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WesRecs

Vol. #49 - October 09, 2020

Hello! It's been another week in America. I hope you are surviving but it's even better if you're thriving. If both of those seem daunting then I hope it gets better for your soon. Between hosting trivia, doing some background acting, and preparing to tape for Stories From The Stage once again I can say definitely that this is the most "back to work" vibe I've felt since March. It is both nice to be at these things again and tiring, but given how how so many of us are struggling it's kind of nice to even have a sort-of routine to get back to.


Work aside an exciting culinary update for me has been: the crab boil. If you've read WesRecs in the past few months you know how invested I got in charcoal grilling and how much of a respite against the ridiculousness of our national scene that has been. I will be buying a snow shovel in NYC for the specific purpose of carving a path from my back door to my grill so that should give you a sense of how much it's meant. That said, I went on a *deep* dive into proper crab boil methods (legs and whole crabs) in the past week and after a lifetime of enjoying them (lots of family in Virginia) I went all in on my own boil. It was a success and given the deliciousness and affordability it will be happening again as much as possible while the weather for outside eating holds.

On the watching front I took a look at A Nightmare on Elm Street this week for the first time in like 25 years and...wow...that movie has some ISSUES. It's a horror classic. I understand why it's a horror classic. And it is downright uncomfortable in a couple of key places. Just...damn. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge remains a favorite camp classic though.

Anyway, next week will mark 50 of these which is wild. By saying it here I'm kind of locking myself into it so I'm going to go ahead and say it here: It will be the best one yet.

So now that I just dropped a mountain of homework onto my plate with that promise I'm going to head off and get right to it. In the meantime be kind to one another and I love you all.
WesRecs is the weekly newsletter where I (comedian/storyteller/TV Host) Wes Hazard recommend a bunch of cool content (recs) to YOU (the person reading this). There's no particular reason for this other than the fact that I love curating stuff and I'm always excited to share items that I personally have found worthwhile, exciting, or necessary. If you like what you see please be sure to subscribe to get each week's edition delivered straight to your inbox and if you know someone else who might be into it definitely share with them. You can check out all past issues HERE.

THE BEE'S KNEES

As this newsletter's title would indicate, I recommend everything you'll find below. It's all stuff which I've personally found rewarding this week and I think you will too! But for the benefit of all you skimmers out there here are links to a few items that I'm happy to briefly highlight for you. You can find more detailed commentary/context below:

The Story of an unbreakable friendship formed in the Black Panthers and a look at what it truly means to be a revolutionary.

Homer, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Will Smith, Herry Falwell, Male Fragility. Put them in a blender and you get this brilliant analysis.


Is Mississippi the key to America?

 

WES Around the WEB

F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K
F O L L O W on T W I T T E R F O L L O W on T W I T T E R
F O L L O W on I N S T A G R A M F O L L O W on I N S T A G R A M
VISIT my WEBSITE VISIT my WEBSITE

Race & Policing

Towards The Reduction Of Harm

In Florida, the Gutting of a Landmark Law Leaves Few Felons Likely to Vote - ProPublica

Look I don't think there should be prisons at all, and if we are going to have them I see no good reason why prisoners should not be allowed to vote. So to even be in a position where people have to do so much advocacy and political legwork just to ensure that people who have already been released from prison get to be full participants in our so-called democracy is just plain asinine. Only in 2018 did the people of Florida (and it was definitely the people and not lawmakers because it was done via a ballot measure) make the right decision and allow people with felony convictions to vote. But the state's Republican lawmakers (of course) have done everything possible to limit and curtail these newfound freedoms, chiefly by insisting that ex-felons must be paid up on all court costs and fines related to their cases in order to be able to cast their votes.

With those fines and fees routinely running to several thousand dollars these requirements effectively shut out a huge chunk of the people who only just had their voting rights restored. Add in a hell of a lot of ambiguity about exactly what fees a given person is responsible for and the possibility that voting while having unknown fines levied against you can potentially result in re-imprisonment and the spirit of the measure that was passed just 2 years ago is significantly dampened. It's an undemocratic outrage and big ups the people fighting against it.
 
"McCoy, 63, of Jacksonville, was released from prison in 2016 after serving seven months on theft and racketeering convictions. She helped gather enough signatures for Amendment 4 to appear on the ballot. After it passed, she used it to register to vote. But she won’t be casting a ballot Nov. 3 because she owes more than $7,800 in restitution. She is one of 17 felons who sued the state and the governor last year over the restriction.

In May, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that the new law created an illegal “pay-to-vote” system. He concluded that most felons who owed court costs should be allowed to vote, opening the door for hundreds of thousands to register. About four months later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, led by five Trump-appointed judges, overturned Hinkle’s decision. Their ruling is likely to stand through the Nov. 3 election."

...

Marq Mitchell, 30, of Oakland Park in Broward County, lost his right to vote before he turned 18, after he was convicted as an adult of escaping from a juvenile detention facility. When he sought certification as a recovery peer specialist, to help people recover from substance abuse and mental health disorders, he found he couldn’t be certified or pass a company’s background check because of the more than $4,000 in decade-old court fees he couldn’t afford to pay off.

Because he couldn’t be certified, his nonprofit, Chainless Change, can’t qualify for state or local contracts, he said.

“It’s a debtor’s prison,” he said. “If you’re too poor, then you’ll never be able to access a better quality of life.”
The data scientist exposing US white supremacists: 'This is how you fight Nazis' - The Guardian

So the President of The United States and the commander-in-chief of US armed forces refused to condemn a white supremacist paramilitary organization on TV so this researcher's work is about as important as it could be and I really loved what she had to say about the antidote to fascism (aka mutual aid).
 
There’s a ton of misinformation about “antifa” and leftwing protest movements. How would you explain to folks what it means to be “anti-fascist” right now?

There’s a diversity of strategies we can have on how to build a world that is resilient to fascism. Protest is part of that. So is community involvement. I think one of the most effective things that people can do is learn ways they can help their neighbors in the community – in direct ways that do not rely on governments and the state and other systems. I think the fundamental principle of anti-fascism is mutual aid. And we have to look at the long game. With Covid and the economy, hard times are still to come and we have to position ourselves to survive. Self-empowerment is to me the most anarchist principle out there, because it means you’re dependent on nobody but yourself, or you get to create those structures of support in your community. People ask, ‘How do you fight Nazis?’ I say, learn Spanish so you can translate for immigrants. Learn how to fix a tail light so you can keep somebody from getting pulled over on a bullshit charge. Find ways to lift each other up, to better help others.

...

You’ve talked previously about the connections between anti-trans movements and white supremacists. Can you explain the links?

White supremacy is not purely a racial concept. It’s fundamentally racist, but it’s also fundamentally antisemitic, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-trans, anti-disability. It’s about purification through whiteness and through maleness and through the consolidation of power. When we look at communities that are exclusionary, whether it is the “Terf” movement [trans-exclusionary radical feminists] or the anti-vaxxer movement, we see these movements are an entry point into a broader white supremacist movement. If you read anti-trans forums, which talk about defending “womanhood” against trans people, you will also see anti-Islam sentiments, defending womanhood against Muslims. Then they start gatekeeping sexuality and cis women. You’ll see antisemitic posts about how the initial researchers on “transgenderism” in the early 20th century were Jewish, which is a fact. Then they say it’s the Jews funding medical studies on trans healthcare. You get sucked into this.
[Above: A photo featured in a May 1963 TIME Magazine shows three policemen restraining a woman on the ground during marches in Birmingham, Ala., on May 6, 1963. (AP Photo)]

The Front Row
- Mississippi Today


Due to all of the universally rave reviews I have been aware of Mississippi-born writer Kiese Laymon's two memoirs  (How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America & Heavy: An American Memoir) for some time, but I haven't yet had a chance to read either one. Having read this piece by him I think I need to correct that much sooner than later. Just wow. He uses the hideous and totally unmasked words of a modern-day Mississippi politician as a blunt rhetorical instrument over and over again and in between that speaks so lovingly and beautifully of his home state to the point where you truly see how Mississippi really could be the litmus test for all of the promise and dread of America. Excellent stuff.


"If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row." - Cindy Hyde-Smith, current jr. U.S. Senator representing Mississippi (R)
 
"Despite what the rest of the nation believes about Mississippi, we know the range of our abundance. Cindy Hyde-Smith could have longed to be on the front of row of The Sonic Boom of the South, the front row of a reading by our Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners, the front row of an exhibit at one of our prodigious museums, or the front row of a breathtaking play at our underfunded public schools. Cindy Hyde Smith, unprovoked, chose a public hanging in Mississippi as the site of her fandom. And, as quiet as it’s kept, Cindy Hyde-Smith won because she chose a public hanging in Mississippi as the site of her fandom."

...

"In a piece called, “Since 1619,” my mother’s mentor, Margaret Walker Alexander, asked the question, “How long have I been living in hell for heaven?” Margaret Walker Alexander taught us that artistry without rigorous introspection and radical empathy is empty. I am trying to put myself in Cindy Hyde-Smith’s place. This is hard because while Black men and boys were the vast majority of folks publicly hanged in Mississippi, Black women were also publicly hanged. White men were publicly hanged. Indigenous men were publicly hanged. Yet there is no record of a white woman being publicly hanged in the state of Mississippi."

...

"Still, if he invited me to a public hanging in Mississippi, what would I do? I know I would not be on the front row. I would likely be one of the Black Mississippians hanged, possibly for writing what should not be written, possibly for walking where I should not be walking. Mike Espy would be hanged, too, for daring to politically unlock Mississippi in the face of concerted brutality. Piss would dribble down the front of our thighs, behind our knees, off the tips of our toes into abundant Choctaw or Chickasaw land that the worst of Mississippi disfigures and depletes. Before the platform on which we were standing was taken away, I want to believe we could make eye contact with Cindy Hyde-Smith and all those loving Mississippians longing to be on the front row of a public hanging. If slack faced terror had not taken our tongues — and even if slack faced terror had — I would like to believe Mike Espy and I would mouth, “You will not win. You do not have to be this way. Mississippi is the key. We.”"

🎵To The Left! To The Left!🎵

On That Commie Pinko Tip

Super-Concierge Doctors, High-Design Home Classrooms, and Catered Backyard Dinners: Lifestyles of the Rich and Quarantined - Washingtonian

Maaaaaaaannnnn. Money.

In the world that we're living in if you've got a whole lot of it then you simply...live in a different world....which you get to shape to your whims. This article is bananas. People building hi-tech university classrooms in their homes, people having doctors charter planes to their waterfront houses for COVID tests, people hiring out-of-work celebrity chefs to cater underground dinner parties. Damn.

The only people I'm rooting for here are the nannies and tutors who can now charge $6k a month for their services.
 
"Covid-19 has wrought lasting, horrific damage on the country—pushing millions of people out of work and killing more than 200,000, a disproportionate number of them people of color. But if the disease has upended our society, there are some slivers of Washington where people can afford an extra measure of comfort (on the hush-hush, of course). The parties are still on (now the tasting menu comes to you), the kids are still in classrooms (they just might be newly installed, high-design “homerooms”), and getaways still happen (they just might involve a new yacht rather than airplane tickets)."

...

"From the early Tom Hanks–has-Covid days of the pandemic, some paid their staff to stay home, then found themselves living almost like Cast Away. The wife of a “CEO of a huge company” who resides in Northwest DC, Hecht says, was going without her three housekeepers, her dogs’ caretaker, and her chef: “The first time she went to cook, she burned herself.”

Solution: social distance from the help. In McLean, Hecht has a family whose housekeeper still comes, but they never see her. She does the laundry, washes the groceries, and cooks from the second kitchen in the basement, then leaves it all at the top of the stairs. Private chef Kevin Brothers says one of his Baltimore clients has him prepare meals from the pool house, which the house manager helped upgrade with an Instant Pot and a Vita-Prep (the Aston Martin of blenders). He puts their pistachio-crusted whitefish and roast chicken with pomegranate reduction into oven-ready platters, drops everything off at their back porch, and texts them that dinner is ready."

...

"Money can’t buy a vaccine (not yet, anyway). But it seems it can buy all kinds of insurance—some psychological protection against the dark, haunting thought that parties and travel and big group dinners might be gone forever. Take Amina Muaddi heels. A pair of her sexy-high shoes can run to $1,000, yet Jahangeri’s customers have been on the stampede. As soon as the shoes are in stock, they sell out. “Buying things like that, for the clients,” Jahangeri says, “just kind of gives them hope.”"
For Black Panthers, Radicalization Entailed Self-Transformation - Truthout.org

So glad I cam across this. At it's heart is the story of 2 radicals who've maintained an unshakeable friendship through decades of state persecution and who have not lost sight of what it really means to be a revolutionary. Everyone who would challenge the system came up in the system and part of the work is the everyday struggle to unlearn what that system has taught you. Beautiful.
 
"Then one day in 1967, on the front page of the military newspaper was an Army personnel carrier on the streets of Newark, New Jersey, pointing its machine gun at a group of Black women on a street corner. As Conway says, “I woke up.” He never put on his uniform again. Reading the Panthers’ newspaper back in Baltimore led him to join the movement. Coates, too, developed a growing awareness in the military, mainly through reading Black literature. He joined the Panthers in 1969."

...

"The rage at the injustice of poverty that had earlier expressed itself in individual acts of theft could, in the Panthers, take the form of collective, cooperative action. Conway helped start a food co-op that provided low-cost groceries to the community. A People’s Health Clinic was established and, in the basement of a community center, hungry children were given free breakfasts. What distinguished these projects from regular community work was the revolutionary ideology that the Panthers inculcated. Members were expected to be aware of not only the Black struggle in the U.S. but also struggles in Angola, South Africa, Vietnam and Puerto Rico. “I really believed there was going to be a revolution next week. The Black Panthers gave me that belief,” says Coates. No one could have that experience and not be individually transformed."

...


"What Eddie Conway and Paul Coates’s story points to is that radical politics requires more than finding like-minded people to organize; it requires finding another person in yourself. In working to transform society, the individual must also be transformed. Because would-be radicals are products of the very society they seek to overturn, only by first erasing the imprints of that society on themselves can they hope to be part of building anything truly new. That involves juxtaposing a pessimistic realism about one’s present self with a sense of hope about future possibilities.

Political movements that aim to raise consciousness have to connect with people at a visceral psychic level while also uplifting them intellectually. To be politicized is more than being aware of social injustice; it is about changing who one is and what one does. Bringing about this kind of personal growth is slow, emotional work. For that reason, it is tempting to avoid it altogether. The more the left is peopled by college graduates, the easier it is to believe that social media and higher education can do the work of radicalizing individuals instead of organized movements. This confuses organized consciousness-raising with access to information or formal education and encourages a gentrification of the left."

 

Things Read

Worthwhile Words

Health Care: The Best and the Rest - New York Review of Books

I have a chronic illness and I pay half of my rent every month out-of-pocket for healthcare. Of the Jeopardy! money that I took home after taxes I put 26% toward healthcare. In America we pay more for healthcare than the people in any other industrial nation could ever conceive and we get so much less in return than other comparable nations. It's madness. It needs to end. There are so many other ways.

 
"America dwarfs other nations in both health care spending per capita ($10,700) and health care spending as a percentage of GDP (17.9). Hospital stays, doctor services, prescription drugs, medical devices, laboratory testing—the excesses are legion. Childbirth costs on average about $4,000 in Western Europe, where midwives are used extensively and charges are bundled together, but close to $30,000 in the US, where the patient is billed separately by specialists—radiologists, pathologists, anesthesiologists—whom she likely never meets, and where charges pile up item by item in what one recent study called a “wasteful overuse of drugs and technologies.” There is no evidence that such extravagance makes for better health care outcomes. The rates of maternal and infant death in the US are higher than in other industrialized nations, partly because the poor, minorities, and children are disproportionately uninsured."

...

"For head-spinning price disparities, however, nothing compares to pharmaceuticals. Americans account for almost half the $1 trillion spent annually for prescription drugs worldwide, while comprising less than 5 percent of the world’s population. It is probably no coincidence that the pharmaceutical industry spent almost twice as much on political lobbying between 1998 and 2020 as its nearest competitor, the insurance industry. (The hospital/nursing home industry came in eighth.) Drug companies won patent protection, restraint-free pricing, and direct-to-consumer advertising (outside the US, only New Zealand allows this). “This high spending for drugs,” writes Emanuel, with some understatement, “is a result of high drug prices, not high drug use by Americans.”"

 
Last Men Standing - San Francisco Chronicle (2016)

The first awareness that I can remember of HIV/AIDS was in a special health presentation my 5th grade class got from a team of hired educators. Little did I know that that was just around the time when effective treatments that would prevent an HIV infection from necessarily meaning a death sentence. That is of course what it had been since the first recognition of the virus in the early 80s so the new class of life-saving drugs was an absolute godsend. This moving and deeply empathetic article looks at a handful of men who came of age when HIV meant the end of the world but who unexpectedly find themselves alive several decades later, dealing with both the magnitude of losing so many friends and lovers and the daily trials of surviving in one of America's most expensive cities while experiencing heartbreak, failing health, and economic hardship.
 
"His doctor died of AIDS just months after Peter tested positive. Friends from high school and college died. In the Castro, where he lived and worked, men his age stooped over canes, withering away. Peter offered the spare bedroom in his apartment as a refuge for families and friends keeping vigil over loved ones.

“I saw one of the great world epidemics unfold in front of my eyes,” Peter said. “I have to carry that with me the rest of my life.”"

...

"Though Peter kept fighting for his own life, he remained convinced that AIDS would eventually kill him, too. Not long after Barry’s death, he cashed out his share of the travel agency. He decided he might as well check out on his terms. Instead of chaining himself to a business, he’d travel and enjoy the time he had left.

“If I’d died when they told me,” he said, “I would have died a wealthy man with a successful business.”

Instead, more than 20 years later, the choices he made then have had consequences he couldn’t have anticipated for a future he never expected to see. With little income and no savings, he could no longer afford the city he called home."

...

"In a life defined by a plague and measured in loss and pain, in fear and loneliness, sometimes it’s the smallest steps forward, the briefest moments of gratitude, that matter most. Waking up to the sunlight. Taking someone’s hand.

Saying yes."
Why Look at Flying Saucers? - LA Review of Books

I've included pieces about the cult phenomenon Qanon and its infiltration into American life and politics in several recent issues of WesRecs. I think this article does an excellent job of outlining how such a patently ridiculous/unfounded/damaging body of cult thought could become so prominent in 21st century American life. The movement itself is total bunk but its effects are very real and if you want to combat it you need to understand it and this is helpful in that regard.

Side Note: This article references a crazy piece of WWII history that I'm shocked to have never heard about before. If you too had not been aware of Japanese balloon bombs landing in America (and causing the only US war deaths on American soil) then welcome to the club. Here's an NPR article about it. So weird. Beware of Japanese Balloon Bombs
 
"Fringe beliefs, Dickey argues, are a response to the sweeping historical processes of modernization and secularization, and to the intellectual movements that pushed them forward: the Scientific Revolution and the European Enlightenment. The generations of thinkers involved in these movements, from the 16th through the 18th centuries, wished to understand the natural world better, and reason was among their primary tools, along with the microscope, experimental method, and peer review. In the process, as sociologist Max Weber famously claimed, they “disenchanted” the world, dividing natural phenomena into explainable chunks. Cosmic unity fell away. Whereas natural creation was once God’s other book — with moss and minnows and meerkats all morally legible, just as the Bible was — now nature was simply a set of phenomena. Moss became Bryophyta, minnows Cyprinidae, and meerkats Suricata suricatta, distant relatives on life’s tree.

As disenchantment worked its way through the world, natural science took up a place of honor in universities, institutionalized as never before. But an irony lurked outside the walls of science buildings. Requiring training and degrees meant that modern science had an exclusive character. Many curious people were necessarily left with nothing but science’s limited public face, such as the natural history museum, open lectures, or magazines. Yet nonacademics could also lay claim to one legacy of the Enlightenment: Immanuel Kant’s slogan “sapere aude” — literally “dare to be wise,” but often translated, in a not just loose but positively baggy fashion, as “have the courage to use your own reason.”

The question was: Who gets to define that mysterious faculty, reason? Do you need a lab coat, a chalkboard, an Erlenmeyer flask? Kant’s slogan could be taken to mean “define reason for yourself,” especially if you hadn’t read him carefully. Early sightings of Nessie, in the 1930s, involved people making observations and then theorizing on the basis of them — isn’t that sapere aude too? (Notably, those sightings also involved fraud.) Institutional science seemed to offer more and more explanations for natural phenomena, but less and less room for the personal experience of nonscientists, including those who wanted to catch a glimpse of the fleeting edge of cosmic truth. Call fringe theory the desire for the world to cohere into sense, for personal experience of yetis or sea serpents or space aliens to lead to grand revelations about the nature of our reality, even to reenchantment."
The Long, Violent Literary History of Calling Someone a “Cuck” - Inside Hook

If you're looking for a better combination of Homer, The Canterbury Tales, Othello, Will Smith, & Jerry Falwell you're just not going to find it, trust me. Effortlessly weaving literature, history, language, and pup culture this piece digs into the enduring cultural archetype of the cuckold and what it says about our society in being so timeless. Highly recommended.
 
"Across the Aegean Sea, Menelaus, the king of Sparta, erupted. His wife had just been stolen by the pretty-boy prince of Troy. He was now a cuckold, husband to an unfaithful wife, the lowest position a man could occupy in this world. To retrieve his property and reclaim his dignity, Menelaus called on all the kings of Greece to join him in battle. Bound by sworn oaths, they obliged.

The ensuing conflict is immortalized in Homer’s epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey. The Trojan War, the most famous in all of literature, started because a vengeful husband was willing to burn the world to repair the damage to his fragile ego."

...

"“Jealousy and imagined infidelity are huge tools for abusive partners, particularly abusive men,” says Ruth Glenn, the CEO of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “If they need to gain and maintain control, they usually imagine this other relationship. It becomes a tool of control where they may abuse someone over and over again.”

The role of cultural inputs cannot be ignored in terms of fomenting misogyny and stoking the flames of jealousy inside an abuser’s imagination. The definitions of words like “cuck,” “beta” and “simp” vary, but they all carry the same connotation that is attached to the medieval view of the cuckold. Their intent is to emasculate men who don’t subscribe to hegemonic masculinity, and their effect is to condone — either tacitly or stridently — a culture of misogyny."
I Don’t Hate Black or Women Candidates, But Kamala Harris Is Running For Vice President and My Head Just Exploded - McSweeney's


HAHAHA, this was hilarious and on-point.

In the wake of the recent SNL season opener I've been thinking a lot about how razor-sharp political satire, no matter how well-grounded and funny and *right* it might may be, rarely does anything to actually stop or reverse the forces of repression/oppression/falsehood that it's aimed at. How many  righteous, riotous, and perfectly crafted roundhouse kicks to the face have comedians and satirist dropped against the occupant of this nation's highest office in the last 4 years??? I've seen countless great ones plus some truly monumental standouts and...you'd have a lot of trouble even remembering a lot of them and he's still in office doing all of the unhinged/hateful/hurtful stuff that prompted those bits in the first place.

What has it all been for? What's the purpose of any of this other than to keep ourselves entertained and feeling superior while a tsunami that we're unable to even recognize, let alone stop, steadily crests over our heads???

As a politically engaged comedian I really don't have an answer for you. But this is still very funny tho. (And yeah, Harris, to say nothing of Biden, is nowhere near as left a candidate as I'd like or I think we need but that's not the situation this piece is attacking and I will absolutely be voting for that ticket and it might end up being as effective as laughing at this article was but screw it I'm doing it and you should too).
 
"Before you judge me, let me assure you that I am a totally open, measured, logical thinking kind of man. Imagine if Elon Musk and Jordan Peterson had a Ben Shapiro love child with Milo Yiannopoulos as their magical nanny. That’s who I am. Just an ordinary fair-minded red-pill-popping free-thinker whose head just fragmented into a gazillion pieces."

...

"As for those who think knee-jerk misogyny is responsible for my reaction, you couldn’t be more mistaken. I’m a champion of women  —  of all women. I am the father of a daughter and the brother of a sister and the grandson of a grandmother and the son of a mother who I secretly hate. “Bring on the lady candidates!” is something I say all the time. But Kamala isn’t a lady. I don’t mean that she’s secretly a man like Hillary, but she’s unsuitable to hold power because she sought power. And she never even expressed remorse for it, an outrage that shattered my skull to smithereens."

Things Seen

Watched Recently By Wes

Short educational videos designed to quickly explain technical processes to a general audience might seem hard to get excited about but I watched this and immediately said "Damn! What a video!" out loud to nobody. This is so well done and anyone looking to create something similar would do well to look at this for tips.

Here Bill, (aka engineeerguy) walks us through the reasoning and actual process of aluminum soda can manufacturing. As a man in his 30s who still enjoys soda (not recommended) and drinks a fair amount of cheap beer I generate a stupid amount of empty cans each week. When I hang each successive bag of empties on my front gate so that the neighhborhood redeemers can take them in for the 5 cents apiece I pretty much never think about the vessels themselves as items that were very purposefully designed but they are, and it's pretty fascinating.

If this sounds like the most boring topic ever or if engineering has never really been your thing I'd say go ahead and gamble 11.5 minutes of your life on this, you'll probably find it worth it. The host is super clear and knowledgeable, there's a minimu of jargon and this is definitely the most productive use of TV trays (my own bedside table of choice) that you'll witness all year.
In the words of Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks' character from Cast Away): "You gotta love crab." And I for one most certainly due. With a huge chunk of my dad's family coming from Virginia I spent a lot of summers and school vacations there as a kid and pretty much any party, family reunion, or pleasant afternoon was a good enough pretext to grab a bushel of Chesapeake Bay Blue crabs, cook em up, throw some newspaper down on a picnic table and get to work chowing down. There really are few better meals.

The food is delicious, but it's also a bit of work to get all of that awesome meat out of the shell so it's the perfect way to spend an afternoon with a cooler of beer and some friends and family. I did a comedy festival in Baltimore a few years ago and while the festival itself left a lot to be desired I hold off on calling the trip an utter waste of time and money mainly because of the afternoon I got to spend with an old friend from elementary school sitting harbor-side tearing through a tray of a dozen #1 jimmy crabs. Beautiful. (The American Visionary Art Museum was also a trip highlight and if you're ever in Maryland and want to see some truly weird and inspiring art I heartily recommend it.)

Anyway, given my first ever foray this week into an at home crab boil these jewels of the sea have been top of mind this week and I'm happy to share these 2 vids:

Up top is a cool little feature about Maryland's crab mania and a look at how people got down in Baltimore pre-covid (look at how tight those tables are packed...seems like a million years ago).

Below is a crab boil recipe vid for if you want to do it yourself. That vid focuses on Snow Crab legs which are amazing in their own right but hella expensive (it also has lobster tails so that dude was really living it up). But you don't mind doing a little bit of work excavating the meat you will definitely save a lot of $$$ buy buying blue crabs (Asian supermarkets will be your friend here if you live in a city that's not in the mid-Atlantic). I like this vid because it goes into your possible sides like potatoes, corn, andouille, etc) And here's a bonus vid on how to crack em and extract the meat if you haven't really done it before.
The Commercial that Killed a Fast Food Chain

Here's an entertaining and esoteric look at what seems to have been a very questionable ad campaign by a schizophrenic fast food chain. I had literally never even heard of Rax before I watched this video (apparently they had 500+ locations in 38 states at their 80s peak and are now down to 8 restaurants total), but I don't regret these 4 minutes.

Word of The Week

Up That Vocab Game

garboil, n
[GAHR - boil ]

rare.
Meaning: Confusion, turmoil; disturbance, tumult; discord, controversy. Also: an instance or state of confusion, disturbance, discord, etc.; a disorderly or tumultuous event.

Origin: Middle French garbouille confused mess, confusion, disorder (16th cent.), of uncertain and disputed origin.

Fun Facts

Trivia To Bend Your Brain

  • Riverside, Centerville, & Fairview are the 3 most common place names in America.
  • You could fit all of the planets in the solar system in the distance between the earth and our moon.
  • The full name for Cap’n Crunch’s mascot is Horatio Magellan Crunch and although his uniform has varied over the years he currently wears the rank insignia of a Commander (3 bars on his sleeve), not a Captain (4 bars).
  • Newborn elephants suck their trunks for comfort.
  • The annual number of worldwide shark bites is 10 times less than the number of people bitten by other people in New York.
Copyright © 2020 Wes Hazard -- Comic. Poet. Performer., All rights reserved.


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