Pie Crust Recipe Using 88 ingredients from the 80’s

by FJ Contreras

If you want to Thriller your guests All Night Long and take them on a Journey to Paradise City, you first have to think about preparing a crust that is Simply Irresistible, the kind that can be used for a Cherry Pie, or for something featuring the ingredients used in a Meatloaf. So the best way to go about it is to start from the Genesis and use my Madonna’s recipe. Stay away from the Red, Red Wine while you cook, because Time After Time I’ve seen how one minute you are Men At Work and then Wham! you fail to please a Crowded House. I know you, and if your guests are Hungry Like the Wolf, you’ll […]

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Falling Babies

By Fernando J. Contreras

As you know, I lead the WTL charity for the remembrance of the 9/11 victims. We sell rubber bracelets featuring the pledge, “We Won’t Forget.” Yet at our monthly meeting, our ex-treasurer, Richard, said very casually, Time is longer than memory. Eventually, everything and everyone will be forgotten. What then is the point of remembering? I wanted to poke his eyes out with a spoon and open his jaw with both hands until it cracked, but instead, I did this thing where I stand up, point with my finger, and say something. This time I said, Nonetheless, Richard, memories build our identity, and your identity is that of a widower, or are you telling us that […]

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A Balanced Life

by Ivo Menzel

This is not a moral indictment on Robert given that he is, all in all, a good person. I approach this estimation in light of the many horrors committed daily, the effects of which last longer than all the small, invisible acts of kindness put together. It’s also worth noting that Robert obeys his own desires, none of which are random acts of kindness or unspeakable acts of terror. His desires, like him, are average. His actions are modest and reside in the deep-seated reassurance of knowing and doing as little as possible, while convincing others of the exact opposite.

The other night I asked Robert for his thoughts on this or that movie.
“I’m not a movie expert,” […]

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Star Suicide (Oh, What a Feeling!)

Art Review
By Altos Le Brun

The upside down method invented by Eduardo Avital —inspired by Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes— links its meaning to its process. Are his paintings done in the normal fashion and then inverted after they are finished, or were they painted while the artist was sitting upside down?

In the first approach the canvas proves the artist wrong: once the painting is completed, he must turn it on its head for it to be effective. However, the trick is that the painting is not the one that needs to be upturned; in the end, it is the viewer who must learn how to take it in.

In the second approach, the artist defies gravity: he paints while inverted, for it […]

Leviathan The Gregarious

By Fernando J. Contreras

During my university years, I played softball very well. Incredibly well, actually (like, I was amazing.) Because of it, many teams invited me to sign up with them. One of those teams was Joe’s Oysters (named after a bar in Mazatlan; the owner apparently didn’t see the Police Academy movies … or maybe he did) composed mainly of acquaintances from Latin American School of Monterrey, my bilingual alma mater that covered my kindergarten-to-junior high education. Even though I’ve known these people since I was five, I never made friends with them. These guys were good students and were adequate at some sports, but they were boring. They were the kind of kids that would cluster by the […]

An Air of Satisfaction

by Ivo Menzel
On a summer afternoon, forty-five year old Viennese mathematician, Georg Brunner, carried his terrier from one corner to the other of the Burggarten.
He strolled by many people and their dogs, strolled by students on picnics, sunny benches, and the statue of Mozart. He traveled the length of the Kunst Historische Museum, of a few parks and congested avenues until Georg found a spot to his liking and sat down with the terrier still in his arms.
The terrier was white with brown spots and its name was Hilbert.
Georg held white and brown Hilbert close to him while petting it with his left hand, and it was not clear to those who first perceived the barking as a sign of […]

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If Only Time Could Fly on Canada Air.

By Fernando J. Contreras

The seats have plenty of leg room, and the staff seem helpful. This is worth mentioning because it is not the standard anymore. American Airlines, for example, have designed their planes to fit so many passengers, only gifted automatons with Kevlar knees might avoid surgery after a four hour flight. Air China provides the best in-flight service, but you need to be a contortionist from the Beijing Circus to enjoy it. Air Canada is different. Air Canada has a good lighting system. This is very important, as proven by the Impressionist movement of the late XIX century. Claude Monet painted the Rouen Cathedral thirty times just to make that point. He set several easels next to each […]

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Little Camus: “Heaven is 4EVA”

Little Camus goes to the Heaven Christians have dreamt for themselves, and hates it.

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No Man Left Behind

A One Act Play
by Fernando J. Contreras

Professor Ibrahimovic……….   World Literature. In his thirties. Ambiguous ethnicity. Maybe an accent. Two years on the job.
Dennis/ Henry………………….  Community college student(s).
Serena/Angela/Katrina……..    Community college student(s).
Dean Bryce………………………. Dean of the Liberal Arts division. He has been part of the system since the 70’s.

Pillowbend Community College – Dallas, Texas.
********************           ***********************             ************************
College Classroom. There is an elaborate mathematical equation written on the board from the previous class. After the equal sign it says: INSERT A NUMBER BETWEEN 1 and 10 OR ANY OTHER NUMBER OR A LETTER.
Enter professor IBRAHIMOVIC. DENNIS is already present, playing with his phone. No greetings; he barely notices the professor.
Good morning.
Well…this is it… Four weeks ago we had twenty-four students, and today one […]

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The Trans-Siberian – (Part II): The Stand of Lake Baikal


by Fernando J. Contreras

I. And I rant, I rant so far away…
Arriving at Ulan Ude at night felt like being parachuted into Sarajevo circa 1992. The wooden two-story shacks and the unpaved roads, which had been until now customary, welcomed the train at the outskirts of the city. Then I thought once I got closer to the center things would turn more modern. And they did. They became pretty modern. The windows of the endless blocks of ill-painted, fractured, corroded apartment buildings shut close as I walked by, weeds sprang out of concrete, and the empty swings of neighborhood parks squeaked back and forth with the wind. Banners advertising toothpaste and cigarettes, which had been hanging under the elements were […]

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My Cat Kafka Answers Life’s Difficult Questions

My cat Kafka tackles the philosophical questions that my Facebook friends are too lazy to answer for themselves. If you have my Facebook tag, please send my cat Kafka your questions as he will take time off between licking his paw and brushing the side of his head with it to reply. If you don’t have my Facebook tag then go away.

Why are there wars?
What you want to hear: Seeing as the longing for conquest and destruction is guided by our own selfishness, the war within is the one we must brave.
What my cat Kafka really thinks:
Theory #1: Wars exists because there are too many people doing nothing important, and having them killed provides an assertion of value for the […]

By |Culture, My Cat Kafka|5 Comments

The Day We Explode

by Ivo Menzel

Side A
Frankly, I do not desire to accomplish much in life. I don’t strive for graduation diplomas, purple hearts, or man of the year awards. I don’t want to be a rock star or a movie star because I am not so insecure, I require a battalion of imbeciles who will eat a pig’s ass if I snort, who will shoot Italians because a pizza delivery guy bumped against me on the way to Rome, who will wait outside of my house, shaking in Dionysian ecstasy, forks in hand, ready to consume me all the way into the afterlife.

Frankly, I would hate myself if I ever need to invite you into my home, to treat you to fillet […]

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The Bunny Pool

By Ivo Menzel

How did I end up in a swimming pool full of bunny rabbits? Simple. I was pushed from a helicopter right into the furry thick of it. Next thing you know I exploded into them. Imagine a kid diving into one of those corrals full of multicolored plastic balls at a party. Now, instead of a corral imagine your standard nine lane, Olympic-sized pool, and instead of a kid hopping into a cage full of balls, imagine me falling sixty feet from the sky into a pool of bunnies. So busy with their own conundrum they were, they probably didn’t foresee the massive mammal falling from the sky. They didn’t have time to ask, hey, is that […]

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The Trans-Siberian – (Part I): The Non-Existent Answer

by Fernando J. Contreras

Unlike a cruise ship, the Trans-Siberian train is not a cool little town. It fails to provide the airplane’s expeditious results. It lacks the independence and flexibility of cars and the range of spaceships. When the train slows down, it reaches the kind of soothing motion that dulls the senses. Before arriving at page ten of that novel you’d been saving for this particular trip, you’ll snap your head up to discover you’ve been drooling on page three for who knows how long. Then there’s the temperature, which is kept at all times in one of four modes: hot, sauna, microwave, or Lucifer’s crotch. And the toilets.… hmm, the toilets. If you are the kind of person […]

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The Butchering of Swan Lake or The Things for Which We Truly Yearn

by Julian Wren
The following is an excerpt from a letter sent to Fidel Castro in 1985.
We would like to thank the C.I.A., the Diaz-Balart family, ex-KGB agent Vadim Beria, and Island Records for making this possible.

Aberdeen, Michigan – September 25, 1985.

Magnanimous Commandant, Fidel Castro,
I would like to begin this letter with some hyperbolized accolade –say, “Oh, charismatic leader, saw I never such Promethean grace”— but my fourth grade teacher, Ms. Brambila, insists that I must subdue my diction to that of a little boy of ten. She resolutely contends that my choice of words is ostentatious, and might contribute to my eating lunch in the coat closet during recess, and to my proclivity for soliloquies in gym class. So I […]

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Kapowski or A Permanent State of Thursday

A one act play by Fernando J. Contreras

Cast of Characters
* Chris Lampard:  Professional sportscaster. In his early thirties.
* Patrick Cooper:  Ex-tennis champion. Thirty-nine years old.
* The Producer:    Male voice over. He is on the announcers’ ears, but we can hear him.
* Razor Maxwell:  Rock star. In his fifties/sixties.
The broadcasting booth of some T.V. channel, which at this point transmits the U.S. Open tennis championship.
*****************     **********************     *********************
And welcome back to Flushing Meadows, home of the US Open, where Tommy Haas has a commanding 4-1 lead over Richard Gasquet in the first set of this most exciting quarterfinal match. This is your host, Chris Lampard, and with us tennis legend Patrick Di Maria. Patrick, Tommy Haas is putting up a big show […]

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The Sole Plane Crash Survivor’s Manual

A ten minute play by Fernando J. Contreras

Martin Kroos and Sally Greenfield, both in their forties.

A table. Two chairs. A tape recorder or a comparable device.

MARTIN: I already know this, but I’m still going to ask you these introductory questions for the people who have never heard your story, okay?

SALLY: That’s fine.

MARTIN: Today marks the thirtieth anniversary of the day your plane crashed in the Peruvian rainforest. You were the sole survivor of flight LANSA #502. It was flight 502, right?

SALLY: Thirty years and two months ago.

MARTIN: I know, but you were not available two months ago.

SALLY: That’s correct.

MARTIN: So what were you doing in Peru?

SALLY: My parents were Zoologists. They were working for a project funded by Stanford University, […]

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I Have Changed









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25 Things I Learned in Paris

by Andrea Vidic

1. In the city of love, men do not approach women, women do not approach men, and nobody approaches the Arabs or the Africans.

2. After banning smoking indoors, Parisians still smoke from morning till dawn the same number of cigarettes outdoors, and they exhale the smoke, whether they are stationary or in movement, wet or dry, gloomy or dejected, toward the inside of the establishments that prohibit smoking.

3. In Paris we are assured that the best we can expect of civilization –western glory at its peak— is that, while having crowds battling for standing space at the Musée D’Orsay, one can come out of that experience without murdering or getting murdered. Expecting anything else would be conceited and […]

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Practical French for World Travelers

Languages & Travel
by FC Gallo.

This sample conversation will teach you some basic structures designed to help you get a date in French speaking countries, which after the end of the French colonial empire —I blame Charles de Gaulle— have decreased significantly in importance. Outside of the high and mighty France, where you have to be a Saudi prince to get a date, you can still speak French in countries like Cameroon, Congo, Niger and Mali. You don’t want to go to Belgium, trust me (too ugh!), and you definitively don’t want to go to Switzerland (too blah!) And if your goal in fact is to get a date in French, don’t go to Quebec, unless you are well versed in […]

By |Fiction|2 Comments

13 Motivational Posters for Someone You Hate (You)

by My Cat Kafka
“If you need it is because you don’t have it.
If you don’t have it, then it is not within you.
If it is not within, you don’t produce it.
And that’s all your fault.”
– Jesus Christ as quoted by My Cat Kafka, who interviewed with him over prayer.














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By |Cartoons, My Cat Kafka|1 Comment

I’d Pay To See That Again

by FC Gallo
* I took these photographs (except for the first one) after my mother died. We lived in the house of Paseo de los Intelectuales since 1993, and it is the home in which I remember us being the happiest. Although I moved out in 1998 to pursue a graduate degree abroad, my visits were full of parties organized by my parents and my brother. Sometimes we made excuses -a World Cup match, for example (and we don’t follow football)- to have friends and family over. Then my mother died in ’07 (I talked to her the day before she had the stroke. She told me she was feeling a tingling sensation in her arms and legs), and the […]

By |Fiction|2 Comments

The Alcohol In My Brain

by Julian Wren
The alcohol in my brain is telling me I can fight this man in front of me. Is telling me I will win. This man insulted my honor. He said something about something I didn’t like, and I find that intolerable.
My brain swims in alcohol and tomorrow my brain will hate me for it. It’s not my fault. My brain controls me more than I do. It controls my heartbeat, my spatial awareness, and the breath I once exhaled while sitting on the cliffs of Belle Ile en Mer. My legs were hanging over the waves. I was alone, waiting, writing about the act of waiting, making conversation with the wind, thinking one day the Earth will be too […]

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The Rules of Jogging

A Comedy Sketch
by Lucas Hazard


MRS. FISHER sits on examination table. She”s wearing Nike gear head to toe. DR. WELBECK and ROGER enter.

Good afternoon, Mrs….
(reads from his notes)
Fisher. I”m Dr. Welbeck and this is my pharmaceutical agent, Roger. He grew up in Saskatchewan.

Nice to meet you.

(to Roger)
Did you see that?

(taking notes)

Hints of an adverse reaction.

Minimal, but could be the beginning of something.

(to Mrs. Fisher)
How may I help you?

Well, doctor. I don”t know where to begin.

That could be a symptom.

No, what I meant to say is that this is a complicated matter.

(grabbing her wrist)
Do you often have trouble explaining your symptoms?

I”m not sick.

Confusion and negation. You could […]

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The American Dream

It is a beast of a dream, but is it progress?

By |Cartoons|0 Comments