Bring Back the ABCs

Bring Back the ABCs

By Mark Aldrich
Oh, sweet honey and the rock, that’s awful, but most of the solutions to the “X Challenge” are awful …

* * * *
About twenty years ago, some friends and I started to exchange by email these twenty-six-word-long alphabetical prose-poems which one of us started to call “abecedarians,” because—as it turns out—this is what writers have always called them.

In Merriam-Webster, an abecedarian (noun) is a novice who has not yet mastered the rudiments, the beginning steps, of something. (Just think: How does one learn the alphabet from scratch?) As an adjective, it means, “of or related to the alphabet.” My friends and I had turned an adjective into a noun: an “abecedarian sequence” is a set of things arranged alphabetically; we were writing abecedarians, twenty-six-word alphabetical paragraphs that sometimes almost meant something. It was our own invention. Or so we thought.

It was not. Many writers taken a turn or two at the abecedarian form. Robert Pinsky, the former poet laureate, wrote an ABC poem that he rather appropriately titled “ABC”:

Any body can die, evidently. Few
Go happily, irradiating joy,

 
Knowledge, love. Many
Need oblivion, painkillers,
Quickest respite.

 
Sweet time unafflicted,
Various world:
X=your zenith.

And he found a terrible solution to the “X Challenge,” which confronts each and every pursuer of the perfect abecedarian. “X=your zenith.” Oh, sweet honey and the rock, that’s awful, but most of the solutions to the “X Challenge” are. See mine, below.
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Birthday Magic

Birthday Magic

By Mark Aldrich
“I did not want to learn how to perform the tricks; I wanted to perform magic. With a capital M. I wanted to be astonished, too.”

* * * *
I wanted the ultimate magic kit when I was a kid for my birthday, which arrives like a tedious habit each November 18, but as with so many things in life, disappointment lay in the fact that the magic kits grew more complex, more “magical,” only with higher prices.

Each kit included a “magic wand,” which was just a wooden dowel painted black, or, in the more expensive kits, painted black with a white tip, because a white tip on a black stick is the same thing as classy. The photo of the kid on the magic box with the white tipped wand often showed the kid in tails and with a top hat. I am sure that because of kids like me—or because of a kid named me—the toy companies needed to add the disclaimer to the box that read, “Hat and tails not in package.”

In all of the kits, from simple to pricey, the tricks were easy to follow, both for the performer and, unfortunately, for his audience. Most of the tricks in magic kits are the basic shell game and some variations of them—balls and cups—or they include a set of pre-marked cards or a dummy set of all aces or all jokers. I was always all disappointed.
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My Haunted Hometown

My Haunted Hometown

By Mark Aldrich

One Halloween night, in 1979, I was allowed to venture on foot, in costume, and not accompanied by adults. I was 10. (Hold that thought for a second, please, while I address my mom: What!?!)

* * * *
The Martin Prosperity Institute released what it called its third “annual survey” of Halloween in America back in 2013. The Institute did not produce a fourth or any subsequent sequel to this seminal study of all things creepy, ghostly, and scary, and in 2019, the MPI closed up shop altogether. My hometown broke it, I believe, which I will explain.

The Institute’s 2013 in-depth look at the field of Halloween enjoyment, a study not seriously undertaken by most people older than eight, led to many national news articles that expressed shock at its conclusion, which was this: the best place for Halloween in the United States of America is Poughkeepsie, New York.
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A Maxim-ized Thank You

A Maxim-ized Thank You

By Meghan Jenkins and Mark Aldrich
The most important thing to say is thank you: Thank you to the hundreds or thousands of people who voted for me in the two recent Maxim magazine cover model contests!

Neither contest resulted in what everyone at MeghaZine thinks would have been the correct outcome: me on a future cover of Maxim. After all, the team here, which is comprised of Panda, MeghaZine sports editor Mark Aldrich, many friends, and especially Panda, helped create and publish a website about me and my interests, and they put a photo of me on the virtual cover several times a month. But Panda and Mark were not the only two … um, creatures … who voted, since Maxim only allowed one vote per day, and in both contests, I finished so close that it made sense to cross my fingers about it.

A lot of people that I’ve never met or heard of voted for me, and that means a lot.

In the first contest, I came in third, and this month, Maxim Australia reported that I came in the top one-percent and was so close to the semi-finals round. It was also an honor to represent a great organization, K2 Adventures Foundation, in the most recent contest.

If I am invited to participate in a Maxim magazine cover model contest again, or almost any other one, count me in. If they keep inviting me and I keep coming in thiiiiiiis close, the worst-case scenario is I’ll be the Susan Lucci of Maxim cover model contests.

It’s a little frustrating to not win, but it warms my heart when I think of how many people voted for me online each day. ❤
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