Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras


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Russia at the UN: matter of a faecal nature

A Lithuanian Facebook friend sent me this chain letter—its author unknown—that had made its way through Lithuanian e-mail and Facebook messages. My friend felt I might translate it. After reading, I realized that, as a global citizen, it was my civic duty to translate and share this important document.

I only wish I knew the original author so that I might buy them a drink.

___

Stenographic records of a recent United Nations Security Council meeting:

Chairman: Are there any proposals?

Churkin (Russia): Do you mind if I shit on the table?

All: Nooooo!

Churkin: (Shits on the table before Klimkin, Ukraine) Thank you.

Ukrainian representative: Everyone saw it, right? Russia just shat on our table!

Churkin: You have no evidence.

Ukraine: It was your ass. The shit left your anus.

Churkin: Please present us with facts.

USA representative: Our experts have completed an analysis of the contents of this material. We have assembled coordinates to estimate its point of release. We conclude, without a doubt, that this is shit shat by Russia.

Churkin: Please provide us with proof

UK representative: This is appalling. Russia undoubtedly shat the shit. This cannot continue.

German representative: I suggest we consider the possibility of expressing our common concerns regarding Russia’s current behavior.

Churkin: Veto! (Shits again on Ukraine’s table.)

Ukraine: You saw, yes!? Here, again! Russia just shat on our table. Here’s the shit! Here’s the ass. Here, he’s pulling up his trousers!

UN chairman: If these facts are confirmed, we’ll have at our disposal a variety of possible responses.

Churkin: I’ll repeat. Provide us with a single bit of evidence!

Germany: We believed that sanctions would be effective. However, the stench here is only intensifying. We suspect that Russia is potentially shitting on Ukraine’s table.

Churkin: Provide us with the proof.

UN chairman: I move that we accept the resolution that we are all deeply shocked.

Churkin: Veto. (Shits on UN chairman’s table.)

Ukraine: You saw it, yes?! Here and now! Russia just shat all over the chairman’s table. Russia is dangerous and can at any moment shit on any European table.

Churkin: You’ve failed to provide a single bit of evidence we find acceptable.

US representative: The Pentagon has recorded the risking levels of stench wafting from the direction of Russia. We’ll have to consider the option of revoking Russia’s rights to shit during UN meetings.

Churkin: Veto. (Shits on Ukraine’s table.) You don’t have any proof. In fact, most of the evidence points to Ukraine shitting itself.

Ukraine: You saw that Russia just shat on our table once again.

German representative: It’s becoming increasingly complex to remain here. We invite both sides to a dialogue.

Churkin: Russia elects to exercise its right to a supplementary announcement. (Takes a plastic folder, employs it to scatter shit onto all UN member states.) Russia is a magnificent country and will not allow anyone to pressure us. Without providing us with any evidence, you have no right to dictate conditions. It’s best you now have a look at yourselves. You’re all shitheads. You’re sitting in shit, and the stench is wafting from you. Given this, how can you prescribe any behavior? Thank you for your attention. (Leaves the chamber, throwing the stained folder to the UN chairman and spitting on the US representative’s shoes)

UN chairman: Thank you all for expressing your positions. The next meeting scheduled to consider our concerns over Ukraine will begin after we have ventilated the room.

___

And now for something that only appears completely different. Here are some dashcam videos:

 

 

 


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What I learned at faculty seminar days

Yesterday, on Presidents Day, (In America, we celebrate “presidents”, all of them.) I attended our bi-annual seminar day. On this day, faculty and staff are treated to presentations and other events like raffles and the distribution of service awards, seniority gifts, a dessert social, etc. We also had Union and English faculty meetings.

Here is what I took away from the event. I’m presenting these epiphanies in no particular order, just as they return to my memory:

1.) The best way to treat someone addicted to cocaine is to give them even more cocaine than they currently have. Use it in the classroom.

2.) If you are entertaining, people will pay you tuition. You are entertaining when you are loud and know the secrets of the internet. Entertaining teachers teach an important lesson: volume and internet secrets are important.

3.) If you find yourself in an emergency, read the guidebook. It’ll explain what to do about the emergency. There are eight varieties, all of them with endless variations. (So I guess that makes them similar to musical notes.)

4.) Enrollments rise and fall. When you accept more students into your classes, enrollments will rise. If you reject students from your classrooms, enrollments will fall. This is true right around 100% of the time.

5.) A good way to pass the time is to point out the obvious to a group of people whose degrees place them steadfastly in the 98th percentile of educated Americans. An example of this: take ten people with masters degrees in math, put up a graph before them and say, “Here are the numbers.”

6.) If someone brings a toy to class, turn the toy into a lesson. For example: today’s lesson is on the Second and Third Laws of Thermodynamics. Please pull out your cell phones. Look up the following “Second and Third Laws of Thermodynamics.” I’ll take your questions. Anybody? No? Class dismissed. (Collect paycheck anyway. Call yourself “innovative”. Brag endlessly. Charge money for your knowledge.)

7.) If  you are pissed off at a colleague, you need a good reason. Example: this colleague makes me angry. Why? Because I’m pissed off.

8.) What you actually do in classrooms is not really all that important. What’s really important is what you will never be able to do in an important classroom. The important room does not yet exist but is in the process of being built for students who do not yet exist but are in the process of being recruited (from nowhere).

9.)    Somebody’s soon going to write a book called 50 Shades of Greyhound that depicts a sado-masochistic orgy on a bus traveling from Toledo to Tuscaloosa.

10.) Everybody’s doing a great job!

 

Image from Wikipedia.

 


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The evening we shared snowflakes (new translation)

It’s official. I am now a translator of poetry.

This past summer, I was delighted when Diana Rebirth, a poet participating in the SLS seminar in Vilnius, approached me about translating a few poems. She had a chance to publish in Quarterly West, and I happily took my hand to them. The results were very interesting, to say the least.

Now I get to put “translator” on the resume. Translating poetry is much more fun than interpreting bar room conversations outside the Vilnius bus terminal, if you know what I mean. One of the poems, Glassland, required learning the structure of a dual pane window, something I never thought I’d investigate.

At any rate, if you enjoy poetry, I hope you’ll share these texts with your friends.

Here are my children, sharing snowflakes, albeit in a different way:

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My publisher’s 2015 catalog

I’m happy to announce the release of The Chicago Center for Literature and Photography’s (CCLaP’s) catalog.

This year, the indie press will publish a very ambitious book-a-month, ending the year with my novel, a book I’ve been working on (and off, and back on again) for over twelve years. I’m still shocked—thunderstruck, rather—to know it’ll be in readers’ hands by the end of the year. And the publisher has some very flattering things to say about it, which I hope you’ll find by checking the catalog.

In the meantime, check out the rest of CCLaP’s titles. It’s humbling to be on a list with these people, all of whom I admire, some of whom I’ve read with before: Ben Tanzer, Karl Wolff, Matt Fuchs, Steven Garbas, Matt Rowan, Joseph G. Peterson, Daniel Falatko, Leland Cheuk, Douglas Light, Mike Sauve, Kendra Hadnott and Michael Strelow. Also in the mix is the anthology of “City All-Stars,” young writers working in Chicago these days.

Also, have a look at the extraordinary cover art. Take this example:

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Now, what’s my book actually about? The novel’s titled THE FUGUE. It’s a family epic that spans several generations and takes readers from Western Ukraine and Lithuania to a poetically treated Cicero, Illinois of the 2nd half of the 20th century. The main character is a metals sculptor—most would probably call him an outside artist—convicted of murdering his parents. The book begins with his release from prison, and the novel’s narrative then travels through various strands of memory, some reaching way back into the years of WWII.

Anyone who liked Finding the Moon in Sugar will be very interested in the novel. I will be working very hard to promote it, and I hope I can have your support.


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Why I love the snow

It occurred to me today while walking across my neighborhood to make an appointment. I know why I love snow, and why I feel a particular sense of warmth following massive snowfall. (If you don’t know, a blizzard blew through Chicago over the weekend.)

Snow requires that we all slow down. It forces society to take it easy. There’s something brutal about it, actually: actions we take for granted, like driving or walking, become questions of serious harm. Slow down or face damages. Make too much haste and it’s possible to slide to your doom.

The best way to deal with the foot of snow covering our city—in some places it is as much as 17 inches (over 43 centimeters)—is to be patient with it. Snow does not interpret anger any more than it senses our indifference. You move one shovelful at a time, and you have to keep your feet, find the right leverage. There’s no way around the snow. You can step through it, but you won’t get very far if you make haste.

You’re better off taking public transportation. In fact, people on my entire side of the block can hardly get out of their garages; even if they could, they wouldn’t make it very far down the alley without getting stuck. Is there anywhere we must go? Really? Where? Stay home to read or write.

“I can’t afford this snow,” people say. “I have to be somewhere at 6:00.” “I can’t deal with this snow,” another will whine. “It’s keeping me from doing what I want to do.”

Yeah, but all you want to do is hurry. A good weekend of snow reminds us that our desire for haste is not a need. We actually can get by perfectly well without any haste at all. The step we’re taking is still being taken in the snow, only we step more mindfully, hoping not to slip, caring for ourselves.

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If you’re not fit for college, what are you fit for. New essay!

I’m happy to announce that my latest essay, titled If You’re Not Fit For College, What Are You Fit For? has been published today on STIR Journal. I hope fans of Liquid Ink will check it out.

It responds to the idea, popular among a certain set of education reformers, that the lowest-performing high school students should be discouraged from attending college and moved instead into vocational training, perhaps in community colleges. Well…I work in a community college, and I had something to say about it.

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Dedication vs. masochism, a fine line

What sort of things do writers do to keep at it, to get it done, to meet the deadline, to let the energy out? Today I’m wondering about the fine line between dedication and masochism.

It’s a degree below zero (fahrenheit) in Chicago today. My basement, where I normally work, is about 57 degrees, with a sharp cold radiating through the floor. My wife recently had the idea to put in all sorts of rugs, and they really do help. So does the electric blanket—her idea, also—I’ve draped over myself.

Of course, it’s warmer upstairs. I could sit by the window and look over the winter landscape and read a book. Or I could play with my son, build an even faster Hot Wheels track. Instead, I’m down here composing an essay about racism and cultural identity.

That’s what writing is, at least for me. It’s not a cup of coffee by a window overlooking a pastoral landscape. Maybe it is that for someone, but I never felt that way even when I could see the Danube outside my room. I suppose Madison County is not the only one with bridges, but I’ve never written in any similar county, or composed anything about those kinds of bridges, literal and metaphorical.

Today, an electric blanket and a half dozen candles meant to raise the temperature by up to a full degree, the one that separates dedication from masochism. Call it what you want. Let’s get to work.

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