EJ Dickson profiles Nica Noelle, “a veteran porn director and performer turned ASMRtist”:
Nica has been interested in doing erotic ASMR [autonomous sensory meridian response] since she first stumbled on the community a few years ago. Her project, she tells me, is twofold: She wants to fuse the basic principles of ASMR with traditional POV porn, but she also wants to make the relationship between the viewer and performer more intimate; she wants to turn the viewer on, but she also wants them to feel nurtured, cared for, needed. In short, Nica is trying to capture a feeling that no other porn director has ever tried to replicate before: Love.
[I]f the ASMR party line is that it’s not intended to be sexual, Nica’s channel, which features her massaging her breasts and speaking in low, seductive tones, doesn’t necessarily support that view point. …
Michelle Cottle examines how technology is making it easier to cheat – and easier to get caught:
In an earlier era, a suspicious husband like Jay might have rifled through Ann’s pockets or hired a private investigator. But having stumbled upon Find My iPhone’s utility as a surveillance tool, Jay wondered what other apps might help him keep tabs on his wife. He didn’t have to look far. Spouses now have easy access to an array of sophisticated spy software that would give Edward Snowden night sweats: programs that record every keystroke; that compile detailed logs of our calls, texts, and video chats; that track a phone’s location in real time; that recover deleted messages from all manner of devices (without having to touch said devices); that turn phones into wiretapping equipment; and on and on.
One might assume that the proliferation of such spyware would have a chilling effect on extramarital activities. Aspiring cheaters, however, need not despair:
His intimate, crystal-clear photos of Siamese fighting fish (betta) make it seem as though they are suspended in air instead of water. Angkatavanich recently told Popular Photographythat he only started photographing the fish after encountering them for the first time three years ago at a fish show and has since become obsessed with the different species which vary greatly in size, shape, and color patterns.
Angkatavanich spoke about his inspiration in an interview last year:
“When I was young, my father gave me some goldfish, guppy and Siamese fighting fish. A few years ago I went to pet market and saw so many bettafish mutants from those I saw when I was young. Those are my inspiration for this photo set.”
The brilliant coloration, and long flowing fins of Siamese fighting fish make it one of the most well-known aquarium fish. They have been line bred for over 120 years in Thailand and Cambodia to achieve today’s stunning colours and long finage. A long history of captive breeding has changed the shape of the species and today virtually all species for sale are captive-bred.
David Chang explains why he prefers a frosty Bud Light to artisanal microbrews:
I remember watching my grandfather mow the lawn on a ninety-degree day in Virginia, and as soon as he finished, he’d ask me to fetch him a can of ice-cold beer. He’d tell me, “One day, you’ll understand what it’s like to drink a really cold beer when you’ve earned it.” I was like, “What the fuck does that mean?” In high school, we drank cheap beer because we could afford it—we’d buy it by the case. But when I became a cook, I learned what that beer meant to my grandpa. Working alongside the Hispanic guys who really work in a restaurant kitchen, I learned that the world south of Texas makes amazing bad beer: Imperial from Costa Rica, Presidente from the Dominican Republic, Tecate from Mexico—all excellent bad beers.
For all the debatability of my rant here, let me make one ironclad argument for shitty beer: It pairs really well with food. All food. Think about how well champagne pairs with almost anything. Champagne is not a flavor bomb! It’s bubbly and has a little hint of acid and tannin and is cool and crisp and refreshing. Cheap beer is, no joke, the champagne of beers. And cheap beer and spicy food go together like nothing else. Think about Natty Boh and Old Bay-smothered crabs. Or Asian lagers like Orion and Singha and Tiger, which are all perfect ways to wash down your mapo tofu.
James Laughlin, the founder and publisher of New Directions, shepherded a list, from 1936 until his death in 1997, which Peter Glassgold describes in his introduction to The Collected Poems of James Laughlin, 1935-1997 as one that “steadily expanded to include an astonishing pantheon of contemporary authors, primarily of the Modernist avant-garde, and quite literally changed what educated Americans read and the way American writers wrote and the kinds of poetry and fiction that were taught in our schools.” Today, ND is just as vital a force in contemporary literary culture, and the backlist is, of course, astounding.
Laughlin considered himself primarily a love poet and was encouraged by a number of his treasured authors—among them William Carlos Williams, Thomas Merton, Kenneth Rexroth, and Guy Davenport, who has praised his poems as “witty, elegiac, sexy, satiric, naughty, poignant, wise.” But Ezra Pound whose “Ezuversity” in Rapallo, Italy proved foundationally crucial to Laughlin’s literary education “ruled them hopeless,” he recalled. When prodded as to what path he should take, Pound replied, “ Go back to Haavud to finish up your studies. If you’re a good boy, your parents will give you some money and you can bring out books.” And so they did, launching one of the great publishing houses of the century.
Glassgold tells us that more than three-quarters of the 1,250-odd poems in the new volume date from Laughlin’s last fifteen years. When I was at The New Yorker, we published a number of his poems, which I found so captivating and dear. I loved the one below, which we wanted to publish but couldn’t because I discovered it had already appeared in a book. When I called to give J (as he was called) the sad news, he replied, mischievously, “Poor Gramps—ejected on a technicality!”
“Grandfather” by James Laughlin:
Sits on a chair at the
Kitchen table shelling
Peas into a bowl. He
Looks contented, even
Happy, smiling as he
Works. If you ask him
A question he probably
Won’t answer. He has
No idea what my name is,
Or even, I guess, that
I’m his grandson. He’s
93 but he has to be kept
Busy or he’ll start to
Root around in closets
All over the house. What
Does he think is lost?
No matter, he has been
Asked to shell peas.
He’s happy doing it. And
We’ll have peas for lunch.
This weekend’s short story is Nick Ripatrazone’s “Advent,” first published in the Blue Mesa Review in December 2012. Here’s how it begins:
People said that Father Mark was working at Macy’s. It all started with his sermon during the last Mass of Thanksgiving weekend. Evening services drew two crowds: those who slept-in, and others who enjoyed the nearly empty church, silent from music. Father Mark was a traditionalist: no female altar servers, no Eucharistic ministers, no deacons, and he always delivered his sermons from behind the pulpit. No roaming the aisles like a motivational speaker.
Most of that particular sermon was usual Thanksgiving fare: this is the time of year to bring families together, whether we like them or not, because to like is lower than to love. We can dislike, we can perhaps even hate, but we must love. Fair enough. Easy for you to say, some thought, you without a wife and in-laws and needy cousins. But what Father Mark said next passed most by, stomachs still full, Christmas shopping and decorating already on their minds.
He said that during this time of year, we should think of those beyond our families. We should include our friends, our coworkers and colleagues, and others in the community. This was the time of year for sadness and depression, and that some groups were more inclined toward such malaise. He said the Catholic Church is really a place of inclusivity. And that it needed to start acting like that when it came to those with alternate lifestyles. It needed to recognize those differences and rejoice in them. Amen.
Read the rest here. The story also can be found in Ripatrazone’s just-published collection, Good People. Check out our previous SSFSs here.
In a review of Poets in Their Youth, Eileen Simpson’s 1982 memoir of her marriage to John Berryman, Lisa Levy contemplates what inspired the poet and his contemporaries Robert Lowell and Delmore Schwartz – and what drove them apart from their spouses:
To get an idea about how important poetry was to these men — not their wives, who significantly seemed to tolerate the poetry talk rather than participate in it — it’s best to think about if the World Series, the Superbowl, the Stanley Cup, and the NBA Playoffs all happened at the same time with teams like Milton, Yeats, Eliot, and Shakespeare competing.