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Dear Vegans,

God bless you, every one. How do you manage to find things to eat every day?

I’m sure things have gotten slightly easier for you (as more and more people make the choice), but it certainly is a challenge to find food that is completely free from animal products.

Eddie and I are hosting friends next month, one of whom is one of you. I’ve been road-testing recipes: shepherd’s pie, chickpea and avocado wraps, tamales, etc.

Japanese gyoza nearly was the death of me, though.

It’s one of my favorite things to make, thanks to the excellent tutelage of my friend Miwa.

However, I usually buy the pre-made skins from the Asian market down the road. It makes life so much easier.

But said skins have eggs.

Ruh roh, Raggy.

So I went to the vegan section of Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck). I found wonton skins, which will do in a pinch. Checked ingredients list to be safe.

So those wouldn’t work. I went to two other granola-people stores. No luck. In fact, one helpful cashier checked his supplier’s site to see if vegan wonton/gyoza/dumpling/potsticker wrappers existed. They don’t, apparently.

Back at home, I decided to make my own.

Oh yes, I did.

And that’s how I found myself up to my eyebrows in brown rice and tapioca flour yesterday afternoon.

I don’t have photos of the process because my hands were covered in flour for hours. I do have an image of the (uncooked) finished product:

As for the taste, I’d say they closely resembled my usual recipe. A little off, but not by much.

If anything, this little experiment has made me aware of just how many animal products we consume daily — even when we don’t think we are consuming any.

Wishing you all the best, and hoping you continue to have more and better options,
Beth

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Dear Loyal (?) Readers:

Want to peek into how my mind works? Here you go:

I read a news story about a guy who swallowed a garden slug on a dare and died. (To be clear, it was eight years later from a disease the slug had called RAT LUNGWORM — gross — but still).

So naturally, I thought of that “What are little boys made of?” poem:

What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails and puppy dog tails.
That’s what little boys are made of!
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice and all things nice.
That’s what little girls are made of!

And then I started thinking about what I would be made of (hint: It ain’t sugar and all that). And because I’m a little addicted to TV, here’s a guide to me in shows:

Two parts “Jersey Shore Family Vacation (Truth is stranger than fiction. It’s why I became a journalist.)
Two parts “The Amazing Race (I love to travel, and I’m competitive. I would sell a kidney to be on that show.)
One part “Chopped (I like to cook, and I have a pantry full of odd things from the Buford Highway Farmers Market.)
One part “Oddities(This captures my bad taxidermy obsession.)
A large helping of “Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce (Because, you know.)
A pinch of “Naked Attraction (I often work blue in non-work situations. I also love Brits. As you know.)
A dash of “Haunting of Hill House (Gore? Jump scares? True crime? I’m in.)

I don’t know, Michael. I don’t know.

Anyway, if you continue to be amused by what crosses my mind and comes out on the page, please subscribe to this blog. If you do already, thanks!

Yours in slugs, lungworm and guidos,
Beth

 

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Dear Trish,

The family and I are in Arizona because of you, my long-time blog cast member. This is not my kind of place, and I can’t believe you willingly came to live here.

The pilot told us the temperature as we were landing: 102 degrees. That’s not hospitable for human life.

When we walked out of the Phoenix airport, a furnace blast nearly killed me on the spot. Remember that guy whose face melted in “Raiders of the Lost Ark?” Like that.

Stop with that “at least it is a dry heat” crap. It’s a hot heat. So hot. Hotter than Kid Rock’s “So Hott.” Satan’s sunroom hot. Like I crawled into a pizza oven hot.

We drove to Sedona in air-conditioned comfort — thank God — but the poor Chevy Cruze did struggle.

You know what we saw on the way? Dirt.

Dust.

Cacti.

Cacti giving us the finger.

Who lives here voluntarily? What the HECK, Trish!?

You are paler than I am. How can you stand it?

I’ve put my lily-white skin in peril for you. You know I wouldn’t miss your big day, even though you and Irv did decide to get married on the same date Eddie and I did. You date hog, you.

Well, at least we spent our anniversary doing something fun. Sedona turns out to be one lovely spot in this godforsaken land. Thanks for choosing it as the final destination.

And you clean up nice, so there’s that.

As much as I’m complaining here, you know we would not have missed your big day.

Love you, and congratulations!
Beth

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Dear Friends:

I’ve always been fascinated by astrology. You probably could have guessed this, but I’m a Sagittarius. A textbook Sagittarius.

A boss I had in college ran my chart, and shared with me that I have Virgo rising. That explained so much: my touch of OCD, Type A personality, mad copyediting skilz, obsession with my calendar.

I recently started following Astro Poets on Twitter* – an account that makes me laugh regularly. Consider that the inspiration for the following list.

Signs of the Zodiac and my feelings about people born under them:

Aries (March 21-April 19)
This is probably the best match for me. Nothing I do scares/worries an Aries. Eddie, Brian, Hannah – all Aries.

Taurus (April 20-May 20)
Ruh roh, Raggy. Danger, Will Robinson. Males and females of this sign mystify me. I am routinely bothered by their stubbornness and tendency to be passive aggressive (except Petra who is the most straightforward person I know — must have a Sag rising). My dad was a Taurus. (Hey there, daddy issues!)

Gemini (May 21-June 20)
I don’t think I know any female Geminis (out yourself in the comments if I’m wrong), but I dig the dudes. I dated one in college, and we are still friends. (He is the one who reminded me about my Tommy Stinson experience.) Johnny Depp is a Gemini. I’m sure we would be “friends.” Gideon is a Gemini. We get along swimmingly.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
Two of my closest friends – one from high school (Julia) and one from college (36-hour Tina) – are Cancers. Frequent partner in crime René is a Cancer. My mom was a Cancer. (Can you imagine? A Taurus and a Cancer trying to parent a Sagittarius? I was like a zoo exhibit to them.) One thing though: Don’t ever get on a Cancer’s bad side.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22)
They can be arrogant (for good reason), but I always get along well with Leos.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22)
The workaholic sign (right, Sophia and Patty-poo?). They love them some calendar invites. Thanks to my Virgo rising, I get it.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)
We get along like gangbusters then … crickets. I’ve gotten sudden radio silence from both men and women. Then weeks, months, sometimes years later, we’re back on, and I’m still bewildered. Libra women are masters of the silent treatment.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)
Scorpio is to me as catnip is to cats. Longest-term boyfriend? Scorpio. Adam Ant? Scorpio. Emma Stone (on whom I have a girl crush)? Scorpio. Like Libras, they can do silent treatment. Flurry of communication, then dead air.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21)
Interestingly enough, the men of this sign can be troublesome for me because we may be too much alike. Dominic is a fellow Sag, and every day brings a new friction point. The women, though? Different story. Fast friendships that last forever. (Hey Khaki and Kim!)

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)
I love male Capricorns. I dated a Capricorn, and we are still friends. They always have a fantastic sense of humor and like to push the envelope just as much as I do. No surprise that The Royce, my Savannah BFF, is a goat. Female Capricorns tend to hate me. I think I’m too much for them.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)
Two close female friends are Aquarians. I bond with one over volleyball and the other over Duran Duran. An ex is an Aquarian, and he’s a great human. Very funny. All good.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
Another catnip sign. Pisces men are completely irresistible to me. My longest-running crush in grade/high school was a Pisces. Every one I’ve known has been an artist of some sort. They tend to be awful about consistent (read: normal) written communication (text, email, social media), which drives me crazy. My friend Edgar — a painter (the fine artist kind, not the house kind) — is a Pisces. This is what his phone looks like usually.

The women in my life who are this sign are fantastic, and I love them all. They are good electronic communicators.

As a Sag, I’m blunt by nature. I certainly don’t want to upset anyone. These obviously are generalities. And, of course, I don’t know the zodiac sign of many people I interact with every day.

So tell me your sign in the comments. We’ll either laugh knowingly or be surprised.

And if you are a male Pisces or a Scorpio, send photos privately so I can admire you from a distance.

Just kidding.

Maybe.

(Eh, I know your communication style, so I don’t have to worry.)

Yours in pseudoscience,
The Archer

*All images in this post attributed to that account.

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Dear British TV Producers:

It’s like you know me — like you are developing stuff just for me. As I’ve mentioned before, there is nothing that makes me happier than an evening of British TV.

Last time I visited, I became addicted to “Naked Attraction.” That still is on the list, but I watched new shows too this time:

The Only Way is Essex
Kind of like an upmarket “Jersey Shore.” Nothing happens in any episode, though.

Love Island
Like the “Dating Game” got it on with “Big Brother.” Again, nothing seemed to happen except folks hated on Dr. Alex.

8 out of 10 Cats
Game show? Talk show? Hard to tell.

Would I Lie to You
To Tell the Truth” meets Jimmy Fallon’s “Two Truths and a Lie.” I’m a fan of David Mitchell (with his beard, of course), so that led to …

Peep Show
What an odd show. It’s a little like “The Office” with a dash of “Spaced.”

“Peep Show” Mitchell (aka Austin Powers) vs. Lying Mitchell. Am I wrong?

Mock the Week
The Daily Show” with “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

Friday Night Dinner
A sitcom where two adult sons come home each Friday for dinner with Mom and Dad. I wanted to murder the idiot sons.

Four in a Bed
Innkeepers visit and rate each others’ establishments to “win.” Insults and hard feelings ensue. Who brings a UV light to check the toilets before staying at a B&B?

Who is America?
Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest venture. As if I’m not embarrassed enough. How can I explain two sitting Republican congressmen, Dana Rohrabacher (California) and Joe Wilson (South Carolina), wanting to arm toddlers? I can’t. I’m going to tell people I’m Canadian.

And “Naked Attraction.” I just can’t get enough. Hannah* found me watching it while I was eating breakfast. What can I say? I like to start the day off right.

In fact, I’m a little jealous of host Anna Richardson’s job. In what other career path could you utter these memorable phrases?

You’ve seen everything they’ve got to give you. What’s your choice?

You have quite a pair of balls on you. That’s quite a pouch.

How do you feel? You’ve got six vaginas staring you in the face.

Not very many. That’s for sure.

Keep up the good work,
Beth

*Friend with whom I stayed on the trip. She and her husband Dave love to introduce me to new shows.

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Dear British Signmakers:

I’ve enjoyed reading your work, but I have questions. Please clear up my confusion.

Zebra? That looks like a man to me. (BTW, it is supposed to be pronounced “zeeebrah,” people.)

Does that mean it is easy to get in? You’re inside like a smooth criminal? Is the opposite a lumpy or awkward entrance?

Why would you send me to use yet another toilet that is out of order? That’s what you mean by a “disabled toilet,” right? (Also, I know your establishment is called “Yo! Sushi,” but I think you needn’t be cute with the sign.)

Is it still a deal if you have to take a taxi back to your lodging? Or if you have to pay someone to hold your hair back? Oh wait … now I see the ampersand.

Who is eating fish in the bathroom? And what’s that other stuff? A can of spray paint? What happens in toilets in Oxford?

Do women in pubs really need all these face and hair potions? Wouldn’t it be good to have put some condoms in there too, as is offered in traditional vending machines? I would assume ‘girls on the go’ might want those. Equal rights and all.

You know I’m just kidding: I know what all these signs mean to convey. Just some light teasing from your odd American friend.

Love you!
Beth

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Dear America:

It’s almost your birthday, so I’m giving you the gift of information. This info might help answer a question I’ve been asking since I began traveling throughout the rest of the world:

Why do Americans resist bidets?

There are various commercials that address the perils of paper. Here’s one example:

And various products to help clean up your hazardous waste site:

But tissue is troubling in general. Why not solve the problem in a less wasteful way?

The French get it. The Japanese more than get it. You practically need a user manual, but your special bits will be spic and span.

Americans don’t get it.

And I don’t get that.

Everybody poops. EVERYBODY. (If you don’t, you have a real problem that I can’t solve.) Don’t you want to be as clean as possible afterward?

If you do, here’s a solution: Tushy. It’s an aftermarket, easy-to-install bidet. (NOT to be confused with the anal porn website in HD [!] that I found accidentally when looking for the bidet link.)

I’m happy to be a paid spokesperson if asked.

Come on, people. Let’s get it together. Save some trees. Save some septic tanks. Save your sphincters some friction.

Unless you are into that sort of thing. (And according to that website … nevermind.)

Yours in booty health and wellbeing,
Beth

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