Criticism. Essay. Fiction. Science. Weather.
1A piece removed. 2Come eat it.
Or don't. 3Wine, Shoulder, Bolt, Socket. 4Mothbombs 5On the road with your only soul. 6One woman's trash is another woman's treasure 7Aliens! Right here in America! 8It's not as crazy as it sounds
or, music is as music does 91) Sign.
2) Hope for the best. 10A friendship in a bottle. 11A five-year-old tries his hand at action adventure. 12Will the circle be unbroken. 1390ways' first Quaterly Review rages on:
2 samples of Fiction. 14Muscles and fat.
A thin layer of sweat. 15Fiction goes serial.
Part 1 has sex and drugs.
You know you want to stay tuned. 16Our fiction serial concludes to cure your
vertigo from last week's cliff-hanger. 17An iced-out 21-speed sensation: The Moves are
all up on your handlebars. 18We're all in this together.
Except those bastards in administration. 19Jilted, laughed at,
and in the air. 20Swirling and swirling... 21You can't make yourself like them, but you have to pretend because they are your family. 22How well do jewel cases retain odor?
About as well as you stink. 23It's black and white. It's old world.
It's photo time. 24Piggy calls, wanting to sell you insurance.
This is what's on the other end of the line. 25A long pause, then, 26Fiction's Second Qaurterly Review
can speak Italian. 27It's only bread, after all. 28It's job search time at 90ways. 29George W. Bush's resting heart rate and a bum in a green sweater. 30Antique weaponry and teenage angst.
Together at last. 31One-hundred-fifty-three syllables
of October fun. 32there is only
self 33She's cold to the touch.
Cold and pebbly. 34Gut-wrenching love.
And wallabies. 35Building a habit out of ivies and orange flowers. 36A 90ways exclusive sneak peak at the
new and groundbreaking Alphabet Book. 37Type it with one hand and
see what happens 38A face any susbsitence farmer could love. 39The Quarterly Review: read it again for the third time. 40For every task, someone is the best.
Sometimes that's impressive. 41I didn't get a computer;
I moved to Indiana. 42A piece removed. 4390ways has new concerns about identity theft. Lock up the children and your sense of self. 44time. eyes. deep sighs. 45I know there's a place 4690 stars are born. 47I had to ask. 48It's about sex.
But isn't that always the way with classical music? 49The epistolary form in the 21st century.
Complete with neuroses and unpunctuation. 50There is no end to the party. 51Rockin to the sweet sounds of prepared food. 52Of or pertaining to. 53Including spaces, this blurb is 90 characters. Ways, words, characters. It is a leitmotif. 54Minnesota. Miami. Poetry in 90ways' Fiction.
It's the best of all worlds. 55It lives and breathes and is hungry for carnival food. 56A piece removed. 57The curtain is being pulled back... 58Up in the Fiction house! It's a bird. It's a plane.
It's an illustralogue! 59The hat, in all honesty, is a private matter. 60Putting up with all the doth. 6190words strike terror into the hearts of the longwinded. 62Return of the illustralogue! 63Take one down, pass it around,
blow your nose. 64A piece removed. 65The First Quarterly Review wants
you to meet its little friend. 66From our servers to your ear buds!
It's misguided enthusiasm, in podcast form! 67Questions for the man himself.
Plus, the podcast adventure continues. 68No one would ever use Starbucks
to define their identity. Right... 69Don't you remember the rose clipped under my windshield wiper like a butterfly under a pin? 70Oh, it's nothing.
Oh, it's life-threatening disease. 71It's not you. It's me.
And my Eurasian captors.
72Root, root, root for the brisk
sale of anything possible. 73Look within the very bowels of the soul.
Or at least your mother. 74We're not strangers any more. 75He knows of what he speaks. 76I find that often times I'm quite
mature enough to enjoy a few beverages. 77He is licking me.
I don't like it one bit. 78Our favorite stuff is coming 'round the mountain, again. 79A wooden-back brush and a homemade bowl of oatmeal. 80A man's home is his... 81Fack to the Buture. 82This dude pulled back on his nose
and mucus and unleashed a city. 83The polls are in. 93% of respondents do not approve of the monkeybone lodged in their lower lip 84Like a thirsty man in the desert 85Taxpayer dollars wasted on broken egg. News at eleven. 86She loves her red octopus.
She will chew it to death. 87Bubbling, gurgling, fighting a moment to stay afloat. 88Molting our pasts into the air... 89The Return of 90 Words 90It comes but once a... ever. 91Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, the end of the Fiscal Quarter. 92The 540 word circle is now unbroken. 93An emptying out of the animus, perceived as tranquility
94All roads lead to South Dakota. Or at least the I-90 does, anyway. 95He laid down his whittling knife and he and his brother took up arms in rage. 96Drinking manhattans made with a good bourbon, and strong. 97Living white and pudgy, I never expected much for myself. Now, I could tell that was true. 98A few gestural lines towards the thought of death. 99Rest in peace.
I know I will. 100And then we played baseball and then we played army and then we were best friends. 101We torn holes in sheets and became ghosts for each other's pleasures. 102I looked at the pictures of you, twenty years old,
sometimes skinny and sometimes your face a soft moon.
103Fingers clutching little trinkets of the day... 104All roads lead to South Dakota. Or at least the I-90 does, anyway. 105Everywhere signs of an interstice arriving. 106What you see and what you believe are two different things. 107It was as if a million literary ghosts poured from its pages, moaning to be set free. 108So what if too many times we have been here, both
lost in our machinations...
Week 13 is a little different for us here at 90ways. To celebrate our first three months of delivering engaging, insightful daily commentary from a broad array of contributors, we've decided to throw out our usual operational model. Instead of continuing to provide a brand new piece of Criticism, Essay, Fiction, Science, or Weather every day, we are going to do something completely different: repeat ourselves. For your reading pleasure, we will spend this week re-posting the most sparkling works of the last three months. If you are a first-time visitor to 90ways, we hope that you will check in with us every day this week to find a new, old piece of writing in each of our five houses. For our regular readers, we hope that you will take this opportunity to revisit some of our best content and to celebrate the spirit of American wit and Franklonian Lester Buckets.
Ben and I Break up a Few Months after the Aliens Arrive on Earth
Ben and I break up a few months after the aliens arrive in America. During the first few days after their landing, we promise to stay together forever and that nothing will tear us apart. Actually, it's him who says this. I don't pay much attention because he's not really saying it to me at all-- he's more singing along to a Hot Bitch song on the radio called We Will Stay Together Forever and That Nothing Will Tear Us Apart. I sing the refrain: "Yeah baby I promise, oh yeah, foreva." After the aliens land, Ben and I listen to Hot Bitch for like two days straight. Their lyrics became more meaningful.
I stop going to school shortly after the aliens' arrival and before Ben breaks up with me. At the club where I strip, the regular customers are unhappy that I've made this decision. It makes me pleased to know they care about my future, but I say to Jack, an old sailor with gold teeth and an eye patch (for effect, I think), "Who do you, like, think you are, my sister?" He doesn't answer, feels me up, and leaves without tipping. Days go on and fewer of my regulars come around.
Then Marcy, the stage manager, tells me that most men feel uncomfortable having a stripper who is not putting herself through school strip for them. He tells me that he has seen strippers with great potential fall by the wayside because they stopped hitting the books. While he speaks I wonder if, because he has so much chest hair, he can wear fewer layers in the winter.
At home things are no better. Ben tells me that I have to clean the house everyday now that I am not in school. He says that it's my life, but if I want to stay on that pole and become a crackwhore, because that's what I'll become, then it's not going to happen when he's around, which by the way he may not be; but until I get my act together I will clean the house everyday, by myself. I say, "Who do you, like, think you are, my mother?" He looks at me puzzled.
That whole day I clean the house and watch the news. The aliens have taken over three of the major network TV stations. Their language is similar to ours, but they curse and laugh in the middle of sentences. They have changed the format of talk shows, and the host now brings on his own family and confronts them. On one channel the host is telling his sister that she didn't have to fucking feel so fucking bad about stealing his fucking wife; that it was okay. The two of them sit there crying, their features not different from ours, though noticeably smaller. I find myself kneeling in front of the television, crying as well.
Ben comes home at five or six. He apologizes for the sissy fit he threw that morning and tells me the house looks good. We eat McScoundrel's, our favorite, and listen to Hot Bitch's new charity single for the Anti Alien Relief Fund. Ben says that Hot Bitch is like Gandhi. I tell him that I agree, but I kind of like the aliens. He asks me if I'm fucking nuts. I tell him I'm kidding, which I'm not, and we do it in the hallway.
Then one day, out of the blue, Ben says, "Julie we need to break up, not take a break; you remember the difference, right?"
When he lays this on me, I'm in the middle of perfecting my idea for my invention of heatable ice cream for when it's cold out (I am not afraid of you stealing this because I've sent the plans of it to myself through the mail.)
So I say, "Just because I dropped out of school doesn't mean I don't use my brain."
And then he tells me, "You never use your brain, but this isn't about that. I just don't think I can stay with someone who's dropped out of school and watches alien TV all day. They are terrorizing our freedom; even the president says so. And you sit here and watch and laugh and call them cute? You're an alien lover!"
He's right. I have spent the last few weeks watching television where aliens either host or act in the shows. I find their comedy more comedic, their drama more dramatic, and their music more musical. After watching regular television for twenty-four years, I've become bored. Alien TV has expanded my horizons.
So I say, "Hot Bitch isn't like Gandhi, Ben. Alien television is like Gandhi."
Ben looks at me dumbfounded, like I've just broken some sacred bond between Gandhi, Hot Bitch, and comparisons. He is no fan of the aliens and has even taken to going out late, after I sleep, to destroy their tiny ultra-modern homes in what used to be the bad part of town. I can tell that this will be our last conversation.
Then Ben yells louder than the time we had the ghost in our house trying to blackmail us: "Are you nuts? I'm outta' here! I don't even want any of my stuff! I never want to see you again! I'm joining the army or maybe moving to Canada, where there's no aliens. I hope you're happy, you freak!"
Ben leaves and takes the Hot Bitch Box Set. On his way out he says, "I won't let you take my tunes from me." I sit for a while and think about all the times we spent happy together. I think and think until it hurts. After a while I decide not to let Ben's departure depress me too much. I put on the television and my new favorite game show, Who the Fuck Wants to Be a Millionaire?, has just begun. I play along, and soon Ben's leaving is a thing long ago.
Time goes by, and the aliens become less foreign to those of us who don't move to Canada. The American Daytime Television Actors Union invites alien actors to merge with their existing union in order to show a collective spirit of unity. Some time after this "union of the unions," as we came to call it, an alien child got stuck in a well on the outskirts of the city. Images of the child, dirty and cursing, airs two days straight on all television stations. The local rescue services join together with the more advanced alien rescue services to save the child. Although the child dies, the joining together of both people in one common cause becomes symbolic. "Symbolic," at least, is the word the vice president uses in a speech at the site of the well a few days later.
At work, my regular customers - the ones who felt guilty about my dropping out of school - never return. They are replaced with alien men and their wives. At first it is awkward having to dance, naked, with these guys' wives sitting next to them. Soon I learn that stripping is considered a fine art where they are from. I spend time improving my act, and my tips quadruple. Quickly, I go from being a college dropout stripper to being a college dropout stripper; nothing changes, though now I am considered, as the aliens say, "a fucking princess."
Time moves on and I begin dating an alien regular from the club. Even though he is small, even though his manners aren't considered proper, he is much more respectful than Ben. After our fourth date he invites me back to his house, and as I am adjusting my body to the dropped ceilings (three and a half feet), he kisses me.
For the first time, I am no longer the blonde with big tits that guys have taken me for. In 1722's company I am a lady in the presence of a gentleman. We continue dating, and soon 1722 moves in with me. Often I come home and he has dinner cooked. He tells me in a soothing voice, "Shit, honey rest your fucking beautiful feet, shit." For a while, at least, life seems serene.
I am telling each member of Hot Bitch - Jackie, the trendy bi-sexual singer with "Jackie-Life" tattooed on her stomach; Ted, the English keyboardist who's always depressed and cuts his arms; and Kayla, the DJ who is always walking along a beach somewhere in their videos - that the aliens aren't as bad as they think they are. We, the four of us, are having a group meeting and holding hands backstage before a big show. I am telling them about 1722, about how I didn't know what love was before he came along, about how he inspired me to join the band, about how I wrote the latest single, You Got Me Doin Double Takes - the one that sold over a million copies on the first day of its release - all about him. I can see on Jackie's face that she knows she has been wrong, that the aliens arent much different than us. She opens her mouth to apologize, but then the entire moment becomes disturbed by the sound of the telephone waking me.
On the other line I can hear cars honking and fuzzy reception. Immediately, I know it's Ben calling from Canada. 1722 is not in the room. I think to myself, "He's probably left for his morning jog." I pretend to act aggravated, which I'm really not, and then say, "What do you want, Ben?" The other line doesn't respond for what feels like minutes. Then I hear Ben ask with some hesitation, "Are you alright?"
So I say, "Why, like, wouldn't I fucking be alright? Because you left me for watching the fucking television?"
I practiced this line many times, without the fucks, when Ben first left me. It wasn't that I missed him - he was the type of guy who dated strippers for Christ's sake - but more that he had left on such irrational terms. After meeting 1722 I thought about Ben rarely but recently promised myself to send him a baby picture once the child was born. I was never one for revenge, but Ben deserved it.
Then Ben says, "You're dating one; I can tell by the way you're talking. Well, what are you gonna' do now? What are you gonna' do, huh?"
It was a Saturday morning, and I had just dreamt the prettiest of dreams. I was in love for the first time and was expecting a child; two weeks before we conceived the child I experienced my first orgasm. Ben had not changed much since the day he left with the Hot Bitch Box Set, and I didn't need him getting me down. As I hung up the phone, I could still hear him laughing a mad laugh and asking honestly, "What are you gonna' do now?"
Making my way downstairs I felt that the chapter of my life involving Ben was over. No longer would I strip, even for the most respectful of people. Finally, I thought, I was becoming the good person I've always thought I was supposed to be.
In the new Formica-tiled kitchen I found the note that 1722 left. The language was simple. All it said was, "Sorry, but we had to leave." Confused, I made my way to the living room and put on the television. An image of the last night's sky showed on the screen. The footage lasted for hours, like a forever firework show. On one channel, an American reporter kept saying, as if he were a lost child, "What are we going to do now? What will we do?"