PLACING PEYTON
 
 
All-world quarterback Peyton Manning, who missed all of last season with a neck injury, was unceremoniously dumped by his longtime team, the Indianapolis Colts.  Where will Peyton wind up?
 
 
The New York Jets 
An improvement on The Sanchize.
 
 
The NBC Studio 
Can work pre-game show with his old coach, Tony Dungy
 
 
The Romney Ticket 
Like Mitch Daniels, can deliver Indiana.
 
 
Traction 
Dude, you’re 35 freakin’ years old, and you hurt you’re freakin’ neck. Hang up the spikes! After all, there’s a word for the force of fortuitousness that lets you ride off into the sunset gracefully and intact: Luck.
 
 
–GMO

 

 


Fools Rush In
 
 
Talk about a double standard.  Rappers can say anything they want about women. It’s called art. And they win awards.

–Rush Limbaugh

 
 
I’m not sure which is more surprising — that Limbaugh acknowledges that rappers are artists, or that he suggests that he is one himself.
 
 
What isn’t surprising is the faulty logic of the statement — the same faulty logic on which he has built his radio show. The difference between Limbaugh and Lil Wayne — other than the fact that the latter served time when he was caught with illegal drugs — is that the former makes his money from advertisers, not record sales.
 
 
Does this mean Rush will record a hip hop record? If so, I suggest doing a track called “Going to Canossa.”

–GMO

Davy Jones, RIP

A survey of recent boy bands suggests that when they break up, as they inevitably must, only one member emerges from the wreckage with his career unscathed.  In Menudo, the survivor was Ricky Martin; in N*SYNC, Justin Timberlake; in the New Kids on the Block, Donny Wahlberg; in 98 Degrees, Nick Lachey.  It’s almost like the other members of the band, the Joey Fatones and Justine Jeffres and Jordan Knights, must be sacrificed for the One to succeed, like so many captured pawns on a chessboard. (Members of Big Time Rush, take note).

 

If the Monkees are the original boy band — and they are — then Davy Jones was The One.  Mickey and Michael and Peter were great, but Davy had that extra special something.  (Study that photo; there’s something Bieberish about him, no?).  He was an integral part of my childhood — “You loved them even more than Batman,” my mother reminded me on Facebook — and “Daydream Believer” was one of the first songs I sang for my kids when they were babies.  And now he’s boarded the last train to Clarksville.  The shaving razor’s cold, and it stings.

–GMO

 

 

 

BREAKING DOWN THE BREAKDOWN
 
 
Please take a look at these features from the past week:
 
 
NONFICTION: Mike Edison looks at porn.
 
 
FICTION: Stephan Clark grows facial hair.
 
 
MUSIC: Whitney Houston leaves too soon.
 
 
ARTS & CULTURE: Tammy Gillis gets lost.
 
 
POETRY: Wanda Coleman cross-examines Wanda Coleman.
 
 
The photo is from this week’s Phone Pics.

 
 

 

BREAKING DOWN THE BREAKDOWN
 
 
Please take a look at these features from the past week:

 
 

ARTS & CULTURE: Documentary filmmaker Aaron Yeger follows the Roma.

 
 

FICTIONMegan Stielstra remains calm.

 
 

MUSICSteel Panther makes more than your eardrums bleed.

 
 

NONFICTIONDavid Rothenberg is beautiful.

 

POETRYNicelle Davis waxes Homeric.

 
 

The photo is from this week’s Phone Pics feature.
 
 
 

GET YOUR VOTE ON
 
 
Twenty-eleven is almost in the books (or the iPads and Kindles and Nooks, as it were), and wow has it been a great year here at TNB.
 
 
Our illustrious group of contributors has written about everything from the earthquakes in New Zealand to crackdowns on Occupy Wall Street, from Mexican drug cartels in the Malibu mountains to American expats in Finland, from the Kardashians to whatever pop cultural ciphers were popular back in January.
 
 
The Six Question Sex Interview became a recurring feature on these pages before Herman Cain brought it on the campaign trail. Other People With Brad Listi (“The Bradcast,” as I call it) is now a fixture. And our literary advice columnist sprinkled 2011 with (angel) Dust.
 
 
But what were the best posts of the year? This is where you come in, Dear Reader. Please vote for your favorite posts. Here are the details.
 
 
Thanks for reading, and making 2011 a very good year!
 
 
(Note: WHO AM I will resume shortly. Last week was, indeed, Octavia Butler).

 


WHO AM I?


Here are the rules.  Here is the excerpt of the week:


On Friday, August 1st, 1958, about midnight, a Redstone ballistic missile carried a W39 thermonuclear device to about 50 miles above Johnston Island, where it detonated. This was the first missile-launched nuclear shot. The W39’s yield was 3.8 megatons, or, putting it another way, it released about 1,800 times the destructive power that Fat Man had. We in the Hawaiian Islands, about 1,000 miles north-northeast of the shot, had not been warned.


I had just turned 15, and was home asleep because my mother did not let me stay out that late. Some of my friends were out in Hilo, and when the sky lit up and something like a mushroom cloud formed, they were amazed and shocked. Was it a volcanic eruption? But no eruption flashed like that, or created a fireball.


[Who am I? Read more and find out!]


Last week: Roberto Bolano, author of 2666.





WHO AM I?


Here are the rules. Here is the excerpt of the week:


When I was single I used to go to bars with a friend of mine who had moved here from Austria. This guy was really literal…I’m talking Vulcan literal. We would have these long conversations about the inherent absurdity of picking up a girl in a bar. Either one of us could chat up a girl in a normal life situation, where there was some inherent subject to discuss. But in a bar there is no context other than “Hi, I’m going to try to pick you up.” We knew the idea was to make small talk, but that was the problem. Neither one of us cared to make small talk. If you didn’t have a concrete reason to talk to someone, why would you? Eventually, of course, I would have enough drinks that I finally would talk to a girl, about whatever, nothing, anything. And it was fine. But why did I have to wait for alcohol to kick in before I could disregard my need to be literal?


[Who am I? Read more and find out!]


Last week: We went through a tesseract with Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time.


WHO AM I?


Here are the rules.  Here is the excerpt of the week:


Over the years I’ve peeled away the sexy detritus of youth as I settle deeper and deeper into being a fabulously premature retiree. My world reaches as far as the chicken coop and my son’s school and I have little need of a garter belt in either of those places. I never did, really, since I always found the conceit of garter belts a little too Frederick’s of Hollywood. But when I was younger, I wore them under army fatigues and utility boots, so they became a different sort of message. I’m not sure what the message was, even after all these years.


But the inaugural blow against sexy underthings was becoming happily married. That happened almost 15 years ago for me, and sexy undies have been in slow decline ever since…


[Who am I? Read more and find out!]


Last week: John O’Hara, author of Appointment in Samarra and Butterfield 8.



WHO AM I?


Here are the rules. Here is the excerpt of the week:


On February 24th 2010 a large bull orca named Tilikum violently attacked and killed a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando in full view of a crowd of witnesses. Seizing her by the hair, he dragged her into a deeper section of the pool, where she died of drowning and euphemistically-labeled “traumatic injuries.”


Tilikum is named for a Cree word that alternately means “friend” or “kin/tribe.” This is the third fatal encounter with humans he’s been associated with–though the first openly hostile one–during his time in captivity, and the fourth incident of orca aggression at a SeaWorld park in the last ten years. There have been two dozen attacks at various marine parks in the U.S., Europe and Asia since the 1960s.


Within moments of the first reportage of the attack internet news and social media sites were abuzz with comments, a large majority of them summed up by this sentiment graphic novelist Warren Ellis posted on Twitter: “KILLER whales. Not Cuddle Whales. Not Soft Whales. They’re called KILLER whales. How does this point escape people?”


[Who am I? Read more and find out!]


Last week: Elfriede Jelinek, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and author of Lust and The Piano Teacher.



WHO AM I?


Here are the rules. Here is the excerpt of the week:


“Your grandmother tried to kill herself today. She put a bag over her head and tried to suffocate herself.”


God, I was so relieved.


Almost excited, even. I got out of school early for this. Poor Mom, though. This was her mother, and I can see getting upset over this sort of thing.


My mother had a tendency to swallow this kind of thing whole. She was literally shaking with grief. Some people get upset like this. My mother was one of these people. I guess it’s safe to say I didn’t inherit this particular behavior.


Because Nana tried to off herself, my brothers and I had to visit her all summer long. We’d stand outside the automatic doors of the mental institution for a while, taking in the flowery, summer air, and then enter. The whoosh of sterile, crazy people scent replaced the outside smell, and into Nana’s room we were ushered.


[Who am I? Read more and find out!]


Last week: Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, wants you to have a happy Halloween.


WHO AM I?


Here are the rules.  Here is the excerpt of the week:


I spent years on that book, doing my honest best. My first novel is an extension of me. It reveals a few personal beliefs and unanswered questions, some nameable, some that remain ambiguous or unconscious. It revealed an appreciation, even love, for the South and its people that I thought I didn’t possess. The Mercy of Thin Air shares my lifeblood as much as any organ or limb. It is not a fallen hair, a trimmed fingernail. The word-made-flesh has a spine holding it together. My reaction to the bad review was a feeling of negation, that what I wrote, even I, didn’t matter.

 

Ergo, a matter of ego.

 

Almost four years later, I’ve accepted the extremes. I realize that I gave way too much power to the Dark Side. The Shadow came to call. It was the umbra opposite my fiery effort to finish the novel and get published. The review incarnated my worst fears, hidden and denied. My work—therefore, I—was unoriginal, talentless, ridiculous.

 


[Who am I? Read more and find out!]


Last week: Edith Hamilton, author of Mythology.


 

WHO AM I?

 
 

Here are the rules.  Here is the excerpt of the week:

 
 

The following year, in fifth grade, my own breasts began to develop. I discovered it while sitting on the edge of my bed in my underwear. There was a pain, or throb in my breasts, something that called me to them. With a fat dirty-nailed finger I rubbed and prodded until I found a large sore nut underneath the thin skin of each nipple. I called my sister in, she was fourteen, a flat-chested gymnast, on the precipice of anorexia.

 
 

“What’s this?” I asked, and I pushed her finger onto one nob.

 
 

[Who am I? Read more and find out!]

 
 

Last week: Naguib Mahfouz, author of the Cairo Trilogy.
 


WHO AM I?


Here are the rules.  Here is the excerpt of the week:


We are soaked, my patchwork skirt clings to my legs, and my bikini top is visible through my t-shirt as Kathy runs to answer the phone. I see her through the window twirling the long black floppy cord stretched out now from years of pulling it down the hallway to her room. Her face is dark and then light, the fingers of her other hand flutter around her breasts, holding the thin wet material of her tank top away from her body. I press my face to the sliding glass door and she motions me forward, holds the phone out to me and opens her mouth as if in shock or surprise.

 

When I get there she presses the phone to my ear, I smell her musky shampoo on the receiver, I hear the sharp intake of breath on the line, a low moan, like the sounds Kathy’s brother makes when he is having sex with his high school girlfriend.

 

What are you wearing? the voice rasps. Are you all wet?

 

 

[Who am I? Read more and find out!]


Last week: Carson McCullers, author of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.


 

WHO AM I?

 
 
Here are the rules.  Here is the excerpt of the week:

 
 

It’s gotten to the point where dudes who are not rock stars, athletes, actors, millionaire playboys, agents, managers, or Brody Jenner assume that these A-list babes are unavailable, even if they are, in fact, very much on the market. The ESPN writer Bill Simmons reported that a glaringly dateless Anne Hathaway attended a Los Angeles wedding recently, and none of the single guys in attendance had the stones to hit on her.

 

What’s a girl to do?

 

It seems to me that these young actress types who find themselves on the path to Anistonian spinsterhood—I’m talking to you, Anne Hathaway!—would do well to look for more fertile fishing grounds.

 

If you want to find a quality man, ladies, what you need to do is date a writer. A real writer, I might add, not Ethan Hawke or James Franco…

 
[Who am I? Read more and find out!]

 
 
Last week: Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes.