Because I'm a sucker for self-promotion. And because I believe in corporate synergy. The Steven A. Taylor franchise has gotten 1 louder this week thanks to the addition of Sycophant Picnic into the Internet world. Now, let's take a look at the first issue, which I like to call, "Issue 1".
To start things off, we've got one of the weaker segments of the issue, the "Ask Miss Bitters" column. The whole thing is produced by me, regardless of what the fake bio says. Actually, I got ample help on the questions - which I feel are top notch, but I'm only taking partial responsibility for the haphazard answers given by Miss Bitters. See, the idea behind having an Advice Column was Kelsey's, and she was supposed to be the answer-woman, but it fell through (mostly because there wasn't proper advanced notification). As a result, the day before the launch, I was hungover in my bed attempting to provide fake advice to the fake questions that I'd already written (for the most part). Not a good way for the old creative juices to flow. I think, in the future, it'll be a much stronger piece if either A.) I get other people to send me letters or B.) I get someone else to provide the advice. REALLY needing a writing partner involved with this thing if I want it to be a success and continue on.
As far as the lineup is concerned, I'm kinda glad that Miss Bitters was followed up by the issue's strongest piece, Jake's "Sex Gravy". As many of you probably don't know, Jake and I have been lyrical writing-partners in the world-famous juggernaut of a band Big Sarah. As it stands, we've compiled lyrics for the single greatest half-an-album the world has ever known (now, all we gotta do is learn how to play some instruments). Anyway, this is a Jacob Lodge solo piece (with only minor details in format provided by yours truly), and I couldn't be more thrilled to have it on board.
Corkscrew has been with the site from the beginning; it was the first piece of visual art affixed to the site. As such, it provided the template for the color scheme of the first issue (color scheme to be altered month-to-month to coexist with the featured visual art piece). It's from Donald's personal website (hence the text on the face of the pic), and it goes along with the theme of Sycophant Picnic: "Things that look cool."
Ulysses R. Mohm (U.R. Mohm ... do the math ...) is actually Matt W. Roarty. I hate to blow your minds on this one, but it's true. I sought Matt out with a personal plea to be on the first issue because I've always been a fan of his e-mail work and his writing in general. Plus, at the time, I was staring down the distinct possibility of my site going far-too-girly and I needed a little manly touch. Which is why I'm EVER so glad he decided to give me a sports op-ed piece (in a sense). With Sycophant Picnic, I want to be as far-reaching as possible; I don't want to deal with the same old short story structures, the same old poetry schemes, and the same boring visual arts. I want to stretch the boundaries of creative thought, and I DO want to have something for everyone. People should be exposed to more than one damn thing on these Literary/Arts journals! So, I'll take Matt's take on sports or anything else any time he wants.
In keeping with the pseudonym tradition, Arthur Vandelay is indeed Konstantin Y. Zak. And when you go to read his story, keep in mind: no, that's not a typo. Anywhere. What you're looking at, my friends, is the cutting edge in storytelling. Art Vandelay decided to come up with a computer program to tell the story of a certain 4-West alum. To the untrained eye, it makes absolutely no sense, but see if you can at least TRY to follow along and catch the essence of the story. I think it's a genius way to go about fiction-writing, and it's EXACTLY the kind of thing I'm looking for. Plus, it'll frustrate anyone who tries to read it and who has no idea what the hell bool means. I'm all about sticking it to the reader.
Thankfully, I had Emily around, because this site was looking awfully wordy. Her painting is of the little corner store across the street from where we live here on Halsey. The painting was inspired by the corresponding blog entry describing one of the first shootings right after I moved in last summer. It's just an awesome painting, if you'd seen the view she's painting, you'd be knocked out, I guarantee it. In the future, I'm hoping to get the visual arts to be half-and-half with the written pieces, but I didn't have a whole lot of options with this initial issue.
And finally, we close out with a couple of longer short stories. A couple of love stories too, in a sense. Well, Celina's is more of your traditional love story, set in a fictional fantasy-type land. Celina was actually the first person to give me submissions, which was awesome considering all the stragglers coming in at the zero hour on Saturday evening. You know who you are! Anyway, her story has exceptional pacing, but more importantly, I like how it contrasts with my official contribution to the first issue. Because my story is a deranged kind of non-love story, and there's a reason for that.
There's a story behind the "Warm Love" title. I received this writing assignment from Jenny before I even moved to New York. Considering I've yet to write a decent, pure love story, she put me to the test. I thought about it and thought about it, but anything I came up with sounded trite and boring and cliche. I was decidedly unconvinced that I had what it took to follow through in a grand fashion. So, on the back of the envelope I sent to her the following week, I wrote out a short-short-short story (maybe 90-100 words long) about a guy who uses his wife's back as a table for his beer. I called it "Warm Love" as a joke. Anyway, recently the subject of my Warm Love futility came up in conversation. A few days later, I came up with the story you find in Issue 1. I'm planning on a whole series of Warm Love stories in this vain. All with the title Warm Love. Now I've got two, eventually I hope to have many (and, perhaps in the process find out what Warm Love really means? Nah, probably not).
Anyway, so that's it. I've got May all set and ready to go, but the issues are semi-flexible in that I have an extra link lying around there unused and ready to go. Anyone who's anyone who knows anyone who's got anything to contribute should be alerted. I'm not above providing special privileges to friends.