Monday, November 30, 2009


A Terrible Q & A

1. If a gherkin is a pickle and a cornichon is a gherkin; who decides what’s a pickle? And what happened to Mr. Cucumber?

2. The most annoying argument is whether the chicken or the egg came first. A real question we should ask ourselves, however, is did the sunny-side up or the scrambled egg come first? If so, what about the over easy and over well? Mr. Benedict?

3. I’ve always wondered what would happen if you bred a croque-monsieur with a croque-madame. Would you get a croque-scrambled-transgender? Or croque-broken-yolk?

4. Though it may be silly to ponder upon: If you were a blue cheese, yet you were actually a happy cheese, would you prefer bleu to blue? Or just happy cheese?

5. A classic peanut butter and jelly calls for white bread, creamy peanut butter and grape jelly. Argue it if you’d like, but that seems to be the common combination. So if we are to throw a hypothetical out there, if we substitute strawberry jelly – or heavens forbid, jam – are we committing PB&J sacrilege?

6. According to tradition, if one drops their bread in a pot of fondue, you are subject to forfeit. But how does a group of fondue folk deal with someone who intentionally drops their bread, so as to better coat it in cheese? Does that make them a glutton? Or just a masochist? Or just plain stupid?

7. Whenever chocolate gets brought up between groups of people, the common outburst – at least in the last decade – has been to lambaste milk chocolate in favor of dark chocolate. Yet the forgotten albino brother of the two always becomes the wild card. To champion white chocolate is not only a dis to the conventional creation of chocolate, as it uses solely cocoa butter, but it also puts into question the racial undertones of chocolate-ism. Really, how does Mexican chocolate come into play?

8. If a Baker’s Dozen was orignally a result of being cautious, and is now used as a way to maximize baking yields, would baking a normal dozen be considered cutting back on the carbs? Thus, in a way, creating a diet within a realm of sugar, butter and starches? Cue the jingle: “Attackin’ da Atkin?”

9. A good steak calls for a crisp outer crust and cool red center. A bad steak calls for a burnt crisp crust and warm brown center. Thus, one reminds you of an actual animal and the other reminds you of a piece of charcoal. That’s all.

10. A common form of sweetening tea is to add honey. For coffee drinkers, it is a rarity, yet it is also used to sweeten their drinks. Which brings us to hot cocoa, cider and/or mulled wine. Is it a possibility? Or does that just mean you have no taste buds? (Think: Burnt taste buds).

Sunday, November 29, 2009


“Since you all have chosen to elect a man with a timber toe to succeed me, you may all go to hell and I will go to Texas.”
- D. Crockett

Hu-man-ism [(h)yoo-muh-niz-uh m]
1. Any system or mode of thought or action in which human interests, values, and dignity predominate.
2. Devotion to or study of the humanities.
3. (Sometimes initial capital letter) the studies, principles, or culture of humanists.
4. Philosophy. A variety of ethical theory and practice that emphasizes reason, scientific inquiry, and human fulfillment in the natural world and often rejects the importance of belief in God.

1805-15; Human + -ism.

“An outlook or system of thought attracting prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems. “

“(Often Humanism) A Renaissance cultural movement that turned away from medieval scholasticism and revived interest in ancient Greek and Roman thought,”

“(Among some contemporary writers) A system of thought criticized as being centered on the notion of the rational, autonomous self and ignoring the unintegrated and conditioned nature of the individual.”

Hu-man-ist noun & adjective
Hu-man-is-tic adjective
Hu-man-is-ti-cal-ly adverb

“Provide me with a painter whom we can really trust, and I shall willingly allow myself to be portrayed on paper, canvas, or panel.”
- Heroine of Matteo Bandello to her Lover, 15th C.

Friday, November 20, 2009


It was 5:44 when Graham returned home. He had made his rounds at the local bars, catching up and seeing what the folks he had left behind were up to. John, the bartender at Cisco’s, still looked the same yet sounded different. Frank, at Gigi’s, seemed to have gained a few pounds. Sue, the head waitress at Leo’s, had become a blonde.

The old players of the game were still at it, still doing what they always did before.

It was what Graham had expected when he came back. He wanted to chat about the old days, ask about town politics and figure out what he had been missing out on.

But he knew what he had been missing out on. He left to go see the world, become educated and meet girls. He had a list of things to do, places to see, people to meet – really everything cliché about the “one” who left town. He was, as if they never forgot, the “one and only” Graham.

When he walked into Harry’s, his favorite butcher in all of town, he reminisced about the days that he’d come storming in to pick up some pork chops. Harry would always cut them thick like Graham’s Grandfather had requested.

“If they aren’t thick, you don’t get the proper texture of meat,” his Grandfather would say.

Harry could never disagree.

While the two started the conversation about how the day had gone, who still came in and what Graham had done since leaving – an odd moment of silence fell between the two. The smile on Harry’s face that he had kept on throughout the conversation dropped. His arm went a bit limp as if he lost his strength. His balance shifted left.

As he dropped the knife he had been holding a tear began to stream down his wrinkled left cheek. He covered his mouth with his left hand as short sobs dribbled out from within. His right palm gripped the counter for support.

Graham stood there transfixed. He had never seen Harry like this and didn’t know how to react – as if we ever do. He knew the Harry that always cut him the best chops from the “stock in the back.” He knew the Harry that woke up at 4AM just so he could watch the sun rise and tend to his livestock. This was the man that Graham had grown to love almost like another father – someone who he counted on for so much.

Harry was 89 years old when he died 13 years later. Graham would eventually lay the final flower on his coffin as it lowered into the ground – one of the few who actually remembered Harry as a good man. His funeral would take place just 4 miles from town, up Cobble Hill and behind some trees in a lot of about a dozen others. Graham thought back to how he came home 13 years ago to see Harry breakdown and tell him everything that he had done since Graham left. He remembered what Harry had told him not to forget.

With each sob the momentum built up until his right palm slipped from the counter and Harry lost his balance. By then Graham was able to react out of habit and jumped over the counter to check on Harry. He lay there in a feeble position, holding the back of his head with arms bent behind it. He didn’t look like a guy that butchered meat for a living. That façade was gone. Now he was Harry, weak and broken, clutching himself on the floor of his shop. It just wasn’t the same.

Graham reached for a few towels that he saw at eye level – at the time he was on his knees – and pulled them from their hook. He wadded them up into a loose ball and placed them under Harry’s head. There was no blood from the slip, as there was enough around them, which was a good sign to Graham.

He tried his best to think back as to when he might’ve seen Harry like this. He couldn’t, really, yet he tried.

It was the memory of July 4th weekend, some time ago, when he had decided to join Harry and his wife on the beach. Both had run off into the surf to swim out to sea, while Evelyn stayed under the umbrella. She distinctively reminded Harry not to let Graham swim out too far, as his mother might grow worried of his safety. It was years ago for Graham, so the details are a bit fuzzy.

But he recalls how he had to bring Harry out of the water after he crashed against a rock exposed by a heavy wave. It knocked him unconscious and caused him to sink down into the tide. Graham was actually about two body lengths away, looking out into the horizon when Harry began to go down. He only turned around when he realized that all he could hear were the natural waves – not the ones churned up by Harry’s signature stroke.

For now he was still conscious on the tiled floor of his store. He was still sobbing and clutching his head. The sole tear that had streamed down his face had brought about a full deluge of tears that soaked his porous skin. He moved his hands so that he could cover his face, the wrinkles squishing between his jittery fingers.

Clutching him by the back with his right hand, Graham kneeled beside him trying to come up with something to say. All he could do was look at Harry grovel from his own fears and the feeling of being seen by Graham. Yet he did not push him away or say a word. He chose to cover himself instead, hiding his face and smothering his tears and sobs and shivering mumbles with his crumpled shirt.

Five minutes ago he was the man smiling behind the counter noting how often Samuel Moyer had been coming in lately. Three minutes before that he had been the friend who opened the door for Graham with the most enthusiasm he had expressed all day. Four minutes before he had opened the door a telephone order had asked him to hold the next fresh rack of lamb that came in. A minute before the call he had finished carving a prime cote de boeuf.

Far before he told Graham who he had betrayed, who he had lied to, who he had cheated on in his life he was an idea in Graham’s head. He was a fabrication of the instances they had shared before this. It was an innocent ignorance that the two had shared for so long – and it had worked. No one knew Harry better than Graham – even compared to Evelyn.

There was that bond the day Harry had gone down in the tide, slipping away into the depths of the sea. Darkness crept below, closing in over him and sealing him off with the secrets he had stored within. He kept a lot to himself – so he thought – but so did Graham.

Harry was known for his smile throughout town – as if it were his signature. Graham knew him because he cut pork chops and liked jazz. He was one of the few guys that Graham could relate to and talk about his life without interfering opinions that he didn’t want to hear. They could spill information to each other that they couldn’t to anyone else. They knew each other quite well.

When they were chatting about town politics Harry had mentioned that the direction of the town was moving. It wasn’t the same even though it seemed the same on the outside. The signs still needed cleaning and the people still had yet to say anything about it. But they went on throughout the day, doing what they needed to do and accomplishing what needed to be accomplished.

He mentioned that the rack of lamb would take a few days to Graham because they still were a bit young. He didn’t want to end what had flourished before his eyes so soon. He cherished it too much. He cared too much.

Graham tried to stop him then and say that there was no need to put a limit on how he should feel. If it mattered that much to him he should keep what mattered to him alive. It was a duty to himself, as Graham had told him.

The reality of it all was that Harry had a lot on his mind that he hadn’t told a soul. He wanted to talk – which is what Graham had come in to do – but it meant going behind, not beyond, the usual banter between the two. Smiles and pork chops aside, Harry had done a few things in his life that needed to be shared.

But he never got that chance because his nerves got the best of him and rattled through his arms. He stopped mid-sentence as he was describing how Evelyn was.

After about a quarter of an hour Harry was able to slow down the sobs. Graham remained by his side, sliding the palm of his hand over the forehead of Harry. He had heard so much in such a short time – all without saying a single word.

What had been said would stick with him for a while. On his ride home he kept thinking about what had happened over and over. He knew Harry in a completely different manner, yet he couldn’t decide how he was to feel about this. There was no one to direct or persuade or remind Graham as to how he should behave.

It was he against the darkness of the night, alone with his thoughts, going over them over and over. He was speaking to himself the entire way home.

When he arrived it was 5:44 and he still had no idea.

He was lost and confused without the parameters that he had grown to accept. He didn’t know who he was or what was going on.

Yet he accepted it for that moment and closed the tired book.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Champ de Chomp

Dear Mr. Deli Man,

Thank you for your hard work. You are a man that everyone needs in his or her life. Not only do you load up on the meat (sliced to desired thickness!), but you also put a sticker on top that says, “Boar’s Head Quality Meats.” Your heroes are delicious.

Mr. Deli Man: You are my hero. Thank you.

Customer #12

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


It’s a Saturday night and he was at it again. Same story, same place, same style, same everything. He was a boring fellow but for some reason I kept coming back. He knew me too well - he knew what worked and he knew what could get me loose. It was something out of respect – at least that’s what I told myself. For days upon weeks – maybe even years – I couldn’t even find a moment where I wasn’t wondering what he might whip up next. He was the mastermind of so much.

But this was a different Saturday. Today he wanted to surprise me so I let him go at it.

“The usual?” he coyly muffled to me.

I shot back a bemused smirk.

“You know me better than that,” I impishly griped.

His eyes glinted.

It was then that I knew I was in trouble. Should’ve stopped before things went south.

“Sorry,” I told him.

“I really am.”

He seemed distraught. The gleam was gone.

His eyes tilted downward.

“All I wanted was a drink.”

Monday, November 16, 2009


IV - A.

“In the flowers,” the mustachioed man said.

“Over there.”

Sadly, the young man couldn’t really say anything in response. His hands were tied, his legs shackled. The weight of his limp neck sunk a bit farther than his head. His lips were parched.

While there was some dignity in his step, it was easy to tell the thoughts that ran through his head weren’t really thoughts. They were more of ideas that had been fed to him over time. For a good amount of his term he had believed that if he treated the others with kindness, in return they would respect him for his troubling sacrifices. He was a man of principle so he believed that such principles would be upheld in a mutual manner and shared understanding.

“Leg up! Leg up!”

Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

Earlier that morning, before the marching had begun, he had awoken to a large man sitting next to him on a stool. The large man wasn’t anything significant enough to recall déjà vu or even symbolic irony, yet he was the one who managed to wake the young man up. He was not mustachioed, yet he did maintain a good pair of chops on his sides. When the large man shuffled back and forth within the room, the young man actually chuckled slightly under his breath.

Dust moved along, pebbles skipped across and grass bent under the weight of his sandals.

“Up boy! Up!”

Mechanical, if not maniacal, was a proper term for the other man’s orders. He, on the other hand, thought of himself as a leader.

Sunshine gleamed down upon the chronicled event for years to come. But this was only a few years in.

“Turn to the left – move to the left.”

The young man moved right.

“Preposterous!” halted the mustachioed man.

“These orders must be followed!”

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pins & Pens

I know your image of me is what I hope to be
I’ve treated you unkindly but darlin’ can’t you see
There’s no on more important to me
Darlin’ can’t you please see through me

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


The dear bird fluttered through the air with the lightest of wings. She had composure even when making her way through the rain. As the droplets fell down from the pine tree branches, her slicked feathers wicked away the moisture. Her color was that of a beaming saffron. It shone brightly against the darkened backdrop of coarse bark and a leaden horizon. There wasn’t any sunlight peeking through the mackerel sky high above. No, this sight was pure and blissful. Even as the droplets continued to work against her – pelting her beat by beat – her determination kept at it. It was a sight so engrossing you felt as though you were watching a theatrical composition. How could nature present something so sublime yet keep it away from so many? Hidden in this taiga - so far away from the rest of those proles – was this magnificent sight and exuberant passion. She wasn’t just traveling to flutter her wings and look pretty while doing so. It was us that panned alongside, moving in an effort to catch up and catch a glimpse – if but a fraction of a second of this nimble movement. Call it beauty or call it life, what difference does it make if we constrict a moment to such ideals? Gripping for such conditions would be like the trees that became blurs and brushes of color while our eyes scan across. Containing this to a term or a phrase or a tangible description would do a disservice to the rush of energy that could only be felt yet not explained. Even the most erudite linguist could not capture this. Nor any artisan, any artist or any upper-echelon intellectual. This was life as it was meant to be experienced. This was beauty as the eye captured it and then let the brain turn it into whatever we may already know or assume we know. As we experience these sights we wonder why it is they stick with us for so long. We’ve seen so much in our lives and have experienced so many events – and that is the way we chapter them. It’s a daily process – a yearly process – then a decade upon decade process that keeps us going. A utilization of the time frames created for our own needs of organization. Yet for this moment, as she sped through the air and towards whatever destination she had in mind – it didn’t matter what needed to be done next, or after we accomplished what was next or what was meant to be done in a said amount of time. It was living in the moment, experiencing life as it came at us. We could say it was within milliseconds or maybe even minutes if we go blunt. But this was far from a blunt moment or an instant of crude generalizations. This was specific. Connected. Real and happening. This dear bird was an encompassing feature but also a subject of its own right. Wings and rain and bark and sky were the elements around it yet beauty was the big word that described it. I tried to scribble down as much as I could to describe to myself later on what I had just experienced – but that just didn’t cut it. It didn’t seem to cut it for you either. Yet we move on and keep going. However we remember. We remember the moments that happened and the seconds that we can’t describe but can only feel. They’re in there – inside us – and with us. We carry them just as that young bird carried the droplets while wicking the bad ones away. We attempt to flick and wick and get rid of what keeps us from advancing, yet they always find a way to get at us. Call it life or call it beauty – that’s the beauty of life. It repeats itself in ways we don’t like, but we deal with it. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be fluttering at all. Instead, we’d be giving in to moments like this.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

USMC - 234

On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of the Continental Congress. Since that date, many thousand men have borne the name Marine. In memory of them, it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the Birthday of our Corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.

The record of our Corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world's history. During 90 of the 146 years of its existence, the Marine Corps has been in action against the nations foes. From the battle of Trenton to the Argonne. Marines have won foremost honors in war, and in the long eras of tranquility at home. Generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.

"In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our Corps Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term Marine has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.

This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the Corps. With it we also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our Corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as 'Soldiers of the Sea' since the founding of the Corps.

- Gen. J. Lejeune

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


He sat down on the wooden stool and removed his dusty hat. As he patted it with his hands the filth lingered in the air, illuminated by the sunlight that came through the back door. I watched it swirl largo in the gentle breeze, moving ever so slowly as if it were perennially stuck in the room we shared right then.

My trousers were a bit less soiled than his. He had made his rounds for the day and earned his share of filth. I on the other hand had merely coerced my way into his house.

I wanted to talk to him though. I needed to speak my mind and relay my thoughts for once. He needed to hear this after all - that I had put myself through so much in order to get by in these rough times.

So I began.

“Your idea is a horrible piece of shit and I think it does no good for the aggregate needs of our community and the specialized functions necessary for the principles of our far-fetched yet law-abiding demands and desires,” I exclaimed with a harsh rash.

I stopped for a second and let silence run through my brain in a far more useful manner than the thoughts that had just purged through my mouth.

“What the fuck did I just say?” I thought to myself.

His reaction was predictable. He just stood there staring past me like he had been before I even opened my mouth. His fingers slowly pinched the fringe of his hat as he pursed his lips in a miffed manner.

The squints of his eyes showed the detail of his agression and stress built inside but he remained cool and calm – if you can call it that.

Slowly his left arm raised above the table to his left. He moved the hat back on to his sullied crown with the palm of his right hand and looked towards the window. He grabbed the revolver on the table and cocked the trigger back without looking.

“You’re a very smart lad,” he grumbled between his teeth.

I couldn’t help but stare at the charcoal and sooty shadow on his cheeks.

“But you piss me off sometimes more than you make me happy.”

My eyes remained fixed on his left jaw.

“So I’m going to do you a favor,” he muttered.

“I’m going to let you walk ten paces in reverse….”

He paused to look down at his revolver.

“And then I’m going to count to four.”

“Why four?” I asked without a hesitation.

“What was that stammer?” he slipped.

“What’d you just say?”

“Fuck.” I thought to myself.

His eyes remained glassed over.

“What the fuck did I just do.”