Big Fish

Once upon a time, there was a girl and a boy, and they got up to all sorts of mischief. No, they weren’t bad children. They would just get bored on a lazy Sunday afternoon, that’s all. Actually, they’d get bored any old day of the week – it really didn’t matter when. They were in constant need of stimulation to keep their creative juices flowing, much like overripe cows in want of round-the-clock milking. That’s why the boy and girl were always poking their curious, little noses into different things.

So, the girl and the boy were feeling quite nebby. They sat there, swinging restless legs over the edge of a bridge high above a river flowing with ideas. And the adults! They had such serious faces! Why were they beached there on the riverbanks below just doing nothing? Well, that wasn’t entirely true. They were writing books and editing magazines… which looked like important stuff.

The boy and the girl exchanged glances. While she had his attention, the girl gave the boy a cheeky wink. The boy gave a goofy grin in return. He was a bit shy. The girl’s heart warmed at this, but she didn’t let on. Instead, she said, ‘I bet we can make a magazine too.’ The boy piped up, ‘Can we?’ He studied her resolute face with a mixture of interest and bewilderment, and that’s when he knew she was for certain going to do something about this.

She grabbed his hand and said, ‘Let’s go!’ And so they sprang from the bridge and plummeted into the river of ideas. They didn’t even come up for air. Ideas were where they lived, so they definitely had the gills for it. Actually, that’s not entirely true. They had the gills, certainly, but they did come up eventually… and they had a big, wet magazine cover with them. It flapped and it dripped, but the girl and boy held onto it tightly, and they were proud.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2017

GUEST POST // A Game of Look and Find for Poetry and the Blog that Hosts it [Q&A]

Dear Readers, we are lucky enough to have become acquainted with Franki Hanke, a student administrative assistant with the Hamline University English Department. She also writes for its in-house blog Hamline Lit Link, and we’re thrilled that she decided to conduct an interview with us recently. My, oh my! Isn’t that exciting? We’re going to be on the front page of the University wall newspaper! So lean in, Dear Students, and squint your eyes to catch all the fine print. Oh, and please, do be polite and don’t spoil our beautiful faces with scribbled moustaches and shiners, okay?

FRANKI: Describe your site unbolt in its entirety? What is it? What does it hope to accomplish or what do you hope to accomplish through it?

TONY: Hi, Franki. Thanks for interviewing us. This should be fun!

TATI: Yes, let’s play!

TONY: Unbolt Me is a literary blog. It’s an online repository of poems, prose, and anything else we decide to try.

TATI: We have made art and audio recordings too. And a video! But Unbolt Me will always be about the writings.

TONY: As for what we hope to achieve with it, we just want fame and fortune, man. Like Scrooge McDuck, we wanna dive into huge piles of money and see how far we’ll sink!

FRANKI: Your web design leaves links all over the place to new creative work. What is the reasoning behind this feature?

TATI: Unbolt Me is a live organism. Beating. Throbbing. Breathing. Links are its circulatory system. They bring the oxygen of readers to every nook and cranny so there’s no necrosis.

FRANKI: What feedback have you gotten from readers about this feature?

TONY: They seem to like it. It can be fun to follow the links around… like a trail of breadcrumbs really. Just don’t gobble ‘em up as you go. Don’t want all our other readers getting lost!

TATI: Well… I remember one person said it’s rather annoying. But hey, don’t like, don’t click!

FRANKI: Throughout the site, do the links lead only to poems by the two of you or also reader submitted work?

TONY: It’s mostly only to our own poems, isn’t it Tati?

TATI: Yep, but not always. We’re not greedy.

TONY: Folks will just have to click around and find out for themselves. Ha ha!

FRANKI: Tell me about your writing challenges. When did they start? What’s the reasoning? How do you design them?

TATI: Actually, my writings were started like challenges, but maybe that’s off topic…

When I joined WordPress, I started to receive many awards and writing challenges. At first, I diligently tried to fulfill every challenge I received, but I later realized that I no longer had the time to get them done. They were growing in my to do list like a snowball. When I started to pay more attention to my writings and books, and when I started to work with Tony, these writing challenges became secondary.

One beautiful day, I decided to release them, and gave our dear readers the opportunity to raise this fallen banner of challenges themselves. We created a special page. It was my idea, but Tony’s brilliant execution. I’m very grateful to Tony. His mastery helps me to fulfil many bold ideas, and to create a modern design for the blog.

FRANKI: You currently have eight challenges, correct? Do you typically add more or is this typical to expect to see these same ones?

TATI: It’s actually a good idea! We should create some new challenges, Tony. Shouldn’t we?

TONY: Oh my god! A resounding yes!

TATI: By the way, I have an idea. What about a special bonus for readers of this interview? The ‘Create Your Challenge’ challenge and the ‘I would never write about…’ Challenge? How does that sound?

TONY: Yeah, totally! And our readers can make up their own rules for those challenges too!

FRANKI: For the Ears Wide Open challenge, are readers invited to offer their own readings too? Where should those be submitted and in what format?

TONY: We encourage it. If there are any poems we’ve written that tickle the fancy of our readers then we’d certainly love to receive their audio renditions of them. We accept mp3s and mp4s. Failing that, delivery via carrier pigeon in ten foot high braille is also acceptable.

TATI: Usually we use SoundCloud, and combine the reading with a fitting picture.

FRANKI: Which challenge is your favorite?

TATI: If I needed to pick a challenge for myself now, I would grab the ‘In Ten Sentences’ one. I think it’s because of my tendency to be laconic. Tony can confirm this. I’m not a chatterbox. Not in life. Nor in my writings.

TONY: Which is a boon since I’m deaf and half blind. As for me, the ‘Read Our Poems Aloud’ challenge would be my pick. Why? Because I’m an insufferable narcissist.

TATI: Deaf and half blind? Are you sure you’re human, Tony? You sound like a mole. A mole-narcissist. Really cool! Yep!

TONY: Careful! You don’t want me digging a hole beneath you…

FRANKI: How do you hope readers will interact with the challenges posted? What do you hope they gain from it?

TONY: Sexual prowess? Untold levels of virility? I’ve no idea. I guess all I want is for them to have fun with it. Writing is a chance to be creative, and we should all be given that opportunity at least once in our lives.

TATI: Finally, Tony said something valid. Amen to that!

FRANKI: What have you thought yourself doing these challenges (as they come from other nominations)? Has good work come out of the inspiration they stir up?

TATI: Every challenge forced me to think outside the box. To extricate myself from it. And challenges with a strict time frame also helped me to realize one interesting thing… Once, I wrote a piece in Russian in 10 minutes because rummaging in a dictionary would have devoured time if I had started to write in English. But the translation back into English took much longer than I had anticipated. Actually, I then wrote this piece again from scratch. It was a valuable lesson for me. Now, I never use Russian or Ukrainian drafts. I always write in English. Every language has its own logic and structure, and if you want to get a nice result then you need to think on this language, not just translate your own thoughts.

TONY: I believe challenges come from everywhere. Life itself goads one into writing something, anything, just to make sense of it all, don’t you think? I’ve never needed to look very far for my inspiration. By the way, Tat, good essay there!

TATI: Exciting.

TONY: Hey you, stop yawning already!

FRANKI: If someone was only willing to check out one challenge, which would you recommend as best for spurring some writing?

TONY: They should pick the challenge they’d hate the most. Methinks that’d really stretch out the old writing muscles!

TATI: Tony, what happened? The second reasonable thought during one evening!

FRANKI: Running a blog is a lot of work, what makes it worthwhile for you?

TONY: Writing and spending time with Tati is reward enough, but I do also have ambitions for our words to reach a wider audience. I feel we both have a lot to offer the literary world, so I’m definitely interested to see how far we can push this.

TATI: Yes, blogging is a great springboard. The more you shake it, the higher you jump.

FRANKI: What do you think are the benefits of writing for your own blog space versus other “goals” for writing: like writing in attempt to publish to other spaces or writing only privately, etc?

TONY: If I only ever wrote privately, then nothing would get done. I wouldn’t achieve a damn thing. That’s why I like to blog it all. This forces me to keep to a schedule, and it keeps me accountable to our readers. I feel this is the key to successful and productive writing for me.

TATI: I think it depends on goals, actually. There is nothing bad in private writings. But, yes, blogging disciplines you. It helps you to assess your efforts adequately. And the fact that I’m sitting here, struggling with my answers, means that I have made some steps toward my dream to be a famous writer. God bless you, blogging.

 

Interview by FRANKI HANKE
Image by TONY SINGLE

© All rights reserved 2017

Spam Sarnie #5

TONY: What on Dawkins’s green earth are you doing?

TATI: I’m cleaning the folder with Splog™.

TONY: Splog™? I’ve no idea what that is.

TATI: I use it to get rid of blog spam.

TONY: Tati, I’ve told you a million times… You need to use Spamdex™. It’s much better!

TATI: Spandex™?

TONY: SPAMdex™. You really need to work on your pronunciation.

TATI: Okey dokey… Spandex™.

TONY: Sigh.

TATI: Don’t piss me off. We need to do the next post!

TONY: Of course, of course. But first let’s see to our responses…

I like what you guys are up also. Such intelligent work and reporting! Carry on the excellent works guys I have incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it’ll improve the value of my site 🙂
– eiytldklm

7 Ways to Use Your Site to Generate Revenue:
1. Affiliate Marketing
2. Banner Ads
3. Site Sale
4. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads
5. Email Lists
6. Membership Sites
7. Fuck 1-6, and invite Tati and Tony

– The Petitioners for the Canonisation of Joe Schmoe (God of SEO) League

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– abvjkzht

Alrighty then.
– The Battle for Laconia League

This video post is in fact enormous, the echo quality and the picture feature of this video post is really remarkable.
– byvbvrwech

And the Oscar goes to… Tati and Tony!
– The Blessed are They Who La La Believe League

whoah this weblog is excellent i like reading your posts. Stay up the good pantings! You already know, a lot of individuals are looking round for this info, you could help them greatly.
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Thank god someone appreciates our efforts at hyperventilating! And we promise not only to pant, but to sneeze, spit and fart as well. And we’re not going to stop! In fact, we’ll expand the waistline of this weblog to encompass wheezing and expectorating too.
– The What is Natural is not Dirty League

just uneven sand/dirt. Would this create problem where cement would crack?
– ynooajvocz

It could. Let’s just put a fun bouncy castle over the top instead and cook mud pies. Problem solved! (Well, until the Mole Bros. decide to crash the party with their sneaky, underhanded, tunneling ways…)
– The Holy Moly Whac-A-Mole Time! League

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2017

Holes and Constellations

Every so often, we like to brag. You know, just a little bit, but not too much. We don’t want our readers thinking we’ve gone and gotten too big for our britches now, do we? (Actually, what exactly are britches?)

Anyway, we’re capable of blowing more than bubbles from our noses. That’s what we’re trying to say. We’re serious chaps, we are! Well, a chap and a chapette. Ugh, you get the point.

Some of you may remember. Some of you may have forgotten. Some of you may have no idea whatsoever. But, yes, we kinda wrote two books last year, and even contrived to shove them into different, funny places called Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and iBook. And maybe somewhere else. We aren’t sure that we remember all of them.

Since then, the literary world has been set abuzz with a tizzy of excitement. Well, a bunch of readers decided to pay some attention to us. Okay, now guess a riddle, Dear Readers. J.K. Rowling has 20,665 what? E.L. James has 68,027 what? Tati and Tony have… TWENTY-FIVE! What is this? That’s right. REVIEWS.

Okay, that isn’t the total number of reviews we’ve gotten. This is just for one book so far. Both have gotten a fair bit of attention which means that James and Rowling need to beware! We’re nipping at your heels, guys! Do you see our gnashers glinting in the moonlight? But don’t worry. We’ll be gentle.

By the way, all the reviews we’ve received so far are 100% certified honest! We’re as proud of our one star ratings as we are of those reviews with five. No bullshit! We earned every single star, so we’re going to show them off for the world to see! Behold our brazen peacockery!

In the meantime, Dear Readers, please do check out our new dedicated Reviews page, and if you like what you see then why not check out Hole-in-the-Wall, our online shop? Our books are available there, and they’re waiting for literate new owners to claim them. Would you be so good as to give them a home? Now, if you don’t mind, we’d like to continue strutting our stuff and blowing funky bubbles from our noses… Pop! Pop! Pop!

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2017

But is it Poetry? (Inuk Dream Caused by the Sound of an Icicle Dripping on Her Igloo a Second Before Awakening)

I’ve been longing for this vacation.
I work like a slave on plantation.
But I am not an office plebeian,
I am a wastrel, epicurean!

The buzz of a bureau’s honeycomb
easily makes everybody foam,
but I hold on to quietude and calm –
a plane ticket works just like a heart-balm.

Yells of a chancellor, squeaks of clerks…
they’re not real people, but hoarse clockworks.
Vegetation and soporific esse?
No, thank you. I will never acquiesce!

Meditating the existential,
I packed my valise and credential.
Full steam ahead! Time to sip coconuts
and pinch sappy indigenes for ripe butts.

I came down from the passenger bridge…
What the hell? Where is the nearest fridge?!
Oh, my Nemesis! Forgive your lost nun!
I implore you, get me back to square one!

I am sitting in the hotel rooms
washing down with dark rum my doldrums,
bedamning all photojournalist-jerks
who seduce us, naif untutored clerks.

Don’t be swayed by pictorialism,
don’t believe in exceptionalism,
sit in your office, don’t move a muscle,
leave parallel hot circles for mussels!

 

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TONY: Well, here we are again. We’re going to be discussing poetry this time, not art. And it’s your latest poem that’s in the line of fire!

TATI: My poem? Really? Don’t you have something more interesting to discuss, Tony? Laundry! Cooking! Look around. So many cool things! Why do you cling to my poetry?

TONY: Because you deserve to suffer as much as I did when my Mascara Baby got pulled apart. Okay, let’s get down to it. Firstly, the title… Why the hell is it so long?

TATI: It’s pure peacockery. But, OK… I hoped to hook people’s attention, and to hint at what the main topic of the poem would be.

TONY: In the interest of full disclosure, I guess I should mention that this poem is the result of a challenge I set you. I threw down the gauntlet, so to speak.

TATI: Yeah. Why don’t I feel relief after this confession? You haven’t tried to make things easy, have you?

TONY: That’s true. I gave you a bunch of words to put into a poem… as well as the topic. Do you remember what these were?

TATI: Of course! They will chase me in my nightmares until my last gasp.

TONY: Like a defenseless kitten being hunted down by a pack of underfed bloodhounds. I’m so evil!

TATI: No sane person uses the words ‘photojournalist’ and ‘plebeian’ in the same poem, especially one about an ice cube melting on a tin roof.

TONY: You’re right. It was a pretty ridiculous challenge, no?

TATI: Photojournalist, plebeian, quietude, chancellor, exceptionalism, doldrums, soporific, honeycomb, nemesis, existential.

TONY: Those are some mighty big words, aren’t they? So, how did you manage to find a way to use them all? What was your process?

TATI: Hm… it’s hard to describe my creative process, actually. The general idea came into my mind pretty quickly. But it was a kernel, not flesh.

TONY: It didn’t come fully formed?

TATI: LOL! Of course, no. When you think of a picture, do you see the final result immediately? I can bet not.

TONY: Actually, sometimes I do, and the act of drawing it is an attempt to get as close to that vision on the page as I possibly can. But you’re right, it’s not something that would happen all the time.

TATI: Well, it’s like bead stringing. You add word to word, line to line. Sometimes the pattern is neat and nice. Sometimes it’s better to cut the string and start again. This poem wasn’t my soul’s impulse. It was nearly work. I don’t know if that is good or bad. But, hell, it was a challenge!

TONY: So, it was as deliberate and methodical as that, huh? You were taking a more… hm… workmanlike approach to this?

TATI: Yep.

TONY: So, why did you decide to change what the poem was about? Do you have a set against anthropomorphised ice cubes dying beneath a sweltering sun?

TATI: Did I change the topic? Do you feel I cheated? I don’t think so. Firstly, why can’t the hero be an ice cube? Do you remember the snowman who loved warm hugs?

TONY: Love killed him. Are you saying love kills? It’s better not to love or be loved?

TATI: Don’t change the topic! And, as I remember, it was a happy end.

TONY: He was the recipient of… ahem… a ‘friendly massage’? Is that why there was a second carrot down there?

TATI: TONY! It was a Disney story! For children! No second carrots! No frogs in diapers!

TONY: That was one weird ass video you showed me. Why the hell would a little girl go around stuffing live frogs into her diapers? Children are mentally ill. Seriously, people should stop having them.

TATI: They educated dolts like you, Tony. Who shoved ‘honeycomb’ and ‘nemesis’ into one poem?

TONY: Anyhow, this is off the point… which I still don’t get. What is it you’re trying to say? That the poem really IS about an ice cube and I’ve got it all wrong? I thought it was about a nun going on holidays and pinching the natives’… butts?

TATI: Yes. But why can’t an ice cube be like a nun? Why can’t a nun be like an ice cube? Are you a chauvinist, Tony? Do YOU have a set against anthropomorphised ice cubes? Or nuns? They have equal rights too, man!

TONY: Wha-? How did this get turned back on me? I’m not the criminal here! Yeesh.

TATI: Okay, let’s go back to the poor poem. Don’t you want to praise how ingeniously and artfully I weaved this?

TONY: Oh, of course! That goes without saying, baby. It totally knocked my socks off! And it was so good it kindly put them back on again, all without me lifting a finger. That’s the total brilliance of a poem written by Tati. About naughty nuns.

TATI: Can poetry be written from the mind, and not from the heart? Can it be a challenge, not soul’s impulse?

TONY: Fancy a cup of tea?

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2017