May 31, 2020

Stubble Cigar

Ursa Major 1

I, like Frank, consider the smell of unsmoked tobacco a momentary indulgence. I don’t purchase nor carry tobacco for the purpose of smelling it. But having smelled it before and revelled in its particular olfactory essence, I do appreciate the nostalgia it evokes of nonexistent times filled with deep thinking and even deeper gashes in firewood piled aside some cabin.

The razor held so delicately above both overtly looks and feels like a cigar. It was, at some point in the dearest past, crafted by Ursa Major.

This post is kinda sponsored. I didn’t get paid for it but received the razor handle aeons ago for promotion on my now-defunct television show. The product didn’t make it on air back in the day and it’s been plaguing my conscience ever since. If I were to ever be spiritually abducted into the realm of purgatoire de l’auteur, this should serve as karmic remittance.

I checked Ursa Major’s site and couldn’t find the razor. This is damn embarrassing. Alas, without knowing price nor description, I’ll tell you a bit about this fine piece of face-shearing wood. Perhaps you’ll find yourself perusing their skincare products and I’ll feel a smidgen better about putting off this review.

I despise ads and wouldn’t dare clog my beautiful blog with them. I put links to Ursa Major above in case you’re genuinely interested in em. They have an affiliate program but I am not part of it and these are not affiliate links.

The review

Ursa Major 5

It’s quite odd to show me shaving because the Ursa Major razor ain’t a razor at all—it’s a razor handle. That’s it. A lil’ piece of wood. It almost doesn’t make sense as a product, which is maybe why they ditched it in their lineup. Until it does make sense.

That wood feels good. It’s minimal, earthy, and decently designed. I’m all for buying sustainable, practical tools that match my vibe (or aesthetic or whatever). Ursa Major didn’t touch the functional part because they know others do it better. You can pop on and off disposable Gillette tops as you see fit. And that’s all there is to it.

Though the handle’s a bit of a collector’s item now, its simplicity says something about the company. Ursa Major cares about biodegradable goods that feel good to use and look good to have. Sustainable design. Do their personal care products cost a premium? Absolutely. Is that inaccessible price tier indicative of the quality of the potions inside the modern-outdoorsy designed canisters? That’s for you to decide. I lean on the side of niche-audience marketing in a subversive neo-capitalistic hellscape. Nah, the potions are cute.

Hey, I like our environment. I’ll back a conscious company any day. The Ursa Major razor handle reminds me of a quality leather wallet—an investment in lasting kit that’ll age right along with you. But my wallet’s not the size of the tree that was felled to make that handle. As a careful consumer I’d opt for a similar, more cost-effective brand like Tom’s of Maine. Come to think of it, Ursa Major is a Vermont brand. It could be Vermont’s answer to Tom’s of Maine. Could be I’m unaware of some turf war between New England personal care brands. In that case, before I become a plaid-donning political prisoner, know that I stand by Ursa Major’s site design over Tom’s. It’s much cleaner and the bear logo is substantially more huggable than my own name in stamp form.

Here’s one more photograph of me and the stubble cigar. My brother took all of these—thanks Kevin.

Ursa Major 4

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May 27, 2020

Congestion

Sometimes you look at a word and it speaks to you.

I recently ramped up work with Gikken, a Berlin-based boutique Apple software company. Alex from Gikken introduced me to a newsletter called Dense Discovery. Upon reading Dense Discovery this evening, I tripped over an American indie magazine called Fifty Grande, wherein I was drawn to an article about folk artists living out of a van. I thought: Hey, that’d be pretty damn cool to live out of a van.” It’s a thought I’m sure you’ve humoured at one point. In that article, I read the word congestion. It spoke to me.

Why is congestion speaking to me? It’s kinda gross. What does it connote? Mucus? Traffic? Blockage? I’ve dealt with an embarrassing amount of glottal mucus all my life, having been raised in an agrarian suburb. We’ve taken a turn for the intimate.

No, these superficial connections were not, in this instance, what first came to mind. For some reason I read that word like it was brand new. Thought of the raw meaning of it—what might be a definition stripped of allegiance to any particular congestive circumstance. I got all philosophical.

I studied comparative religion in college. My brother asked me on a walk today whether I’m an atheist. I won’t get into that here. Brought this up because my philosophy of religion courses used ancient allegories to illustrate spiritual concepts. Once meditated on a blueberry and felt it more intensely than certain prior sexual encounters. Blueberries’ll do that to ya.

Congestion is something we deal with incessantly. Congestion of the mind. I’m not sure where I’m going with this but I’m trying to unearth something via writing. Little thought purge. Ain’t that what they recommend?

Making sense of it

Nothing makes sense—that’s why it’s called making sense. You ought to manufacture the sense yourself.

Congestion is a temporary status. If a passageway were perpetually blocked it wouldn’t be blocked at all because it wouldn’t be a passageway to begin with.1 Unless it began as a passageway like some Egyptian tomb that subsequently crumbled and was to remain in ruin for near eternity.

Let’s agree that it’s temporary. Shouldn’t congestion then be relievable? It often is relieved. Can that relief be facilitated manually? If we are discussing mental congestion, then surely it may be. Phobia, for example, causes a congestion that takes gradual chipping away at to allow for the passage of… well, some inverse2 of fear. Writer’s block, however, simply takes:

  • Two (2) parts bourbon.
  • One (1) part amaretto.
  • A spit of lemon juice.
  • A dewdrop of maple syrup.
  • Your evening mug met with ice.

Suddenly derailed

It’s time to sleep. If you too are due for a snooze, may we both awake without congestion, mental or otherwise.


  1. This could be super-simply sublimated by a base-level pupil of philosophical logic. If A is true and B depends on A… Something of axioms, propositions and the like.↩︎

  2. I tried and failed to think of one. Any I came up with felt forced and without substantial, confident evidence or example. May come back to this.↩︎

May 24, 2020

Frank had a small TV

The beginning of a letter from Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse:

Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rambling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just do.

It sat on Frank’s desk. While he hated referring to alleged quotes for inspiration, he knew this was some bona fide correspondence and he liked the sounds of the words in the long list when said. Frank considered that he would willingly give up all of Sol’s suggested verbiage besides boning if it would mean he could do in the sense of accomplishing something rather than ing-ing about it. Then he pondered the disparity between boning and doing and wondered profusely which provided more agency to that being boned or done. Or whether it should be them rather than that, for that matter—for their matter.

The phone rang, as they tend to do. Frank spat his toothpick into the deforested hectare of felled wood-pike disarray fencing a lousy perimeter round his desk chair.

Frank.” said Frank.

Frank I need you to tell me what’s on channel nine. It’s dire. Frank. Frank? Can you hear me? Turn to channel nine. Be a dear and tell me what’s on channel nine. Frank dear do it now. I know, I know, thank you Frank.” said a high-pitched voice across the telephone line.

As Frank listened to his name leak out her lips a dozen times, he pinched and spun around the embossed brass nameplate at the edge of his desk. The more he stared at the letters, the less they formed the name he’d been branded with much like that cheap metal rectangle who wore it better.

Elsewhere on the desk, a sticky note read: MILK, CHICKEN. Was stuck to a stapler spread open by its hinges almost as wide as the legs of Kermit the Frog, who leaned crookedly on a can of ale weighed down by a straight razor shaft sticking out of it that directed a fleck of light from its blade onto a chiseled section of wood whittled by a worried pen tip whose cap escaped this microcosmic crime scene for the great abandon of the corner behind the waste basket. A projector was set up, searing the ceiling with a tired bulb whose luminescence shone obscene shadows built by what lay on its lens-like surface each day as an extension of Frank’s desk. The common lamp was on backorder for the second time since some mysterious late-night circumstance had hopelessly toppled it.

Frank didn’t smoke. He simply liked the smell of cigarettes and carried the same pack of double gold-ringed Rohnsteins around for aromatic comfort. He withdrew a stick and popped it into Kermit’s perpetual jaw-drop where it wedged into the stitch of the fabric at his puppety gullet.

You still have my remote, Wendy.” said Frank.

I… Wendy trailed off.

The hole!” Frank shouted opposite the receiver, to the empty room.

Ah that. Let me see…”

The wall on the right rumbled a bit. Something rolled from a height and thudded on the floor. Papers shuffled. Then, a dot of red light appeared through a pencil-thin poke in the wall just under a nail-hung gloating plaque.

Nothing happened. Frank picked an apple core from a little plastic dish and lobbed it at the wall, striking the plaque so it spun on its nail and dislodged, clapping on the ground.

Eh fuh,” Frank mumbled.

The light dot shone again, longer. Then off. Then on. It blinked. In the opposite corner on a stout refrigerator box, a pale black screen jittered to life. Though the stodgy man had big dreams and an even bigger ocular prescription, Frank had a small TV.

Wendy suctioned her ear up to the wall, listening as she held steady the remote control and lathed its channel button over and over.

WALNUTS AND CHERRY OATS. ADULT CER…

Click.

WANTED TO KNOW WHO SHE WAS. SO I TOLD HER. SHE THOUGHT SHE COULD GO DOWN TO THE LORY DISTRICT AN…

Click.

SA-VANVANVAN RA-DUNDUNDUN SVAAA!”

Click, click.

Frank kicked his feet up. Wished she’d stayed on the orchestra. He watched the channels turn from the doubles back to single digits and up toward nine.

06, 07, 08…