Exhibit 20.21

Things That are Good

Octopus 12

Interview with Christy Call

This Recording's 100 Greatest Authors
(So far they've done Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3)


Exhibit 20.20

Sewanee Book Wrap-Up

First things first, I should just say that I can't recommend the Sewanee Writers' Conference enough. I'd been hearing about how great it was for a year from Dave and Ryan, not to mention sharing a dinner table with several of the people who were there with them. It was odd, I thought, watching them come together and hug and scream. As I put it to someone at the conference, it was like watching the reunion of people who'd been involved in something either truly horrible or truly amazing. Smiles that genuine can only be brought about when you re-meet someone you survived a mountaintop plane crash with (and didn't have to eat) or, apparently, someone you've been to a fishing hole with (and didn't have to eat).

The bar was set so high that I began sending sarcastic text messages to Dave from the Nashville airport. Then 10 minutes later it got fun and I stopped. The conference is remarkably well run and beneficial and, as important in a way, just a good time. Last year, applications were accepted beginning January 15th and presumably it will be similar this year. So, yes, apply. I can't wait until next year's AWP when I get to see all of these people and we'll smile and scream like something truly horrible/amazing happened to us and then we'll look guiltily at the spot where Phyllis would have stood/go get a drink.

Part of what makes it so fantastic is that in addition to a great deal of writers, there are a great deal of books. Since I'm moving and just couldn't face the prospect of buying these books and then having to move them across the country, I had to watch with jealousy as they were all snapped up by people who I suddenly wanted to eat at one of the fishing holes. I'm not sure how I made it--or how cannibalism became a running joke here--but I did and now I want to make sure I pick up everything I need once I get where I'm going.

So, a not entirely complete list of books I plan on buying and maybe you should too:

What Happened to Anna K. by Irina Reyn - great to have in workshop
The New Valley by Josh Weil - ditto. Plus, novellas!
The Southern Cross by Skip Horack - loved his reading
Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch - ditto. I thought I was going to cry
The Summer of Naked Swim Parties by Jessica Anya Blau - ditto (-crying +laughing)
Red Weather by Pauls Toutonghi - ditto
The Seamstress of Hollywood Boulevard by Erin McGraw - ditto

City of Regret by Andrew Kozma - person/book=awesome
Blue Colonial by David Roderick - ditto. Loved his reading, too
Now You're the Enemy by James Allen Hall - ditto. Funny, heartbreaking
Begin Anywhere by Frank Giampietro - ditto. ditto.
Midnight Voices by Deborah Ager - ditto.

That might not be a complete list (I actually did make a list which is currently lost somewhere among approximately 18,000 manuscript pages). Those are mostly from fellows and there were some more books by the faculty and staff on there, I know, but I'll at least mention Alice McDermott's incredible That Night and Tony Earley's Here We Are in Paradise both which I own and you should too.

Also be sure to look for books coming out this fall from Caitlin Horrocks and Laura van den Berg which should both be incredible.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll say more about all of these when I get them. Then you'll get them. Then we'll talk about them. Then we'll look guiltily at that spot where Phyllis would have stood.


Exhibit 20.19

If You Have Been Introduced to Me Recently

Me: Hello.
You: Hi, nice to meet you.
Me: [looks awkward]
You: So, what do you do?
Me: Look, I know I need a haircut.
You: [looks awkward]
Me: [smiles winningly]


Exhibit 20.18

I Don't Know

There was already
one memorial
dock floating in the reservoir
but I appreciate
the gesture
of giving me mine
now that I've drowned
and hate those who've drowned
before me
like you
dock rival


Exhibit 20.17

I Don't Know

I cannot read
these comments of yours
because your handwriting
is bad
but that's okay
you said them in class
and I appreciate and agree
with everything
especially the part
about the dog
not having super powers
but I want to ask
if in these scribbles
you gave to me
a new title
for Ultrapuppy

Exhibit 20.16

I Don't Know

What is important
is never forgetting
who is best
at cards
because it's me
so say the test results
but not your slip of paper
liar you liar

Exhibit 20.15

I Don't Know

At the dance
I should have
said I'm sorry
for your injury
instead I said
Michael Jackson
who is dead
which you don't appear to be
because you eat
I am sorry
about lunch

Exhibit 20.14

I Don't Know

you can
lock me
of the bathroom
but not
your heart

Exhibit 20.13

I Don't Know

Old man
you walk slowly
we all agree
queued up behind you
except for maybe
the turtles
but they don't
say anything
only shake
so excited
for Diane Johnson's
turtles love Diane Johnson
like old men
love Diane Johnson


Exhibit 20.12

I Don't Know

Osmosis has me writing poems
or maybe
waiting for lunch is what
makes every thought
sound like it's being spoken
into a microphone
but I won't take your meter
William Logan
can I have your fortune cookie

Exhibit 20.11

I Don't Know

rain will
show us how
to run
where we're going
rather than
my flipflop
but the blisters

Exhibit 20.10

I Don't Know

You told me about a place
where some of the others go
but when I asked you where it was
you did not know
so we found a different place
where the people confessed
this is the place
we were looking for initially
this might be true

Exhibit 20.9

I Don't Know

Yesterday was Italian Day
today is Indian Day
talk is Chinese, tomorrow
I tell anyone who will listen
that this is what the cafeteria in the UN
must be like
only if the UN had to guess
what it was
the other countries ate
and the UN
was not good
at guessing

Exhibit 20.8

I Don't Know

I've developed a Phantom Lanyard
even in the shower I can feel it
pulling me down
by the neck
but this way they'll know
my name
when I get there
and I ask them what
they write


Exhibit 20.7

Look, it's becoming more and more clear that I'm just not going to have time to blog successfully while I'm here. Or maybe it will calm down. But today I'll just give you what you come here for:

* News about The Cupboard - Dave explains how we ended up with and why we like Caia's piece here.

* News about friends - Chris Higgs is now writing for HTML Giant and Bright Stupid Confetti has become a weekly publication. Look for it Wednesdays because it's a site that always makes me happy.

* Puppy Brett


Exhibit 20.6

"Normally I would consider this an especially productive month of rescue."

Acts of Kindness
Excellence in Times Tables

by Caia Hagel
Now Available

1 tape-bound volume
Book Design by Todd Seabrook
Covers by Tim Georgeson
$15/year subscription, $5/individual

The Cupboard is pleased to announce Acts of Kindness and Excellence in Times Tables by Caia Hagel, a superhero story.


Larry sings cabaret acts at a nightclub called The Unicorn. He wears on stage a spidersuit his mother sewed for him when he was five. The spotlight shines right at his chest. The manager of the nightclub has girl trouble. His wife sunbakes in the nude. Larry’s father died when he was young, and all he has left is the old man’s binoculars. What does Larry see out his apartment’s open windows? Some feelings hurt, life can get lonely, and from time to time we’re reminded: superheroes are real.

Read excerpts here.


Caia Hagel’s personality profiles, travelogues, and art critiques appear from time to time in magazines and TV networks internationally. Her dream sequence on snakes partook of the Tiger Award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival as part of video artist Roy Villevoye’s short film, Beginnings. She has won Best Feature Article at the New York Folio Media Awards for her profile on design demigod Rem Koolhaas, and Best International Experimental Short Film at the Brooklyn Film Festival for script and performance in Under the Swell. Her essays with photographs by Tim Georgeson in the monograph, Blood; Or a Long Weekend With My Wife’s Family, were lately exhibited at Stills Gallery in Sydney, Australia.


This is the end of The Cupboard’s first year. If you’ve been with us since the beginning, it’s time to renew your subscription and we hope you’ll choose to do so. We’ve got some great stuff lined up to start our second year and hope to find even more.

Renewals and new subscriptions are $15 for four volumes. Subscribe here.

Louis Streitmatter’s A New Map of America and Mathias Svalina’s Play are still available and awesome. They can be ordered individually for $5.


The Cupboard is thrilled to begin accepting submissions again on September 15th. Please send us your best stories, collections of prose, aphorisms, what have you.

The Cupboard welcomes prose submissions of anywhere between 4,000 and 8,000 words. Submissions should be sent by email attachment to submit [at] thecupboardpamphlet [dot] org.


Our next volume will be A Brief Encyclopedia of Modern Magic: with tricks you can do at home! by Michael Stewart. It will be the only magic encyclopedia you’ll need.

Thank you again for everything,




Exhibit 20.5

If I Twittered My Opening the Door to My Room Here

2:31 - OMG! Finally here.

2:32 - Dude, there's totally a wasp in my room.

2:34 - @ Giant Black Wasp: Please don't hurt me.

2:40 - I think if I turn off all the lights, leave the door open, crawl in bed, it will be go.

2:52 - No.

2:53 - I think maybe the wasp and I will be able to live in peace if I just never turn on lights...

2:53 - ...or move more than arm's length from wall.

2:55 - Watched wasp killing video www.tinyurl.com/Wkcli3

2:59 - Wasp was also in room watching video. Wasp now knows everything.

3:02 - RT @ Harry Potter: I would have totally killed that wasp.

3:08 - Testing towel snapping skills. Wasp watches, amused.

4:01 - Ready to see if I can kill it.

4:02 - Not ready.

4:09 - Ready.

4:09 - OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! LOL! OMG!

4:10 - Wasp flew outside after towel snap.

4:13 - @ Giant Dead Black Wasp: You've been twittered, yo.

6:00 - Wasp is outside window. Can't leave for dinner. Will eat towel.

Exhibit 20.4

Conversation of Elderly Rowmates Overheard on Plane Concerning Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper

Man: What's that book about?
Woman: Oh, there's this husband and wife who have a daughter with cancer and they decide to have another daughter just so she can donate things to the first one.
Man: Does that work?
Woman: Well they choose a sperm and an egg that will make things match.
Man (looking suspicious): Hmm.
Woman: Then the second daughter hires a lawyer.
Man (opening up paper, looking bored): She hires a lawyer, huh?
Woman: Yes, a lawyer. She doesn't want to donate a kidney so she sues her own parents. In the end you find out...
Man (suddenly animated): Don't ruin it for me, Betty!

(Minutes later)
Betty: Oh, and they have a son, too. I didn't mention that.


Exhibit 20.3

From this interview with Jeb Bush:

Does the [Republican] party need to change or de-emphasize its positions on abortion or gay marriage?
No. No, I think those are important issues to not shy away from. And I don't think that's the reason why suburban voters have migrated to the Democrats. I think it's the economic issues. We have not been able to explain why these timeless conservative principles matter in 2009.

So basically Jeb Bush was asked if he was ever going to be president and answered, "No."

My issue is not with his specific policy positions--for what it's worth, strategically I don't think there's much point in Republicans capitulating on abortion and forward thinking politicians on the right should take a libertarian position toward gay marriage--but with his statement that economic issues are why these voters have migrated to the left. If Jeb Bush actually believes that, he's a moron. And since he and almost everyone else who claims to speak for the Republican party actually does seem to believe this, I think they may have finally reached the nadir. At this point, they've dug so far, for so long beneath the real world it's likely that a generation's eyes will never readjust to the light.

These suburban voters he thinks he knows have spent the last decade buying their furniture at Pottery Barn and being told they need to shop at Whole Foods. They've bought houses with granite countertops in subdivisions that have names and home owners association fees. They spent the affluent years that recently ended driven--whether naturally or as the result of good marketing--toward a kind of worldly sophistication. Now, it's obviously a very shallow sophistication, but I think it's important to realize that this isn't 1970s Orange County we're talking about anymore. These suburban dwellers who used to be the most reliable Republican voters because they were financially secure, white, and were afraid someone was going to take their swimming pools away are now people who worry about the environment, work and live among (or at least watch on the television) all sorts of minority families (including gay ones), and believe shopping at Bed, Bath, & Beyond instead of Wal-Mart somehow constitutes an acceptable value system.

They eat humus.

Whatever world Jeb Bush is imagining when he talks about middle-class voters does not account for humus. When these people voted for Republicans, they knew no gay people, drove Cadillacs, and cooked out of a Betty Crocker cookbook. They were capital-A Americans and this was their power. But the desire for isolation that drove them to the suburbs is A) no longer possible and B) out of style. Now, these voters are demographically diverse, live in cities, and have the benefit of cable television and the Internet. Their world is immeasurably bigger than what Mr. Bush remembers (or imagines).

They are not going to unlearn the knowledge they've gained. And it is both boomers and affluent Gen-Xers here. They want good design, they want good food, they want good lives. Their primary desire seems to be comfort and there's nothing less comfortable than hate. Hate means wars, it means pro-ignorance, it means attacking people they share a cul de sac with. And here's the part where the former governor should pay attention: the hatred section of the Republican party's platform makes them more uncomfortable than the economic wing of the Democratic pary's platform. It's not even close. Hell, after the last administration, the Democrats were nearly the pro-wealth party for economic reasons alone last election (though that party is probably over).

So the idea that economics alone can bring these people back is insane. Many are already economically incentivized to favor the Republicans (or think they are). What else can you do? Sure, being a little bit competent and actually governing by the principles the party expounds would help, but what's done is done.

These suburban voters are educated and successful and it would take some truly radical economic policies to get them to overlook the fact that it's acceptable for Republican presidential candidates to raise their hands and say they don't believe in evolution (I'll do us all a favor and not even talk about Sarah Palin). And no, returning tax rates to where they were under Reagan does not count as radical or 'socialism' or whatever boogeyman they want to throw out there.

Jeb Bush and Michael Steele and Mike Huckabee need to learn something from the advantage they've enjoyed among rural voters who vote against their economic self-interest when they vote Republican but do because of God or guns or whatever. For exactly the same reasons--though with opposite value systems--suburban voters will willingly and gladly vote for the candidate that might tax them more if it means voting for the world they want to live in. They're picking Bed, Bath, & Beyond over Wal-Mart again, and if you think rolling back prices alone is going to bring those voters back, you don't have any business running a party let alone a country.

Through more diverse and nuanced media and society's inevitable and consistent movement toward a more permissive culture, we've entered a period where--with the exception of abortion--social issues are going to be table stakes for a majority of these voters. If you can't pass a certain threshold of tolerance, you aren't going to get their votes. No matter how "timeless" these conservative "principles" are, being the anti-science, -gay, -people of color, -sex education, etc. party is going to take your name off the ballot for these voters. They aren't single-issue voters as much as they are voters who demand a base-level of decency or, at the least, an understanding of and respect for contemporary values.

But, hey, things will change. Maybe the economy stays bad or terrorism becomes a more important issue again and old-school Republicans like Jeb Bush get lucky. Maybe they can sell deficits as an evil, people will forget who took us away from a balanced budget, and these voters will again worry about protecting their own wealth. Maybe immigration can find a foothold and casual racism drives people to the right. Despite the monolithic portrait I'm painting, these highly stereotypical voters are only going to slightly favor one party over the other anyway. There will certainly be Republican presidents and congresses again. But they're not going to come soon or be led by people like Jeb Bush unless they take off the blinders and learn from the last election. For god's sake, the Republicans just got done proving they can't run a country, why do they think they can stop time?

It goes without saying, but among all voters the demographics only get much, much worse as time goes by. And as voters in the next 10-20 years don't remember Ronald Reagan, hate George W. Bush, and aren't inclined to vote for a 1950s value system that isn't coming back organically, how exactly is an economic philosophy that hasn't exactly been proven to work going to change their minds?

I'm no expert, but it seems to me the obvious direction for the right is becoming socially libertarian as opposed to socially liberal (but more or less ending up in the same place) and articulating that as a philosophical difference that traces itself to the earliest days of the country and informs every aspect of their platform (small government, isolationist, socially permissive, personal responsibility, religious freedoms [but for everyone] etc.) It certainly doesn't mean listening to nutjobs like Ron Paul, but in the right hands I think the Republicans could have a strong and simple message that places them squarely in the 21st century. The left's philosophy will be messy by definition, and the right should take advantage by offering something coherent and clean. They'd still have problems with health care and the environment and religious conservatives would complain, but those voters are the ones holding the party back anyway. Cut them loose and they'll come back. What you don't do is change nothing or follow reactionaries like Glenn Beck or root for the country to fail.

What you don't do is think what won in 1980 can win in 2012.

And on a personal level, what you shouldn't do is write about politics. Damn it. I just can't quit you, self-righteousness.


Exhibit 20.2

There are several things wrong with this story:

Area tubers go missing, recovered safe and sound
Area diveteams were summoned to Paxton to help search for missing tubers on the South Platte River...

Eventually, all the missing water-leisure enthusiasts were recovered alive, but in the process one member of the search party had gone missing...

a search plane was dispatched to the area. By 8:35 p.m. all parties were accounted for and no one was hurt.
1) The South Platte River is slightly slower than a baby taking her first steps across a room. The only way to get "lost" on the Platte River is to not realize which direction it flows and end up wading to Denver.

2) The South Platte River is approximately 8-inches deep. These Paxton-area "dive teams" most likely consisted of children plucked from their front yard inflatable pool who were unfortunate enough to be the only ones in town with snorkels on.

3) Tubing the South Platte River does not make one a "water-leisure enthusiast." No, it makes one a sunburn victim, an alcoholic, and a person about to have dinner next to a stuffed polar bear at Ole's Big Game Bar, but it doesn't not make you a water-leisure enthusiast.

4) I will not have the reputation of the Paxton Search and Rescue team besmirched by someone who's never been on the front line. Until you walk that flat, tree-less prairie in their boots, you have no idea how hard it is to locate whichever one of the town's 614 residents have wandered off. He could have laid down to take a nap and then how do you see him in that knee high grass?

5) Plane, that's how. They laughed when Keith County got its own Air Force, but now they're showing the world what a plane with a 68 county license plate nailed to it can do. Sure, today it's saving water-leisure enthusiasts and their keepers, but tomorrow it's flying over Paxton Tigers football games and buzzing the Deuel County Coast Guard's Destroyers.


Exhibit 20.1

Why I'm Moving to Houston

So it's occurred to me that my feigned reluctance to write about myself might have left you, dear reader, with no explanation for why I'm moving to Houston. Because a person needs a reason to move to Houston. This conversation never happens.

Me: I'm moving to Houston.
You: Awesome, now I'll have a place to crash.

But there are a dozen or so cities you could substitute in there and have it work if not create the typical conversation that occurs when you announce your move to, say, Austin.

Me: I'm moving to Austin.
You: Awesome, now I'll have a place to crash.
Me: Do you think I'll meet Spoon?

A move to Houston, on the other hand, usually leads to this:

Me: I'm moving to Houston.
You: Why?

So why, then, other than that I don't want to meet Spoon or wear ironic belt buckles am I moving to Houston? This craiglist posting is why:

I have a screenplay that I need expanded into a book. This is an action/high tech/terrorism story

Sorry, Britt Daniel, but I'm moving to Houston to do the novelization of an unproduced screenplay with action/high tech/terrorism elements. I'm hoping I can just use the novel I'm currently working on since it already has those elements plus several others. So there you go. Now you'll be able to come to Houston and sleep on my beautiful couch paid for with 40% of the profits from next year's bestselling action/high tech/terrorism/dog memoir/cook book/vampire/dance competition/steampunk/ultra-terrorism/coming-of-age novel.


Exhibit 19.27

Further Evidence of a Disproportionate Number of Songs about Maids When Compared to Actual Maids Seen

Maids Currently in Sight: 0

Exhibit 19.26

Evidence of a Disproportionate Number of Songs about Maids When Compared to Actual Maids Seen