Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

Hink Pink Answers

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Michael Griffith: Congratulations to our puzzle contest winners, Stephanie La Francofille (with help from C.) and Vivian D., both of whom have earned either a year’s subscription to CR or a year’s extension. And thanks to all of you who tackled these tricky puzzles (and, again, to Dylan Hicks and Paris Review for their trailblazing and support). I’m honing and winnowing another batch to appear in our Fall/Winter issue. Look out, too, for new puzzle features—likely an acrostic and a another crossword—this fall.

answer key

  • What the Vienna Secession painter did to his GTO for the auto show (hink pink): Klimt pimped.
  • New NFL instant replay tool sponsored by a pioneering hip-hop label (hinky pinky): Def Jam ref cam.
  • Featured instrument in alt-country band The Beheaded Queen (hinkily pinkily): Anne Boleyn’s mandolin.
  • Internet discussion board for boosters of an ex-Pennsylvania senator and presidential candidate (hinkily pinkily): Santorum fan forum.
  • Puzzlemaster is cruising for a lawsuit by wearing those wee denims (hinky pinky—all rhyme): Shortz courts jorts torts.
  • Yale deconstructionist, pony up what you owe to the self-deprecating comedienne! (hinklediddledoo pinklediddledoo): J. Hillis Miller, pay Phyllis Diller!
  • What golfer Michelle insisted on before she married legendary basketball coach Adolph (hinky pinky): Wie/Rupp prenup.
  • Periods of time Assange’s group devoted to divulging web secrets of ex-Monkee Dolenz (hinkily pinkily): Wikileaks’ Mickey weeks.
  • “Friends in Low Places” singer’s metafiction collection (hinky pinky): Garth Brooks’ Barth books.
  • The Man in Black’s soiree for a Greek elevator-music star (hinkily pinkily): Johnny Cash’s Yanni bash.
  • Porous yellow guy’s stint in ‘90s Seattle music (hinky dinky): Spongebob’s grunge job.
  • Wearer of a multicolored belled cap embroidered with an A (hinky pinky): Jester Hester.
  • Postgame Nawlins-style sandwich in Mudville (hinky pinky): No-joy poboy.
  • Poultry Viagra (hinky pinky): Rooster booster.
  • ‘90s sitcom namesake’s Vulcan-style telepathic linking with Tinkerbell (hinklediddle pinklediddle): Jerry Seinfeld’s fairy mind-meld.
  • Part of a cartoon shark’s contract that requires the studio to have soured unpasteurized milk on hand? (hinkily pinkily): Jabberjaws’ clabber clause.
  • Even on his ambulance stretcher, hipster Sanders diehard has Americanos lined up (hinkily pinkily): Bernie bro’s gurney joes.
  • Red-haired obstacle-course competitor, in Boston (hinky pinky): Gingeh ninja.
  • Nubbly bedspread of a 1970s songstress who was the former Mrs. Dragon (hinky pinky): Tennille chenille.
  • Calvin Broadus’ chowder hard-sell (hinky pinky): Snoop Dogg’s soup flog.
  • Basso-voiced villain: “Wayne’s World co-host, adieu!” (hinkily pinkily): Darth Vader: Garth, later!
  • Sharpshooting LA Clipper, first-aid provider to those injured by a current fad dance (hinklediddle pinklediddle): J. Redick, nene medic.
  • Nora Charles, dump that Gentile! (hinkily pinkily): Myrna Loy, spurn a goy!
  • Herb from WKRP haz buttery pizzeria treats (hinkily pinkily): Tarlek gots garlic knots.
  • Superman nemesis who’s paranoid that we’ve all been lied to—LIED TO!—about the birds and the bees (hinkily pinkily): Lex Luthor, sex truther.
  • Onetime prop comedian, now policing European polecats (hinkily pinkily): Carrot Top, ferret cop.
  • Revolutionary leader since 1959 errs in opening a gourmet bar & grill (hinkily pinkily): Castro flubs gastropub
  • Trail mix at sci-fi speed  (hink pink): Warp gorp.
  • Elegant appeal a harem-pants-wearing rapper derives from his fermented Korean side dish (hinklediddle pinklediddle): MC Hammer’s kimchee glamour.
  • “Why did the chicken have sex with the road?”, e.g. (hinky pinky): Diddle riddle.
  • Glass receptacle, located in a Tanzanian archipelago, for money to help a former Who’s the Boss? star now down on his luck (hinkily pinkily): Zanzibar Danza jar
  • NBA’s first great center, on a mountain ramble, snaps photos of mosslike composites with his expensive Japanese camera (hinklediddle pinklediddle—all rhyme): Hikin’ Mikan lichen Nikon (sorry!)
  • Place to which the viewer’s eye is drawn in a painting of a rustic honky-tonk (hinkily pinkily): Yokel joint focal point
  • Colombian pop star’s exodus from Mecca (hinkily pinkily): Shakira hegira.
  • “OK, I’m givin’ up. No more saying ‘nevermore.’” (hinky pinky): Cavin’ raven.
  • Mayberry-born Marine’s designer-knockoff glass tube for a Magus’s resin (hinkily pinkily): Gomer Pyle’s faux myrrh vial.
  • Widespread terror about a communist plot to make us all look as though we’ve just risen from naps (hinky pinky): Bed-hair Red Scare
  • Foxy Brown’s canned-meat phobia (hinky pinky): Pam Grier’s Spam fear.
  • Infamous dognapper’s measles-infected Caddy (hinklediddledoo pinklediddledoo): Cruella DeVil’s rubella Seville.
  • Sorry, duplicate here! Replacement was “Recently expired dictator has possession of onetime Red Sox skip’s Viagra” (hinkily pinkily): Kim Jong Il’s Zim dong pills.
  • Umlaut-happy rock-band frontman’s criminally good bargain on multicolored fabric (hinky pinky): Vince Neil’s chintz steal.
  • Second duplicate. Replacement was “Poker-faced bourbon distiller’s posts about a meat snack have gone viral (hinkily pinkily)”: Grim Jim Beam’s Slim Jim meme.
  • The Human Highlight Film is looking for fanatical devotees of the Wonder Twins’ monkey (hinky pinky): Nique seeks Gleek freaks [or “geeks”]
  • What to say to a budding wizard fencing with Gabe Kaplan (hinklediddle pinklediddle): Harry Potter, parry Kotter!
  • Penny-ante philippic from Ace Frehley or Peter Criss (hinky pinky): Pissant K*i*s*s rant.
  • Moment of maximum shame for a fooled ice defenseman (hink pink): Peak deke.
  • An Austrian logician goes bad in the fridge (hinky pinky): Gödel curdle.
  • Archie Leach’s wedding trousers (hinkily pinkily): Cary Grant’s marry pants.
  • Exercise monitor exclusively for poststructuralists or their ilk (hinky pinky): Lit-crit Fitbit
  • White House scandal: President’s sham South American camelid (hinkily pinkily): Obama’s faux llama.
  • Murray/Merrill portrayer mildly criticizes instances of Jewish prayer (hinkily pinkily): Gavin dings davenings.
  • Von Richthofen, cuttin’ back on his daily pills (hinkily pinkily): Red Baron, med parin’.
  • Group of trucks hauling 007’s ornamental fish (hinky pinky): Bond koi convoy.
  • Part of Lady Spencer’s tennis outfit, that time at the Kennedy compound (hinklediddle pinklediddle): Diana’s skort, Hyannisport
  • S&M equipment purchasable, in spotted-horse pattern, at 30,000 feet (hinkily pinkily—slight cheat in the rhyme): Skymall mag piebald gag.
  • Result of HMS Beagle naturalist’s high bid on a Bundren child’s flivver (hinkily pinkily): Charles Darwin’s Darl car win.
  • A certain Stalag commander’s springtime sexual idiosyncrasy (hinkily pinkily): Colonel Klink’s vernal kink.
  • Lord Greystoke, forbid custard tarts! (hinky dinky): Tarzan, bar flan!
  • Ornithologist has snared an icon of 1970s cool (hinkily pinkily): Audubon’s caught a Fonz.
  • Result of bowdlerizing a famed NYC street photographer’s work to make it safe for children (hinky pinky, all rhyme): PG Weegee.

And a bonus hyper-ridiculous one, this time a hinklediddledoodle dinklediddledoodle: Famed “Omaha”-shouter ties the knot at a bronzing salon in the Wright Brothers’ hometown, in a ceremony that takes place during a publicity stunt modeled on the one made famous by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. (Hint: Use the person’s full name.)



Art Song Video Premiere!

Friday, May 20th, 2016
David Clay Mettens and Mary Kaiser

David Clay Mettens and Mary Kaiser

Don Bogen: With its score for alto flute, bass clarinet, viola, cello, piano, percussion, and soprano, David Clay Mettens’s setting of Mary Kaiser’s “He Dreams a Mother” in our Summer 2016 issue (just released) is one of the most intricate and haunting pieces in our series of art songs. It’s also the first for which we have a video of the premiere. “Hypnotic” is a word the composer uses several times in the score, and it certainly fits what happened on stage this past April. To watch, click here.

Be sure to check out the subtle performance by All of the Above, with soprano Jilian McGreen and all those varied instruments bringing out the calm yet deeply strange vision in Mary’s poem. The ending is particularly striking. Thanks and congratulations go to the composer, the poet, and the ensemble.

The poem and full score are in the issue.  You can find the other four settings we’ve commissioned to date in the art-song category of the blog.


Art Song Live Performance!

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

motherOur art song feature for the spring issue is an extended score of Mary Kaiser’s poem “He Dreams a Mother” by composer David Clay Mettens. We will, of course, post a recording of the score when our spring issue comes out in May—but we’re excited to offer locals the opportunity for a live listening experience. Mettens’s ensemble All of the Above will perform on Thursday, April 28, at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center from 7 to 9 p.m. Admission will be free. For more information, visit We’ll shoot those interested a reminder as the date draws nigh, but mark your calendars!


Frameable Art for AWP!

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

We’ve been working on something special for this year’s AWP conference and book fair in LA. At our request, printmaker and author of the award-winning The Clown Genocide: A Novel in Woodcuts  Billy Simms has created a set of woodblock relief prints to offer new subscribers during the book fair. Modeled after pages in a child’s primer, each print presents a different literary term: A for Allegory, R for Reversal, T for Tone, and S for Symbol. While each print stands alone, when taken together they form the word ARTS (or STAR or TARS or RATS, per your preference). Each also incorporates various symbols that operate in sets of four: the elements, the directions, etc. Printed on heavy paper with hand-torn edges, these 10″ x 10″ works are easily frameable. Subscribers who sign on for two years ($28.00) get to select two; three-year subscribers ($39.00) take home all four. Visit our book fair table (#1141) to see the prints in person and, of course, to say hi!

P1060442 (3)P1060446 (3)P1060449 (3)P1060452 (2)

Art Song Recording: “The body remembers . . .”

Thursday, September 10th, 2015


Composer and poet Kevin Simmonds has provided us with a recording of his setting of C. Dylan Bassett’s poem “The body remembers . . .”. The score is featured in our current issue. As poetry editor Don Bogen writes in his introduction to the piece: “Music, like poetry, doesn’t belong to just the eyes. Both arts find life also in the ears and in the breath—the body remembers, indeed.”

CR Sampler

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

samplerHey, everybody. The term starts next week, the winter issue is with the typesetter, and we’re already back to considering and reading submissions for our upcoming spring 2016 number. Actually we never stopped. It has taken us all summer to . . . almost . . . catch up. (Only thirty more to go from last term!)

For those unfamiliar with the journal, we urge you to give us a read before submitting. Sample back issues are seven bucks. There’s no fee to submit to CR, but our system prevents you from submitting another piece (or packet) before you’ve heard from us on the last one you sent. With a response time of (usually) three or four months, that means you’ll only get a couple of shots at it in a given reading period. In other words, choose carefully. In other, other words, send us your best stuff.

For a few samples of material that has been published in our pages—and commented upon by our staff and contributors—check out our blog:


The latter story, a marvelous piece by Tom Paine, is included in his new collection, A Boy’s Book of Nervous Breakdowns, just reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly.

CR and Poetry Daily

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Poetry Daily is once again featuring some of our content. Today’s poem: Benjamin S. Grossberg’s “McGuire’s Twenty-Five Minutes” from our newly released summer number.


Song of “Sefiros”

Monday, July 20th, 2015

At last we can present the recording of our “art song” offering based on Jakob Stein’s poem “Sefiros” (both published in our Winter 2015 issue). Contributor and musician Claudia Monpere offers her informed and sensitive response to playing Ellen Ruth Harrison’s score.

Claudia Monpere: I love the fusion of music and poetry, but I’ve never been involved in a collaboration of the two arts. After reading the winter 2015 issue of The Cincinnati Review, I sit at the piano and play Ellen Ruth Harrison’s score of Jakob Stein’s poem “Sefiros.” Oh, what a haunting and lovely composition of a deeply moving poem. Since the parts for both violin and soprano are in the treble clef, I experiment, playing the soprano part an octave higher, then trying the violin section an octave lower. I experiment further, sometimes singing the words, other times reading them silently as I play.

The key of A minor is perfect for this elegy, and the music enhances the poem’s emotional intensity. Holocaust images of fire, bones, and ash are juxtaposed with private loss. As my left hand plays the frequent sequences of triplets, the keys accumulate waterfalls of grief. There are no full chords in this piece. Instead, there are double-stops which heighten the mournful quality. I play slowly, very slowly—“In every abandoned chamber of names charred limbs & leaves read by black flame”—until the tempo quickens and the music turns discordant: “bone-known and written in skeletal verse.”

Stein’s language is replete with consonance and assonance. Harrison’s score lingers on some words and phrases, intensifying the music in the language. With those searing final images: “black plume, bottomless chasm, blazing gate,” my right hand strikes the high A hard—forte—a tied note holding on, gripping through another waterfall triplet,falling downward while the left hand fades—pianissimo. Then the final double-stop of D and A, a long tie, echoes of loss, eons of loss. Silence.


Interview with Fiction Ed, Michael Griffith

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

TrophyRead an interview with Michael Griffith, conducted by Superstition Review.

Special Fiction Feature: Tom Paine’s “It Was Just Swimming”

Monday, April 13th, 2015

covsketch_final (2)We’re doing something unusual with this feature—running a piece from our pages (in this case a story in our current issue, “It Was Just Swimming” by Tom Paine) in its entirety on our blog. We hope to present you with more such content in the future, and we are grateful to LSU Press for allowing us to reprint the story, which will appear in Tom Paine’s collection, A Boy’s Book of Nervous Breakdowns, this October. Below we offer commentary from volunteers and staff members Katie Knoll, A’Dora Phillips, and Nicola Mason, as well as remarks by the writer on his work. To read “It Was Just Swimming,” click here.

From A Boy’s Book of Nervous Breakdowns:  Stories by Tom Paine, Copyright © 2015.  Reprinted by permission of LSU Press,  All rights reserved.

Katie Knoll: Tom Paine’s “It was Just Swimming” is the perfect example of a story going where you’re convinced it won’t, where it can’t—where, in its first lines, it has already promised to go. “They asked the clerk at the Best Western if the water was safe. . . . of course it was safe!” Reminiscent of Flannery O’Connor in “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” Paine lets disaster lurk in every line, capturing the strangeness and danger of a day on the Florida beaches. The story’s roving gaze makes each image unexpected, each action as surreal as the next. “People up and down the beach baked under a sherbet of umbrellas. The American flag was snapping. The sky was plutonium blue. He was going to ask his girl to marry him tonight.” The piece has this delightful willingness to just experience itself—the world it creates—and the mind of the man who takes it all in. This willingness to just see lends a wild energy in the piece, which races from grandmothers giving tongue-kisses to asphyxiating boys to car-chase scenes, all while maintaining the kind of heart-stopping line-writing like “when the sunset murdered the sky.” “It Was Just Swimming” left me reeling; eager to stay in Paine’s world, a little scared to get out of it.


A’Dora Phillips: Who doesn’t wonder what might be lurking in the ocean’s depths? In “It Was Just Swimming,” this ubiquitous sense of unease adds to the bewitchment in the story’s backdrop: Is the water enchanted or dangerous? The eerie slipstream mode Paine has adopted works well to create an elusive sense of what is real. The trouble, we might think, is the narrator himself, who has “gotten weird lately,” his impressions warped as his mind feverishly travels from thoughts of his pregnant girlfriend giving birth in a Jacuzzi to perceptions of the Kodachrome-brilliant beach. At the vacation hotel, the clerk seems too old to have children, yet his “twin boys” are out there, catching silver minnows. When there’s “something grainy,” some “weird alien stuff” on the protagonist as he surfaces from the waves, we don’t necessarily realize that we ought to be on alert. The kind of person who throws himself into experience, our narrator takes in stride the water tasting of Clorox, his burning eyes.
beachThough the story is securely anchored in contemporary reality, Paine is preoccupied with the “tripline of miracle” that surrounds his characters. Instead of the old fisherman and his wife, instead of the lighthouse keeper, Paine gives us the twenty-first-century seekers: the narrator, his girlfriend Catalina, and his friend Jimbo. And when the inevitable occurs and something does emerge from the water, something terrible, you wonder why more writers are not reconditioning the ancient tropes of storytelling in light in today’s real-world horrors.


Nicola Mason: “It Was Just Swimming” is a masterpiece of pitch. It hits the highest register in almost every paragraph, and though Paine never swings away from this extreme mode of expression, the tone modulates, toggles back and forth, blends, lending the pitch wildly varying shades of emotion. He’s like a virtuoso playing a one-stringed violin. What begins as jubilance (“It was 101 degrees out! Who wouldn’t charge the ocean? The ocean was liquid salvation! God’s own swimming pool!”) merges with incredulity as the narrator and his pal Jimbo encounter a strange substance in the surf (“The only way to get the waxy orange stuff off was to go at it with plastic knives from the dining room of the Best Western. Even then a couple of layers of skin were lost!”). Soon thereafter, alarm enters in (“He scooped up the kid who was clawing the air. The beach was spinning under him, but he charged with the boy to his Harley. Taking action!”), followed by outrage (“Those twin kids were just playing on Fort Walton Beach! Building a sand castle like every other American kid in summer! That’s not supposed to be playing with napalm! There was something in the water! In the water!), fear (“They zapped Jimbo’s heart with the paddles. Handlebar doctor glared up at the red numbers of the digital clock and stopped compressions. Handlebar stopped compressions!”), confusion (“It was like every pore in his body was leaking at once. But he had no temperature! You can’t sweat buckets without a spike in temp! He was coming back negative—negative negative negative—on all the tests.”), and an odd form of realization (“A lot of these guys had been his sworn enemies. Jesus! They were going to miss him!”). The story does not relent until everyone—characters and readers alike—are inhabiting the same charged consciousness, feeling the same pervasive dread, the same stunned grief. Then—in the final line—it releases us, grimly, beautifully.

sperianAnd yet as tragic as the piece becomes, there is something about its excess that reminds one of those movies titled “Outbreak,” “Contagion,” “Carriers,” “Quarantine.” It is grandly, madly tragic; even absurdly so as odd moments of humor slip in (“Jimbo had the other kid by the hand and was telling him to keep gargling Coke. Jimbo had a strange faith in the curative power of Coke”); or bits of bloviation (“No, he wanted to be more help, he did! But he was a shrimper, not a doctor”); or melodramatic medical gobbledygook (“I’ve got four autopsies already of people who went swimming today. I’ve seen dissolved esophagus, enlarged hearts, and we’ve got samples of ethylbenzene, m-xylene, hexane-2, 3-methylpentane, and isooctane. . . . This guy’s body is full of things you wouldn’t believe.”)

The story is both horrifying . . . and entertaining. It gives you that gut-sick feeling . . . and makes you snort. It is, to use an old simile of my dad’s, as serious as a wolf in the woods, yet it’s also a spoof of sorts. With “It Was Just Swimming,” Tom Paine creates a new genre: the contemporary eco-disaster black comedy.


Tom Paine: I’m a little uncomfortable with writing about a story. Commenting on one’s work means using the word “I” a lot, and maybe that’s why I moved to fiction. The anonymity. But here goes: Corexit. We sprayed Corexit, a cousin of Agent Orange, all over the Gulf after the BP oil spill. Corexit adhered to the oil and pulled it out of sight to reduce BP’s liability. But Corexit made some Floridians very, very sick. Medieval boils and pox and vomiting and death. Not to mention we left the Gulf an ecological septic tank and took a very oily shit on the sealife. So the story seems like SciFi, but is based on testimony. People really did have these horrible allergic reactions and died–not that it made the news. We live in a time when water and skin–the simplest relationship– is in question. What happens to the ancient sea-loving soul when the sea is poison?