Published Monthly

Behind the scenes: the untold history of AntiMuse’s first year
by Michael Haislip

February 2004: Launch Party

Debauchery ruled the day at the AntiMuse compound. The first issue had just gone to virtual press, and we were riding high on life and rubber cement fumes.

“Bring forth the strippers! Take it off! Shake that money maker, wench,” I heard Jeremy yell from the living room. I was slightly perplexed, as we had neither strippers nor wenches. I took away his bottle of glue for his own sake.

With glue in hand, I walked by the bathroom where r.thomas was rooting through my medicine cabinet.

“I’ve got the glue right here, man. Quit messing up my bathroom.” I said.

He looked at me, and with a hint of crazed obsession in his voice, he screamed, “Where’s the robitussin? Why do you deprive me of my one joy in life?”

Fearing for my life, I fled to the spacious AntiMuse patio. Above me, the night sky twinkled. Maybe it was the glue-induced asphyxiation, but the stars seemed to signal a bright future. Or impending doom. I can never tell the difference.

March 2004: Getting famous

As word of our genius spread, National Public Radio came calling. They wanted an interview with the staff for their All Things Considered program. We agreed.

Partial Transcript:

Host: Gentlemen, when you first started AntiMuse, what was your purpose?

r.thomas: Our goal was the total destruction of capitalistic oppression.

Hallmark: I thought we were buying in bulk and passing the savings onto the customer.

Michael: Get it straight, guys. This was all an attempt to get groupies.

Host: So, the literary journal was simply a front for a more sinister organization?

r.thomas: Yes. I mean, no. I mean ...

Michael: This interview is over!

Host: Not in the face! Not in the face!

[sound of chairs being thrown]

AntiMuse sympathizers quickly posted bail.

Spring 2004

Fearing for our lives after I mispronounced George Bush’s name as “Satan Incarnate,” the staff fled the familiar confines of Tennessee for Las Vegas. Within one hour, r.thomas vanished. The next day, we received a call from the Las Vegas police. They had found r.thomas laying unconscious outside a Walgreen’s with a bottle of cough syrup in his hand.

We realized that our vagabond poet had a problem, so we checked him into the Buddy Hackett Clinic to receive treatment for his cough syrup addiction. The doctors there commended our foresight.

“Had you waited any longer,” they advised, “he would have advanced to the deadly Listerine stage.” I shuddered at the thought, because I’m a Scope man, myself.

r.thomas was discharged from the Buddy Hackett Clinic on Memorial Day. The three of us decided to return to the AntiMuse compound before something else happened. We stopped at a gas station to refuel and get some fine malt liquors.

“Boone’s Farm or Colt 45?” I asked the others.

Just then, a man accosted me. He had a crazed look in his eyes, and drool dripped onto his stained white tee-shirt.

“No bunnies for oil!” he screamed at me.

I covered my face in self-defense.

His rant continued. “Jesus loves the little children! He’s a pervert! I have proof!” He flailed his arms and overturned a display of raspberry Zingers. “Bunnies run the world! It’s the secret shadow government!”

The quick-witted Jeremy Hallmark came to my rescue. He grabbed a handful of Zingers and offered them to the man. “Eat of the Dolly Madison Bakery, my son, and be at peace.”

The man tore open package after delicious package of Zingers. Finally, the zeal left his eyes and he returned to normal.

“Sorry about that,” he said. “I get a little cranky when my blood sugar gets low. Oh, my name is Jonas Micah, by the way. Good to meet you.”

I shook his hand. “You know, those were some pretty weird mantras you were throwing out there. Do you think you can churn them out on a monthly basis?”

“I sure can,” he replied.

I smiled. “Welcome to the staff of AntiMuse, Jonas.”

Summer and Autumn 2004

Our Great American Tour revitalized our spirits but drained our bank account. In our weakened financial state, AntiMuse was vulnerable to numerous rivals. ProMuse, our bitter rival, then attempted a hostile takeover of the magazine. Negotiations raged into the night.

“I will not give up the crisper,” I vowed, slamming my fist onto the table. “My celery will stay fresh at all costs!”

Jonas snatched away my bottle of glue and smacked my face. “Focus, man! They want the magazine, those muse-condoning bastards.”

I stared at Jonas with resolve. “Right. I will not let them hijack Produce Monthly.” I then vomited and passed out. The ProMuse delegates tired of my brilliant diversionary tactics and abandoned their takeover attempt. We celebrated.

The staff awoke after a week-long whiskey bender to find that the July issue had been assembled and published by Miss Lilly’s first grade class. A particularly moving poem appeared in that issue—

My Animals
by Johnny Thompson

My dog is cute
It ate my boot
My cat is nice
It ate the mice
My fish is cool
It ain’t no fool
My snake is great
It has no mate

I contend that Johnny’s poem is the single greatest poem ever published. Take that, Robert Frost.

Though we had survived another issue, our bleak financial outlook forced us into hot money-making action. At the September staff meeting, our brainstorming session yielded a brilliant solution.

“Let’s have a raffle,” blurted Jeremy.

“What are we gonna raffle?” I asked.

“What about my life-sized Rue MacClanahan cardboard cut-out?” he answered.

I struck a thoughtful pose and nodded my head in agreement. “It’s so crazy that it just might work. Too bad you already sold your Bea Arthur cut-out, though.”

Within hours, the eBay world was salivating over the luscious cardboard goodness of the goddess Rue, and our bank account was revived.

The Holidays

After one hell of a year, we all needed to relax in our own ways:

  • Jeremy Hallmark discovered the joy of hard eggnog. Then he discovered it again. And again. Somehow, he awoke in Des Moines on New Year’s Day wearing only a giant foam “We’re #1” finger.
  • r.thomas awoke on New Year’s Day in a pool of vomit. He thinks it was his own.
  • Jonas Micah, we learned, is unable to sleep due to a genetic anomaly affecting melatonin production.
  • I finally got around to reading “Demon Summoning for Dummies.”

And thus endeth the first year of AntiMuse. Yea, verily.


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