Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Drunken Boat

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The online literary journal The Drunken Boat, publishes all kinds of contemporary creative works, fiction and non-fiction, some besides just literature. In their newest edition, they feature poems, short stories, personal statements, and book reviews throughout the categories of Debt, Fiction, Librotaficante, Ocean, Poetry, Reviews, and Video_Dumbo. Their page is rather interesting, I gather from looking at past issues that the more specific topics change each issue, which allows the journal to not just publish beautiful pieces of creative writing of random topics, but also highlights a group of creative works all delving into a certain issue, giving the reader a broad perspective. The layout of the journal makes the different categories easy to discern, being labeled across the top of the page, and the design is appealing to they eye. One of my favorite categories is “Debt“, which is aptly named, and features a collection of poems and short works about debt, something a college student can definitely relate to. One of my favorite poems about debt was written by Brian Laidlaw named “Ante Matter”:

Pretty good work if you can get it, making paradises in abandoned banks
Stony exterior, marble interior,
The registers like a failed carillon (toneless) striking all hours at all hours.
Every noon the ghost attendants ghost-walk up to the kiosk,
Throw down nobody’s money
(The two days you are proud of a boat are the day you buy it and the day you sell it)
Trading in the heart for the farm, buying the farm,
Selling the bucket to kick
The can, selling the farm when you kick the bucket.
It doesn’t make sense to dream of a time after the apocalypse because
That’s a time of permanent wakefulness anyway: high-level emissions,
Grainy disturbances. Until then
Remember the language of contracts: you can bank on love
& When that bank collapses, your worries are the least of your worries.

Another category that sparked my interest was “Librotraficante“, a collection of works by people associated with the Librotraficante movement, which is a group dedicated to smuggling banned books to certain high schools in Arizona and Texas who have omitted Latino studies from their curriculum. They hand out the contraband literature, set up “underground libraries”, and organize press conferences in an attempt to stand up for the banned literature. The group is what I’d like to refer to as “literary martyrs”.

The journal definitely takes advantage of the online medium, by posting sound clips of many of the authors reading their work. They also feature many videos in the journal, like on the main page of the category “Ocean” which contains videos of scuba diving as well as a vivid photo galley. The “Video_Dumbo” section is devoted solely to visual pieces of art. My favorite piece, named “Mixed Signals” by Lee Arnold, was abstract to say the least, trying to emulate synesthesia with a flash of different bright colorshttp://www.drunkenboat.com/db18/lee-arnold.

At the moment, The Drunken Boat is not accepting general submissions, however they editors are looking for humorous short stories, essay, poems, and audiovisual performances, with a maximum length of 750 words, to feature in their Spring 2014 edition. The Drunken Boat publishes a great medley of different creative works, both literary, audio, and visual, and I would definitely like to submit my work to them because of their incorporation of variety into their journal.

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Lord Byron, the 19th century Charlie Harper

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I’m a loyal Byronite

Lords of the Drinks

Lord Byron (1788-1824) was a poet from England, who later in his life became a national hero in Greece because of his leading role in the revolution against the Ottoman Empire. But most of his fame he probably achieved with his extravagant lifestyle. George Gordon Byron had numerous love affairs and punished his liver severely on a daily basis. Basically he was like Charlie Sheen from the TV-show Two and a Half Men in the early 19th century.

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The Purpose of Writing

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I recently started reading a book that I’ve been wanting to read for a long time, The Beautiful and Damned by the fan-favorite F. Scott Fitzgerald. A main reason for this being that it contains one of my favorite quotes that I’ve come across, “Here’s to alcohol, the rose colored glasses of life”—it’s beautiful and genius. Now when I say I recently started reading this book, I mean I literally started reading it yesterday, so I am not too far into it at this point, but it has already started delving into major issues that I, and I’m sure many of my peers as well, find important and pressing within my own life. Do you ever read something that makes you so angry because it’s just so masterfully written, that you question all validity in your own writing skills? This is how I feel about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing, I cannot emphasize the word “genius” enough. A passage that I found especially beautiful and brilliant appears at the beginning of the section titled “A Flash-back in Paradise”, reading:

Beauty, who was born anew every hundred years, sat in a sort of outdoor waiting room through which blew gust of white wind and occasionally a breathless hurried star. The stars winked at her intimately as they went by and the winds made a soft incessant flurry in her hair. She was incomprehensible, for, in her, soul and spirit were one—the beauty of her body was the essence of her soul. She was that unity sought for by philosophers through many centuries. In this outdoor waiting room of winds and stars she had been sitting for a hundred years, at peace in the contemplation of herself.

When reading things like this I strive to see past my jealousy and instead attempt to emulate aspects of its beauty through my own writing.

A theme that is beginning to develop within the novel is the importance and purpose of art, specifically pertaining to literature, within the world. The protagonist of the novel seems to be Anthony Patch, a spoiled rich grandson, with dead parents, and a love for alcohol and being idle. His hardworking grandfather urged him to do something with his life, so Anthony claimed that he would write a history book, though he finds this to be an impossible endeavor. He struggled to get his words out on paper, and much preferred his idle life of privilege to working. Perhaps serving as an antagonist to Anthony could be his writer friend, Charles Caramel; together, the two of them harbor very different ideas about the purpose of literature, as well as its usefulness, one view being much more cynical than the other. This can be seen in a scene where Anthony, Charles (Dick), and Anthony’s much more similar friend, Maury Noble, get together for drinks and discussion.

Dick: (As though talking to himself) I think—that when I’ve done another novel and a play, and maybe a book of short stories, I’ll do a musical comedy.
Maury: I know—with intellectual lyrics that no one will listen to. And all the critics will groan and grunt about “Dear old Pinafore.” And I shall go on shining as a brilliantly meaningless figure in a meaningless world.
Dick: (Pompously) Art isn’t meaningless.
Maury: It is in itself. It isn’t in that it tries to make life less so.
Anthony: In other words, Dick, you’re playing before a grand stand peopled with ghosts.
Maury: Give a good show anyhow.
Anthony: (To Maury) On the contrary, I’d feel that it being a meaningless world, why write? The very attempt to give it purpose is purposeless.

Why do I write? To attempt to give purpose to a purposeless world. Although Anthony and Maury’s cynical views of writing as meaningless could make a writer want to question their work, the views of Dick in this excerpt—and throughout the rest of what I’ve read of the novel—once again give writing validity. Dick does not deny the notion that the world is meaningless, in the sense that the purpose of life has not yet been discovered, however, his optimism in believing that writing and art give the world more purpose and meaning really moves me. I identify with Dick’s views, or rather I hold it as an ideal. I want to believe in the power of literature, but through the highs and lows, sometimes I find myself harboring some of Anthony’s views. The Beautiful and Damned displays the inner turmoil of writers, and this plight is something that everyone within the creative writing community has experienced at one point or another.

Gonzo Journalism of My Day… With an Imaginative Tangent

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I was hurriedly driving down Halsted to school this morning, while reprimanding myself for being perpetually late, and concurrently yelling obscenities at anyone who dared to enter my path– it’s fine they can’t hear me cursing them and their entire families from outside the car. If I sauntered into class late, sipping my coffee once again I’d get a headache from rolling my eyes so much at the death stares I’d receive; I pop an aspirin just thinking about having to sit next to the weird girl with the crunchy looking, almost ramen-noodleesque hair, nobody wants that. Morning traffic is the WORST, not just the cars, but the herds of sheep-people mobbing down the sidewalks as well.

I finally arrive (almost) to school where I wait to turn on the street in front of the library for a good five minutes, getting exponentially more frustrated with each passing second that I had to wait for the sheep to pass. I finally see a break in the herd, and I survey my surroundings before turning: I see an oncoming car, not too close or far away, and this asshole running down the sidewalk, literally shoving people out of his way. He was probably in his early forties, with an obviously over-inflated sense of entitlement… You can always tell by the Bluetooth headset blinking in the ear. They want to surgically implant those into your brain. Your brain! Let that sink in for a minute… When this guy sees me beginning to turn, he increases his stride to a sprint. Despite seeing all this, I say “fuck it” and decide to go anyways to avoid getting T-boned before 9:30 am. My action apparently shocked and angered this stupid man with his stupid long black coat that he probably paid way too much for, and his stupid watch and his stupid briefcase. He kicked my car and screamed “Fuck you, you stupid bitch!” I was INFURIATED and steaming all the way down the street during my fruitless efforts of trying to find a good parking spot.

City driving turns the nicest people into the most horribly sadistic and grotesque monsters, so naturally I was cursing this grumpy man who ruined my day, imagining his imminent demise as I’m rounding around the block. I turn left, and as I pull up to the stop sign I realize I am just in time to see the asshole running through the next intersection. I glare at him evilly, then I see a nice big semi-truck come and run him right over. He flopped like a fish on the ground with his mangled limbs. I was staring, mouth agape, then just kept driving while reassuring myself over and over again that the accident was a horrible coincidence. I had no time to stop and see the man’s condition, because after all I was late. I think I’m going to leave fifteen minutes early tomorrow…

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/gonzo-writing-challenge/

Generational Differences

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I come from a very strong Italian family, that pretty perfectly displays many stereotypes involved with that notion. We eat seafood salad on Christmas, I don’t know what this thing called “sauce” that you people put on your pasta is (it’s called gravy–not the brown kind), and my family gatherings consist of about 50 people all trying to talk over each other. You will never meet a more stubborn person than an Italian, especially the ones who are fresh off the boat, like my lovely, wonderful grandparents Luigi and Giovanna. I love them to death, don’t get me wrong, but I have NEVER seen anyone so stuck in their ways. They have a love/hate relationship and my Nana is perpetually yelling at my Papa about some stupid little thing, to which I reprimand her saying “Nana please just lighten up and leave him alone, it’s not worth the stress of getting so upset over little things.” Will she ever listen? Nope. They are from a different time and place in which getting sucked into circular habits is easy; a place with generations of close-mindedness. My grandparents have taught me so much through their hand in raising me, mostly about the importance of family and always being there for them, even if you’re constantly screaming at each other. But perhaps the most important thing they taught me through their error is the vitality of keeping an open mind, and I think this is a major ideal in my generation; one that will enable a change for the better in the world as the younger generation starts to take power within the government and society.

Trips in Her Room

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“I am everything I hate”, she stares in the mirror and says

before turning around to watch the acid-wash walls

melt all around her into a puddle of slimy hypocrisy.

Eyes black and disheveled, she chuckles sarcastically

and mutters: “looks just like it did in the horror movies”,

and thinks about watching them on the green couch long ago,

before everything changed.

She resumes her position, peering into the mirror incessantly,

as if she could find solace on the other side.

With no expected response, she asks,

“Where do I go now?”

There’s something sweet in the emptiness of silence,

yet something pathetic in the inquiry of unanswerable questions.

I guess that’s what happens when an unbloomed flower is picked,

just to sit tightly bound in plastic wrap,

before reaching its final resting place at your friendly local landfill.  

-Victoria Mendicino

Ants

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What am I doing here? I ponder as I sit and stare… a universal question that spans across varying concepts, being both literal and metaphysical. What am I literally doing here? Sitting in a crowded room, listening to this sad little man ramble, attempting to educate; however, my attention and thoughts are perpetually being directed out the window. While I put on a mask of studiousness, I gaze upon the sea of ants crudely moving beneath me. Where are they going? How do they relate to one another? Every ant has their own daily agenda, relationships, problems, and initiatives, probably living a vaguely similar life to my own; yet they nonetheless stay the same to me, ants that go unnoticed. As I watch them shuffle past one another, I think about the selfishness of my generation. Everyone is so wrapped up in their own lives, too busy to give a kind thought to other ants who pass by. Strangers stay strangers. The virtue of empathy is fading away. What is my place amongst these ants? In other words, what am I metaphysically doing here? This question continually vexes me. I like to think that my path has already been inscribed, and take small, obscure happenings as reassurance that I’m headed in the right direction, but I’m really not too sure. Sometimes I think that I’m nothing more than a petal on a vast lake being blown any which way in a random, unorganized fashion by the wind. Do I have any sort of control over my own life? How do my decisions affect me and those around me? The more I ask myself these questions, the more conscious I become about my place in the universe. Time is constantly flying by me, but am I moving forward? I watch everything around me grow: the plants grow, the ants grow, the buildings grow; sometimes I wish I could just pause it all for a while. I know I’m growing too, but part of me feels I’m not ready to do so. My anxieties about the future increase as time passes. Will I become a mere, selfish ant, or do I have greater things in store for me? My empathy has not yet been drained by the world. I often think about the ants, wondering how they feel under their masks. I see so many ants get crushed by the struggles of society and it hurts me. I can’t watch the news anymore, it makes me too nervous. I want to help them, but I don’t know how. Perhaps the first way to start is to unwrap myself from my own life, take a step back, and think about others more. Maybe that’s the first step to answer the question of my metaphysical place in life. Although these thoughts make me anxious, they also offer me a sort of solace, that by thinking about these things, I am on my way to figuring out what I’m doing here. I look up. The crowded room is beginning to empty. The sad little man has finally stopped speaking. I follow suit, grab my things, and shuffle out the door to join the sea of ants.
-Victoria Mendicino

The Lion Whisperer

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This video has been circulating around the internet lately, most of these hyped up videos I usually ignore, but I urge everyone to watch this in its entirety! It is incredible, giving viewers a chance to see these beautiful and dangerous animals from an angle that seems impossible (thank you GoPro… Such a good advertising opportunity for them). Pay attention to what the Lion Whisperer has to say as well. He is not trying to gain popularity through being a total badass and having lion/hyena bff’s, but rather trying to spread awareness of the depleting lion population through grabbing people’s attention with the display of his amazing relationship with these majestic animals. I want to hug a lion SO BAD, you have no idea. I guess hugging Goobie is as close as I’ll get with out getting my limbs ripped to shreds.

Amazing Unconventional Art

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Most people don’t view the floors they walk on as a potential canvas to express themselves artistically; the thought of art on the floor can seem pointless. Dutch artist Suzan Drummen saw the boards under her feet differently, and transformed them into amazing, mind-bending art pieces with thousands of floor installations coming together into beautiful patterns. Check out all her work here. Her work reminds us that beauty can be found in the most unexpected places, and gives us a chance to view the world, even if just momentarily, through rose colored lenses.