Editors' Notes

Maria Damon and Michelle Greenblatt
Jim Leftwich and Michelle Greenblatt
Sheila E. Murphy and Michelle Greenblatt

A Visual Conversation on Michelle Greenblatt's ASHES AND SEEDS with Stephen Harrison, Monika Mori | MOO, Jonathan Penton and Michelle Greenblatt

Letters for Michelle: with work by Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, Jeffrey Side, Larry Goodell, mark hartenbach, Charles J. Butler, Alexandria Bryan and Brian Kovich

Visual Poetry by Reed Altemus
Poetry by Glen Armstrong
Poetry by Lana Bella
A Eulogic Poem by John M. Bennett
Elegic Poetry by John M. Bennett
Poetry by Wendy Taylor Carlisle
A Eulogy by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Joel Chace
A Spoken Word Poem and Visual Art by K.R. Copeland
A Eulogy by Alan Fyfe
Poetry by Win Harms
Poetry by Carolyn Hembree
Poetry by Cindy Hochman
A Eulogy by Steffen Horstmann
A Eulogic Poem by Dylan Krieger
An Elegic Poem by Dylan Krieger
Visual Art by Donna Kuhn
Poetry by Louise Landes Levi
Poetry by Jim Lineberger
Poetry by Dennis Mahagin
Poetry by Peter Marra
A Eulogy by Frankie Metro
A Song by Alexis Moon and Jonathan Penton
Poetry by Jay Passer
A Eulogy by Jonathan Penton
Visual Poetry by Anne Elezabeth Pluto and Bryson Dean-Gauthier
Visual Art by Marthe Reed
A Eulogy by Gabriel Ricard
Poetry by Alison Ross
A Short Movie by Bernd Sauermann
Poetry by Christopher Shipman
A Spoken Word Poem by Larissa Shmailo
A Eulogic Poem by Jay Sizemore
Elegic Poetry by Jay Sizemore
Poetry by Felino A. Soriano
Visual Art by Jamie Stoneman
Poetry by Ray Succre
Poetry by Yuriy Tarnawsky
A Song by Marc Vincenz

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The History of Jiffy Pop
by Natalie Parker-Lawrence

The secret behind popcorn is the tiny bead of water inside each kernel. When heat loves on each seed, the water boils, makes steam for one second, and the corn explodes, turning itself inside and out and into a white puff. Add butter and salt. And in my Italian house, Parmesan cheese.

Those seeds, the ones that are not comprised of 14% water, and therefore do not pop, are called dead soldiers.

The Aztecs munched on popcorn since before the 1400s, and believed that popcorn popped because a spirit living inside the seed became angry when his domain, heated by outside forces and his terrible aura, caused him to explode. They also believed that one of their gods would return to them in the form of a combined being so that when Cortez got off the boat, and he was riding on top of his horse, the Aztec leaders thought the Spanish leader and his men were those gods from the sea foretold by all of those stories around massive campfires, around which they probably served popcorn balls as a snack.

The Spanish killed those Aztec leaders and 17 million more of those popcorn growers with their steel weapons and their germs.

In 1960, Jiffy Pop Popcorn reached the national US market. Fred Mennen, the inventor from Indiana, also received a patent in 1977 for his invention of an instrument that detected gonorrhea. Here's hoping he labeled and washed out his dishes.

Jiffy Pop combines unpopped popcorn kernels and oil in an aluminum foil container fused to a metal handle with a folded aluminum foil lid: packaging as well as pan. As the pan is heated, the popping corn causes the thin tin foil to unfold and puff up. The popcorn maker, a regal and entitled role in most households, keeps the contraption moving over a heat source until the popcorn completely pops, sending the kernels up against the expanding bonnet of hot air, hot oil, and a hot aluminum mushroom cloud. How ironic a product that children can snack on at night after they had practice duck and cover exercises at school that same day.

The misrepresentation of the ease of its design, and probably some lawsuits concerning burned children, led to microwave popcorn taking Jiffy Pop Popcorn's place on the grocery store shelves. Some websites suggest looking for it on the bottom shelf under all the other popcorn products, like an embarrassing relative, hidden away in the basement.

The timeliness of Jiffy Pop Popcorn was in danger when it transcended the world of snack foods and entered the world of slang and popular culture.

From the Urban Dictionary:

Jiffy Pop—
Slant #1: A large pubic bush on a woman so big that it makes her white panties appear to rise [nice use of imagery and the metaphor].
Example: Shit, that ho got her some kinda jiffy pop on.
Slant #2: To fuck someone with a corncob, using butter as a lubricant (hence a change in syntax from a noun to a verb).
Example: I jiffypopped that ho with a fresh ear a corn.
Usage of the imperative mood still in deliberation (in France), as in: Jiffy pop me.
Slant #3: A large teased-up hairstyle kept up with myriad coats of hair spray, entailing plastic rain bonnets when outdoors, special neck pillows for sleeping to keep that do fresh, and frequent mirror checks, complaining about a big-haired person blocking someone's view, for instance, at a wedding, a movie theatre or a concert (colloquial usage; can be used in the plural).
Example: Bitch, I could see the band till those two jiffy pops sat in front a me.

Saturday Night Live used the concept in a skit where popcorn fills a car's airbag upon impact, keeping the exploding bonnet concept in the design, ballooning out from the steering wheel. Their catch phrase: Because we don't want you to walk away from your next accident on an empty stomach . . . now in Cheddar Cheese.

The actor playing the spokesman in that skit was Phil Hartman. He's not around any more. His wife popped him with a gun in their California home.

In the first Scream movie, Drew Barrymore, in the process of making Jiffy Pop, receives the phone call from that scary guy in the mask. Apu in The Simpsons describes their version of the snack, Chintzy Pop, as not being very good since a third of their kernels are baby teeth. Johnny Storm, one of the Fantastic Four, makes Jiffy Pop in his hot little hands in the 2005 film.

Burned popcorn is one of the worst lingering smells in the universe.

My pen pal from Ireland (1968-1977, Bill Hagan) did not believe that popcorn could be my favorite food. In Ireland, as well as in Europe, farmers grow popcorn to feed animals. Of course he also believed that there were no cities in the middle of the Unites States except for Chicago. We could grow anything in the middle of the country, full of farms that grow wheat and corn so he thought we grew popcorn in our back yard. I asked him if he had ever made Jiffy Pop. I asked him what his parents fixed for snacks when they watched movies all together on Friday nights. He wrote back and asked me what I was talking about. Even after nine years of correspondence, he believed that Americans said, did, and ate some pretty strange things.

Eventually my family too considered Jiffy Pop a whimsical extravagance. We had a perfectly good, according to my mother, regular popcorn popper, and we were going to use that, and we did, until its plastic bonnet melted on the stove.

Our next step was to worship, as millions of others did, in front of the invention that would transform the nutritional intake of people all over the world, the microwave. I popped in a dire footnote at the end of this essay about the carcinogens that migrate from microwave popcorn bags into popcorn eaters much like conquerors coming to unwary shores from faraway lands to visit the Aztecs.

Jiffy Pop popcorn does not work on glass top ranges because the kernels need constant heat without a change in temperature. The aluminum pans also need to be shaken above a burner, not directly touching it. The heat coil in a glass top ceramic range turns on and off to regulate the temperature, but the immediate temperature modulates, in the end irritating a 21st Century consumer of a big-ass stove with a 7000 year-old problem: unpopped corn. Even children know that holding the Jiffy Pop pan over an open gas oven flame garners more popcorn than holding it two inches above an electric burner.

In the Jiffy Pop world, the best place to pop the corn is over a fire while camping, the market for the product today. ConAgra, the company that owns the patent now, however, encourages people to buy Act II, their microwave brand since much of the Jiffy Pop, sitting on the lowest and murkiest of shelves, dwells in the land of past expiration dates.

The solution? Return to the initial tasks reminiscent of our Native American roots:

Find some dry wood.
Build a fire.
Make a pot. Plan ahead. This takes days and a few nights.
Find some ripe corn.
Squeeze an olive or a grasshopper for a little oil.
Put corn and oil together in the pot.
Get a big leaf to cover the pan.
Make sure the leaf is not poisonous.
Or pop another pot on top of it.
Hold over fire.
Listen for the first few pops.
Shake the pot.
Listen for popping noises to stop.
Keep fingers, toes, children, and old people out of the fire.
Pop the children if they get too near the fire. Pop on a Band-Aid.
Scrape salt off rocks at the beach. Not near a beach? Dang it.
Realize that popcorn, as a snack in this region, is not any derivative of kettle corn.
Take a pop at anyone who tries to steal your snack.
Pop the question to anyone that helps you with all of these steps.
Share the popcorn.
Remember that popcorn, even if it is not Jiffy Pop, is as much fun to make as it is to eat.

Note: Source—Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Environmental Working Group, UCLA, Microwave popcorn contains chemicals in the lining of the paper bag, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans. In animal testing, these chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals in the paper bag to vaporize. The chemicals do not wash away; they stay in our bodies for years and accumulate. Researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of microwave popcorn bags will be sold between now and then.

Natalie Parker-LawrenceNatalie Parker-Lawrence's essays have been published in Slice of Life Magazine, The Palimpsest Journal, The Barefoot Review, Stone Highway Review, The Literary Bohemian, Alimentum, Knee-Jerk Magazine, The Southern Indiana Review, Tata Nacho, Orion Magazine, Wildflower Magazine, Prime Number Magazine, Edible Memphis, The Commercial Appeal, World History Bulletin, and The Pinch, with forthcoming work in Uneasy Bones. Parker-Lawrence wrote the spirituality column for Wildflower Magazine from December 2011 to February 2013, and currently writes a weekly column for Owlcat Review.

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