In 2003, the BBC reported that a population explosion of Great Gerbils
had destroyed more than 4 million hectares of grasslands in China's north-western Xinjiang region
-- an area about the size of Switzerland. By 2005 the damage covered 5
million hectares, and the Xinjuang Regional Headquarters for Controlling Locusts and Rodents were reported to be breeding and attracting pairs of golden eagles to curb the gerbil population. So McSweeney's Joshuah Bearman was assigned to the story. His report: An Investigation Into Xinjiang's Growing Swarm of Great Gerbils, Which May or May Not be Locked in a Death-Struggle With the Golden Eagle, With Important Parallels and/or Implications Regarding Koala Bears, The Pied Piper, Spongmonkeys, Cane Toads, Black Death, [and] Text-Messaging.
"In the space of My Darkest Year, in no particular order, these things happened. My younger son died. My marriage ended. A rabbi and renowned jazz musician whom I’d only met once performed my son’s funeral. People applauded. I fell in love with a blond poet suffering from PTSD. It didn’t work out. My divorce was granted. The only Jewish funeral director in town admitted to me, unbidden, that her life’s passion is improv comedy. My ex-husband threatened my boyfriend’s balls via Facebook. I fled—and sold—my dream house. My older son lost his first tooth and entered kindergarten. I performed stand-up comedy. People applauded. I fell in love again. I realized I’m not afraid of anything."
Michelle Mirsky's column No Fear of Flying: Kamikaze Missions in Sex, Death, and Comedy
won the 2011 McSweeney's Column Contest. It's funny, aching, gutsy, and heartwrenching.
Planning of Municipal Bus Line 11A Three Weeks Into the First Ron Paul Administration.
"Stop 3: Union Street to Walk Hill Street –
It depends on your definition of “impassible.” Since the Postal Service was disbanded and PCP was legalized on the same day, roving bands of rival mail carriers seem to behead each other a lot in this area. I guess I’m saying it depends on any given driver’s tolerance for driving around severed heads." [more inside]
David Hill is a gambler. Each column will tell the story of a single bet that he made and examine what that bet reveals about life in America
. The most recent is $5 Chess Game, Best of 3, Zuccotti Park
"I'm getting older, and I'm not always gonna be around the house to explain stuff to you. I know you have a lot of questions, and I want us to be open with each other. So, I think it's time you learned where blogs and tweets come from.
" (SLMcSweeney's) [more inside]
is a 24-year-old software writer and escort from Toronto, Ontario. She was born in Hamilton, Ontario and lived in Dublin, Ireland for many years. She likes cash, properly compiled HTML and four star or higher hotels. She dislikes claims of latex allergies. [more inside]
Socrates and Glaucon on the Home Shopping Network
Lynsey G. has taken odd writing jobs where she could get them for a few years now, and one day woke up to realize that they were all about sex. [more inside]
John Moe's Pop-Song Correspondences
An Invitation to
Joni Mitchell to Sing
at the Opening of
the Tree Museum.
"Why couldn't we have just cut the trees up? Then it would have been a log museum. And we wanted a tree museum." [more inside]
THE ELEMENTS OF SPAM
(single link McSweeney's post)
Small is Beautiful - The best new journals.
(via Guardian / Observer
) selected by Stephanie Merritt
. "Published out of tiny offices or even editors' apartments, funded by grants, donations or founders' savings, distributed by direct subscription or in selected independent bookshops, paying contributors little or nothing at all, these magazines have nevertheless attracted such eminent writers as to give them an international reputation far beyond their limited circulation."
Movie Store "Who's on First."
CUSTOMER: Why can't I rent Seven?
CASHIER: Because it's over the limit.
CUSTOMER: Right, but I want Seven. Get rid of Ten.
CASHIER: (Pause.) That would leave negative three.
What's a pirate's favorite aspect of computational linguistics?
Happy Talk Like a Pirate day, me hearties!
The Greatest War Protestor of All Time
, and kind
words from Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. If you don't know who he is, fake it.
Pros & Cons of Kerry's Veep Choices
14. Ann Coulter
Flattering position would silence her exposing of the true evil liberal agenda
Is composed entirely of spiders and deadly snakes writhing beneath a latex "skin."
Courtesy of McSweeneys
When is violence justified?
I am now the proud owner of one of 3,500 copies of William T. Vollmann's
3,299-page study of violence, Rising Up and Rising Down
, published by McSweeney's
. The book (if you can call something that's seven volumes a "book") has gotten mixed reviews that lean toward positive: Scott McLemee, writing in the New York Times Book Review
(reg. req.), called it a "flood of logorrhea
," while Steven Moore (a literary critic notable for his work on another long-winded writer, William Gaddis
) wrote in the Washington Post
that it is an "achievement beyond the realm of mere mortals," comparing it to Sir James Frazer's The Golden Bough
This oral history
tells the story behind how the book came to be published at McSweeney's, and is an interesting look at what needs to happen for a difficult-to-market work to make its way from its author to the general reading public, in a publishing industry that's unfriendly to this kind of thing, to say the least.
Kafka at Camp: The Lost Diaries
July 10,1897—In Arts and Crafts, that humid hut, the teacher stops. He looks down. I look up. I am working on something intricate, something simultaneously nothing and everything. It is made of paper.
"I always wanted you to admire my origami," I say.
"I do. I do admire it."
"Well, you shouldn't," I say.
"You're a weird little dude, Franzie."
Unused Audio Commentary By Dinesh D'Souza and Ann Coulter,
Recorded Spring 2003, for Aliens
Special Red-State Edition DVD, Part One and Part Two
Lost Disney Memo Found.
McSweeney's posts a posthumously uncovered memo from the Disney board to Walt regarding his initial plans for a radically different "Disney-Land."
Journal of a new COBRA recruit.
"I report to COBRA boot camp out in Utah in the middle of June. The recruiter guy said that everyone around there thinks it's where some crazy old Mormon lives with all his wives. I'm not supposed to say anything about it to anyone. I'm supposed to tell Mom and Dad that I'm going off to work for the phone company."
If you can't stand the heat,
better stick to the kitchen of your dreams... Reading about the new industrial home chic in last week's Time
and The Wall Street Journal
, with its Viking
worship, how couldn't one be reminded of Mark Shatzker's now classic "My Dream Kitchen"
piece for McSweeney's? In the light of all this fetichism, it deserves to be read afresh. For a sobering dessert, may I propose a look at Julia Child's kitchen
, now in the Smithsonian?
Is McSweeney's Sounding More And More Like Random House?
Or is it just me? As a lifetime subscriber and fan of David Eggers, I'm sickened by the glib, shameless commercialism that now contaminates what was once an interesting website for new writers. What in the hell has happened? Or is the new book-peddling climate just another tiresome take on post-post-post modernism or, more likely, just blatant PR?
(Latest example inside)
-- Dave Eggers wants to expose the process, "By reprinting your correspondence to me I hope to illuminate the journalist's mind: how a writer starts by telling me he is a fan of my work, supports my company's endeavors, etc, then writes a snippety little thing full of sneering and suspicion." so he's posted ALL of the email correspondance he had with david kirkpatrick before this unflattering piece
was printed... and after.
"I think it's important that our exchange be published. It's the only remedy commensurate with the impact you enjoyed with your original piece. I want your friends and family to see it, and to say 'David, ew.'"
Meanspirited all around, but can you blame him?
— seven months later. Gerry, lead writer of the "Massachusettes McSweeney's" is ripping it up with feeble essays such as Potty Parity
and Suburban Lumberjacks
. He's no Ben Greenman
suspends lifetime subscriptions. Sure hope mine got in under the wire.
is back to normal, rather abruptly. Okay, I give; what was supposed to be funny about this whole thing, anyway?
If you're tired of McSweeney's
, try McSweeney's
22% of McSweeneys.com visitors are using Macs
which is more proof that the more intelligent your content, the more diverse your user agents. Or something. (More Mac users read Suck and Salon?)
Latest on the mcsweeneys.net takeover.
If this is a prank, it's already getting old. I keep hoping for some big humor payoff, but I'm the MTV generation--speed things up!
Anyone who doubted that the mcsweeneys.com/mcsweeneys.net merger was a hoax might want to take a look at the new McSweeney's Internet Tendency home page.
Somehow I don't think this is a permanent change.