Be it For the Better Part of Man—

Uproot yourself.

Refuse the easy path, respectfully. You may need it later. You will. But… you do not need it now.

Close your eyes and breathe. Open them again when you are calm. Watch the spider in the open window begin to weave a web that you’ll resolve not to destroy. Do not be afraid of the spider. Exist with it.

This is going to be difficult. That is the process. The process of re-wiring your mind.

The only reason you are doing this, is because you want to do this. Otherwise you would not do it. You have learned to listen to your body. It is time to listen to your mind.

Sit mindfully with your thoughts, and observe them without judgment. Let them go.

Imagine yourself from a top-down view, pretending that there is no roof between you and the endless open sky. The sky you sit beneath envelops everything. The clouds that you may watch drift slowly from your field of view in stillness are the water and the breath of the world recirculating. This breath fills your lungs as it does everybody’s. This water will become you. And soon after it will leave, becoming something else. You will remain. Always changing. Moment to moment. This is the process.

Connect the room you’re sitting in to the rooms around you. Imagine the occupants. You know they are there. They exist. You cannot feel them, maybe. Acknowledge them. They are here. So are you.

Expand the locus of your imagined, top-down view. Place yourself within the city. Place yourself amidst the trees. Place yourself in your environment. Realize where you are, because you are there.

Stay calm.

Expand the locus of your view.

There is a whole world’s worth of this. You are in it. Alive, breathing. Right now. When you think about tomorrow, do not worry. It will be here soon, and if things go well, so will you. Do the best you can in any moment. This is the process.

Re-learn the things that make you happy.

You realized once, on acid, that the reason you were not happy was because you had ceased to do the things that make you happy. You must entertain the possibility that these things will change. You may have to learn to do something new. But you’re here because you want to. That is the process.

You are in control of it. You can do anything you want to.

And right now, you are.

Image Credit: Getty

Youtube Rabbit Hole: My first experience at Denny’s (I survived)

Why I’m moving from Oklahoma to New York

One time I was at a party and I was like “anybody wanna smoke some weed?” And NOBODY SAID YES. No one said ANYTHING. All I could hear was the CRACKLING OF THE FIREPLACE.

Later that night, I broke the host’s window while trying to smoke loud in the bathroom. This is a completely true story.

That’s all

I can’t stop thinking about the “Sex Junk” video

Perhaps you’ve seen it.

This piece of sh*t is a week old and its faults have been thoroughly legislated by the internet commentariat at this point. I am not hauling this beast into the town square over my shoulder like it’s a fresh kill. I am just here to say… “Wow. can’t stop thinking about this thing.”

All week I have been laying in bed at my horrifying apartment getting devoured by scabies and unable to sleep, staring at the ceiling with this farting beat playing in my head, over and over. So much had to go wrong to make this happen.

People with authority had to hear the mic drop punch line “my sex junk is better than bagels with lox” at least a dozen times before the cameras were turned on—and nobody said anything. Before, during, or after. There was time. There was so much time.

The director, whom I assume came up in their career filming content for the QVC Network, tried to create a kinetic concert film experience and ended up producing a perfect simulacrum of a high-school auditorium midday assembly hostage situation, completely on accident.

An entire crew of professional filmmakers made the choice to stage this techno-wobble almost-dance with a minimum of set and props and a maximum of empty space, emphasizing flop sweat bleakness in absence of anything else. This was OK.

The editor, faced with a mountain of footage from this Nuremberg execution of a pop science presentation, decided it would be wise to incorporate the brief sequence of Bill Nye punching a laptop spacebar like he’s fucking Deadmau5, and no silent hero transferred that bit of footage from the edit to the trash.

Netflix, who put up the money for this and presumably had the ability to pull the plug, decided to go ahead with the delivery of its unviable baby, resulting in untold suffering for all who had to witness it. It was traumatic and unjust. Marriages were ruined.

William Nye, the scientist, did not watch the first 30 seconds of this and speedwalk TF to the parking lot for an unfiltered Camel and some perspective. This from a supposedly reasonable man. A man of science. A science guy.

The audience did what any of us would do in this situation—froze, stuck stock still and breathless, like innocents forced belly-down onto the cold tile of a bank during a robbery. They appear in this footage as our surrogates, damned avatars of douche chill. The backs of their unbobbing heads are haunting.

Ostensibly, I agree with pretty much everything and like everyone that’s going on here. That’s what makes this so uncomfortable. This is ostensibly a vision of a world I asked for, and it’s like looking in the mirror at your smile and seeing screaming Bloody Mary instead. I can’t stop thinking about this video. It is a curse that will outlive my mortal soul.

Spiritual Voyage: Old Overholt Straight Rye

The condition of being an American trying to scrape together a reason and a means to stay alive post-2008 financial crash is that of  constantly wavering between a sense of guarded optimism and a knowing embrace of doom. The sun will come out, tomorrow / If it doesn’t you can always / Burn your house down.” Every hour of the day is another footstep on a razor’s edge.

Lemme tell you what I’m talking about, in case you’re one of the forty or so billionaires who somehow don’t know. You may be aware that health care in America is completely FUBAR. It’s literally distressing. The amount of money they try to leech out of you for even the tiniest concession is discomfiting to me on a downright existential level. Old as spring as the notion may be, it is completely unfathomable to me that the Greatest Country in the World would allow people to be abused so much by a health marketplace it ostensibly regulates, leaving the sound body and mind of its supposedly fortunate citizens dependent entirely on the much-doubted mercy of the most bloodless capitalists history has ever produced. Some of this stuff is just hopeless, guys. You’re not allowed to win. This is the sort of stuff that’s on my mind whenever I get caught sighing out loud to nobody that I wish I was dead, which I usually find myself doing a couple of times every hour, at this point. Pretty much any time I’m out of earshot, I’m mumbling about how much I want to die.

Anyway, welcome to Spiritual Voyage, the new series wherein I will write about the things in life I’ve dranken, and what I thought about them. Some of these will inevitably be written while I am tipping one back, but some will be more wistful, hearkening back to times long past, and drinks I’ll never taste again. I guess the goal is to create a living encyclopedia of every beverage ever made, filtered through the charcoal of my mind.

The inaugural entry for this sure-to-be-long-running feature is Old Overholt Straight Rye whiskey. I’ll be straight up from the jump: I love this stuff. Old Overholt goes in the rotation quite a bit, and the reasons are threefold: 1) it’s good, 2) the price, and most essentially, 3) it’s good for the price. I cannot overstate how important this is. Old Overholt is my favorite rye for the same reason that Evan Williams Black Label is my favorite bourbon. Inexpensive without being cheap, as good as one can ask for; a standard. Aside from hot fire, it tastes and smells lightly of vanilla and pepper. It is not particularly smoky. It goes down smooth. It’s, like, $14 for a 750 ml bottle, and that shit is so on point to me. Just because we live cheap doesn’t mean we have to live cheap, you know.

Other than that, I don’t have a lot to say about this. It’s rye, which makes it baseline spicy, in a mulling spices sort of way. It’s hard to explain. The rule of tongue is that bourbon is sweet and rye is spicy, but if your palette is totally new to whiskey then all any of it’s really going to taste like is used ass. But this blends okay into mixed drinks and cocktails, and it’s not expensive enough to care about savoring each sip. Drink up.

Anyway, I’m off to suck strangers and murder the weak for gas money or whatever. Maybe I’ll get eaten by a wolf. Jesus Christ, this healthcare thing. It’s going to get so much worse before it gets better. We’re gonna start seeing people demanding dental work at gunpoint. This feature is getting off to a real optimistic start.

Capsule review of the 7-episode television phenomenon “Big Little Lies”

thoughts recorded over the course of an extremely lazy day spent watching HBO’s 7-episode sensation “Big Little Lies”

(three times an episode for the first five episodes) OK. a better name would definitely be Rich White Bitches.

(last two episodes) Hmmmm. Perhaps these bitches aren’t so bad after all.

*SPOILERS**(FINAL EPISODE)********The bitches have united.

I wish the murder was cooler.

I’m not satisfied with how it took seven hours to get to the murder.

I’m not satisfied with the target of the murder or the way the murder is committed.

the murder was both climax and anticlimax…

this show doesn’t have enough twists

the point of the show is that it doesn’t have twists??

the chekhov gun was a red herring

not clear how that one mom affords this lifestyle

The show is about feminism.

actors good

the rich should definitely be killed

I’m not sure what level of irony this climactic karaoke match is on

this show’s not that good

this show’s fine I guess

a second season would be really bad

i don’t really give a shit

there weren’t very many lies in this show at all

perhaps that was the biggest of the lies

probably not going to read it but this is definitely a book-is-better situation

is this a satire?

number of scenes of wife beating necessary to get the point: 2 at most

number of scenes of wife beating I think I saw in this thing: 30, 40 or so

number of scenes of wife beating that were oddly sexy: all of them, up to and including the one that resulted in somebody getting their head fatally caved in

is this more or less of a satire than the young pope?

Man… the young pope was…………..sweet

My Soup Confession

Feeling the need to tell you about something I did. It’s bad.

So, I love Trader Joe’s, right? For all the reasons a twee, quirktastic, adorkable person like me might love a Trader Joe’s. And recently, independently of my zeal for Trader Joe’s, I had a hankering for tomato soup. A hunger—it is a comfort food.

On a recent trip to Trader Joe’s, I bought a box of their Organic Creamy Tomato Soup. The box art was appealing to me. The adjective “creamy” held some allure. I already had crackers of my preferred variety at home, so I purchased the soup and left. I was sort of excited about this.

At home, I cracked open the soup box’s twist-top and saw that the foil underneath was pierced through. As though some unknown, hairy, filth-encrusted finger had already been by and jabbed through my soup top prior to my knowing it, going fishing. It was an immediately unappetizing prospect. I threw the soup away.

With a sticky note, I affixed the receipt for my purchase to the inside of my front door, so I’d remember to seek reimbursement the next time I went to the store. Or rather, a replacement box. See, I had been burned by Trader Joe’s before—moldy tomatoes—and they’d been amenable to a no-questions-asked exchange. It was encouraging policy. So the next time I went to Trader Joe’s, I took the receipt with me.

This visit, I was intent on not wasting my time. I still hungered for tomato soup—I had a hankering (it is a comfort food)—so I wanted to make this trip count. I walked to the soup aisle, and picked up the first box of Organic Creamy Tomato Soup I saw on the shelf. I cracked it open. And what… what the fuck?

Freshness seal—stabbed through. Again!

This was starting to feel repulsive. I’m no germaphobe, but I know a thing or two about the damn Tylenol murders. That guy never got caught. They’re somebody’s grandparent. Poisoning a food product is one of the most fucked-up and anonymous ways to kill people, the source of many urban legends—I think about it all the time.

I twisted the cap back on this first box, and tried another. Want to guess what I found? You’re correct. Holy shit—a broken seal.

This happened twenty-one more times.

I will admit at this point that a certain stoned fascination took over very early during this process. It blew my mind that so many of these soup boxes with the twist-off tops had been so blatantly, frighteningly violated, and a curious part of me wanted to see just how bad the problem was. How far it went. The feeling was that I was uncovering conspiracy. I felt my love for Trader Joe’s dissolving with each new betrayal. How could they let this many boxes sit here, so obviously, maliciously, systematically tampered with? Every box!

Anyway, it was around box 22 that I finally happened to read the label on the box, a little yellow strip right by the twist-off top.


And then I was like, “Oh.” I realized the whole thing immediately. I felt for the receipt in my back pocket and rolled it up into a ball—don’t need that anymore. I grabbed a box of a different kind of soup and left the store after paying for it. The funny thing is, until the listeria kicks in, no one who shops at Trader Joe’s is going to know what I—completely accidentally, and with the best intentions—let happen to their soup.

I’m probably going to hospitalize forty people. Don’t tell anyone I did this. This is weighing on my soul, y’all. If I were a noble person, I would have bought up all the soup.

So You’ve Decided to Buy Your First Pet Skunk

Congratulations on your good decision. Welcome to the club of Skunkers. We’re a close-knit group, and loyal.

Skunks as pets receive a bum rap. Like the much-maligned pit bull, these misunderstood creatures are treated by the larger culture as objects to be feared, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The fear of skunks is self-perpetuating. Loathing breeds resentment on both sides. Good for you for taking this first step, and breaking the picket line of prejudice.

Now that you’ve decided to purchase your first skunk, it’s time to consider what sort of skunk is right for you.

1. Hire an experienced skunk-catcher. Your skunk should be robust and strong. Since skunks are not sold by most “clear-market” pet sellers, it is likely that you will be catching your first skunk by yourself. This will be a formidable challenge for anyone but the most professional, and will likely leave you scarred, scratched up and reeking by the end of your hunt. Also, quite frankly, if you as a novice can catch it, it’s probably not a very good skunk! So take the responsibility out of your own hands, and put it in the hands of an experienced local. There are many skunkers, skunkmen, and skunk-catchers who operate in a legal gray area. One place to ask about them? Auto shops. Y’know, oil and lube. Throw up a flag in the garage, and 9 times out of 10, you’ll get at last a decent tip. Rates vary according to region and season, so do your research, and be prepared to spend a little if you want the very best.

2. Choose a powerful skunk. Unlike a lot of hobbies, there is no reason to dip your toes into the water with a midgrade, entry-level skunk. Such skunks are, to put it lightly, worthless, and will bring you none of the joy or satisfaction as a pet owner that a powerful skunk will. Signs of a powerful skunk are the size of its haunches, the quality of its fur (fine and shiny vs matted and dull) and of course, the potency of its scent.

3. Weaponize your skunk gently. The initial impulse, upon becoming a skunkman, is to instantly goad your skunk into expelling the contents of its bulbous anal sacs, popping them open with a hiss like you were squeezing the jelly out of a swollen pearl of tapioca. Don’t do this. You have to be diplomatic when weaponizing your skunk, and going Full Load Mode on day one is, quite simply, not the way to do it. To get your skunk to attack on command, it’s going to have to trust you. Set a good example by trusting your skunk first. Give it time to feel comfortable around you before you begin turning its anal sacs into your own personal agent orange.

4. Stealth is the key. For god’s sake, don’t laden your skunk down with collars and expensive baubles. Don’t highlight its warning stripe with bold primary colors, as has been the trend in recent years. Do not bejewel or pierce your skunk. For hygienic purposes (and to keep the skunk itself smelling fresh), shampoo your skunk twice monthly as a matter of routine. Ideally, the skunk should blend in with your attire, worn about your neck, concealed inside your hair and collar when in public. If people can’t see your skunk at first glance, good. Don’t be ostentatious. You didn’t buy a goddamn peacock.

5. Congratulations! Once you have fully trained and weaponized your skunk, you will feel as though you have entered into a new world of your own creation. You are now in control of every social dynamic. You guide the conversations, you set the topics, you are the authority. Because now you are a skunkman. Anyone who crosses you will never smell the same again.


current writing projects

Thought I’d update the ol’ portfolio about What The Fuck Is Going On. Current list, up to date, haven’t mentioned anything I’ve been doing lately aside from the tweets, which are always cooking in the lab. Anyway, on my plate we’ve got a healthy, balanced meal.

  • A screenplay about horses and horse racing (it’s a collabo)
  • A listicle about pop culture’s gayest children (for online)
  • Been thinking pretty hard lately about maybe doing a project of some sort having something to do with the topic of local beer
  • poem about my mom (4th revision)
  • There’s this email in my draft folder for this thing that I wrote just way, way too long while I was a little xanned out one night, and I need to edit it and send it but I’ve just been putting it off, putting it off, putting it off, you know how it goes. I also need to send a text message saying “no” to someone but it’s really hard to pull the trigger because I dislike conflict.
  • I’ve also been working on an English translation of Prima Games’ strategy guide book for Final Fantasy IV Wonderswan Color Version for about fifteen years

I was doing all of these earlier but I got distracted by this great archive and now it’s 5 in the morning.

I love my life; my life is great and I love being involved in it

    Rings: A Movie (2017)

    Well it’s February, so everyone knows what that means. Time to take the old ball-and-chain out for a nice meal and then a knock-down drag-out scary as fuck horror movie, which is what I did, by myself, to witness and review the 2017 horror sensation Rings.

    Rings is a soft reboot + sequel to the Ring/Ringu franchise, which originated in a country called Japan in the late 90s, based on a series of books. Though there’s a lot of media related to the franchise, the mythos isn’t that deep. You know the story. Haunted videotape, seven days, first you see it then you die. That’s fine. I happen to be on record in my belief that the American The Ring is great.

    But I had some problems, watching the trailers, thinking that this one was going to be any good. My number one problem was a logical one, about the movie’s universe. See, it’s a whole new movie, but the deadly footage appears to have never changed. It’s odd to me, after all these years, considering that particular dead girl is now a real-life grown woman. It feels a little hokey, you know?

    Usually I would like the fidelity to the original, but here it just feels odd. I mean, The Ring came out in 2002, so in the world of the new movie, this Ring footage has been propagating around the world for fifteen years and somehow managed not to kill literally everyone except for uncontacted tribal people and the blind. Questions surrounding this subject are literally the only reason I went to see the movie. I had to get an answer on this issue. Split was sold out, also.

    So the first thing that happens is that the Ring takes down a plane. The air control panel flickers, the pilots look quizzically at each other, and then holy fucking shit a pirate feed is jacking in. Every screen on the plane starts showing the video. The plane then immediately crashes, which raises the question, seven days? It’s left unclear, but I think this entire massacre was meant to kill just one guy who watched the video on his phone in the airplane bathroom. The whole thing plays out in a very Final Destination way, which strikes me as inappropriate. It’s like Death from Final Destination is just using the Ring movie as some sort of hack, for massive damage. Anyway, thousands die when the plane strikes One World Trade Center, taking us to the title card, which I don’t have a screenshot of, but it looks like this.

    Which isn’t actually offensive, when you see it in motion. Actually, it’s good.

    The film then cuts to five days later. Our protagonist, Jordyn, is 17 years old and in love with College Bae. She’s sheltered and religious, and only got her learner’s permit this year. Her dad’s a truck driver who is never home, which rather aptly and with elegance informs every one of the incoming bad decisions. Her mom is also a truck driver who is never home.

    After a little bit of bullshit exposition to get the character names out of the way, Jordyn gets behind the wheel of her piece of shit 2004 Acura GDX and takes off, heading some indeterminate distance toward Gonzaga University in Spokane. She’s chasing after College Bae, who has grown romantically distant. On the way, because she is a terrible driver who watches YouTube at the wheel, she strikes an apparently suicidal moose that charges her from the center of the road. Sharp viewers will surmise this as an eerie callback to a similar scene in Ring Two, which has long held an unofficial designation (in my heart) as a Roger Ebert-certified Great Movie. While inexplicable on screen, there is a long-held folk tradition in Japan that psychic schoolgirls sometimes control the minds of woodland fauna to commit violence. Keep it in mind.

    Anyway. We cut to Spokane, where Jordyn tracks down College Bae for cuddles, only to find him in flagrante in the arms of a passionate lover—of course. She leaves in disgust, and stomps off to the nearby Division Street bridge, where she has hastily decided to depart this life by leaping. But she is stopped!!! At the last second, by a grungy goth teen named Kodi. “Don’t do that,” he says, gripping our hero’s arm seconds before she is to jump. “There are much cooler ways to get it over with, you know.”

    This seems like a joke, until we cut to a disgusting flop house where Kodi lives with eight or nine other teens, doing heroin and nitrous balloons, on some real lowlife shit. And this part of the movie is pretty cool. Jordyn moves in, essentially. It’s like Ghost Gummo. Or Kids. They party and drink Rolling Rock. The sun never shines on their trash-strewn backyard. The sensation you get from this whole sequence is that the Pacific Northwest is demon-haunted and the oppressive cloudy weather means that self-destruction is inevitable. There is much B-roll of the overcast sky, sped up with a woosh sound.

    Some indeterminate time later—maybe later that night, maybe later that year—Jordyn and Kodi huddle around a stolen iPhone 6S watching fucked-up videos on the darknet. ISIS beheadings, lethal factory accidents, suicide tapes. It’s twisted how titillated Kodi and even Jordyn get from this horrific footage.

    “Enough of that nonsense,” Kodi says. “You wanna see something really sick?”

    They then watch the Ring video on YouTube. You’ve seen the one. Then the phone starts ringing in their hands!!! “Seven days,” the caller says. But it’s a fakeout. “Seven days I’ve been looking for this phone you thief, I know you have it blah blah blah.” It’s a cop, or the phone’s owner. Pretty clever fakeout. Kodi cracks the phone in half with nonchalance and the rest of the night is given to inhaling duster. Outside, unseen by our protagonists, a moose lurks in the treeline.

    The next day it’s back to Gonzaga, where they roll into a class taught by a famous professor of Ring Studies, Doctor Jacoby Borzze. “Yeah, I’ve watched the Ring video, like, sixty friggin times,” the professor tells them. “It’s actually lit.”

    “I didn’t think it was very lit,” Jordyn says, or something like that. He takes them into a back room full of antiques from the mid-80s and shows them the original Ring videotape, an import, he says, from Japan. (Good reference.) At this point, I’m in. This is the good horror that I live for. They watch that shit. The ring call comes to the nearest phone, a payphone in the hallway that they can see through a glass door. “Remarkable,” the doctor says. “That phone hasn’t worked in years.”

    Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz as Jordyn Calmabatter, Johnny Galecki as Jacoby Borzze, Alex Roe as Kodi Kodek

    Jordyn answers the phone and gets the seven days shit, which was the coolest moment in the theater. I ain’t heard that shit in like fifteen years. And then, down the hall, her eyes fix on… is it… is it evil? No, it’s College Bae! Oh what is that feeling in his eyes? Does he wish to reconcile? Does he yearn for his lost love? I couldn’t tell you. Jordyn’s ear starts immediately bleeding and Kodi rushes her away. The look on College Bae is pensive, seeing this new romantic rival in the mix.

    For the next solid hour the movie fucking sucks. Jordyn and Kodi catch rides and bum cigarettes. Jordyn falls increasingly into homelessness and drug use. No Ring stuff happens, even as they try to solve the mystery behind the Ringing. No one actually gets ringed, though. They go to Vincent D’Onofrio’s house and he kills himself with an axe (swings it right into his own neck, very good scene). It’s unclear why this happens. I ducked into the bathroom for a vape sesh at this point. There was a woman combing her hair in the bathroom when I walked in, just like in the movie.

    It freaked me out, needless to say. It was only after I crouched hidden atop the commode for twenty minutes that I calmed enough to realize that this woman… was me. So I went back to the theater, reappearing just in time for the tail end of the final day.

    Oh, yeah, it’s that good shit now. I’m glad I skipped the dull part. People are getting Ringed out left and right. Kodi opens a stolen laptop. BLAM. Ringed. Jordyn texts the video to her friends. BLAMMO. Blows up their phones like Samsung. Truck dad—shows up, gets ringed. College Bae: Ringed. No one makes it out alive. At the end of the movie, the whole god damn theater gets Ringed. Samara charges the freaking lens like she’s coming right at you. I was literally shaking when I left the theater, pale and gray and soaked in piss.

    This movie is awesome. This movie is bad. I cannot wait for Rings 2: Ringu, the eleventh film in the ocean-spanning international saga, in which we’ll finally get to see the X-Men fight alongside the Avengers—or against them. I want an English language Grudge v. Ring. I want a 3D sequel. I want it all, god damn it. I’m so fucking hype right now. I waited for this film forever. I love movies. I want to see all the movies. I throw up popcorn and soda and I lay in it. I’ve never not lived at this theater. I want to fuck. I need to fuck something immediately. I reach into the movie screen and fuck it. I’m alone inside the theater. Blood is pounding in my ears like the beat of a giant drum. The entire screen is shaking. Sweat pours in my eyes and stings til I can’t see. I can’t stop sweating. I can’t stop fucking. It is the persistence of this life that makes me panic; I will fuck for seven days. No rating. No moral. I didn’t see this movie.

    Photo Credits: Ring 0, The National Archives of Terrorism Science, Rings 3, Ring 0, Zelda 6.

    A Journey through the Sandwiches—Pambazo (Chapter One)

    The roof gave in on Wednesday.

    For weeks we had watched helplessly, myself and Fran Javier, as the situation in our trailer by the riverside deteriorated. First it was the rain battering down, not just on our roof but on the heavy branches above, assaulting them until they fell down on our tin ceiling with tremendous weight and clamor. These were tall trees out here on the river, big ones, that had rooted themselves into the banks some hundreds of years ago and never bent nor broke since then. And now this storm was giving their tops a savage trim.

    The following day, we did not realize that the drainage pipe that would have otherwise solved the problem had been sheared clean off the side of the building, leaving rainwater in the center of our flat roof that pooled dramatically creating a waterlogged depression in the tin that you could see bending from inside, as the metal creaked and sank lower. And I had a droll thought then that you never realize how much water can weigh until it’s caving your home in.

    What was wooden in the roof had been rotting, and you could hear the occasional sharp crack as another little piece of it splintered and gave way. I didn’t know enough about architecture to really understand how close we were getting to the breaking point, but I didn’t have to be an expert to realize the place was in a bad state. So I wasn’t entirely surprised when I woke up to find the roof collapsed, falling into the living area at an incline, safely tenting Fran Javier in the side of the room where he slept and deluging me with stagnant water on the other, full by now with insect eggs and lily pads. I angrily drank the last of the whiskey as I extracted myself, and dried off.

    After we’d excavated Fran Javier from his impromptu lean-to, the two of us assessed the damage.

    “We’ve gotta get the water out.”

    “Towels are still soaked.”

    “Ugh, so is my mattress. Soaked through. Okay, use them anyway. I’ll get the buckets and the squeegee.”

    Fran Javier looked up. “God, the roof is fucked.”

    I looked up into the open sky, through the dark and leafless branches over us at each tree’s highest point. It was gray—not the dark cloud cover of an imminent deluge, but gray enough to tell us that there would be no sun today, and probably for a while.

    I had bought the trailer cash for $1400 near the middle of last year, and paid a nominal sum in lot fees each month at a steeply discounted rate. I knew about the landlord, see. I knew he had these secrets. So he let me get away with quite a bit. Being that he lived in an entirely different country at the moment, he didn’t come around often. And why would you? This was a swampy, humid place, difficult to access, unrewarding on arrival. And the people were scarce, the only neighbors I discovered during that first month of residency met by chance. I tried to be pleasant—raised in the Midwest, I’m a fairly pleasant person—but there was such an edge to all these interactions. I met six or seven people, a few who lived alone, and got bad vibes from all of them.

    Fran Javier felt much the same way, and we’d spoken about it during our first weeks together here, trying to gauge the social temperature. “I was with these two dudes, y’know?” He’d pointed south, downriver. “They were sitting on the dock with a cooler, fishing, drinking beers. Younger guys, fourteen, fifteen. And they didn’t offer me a beer.”

    “Were they cold to you?”

    “They were cold to me! I don’t know why. Maybe people just aren’t nice, here. I’m from Guatemala, man. Everybody gets a beer there.”

    “Well, have one of mine.” I reached behind my stool for the last two bottles of Stella Artois, dirt-caked at the bottom from being cooled all night inside the river mud.

    I thought back on my own interactions, in light of the revelation that Fran Javier was getting the same cold shoulder. “Fuck ’em, anyway,” I said. “What are they, scared of us? That’s the sense I get. They didn’t call me a faggot or anything like that. No one’s been brandishing guns.”

    “No, no. But they do have guns.”

    “Yeah, that adds an edge to it.” I flipped a silver dollar from knuckle to knuckle, every turn devaluing it a little more. It was minted in 1889, which meant something for some reason. A mint one would get you tens of thousands, but it’d been too far gone when I received it for me to care for it. But even in the state it was in now, I wouldn’t use it as a dollar. It’s worth like thirty bucks. “We should have come more prepared, man. Maybe we should’ve come strapped.”

    Fran cocked his head, his lips pursed in an expression of mild amusement as he leaned forward, reached into the back of his Levi’s, and withdrew a silver Smith and Wesson Stealth Hunter, a revolver, model 629. The first thing about it that I noticed was that the embossing was garish, and cheap-looking. The second thing I noticed—”Hey, that’s a .44 magnum, isn’t it.”

    He nodded.

    “You know, usually…” I started—but I let myself trail off. It didn’t need to be said. I was happy that we had the gun, no matter how much it worried me that having it could lead to us inevitably using it. And I didn’t want to get involved any possible scenario in which we’d need to.

    Now I sighed, of fatigue and resignation. It was Wednesday, dusk. Night was coming soon, and I sat on the part of the wooden dock that served as our trailer’s porch and faced inland, at the eerie living tangle of the woods. There were people around here. People who could help, and we’d help them. But for some reason, we’d all developed this distrust. Despite myself, I was scared of them, especially at night, when the mind goes wild. Perhaps they see us as invaders, and they’re uncomfortable with our lifestyle. Maybe they don’t like us being here very much at all.

    I went to sleep that night in a trailer on which repair work had only barely started. We’d gotten out the water, and now everything was damp. The roof still touched down into the ground on one side, turning what was once a rectangular trailer into a much smaller, scalene triangle sort of lean-to. Fran Javier and I wedged ourselves in there together with all our clothes on, no sleeping bags or bedding dry enough to use. I managed to mash a torn-up novel ruined by water into the shape of an angular pillow, which we split up and shared. And then we slept, eyes never on each other, but toward the darkness of those woods, and whatever may be in there, waiting for a moment of weakness on our part to pounce.

    I’d resigned myself to an entire season of this, with months to go, and in my mind I tried to steel myself for the coming hardships. I didn’t know this at the time, but this ordeal would actually be over in a matter of days. It wouldn’t come from human aggression, not on the part of our neighbors. And we wouldn’t be flooded out into the river, the trailer destroyed and in pieces. Would that it would be so simple, to fall to nature, or our fellow man.

    No, the end of our time here in this settlement would be brought down upon us by something unimaginably worse, something which, at the time, I had no reason to expect even existed—the python with arms.


    Photo Credit: Chef Roger

    Fun song parodies I do when on stage at karaoke

    : A sampling.

    “Booooorn gay—as gay as the wind, blo-o-ows. As gay as the grass groows… on a, sunny day-y-y…”—sung to Born Free by John Barry as performed by Matt Munro with meaning unchanged.

    “I would. Suck you. Off”—sung to prince I would die for you.

    “Keep blowing blowin blowin blowin COCK! Keep blowing blowin blowin blowin YEAH!”—sung to Limp Bizkit “Rollin'”, which accompanied the opening cinematic to one year’s edition of NHL HITZ.

    “H to the -omo, Dick to the -izzay / Tickle my dickie til the tip gets jizzy” Jay Z “Homo”.

    Photo Credit: Dragon Ball Super

    A Journey Through the Sandwiches—Slider

    Let me tell you a story. This is a true story. One night we were dragging Memorial, me and Paul and Jerad, listening to Papa Roach. So this was like 2006. I was, uh, nine.

    So we’re just driving back and forth on the street. We might’ve been drinking shitty beer; someone definitely threw a beer at us, and then I made like I was gonna throw a metal pipe at him. This went on for hours. I grew up in the country.

    So the midnight hour rises high, and we head over to McDonald’s, for ice cream. I feel like I should tell you that I never liked Papa Roach—I was in the backseat. I had almost nothing to do with any of this. So we pull up to the drive-thru, and what do we hear ahead of us, through the tinny speaker, but “no, the ice cream machine is broken.” And then the engine starts revving. And the tires squeal. And Jerad manipulates the handbrake into a burnout.

    “Well, fuck this!” he says, not so much angry as he is resolved. “We’re going to White Castle.” Rrrrrrrrrk!!! And we’re off. Paul and I co-sign w/gusto. We spend most of the drive to St. Louis listening to The Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, which is an album I used to really like a lot before Billy Corgan revealed himself to me, personally, to be a dick.* But that was then. So we were beside all our rage about how we’d never be saved, rat in a caging it all the way northeast. We were seeing that Arch by dawn, yo. Getting on that riverboat, yo. Gambling our way down the Mississippi to our new lives.

    So, we get to White Castle. First, we stopped at Wal-Mart for some toothbrushes, which we did manage to keep even as we got kicked out for some, uh, not discrete activity in the liquor aisle. It was like six in the morning at this point. And then boom! We stroll into that White Castle feeling like kings. Forty sliders, mother fuckers. Each. And we went ham. It was my first time in a White Castle. Actually, one of my first forays into seeking out interesting regional foodstuffs. Could this have been a trip that… Yeah, this was a trip that changed my life. We completely forgot to get any ice cream.

    The slider is a small sandwich. It’s a smallburger. The conceit is that it slides down your throat, though if that actually happened, you would suffocate, choke, and die with your neck bent completely backward, head parallel to the ground, impotently coughing hunks of phlegmy USDA Select and bread into the air like a clogged-up garbage disposal full of forks. No, the only food that slides down your throat is eel and noodle. Eel, noodle, and some runny-ass egg. Jello, also. And soup. So that’s a slider sandwich. didn’t name them.

    I bring up the White Castle example simply because that establishment gave me my first exposure to the style, and also a pretty good day. We had the opportunity to go to Six Flags, but didn’t, because I bitched out and had to go to work that day at a pizza restaurant back in Oklahoma. So this was a pretty solid round trip. We went to the Arch with the time we had. Never have gotten in that elevator, though. I’ve been twice.

    I find it amusing that this is what it looks like when you GIS “slider”: 

    Anyway, a slider is a small burger. It can be good or shitty. I used to work for a restaurant that had fun with them, different cheeses, meats. You get a lot of room to experiment when you’re dealing with things in miniature, and I don’t know about you, but I’d rather eat seven good smallburgers than one good, uh, Wahlburger. Or Smashburger. Whataburger. This place has charburgers, and I think it’s a front for a drug operation. And then there’s this, which, y’know what? Pretty funny. My sources tell me that for decades White Castle trademarked the spelling “slyder”. That shit is so unforgivably fucked up.

    *My response to this has always been a quizzical “wait, what, Billy?”

    What are you doing right now, anyway? Drinking a Monster Energy Tea and doing a puzzle. It’s 00:42 on a Thursday. I need to paint my nails.

    A rare glance inside my long-rumored drug vault

    Check this out, bitches.

    Are you beginning to understand the sort of weight that I’m dealing in? The scale of my operation? Is a sense of respect beginning to tickle the tip of your dick? Look at this shit.

    Zoom in. Let me explain. See those red petals? That’s dried flower of Rhocanesis Enhancis. You mix that shit into a tea. The shit makes you feel like Pac-Man, and your wife and four kids become the motherfucking ghosts. Do you see that green powder? That’s Kolkavakashnikov. That’s kava kava root mixed with volcanic soil mixed with gunpowder and coffee beans. The dried soul of a salamander is sprinkled over the top. You put that shit into a tea.

    The little bags of white stuff? Exactly what you think it is.

    The little blobs of black stuff? Exactly what you think it is.

    The red flakes are reconstituted mephedrone. The orange powder is budding a couple strange varieties of psychedelic mushrooms. The counterfeit twenty dollar bill plates are not what they look like they are. The milk-white baggies are full of the stuff that almost killed Lamar Odom. The herb is homegrown White Fire OG. The pink shit is MPDV. Everything else is Molly. Call me bitches ###-###-####

    A Journey Through the Sandwiches—Broodje kroket

    George Orwell, known for 1984 (classic) and Animal Farm (overrated), is a fantastic author whose life and work has been thoroughly dwarfed by the titanic nature of his own, most seminal creations. As far as fates go, that’s not a bad one. But it does cause a situation wherein some of the writer’s less-acclaimed works fall by the wayside, my favorite of which I’ll tell you about right now.

    Down and Out in Paris and London is the author’s first full-length work, published in 1933 after years of hard toil and work. And I do mean toil and work separately. In his days, he scraped for money, working as a scullion and other low positions in hotels and restaurants in Paris, toiling away for a bit of coin, a spot of bread, and a bug-free place to lay his head. Rarely did he get everything he needed. At the same time, he was working on his writing, chronicling his days, presciently believing that all of the bullshit would be worth it if he only wrote it down. He tried to publish it many times in many versions, unsuccessfully. Orwell was only a man, one man, but imagine how lesser our world would be if he’d ever given up.

    Beyond the story of its creation, Down and Out is a delightful read, thoroughly different from the stark prose of Orwell’s more well-known works. He’s like, a funny guy, and you like this guy, this kid, this self-aware bum. And that charm is probably what got the thing published. Over the next seven years, Orwell would produce six books, some fiction, some memoir. And then the war came to Britain.

    Orwell and his wife were patriots, and wanted to join the war effort in any way they could. Surprisingly, Orwell had to scrap and claw his way into the action just as hard as he’d had to scrap and claw his way into the writing world, declared by the medical board in June 1940 to be “unfit for any kind of military service” at the age of thirty-seven. So the man wrote, and dug for victory, planting potatoes.  And this aspect of his nature has always made me wonder about that title, Down and Out. Because it seems to me that George was never out. Always doing something, never giving up.

    Anyway, all this horseshit obviously reminds me of a sandwich, so let’s get on with it. We’re here to discuss the broodje kroket, a croquette* filled with stew meat wrapped in bread that originated in the Netherlands. It’s a sandwich that grew to popularity in that country at the conclusion of the war. Now, these were hectic and disordered times, the likes of which those of us who are young and alive in the West in the 21st century cannot truly understand. 

    So, following the war, Orwell went back to his writing, and the sandwich makers went back to work. In the chaos of the postwar years, supplies were limited—they made sandwiches out of anything! According to one of the world’s premier texts on croquettes, Het Volkomen Krokettenboek , which I haven’t read, because I can’t, the legend was they used to put any old shit inside these things. It was postwar Europe! They probably were putting any old shit inside these things! Unexploded ordinance! Fucking rat feet!

    And that, my friends, is part of the charm. The enigma of a good lunch! There could be rat feet in it! And I, Sarah, would enjoy eating it. For the novelty, yes—but to experience the rare taste as well.

    Anyway, like I mentioned earlier, the broodje kroket is a croquette filled with stew beef inside a roll of white bread. It’s served hot, with mustard. McDonald’s Netherlands literally sells a McKroket. I just came in my goddamn pants.

    *a croquette… is like a mozzarella stick. A croquette is ______, covered in bread crumbs, and then fried. You fill in the blank. Lots of things are croquettes when you think about it. It’s a very nice word for a very nasty snack—nasty for your health, anyway. The term comes from the French language word “croquer”, which I am told by my French emissaries means “to crunch.”

    Photo Credit: Smul Wereld

    Translation du Sarah: “Small World Crunchy Bread”

    What are you doing right now, anyway? I’m watching Furious 7 and drinking Mickey’s at 7:40 in the morning. And I would prefer it if you continued to not ask questions about my incredibly mysterious personal life.

    A Journey Through the Sandwiches—Toast

    And just like that, life became very difficult.

    I had yet to leave Great Britain. And I needed to. It stunk. But I had nary a nickel to my name, so there I remained, stuck for the time being to just maintain, conserving my energy while seeking out an exit.

    I was trying to buy passage to Norderney by cleaning pots for the kitchens at the Mablethorpe Resort in Skegness. There is a statue here, the Jolly Fisherman, of which the locals seem to me to be much too fond of. It was a festive place, when the sun was out, festive in a county fair sense, a certain open-air quaintness. The booths hawking whipped ice and crepes alongside roller coasters and riverboat rides.

    I stopped in at a charming diner in the center of the street called Fat Mo’s, watching the Ferris wheel slowly rotate through the window. Only one carriage was occupied. I sat long enough to notice the lone rider went through twice.

    These were sad days, warm but lonely, and the chill winds of autumn occasionally rose up to send shivers through me as I walked to and fro from work. Scrubbing gigantic cast iron cauldrons, and copper stills for fermenting, never getting answers as to what they were for. I just scrubbed and asked no questions, and took home the British equivalent of three dollars every day. Such was the compromise, me being an undocumented worker in a nation growing increasingly hostile to that sort of thing.

    I needed every penny. Recent setbacks had left me without access to any of my stashes of guns and capital around the world, so the only way to get off of this island was the old-fashioned way, through grinding. I briefly teamed up with an aspiring white female rapper named Mei-A-Wana, selling mixtapes out of the back of her beat up Citroën DS 3. And this was going pretty well, until I started to outsell her tips with a shabbily produced chapbook of my poetry, titled How to Fix a Sandwich when Your Heart Was Broken First. She didn’t take kindly to my success, so I was back at the hardscrabble life of scrubbery in a matter of two weeks.

    To save money, I ate intelligently, using food as fuel and nothing more. There would be great meals again, one day, but for now, I had a mission. I had focus. I needed to get to Norderney, and the quicker the better. I was beginning to become complacent with the utter averageness of my days.

    For couldn’t I eke out an existence here forever? Could this not be what I do, who I decide to be? All it would take is staying. Staying in a peaceful life, with few challenges, no bad surprises.

    Unable to afford the alcoholic beverages and other vices I prefer, I have been living spartanly, seeking my calm through meditation. First I approached this development with resignation, but now, I feel a certain contentedness. I live according to meager means, everywhere I lay my head my own Walden.

    Which naturally leads me to the sandwich. This, I’m almost nervous to reveal. This, I once would have turned my nose at. Are my tastes devolving? Am I doing more for less? To what end am I eating these? Big questions we’ll ignore for now. First, we dine. My friends, please enjoy with me, on this picnic bench at sunset, our day’s reward, a freshly-made toast sandwich.

    The recipe is a simple thing. Take three pieces bread. Toast one. Place the toasted bread between the regular. Augment with butter, pepper, salt—and then nosh. The outer bread is soft and cold; the inner slice, crunchy and warm, slick with melting butter, mildly spiced. It is a comfort. It is inexpensive. At around 300 kcals, it will get us through the night.

    Sometimes we find ourselves in spartan times. In these times, we must learn to find happiness in the simple, not the grandiose—to seek satisfaction from the very act of being alive. It’s harder than it seems. In times like these, each toast sandwich is a blessing. It’s a sandwich for when life is trying.

    Perhaps it’s because of the situation I am in. Perhaps I’m ripping off the end of Ratatouille. Regardless, I have no rude words to say about this sandwich. As a matter of fact, viewed through a certain philosophical lense, it may perhaps the greatest sandwich of them all—a sandwich for the hard times, egalitarian and true. A sandwich that promises a better tomorrow after the struggles of the day. A sandwich for the Sisyphus in all of us. A sandwich for the dreamers. A sandwich of the mind.

    Related article:—The Benefits of Post-Workout Carbohydrates

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