“My ex-wife used to make me go to therapy. Twice a week I’d lay on the couch and tell him how the orphanage headmaster would beat me on the head with a shoe.” ~ Detective Lennie Briscoe, Law & Order (2003)

Detective Ed Green: [checking Bender's financials] Damn, I wonder what a 200 dollar haircut looks like.
Detective Lennie Briscoe: Kind of like a 400 dollar car-wash.

(I’ve had posts ready to go, just forgot to publish them. Been that kind of week/month.)

Dr. Bertram Stokes: Maybe I should call my attorney.
Detective Lennie Briscoe: You can call the sugar-plum fairy for all we care.

One of my favorite curmudgeonly characters and one of my favorite actors: Lennie Briscoe (as played by the inimitable Jerry Orbach)


Music by Brandi Carlisle, “That Wasn’t Me”

FYI: Terrain.org now accepting submissions for contest

Call for Submissions: Terrain.org 5th Annual Contest

We are now accepting submissions through September 1 for the Terrain.org 5th Annual Contests in:$10 entry fee, $250 prize, all entries considered for publication.

Contest Details

Submission Period

The contest submission period is today through September 1, 2014. Winners will be announced the first week of October 2014.


A prize of $250 plus publication for the first-place winner will be awarded in each genre. Runners up in each genre may also receive publication.

Selection Process

All submissions are considered for publication. Terrain.org’s editors will read all entries, passing the top entries in each genre to the judges, who will choose the first-place winners. Decisions of the judges are final. Judges and editors do not know the identity of the contestants.


  • Fiction, judged by Nance Van Winckel
    Nance Van Winckel teaches in Vermont College’s MFA program and is the author of four collections of linked stories, a forthcoming novel, and six books of poetry.
  • Nonfiction, judged by Julian Hoffman
    Julian Hoffman is a writer, photographer, and naturalist living in northern Greece; his book, The Small Heart of Things: Being at Home in a Beckoning World, was chosen by Terry Tempest Williams as the winner of the 2012 AWP Award Series for Nonfiction.
  • Poetry, judged by Derek Sheffield
    Derek Sheffield is the author of Through the Second Skin (Orchises Press, 2013). His poetry has been published and anthologized widely, and he is a professor of English at Wenatchee Valley College.

All contestants will be notified of the judges’ decisions the first week of October 2014.


How to Submit

You are not eligible to enter this contest if you are a former student of the contest judges.

Simultaneous submissions are acceptable, but previously published material in any format, including blogs, will not be considered. Submissions can be withdrawn through the submission system, though in that case contest entry fees will not be refunded.


The cost to submit is $10 per story, essay or article, or set of 3-5 poems.

What to Submit

You may submit up to three entries (at $10/entry) in any or all genres:

Submit 3-5 poems, or one long poem (5+ pages), per entry. Combine all poems into a single document. For poetry, we are seeking not just the best poem, but the best set of 3-5 poems or the best long poem, with the hopes of awarding our prizes to poetry sets rather than individual, shorter poems, when possible. No maximum lines per poem. Poems must contain only the poem title(s) and poem(s) without the author name or contact information.

Submit one story, up to 6,000 words total, per entry. Stories must contain only the story title and story itself without the author name or contact information.

Submit one essay or article, up to 6,000 words total, per entry. Essays must contain only the essay title and essay itself without the author name or contact information. We will consider all nonfiction, but are most interested in creative nonfiction, including personal essays, lyric essays, memoir, and other literary forms.

Cover Letter Required

Each submission must include a cover letter with the author’s name and contact information — including email, telephone, and mailing address — and the name(s) of the poems, story, and/or essay.

The Submission Process

  1. The submission period runs today through September 1, 2014.
  2. Please save your cover letter and submission for each entry as a single document — .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .txt, or only. Do not submit in .pdf format.
  3. Submit online at http://sub.terrain.org. If you have submitted to Terrain.org before, log in to submit. If you have not submitted before, you must register.
  4. Choose the “Contest” genre category and in the Comments area, type the genre of your submission: Poetry, Fiction, or Nonfiction. Double-check that you have selected the “Contest” genre; it is the last option during the regular submission period (and the only genre during the summer).
  5. Once you confirm your submission, you will be directed to a page with payment instructions (via Paypal). Instructions for mailing a check in lieu of paying online are also provided.
  6. No submission will be considered until payment has been received.
  7. You will receive submission and payment confirmation via email.

» View contest submission guidelines, read former winning entries, and submit now!

Important update on recent story

I posted that Jon Stewart clip on the ongoing BringBackOurGirls scenario, so I feel that I should present here a clarification (reblogged from PolicyMic)

#BringBackOurGirls Misses the Real Story About What’s Happening to Nigeria’s Boys

#bringbackourgirls, misses, the, real, story, about, what's, happening, to, nigeria's, boys,

Image Credit: AP

Academy Award-winner Anne Hathaway joined a rally in Los Angeles last week to protest against Boko Haram’s kidnapping of more than 300 schoolgirls in Chibok. Grabbing a megaphone, Hathaway passionately claimed that the kidnapped girls represent the 5% of Nigerian girls able to seek out an education.

But she’s wrong: While gender inequality is certainly a problem in Nigeria, it is absurd to suggest that only 5% of girls in Nigeria receive education. According to the World Bank, female literacy for Nigerian girls aged 15–24 is at 65%.

Hathaway is one of the many Hollywood stars and other western voices that have helped paint the tragic story of Boko Haram’s kidnapping as a story about gender, perpetrated by a group that targets young girls in particular. But anyone with any understanding of Boko Haram would know that they certainly don’t spare men or boys. The exact number of male student casualties is unknown, but the number is in the hundreds. Boko Haram has also killed a total of 171 teachers in Borno and Yobe states.

Image Credit: AP. A candlelight vigil for the missing schoolgirls.


The framing of Boko Haram’s insurgency as one that is part of a war on girls and women casts Boko Haram as the Taliban and the missing schoolgirls as Pakistani education advocate Malala Yousafzai. This story has been reinforced by Fox News and, predictably, by pundits like Ayaan Hirsi Ali. But this frustrating narrative has been reinforced by the well-intentioned too.

Last week, Jon Stewart delivered a scathing reproach to Boko Haram during an episode of The Daily Show, saying that compared to a teenager who knows that her desire for an education could get her dragged into a snake-infested jungle to be sold as a bride by some demented, stick-chewing cartoon villain, but still gets up and goes to class every day fully aware of that danger, compared to their courage, I’d say Boko Haram is a bunch of little girls — but you know what, you don’t deserve that compliment.”

He pulls from a broad-brush narrative that is, sadly, a familiar example of the western media’s narrative about Africa at large. Stewart makes it sound like this is what normal life looks like for Nigerian schoolgirls: a life avoiding being sold as brides, and snake-infested jungles, when this is actually not the case.

The trouble is that when high-profile celebrities use their large platforms to make these claims, it becomes a new truth. Take Hathaway’s argument about girls’ education in Nigeria. Even though this claim is easily refuted, Nigeria is now a country where 95% of the girls aren’t able to get an education, because Anne Hathaway said so.

Image Credit: AP.


But the missing school girls aren’t Malala, Boko Haram isn’t the Taliban and Nigeria isn’t Pakistan. And when the narrative is framed this way, it ignores the fact that Boko Haram has been killing schoolboys in huge numbers for quite some time now. The group is not just trying to bar young girls from “Western education” — they don’t want anyone to get a “Western education.”

Back in February, Boko Haram killed 59 schoolboys between the ages of 11 and 18. Last September, they killed 50 young men between 18 and 22 as they slept in their dorms. Last June, they killed 60 schoolboys between the ages of 10 and 16. Schools have been their targets for the last year, and the boys are not spared.

Boko Haram also recently issued a threat that they were going to kidnap some schoolboys and force them to marry the kidnapped schoolgirls from Chibok. But that hasn’t been what’s splashed across international headlines.

The global spotlight has meant an almost unanimous condemnation of Boko Haram, but that anger should be informed by accuracy and facts. Of course, the group’s atrocities are horrific, but a sensationalized picture of the group steals the focus from the real situation at hand. After all, those schoolgirls are still alive, and their safe return has yet to be secured.

Image Credit: AP. Martha Mark holds up a photo of her daughter, Monica, one of the kidnapped students.


As the world’s short attention span turns away from #BringBackOurGirls, it’s important to remember that ultimately, this is a story about human lives at stake. And the very least that the victims of Boko Haram are owed, boys and girls alike, is a fair and accurate story, rather than one tailored to fit an appetite for shocking headlines.

For another informative article about Boka Haram, click here.