An Abbreviated Menu of Small Monsters, Household Hexes of Nagging Vexations, and Uncounted Blessings For The Cost-Savvy Consumer:

Small Monsters



Small Monsters are distinguished from their larger counterparts by their unwillingness to kill or maim outright. Instead they prefer to cause a growing sense of unease that consumes their victim until they think that’s just what adulthood is. All small monsters are raised in free-range, cruelty-free environments.

-Lesser Succubus: appears as an attractive person of their target’s preference, but only when the target is doing a “quick grocery run” and look like they’ve crawled out of a dumpster.

-The Mall-o-taur, or bull of malls, who will hunt you down at your most lost, at your most hopeless and sell you a hair straightener before you can escape. They do not eat human flesh, but yarn will not particularly help you escape.

-Wizened Anansi: Is the hero of his own very long and very boring stories.

-The ghost of a long dead pet padding just on the other side of your locked front door.

-The radio siren, which sings innocuous songs that you end up humming incessantly, but consistently forget to Google and learn the words to.

-A miniature Hok Braz that does not eat three ships crew and all. Instead it lives in cupboards and devours all the snacks first.

-Will-o-Wisp, does not appear as a lamp anymore, but rather as a roaming, just barely-there network signal when you are lost and your GPS refuses to work, until you are forced at long last to go to a Starbuck and purchase something in order to use their wi-fi.

-A befuddled Baba Yaga who will not kidnap you into her walking house, but will call the police on you for literally any reason at all.

-A shapeshifter who turns into every power cord, adapter and remote that you are not looking for.

-Muses that give you the perfect come-back. Just ten years later in the middle of the night when you can’t help but rehash every single bad social interaction you’ve ever had. They live at the very tip of your tongue, catch your best ideas and keep them.

-Cicadas. Normal, cicadas. They leave empty representations of themselves clinging to trees, occasionally mistakes human limbs for trees limbs and attempt to feed and have adapted a 13 to 17 year life cycle that ends with them emerging from the ground and screaming loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss.


Household Hexes of Nagging Vexations

Each hexagram, be definition, has six equal sides and six equal angles. And yet a household hex is always, at base, composed from the smallest sides of these otherwise mathematically sound shapes. Geometrically organic, euclideanically-sourced, food-grade two-dimensionally vegan and gluten free.

Side 1: Every car in every lane is going exactly three miles below the speed limit and you are late. Not all the time, just when it would be the most irritating.

Side 2: The week’s only opportunity for a late-morning lie-in, the room is cold and you are cozy underneath the perfect level of blankets… and the increasingly desperate need to pee. [Note: looks like you made a popular choice! Unfortunately this is temporarily out of stock. Join our mailing lit to get up-to-date stock lists.]

Side 3: No, but seriously where are my glasses?

Side 4: The first sip of tea is too hot. The next sip of tea is stone cold. The house is full of abandoned tea. You run out of tea. [Note: can be re-formulated for coffee at no extra charge. Sorry, we don’t do flattened soda, tepid monster drinks, or watered down ice-coffee at this time.]

Side 5: An outing is budgeted for and planned. Everything goes as it should, but it is slightly less enjoyable than anticipated. Everyone looks at the Facebook photos with a lingering sense of disappointment. [Note: can only be activated for small, ultimately inconsequential outings. No weddings, theme parks, birthday parties or big-budget summer blockbusters based off childhood nostalgia properties at this time.]

Side 6: Buffering.



Uncounted Blessings

While far less likely to cause unforeseen complications than their more famous counterparts (e.g. words turning into rubies and pearls tends to choke sleep-talkers, if you make the most beautiful woman in the world fall in love with you that can cause a slight war, sometimes your step mother hires a guy to carve your heart out.) uncounted blessings do not make much of a splash a baby christenings, rarely go noted by the blessed and have never once gotten any of our customers married to foreign nobility. Note: may contains whey ingredients, will not work in combination with malicious intent.

-May the yolk not break when you flip an over-easy egg. [Note: please mind that directions for this blessing include keeping your pan well lubricated and at medium temperature, as heating any pan but cast iron on high counts as malicious intent towards the pan.]

-May the the thing you’re running late for run ever so slightly later than you. [In the case of set-schedule events such as movies, the blessed will only miss previews to movies they would not have watched anyways.] -May you turn on the radio to the beginning of your favorite song.

-May your next period be light and relatively painless [Note: this will only work in occasions where it is within the realm of possibility. We are not in the business of giving non-uterii having folks a uterus, nor are we capable of fixing malfunctioning organs of any kind. We apologize for the inconvenience.]

-May your next attempt to calm a baby succeed. [Note: to have said baby openly smile at you comes at a slight extra fee. This blessing is good for only one use. Shelf life: 7 days, please keep at room temperature and away from direct sunlight.]

-Less Buffering.

-More to Come!

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[Aggressively Doesn’t Quote Robert Frost]

I am a day late and dollar short on this whole “learning to drive” business, about a decade after most teenagers are viciously clutching their one plastic ticket to assured freedom in a world that makes them ask permission to go to the bathroom, but expects them to make high-caliber life choices within a year, I am finally entering this beautiful freedom of car insurance payments, driving in Minnesotan winters and calling the boyfriend a lot going: “so my car is making this [sound effect], what’s up with that?”until I achieve something like self-sufficiency. (My favorite thing about self-sufficiency is that it basically just means you are adequate at being a self. You have like, a passing grade, but your parents aren’t going to be getting a bumper sticker about it.)

This is not a post about learning to drive, because (since this is America) there’s plenty of coming of age stories about learning to drive. Learning to drive is a right of passage into adulthood, but considering I’ve already done the far more important Rite Of Paying To Not Be Inconvenienced by having snacks delivered directly to my door, and the Rite Of Having Life Insurance, and let’s not forget the Rite Of Watching My Childhood Franchisees Get Rebooted And Turned Into Creations I Do Not Understand Or Recognize, and, of course, my favorite: My Favorite Video Game Updated And Now I Have No Idea What To Do These Darn Kids And Their Newfangled Redstone Techniques.

But these are far less sexy rites of passage than, you know, driving off in the sunset without a curfew and playlist of all the songs you’ll still have on your iTunes in the future. The ones you won’t listen to, but you won’t delete either. They’ll just sit there: watching your new favorite pass them by in times played, and you won’t ever really have a chance to get nostalgic about them, because they’re never really gone. I imagine this is what being a ghost is like.

This is a post about not learning to drive.

Continue reading [Aggressively Doesn’t Quote Robert Frost]

On joie de vivre and following the script

A really thoughtful post about theory, the reality of the situation and a personal view of the future.

the quirkiness of the urban landscape

Y’all, sometimes I get a really nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach, like I’m doing this whole teaching thing wrong and if I were to do it “right,” it wouldn’t feel right.

You see, Montessori education is scripted. And I don’t buy that. Technically, I should be following the lesson plans step-by-step in the manuals I was given this summer. I should be checking my manuals before I give lessons, looking at them while I give lessons, and reflecting back on them after lessons. I should be telling the students what exactly they should be doing in each subject area, and giving them choice on when they want to do those items. I should be having them work through series of task cards for everything from subtraction with exchanging to the function of nouns. I should be putting all those little word cards for language in drawers that…

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Insta-Fancy Coconut Macaroons

I have a lot of these sorts of recipes, the kind that are delicious and easy and seem fancy? But are not fancy. One could call them “I Want To Win The Potlock” recipes or “Bribery: In The Nick Of Time” recipes. If you don’t think Potlocks re something you win then I am sorry. I am sorry you have never won the Potlock.

These recipes are things you can keep in your back pocket and pull out when you need to impress people. Or poison someone. No one suspects macaroons of being full of poison. Especially if you also send fancy chocolates full of poison from a red herring address because fancy chocolates are ALWAYS full of poison. The macaroons are gluten free if you know someone is gluten free and you need to make them a thing but you are also a person who goes “I could put beer in this. This could have beer in it.’

They are not vegan because I maybe have two recipes that are not salads that are vegan. They are soup. Which is not much better than salad on the range of Things Vegans Probably Have To Eat A Lot. I have more if we count cocktails. I have an entire book of vegan recipes if we count cocktails.

Today's make-up look was brought to you by seething resentment. I bought this make-up and I am goddamn going to wear it EVERY DAY UNTIL I DIE.
Today’s make-up look was brought to you by seething resentment. I bought this make-up and I am goddamn going to wear it EVERY DAY UNTIL I DIE.

Vegans: I cannot feed you. I do not understand your ways, but I can get you drunk enough not to care. Raw vegans: You are entirely beyond my ability to comprehend. People who want a macaroon recipe: let us proceed.

These are the macaroons that basically kept me employed for four summers. These macaroons are how I bribe people in my current occupation to do things I want them to do. I’ve been asked for this recipe more times then I’ve been asked for almost any other recipe, and it’s beautiful: because it’s simple. There’s no agave nectar, elderberry wine or the dew of a rose petal gathered at 4:03 am at midsummer. It’s just flavor, joy and chocolate if you feel like it. The only real trick to macaroons is to know how to whip egg whites, and thus know how to separate egg whites.

I’m going to do a poorly photographed journey telling you how to separate eggs because everyone is making it a lot harder than it needs to be, with actual “egg separators” and tossing yolks from shell to shell. What. No that’s. No. We’re going to do it the way Chef yelled at me to do it, because if you have to separate something like 40 eggs then you do it the way Chef tells you. If you have a hard time taking me seriously pretend I am a slightly drunl 65 year old man who had two level 80 WoW characters and once arm wrestled a 26 year old professional rock climber and won.

Continue reading Insta-Fancy Coconut Macaroons

PRE-MOVE OATMEAL COOKIES

So let’s say you’re moving. I mean, you are always moving. We are, all of us, moving, in small ways of breathing, an huge ways of clinging to a dust ball hurling itself through space like it’s my fat baby nephew trying to expirence life all at once because all of human history has happened before him and that shit don’t fly. Or Calvin from Calvin And Hobbes trying to escape a bath. But let’s say you’re in the process of putting all those objects you associate with “home” and “life” and “dear lord why does one person need this much skincare I only have this small amount of skin is there a skin factory in the basement what is happening-” (and hey, Buffalo Bill, excuse me. You want your skin suit to look nice a girl needs more than some lotion and a cold hose. That is the worst looking skin suit, I’m telling you.)

Really this entire franchise has a vast misunderstanding of the quality of human flesh.
Really this entire franchise has a vast misunderstanding of the quality of human flesh. I do not want to eat anything that lives like I live.

So let’s say you’re packing and it’s at that point where you’re just sort of shoving stuff into boxes and hoping for the best, and you come across a need to make cookies. Maybe you promised someone cookies. Maybe you need to put good things in your mouth while your entire once-home become the least kind of cool box fort. Maybe you, like me, enjoy baking to let off stress because then you have cookies! And people telling you how good your cookies are! Maybe this.

These are the cookies of shoving things together and hoping for the best.

Continue reading PRE-MOVE OATMEAL COOKIES

“Take Me To Church” by Hozier

I have no musical background. I was in choir for a few years, but I spent most of choir trying to get out of choir by hiding under staircases, behind organs, and inside various closets, so I don’t imagine that counts. I don’t approach music as someone who has even a distant understanding of how one goes about creating music, and instead only as someone who consumes it, and if you play me a song enough times I will eventually develop a captive’s bond with the thing and like it despite myself. Except Christmas music. In a year I hear about 300 hours of Christmas music, and there’s not a single all-repeats-from-the-Greatest-Generation’s-childhood-with-some-Mariah-Carey-Thrown-In-For-The-Kids second of it that I’m not wishing I could unhinge my skull and open up my brain just to let some air in.

No.
NO.

I mention this mostly because this is going to be a music review that doesn’t talk a whole lot about the actual music. I like jewelry that looks like it could come to life and kill someone, I like video games that make me cry, and I like music that feels like I’m in the middle of either a life-changing realization, or a fantasy-scape battlefield.

So a few weeks ago, whilst playing Minecraft with the boy (who, much like me, tends to saunter along through life until a song catches us and then it lays eggs in our brain parts and all of ourselves get chewed to ribbons until it finishes it’s dirty work and we are released back into the wild.) we were Skyping and killing pigs and making stone temples to uncaring monster gods, you know, like you do. And he mentioned having a song he couldn’t get out of his head and linked me to it. And he’s given me a few songs I’ve fallen in love with, but none that grappled my skull down to the ground and basically stabbed itself into every single waking thought until I was muttering it to myself when I was trying to sleep and couldn’t listen to it anymore. It is a song that went mad with power distressingly quickly.

FINE, I'LL BUY YOU ON iTUNES, CALM DOWN.
FINE, I’LL BUY YOU ON iTUNES, CALM DOWN.

Continue reading “Take Me To Church” by Hozier

Casting For Iron

One of the core pillars of Chef’s personal belief systems was that a good chef needed about two tools to make good food: a good chef’s knife and a seasoned cast iron skillet. And it’s true enough that he’d come back around and talk about how his mom used to make an entire breakfast in one pan. She’d fry the bacon first, put them down to drain and then hit the sizzle metal with eggs over easy, because hey. If you live in a world deprived of eggs cooked in the popping fat of an animal, I’m sure you’ve got your reasons for it, but somewhere my heart is crying. So you cook your eggs over easy, slide them off and make your hash browns, and they soak up everything else you’ve got until they’re crispy and buttery. Maybe you make toast, too. It’s your life. Boom: You’ve got your breakfast and it’s hot and beautiful and you get yolk bleeding into your hash browns and bacon crunching and melting our your tongue, and if you’re Chef, you probably drank black coffee as a five year old, so you have that too.

So I came back to Minnesota and asked for a chef’s knife and a cast iron skillet for my birthday, because buying something for yourself is for chumps. CHUMPS.

A cast iron skillet, or, really, any cast iron cookware is relatively cheap and easy to make (as far as these things go, when the world ends and we all have to muddle our way through with things we’ve pieced together from playing survival horror games, reading Gary Paulsen’s The Hatchet far too often in our formative years because we were angry he got rescued and simply wanted to read an entire series about a city boy who gets lost in the woods and suffers forever, we take comfort that we can either make new cast iron cookware, or salvage the cast iron cookware we find in rooted out department stores.) and will last until the bitter end of time. It’s made form a single piece of iron in order to get that ideal heat distribution. We’ve traced cast iron cookware as far back as China in the Han Dynasty. And from there we traced it to Westerners pretending they invented it. And you know something is good if China invents it and then Westerners come and try and front like it was all on the Industrial Revolution. See also: tea, paper money and explosions.

Continue reading Casting For Iron

Mug Cake For Right Smug Mugs

Mug Cake, for the unaware, is the place where inspiration meets science. Let’s say you’re trapped in, say, someone’s basement, and you want a cake. And you can’t have a cake, because the person only gave you enough things to make a mug cake, and if you want to survive you have to make the mug cake, because you are someone’s flesh puppet used to make the world seem less lonely and you don’t get a lot of choices about that.

“Too real. TOO REAL.” You might say.

“Sorry.” I would then say, because it’d bad enough to have a captive baking friend, but maybe you shouldn’t rub it in their face. I’m sorry. That was rude. Still captive friends? Buddy? Pal? Groovy.

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So, for your comfort, let’s say you want a cake but you don’t want to deal with the mental state that would require you to feel okay with eating an entire double layer basically the easiest of all cakes. Let’s say it’s midnight and you woke up with an overwhelming desire to put cake in your face. Whatever the reason, let’s talk about creating baked goods in a microwave in 10ish minutes, depending on how drunk you are.

Now, not all mug cakes are created equal. Sure you’re getting cake in about ten  minutes with very little effort on your part, but you want the best of all possible mug cakes, the epitome of mug cakes. The kind of mug cake that make the rest of your college dorm consider murdering you in your sleep because you taught them this cake. The sort of cake you want to teach to your fat baby niecephews so they can grow in a beautiful world of cake and mugs.

Continue reading Mug Cake For Right Smug Mugs

Make WonderBread Feel Like LoserBread

Let’s not have a story today. Let’s talk about bread.

 

I love bread. I love the idea of bread. I love it as a thing unto itself: I love the process of making it, and learning how to make it better, and eating it. I love it as a thing outside of itself: talking about bread, writing long, weird, rambling lyric essays about bread, relating bread to writing.

 

I have more feelings about bread than is probably reasonable to have feelings about a thing. And I have a lot of feelings about a good many weird things. I cry about Bioshock Infinite a lot. One times I cried because there was a particularly sad looking t-shirt on the floor and I over-empathized with it’s sad floppy, dusty existence. Sometimes fat babies comes into work and I need to have a high pitched lie-down because they are so fat and so baby. So there’s that, my baseline of having far too many over pronounced feelings about things, and then you take that and you escalate it and you have my weird probably not fetishistic feelings about bread. I will try and drunk dial bread. For Valentines Day The Butt got me flours and now I’m dating his dumb 10-hour-away dumb ass.

 

While this is probably not true, I’m going to choose to blame Reading Rainbow and Sesame Street who, one fair day, decided to focus on bread and toasters, respectively, when my house had no bread. And because I was tiny me, and because I am a person who had feelings about neglected T-shirts this lack of bread in a world where I was promised that bread was not only a Thing but a Thing that could be toasted and devoured, a tiny monster was born in my tiny self. A tiny monster that demanded we Have Bread. Perhaps, if one of my parents had gone to the grocery store in a reasonable time frame I would have become a mechanic or something, but no. I sat there consumed with lust for the rest of the evening. Lifetime. I am a creature who was denied bread and it became my superhero origin story. Never Again, swore tiny me. Never Again shall bread Not Be A Thing That I Could Have, And Have, Perhaps, Toasted.

 

I will spare you the rest of my verbose and slightly disturbing breadfeels in exchange for making some bread, because making stuff is always better than a creepy person on the internet needing to have a lie down on the floor because she got over-invested.

 

But Skeller, you say as my flesh puppet, I do not know how to make bread! I have never made bread! Bread seems a terrifying thing because you need to do something with yeast and rising and how about we just spare us all and go to the grocery store.

And lo, dear flesh puppet, it may be easier to go to the grocery store, but because you are my flesh puppet you do not have free will and thus, will make bread.

 

(We’ll be working with Peter Reinhart’s recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice because that man is the Carl Sagan of baking.)

 

As always, I’ll go into the SHIT YOU NEED before delving into the SHIT YOU DO.

Continue reading Make WonderBread Feel Like LoserBread

Salt

So, obviously, Mom goes on the record saying she always knew. But mom is the Nostradamus of 20/20 hindsight prophecy. To this day if I call her with bad news she’ll respond with ‘You know, I was having a bad feeling all night.’

 

Like, great, mom, did you buy a new spare tire? No.

 

But when we were kids, me and Zeke both ate all the candy we could find, and Criss would eat an entire jar of pickles. Or lay anchovies on her morning toast in neat little rows. Or sit with a glass of water mixed with table salt.

 

“Criss, I think the Hansons’ baby is crying if that’s just not cutting it anymore.” I’d said, when she wrinkled up her nose when sweet old Mr. and Mrs. Jalwick offered her candy. It was the first time any of us had said it aloud. Mom said she always knew, but I was the first to say anything.

 

And Criss had taken another huge bite of jerky, because Criss lived a salt encrusted life and said: “Would you rather I try and steal your Skittles?”

 

“No.” I’d said, unworried, considering Criss ate lox for breakfast instead of pancakes. “Who even got you that jerky, huh? Yeah, you walk away with your guilt jerky.”

 

You can’t steal potato chips because they make too much noise, and pickle jars are too big, but beef jerky? Beef jerky you can just slide into your sock right by your ankle and the bored teenager behind the desk? The one with his feet up? The one watching TV? Yeah, he ain’t gonna notice. In my expirence you don’t want to try and get away with more than two or three per ankle because then you’re just asking to get caught. And then in the summer you  have to tuck them in the waistband of your shorts, which means you have to be extra careful because those slippery wrappers will just slide right down and out your short’s leg.

Continue reading Salt