#43 - Eating Bugs

I have previously expressed myself on the subject of bugs and the eating of bugs . But my buddy John recently called my attention to the excellent website, Very Good Taste, and their list of 100 Foods Every Good Omnivore Should Try. The idea of the list is that people with websites will copy the 100 items, bold the things they've eaten, and also indicate any items they'd never even try.

Honestly, I would like to be the kind of fearless person who will eat anything, and while I'm a pretty brave eater, there are certain lines I won't cross. Bugs represent the starkest of those lines and they're the only thing on this list I wouldn't eat. (I would also decline a cigar and cognac, but that's only because I don't smoke.)

Here are my results. Things I've eaten are in bold, things I haven't tried are in CAPS with my thoughts.

1. Venison

2. Nettle tea

3. Huevos rancheros

4. Steak tartare

5. Crocodile

6. Black pudding

7. Cheese fondue

8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush

11. Calamari

12. Pho

13. PB&J sandwich

14. Aloo gobi

15. Hot dog from a street cart

16. Epoisses

17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes

19. Steamed pork buns

20. Pistachio ice cream

21. Heirloom tomatoes

22. Fresh wild berries

23. Foie gras

24. Rice and beans

25. Brawn, or head cheese

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper

27. Dulce de leche

28. Oysters

29. Baklava

30. BAGNA CAUDA I had to look this up. It seems it's an Italian fondue type deal where you dip raw veggies into a spicey broth. I say bring it on, baby!
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi

34. Sauerkraut

35. Root beer float

36. COGNAC WITH A FAT CIGAR Can I just get two cognacs?
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O

39. Gumbo

40. Oxtail

41. Curried goat

43. PHAAL This is supposed to be the world's spiciest curry. I'd take a crack at it.
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more

46. FUGU That poisonous sushi fish. I'd take a chance.
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel

49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut

50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. UMEBOSHI A little red fruit that's pickled. No problemo.
53. Abalone
54. Paneer

55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal

56. Spaetzle

57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV

59. POUTINE These are French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy and eaten by Canadians. Doesn't sound wonderful, but I'd sample it.
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads
63. KAOLIN I can't even find out what this is.
64. CURRYWUSRT A German sausage in a curry sauce. Sure. Why not?
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs

67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake

68. Haggis

69. Fried plantain

70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho

72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe

74. Gjetost, or brunost

75. ROADKILL I'd eat it. Do lobsters get hit by cars?
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie

78. Snail

79. Lapsang souchong

80. BELLINI This is some kind of fruity wine drink. Bring it!
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef

86. Hare

87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate

91. Spam

92. Soft shell crab

93. ROSE HARISSA A spicy South American Chili paste with rose petals. I'd give it a whirl.
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano

96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor

98. Polenta

99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee

100. Snake

Here's one more food I wouldn't eat:

Nothing about that is right. Initially, I assumed this was a product manufactured in China and the name was just some kind of translation mangling, but it turns out this comes from ENGLAND! What the hell?

PS: Just for kicks, from my Bro Andrew, who promises he's working on his reply to that email scammer, here's an interesting, sort of racist, anti-racism toothpaste ad from Japan. Enjoy!

#42 - Other Permanent Changes “I Slept With Shaq” Guy Would Make to His Body and the Rewards He’d Reap for Making Them

Since I happened upon this picture of a man who tattooed “I Slept With Shaq” on his forehead in order to win Laker tickets from a radio station, I’ve been wondering what other offers might entice him to make permanent changes to his body. Here’s a short list of alterations I imagine he might sign on for along with their attendant rewards.

Bodily Alteration: Hands replaced by salad tongs
Reward: Parking ticket amnesty

Bodily Alteration: Tray of fake plastic window sushi permanently affixed to each buttock
Reward: Friend asks out the girl he likes on his behalf

Bodily Alteration: Eyebrows shaved off daily and replaced by strips of cheesewiz
Reward: Released from contract with cell phone company

Bodily Alteration: Phrase “I love” tattooed on right eye, “road head” on left eye
Reward: 1000 free downloads from iTunes

Bodily Alteration: Slices off own nipples with plastic child’s safety scissors
Reward: Free use of the postal service for a year

Bodily Alteration: Eats his own lips off his own face
Reward: Unlimited text messaging and his nighttime minutes start at 4:30

Bodily Alteration: Never uses the letter “E” again on pain of death
Reward: Automatically upgraded to business class on airline of choice (space permitting)

Bodily Alteration: Legally changes name to “Go Pittsburgh Pirates Go!”
Reward: Membership initiation fee at health club waived

CALL TO ACTION: If you can think up a couple changes "I Slept With Shaq Guy" might make to his body and some benefits he'd enjoy for making them, please add your thoughts in the comments section below.

#30 - (Continued) Bad Grammar, Misspelled Tattoos

The other day I was looking back at this post and thinking about how amazingly awesome the "I know your in der" picture above is and I started wondering if there were other examples of tattoos with misspelled words or mishandled grammar. I turned to the Internets and after an exhaustive search I found the following images, each of them more face-burning than the last. Enjoy!

Misspelled Tattoos

Fallen Hero's what?

This one has an interesting backstory. This guy was (understandably) mad at the artist for inking the word "Chi-tonw" on his neck, so he sued the tattoo shop. But when news of his lawsuit reached the press, the shop was flooded by other people requesting deliberately misspelled Chi-tonw tats.

Actually, I'm juging you too.

To stupid too make permanent alterations two your body

Misspelling aside, it doesn't know what?

Maybe. But evidence is mounting that you are not.

And are you winning?

Of spelling?

This guy leap's before he look's

Best/Worst of the Rest
In my search I saw a lot of awesomely bad tats. Here are few non-grammar related gems.

Okay, so this guy probably wasn't real handsome before, but I still think this was a misstep.

I love this tat almost as much as this guy loves bacon. Almost.

What's scarier, the thought that there's a tattoo artist this bad, or that the artist who inked this did a good job and the kid really looks like that?

This takes stupid so far it becomes genius. But I do wish he weren't drinking from a bottle.

Again, this rules. This horribly rendered drunken snowman is peeing himself and apparently loving it.

I strained every creative fiber in my being trying to devise a scenario that would result in the tattoo above and failed. I mean, even if this guy lost a bet, what's the worst the winner could do? Kill him? And isn't being dead better than going through life with this tattoo? Then I looked this up and it turns out the guy got the tat TO WIN LAKER TICKETS FROM A RADIO STATION! Good lord! I assumed at least one of his children was being held hostage or something. Now I think I love this guy.

#42 - The Now Charming Nature of Email Scams

Ever since I started this site--and included an email address for subscribers--I've been receiving at least four or five email scam offers per day. A lot of these are from the Scottish or English lottery informing me I've won a huge sum of money, and others are from Nigerians or other Africans soliciting my help to get funds out of their countries. At this point, these scams are so well known I can't imagine they remain profitable, and I look upon the messages almost fondly--the way I might regard a charming, if hopelessly senile, uncle who was a grifter in his salad days and still tries to sell me monogrammed bibles out of habit, even though he can't remember what his name's supposed to be.

I figure a lot of these scammers just have nothing better to do. There's no work where they live, and very few diversions, so they buy one cup of tea from the Internet Cafe and spent seven hours a day running their email scam. A least it keeps them off the streets, right?

The harmlessness of these scammers is underlined by the number of people who've hit upon the idea of engaging them in a running and increasingly ridiculous string of correspondence just to see what kind of preposterous claims they can force the scammer to pretend to take seriously before he or she cuts them off. This "scamming the scammer" game has become so popular I like to think the Nigerian and American sides have now started to mirror one another, with correspondents in both countires nodding sagely as each communication pings into their inbox--recognizing the scam, but playing out the string anyway just to pass the time.

My own brother, Andrew, media darling and dragon boat racing standout, recently started up a communication with Mrs. Nancy Macharia, a terminally ill, and very rich widow from the Ivory Coast. I find his work refreshing and will post updates on how his relationship with Mrs. Macharia matures.

Here's her original message:

My Dear,

My aim of contacting you is to know if you have the capability to assist me achieves my heart desire of helping less privileged.

If you think you can spare a little of your time on this project. Get back to me for more information of what is expected from you, what you stand to benefit as compensation for your assistance and why I choose to do it with non relative.

Mrs. Nancy

And his reply:

Dearest Nancy,
Thanks be on to you for your email. Let me say that our planets must be in line because I was just yesterday speaking with my best friend Peter "Big Knuckles" at the sausage factory that I run and said to him: "Knuckles, (that is what I call him) I have lived a good life and done well with my fortunes (I now own 3 sausage factories), but what do I really have to show for it?"

The truth is I have made a very good living converting unwanted animal parts into food for the poor, but since I devoted most of my time to my career, I lost out and only had 2 daughters, zero sons. Maybe I should have listened to the midwife and made my wife face the moon while we made love, but I was too busy thinking of new flavors for my sausages and how to make the FDA believe that raccoon meat is both a cheap and healthy pig alternative.

Anyway I digress, the end result is that I have no one to leave my money to (except daughters, which I will not do) and I am looking instead to do some charity with my funds. Knuckles agreed with me and I showed him your kind email. I would love to hear back from you and perhaps you could explain how I might help you to assist those in need.

Thank you again for your email, I look forward to your reply-


P.S. Peter "Big Knuckles" says hello too!!!

To which she responded:

My Dear,
My proposal is to authorize you as a trustee to help me accomplish my hearth desire of helping the less privilege ones. Which I could not accomplish my self due to my present health condition. That is if you are willing to accept my condition and do as I wish.

I am presently in Cote d’ Ivoire seriously sick in hospital battling with diabetes, stroke and chronic renal insufficiency case, a kidney disease. I do not have access to telephone due to doctor’s advice. I can only write once in a while through my laptop in the hospital.

From what I saw in my doctor’s report that was forgotten by my bed side, it states that my kidney has been affected badly by infection at its worse stage combine with diabetes and stroke that I may give up to ghost at any moment and doubt my chances of survival.

My husband is late and his people never liked or showed me love. All my late husband relatives where against his marriage to me and never supported it because I was not from their tribe. Still he insists and went ahead with the marriage. That’s why I did not remarry when he died as an honour to him because of his kindness and love to me when he was alive. The latest is that they accuse me of being a witch because I have no child for my late husband.

After death of my husband my health condition was getting so bad. So, I decided to sold off my inheritance package the fund from it in a consignment and deposit it with a firm until when I will be ready to move the fund to use it assist the less privilege than let my ingrate husband relatives know about it and inherit the money if I die.

My wish is for major percentage of the money to be shared among charity organizations and motherless baby’s home then the remaining percentage for the person that will receive the consignment on my behalf for the project.

My reason of writing now that I can is because I don’t know when I will give up and I wouldn’t want the firm to take over the deposit as unclaimed consignment. So, I want to know if you can stand in for me, receive the consignment from the firm and use major part of the money for charity.

If you are sincere and will use the balance as I wish after taking your percentage for your effort, get back to me for letter of introduction and authority to the firm that will empower you as new beneficiary and act on my behalf. Because I know I don’t have much time left for me to live, although the doctor’s are hiding it from me not knowing that I have seen my report file.

If you are matured, sincere and will do accordingly, while replying this mail send your full name, address, age, telephone number and occupation for introduction to the firm, if not do not bother your self to reply.

When I receive your reply with your particulars, I will let you know the amount involve and what comes to you for your assistance.

Mrs. Nancy Macharia

I, for one, can't wait to see what John-Jon the daughter-plagued sausage king has to say to that! Check in for updates on this percolating international finance story.

#41 - Yield Signs

I guess I just wish they'd called yield signs something else. I don't mind taking orders from signs. I have no problem being told to stop, or go, or merge, or slow down, but whenever a sign tells me to "yield" my first reaction is to scream "I YIELD TO NO MAN!" and then charge through the intersection.

Probably the reason yield signs are such a problem for me is that I draw a lot of my inspiration in life from Conan the Barbarian. And he didn't do a lot of yielding. If I had to chart the things I’ve spent the most time thinking about in my life the list would go like this:

1. The Ladies
2. Ninjas
3. Conan

Now, The Ladies, obviously, are probably number one on any guy’s list, so there’s no need to look too deeply into that. But let’s take a closer look at ninjas vs. Conan.

Ninjas vs. Conan
Listen, I love ninjas and I also love Conan. I'm not going to get into who would win in a fight between Conan and a ninja, because that's like deciding which of your kids you love more. Basically, I believe if Conan and a ninja got into a fight, it would never end. It would be a battle that raged on into all eternity.

What I do want to talk about is what Conan and ninjas have meant to me. I think the only reason ninjas top Conan in my thought pantheon is that I spent my ninth through twelfth years thinking exclusively and unceasingly about ninjas. This built up quite a lead in the ninjas’ favor and although I’ve been thinking about Conan a lot longer, the aggregate time advantage falls to the men in black. However, if I were to evaluate the impact Conan has had on my life in comparison to that of ninjas, I think the bronze-thewed Cimmerian wins out.

I recently sent an instant message to my buddy Josh that said simply, “What is best in life?”

Seconds later, without any prompting or advance notice, the reply came back, “To crush your enemies. To see them driven before you. And to hear the lamentations of their women.”

This, needless to say, is the first lesson Conan learned at the feet of his warrior masters, and it's a great way to tell if a guy's really and truly on my wavelength. I tried this test with a lot of other friends and almost all of them passed. In fact, even my WIFE got the answer, which means we're solemates. (For those of you who also read bushleague, my buddy John's answer was, “A handjob in a car flying off a cliff.” But then, he’s a weird dude.)

Conan’s impact on my life has not been merely philosophical either. For example, not long ago I was in the kitchen chopping up some leftovers for the dog when I hacked off a huge chunk of my finger. (Pictured.) (Yes. I stopped to photograph the chunk I'd just whacked off my finger.)

My wife and I piled the fam into the car and started driving to the emergency room to see if we could get the chunk sewn back on. Unfortunately, our route was bisected by a train track that runs all the way through Madison and as we drove we got stopped THREE SEPARATE TIMES by the same freight train!

Can you imagine the frustration? I’m sitting in the car, trying not to bleed to death and holding a tupperware container with half my goddamn finger in it, and I have to watch the same 400 railcars roll past me at three individual crossings!

So, what did I think about during this trying time? Did I call on JC? No. My mommy? No. My loving and supportive wife? No. I thought about Conan, by Crom!

I was sitting there, holding a quivering chunk of my own human body in my lap and I remember thinking “I bet Conan wouldn’t even go to the doctor for something like this.”

And that gave me strength.

So, yes, one day I will train my sons in the Way of the Ninja, but until they’re old enough to wield a pair of sais, the first thing they’re going to learn is this:


#40 - Horrible Ideas

A friend of mine, Rachel, is the producer for a high-profile cable news show, and she sent me the following photo this morning. Apparently, the manufacturer of these super-multi-headed presidential candidate flip flops thought the show might help out with some buzz.

Um, yeah, they might have, except that super-multi-headed presidential candidate flip flops are a totally stupid idea. My first question, looking at these was, "Why so many heads?" I mean, if you're a real political junkie I guess I could see thinking flip flops that have a picture of Obama or JM, or even a single candidate head, might be cool as part of an outlandish convention outfit, but then the maker of the SMHPCFFs went ahead and put about 40 heads on there. Why? How does this happen? How do so many bad ideas get all the way to realization?

We all have wacky ideas. (I've long wanted to market a line of 41-ounce beers. Who would buy a 40 when you could have a 41? You can pour some out for your homies and still enjoy a full, refreshing 40 ounces!) But somewhere along the line most of us abandon them.

I think the people who take these things all the way to market probably don't have a lot of friends. Or they have the wrong kind of friends. Everyone needs to have access to at least a few friends who will mock you mercilessly when you're getting ready to do something stupid. Having a couple really vicious, witty, sarcastic friends who don't give a shit about you is really important if you want to avoid putting out a line of flip flops with way too many presidential candidate heads on them.

I remember when my Peace Corps group first arrived in Latvia there was this kid who wore gloves all the time. It was July and this dude was sitting there at lunch eating with a big ol' pair of gloves on. Obviously, it didn't take long before someone asked him about the gloves and he returned that he was a pianist and he needed to protect his hands.

Oh really? You're in the Peace Corps getting ready to go live for two years in some crappy town where you'll have to herd sheep and shit on a wooden toilet and you're planning to wear gloves for the entire time?

I remember thinking that "Gloves" must have been from the Dakotas or Alaska or someplace where residents don't benefit from a lot of human contact. Because if the guy had workshopped the gloves affectation to even one person, he would have received the smackdown he needed to avoid that mistake.

Imagine if someone you knew came up to you and said, "Hey, when I meet the 70 or so new people with whom I will be working closely for the next two years I'm thinking about impressing them by wearing gloves and telling them it's because I'm a pianist."

Wold you even have to utter a word? Wouldn't your face say it all?

PS: I was just having a little think about these and I believe the point here might be to wear the sandals depicting the candidate you do not support--the implication being that he is a "flip flopper." But does that make these less stupid or more stupid? I can't really say. I think if you're standing at the Democratic convention wearing an Obama shirt and pin and an American flag tophat and waving an Obama banner it would require a great cognitive leap for me to recognize the implied wordplay in your insane footwear.

#38 (Continued) - My Top Four Most Amazing Vomiting Experiences—a Three-Part FtF Exclusive

1. Crossing the Drake Passage to Antarctica

Fittingly, the most preposterous puking in which I have ever engaged took place in the most preposterous place I’ve ever been: Antarctica. Or, to be more specific, in the notorious Drake Passage, which separates the tip of Argentina from Antarctica. The waters of the Drake Passage are said to be the roughest in the world, and as we set sail through them our expedition leader warned everyone on board to take seasickness medicine as soon as possible.

“Don’t try to be a tough guy and see how long you can last,” he warned us. “If you do that, you’ll never be able to keep the medicine down long enough for it to take effect.” As he said this, he held aloft a corked jar filled with seasickness pills attached to which was a sign reading Take One.

Those of you who know me personally know that I generally consider myself exempt from these types of warnings, but when it comes to my stomach and its perpetual eagerness to start voiding, I know my limitations. So I took the man at his word and swallowed a pill the moment I got back to my cabin.

Unfortunately, prior to my trip, I’d gone to the travel doctor at my clinic here in Madison and asked him for some motion sickness medicine. Although I told him what the plan was, I don’t think he grasped the seriousness of the adventure I was embarking on because he gave me something intended to keep a child from getting sick in a car.

When I took the pill and went to sleep, we were still in calm waters. The troubles didn’t start until a few hours later when I was suddenly awakened by the sound of all the drawers in my wardrobe simultaneously sliding out of their housings and smashing against the opposite wall. Bracing against the force of the ship’s list, I flicked on the light beside my bed and found myself in a shifting environment of sliding furniture and slamming doors. The drawers in all the room’s tables were opening and closing as the Antarctic Dream—a retired Chilean naval vessel—pitched and rose in the stormy seas.

Smartly, before dealing with the flying furniture, I took another of the pills my well-meaning, but under informed doctor had prescribed me, and then set about the arduous and disorienting task of, I suppose I can actually say, battening down the hatches.

There were toggles screwed to most of the drawers, so I closed those. I picked up the phone (and why was there a phone anyway?) from where it had careened under the writing desk and shut it up in one of the drawers. I took the curtain ties off the window and used them to tie the wardrobe doors together. I also fastened the desk chair to the desk which someone had wisely bolted down. I then went into the bathroom and occupied myself trying to chase down and capture the contents of the medicine cabinet which were rolling all over the place.

All of this took a lot longer than you’d think, because to reach anything or get anywhere in the room I had to wait until the ship flung me in that direction. But throughout all of this I never felt sick.

Once I’d secured the environment as best I could, I lay on my stomach, wedged my feet into the space between the footboard and the mattress, established a death grip on the corners of the bed and—don’t ask me how—fell asleep!

My bed was laying port to starboard, which meant I was able to sleep pretty well until the ship would take a roll from bow to stern at which point I’d be cast onto the floor and wake up. Luckily, one of the times this happened, I realized I’d ended up nicely wedged between the bed and wall so I just said fuck it and slept there.

When I popped a pill and showed up at breakfast the next day I was actually in much better shape than most of my shipmates. The few passengers who’d braved the journey to the dining room were looking pretty green, and even the staff was clearly feeling the strain as they lumbered around the room trying to balance cups of tea and coffee.

Obeying the rule of “one hand for you, one hand for the ship,” I managed to shuttle a plate of fruit and a cup of coffee back to a table and was about to start eating when I made the mistake of looking out the window. Shut up in my dark room, I hadn’t quite realized the extreme parabola of the rolls the ship was taking, but in the dining room, ringed by large, clear windows, I instantly got an acute sense of the situation. I was looking out a window across the room to my right when suddenly the horizon swept up out of view and appeared again on my left. This sudden and total reversal of orientation sparked a tidal wave of nausea that surged through me in a matter of seconds. I instantly went from Chipper Chris On An Adventure to Survival Mode Chris Who Thinks Things Might Never Be Okay Again.

“I think I might be getting seasick,” I announced to my tablemates.

“Okay. So what are you still doing here?” Said Karla, a young Australian woman across from me.

“That’s a good point,” I conceded.

“Yes. The time to go is before you get sick.”

So I got up, waited for the ship to rock the right way, and headed to my cabin. I immediately gobbled down another tablet and lay in the middle of the bed trying to regain my senses. I lay there for about 15 minutes battling the nausea and cheering for my digestive system to work its magic before seasickness took hold. Of course, the pill I’d taken was woefully overmatched by the seas I was in, so I never stood much of a chance.

Still pretending I might not throw up, I allowed myself to go into the bathroom under the pretense that “it was cooler in there.” But about two seconds after I got within puking distance of the bowl, I knew it was coming.

“This is happening,” I thought. And then I threw up for eleven minutes.

Throwing up is often a kind of fits and starts process. You throw up for a while, then you stop, you breathe, you do a little internal inventory, sometimes you throw up again, sometimes you don’t. It goes something like this:

Baaarf, breathe, baaaaaarf, breathe, pause, barf, breathe.

Drake passage vomiting went like this:


You get the idea.

The reason I know this lasted for eleven minutes was that I timed it on my watch. One really bizarre thing about my bout with seasickness was how sentient I was. Other than the fact that all the fluid in my body was shooting out of my face in a steady column, I was thinking normally. I was actually cognizant enough to realize that this was a really extreme session of barfing and that at a future date it might be valuable to know how long it lasted.

Another thought that occurred to me as I waited for the barfing to stop was that it might not stop. I honestly considered it a real possibility that I was fated to vomit continuously for the entire three days of the Drake crossing. I was sure I’d never last long enough to digest another pill, so I just hoped I’d pass out at some point to recuperate. When you’re actually rooting for your body to shut down in exhaustion, you know you’re in a bad situation.

Eventually, although I still felt sick, I stopped physically shooting things out of my mouth. I was already reconciled to three days in my cabin, so I grabbed the trashcan from the bathroom and ventured out to the main room to try to stockpile as much bottled water as possible.

I was, of course, slightly ashamed to be so sick, especially as I’d been taking medication. And since I was recriminating myself for being a huge wuss, if the lovely and life saving woman at the front desk had asked how I was feeling, I probably would have lied and said, “fine.”

Luckily, when she saw me standing there drenched in sweat, holding a trashcan and trying to stuff two dozen bottles of water into the waistband of my pants, she deduced that I was not on top of my game.

“Did you take pills?” She asked in her blunt Chilean accent.

“Yes,” I said, abandoning my brave front, fishing out the pill bottle and handing it over. “But I still feel sick.”

The face she made when she read the label was one of utter disdain mingled with slight amusement.

“Oh no, no, no, no,” she informed me. “This is for, like, ride in car. You should take four of this.”

“Four? Will that kill me?” I asked, still not wanting to cop to the lameness of my meds.

“Or you could take one of this,” she said, indicating the Take One jar. I took a handful.

I lurched back to my cabin with a pocketful of meds and a glimmer of hope that if I could just keep myself from spewing long enough to digest the pill I might be not be confined to quarters for the whole Drake Crossing. I used a towel to wedge my laptop into the space between the bed frame and the mattress and cued up a 45-minute episode of the Ricky Gervais podcast. I popped a pill, drank a slug of water, and lay there, breathing deeply and actively battling the urge to vomit. Eventually, blessedly, I feel asleep.

I don’t know exactly what those magic pills do—I think they balance your inner ear, not that I know what an inner ear is—but when I woke up from my nap, I was a different person. You know that scene in The Matrix where Neo finally realizes his potential and he’s simultaneously kicking everyone’s ass and actually seeing the computer code as it cascades around him? I felt a lot like that.

I was aware in my active mind that I should be sick, but for some reason, I wasn’t. Hypnotized, I walked over to the window to test myself. I drew the shade and gazed out on the pitching horizon. I didn’t know how long I’d slept, and when I initially pulled the curtain I thought it was nighttime. Then I realized I was gazing out onto the face of giant wave that was blocking out the sky. I watched the wave crest and break over the ship.

“Holy shit!” I thought. “I think we were just underwater! I should be so sick right now.”

But, no matter how ill my eyes and my mind told me I should be, my body wasn’t buying it. I stumbled out of my cabin and up to the dining room where I was greeted with a rousing round of applause from the folks who’d witnessed my earlier departure. I took a seat and joined them in looking out the window, pointing out which waves were really going to rock the boat.

“Whoa! Check that out! This is going to be a big one.”

After that it was pretty much smooth sailing. Well, figuratively anyway.

(Click here to read vomit adventures 2, 3 and 4!)

#39 - The Yankees Trying to Beat the Angels

Is there any point in continuing this charade? Wouldn't the Yankee organization be better served redirecting all the money and time they spend getting the team out to Anaheim (of Los Angeles) towards some purpose other than getting manhandled by the invincible Angels again? If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, aren't the Yankees crazy to continue expending resources trying to beat a team that cannot be beaten? Look, the Yanks have injuries at almost every position, so I say, SURRENDER! Give the whole team three days off. Promote the entire Long Island Clippers single A squad and let them take the lumps. Or at the very least, don't let our few remaining ambulatory pitchers get smashed around by Vladimir Guerrero. (Who, incidentally, I believe is a Teen Wolf.) Let Wilson Betamit pitch. Let Justin Christian run the ball to the plate. Hell, just concede the series and go to Minnesota early. We'd all be better off.

#18 (Continued) - CELEBRITY Females Sighted Bringing Their Own Full-Size Pillows On Planes, By Race

White: 2
Other: 0

White: 24 (1 male)
Other: 0

*Thanks (again) to John Walsh, stalwart FtF contrib. who says, "I was on a connecting flight and we were held at the gate, which pissed me off. Then the Hilton family boarded. Paris and What'sherface each carried their own GIGANTIC pillow. They seemed to bury themselves in them, face down. I don’t know if the Hiltons breathe oxygen."

Bonus Coverage: OPCs In the News!
As pointed out by a number of readers, Jetblue Airways announced plans on Monday to charge $7 for pillows and blankets. They're calling them "nap bundles" or some marketing-y crap like that. Could we see a rise in OPC numbers across the board? Only time and our tally will tell! Keep those reports coming in.

(If you sight an own-pillow carrier, please email [email protected] with your tally, their races and your route. Or, alternately, just add the same information in the comments section below.)

#38 (Continued) - My Top Four Most Amazing Vomiting Experiences—a Three-Part FtF Exclusive

2. The Time I Ate a Sprouted Potato

The interesting thing about the time I vomited from eating a sprouted potato was not only the immediacy and violence of the vomiting, but also the complete relief the vomiting brought on.

It was 1997 and I was a Peace Corps Volunteer living in a Latvian country town called Cesis. Because part of the Peace Corps mission is to have volunteers live in the same economic circumstances as the people they’re working with, I was being paid $300 a month. This was not a lot of money, even in Latvia. In fact, every two weeks, when my grandmother would send me a letter and a $20 bill, it had a serious impact on what I was able to eat and drink and where I was able to go.

I will admit my dire financial situation was partly my own doing because, being a 22-year-old guy, I was going into the capitol city of Riga every weekend to party. And to make matters worse, I was running with a group of young, expatriated American businessmen who made Western money and spent it freely. So, in order to stake my Riga life, my Cesis life had to be quite abstemious.

Basically, when I was home during the week, I did nothing but teach English, play basketball, work out and read. When I think now about what my daily schedule was like back then, I simply cannot fathom how I survived.

You know how your grandpa used to tell you he walked two miles to school everyday uphill through the snow? That’s the school I worked at.

My daily routine went like this: I’d hike two steep miles to school then teach a full day of classes. When my classes ended, I played basketball with a bunch of students until seven. At seven, I’d hike into town for… basketball practice! Then, after practice, I’d walk the two miles back home and do situps and read until dinner was ready.

To save money during this halcyon period, I’d settled on the brilliant strategy of eating only once a day. This, I did right before bed so that hunger wouldn’t keep me up. I wasn’t a huge fan of the meat market in our town—it was a dingy square with a roof that was 100% covered in bird shit where people displayed whatever they’d killed and chopped up on blankets on the ground—so my diet consisted mainly of beans, vegetables, rice, the occasional sausage (when Grandma had dropped her bi-weekly 20 on me) and that ubiquitous Latvian staple, the potato. When I was being smart, I’d buy these things in bulk at the start of every month to safeguard against blowing my food money on Russian girls at the Pepsi Forums Nightclub in Riga.

Whenever it was possible to go outside without freezing my face off, I’d cook the vegetables on a little grill on my balcony—heady days!—but most of the time I was just eating a big ol’ pot of boiled rice or potatoes with veggies sautéed in oil.

While it may sound weird that I ate this way, even stranger was how excited I got about my nightly bowl of food. During about the second hour of my first basketball practice I’d start taking a mental inventory of what I had in the house, what I could buy on the way home and how I was going to cook everything. I suppose when you’re burning about 1,000 more calories than you’re taking in every day, you can get quite excited about even mild offerings. When I arrived in Latvia I weighed about 230 pounds. By the end of my first year, I had leveled out at 165. I never got much below 165 in the other year and a half I lived there, but I think that’s probably because my skin, hair and bones weigh 160.

Regardless of what it was I had to eat, the chewing and swallowing of food was a pretty big deal around my apartment. I’d stand over my pot or pan or grill salivating, barely able to bang out 12 more chinups in my eagerness to dine.

The time I ate the sprouted potato must have been a particularly bad month, financially, because I knew you weren’t supposed to eat sprouted potatoes. I remember finding the thing in the bottom of a bowl where I kept my produce and thinking, “Man, this is one gnarly little guy.” But I was, of course, starving, so I peeled it and tossed it into the pot and hoped for the best.

The best was not what I got. But it was at least interesting.

Often, in the half hour or so preceding a big barf, there’s some kind of internal debate going on. It’s like your body has to figure out if this is a real code red emergency and whether it’s worth all the trouble to rally the troops and void the stomach of its contents. Not so with the sprouted potato.

The reason I rank this my second most incredible vomit experience was the savagery and conviction of the vomiting. There was no bargaining to be done with my body in this case. No “lying down for a minute” or “getting some fresh air.” Like a basketball bouncing, the very instant the sprouted potato hit my stomach it started heading back up.

I remember I was sitting on the couch reading with the bowl in my lap when I suddenly knew with utter certainty I was going to vomit. I got sick so fast I didn’t even have time to say, “I think I’m going to…” I just sprinted to the bathroom, sending the bowl careening under a planter, and heaved heavily for about 90 seconds.

And then.. it was over. Everything that had been in, was out. I was completely spent and my stomach felt like a rolled up tube of toothpaste.

While the violence and alacrity of the sprouted potato vomit experience qualifies this as one of my most outstanding barfs, it was not one of the most unpleasant. Once the thick column of spew had stopped issuing from my face, I felt perfectly fine. In fact, I remember that I was even hungry enough to walk all the way back up to town where there was a store that stayed open late. I used the emergency credit card my mother gave me to buy beer, Danish Krisprolls, mustard and a hunk of cheese. It must have seemed like Christmas.

Next time on this Very Special Episode of FTF’s Top Four Amazing Vomit Experiences: Seasick in the Drake Passage!