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The Rag, Summer 2012 - Seth Porter,  Dan Reilly So this is my second issue of The Rag and it was not as good as the other. Unlike the first issue, which had the Zeke story, there was not any strongly compelling story in this issue. Overall, I think the stories were stronger, but there was nothing particularly outstanding. These were all thematically linked with insanity. A few dealt with homeless folks, but the overarching link has to do with our perceptions of reality and how that determines behavior. I liked the pictures in this one better (although again I read on kindle paperwhite and so have no idea on color). The one of the woman in a fishbowl and the woman with the trunk coming out of her head I found compelling in a pop surreal/Mark Ryden/Audrey Kowasaki way (of course the actualization of the work is not as good or nearly as detailed). Odd for me, i think i liked the poems the best. I have comments on each below.

The Fall of a Fool's Paradise: I did not care for this story. I thought the whole relationship was absurd and the fact that they were able to live within walking distance of a city but unnoticed except when they went in to dumpster dive unlikely. It was also just gross (and I am not typically easily disgusted).

Massacre in Pink: This was also kind of far fetched. As a high schooler my friends and I would smashing soda cans with hammers on which we had written people's names to get out our aggression. So it is not the smashing that I found to be silly...it was the relationship between strangers that somehow blossoms and becomes authentic upon first meeting.

has and have: I just did not get this story. I followed it and I get the subtext if reality as perception and our understanding of the world being "correct" or "incorrect" as arbitrary, but it was just not fun to read and I felt like I just didn't get it. It did have the best quote in the issue though: "Like how when we first start off it seems like we're doing something we shouldn't, not shouldn't as in other people think we shouldn't, but shouldn't like how some things just shouldn't be done. But then days go on and it just becomes something you do, like not a big deal, just connecting a wire to a head. Like it's all okay now, but not because it actually is okay, more because it doesn't really matter anymore if it's okay or not. And maybe that's why it still seems wrong sometimes."

Inside the Aimless: I am not really a poetry girl, but the atheist in me liked the sayers and the doers buried in their chapel underground being shat upon by the birds.

Notes to a Future Me: This was my favorite story (maybe because I like reality TV and I found the press funny), but it was it the believable. It might work for newlyweds but I have been with my husband for 18 years and I think I would definitely be able to recognize him (and he, me).

Scalpel: Just short and lots of medical terminology, I wasn't sure about the purpose of this story.

Thirteen Units:I liked this one too. It was funny and poignant in the message that who and what we are is continually changing and that little things can determine our life outcomes.

Intersex: I liked the play on words. For a poem it was not bad.

The Watch: this was too predictable and boring. For a ghost story there was no suspense.

Transformation: this made me laugh because I made a film in college using a cat skeleton that we found in an alley. I pictured the skeleton and Jim Crace's phenomenonal work Being Dead. It was a good poem.

Pistol: This was just another pointless snippet. I was not really very impressed.

Revolution on Ten Dollars A Day: So this encompassed the necessary homeless, drug addled, and mentally unstable elements that were thematic to the issue, but I did not find the story interesting or compelling. It was told in 2nd person which I usually like, but fell flat here.

Bag Worm: decent alliteration, but the worst poem in the bunch. I did not like that the use of pesticide was akin to war...seemed a bit over the top.

Dorela's Response When Asked About the Current Sociopolitical State of the World: This felt cheaply done. The use of slang to highlight race and class and emphasize the parallels between war and slavery was just yucky.

Terminal: This story was at least compelling, but there was no surprise. I think it would have been better to see the main character tortured (as we are led to believe the others are) and I was not sure why the incident with the gangbangers and the mentally challenged boy was so pivotal for Lou.