A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy (Back Bay Readers Pick)
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Do you need a book recommendation to send your worst cousin on her birthday? Is it okay to read erotica on public transit? Cienna can help. Send your questions to advice seattlereviewofbooks. I work at an independent bookstore. We were told if we got caught selling the book early, Penguin Random House could penalize us by not ever selling us any of their titles again, which would essentially put us out of business. Unfortunately, as you probably know, Amazon mailed copies of The Testaments to their customers a week early.
But the thing that chaps my ass is that Amazon basically is suffering no consequences for breaking this embargo. If I sold copies of The Testaments a week early, I could be sued into oblivion. Is it too much to ask that the same rules apply to everyone? Hell, Penguin Random House didn't even mention Amazon by name in their tweets about the incident , presumably because they're too scared to call them out. As my father used to say before he killed himself, "Life isn't fair and then you marry one. Yes, Amazon is taking over the free market like online outrage is overtaking any kind of action.
Yes, Penguin Random House is staffed by punitive cowards. But before you do something rash, like quit the soul-satisfying business of selling books for something with a dental plan, know that things could be worse. I know people who work for Amazon. They have to sign a non-dick-closure agreement and wear catheters so that they can work straight through bathroom breaks. And that's not even the worst of it.
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Next week, Seattle employees will walk off the job to protest Amazon's indifference to the sous vide hellscape our Earth is becoming , in part because of the company's policies and practices. I also heard Bezos sold his mother's organs on Deep Dark Prime after she gushed about the customer service at Best Buy. For Mother's Day, he regifted her her own kidney. My point is, life isn't fair.
Every pocket of the globe has its injustices — you may not have dental, but hey — you don't have to professionally piss in a bag. Find out a ton more detail on our Literary Event of the Week column. Come see why Acker was so important to Seattle, punk, and the Riot Grrl movement. It started with a Kickstarter. Andy posted at am, and I backed the festival at pm. The festival sold out in fifty hours.
10/11/11: A Lucky Child
One of the great joys of the magazine and newspaper age, that transferred well to blogging but horribly to bigger social media, was getting to know certain writers. Reading the same byline month-after-month, you develop a sense of the person, their tastes, their quibbles. I co-founded this very website with someone whose work I admired from afar, until I met him and told him so in person.
But, of course, most of those writers who I admire I would never be lucky enough to meet, and felt that if I did, I would have little to offer apart from praise and appreciation, which might only get one halfway through the first glass of wine before aging into boredom.
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Same it was with Andy, who covered a beat few others did. To wit: what is the cultural impact of the internet on the people who make it their playground? He tracked the rise of popular culture as it ricocheted across the bit-broken packet-by-packet surface of the internet; watched it get trapped in eddies and pools of sometimes horrifying digital homes; measured its growth and response as larger media started noticing the gif memes climbing their legs; brought, with delight, explanations of some of the stranger manifestations of the internet echo chamber: the chaffing of jokes that transmogrified from obscure in-jokes into glitchy overly-compressed expressions of pure weirdness.
That September, we convened on an old laundry in Portland, next to tall curving windows, and sat close together in folding chairs during two days of talks. Instead I want to talk about the things around the talks. The Andys which is what collectively, and affectionately, the community calls Baio and McMillian have told the story that they invited everyone to come on Thursday, but only scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, and so in a pinch came up with "XOXO Social" for Friday, a day of events where people could hang out and get to know each other.
View this post on Instagram Circus performers xoxofest. Sitting next to a stranger was made much less awkward when you had seen them the day before around town, or had played pinball with them, or ran into them browsing at Powells. Then there was the eating.
We played tabletop games, watched music, hung out at picnic tables on a closed city street, wandered a marketplace on the ground floor of the Yale Union that had 3D printers, games, and designers, and generally had a marvelous time. Then they did it again. Seven times, now, over eight years.
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Instead of repeating the formula over and over, the Andys always try new things each year. A reader board greeted us at registration a few years back, imploring: "Lower your expectations". My personal approach is to not expect anything. To go in as raw as I can, and open myself up to whatever I find. And when I walk away from the festival, my mind is a fog. The talks are blurs of moments, the live podcasts, the in-person chats, the tabletop games, the serendipitous moments witnessed, the kindness and generosity of spirit all around, it conspires into a kind of smoothed liquid brain that precludes me from sensibly writing about the festival I have, for the seven years, attempted to write about each and every festival, and failed until now, thanks to brain smoothness.
I doubt this website, as it sits, would exist without XOXO. I published my own novel through a Kickstarter , inspired by the festival and its community. XOXO helped me to learn to ask for what I need, and to not be afraid to be myself. It helped me create work and put it into the world. I see people, each year, that light the world for me, and who I think about all year. Each festival is end-capped by the Andys on stage.
This year, unlike all others, they had MCs — Helen Zaltzman, of The Allusionist , and Hrishikesh Hirway, of Song Exploder — which took some pressure off them, but still they started and ended together. There are always tears at the end, and perhaps relief that they pulled off another year. They always do with the help of many, of course , in admirable fashion. What a pleasure it is to feel hope about the internet and its people, if only for a brief time.
What I walk away with, each year, is gratitude. I am appreciative of being part of a community that watches out for all members with a strict code of conduct the Andys remove at least one person for breaking the code, and ban them for life, each year , and clear work on inclusion. I am so grateful to be part of a community that works so hard on helping people who are excluded elsewhere feel welcome.
He was right, and the extra work, and policing where necessary, has imbued the festival with a rich sense of belonging for many different kinds of people. My father, who was a minister, always told me — a devout non-believer — that at heart, churches were about people coming together and creating something bigger than themselves. About the importance of creating, and placing your creations in the world. People I want to see, listen to, learn from.
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Two days of the kinds of sermons talks my dad would have loved — questing, questioning, inward facing, reflective, humble, personal. Then, community. People coming together. Trying to make build greater than themselves. Sometimes failing, but always recognizing that you have to show up to even put the effort in. Lower your expectations, yes, but for the love of all that is good, show up. Seven years of good luck xoxo. Thank you waxpancake andymcmillan! Immediately after MAD Magazine 's editorial staff announced that they would cease the publication of new material on July 4th of this year , the publishers of the horniest sci-fi comics anthology magazine on earth, Heavy Metal Magazine , announced that they would be picking up MAD 's slack with a new comedy publication.
Stepping in to fill the void before the adoring eulogies for MAD could even be published was a classic old-school publishing move. You had to admire Heavy Metal 's brazenness; they were reanimating Alfred E. Neuman's corpse before it even had time to get cold. This is light speed for the creation and distribution of a new magazine.
Unfortunately, it's not a substitute.
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MAD was more or less an all-ages magazine, no matter what the parents who wouldn't let their children read it for content concerns might think I forgive you, mom. Soft Wood is full-on smut. There's a reason why the magazine comes in a plastic bag: it's packed with swear words, a few explicit shots of genitalia, and more than a few distasteful prostitute jokes. If you give Soft Wood to your children, you are a bad parent.
Given the short publication window, most of the work in Soft Wood has clearly been repurposed from other publications. In fact, the central strip, a parody of Watchmen by Bleeding Cool comics journalist Rich Johnston, was originally published in To be fair, that original publication was black-and-white, while this republication features beautiful Watchmanesque colors from John Higgins. And to continue the comparison with MAD , Watchmensch is the only full-on parody in the book, so those who miss MAD 's timely parodies of popular culture won't find much in this issue to latch on to.
But for adults who are looking for a new comics magazine, Soft Wood demonstrates a lot of promise. The book contains a nice mix of funny cartoonists who've been in the business since the 90s Evan Dorkin, Shannon Wheeler, Bob Fingerman; some artists with a more European bent Osmarco Valladao, Manoel M.
Of these, the standouts for the issue are Wheeler, who contributes a hilarious and moving memoir piece about summer camp and micropenises, and Thompson, whose gag strips often end with a character's awkward stare that feels more real and visceral than ink on paper should. One particularly weird strip from Krent Able, featuring newscasters measuring their taints in the middle of a breaking news report, is likely to haunt my dreams tonight.
In short, there are a lot of surprises here, and it's honestly thrilling to flip through a glossy comics magazine.