when the donner party became passé

i don’t remember when i learned about the donner party, but i remember how much emotion was lacking when talking about “disaster cannibalism” – when something goes south, people are stranded, and someone gets eaten.

a while back i saw a documentary about what brings some folks to cannibalism when employed in extreme situations (not as a cultural practice) and there was all this stuff about the brain’s drive for survival, and how when you’re really really really really starving, your brain cut shut down the parts of your thinking that makes you think it’s not ok to eat another person – survival is the only goal, and the means don’t matter

at any rate, the donner party was *the* story about cannibalism that came to mind when you needed to think about something particuarly creepy – until i learned about uruguayan air force flight 571, otherwise known as the rugby team who crashed in the andes and who miraulously survived, likely through some cannibalism.

as usual, caitlin doughty does an incredible job explaining what happened – this is definitely worth watching!

make your own herbal tea

if you think outside the tea bag, “tea” is just plant matter steeped in water to extract flavor. that’s the thinking that gave us herbal tea – flowers, leaves, stems, bark, etc.

you’ve probably used a tea bag – traditional or herbal – at some point. you may have even enjoyed loose leaf tea. did you know you can make your own herbal tea at home? i love doing this and it’s a great way to use leftover herbs you bought for a recipe and didn’t use up.

you can use any combination you like. right now i’m making one with mint, lemon, star anise, and cinnamon stick.

to make this, i twist a few mint sprigs together to start breaking the leaves and stems so they’ll release their oil. i muddle them (in a sense) with the cinnamon stick, toss in the star anise, squeeze the juice of half lemon in and toss in the squeezed half.

bring water to just off the boil and add it to your mug. i sip this and refill the water once it gets halfway down. i do this about 3-4 times. this particular mix is very lemony but the cinnamon and star anise show up more the longer they steep. the best way to enjoy everything you put in is to inhale as you bring the cup to your lips to get the smell.

now you can use my recipe or create your own. you can also vary the amounts of what you put in.

other things you could use would be limes or oranges, rosemary, fennel seeds, apple peel, ginger … you get the hint!

if you try your hand at making herbal tea at home, let us all know what you used and how you liked it!

guys harmonizing

today i was listening to a mix of 70s moderate rock and some song from the eagles came on and i was reminded how much i love all-male bands that harmonize – the eagles, bad religion, yeasayer, and so on

that made me think of grizzly bear – another all-male band that harmonizes. several years ago they released an album called “veckatimest” and there was a song on it called “two weeks” which became one of The Hits – anyway, the song has excellent harmonies and the video does a great job visually representing their voices swelling and blossoming and shining together, so here it is:

tomato-onion “jam”

i’m the kind of guy who enjoys making things that accompany or augment other things – shrubs and bitters for drinks, infused vinegars for salad dressings, flavored olive oil for cooking and dipping, and this tomato-onion “jam” – perfect for eggs, fish, chicken, or as a filling in a grilled cheese sandwich!

this is super easy to make, and you can vary it easily according to your taste.

to make this particular recipe, i used about a tablespoon of olive oil, 2 medium yellow onions, and a 28 ounce can of peeled plum tomatoes.

all you have to do is chop the onion and saute it over medium heat until the onions are soft and starting to caramelize – about 10-15 minutes. while that’s going, take out the tomatoes from the can and chop them up. once the onion is ready, add the tomato and continue to cook. you can add extra tomato sauce from the can to help it blend with the onions, and be careful to watch the heat – tomatoes have a low specific heat and will boil easily; you want to avoid boiling.

the jam is ready after 20 minutes or so. you can cook longer or shorter – longer will give you a richer taste, while shorter cooking times will taste brighter but (to me) undercooked.

you can add garlic, basil, or oregano and you can easily change the balance of tomato and onion. you might even consider using red onion, and you can most definitely use fresh tomatoes, but i woud recommend skinning them first. keep it refrigerated, and use it within a week or so.

the bate escape podcast

there’s a dude on twitter called beastly bator who i’ve been getting to know and i recently found out he’s got a podcast called the bate escape. of course, being a bator myself, i had to check it out and i saw almost immediately which episode i wanted to listen to first: his conversation with one of my favorite people, who goes by bator78 on twitter.

bator78 is not just a pig who shares himself on twitter, he’s also a long time fan of work who has become a hood bud and trusted confidant. he’s one of just a few people that i talk to about my work – he gives great advice and guidance, he’s supported my through low moments, and he always tell me what i need to hear to get better at my work.

anyway here’s the podcast episode – give it a listen and you’ll see why i love these guys


top 5 bands of all time (for today anyway)

i love music and i love sharing my opinion on music so when i see this . . .

. . . i absolutely have to chime in!

i could spend hours deliberating my top 5 bands of all time and the list would likely change the next day. my answers (for today) are below with a brief description of why i chose them. what are your top 5?

SHUDDER TO THINK – post-punk math rockish surreal music with an operatically trained singer – they made my favorite album (“pony express record”) which is unlike anything i’ve ever heard – they were really weird at a time (the early 90s) when weird gave you street cred, but they were unlink anyone else

GUIDED BY VOICES – basically this band is bob pollard (uncle bob!) and whoever happens to be free to make music with him – they crank out album after album, year after year since the early 80s (sometimes 2-3 a year) – they make lo-fi garage rock with clear nods to the beatles and 70s rock – most of thier songs come in under 2 minutes or so, all with incredible hooks

THE FUTURE SOUND OF LONDON – no other band i listen to has such variety, and their output is vast – few bands can evoke moods like they can, and they skillfully blend samples, synths, organic instruments, and field recordings into songs that communicate angst, grief, solace, comfort, excitement, and so on

LED ZEPPELIN – john paul jones is a personal hero and his contribution to led zeppelin was underappreciated, but with the other three incredibly talented musicians he was working with you can see why – in my opinion, they ARE classic rock and influential in the development of hard rock and heavy metal

SONIC YOUTH – another band that was around and made a lot of music that didn’t get the attention it deserved – they were masters of noise, able to “prepare” guitars (using non-conventional adaptations, tunings, and playing styles) to make some really memorable, crunchy riffs and they used controlled noise and feedback to define their music

not another second

today on twitter, i came across a post someone made featuring pictures of older Black same-sex couples. i’m 42 and i’ve never seen pictures of older Black same-sex couples, and i sadly, barely see older same-sex couples and rarely see Black same-sex couples.

i retweeted to share it with my followers and followed the fellow who made the post.

click here for the original tweet

the original tweet if you don’t want to go to twitter to see it – the thread is worth reading though

tonight a friend emailed me about “not another second” which is a museum exhibit featuring older LGBT+ people sharing their stories. i hadn’t heard of this exhibit but the museum is in brooklyn so i can easily hop on the subway to check it out – HERE’S the site so you can learn more – there’s lots to check out on there!

i’m passionate about the voices and stories of older LGBT+ folks because as a dude born in the late 70s, i grew up with HIV/AIDS but it was largely his generation ahead of me that died off – the folks who are around now were either the generation ahead of them, or those lucky enough to survive. none of us are getting any younger and that history – from the Important Big Gay Moments – to regular life and stories of coming out and first loves, of triumphs and disappointments and losses – THAT history matters.

applesauce reminds me

when i was a kid, we went apple picking every fall. there were orchards all around us, so we would drive around to find ones that happened to be growing the apples we were looking for – i don’t know how my mother decided which variety she wanted, but that’s how we picked which orchard to pick from.

at the end of the day we would arrive home with tote bags full of apples, and the next few weeks would be my mother baking – apple pie, apple crisp, baked apples. there were also plenty to eat just as they are.

one year (i was about 7 or 8), my mother decided to make applesauce. i was skeptical about that because, to me, appleasauce was something you bought in a glass jar from the grocery store. i knew it came from apples just like the ones we picked, but i thought there was something special that happened at the factory that you ceratinly couldn’t reproduce at home.

obviously, i was wrong – the applesauce was delicious, and my mother was magical.

i’d like to make some comparison here about how that event helped shape my interest in food and cooking – it did – but really, that’s not the point. when i make applesauce, i remember my mother – she’s in a nursing home now with advanced dementia and she probably doesn’t remember making apple sauce, but she’s still my mother and she would pretend that she did if i asked. when i make applesauce, i remember all the things she taught me about food and otherwise, and how she shaped the man i am now. making applesauce feels like carrying a little bit of her from back then into the present, and makes the long goodbye we are having much easier to bear.

today’s applesauce just getting started! you can find my recipe for applesace (and apple butter) HERE.

and the ground is mine forever

we all know that we don’t live forever and that we eventually die, but somehow we have this expectation that in death we will have something eternal, if only a plot of ground. the idea that our dead body is entitled to a spot forever and ever and ever seems weird to me – like, why the insistence on eternity, on forever, for our bodies? why in death are we suddenly supposed to have a piece of the earth all to ourselves forever? (and on a practical note, aren’t we going to run out of room?)

don’t get me wrong – i don’t think it’s respectful to disrupt a dead body, and even though i don’t connect with that sort of veneration, i respect people‘s grieving and I can understand how the idea of having a spot to call your own indefinitely can be appealing. it just seems like a lot of time and energy and money are spent on what happens to your body after you’re dead, and how sometimes people will ignore what’s good for them during life but obsess over what might be good for their body after they die.

anyway, in the episode of ask a mortician that i am embedding below, caitlin talks about oven crypts in new orleans and how the concept that your plot of land is yours forever – common in the western world – it’s just not something that happens everywhere, not even everywhere in the united states (where i live). as someone who is used to seeing sprawling lawns with headstones and people buried underground, and who has acknowledged the permanence of that particular spot for that resting body, it’s somewhat refreshing to know that not everybody in the world is so obsessed with the permanent resting spot for your body.

a step towards self-acceptance

i got my drivers license when i was 16 and one of my favorite places to go was a bookstore that i liked that was in a shopping plaza in the next town over from us. by this point in my life, i had realized i was gay and that i liked guys, but i was having trouble imagining myself as a gay man. my biggest hangup then was that i had seen a little bit of gay porn and i didn’t find the guys attractive at all – they were blonde, lean, and hairless, which didn’t appeal to me at the time, but because that’s all i saw in magazines and movies, i thought that was what gay guys looked like.

anyway one day i was at the bookstore browsing through the magazine racks and my eyes kept darting to the top racks where the “adult“ magazines were. this wasn’t my first place sneaking glances at those shelves – i wanted so badly to buy some gay porn magazines, but was worried that the person at the register might know that i was not 18 and wouldn’t sell them to me and i would be embarrassed.

on this particular day, i stumbled across a copy of advocate classifieds that was next to the advocate in the “regular“ section of the magazine rack – these are magazines that anyone could buy and they theoretically were not adult content but somehow advocate classifieds had managed to sneak into the regular section despite the fact that it contained naked men, and i was thrilled!

it occurs to me as an adult that the person at the register probably didn’t notice or care, but i thought i was safe buying this copy of the magazine because it had been in the regular section, after all, and i couldn’t be guilty of anything if i had just bought it off the regular rack and it happened to contain naked man. (as a side note, can you see how easily guilt and shame figured into my understanding of my sexuality from a young age? worth a bigger conversation, but also worth nothing that this experience isn’t unique to me)

when i got home, i went up to my bedroom and close the door and started leafing page by page through the magazine. at the bookstore, i had only opened it to one or two pages and as soon as i saw dick, i closed the magazine, made the logical leaps over my shame outlined above, and bought it. now that i was home with nobody around, i could take my time to see what was on each page, and reveling in the fact there wasn’t a dick pic or two but there were full on photo spreads of multiple models.

the models in the magazine were just like i described above – twinkish and smooth and not at all what i was attracted to – but the excitement of having gay porn that i actually went out and bought was enough to keep me very excited.

then at some point in the middle of the magazine, i turned the page and came across a model named cliff parker. cliff had dark brown hair and dark features, a lean and built body but he had chest hair and arm hair and leg hair and suddenly I realized the gay guys could have body hair, could have dark hair, and could actually be attractive to me. it was a like a revelation – i hadn’t consciously realized what my hangup was until i saw something different. i knew that it was ok that i had dark hair and chest hair, and that i wasn’t going to have to bleach or shave anything to fit in.

it’s not lost on me now that as an adult, hairy chests and beards are fashionable, and now i can’t help but wonder about the smooth little blond boy who is just exploring his sexuality and wondering if anybody out there looks like him. i learned that day that i could do this, that i could grow up being gay, that I could be a successful gay adult because i got confirmation that somebody else like me was out there. that’s why i am such an advocate for people sharing themselves so openly – when you share who you are, there’s somebody out there who benefits from that, who gaines permission to be themselves, and while we can’t direct where our energy goes, permission to be yourself and have it be ok is a great thing to be sending out there.

the songs next door january 2021

the songs next door isn’t just my monthly playlist, it’s like a musical journal for me. i’ve always loved music and there are songs i associate with certain people or differnt times in my life – songs i can listen to over and over, and even years later can remind me of a specific moment.

this month’s TSND has me going back to some old favorites including a song from “spring awakening” which is a musical i loved and saw more than once (and i’m not much of a musical guy). i’ve also got “try it (i’m in love with a married man)” which i first heard when pet shop boys were releasing their “disco” series and it was on the third installment, which was the best of all of them but can no longer be found.

as far as new music goes, there is one band and album that really stood out to me: “mapping an invisible world” by days away. i heard about this album when i was listening to an interview with circa survice and someone in the band mentioned this album being their favorite. it’s really an incredible album that drew me in quicker than most, and by song 5 or so i was convinced that this was going to be one of my favorite albums, too. turns out it’s one of my “must listen” albums – those rare albums where you have to listen to the whole thing, in order, and every song belongs and is needed to complete the experience – there are no throw away songs, no songs coming at the wrong point in the album.

anyway, please enjoy this month’s installment of the songs next door!

because spotify embeds are sometimes spotty, here’s the url of the playlist in case it doesn’t embed or stops embedding: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3lqiLnufi3ALZD0sOkSed9?si=d9-Bnr6eSkazO30HsBdbYQ

post-christmas santa ruin

i’m a big fan of caitlin doughty’s ask a mortician on youtube, where she talks about all kinds of death-related topics in her usual quirky, humorous, punny way.

tonight, to celebrate the new year, i have my best friend over and we’re watching silly/bad/interesting/funny videos on youtube together, and i had to show him ask a mortician. we’re using my tv and searching on there and this is the first one that crops up – it’s not about death but they (she has a co-star for this one) do metaphorically slaugther the happy crappy myths about very white, very chubby, very happy santa claus.

christmas might be over but it’s never too late to hear the eerie truth and you can always set a reminder in your calendar to pull up this video and watch it before christmas next year!

soft white underbelly: mike

soft white underbelly is a youtube video series that brings a human face and voice to folks on the margins of every day life: drug addicts, sex offenders, homeless people, folks who have lived in remote rural locations. each video is an interview with minimal questions and maximal time for the subject to share their stories and tell you about their life. there is no fancy studio set with expensive lighting – these are stark and plain, which allows the person and the life and the story to be the only thing for you to focus on.

to me, this is an amazing series that gives people a look into lives that are easy to ignore, and each interview helps you understand our lives and where we end up as a function of the choices that we make and the choices that are made for us. there’s some talk of regret, of things that might have gone differently if a different choice were made, but mostly these interviews are about how people find peace and meaning in their existences.

there’s also no judgment in these interviews. the person asking the questions simply asks and listens – maybe exclaims “wow” now and then, or prompts the speaker to talk about how a certain event felt – and clearly wants the story to be told and the person to be heard and respected as a human being. along the way, you get a glimpse into how the legal system functions, how money and privilege can change the outcome of a scenario, and how one little difference in somebody’s life can have an impact that lasts far beyond what anyone could have imagined

what I like about “mike” in particular is how forgiveness comes up, and how he struggles to distinguish between between who somebody is and something that they did, particularly when the something they did is out of character or especially hurtful. forgiveness is a really hard thing for people to understand, but i think when you start hearing peoples stories it becomes easier to understand how they could ask for forgiveness, and easier to offer it with a peaceful heart.

unintentional forearm porn #1

because forearms aren’t a “thing” like feet or butts or cumshots, there isn’t porn that intentionally features forearms, so i’m always on the look out for unintentional forearm porn. my absolute favorites are when a dude with nice forearms shoots a load and gets some on his arms or when a dude with nice forearms seems to be looking at them a lot or mentions them.

anyway, i first found out about max wood a while back (i don’t remember how long, maybe a couple years) when he went by austin longjack. i noticed his forearms right away because they’re perfectly hairy and – unlike a lot of muscle guys – he doesn’t shave his forearms at all. there’s nothing worse than shaved forearms!

max wood started an onlyfans and i subscribed because i wanted to see what he was up to. i knew it was solo stuff, which i prefer, but i didn’t know what the quality would be like. turns out, he makes AMAZING content – his videos lean heavily on upper body flexing, with plenty of great looks at his strong, furry arms. he does some nude content and some JO/cum stuff, which is nice, but really the reason i continue to subscribe to his OF is his incredible forearms.

last night i was jerking off to his content and i shot my load watching this video where he’s got a ball in his arms (about volleyball sized) and he’s pretending it’s the viewers head, and he is using his arms – and especially his forearms – to squeeze. at one point, he is squeezing hard and starts moving his right forearm in a way that beautifully shows off all the muscle and size and hair. it made me cum so hard i hit my face several times, and i have to share it with you.

now, if you’re like me, watching him supinate and pronate and seeing the muscles flex and striate and seeing that perfect hair is enough to make you cum. because it’s so sexy, i zoomed in on it in the video below, so you can get a good look.

make sure you check out his onlyfans – it’s worth it!

circa survive and naming your art

circa survive is a band i like and when i came across this interview with guitarist colin frangicetto i gave it a listen. somewhere around 10 minutes they’re discussing song names and colin says that he thinks naming your art is an overlooked important part of making it

i liked it because i couldn’t agree more. i write stories and poems and make music and i’ve always put a lot of thought into the titles – from the songs to the albums, poems to the collections, even the names of characters. like colin says in the interview it’s like the trojan horse: the thing that makes you look and say “i’ll give that a try.” the title of a work sets a tone and compels you to keep going, and over time i think when you look at a body of work, you start to see a larger artistic statement come into focus which i think is really cool

bob paris

the other day (december 14) was bob paris’s birthday. bob paris was a famous bodybuilder in the 1980s who is well known for having an incredible physique with remarkable aesthetics.

bob also famously came out in ironman magazine in 1989, becoming the first athlete to come out while still actively involved in their sport he said he came out because he fell in love (with rod jackson, with whom he became quite famous in the gay world) and at that time because it was not OK to be gay, he lost the majority of his sponsorships and endorsements

as a kid figuring out i was gay, bob taught me that gay guys could be something other than hairdressers and weren’t necessarily feminine (that’s what i thought about gay men at the time). as an adult, i understand what the 80s were like and what kind of statement it was to come out at that time, and what that statement would (or could) cost you. bob taught me that it was OK to be me even if the world wasn’t ready for it

anyway, i found this little tribute video on youtube that i thought was interesting because it contains a few insights from bob in his own words, as well as various footage from his competitions in the 80s so you really get an idea of what he was like then

pandemic holidays

stick around long enough and you’ll find i’m a big fan of npr programming, particularly the music.

i also happen to love “life kit” which are short podcasts that cover life topics of interest to various npr employees. each episode is hosted by the employee with the interest and there are usually tips and an expert speaker.

you might have also seen my “postcards from next door” videos that i post almost every morning – brief inspiration, quick quotes, amusing anecdotes – all in approximately 60 (or fewer) seconds. lately i’ve been addressing holiday season stuff along with the pandemic. today i came across this excellent episode of “life kit” about pandemic holidays that i’m sharing here for you!

(for some reason, embeds from spotify are spotty – sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t – i’ve had posts even on this blog with embeds that work fine and others that don’t work and some that work intermittently – anyway, i’m including the link since this one doesn’t seem to want to embed – go listen!)


you can also go right to npr and listen here: https://www.npr.org/2020/12/08/944306618/throw-out-the-rulebook-to-get-through-pandemic-holidays-a-therapist-says


co-star is an astrology app, that uses NASA data to figure out where all the planets are in relation to each other for the purposes of making charts and horoscopes

i don’t take astrology seriously but i do get a little entertained by reading my horoscope and stuff about my sign. i’m an aries, and when i read description of aries, it is like it was written about me, but i wonder if i would feel that way about any sign if i didn’t know which one it was and was just told it was my sign.

anyway, what i love about co-star and the reason that i suggest you check it out is because of the incredible amount of detail offered. the app tells you about where the planets are and how that helps them calculate your daily/weekly/monthly updates but what i really appreciate is the analysis of what it all means for you. i get that it’s junk science but many times i’ve read something and it feels like it was written for me – it addresses something i’ve been feeling, or a problem i’ve been dealing with or something like that – so i figure if it calms me or motivates me or helps me solve a problem, it seems worth believing for a moment.

here’s my chart in case you’re interested – you can get co star on iphone and android. you can also go to the website

the songs next door december 2020

on the 8th of every month i finish the playlist i’ve been working on and share it publicly, then start the playlist for the next month. here’s december’s playlist!

for me, the standout track on this list is nina simone’s sinnerman – i just can’t help but get into the feel of it and the POWER!

(for some reason, spotify embeds don’t always work – this one looks like it works on the backend, but it doesn’t display on the front end, so here’s the link)


the how and why of journaling

i’m someone who has written in a journal most of my life. for me, it’s a way to sort out my feelings – i write almost every day out of habit but there have been times where it’s been almost a necessity – like i can’t get past a certain moment or thought in my head, and writing can help with thya

since this pandemic began, i’ve been encouraging folks to try using a journal as a way to help manage all the feelings – i recognize for some folks journaling is a foreign language. for you, i’m sharing this episode of life kit from npr on journaling

fsol on mtv 1996

i’ve been a fan of the future sound of london since about 1999 when i heard “dead cities” for the first time and fell in love. “lifeforms” was the next album i bought from them (a double cd!!) and i was hooked.

this video is from when they were on chillout zone (i don’t know what that is/was – i wasn’t watching mtv in 1996) and is really freaking wild visually. the music is all from “dead cities” though most of the songs are abbreviated and/or completely reworked – samples that played together in a series in a song pop up here and there in transitions, or played in a different order or with another song. still, it’s a great chance to have a listen to them and trip out a little

to cranberry or not to cranberry

it’s thanksgiving here in the united states and while it’s an unusual one, there are still some things i can’t not have around this time of year – one of those things is cranberries.

when i was a kid, we only had the jellied cranberry sauce that came in a metal and typically would slide out with a sucking sound and plop down in a chunk with the lines from the metal tin molded into the side. at some point, someone introduced homemade cranberry sauce and my family began to have both at thanksgiving. i liked the homemade kind because it tasted more intensely of cranberry and was more tart than the canned kind.

then at some point, someone else decided to do something else with cranberry and they made cranberry relish, which was cool and tart and textured like a pickle relish.

this year, i decided to try making cranberry relish and found out it was super easy. most of the recipes i looked at called for what seemed like a lot of sugar so i started with half and found out it was exactly the amount i like.

to make your own cranberry relish, dump a 12 ounce bag of cranberries in a food processor. then, take a juice orange and cut the ends off just until you see the flesh. leave the peel on and cut the orange into pieces and throw them in the food processor. then you run your food processor until it’s a even consistency similar to relish. scoop it out into a bowl and add one half-cup of white sugar and stir it gently and well.

this gave me 3 half-pint jars and it can be frozen for later use! i have used it on my all-corn cornbread after a thin layer of the apple butter i made and i’ve also added some to a bowl of my homemade apple sauce, which tasted great, too. you can also use it on chicken or turkey sandwiches, and i bet it would taste good on pancakes.

bad education

the first time i heard this song i loved it – super catchy and i thought the percussion was interesting. it felt like a bunch of talented friends playing together like you could just feel their harmony – anyway, i soon found out that “interesting percussion” was a fucking tap dancer!! that made me love them even more.

here’s a video of them on letterman. i didn’t see an “official” video when i looked through youtube though i could swear i saw one years ago, so either i’m making shit up in my head (very probable) or it’s not easy to find/no longer available (also quite probable)

apple butter and apple sauce

it’s fall here, which means apples are everywhere. i’ve always loved apples but for some reason i’ve been really craving them lately and finding myself eating 2 or 3 a day and still feeling like i want more. this year, with how much we’ve been inside, i’ve been channeling my creative energy and love of food into cooking.

last weekend i was thinking about apple butter – that thick, spiced spread with a concentrated apple flavor. i had no idea how to make it but thought it couldn’t be difficult, so i researched some recipes and came up with something i thought would work.

it did work and i had so much fun with it that i decided i would try to make applesauce, which you’ll see below is basically what you make on your way to apple butter.

when you’re making apple anything, the most important part is the apples. for the butter and sauce, i chose a mix of apples – honeycrisp, pink lady, and fuji for both, with some gala apples thrown in to the mix for the apple sauce because i was curious. you could probably use pretty much any kind of apple you wanted, but i woud avoid red delicious apples, which are red, but definitely not delicious.

the next most important item is your spice blend. cinnamon is a classic and almost compulsory, and while you can make it however you want, i’m not sure we can be friends if you skip the cinnamon. other spices that would work well here would be allspice, clove, and nutmeg. i use some nutmeg because it’s what i have and it’s slightly less pungent than clove.

after these items, you will need to consider what sweetener and what liquid to use. yes, you can use white sugar and water and you’ll get a perfectly fine product – these both cook so long that the flavors will definitely fill out that water – but i prefer to use apple cider for my liquid and maple syrup for my sweetener. you could also use apple juice or pear juice/cider for the liquid and honey or agave for the sweetener. don’t worry about the flavor of the sweetner coming through too much; these recipes don’t call for a lot and when it all cooks together, you’ll taste the apple.

the last things you need are some kitchen gadgets. you need a peeler and a knife or apple corer to peel, core, and cut the apples. i cook my apple sauce and apple butter in a slow cooker. if you can afford it, invest in a slow cooker/crock pot – they are invaluable in the kitchen, particulary if you like warm, hearty meals like beef stew or stuffed peppers. you could also do this stovetop, but you need to be extra mindful because it can easily burn. also, you’ll need something to mash the applesauce and puree the apple butter – i use an immersion blender, but you could use a regular blender (for the apple butter) or a potato masher (for the apple sauce).

both of these recipes are nearly identical except for the spice mix and amount. i wanted my apple butter to have a stronger, deeper spice flavor and less so for the apple sauce, so there’s less spice in the apple sauce.

to make both, start with 6 pounds of apples that you’ve peeled, cored, and chopped. i estimate an apple to be about half a pound, so i use 12. you can use any amount you want (and that will fit in your slow cooker) just peel, core, chop and throw it into your crock pot.

next i add the liquid and sweetener. i use half a cup of cider and a scant quarter cup of maple syrup. you might be tempted to add a lot more of both but don’t or you risk it being too sweet and too runny.

lastly, i add the spice mix and this is the only place where there’s something different in the recipe. for the apple butter, i add a rounded teaspoon of cinnamon and a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg. as with the liquid and sweetener, be cautious about going overboard. you’d think 6 pounds of apples might need more than a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg, but if you go overboard with the spices, you’ll kill the apple flavor and offend your taste buds.

once everything is in the slow cooker, it’s time to get it cooking. i cook on low for 10 hours. you can do high for shorter times, but i haven’t tried it and don’t recommend it – i think you risk hot spots that will burn the sugars in your ingredients, though rationally i know this is unlikely and not part of the design of a slow cooker.

after about 6 hours, you’ll have what something like you see in the picture above. i didn’t see any indication in any of the recipes that i researched that you need to stir this, but i did every 2 hours or so – both to see how things were going and to help distribute the ingredients.

after 10 hours, grab your immersion blender. this is where you’re going to process the apple sauce or butter and make it the texture and consistency you want.

for the apple sauce, i use the immersion blender to puree the sauce to a fairly even consistency. it’s entirely up to you how much or little you want to puree it. after it’s processed, i let it cool and then package it up – more on that in a minute. you’ll get around 8 cups of apple sauce with this recipe.

for the apple butter, there are a few more steps. after the first 10 hours of cooking, you’ll want to use your immersion blender to puree the apple mixture down to a smooth consistency with no lumps. it will look like the picture above.

after it’s all pureed, you want to turn your slow cooker to high and leave it uncovered. this step is to cook off some of the excess water and concentrate your apple butter. most of the recipes i researched said this would take about 2 hours, but this time it took me 3 to get it to the thickness i wanted.

once it’s to your desired thickness, you pack and store it. this recipe gave me 6 half-pint jars of apple butter. that’s about three cups.

a couple of quick notes:

you can cook your apple sauce for a shorter amount of time. really all you need is the apples to be mushy enough to mash up to sauce, and you might prefer the slightly brighter taste you’ll get from cooking it a shorter time.

speaking of brightness, you can add some lemon juice to either recipe to brighten up the flavor. keep it to a tablespoon at most unless you really want the lemon to shine. i didn’t use lemon in either of my recipes.

you can can these recipes if you want, or you can simply freeze them and then take them out as you need them. i’ve never canned so i chose freezing. i’ve had the apple butter since it was frozen and thawed and it was wonderful. i have some frozen apple sauce and i imagine it will be just as good, too.

i hope you enjoy making these things as much as i did!

erotic funerals

i used to joke that when i die, i want to be cremated and then i want my friends to have a party where someone “accidentally” tips over my urn and they have to vaccuum me up. many of my friends are appalled by this and it’s no wonder – here in the US, death is an event that’s marked with sadness, and the “right” way to have a funeral or honor a life is to do it in black clothes, soft voices, and rigid formality.

fuck that.

for me, death is a sad event but that doesn’t mean that honoring that person’s life has to be a sad event. i mean, i have lived a joyful life so far, and i would want my friends to honor my life by creating joy.

i’m aware that the way funeral go in this part of the world at this point in time is specific to here and now, and not how everyone does it or has done it. in fact, as you’ll find out in the video below, some funerals turn into huge parties and even include strippers – erotic funerals. i can’t say that i would opt for strippers and attempting to sexually charge a funeral, but i do appreciate the celebration and how this kind of funeral is seen as a gift to those left behind.

if you’ve never seen caitlin doughty’s “ask a mortician” series on youtube, i highly recommened it. not only is she smart and witty, she makes uncomfortable topics much easier to approach, and she has the right balance to her sense of humor to make the videos enjoyable without being creepy.

tradition in 2020

thanksgiving is next week and i’ve been thinking a lot about tradition because, to me, tradition is really what dominates thanksgiving and the “holiday season.” tradition is the “every year we . . . ” story you tell people. tradition is the celebration of making it another year to do this again, and the proof that we are not alone – that we come from somewhere, that we are going somewhere. tradition is something that gives us a sense of normalcy which is something we haven’t had a lot of in 2020

thanksgiving was my mother’s favorite holiday (really the only one she cared about) and she always went overboard with the food – she always cooked a soup and had appetizers to start, there were potatoes done three different ways, 5 or more desserts, and the turkey weighed 20 something pounds. she’d get up at 3 in the morning or something like that to put the turkey in the oven on a low heat for a long time for the sake of tradition, and every year we had an overcooked, dry bird – but my mother did all of this because it was tradition, and it was how she knew to love us

this year, we aren’t gathering as a family. my mother is in a nursing home and isn’t going to be cooking but she’s confused enough to think she is going to cook, and a week ago when we talked, she told me she was going to make a lasagna this year. she always made a very traditional american meal for thanksgiving, and anytime anyone would suggest even an alternative dish she would shoot the idea down real fast, so lasagna definitely came out of left field – she would never, ever cook something like that for thanksgving.

the real tradition for me for thanksgiving was seeing my mother take such joy in choosing her menu, shopping for ingredients, and taking days to make a meal for all of us. this year she chose lasagna but she can’t make it, so i’m going to make a lasagna. my brother and some other members of my family are making lasagna, too, because we need a new tradition, and my mom gave us one.

(i’m going to make the sauce for my lasagna this weekend, and i’ll make a post with the recipe and some pictures in case you want to see how i make it – i’ll also do the same when i make the lasagna next thursday)

so many colors

i was scrolling through twitter and saw this:

i thought that was a nice way to encourage some nuance and flexibility – to allow room for a range of possibilities. i’ve always found a lot more peace of mind when i get out of rigid black and white thinking and consider “neither” – neither black nor white but somewhere in between

it also made me think of “the beauty of gray” by live from their album mental jewelry – live were popular when i was in high school with their second album throwing copper. i had my very first boyfriend in high school and he and i shared a love of music, and he turned me on to mental jewelry which is definitely their best album (though frankly after throwing copper, they stopped being a band i wanted to listen to)

anyway, here’s that song – it’s really a lovely tune with a nice message about seeing the range between black and white instead of staying rigidly polarized

(i’m sharing the live version because it’s good and it’s fun to think of when mtv unplugged was a thing and really because ed looks cute)

i wish i were this quick

what i love about this video is the style in his freestyle – he’s getting audience suggestions (and it’s a mish-mosh of things that most definitely don’t seem to fit together, though he does manage to combine harry potter and tequlia into one topic in his list) and then going off in a funny freestyle rap while also pointing at/rapping to the section of the audience where the thing he’s rapping about came from

why i’m breaking up with albolene

every bator recognizes the white plastic tub with the blue lid – albolene, the “cold cream” that gets used on more dicks than faces. for as long as i can rememeber, it’s been the go-to lube for bators when we’re getting handsy with ourselves.

recently, the butters hygenics company reached out to me and said they’d like to send me a tub of their “palm grease” in exchange for an honest, online review. of course i said yes, and i truthfully thought it would be nice and i would probably like it, but didn’t think it would be that big of a deal.

boy was i wrong. palm grease is hands-down (pun intended) the best bate lube i’ve tried and it’s so much better than albolene that i’m breaking up with albolene forever! i only occasionally use any sort of lube for masturbation and have noticed that since i first tried the palm grease, i’m reaching for it more than i ever did with albolene.

what makes it so great?! lots of things – in fact, 8 very specific things that i’ll talk about here:

IT FEELS GREAT. I don’t often reach for lube for jerking off because I like a fair amount of friction. Too slippery and I can’t keep it up and I feel gross. Palm Grease has the perfect balance of slide you want to prevent rubbing yourself raw (especially if you’re into marathon sessions) while giving you the friction you want to stimulate yourself properly.

IT LASTS A LONG TIME AND DOESN’T FEEL OILY OR WAXY. When you’re reaching for something to give a little slide to your bate, you want it to stay on and last long enough that you’re not constantly reaching for more. Palm grease has a nice thick consistency that melts just enough to give you that slide/friction balance and it doesn’t dry up, run off, or rub in too fast. After you’re done using it, you don’t feel oily or waxy like you do with albolene because there are no petroleum distallates or waxes. It wipes up easily and leaves your skin feeling moisturized, not slimy.

IT DOESN’T GET GRITTY. Use it as long as you want and it stays slick, smooth, and evenly textured. I’m not sure exactly why, but I don’t care because being able to keep bating and keep bating without those annoying little grits is a plus to me.

IT’S COMPATIBLE WITH (ALMOST) EVERYTHING. It seems like the more variety you want in your sex life, the more lubes you have to get. This one works well with every sort of material except latex. That includes silicone, glass, metal, nitrile, polyurethane, and PVC. It’s also not just a lube for bators and can be used for things like fisting! I’m all about the all-purposeness and happy to not have to have 18 kinds of lube for each toy or activity.

IT’S LESS EXPENSIVE THAN ALBOLENE. I believe in spending money for quality, but I don’t believe in spending more than I need to. Palm grease is much less expensive than Albolene and it’s a better product for what you’re using it for.

IT COMES IN A FLIP TOP TUB. It might seem like a small detail, but ask anyone who’s tried to manage anything with slippery hands and you know the easier it is to open and close, the better. The flip top means that you can open and close the jar with one hand, instead of having to use two hands to screw off a lid. You can imagine that when you’re in the middle of things, being able to keep going with one hand while reloading your lube with the other is the way to go.

IT’S 100% VEGAN. Palm grease has 3 simple ingredients and like all products from The Butters Hygenics Company, it’s 100% vegan. This means that no animals are harmed or used in making or testing this product. Using plants as much as possible is not only healthier for your body, it’s also more sustainable, uses fewer resources, and pollutes less. It also contains no petroleum products or chemical stablizers or lubricants. You literally can eat it! (Don’t, though – it’s not bad, but it’s not tasty. It’s just nice to know if/when you get some in your mouth, it’s not gonna harm you.)

THE BUTTERS HYGENICS COMPANY IS A BLACK QUEER OWNED SMALL BUSINESS. Systemic racism and homophobia have disadvantaged black and queer folks for too long. For me, any chance I get to support small businesses, particularly those that are owned by folks who are not white men, I want to take. The folks who make Albolene have enough money. It’s time for other people to thrive in business. I’ll be honest and say I haven’t tried any of their products aside from Palm Grease yet, but if their products are as excellent as Palm Grease, I can’t see why to use anything else and I predict that TBHCo isn’t going to be “small business” for long.

i want to be very clear – the butters simply asked me for a quick review on twitter, which i did. they did not pay me or ask for this article, i am simply moved to write it because i’ve had an excellent experience with the palm grease and i want people to know more about it than my 30 second review.

music for a rainy night

it’s rainy here in nyc tonight. it’s also really warm for this time of year and i’ve got the windows open as i’m writing. i’m listening to lifeforms by the future sound of london – one of my favorite albums of all time (from one of my favorite bands of all time) and the perfect music right now.

herb simple syrup

i love fresh herbs and use them as much as i can. i also love a gin gimlet but sometimes i want a little sweetness, so a while back i thought i would try to make an herb-y simple syrup.

simple syrup is super easy to make, and all that it takes to make it herbacious is to throw a handful of fresh herbs in it while you cook it. so far, i’ve made three batches – rosemary, thyme, and today i made rosemary and thyme together. i know that’s not a lot of variety, but i love both herbs and i think they go well with gin and lime.

if you want to make your own, all you have to do is mix equal parts water and white sugar in a small saucepan (i use 1 cup of each) and add in a handful of fresh herbs. rosemary and thyme work well and i imagine you could also use basil, marjoram, or mint but i would stay away from sage – i think it would be overwhelming and might easily turn “off.”

here’s what it looks like in the pan:

once it starts to heat up, the sugar will melt into the water and the mixture will become clear. i like to bring it to a light boil, then reduce it and let the herbs steep in the syrup for 8-10 minutes.

after it’s done steeping, i strain it through cheese cloth to get most of the plant matter out. there is some fine particulate the the occasional leaf that makes it way through it, but it doesn’t bother me so i only filter that one time. i store my herb-y simple syrup in the fridge in a little squeeze container which makes it easy to squirt just a little dash of it to my gin gimlet.

this is what it looks like after being filtered through the cheesecloth:

all-corn cornbread

i’ve had cast iron skillets for years and until recently i had never cooked cornbread in one of them. but i found myself craving cornbread so i started to look at recipes (i’m a great cook but not a great baker so i like to refer to recipes). what i didn’t like about the recipes i was finding was that they had both cornmeal and flour as dry ingredients – sometimes even more flour than corn – and frankly, i want cornbread, not corn-and-flour bread. (also, it happens to be gluten-free if you don’t use flour so it’s an easy way to include your GF friends in on something you bake)

i found a few all-corn cornbread recipes and amalgamated them into my own recipe. i’m going to give it to you below, along with directions on how to cook it. because this doesn’t have any flour, the texture of the finished bread is a lot more crumbly than you might be used to – that’s because it’s just corn and it’s a feature, not a flaw, so get used to it.

you’ll need:

— 2 cups of cornmeal – you can use any grind you want, but i think the most pleasant is a finer grind. i often replace 1/2 cup of the finer cornmeal with some coarse cornmeal to give it some texture. the more coarse the mix, the more crumbly it’ll be

— 2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda – this is for leavening. i’m sure there are replacements or switcharoos, but i try not to fuck with the stuff that’s supposed to make it rise into something bread like

— 2 eggs – make sure you bring your eggs to room temperature before you cook them; it’ll give you a better cook as the cold from the eggs won’t cool off the pan as much – that goes for your eggs for breakfast, too

— 4 tablespoons of sweetener – you can adjust this to taste, but this amount will give you a subtle sweetness. i use maple syrup as i don’t like honey and i prefer not to use refined sugar. don’t use mrs. butterworth or log cabin or that fake shit – real maple syrup

— 1 and 1/3 cups of buttermilk – this provides the liquid and the acid for the leaveners, so you don’t want to substitute with plain milk. you can, however, acidulate your own milk with vinegar to get the same effect (google it) – also, back off the liquid a little bit if you use honey or maple syrup (or another liquid sweetener)

— 6 tablespoons of butter

— 10-12″ cast iron skillet

the steps could not be any easier. make sure you follow in the order i present them here.

  1. heat your oven to 425F and put the cast iron skillet in the oven without anything in it
  2. whisk all of the above ingredients, except the butter, together
  3. when the oven has come to temperature, remove the skillet and drop the butter into the hot skillet
  4. swirl the butter in the skillet until it’s all melted then pour off the melted butter into your batter – you don’t have to get it all out, you want some lining the pan
  5. mix the hot butter into the batter and then pour the butter back into the cast iron skillet
  6. bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until it’s light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean

this is the cornbread i made today. it’s a little darker than i might usually expect cornbread to be, but i think that’s largely due to the maple syrup (versus white sugar).

were the pointer sisters actually sisters?

i have a google home system and it’s hooked to my spotify account so i can just ask it to play a song and it will, so this morning when i was sipping coffee and editing video, i asked it to play “out of touch” by hall and oates.

after that song was over, it just played a selection of related music – i think there was some more hall and oates, edge of 17 (stevie nicks), and then “automatic” from the pointer sisters.

it reminded me of when i lived in boston in the early 2000s and i used to go to fritz (rest in peace) for a drink. one night i met the president of the pointer sisters fan club and took him home and fucked him. i’m sure he talked a lot about the pointer sisters (i remember him telling me the fan club was legit, he had met them) but i didn’t recall if they are actually sisters.

the answer is yes, they are sisters. sadly, june died in 2006 and bonnie died earlier this year.

and just because i’m obviously curious about random tidbits: the doobie brothers were not brothers, the everly brothers were. when it comes to sisters, aside from the pointer sisters of course, i have to mention haim, who don’t call themselves the haim sisters but they are, and they make hooky 80s influenced pop tunes with lots of vocal harmonies – sort of like 80s girl bands with today’s references and studio technology.

the songs next door november 2020

i listen to a lot of music and for a few years now, i’ve been making a monthly playlist as kind of like a musical journal. on the 8th of each month, i share the month’s playlist and start the playlist for the following month. i add whatever songs move me and it tends to be a varied collection of styles and artists.

november’s playlist is on the smaller side because i’ve been spending a lot of time listening to the future sound of london (and their quasi-alter ego band amorphous adrogynous) and haven’t wanted to basically just put half of their songs on a playlist. there are 6 songs from them on this list, along with a couple tunes from woods – a psych-folk band that i absolutely love – and “bird and the berry” from LAKE, a song that showcases their warm, soft sound.