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Vol 2: Container Without a Bottom

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BITCH , PLEASE


Why hello there. This issue of Bitch Please is free for you to read, enjoy, pass about, and set your electronic coffee rings in. If you enjoy the issue, please check out the blog, or contact us at bpleaselitmag@gmail.com and let us know! We’d love to hear from you and convince you to write for us. There may be yummy cookies. In other news, you are more than welcome to read, print, and share this zine to your heart’s content. As the zine is provided at no cost to you, we ask that you pass on the favor and keep it that way. When you share, please credit its creators and link back to the Bitch Please site whenever possible. All work remains the property of its creator, so if you would like to use any content for other purposes please contact us, and we will be happy to put you in touch with our writers, artists, photographers, and generally delightful individuals.

In conclusion, dear reader, don’t be a dick.

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The Innards From the Editor

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The Grammarant

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Gold Star Award

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I Saw Lawrence Seldon in a Cialis Commercial

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Burn Her for Being a Liar

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Call me Reductive

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Whaling for Reason

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The Vent

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The Creative Bit

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Cheat Sheets

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Proliferators

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From The Editors

by Kristin Boyd 3


So… We’re here. This is our second issue, and we’re pretty damned proud of ourselves. It almost feels like a billion years have passed since our last issue. Enough time for us to build a castle, dig a moat around it, fill it with lava and baby Balrogs, trap ourselves in it, then escape with nothing but our case knives and rusty spoons sharpened into points. But it hasn’t. It’s only been a few months. Some things have changed, though. We are no longer four college undergraduate English majors. We are now four college graduates with Bachelors of Arts in English. Other than that, not much else has changed. We still love the snark, and the coffee, and elaborate escape plans that may or may not involve mythical beasts of shadow and flame. We’re still dedicated to English and literature and reminding people that Frankenstein is the doctor, not the monster. And pedantry. The world needs a little more pedantry. And now for something completely different: What the hell is a container without a bottom? Tell you what. When you find out, let us know. Seriously. We’d love to hear from you about it. Maybe a diagram would be better… Initial speculation says that a container without a bottom is a tube. Some people argued that it was merely a container without a top. Containers imply bottoms. But if it’s a container without a bottom, wouldn’t that just be the same as taking the top off? There is only one clear answer to this: 42. In any event, it was just a really stupid way to say that someone’s a sponge, and they soak up all input. Yeah, we’re still confused about that, too. While the first might have been nonsensical and confusing, the second is a valid point, and it launched the theme for this issue: identity. How we deal with identity, and how you deal with identity. How the characters in novels we’re reading deal with identity. How no one’s got it wrong, and some of us are like Goldilocks and Baby Bear, who could have been best friends if it wasn’t for that whole unfortunate incident with the break in and murder. So this container has no bottom. And if you were to print this issue, it would be like a sponge. We’re pontificating on identity, and we’re glad that you joined us. Bazinga.

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-The Editors

The Grammarant: Death of the Art of Good Editing Article and Photos by Kristin Boyd

Few things make me sadder than opening a book I’m excited to read and having the irresistible urge to bust out my red pen and mark the crap out of said book.1 For Christmas, my brother gave me a Barnes & Noble imprint of Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. It looks nice, has a good heft to it, and the pages even have that little shiny gold stuff on the edges, and one of those convenient ribbons for marking your place. I couldn’t wait to start reading it. Then, like a tale of Christmas, joy turned to devastating tragedy, I was reading, and what should suddenly arrest my reading? Missing punctuation. Missing punctuation. In a printed book.

This may or may not be an exaggeration, as there are many items of my list of Things That Are Dead to Me 1

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Yes, sometimes I do have a habit of looking for missing punctuation and misspelled words, but I rarely make a big deal out of it. When I buy a book, though, I expect it to be as free of errors as possible. If there are errors, I’d prefer them to be as minimally intrusive as possible. I draw the line when typos and missing punctuation start making me read paragraphs over three times. At that point, it’s just ridiculous and irresponsible. A sentence should never read, “He went to the to the store,” even if the second “to the” is on the following page. This is simply and irrefutably unacceptable. Hell, even Microsoft Word flags that as an issue. Let that appear in a paper at any level—grade school, high school, college, professional—and someone’s going to point it out. Missing punctuation bothers me, in no small part because it can change the meaning of a sentence. It’s even more important in the older works. The way we structure our sentences has changed over time, and with Dumas favoring longer sentences, commas grouping information properly are rather important. Honestly, I’m not even sure why this is an issue. Other editions of this book, translated into English, don’t have this problem. Other translations don’t have repeated words, missing quotation marks, or other obvious mistakes. I don’t understand why it’s an issue for Barnes & Noble. Even if they are doing their own translations, this isn’t a translation error; this isn’t mistakenly using ‘cat’ when it should be ‘dog.’

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And it’s not just Barnes & Noble who’s doing it. I’m seeing it a lot all over the Dish Network guide. I’m seeing it in PDF files, I’m seeing it in magazines, I’m seeing it on the freaking news. It’s like, we can’t even expect that a decent, well put together, easily understood sentence would be standard operating procedure these days. At a time when everyone’s so careful about what they say and how they say it, they sure don’t seem to extend that same courtesy to the way they write. I take pride in my writing, and one way I show that is through making sure it’s as error free as possible. Even the articles I write for this magazine, our Letter from the Editors, our contributor contracts, when I type that up, I proofread it myself before I even send it out. Every email—typed on a computer, and especially when on my phone—is checked and double checked so I don’t look like a fool when I’m contacting important people. Or people in general. Granted, I’m a little more lax when emailing a close friend, but I still make sure everything’s in order. What upsets me the most is that Barnes & Noble isn’t cheap. If I’m spending $40 on a book, I expect it to be error free. I don’t want to have to decipher a sentence that says, “I it her a question.” What the hell is that? I’m not into cryptology. I shouldn’t have to be into cryptology just to read this book, and it’s ridiculous that this is even allowed. People say majors needed? we aren’t.

English aren’t Like hell

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Gold Star Award Kudos to You, Sir As I’m sure you’ve heard, on November 18th of last year, UC Davis police pepper sprayed a group of peacefully protesting students associated with the Occupy movement. I will not ramble about Katehi’s handling of the situation nor the police brutality, instead I would like to extend my admiration not only to the handling of the situation by the entire Davis “In a word: I am the sort of community but specifically to the UC young faculty member, like many Davis English Department’s Nathan Brown.

of my colleagues, this campus needs. I am an asset to the University of California at Davis.

You are not.”

Assistant Professor Brown penned one of the best open letters of its kind I know of. I even hesitate to quote it as it is so effective in its entirety that it seems a shame to touch it. Therefore,

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“You may not order police to forcefully disperse student protesters peacefully protesting police brutality. You may not do so. It is not an option available to you as the Chancellor of a UC campus.”

read the rest of the letter and also check out the petition for Katehi’s resignation here. Aside from this letter as a wellwritten response to dismaying events, it is also a shining example of the importance of

English study. I feel as students, when deep in an analysis of Science Fiction or impaling ourselves trying to understand Derrida, we sometimes become detached. The importance of the major isn’t tied simply into writing essays and arguing sometimes inane points of a novel. I sometimes understand why others ask what one does with an English major. This is why it’s important. English majors aren’t about arguing about character development or symbolism. The topic is immaterial; it’s the arguing, the debate, the voice that is important. The English major, be it centered creative writing, or rhetoric, it developing the skills to speak on about. Speaking well, speaking to will listen.

on literature, criticism, doesn’t matter. It’s about something you’re passionate be heard, speaking so others

Whether you agree with the demands for Katehi’s resignation or not, I cannot believe that such a well-composed and genuine letter wouldn’t inspire.

“I call for your resignation because you are unfit to do your job. You are unfit to ensure the safety of students at UC Davis. In fact: you are the primary threat to the safety of students at UC Davis. As such, I call upon you to resign immediately.”

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I Saw Lawrence Selden in a Cialis Commercial the Irritating Double Standards of Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth by Caitlyn Fasse Art by Katya Gorecki Anyone who knows me understands all too well that The House of Mirth is an essential novel to my identity. When I first read it in survey course, I fell in love with it. As my education in American Lit progressed into 300-level, I continued to make connections to it—and to Alcott and Dreiser (come on, people, the similarities between Lily and Sister Carrie are unavoidable) as well. I imagine every time I brought up Lily Bart, there was

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a collective, inward groan from my classmates: “Oh, here’s the chick who hasn’t read anything except The House of Mirth—just effing shut up already about Lily.” But seriously, Lily Bart is unarguably one of the most stimulating female characters ever written. And I’ve begun to understand the reason why: she’s infinitely frustrating. But who can blame her? She’s surrounded by idiot women and impotent men. Yes, impotent. You heard me correctly. Don’t get your panties in a bunch, I don’t mean to necessarily say that Selden, Gryce, and Dorset can’t get it up, though it wouldn’t be very far-fetched—Dorset must force himself on Lily to be aroused, Gryce probably doesn’t even know what sex is unless he’s read it in Americana, and Selden—well, as much as I root for Selden—he doesn’t have any “cream” for Lily’s tea, only “a lemon.” It’s no wonder Lily walks around with pulsating ovaries for the entire novel and never gets satisfied. The only man she really loves can’t get it up, and frankly he’s too damn poor to arouse her anyway. Cynthia Griffin Wolff, a scholar who appears at every mention of The House of Mirth, claims that Selden is the “final object of [Wharton’s] sweeping social satire” (338). While I don’t completely disagree with this, I think she’s missing an incredibly important point: Lily has such high standards (almost to no fault of her own—she’s a product of her environment), so no SHIT Selden is impotent. Wolff has something to say about Selden’s standards as well: “[Selden’s] affair with Bertha Dorset scarcely justifies the chaste horror he manifests at the possibility that Lily’s conduct has been less than absolutely perfect. In submerging her ethical view into his, Lily has accepted impossible standards” (336). It’s been brought to my attention that Selden can’t possibly be truly impotent because of his affair with Bertha Dorset. A friend of mine—who is, oddly enough, an engineer—is currently

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reading The House of Mirth, and, much to my encouragement, is trying to ignore the frustration of Lily Bart because, well, she deserves a defense lawyer. People generally don’t like Lily, and he identifies a lot with Selden. Anyway, he just finished Book I, and asked me if I thought it was possible that Selden really didn’t have an affair with Bertha, and that maybe it was all hearsay. Well, folks, why wouldn’t he? How could Selden possibly hold his ever-oscillating place with high society unless he was the pet of Bertha, one of the greatest Mean Girls to walk the Earth? As much as I love Selden, I hate him for his affair. I don’t want to believe it, but I know it’s true. I can only imagine how Lily felt. ! I guess what frustrates me the most about Selden’s impotence is that the person in this novel that is criticized the most, at least in my experience engaging in discussions about it, is Lily. Both women and men complain about her inability to make decisions, her penchant for selfsabatoge, and “oh, if she would only just give up on her aspirations for money, she would be happy.” It’s easy to say these things in a modern world. Every time I hear these complaints about Lily, my immediate reaction is “ANACHRONISTIC.” Yes, it’s important to engage in these characters and challenge their ideologies, but with their time-period in mind. Yes, Lily is frustrating, but, seriously folks, when

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are we going to stop focusing so much on the mistakes of women in literature? It has been my experience that female characters are challenged more than male characters. Why don’t we talk about Selden as a man? Why is it provocative to say that Selden is “impotent”? I’m tired of the male, as a gender, being invisible. Why is everyone so quick to empathize with and forgive Selden? Because he’s a man? We need to engage male characters via gender in discussion. For years, I have needlessly tried to explain that feminism is not about women. That it’s not just good for women. Many, many, many, modern feminists (the educated ones, anyway) will tell you that feminism benefits men just as much as it benefits women. I believe in order to evolve ideologically as a species, we need to challenge both sides of the power continuum. We can’t be so quick to forgive male characters of their lesser qualities. We need to hold male characters to the standards against which we hold female ones. Why should Lily be more of an object of scrutiny? If you ask me, Wharton believed this, too. With that it mind, I think it’s important to mention that Lily is certainly not an ideal against which we should compare ourselves. She is not enlightened. She does not challenge the status quo. She is as much a product of and a participant in her high-class, social environment. Lily is the singular manifestation of the consequences of our standards of the Female, in a way that Hester is not. She’s a scare tactic. Wharton, with Lily, is saying: Look what happens to women whose desires conflict with the high, unreasonable expectations of society. We do not revere her. We pity her, because her contrivances for success mean nothing against the gravitational powers of the social black hole. After all, how is Lily supposed to, first of all, compete with Bertha? Clearly, Bertha is more sexually experienced than she is (it has been brought to my attention that perhaps Lily is a virgin). Not to mention, Selden holds Lily up to such high standards of beauty, and then tells her that it’s ideologically

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dishonest to value money. If she gives up her search for riches, how is she supposed to remain the beautiful woman she is in the tableau vivant? If she gives up the search for riches, she will be…DINGY—dun dun dun! In Lily’s time, it was impossible to be beautiful and poor. And Selden is more guilty than anyone else of perpetuating this— if I were a man and couldn’t get it up, I’m sure I’d act similarly. Can’t handle a woman of Lily’s strength? Oh, just bring her down a couple of notches and wreck every prospect of marriage by showing up at the most inopportune moment and then finally, when you realize you love her truly, show up a day too late. Screw you, Selden, get a blue pill and quit your bitching. As he says, in one of my favorite lines in literature ever, “isn’t it natural that I should belittle all the things I cannot offer you?” Selden, I’m really glad you realize where you’re lacking, but simply acknowledging your lesser points does not automatically redeem them. If you know where you are lacking, sir, fucking change. You expect just as much, and more, from Lily. """""""! What a prick. """""""! Or, perhaps more appropriately, what a lemon. """""""! Wolff, Cynthia Griffin. “Lily Bart and the Beautiful Death.” The House of ! Mirth. Ed. Elizabeth Ammons. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1990. ! 320-339. Print.

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Burn Her for Being a Liar BEWARE: Contains Spoilers from Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie by Kristin Boyd Both Louisa May Alcott’s Behind a Mask and Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie feature female main characters who are of a lower class trying to better their lot in life. Both women get a bit underhanded in the deception department, lying to the men in their lives and shifting their personalities as needed. Behind a Mask’s Jean Muir uses her skills as an actress to find a husband of a higher social class. Her methods are deliberate, and arguably vicious, with a clear goal in mind from the beginning of the story. Sister Carrie’s Carrie Meeber, however, takes a more passive route to a higher class. Her social climb comes when men attach themselves to her, though Carrie still uses some deception and plays the men against each other. Interestingly enough, Muir is the woman who’s given the stern finger by Alcott; Dreiser prefers to pat Carrie on the head and say, “It’s not your fault.” This condemnation of one but not the other implies a level of acceptance on the part of the author of manipulative actions to reach endgame, but it also puts a cap on this acceptability. So, as a society, we can accept some form of shifting identity, but there’s a limit to what we’ll stand for, dammit, before we start calling it outright deception. If we follow that line of thinking, given Muir’s treatment in Mask,

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she definitely crossed that line and is thus worthy of a stern finger, while Carrie can be given a pass. Carrie not being seen as a Jean Muir “villain” rests on her presumed innocence, and really, should it? Muir makes no excuses about who she is and what her goals are, yet she’s the one we’re supposed to think less of because she takes her identity into her own hands. Carrie’s molding and shaping of her identity is, perhaps, subconscious, but that doesn’t mean that one woman should be condemned and the other excused. ! Carrie is young and impressionable when the novel starts; this is her first trip into a big city from her small Wisconsin town. “She was eighteen years of age, bright, timid, and full of the illusions of ignorance and youth” (Dreiser 1). In his introduction of Carrie, Dreiser paints her to be naïve, and thus incapable of deception in the same way as Muir. Immediately, Dreiser absolves her of culpability in the eyes of the reader. But that’s not enough: Dreiser pushes further, saying of young girls away from home for the first time,“[e]ither she falls into saving hands and becomes better or she rapidly assumes the cosmopolitan standard of virtue and becomes worse” (Dreiser 2). Basically, Dreiser is telling us that Carrie will be a victim of her circumstances and is not to blame for what happens later. Double-edged sword alert: absolve her of wrongdoing, and she becomes vapid, floating along with whatever people tell her to do. I’m a big proponent of personal responsibility, though, and I’d like to give Carrie more credit when it comes to her actions, especially later in the book. How long can we keep relying on the “she was an innocent farm girl” excuse? My guess? Well, forever if Dreiser has his way. ! This innocent portrayal of Carrie is different from what Alcott does for Jean Muir. Alcott hints early in Mask that Muir isn’t quite what she seems. Muir has been hired by the wealthy Coventry family as a governess for the youngest daughter, Bella. After fainting, Muir draws the ire of the heir, Gerald, who refers to her fainting as an act. Alcott shows that Muir is unapologetic about this: “A curious smile passed over her face

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as she bowed, and said in her penetrating voice, ‘Thanks. The last scene shall be still better’” (Alcott 364). This is a game to Muir, one she is dead set on winning, playing by her own rules, and to hell with everyone else. When she says that the “last scene shall be still better”, the reader becomes suspicious, and when suspicions are revealed to have merit only a few pages later, it’s hard not to distrust Muir. Almost immediately, she’s cast in a distinctly negative light when compared with Carrie. Muir gets no excuses for her behavior, and it doesn’t seem that she wants any. She’s the kind of gal that takes full responsibility from step one. When she is alone at the end of the first day, Muir lets down her guard, and the reader sees who she truly is: “‘Come, the curtain is down, so I may be myself for a few hours, if actresses ever are themselves’” (Alcott 368). Already, in the first chapter, the same kind of innocence that Dreiser points out in Carrie has been lost. It’s hard to see Muir as an unwilling victim in the same way we might see Carrie, because Muir has firmly taken her identity into her own hands. Even though this might not be the “real” Jean Muir, it’s the self she chose to show to the rest of the world. It’s blatant and inyour-face, and it’s hard to ignore. Potentially, there’s a sense of betrayal on the reader’s part, because no one likes to be lied to, and so this makes Muir a bit unpalatable. I can’t help admiring her, to some extent. She will get the change she wants, one way or another. While Dreiser is able to establish Carrie as an innocent young girl at the beginning of the novel, he takes great pains to show that she grows and gains some amount of awareness. For me, this is where I draw the line and disagree with Dreiser--by showing Carrie learning and adapting her identity to fit the situation, Dreiser counteracts his own “innocent Carrie” image. In Chicago, after having failed to find a decent paying job, Carrie accepts a proposition from Drouet, a smooth-talking salesman she met on her way to Chicago. They rent a small apartment, and tell everyone that they’re a married couple. Drouet makes lots of

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useless promises, leaving Carrie horribly unsatisfied with this new life. When Drouet leaves town on business, Carrie takes a carriage ride with Hurstwood, Drouet’s richer friend who has a higher social standing. Maybe as part of the “Keeping Carrie Innocent” dream alive, Dreiser doesn’t allow Carrie to say she’s unhappy. Hurstwood gets to say that Carrie’s unhappy (Dreiser 126), which means it’s okay to date her and rescue her from this dreadful life (really?). First, “[Carrie] relaxed and let the situation endure, giving him strength,” (Dreiser 126), then “[s]he did not run away, as she might have done. She did not terminate the interview, but he drifted off into a pleasant field of thought with the readiest grace” (Dreiser 126). Carrie knows that Hurstwood is better for social advancement, and that he can offer her something Drouet can’t. Carrie acquiesces to Hurstwood’s advances, knowing exactly what he expects in return. In this scene, the undertone is that Carrie is making a conscious choice to give in to Hurstwood’s advances in exchange for the promise of a better life. And still, Dreiser wants us to see Carrie as a victim of society and circumstance? Why yes, he does. This isn’t Carrie thinking about dumping Drouet because she wants more money. No, this scene is about Carrie being innocently led on by Hurstwood and not knowing how to get out of the situation, according to Dreiser. ! Even if I don’t think Carrie is as naive and impressionable as Dreiser wants us to think, it’s hard to begrudge her desire for a better life in the same way one might Muir’s. Muir is far more in control of her desires than Carrie and isn’t bothered by any possible misdeeds on her part. Carrie does seem to be bothered by her deceptive personality that’s come to light in her, and I think this works to subvert any innocence Dreiser continues to push on Carrie. “‘I’m getting terrible,’ she said, honestly affected by a feeling of trouble and shame. ‘I don’t seem to do anything right’” (Dreiser127). Carrie clearly knows that what she is doing is wrong, yet she continues her relationship with Hurstwood. Just like Muir, Carrie knows where the boundaries of propriety are, and just like Muir, she steps over that line. Just like Muir, Carrie continues to craft this new identity--an

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up-and-coming woman whom the world should take notice of--by lying and manipulating those around her. In her defense, Carrie doesn’t know that Hurstwood is married. However, she does know that she is considered married to Drouet, and that, even if they aren’t married, she is still deceiving both men. ! After all this time showing us that Carrie’s not a dumb little farm girl, Dreiser intends to return her to some semblance of innocence by again making her that young girl on the train who didn’t know any better. After Hurstwood has stolen $10,000 from the club where he works, he lies to Carrie and convinces her to get on a train with him. “She felt at times as if she could cry out and make such a row that someone would come to her aid; at other times it seemed an almost useless thing—so far was she from any aid, no matter what she did” (Dreiser 285). Carrie feels powerless on the speeding train. She is just as helpless here with Hurstwood as she was when she met Drouet at the café when she’d been unable to find a job and had to face being sent back to Columbia City. Dreiser puts Carrie’s fate back in the hands of a man, again reinforcing the idea that nothing happening to her is of her own choosing. By stripping Carrie of some of the power and awareness she’s gained and crafted as part of this new identity, Dreiser is trying to convince the reader that Carrie is still impressionable and an unwilling participant in much of her own life. Now, according to Dreiser, we can hardly say that Carrie is a cold, manipulative, gold-digging woman. ! Alcott chooses to remain true to the character she’s crafted, one who makes no excuses for her plan and admits, even if it is privately, that she’s only out to help herself. Rather than absolving Muir of wrongdoing and showing her to be a poor, helpless woman, Alcott’s reveal of Muir’s plan has her taking control of her own fate. Her true self is revealed by and to those who have been victims of her deception: the Coventry family. Muir’s past as a divorced, failed actress seeking to make the system work for herself (Alcott 451) comes too late to match Dreiser’s repeated absolving of Carrie’s role in climbing

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the social ladder, and winds up serving a different purpose because of it. After the numerous hints from Alcott that Muir was something other than what she presented, the truth of her life fails to heal the gaping wounds her deceptions have created in both the reader and the Coventrys. Thus, Muir remains outside our hearts, and while she may feel vindicated, some readers may feel that Muir should at the least be flogged for being underhanded. ! Granted, a large part in the difference of attitude, I believe, has to do with author intent. Alcott is not a fan of the upper class. She depicts the Coventry family as being spoiled, having no agency, and unjustly harsh in criticizing those of lower classes. When Muir first arrives, Gerald can’t be bothered to send a carriage for her; Muir must walk all the way from the train station to the house. When she finally arrives—on time, despite Mrs. Coventry’s haughty assertion of the contrary—Lucia, cousin and betrothed of Gerald tells Bella “‘Stay here, child. It is her place to come to you, not yours to go to her’” (Dreiser 361). This is the social hierarchy Muir wants to subvert. She cannot do this as a divorced, failed actress; she must become someone new, and has crafted the identity of a destitute woman of once-noble blood reduced to becoming a governess to earn a living. And it works. Throughout the novel, the Coventrys don’t prove themselves to be better than anyone else. They haven’t done anything to earn the money they have, and they do nothing to keep it. Alcott portrays Gerald as lazy, the first evidence of which comes when he fails to send Muir a carriage (361). Alcott scolds this attitude in the upper class, and paints the Coventrys as not deserving of the life they have. Because of Alcott’s portrayal, Muir’s maliciousness is partially justified. Given the failings of both parties, it is hard to feel pity for either Muir or the Coventrys. Muir, in fact, betters the Coventry family by urging them to some sort of action. In this way, some good is done—if it weren’t for Muir and her deceptions, the Coventrys might still be looking down on the lower classes, thinking themselves

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superior in every way while lazing about and getting fat on the couch. Muir’s acting has evened the playing field; though in doing so, she has given up some of her integrity in the eyes of the audience. Dreiser, too, seems to be making a commentary on the society his characters inhabit, though his aim is less clear than Alcott’s. Dreiser portrays the lives Carrie wants in both Chicago with Drouet and in New York with Hurstwood as ones relying on superficial relationships. Carrie does finally attain her life full of money, fancy clothes, and expensive dinners, but she remains unhappy. At the end of the novel, Dreiser suggests that Carrie had never really cared for either Drouet or Hurstwood as she thought she did. To her, they simply represented an attractive mode of living and the means of climbing the social ladder. “It is but natural that when the world which they represented no longer allured her, its ambassadors should be discredited” (Dreiser 526). Drouet and Hurstwood had not been actual people to Carrie, but snapshots of possible lives. But we’re still supposed to buy that this doesn’t make Carrie manipulative, or at the least, understanding that she’s using them for their money. Through her acting—because Carrie is also an actress—Carrie could buy for herself what she thought only Hurstwood or Drouet could give her, and once she had that, neither man was necessary, and they were discarded like trash. Dreiser works hard to balance Carrie’s discarding of the men with their less than favorable actions toward her. Drouet never intended to marry Carrie until he saw that she was desired by other men, and Hurstwood stole money, then lured Carrie on a train and away from Chicago with lies. Once in New York, Hurstwood ends up becoming like Drouet: unable to care for her. One final note about Sister Carrie and Dreiser’s repeated absolutions: Carrie doesn’t get a happy ending. She has her acting job, money, and her fame, but she’s still miserable. Even though I do think Carrie needs to hold some responsibility for her actions, had she finally found happiness, her attitudes toward Hurstwood and Drouet would seem harsher. In being

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unhappy, Dreiser has, in theory, “punished” Carrie, though to an infinitely lesser degree than he punished Hurstwood, who’s dead. Compare Carrie’s outcome with Muir: both achieve what they want, shifting their identities as needed, but Muir is happier in her position than Carrie is in hers. Conventionally in stories, those who achieve their goals through deception are not to be rewarded, which is why it is hard to classify Muir as a villain or an antagonist, particularly since the Coventry family is full of lazy jerks. Whatever the author’s intent for each novel, words like “malicious”, “villain,” “evil,” “deplorable”, and even “absolution: almost feel too strong to describe the actions of, and attitudes toward, Muir and Carrie. They are both sympathetic characters, and their goals are common goals. Specifically in the case of Behind a Mask, and to a lesser extent, Sister Carrie, it is clear that blame doesn’t belong to any one person or group, which ends up being the beauty of writing about that moral grey area. Several people share responsibility for what happens, and all should be held accountable for their actions, but, as in real life, this doesn’t always happen. In any event, we have to question whether it’s right to condemn Muir but not Carrie simply because Muir was upfront about her deception. And let’s ask ourselves: is Carrie really innocent? Or is the persona she crafted just smarter at garnering sympathy? Alcott, Louisa May. “Behind a Mask: or, a Woman’s Power.” The Portable Louisa ! May Alcott. Ed. Elizabeth Lennox Keyser. New York: Penguin, 2000. ! 359-453. Print. Dreiser, Theodore. Sister Carrie. New York: Bantam Dell, 1982. Print.

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Hello Goosey by Kristin Boyd

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Call Me Reductive: The Critic that Can’t Let Go of Forecastle Ishmael by Caitlyn Fasse It’s bad enough to have to fight through Moby-Dick on a syllabus, but to have to read idiot critics along with it is freaking torture. Whoever granted Harrison Hayford permission to publish “‘Loomings’: Yarns and Figures in the Fabric” needs to be lynched. Don’t get me wrong, some parts of the article are illuminating and helpful, but others are, to be frank, quite obvious. But I’m not here to criticize Hayford for publishing an article that prevents the undergraduate or high school reader from drowning—I’m all for that. MD is dense, at times boring, and incredibly digressive (or, as Katya and I have coined: digressitory). My problem with Hayford is the typical critic vs. critic attitude he appropriates in the introduction. While I realize I’m being a bit on the hypocritical side, he makes a… well…totally idiotic claim for the sake of arguing with Walter E. Bezanson regarding the identity of Ishmael, our lovely, concise narrator. Bezanson claims, in “Moby-Dick: Work of Art” (1953), that there are in fact, two Ishmaels. The Ishmael on the Pequod (the hellbound whaling ship), which he calls “Forecastle Ishmael” and the Ishmael who is telling the story (narrator Ishmael). For those lucky few out there who haven’t read MD, you need to know that Ishmael is telling the story personally, from post-Pequod time. In other words, he’s telling the story after everything happens. Conceivably, it can be assumed that Narrator Ishmael is

25


considerably older than Forecastle Ishmael. And, once you read what happens to Forecastle Ishmael and the crew members of the Pequod, you begin to understand how Ishmael would be a completely different person as a narrator. A good analogy here, I think, would be how a person can change after serving a tour of duty in the Middle East. """""""! Hayford, for some reason, decides that he disagrees with Bezanson. Which, frankly, doesn’t really make any sense as it does not really pertain to his main argument. It’s like a literary dick-waving contest; “Let’s see who can be more right.” I realize, of course, that this is the very titanium foundation for English Departments nation-wide, but come on guys, can’t we all just get along? """""""! My attack on Hayford’s arrogant argumentativeness aside: he’s freaking wrong. There is no way Ishmael is “forever Ishmael.” Hayford, by using this phrase, means to say that Ishmael is always the same Ishmael; that there is not a distinct dividing line between the Ishmael on the Pequod and the Ishmael who is writing the story. I’m sorry, but seriously, dude? Do I agree that Ishmael’s innate personality hasn’t changed? Probably. Ishmael is philosophical and “given to unseasonable meditativeness,” but, the key point to Ishmael’s narration is that, well, he’s withholding the entire time (135). For as long as MD is (427 Norton pages; or 135 long-ass, digressive chapters), there’s a helluva lot of withholding. We know almost nothing about Ishmael’s childhood, apart from one slight glimpse. He doesn’t really talk about what he does on the Pequod, and, once we leave the dock at Nantucket, it’s like Ishmael and Queequeg (once declared as “bosom friends”) barely know each other (after all that spooning, could they look each other in the eye?) (56). When Queequeg is sick late in the novel, Ishmael gives incredibly detailed explanations of events as if he has been in the room the entire time sitting with Queequeg, but never discusses his feelings about Queequeg carving his tattoos into his own coffin. """""""!

26


So, what does this withholding tell us about Ishmael? For one, Monsieur Hayford, it tells us that there is an entire side of Ishmael we don’t know. That he refuses to tell us. Hayford, you don’t know Ishmael’s life and you don’t know what he’s been through, so wake up and realize that you might not know a thing or two about Ishmael. Furthermore, Hayford employs the biggest fucking cliché in order to cap his point: “Call him Ishmael.” Damn it, man, seriously, you were just itching to end up in our little magazine, weren’t you? Those sorts of obvious jokes belong only in crummy apartments at two in the morning when little undergrad English majors are tired from reading about Cetology. """""""! Let’s look directly at what Hayford has to say: What is involved in Ishmael-then vs. Ishmael-now is the quite unsettled interpretive problem of Ishmael’s development in character and outlook. It is not part of my purpose to deal with this problem here. Let me simply declare that in my reading he did not change and has not changed, from then to now, in his essential nature. Ishmael is forever Ishmael. Call him Ishmael. (658) Apart from the terrible joke, “Call me Ishmael” is the clinching argument to Bezanson’s point. If he were always and “forever Ishmael” wouldn’t he simply say “My name is Ishmael”? What evidence do you have that Ishmael is his name to begin with? Come on, Hayford, this is SparkNotes stuff. Child’s play. The kind of conversation that goes on in 9th grade Lit classes, not big-time PhD criticism. In fact, the argument is so easy, I’m going to drop it. Because I can’t stomach resorting to this schoolyard pig-tail pulling. I don’t have time for this nonsense. Let’s talk big-league stuff, seriously. While it is common for things like this to appear in criticism and, frankly, my own papers, I at least have the courtesy to throw it in a footnote. Maybe this is a compositional choice, but it seems to me that Hayford has raised a very important

27


issue that appears, at a first glance, to be an essential part of his argument. Yet, he never raises the issue again, nor does it seem to pertain to his argument in any way. Nope, like any other critic, he can’t keep his mouth shut about it. If it doesn’t belong, leave it out, dude. What the hell went through his mind? “Let’s see if I can get away with making a completely unsubstantiated and reductive claim and leave no evidence for it just so I can put in my really important two cents and tell that Bezanson, in print, how I feel about his crap.” It’s this sort of masturbatory, self-serving commentary that really grinds my gears about critics. You can’t just let it alone. I realize living up to Greenblatt standards is sort of a present fad in the study of Literature, but, hey guys, let me tell you a little secret: no one likes Greenblatt! In fact, I don’t know a single undergrad who can stand him, let alone revere him. Oh, but I forgot, undergrads don’t have anything useful to say. Apart from Hayford’s unsubstantiated, backhanded claim concerning the “two Ishmaels,” the article is incredibly helpful. Well, at least it would have been if I hadn’t been so focused on reductive claims made in an introduction. The entire time I read the article, I was looking for claims to argue with. While there are some marginal notes of mine that say, “got that right” or, “agree,” so on and so forth, the larger, more fervid notes are the disagreements. Hayford talks about the tenses and syntax used in the novel: “Many passive verb constructions and dissociations of self occur” (668). Hmm. If dissociations of self occur, how can Ishmael be the same Ishmael? He’s dissociated from himself. He’s dissociated from himself. Dissociated. From. Himself. Do you want me to spell it, too? What kind of firm, innate-Ishmael identity (Plato might call this the “Form of Ishmael”) can occur if the very syntax marks “dissociations of self”? Maybe Hayford has some pathological need for one single Ishmael. I mean, it just goes without saying that our identity is firmly linked with our interpretive process—especially in Melville,

28


where personal identity is essential to the very fabric of metanarrative. The first chapter is called freaking “Loomings,” for crying out loud. Is Melville really so subtle that MD is all about the yarns? About storytelling? And, the most essential factor of storytelling, identity? And, in extension, the loss of it? The entire novel and all of the characterization deals with loss of identity to some greater force. Let’s do a list of characters who lose their identities: Ahab, to the whale/ mission/monomania; Pip, to the sea; Stubb, to money and the collective; Queequeg, to the collective; Ishmael, to the tragedy. I mean, it pretty much just goes without saying that every single member of the Pequod loses an individual identity upon their acceptance of Ahab’s mission. They lose their identity to the collective. Even Starbuck, who completely disagrees with the mission and wants to do business, loses his individual identity to Ahab by following orders. Only when he nearly commits mutiny does he regain any sliver of individuality. But, alas, he loses it once again when he decides not to usurp Ahab. What about Ishmael? Well, folks, I don’t want to ruin the ending for you. Read it for yourself, and I think you’ll agree with me. There’s no way any Form of Ishmael could survive the fate of the Pequod. It is impossible. Seriously, Hayford, did you read the damn book? Or is Ishmael so close to yourself that you cannot comprehend an identity crisis? I don’t have the energy for this guy anymore. Call me fed-up. """"""""""" Works Cited: Hayford, Harrison. “‘Loomings’: Yarns and Figures in the Fabric.” Moby-Dick. ! Ed. Hershel Parker, Harrison Hayford. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, ! 2002. 657-669. Print. Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick. Ed. Hershel Parker, Harrison Hayford. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2002. Print.

29


30


Whaling for Reason: Identity and the Cetology WTF by Katya Gorecki I.M. Reader: For serious times, Ishmael, you may not be Captain of the Pequod, but Captain of my brain aneurism you certainly are. Manilla rope? Squid? The cassock? Exactly how full of shit are you? Ishmael: All in the name of whaling authenticity! IMR: Right. So, First Mate of the U.S.S. Reliability, "precisely how authentic is your tale of Starbuck's momentary idea to shoot Ahab? Alone. By himself. Meaning not in anyway directly known by you. Ishmael: Well, you know, accurate to the spirit of mmmfffhhmmff... IMR: What was that?

31


Ishmael: You know, mmmfffhhmmff.... IMR: Indeed. Ishmael: As to the digressive nature of my narrative, I claim the right to a less totally incapable and cursory reader. In short, a non-dumbass. Of course you don't understand a lick of what I said. You are stupid. You are superficial. You are a dimwitted sort of living wallpaper with the intellectual capacity of a duller than usual dung beetle. One has to actually think when one reads. This isn't a simple capitalism of words; I don't simply hand you knowledge for the simplistic reason that you paid for a book. Perhaps surprising to you, but the brain has not evolved to be some sort of complex, organic paperweight. IMR: Yes, but “Squid?” It's a bleeding page, doesn't relate to the main plot, and tells me only vaguely about whaling. I'm reading literature, not a biology textbook. It has no place except for you to massage your ego and give you an opportunity to listen to your own head rattle. Ishmael: My head does tend to rattle in increasingly fascinating ways. However, “Squid” offers an excellent opportunity for immature undergrads to irritate the living hell out of their professors by constantly interrupting their lectures with shouts of “SQUID!”. Digressions are magnificent things. Besides, “Squid” could be a helpful break from the denser, more philosophical chapters which would allow readers to absorb the meta-narrative in a much more mediated and helpful manner. One cannot absorb everything all at once, you know. Take, for example, the chapter directly preceding, “Whiteness of the Whale.” Not only is it dense and full of complex, esoteric

32


goodies, but it is central to the overall interpretation. To have such another chapter directly afterwards is far too heavy and would impede the natural creation of true knowledge. It would be like presenting a reader such as yourself with anything above 'see Spot run.' It would simply exhaust your capabilities. IMR: Riiiight, padding your manuscript had nothing to do with it, I'm sure. However, speaking of esoteric goodies more generally, what is the point of all the esoterica? You seem to think you have some genuine wisdom to impart; why not just get it out plainly? Like normal people. Ishmael: First, you overemphasize the wonders of normality. Normal people, I'm quiet sure, are all duller than a sack of hammers. IMR: *cough* Queequeg *cough* Ishmael: I'm sorry? IMR: Oh, nothing. Ishmael: In any case, I frankly don’t care for the ‘normal people.’ Does it ever occur to you that a narrator doesn’t care about the education of his/her audience? As you said, you are not reading a textbook. You read literature for something else entirely. IMR: That being? Ishmael: Oh, I don’t care about that. I was more concerned with the revisitation of my own experiences, my trauma. After the crucible of being a castaway, I simply had to make sense of it all. IMR: Right, so dropping your reader off in the middle of the Ocean of Nonsensicality is the best way to do that.

33


Ishmael: Perhaps being an intellectual castaway is the only way to truly understand? IMR: I still think you’re full of shit. Ishmael: And I still think you’re devoid of, well, everything. If you could read between the lines at all, you would know that I already told you what happened to me before it happened. Remember Pip? Remember how I compared his experience to my own future run in with the treadle of God? IMR: Your point? Ishmael: He went nuts. Connect the dots. IMR: So you lost it? Ishmael: Maybe so, maybe not. IMR: Still, if you went nuts, why the book? Why not just retire to some nut house in the country? Ishmael: Because. By socializing with my trauma, I recreated myself instead of losing it like Pip and Ahab did. Pip doesn’t even recognize himself in the end; he has totally lost his identity. Does it not follow that I too may have suffered the same fate? IMR: So why not just say that? Ishmael: You really have no imagination do you? Furthermore, I pretty clearly defined salvation through cerebral exertion in the last chapter. I was saved by a coffin covered in “a complete theory of the heavens and the earth and a mystical treatise on the art of attaining truth” (366). The bubble from which it burst was “liberated by reason of its cunning spring” (427). Seeing anything? Mental exertion is the key to mental salvation.

34


IMR: Oh yes, a self-indulgent narrative is obviously the best insulation against madness. Ishmael: A more careful reading of such a narrative would be the best defense against this disease of stupidity and triviality you seem to have come down with. IMR: So you expect me to believe that your esoteric ramblings are part of some philosophical treatise on your trauma? That you are ‘socializing’ with it in order to come to terms with your past and that, in doing so, you are recreating a self that will survive the madness that everyone else has fallen into? Ishmael: Now we’re getting somewhere! IMR: I still think you’re an elitist jerk. Ishmael: Well I’m fine with that, especially considering that I see your bookmark is only on page 30 of my story.

35


The Vent An Academic’s Version of the Fashion Police Shoot Me Now

and explain how throughly you have memorized our difficult to navigate and poorly

If I am ever asked to write a

organized believe mission your own And don’t

500 word essay on my reasons for going to grad school, I may have to beat someone over the head with their own finely-framed doctorate. For

each prompt just enough so that you need to drastically edit it for each application.

anyone that has ever filled out school applications, I’m sure you understand exactly how I feel.

Oh, and you have 500 words.

Let me tell you how much I adore personal statements. Quick, outline a decision that has defined the last 10 years of your life! Including specifics!

And

be

witty!

website and how you our often vague statements reflect academic standards! worry, we’ll change

And because we know you like it so much, we’ll put in little secret essays that we never told you about but hid in the various sections of the application. And we’ll make

Oh,

36


them short enough that you’ll rip your hair out trying to answer everything we asked in

I mean plumbing? The East? Drivers that can actually merge? That’s so mainstream.

the space allotted. I also love that some of the schools’ so called “diversity statements” directly follow

And there aren’t any birds on it either. I think y’all are coming across a little coverjudgey with your page pairings here.

fairly in depth surveys about my racial background. I understand that the surveys are primarily for funding and ensuring diversity, all of

Also, I’m dying to know where exactly all those application fees go. I got my bill for the sum total of all my

which I’m a fan of, considering I attended the most diverse university in the bleeding country. (Seriously, country, put a Band-Aid on

applications, and all I can say is damn. Between $20 score reports for each school, $5 transcripts, and application fees spanning anywhere from

that). But did anyone stop and think about the problem with that pairing? By having those so close together, sometimes on the same page, you’re

$50-$100 each... well you can imagine.

making diversity primarily racial. It makes me feel all marginalized that you apparently you don’t want to hear about Madame Whitey P.

students is unpredictability, so we will not maintain our servers and instead allow them to crash for most of the week that applications are due. Who

Suberbanite. Despite the fact I make killer bonnets and everyone seems to think Oregonians don’t have plumbing. We could, we just

would have guessed that our bandwidth needs would increase when 600 students are trying to access the same three forms?!

And we thing

choose not to because we’re sticking to our pioneer roots.

37

know for

that the stressed

best out


Really, I don’t blame the departments or universities (O.K. maybe a little). It just

We live in the technology age y’all, get with this shit.

seems like there has to be a better way to do this. It’s gotten better since they put these things online, the one paper application I had to

Sincerely, Katya Gorecki Madame de Bitchadour

fill out ended up being more problematic than the other ten (yes ten) combined. But seriously, most of these things have very few

A Pedantic Engineer in King Arthur’s Court

differences so why can’t there be a universal application that is filled out in one place and sent to multiple schools? Then you submit

The following piece was written in one sitting with the intention of venting. There was no editing done post writing process, with the exception of a few typos. It is the belief of the author that one should not edit a product of venting, because only in that moment can true unadulterated emotion flow. With that in mind, please excuse any lack of structure or any moments of incoherence.

scores once, transcripts once, recommendations once, all into one file. It would be less expensive by far, allowing more students, and more economically diverse students, to apply. I imagine it would also make life for recommenders much more pleasant. Of course, you could

Some

stuff

you

just

express yourself. sitting

change it for each individual school, like if you wanted a tailored recommendation letter or writing sample for a specific program, but all of the generalized the same.

days

there

want

to

You will be

and

think

to

yourself, “I want to draw.” Or you

may

consider

yourself

a

writer while others are self-

stays

proclaimed photographers.

The

beauty

the

of

intricacies lucky

38

few

art

symbolizes

of learn

life. to

The foster


their

inner

creativity

and

begin a journey to developing

Don’t get me wrong, I am not

a

saying

that

you

pursue

your

passion.

uniqueness

themselves

to

from

discern

the

rest

humanity.

However,

are

to

taught

of

others

thrive

the

in

contrary,

makes

you

should

please

not Quite

do

happiest.

what

If

you

society.

The latter group, of

can go to work and can admit

which

must

to

in,

I

have

include

been

believe

raised

that

measured

with

myself

rather be doing as a career,

gain.

then you have combined passion

you grow up?”

even

with

a

This question always

answered

profession,

well paid one.

usually

a

To be fair,

profession. saying I

engineer,

for

always

the

incite

am

not

regret

my

love

being

reasons

an

which,

if detailed, would extend this blurb

to

I

I

decision.

the intent of the question has been

is

is

with

almost

there

nothing in the world you would

“What do you want to be when was

that

to

success monetary

yourself

a

beyond

what

interest

of

would the

hold

reader.

conversation of future career

So now you are sitting there

paths.

wondering, “What is the point

I

consider

myself

lucky that my parents allowed

of me reading this?”

me to answer the question how

If you read the line “others

I deemed worthy, “I want to be

are

happy.”

society”

Sure I had pictured

taught

being an astronaut, basketball

your

star,

my

scientist,

businessman.

and

even

a

and

heart,

to

thrive

in

felt

a

in

then

point.

pang

you

People

realize

who

were

However, I never

raised to get high paying jobs

really saw the profession as a

may do well because they can

sign

afford

of

happiness,

means to an end. a

society

career

decide path

only

a

Why do we as that

the

your

from

reflects

more,

and

never

feel

complications

that

come

having

small budget.

happiness?

that

39

this

to

work

with

a

(I do believe

holds

some

value,


for if poverty and low income

specifically teaching music to

class were brought to a level

high school kids, in reality,

where

left

he taught something much more.

having

He would have us sit there and

a

person

between food

the

choice

a

home,

takes

one

or

society

was

towards

not of

then

our

large

step

utopia.)

listen,

just

listen,

to

specific portion of a piece of

However,

music.

The

goal

to

just

to

replicate

have

to

appreciate

the

work

end?

When you die, you do not

passion

takes

to

carry

for

it

your

possessions

to

in

the

material

such

whatever

rhythm.

it,

wasn’t

what does the well paid person show

it

breathtaking.

same

who

moment

society,

when

your

higher income class, will not

tenses

talk about how much money you

become

made

you are taking.

funeral.

They

heavy

It

one

your

create

intonation

defined success as being of a

at

and and

The result was simply

The

in

but

perfect

afterlife you believe in. people

a

up

is

that

heart

gives

pound. and

aware

Your you

of

skin

suddenly

every

breath

It feels like

will remember the things that

the very essence of the music

you did.

is coursing through your body. Every

My

high

school

band

teacher

passed away in 2007.

It was

moment

feels

like

an

overflow of all your physical and even mental senses.

Have

the first wake I had ever been

you

like

to

this? Go on, think about it,

in

my

surprised

life. me.

What There

I

saw

was

a

I’ll

line going all the way around the

outside

That

is

of

the

building.

when

I

realized

ever be

to

computer

who

taught

valuable.

people

as

moment

when

you

are

Some days you want to express yourself.

remembered

here

a

ready.

something, when I die I want be

felt

someone

something

You sit down on the and

start

typing.

You’re not even sure what you

Granted he was only

are going to talk about.

40

You


have ideas that you just want

caused

to put down on paper, if for

mute, or something completely

no one else to see, then at

different.

least for yourself.

that

what

others

harshest eyes,

may

think.

critics,

are

those

experts

at

“Engineers

cannot

Leave

You fear

it

majors.”

The

in

your

who

are

of

flawless Find

create

feelings

you

can’t

paper.

write.

the

will

a

hand

something the

moment

where you experience a variety

writing.

to

by

so

intense

put

You

it

down

will

know

this moment happens.

English

that in when

You may

need to stray away from your

I am here to say,

profession

you can do anything you want.

this

It may not be up to the par of

may

someone else’s standard.

are

Here

of

choosing

assignment, not

be

doing

to

do

although

it

necessary what

if

you

you

love.

is the secret though, even the

Either way, make sure you have

English

this moment in your life, if

majors

are

wondering

what someone else may think of

only once more.

their

and share it with your friends

paper.

critics

are

The not

harshest

others;

you

and

family.

Then take it, Hopefully

you

are your own harshest critic.

will teach them something that

So

here

is

assignment

that

a

homework

will make them want to stand

no

one

outside of a building, in the

can

grade but yourself.

middle of snow, waiting to pay their last respects to you at

Find

something

appreciate life. feeling

for

that its

Whether when

you beauty

in

be

the

a

ride

it

you

can

hit

your wake. -Altaf A. Khan

cymbal with the top third side of your drumstick to create a perfect rising an

merger

of

crescendo

instant

crash

and

followed

by

ceasing

of

sound

41


Blooming Chicago by Kristin Boyd

42


The Creative Bit Bitch, Please is where the snarky come to, well, snark, but our readers are no one-trick ponies. Here we showcase the work of the less critical and more serious (sometimes) in our ranks, whether it be poetry, short fiction, or something involving macaroni art and a dancing monkey.

We’re an open bunch.

43


Teardrops of a Widow by Saja Elshareif

Sitting in the green velvet chair !

by the window

!

!

in the living room;

I rest my bare elbow on the cold windowsill cupping my chin in hand. With a sigh, !

I gaze

!

!

through the frame

!

!

!

at mother nature’s painting.

The sun still peeks from behind the clouds and the snow begins to melt. I watch !

as the flakes

!

!

turn into water droplets

!

!

!

dissolving

in places that are lightly kissed by the sun. The individual drops !

slide off the tips of the tree branches.

44


!

!

they hang on with all their might !

!

!

before finally

!

!

!

!

falling into puddles

!

!

!

!

!

below.

Immersed by pools of water, !

the droplets are forever lost,

!

!

like the tears that meet my lap.

The ones I can never claim back.

45


Depth of Heart By: Saja Elshareif

Perhaps deeper than any body of water, Is the human heart. And it is a miracle. For the heart is only the size of a closed fist. But even so, Its depths are fathoms greater, Than any biology book could teach. Buried within the depths, Are secrets divers will never grasp. Sometimes because it is too dark, Other times, because it is too deep.

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aa aa aa aa aa aa aa aa aa aa aa 47


48

by Altaf Khan


Cheat Sheets A helping hand, and land of many spoilers. Consider thine self warned.

Behind a Mask by Louisa May Alcott The tale of a nanny gone ambitious. Lies, love, deception, despair. Jean Muir poses as a nanny for the wealthy Coventry clan, but it’s clear that she’s got her own agenda. She turns the Coventry household upside down, attracting the smooth loving of the lazy men and the envy of the vain women, and in the end, no one is the same.

Sister Carrie by Theodore Drieser “Sister Carrie tells the story of a rudderless but pretty smalltown girl who comes to the big city filled with vague ambitions. [Carrie Meeber] is used by men and uses them in turn to become a successful Broadway actress, while George Hurstwood, the married man who has run away with her, loses his grip on life and descends into beggary and *spoiler*.” Yeah, can’t improve much on this description from Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of Literature. Yup. Beggary and *spoiler* abounds. The spoiler tag is our own

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The House of Mirth by Edith Warton “Lily Bart is an attractive woman with some important social and family ties, but at the age of 29, she is still not married.” Need thee say more SparkNotes? This ageing, unmarried woman, who fears “dinginess” above all else, struggles between her obsessive-compulsive contrivances to find a wealthy husband and the desires that prevent her from doing so. Along the way, she flirts a lot with a guy named Lawrence Selden (cue the swoon), who is apparently dirt poor but hangs out with the rich kids, for some nonsensical reason. Wharton’s social satire follows a tradition of, arguably, proto-feminist literature, and many would place her works with the likes of Kate Chopin, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller. And by “many” we mean us.

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville One Ishmael gets on a whaling ship with his bosom-buddy Queequeg, captained by none other than Ahab the Mad Sailor who is just a touch OCD about catching the White Whale after his previous encounter with it, from which the whale took Ahab’s leg as a souvenir. Ishmael is a lackadaisical fellow really rather unfit for such a whaling venture. Oh, and as you suspected, the whale eats everyone. Except Ishmael. The thinking sort people taste icky, I suppose. Moral of story: think about stuff and you too can be a castaway from a wrecked whaling voyage! At least this means you aren’t a tasty whale nugget.

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Proliferators of Pedantry serving the community by correcting them mid-sentence since 2011 Kristin Boyd Resident Grandma, Chief Enforcer, and Whip Cracker Her real role in the Evasion is unclear, but whenever scolding needs to be done, she can do that. She has been designated as the one who gets chronicle the Zombie Apocalypse. Look for her with pen and paper wherever she goes. It helps her keep track of who gets gold stars, too. Kristin also works as the Assistant Managing Editor for MAKE Magazine. She is still looking for a good shovel. Katya Gorecki Chief Doodler, Tech Monkey, and Whimsy Fairy Hailing from Portland, Katya appears to live in a computer screen while working on the zine from half a country away. She is in charge of internet wizardry and making the tubes work when Gramma demands. Most of her doodles begin on coffee shop napkins and involve unlikely animals as astronauts. One day, she dreams of beating students of her own into submission but for now will settle for a good gin and tonic and a stack of Sci-Fi novels. She also writes about sewing nerdery over at Toasty

Meagan Quinn Supreme Madame of the Drafts

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She continuously comes up with really punny titles for essays, articles, and snarky commentary. In between chronicling her journey of daily life ridiculousness and reading works of genius, she can be found telling cohorts and complete strangers that they too have something to say, write, or shout from the rooftops. If you’re not careful, she might force you to realize your potential for awesomeness. She will do this either by making you submit things to the zine or forcing you to come up with the next zombie evasion plan. Also, she likes chicken; yeah, chicken’s really good. "" Caitlyn “Que Je Fasse” Fasse Chief Fold Consultant, Grammatical Goomba Stomper When she’s not fighting grammar crime worldwide, Caitlyn tosses and turns restlessly over the unfairness of having been educated in Derridian philosophy. As the House Grammar Nazi, she keeps her fellow Bitches in line, threatening them with Gramma’s switch—as they are in grammatical cahoots. In her free time, she plays Zelda and Super Mario Bros., comes up with reasons as to why Portlandians are awesome, and helps build really, really crappy trebuchets. Caitlyn also has a penchant for pedantry and a fondness for ravens. She hates Hemingway and phonies, but loves Hester Prynne and Levi’s jeans. Her favorite word is “fuck,” obviously. Altaf “Capt. Pedantic” Khan Chief Siege Weapon Engineer and Overseer of Graphs, Tables, and Big Number Thingies Making the assumption that air resistance is negligent, it takes approximately 10 seconds to complete a free fall descent from the Sears Tower’s highest story. Welcome to the mind of Altaf. Genetically engineered to thrive in a mathematics oriented environment, Captain Pedantic has the unique ability to break down any complex life situation to the form of an equation. His many other super powers include: an endless supply of pedantry, the ability to conjure a trebuchet with the help of his sidekick, Oxford Comma Girl, and immortality, which is shown by repeatedly surviving heart attacks caused by grammatical and spellings mistakes of peers, but more so, superiors. Armed with his properly dimensioned and slightly nerdy fountain pen, Captain Pedantic will strike fear in to the hearts of illiterate, who would otherwise continue their solecistic lives in bliss.

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Saja Elshareif Deep, Poet-y Person Currently in her last semester at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She plans to obtain her Masters in TESOL and is also an aspiring author and poet. She is presently working on a collection of short stories and poems that relate to her Palestinian roots. Professor Boopy Boopton Associate Professor at the University of Illiboop A specialist in awesome studies at the University of Boopism, Professor Boopton has been redacted no no nuhuh and has published in such journals as journal of american boopism, boopist quarterly and Steave goes to boopington.

So Long and Thanks for all the Fish!

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a Bitch, Please publication 54 2012 February


Volume 2