On The Care And Feeding Of Rosemary’s Baby

By: Russell Bradbury-Carlin

Thank you for watching our little Adrian! We’re sure you’ll find him to be a wonderful, easy-to-care-for baby. Our cell phone numbers are on the refrigerator door. And if you feel at all nippish while we are gone, there is bowl of chocolate mousse on the bottom shelf that we’d love for you to snack on.

There are a few things we’d like you to know about the care of our son. First of all, before entering his room, remove any crucifixes or St. Mary’s medals from around your neck or person. In fact, you should avoid moving any objects into a crisscross pattern, or standing with your arms outstretched in a cruciform posture. For some reason this makes him irritable and difficult to put to sleep later on.

Second, please make sure that he isn’t separated from his collection of stuffed animals. He loves to whisper in their ears and ask them to do his bidding. It is so cute. By the way, his set of stuffed rams is his favorite toy. And don’t panic, we do allow him to cover them in the washable red paint. When he’s done, you’ll find washcloths under the kitchen sink (a great time to grab some of that yummy mousse!). Also, it may sound like he is speaking Latin backwards as he plays. It is just his unique way of babbling.

We suggest giving Adrian a bath before bed. We are not sure where that odd stench surrounding him is coming from. I have tried eliminating garlic from my meals as it may be getting into my breast milk (note: you may want to use one of the industrial strength surgical masks when changing his diaper). As you place Adrian into the bath you’ll need to sooth him if he seems anxious. We suggest repeating, “this is not holy water, this not holy water.” It works like a charm!

Now, we know that there are different opinions on whether or not to allow your child to have a snack before bed. Actually, we find there is no avoiding it. We don’t think we are spoiling our charming baby by giving him whatever he demands when it comes to food. Also, you’ll find if you don’t feed him, he’ll cry and the temperature in the room will increase significantly — feel free to turn up any of the six air conditioners we have scattered around the apartment. We recommend that you feed him either pieces of lightly cooked steak, some goat’s milk (it only smells fermented), or a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. And while you are in the kitchen don’t forget to have some of the chocolate mousse for yourself — I made it from scratch.

One of our current parenting challenges is getting our son to sleep on his own. We have recently become advocates of the Ferber method of sleep acclimation. We know, the Cry It Out approaches are thought to be an unnatural way by some to teach a baby to sleep. But we feel it is appropriate for our child. So, when you do finally put young Adrian to bed, tell him you will be in the other room, to be a good baby, and go to sleep. He may cry at first, but do not go back in. This is key to the Ferber method. You may feel tempted to come back in when he begins to cry out “IN THE NAME OF ABBADON, RELEASE ME FROM THIS PRISON OR I WILL GRIND YOUR BONES IN BRIMSTONE AND YOU WILL DIE WITH THE SCENT OF YOUR VERY SOUL CHARRING IN YOUR NOSTRILS.” We suggest putting on an episode of Seinfeld and turning up the volume. That’s what we do.

Finally, if after eating the chocolate mousse, you begin to feel a bit sleepy, feel free to take a nap in the guest room. And if you hear hypnotic-chanting on the other side of the wall, ignore it. Our neighbors usually have a Saturday night poker game/chanting club every week. Nothing to be concerned about, nothing to be worried about at all.

Good luck and sweet dreams!


Anticipated Reviews Of My Unfinished Novels, Had I Completed Them

By: Tyler Smith

Patchouli Morning

The metaphysical impishness, erudition and breadth of vision in this sexually charged roman à clef is Smith at his most vulnerable. We recoil in horror as he recounts a series of heartbreaking trysts that recall — then exceed — Flaubert in both emotional power and literary merit. Curiously, the novel stagnates for the first twenty pages with inane references to pedestrian, adolescent love themes directed toward a sophomore called only “Emily,” but it then soars for the remaining 344 pages with a narrative and vision as taut and authentic as anything in the Western canon since forever. And while the inclusion of the lyrics to Metallica’s “Fade to Black” in the prologue offers little in the way of relevance, one is reminded that — like black holes — not everything should be easily understood.

Lachrymose in Transylvania

Intoxicating, tantalizing, always potentially violent, this captivating tome helps define not just the current state of Inuit America, but the world at large. It is a book so erudite and well wrought that its aura somehow illuminates the rest of Smith’s oeuvre, sustaining his post-apocalyptic vision. And although Smith asks a lot of his readers (would Dracula really show up for the soap-box derby, uninvited?), we are rewarded for our efforts later in this tour de force when it becomes clear everything has been a dream — but not in that hokey, St. Elsewhere way — in that way that only Smith, at the height of his creative powers, can manufacture so convincingly.

Da Nang Disco

Can anyone write about the horrors of the Vietnam War like Smith? Maybe Tim O’Brien, but does O’Brien dare to set his narrative against the backdrop of a colonial discotheque struggling to keep the party going during the Tet Offensive? No. Smith weaves his flawless prose seamlessly through the trenches and pop hits of 1968 Vietnam while exposing the artifice and shady underbelly that was the 2001 Little League World Series. The daring cadenza that begins the novel is, as often seems to be the case with Smith’s first chapters, categorically unreadable — but not in the sense that they are ill-conceived or poorly written — they are simply too much to bear, like much of Joyce. The Emily character makes a dramatic entrance, screams, then leaves the novel for good. Again. It’s so haunting! Maybe I should just come clean here and admit that I am not smart enough to comprehend what Smith is getting at, usually.

Toggle & Yaw

Just when you get the feeling that Smith may nave reached the limits of his vast fecundity, he treats us to a space novel like no other. To call Toggle & Yaw a “space novel,” though, is tantamount to calling The Bible a “sand novel.” The book begins quite predictably with a string of complaints (as is becoming Smith’s modus operandi) related to a character named “Emily,” who appears quite substantially in earlier chapters then disappears without a whimper. What are we to think of this “Emily?” Who really cares, when, later in the novel, Toggle (a Type A cosmonaut from the future) explains to Yaw (a robot/fire hydrant with a history of drug abuse), “Thy sample science programs, like deep surveys and slitless grism spectroscopy of exo-planet transit, will compromise ye olde mission’s capabilities in near-infrared, m’lady. Anon.” Can you think of another writer who can meld flawless Victorian patois with deep-space discourse like Smith? This reviewer cannot.

The Rending

If it can be said of any writer living today that he/she has fused lyric virtuosity with a kind childlike aplomb, that writer must be Mr. Smith. The Rending begins with the tale of a particularly devastating train accident, I think. Of course, Smith knows that, in fiction, it’s often what’s “not there” that lends to the visceral beauty inherent in certain exchanges and turns of phrase. Indeed, The Rending, Smith’s fifth and finest book thus far, is an artistic blitzkrieg on literary expectation and norms, as the novel, coming in at just under 600 pages, features not a single word. If Kafka, Proust, McCullers and Nabokov pooled their best work and created a kind of “Dream Team” book, one wonders whether the ensuing scribbles could even be put up for consideration next to Smith’s magnum opus. The culminate car-chase through the byzantine streets of Caligula’s Rome recalls I, Claudius, with lasers. Not-to-be-perused.


On first read, one wonders whether Mr. Smith actually typed the word “Emily” 2,011,740 times, or if he in fact used the “cut-and-paste” option on his PC. Either way, this paean to lost love compels the reader to ask: “Is this The Great American Novel?” or perhaps, “What’s your return policy?”


God Responds to Sarah Palin’s Remarks

By: Justin Warner

GOD: Damn. I guess this’ll teach Me to go on vacation: I open my email and there are three hundred trillion new messages. About half of them were YouTube links to Sarah Palin invoking My name, so let me go through them point by point:

PALIN: “Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God.”

GOD: Well, since you asked, let me set the record straight: I have never advocated for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. What I have advocated for, if anyone would freaking listen, is the invasion and occupation of Mauritius.

I know what you’re thinking: Mauritius? Wasn’t he Julius Caesar’s page boy or something? If only. As it happens, Mauritius is a pathetic excuse for a sovereign nation located on an island 560 miles east of Madagascar. An island which I created for only one reason: as a safe home for the dodo, the coolest bird EVER.

But what happened? Well, in the 17th century, a bunch of drunk Dutch sailors decided they hadn’t ruined enough pristine, uninhabited paradises, so they and their mangy domesticated animals took it over and guess what? A century later, no more dodos! Thanks a lot, dickweeds. Now the island’s human population is a toxic stew of French, British, Indian, African, Chinese, and who knows what else, and they haven’t done a single thing worth a damn since. Oh yeah, and a couple of their old postage stamps are worth like, half a bajillion dollars, so I guess that’s their excuse for sitting around all day swigging rum from paper bags and banging out cacophonous, seizure-inducing drum rhythms. Jerks.

Sure, I could wipe them all out with a tsunami or a plague. But frankly, that’s a little deus ex machina for My tastes. Nope, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as watching an inferior culture get a first class ass-whuppin’ courtesy of its fellow man. And I personally cannot wait a minute longer. But moving on…

PALIN: “I think God’s will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that [$30 billion natural gas] pipeline built. So pray for that.”

GOD: Again, I don’t know what God she was listening to, but I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about that natural gas pipeline. My will, which I clearly spelled out on Governor Palin’s English muffin on the morning of June 14, 2007, is to open up oil exploration rights in the Chukchi Sea. There’s some serious bling to be made there, and if there’s a spill, it’ll mostly kill whales and polar bears, which are both overrated in My opinion. If I could only think of a way for an oil spill in Alaska to wash up on the shores of Mauritius, we’d hit the jackpot.

PALIN: “All of this doesn’t do any good if the people of Alaska’s heart isn’t right with God.”

GOD: Like that’s ever going to happen. Right now, only about 38 percent of Alaskan people’s hearts are right with Me, which is slightly below the national average (thanks in no small part to the Smythe family of Valdez). Still, it’s a damn sight better than Mauritius, where the percentage is zero.

FROM PALIN’S CHURCH BULLETIN: ”You’ll be encouraged by the power of God’s love and His desire to transform the lives of those impacted by homosexuality.”

GOD: See, this is what pisses Me off about these evangelical churches: They spend so much time worrying about who’s hopping in bed with whom, and NONE whatsoever bombing certain East African island nations back to the Stone Age. Oh wait, they’re already in the Stone Age.

While we’re on the subject, did you know that “Mauritius” was the name of a critically acclaimed Broadway play last season? As if those smug twits didn’t have enough to swell their heads. I’ll tell you, nothing makes My blood boil like watching a bunch of Upper West Side yuppies nattering away over cappuccinos about the interplay of gender and violence in a play named after a piece-of-crap nation of cretins.

But seriously, I’m actually big advocate of gay rights, and oh, hell with it: FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, SOMEBODY TAKE THE HINT AND INVADE MAURITIUS! It won’t be that hard! Even Lesotho could take these punks and they’re starving to death. All right, fine: Whoever leads the invasion gets his or her choice of 72 virgins, lifetime immunity from cancer, or a bump to the front of the line for a new Prius.

Want something else? Seriously, make me an offer. Those guys have it coming.


Particularly Overt Classified Ads

By: Pete Reynolds

MediocriCo, Inc. — Marketing Associate. Get started down the Long Road to the Middle! Looking for young, spirited, optimistic go-getters who are open to having their souls crushed by a lifetime of overwhelming monotony and trite, career-stunting office politics. Useless bachelor’s degree preferred. Ability to begrudgingly, but consistently, obey orders a plus. Willingness to wear ties with short-sleeve dress shirts also a plus.

Testostero Supply Co. — Secretary. Auto parts supply company seeking submissive but perky secretary that knows her way around a hard drive (ohhh!). Ideal candidate must be willing to wear tight clothing and retrieve dropped items. Experience dancing to ZZ Top albums a plus. Past abusive relationship with father and/or currently incarcerated ex-boyfriend also a plus. Associate’s degree or lower preferred. Unfamiliarity with Anita Hill and Gloria Steinem a necessity. Signing bonus available to candidates who lost their virginity in a van with an airbrushed beach scene on the side. We are looking to immediately fill this opening — if you know what we mean. HAYYYYY-OOOOO! Free gym membership included.

FirstBank — Securities Broker. FirstBank, one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious banking institutions, is currently seeking to add as many as ten motivated, sadistic jerk-offs to its hallowed ranks. The ideal candidate will tip poorly and wear blue shirts with white collars. FirstBank prides itself on hiring employees who pretend to own a boat, wear excessive hair gel, and swing an imaginary baseball bat while talking on a headset. Priority for interviews will go to those candidates who have a penchant for self-aggrandizement and cocaine, and an ability to be from New Jersey.

Factory 72 — Laborer. Wal-Mart supplier located in tropical, malarial locale seeks energetic youngsters with tireless, supple fingers. Previous experience embroidering American flag and/or bald eagle onto sweatshirts for sale to Uncle Dales and Aunt Brendas throughout America’s girthier regions a plus. Candidates requiring more than intermittent bursts of mat-based slumber on dank factory floors need not apply. Wages probable. Benefits include thrice-daily snacks of mealworms and rain water (subject to seasonal drought).

US Army — Volunteers. Do you love adventure? Awesomeness?? EXTREME awesomeness??? If you answered “Totally, bro!” to any of these questions, you might just have what it takes to join the world’s most ass-kicking organization — the US Army! Be immediately deployed to waterless beaches half a world away where you’ll spend your time off-roading in ATVs, learning how to play the electric guitar, and snowboarding! Earn college credit toward a degree…in Awesomeness Studies! Though you will become an Army of One, employer would like to hire several thousand Armies of One, so impressionable friends are welcome. Must be 18 years old to apply. Will consider extra-rad 17-year olds who can keep a secret!

Larry “Lead Pipe” Stinson — Victim. Do you carry excessive amounts of cash? Are you masochistic and weak? If so, this job is for you! I am looking for someone who is willing to go the extra mile — specifically, the extra mile to the 121st Street ATM, around 2:45 AM, Thursday, June 20th, for your guaranteed interview. Ideal candidate enjoys walking alone and has a pathological fear of cops. Amnesia and/or blindness a plus.

Ron Masterson — Emergency Room Surgeon. Construction worker badly injured in a freak backhoe accident urgently seeking to hire a physician of some type, preferably one trained in emergency responses and life-saving surgeries, to stop the bleeding. Must be able to start immediately, as I am quickly losing consciousness. Ownership of medical tools and whatnot a plus. Double life as member of the clergy also a plus. Priority given to those physicians who are members of the MedHealth Insurance Preferred Network.

Columbia Gazette — Classifieds Coordinator. Mid-Atlantic, small town newspaper seeks to replace Classifieds Coordinator. Candidate must be willing to stifle own dreams of journalistic achievement and overlook unrelenting grammatical idiocy from the general public. Ability to refrain from sleeping with the Managing Editor’s wife, even though it feels so right, is, apparently, required. Knack for recognizing cruel irony of being asked to write an ad seeking one’s own replacement recommended.


Quimby’s Revenge: Diary Excerpts From the Ill-fated Tilverton Arctic Expedition, Circa 1904

By: Dan McArdle

28th July 1904

Firstly let me state unequivocally that the tuxedos were Quimby’s idea. I found the use of formal wear to acclimatize any penguins to our presence patently ridiculous. Secondly I remain steadfast in my conviction that there are no penguins in the Arctic; alas my protests go unheeded. And now the ever-trustworthy Borghetti has informed us that Quimby surreptitiously traded away our fur mitts and overcoats for a croquet set and forty cases of “Coca-Cola,” a sickly sweet libation from America. We must now lash the dog sleds to the deck to accommodate it in the hold. The elixir has wondrous medicinal properties, he says; the croquet set will build camaraderie and esprit de corps among the men. I must confess that I am doubtful…

3rd September 1904

We are undone! The premature onset of the winter freeze has left our redoubtable ship, the HMS Obdurate, encased in yards-thick ice! And now the cola bottles have frozen, and begun exploding en masse; we must waste precious fuel to warm them. To make matters worse, we have had to fight off several waves of polar bears, inexplicably drawn to the tincture. They have made short work of our sled dogs, and have breached the Obdurate’s very hull to get at the stuff. Once the giant beasts have procured a bottle, they either force it upon their whimpering cubs, or guzzle the contents whilst sliding drunkenly about the icy slopes…

15th October 1904

While we now have three polar bear furs to supplement our meager tuxedos, we spent valuable bullets during the siege. Combined with Quimby’s ill-conceived bottle shooting tourney, we find ourselves desperately short of ammunition…

29th November 1904

As our supplies dwindle and the temperature drops, the croquet matches have grown more contentious. Ever-watchful Borghetti has apprised us of bad blood between The Swede and the churlish Kugelfresser. Apparently the Austro-Hungarian took great offense to a particularly brutal “sending out” by the big Scandinavian, and rather unsportingly hurled the Swede’s ball well out onto the pack. Only expert mallet-work from the ever-resourceful Borghetti kept them from coming to blows. We have been forced to organize search parties to retrieve the balls, which have become precious to the surly crew; scores must be settled, and manly croqueting honor regained…

1st December 1904

After a sup of malamute hoosh and the last of the jerky called pemmican, ever-observant Borghetti spoke of difficulties between the young Yank Johnson and the loutish Quimby. The silver-tongued cur has convinced the naïve lad that a narwhal tusk they came upon whilst fetching the croquet balls is in fact the fabled horn of a “snow unicorn.” The crew jeered the boy heartily when he relayed his discovery, but he stubbornly keeps the tusk close at hand…

13th January 1905

Lost Johnson last night. After the penguin/tuxedo travesty, the exploding elixir bottles, the enraged polar bear siege, the bitter croquet rows, and the narwhal/unicorn controversy, I had felt our luck must surely turn for the better. Ever-vigilant Borghetti informed us of the tragedy over a luncheon of rat-pemmican and heated bottles of the accursed cola. Johnson was a simple farmboy, true, but even Quimby didn’t expect the yokel to believe another cock-and-bull story, that one could tip a sleeping walrus as easily as the dairy cows back home. The strapping Yank will be sorely missed…

9th March 1905

The flesh tastes of succulent peppered venison, he said. The blubber veritably melts in one’s mouth. Well little did the rogue Quimby realize that this is how he himself would taste to our desperate icebound crew, not the narwhals he has enflamed against us with his off-key arias, bawdy limericks and incessant whistling. The once-stalwart Borghetti giggled with unseemly delight during our dread repast, and danced a macabre jig, brandishing both his bloodied mallet and Johnson’s unicorn horn. The Swede offered a bitter toast to our huddled band of tuxedoed survivors, raising the last of the despised green bottles in mock salute to the hated Quimby. He will not be missed…

23rd May 1905

Huzzah! We are saved! The now-demented Borghetti has informed us — between fits of maniacal giggling — of a ship’s masts on the horizon, and several figures advancing across the pack in our direction. We ate our paltry breakfast of Quimby-pemmican and icicles in eager anticipation. Having espied them myself, I must say their shocking appearance gives me pause. Their sleds are drawn by dozens of ravenous poodles; they are armed with stringless badminton racquets; and they are clad in filthy, matted bear suits. And perhaps most disconcerting of all, their leader bears an uncanny family resemblance to the late Quimby…