America's Most Critical Journal (since 1999)
A character stands in McDonald’s thinking he lost his mind, but that might be a good thing.
A young man's first job is a nightmare.
A young man attempts to achieve meaningful human contact with an eclectic set of people in a Florida bar
"Above a vast new expanse of flat skin between his eyes and mouth, he’s telling us our noses will be next to go."
Dr. Sykes took a pull from his coffee mug on which was written 'Beauty is skin deep!’ Gazing out the sliding glass into the waiting room, he mumbled to his receptionist, “Who are all these people?” The place was filled with vagabonds, ne’er-do-wells, the obese, and the poorly dressed. “They are all scheduled today, Doctor.”
The weapon at close inspection was obviously a plastic toy, but from afar it could have easily fooled the eye as the real thing—a minimized automatic for a minimized militiaman. But oh how much Gentry loved his toy gun, he carried it slung over like the soldiers on TV, or the action figures his father cheerfully purchased for him. “Hold it like a man,” his father warned him, boasting that the alpha males of the family line always respected weapons and men in uniform.
The problem was the same for all the beasts. It was not simply that things were not what they used to be. It was rather that they were not what they used to be. Lions weren’t as proud. Monkeys had lost their talent for imitation. Tigers had become dis-spirited. Foxes had lost their guile, and even eagles were no longer eagle-eyed.
Professor Sondra Lear, a feminist science fiction scholar par excellence, was sobbing in her State University of New York at Greenwich Village office. The fact that Trump was really the President of the United States devastated her. Although she had experienced the deaths of loved ones and illnesses, she felt that President Trump was not a typical vicissitude. Having your country’s national character become gone with the wind during one election night is not normal. While walking to the subway on the morning after the election, Sondra felt like a funeral procession participant. The usual hurried insensitive New York throngs were ashen faced and dazed. Sondra, knowing that she could not survive living in Trump’s racist and misogynist America, was primed to use all of her resources to cope.
I have traveled to numerous exotic places, including the foothills of the Himalayas, the Arctic, and the Antarctic. These places, needless to say, are all on the surface of the earth. As a space scientist I have also fantasized about going into outer space, but the closest I have been to fulfilling it was a simulated trip to a comet in Disneyland. The journey that I describe here is of an entirely different dimension. It is not only outside the earth’s surface, it is also outside our familiar space-time fabric; it is my highly unanticipated journey to Hell with a brief stopover just outside the gateway to heaven.
I slide my telephone out of my sleeve and turn on the camera function. Katherine is patient. She knows: this isn’t a lunch; it’s a life, and it deserves to be shared. I shoot the sandwich from eighteen angles, kneeling on my chair and the table, darting outside to capture it through the window. It came with a high-quality napkin and a glass of fresh water, and I want to make sure these appear but don’t overshadow the star.
“To beat a reality TV star,” producer Harvey Schleishenstein murmured to himself, “it takes a reality TV star…” The idea didn’t belong to anyone in particular, but since it had come to him, he was considering it. Like the majority of voters in the last election, Harvey had no love for President Ronald Stump, that belligerent bad-hair-day billionaire casino-monger who had Brexited his way to the most powerful office on the planet.
As he stood at his lectern awaiting the opportunity to speak, Crestwell surveyed his opponents. They seemed as unremarkable as ever, save for the rotund man in shirtsleeves two podiums to Crestwell’s right, who had forsaken his jacket in order to ensure that no one would fail to notice the .40 caliber Glock strapped beneath his left armpit. That strategy was working, at least on Crestwell, who kept catching himself stealing glances at the weapon.
TRUMP:(smiles warmly) Nice place...reminds me of my apartment on Fifth Avenue. / PUTIN: (bullying) Similar yes, but Kremlin has BIGGER rooms. No? TRUMP: (shakes his head) No...my rooms are HUGE, REALLY HUGE.
What can one say about an election that saw the party of FDR doomed because white working class voters turned out in large numbers? The Democratic establishment will suicidally blame racism, nativism, misogyny, religiosity, and other tribal impulses, all of which indeed rose to the surface like the smelliest turds in a waste treatment plant. The Dems will not, however, place the blame where it belongs, on themselves and on their candidate, a small-time grifter who never understood that America loves those who steal in large amounts but hates the chiseler and the cheap hustler. This nation despises the person who picks your pocket for change but reveres him who plunders your 401k.
I met Svetlana (not her real name) outside a Russian tea house in New York City. Not the famous Russian Tea Room on W. 57th St. that has hosted glitterati, literati and Russian ex-pats since 1927, but a hole-in-the-wall, Mama and Papa joint in the far reaches of Brighton Beach—the type of establishment where, if the second-hand smoke from unfiltered Soviet brand cigarettes doesn't kill you, the East River catfish caviar certainly will.
All the Foolze down in Foolzville like Foolzville a lot, / But the Frump who lived North of Foolzville did not. / The Frump hated Foolzville! The whole blasted swamp! / And he vowed he would drain it, in one wild romp!
Trump Dreams of Jeannie - Donald Trump glanced at an oblong lamp adorned with a spout and a semi-circular handle which markedly differed from the other baubles dispersed throughout the penthouse. The lamp was made of bronze, not gold. Trump, who was a tad nervous about being President-elect, rubbed the lamp to assuage his anxiety. Smoke suddenly filled the room and surrounded the French provincial furniture. A rotund brown skinned young man—who wore pantaloons, a billowing sleeved shirt covered by a vest, a small tasseled hat, and pointed shoes—stood in front of Trump.
The Liker - The fire was a distant stimulus. A more urgent one was before her, on her laptop—her Facebook page. While she enjoyed perusing the updates from her 3,004 friends to discern salient facts about them, scrolling endlessly through their comments and photos for more clues about their likes, habits and tendencies, she inevitably returned to linger over her own page. She was far more interesting and had far more likable habits than anyone else that she knew.
The Voice God Gave Her - He believed Lizbeth was suffering from menopausal delusional psychosis, having some sort of mid-life crisis or nervous breakdown, or worst of all, turning Republican. What they all failed to recognize was FAS (Foreign Accent Syndrome) was a legitimate disease, albeit rare.
Hooters Take-Out - “Take out? Wow, you’re the first guy to order take-out in the two weeks I’ve been working here....It’s okay. I love gay men,” she blurted out conversationally.
Jesus and the Sea Star - And he threw the starfish toward the water, but it never made it. Instead, the starfish hit Jesus, who happened to be walking along the seaside that day.
The Inamesia Scare - Rumors spread quickly that Inamesia was far worse a disease than the pox and the plague combined. And so the groans of fear grew louder and louder.
The Proposal Thief - That afternoon I spontaneously proposed to Daphne while on a nature hike in the Malibu canyons. Having reached the crest of a particularly steep hill, I happened to look up into the air and spot a sky-writing plane adding the finishing touches to the question “WILL U MARRY ME?”
Begging the Question - "If she goes to the dance with you then you'll probably kiss her and you'll start dating, and things will get weird between us and that's not fair because you've both been my friends for a long time," Alan protested, committing both a straw man fallacy and a slippery-slope fallacy.
The Great Wall of Pie - Somewhere near the Southern border within the Homeland itself lives an old man with his three kindly, but odd-shaped sons. One is nearly as tall as a telephone pole; the second is burlier than a blown-up balloon, and the third is the actual small size of a tuning fork.
You Stink! - I never thought a rubbish dump would ever talk to me, but one day a dump in Ain Al Mresseih, Beirut did just that.
Max and Tony - An eight-year-old boy was the first victim. A bite to the neck and it was over. But the tiger must have been confused by the pandemonium around him, because after securing his meal, he went on a murder spree.
The Abominable Kitchen - These bizarre and terrifying happenings may seem too ghastly to be true, but I must assure you that my tale unfolded exactly as I will relate it.
Voltaire in England - Voltaire retired to Wandsworth for a few months to brush up on his English so that he could chat with Pope, who usually talked in couplets.
Any Job for Bob - The application form and the eligibility criteria were straightforward. I didn't have even the minimum qualifications or experience for this job. But as I knew I had no chance of getting the job, I made myself sound like the perfect candidate.
Don’t Forget to Swim - The first time I lost a kid, I felt real bad about it.
The Occupational Hazards of Occupying. Inside the Occupy movement.
Fifty Shades of Mayonnaise. A story about love and lots of food.
The Last Storyteller - Grandpa finds that kids have no more attention spans for book-based stories.