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The Quest: Part 1: The Quest

By James Stevenson “By God, when I get home… I’m gunna take that frozen fruit, put it in the bottom, cover it in cake mix, then pour on a can of s...

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Too Many Cooks

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrGrOK8oZG8 ...

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Youtube Scavenger Hunt

by: Jason Waddell Hannes had been bugging me. Pestering really. Text messages linking to the most inane, random YouTube videos. https://www.y...

iLeaveYou

[Book / Movie] This is Where I Leav...

by: Jason Waddell Saturday, airport, the closing moments of a week-long pilgrimage to Texas for my brother's wedding. On account of jetlag, I spent...

The Quest: Part 1: The Quest

By James Stevenson

“By God, when I get home… I’m gunna take that frozen fruit, put it in the bottom, cover it in cake mix, then pour on a can of soda, then bake it.” I was having an excellent introduction to Canada, eavesdropping on a table of old ladies in a restaurant. An old man hobbled over to their table for a quick flirt, opening with “How are you fine looking ladies enjoying your meal?” and telling them how good the food was there.

I was in Peggy’s Cove, a world famous town I’d never heard of, home to 38 people, a lighthouse, and a beautiful coastline of exposed rock. It looks like a moonscape, except for the sea and the groups of tourists that get bussed out from Halifax every day to say “how quaint” for an hour. A local complained to me that one hour is not really enough to see the town, and I quite agree. An hour and a half would be perfect.

I’d only been in Nova Scotia for a few days and I was ready to stay forever. I was staying in Halifax, and after London I felt like I’d finally ascended from Purgatory to Heaven. Gone were the gray streets and gray people, replaced by green trees and blue waters. People seemed happy and unhurried here. I remember staring out of a café window, half asleep at 8am. A pretty girl jogged up to the crosswalk next to the window and looked at me. Instead of glancing away, she held my gaze and smiled. I was amazed! What was this place? Why hadn’t I been here years ago?

Peggy’s Cove was just a day trip for the sake of checking out Nova Scotia. The people who drove me were really down to earth and easy-going. I got given all kinds of advice about wild animals, people would talk about moose and coyotes and bears. One guy’s parting words as he drove away were “Buy bear repellent!”

I got two consecutive lifts from a couple middle-aged hippies who were spacing out happily and driving around with some young kid in the back seat. They loved Peggy’s Cove and were really happy I was going there. When I left one of them said “Thank you for bringing the medicine to Nova Scotia,” and wished me a meaningful, loving trip.

After a week in Halifax the real trip begun. I was heading north to Quebec, six hundred miles away. I’d travel along Nova Scotia and into New Brunswick, and for a little while I’d be in civilisation. Once I reached the TransCanada Highway there would be a long stretch of wilderness before reaching Quebec, hundreds of miles of forest. Towns were rare; there was only the woods, the animals, and the creeps who go out there to disappear. Or at least, so I was told.

Right in the beginning I had really good lift. I’d been dropped off after a ten minute ride and I was walking along the shoulder when this car swerved over and screeched to a stop ahead of me. It was a little two-door thing, low to the ground and looking kinda beat up. I ran over.

“Oh man I love picking up hitchhikers!” my driver exclaimed. He was a skinny guy with a mad grin and tattoos down his arms. I jumped in and he floored it. “I got a bit of a wet foot! I hope that’s ok!” he said.

He slouched back and smiled slyly while he talked. He had this kind of confidence that the world was his oyster. What he did for a living escapes me, but I do remember him telling me what a profit you can make transporting Canadian weed into America. He said they don’t let him through the border any more.

“Why not?” I asked, wondering if he’d been caught.

“Because I got a criminal record as long as my arm!”

He told me about a Russian girl he met on chatroulette.com that he’s kept in touch with for years. He almost went to Russia to meet her, but something about it didn’t work out. Maybe it was his massive criminal record, or maybe it was her stern, Putin-loving, west-hating father (Now that I think about it, how old is she?). He was still hoping she’d come to Canada one day. “I don’t know how I’d make that work with a wife and kids, but I’ll find a way!”

“You’re really lucky I picked you up,” he said. “I’m gunna take you to a big truck stop, you’ll get a ride in no time.”
The place he took me was completely dead, and I waited for three hours, getting slowly colder and adding layers of clothing until I was wearing everything I had. There was hardly any traffic, though one guy pulled over and handed me a bag of chips and a can of soda. “I’m not going that way, but here, have some pop and chips!”

I got fed up and went to warm up in the Schnitzel Haus, a weird roadside German restaurant that smelled like eggs. It was like being in a chalet, with chequered table cloths and a waitress in a dirndl She had a lovely Nova Scotia accent that was really out of place.

After twenty minutes enjoying this bizarre atmosphere I hit the road again, and it wasn’t long before I started getting lifts. I remember having a lift with a guy in a pickup truck who cracked open a couple beers for us as we drove. I just went with it. There was also a retired school teacher who wanted to write a book about teaching. People these days don’t know how to get respect from their students, he said.

I ended up somewhere in the south of New Brunswick, still four hundred miles from Quebec. I was surrounded by open green fields and rolling hills, crisscrossed with lines of little trees that led to the edge of dark woodland. The sky was huge here. The clouds which had kept the earth so cold all day started to drift away to the west and the sun, dipping towards the horizon now, threw great beams of light over their edge. I sat on my duffel bag, finally warming up in the sunlight. Whenever a car appeared I’d stick out my thumb, but for the moment I was perfectly content where I was.

I got one more lift that day, a long lift with a trucker who was on his way home to Woodstock, New Brunswick. He was another skinny tattooed guy, with a bandana wrapped around his forehead. He laughed a lot as he talked, and he would bounce around nervously in his seat when he did. He was in his sixties, but he was lean and wiry. He trained in mixed martial arts and kept a chrome baseball bat next to his seat, just in case.

The light of his life was his daughter, who could do all kinds of neat things like fix cars and hunt and whatnot. He called her the son he never had.

He told me all kind of stories about the women in his life. He had a “lot lizard” (that’s a euphemism for truckstop hooker) in New Jersey who was quite fond of him and would drop whatever she was doing and see him if he was in town. He assured me she was clean several times, and in one story about a three-way he assured me the other girl was clean too. I don’t know why I’m mentioning this; he just said it a lot. He also had a girl in Texas, who’d hitched a lift with him once. She given him weed and slept with him during the trip and would also drop whatever she was doing to see him if he turned up in Texas. And then there was his wife, who knew all about these women and didn’t mind.

I asked if he knew other truckers, what he did in truck stops. “Oh you know, I’ll pull in and go see what’s going on. See who’s telling the tallest stories.”

When we finally got to Woodstock I was let out in a truck stop. It was dark, but trucks were still moving, so I stood by the exit and held out a thumb whenever anyone passed. I didn’t get anywhere that night, but one Nova Scotian trucker did pull over and hand me five dollars. I spent the night on the sofa in the truckers lounge. I was nervous I’d get kicked out and tried to look awake whenever anyone walked by.

I gave this up and went back outside around 7am, and this is the day that things got weird.

I went back to the spot I’d been standing at the night before, and a guy in a pickup truck pulled over. He was 78 years old, nuts, and he talked like he was missing all his teeth. He was out that day to pick up potatoes from the fields and sell them. As he explained, the harvesters miss potatoes and leave them behind, and he would drive onto the fields after the farmers had left and fill up a couple of boxes.

We were driving past endless potato fields and he would stare around wildly, looking for farmers. “You cocksuckers!” He’d shout. “Where are you cocksuckers? All them potadas are gunna burn!” He must have spent a solid half hour gumming about potatoes, he knew everything there was to know about them. When we did finally pass a field being harvested he shouted triumphantly “There you are you cocksuckers! I’ll be back!”

As I slowly learned, Potato Man had had a hard life. “You got a girlfriend?” He asked me. I said no. He showed me a picture of a woman. “This is the lady I was taking care of,” he said. She had died earlier that year, and his son some time before that.

“I used to pick up bottles along this road.” In Canada many homeless people collect bottles and collect the deposits on them. “I used to jerk people off for fifty bucks. I’ve slept in boxes, abandoned cars, you name it, I’ve slept in it.”
We were off the highway so that he could scope out potato fields, and anyway he had some burning hatred for the TransCanada Highway that I didn’t understand. We passed a cornfield and he pointed into some trees at the edge. “That’s where I used to pull up my truck. I’d pull in there, go take some corn, and go sell it.”

More and more he would talk about jerking people off, and slowly the stories started to be about hitchhikers. He’d picked up eleven hitchhikers that summer, he told me. He said he’d been telling another hitchhiker about his sexual encounters, and that hitchhiker had told him to stop and jumped right out. “But I ain’t never attacked anyone!” he told me.

He also warned me several times not to go to Kitchener, Ontario because it was “full of queers up there”.

The closer we got to the end of the ride the more desperate and up front he became about what he wanted from me, though he never came out and said it. “I ain’t never attacked anyone,” he said, As we were pulling to a stop, “but if someone gets it out I’ll play with it!”

Now I was spooked. Maybe I should have jumped out too, but I wasn’t scared, just disgusted. I bought a doughnut from Tim Horton’s to feel better, but that didn’t really help. It was Tim Horton’s so I don’t really know what I’d expected.
In the next car I was wary. “What does this guy want from me?” I wondered. But he was just another nice guy. Thank God.
I caught a third ride, slowly making my way north, slowly feeling better. My driver was a salesman from Maine. He would visit Canadian companies and sell advertising slots on American TV.

We were getting along fine, talking about whatever, and then he asked me if I had a girlfriend. I said no, and he said something I didn’t quite hear. And then, after a pause, “You wanna make a little money?”

I knew what was going on, but thinking there was a chance all he meant was “Do you want to get a job while you’re travelling”, I answered “Maybe.”

“I’ll pay you to let me jerk ya off while we drive.” His voice kind of oozed and purred, oily. Every time I think back he sounds more like Heath Ledger as The Joker.

This time I said no. He nodded.

“Thought I’d ask.”

More afraid of an awkward silence than of him, I picked up the conversation again. “So you’re married, huh?”

“Yeah.”

“What’s that like?”

“Marriage? It’s alright.” There was a pause. “But I’ve been bi my whole life.” He still sounded like The Joker.

After that ride I was feeling terrible. I’d hitchhiked thousands of miles in Europe and never had anything like this at all! I was starting to think back to all the rides I gotten in my life. What were they after?

The Joker had told me he’d pick me up again if I was still there after he was done in the town, so I was really hoping I’d get picked up before I saw him again. Thankfully a couple French speaking guys let me into the back of their minivan and completely ignored me. I leaned against the window, nervous and exhausted. My eyelids were starting to droop. “What the hell,” I thought, “these guys are probably fine,” and I fell asleep.

They woke me up when they were turning off and I hopped out. I started walking and started to feel good again. The sky was clear and the sun was warm. For the first time in 24 hours I took off a layer of clothing. I wearing a rainbow patchwork jumper and a swagged out Turkish sunhat, and I thought to myself I must look like some kind of weird ginger hippie chinaman. I giggled a little, and a great euphoria welled up in me. I laughed and grinned and breathed in the fresh air. This was real hitchhiking! Out here in the middle of absolute nowhere, surrounded by a sea of trees, walking on highways and being picked up by repressed homosexuals. I was miles from home, miles from anywhere and I felt so alive!

At the top of a hill I could see for miles. All around me was green forest, dotted with blue lakes. It was just me, the land, the sky, and wind at my back, blowing north. Ahead of me I could see a big sign prohibiting anyone from walking further. That meant civilisation! I was getting close!

I got one last ride that day, with some kind of cultural minister from Quebec City. As we drove he told me all kinds of interesting things about Canada and about Quebec, and around us towns and houses started to appear again. The mighty Saint Laurence River appeared ahead of us and led us to the city. We crossed over a great bridge to the island and took the scenic route into the old town, my driver pointing out different buildings and interesting things.

He drove me right to the steps of Hostelling International. I booked a room for the night, went in, collapsed on the bed, and slept.

That night I took a long walk in the rain. I had a lot to think about. The last two days had been more interesting than whole months of boredom at home. Not only that, but the next day I knew I would be heading for Montreal, and I was excited. Montreal was my goal. I know I haven’t yet told you why I was in Canada in the first place, but you’ll just have to hold on. Things were about to get completely absurd, and I won’t say anything at all until part 2. Stay tuned!

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Too Many Cooks

Youtube Scavenger Hunt

by: Jason Waddell

Hannes had been bugging me.

Pestering really. Text messages linking to the most inane, random YouTube videos.

“I’m not even interested in golf”, Hannes added.

I responded each time with the only appropriate response.

“Not now Hannes, I’m at work.”

When this proved an ineffective deterrent, I was forced to change tactics. “Tell you what, I’ll make you dinner Friday, and we can watch YouTube videos to your heart’s content.”

Prelude

The dishes were cleared and the festivities began, aimlessly at first.

“Less than 5000 views! It’s a travesty!”

Hannes was nothing if not passionate. As we watched, he waxed poetic on the intricacies of the YouTube ecosystem.

“Every YouTube session diverges in one of two directions: you either get stuck in some obscure abyss, or you reach VEVO.”

“So there’s a tipping point? Could we intentionally cross from one to the other?”

We devised a game.

The Rules

At the end of each video, YouTube presents you with a 4 by 4 grid of suggested videos. The goal was to start at a completely random location and, by navigating the suggested video links, eventually reach VEVO territory. More specifically, the Nicki Minaj: Anaconda official video. Truth be told I didn’t actually know what Nicki Minaj looked like, and had only heard the name as some sort of negatively regarded pop sensation. But I wasn’t one to turn down Hannes’ anthropological offerings.

Our starting point? A click of the Wikipedia “Random Article” page.

gravityAssist

Perfect. We’d search YouTube for “gravity assist”, click the first link, and begin our journey there.

Planetary Physics

Video 1: Gravity Assist or Stealing a Planet Angular Momentum and Getting Away With It 
Video 2: Gravity Assist
Video 3: Gravity Visualized
Video 4: David Blaine: How I held my breath for 17 min

Four clicks in and we’d made our first leap. We were moving on to greener pastures.

Youtube’s Got “Talent”

David Blaine led us to You’ve Got Talent territory, one step closer to music and one step closer to Nicki Minaj.

Video 5: Top 5 Magician auditions on Got Talent
Video 6: Top 5 acts EVER on World’s Got Talent 

Click six was undoubtedly a bad move. Before formalizing the challenge, Hannes and I had gotten stuck in an inescapable web of cyrillicly-titled Russian folk music videos. Cultural diversity was not our goal. We needed to toe closer to America’s Got Talent and steer clear of the World’s edition, multiculturality be damned.

Video 7: America’s Got Talent 2014 Top 10 (First Auditions)
Video 8: America’s Got Talent 2013 Episode 10
Video 9: Michael Jackson song sung by a 16 year old young man Must see AWESOME!!!

Okay, color me unimpressed, but performing a Michael Jackson piece at age sixteen is hardly noteworthy. The King of Pop himself started his recording career at a much younger age, so you’re not remotely in prodigy territory. And can we be clear on video naming etiquette? This video was hardly awe-inspiring, and certainly doesn’t classify as compulsory viewing.

But it did lead us to a deep place. A dark place. A swirling eddy we’d soon be desperate to escape. The Michael Jackson corner of YouTube. Neverland Ranch.

Michael Jackson Purgatory

Video 10: MICHAEL JACKSON BILLIE JEAN HD MUNICH BEST QUALITY
Video 11: Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Video 12: Michael Jackson – Black or White

There was no progress in sight.Every video ended with another wall of suggested Michael Jackson videos. We had to get out, by any means necessary. We devised a plan. Find Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal. Surely there we could take an Alien Ant Farm cover escape hatch.

Video 13: Michael Jackson – Scream
Video 14: Michael Jackson: Smooth Criminal – Moonwalker Version [Blueray]

We didn’t find a link to a cover. What we found was much, much worse.

Parody Hell

Video 15: Disney’s Frozen – Thriller by Michael Jackson

Video 16: Memorial Michael Jackson animation – MJJCN

Video 17: Michael Jackson VS Spongebob 2!!! Revenge of the Sponge

Ugh. The ’2′ in the title isn’t an errant character. It’s the second in a series of, from what we could see, at least four installments.

Video 18: Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” Tribute in LEGO
Video 19: Shrek – Thriller (Parody of Michael Jackson)

We thought it couldn’t get worse. But that was just wasted optimism.

The Seventh Circle

Video 20: Creeper – A Minecraft Parody of Michael Jackson’s Thriller (Music Video)
Video 21: Wrecking Mob – A Minecraft Parody of Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball
Video 22: Like An Enderman – Minecraft Parody Gangnam Style
Video 23: Minecraft Style – A Parody of PSY’s Gangnam Style 1 hour (With animations)

Insanity began to set in. But our path was clear. We had to reach the surface. Swim through the mire of parodies to each an official PSY video.

Video 24: Baby Gangnam Style – PSY babies dancing (Evian)
Video 25: “Walking Dead – Dancing Zombie” – Gangnam Style – Daniel Cloud Campos
Video 26: Psy – Gentleman Spiderman (SA Wardega)
Video 27: PSY – “Gentleman” (Hongtleman) Parody by Trend Factory
Video 28: Gentleman-Little PSY
Video 29: GUNMAN STYLE – GANGNAM STYLE (ASIAN WESTERN PARODY)
Video 30: PSY (ft. HYUNA) 오빤 딱 내 스타일-
Video 31: PSY – HANGOVER feat. Snoop Dogg M/V

Jackpot. Our destiny was just a few clicks away.

The Promise Land

Video 32: Nicki Minaj – Pills N Potions (Official)
Video 33: Nicki Minaj – Anaconda (Lyric Video)
Video 34: Nicki Minaj – Anaconda Video Reaction
Video 35: Nicki Minaj Anaconda Video: Behind the Scenes Vlog

Controversy

Something was wrong. Clicks that should lead to the official video didn’t. There was no way to get there organically.

“Are you sure it’s on YouTube Hannes?”

“I watched it yesterday. It’s got more than 200 million views. It’s on there. Keep trying.”

We tried a few more videos in vain, but the connection wasn’t there. Was YouTube silently directing traffic away from the video? Had they deemed it too raunchy to stumble upon by accident? What reasoning had caused this behavior?

As a final measure, we searched for Anaconda directly. And sure enough, it was there.

Maybe YouTube was on to something. Maybe we shouldn’t be watching this video after all.

[Book / Movie] This is Where I Leave You

by: Jason Waddell

Saturday, airport, the closing moments of a week-long pilgrimage to Texas for my brother’s wedding. On account of jetlag, I spent most of the week waking up hours before my family, during which time I burned through a pair of Murakami hard-covers and Chuck Palahniuk’s Rant, borrowed (permanently) from my high school sweetheart’s bookshelf. Books of merit. Books more worthy of review.

I paced the halls of Austin Bergstrom Airport, with 14 hours of travel looming on the near horizon. This was my fate. To find entertainment in an airport bookstore. The Fault In Our Stars. Somebody told me something about that book. Was it garbage or amazing? Can we take the risk? I’m not about to drudge through some George R. R. Martin tome, and if memory serves J. K. Rowling’s latest was hardly purported to deliver.

I flip aimlessly through the pages of a couple bestsellers. Am I too much of an asshole to appreciate the layman’s literature? When did I become so pejorative? Why am I using the word ‘pejorative’? Shouldn’t the readers know I spelled it ‘perjorative’ until Chrome produced a squiggly red underline?

Ugh…

Look at this fucking book. It’s got a movie poster on the cover.

This-Is-Where-I-Leave-You-Poster

 

Okay, that’s actually just the movie poster, but Google Images is failing me big time here. The same image was used for the book cover, which you, the reader, will have to take on faith.

The movie cast wasn’t listed on the book itself, so it was some guesswork on my part. There’s Jason Bateman, in something that isn’t Arrested Development, which means it must be terrible and underwhelming. Some generic looking woman that I later learned to be Tina Fey. Is that really her? How much did they airbrush this photo? Is there a copy of Bossypants around here we can cross reference?

That dude who dies in House of Cards. Spoiler alert. Some unidentifiable blonde. And Adam Driver! Yes, I’m a bandwagoner. And yes he plays my favorite character on Girls. Well, it’s either Adam or Ray. Is it misogynist to favor the men on Girls over the women. Why are all the women so irredeemable. Are these the archetypes of our generation? Does everyone identify as a Hannah or a Jessa? I should hope not. But I’ll be damned if I haven’t heard a girl describe herself as a “Carrie Bradshaw” for the last time.

The book opens to a generic and overwrought premise. Father Foxman has kicked the bucket, and the four kids of the Foxman clan (the Altmans in the screen adaptation) gather to sit Shiva for a week and honor the dead while reenacting tropes of familial dysfunction. Jason Bateman’s character is naturally the protagonist, because when is he not? I mean, I know he played that creeper faux-cool dad in Juno, and maybe the periphery is a more fitting role for him because that movie seemed to actually receive some acclaim. Bateman’s wife has cheated on him with his boss. Each of his siblings have their own shitty problems. And by the end of 90 minutes / 330 pages we’re all going to laugh, cry, hug, and ultimately learn about ourselves and humanity. Because that’s what you do in dysfunctional family movies.

I don’t know what I was hoping to get from the book. I’d just spent a week with my own family, undoubtedly occupying the Bateman role with a wife who is off sleeping with somebody else now. Thankfully not my boss.

Jonathan Tropper (that’s the author’s name!) clearly understands humanity and family, and the writing, at least in the beginning, is punchy and insightful. But as the pages drag on the book suffers at the hands of its overly tropey premise, and if there’s some underlying message it hasn’t fully permeated my membrane. Something about life, and love, being messy. None of the relationships presented are clean couples. Everyone has needs they seek to fulfill via some third party.

And it turns out the mom is a lesbian? What? I mean, sure, whatever, but it’s just so tacked on and hamfisted, like the secret lesbian reveal in the dumpster-lit Ready Player One, a book which I’d implore you once again not to read. And yes, it was all over the Austin airport, because author Ernest Cline has had the gall to take up residence in my former stomping grounds of North Austin, which I’m going to interpret as some personal affront.

If the book was merely mediocre, the film is a travesty by virtue of wasting a wealth of acting talent. The film adaptation manages to miss on every possible emotional note, with the aplomb of a generic rom-com, sans romantic plotline.

The point being, when traveling, always bring more books than you think you’ll need.

More RipLab Book Reviews:

Snuff
Paprika
Ready Player One
How to be Black
The Road

Book Review (kind of): Snuff, by Chuck Palahniuk

Six hundred dudes. One porn queen. A world record for the ages. A must-have movie for every discerning collector of things erotic. Didn’t one of us on purpose set out to make a snuff movie.

This book is gross.

It’s not often that I read things that make me physically uncomfortable. There was a scene in Murakami’s Wind-up Bird Chronicles that made my skin crawl, in stark contrast to the imagery of the rest of the book. Snuff is filthy from cover to cover.

The proverbial curtain opens at the start of a 600-man gangbang, as a washed-out porn starlet from decades past attempts to redefine her legacy by breaking the record for most number of sex acts performed in a single, err, sitting. One of the guys is trying to kill her, maybe. Who knows. It’s not the sort of premise that would usually direct me to the checkout stand of the local bookstore.

Tangential Bullshit

The book was loaned to me by a friend, a girl who previously featured in the blog as “the English woman” in an OkCupid blog entry, a series which curtailed on account of an ongoing undefined relationship with a wide-eyed and effervescent Belgian girl we’ll call Katrin.

Previous dating summaries served as eulogies of sorts, the records of dead relationships. The Katrin saga carried me from January to the end of August, as I endured the tail-end of what became a hellish 13-month cohabitation with my ex-wife while she navigated her next step in life.

It was an on-again off-again affair, characterized by Katrin pushing for more commitment and me infamously using the words “good for now” during a 2am “define the relationship” talk. Even in the absence of an official title, we filled our weeks with each other’s company. In my mind I had written her off as “not a long term match”. Our goals are different. She’s in her prime, trying to start a family. I’m escaping the cloud of an overdrawn eight-year relationship.

But emotionally, as months of our faux boyfriend-girlfriend dynamic passed, I grew rather attached.

Katrin had warned for months that she would start trying to see other people, and as her dates started to trickle onto the calendar, I became surprisingly jealous. My ex was days away from moving out, and the added emotional turmoil of my home life meant something had to give. I did what I thought was best: end things with Katrin.

Days later my ex-wife moved out with our two dogs, and everything combined into a perfect storm. My ex was gone. My dogs were gone. Katrin was gone.

And I was alone.

I spent more than a year consumed primarily by an anticipation of the day when my ex would move out, but when the moment came there was no relief. All those closest to me were gone, and my mind flooded with thoughts of Katrin. She had wanted more from me for months, and suddenly, desperately, I was willing to give it to her. My mind swirled with competing hypotheses. On the one, I had been too blinded by living with my ex to appreciate what Katrin had to offer. Suddenly I could imagine a future together, to see past my ex’s move-out date.

On the other, I was simply afraid to be alone. Was I just setting myself up for a long-term mistake to avoid short-term pain. I didn’t expect losing Katrin to hurt so much, but was the pain of my ex and dogs moving out being projected onto Katrin? Those problems were irreversible, but the relationship with Katrin was, in theory, salvageable.

In the end I made a desperate plea to win her back, but she stood firm. I was acting out of emotion, she claimed. Sit on these feelings for a few weeks, and if they’re still there, we’ll revisit the issue. And besides, she’d met someone new. He deserved a chance. Supposedly.

As the weeks have passed I have come to realize that I do, genuinely, deeply care for Katrin. As the shock of being alone wore off, my feelings for Katrin remained. I think we could work, long term. And she agrees. But in the Monte Hall problem you always switch. She’s moving on.

The Book

I took in Snuff  curled up on my terrace with a blanket as the first signs off fall started to fill the air. The book opens in a wearhouse, where 600 guys are going to town on the buffet table while waiting for their allocated minute with porn star Cassie Wright.

The story is divulged through a cast of interwoven perspective characters. Game of Thrones in a gangbang, if you will. The personalities are there. An 18 year-old virgin with a bouquet of flowers in tow. A primetime television star trying to put to bed rumors of his homosexuality. A fictionalized Peter North-type trying to reclaim the spotlight.

I’m going to give it to you straight and admit I don’t have a tremendous lot to say on this book. I powered through its 200 pages in one sitting mostly to distract myself from Tangential Bullshit. The book seems to demand skimming, and despite its relative brevity, I found the narrative to be overdrawn and plotting at parts. About three-quarters of the way through the book I started skipping entire pages just to reach its conclusion.

The book is raw, gross and at times discomforting. My friend told me that, after finishing it, she couldn’t watch porn for a week. I can’t say I’ve been similarly affected, but I also don’t know if I’m better off for having read it. Perhaps I have a deeper smut tolerance? I’m sure there are those out there who can come across goatse its ilk without flinching, but I don’t know if that’s an admirable goal.

If there are lessons to glean from the book, I’ve yet to synthesize them. But it did distract me for a few hours. Mission accomplished?

 

More RipLab Book Reviews:

Paprika
Ready Player One
How to be Black
The Road