It was a really tight contest we enjoyed all the entries but we felt these four really stood out. We wanted you to enjoy them as well!
By Barry Waltman
I always wondered what would happen if I started to wear turtle neck shirts on a regular basis. Would
I suddenly have an affinity for Richards Marx? Would I seek out Fondue restaurants and recipes on
instinct? Would I begin to brows thrift stores for denim or suede vests? Would I find myself taking on-
line painting courses from Bob Ross or unconsciously humming Spandau Ballet? I did not know, so I
decided to give it a shot. My first step was to locate the snazziest turtle necks I could find. I struck “solid
gold” at the local Alabama Thrift Store. I decided on 3 different styles. My first selection was a sweet
little number that came in the form of a well worn knit sweater. It was sunset orange with a classic fold
over turtle neck collar. My second choice was of the mock variety. It screamed douche bag as soon as I
saw it, there nestled between a faded Ocean Pacific t-shirt and an 80’s Munsingwear penguin v-neck golf
sweater. Finally, I picked up the typical white, long sleeve turtle neck shirt. You know, the one everyone
had at some point but never actually wore. It felt like cotton foreskin that kept getting in the way when
you peed and created some kind of Vegas style fountain spray that never reached the toilet.
My instincts were somewhat confirmed on my first day. I selected the orange sweater. I paired it with a
pair of brown cords and Hush Puppy shoes. As soon as I entered the office, I was greeted with “what’s
up dude, where’s the van?” One of my female coworkers gave me a quick up and down and kind of
laughed. However, I suspect it was one of those laughs that women produce in an attempt to hide how
impressed they are. Well, at least that’s what my dad always told me while I was growing up. After
work I had to stop by Barnes and Noble to pick up a book for my wife, or should I say “lover”. I was
overwhelmed with how many people came up to me asking my opinion about their selected reading
material. Way to go turtle neck. The next day I decided to go with the douche bag mock turtle neck. I
stopped by Starbucks on my way to work. I began berating the server and making comments about how
well she had applied her college degree. I complained about the delay and commented on how stupid
the manager must be for not considering the early morning rush and scheduling more staff. I finally
took my coffee and got into the BMW I had rented for the day. I jammed Whitesnake and consistently
looked over my Ray Bans into the rearview mirror at how good my hair looked. Work went pretty well
except for the sexual harassment complaint that was filed against me for asking my assistant if she
wanted “cream in that coffee, if you know what I mean?”
Two days of this great experiment was pretty much all I could handle. I realized that turtle necks with
only slight variations in style can greatly affect how one experiences the world. I pulled out some old
James Taylor albums and down loaded Bread’s greatest hits. I got a HR Pufnstuff temporary tattoo. I
referred to myself in the third person and smoked a pipe while I walked my neighbors Basset Hound.
My neighbor was pissed. I found myself cooking a rack of lamb and discussing the finer points of a good
Cabernet Sauvignon. Finally, I put a down payment on a 1973 Chevy van with an airbrushed picture of
horses running freely with the Rocky Mountains in the back ground. Next up, the 80’s London Fog wind
The Rise and Fall and Rerisening of Moxie St. Clair
By Sean Hammel
It was nearly thirty years ago today, in the middle of a fierce thunderstorm. Violent lightening
cracked, the clouds parted, and a single ray of light shone onto the very spot where Harriet St. Clair had
just given birth to her daughter, Moxie. Little did Moxie know, she had a long arduous path in front of
her, one of bitter rivalries, heartbreak, deception, and deadly break-dance competitions. Things didn’t
start off this difficult for Moxie. Her rise to fame began in high school where she excelled in Theories of
Intermediate Mathematical Calculations. Moxie’s classmates voted her “Most Likely to End Up on a
Podcast” her senior year. After High School, Moxie moved out to New York and became a star on
Broadway. Her rising fame skyrocketed with the smash hit “Gremlins: Part Five“, featuring Rick Moranis and the musical stylings of Glenn Danzig.
This all came crashing down one fateful mid-morning/noonish time period, when Moxie was
serving as a celebrity guest on The Price is Right. “She was coked-up out of her mind,” says one witness,
who we’ll refer to as “M. King Smith” to protect his identity. Viewers watched in horror as Moxie gave
host Bob Barker a piece of her mind. The cameras cut away as Moxie viciously attacked Barker,
shrieking out “You think it’s okay to spay pets? I should castrate you, you geriatric motherfucker!” “We
tried our best to restrain her but there was no use,” says Matt K. Smith. Moxie was immediately taken
into custody after the incident. Barker announced his retirement the next day and Moxie was banned
from The Price is Right for the rest of her life.
Most accounts of what happened next are unclear. It is believed that Moxie was bailed out of
jail by long-time friend Mikey Oswalt but some say she escaped from prison on her own. Some claim
that she was actually purchased in an auction in Tuscaloosa, Alabama but these reports are often
dismissed as false. What is known for sure is that these two would bond in an eternal friendship, filled
with rainbows, unicorns, baby pandas, hang-gliders, and 2 Live Crew mix-tapes. With the help of
Oswalt, Moxie successfully completed rehab and now resides above the Oak City Barber Shop. Moxie
and Mikey are currently visiting Orphanages across America, teaching children how to do their taxes.
“Just take a look at me now,” Says Moxie. “If I can hit rock-bottom and turn myself around, then I can
teach the youth of America how to fill out a W-2. It’s that simple…our future is brighter and the world is
a better place because of me: Moxie St. Clair.”
By Sam Arnold
Imagine you’ve lived your entire life on an island in the middle of a vast ocean. Suppose it’s just you and a few others on this island, and none of you have ever seen any sign of land beyond the horizon. With this in mind, consider one of your cohabitants approaching you one day with a question that’s been troubling him: “Just how big is this ocean we’re in, anyway?” How would you answer him? He’s clearly distressed, and it’s no fun to be on an island with the emotionally unstable, so you do your best to answer him. “Area,” you’d say, “can only be known if you know the boundaries of a thing. And we can’t see where our ocean ends, so we can’t find the area. But, we have cups! And we know how big our island is. So we can say with confidence that the ocean is more than many millions of cups of water, and more than many square miles around us.”
Your troubled friend would not likely be satisfied with that answer. He presses on, “Okay, so we can’t figure out how big this ocean is, but surely we can deduce where it all came from, right?” You hope you can be more help this time, so you carefully spend much of the day pondering how best to answer him. Finally, late in the day, you’re sure you’ve got it. “Friend,” you say, “it’s quite obvious where the ocean came from. Think about it: we have our own tiny oceans all over our island! And we know where those came from, don’t we?” Not getting a reply, you announce triumphantly, “Rain, of course! The puddles on our island come from rain, so of course the ocean around us must also come from rain, being merely a large puddle itself.”
Maybe this would convince your angst-ridden cohabitant, but this would not convince you or me. To know how big an ocean is, you have to know something about the boundaries of the ocean. To know where it came from, we have to know even more about many things outside of the ocean itself. Of course, you and I know more than the islanders in our thought experiment, and can say with relative confidence how big the ocean is and where it came from. But what about existence itself–the ocean in which our island of knowledge is firmly anchored? Can we ever say how big it is or where it came from, without seeing its boundaries and knowing much about what lays beyond them? Maybe a world map of sorts can wash ashore our island, in the form of rigorous mathematics and physics, but it may be a map of Middle-Earth for all we know. Our species may one day satisfy all of its desires, but the one that is responsible for its satisfaction: its desire to know. Curiosity is our eternal curse–and our eternal blessing.
And now for the grad prize winner!
On 40’s and Love
by Tessa Fontaine
Here is your future: the day is unseasonably warm and you are wearing your new jorts, waiting for your dog to come off the grill, houghperhaps with your arm around a good friend, perhaps with a guitar on your lap, strumming the C, D and G chords in different combinations so it seems like you can play many different songs. Ostensibly, your life is quite fine, but inside that deep red slug
of your heart, you’re lonely. Your girlfriend dumped you at Egan’s for trying to order a cosmopolitan (GQ told you to), so you’re out of both love and spirits. And then the impossible happens. A Polynesian smuggler wheels a cooler into your cookout and presents you and your cronies with…forties. You reach intothe cooler, brush the ice away from the Olde English 800 on top, and find you need two hands to pull the bottle from its nest toward your mouth. Two hands! you remember an early lesson you learned about two being better than one, and proceed to suckle the bottle like you did as a babe. GQ won’t tell you what inevitably will happen next: you will find love.
For hundreds of thousands of years, noble people of the world have enjoyed forties. A forty, despite its myriad gifts, is deceptively simple. A 40oz. bottle is filled with malt liquor, a light amber brew with extra enzymes to boost the alcohol content and, therefore, the fun. Typical forties you might see in a non-Alabamian gas station include such brands as: Colt 45, St. Ides, Mickey’s, Steel
Reserve, King Cobra, and Olde English 800. With alcohol contents above 5% and a whole lot of drink to love, it is no surprise people are so enthralled by things that come in 40’s. We can agree that religious texts are full of significance and, un-coincidently, full of the number 40. In the Torah, rain fell for forty days and forty nights before the flood. Forty was the number of days Jesus fasted and also the period between his resurrection and ascension. Muhammad was forty
years old when he first received the revelation delivered by the archangel Gabriel and The Quran says that a person is only fully grown when they reach the age of 40. (One could also say that a person is not fully grown until they reach the
bottom of a 40.) Even in the Yazidi faith, The Chermera temple (meaning “40 Men” in the Yazidi dialect) is so old that no one remembers how it came to have that name, but it is believed to derive from the burial of 40 men on the mountaintop site.
A forty also brought about my long-term college boyfriend. Shortly after meeting this strapping young lad, I invited him to come play Edward Forty Hands with my friends, a spectacular game in which two icy 40’s of your choice are duct-taped to your hands and must remain there until you have drained the bottles into your mouth. Our kitchen rang with the romantic ting of glass bottles on teeth as I seduced my date by asking him to use those very teeth to unbutton my jeans so I could pee. We found love in what might have been a hopeless place, but for the love potion that such a significant quantity of high-alcohol beer induces, and
this is what I’m really getting at here: that night, my soon-to-be college boyfriend got to see me bloated and smelly, drunker than is cute, top jean button hanging open like a snoring mouth, nursing Olde English 800 like a baby, and he still decided to date me. You see, 40oz is the exact quantity of love. Sharing a forty is like sharing your darkest secrets, it’s a bond that can’t be undone (unless, of course, you break up, but that is neither here nor there). And you, beautiful people of Tuscaloosa, have convinced Senator Allen to help pass SB294, which increases the legal beer limit from 16oz. to 25.4 oz. The bill will now travel to the
house of representatives and while this is all good and nice, I’d like to challenge you to think about that lonely, hollow echo inside your heart and begin thecampaign for 40oz. Everyone knows 40oz leads to freedom.