Monthly Archives: January 2011

From the tangled spaghetti noodles of thought, I extract a most meaningful meatball…

…only to drop it on the floor.

Or,

My refrigerator, like my heart, opened to reveal the paltry contents therein

I made spaghetti, and it needs cheese. At 27, employed, college-educated, of able body and sound (albeit, potentially out of tune) mind, I have no excuses for the following, somehow heartbreaking fact: I have no cheese.

Sure, there are explanations as to how I reached this dire circumstance, but they do not excuse this failure to possess an essential food staple. I mean, my god, I love cheese. Cheese loves me. There’s been a long, storied romance betwixt this blogging man and old, coagulated milk fat. I believe Nicholas Sparks is attempting to tackle our undying love in one of his Shakespearean, “dramatic epic love stories,” which will inevitably be adapted into a film. Ryan Gosling will play the mozzarella. Rosario Dawson is said to be considering the role of pepper jack cheese.

And yet, today’s chapter would take a tragic turn, as I dwell morosely on the faults of my character fating my cheeseless-ness. Primarily, I loathe going to the grocery store. (Is that a character fault?) The zombie mindlessness of the cart-pushing patrons, the fluorescent lighting, the overwhelming abundance of options leading to scrutiny wasted on the subtle and ultimately meaningless differences between one green bottle of shampoo and one blue bottle of shampoo. And the music? An absolute horror to anyone paying attention, which, admittedly, is not really the intention of the playlist.

How, in nothing but a world already destined to complete failure, can Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister” be followed by the Clash’s “Lost in the Supermarket?” Lest you think it some sort of consolation to hear that while looking for pulp-free orange juice amidst all levels of pulp inclusion or exclusion, I attest – it is not. It’s a painful irony all the more painful for its accidental nature. The grocery store music is not being DJ’ed by a clever hipster. It is commercial audio content to soundtrack consumerism in action. All music is reduced to hummable pap, and any subversive element to Strummer and Jones’ lyrics is lost on the free-sample grabbing audience.

I rant, and yet, it brings me no cheese. Yes, I hate the grocery store, mostly because of the people. But there are times when it is not so busy, like now. It’s midnight, and HEB is open. I could satisfy my cheese needs now. But let’s not kid ourselves. I’m not leaving this laptop, this bottle of tequila, this squeaky yet comfortable chair.

I am content to settle for cheese-less spaghetti, as long as I am able to pontificate and be grumpy about it. This makes me a curmudgeon, on top of being unorganized, unprepared, and let’s cut the crap – lazy. Lazy laced with impulse control disorder. I’ve been told this personality-cocktail makes for an incredibly attractive potential mate.

In an attempt to provide a visual break from all the words, I did a google image search of curmudgeon. The results included:

Statler and Waldorf, the ornery old Muppet characters

The late, great comic book writer and music critic, Harvey Pekar. His quote, "Life is a war of attrition," is not currently scheduled to caption any motivational posters.

Andy Fucking Rooney

Personal hero and still undisputed World Heavyweight Grumpy Ol' Bastard Champion, Andy Rooney.

So, I have no cheese.  And while I’ve accepted that for this particular helping of spaghetti, I can’t help but wonder if the cheese is more than cheese.  You know?  Like, is it a metaphor?  Is cheese a rewarding career?  Am I content to put that off until later, later than what?  To procrastinate?  To be happy with the bill-paying but bland sauce?  Or, is cheese a woman?  A relationship in which my fear of intimacy completely evaporates.  (Lady readers, you’re more than welcome to approach me with the line, “I’d love to be your cheese,” and we will laugh and hug and kiss like nobody’s business)

No, it’s probably just cheese.  In fact, even the title of this blog post – particularly the part about extracting a meaningful meatball – is bullshit.  It’s vegetarian spaghetti, with mushrooms and zucchini.  I just liked the alliteration.  I can’t even cook a meaningful metaphor.  (Boom!  still got in that alliteration)  What figurative value could zucchini possibly play?

(I am more than content if the only memorable, de-contextualized quote from this post is, “Is cheese a woman?”)

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Filed under Drinking, Humor, Music, Personal

Obligatory (MUSIC!) List of 2010′s Shiniest, Most Super-Duperist Treasures

You’ve perused the book and movie part of my list.  I’m sure you’ve absorbed it and decided I’m an awesome dude because of all the awesome stuff I read and watched.  Good, good.  That’s how it should be.  That was a great advertisement for myself.  You’re welcome, self.

Now, let’s do the songs I liked from last year.  Albums?  Pfft.  I got shit to do, man.  I have only a ten-minute commute, and that doesn’t leave me time for a lot of album digestion, dig?  I need my songs punchy and gratifying within a 5-minute interval.  Give me suspense, give me shredding guitar riffs, give me climactic choruses, but do it quick.  I’m practically at work already.

In no particular order…

UPDATE:  How did I forget this song?  The lead singer was “carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees” and lived to tell about it!  Wowser!

 

Breathe Owl Breathe – I’m not a big fan of the name, but several songs from their newest record, Magic Central, were popular songs in my car this fall and winter.  This song is very pretty, adorable, and makes me nostalgic for shit I didn’t even do.

And then there’s this song.  I could not pick just one from these kids.

Breathe Owl Breathe – House Of Gold

 

I don’t understand why this next song didn’t get more popular, at least in the indie music blogodome.  It’s awesome, and the whispered threats just kill me.

Jai Paul – BTSTU

 

Heartbreaking, hopeful, just damned lovely.

Phosphorescent – The Mermaid Parade

 

I listened to this next one more than any other song.  It makes my ears feel nice.

Toro y Moi – You Hid

 

The entire Teen Dream record is great, and “Silver Soul” is probably my favorite song, but I already uploaded this one, and I’m too lazy to change it.

Beach House – Take Care

 

Again with the shitty name, but my god what a jam.

PS I Love You – Facelove

 

Guilty pleasure perhaps?  My second most-listened-to song.

Javelin – Oh! Centra

 

Do I really even need to include this one?

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Round and Round

 

Some of that there rap music.  This dude is great.

Freddie Gibbs – National Anthem (Fuck The World)

 

If you are a frequent patron of the Alamo Drafthouse, you know they produce exceptional promotional videos of upcoming events and movies.  The editing is great – they are masterful in their clip selection.  Furthermore, they always pick kick ass songs to soundtrack the spots, and I appreciate how they never forget to credit the musician/band.  For example, Fitz & The Tantrums.

Fitz and The Tantrums – MoneyGrabber

 

I like everything I heard from TOBACCO.  All of it.

TOBACCO – Lamborghini Meltdown (feat. Zackey Force Funk)

 

I’m sure a large part of my obsession with this next song  is due to the video, as it features one of my favorite television characters, from one of my favorite shows.

Or maybe I like it because I relate so closely to the narrator, Kid Cudi, and how he “Hides the pain with some pussy and mimosas,” with “Costa Rica next on [his] agenda.”  Yeah, that’s probably it.

Good god, now can we finally end with the list-making?  Can we stop with the top 25 lists about the top 100 things about the number 4 in 2010?  I have a lot of respect for people who can create, and actually assign a rank, to artistic creations.  I mean, I think it’s respect.  I don’t know what it is, because I eventually had to give in and relax.  I could have worked on a list all of this year and still not been satisfied.  Why did I even do this to myself?  This was hard, and I’m not even sure it was all that rewarding.

What a great ending!

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Obligatory List of 2010’s Shiniest, Most Super-Duperist Media Treasures

I liked a lot of things last year.  A lot of things also offended my sense of taste, hurt my admittedly sensitive feelings, disappointed my not-even-that-high expectations, smothered my heart with a hot, stuffy pillow of rejection, and gave me tummyaches until I had a Maalox mustache.

But let’s focus on that very first sentence, shall we?  And I don’t mean the personal relationships forged, the professional goals achieved or even the spiritual insights attained.  Oh no, I mean the shit I bought.  More specifically, the music, movies and books I consumed.

Now, I tried to restrict it to media actually released last year, but that’s too hard.  It’s not really the way I consume media.  Who, beside the most self-consciously taste-making list creators, pays close enough attention?

My defense is that with constant access to ALL THINGS ALL THE TIME, pop culture time is collapsed.   I really don’t want to go in to what I mean by that – just read the damn blog, and allow me the liberty to present awesome things both 2010 and before, with me (somewhat) careful to point out which is which, for the discerning media consumer.

Books!  (Just in case you don’t recognize the objects in the above picture and thought it depicted a stack of painted Kindles)  The italicized text are passages from the books.

The Geography of Nowhere – James Howard Kunstler (First published in 1993)

This is a light-hearted romp through one man’s love of the American automobile obsession and the subsequently lovely infrastructure built and adoringly groomed to maintain and bolster it.  Sarcasm aside, it’s an essential read that will make you loathe your driving habit and look with newly disgusted eyes at the places we’ve created to live lives disconnected from nature and each other.

America has now squandered its national wealth erecting a human habitat that, in all likelihood, will not be usable very much longer, and there are few unspoiled places left to retreat to in the nation’s habitable reaches.  Aside from its enormous social costs, which we have largely ignored, the whole system of suburban sprawl is too expensive to operate, too costly to maintain, and a threat to the ecology of living things.  To lose it is tragic not because Americans will be deprived of such wonderful conveniences as K Marts and drive-in churches – we can get along happily without them – but because it was a foolish waste of resources in the first place, and it remains to be seen whether its components can be recycled, converted to other uses, or moved, or even whether the land beneath all the asphalt, concrete, and plastic, can be salvaged. In the meantime, Americans are doing almost nothing to prepare for the end of the romantic dream that was the American automobile age.


The road is now like television, violent and tawdry.  The landscape it runs through is littered with cartoon buildings and commercial messages. We whiz by them at fifty-five miles an hour and forget them, because one convenience store looks like the next.  They do not celebrate anything beyond their mechanistic ability to sell merchandise.  We don’t want to remember them.  We did not savor the approach and we were not rewarded upon reaching the destination, and it will be the same next time, and every time.  There is little sense of having arrived anywhere, because everyplace looks like noplace in particular.

 

President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed a committee to study the prospect of building a national network of superhighways.  The commission chairman was Lucius D. Clay, who also happened to be on the board of General Motors.  To no surprise, boosted also by the tireless promotion of oil, tire, asphalt, steel, and other such lobbying interests, the committee’s report enthusiastically endorsed the project.  The economy boomed, certainly, as it was the largest public-works project in the history of the world.

The distinction between the booming economy and what that boom yielded can’t be stressed enough.  The great suburban build-out generated huge volumes of business.  The farther apart things spread, the more cars were needed to link up the separate things, the more asphalt and cement were needed for roads, bridges, and parking lots, the more copper for electric cables, et cetera.  Each individual suburban house required its own washing machine, lawnmower, water meter, several television sets, telephones, air conditioners, swimming pools, you name it.  Certainly, many Americans became wealthy selling these things, while many more enjoyed good steady pay manufacturing them.  In a culture with no other values, this could easily be construed as a good thing.  Indeed, the relentless expansion of consumer goodies became increasingly identified with our national character as the American Way of Life.  Yet not everyone failed to notice that the end product of all this furious commerce-for-its-own-sake was a trashy and preposterous human habitat with no future.


Indulging in a fetish of commercialized individualism, we did away with the public realm, and with nothing left but private life in our private homes and private cars, we wonder what happened to the spirit of community.  We created a landscape of scary places and became a nation of scary people.


Hard Rain Falling – Don Carpenter (First published in 1966, republished in 2009 by the New York Review of Books)

This book will put hair on your chest.  It’s a prison novel populated with gamblers and pool hustlers along the Pacific Northwest.  It’s a story of drinking binges and rock bottoms and the complicated quest of an orphan struggling for money, women and that cliche yet powerful, true and elusive redemption.

He knew what he wanted.  He wanted some money.  He wanted a piece of ass.  He wanted a big dinner, with all the trimmings.  He wanted a bottle of whiskey.

One night an old man was brought in for assault with a deadly weapon.  They got the story from the deputies:  The old man lived with his son’s family, and his grand-daughter had been gotten pregnant by a boy, and there had been a conference of the two families in an attempt to fix the responsibility and decide what to do.  At first it was decided that it was the boy’s fault for making the girl go all the way; then they blamed the girl for allowing the boy to take these liberties with her (they were only juniors in high school), and then both sets of parents decided to blame themselves for not raising their children properly, and finally, after much self-recrimination, it was decided that modern society itself made it impossible to raise children properly, what with the movies and television and violence, too much sex in the magazines, and the way girls dressed these days; and the old man, who had been sitting in the background listening in disgust, finally went upstairs to his room and came back down with his double-barreled 12-gauge shotgun and terrified everybody by pointing the deadly weapon at the boy and telling him by God he would do the right thing by the girl or the grandfather would come looking for him and would find him no matter how far he ran and when he found him he would blow a hole through him, by God.  The boy let out a scream and jumped through the picture window, and cut himself pretty badly, and the boy’s parents called the police right after they called the ambulance. It did not occur to them to blame the grandfather’s actions on society.

 

The Book of Harold, the Illegitimate Son of God (2010) – Owen Egerton

Egerton is an Austinite, and I’m disappointed it took me over two years to discover this great local author.  The entire opening description of a nativity scene gone horribly wrong is amazing and hilarious.  Essentially, it’s the story of a man claiming to be the Second Coming of Christ, and the movement which springs up in support.  I thought it would be mostly satire, and while it contains just that, it’s also a fairly earnest exploration of faith.

Nothing happens and time is running out.  I know I’m dying.  It feels lonely.  I think it’s what’s made me lonely my whole life.  Not death as an end, but death as an always.  It’s like dancing on an iced pond, that cold water always just an inch below you.  You keep your feet moving so you won’t crack through.  But the cold still makes you shiver.  Always there.  And if you stop dancing, just for a second, that cold air creeps up your legs, soaks in.  Cold just below.  Death right there.  Trying to tell me it’s already in my veins.

God, you hear this?  You hear what the cold is telling me?  What nature keeps whispering?  How much this all hurts?  Do you hear this, you mute?  I put my ear to your chest and listen for a heartbeat.  I can’t hear a heartbeat.


Motherless Brooklyn – Jonatham Lethem (1999)

This is a detective novel bursting out of any genre limitations with help from it’s Tourette’s-suffering narrator.  He’s an orphan searching for the killer of his mentor/boss, consumed by verbal tics and hollers, annoying or upsetting everyone he encounters.  It’s funny and entirely believable in its depiction of the narrator/main character’s disorder.  A narrator with Tourette’s allows Lethem to dissect, explore and riff on language that is entertaining and inventive.

Instead of quoting passages, just do yourself a favor and “Search inside this book” on Amazon.  Those first six pages should hook you.

 

Fever Chart – Bill Cotter (2009, but I bought the 2010-released paperback.  Loophole?)

By far, this was my favorite book this year.  Hilarious, disturbing, and description-rich in an obsessive yet never tiring style.  Amazon’s product description is better than I can do:

“Having spent most of his life medicated, electroshocked, and institutionalized, Jerome Coe finds himself homeless on the coldest night of the century — and so, with nowhere else to go, he accepts a ride out of New England from an old love’s ex-girlfriend. It doesn’t quite work out, but he makes it to New Orleans, and a new life — complete with a bandaged hand, world-champion grilled-cheese sandwiches, and only the occasional psychotic break. Things get better, and then, of course, they get worse. From a writer who’s worked as a debt collector, book restorer, toilet scrubber, and door-to-door vacuum-cleaner salesman, Fever Chart is filled with a cast of Crescent City denizens that makes for one of the most vivid ensembles since Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces.”

Take away my meds, leave me outside in the cold, sic violent pets on me, batten me to a gurney, but please don’t separate me from my toilet.  I could never, ever, ever be more than a few hundred yards away from a toilet, a good, clean, private lavatory, with an exhaust fan, some sort of high-decibel white noise, the essential side items, and a nonwobbling ceramic commode with suction like an airlock on a space station.


I had strange, pelvicentric feelings toward Daniel Day Lewis’s Adam’s apple.


So that was it then. My time with Julie had come to an end. She had to go to work. Maybe she’d let me come along on her rounds! Maybe I’d just follow her.  No.  If she caught me, she’d think I was a stalker and never, ever allow me near her again.  I had no choice but to go home and lie on the floor by the phone for hours and hours, while the jaws of lust and uncertainty ground me to a digestible paste.


Then, from above her mouth a wide red ribbon began to unroll. It followed the contours of her lips, and of her tongue, which had reflexively darted out to taste it.  A thick, lush ribbon; shiny, without a trace of weave.   The ribbon paused at her chin, then fell heavily.  I rushed forward with my hands cupped and caught the ribbon in midstream.  She jumped back and some of the blood splashed onto her white t-shirt.   It continued to pour from both nostrils, bright cadmium red.  In an instant my cupped hands filled with several ounces of her blood.  On the glass counter streaks and pools and splatters glowed around their edges from the fluorescent light below.


Movies!

Inception – Duh.

Winnebago Man – Sure, this was funny and compelling for the subject matter – a man infamous for an underground vhs tape and viral Internet clips depicting outtakes from his expletive-filled breakdowns while shooting an RV promotional video – but it became more than that.  I thought it really considered the roles of, and relationship between, documentary filmmaker and subject in a thoughtful way.  Following clip NSFW.

Leaves of Grass – I wrote this off at first, and would not have seen it if I didn’t have a free movie ticket to burn.  I would have missed a really great movie.  Edward Norton plays twin brothers that embody a dichotomy of intelligence – one is book smart and teaches philosophy, one is a street-smart and inventive hydroponic pot grower.  Just…just trust me on this one.

Machete – Brutal, hilarious, and Danny Trejo beds an insane of amount of pretty ladies.

Dogtooth – This may be weird for the sake of weird, but it has stuck with me far longer than most movies.

A Prophet – My favorite

 

Movies I have not seen, but I imagine are quite good:  The Social Network, Black Swan, The King’s Speech

 

Next post:  The music portion of our program…

Hint:  Train’s not on it.

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Drunk Cooking: Cake!!!

In what is most likely to be a never-weekly series, I discuss something I cooked.

While it’s not recommended for the faint of liver, drunk cooking can be an exciting and rewarding enterprise.

Over the Christmas holiday I was dazzled (I would dare say razzle-dazzled, but I don’t want to get carried away and thus lose hyperbole’s effectiveness through overuse) once again by family’s home-cooked meals.  Particularly captivating this year was my aunt’s Cherry-Pineapple Dump Cake.

For the record (who’s keeping that anyway? Is this the record?),  I am not usually a cherry fan.  I won’t turn one down, especially if it’s chocolate-covered, but I don’t seek them out.

See what I’m doing here?   I’m setting up a hurdle over which the upcoming recipe will soar, most triumphantly.

Despite this blasé attitude toward cherry-related foods, I typically follow a no-refusal policy toward desserts.  Plus, I was cresting a gustatory high from Christmas dinner and feeling experimental.  At such a moment, will power is just not a graspable concept.

So, it was reheated and topped with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream.

That’s right – it was even leftovers from the previous day!

That dessert didn’t stand a chance.   I tried to eat slowly, but it was so good that some primordial fear and jealousy overtook me and I ate it like cake-predators were circling.

There weren’t any.  So, I had a little more, relaxed that there was plenty to go around.   It’s crispy, buttery-soaked top juxtaposes with the high-viscosity fruit-filling beneath to make me lose descriptive skill and just say, “Holy crap, that’s good.”

I must have gone on and on about it, because I was presented with directions for cooking it, along with strong reassurance that even I could make it.

Yes, in what would normally be considered clear condescension were I not aware and accepting of my how-can-you-fuck-up-a-hot-pocket level of cooking skills, I was encouraged to purchase the ingredients and give it a shot.

And so, I did.

Twice.

Cherry-Pineapple Dump Cake

Makes 8 to 10 sober servings, divide by half for drunkards

Ingredients:

1 Fridge that looks like this

1 Strong case of drunk-munchies, although not necessary by any means

1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained

1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling

1 (18.25-ounce) package yellow cake mix

¾ cup butter or margarine, melted

½ cup chopped pecans, toasted

Ice cream or whipped topping

Spread crushed pineapple on bottom of a lightly greased 13 X 9-inch pan.  Top pineapple with cherry pie filling and sprinkle cake mix evenly over filling.  Drizzle with melted butter, and sprinkle with chopped pecans.

It should be noted I used walnuts instead of pecans.  (Pssst, they’re cheaper.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Serve with ice cream.

Prep: 10 min., Bake: 1 hr

What I really like about this is how impossible it is to screw up.  I even tried to screw it up the second time by being completely sober.  But no, still good.  Admittedly, I decided to forgo the ice cream, but it was still so insanely delicious.  It is literally a dump and stir prep-process, thus easy enough for a sauced man-child to make.

Here is a poor photograph of the finished product moments before part of it got in my mustache.

REMEMBER TO PUT DOWN YOUR BEER AND TURN OFF THE OVEN

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Okay, 2011, What’s the Catch?

It’s morning, New Year’s Day at the Fat Fingers of Justice residence…

My lack of a furious hangover pounding on the door to my central nervous system this morning makes no medical sense.  Science, even common sense, dictates that I should be begging for undeserved mercy, thinking that even the refrigerator light is scraping-the-backs-of-my-eyeballs too-bright.

And yet…nothing.  I feel like a mountain of money, with nekkid ladies rolling around in it.  It seemed certain the voluminous gin, whiskey, and mysterious and tongue-twistingly disgusting grape-flavored shots would lead to a wailing and gnashing of teeth to start the new year.

It feels so right to be wrong.

So the question is, 2011, what’s your game?  What kind of trick is this?

What do you want from me?

You’ve got my attention – now what?  You want money?  Here – here’s seven, eight bucks.   It’s all I’ve got.  Oh, and a Schlotzsky’s coupon.  Take that, too.  Just, don’t look at me like you weren’t ready for this.  Besides, it’s just your first day.  Settle down, let’s think about things, make lists, set goals.

You know, I didn’t even see you show up.  I lost track of time, or really, was never tracking it to begin with, and all of a sudden, 5, 4, 3 – here you come, sauntering on in.  At the exact moment (assuming drunken revelers at a bar are in sync with the atomic clock) you arrived, I was ascending stairs.  I’m going to take that as a metaphor, as an awesome omen.

Or it could just mean I’m going to be climbing a lot of stairs this year.

Either way, I’m moving up!

So 2011, on with the resolutions:

Get my shit together.

Drink less.

Spend money I save on not drinking to buy new clothes, especially to replace the t-shirts that I’ve had since my freshman year in college that my beer/taco gut is ever-more courageously attempting to burst through.

Eat less like an American.

Draw more.

Walk more.  More specifically, walk to the liquor store.  If I absolutely must go, it’s only a few blocks, and I can rationalize that I’m somewhat offsetting the vice of drinking by walking.

Stop making resolutions that already endanger other resolutions.

Stop getting older, but avoid the only alternative.

Less facebook, more book.

More beard.

Pick up self by own bootstraps, and don’t get sidetracked by over-thinking the impossible physics of such a thing.

It’s now one week later at the Fat Fingers of Justice residence…

So far, the above fortune is accurate.

But let’s check on those resolutions, shall we?

Drinking less?  If you happened to see me at Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon Tuesday night, I think you know how that one is going. That amazing honky-tonk bar, with music by the Bret Graham Band (perhaps the greatest drinking band I’ve ever seen in my life, as their set list is like the dream country and western jukebox), had me drinking so much my brain cells were starting to pool their resources and consider a retreat out my ear to find a safehouse.

Eat less like an American?  Pizza and tacos are too good.  Scratch that one off the list.  What was I thinking?

Walk more?  I made about 10 trips to the bar at Ginny’s.  All on foot!  Add to that the 3 or  4 trips to the as-you-can-imagine unimaginable bathroom, and I’m practically wearing holes into the soles of my shoes.

Less facebook more book?  Thus far, my only success, although it’s due to a technicality.  My computer has a virus and my Internet time is limited to however long my computer decides not to unexpectedly and without warning shut itself down.  As for the book part, I’m mostly reviewing books I read last year.  Which leads me to…

All right, now I have to finish up my obligatory year-end list of greatest whatnots and thing-a-ma jigs, sexiest literary juggernauts and dopest arthouse porn flicks.  Or something.  If I don’t do one, I’m pretty sure my blogging license is revoked.

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Filed under Austin, Drinking, Humor, Music, Personal