ‘second.’ Starting with the Green candidate, however, every other candidate was announced as ‘third.’ Müdjen repeated the entire process twice, and the results were identical.
“After the elections I had each one of them count ten marbles the same way, and they had no problem naming ‘first, second, third, fourth, fifth,’ and so on,” he added.
There was enough left in the budget to repeat the counting experiment with a control group made up of eighty different Democrats and two Greens, and the results were the same.
“It seems that when their minds are fixated on voting, self-identified Democrats have trouble processing ordinal numbers. Everything after ‘second’ becomes fused into a single entity, without significant differentiation,” said Müdjen. “Given the data we’ve accumulated, I think it’s safe to call this pathological.”
Müdjen speculates that this inability to count is caused by a wider shutdown of critical reasoning functions when otherwise thoughtful and intelligent Americans think about electoral politics. “The shutdown of broader analytical thinking is necessary for the individual to associate with such a fundamentally rancid thing, in this case the Democratic Party, without suffering horrific shame and guilt,” explained Müdjen. He plans future research to explore how this phenomenon affects policy preferences.
More on governance and politics:
-Good god, they walk their own dog.
-Good god, they do their own yard work.
-Good god, they installed a TV themselves.
-Good god, they cleaned their own gutters.
-Good god, they pruned that tree themselves.
-Good god, he changes the oil in their cars himself.
-Good god, they clean house themselves.
-I think he continues to take delivery of a physical newspaper only so he doesn’t have to talk to me during meals.
-If it doesn’t have a helipad, is it really a yacht?
-If the pebbles up the drive aren’t rounded river rock, is it really someplace you’d want to party?
-If you have to fly first class instead of a private charter, why not just stay home?
-If you can’t get to Milan once or twice a year to buy decent shoes, why bother wearing any?
We’re deeply proud of every work we published in the last year.
Don’t Ball the Boss
By Sara Dobie Bauer
A friend called a week ago and asked if I was looking for work. In Hollywood, we’re always looking for work. I’m a personal assistant to the stars, and I’m real good—like Meryl Streep at Oscar time good. They say I’m discreet and subservient; stars like that.
So my pal calls up and tells me there’s this up and coming British star on his way over for a movie premiere. The film is huge, the kind that makes back its budget in a night, and this Brit plays the bad guy. He’s never been to Hollywood. He needs someone who knows the right barbers, tailors, call girls …
That’s where I come in: David Baron, assistant to the stars.
The First to Cross the Bridge
By Chloe N. Clark
One morning I’m sitting in the booth at my favorite café; it’s my favorite because no one ever notices me there and I can sip my coffee for hours and hours. There is a woman at the counter; she’s talking to the waiter about a dream she had. I usually hate to hear people’s dreams because they aren’t meant for me, but this woman has a beautiful voice. It is how a bell ringing in some temple on a mountain would sound, if you were climbing toward the temple and knew it was still a long way off. In the dream she was a shark in the ocean. She was always swimming to stay alive; swimming just to keep breathing. One day she comes across a shipwreck, there is a man tied to the mast of the ship and he is drowning. So, the shark woman swims up to him and bites the ropes. His body spins up to the surface and he gasps for air. He makes it back to land and tells everyone that a shark saved him. She just keeps swimming.
How to Murder Your Friends
By Libby Cudmore
Smother me with a pillow in my sleep, Reese says.
Reese’s blinds are broken and his apartment is too cold. We’re out of beer and it’s twenty past midnight and we’re trying to figure out how we’d kill each other if such an occasion arose. It’s not a suicide pact, just a way to determine the depth of our friendship. Murder is so personal; you don’t know how much someone really loves you until they’ve admitted how they would end your life.
Murdering Reese would involve something sweet, something more gentle than leaving him flailing for his last breaths. Antifreeze, I say. In your Diet Coke. You’ll hardly notice the taste.
By Neil Mathison
My son plans a violent act. My girlfriend says she’s thinking of moving out, at least until my son’s attitude improves, and if Heidi suspects violence, something more than a fifteen-year-old’s petulance, I know she’ll leave.
Last August, when Jacob’s mother sent him here, to this Idaho ski town where she birthed him, she declared he needed a change of scene. In new snow, Rachel said, a sapling breathes. Such koan-like utterances pepper Rachel’s speech, leftovers from when she studied to become a Buddhist nun, although in this, as in motherhood, Rachel only half-completed the job. Though what Rachel half-completed, I never began. I intend to make amends.
By Joe Ponepinto
Lydia saw the man crouched on the parapet first, and despite being nearly passed out drunk, she shrieked, “That guy! Is he gonna jump?”
Then I saw him outside, perched on the balls of his feet, arms out for balance, butt hanging back into the bar’s third floor patio, gazing down at the street despite the crush of flesh sweating and gyrating behind him in the night air, despite the thumping bass coming through the speakers. The crowd didn’t see. They kept their eyes where they always do, on tanned and glistening midriffs, cleavage, muscled shoulders, fertile regions.
Whose Life Is It, Anyway?
By Christopher Wachlin
Beneath a moon sliced cleanly in half, Jason reread the note—his suicide note—and then crumpled it up. He stepped off the sidewalk into the gutter and squatted on his haunches. He pushed the note through a sewer grate. The note fell, but got caught in the spiky branches of a seedling growing sideways out of a crack. He found a stick and knocked the note free and it fell again, all the way. Now it would end up in San Francisco Bay, where he hoped to end up. He stood. He pushed his shoulder-length hair behind his ears. He looked skyward, at the halved moon, at the stars, and, across the bay from where he stood in Berkeley, the twinkly San Francisco skyline.
Recipe for Fidelity
By Tracy Elin
Tanya met the hussy when she picked up Gary for Thursday choir rehearsal. But she came up with her plot a few hours later, as she snapped long strands of spaghetti to fit in their little pot, crumbled ground turkey into bits, and chopped through a fleshy green pepper.
The samosa wallah at the street corner is back. His stall now has a blue tarp roof held up on bamboos. When he sees me, he shouts in Hindi, “And, sahab, everything alright?”
“Everything’s great. With you?”
“All fine. Just back from village. Brother’s sons.” He points at the two boys in stained tees hunkered in the small enclosure. With delicate twists of their fingers, they are sealing samosas for frying. The place hums with the scent of salted dough and nigella seeds.
By Chelsea Clammer
He’s not the TV character Jim Bob on The Waltons.
He’s not the musician Jim Bob Morrison.
He’s not Jim Bob Cooter—the offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos.
No, this Jim Bob is a family man—a (good) husband, father, servant of God. This Jim Bob’s specialty is not in entertainment or professional sports, though he is a coordinator. He has to be. Jim Bob’s the father of nineteen children. Nineteen. As of October 2013, he’s aiming for twenty. That’s a lot of coordinating. CEO of the family. Nineteen names to remember.
By Douglas W. Milliken
It took less than six months for my luck to run out and like a worm under a rock, I was found. Joel. That big brutal fuck. Quite likely the last person I wanted to see. With his fallen prince face and mouth like an open sewer. A smoldering ghost of ruin and violence. Joel and I’d had good times and bad times but our friendship kind of petered off when he went to jail for hassling some young girls, an event that I’d heard he blamed me for on account of I was there when it started and was in a unique position to stop it or join in and instead chose to walk away. Apparently he thought I ought to’ve gone to jail, too. He’s probably right.
Have you ever tried to open a Barbie Tawny Horse and Pony Play Set? Chances are if you’ve started in on such an endeavor, you’re actually still engaged in it at this moment. The total time required to unfold, cut, hack, twist, and untie all of the rubber bands, twist ties, and baling wire used to secure the toy in its packaging is just about an hour less than the lifespan of the average American male, and roughly nine years greater than that of the average Belarusian or Nepalese.
Stoneslide Giftworks today released a device that brought that opening time down to a mean of 42 seconds in laboratory trials.
The Little Elf Utility Blade includes everything you need to open modern toy packaging in a snap, such as a butane blow torch, a 400 watt CO2 laser, and cemented carbide cutting edges, as well as reserves of hydrochloric acid and TNT explosive.
Available to American consumers for the first time, the Little Elf Utility Blade has already become a hit in Peru and Italy. The Little Elf can also be used to slice fruitcakes.
Not intended for use by children under 12. Stoneslide Giftworks cannot be held liable for any damage to toys or injury caused by use of this product. Always read all safety warnings before using product, especially the one about maintaining a distance of 15 yards from the product when in use.
More gift assists from Stoneslide (just in time for the holidays):
Research shows wide gap in incomes and happiness of fans of the band The Replacements compared to fans of the band R.E.M.
A classic that launched on the first day Stoneslide went live and continues to delight readers.
Sociologist Finds Absurdity Has Critical Role in Human Power Dynamics
If you’ve ever worked in an office, you’ve always known this deep in your soul. But this story will help you laugh at the bleak reality.
Obscene Gesture Benefits Economy
Who knew that the simple act of raising a single digit could do so much good in the world? How does it work? Think efficiency.
Organizers Hope Take Your Lazy-Ass Son to Work Day Sees More Participation
If this new holiday takes hold, layabouts from coast to coast will learn that it doesn’t kill them to come within spitting distance of actual labor.
The Devil Reads the Hobby Lobby Decision and Has Some Questions for Justice Samuel Alito
The Supreme Court holding that corporations have religious rights confused many, but none more than Satan, who now has to clean up the mess.
PTA President Pens a Desperate Plea for Strength
Do you think PTAs are just about bake sales and hugs? More like egos and sadism in this case.
Vatican Authorizes Prayers Optimized for Social Media Age
The young people these days only know how to communicate with their thumbs. At last, God will be able to understand them—even if their parents don’t.
Seattle Seahawks Fan Sues Team over Hearing Loss
Sometimes the twelfth man is the first casualty.
Gamblers Predict Chicago Mayor Will Declare Martial Law
Can so many bettors be wrong?
Advantages Poets Have over Football Players
There are so many reasons to become a poet rather than a professional athlete. Let us count the ways.
Any parent of a toddler or young child knows how the simplest daily rituals can become drawn-out battles of will.
You approach the child, toothbrush in hand, with the straightforward ambition of brushing her teeth–just as you do every single night. What happens? She clamps her hands over her mouth and stares at you shaking her head, no. So, you put the toothbrush down to pry her hands away, then use one hand to keep her arms elevated (while she pulls back as hard as she can), and the other to lever at her clenched jaw. Just as you start to worry about leaving bruise marks on her cheeks–bruise marks that some teacher will be sure to ask about–she flops, falling totally limp to the ground. Since you were leaning over, this jujitsu move causes you to tumble forward to your knees. You put out a hand to steady yourself, and what’s there to catch onto? The open toilet. So you change the shirt that got wet at the sleeve, wash up, and again pick up the toothbrush, to find your little girl again with both hands clamped over her mouth.
There has to be an easier way!
Clouton, Inc., today releases the Care Pillar, a fully functional hygiene procedure enabler that makes brushing teeth, washing face, clipping fingernails, and other basic activities a snap.
Made from sustainably sourced teak and cherry woods, the Care Pillar will fit beautifully in any nursery ensemble. But its real beauty lies in its functional design. Easy-to-use one-hand latches, counter-weighted hinges, and solid construction make the Care Pillar a joy for any parent. Crushed velvet linings and an adjustable-height stand mean your child will be so comfortable, she may soon be reminding you that it’s time to brush teeth!
Just imagine how much easier your life will be when your precious little one puts her head and hands into the gentle restraints of the Care Pillar.
More gift assists from Stoneslide (just in time for the holidays):
The Society for the Advancement of Poetry and Poetry Scholarship (SAPPS) recently released a list of the top 34 reasons promising young athletes should consider a career in verse-making.
•Poets are not often asked to debase themselves by endorsing products or businesses in exchange for lucrative reimbursement.
•Although experts and failures alike will criticize poets’ work, it won’t be criticized by morons whose only qualification is that they can sit and hold onto a beer at the same time.
•Poets are not usually pursued romantically solely because of their incomes.
•Poets are not usually pursued romantically because they’re seen on television every week.
•The professional failures, missteps, and embarrassments of poets aren’t usually nationally, or even regionally, televised.
•The personal failures, missteps, and embarrassments of poets aren’t usually written about in national magazines or blogs of universal appeal.
•Poets, when arrested for a DUI, usually don’t see their names dragged through the mud. If they teach, then maybe they’ll be dragged through the mud, but this is almost always due to the academic appointment, not the writing.
•Although some poets are washed up by the age of 35, or even 30, many of them aren’t.
•Poets aren’t generally required to wear jerseys, let alone throwback jerseys.
•An MFA graduate of great promise who fizzles out upon turning pro isn’t usually insulted 5,000 times a day in a very public manner.
•The start times of readings and other poetic events aren’t determined by TV networks.
•When a poet sidesteps a professional risk it’s almost certain that tens of thousands of people won’t call him or her a pansy.
•Rarely do poets face violent injury in the course of their work.
•If a poet receives effusive praise, it is often clear, articulate, effusive praise.
•Poets aren’t required to take drug tests.
•No poet has yet been harmed leaping into the stands after completing a stanza.
•The smell of ink can have a mild narcotic effect, while the smell of stale perspiration is generally considered displeasing.
•Poets almost always have day jobs, and even multiple day jobs, so their lives are more interesting than football players’ lives.
•Although the children of poets might in fact think the poets suck, they don’t have to overhear other people talking about said suckage.
•The parents of poets rarely have to worry about their children being concussed or exposed as dirty cheats every weekend.
•The biggest writers conference on the planet will still be less crowded than the Super Bowl, or even a divisional playoff game.
•The accomplishments of athletes are regularly surpassed as science advances and training regimens improve, while poets’ work is often most appreciated long after they’re dead.
•“Vinnie from the Bronx” has never called into a radio talk show to comment on a poet’s performance the night before.
•A poet isn’t likely to require anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction before her twenty-fifth birthday.
•If a poet gets involved in a nightclub brawl, his fans will think he’s a god.
•A poet can fumble all the words she wants, and critics will praise her fearless high dive into the avant-garde.
•At least since the time of ancient Athens, poets have not had to worry that their greatest successes could be undercut when fans riot in the streets, overturning vehicles and trashing storefronts.
Advantages Future Poets Have Over Future Football Players
•When in high school, unless they have physical features that are attractive to the extreme, future poets are often undistracted by ubiquitous romantic attention from others.
•Future poets aren’t catered to by coaches, teachers, and administrators to the point that they can get away with blatant rule-breaking, law-breaking, or other transgressions (unless they’re smart enough and resourceful enough not to be blatant, and therefore avoid detection in the first place), and due to all of this often learn better how to fend for themselves than do future football players, who often develop a sense that the world should meet their every whim and desire, like they’re a bunch of babies weighing anywhere from 180 to 350 pounds.
•Future poets don’t have to be concerned about being distracted by cheerleaders while they perform.
•Smoking, or the use of alcohol or other drugs, can’t get future poets kicked off the poetry team. There is no poetry team.
•Future poets don’t usually have to sit in the living room and hear college recruiters lie to them and their parents.
•When visiting prospective colleges, future poets rarely have to deal with hyper-attractive people being sent their way to entertain them.
•Undergrad poets can accept unlimited gifts and perks from highly literate and wealthy alumni without risking violation of any labyrinthine rules.
More from The Stoneslide Corrective:
This essay originally appeared in the Duncastle Eagle, November 13, 2014:
President Obama has just concluded negotiations with Chinese President Xi over an agreement between the world’s two largest economic powers (and largest polluters) to limit greenhouse gas emissions. But now he faces the real challenge: persuading members of the opposing party in Congress. The question of what actions to take, if any, in response to climate change was widely seen as one of the most contentious policy issues in the recent federal election. It is an area in which the two parties have vastly different views. It’s generally understood that Democrats see global warming as a real threat that should be addressed at its cause by reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases, while Republican policy on the environment is motivated by a genuine doubt that climate change is real or, if real, that it is caused by human actions. While this is a widely held understanding of Republican disbelief, there has been no meaningful research or investigation to back it up.
Looked at afresh, the idea that Republicans don’t believe in climate change and its effects on the natural systems that support human life, despite the clear consensus of the scientific community, strains credulity. Independent studies have found no meaningful intelligence gap between Republicans and Democrats. We firmly believe it is implausible that such a huge portion of the population could genuinely hold the denialist position.
All three of us have devoted our professional lives to better understanding climate change, and its natural, political, and cultural causes and consequences. So we began a genuine empirical investigation of the question of what Republicans really believe, as opposed to what they say–the first study of its kind. Our finding, in short: There is no reliable evidence that Republicans don’t believe in global warming.
This may at first surprise you, because you have heard denialist statements from both leading Republican politicians (“The so-called ‘consensus’ is simply wrong,” Senator James Inhofe, presumptive chair of the Senate Environment Committee) and that guy at work (“How could humans change God’s creation? I mean, really?,” Walt in Accounting.). But, as we have already argued, it is implausible to think that Republicans could be simpleminded enough to actually believe these statements. There are, in fact, several preferable explanations for such expressions of climate change denial. For one, many public figures of the Republican persuasion are paid directly or indirectly by companies such as ExxonMobil and Tohd Power & Light that have a financial interest in the use of fossil fuels. Republicans may simply feel that they are well paid to voice these fatuous opinions. Republicans may also enjoy making liberals angry and so derive pleasure from absurd and counter-factual statements. Another explanation that is more plausible than genuine belief stems from the guilt that Republicans feel over the fact that they prefer policies, such as tax breaks for oversized vehicles, that are destroying the planet to the sorts of steps that would preserve Creation for future generations. To cope with this guilt, they publicly rationalize their actions by claiming not to believe they are harmful.
These suggestions are speculative, but they are no more speculative than the suggestion that Republicans in their hearts believe the climate denial line, and in fact they are all distinctly less absurd.
In our paper in the forthcoming Winter issue of the Journal of Speculative Outcomes, we describe the results of a pathbreaking literature review, crossing the borders of hard sciences and social sciences in search of one scrap of irrefutable evidence that so-called denialists actually believe their statements. Not one single study out of the 4,000+ we looked at presented such evidence.
Given that no positive evidence for genuine denial exists and that there are several more reasonable explanations on offer, we have to conclude that climate denial is not a genuine phenomenon.
So, why is the assumption that climate denial is real so prevalent? We think the most likely culprit is the media; whether they are mindlessly repeating conservative claims because of some inherent bias or whether there is some conspiracy to mis-inform voters, possibly as a gesture to appease high-carbon advertisers, we will not speculate. One possible interpretation of our research is that the differences between Republicans and Democrats are not as large as they sometimes appear. Again the media benefits from the high-conflict narrative of politics. But the polity doesn’t benefit from this distorted view. The debate over climate change needs a shot of truth. We hope our work can contribute.
Hal Squeemy, Professor of Political Science, Wye Sprite University
Victoria Wellen, Associate Professor of Psychology, Wye Sprite University
Willem Hash, Professor of Earth Sciences, Wye Sprite University
More on enforcement and governance:
Ozeem, the sub-deputy governor of the province, had the patience of a bureaucrat who has learned that nothing good arrives in time for you to appreciate it and an imp’s glee in practical jokes. When an order came down to ensure that all Grade 2 and higher roadways had accurate and durable mile markers, Ozeem was put in charge of commissioning the appropriate signs and overseeing their installation. He had 14,323 miles of qualifying roadway within his province. The applicable regulations left him some discretion in materials, as long as the resulting marker clearly listed the mile point and the roadway and was durable. Ozeem ordered 14,322 markers in sandstone. And he ordered one, Mile 27 on Route 14A-C (chosen almost at random), in marble.
He knew that while the sandstone would likely last longer than the routes it measured, and thus fulfill its purpose, over the course of centuries, it would wear away. The one marble marker, however, would last millennia longer. It would even remain readable.
Ozeem liked to think about how one day a future society with no memory of his own would find this singular marker, with “Mile 27, Route 14A-C” chiseled into its side, and be forced to create some meaning out of its singularity. He’d imagine future theories about the sacred nature of the number 27 or how this marker was placed at the center of some ritual space, and he would emit a bureaucrat’s silent, cautious chuckle.
reached its ultimate expression in a text message sent by Jim on July 8, 2014, at 4:32 pm, to his friend Guy, which read in its entirety: Yo!
and Mommy and Daddy will buy more lumber.
Danvorious Tohd hopes this election will be the last one that’s corrupt. As he sees it, politics is currently defiled by unjustified restrictions on individual and corporate spending—what he calls “handcuffs made from regulations and rules.” Tohd is an outspoken proponent for a California ballot measure known as Prop 88, which he believes would fix the problem by outlawing any restrictions on spending in elections. Such restrictions would be deemed unconstitutional intrusions on individual liberty.
Prop 88 was thought to be a long shot, but a recent infusion of money from the Tohd Family Foundation’s Initiative for Money Rights has boosted its poll numbers, and forecasters now say it’s likely to become law—and to reshape politics as we know it.
The Stoneslide Corrective caught up with Tohd, the CEO of Tohd Power & Light, after a rally he held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Tohd spoke for about 15 minutes to a capacity crowd at the 18,000-seat arena, laying out the reasoning behind his push for money rights, which he said is really about protecting the rights of every individual. His speech came between sets by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Daughtry in what was billed as a We Want To Be Free! Concert. (Representatives of the bands later said they were unaware the event, sponsored by the Tohd Family Foundation, had a political purpose and they were just playing for the money, not the cause.) Tohd received his loudest cheers when he announced that he was paying for free beers at the concession stands for the rest of the day.
This reporter managed to catch Tohd on his way out of the arena. Standing near the corner of Figueroa Street and W. 12th Street, Tohd wore sunglasses against the afternoon glare and was accompanied by assistants and functionaries. Three held phones for him and provided updates on the price of natural gas and Tohd P&L’s stock price, as well as other financial information. One seemed focused on the straightness of Tohd’s tie. The others relayed messages to a waiting limo and adjusted Tohd’s schedule on the fly, as he seemed to be scheduled down to the half-minute.
Asked why he was doing so much to try to pass Prop 88, Tohd replied, “A lot of people think this is about power. But it’s really about love. Our relationship with our money is the most intimate relationship we have. Many of us love our money more than our wives or our children. We tell things to our money that we’d never say to a doctor, even. The law needs to recognize this love, not stifle it. If the gays and the lesbians can love people of the same sex, normal people should be able to give full expression to their love of money.”
Prop 88 has generated widespread debate, but one plank stands out as most controversial: the call to allow citizens to sell their votes to the highest bidder.
Tohd, whose pro-business views have made him a darling of conservative radio and a lightning rod for liberal hate, has been vocal on this point. In a sixty-second television advertisement being run in four major markets, he tells the camera, “You deserve the right to profit from your decisions. I know times are tough right now for many of you. Why cut off a revenue stream? That’s like cutting off your own arm.”
In our interview, he also argued that allowing vote buying will lead to more effective leadership in government. “After all, people willing to spend more money for office must want it more and so are likely to work harder so their investment won’t go to waste.”
While Tohd was speaking with The Stoneslide Corrective, a small crowd gathered and chanted, “Votes can’t be bought! Votes can’t be bought!” Seeing that this reporter had become nervous at the raucous shouts, Tohd turned to the demonstrators and called out, “Here’s $100 for each of you, go get some Starbucks.” He handed a stack of bills to an assistant, who approached the crowd and handed out the money. The chants stopped. The crowd dispersed.
“Why would you make that a crime?” Tohd asked, sounding as sad as a child looking down at a dropped ice cream cone. “You see, they’re better off. They’re happier now that they have a hundred bucks. You’re happier because you’re not scared anymore. I’m happier because I don’t have to hear their misguided squealing. That’s what economic exchange does—it makes everyone better off, without exception. It’s more democratic than democracy, you might say.”
One concern about Prop 88 is that it could put state law at variance with federal campaign laws. But Tohd points out that there’s a precedent for this in California’s medical marijuana laws. “Again, it’s about not bowing your neck to tyranny,” says Tohd. “Besides, I love growers. They’re great electricity customers.”
Some critics have called Prop 88 a throwback to days of oligarchy and white male privilege, pointing out similarities to property-based restrictions on voting that existed in the early years of the American republic. Tohd becomes animated in rebutting this argument. “I think property requirements are wrong. Government should never require anything. That’s just crazy. But how can you argue that every man deserves a vote and then turn around and deny that man just compensation, negotiated fairly and openly, for that vote he owns? That’s socialism right there.”
An assistant stepped in to end the interview, but Tohd brushed her aside, saying he wanted to make one more point. “Anyone but a dolt can see that markets can improve politics. When this resolution passes, PayPal will be here tomorrow to make it easy for you to sell your vote, or maybe eBay’ll do it, and that will create jobs.” Tohd’s voice takes on a dreamy tone. “Money rights are human rights, as I always say.”
He heads off, waving away a final question about whether he has further political ambitions after the fight for Prop 88 has ended. But whether he answers that question or not, rumors will continue to swirl that Tohd is preparing for a big move into politics.
Writer and lexicographer Samuel Johnson famously said that nobody but a blockhead ever wrote for anything except free entry to the annual AWP Conference. Or something like that. We couldn’t agree more if we were a Scottish biographer.
We are delighted to be able to announce that of all the amazing, dazzling, and gripping entries in our Snap Contest for flash pieces, author Libby Cudmore takes first place with her story “How to Murder Your Friends.” Libby wins free registration for all four days of the AWP Conference (Association of Writers and Writing Programs, for folks scoring at home) in April 2015, to be held in Minneapolis. In addition, her story garners publication in The Stoneslide Corrective. Go read this excellent piece of flash fiction.
Libby’s stories and essays have appeared in recent issues of The Big Click, Big Lucks, Chamber Four, the Vestal Review, Pank, and The New Rivers Press American Fiction Anthology #13. Her short story “The Redemption of Oren Barry” received an honorable mention in the Stoneslide Story Contest and her debut novel is forthcoming from William Morrow in Winter 2016.
The deeply held political beliefs of the American people can’t be bought. But movie producers are betting that they can be sold.
The Stoneslide Corrective has acquired proposals prepared by major studios and independent producers to insert ideological content in movies slated to be released in the summer of 2016, just before the next US presidential election. The proposals were sent to the Super PACs of major candidates and both political parties asking for payments ranging from $50,000 to $15,000,000 in return for ideologically friendly zingers, characters, and even whole subplots. Analysts say this is merely a logical development of the increasing use of product placement in feature films in recent years. Call it ideology placement.
Stoneslide has seen proposals made by director-producer Steven Spielberg, as well as neo-slapstick filmmaker Judd Apatow. Both of these directors have capped ideological inserts at 4% of the total film and limited the range of ideologies they’re willing to incorporate. According to our sources, however, Michael Bay, director of the Transformers series, has offered up to 96% of his planned 2016 release and is open to any suitor who can pay.
Here is one excerpt from a major studio pitch document obtained by The Stoneslide Corrective for the forthcoming Virtue’s Stalker:
-THE PLACEMENT “Always finish off your enemies. Now that Obamacare is the law of the land, if they’re not stone dead, they’re sure to be nursed back to health and then they’ll come looking for revenge.”
-THE STORY Ned Striver, a grizzled veteran of the war in Afghanistan, gives this advice to his 8-year-old son Kyle. The boy grows up and forgets his father’s words. With charm and intelligence, Kyle finds success working as a partner in a secretive global investment firm… until he stumbles on the wrong secret and his partners turn against him. Then he needs his father’s toughness and cynical realism if he’s going to survive, and the two team up to fight their enemies.
The producers are asking $250,000 for this quip. They argue that it plays a pivotal role in Kyle’s development and comes from the mouth of the admirable Ned, and so will sink into the audience’s subconscious, creating a deep and pervading positive association with President Obama’s signature health care law. They suggest the line could add a full point to top-line Democratic approval numbers.
Some other pitches uncovered by The Stoneslide Corrective:
-THE STORY In Death Squeeze, Hank Ellway, a burned-out special ops animal control officer, ends up the only man who can save a small Florida town besieged by genetically altered Burmese pythons. In a pivotal scene, Hank saves eight-year-old Johnny, who was cornered atop his school jungle gym by three enormous snakes. After Hank slices off the heads of all three snakes with one mighty swing of a reconditioned chainsaw, the boy gushes:
-THE PLACEMENT “You’re a real hero!” Hank responds: “A real hero would kill the Democrat-backed regulations that are strangling our economy, kid.” Guaranteed applause line. Cost: $350,000.
-THE STORY Mega-man’s nemesis is the wily and nefarious Dr. Destructo. After creating a space-time portal in a meteorological experiment gone awry, Destructo threatens to unleash the armies of ancient Mars on planet Earth. Unfortunately for the side of evil, Destructo has a lieutenant, the bumbling Entero. Entero repeatedly voices Randian declarations of autonomy and superiority only to find himself unable to complete the simplest assignments without relying on the talents of members of the proletariat.
-THE PLACEMENT In one telling scene, Entero is trying to plant an explosive device in a toilet but ends up locking himself in the stall and has to call desperately for help from a janitor as the timer on the bomb ticks. That’ll prove that glibertarians really need the common man. Cost: $1,000,000.
-THE STORY Julie thinks her luck with men has finally changed when she meets Charles at the engagement party of her deeply religious cousin. After being paired up in a Noah’s Ark party game, the two fall head over heels in love. Trouble arises when Julie, a lawyer for the ACLU, finds out that small-business owner Charles doesn’t provide contraceptive coverage for his employees. Julie swears she’ll never see Charles again. But then she’s assigned to go undercover in Charles’ company to investigate his health plan. On the inside, she sees how Charles is adored by his employees, who admire his deep principles and upright character and appreciate being saved from their own promiscuous impulses. Julie comes back to Charles, declaring:
-THE PLACEMENT “Even business owners need to keep their own consciences.” A Good Man, a Good Boss is sure to win over liberal-leaning single women. Cost: $1,500,000.
According to a source inside one of the studios, they have field-tested ideology placement, and the results are off the charts. In one test as many as 15% of viewers changed their preferred candidate. Assuming a given summer blockbuster reaches 25% of the voting population, this could be enough to change the outcome of a tight election. Says our source, “When you’re in a condition to believe in flying men in spandex for two hours, you’ll believe in supply-side economics, too. It’s the perfect way to reach voters.”
However, the same tests found that placements that were too specifically tied to one candidate could backfire. “People want to be told what to do, but they don’t want to think that they’re being told what to do,” explains our source, who participated in the research underlying ideological placement. “So a thinly veiled ad is perfect. They can pretend to be thinking for themselves while actually giving up all autonomous thought. That’s really what pop culture is all about.”
Experts predict that pollsters and poll aggregators, like Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com and Real Clear Politics, will have to incorporate the box office returns of Democratic and Republican films into their models.
Critics are likely to see ideology placement as one more example of the corrupting force of money. If even our summer blockbusters can be pulled into the political-money vortex, what is safe? We spoke with Chad Winet, a political science professor at Wye Sprite University who has studied 21st century partisanship. “I would see it the other way around,” he said. “This is an extension of the civic debate, which our founders saw as absolutely critical, into popular culture. How could it not be enriching for audiences to be exposed to these issues? Those who question this practice are really questioning the intelligence of the American people and their ability to participate in political discussion. And that pisses me off. We have the greatest movies in the world, and we have the greatest health care system in the world, and we have the greatest democracy (or vaguely representative system) that has ever existed. Frankly, I’d say anyone who doesn’t like this doesn’t get it, and should go live in some other country.”
More on money, politics, and governance:
That’s a good place to start.
therefore I am.
except my impulses.
by Tia Creighton
Not since the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s has the Catholic Church seen such a change in the Liturgy as in recent times. A first set of changes was made in December 2012 to more closely adhere to the meaning of the original Roman Missal written in Latin. Now, in a stunning reversal, the Church is ditching its adherence to the dead, though revered, language and moving into the “language” of social media, whose bedrock is abbreviations, symbols, acronyms, and pictures.
“There’s been a struggle within the Church over language in the last ten years,” says Bishop Kell Ryan, a member of the Synod of Bishops and an expert in language and liturgy. “Some want to go back to the baroque and alienating language of the past. Others want to ditch words all together and post pictures of Sunday Masses on Instagram. As with all negotiation, we needed to meet in the middle. But something had to be done, because the last, most recent changes that were made alienated Catholics the world over.
“‘Peace be with you.’
“‘And also with you.’ That just rolled off your tongue,” says Bishop Ryan.
“‘Peace be with you.’
“‘And with your spirit.’ Who says that? Why don’t we all just dress in friar’s robes? It was a poorly thought-out change and a giant leap backwards.”
The Act of Contrition is the Church’s first official translation of a prayer into the language of social media. With the newly rewritten prayer, the Church has also agreed that Catholics may now text their confessions into their parish priests.
The Act of Contrition (2014)
OMG! I am for having Thee.
And I all my because of Thy just punishment
But most of all because they Thee, my God, who art and deserving of all my .
I firmly resolve with the help of Thy Grace to no more and to avoid the near occasions of
The Stoneslide Corrective is thrilled, elated, honored, and generally pleased as punch (vodka-laced) to announce the winners of our first annual Stoneslide Story Contest. The top prize in the contest is $3,000, and the contest drew 300 submissions from writers all over the world. The quality of work, the depth of feeling, and the care in expression evidenced in these submissions was breathtaking. But out of this remarkably strong pool, one story rose to the top.
The first prize goes to Jude Polotan, with her story “Dog People,” which captures the knife-edge balance between accumulating regret for choices made, and the continuing hope for new avenues.
Taking second prize and $500 is “Forget Me Not,” by Ellen Larson. “Forget Me Not” is a riveting journey in the life of a woman previously unable to escape her greatest love and torturer, her own brother.
We look forward to publishing these stories in the coming months.
Four stories were also recognized in categories of special achievement, receiving $100 awards:
- Striking Use of Wit: “Voice Male,” by Marion de Booy Wentzien, uses both humor and surprising observation to limn the pain of loneliness and the perils of hope.
- Beguiling Character: “All together now,” by D.R. Glass. The protagonist of this story, a young girl named Emma, is both remarkably strong and remarkably vulnerable, while being entirely believable.
- Description That Makes Us Think We Were Really There: Thomas Lelache’s “Heel” thrusts us deep inside the awfulness and the scalded beauty of a professional wrestler who wishes he had done more, and so much less, with his life.
- Propulsive Scene and/or Plot Line: “Ways to Escape,” by Greg Girvan, crackles with the wildness and rage of youth while the people in it show us the lethargy, despondency, and moroseness that can also come with being young.
In addition, twelve stories are recognized as honorable mentions, each worthy of appreciation and commendation:
- “The Anarchic Hand,” by Lynn Stegner
- “Choose Your Own Adventure,” by Linda Davis
- “Continental Divide,” by Hal Ackerman
- “Food for Work,” by Frank Light
- “How to Live at a Hotel,” by Joe Ponepinto
- “The Month is July,” by Sebastian Barajas
- “On the Other Side,” by Idrissa Simmonds
- “Parker,” by Tracy Gold
- “The Push,” by Sarah MacKenzie
- “The Redemption of Oren Barry,” by Libby Cudmore
- “Smash,” by Ann Stewart McBee
- “Something in the Water,” by Dan Stintzi
The bios of winners and honorees are below:
Jude Polotan holds an MFA from Emerson College, where she was fortunate enough to be mentored by Andre Dubus III. She’s a three-time participant at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and has attended the Sirenland Writers Conference in Positano, Italy, twice (yes, a real sacrifice!). “Dog People” is Jude’s first published story. Though she’ll always be a New Yorker, she now lives in the sunshine of Gulf Coast Florida with the Love of her Life, Ken, and their irrepressible puppy, Claude. She’s currently at work on a new novel.
Ellen Larson’s first story appeared in Yankee Magazine in 1971. She has sold stories to AHMM (Barry Award finalist) and Big Pulp and is the author of the NJ Mysteries, The Hatch and Brood of Time and Unfold the Evil, featuring a sleuthing reporter. Her current book is In Retrospect, a dystopian mystery (Carefully crafted whodunit -PW starred). Larson lived for seventeen years in Egypt, where she developed a love of different cultures. These days she lives in an off-grid cabin in upstate New York, enjoying the solitude.
Martin Dodd lives in Steinbeck Country: Salinas, California. Following his retirement from community service, he began creative writing in 2002 at age 67. His work has appeared in Cadillac Cicatrix, Hobart Journal (web issue), The New Yinzer, Homestead Review, Holy Cuspidor, Foolish Times, Monkey Bicycle, and Chicken Soup for the Recovering Soul (poem). He has won, or received recognition in, various contests: Gimme Credit Screenplay Competition (super short), St. Louis Short Story Contest, Writers Digest, By Line Magazine, Glimmer Train, Inkwell Journal, Writers Weekly, Central Coast Writers (California), East of Eden Writers Conference (2008), and NorthernPros.
Marion de Booy Wentzien was a recipient of the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award (twice). The New Letters Literary Award. The Chicago Humanities for the Arts presented one of her stories in their Stories on Stage. Her stories have appeared in Seventeen Magazine, Blue Penny Quarterly, The San Francisco Chronicle (twice), Scholastic Books, Story Magazine, On the Page, Big Ugly Review, The Quotable, Prime Number, The Sonora Review, Bareback Lit, The Stone Hobo, Tattoo Highway, Red Fez, Cossack Review, Citron Review, Extract(s), Drafthorse, Solstice, ROAR, Spry, Literary Orphans and other literary journals. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize as well as for Best of the Net. She lives in Saratoga, CA with her husband and some formerly stray animals.
D.R. Glass lives and works in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Greg Girvan grew up in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, and received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Slippery Rock University. His writing appears or is forthcoming in The South Carolina Review, Sleet Magazine, Wisconsin Review, Revolver, Our Stories, and a number of other periodicals. He currently works as a freelance writer and editor in Pittsburgh.
Tom Lelache is a 20-year-old South Jersey native who owes everything to the unfaltering support he regularly receives from his family and friends. Although he thoroughly enjoys his current job of renting and selling instruments to the world’s next generation of brilliant musicians, he does hope to someday be able to devote himself full-time to creating his own words and music. “Heel” is his first published short story.
Hal Ackerman is co-area head of the UCLA screenwriting program. His book, Write Screenplays That Sell…The Ackerman Way, is the text of choice in a growing number of screenwriting programs around the country.
His fiction has appeared in North Dakota Review, New Millennium Writings, Southeast Review, and The Pinch among, others. “Roof Garden” won the Warren Adler award for fiction. “The Dancer Horse” was nominated for a Pushcart prize. “Belle and Melinda” won the Southeast Review’s WORLD’S BEST SHORT SHORT STORY CONTEST. His play Testosterone: How Prostate Cancer Made a Man of Me won the William Saroyan Centennial Award for drama. Under its new title, Prick, it was named best play at the 2011 United Solo Festival.
His novel STEIN STONED won the Lovey Award for best first novel in 2011; followed by STEIN, STUNG in 2012.
Sebastian Barajas grew up in Arlington, Virginia, where he graduated from high school in 2010. He is now a sophomore at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, writing his first novel intended for publication, as well as a series of short stories and political/satirical essays.
Libby Cudmore’s work has been published in Pank, Big Lucks, The Big Click, Chamber Four, Connation Press, New Rivers Press and others. She blogs about mix tapes and writing at www.libbycudmore.com.
Linda Davis was the winner of The Saturday Evening Post’s Great American Fiction Contest and her story “The War at Home” appeared in their January/February 2014 issue. “My Boyfriend is a Senator” is forthcoming in the new adult anthology, Perception, from Elephantine Press. She was the runner-up in Flyway’s Notes from the Field Contest, judged by Rick Bass, and her story “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” appeared in their March 2014 issue. Her essay “This House” was published in the anthology Morning Coffee and Other Stories: Mothering Children with Special Needs. Other publications include The Literary Review and Gemini Magazine. She worked with Antonya Nelson at Bread Loaf and Brad Kessler at Antioch University, where she received her MFA. She lives in Santa Monica with her husband and three children.
Tracy Gold is an M.F.A. candidate in Fiction at the University of Baltimore. Find out more at http://www.tracycgold.com/.
Now retired, Frank Light lives in Virginia with his wife Sally; they met on the Buddha the Taliban would later destroy. “Food for Work” is adapted from an unpublished memoir titled Adjust to Dust: On the Backroads of Southern Afghanistan. Frank’s recent writings have been or are scheduled to be published in Even the Smallest Crab Has Teeth (an anthology of Peace Corps nonfiction), Make literary magazine, War, Literature and the Arts, James Dickey Review, Mosaic Art & Literary Journal, Beetroot, The Greensilk Journal, Consequence Magazine, O-Dark-Thirty, Amsterdam Quarterly, Tahoma Literary Review, Serving House Journal, and Winning Writers.
Sarah MacKenzie was born in Toronto in ’95, and until recently has been a loyal Suburbanite to Ontario’s GTA (evidently, the inspiration for her writing is often the mundane and curiously ordinary lives brewed up in the otherworldly Suburbia). She’s now a first year university student in Montreal, where she studies in creative writing and history, and thinks longingly of home.
Ann Stewart McBee was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She earned her PhD in creative writing at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, where she still teaches undergraduate composition and creative writing, and served as an editor for cream city review. Her work has appeared in Ellipsis, Untamed Ink, So to Speak, and At Length among others. She lives in Milwaukee with her husband and a mischievous terrier. Her novel Veiled Men, is looking for a home. See more at http://annmcbee.tumblr.com/.
Joe Ponepinto is the co-Publisher of Tahoma Literary Review. His fiction and reviews have been published in many literary journals, most recently The Stoneslide
Idrissa Simmonds’ poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in Event, Pearls, Black Renaissance Noire, The Caribbean Writer, As/Us, Zora Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of fellowships from VONA, Bread Loaf, Poets House, and Hedgebrook, and is the 2013 winner of the Crab Creek Review poetry award and a 2014 finalist for the Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize. She is curator and chef of the literary and food salon Brunch and Word, where writers gather in her home for literature, fellowship, and good food. She calls Brooklyn home.
Lynn Stegner’s books include the novels, UNDERTOW and FATA MORGANA, both nominated for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and BECAUSE A FIRE WAS IN MY HEAD, Faulkner Award for Best Novel, a 2007 Literary Ventures Selection, and a New York Times Editors’ Choice. Her novella triptych, PIPERS AT THE GATES OF DAWN, was awarded a Faulkner Society’s Gold Medal. She has been the recipient of fellowships from the Western States Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as a Fulbright Scholarship. The anthology, WEST OF 98: LIVING AND WRITING THE NEW AMERICAN WEST, which she co-edited and introduced, was published in September of 2011; and she has recently completed a volume of stories entitled FOR ALL THE OBVIOUS REASONS. She teaches at Stanford University. Currently at work on a new novel, she divides her time between San Francisco, California and Greensboro, Vermont.
Daniel Stintzi graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2011 and received his MFA from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University in 2014. He lives with his wife in Baltimore, Maryland.
-over three-quarters fried egg
-two-year-old cheddar cheese
-salt and pepper
-grated top panel of Hewlett-Packard 200A Audio Oscillator, stolen from the Computer History Museum, 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View, California
-over three-quarters fried egg
-salt and pepper
-frozen butter, shaved
-shredded Bill of Rights, with 1st, 4th, and 8th amendments in ALL CAPS
-over three-quarters fried egg
-salt and pepper
-crumblings of seared page corners of each page of the Patriot Act
-over three-quarters fried egg
-two-year-old Reggiano Parmigiano cheese
-salt and pepper
-folded cover sheet of transcript of Senate debate over Gulf of Tonkin Agreement
-over three-quarters fried egg
-salt and pepper
-Oroweat brand onion bun
-shavings of copper plate used to make commemorative etchings of opening paragraph of the US Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision
-over three-quarters fried egg
-winter savory, steeped for 5 seconds
-salt and pepper
-shredded Articles of Confederation, translated from English to German, German to Yiddish, and from the Yiddish back into the English
-over three-quarters fried egg
-1 Tbsp Sauvignon Blanc
-salt and pepper
-folded, dampened page of Joe Biden’s plagiarized speech about the environment
-over three-quarters fried egg
-brown mustard, made with Baker’s bourbon
-salt and pepper
-ink chemically lifted from the Fort Laramie Treaty
A new study out of Upland Downs University has found that nearly half of conversations in the real world start with some variant of, “You know what I just saw on Facebook?” The study used observers placed in coffee shops, train stations, and public parks to record thousands of unprompted exchanges between friends, family members, and complete strangers, and found that 47.2 percent of conversations that could be observed depended on material posted in a speaker’s Facebook feed. This rate was up from 26% two years ago and just 16% in 2010.
The lead author of the study was Lavinia Loope, a professor of communications at Upland Downs, and she argues that this phenomenon is driven by the “lowest conversational denominator effect.” Says Loope, “It takes energy and effort to sustain any conversation, and so people will naturally look for the lowest effort point of shared interest or knowledge. Today, that low point is Facebook.” She also points out that people crave approval, and repeating something funny you saw on Facebook is an easy way to get that reward.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Implied Outcomes, also predicted that the percentage of conversations based on Facebook will peak at 97% in 2017. At that point, nothing new will be posted on Facebook, due to the fact that everyone will only be talking about what’s already on Facebook. This will usher in what the researchers call the “helicopter phase,” in which Facebook memes will go around and around, keeping the percentage of conversations based on Facebook at 97%, until everyone realizes that they’ve seen and talked about everything on Facebook already, at which point the percentage will collapse.
For those readers curious about what the future holds, the remaining three percent of conversations will be about traffic, weather, and intestinal ailments. Those subjects cannot be completely eradicated.
The researchers used two models to form these hypotheses, one from the world of epidemiology and one based on studies of the changes in predator and prey species populations over time. “Whether you think of Facebook as a parasitic streptococcal bacterium or a vicious member of the mustilidae family, commonly known as weasels, the result is the same,” says Loope. “Facebook destroys normal conversation up until the point when there are no hosts or prey left, and then Facebook collapses.”
The paper also discusses some of the likely effects of this boom-bust cycle on other aspects of daily life and economic activity. For instance, by the first quarter of 2018, Facebook will employ 12% of the global population. The eventual implosion of the company will lead to global economic depression. Given the tendency of videos and photos to draw more attention than plain text on the social network, literacy rates will decline by 26% worldwide and the art of writing will largely disappear, being sustained only in a few remote places without broadband access.