10.2.19

ohhhhhhhh.

Guys, I know what happened: I slowly replaced my hobby of almost talking about my feelings with Texas Hold'Em and Fortnite. And then completely didn't write for 5 months. No wonder I was so fucked up! I'm fine now!!!

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9.2.19

let's say we did.

On the other hand, VDuck was always an exercise in how to almost but not quite write about the biggest thing that was going on in your life. Why, I don't know. Balls, probably. Missing balls.

But riiiiight, one great thing about VDuck being disguised as a food blog is that we the writer could  always rely on the necessary daily inspiration of cookingggghhhhhhkkkk to force us to tap out some narcissistic sentences and then obsessively/compulsively revise them until we'd wasted most of the day and oh yes we'd also eventually emitted some sort of something: something pointlessly, uncommunicatively oblique or not. At least it would be a record that something happened. Mostly in our stupid mind, we the writer.

Thus I will start there. Pardon my continuing on as if nothing is amiss. That's just how we do.

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So (flips/tosses hair), anyway, guys? Imaginary guys? This is something rilly great that I totally invented, and it's totally worth recording BECAUSE GET A  LOAD OF THIS: IT'S A VEGANIZABLE CROSS BETWEEN TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE AND MAC AND CHEEEEEEEEESE!!!!!!!!!!! (Imagine these words being screamed in the hideous death voice of the bear creature in Annihilation),

Mkay well anyway. It really was something. It isn't really trying to be either TNC or MnC but gives you the feeling of both. And it's pretty fucking healthy without trying to be. The creaminess comes from the starch from the pasta and from white beans, and the tang comes from lemon and from sourdough breadcrumbs. Yeah yeah whatever. Here's the shorthand notes:

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baked noodles with fennel and white beans

so you make one recipe vegetarian zuppe di sedano from Giuseppe's Sicilian/Sardinian cookbook
ok i know
i hate recipes where the first step is to make some other recipe
but this is pretty brainless, it's basically a simple vegetable soup with almost a whole thing of celery. head? head of celery? you leave out the pork eyeball or whatever his version calls for.

add 400g cooked white beans
boil
add 400g whole wheat small and fun noodles of your choice, i used elbow. you should use something that things can go inside. anyway that sounds like a lot of noodles but they need to suck up all the soup.

leave overnight
in the morning you will see that those evil noodles have indeed sucked up the soup
it's pretty good to just eat right now if you're curious.

but then you roast one bulb fennel with one sweet onion and 3 cloves of garlic for like 45 or 46 minutes.

add salt and pepper/TASTE FOR SEASONING
add the minced zest of two lemons
top with grated pecorino and sourdough breadcrumbs

bake at 200 for 15 minutes
THANK ME LATER BITCHESSSSSSSSSSS

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immediately germane.

But. And. It's really rather, I don't know, upsetting to feel so foreign and uncomfortable writing here. It underscores the seemingly paradoxical clarity with which I Have Lost My Way. Like, you''re lost, totally lost, mayday mayday, and suddenly you come upon an impossibly giant, roaring river you certainly don't remember crossing, you'd remember that wouldn't you, and then, oh look, there on the other side of it you spy exactly the place where you came from. How stupid. I was literally just having the thought "you used to have hobbies, right? Or, a hobby?"

I guess it was this, or this was one of them. How healthy, to have a hobby consisting of almost daring to write about your feelings (I guess really writing about them is what your Drafts folder in Gmail is for). Anyway, being here, I am now experiencing "conflict", or, my pretty normally conflicted state is being pushed stumbling into the spotlight, for many reasons, the most immediately germane of which is that this was (I now realize) a surprisingly important thing I did that kept me me, and now it feels impossible to do, or at the very least not very plausible. So in typical fashion I am of course deciding that the easiest thing to do would be to keep not doing it.

And, yet. Or, but. Some connective word tissue. Continuing to do nothing is not how you get to "doing something". Plus. regardless of all that, I don't think I want it to end like this. This blog. Well who would want anything to end like this, in a slow and unspectacularly repetitive death spiral of redaction, retraction, more bad action words. That's a rhetorical question about the boring death spiral. So there will be writing attempts.

And oh hey I turned 50.

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13.1.19

my visit to america.























As you can see, it was "pretty exciting". Also the weather.










30.9.18

what to expect at your first AA meeting.

As if going to an AA meeting didn't feel like enough of a boring, put-me-in-a-box-I'm-done cliche (although, how is this more boring than just continuing to fail at "drinking in moderation" I ask you completely rhetorically), I came back feeling something like buoyancy (struggling for properly oblique reference, should just mention Jay-Z), lifted by a surprising, hopeful recession of my usual weighty cynicism about the whole endeavor. I told a couple of people "how it went" (amazing how quotes destroy any honest emotional content), putting some real effort into "conveying the details", etc. 

Then, (surprisingly, still) somewhat content, I slipped into wondering if I'd had a "normal" experience or not. Cinematically tapping my pencil against my brow with a (surprisingly?) hollow sound and/or nibbling lightly on one of the arms of my glasses (is this enough adverbs? I'm never sure) to indicate thought (Editor's Note: physiologically possible? Sounds awkward, doing both), I spent a little time on the Google, which revealed that not only was my experience completely "normal", it was "normal" enough to where (thank you Mysterious Higher Power) I didn't even get the opportunity of struggling through writing creatively about the basics in an original way: several hundred other people had already uncynically included all the pertinent hopeful surprises. I guess this is the most representative of them. In terms of the uncynical facts of what happened, my meeting was pretty much exactly like that. Maybe it'll be easier to say something original about my second meeting.

Then another helpful friend sent one of DFW's rather mercilessly bleak summaries of what I guess is "one way to look at" the cliched AA cycle:
“....the Crocodiles say they can't even begin to say how many new guys they've seen Come In and then get sucked back Out There, Come In to AA for a while and Hang In and put together a little sober time and have things start to get better, head-wise and life-quality-wise, and after a while the new guys get cocky, they decide they've gotten `Well,' and they get really busy at the new job sobriety's allowed them to get, or maybe they buy season Celtics tickets, or they rediscover pussy and start chasing pussy (these withered gnarled toothless totally post-sexual old fuckers actually say pussy), but one way or another these poor cocky clueless new bastards start gradually drifting away from rabid Activity In The Group, and then away from their Group itself, and then little by little gradually drift away from any AA meetings at all, and then, without the protection of meetings or a Group, in time--oh there's always plenty of time, the Disease is fiendishly patient--how in time they forget what it was like, the ones that've cockily drifted, they forget who and what they are, they forget about the Disease, until like one day they're at like maybe a Celtics-Sixers game, and the good old Fleet/First Interstate Center's hot, and they think what could just one cold foamer hurt, after all this sober time, now that they've gotten `Well.' Just one cold one. What could it hurt. And after that one it's like they'd never stopped, if they've got the Disease. And how in a month or six months or a year they have to Come Back In, back to the Boston AA halls and their old Group, tottering, D.T.ing, with their faces hanging down around their knees all over again, or maybe it's five or ten years before they can get it up to get back In, beaten to shit again, or else their system isn't ready for the recurred abuse again after some sober time and they die Out There--the Crocodiles are always talking in hushed, 'Nam-like tones about Out There--or else, worse, maybe they kill somebody in a blackout and spend the rest of their lives in MCI-Walpole drinking raisin jack fermented in the seatless toilet and trying to recall what they did to get in there, Out There; or else, worst of all, these cocky new guys drift back Out There and have nothing sufficiently horrible to Finish them happen at all, just go back to drinking 24/7/365, to not-living, behind bars, undead, back in the Disease's cage all over again. The Crocodiles talk about how they can't count the number of guys that've Come In for a while and drifted away and gone back Out There and died, or not gotten to die.” 
Not having gotten past the first 59 pages of IJ myself, it's hard to say how much of that is complete fucking-with-you sarcasm, I mean, is this the author's voice or a character's voice, etc. Devil's advocate and whatnot. Or reverse Devil's advocate. Author hangs self, strongly suggesting that he "may not have had all the answers". Do I really have to find the book and start over again I ask uncynically.

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18.9.18

vizcaina.

Pretty sure I have another post titled this somewhere. For now, some notes on an attempt to refine this into something that looks good on the plate. For starters cut everything raisin-sized. I wonder if you could crust the fish with the almonds. Serve over potatoes?

1 can tomatoes
2 roasted red peppers
2 tsp capers
1/2 cup good green olives
1/4 cup golden raisins
3 cloves garlic
1 red onion
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water

1/2 cup toasted almonds
4 pieces cod

or

some grandpa potatoes cooked in butter so they're crisp.

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26.8.18

zjft.







never play A 2.












So I'm trying to build my range, which, for all the normal people who might read this, is the set of hands you will normally play (instead of throwing away) from any of the positions around the table.

This is a critical step for anyone who wants to consider themselves a serious poker player, but it's especially important for me because my biggest weakness as a player is.....wait for it......discipline.

That's right. Amazing? No. I'll play almost any hand, all the time. So by building a range, you're kind putting yourself on a diet, giving yourself rules for what hands you will and won't play. Now, is it really like a diet? Where you give yourself rules for what you will and won't eat, and then constantly either follow or break those rules? Yes, yes, kind of. But this is more important than a diet.

I joke. Anyway, today I was playing, and I was dealt an ace and a deuce of the same suit, which we write as A-2s, "s" signifying "suited". Now A-2 is one of the hands that I have told myself one billion times not to play, and inevitably I play it and it sucks and I say never do that again you stupid fuck.  And then it's dealt to me again and I play it again while saying "never play A-2 again you stupid fuck". Maybe poker is just a semi-harmless way for me to just violently and endlessly berate myself for not listening to my own good advice.

Annnywayyyyy, to bring this fascinating glimpse into my life to a close, today I was dealt A-2, annd I said to myself "never play A-2", and then I went ahead and bet and said (to myself) "OK, now this is why you never play A-2, you dick," and of course I was immediately dealt another ace and another deuce. And I won the hand. Great story Mark, could you tell it again?

Oh right, I'm not a koala anymore, I'm a black cowboy wearing purple.

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8.8.18

screen saver.














Above: here's the beach my screen saver showed me today. Below: here's the beach I went to today. That is the beach, right there with the backhoes on it, dismantling it completely.


Note the long fence below preventing you from going down there. At least I'd only taken a 38 minute train ride to get to this wasteland. I saw one family with kids, beach gear in tow. They did not reek of localness, in fact they looked very much like they had traveled very far to get here for some reason, they were actually tearfully clutching the fence in frustration, as if they had no idea the beach was going to be totally destroyed this summer. Seems like someone would've told them along the way.


















OK so it wasn't much of a "beach" anyway, they weren't really missing anything: about 100 meters of dirty sand leading to thick mud, but it is the closest "beach" to Groningen. But really, it was disappointing even for a Dutch beach. Anyone American who is roughly my age who has ever come to visit me in this country has said at some point, "yeah, there's a lot of good stuff here, socialized medicine, legal weed, beautiful womens, good jazz, liberal thinking, a society that tries to be tolerant of and help all peoples, but....yeah, the beaches aren't so good, are they."

On a good day Bloemendaal can be a lovely experience. I myself like Castricum as well. Bergen is kind of nice. Even Zandvoort is OK once you drop your expectations accordingly. And the dunes on the islands are serene and severe, in a good way. But if you've grown up with Florida and California, those are just a different kind of beach. Waves.

Anyway, I say all of this to say that Delfzijl, where I was today, was by far the most depressing beach I have ever been to in a country of really mediocre beaches. I am very sorry for you if you live in Delfzijl at this moment, I cannot believe the streets are not littered with suicides. On a tropically hot summer day, someone has decided to tear apart your sad little beach. I can't decide if it was sadder to not have been able to go to the beach there today, or would it have been worse if I'd actually been able to lay my towel down on the rocks and listen to the sucking mud in front of me and the highway directly behind me.