Undergraduate Regression Statistics
* Time spent in dorm room: 80%
* Number of cereals in the cereal bar: 10
* Number of cereals sampled: 3
* Thoughts of changing major: 2
* Pinsky: Pinsky
* Lecture halls: 1
* Trips to the soft serve machine: 0
* Ratio of days to naps: 3/5
* Times reading pretentious book in dining hall: 3
* Times I wondered if this wasn't the quad: ∞
Undergraduate Regression Statistics
Things I Learned on My 20-hour Drive
* By the time you cross the Missouri River for the third time in a state, it's a little played out.
* At Indiana's border, their signs say "Boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln." This when coming from Illinois. I don't want to start a border war here, but someone should tell Indiana to let this one go. Unfortunately, they can't because:
* Indiana is the worst state.
* Do not underestimate the demand for hotels around Niagara Falls in the summer. I, uh, did. At least now I get to say I've seen Rochester. Also, I saw a smoking room with two queen beds and twenty minutes of a 2:30am showing of Funny People on HBO.
* There is a U-Haul trailer that says Lincoln, Nebraska, and has a picture of local legend...Raggedy Andy. I have no idea what the connection is here. I don't think there is one. Clearly no one from U-Haul's massive design department has ever been to Nebraska.
* Apparently, one of the country's largest R.V. dealer's last name is Raper. I wouldn't make fun of it except that he also used about every third billboard to put up a religious message with his name--still Raper--plastered all over it. Naturally, he's from Indiana.
* I still won't make fun of it, but I also won't tell him that he should add an 'i' to his name because being Thomas Rapier would be sweet.
* The Canadian chain Tim Horton's is slowly taking over the Midwest and no one seems to care. It's like Red Dawn only...no, wait, it's exactly like Red Dawn.
* I spent the better part of Ohio wondering what the Nebraska state quarter would look like if designed by U-Haul. My best guess? Scarlett O'Hara eating pudding with otters. One of the otters would be saying, "Mahogany" and holding an eggplant.
* Say what you will about it, but New York knows how to do a tollway service area right. In Kansas, they all have a McDonald's and a gas station. The one I stopped at in New York had two different ice cream parlors and an ice cream vending machine. It seemed excessive, but some lucky little boy on his way to Utica probably disagrees.
* Radio soccer is...well...imprecise. I'm going to chock this one up to having an American announcer, but it wasn't uncommon to hear sentences like, "Americans at midfield, Donovan, what's this, O my, Ghana scores!"
* I liked it when the guy would just yell, "Pass!" It was both the right thing to yell and completely unhelpful. Like if you were pregnant and someone asked what you were having and you just yelled, "Baby! Baby!" at them and then read a commercial for Home Depot.
* Is it like that? I don't know.
How to Greet the Pope
There are so many things that are great about this eHow article not the least of which is its existence after I had to search for that exact phrase. Well, I guess I didn't have to, but if I didn't, I wouldn't have known that greeting the pope was Moderately Easy when all this time I thought it was Near Impossible. Since it's important to have goals, I'm in.
I've already got fully half of the things I'll need to meet His Holiness though I think maybe the writer forgot some things in his or her rush to remind us to purchase airline tickets. I'll also need:
* Shirt to wear under suit
* Pope tie featuring not-dead pope
* Good, ring-kissing lips
* Hotel reservation or pope's floor-appropriate sleeping bag
* Copy of The Da Vinci Code for him to sign
* List of pope-approved conversation topics like "Are there, like, pope ghosts?" or "What's the deal with pantsuits?"
* A fake scar so I look scary when walking the mean streets of Vatican City
Between all that and airline tickets, I can't think of a single thing standing between me and hanging out with the pope. Thanks, eHow. I can't wait to delve into this author's other articles:
Hey, I already know how to do two of those things!
I forgot to mention that my favorite billboard on the interstate was one for HaysHasJobs.com, a sort of desperate plea for people to move to Hays, Kansas. It's as if they fear the Cheyenne have been waiting for the population to dwindle before storming the old fort outside visiting hours. It's as if the Hays City Council gets their marketing ideas from Sarah, Plain and Tall. I love my old town as much as the next former resident, but I'm not sure if one billboard right over the Kansas border is going to turn the tide on this one.
Also not helping is the rotation of images in the top banner which are either supposed to illustrate jobs (dirt track minicar driver, sunflower) or local entertainment (lightning, hallways). Most confusing though is this one which seems to offer both:
Plenty of openings for posse members, apparently. As I had 15 minutes to spend getting that screen capture, I should probably think about applying for something, something like Part-Time Combat Lifesaving Instructor.
This Is Not True
by Amanda Goldblatt
1 tape-bound volume
Book Design by William Todd Seabrook
Cover Image by Amanda Goldblatt
$15/year subscription, $5/individual
The Cupboard is pleased to announce the release of Catalpa: This Is Not True by Amanda Goldblatt—an essay, redacted.
*ABOUT THE VOLUME*
We can not know what presence is until we know how to punctuate it. We cannot know how to punctuate it until we admit the truth. We cannot admit the truth until we know what words we need to hide. Catalpa is an essay on scrims and landscapes. It's a poem, a redaction, a confession, at least once a recipe. Here one wants to know: what if animals die and it might not mean anything? Here one is given: an essay that builds sandcastles on the floor. It’s the best kind of nonfiction: the kind that isn’t true.
Read excerpts here.
*ABOUT THE AUTHOR*
Amanda Goldblatt was born in Washington D.C. in 1982. She now lives in St. Louis, Missouri, where she teaches creative nonfiction and fiction at Washington University. Her stories have been published in Redivider, Sonora Review, The Collagist, Diagram, and elsewhere. She edits the online journal Super Arrow.
The Cupboard publishes a new volume every three months. A year’s subscription is $15. Subscribe here.
Individual volumes, including past volumes from Louis Streittmatter, Mathias Svalina, Caia Hagel, Michael Stewart, and Joshua Cohen, are available for $5.
Mathias Svalina’s book, Destruction Myth, is now available from Cleveland State University Press.
Joshua Cohen’s highly anticipated novel Witz is out from Dalkey Archive Press and was reviewed in the New York Times here.
Both Jesse Ball and Joshua Cohen made The Millions’s list of 20 More Writers under 40.
*OUR NEXT VOLUME*
Explanations by Andrew Borgstrom will be the next volume of The Cupboard. Look for it later this summer.
During my 12-hour drive up to Kansas City, I noticed a lot more billboards than I normally do, especially in Dallas which must be the most billboarded city in the country. Say what you will about Houston, but for the most part they keep the outdoor advertising reasonable along the freeway. Dallas is another matter. Their signs ranged from standard--100.3FM It's Free!--to obscure--Frank's Valves [phone number]. I also learned from signeage that Dallas and the area around it has a chain interstate-side adult video store. I saw at least four in north Texas, and I'm pretty sure I made it all the way to Oklahoma City by wondering what kind of corporate training seminars and team building exercises the employees would have to tolerate. Would there be a yearly picnic? With potato sack races? Yes, I decided. Yes.
But the best thing I saw was that Dallas was using its traffic warning signs to mention that an elderly gentleman was lost. For 50 miles, all the signs were flashing the man's name (Buck) and that he was a white guy from Atlanta, Texas. This was sad. I mean, it didn't say how old the guy was, but he must have been really lost for someone to have gotten the okay to use the road signs. But after passing a sign at almost every exit, it became a little surreal. I wanted to pull off the road, find a white guy, and have this conversation:
Me: Hey, is your name Buck?
White Guy: Yes.
Me: [getting hopeful] Are you from Atlanta?
White Guy: Why, yes.
Me: [super excited] Are you lost?
White Guy: Boy howdy, I am. Thank you, stranger. I don't know how I'll get back to Georgia.
Me: [punches white guy]
I mean, I really hope they found Buck. Maybe he went back to Atlanta (which, I now know, isn't even close to Dallas) or maybe he stumbled into one of those adult video stores. Maybe he became the manager. Maybe every two weeks his regional supervisor comes by and gives him a hard time about upselling. Yes. That.
Run by Kim Gek Lin Short
I didn't know anything about this chapbook when I picked it up at AWP except that Jeremiah said I should buy it and offered a toy horse to close the deal. He'd come so far as a salesman since we shared a table at the last AWP. But he was right. About the chapbook. About the horse. About everything.
It's easy in the world of letterpressed and hand-sewn chapbooks to get caught up in the beauty of the physical object and let it overshadow the writing inside, but Run would be just as satisfying if it were xeroxed and stapled at Kinko's. It is a beautiful book, of course, but the story told through this series of prose poems is a shocking one of kidnapping and abuse and country music. It can do this:
Hand it over, it says, the knife in her purse. Her mother tells the police she knows where La La is: it is not a better place. She slices the sharp searches for the life the heat the wet they do not see. She slices a gash and sharps over it over it over it. Where is your daughter, they ask, naked with glasses on. They're visual. She can't show them because they're visual.
Yep. It's full of moments like this. Violence and dreams and capture and escape.
Pick it up here. O, and then there's this. Hmm...
If you'll allow me to talk about college athletics for a moment...
...I've got mixed feelings about how Nebraska broke college football. Not that college football got broken, but that it had to be Nebraska doing it. It's not exactly the situation, of course, and Colorado's move into the Pac-10 takes some of the heat off the Big Red, but at least in Texas the sentiment seems to be that it's Nebraska driving a stake into the heart of the Big XII (and not, you know, a flawed revenue sharing arrangement or conference championship game that's not going to played north of Dallas anytime soon).
Nebraska is doing what's right for Nebraska, but it's unfortunate that there are likely going to be some pretty dire consequences for some surrounding schools. I'm mostly sad for Kansas in all of this which has to be looking around and panicking that their basketball team is going to end up playing Boise St. and Wyoming twice a year. The Texas schools will always be okay, and Oklahoma seems likely to land on its feet one way or the other, but the Plains schools are going to be in an awkward position if things continue on their current course. Its a course that means 16 team super conferences and--eventually--a host of lawsuits and possible congressional action.
It's not going to be pretty, and, while I agree with the decision--am crazily excited about it actually--it's Nebraska's responsibility. Apparently, like Han Solo, Nebraska shoots first. It's shocking such an old-guard administration was able to weigh the school's future against tradition and determine the money was worth the criticism. And this is about money. Nebraska wanted more, and so they were bold instead of loyal. They were determined not to be left behind, and how it came to be Nebraska joining the Big 10 and not Missouri is a story that I hope comes out at some point. Somehow a university from one of the country's smallest states came to be the key player in a national revolution driven by the acquisition of television ratings. Tom Osborne must have made one incredible PowerPoint presentation.
So now the university will position itself to build its academic reputation around its Big 10 membership. Good, they should be so ambitious. The state seems to think there are ways this could lead to jobs and population growth (we'll see. Frankly, I'd be afraid if college football is actually that important). The athletic department is going to try to sell everyone on the idea that Iowa is rival, and soon it probably will be. And of course the only reason that matters: the financial windfall. The end.
It's a win, but it's a momentary one. By the time Nebraska joins in 2011, all of the other pieces will have fallen into place and it might not look like such a smart move to have cast off the past. If things go the way they seem to be going, this is going to be a reset button in college athletics (though, notably, not the one we'd all like to hit which would bring some much needed reforms to spread the wealth to student-athletes). Nebraska is hardly guaranteed their relevancy, and there are obvious pitfalls in moving north rather than south. O well. They broke it, they bought it. Thankfully, it shouldn't be a problem paying for it.
This recent gap in posts may be the longest in this blog's history, and it's all because of Boldface, the fantastic undergraduate writing conference I've been teaching at for the past week. I'm tired and full of sandwiches, but it's been great. My students are embarrassing me with their talent. I'm teaching them how to introduce business lingo into workshops. Cost-benefit-analysis! Best practices! Synergy!
I've only said some of those things.