Monday, December 27, 2010


For today, sketch a brief autobiography -- written in the second person -- detailing as many or as few years as you'd like.

Isolate your most influential decisions in your narrative and reimagine the story, using these choices as pivot points in a choose-your-own-adventure story.

We imagine that you are all familiar with the genre, but just in case:

At decisive moments within your narrative, the reader will be given two or more optional paths to follow. If they choose Option 1, they turn to page X. If they choose Option 2 (or 3, 4, whatever), they turn to page Y. The pages will dole out the alternate consequences of each respective choice and continue the narrative along a new, unique route.

An example:

You thank Jeremy for listening after you describe how awful and exhausting it was having to commit your sister Meredith and first-cousin Becky on the same day to two institutions fifteen miles apart. You tell him that you love him a totally hetero way. He pauses and looks down. In this moment, you dwell in the profound, quiet comfort of being understood. No more words are necessary. You put your cigarette out in Mrs. Cofield's long-dead potted plant and resettle into your fraying lawn chair. Jeremy turns to you and, in what seems like mere fractions of a second, leans in to kiss you.

In response, you.....

1) ....reluctantly accept a brief kiss with no tongue and terminate the friendship slowly over the next two weeks. Page 345.
2) ...passionately explore the kiss, and fall into the sublime tailspin of an intense affair. Page 190.
3) ...refuse the gesture outright and utter a litany of homophobic slurs. Page 64.
4) ...start coughing and excuse yourself to the bathroom. Page 32.
5) ...politely inform him that he must have misunderstood and that you don't share his feelings, but, even so, you're still BFFs. Page 2

..... and then you write corresponding results for each of the choices.

Sounds fun, right?!

While we don't consider ourselves qualified to tell you how to write, we will suggest that imagining options far outside of your perceived comfort zone might yield the best results.

Send your multitude of potential lives to

Friday, December 24, 2010


For today, completely forget every bit of historical or religious background concerning Christmas. Everything: Jesus, Germanic paganism, fourth century Greek saints, Saturnalia, and all the rest. Forget it all.

But let's preserve the exhibition. Keep in your mind the tree, the lights, the jolly fat guy with presents, the wrapping paper, the cards, the stockings, the calendar date, the mistletoe, the nog, the red and green everything, the candy canes, and anything else that comes to mind.

Now, your job is to come up with a Definitive Grand Unified Story of Christmas. All the details, from the red and green lights to the jolly fat guy and the egg nog should be folded into one completely original story, set wherever and whenever you'd like -- but give Western civilization enough time to adopt the celebration in a natural manner. Make it magical, make it sensible, or combine the two. We don't care. Try to include as many elements as you can without devolving into incoherence. Pull everything together into a happy holiday bow of explanation. Your Christmas gift to humankind will be a fresh start regarding the historiographical confusion and philosophical apprehension surrounding "the most wonderful time of the year". Get at it.

Send it to

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


For today, indulge us as we try to class the joint up a bit.

First, devote your entire attention to this heartwrenching aria from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro:

Next, write suitable words to accompany the scene. Suit your words to the facial expressions and gesticulations of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. The lone stipulation: assume she is not singing about romance.

Essentially, you need to create a string of words that is somehow worthy of consideration alongside the music of Mozart.

You're good enough for this.

Do it.

Send it to

Monday, December 20, 2010


For today, write a brief dialogue piece (little to no action cues, please) concerning a lovers' quarrel. Some household appliance provoked the dispute, which escalates to brutal violence. All other details are yours to decide.

Now separate the comments of each character (you'll need to remember which is which, so labeling them in some fashion will be helpful). Now, take the dialogue for Character #1 and feed it, line by line, into an internet translator. Convert it into a non-Western language. Choose a different internet translator (they are legion) and different non-Western language for the dialogue of Character #2.

Next, convert Character #1's dialogue back into English using yet another translator. Do the same for Character #2.

Finally, use these new strands of dialogue to reconstitute the sequence of the original piece. Lastly, take a moment to recognize how impossible the task would have been without the internet.

Send it to

Sunday, December 19, 2010


For today, craft a detailed Wikipedia entry for the sadly forgotten Swedish anarchist Lev Nyksson. He was the 19th century man who almost single-handedly brought a grand reception for the Stockholm Merchant's Association to its knees using a troupe of black-market circus animals and a network of well-placed explosives. A literary man, Nyksson finished fourteen novels and three books of verse before falling in with a group of Scandinavian radicals that helped him formulate his plan. He is also notorious in Sweden for claiming several well-known inventions as his own. Among these: the motion picture, the automated sewing machine, the grammar of Esperanto, the modern chimney, and the waffle iron.

Do some research and help create a place within our collective memory for this complicated and neglected historical figure.

Send it to

Saturday, December 18, 2010


For today, write a short story (maybe 600 words or so, but feel free to go over) about a plucky teenaged dragon named Ifans, who lives in a fantastical world of delight and magic and perpetual sunshine. He really loves garlic and was born with a noticeably weak breath of fire. You can imagine the hostility of his peer group regarding this last eccentricity.

So.... take your finished story and crack open your thesaurus. Sentence by sentence, replace each action verb attributable to Ifans with another verb taken from the thesaurus entry for the original word. Pick the most far-reaching, barely-synonymous entry for the best results.

Now you have a new, vaguely off-putting, story. Cheers!


Take your post-Thesaurus roster of new verbs and use each of them sequentially in a story of similar length detailing an hour-long adventure of Tom Nichols, an account supervisor for Pensacola & Kollecki Business Machines, LTD. Today is the day he hopes to coax the Turkish government into severing its ties with IBM in order to sign up with P&K. It is the most important pitch of his life.

Send both stories (or just the one) to

Friday, December 17, 2010


BONUS ASSIGNMENT! (thanks to a major bummer in the world of music.)

Captain Beefheart died today. In honor of the legendary weirdo's passing, write a surreal piece of short fiction including the line "I'm gonna take up with a mermaid, and leave you land-lubbin' women alone." (a lyric from the Beefheart gem "Grow Fins".)

Fans of The Big Lebowski probably know this track better.

Send your tale to


For today, make your least favorite person (with whom you've actually had contact) into an unequivocably flawless superhero. Write a brief adventure for this superhero, who is admired the world over for his/her perfection. They don't need to have tights and the whole bit, but they must be a Hero to billions, and they cannot be merely concealing their imperfections and doubts from an adoring public. End your tale with a large group of assembled persons smiling in unison.

grudgingly send it to

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


For today, let's dig deep:

First, sit down with a sharpened pencil and at least 10 sheets of unlined paper.

Next, write a brief story (250-500 words) detailing your doings between waking up and eating lunch earlier today.

Then, sit for a few minutes and try to think of something other than words and writing.

After your mind has settled, take the next piece of paper and begin writing with great speed in a stream-of-conscious-style. Begin by describing what went on internally while you were crafting the brief story about your morning. From there, go wherever your hand takes you without lifting your pencil from the paper for a significant (more than a few seconds) period of time. Write until you run out of paper.

Finally, take the final product and scan and e-mail it to

(We're aware this may seem a convoluted exercise, but the results should be worth it.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


For today, write the bibliography for a short manual titled "More Effective Micromanagement: A Beginner's Guide."

Send it to:

As a refresher:

Monday, December 6, 2010


For today, set a two-character short story within a local art gallery. Food-processing company Kraft Foods has offered to purchase a new 12'x18' painting provocatively titled "Giant Corporations Have Ruined Our Digestive Tracts: We Ought to Be Angry (!!!)" Your story will feature the gallery owner and the artist, lifelong friends, ruminating over the ethical dynamics of the deal.

Send it to:

Monday, November 29, 2010


For today, translate your favorite English-language poem into wingdings.

Send it to:

Saturday, November 27, 2010

THE SERPENT'S CUPCAKES - a recipe by Sarina Liri



by Sarina Liri


It's a satanic twist on an old party favorite! My stupendously dotty great-aunt, Jennifer Kleven, claimed to have served these during Anton LaVey's first Magic Circle gatherings in the mid-sixties. Several relatives have since confirmed that Jen (now deceased) was indeed romantically linked at the time to LaVey's personal tailor, Harris Burton, though no evidence beyond an autographed copy of The Satanic Bible ever emerged to verify her involvement with the Church of Satan. All the same, Jen insisted that these cupcakes grew increasingly popular with LaVey's disciples, eventually becoming a fixture at Satanic wedding receptions as well as wakes and purification ceremonies. Among the devil-worshipers, as Jen never tired of jovially reminding our (otherwise traditional) Roman Catholic family, these cupcakes "were bigger than Jesus."



1 lb. / ground beef

1 lb. / ground pork

1 cup / chopped fresh basil

2 cups / panko bread crumbs

2 / eggs

2 cloves / minced garlic

1 / diced small onion

1 cup / milk

24 thin slices / prosciutto

1/2 lb. / bleu cheese

1 tsp. / salt


4 tbsp. / butter

2 tbsp. / dark brown sugar

2 / sweet potatoes, skinned and cubed

1 tsp. / salt

1 cup / heavy cream

1 / diced jalapeno


Boil potatoes until they become mushy. Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan. Add brown sugar and simmer for two minutes. Next, add potatoes and salt, mashing the mixture in the pan. Stir in cream and continue to mash. If necessary, place mixture in processor or blender and puree thoroughly.

Bountifully grease cupcake tin with butter. Line the circumference of each compartment with a slice of prosciutto. If you have extra prosciutto, you can also line the bottom of each compartment, though this is not strictly necessary.

With your hands, thoroughly combine the pork and beef with the eggs and milk in a large mixing bowl. Gradually fold in panko, basil, garlic and onion. Ideally, these ingredients should be evenly distributed throughout the loaf.

Ball the loaf into cupcake-sized segments. Break your bleu cheese into nuggets about the size of gumballs. Bury a morsel of cheese in the center of each miniloaf. Place cakes in pan compartments. The listed amounts should yield between 26-30 cupcakes. Bake trays at 350 for 35 minutes, or until the juices run clear.

The prosciutto lining and miniloaves should fuse while baking, but remove each cake from the pan carefully. Using a pastry bag -- if you're careful, a knife can suffice -- top each cake with generous swirls of your candied puree. Garnish each cake with a few bits of finely chopped jalapeno.

You now have a delectable batch of prosciutto-wrapped meatloaf cupcakes, each with a cheesy center and topped with candied sweet potato frosting and jalapeno sprinkles. Hail Satan!


Sarina Liri is an Avondale-based personal trainer, failed restaurateur and avid meatloaf enthusiast. She dreams of returning to school for a degree in hospitality management. She posts anonymous LostBuffy fanfiction all over the internets. and

Thursday, November 25, 2010

HEY LETTER 729 - a poem by John Selzner

[Note: In the course of soliciting submissions on Craigslist and other online spaces, we receive an influx of spam in our mailbox. Rather than delete all of these bits, we've decided to commit a few toward honest work. We forwarded a particularly incoherent e-mail from "Miles" to our friend JD Selzner and told him to fashion from it something useful. He replied with the following poem. - PD]

Between Miles and C.R. Darwin


by John Drake Selzner


Two pieces of correspondence, each possessed by the same rarefied air of discovery. They've here been interlaced nearly line by line. The resulting profundities concerning technology and progress seemed at times eerily forethought. Idiosyncrasies of spelling and grammar have, in both cases, been preserved precisely. I consider myself more the discoverer of this conversation, rather than its author. - JDS

Let’s be honest with each other...
Besides a general interest about the Southern lands, I have been now ever since my return engaged in a very presumptuous work &which I know no one individual who wd not say a very foolish one.
Are you sick and tired of not getting traffic and making money online?
I was so struck with distribution of Galapagos organisms &c &c with the character of the American fossil mammifers, &c &c that I determined to collect blindly every sort of fact, which cd bear any way on what are species.

Are you sick and tired of trying every rehashed *old school* technique?
I have reaped heaps of agricultural & horticultural books, & have never ceased collecting facts --
Are you sick and tired of hoping *THIS* could work?
At last gleams of light have come, & I am almost convinced
Well ... for once I couldn't agree with you more.
- (quite contrary to opinion I started with)
So far starters this is what you need to do.
-that species are not
DON'T think anything ...
-(it is like confessing a murder)
Don't think about Google, Yahoo or MSN
Don't think about banner ads, social bookmarking, social networking, Facebook, Adwords, SEO, bloggi ng, article writing...
Heaven forfend me from Larmarck

Forget *EVERYTHING* that has come your way until now.
of a "tendency to progression" "adaptations from the slow willing of animals" &c, -
It's a time for a change!!
But the conclusions I am led to are not widely different from his-
I'm going to show you how to get a lot of traffic and make money online WITHOUT Google.
Though the means of change are wholly so-
YES!! Don't sound alarmed. I'm going to prove it to you.
I think I have found out
By now you must have realized getting traffic from Google just means ...
(here's presumption!)
Stress, more stress and then some MORE stress. Wouldn't you agree?

The simple way by which species become more exquisitely adapted to various ends.
How frustrated are you lately?

You will now groan, & think to yourself 'on what a man have I been wasting my time in writing to.'
In recession, endless bills to pay, loans piling up, job's a nightmare and the money ... well that's the BIGGEST problem...
I shd five years ago, have thought so. -
... and for years, that's exactly what happened to Mo Latif

I fear you will also groan at the length of this letter

For four long years ... that's 48 months, 1,461 days, 35,064 hours or 2,103,840 minutes...
Excuse me, I did not begin with malice prepense.
... and I bet, now he's glad he's out of that tortuorous cycle.

Believe me my dear Sir
But that's not all ... he wasted over $100,000 learning how to get instant traffic. That's $2,083 every month spent on learning.

Very truly your's
We don't have that kind of time or that kind of money lying around, as I know I surely don't!

John Drake Selzner is a native of Oak Park, Illinois. He is currently pursuing an MFA from Northwestern University. He has previously published poetry in Help Quarterly and Read Words! Review. He cites John Cale's lyrics, the poetry of Emily Dickinson and the cinema of Luis Bunuel as his primary literary influences. He is currently working on a "biography in verse" exploring the life of painter Francis Bacon. He lives in Logan Square with his fiancee, Brenna, and their dog, Jasper Johns. This is his first work composed on a computer.


For today, compose a work of free verse. Each line should contain at least one split infinitive, but you'll get bonus points for three or more per line.

We're taking back basic grammar. (Happy Thanksgiving.)

Send it to:

Monday, November 22, 2010


When: Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010. 7-10PM. (The last day of the last full month of fall.... yup, we made it by the skin of our teeth.)

Where: Cole's Bar (2338 N. Milwaukee)

What: RECEPTION for LSLR #4: Autumn 2010

We'll have issues of the journal for sale alongside t-shirts and buttons and friendly smiles. Come support a great, exceedingly supportive local venue and a burgeoning local venture.

Bring your friends (21+), your cousins, your parents, your landlord, your barber, your librarian, your 4th grade English teacher or anybody else who'd enjoy a good time with a good read among great people in a great venue.


For today, you're given the potentially grisly task of detailing a day in the life of Terminator, one of Michael Vick's favorite fighting dogs. Terminator was present during the police raid on Vick's estate, and remains the record-holder for victories at Bad Newz Kennels. Your job is to describe his life, assuming his perspective, as it is today, a few years after his fighting career was abruptly ended. It'd be great if you'd give him a happy ending (it's looking like his former owner is getting one), but we understand if you want to cast the story in an entirely tragic (and probably more realistic) light.

Send it to:

Saturday, November 20, 2010


For today, set a short story in a single-bed motel room over the course of three hours. You have five characters. Each has, at one point or another, slept with each of the others. Two are currently in a long-term relationship with one another. One has recently escaped from prison. Three are former members of the same erotic dance ensemble. One of them has a knife. Four of them are current members of the same fringe political organization. There is vomit in the toilet and blood on the bathroom tile. They are not ghosts or the alternate personalities of a mentally disturbed person.

This is not a comedy.

Send your story to:

Thursday, November 18, 2010



Quimby's Bookstore
1854 West North Avenue, Chicago, IL (Wicker Park)

Wolfbait & B-Girls
3131 West Logan Boulevard (Logan Square)

Myopic Books
1564 North Milwaukee Avenue (Wicker Park)

G-Mart Comics
2641 North Kedzie Avenue, Chicago, IL (Logan Square)

Also available on this very website: look for the Paypal button to your right ----------->

The pieces in this month's issue transport you to Nicaragua, the inner sanctum of a failing marriage, Abu Ghraib, Chicago's city corners, the top of a Ferris wheel, and a Logan Square rooftop.

A very sincere thanks to all of our contributors. A very talented group.

Details on our reception to be announced shortly....... stay with us.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


For today..... write a last will and testament for a long-running (this detail is key) character in children's literature/television/film/entertainment.

Where will his or her money go? What shall be done with his or her likeness? What revelatory acknowledgments could be made only after death? What reflections might this character have on its creator? Regrets?

Send it to:

Monday, November 8, 2010


For today, write a 200-word proposal for a brand new social networking site. Be careful to distinguish it from competitors. Describe in detail what the user will experience after joining. You'll need some sort of hook.

This might be your last opportunity to submit a proposal to a wealthy investor. Your inheritance is running perilously low. You dropped out of Stanford. You simply can't afford to fuck this up.

Send it to:

Friday, November 5, 2010


For today, imagine a new beauty/hygiene product called "IMALGINUS" as its being developed by Procter and Gamble.

You work in P&G's design department, and it's fallen on you to draft copy for IMALGINUS' label. They pay you a lot of money to do this. You love the work. You're the best they've got. In the past you've drafted award-winning labels for PHELLONI, SCOREX, MELLA, HERBENTA, ALTEGIN and SUTUQ.

For IMALGINUS, you must cover a few bases with your label:

1. Directions for use.
2. What to do if ingestion.
3. Possible side effects.
4. A description of what results the consumer may expect after using IMALGINUS for X number of days.
5. A brief description of your exotic ingredients

.... but feel free to add whatever other content you think may be helpful in persuading consumers to give it a try. Also, feel free to propose a list of potential spokesman or spokeswomen.

Send it to

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


For today, write an autobiographical history (from birth to present) using only pronouns, verbs and articles.

Send it to

Saturday, October 30, 2010


For today, write a short newspaper obituary for a musician, aged 27 years, recently found dead in a hotel room.

Morbid, yes.... but there might be room in there for pathos, bathos and historical/cultural analysis.

Send it to

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


For today, briefly interview a public/historical/famous person with whom you share a hometown or birthplace.

Send us your interview:

Monday, October 25, 2010



This is our 25th Writing Assignment! Can y'all believe it?! Neither can we! Yet, over the course of 24 previous assignments, we've received exactly one response. Timothy Charles Baker, you are an example for everyone.

Step up your game, people. This shit (most of the time) isn't really that hard.

Okay. For today, imagine yourself as mentally disturbed and struggling through painful cognitive-behavioral therapy. You believe that you've been married to former pop singer Debbie Gibson or roots rocker John Cougar Mellencamp (depending on your orientation) for 25 years.

As part of your therapy, your doctors instruct you, on this day, your 25th anniversary with Debbie or John, to write her or him a letter declaring that it needs to end in order for you to regain your sanity.

Be delicate. You're dissolving a quarter decade of bliss.

Send it to

Sunday, October 24, 2010


For today, imagine yourself as the newly appointed editor of a journal dedicated to the world of backyard wrestling.

Create a name for your journal. Then, write your mission statement (50 words) along with an Editor's Introduction.

Avoid irony.

Send it to:

Monday, October 11, 2010


For today, imagine a society of European academics known by the acronym J.I.M.M.Y.B.R.E.A.K.F.A.S.T. Create a plausible full name for the group using those initials as a guide.

Send it to:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


For today, send us a writing assignment of your own design. We will respond to all so long as your prompts can be completed in a reasonable span of time.

Bring it.

Send us your assignment:

Friday, October 1, 2010


A monumental occasion in the life of the LSLR:

After 21 tries, we've managed to snare our first response to a writing assignment. Let this be an inspiration to every one of you. These assignments are not just editorial wankery.

In response to WRITING ASSIGNMENT #20:

The 'Hot Blooded' Appeal of Glenn Beck
(based on the Foreigner song, "Hot Blooded.")

by Timothy Charles Baker

Well, I'm hot blooded, check it and see
My name is Chip Beck and I’m a neo-Nazi
Come on Barack, do you do more than dance?
I'm hot blooded, I'm hot blooded

You don't have to read my mind, to know what I have in mind
Barack you oughta know
Now you move so fine, let me lay it on the line
I wanna know what you're doin' after the mid-term’s votes are no

Now it's up to you, we can make a secret rendezvous
Just me and you, I'll show you hatin' like you never knew

That's why, I'm hot blooded, check it and see
My name is Chip Beck and I’m a neo-Nazi
Come on baby, do you do more than dance?
I'm hot blooded, hot blooded

If it feels alright, maybe you can debate with me all night
Shall I leave you my key?
But you've got to give me a sign, come on boy, some kind of sign
Tell me, are you hot Barack? you sure look that way to me

Are you man enough? will you be ready when I call your bluff?
Is my timing right? did you save your hate for me tonight?

Yeah I'm hot blooded, check it and see
Feel the hatred burning inside of me
Come on Barack, do you do more than dance?
I'm hot blooded, I'm hot blooded, I'm hot

Now it's up to you, can we make a secret rendezvous?
Oh, before we do, you'll have to get away from you know who

Well, I'm hot blooded, check it and see
My name is Chip Beck and I’m a neo-Nazi
Come on Barack, do you do more than dance?
I'm hot blooded, I'm hot blooded

Hot blooded, every night
Hot blooded, you're looking so white
Hot blooded, now you're driving me wild
Hot blooded, I'm so hot for you, child
Hot blooded, I'm a little bit high
Hot blooded, you're a little bit fly
Hot blooded, you're making me sing
Hot blooded, for your sweet sweet thing

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


We've received a fantastic crop of submissions, but we're always eager for more, so please submit your.........


..................for our next issue. The deadline is tomorrow, September 30th.

We're also looking for artwork!

Please submit. We all owe it to ourselves.


The Editors


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