Our newest editorial, "Armageddon 2012," takes a look at the funhouse that is the 2012 Republican primaries.
Jessica Wineteer's story, "The Sharpest Tool in the Shed," celebrates Claire's new body -- and new owners.
We inaugurate our newest category -- essays, articles and interviews by, for and about pop culture -- with an interview with writer Harold Jaffe.
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Armageddon Buffet is looking for speculative fiction and nonfiction writers who write about the theme: Armageddon. This does not mean we believe in the Biblical Armageddon -- we leave that to the True Believers -- but we have definitely noticed that the End Time has arrived. Learn more about our submission guidelines, or submit an article or story to Armageddon Buffet.
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Jessica Wineteer / The Sharpest Tool in the Shed
They wore small computer screens like Halloween masks. On these screens they played earnest faces of humans, some of them in 3D. Their real faces made her vomit. Too many eyes. It gave her vertigo. She couldn't figure which ones she should make eye contact with, so she tried to be polite and look into all of them. This made her dizzy and she retched. In order to communicate with her, they wore these masks.
Claire knew she was in a coma. She could tell because the dream never changed much and it was kind of boring. She also figured out she was in a coma dream because the sun rose on the wrong side. She wasn't sure which direction that was, but it was opposite from where she lived near the border in Southern California.
Editorial / Armageddon 2012 It has been over a year since an editorial appearing here has actually been "NEW!" I have had other writing projects to finish, and other barricades to man -- literally, in support of union rights, education spending, and the Occupy movement. As an editorialist, I often find myself haunted by the Cassandra Complex, the conviction that no matter how pithy the analysis or accurate the prediction, it is not going to change anything. Real change begins in the real world. It can end there too.
Interview / Harold Jaffe Enforced accommodations are demeaning, but in some instances the accommodation compels the writer to open up previously inaccessible spaces in his or her consciousness, such that the necessity has unexpectedly become a discovery. Accommodation without sacrifice is my governing mantra.
Harold Jaffe / Revolution Post-Mill
Youth is the fortunate lack of enforced complicity.
The Sixties Zeitgeist was on their side, validated their dreamspace, intuition, polymorphous perversity.
If dream were permitted to interface with the anti-dream of our post-millennium "waking" lives, as in the Sixties was drawn from Native American and other "primitive" cultures, the globe would be inhabitable.
We wake after seven or eight hours of sleep punctuated by graphic, concentrated, timeless passion and perception and are encouraged to repress all of it; proceed with our stressful, programmed, mostly passionless wake-a-day lives as if dream-narrative never existed.
m benedict / the fountain On the day that baby Amerigo was to be baptized, all of the water in the baptismal font evaporated. The collection of aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends gathered around the pedestal and, as they pitied the sickly child and listened while the priest coughed himself into the beginning of the ceremony, not one of them noticed the absence of water.
The priest's coughs were dry and unproductive. They gave way to an equally raspy voice that struggled to initiate the prayers. Amerigo's parents were the only present not looking at their baby as he complained in a knot of wiggles in his godmother's arms. Their eyes sought the solace of the church floor.
Shane Jesse Christmass / Case Report into Clairaudience It is of those sheep that we see them. Wives and sealed cities. The authors of today are in this cycle. They've showed their age. Being the age of 22, I answered 'yes' to their questions.
As in their environment, I didn't much care for them; they expressed a will to live in the future, a future that had not been seen since the hand came down and made two hours of damage.
Tantra Bensko / Clock The cliff dangled itself off the edge of itself, tufted and mossy topped. On it a mouse turned quickly to see the beginning of an auric breeze that carried the residue of the goings-on of the inhabitants of the house a half mile away. As the inhabitants sloughed off the build-up of subtly colored emotions and concepts, the colors wafted by the mouse, who was used to perceiving such things very viscerally.
A beautifully silken red umbrella angled itself towards the edge of the cliff, mimicking the cliff's shape, as the tangible wind itself blustered its way around it. Behind it, mist softened the organic forms of trees, moistening your lips, don't you remember? You are the one who brought the demons there in the first place. You are the one who needs to hide out here, hanging yourself off the edge of the cliff so the inhabitants don't see you. Learning to live a life with the arm socket stretched with your weight at all times.
But you really and truly had no bad intentions when you did the ritual on the vortex you had made in the little mossy clearing near the cliff, where the inhabitants rarely go. You had made the vortex so beautiful, so shining and powerful on other realms, often seen by the priests of your Order, made to your own design and heart, your own connections to the Divine. Which we all have, but which you were able to consciously focus and follow up so high above your head, feeling the bliss of it, the purity; you find it hard to reconcile with being "wrong," having brought in the demons.
Jessica Hayes / Notification The oven timer sounded its short high-pitched summons at regular intervals and never shut itself off because it was for a regular oven and not a microwave or any other kind of oven with a timer that turned themselves off automatically. This timer was required to be shut-off manually which meant it would buzz until human hands released it. It was solar powered with a tiny titanium-epoxy polymer line that snaked up from the double oven array, into the ceiling and out to the roof where it terminated at a tiny solar collector, just strong enough to power that one little signal. The sound and power mechanism of this timer was made by the New American Kitchen Corporation at the beginning of the New American Manufacturing Renaissance and, like nearly all of the New American-made items of the time, their guarantee was quality materials and quality workmanship. Materials developed in research labs to be durable and impervious. Materials tested and re-tested on the space lab. In New America the goal was to rebuild the country by producing minor, but ultra high quality parts. The New American manufacturing motto was "buy once, buy every 100 years."
These high quality small drop-mount parts gave manufacturers who purchased timers such as these a significant advantage in the marketplace. For the price of a very expensive buzzer the cost of a standard oven set was raised by as much as 200% in some markets. And they could legally advertise 100 year warranties made with materials tested in space. Of course these companies couldn't have known when they were advertising "buy once, buy every 100 years" warranties that the warranties themselves would become qui ne sert rien -- that which serves no one -- within only a few months time. The owner of the double ovens had just removed her brownies and was reaching to turn off the timer when she and the rest of the population dropped dead. So the little timer made of high density, high performance, light and weather resistant materials, materials that had been tested and re-tested on the space lab still sounded out at regular intervals.
Shane Jesse Christmass / The Modern of Tongues Oswald Kersey was suspicious of speaking in tongues, that glossolalia, which was quackness for the believers; he had no need for a debate between himself and the conservatives, those evangelical Christians whose approach to the Christian Scriptures required addressing the unknown in a contamination that had all the frugality of a modern street revival.
He was bored. He knew he had the most modern of tongues, but being a janitor in a high school didn't allow him to bring forth the ghost and fire too often.
Daniel King / The Interpretation of Life Gord sat up with a start, scrabbled to turn on the light switch. But he had forgotten how close he was to the bed lamp. Dazzled, he quickly shielded his eyes, in the process knocking from the bedside table the copy of Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams that he had left there before going to sleep. He began to grope on the floor for the book with one hand, patting the eiderdown with the other, absently seeking the comforting form of Boodie. But then he remembered that because of their row she was sleeping in the spare room tonight. He felt a massive disappointment. Lately the violence of his dreams not only had been startling Boodie but also had been causing her to question his sanity; and he took an extreme masochistic pleasure in her spirited grilling, her intense questioning of his behaviour. He wished that she had always been so spirited; perhaps they would never have gone through with their separation then.
Juventino Manzano / Back on the Home Front Who am I kidding? I mean the sound the scene is all this played-out beaten ol' mad witch broom zooming out and everywhere and nowhere and so what? And this music is taking me to the other side all right I mean I am flying at a nice pace with the notes of this Spacemen 3 record that Mike lent me and I wonder what drug he was on the first time he heard it... could have been the LSD or the crystal meth or the cocaine or the mushrooms or the weed -- what could it have been? -- and here I sit watching this shit and dissolving into the actual vinyl record that Mike had lent me... and I mean these guys were doing drugs and all that is so obvious and what the fuck are we doing anyway when we are not doing drugs? Yeah, so this shit, this infinite shit, same reaction every time no matter what high or time it is... tapping into that primitive brain baby and rocking that shit the fuck out warped and wounded wandering around in alliteration... so I was thinking that this is really good -- the sound of confusion -- that was the sound as I entered the third world pet shop named after a magical monkey.
Ashok Rajamani / White Men Can't Jump, Er, Tie a Sari
So if there didn't exist an India
with saris and curries and masala and bollywood
Harold Jaffe / Excerpts from Paris 60
3.27 Furious Goya
Jet-lagged in the City of Lights.
Having rented a flat in the premier quartier, not far from the Tuileries Gardens.
Travel-blitzed, can't write a line.
After five bleak nights the old deaf furious witness unblocked me.
On the walls at the Petit Palais in one of the chic quartiers: Goya's engravings: Disasters of War.
The exhibition is crowded as the métro at rush-hour.
Kultur still cuts it in Paris.
Why are those two Japanese female tourists giggling at the grotesquely tortured innocents in Disasters of War?
Maybe I know why.
John Darling / There Must Be Cowboys "Runners on the right, son!" warned Carl.
James glanced to his right even as his hand pulled the scattergun from its cross-bar mounted holster.
A shot from his dad at the feet of the middle Runner caused him to stutter step, which made the three of them momentarily separate from their columnar attack formation. In that instant, James fired. He heard a scream as one Runner fell. The others fled back towards the thicket of bushes that had come from; both limped badly. Before they could make it all the way, though, another shot caught the rear Runner between the shoulder blades, causing him to pitch forward into a heap.
Edwin Decker / Armageddon of Queer In our first-ever YouTube selection, we examine the really bad awful things that will happen if gay marriage is allowed.
John-Patrick Ayson / atrophy in the heart of defunct financial districts are mile length lines, comprised of men & women with grumbling stomachs, penniless pockets & zero confidence, making their way thru decagon shaped buildings, into storage rooms padded with five layers of styrofoam — where three foot tall stacks of manila envelopes, piled on top of third grade plastic tables, are attended to by persons wearing matching snake skin suits & berets, handing one envelope to each man & woman — who will find a document inside, which reads:
we are an all for profit organization whose objective is to protect our land from perpetrators & their intrinsic quests to disrupt our way of life.
these perpetrators are, but not limited to:
º ravens (& other creatures resembling them)
Stephen W. Potts / Zone of Silence Allison was in the middle of a message to Ryan when her phone stopped working. She had just thumbed in "b/c don't u just h8 it" when the tiny screen went completely black.
She tried to remember if she had heard the beeping that meant the battery was low on charge. Maybe she had been so engrossed in her texting that she had missed it. It was the reason she had missed her bus as she messaged Courtney from the girls' room about getting together that evening for homework and Beverly Hills 90210. You would think that Courtney, who had been on the bus in front of their high school, would have texted something about its leaving.
Chapter 9: A Patient Darkness Outside, the view of the Del Mar-Pasadena Stratum from thirty stories up: dirty skyscrapers, staggered in alternating shades of gray, a grid-work of concrete walls that pretended at calm order. The surfaces of the buildings crawling with ads. It felt, to Goldstein, not so much like a vantage point outward into the world at large, but rather like being claustrophobed in a small room with no floor or ceiling. Nothing out there but falling small.
Chapter 8: Backflash The mall was a still, almost meditative place for him; other than the small sounds of people walking in large spaces and the occasional shout, it was quiet. Quieter than outside. Quieter than his apartment.
Chapter 7: Scars & Angel Wings A British expedition found it in 1923, atop a steep and jagged temple, encapsulated in jungle, in the Yucatan. At that time, it was a black stone disk, two meters in diameter. A calendar.
Chapter 6: PR1Σ$+ The dumbot opened a window inside his own window, showing the puzzle box. The puzzle box opened, revealing yet another window. Windows within windows within windows. The call was blue. Voice only, no vid.
Chapter 5: Fierce Orbits Shakti lay prone on the pitching deck, her mother-form pleasantly soft, her ankles crossed. Before her she had opened a portal through the bottom of the data barge; she trailed the fingers of one hand in the static of The Middle. The touch brought whole worlds flashing through her. She saw everything. Worship, engineering, flesh and fists.
Chapter 4: Dead Playboys Chazz was on his knees, giving the gretch what it wanted, taking what he needed. He held its hips and rode it, stuffing its noisy face into the pillow with each thrust. The view was unambiguously supreme.
Chapter 3: Tabula Rasa On the TV, nothing but flesh and flesh and rhythm. Wet sounds and curves and open mouths. It was not nearly as narcotic as cartoons, but it would do. Porn filled his empty head, keeping his few memories neatly compressed.
Chapter 2: Blood Sneeze The last truck landed, disgorged four anxious godcops. Goodkind called them over via laser. They huddled, snapping their visors up for face time, smoldering cigs pinched delicately in little servo arms.
Chapter 1: Screams Like Meat Shakti was riding her favorite body. Around her, the glassware and voices of the patio bar compressed into a confusing mush of single-channel, low-kilohertz noise. She always rode with full tactile and kinesthetic feeds; with the spine turned all the way up, sound and vision suffered. Pleasure was a pig for bandwidth.
Prologue: God's Dogs I will kill everything that eats children.
Editorial / Bad News, Good News It was a typical Halloween horror show along the lines of 28 Days Later. Society was crumbling, while mobs infected with a rage virus stormed through the streets, attacking the few remaining human beings who had not been infected. This was not Halloween, however; it was the year and a half leading up to Election Day, 2010. And the raging mobs consisted mostly of middle-aged folks wearing Revolutionary War outfits and hats strung with tea bags and carrying poorly spelled signs.
Plenty of reasons have been offered for the big losses suffered by the Democrats in the House of Representatives on November 2. The second guessing began months ago and will continue into next year. Republicans, of course, want to spin this as a resounding rejection of Obama and the Democratic agenda, a rejection of such radical liberal causes as making health care available, making Wall Street responsible, and spending government money on infrastructure. Others, most Democrats included, see the about face of the electorate in the Heartland as a response to continued tough economic times.
Ultimately, whichever explanation succeeds will be the result of a national Hula Hoop contest: whoever can spin the longest wins.
Editorial / The Boy Who Cried Fox Once upon a long time ago, though it could have happened last week, a Boy whose job it was to guard the chickens got bored. He was too old to stay home hanging on his mother's apron but too young yet to work in the fields or to be apprenticed to one of the tradesmen in the village, so he ended up with one of the jobs reserved for old women and children.
He was tossing pebbles into the fenced pen, watching the fowl flutter and cluck and hop in response, when he heard a voice.
"Hey, kid!" it whispered to him hoarsely. "Wanna have some fun?"
Editorial / You Say You Want a Revolution At the end of March, my adult son and I took a road trip to the Grand Canyon for a few days of camping and hiking. On the drive from Nevada to Arizona we crossed Hoover Dam, where we stopped to take some photos. Although not a fan of dams myself, I remained impressed by the Art Deco-style public architecture surrounding it. It is all so 1930s: the elegantly geometric towers behind the dam like something out of Star Wars (because science fiction architecture was birthed in the Art Deco era), the stylized statues seated on the Nevada side with sleek, massive wings pointing skyward, symbols of human transcendence, the public-spirited mottos over the entrances of the public buildings -- all reminding visitors of the power of collective effort. It's almost enough to make one forget that the powerline towers angling over the gorge are carrying electricity away to the wasteful sprawl of Las Vegas, whence also goeth the water.
On that drive we saw other evidence of the public sector at work: a highway bypass currently being constructed in the sky above the dam, more highway construction on the Arizona side, funded by the stimulus money passed in Congress last year over the objection of the NOP, and of course Grand Canyon National Park itself, attracting visitors from around the world not only as a testament to the sublime grandeur of nature but to the foresight of progressive presidents like Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt.
That week there were Mad Tea Party rallies in both Nevada and Arizona -- both calling for an end to American government, both featuring Red Queen Sarah "Teabagger" Palin.
Editorial / Slouching Toward Bedlam In short, what has come to be called "conservatism" has de-coupled itself almost completely from the reality-based world. The magical thinking that dictates you can make something true just by believing it and repeating it -- e.g., "We not only know Hussein has weapons of mass destruction; we know where they are," or "We can slash taxes and balance the budget," or "There is no global warming," or "Obama is a Kenyan communist" -- has saturated the mind of the Right like syphilis.
Editorial / The Guns of August This August we watched angry gangs invade town hall meetings with torches and pitchforks -- actually, worse, surround them with assault weapons and pictures of Obama as Hitler. Democratic congressmen were hanged in effigy. The President was accused of planning to impose a Nazi-Communist-Satanist death program aimed at killing off seniors, veterans, unborn children, Republicans, and Trig Palin. He was accused of being foreign-born and thus not actually president, suggesting his plot against America was an alien plot.
Editorial / The New Minority We are now six months into the Obama presidency, and the honeymoon is over. Fortunately, we are still a long ways from marriage counseling. Many of the President's supporters are less than happy that more change hasn't happened faster, or that this administration refuses to investigate the crimes of the last one, or that it has accepted compromises. If Democratic voters and their ideological allies haven't gotten everything they want so far, the Republicans and their fellows on the Right have gotten much that they don't want.
Editorial / The Last Christmas Carol It was the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring except W. The single frosty window in the relatively modest room showed only darkness, though outside Camp David was covered in snow. Inside, settled on the sofa before the television and fireplace, W. felt cozy in his presidential pajamas and robe. He cradled a bowl of pretzels in his lap, desultorily munching one even though the taste of the turkey dinner he had eaten hours ago lingered on in the occasional belch.
Editorial / Obamarama Ever since the Supreme Court elected George W. Bush as 43rd president in the last year of the last millenium, a host of true believers have proclaimed the Coming of the End Times. Bush the Burning would bring on the Final Battle and the Final Judgment, and the faithful were gaga with the certainty that they would experience Rapture and Christ's return in their lifetimes. The Bush League did not discourage such speculations, and indeed Karl Rove figured the faith of the "nuts," as he called them, into his electioneering strategies.