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...
History of the Alphabet, Foreword
Despite long being a staple of Western languages, little is known about the modern alphabet. A recent poll conducted by Sesame Street indicated that 7 out of every 8 Americans do not know from where our alphabet came, who was responsible for its creation, or even why it is the way it is. And yet it is so integral to our daily life that it is widely acknowledged as one of the few things all our sober adults can be fairly expected to recite, backward and forward, rhyming and not rhyming. So why is it that Americans have cast aside the history of this mighty tool? The answer is unknowable, but the history itself is not, and it is the purpose of this tome to rectify this grievous situation.
The English alphabet is similar to many Western alphabets as they all arose from the same grubby, linguistic cellar. For the purposes of this history, let us stick to the English variation. Not only is standard English the first language of 90% of this volume's contributors but it is also free of umlauts, tildes, or accents, which only serve to confuse an already tricky survey. True, our language has ballooned to 3 times the size of other western languages, but the alphabet has weighed in at a trim 26 letters for the last 100 years.
In this foreword, I will examine briefly one of the most fundamental, but somehow most ignored, questions surrounding the alphabet: the ordering of the letters. In most of our day-to-day lives we accept alphabetical order as a clear-cut, unquestioned system of cataloging. But it wasn't always that way. Chronological and numerical order have clear corollaries in the physical world that make their ordering inevitable. But unlike 0 or 1, there is nothing about A that is inherently "first". Indeed, in this historian's humble opinion, M seems the letter most qualified to fire the opening salvo of any alphabet this side of Asia.
Indeed, there are simpler ways to arrange letters than the present, inscrutable system in use in the English alphabet. Imagine, if you can, 26 letters, laid out before you in no particular order. Your task is to arrange them into an alphabet in a logical way. There is no reason to string them together in the fashion to which we are most accustomed. Logic would suggest, perhaps, grouping the letters by shape, lumping closed letters like O and D and B and open letters like C and T and J. Or it may make the most sense to arrange your 26 glyphs phonetically, putting the vowels at the front of the alphabet and then building to the hardest consonants, ending with P, G, and K.
But, as we know, neither of these straightforward systems was adopted. Instead, new research posits, the alphabet was subject to the same chaotic forces that drove much of human progress: greed of power and lust of legacy. New DNA testing shows that around 1700 BCE an English monk named Gregor Bolt invented and propagated the letter B, to make possible the spelling of his last name. Bolt belonged to a very hierarchical monastery, the first, and last, chapter of the Order of the Goat. Bolt's order was exceedingly hierarchical and extremely devout, predating Christianity itself by some 2000 years.
The creation of the new letter called attention to the collection of symbols that the Monks kept, in no particular order, in an old wine cellar. These letters, it seems, were on their way to becoming the building blocks of the modern alphabet but they were kept scattered among cobwebs, dust, and rodents. Bolt, fiercely covetous of his new letter, was loath to add B to this literary dustbin. He called for an organization and, knowing that he was the senior monk, suggested the letters be arranged according to his brothers' last names and MonkRankings. In other words, what we know today as alphabetical order was known for centuries as monkical or goatical order.
This theory, recently backed up by carbon dating of the letter B, has been propounded for years by monk scholar and linguist Steve Freid, author of the bestselling book Monk Like Me. A recent archaeological find has added even more credibility to Freid's hypotheses. Journals that appear to have been written by Bolt himself were recently unearthed in Yorkshire. To date they have been only partially translated, but there are already a number of startling discoveries. One telling excerpt reads:
"I have a close personal relationship with [God.] He calls me T-bone. Well, he calls everyone T-bone. He has told me that I must invent a new language symbol so people can spell my name. He says my new letter will be instrumental in the spelling of a Great History that he has planned. I know he would want me to celebrate this letter as much as possible and move it to the top of the Monk's Goat Beard."
(This last colloquialism is only roughly translated and has approximately the same meaning as "the pecking order.")
It doesn't take a Monk specialist like Freid to note that even after Bolt's suggestion was forced through the Council of the Goats, the alphabet was still not exactly as we know it today. It started with B, C, D and J.
Indeed, more recent history, while little known, is indisputable. The vowels did languish at the back of the alphabet until the early 19th century, when New Zealand activists waged a violent and ultimately successful campaign to have the vowels distributed evenly throughout. At the time, the activists' victory was so sweeping that the world even assented to let one vowel begin the modern alphabet, superceding B for the first time in thousands of years.
Unfortunately, broad abuses of its new power by the letter A and public backlash against equal rights for vowels wiped out the influence of letter advocates over the next few years. Ensuing debates over slavery and suffrage quashed the idea of vowel discrimination as a social injustice. Sadly, transconsonant letters like Y and W were never fully accepted, left to languish near the back of the alphabet and still misunderstood to this day. (See Appendix 2: "Mommy, Why is That Consonant Wearing Your Shoes?")
With the advent of public libraries and the spread of literacy, the English alphabet became cemented in the popular consciousness and the idea of alphabetical order taken for granted. By the time the American Civil War erupted, the alphabet had essentially taken the order we know today. The addition of Q and X at the turn of the century has been alternately attributed to anarchists, college students, and the emerging advertising industry, but most historians agree that Q and X don't really count anyway.
As Freid and his colleagues bring this too-long-untold story to light, it becomes clear how little of logic or reason there is in it. It also becomes clear that it is a compelling tale every school boy and girl should be taught around the same time they're drilled with a certain song we all know. Too many children think the alphabet ends W, X, Y, N, Z and not enough know the story of power hungry geniuses like Gregor Bolt and Emma Goldman.
In Chapter 1, we will examine the emergence of capitalization, the lower-case strike of 1932, and the irreparable rift it nearly drove through the heart of America.