Lox is a sixteen-pound, twelve-year-old Shih Tzu who lives with my girlfriend and me.
We celebrated his recent birthday with a party in the park. Lox enjoyed an afternoon among friends, both human and canine. The dogs chased balls and hounded doggy ice cream, but I could see that something was nipping at Lox. Once Delilah the Doberman stopped playing with him, he still seemed distracted. I asked Lox what was wrong.
"I've been thinking about my mortality lately," he answered, "I'm 84-years old and nearing the end of my life. There's so much I've yet to do. I've never seen the world. Hell, I've barely even seen California. I want to know if there was something more to it all. I want to know if there is more to life than West Hollywood."
Lox snapped his attention. There was a squirrel (or, perhaps, a small dog) he didn't recognize on the other side of the green. It troubled him for a few moments. Eventually, he recollected his thoughts and continued, "I've been working on a bucket list of sorts, some things I'd like to do with my final years. I want to do at least one of them this month, in celebration of another seven years. I want to see the Big Sur with you and Cristina."
Coincidentally, Cristina and I had never been to Big Sur and always wanted to go. We agreed that the trip was a win for everyone and packed our bags. We planned a trip from Los Angeles to Berkeley, CA, and back so that our black and white Shih Tzu, Lox, could see the Big Sur before he dies.
Los Angeles to Berkeley via Big Sur
We left on a Wednesday morning in August, before nine. The 101 and 170 were packed, but traffic thinned by the time we reached the 5. We drove north for an hour over gold and green hills. "The southern California landscape, at times, resembles a pastel wool blanket draped over a sleeping giant," said Lox. He sniffed the air and warned of smoke ahead, half an hour before we saw it. The mountains disappeared behind the clouds.
We drove behind a smokescreen for another hour. Cristina pulled over at one of those Love's Trucker Stations near the Lost Hills. The fuel was overpriced but more reasonable than gas on the coast. Plus, Lox needed to stretch his legs, all five inches of them.
The California state highways from the 5 to the PCH were as lonely as they were direct. The smaller state highways were two-lane roads cutting a grayish line through the glowing desert. Smoky mountains lurked all around us. The temperature soon reached over 100. The heat was getting to Lox, who whined. We had outfitted the back of Cristina's Subaru with Lox's favorite blankets and a doggy bed. But even in his relative luxury, the car ride made him uncomfortable. As if this whole thing wasn't his idea.
We reached our first checkpoint four and a half hours after leaving LA. It was a roadside resort, restaurant, and rest stop called Ragged Point. Lox was the first to see why. At the park's main viewpoint, he saw gray cliffs full of, well, ragged points stretching as far north as his eyes could see, which is only about fifty yards at best. It was a gorgeous stop, one that lasted longer than we planned. It's a pastoral oasis on the shoulder of a busy highway. If you walk towards the vista for thirty seconds, the din of traffic disappears. Surrounded by leafy grass, we felt momentarily transported to the Swiss countryside. Flowers of red and blue and purple and orange danced in the sun while gardeners happily gardened nearby, all at the foot of a giant green mountain. There was a sculpture that looked like a polished wooden donut but far more refined. It's called "The Portal to the Big Sur" and looking through results in a spectacular view. Ragged Point's views earned the Lox Paw Print of Approval.
The location was awe-inspiring, but the customer service was appalling.
Ragged Point has two dining options and a coffee shop. One restaurant is waiter service, and the other is a roadside burger hut. We had two short hikes planned for the day, so we preferred the brevity of a burger joint. I ordered a veggie burger, Cristina a turkey sandwich, and Lox a cheeseburger. My veggie burger was surprisingly tasty. No doubt it was just a Sysco frozen veggie patty that they threw in the fryer for the correct amount of time, but still - they did it for the correct amount of time. Cristina's sandwich was dry and disappointing, not to mention overpriced. The lady didn't even bring out Lox's cheeseburger. She was an older woman with a hunched back and growling tone. She didn't so much look you in the eye as glare at you from behind her Covered California face mask. We had to repeat every part of the order, always to a sigh. Lox watched her treat every customer with the utmost hostility while we waited for our sandwiches. Family after family arrived at her kiosk with polite intentions. Invariably, they left cursing beneath their breath.
We had a similar experience at the coffee shop. Lox won't drink caffeine in the afternoons, but Cristina and I aren't so religious. The cafe and the burger joint must share an underground kitchen where both employees go to moan about the tourists and spit in our various concessions.
The baristo was an older man, similarly rounded and unfriendly. He appeared to be working against time rather than with it. Our long line waned like a slow drip. Just like with the lady at the burger joint, customer after customer left regretting the transaction before they even got their orders. Finally, it was our turn.
"What can I get ya?"
"Just a cafe macchiato for me," Cristina answered.
"Okay... $5.08." He answered. I jumped in,
"Oh, and for me..."
"Hold on, hold on," he said, audibly annoyed, "She said 'just.' Now I have to go back..."
He mumbled off a list of things he had to do to fix the order, which was short but sounded demanding. Cristina answered his accusation in turn.
"Oh. I was saying 'just' just for me."
"Yeah. But you still said 'just.' It's an absolute."
He reminded me of a bridge troll. Engaging with trolls only lures you into their traps, so I passed on the bait.
"Her macchiato and an espresso for me. Please."
With a hearty Ragged Point sigh, he rang us up. The amount of time we waited made me wonder if he wasn't picking the beans himself. It took ages. Lox had time to read a sign on the troll's window. According to management, there was to be "NO SPLITING" of the milkshakes. And that's just not a word.
We were as soon back on the PCH, aka California Highway 1, as we were back off it. Lox loves waterfalls and planned to see the finest falls Big Sur had to offer. Our first cascade was Salmon Creek Falls, ten minutes up the road from Ragged Point. It was a two-minute hike from the shoulder of a hairpin highway turn to the creek. Finding the falls requires an adventurous spirit. Lox sent me as a lookout after an out-of-breath couple told us they couldn't "find the big one." You had to do some light boulder hopping to get there, but finding the big one was worth it.
We passed Lox, hand-in-hand, over some of the more difficult rocks, annoying him greatly. You had to traverse a small but fast-moving creek over seven carefully laid logs to get the best views of the falls. Lox protested, but we decided it was too dangerous for him. Cristina and I took turns crossing the bridge for pictures while the other kept Lox company. The 120-foot falls were refreshing if anything. They crashed into a pool deep enough to swim in, but Cristina and I both decided against it.
I was soon driving again with Cristina and Lox in the passenger seat. Most guides will tell you to see Big Sur from north to south because the sights are better and so you can pull over at the vistas more easily. This advice is half true. The views are more spectacular from north to south. But pulling over is just as easy.
Still, we saved most of the vista points for the drive back down the following day. We did stop at the Bixby Bridge, though. It is as humongous as it is well-photographed. I'd seen it before in GTA V and have piloted many an aircraft through it. The real deal was exceedingly larger and more inspiring, but the viewpoints are crawling with tourists. There was a group on the beach so far below us that they all looked, quite genuinely, like ants. I saw them waving frantically towards us, hoping to get someone's attention. I waved back, and I think we shared a moment. At least, I hope so. If they were sending out an SOS signal, my friendly wave might come as a disappointment.
It took less than three hours to reach Berkeley from Bixby Bridge.
There was some traffic near San Martin, but we skipped over most of it in the HOV lane. The San Franciscan skyline at sunset is stunning. It's ominous and looks as permanently fixed as a mountain or the stars behind it.
We found a pet-friendly La Quinta Inn and arrived around seven. Lox was thrilled to be back on solid ground. Check-in was straightforward, the room was easy to access, and the bed was even bigger than our own. Lox sniffed at the boldly patterned carpet and said it reminded him of his favorite thing in the world - trash.
Cristina found a restaurant fifteen minutes away in Oakland called Burma Superstar. It's a popular Burmese kitchen on Telegraph Avenue, a street that I've heard is hip. (Just kidding, no one has ever said that to me.) Lox didn't like how loud the busy street was, so we picked him up when the flurry of activity made him cower. Burma Superstar had dog-friendly outdoor seating, and dining indoors required proof of vaccination. We met my brother and his date on the patio around eight and enjoyed an excellent dinner. The garlic noodles with tofu were spectacular, as was the tea leaf salad and mango shrimp. Lox laid down under our seats, only rousing when nearby dogs barked.
Burma Superstar closed at nine, and we were back in La Quinta's bed soon after. Lox had stops planned for the following day, so a night full of sleep was essential.
Berkeley to San Simeon via Big Sur
Lox woke us with kisses around eight. Cristina cleaned up while I found my way to the lobby for coffees and continental breakfasts to-go in brown paper bags. COVID has made everything more difficult, from using gas station restrooms to getting a hearty continental breakfast. My sack breakfast had an almond Danish, apple juice, and a banana. (Cristina's was the same, except her Danish was berry.) Lox watched from the high hotel bed as we stuffed our faces and bags. Soon Lox, too, was fed, and walked, and pooped. We loaded up the Subaru and hit the road, stopping by the lobby for one more free coffee on the way out.
Our first stop was by Forrest's Music Rentals. They had rented Cristina an oboe before the pandemic, but she never practiced it (for that, I am truly grateful). Now she'd had the overdue oboe for over two years. The prodigal woodwind was returned while Lox and I browsed the radio in the car.
Cristina had to show me the Berkely Bowl. It's different than the Hollywood Bowl because one is a concert venue, and the other is a bulk grocery store. Bulk grocery stores always remind me of Portland. A lot about the Berkeley-Oakland area reminded me of Portland, from its cooler temperature to its colorful Victorian homes and modern restaurants. We bought breakfast at the Bowl and gawked at the price of mushrooms. The going rate for chanterelles these days is outrageous, something like eighty a pound. That's more expensive than the ones that make you trip. Chantrelles are delicious, but few things are that good.
It was a two-hour drive to the next stop, cutting through San Jose. For the second time in two days, I passed through San Jose and didn't even notice it. I don't know what this says about the city, other than that San Jose is much less conspicuous than San Francisco.
Cristina drove; Lox laid on my lap. We stopped just south of Monterey in Carmel-By-The-Sea for lunch and were surprised to find it resembled more of a small mountain town than a beach city. Carmel is a small town so rich and exclusive that Clint Eastwood was briefly the town mayor in the eighties. We found free two-hour parking behind a line of luxury vehicles. Cristina eyed a place called La Bicyclette that had a pan-European menu with French doors. Lox was just happy for a break from the road raddled Subaru, even if it wasn't quite the Big Sur.
La Bicyclette was steeply overpriced. We decided to explore our options, perusing local menus and appreciating Carmel's many fine art galleries and day spas. Shade was plenty, which Lox loved. He also liked the feel of the brick sidewalk beneath his paws. We eventually settled at Forge in the Forest, a cozy tavern with silverware wrapped in dark linens and waiters wearing all black. They sat us on the patio near the hostess station. Everyone who noticed Lox under the table said hello, a kindness he quickly reciprocated.
I ordered a veggie burrito and truffle fries. Cristina had the tuna salad sandwich with garlic fries, plus a French onion soup. Everything we ordered was delectable, especially the soup and garlic fries. We shared a Newcastle in the shade while Lox sat attentively beneath the table. (Again, he ordered a cheeseburger but received nothing.) The bill was enormous, but I daresay worth the price. We passed rows of Porsches and Teslas on the way back to the Subaru and hit the road, heavier on the belly and lighter on the wallet.
The first stop was unplanned, but we couldn't help ourselves while passing Garrapata State Park. Lox was transfixed. He begged us to pull over, so we did. The Garrapata State Park Bluff Trail is a dusty path with parking on the highway's gravel shoulders. It's a short walk to blue waves crashing into monstrous boulders and cliffs, surrounded by colorful mountain meadows and steep peaks.
We put Lox in his hiking backpack, which always upsets him.
We wear his bag on our back or chest, like a baby carrier. It even has a hole for his tail. By wearing him out, we hoped to keep him from getting worn out. Our hike was short but dense with incredible views of a private beach cut off from the world by cliffs and a roaring tide. It was a refreshing but brief stop, like a highly concentrated dose of Big Sur. We were soon on the 1 once again.
If you have the time, your plan for driving south through the Big Sur should include stopping at every single marked vista point. There are too many to remember, but they were all worth the effort. If a view merits a sign, then it's probably worth pulling over. We pulled over at more of these stops than I can remember, and every single one was worth it.
We reached our first planned hike and pulled Andrew Molera State Park. At the ranger's station, the college-aged ranger said dogs weren't allowed. Lox was indignant. The ranger gave us a list of dog-friendly areas in Big Sur and answered all of my questions about other planned stops. We U-turned back to the highway; Lox would have to die without seeing Andrew Molera State Park.
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park was nearby. It's enormous, covering over one thousand acres in the middle of the California coast. It's known for having picturesque beaches and boulder arches, but we were visiting for the waterfalls. We paid the daily fee and parked in the busy lot. There was a vandalized trail guide near the bathrooms with a map of the falls. The mosquitos were abundant and determined, but Lox didn't care. He came to see cascades, even if they didn't allow dogs on Pfeiffer Falls Trail.
It was back in the pack for Lox. For once, he didn't seem to mind. He was already too tired. Lox normally naps for most of the day and didn't realize how disruptive the nomadic lifestyle would be on his busy sleep schedule. Between the winding roads, blinding sights, and frequent stops... well, Lox was practically panting. He made no fuss while we zipped him up.
The trail was short in distance but steeper than expected. The mosaic of sneaker imprints on the ground indicated that this was a trail well-traveled. We came to our first crossing sooner than expected and were unsure of what to do next. Lox voted we continue upstream and said he could smell water falling ahead. But Cristina wasn't convinced. She asked the first hikers we passed heading the other way if we were doing it right. They assured us the sights were ahead, and Cristina was satisfied. It's a rookie move to ask if you're walking the right way on such a popular path. Lox and I were both embarrassed.
Pfeiffer Falls Trail is on the other side of the PCH from the beaches but has an entirely different atmosphere. The shift from cliff beaches to verdant forests is extreme, part of the beauty of Big Sur. One moment you're on primitive sands with no one in sight; the next, you're standing in waist-high mountain grasses overlooking a 200-foot cliff; the next, you're walking through cypress and bluegum forests across a freshly swept wooden bridge with your dog strapped to your chest. All this, seemingly, in a matter of mere moments. We reached the waterfalls soon enough, a bit sweatier for the effort.
Pfeiffer Falls is far from spectacular.
As far as natural wonders go, it's a wonder that it's such a big deal. The water more dribbled than fell. As soon as you stopped to try and figure out why this was worth the effort, you were mugged by a mob of mosquitoes. We took pictures and spent a minute on the overlook deck, constantly slapping our necks and ankles. Lox didn't have to worry about the mosquitos. They were too focused on Cristina and me.
The trail down was much less sweaty. As we neared the trailhead, another pair of confused hikers asked us a desperate question.
"Is there a waterfall up there??"
The circle of life continues.
"You're almost there," Cristina re-assured them.
"But it's very steep and full of mosquitoes," I warned. Cristina slapped my shoulder, but not to kill a bug.
As long as you're planning to do more with your day pass than just Pfeiffer Falls Trail, then the walk is worth a stop. Don't pay $10 just for that, though. It wouldn't be worth it. Lox marked the parking lot, and we were off.
Another vista soon followed; then another, then another. When driving north to south through the Big Sur, you should plan to stop at every marked viewpoint and a few of the unmarked ones as well. Live life like a 12-year-old Shih Tzu, unsure if you'll get to see these sights again.
It was early evening when we pulled into Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park once again. Lox's eyes widened at the sniff of another waterfall.
The McWay Falls Trail parking lot is a small roundabout. There's an overflow lot that was unnecessary on a Thursday evening in August. There were only two other cars in the lot, and Lox ate his dinner in peace. The ranger station had already closed.
McWay Falls Trail is a fast, simple, and rewarding walk. The trail is less than half a mile long, round trip, on a flat path that takes you through an echo-filled tunnel. There are no dogs allowed on the trail. Lox said he'd be on the lookout for any and would bark as soon as he saw one.
The main draw of McWay Falls is the grande patio view. The trail ends at a cliff's edge overlooking an unreachable beach. Cristina was the first to see the falls. They were on the other side of a vast sandy bank unmarked by footprints, the sign of an untouched paradise. Imagine getting stranded on a beach like that.
The trail ended abruptly, cut off by signs warning of danger ahead. I saw two teenagers poke their heads out from beyond the fence, checking if we were rangers or feds. Lox took in the falls for one more minute (seven minutes in dog time), and we walked back to the car. A group of Asian tourists passed us on the way out. They were a mix of delighted and disappointed to see a dog on the trail.
Lox was soon asleep next to his car bed. The little sucker was pooped, even if he wouldn't admit it. We stopped at yet another vista point twenty minutes down the road with more views of the shore, wild grasslands, and jagged reefs. The horizon burned bright, and the sun began its descent. We had one last stop before the hotel - Pacific Valley Bluff Trail, about five minutes north of Gorda.
If you find yourself in the area around sunset, I can't recommend this view enough.
Pacific Valley Bluff Trail is a lightly used path with no parking lot or large signs to mark its existence. Its trailhead is across the street from a fire station. The only way you'd know it was a trail is if you got out of the car and went to read the sign for yourself. That's what I had to do, at least. The fence makes it look like private land, but it's not. What few signs are posted indicate that this is indeed a state park trail. Notably, there are no signs indicating dog or camping restrictions. All they ask is that you close the gate behind you so the cows won't escape. Easy enough. We re-linked the chain behind us and stepped into an immense field divided by a dirt path. We walked towards the ocean with cliffs ahead of us and towering mountains behind us. A fog crept over the hills, sharpening the contrast between the sunset's light and the dark of the night. The views were nothing if not dramatic.
The trail was leisurely and rewarding. It's a 1.5-mile out and back, though we didn't do the whole thing. We walked to what we judged to be the first viewpoint, overlooking an unnamed, untamed beach. The evening's low tide revealed a shore the length of a football field, decorated with sea kelp and driftwood. From this viewpoint, we could see a path to the sand that looked too dangerous for Lox. So we stayed on the cliff instead, counting down the seconds till the sun disappeared. We carried Lox back in the dark, taking turns holding him for warmth. He may have been humiliated, but we were comforted. Pacific Valley Bluff Trail was a perfect ending to an easygoing day of vacationing through the Big Sur. About an hour later, we pulled into San Simeon. Our hotel, The Morgan, was well-lit and easy to find, directly off the PCH.
We checked in to a spacious room complete with a television and gas fireplace. It was more than we needed to drop dead asleep for the next ten hours.
San Simeon to Los Angeles - No More Big Sur
Our morning in The Morgan was less hurried than the days before. There was no more Big Sur to see, and only traffic lay ahead of us. We fed the little man and took him out.
The sights near the hotel were tragic. The Morgan sat between a cheaper-looking hotel and a Mexican restaurant that was closed the night before. Across a short green is the highway, and across that highway is a liquor store and hotels you can rent by the half-hour. There were summer homes close to the beach behind us but Loxdidn't want to walk that far. He did his business in the neighboring hotel's backyard, instead.
We ordered two to-go continentals with two coffees from the front desk. Cristina didn't like her frozen burrito. She expected something fancier from The Morgan's world-renowned kitchen, which was just a freezer and old microwave. There was a bustling crowd in the lobby that morning. Most of them seemed disappointed by the breakfast as well.
The Big Sur was behind us, and Lox finally felt easy enough to return to his usual sleep schedule. Cristina and I planned stops in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. The California coast is lovely beyond the Big Sur, and we didn't want to waste the drive.
We made two stops before San Luis Obispo, either carrying Lox or leaving him in the Subaru. Both were hazy in a creepy yet romantic way. The first stop was Chris Gordon Holland State Beach. Parking was free and easy, right next to the platformed trail running parallel to the coast. The wooden path is surrounded by underbrush and ocean, constantly crashing into one another. Like all things Big Sur, boulders and shivering whitewash abound. The sea air was refreshing. There's something to a big whiff of freshly collapsed wave, almost like it's broken down and easier to digest. At least, that's what Lox said.
Our next stop was Morro Strand State Beach, for which Lox stayed in the car. It was too murky to see anything. Parking was free but limited, though there was little competition for space. We walked to the beach barefoot. On emerging from the dunes, the first thing we saw was a couple taking their horses out for a morning gallop.
"Wow," I said, "It must be one of those beaches." By that, I mean rich people beaches. Imagine being so wealthy that you can take the horse out on a Friday morning joyride. If I sound jealous, it's because I am. They looked like they were having a blast.
Morro's beauties hid behind the cold and the fog. We walked around for less than ten minutes, poking at dead jellyfish and becoming rich with sand dollars. We dipped our ankles once and ran back to the car to unfreeze our toes. I'm sure that Morro Strand is a lovely beach when it's sunny and more visible.
We drove a quarter of an hour south to San Luis Obispo. Cristina found a lunch place called Bliss on Higuera Street. We took our time getting there, appreciating the charms of SLO Cal. Planted trees and red bricks line the sidewalks filled with glass storefronts and patio seating. The crowd is well-to-do, though mere paupers by Carmel-By-The-Sea standards. We stopped in a few shops, marveled at quirky restaurant concepts (one place that only sells ice cream sandwiches - how wonderful), and found our way to Bliss, a vegetarian deli complete with all the health-conscious delights you might expect. I ordered the chia burger, and Cristina had a veggie bowl. (Sorry, Lox - no cheeseburgers.) We found our seats on the back patio they shared with neighboring businesses. There were plenty of tables in the shade, and we sat comfortably, cooled by the waving branches and the shadows they cast. Our food was delightful. I don't even remember taking the time to chew.
After lunch, we took a digestion walk along the trail by San Luis Obispo Creek. The path is playful and requires light boulder-hopping across a shallow and lazy creek. Still, we passed Lox across the stones, one by one. He was mortified, of course. We left San Luis Obispo less wound up than we'd arrived and set the map for Santa Barbara.
Two hours later, we were there. We'd experienced barely any traffic the whole trip but knew our luck would soon come to an end as we inched closer and closer to Los Angeles.
Cristina parked in the horseshoe-shaped De La Guerra Plaza, right behind McConnell's Ice Cream. Truth be told, the entire Santa Barbara experience centered on ice cream. I had never been to McConnell's, but Cristina swore by it. The staff told Lox he couldn't be in the store, so he and I waited outside while Cristina ordered. I was having my doubts about McConnell's. But soon, a group of children rambled down the brick sidewalk, playing and talking loudly.
"McConnell's!" One kid screamed.
"MCCONNELL'S IS THE BEST!" Another replied, much louder than necessary.
"Wow," I thought, "That kid sounds like he's willing to lay it all on the line for McConnell's. It must be pretty good."
Cristina brought out a scoop of dairy-free cookies and cream in a waffle cone. After one bite, I knew that I, too, would lay it all on the line for McConnell's.
The streets of Santa Barbara were active, but we were not. We ate our scoops on a nearby bench and knew we could go no further. With heavy ankles but happy hearts, we took our final trip to the car.
Lox slept the rest of the way to LA, dreaming of gray cliffs and waves. Wherever his life takes him, he'll always have this experience, and so will we. I don't know where he'll want to go next. But wherever it is, it'll definitely be because he wants to go, and not just a lame excuse for Cristina and I to get out of the house and take some pictures. That's the only thing we can know for sure.
In a move that many have labeled as “stunning”, Cristiano Ronaldo agreed to terms for leaving the Italian club Juventus and rejoining the squad that made him famous under Sir Alexander Ferguson, Manchester United. Ronaldo’s time in Juventus will be marked as a failure, despite what Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri might say. Though Ronaldo won two Serie A titles with Juve, they never made it past the quarterfinals of the Champions League, falling to Ajax, Lyon, and Porto. Some have compared Ronaldo’s return to Manchester to Michael Jordan returning to Chicago. If Ronaldo is so certainly MJ, then where does that leave Lionel Messi? At an impossibly expensive hotel in Paris, apparently.
The Messi saga with Barcelona finally came to an end this summer, at least for the time being. After years of disputes with ownership, saying that he wanted to go and then that he didn’t, Messi finally did leave his club of twenty-one years in Barcelona for Paris, France. There he joined Neymar, Mbappe, Angel di Maria, Pochettino, and a Champions League-or-Bust Paris Saint-Germain squad. Messi left Barca after La Liga-set financial restrictions prevented Las Blaugranas from resigning their superstar due to a pandemic-driven reduction in revenues. (In a way, it's fair to say that COVID-19 is the reason Messi left Barcelona.) It was a shocking turn of events, a seismic shift in the European football landscape. For a month the center of power moved, seemingly irrevocably, to Paris. But with Ronaldo’s return to the Reds, Manchester appears to be the city most likely to dominate Europe this season. Whether it’s Guardiola's City or Ole Gunnar Solskjær's United who dominates is yet to be told.
This season’s Machester Derbies should be better than ever.
Man U is fielding a powerhouse squad, with young talent like Jadon Sancho playing alongside seasoned Portugueses like Bruno and Ronaldo. DeGea has been slipping in the past few seasons, but the Red Devil’s offense should be able to keep up with anyone. Man U will have much to keep up with domestically from Manchester City, Chelsea, and Tottenham. All four squads look top-notch, most with five to six starters on their benches. The Premier League, much like Messi's old league La Liga, is up in the air this season, with four or five clubs vying for number one. La Liga will see battle royales between a Barcelona team with something to prove, a resilient Real Madrid squad, a ready-to-repeat Atletico Madrid, and a Champions League-bound Sevilla. As for PSG in Ligue 1, well... let’s just say that it’s theirs to lose. There’s no real reason that PSG shouldn’t go undefeated in France for the next two years, or at least until Messi retires to Inter Miami CF. Mbappe will certainly be heading towards Madrid next season, possibly even sooner. There he will likely be joined by Borussia’s Golden God, Erling Haaland, who has outgrown the Bundesliga. But even when PSG loses Mbappe, they've already gained a Messi. That's what really counts.
Messi signed with PSG on 10 August 2021. He signed a two-year, roughly $84 million deal with a $30 million signing bonus, incentives worth up to $75 million per season, and an option to extend a third year. Ronaldo signed a two-year deal with Manchester United on 27 August 2021. Manchester United is buying out Ronaldo's contract from Juventus at approximately $20 million per season. Ronaldo is reportedly set to make roughly $34 million a season, plus incentives. He is the English Premier League’s highest-earning player ever, replacing his now teammate, French center-back Raphael Varane, for the top spot. Varane agreed to a $32 million per year deal earlier this year with Man U. A.S. Roma head coach Jose Mourinho called the move “perfect business”, a term he did not reserve for his own tenure with the club.
One thing is for certain - Pep Guardiola must be kicking himself after City whiffed on Ronaldo, Messi, and Kane, all in the same transfer window.
Wah! Wah! Nope, that's not the sound of sirens roaring, coming to get you because you paid your taxes wrong again! That's the sound of a baby when it cries. Babies may communicate by crying, but they don't worry about taxes, either!
There's a lot of things babies do that we don't, and that's a tragedy. Babies have it made! They don't worry about a goddamn thing, except, of course, for where their next meal might be coming from. We could all benefit from this simple mindset that babies employ to stay relaxed every single day of the year. Here are the top 10 Things that Babies Do Every Single Day That You Should Do, Too.
1. Take A Nap
Babies be sleeping, yo! You should, too. It's a great way to melt the stress away midday, babay. Studies show that taking naps may increase sleep, dreaming, and rest.
2. Rest In Child's Pose
Babies are little yoga masters! The Child's Pose, named after St. Childs of Germania, is a great way to melt the stress away. Babies do it all the time and reportedly have very little tax-related stress. Coincidence? I think not.
3. Make Someone Smile
Being a baby isn't all selfish, yo! Studies show, again and again, that making someone else happy releases endorphins that help melt the stress away. Babies make people smile all the time, and look how happy they are! If you can't do it for other people, do it for yourself.
4. Cry When You Want Something
Wah! Wah! Like I said at the top, Babies Be Crying. But just because you're a big girl don't mean you can't cry, Fergie! Babies cry when they want something because they haven't figured out the right words to express themselves. Don't we all know how that feels? Four out of five doctors agree that ugly crying like a confused baby really helps melt the stress away.
5. Taste That Object You're Curious About
I don't mean this figuratively, baby! What does a baby do when it's curious about a mysterious shape it's never seen before? It Puts It In Its Mouth! Literally! You should try it, too. Getting a mouthfeel for whatever you are curious about is a great way to learn about it and melt the stress away.
6. Eat Soft Foods
And speaking of putting things in mouths... have you ever tried Gerber?! You probably liked it as a baby, but you'll love it as an adult! Soft food is easier to digest and easier to get than hard food. Babies eat soft food all the time and almost never have any stress to melt away.
7. Stare At A Stranger
Babies Be Starin', yo! Have you ever found yourself on a bus, just looking around, only to find some soft-skulled booger bag staring back at you, wide-eyed like it's shocked to see you, too? That's because babies stare at things they're curious about! That little sucker would put you in its mouth if it could. Staring at strangers melts stress off yourself and transfers it to whomever you're staring at.
8. Sleep In A Cage
This one's obvi, baby. The benefits of sleeping in a cage are clear. Waking up in your maximum security cell is the number one way to prepare for future tax fraud incarceration while also melting the stress away.
9. Poop Your Pants
P.U.! What stinks?? I know one thing's for sure - it's not stress. Pooping your pants is zen-level nirvana shit, very difficult to do in public places. And yet, babies do it all the time. Try cutting one off in your shorts. What's that running down your inner thigh? It's your stress melting away.
The number one reason babies live a stress-free life? They eat titty food, baby! Studies and doctors show, again and again, that sucking on titties all day is an incredible way to melt the stress away, even if it's from your own mother. I don't makes the rules; I just reports 'em.
There you have it, The Top 10 Things Babies Do Everyday That You Should, Too. What'd you think of our list? Did we get it right? Does this list make you want to change your diaper? Let us know what you think in the comments below, and be sure to like and subscribe!
Woah, there, Captain! Flying a little close to the sun, aren't we?
Maybe that joint was stronger than you imagined. Perhaps those brownies were more potent than you planned, Maureen Dowd. Or maybe, just maybe, you wanted to prove to your friends that you could handle that big of a bong rip. Hubris gets the best of everyone. Flying too high costs Icarus his wings and life. But you don't have to crash into the ocean and drown. Let's get you back on solid ground before you melt away.
If you're too high on marijuana, consider this article flight school. We'll get you back on the runway safely, with minimal turbulence. It's time to lower those landing gears, buddy. We'll begin our descent at whatever elevation is too high for you.
How do I know if I'm too high?
Well... we're here, aren't we? Everyone will tell you not to go beyond your limit, but we're way beyond that. You've made it this far into cyberspace, so open up your Starlog, Buzz Lightyear. I'm sending you the coordinates for earth.
If you think you're too high, then you're probably too high. If your heart is racing, your palms are sweating, your mind is churning, or your tongue is drying, then you might be too high. To avoid becoming a Jeff Foxworthy bit, just answer this simple question: Am I having a good time? If the answer is "No", then you're too high.
No worries, space cowboy. You're in a situation, but not an impossible one. Landing this ship will be one small step for you and one giant leap for your mind. Because, at the end of the day, that's what these heights measure up to - your mind. So remember to breathe. Try some of these easy steps to soothe your nugged out noggin.
If you're stuck on the dark side of the moon, the path back to earth is more comfortable than you think.
Things To Do
You don't need to call a therapist. Pretend it's the 2000s, you want to be a millionaire, and phone a friend. We're all human. We're all subject to the same hormones and circumstances that generate irrational paranoia. It's cool. Talk to an understanding friend about it. Simply getting out of your head helps every time.
Don't stay crammed in your studio or mansion. Get out there and put that increased heart rate to use. Take a walk, smile at the strangers who are definitely not staring at you, and take time to smell the other flowers. Life is good when you're on a walk, and you've got to walk before you can run. Even if you do walk like it's your first time on the moon.
Just like coffee (which you most certainly do not need right now), some like showers hot and some like 'em cold. Do whatever works for you. Having a rinse can help center you. Plus, I don't know how you're doing it, but for me, showering is relaxing. Marijuana amplifies relaxation.
4. Breath -> Meditate -> Nap
Simple breathing exercises are easy to do and can calm you down within moments. Meditating and healthy introspection may in fact be exactly what the doctor ordered. And don't feel bad if meditation leads to napping. Spain's entire culture is built around afternoon naps. Catch a few Zzzs and you'll wake up at your gate, safe and sound.
You're going to look back on this moment one day and laugh, so why not start now? If it's too soon, try a funny show you like instead. Familiarity breeds comfort. Sink into a couch and binge whatever makes you laugh. You're guaranteed to understand the nuances of the punchline, even more, when you're stoned.
Some people are comforted by stand-up, others by a sit-down guitarist. Your favorite songs are even better when you're high. What's that one song you love to jam to? Make like Michael Jordan in 1996 and Space Jam it. You're guaranteed to understand the nuances of the melody, even more, when you're stoned.
Things to Ingest
If you have access to isolated CBD, ingest it. CBD modifies THC receptors to reduce anxiety. Research shows CBD consumption reduces the undesirable side-effects of THC while enhancing the desirable side-effects like relaxation. Don't smoke more weed unless you have a mostly CBD strain like Harlequin.
I wouldn't recommend eating a lemon straight up. Maybe juice it into a salad or a cup with sugar and water. Have a whiff; serve iced with tea. Lemon's aroma and flavor come from a terpene named limonene. Limonene is a naturally occurring chemical found in much more than just marijuana. Let this terp be your co-pilot in returning to terra safely.
Neil Young, a man with a Heart of Gold, swears by peppercorn to cure a Head of Green. Ideally, you have whole peppercorns and a grinder. Take a big sniff and even a few bites. Peppercorn contains two important terpenes: myrcene and beta-caryophyllene. Just like limonene, they're known to reduce anxiety and make food taste better. Eating is a wonderful thing to do while stoned, but more on that in a moment.
Chamomile is a personal favorite. It's a soothing tea that is available at most grocery stores. Studies show drinking hot beverages is good for your throat, which you could use on account of your cottonmouth. Add a little lemon to the mild chamomile and BAM! you've got yourself one relaxing beverage. Chamomile is both comforting and good for you. A relaxed pilot is a good pilot, which is why so many pilots have drinking problems.
5. Comfort Food
It's best not to fly on an empty stomach.
Marijuana is the salt of life. Need to improve a dish? Smoke some weed. Grind some peppercorn. Dig in. Getting lost in lasagna is like a moment of zen. You can't worry about the future when there's so much pasta to eat right now! You're guaranteed to understand the nuances of the marinara, even more, when you're stoned.
Dihydrogen monoxide, though lethal in large enough doses, is essential to your survival as a mammal. Your brain, body, and heart all work better when you're hydrated. Plus, your mouth is a fricking desert right now. Quench your thirst, add a little sugar to your water, and turn that desert into a dessert. Even Spirit Airlines offers complimentary lukewarm tap.
What Not To Do
1. Freak Out
Don't indulge in paranoid fantasies. Nobody is out to get you. There will be no far-reaching consequences of this stoning. You're not going to die. The worst thing that could happen today is you freaking out, which you have the power to avoid. But telling people "to chill" never stopped anyone from overheating. So I won't tell you to chill. Just do it. Your passengers and crew depend on it.
2. Alert Authorities
Don't call the cops, hospital, FAA, NASA, or your parents. You don't need to talk to any of them or your boss right now. They don't need to know about you flying dirty till everyone is back on the same planet.
If you can't help but dial 911, do the Internet a favor and record the phone call. Those recordings are gold and serve as a cautionary tale for others.
3. Increase Altitude
Now's probably not the time to increase the altimeter. It's too late for bravery - you've already Googled "help I'm too high" or something like it. If you have a fear of heights, avoid cockpits. If smoking whatever you're smoking got you too high, then smoking it again may get you too high again. Chances are, you just need less THC. Some strains are higher in THC and anxiety than others, and that's something to keep in mind while shopping. But for now, just sober up. Your weed will still be there when you roll onto the runway.
4. Consume Caffeine
The idea right now is to lower your heart rate, like a descending aircraft. If the drop is too abrupt, we've got turbulence. If altitude increases, well... we're not landing, are we?
Caffeine increases your heart rate and anxiety. When you're too high, you're suffering from these symptoms. Yes - people love coffee and weed. But that's not what you need if you're here. Now's not the time to pull up. Trade your coffee for chamomile for a smoother landing.
Drunk driving is dangerous. Stoned driving is dangerous. Avoid both, at all costs! Need a cheeseburger? Who doesn't?! But haven't you heard of delivery? Pay the extra fees (plus tip), save a life, and stay on the couch. Driving intoxicated is always a bad idea. If you must go, call an Uber. You can't even land a metaphorical airplane right now, much less drive an actual vehicle.
6. "put ur face in mayonaise"
This is the direct advice of the Snoop Doggy Dog (formerly Snoop Lion) himself. Snoop gave this cryptic response during a Reddit AMA to this question from an unidentified journalist: "High as fuck right now, Mr. Lion. What should I do?" Though a snack is recommended, I think the D.O. Double G has taken it too far. Put the mayo on a sandwich instead. Whatever you do, keep your eyes on the runway.
Congratulations, Young Aviator! You've Landed!
This is your graduation paragraph. There's no way you're too high if you're still reading. You may want to kiss the earth or even smoke more grass. Whatever your flight plan, you've earned your wings.
Coming back from orbit without a crash is no easy task, but it can be comfortable with an eighth of Harlequin, a Harley Quinn marathon, a cup of chamomile, and some lemon pepper wet. Where will your next flight take you? The world is yours, Sky Captain of Tomorrow. Wherever you go, however high your heights take you, don't forget: always lower your wheels before you land.
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
It's a rare rainy morning in Los Angeles. The weather is unseasonably cold but warm by most geographical standards. A familiar sun peeks through a crowded sky. Steaming tea cools to my left. It's a perfect late-morning to watch The Champions League.
The Champions League is admittedly the most inconvenient league for me to watch, from the perspective of time-management. The Bundesliga is too-early-in-the-morning to even be an inconvenience. Quality Premier League games start around a reasonable mid-morning... but the Champions League is the only one that begins smack-dab right-in-the-middle of my West Coast day, on the dot at noon. This paragraph is irrelevant for my friends in Atlanta who can enjoy an afternoon game from three to five, but I digress.
I love the Champions League. Season after season it showcases top-scoring showdowns, pitting the best against the best from all the major leagues in Europe. During The Group Stages, there can be a precipitous talent disparity between opponents. By the time we reach the Round of 16, the games are more competitive. This year is no exception.
Before March was ever Mad, there was the Champions League.
Yesterday, Ronaldo-led Juventus was upset by Portugal's finest Porto in a high-scoring affair. The match included a red card for the winning squad, overtime, and twin goals in the final five minutes of overtime to decide the match. (Note: The Round of 16 is decided by opponents meeting twice, home and away, and their aggregate score.) Despite losing yesterday's match 3-2, Porto knocked-out Juventus with a last-minute goal. Classic losing the battle but winning the war.
Meanwhile, in Germany, Dortmund tied the salty Spaniards of Sevilla, 2-2. Two goals were enough to win 5-4 on aggregate and both were scored by rising Nederland's star Erling Haaland. Haaland scored four goals in two matches (two in each, high-level difficulty), which is as many as Sevilla scored altogether. Without Haaland's heroics, Sevilla would have won the aggregate points 4-1. Yesterday's meeting featured a roaring second-half comeback from Sevilla that fell just short.
Today's games look to be less a-spicy despite featuring some powerhouse squads. It's like the Warriors versus Alabama and the Patriots against the Yankees. Yes - I know they all play different sports so this analogy makes zero sense, but the point is more the magnitude of the brands involved. They are all heavy-hitters. I'm going to watch the Warriors v Alabama. In this scenario, the Warriors are Liverpool and Alabama is RB Leipzig. Allow me to explain:
Liverpool (like Golden State) is, in recent years, unbeatable but are currently suffering major injuries, leaving the squad a sad shadow of themselves. RB Leipzig is like Alabama because while RB Leipzig is usually contending for the Bundesliga crown, the Bundesliga is a farm league for bigger leagues, like the NCAA. Yes - RB Leipzig made the semi-finals last year and beat several "higher level" clubs to get there. So what? We all know there have been multiple years when Alabama could've beat the Browns. (Editor's note - last year's Champion Bayern is from the Bundesliga.)
I'm choosing this match over Patriots-Yankees because it's more competitive. Liverpool is up 2-0 from their first meeting and playing at home - they have a huge advantage in that. Their disadvantage is the shit soccer they've played recently in losing to multiple EPL sides that are objectively not as good as a motivated RB Leipzig. Leipzig, for their part, scores like crazy because they are German. They are known to strike at opponents' weak spots, a great characteristic for competitive people and/or territorial animals. So, the ways I see it, Liverpool-Leipzig, even more so than my previous analogy, is a dog fight where one mutt is seriously injured and the other has its back against the wall. If you're into dog abuse, then you're going to love this.
Over in Paris, the Yankees are playing the Patriots, before Tom Brady left. In this context, the Yankees are the illustrious Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). Like the Yankees, PSG was much better 30 years ago but still manage to attract big players because of their brand. They will likely go far in the tournament but absolutely do not have what it takes to be Champions of Europe. The Patriots are Barcelona and Tom Brady is Leo Messi. Next year, Messi wants a cottage in Manchester the same way Tom wanted a condo in Tampa. Like the Patriots without Tom Brady, Barcelona isn't very good anymore, even though they have great talent on paper. There was a time when the Catalonians were invincible, but those days have passed. Today, PSG is up 4-1 on Barcelona. Watching their first match was like watching a grown man kick a wet dog. For this analogy, the grown man was the Yankees, who are the Parisians, and the wet dog are the Bradyless Patriots, who are... well, I think you get it. The wet dog may be dry now but do I really think it'll kick the man? I have my doubts...
So: Liverpool-Leipzig it is. Both teams came to win, bringing all their healthy starters with them. I'm excited to watch Diogo Jota of Liverpool. The Portuguese international never ceases to impress me. Tyler Adams, an American, starts for Leipzig. Overall, I think I'll pull for Leipzig. They need at least three goals to win, four if Liverpool sneaks one in. They have an American starting, they are the underdog, German soccer is an attacker's dream... So yeah, Go Leipzig.
Liverpool looks dangerous. Thiago passes up a shot we all think he could've scored. Leipzig has a big offside leading to a more dangerous-looking Mané attack, but no goal. In the first ten, Leipzig is spending most of their time playing defense. Are they on the ropes to tire Liverpool out or are the British too strong? If they are too strong, can they keep it up? These questions remain unanswered.
Leipzig gets the counter-attack they've been waiting for only to be denied by a superb save from Allison. Liverpool keeps pressing, now more aware of what Leipzig is capable of. Speed generates respect on the pitch; respect in the form of spacing. Liverpool's defense is their weak spot (if defense does indeed win championships, then...). Truthfully, it's more their Achilles' knee than heel.
Mané goes down on a hard, but clean, challenge to the skull by Leipzig's goalkeeper, whose name escapes me.
"Just give him five minutes to clear his head," says Color Commentator, M.D.
Leipzig looks dangerous again. Perhaps they are beginning to Roll the Tide (because remember they're Alabama). Liverpool looks good on set pieces. Jota's header saved. Leipzig plays ample defense but needs to do so less and less. They nearly strike for goal(d) at twenty minutes, but great individual efforts from Liverpool prevent a netting. Leipzig maintains possession for their longest streak yet. The tides do indeed appear to be turning until a deflating counter-attack is struck-off by Thiago. An incredible ball through leaves Salah against the goalkeeper. The keeper makes an athletic save, Mané flubs it, there's a cartoon dust cloud with arms and legs popping in and out, and the whistle blows once a RB defender takes a foot to the face. It's a highly-contested contest. Thiago came to play - his technique, through-balls, and touch are Toight Tonight.
Quarter of the Way Through
Leipzig continues to attack despite giving up such a huge opportunity defensively. I get the feeling they will respect Liverpool's counter-attack less than the Liverpudlians will respect theirs. After all, Leipzig has to score, no matter what.
Liverpool's attacks are, overall, more composed. Alexander-Arnold forces a great defensive save from six yards out, and it feels like Liverpool is the primary aggressor here. Half an hour in and the pacing has calmed down. This match is still rife with possibility and it is clear that Liverpool is not happy just to sit back to defend their lead. Allison makes a pretty good save, keeping the score even.
Moments later, another close Leipzig opportunity. That coulda, shoulda, woulda been in but the Red Bulls just pulled it. Liverpool's attacks are meticulous while Leipzig's are spontaneous. You'll see the Liverpool goal coming a mile off but a Leipzig goal can just sneak up out of nowhere, like dreams or nightmares.
Just remember, kid: dreams and nightmares are made out of the same stuff." - Me, Just Now
Thiago maintains his dominance with ten minutes left in the half. Liverpool attacks are built on concrete, Leipzig's on sand. Beautiful sandcastles, but delicate! Short of a second-half surge, I'm not sure Leipzig has what it takes to get it done today. Jota forces a great save at forty minutes.
The half ends with attacks waning, still stalemated in a draw. Liverpool can live with this result but Leipzig wants to change something and fast as they will need three goals in 45 minutes to win. Jota ends penalty time with another close-range miss. Such is the story of the game so far.
Meanwhile, in Paris: Messi nets a penalty kick to take the lead. They are down 5-3 on aggregate and have a real chance at an epic comeback. Except... Messi misses the penalty. Oh, boy. His best days are past... anyway, PSG enters the half of a tie game comfortably leading 5-2 on aggregate.
PSG-Barcelona certainly looks like it's been more entertaining. Tied 1-1 with goals from superstars Messi and Mbappe. I'll check back in with them at about seventy minutes and see if it's worth watching. My money is still on one to two goals being scored by Leipzig, masters of the shaky but explosive counter-attacks.
The Second Half
Early on, the second half is not a departure, conceptually speaking, from the first. Leipzig attacks, but they aren't extremely convincing. Liverpool controls the ball enough, slowly draining life from the final forty-five. Leipzig needs to do something and fast to survive. A Liverpool goal doesn't appear inevitable but it does appear more likely than one from Leipzig. Fifty-five minutes in and Salah whiffs on another open goal opportunity. The game remains tied.
An hour into the match and Leipzig subs in three fresh attacking players, making their intentions clear. (Okay, the intentions were clear before that, too, but still.) Almost immediately a chance is created but Liverpool's defense holds steady. Now I'm starting to get the impression that Liverpool is happy to sit back and defend. Why shouldn't they be? They have no chance of winning the Premier League this year and there's more than a good chance they won't finish top four, thus barring them from Champions League play next season. Their best shot to get back to Champions League action next season is to win it this season. I think that's the smart move for Klopp and Kompany. Undoubtedly, they could still finish top four but it's looking less and less likely. If I were a Beatles fan, I'd put all my eggs in the Champions League basket.
The Closing Quarter
Leipzig continues to attack, looking less dangerous than they did just half an hour ago. With twenty-five minutes left, today's match looks like it will end in a tie, but who knows? I could still easily see it ending 1- or 2-0, but I'm not sure who'd win. Allison is saved by the crossbar. Leipzig seems to be aware that their window of opportunity is shrinking. Thiago is still playing top-class football, even over an hour in. He's said to have been born with pillows for feet, as evidenced by his preternaturally soft touch. Spain has such a beautiful and poetic culture.
With twenty minutes left in the game, the future is as murky as ever. Leipzig forcing a tie is still within the realm of possibility but seeming less and less likely. And then, Ecstasy! Mo Salah breaks through in the 69th (rad) minute. 1-0 Liverpool on the battle, 3-0 on the war, and it appears they have what they need to wrap this up.
Barring some sort of instant classic miracle, the better minutes of this match have probably passed. Leipzig hasn't given up yet, continuing to sub in attacking players. It's no use - Mané scores a banger just minutes later. The final twenty minutes spell desperation for Leipzig and celebration for Liverpool. Going up 4-0 at home on aggregate will make a man confident, and Liverpool looks exactly that. As we enter the final minutes, Liverpool uses their subs to eat up time and seal the victory. Leipzig is aware of their fate.
The Final Moments
The day ends with PSG and Liverpool, two Champions League finalists from the last two years, winning in the round of 16 and moving on to the quarterfinals.
So far Porto, Dortmund, Liverpool, and PSG have made it through. Next week, they will likely be joined by Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Manchester City. The only close contest left in the Round of 16 is Chelsea v. Atletico Madrid. Chelsea leads 1-0. It seemed a much closer match just a month ago but with Chelsea hitting their stride while Madrid is plateauing, the game looks to be Chelsea's to lose.
Man of the Match
My Man Thiago! Sure, he didn't score or assist. But his touch was as soft as a foreign lover and I'll certainly commend him for that.
Match in One Sentence
Red Bulls' Wings Clipped.
Match in One Word
What is a Cannabis Tincture and Why You Will Love It
Long before the Doobie Brothers and big blunts were the buzz of the bud world, most Americans ingested their marijuana in the form of a cannabis tincture. Before big vape clouds were cool, marijuana was mostly consumed in a medicine dropper, like NyQuil or Visine, which makes it seem a bit boring, doesn't it? Then came the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, and poof, weed consumption disappeared, and weed tinctures along with it.
Except, we all know that's not how it went down. Weed stuck around, but tinctures lost their luster. That is, until recently. The popularity of a new generation of cannabis tinctures has revitalized the market, thanks in part to marijuana decriminalization and regulation.
In the right state, anyone over the age of 21 can walk into a dispensary and purchase a high-quality tincture, just like in the Roarin' Twenties, right before the Great Depression, which only occurred once they took our weed away (just kidding, it was before that). The number of options available today can be paralyzing for the first-time purchaser. Use this guide to learn the benefits of using a tincture, some tincture basics, what the different types of tincture are, and how much they really cost per dose. By the time you finish, you'll know exactly what type of tincture you want to buy.
Benefits of a Tincture
When you take a tincture, you give your lungs a break, one they may sorely appreciate. But that’s not the only benefit:
Tinctures are easy to measure which is ideal for micro, heavy, and even moderate dosing. Whatever your dosage, tinctures work best when taken under the tongue.
Epi- or Sublingual Consumption
There are two recommended ways to take a tincture.
Types of Cannabis Tinctures
First, you’ve got to know the difference between oil and water-based tinctures.
Tinctures Are Too Expensive... Right?
Whichever type of tincture you decide to buy, you may find the cost intimidating. Price varies depending on:
With this guide in hand, you have everything you need to know to purchase a tincture. Whether you buy a CBD, THC, or full-spectrum tincture, you're sure to appreciate the benefits of a smokeless high. Be sure to place the tincture under your tongue for the best effects, although dropping them in smoothies can be relaxing, too. Whatever you decide to do, as long as you’re purchasing a tincture, your lungs will thank you.
The celebration of Black history in America has never felt more critical than our present moment. White Americans, like myself, cannot even pretend to know what African-Americans go through daily. The best thing we can do is approach their experience with an open mind and a willingness to admit that we don't know. From that admission, a bridge of understanding can start to be built through research, listening, and understanding. In my experience, reading about other people's experience has been beneficial to my understanding of any perspective that is not my own.
But the knowledge gained through text is purely symbolic. Though these books are incredibly powerful, they are only collections of words conveying ideas. They can never be a complete substitute for actual experience. Still, as a white American living in a country built on the exploitation of African-Americans, reading and attempting to appreciate another perspective seems essential. For me, the best question I could ask during this month of celebration and respect was a simple one: how can I contribute in a positive and productive way? As someone who loves to read, I thought this list may be the most honest way I could say something without saying too much. This list is certainly not all-inclusive or even extremely current. These are six books (a manageable number to add to anyone's reading list) that I have read which shine a light on the daily experience of so many of our fellow citizens.
1. The Autobiography of Malcolm X - Malcolm X, Alex Haley
Hence I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that will crush people, and then penalize them for not being able to stand up under the weight.”
Born Malcolm Little, Malcolm X lived an extraordinary life. His ideas were controversial and prescient, and his autobiography is no different. Through his life story, readers learn how one person was beaten down by society but still kept his faith in humanity. Large portions of his story are impossible to put down.
2. Citizen: An American Lyric - Claudia Rankine
Perhaps this is how racism feels no matter the context—randomly the rules everyone else gets to play by no longer apply to you, and to call this out by calling out 'I swear to God!' is to be called insane, crass, crazy. Bad sportsmanship.”
Claudia Rankine's book-length poem is heartwrenching, eye-opening, and consummately tragic. Citizen pulls from modern examples of micro racisms and aggressions that everyone will recognize. Her description of the plight of Serena Williams, arguably the greatest athlete of all time, is particularly illuminating.
3. When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir - Asha Bandele, Patrisse Cullors
Could it be that we matter?”
This memoir is an autobiography of the Black Lives Matter movement, beginning with the life story of one of its three founders. Their journey is a story of survival that is all too common to the African-American experience. The book's title reads prophetic considering the recent terrorist attacks at the Capitol and their subsequent media coverage.
4. Conversations with James Baldwin - James Baldwin
The fact that from that moment on, let us say, black people began to relate to each other more coherently than they related to white people. From that time on, what a white person's judgment of a black man was began to diminish in value."
Conversations' breadth of topics and convenience of format makes it easily digestible food for thought. There are few better ways to try to understand the African-American experience than by having a conversation with one of the world's foremost communicators on the subject. Truth be told, there's a version of this list that is exclusively James Baldwin books.
5. Beloved - Toni Morrison
Me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow.”
This novel is unforgettable. Set in post-Civil War Ohio, Beloved tells one woman's horrific tragedy in a way that is difficult to put down and impossible not to be affected by. Beloved's story is one of the most important novels of the last century and should be read with a box of tissues nearby.
6. Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
I was never more hated than when I tried to be honest. Or when, even as just now I've tried to articulate exactly what I felt to be the truth. No one was satisfied”
Ralph Ellison's exploration of identity and race is nothing if not a powerfully transparent allegory. The book has had a profound impact on our culture, as I'm sure many of you read it in high school or college. It's a classic because of its perfect balance of the bitter truth with sweet, sweet storytelling.
Celebrate and donate this Black History Month, starting here.
This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather."
The 1993 Bill Murray-led comedy classic Groundhog Day is a film about living the same day, over and over again, or at least it is on the surface. For those who haven't seen it, it goes like this: in act one, we meet Phil Connors, an angry weatherman. In act two, Phil inexplicably lives the same day twice, and then again, and again... and so on and so forth. Naturally, he can't believe it. In the third act, Phil realizes he can't die and bargains with his condition, ultimately fueling his spiral into depression by the fourth act. In the fifth act, Phil learns to live in service of others, finally accepting his circumstances. Only then can Phil be free. The story of Groundhog's Day is not only the story of Phil Connors, it is also the story of living in lockdown and the story of the five stages of grief.
According to the Kübler-Ross model of grief (which Harold Ramis referenced while writing the film), the five stages of grief follow a similar path to what Phil and many people living in lockdown experienced. Everybody processes grief differently, but for Phil and many others, living the same day over and over has felt like this: anger, disbelief, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Seeing Groundhog Day in this light has helped me understand Phil Connors, and maybe even myself, better than ever.
Whew! Watch out for that first step. It's a doozy!"
Phil, from the outset, is an angry person, principally defined by his rudeness, sarcasm, and cynicism. Phil's story begins angry and remains so until he reaches acceptance. Phil's anger is intertwined with his disbelief, and are ultimately the roots of his senseless bargaining and depression.
Anger seems to be at an all-time high these days. People living in lockdown have reflected that, both in words and actions. Living in lockdown, especially at first, felt like the world was suddenly upside down with tomorrow no longer a guarantee. Just like Phil, our new surroundings are unstable but repetitious, which feeds into the cycle of anger and disbelief.
Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today."
When Phil wakes up on Groundhog Day again, he reacts like most would - with total disbelief. He scoffs at the radio being "yesterday's tape," but when he checks the window, and his eyes convince him of what his ears could not. The hotel staff and his walk to work convince him even further: it is Groundhog Day again. He even goes so far as to express his fears explicitly to his producer, Rita. The more confused people are by his claims, the more frustrated Phil becomes.
Disbelief, just like anger, has been trending ever since lockdown started. It seems like people are willing to question anything and everything these days as public distrust has reached a new high. This uncertainty for the future has led many to abscond old social norms in place of an unsustainable lifestyle of overindulgence. Phil did the same thing as part of his grieving process. His behavior is what the Kubler-Ross model recognizes as bargaining.
I was in the Virgin Islands once. I met a girl. We ate lobster, drank piña coladas. At sunset, we made love like sea otters. That was a pretty good day. Why couldn't I get that day over and over and over?"
In Groundhog Day, bargaining comes chiefly in the form of overindulgence. When Phil realizes he can essentially live without consequence he breaks the law, leads the cops on a wild car chase, robs a bank, sleeps with every woman in town, and eats like a mad man. This is how Phil bargains with his new circumstances - he seeks to exploit them in the most selfish ways possible. I doubt anyone living in lockdown can live as consequence free as Phil, but millions of people are playing GTA V. It became free in early May, and about 10 million locked-down people downloaded it. Phil Connor's crimes pale in comparison to a typical Tuesday in Los Santos.
People overindulged in much more real ways as well. Pot, booze, and Chinese take-out sales seem to reflect the waves of the virus. What many people in the real world learn is that overindulging leads to oversaturation. Phil mostly escapes his consequences, but eventually finds himself empty despite his wild lifestyle. Phil enters the fourth act in a deep depression brought on by the realization that he cannot truly connect with another human being; a feeling many on lockdown can relate to.
There is no way that this winter is ever going to end as long as this groundhog keeps seeing his shadow. I don't see any other way out. He's got to be stopped. And I have to stop him."
Phil's depression is spurred by his inability to sleep with his producer, Rita. No matter how hard he tries, her purity of character elevates her to the unattainable. Phil finally gives up and returns to his routine distraught, a shell of his former self. Unable to overindulgence his emptiness any longer, he is cold, uncaring, and joyless. Again, the days drag on. Finally, Phil reaches a breaking point. He surmises a way out -stealing the eponymous groundhog and driving it off a cliff, killing them both. Much to Phil's chagrin, he wakes up the next morning in bed once again, unharmed and still doomed.
It's a sad truth, but depression, anxiety, abuse, and suicide have all been on the rise. If you get anything out of this article, let it be this: if you need help, reach out to someone. You are not alone. These are unprecedented and difficult times. We can make it through this. Mental health is just as important as physical health - we still have to find a way to take care of ourselves. Going through depression is a natural part of the healing process. If you can hold on, you'll make it to acceptance, just like Phil Connors.
Sometimes I wish I had a thousand lifetimes. I don't know, Phil. Maybe it's not a curse. Just depends on how you look at it."
Phil, unable to end his life, finds a way to make peace with it. Again, he bargains, but this time for good. He seeks pleasure in art, knowledge, and culture. By developing these interests, he develops relationships and begins to care for others. After 10,000 lifetimes, Phil finally lives a day completely for others - he helps old ladies, supports Ned Ryerson, offers warmth to a dying man, saves someone from choking, and plays some pretty slick jazz piano. He finally gives up his selfish pursuit of Rita and simply loves her instead. Only once Phil lives an entire day for others is he allowed to move on to February 3rd.
The last stage of the grieving process is acceptance. Some people have made it there, others are still trying. On some level, living through lockdown has affected everyone. My experience found me moving through all five stages of grief in the last nine months. Many Americans have experienced much worse, and it is still difficult for many to accept where we are today. Phil had it comparatively easy compared to us, but that doesn't mean we can't learn similar lessons. That's why, as yet another February 2nd approaches, Groundhog Day is more relevant than ever.
Today is tomorrow. It happened."
90 Day FiancÃ© has seen its fair share of jerks. After eight seasons of bad behavior, one lothario stands above the rest. Mohamed Jbali, the original 90 Day FiancÃ© villain, is still the worst of them all.
First meeting in an online chatroom (which is par for the course on 90 Day), Mohamed convinced Danielle, a single mother fifteen years his senior, to pay for his move from Tunisia to Ohio. Over the course of three months, Mohamed lied about having a job, committed credit card fraud, refused to kiss Danielle on the lips during their wedding ceremony, and generally drew the ire of anyone who cared for Danielle. The couple fought often, always hurling hurtful insults, and threatened one another to the point of involving the authorities on multiple occasions. It was clear to any viewer that this relationship was a sham.
Then, as the evil icing on a villainâs cake, Mohamed went on the Happily Ever After reunion special and, in front of a live audience and the other cast members, accused Danielle (to her face!) of being a poor sexual partner, both in terms of performance and hygiene. To make matters even worse, it is speculated that Danielle has some mild cognitive developmental issues, though these theories are unconfirmed. Anyone watching the flagship season can see it with their own eyes â Mohamed is very transparent about taking advantage of Danielle. He comes across as heartless, cruel, and conniving.
After the live taping of the reunion special, Mohamed doubled down on his villainy. As manipulative as the most Machiavellian of criminals, Mohamed convinced Danielle to save him from deportation by divorcing him instead of annulling their undoubtedly fraudulent marriage. Danielle gave in, but she also sued him for over ten grand on the basis that their marriage was, in fact, a fraud. So where is this villain now?
A lost soul, Mohamed has yet to settle. These days, he works as a truck driver. He has an active social media life and a cute dog. In a twist of fate, this year has reclassified him as an essential worker. Heâs recently spoken with Danielle, and according to her reports they are on good terms. That must be taken with a pinch of salt, however, because Danielle always saw their relationship as just about to get better. Hopefully, he really is done manipulating this poor woman for such little financial gain, but with the updates provided by Danielle on 90 Day FiancÃ©: Self-Quarantined, it sounds like he may be up to his old tricks once again.
Mohamed Jbali is the OG villain of 90 Day FiancÃ©. He played his role masterfully by highlighting the sincerity of the other couples in contrast with his faithlessness. The selfishness with which he lied, cheated, stole, and spoke to Danielle has yet to have been outdone by any other; hopefully, he never will be outdone. Thatâs why Mohamed Jbali is the absolute worst villain in 90 Day FiancÃ© history.
The Absurd History Behind Christmas's Most Absurd Song
Perform a simple Google search for the terms "The Christmas Shoes" and you are bound to find several sprawling results.
For instance, you may see this first link and think, "This is The Christmas Shoes." But ask yourself, is it? Keep scrolling, and you'll see...
For many of us, the second option is The Christmas Shoes. Why shouldn't we think so? It has 10 million more views than the first video, so that means it must be the real version, right? Maybe searching under "Videos" is the problem. I bet, if I just do a normal Google search for "The Christmas Shoes", this confusion will clear itself right up.
What the holiday is this?! I mean, obviously this is The Christmas Shoes, right? It’s a full-length, Canadian-produced, made-for-TV film owned by Viacom starring national treasure Rob Lowe and garnering an 84% (!) rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Surely, this is the one and only The Christmas Shoes.
The truth of the matter is that they are all The Christmas Shoes. Welcome, fellow traveler, to the mad, mad world of The Christmas Shoeniverse.
Why do I see so many disparate yet apparently connected results when I Google The Christmas Shoes (TCS)? The history behind this piece of American Christmas lore is as short as it is absurd. TCS, originally titled Golden Shoes for Jesus, was published as a short story in 1997. A songwriter and his friend found the story online in 1998. Inspired, they wrote a song which debuted in 2000. Then, a book by a different author hit the shelves in 2001. In 2002, the television-movie treatment followed. That's how TCS expanded from nothing to an entire Shoeniverse in just five Christmases. But that’s not even the whole story.
The Christmas Shoes - The Story
The story behind The Christmas Shoes is unbelievably inspired by true events. Helga Schmidt of Newton, Kansas (the original author) claims to have lived the tale and wrote about it for her local paper. Her story gained popularity and was eventually published in Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul, the companion book of kind mothers everywhere. The original short story is as short, sappy, and sweet as the song. Chicken Soup hit the bookstores in 1997 and before long altered versions of Schmidt’s story were being circulated on the world wide web.
The story went viral and was read by an inspired if not enterprising soul: St. Louis radio host DC Chymes. He was so inspired, in fact, that he spent two years crafting a lyrical interpretation of the story with his buddy Eddie Carswell, songwriter for the contemporary Christian rock group Newsong.
The Christmas Shoes - The Song
It took these guys two years to write TCS song.
(I want to pause on that for a moment. Really reflect on what you just read – it took them over 700 days to write The Christmas Shoes. You need to decide for yourself if that’s okay or not.)
Newsong released their new song during Christmas 2000 to much acclaim and the song quickly became a Christian Christmas standard. Inspired by the song's success I mean message, wife of Newsong’s manager Donna VanLiere, without acknowledging Helga Schmidt even once, wrote and published an entire novel based on the song. VanLiere’s book dropped one year later in November 2001.
(Once again, let’s reflect on the fact that it took these two guys two years to write the song and VanLiere about nine months to publish an entire novel about it. Let those facts sink in.)
The Christmas Shoes - The Book
The book was not shy about its inspiration, though it was confused about it. The book claims to be based on the song without acknowledging that the song itself is based on Helga Schmidt’s story. You can read the first couple dozen pages of it on Google if you are so inclined. Personally, I cannot recommend it. The narrator’s voice possesses a sense of emptiness that we never quite get away from. It’s as if even VanLiere knew this was a heartless money grab and subconsciously felt badly for it.
TCS the book has fantastic ratings on Goodreads, Google, and Amazon. You should absolutely go buy it because that’s why VanLiere wrote it. Nothing screams American Christmas more than a shameless money grab. And hey, speaking of transparent money grabs, it turns out our neighbors to the north are capable of snatching money too.
The Christmas Shoes - The Movie
In 2002 a CBS-produced, Canadian-television, based-on-the-book version of TCS graced our eyeballs just a year and a month after the book came out. One reviewer panned the film as ‘mawkish, melodramatic mush’, which is more Ms than you need to say it’s a bad movie. Hard for me to judge, though; I haven’t seen it. Rotten Tomatoes likes the film and shopping sites like Best Buy rate it highly. Those results are skewed, however, because anyone who is willing to pay for TCS is going to give it six or seven stars. Anyway, 2002 not only introduced The Shoeniverse to the world of film, but also to the world of music films.
The Christmas Shoes - The Official Music Video
The official music video was released in conjunction with the film in 2002, which explains Rob Lowe’s ever-welcomed cameos. What it doesn’t explain is what most of the members of Newsong do, exactly. They never move. Why?! It’s unclear to me if any of these fellas can even play an instrument. Billy Goodwin, the man with the beard and the inexplicable baseball cap (which to me feels like a hat on a hat) is the band’s lead singer, not even the guy who wrote the song. But I’m getting off-track.
While this is the official music video entry to the Shoeniverse, it is not the final music video. The final video, unauthorized though it may be, came out five years later. During the half-decade in between, two more books and two more movies crossed into The Shoeniverse.
The Christmas Shoes - The Sequels
A year after the film’s release in 2003, VanLiere somehow found the inspiration to publish yet another TCS book in her newly announced The Christmas Hope series. The first sequel, The Christmas Blessing, received a film adaptation in 2005, two years after the book's publication. The Christmas Blessing movie stars Neil Patrick Harris (of all people) as the grown-up Little Boy who now has a family of his own. Spoiler, the mom meets Jesus. (Just kidding, I haven’t seen it.) Also in 2005, a month before The Christmas Blessing movie premiered, VanLiere completed her hat trick with the trilogy’s final chapter, The Christmas Hope. The film adaptation was released four years later in 2009.
Canon though they may be, I personally didn’t even know the sequels existed in part due to the popularity of the Shoeniverse's final entry. When most of us think of The Christmas Shoes, we think of a sad, dirty little boy and a baseball-capped man, aggressively chewing his bubble gum.
The Christmas Shoes - The Unofficial Music Video
Fan art is still art. Occasionally, fan art even outshines the source material. Such is the case of The Christmas Shoes.
Produced as a film school project in 2007, the unofficial music video has more views than the official video because it has an abundance of what the official video lacks – heart. Like the original story, this version takes a "no-frills" approach to the tale. There are no useless bandmates in the background here – just the song’s lyrics, depicted at face value. The unofficial video perfectly defines what The Christmas Shoes legend should be– a sincere interpretation of a sad story. Instead, and quite regrettably, the legend of The Shoeniverse is defined by the three Cs of the apocalypse: capitalism, Christmas, and Christianity.
The Christmas Shoes - The Legend
There you have it – the short but absurd history of how The Shoeniverse expanded from short story to song to book to movie to music video to more books and more movies to yet another music video. Trying to describe The Shoeniverse reminds me of the parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant: it is true that TCS is a book; it is true that it is a short story; it true that it is a song; it is true that it is a movie; all of these things are true. But what the blind men can’t see is what the elephant truly is as a whole – a heaping pile of Christmas Schmidt.
I feel badly for Helga Schmidt, author of the original short story. From what I can tell, she has not received any royalties from these sycophants stealing her intellectual property. What’s especially impressive about this heist is the fact that The Christmas Shoeniverse was in no way a coordinated effort. This isn’t like the MCU – there was no "Jesus Whedon" mapping out phase one of The Shoeniverse. It was born out of good old-fashioned, exploitative American capitalism. But whether I like it or not (I don't), one thing is undeniably true: this sad little story has touched the hearts of millions. Maybe that is the true miracle of The Christmas Shoes.