The Answering Machine
Posted on 04.17.2014

800px-Southwestern_Bell_-_Answering_Machine-_Model_FA935By Nancy Christie

“Davis, Bill in Contracts tells me you still haven’t finalized that Anderson deal.”

Even on the cheap answering machine Bob had bought after leaving his wife six months earlier, the threat in his boss’s voice came through loud and clear.

At a 33% discount, CBS Might have Considered Tina Fey
Posted on 04.11.2014

tinafeyBy Alice Paul

Dear CBS,

Did you consider the cost savings of hiring a chick to take over The Late Show with David Letterman

Perhaps you hadn’t heard:  President Obama announced that women (of which I am one) earn 33% of what their male (of which I am not) counterparts earn for the same job.

The Studio of the Voice
Posted on 04.09.2014

4843765564_ee86e061b5_oBy Marcia Aldrich

1.  It starts as a muffled cry.

2.  Down a long hallway into a wood paneled room with a wall of windows against which branches slap in a howling wind.

3.  No one hears it.

Alas, Poor Bob!
Posted on 04.08.2014

4729473393_37ec884800_oBy Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons

If you look up Polish composer and pianist André Tchaikowsky online, you will find something unique in his Wikipedia entry. Between Life and Career and Bibliography, there is a section simply titled Skull. What is notable is not his actual skull, but what he wanted done with it after he died. In 1982, at the age of 46, Tchaikowsky died of colon cancer and left his body to medical research, but he requested his skull be donated to the Royal Shakespeare Company.

A Transplanted Chicagoan’s Guide to Kansas City
Posted on 04.04.2014

KSMissouriBy Matt Lowe

A little over five years ago, I left my hometown of Chicago for Kansas City to be with the love of my life (and now wife) and her daughter, her special needs daughter, no less.  Why did I mention that last part.  Well, partly because I’m a jackass, but mostly because I want you to know that I really am a good guy, even though you’re about to read some super snarky shit.

Always Judge Books By Their Covers, or, Check Out This Bear Wearing A BDSM Harness
Posted on 03.28.2014

SD-1By Justin Bostian

One of the lessons my fairly priced and invaluable liberal arts education taught me was that books have covers, and that I shouldn’t judge the contents of said books by said covers. But as a writer and editor who made upwards of three value meals off the publishing industry last year alone, I think I’m qualified to do a little judging. And since there weren’t any job openings for judicial positions on Craigslist, I decided to write this article about a stupid (stupid awesome) book cover.

Pub Crawl With Susan Lanier
Posted on 03.25.2014

Lanier-Headshot-208x500By Matt Martin

Among other things, Susan Lanier is a hustler baby, and she just wants you to know: its not where you been, but where you ’bout to go. That is fitting because Susan Lanier is going places.  Fresh off a delightfully creative chap book Felicia Sassafrass is Fiction,  it was just announced that her debut short story collection, The Game We Play, is coming out from Curbside Splendor in September, 2014.

Susan and I meandered through the chilly Chicago spring, cruising central loop watering holes before ending at her local option, The Innertown Pub, where we enjoyed shots of various colors and cheap pints of PBR.

Finding Lincoln’s Funeral Train: Retracing the Route & Writing Laying Lincoln Down
Posted on 03.24.2014

IMG_1845By Kurt Kennedy

Since I’m writing about the event, I retraced the route of Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train from Washington City to Springfield, Illinois, in the summer of 2010. As best I could, anyway. At times, I was traveling on the same right-of-way that the bodies of Lincoln and his young son Willie did in the spring of 1865.

Excerpt from Humboldt: Or, The Power of Positive Thinking
Posted on 03.07.2014

Humboldt cover

By Scott Navicky

I

How Humboldt was brought up on a beautiful farm in Ohio & how he was driven away

Once upon a time in Winesburg, Ohio, there lived a young boy on whom nature had bestowed the gifts of a gentle disposition, solid judgment, and complete openness of mind. Because of these gifts, the boy was called Humboldt, or so many people around Winesburg thought. Others speculated that the boy was called Humboldt after Humboldt County.

Hypertext Interview with Eric Charles May
Posted on 03.05.2014

MayBio-150x150By Christine Rice

Bedrock Faith, Eric May’s debut novel, is a book you fall into fully, totally, and unreservedly.  The plot hooks you; the movement is fluid; the characters are razor-sharp.  You think about them when you’re at work, making dinner, walking the dog — those awful times when you can’t pick up a book.  You wonder how the reformed ex-con, Stew Pot Reeves, will redeem himself and how his delightfully disciplined neighbor Mrs. Motley will react. 

Excerpt from Eric Charles May’s Bedrock Faith
Posted on 03.05.2014

Bedrock[1]CHAPTER TWO

Neighbors on the Block Weigh In

“Maybe prison finally taught him a lesson.”

“Who do you know ever got better from being in jail?”

“Never can tell, sometimes folks change for the better.”

“Change for the better? You heard what Mrs. Motley said about Stew Pot throwing his momma’s clothes away. If you ask me, looks like he’s going to put his momma out.”

Six Pack at a CTA Bus Stop With Artist Joe Nelson
Posted on 03.04.2014

Ms. Parker Joe Nelson Oil on LinenBy Matt Martin

For those of you who don’t know, Bronzeville is a Chicago neighborhood east of U.S. Cellular Field and south of 31st Street.  It’s the home of the Bud Billiken Parade, beautiful old greystone mansions, lake views, a burgeoning art scene and artist Joe “Cujo” Nelson. In addition to Chicago murals and art gallery exhibitions, Joe has painted murals in Italy, Ireland, and several other states in the United States. He creates work with spray paint as well as traditional oils and acrylics. Recently, Joe and I met on the corner of 35th and Cottage Grove, just south of the CTA bus stop, and looked at sculptures while tipping back a six pack of Heineken.

Excerpt from The Tragedy of Fidel Castro by João Cerqueira
Posted on 03.03.2014

Tragedy of Fidel Castro

By João Cerqueira

Colorful colonial mansions, flaunted arches, verandas, and balustrades. Abandoned houses bombarded by time. Impervious concrete blocks. Buses crammed full of people. Tall, strong, agile bodies and heavy, slow, flaccid ones, all waiting for the carriage of history that had already passed. Cars straight out of museums propelled by magic and miracles of maintenance. Marxist cars devoid of charm and efficiency. Cavalcades of bicycles making their way silently up long avenues. Hot wind. Waves breaking against the sea wall. Eyes lost in watching the horizon.

Border towns, Obscure Music, and Writing: An Interview with Fernando A. Flores
Posted on 03.02.2014

DeathToTheBullshitArtistsBy Ramon Castillo

Upon discovering up-and-coming writer Fernando Flores’ new book, Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas Vol. 1, I became thrilled. Not only because he wrote about his former Texas hometown of McAllen, but because the short stories were all about failed underground musicians/artists.

Everyone in America is Racist but Me
Posted on 02.19.2014

-1By Daniel Shapiro, BFA

According to the latest research found in The American Journal of Anthropology and Sociology, everyone living in America is either outwardly racist or unwittingly benefiting from a racist system.  Everyone, that is, except me. The article states:

“America was founded on racism, and will continue to be racist as long as it exists. The only exception to this is Daniel Martin Shapiro.”

Decaf Green Tea with Lonie Walker
Posted on 02.18.2014

Lonie Walker PhotoBy Matt Martin

Lonie Walker is tenacious.  For decades, she has survived the often tumultuous Chicago music, theater, and performance scenes.  Not content with just surviving, though, she flourished.  Starting out performing at the original Gaslight Club, Ms. Walker parlayed her performance and business skills into creating a Chicago music destination:  the legendary Underground Wonder Bar.

Feeding the Robot
Posted on 02.14.2014

TeethBy Don De Grazia

“Ballad for Mason Johnson”

There once was a boy who had a job feeding a robot.  This might sound like a fable, or something, but it really isn’t.  The boy worked at a huge factory in a small, Midwestern corn town.  The factory made motors for washing machines.

There is a Light That Never Goes Out
Posted on 02.14.2014

DREABy Patricia Ann McNair

(with apologies and appreciation to Morrissey)

My father died when I was fifteen years old; I was still a virgin. I know what you are thinking: non sequitur. What does one thing have to do with the other? I know what I am thinking: everything.

Romantic Strategies for Cheaters
Posted on 02.14.2014

-1By Geoff Hyatt

I.   Rationalizations

It’s hard to feel good about yourself when you’re a cheater. That’s a problem. If you feel too bad about your behavior then you might attempt to change it. As a cheater, you must make the construction of justifications your first priority if you hope to suppress feelings of guilt, maintain a semblance of sincerity in your relationships, and carry on as you please.

Just Down Route 30
Posted on 02.14.2014

-2By Deb R. Lewis

“I’m going to a party,” Neva said. When I looked, her green eyes were sizing me up. “It’s just down 30 a ways.”

We were in Aurora, Illinois, in Neva’s apartment, across from what she called Needle Park. She’d been a poisonous asp of an ex in high school — actually, more of an emotional vampire — and we were just reacquainting after years of no contact.

Victoria Woodbury in the Grand Home of Her Very Rich In-Laws
Posted on 02.14.2014

agBy Eric Charles May

Tall, stately, darkly caramel, wearing a navy blue evening dress with her hair up and feet in high heels, Victoria Woodbury took the back stairway from the ballroom to the second floor and walked down the long, darkened, carpeted hallway, humming to the music from the other end of the mansion where the band in the ballroom was now playing Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing.

Some Bunny Doesn’t Want You
Posted on 02.14.2014

3420081984_6f44f44d08_oBy Cyn Vargas

I met Rudy on the #11 Lincoln Avenue bus after I had finished my shift at Goldblatts. The bus doors screeched open and in he strolled. He had this really curly brown hair, and his face was clear except for this one beauty mark near his jaw, and his teeth were straight and white. I was eighteen. My expectations weren’t that high.

No Photo Available
Posted on 02.14.2014

Image 15By Sahar Mustafah

Rifling through the underwear clearance bin, my mother says to me, “My great-aunt Fatima couldn’t get pregnant for ten years, so her husband took a second wife. Then, subhan allah, she and the other woman both conceived that same year.”

The Birds and the Bees
Posted on 02.14.2014

BirdBeesBy Randy Richardson

A recurring character on the long-running children’s TV series Romper Room was Mr. Do-Bee, an oversized bumblebee who taught children proper deportment and who always started his sentence with Do Bee, as in “Do Bee good boys and girls for your parents!” There was also a Mr. Don’t Bee to show children exactly what they should not do.

What it means to be a single woman again in your thirties
Posted on 02.14.2014

3110869308_ccd8d7a514_o (1)By Noelle Aleksandra Hufnagel

1. For a brief moment, you will think you are Beyoncé. You are not Beyoncé. Get this idea out of your head almost immediately. Sure, you are a single lady now, but your hips will never, ever, ever move like that and it’s a danger to yourself and everyone else around you to think otherwise. At this stage in your life, you will not find yourself up in the club, especially not without taking a nap first.

@Love
Posted on 02.14.2014

Photo8by Matt Martin

Love is hard in 2014.

Before I go any further, I would just like to say, that no, I am not a bitter, loveless 34-year-old (I kinda am); I am a hardened, love seeker (super bored with the dating scene) who has yet to find the right person (holding out for a rich professional who’s into open relationships).

Hypertext Interview with Elizabeth Earley
Posted on 02.06.2014

Elizabeth-EarleyBy Christine Rice

In my mind’s eye, I see Elizabeth Earley waiting for class to start, leaning forward in her seat, looking fiercely determined.  Everything about her screamed, Let’s get this started already.

Elizabeth knew why she was there.  Yeah, she knew what she was about.  And she was all about writing.

Excerpt From Elizabeth Earley’s A Map of Everything
Posted on 02.06.2014

Map-Cover-Figure-WebBy Elizabeth Earley

69. Thulium (Lanthanoid; Primordial; Solid)

Take your sister out to dinner somewhere she will like, the Olive Garden or the Macaroni Grill. Sit across from her at your table for two and regard her oily face, her twitchy, thick hands, how they shake and jerk as she reaches to tear off another chunk of bread from the loaf.

An Essay About Essays
Posted on 02.06.2014

Stielstra - closeBy Megan Stielstra

In the introductory paragraph to this essay about essays I will tell you that you don’t need an introductory paragraph, at least not of the 1) topic sentence 2) structural methodology 3) thesis statement varity that we were all taught in high school. What you do need is That Thing; maybe a question, a fear or a fury. It makes your blood boil.

Possible Histories of Leroy Paige
Posted on 02.05.2014

By Will McGrath

Leroy Paige sleeps in an ancient RV, a great beige behemoth with siding coming undone and rust creeping from the wheel wells.  The vehicle’s name is painted in Old English font, ornate and looping: The Executive.  I watched the RV wheeze down the street the day he arrived, watched it slow alongside the shelter—this cavernous former meatpacking warehouse where we serve dinner each night—watched the thing settle into the earth with a sigh, displaying no inclination toward future locomotion.