Nine Lives

“Aristocat”

 

The Cat lay sprawled, rag dolled

in a warm splash of late winter light

the morning, ending but still streaming

friendly and blue-skied, sun beaming

through the glazing;

carelessly brushing the sink

and taking pause on the kitchen floor

blessing in their turn the patient linoleum tiles:

two travelling blinding squares of sun showered shingles

Unwittingly our feline becomes a snug sundial

I sit, scribbling scrabbling…

staring at the faded tabled blooms

but the outer azure sky lifts my spirits

Mike Cernovich’s 5 Secret Skincare Tips for a Youthful Healthy Face

Gorilla mindset gadfly Mike Cernovich is well known as a best-selling author, groundbreaking journalist, constitutional and criminal defense lawyer, filmmaker, and thought-provoking twitter provocateur. He is less well known as a skincare guru, but as anyone who has seen his periscopes or YouTube streams can attest, he knows how to keep his face fresh, healthy and young-looking.

stolen from Carlos Slim's blog
Mike Cernovich. Skincare game on point.

How does he do it? Recently he revealed five of his secrets in this stream.

Sunscreen.

Sun exposure, over the course of your life, causes the majority of skin degradation. Cernovich says it is “not optional” to wear sunscreen on your face every single day. He personally uses Neocutis Journee Day Cream which is SPF 30 (blocking 97% of UV radiation). He suggests you find one fitting your budget. He recommends coconut oil, which moisturizes and also has a low natural SPF but may not be adequate if you have delicate skin. Cernovich notes coconut oil can be used as a personal lubricant due to its light and pleasing scent. I love using it as a much healthier alternative to cooking with vegetable oil.

Dermaplaning.

This removes dry dead skin cells and fine hairs, and stimulates your dermis to make fresh layers. Take a clean (!) safety razor and run it, without any fluids or gels, over your face focusing on your forehead and cheeks. The first time I tried it my skin felt pleasantly tingly for a few minutes afterward. Super easy to do, this treatment was new to me but is big in the skincare world. Why pay big bucks for a beauty technician to use a scalpel? Don’t do this is you have bad acne.

Regenerative Biogel.

Cernovich uses Neocutis Biorestorative Hydrogel, an alcohol free anti-aging formula. This has no SPF – it is for hydrating the skin, diminishing lines, and creating a healthy radiant glow. I will take Mike’s word that this stuff is as good as it is expensive.

Serums.

Serums are topical antioxidants that give your skin extra protection and moisture. Antioxidants, which you probably should be eating lots of, help prevent or slow cell damage. Cernovich uses both a Vitamin C+E and Vitamin B5 with hyaluronic acid, a natural moisturizer found in the skin. He prefers Cosmetic Skin Solutions brand.

Diet.

Cernovich advocates eating avocados, taking fish oil supplements, and eating sardines. These foods are rich in healthy fats like Omega-3’s and antioxidants your body needs to rebuild and repair damage to your skin. Mike swears that his sardine habit is the secret sauce behind his luxuriant coiffure. Also make sure to stay hydrated. Your body needs water! Don’t become like a raisin, losing the water it had as a juicy grape.

Conclusion. 

These 5 tips may not be a surprise to many women, but to us men they are potentially life-altering. After all, our face is our front line to the world, and how it looks reflects how we feel. It also shows how we take care of ourselves. Make sure you put in the effort to put your best face forward!

 

Disclaimer – I’m not a dermatologist & this is not medical advice. Always consult with a doctor if you won’t do your own research

Freedom Angel, an elegy

Requiem for a car

Temple of VTEC 4eva
Black Beauty on the eve of its journey to its next life. Photo ©2017 by Chez Grey

My Honda, ‘Black Beauty’

Pulchritudinous in name only yet

Holding memories so dear.

 

For twenty years I’ve known her

For ten I’ve owned her

Lived with her, loved within her

Spent time, abused and bruised her

Tended her and mended her

Cursed and caressed,

And loved in the end.

 

A bed, a chariot

A moveable concert

A museum, a school,

A feast on wheels,

Mechanical campfire,

 

My freedom angel.

bye bye bye
Photo ©2017 by Chez Grey

Black Fettuccine with Fennel, Shrimp, and Chili Oil

This is a beautiful and distinctive seafood pasta dish. Black Fettuccine, or fettuccine di nero di seppia in Italian, is made with the black ink of squid or cuttlefish. This gives it an arresting color and the faintest tinge of the ocean on your tongue. It looks stunning, and incidentally recent research suggests squid ink may be useful in combating cancer. The sauce is a luscious tomato, white wine, and butter sauce studded with anise-y fennel and spiked with chili oil. If you can find them, rock shrimp are especially delicious but any shrimp will do. Frozen or fresh shrimp are superior to pre-cooked. Get to know a good fish-monger.

Ingredients:

Makes four hearty portions

  • 1 pound of squid ink pasta
  • 5 ounces of tomato marinara
  • 3 tbsp cold cubed butter
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, diced
  • half-dozen scallions, bias sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 10 ounces peeled, cleaned shrimp
  • fresh picked parsley leaves for garnish
  • 2 tbsp chili oil (or EVOO if you can’t do chilies)
  • salt for pasta water and for dish (to taste)
mise en place
Fennel, chili oil, scallions, and garlic cloves. Photos by Chez Grey ©2017

Cutting up fennel is similar to cutting an onion. Fennel bulbs do have a cone-shaped tough core that needs to be removed before you chop them up. Please use sharp knives! Below you can see how I have removed the core from the fennel bulbs and trimmed the top stalks.

bulbs bulbs bulbs
Fennel bulb with the core removed. All photos by Chez Grey ©2017

Cut the fennel bulbs into medium dice.

Dicey
Diced fennel. All photos by Chez Grey ©2017

Now cut the scallions on a bias, a.k.a. diagonally. Don’t feel obliged to use the whole scallion if you don’t like the look of the tops.

Scallions cut on a bias a.k.a. diagonally. All photos ©2017 by Chez Grey

Next, slice up your garlic. A mandoline makes quick work of this, or use your knife. Fancy mandolines are frankly a pain. My favorite is this Japanese standby model.

Chili oil is easy to make. Take a few of your favorite chilies, cut them into small dice and marinate them in high quality olive oil. If you prefer a more robust flavor, simmer it over low heat for 30 min.

mise
Bias cut scallions, sliced garlic cloves, and homemade chili oil. Photo ©2017 Chez Grey

Now we heat up our skillet and get our pot of water going on the stove for the pasta. We begin by sauteeing the fennel and garlic in the chili oil over medium heat. We want the fennel to turn slightly translucent and loose their hard crunch, but not turn totally soft.

Sauteeing fennel and garlic in chili oil. Photo ©2017 by Chez Grey

Next we will add the raw shrimps, the marinara sauce, and butter. Do not use warm soft butter, use cold butter as it will emulsify the sauce much better. Do not worry about adding the shrimp raw – shrimp are easy to overcook, and they will be perfect in the few minutes it takes the sauce to come together while we let the pasta finish cooking.

Adding shrimp, marinara, and butter. Photo ©2017 by Chez Grey

Add the white wine and let the sauce emulsify and reduce a little. If your emulsion breaks, you can add a little pasta water and toss to bring it back. At this stage you would do well to test the sauce for salt and add it if needed.

Add wine. Photo ©2017 by Chez Grey

Just before we combine the sauce with the cooked pasta, we will add the scallions and parsley so they retain some of their freshness in the finished dish.

Add scallions and parsley last. Photo ©2017 by Chez Grey

Toss the cooked pasta* with the sauce and serve. Enjoy!

Black fettuccine with fennel, shrimp, and chili oil. Photo ©2017 by Chez Grey

*I prefer my pasta al dente. That is the best and most authentic Italian way! But you must not be a slave to the time printed on the package. The only sure method to know when pasta in finished is to take out a piece, put in into your mouth and bite it. Yes, the pasta be will be scalding hot but do not be a pussy. Also, some pedants argue that seafood pasta should not be served with cheese. If you want to eat it with cheese I think you should not be a slave to those losers inconsequential opinions. Live your own life!

 

 

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Dispatch from the Third Reich – a 1935 letter from Nazi Germany.

Dispatch from the Third Reich

Excerpted from an August 1935 letter from an American friend of my grandmother named Gladys, who was travelling through Germany & Europe.

Pre-war German architecture
Looking across the Wilhelmsbrücke bridge over the Neckar River to Bad Cannstatt, Stuttgart, Germany. Photo by Chez Grey ©2015

“But I suppose I should be talking about Germany, as we spent nearly a month there. We loved Germany, and found the people there the most cordial and sincere we met anywhere. They certainly know how to enjoy themselves too.

“Everywhere trains were crowded with Germans going about sightseeing – whole families together during the weekends. Companies of children travel much also, with just one or two chaperones. Hitler has organized all the children, from about eight years up, into clubs, something like boy and girl scout organizations, and these groups sometimes travel for weeks, staying at cheap camping places prepared especially for them.

“I don’t favor Hitler at all, because he is a tyrant and cruel to the Jews and any who oppose him – but just the same he has done much to unify Germany and create a more hopeful and enthusiastic spirit. The groups of children, as they march, sing very stirring songs, and so do the groups of marching Nazis, to be seen everywhere. Economically, Germany is improved. The young men are put to work in labor camps, or as soldiers, and you see no street beggars, as you do all over England.

“The only thing that scares me about Germany is the militarism, and yet it is very apparent that the German people don’t want war. What Hitler wants is another question, but I think he’d be afraid war might mean his downfall, as it did the Kaiser’s. What he seems to want is to make Germany strong, and give her her proper place among the nations – she has been an underdog for so long. The German young people have become very athletic, and have fine builds.

“We’ll hope they aren’t just going to become cannon fodder. Our general impression was that Hitler is very popular, but we learned from a German girl who returned from America to visit that most of her German friends and relatives are opposed to him, but of course are afraid to say so openly. One woman told our friend that her husband, who refused to join the Nazis, though he did nothing against them, was dragged from his bed one morning and beaten by the Nazis – in his own house – and then taken to jail. His wife learned nothing of him for two weeks, and didn’t know what had been done with him. Now he is free, but his job has been taken from him, and the family must live on the dole.”

This is the best book about the rise of Hitler’s Germany.

Post-war German architecture
Rathaus (City Hall) in Stuttgart, Germany. Photo by Chez Grey ©2015

Screw your future, eat Cheez-It’s®

get in my belly

I love Cheez-It’s®.

The right way to eat a Cheez-It®is to place it top down onto your tongue. Let the salt begin to soak, brining your saliva for a moment. Do not let the Cheez-It® become soggy. Push it against the roof of your mouth, shattering it into the wave of cheesy cheddary goodness you were waiting to be subsumed beneath.

I bought a box of Cheez-It’s® yesterday, feebly, at the supermarket. I’ve been feeling unwell. Sinus infections overtake me for weeks at a time. I drip and I sneeze and I blow, and eventually a squishy olive green walnut sized phlemgy mass rockets forth from my nose, weighty within its cradle of tissue, unimaginably large. This had not happened when I bought the box, as I do not buy Cheez-It’s® in triumph or celebration, though I sympathise with those who do.

In my youth Cheez-It’s® came in a one pound box. A pound is a solid amount, it feels right in the hand. It is, after all, a human measurement. Fuck the metric system.* One pound of Sunshine Biscuits Cheez-It’s® cost $2.50 circa 1996, when the Kellogg Company acquired them. It was a serious challenge to finish an entire box of Cheez-It’s® in one sitting, in those days. When you met the challenge you were likely to feel unwell for a time, but you knew you had accomplished something.

I perused the selection: Jack Cheez-It’s®, Scrabble Cheez-It’s®, extra toasty (new!!). When I was a child there could only be one – the Original Cheez-It®. After a quick mental debate, I agreed with myself to pretend to care about healthiness and greedily snatched a box of whole-grain Cheez-It’s®. As I left the store I sneered at the huddled peons, their carts massed with sundry mundane groceries while I traveled swift and light, the solitary red box loudly proclaiming both my unencumbered devil-may-care life and my superior taste in baked snack crackers, and foreshadowing another dark night of the soul.

Glancing at the box I revved up my spleen and prepared to be disappointed yet again by the weight. Since college I had noted the size decreased to 13.7 ounces. And yet the price remained the same. Have you no decency Keebler? Do my new corporate snacking overlords think I don’t notice the bait and switch they’ve perpetrated on the american public? Elfin magic my ass. Blackguards all. Godfrey Keebler rolls in his grave. Hefting this box of joy and despair, my eyes widened in shock and shame at the new news – my beloved Cheez-It’s® had been stingily whittled down to a proclaimed 12.4 ounces.  The Horror! Godfrey spins anew! The Horror! At over $4, the boxes are slimming almost as fast as my wallet.

The delicate and controlled soul eats Cheez-It’s® one at a time, from a separate bowl, lovingly yet stoically pre-portioned. Yet Cheez-It® continence is hard to keep. Soon you begin to double up. Sin feels good. You tremblingly wonder, can I handle three at once? The crystallized salt attacks your tongue, the cracker particles wander to the far crevices of your mouth. An army of Cheez-It’s® pleasantly painfully overwhelms your palate with dry salty cheddar.

That Cheez-It® box got plundered all night like a cheap slut. I’m sure it felt as bad as I did. The shame of bad sex with an disreputable femme leaves quickly unlike the stinging cuts on the roof of your palate from all the salt, and the inability to taste other food. A whole box bombs out your palate like 2003 Baghdad. Never buy the crates of Cheez-It® they hawk at Costco! Culinary warfare on a grand scale. The one box Cheez-It® hangover can only spur you to improve your life and take responsibility for your diet and actions if it is totally gone. And to my credit, it was.

*except when baking and drinking. I’m also much taller in centimeters