A Review of Yesterday: Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

And, by wilderness, I mean the parking lot of a hiking trail.

I left work a few hours early yesterday. And, as I was walking to my car, I thought it’d be nice to grab the dogs and head somewhere pretty. Flipping through a hiking app on my phone, I settled on Suntop Lookout. Checking the time, I estimated the entire trip should take about four hours. The dogs and I were on the road around 3pm, we should’ve been home before sunset.

Heading east on Route 410, it was just as sunny and a tiny bit cooler than it had been in the city. The roads were clear. There was barely any snow. Small piles of it here and there. And, to be honest, I’d hoped there’d be just a bit of it. Then, I turned on to National Forest Road 7160, which is apparently like that armoire in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe because there was snow all over the place. Though the road was clear.

My first mistake was driving into the unplowed parking lot of the trail. My second being not turning around as my car bumped and slid around, the undercarriage grinding against the high centered snow of the tire tracks I was following all the way up to the trailhead.

After I parked the car, I got the dogs out and let ’em run around in the snow. Then, we headed into the forest until my late-coming logic kicked in and I thought “Maybe this isn’t a good idea?” and we headed back towards the car. I snapped a few shots and hopped in the car. It was about 5pm.

We must have been in the car all of 30 seconds when my front left tire made friends with a deep pile of slush. Stuck.

Don’t worry. The First Rule of Christopher McCandlessing for Beginners is: Unwavering Hubris. Wancy’s take? I’m from Chicago. Snow shmow! I got this!

For the next two and a half hours, I try to get my car out.

Before I go any further, let me tell you about the Second Rule of Christopher McCandlessing For Beginners: Wear Really Wear Worn-out Sneakers and a Very Thin Hoodie when heading Into the Wild.

Trying to get my car out involves a combination of all these things: rocking my car in and out of the hole via that reverse/drive/reverse/drive trick, gathering pine tree branches and leaves to stick under my tire (as to gain traction), jacking that corner of the car up FIVE separate times, attempting to my push my car out because I think I’m She-Ra, breaking the ice up around the tire, but mostly what I succeed in doing is getting my feet and ass wet and freezing.

That’s when I wonder if I’ve got roadside assistance. Yes, about a half hour before the sun goes down, and after hours of trying to get the car out is when I wonder this.

Like I said: Hubris.

It turns out I do. The operator begins calling tow services. Meanwhile, that call keeps dropping because I am in the middle of nowhere and I have one very noncommital bar that only sometimes wants to hang out with me during this growing crisis. And, finally, on maybe return call #5, the operator tells me that there are no tow services that will come to where I am because of the snow. She then tells me to call 911. She tells me I may have to leave my car behind.


I call 911 and guess who doesn’t wanna pick up the phone? I mean . . .

There’s just the tiniest sliver of daylight left. I get back in the car and apologize to the dogs profusely, but also tell them we will not follow the Final Rule of Christopher McCandlessing. (That’s death, by the way.)

I mean 911 doesn’t even want to talk to me, so I’m feeling a little bit panicked.

I text my friends Piper and Jeff: Please call me. And, they do. Also, they live in Chicago. Piper calms me down while Jeff starts making some calls. Jeff gets a hold of Brian (who lives in Seattle, but I didn’t want to bother him because I knew he was busy? Let’s talk about that issue of mine some other time). And Brian calls the police . . . who are like “Oh, I totally didn’t hear the phone ring?” (Not really, but WTF.)

What happens next: The police are trying to locate the police that can help me. I’m not in their jurisdiction. But guess what? I’m not in the jurisdiction of the next police station I’m transferred to.

Then, finally, the police are like, “So, yeah, we’re kinda busy and far away, so . . . you should call a tow service.”

“No tow services will come here,” I say. “At least, that’s what roadside assistance says.”

The officer on the line explains there is a service that will come, but most places don’t want to cover because of the price. She gives me the number, then before hanging up adds: “If you are paying for roadside assistance, then you are paying for roadside assistance. Make them take care of it.”

And, I do. I call the tow service, roadside assistance, and finally someone is on their way to come rescue me and the pups. We are all starving and I’ve given them a bunch of treats, but not all of them . . . just in case!

Oh. Piper and Jeff have been on the phone with me this entire time. Other than what my headlights or flashers illuminate, it is pitch black out. It is about 8:30pm. And, it is beyond comforting to have these friends on the line. Though, I know it’s later in Chicago, and I’m feeling a little bad about keeping them up. They both work full-time. Additionally, they are parents of a wonderful, two-year-old boy named Roswell.

“Piper, you guys should go to bed. The tow truck is on its way.”

“No. I’m not getting off the line until I know you’re back on the road.”

I won’t argue. Namely because I was feeling a little scared, but also ’cause I knew there’d be no shaking her even if I really wanted her to get off the line. But I can tell she’s tired by the scratchiness in her voice.

“You mad?” I ask.

“Hmmm . . . I’m not sure,” she says.

This isn’t my first go around at Christopher McCandlessing for the Modern Man. I’m fanciful, full of whimsy, and spontaneous. Here’s how to read that: I’ve made a lot of mistakes.

“Wancy,” she continues, “What were you thinking?”

Meanwhile, Jeff sends me this text:


I hear the hum of the engine and Memo snoring, notice that I’ve got about an eighth of a tank left of gas. What was I thinking?

“I was feeling sad. And, lonely. In the past, I’d go and find sex to wash over it. I think  . . . I think I just wanted to see something beautiful. Ya know?”

This is news to me. For me at least, there’s been no solace in random sex. Though, it seemed like there was. And, it’s something I’ve struggled with more than half my life. Suddenly, I felt past it.

The phone cuts out around 10pm. Just about the time the tow truck pulls up, yanks me, the dogs, and the car out of my icy hell. I call Piper, Jeff, and Brian when I’m on the road. I’m lucky to have some amazing people in my life. I’m lucky to have had a signal.

I am grateful.

We get home around 1:00am. I feed the pups and head to bed.



A Revue of Healing Through Music. . . for 2016 by Yael Korman

Dearly Beloved,

It’s been a difficult year, and our nerves are frayed.

I recommend self care by way of the Crystal Gayle and Eddie Rabbit duet “Just You and I” and other soothing early 80s/late 70s tender power ballads.


Have you heard Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton sing Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonight,” and do you know all the words? Okay, then, “We’ve Got Tonight” as covered by Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton will work just fine.


My husband and I explain this world to our four-year-old son with as much honesty as we can manage because we know he sees and hears everything anyway. We give him coping mechanisms and space to respond, and we hope it will be enough. This morning our child woke up and suggested we listen to Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life.” I can’t decide if this means he is going to be okay in this new, grosser world, or if we need to course correct immediately.


Hold your loved ones and sing. Fortify. 2017 may be even more challenging.

Honorable mentions: the following recommendations were released just before and after that spineless post-Bread pop moment where the previous recommendations live but will help you achieve the same dreamy, analgesic effects if you sing along loudly enough.

Literally anything that came out of Karen Carpenter’s mouth duh (her brother gets zero credit always, and may god have mercy on his soul).


All Cried Out (I can only guarantee results with the Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam version).


Was it worth it? *ONE TINY STAR for the 50s brick ranch by Daffin Park

Laura Jean: For our readers at home, where is Washington Avenue?

Me: In Savannah, Georgia between the Ardsley Park neighborhood and Parkside neighborhood.

LJ: That sounds really quaint.

Me: It is really fucking quaint. If Steve Martin had a daughter and she was getting married, he would live in one of the revival-everything houses on Washington Avenue’s oak-lined street.

LJ: So the houses look like the house in the 1991 reboot of Father of the Bride, starring Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Martin Short?

Me: Yes, and like Tara from Gone with the Wind and that brick colonial number in Little Women and the Victorian in Disney’s Pollyanna.

LJ: You seem to be a connoisseur of movie architecture.

Me: Look, I’m just trying to make it clear what we’re dealing with. Washington Avenue is not some namby-pamby bastion of California hill country midcentury modern Frank Lloyd Wright wannabe ranches. We’re talking sidewalks, a goddamn median of azaleas, and moss-draped oaks. It’s like a museum of Long Island housewives’ Southern fantasies.

LJ: So what’s wrong with their Christmas Decorations?

Me: The street is fucking dark. We’re two weeks into Advent and the best anyone can do is a picture window Christmas tree and some electric candles on the second floor. Thank god for the 50s style ranch by Daffin Park with one string of lights on their hedges because otherwise, you’d think these people give zero fucks about the birthday of our LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST.

LJ: Now hold on, a lot of people don’t believe in Jesus.

Me: THAT’S NOT THE POINT. One month ago this street was lined with TRUMP/PENCE signs, okay? So, I expect some motherfucking Christmas lights. If I have to live near you richo-fascist-pseudoChristian-fucks, the least you can do is pretty up the place with some goddamn holiday spirit.

LJ: You seem really passionate about this.

Me: All I’m saying is that if these one percenters don’t realize their good fortune isn’t some insulating force from the responsibilities of government and community building, and learn quick that the truth is quite the opposite—they’re going to have a revolution on their hands.

LJ: With great power, comes great responsibility.

Me: I see you’ve read your Spider-Man.

LJ: Little known fact, that’s actually a modification of a Bible verse: Luke 12:48.

Me: Yeah, I know. My mother quoted that to me nearly every day of my teenage life.

LJ: Alrighty, then. If you could say one thing to the residents of Washington Avenue, what would it be?

 Me: It’s called noblesse oblige, motherfuckers. Get some.

Laura Jean Moore’s essays, stories, and poetry have been featured in VICE, the Brooklyn Rail, [PANK], the EEEL at the Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. She is currently a monthly columnist at Change Seven and an assistant editor at NOON. These days, she lives in Savannah, Georgia with two cats, an old lady, and her sweetheart. Follow the LJ Algorithm and other stuff she’s up to at

A Pictorial Review of Summer 2016’s “Celebration of Love/Love Your Spouse Challenge” on Facebook

This past summer, my Facebook feed became peppered with photos of friends and acquaintances with their husbands, wives, girlfriends, and boyfriends. These photos came attached with this explanation:

“I have been challenged by ________  to post photos with my spouse for 7 days from to keep the Celebration of Love going.

I nominate________ and ________  to take part in this challenge.”

Initially, being the romantic I am, found this to be absolutely adorable. After a day or two had passed, it seemed as if the activity had become tiresome for the person posting–hence, why it is labeled a “challenge.” You could feel the apprehension, self-consciousness, or general tiring of the commitment to post a different photo of one’s self and their loved one.

So, I thought I’d have a little fun.

Without further ado. . . . Here is my personal Celebration of Love/Love Your Spouse Challenge/Blah blah blah . . .








A Review of Touch Me: The Poems of Suzanne Somers

Long before her interest in bioidentical hormones, before her series of books about various ways to ruin your health, before she riled the American Cancer Society with her alternative cancer treatments, and just a few years before she became the quintessential blonde, Chrissy Snow, on ABC’s hit situation comedy Three’s Company, Suzanne Somers made her astounding debut as poet in 1973 with a collection of poems titled Touch Me.

The poems in this collection are part shiv, part band-aid—slashing open forgotten wounds while asking the reader to learn from them. Perhaps, most obvious in the final lines of “Reflections,” Somers offers:

I wore my green sweater today—and smiled.

At two weeks ago

And loving you.

But no one’s skeletons are safe here. She can’t even leave the dog a bone. From “Extra Love,” Somers laments:

If anyone has any extra love

Even a heartbeat

Or a touch or two

I wish they wouldn’t waste it on dogs.

Outside of the agony/ecstasy of self-care, the collection offers coy recipes and sultry dietary suggestions such as in “Organic Girl,” things to consider while roaming the farmers markets of anywhere:

Organic girl dropped by last night

For nothing in particular

Except to tell me again how beautiful and serene she feels

On uncooked vegetables and wheat germ fortified by bean sprouts—

Mixed with yeast and egg whites on really big days—

She not only meditates regularly, but looks at me like I should

And lectures me about meat and ice cream

And other aggressive foods I shouldn’t eat.

Quite possibly the most moving, heart-rending, and erotic is the title piece “Touch Me,” as read in the video above.

Touch me

Not like a cat

Or a tree

Or even a flower

For I am more than all of these

Yet akin to them: a woman.

Somers leaves no stone unturned, taking one on backwards-forwards journey through one’s entire self. Despite that, she will leave with questions about who she is, and, more alarmingly, about who you are.

And now I know something is over.

Because before

I only lied with words.

A Review of Everyone I’ve Met Named Adam by Adam G. Ziemkiewicz

As a child growing up in a religious community, my namesake brought so much unnecessary shame. Each time the “sin of Adam” was mentioned in school, in correlation to nudity and the downfall of man, I prayed for a new birthright, fig leaves to cover my body, a voice to release me from the tired jocularity of dim-witted relatives always asking me “Where’s Eve?” as if love were as easily lost as a rib. Being the only Adam I knew for most of my childhood, religious bookmarks were my sole identifier, screaming at me in Canterbury font: “First man!” “Man of the earth!” “Where’s your navel?”

When I learned my mom planned to name me Scott before my birth, I harbored fantasies of emancipation and time machines, wondering out loud how my dad concluded a wee baby “looked like an Adam.”

My dad was suspiciously silent on the matter. Ever since the biblical name wars of my youth, I’ve relied on other Adams to understand just how Adam I might be.

  • Adam B.

I attended a rather tiny high school in Ohio that no longer exists. Its size meant you knew just about every student in the school. Its eventual demise was written all over my face upon encountering my first ever Adam my fresh(hu)man year. My reaction: call him by his last name. Though we shared quite a few classes and definitely tried to compete in both Chess Club and Track together, my respect for this Adam can be measured by our junior English class. Cosmic jokes aplenty, our teacher placed his seat directly behind mine. While everyone pretended to have read Moby Dick, my younger, relentlessly annoying self decided to scrawl the letter “L” on the back of my notebook. Throughout class, I periodically held it up for him to read. Without missing a beat, he responded accordingly. This pocket performance art would continue through graduation to my complete enjoyment.

  • Adam M.

College brought no shortage of Adams. Given my University was also not large by state-school standards, circles of friends overlapped like so many Froot Loop flavors. My sophomore year roommate went to high school with this Adam, whom everyone called Mittens. I do not recall specifically how we met. But, he was also great friends with one of my junior-year roommates who happened to be the starting goalie on our varsity soccer team. So, he was around, but I don’t recall ever spending time with him alone. Maybe we drank from the same keg at a party once or twice. But, I know I never saw him wear mittens.

  • Adam S.

As a performer in college, I started an improv group affectionately and still literally known as Don’t Tell Anna. In our inaugural year, we auditioned an Adam who I immediately provided with the nickname Shoe. (No relation to Mittens.) Funny guy; bearded fellow before I could even grow one; wore a lot of sweaters. I don’t think we ever gave him the giggles he deserved for his portrayal of Linus in our pre-death eulogy for Charles Schulz. I, of course, had to be Charlie Brown. You’re a good man, Shoe.

  • Adam M.

In our second year, Don’t Tell Anna cast another Adam, who I immediately nicknamed Mini. We chose him instead of the guy who dropped his pants in the audition. So, the cards were stacked against him from the start. We also learned, rather quickly, he was more of a stand-up comedian, but he played a convincing mob boss and may or may not have been quoting mob movies the entire time. Though he never missed a rehearsal, I don’t believe I ever saw him outside of rehearsal. In all fairness, I once went on a date with a girl who had seen our shows and had no idea I was in the group. Where did I go?

  • Adam K.

Once I entered the world of rent and responsibility, I took a teaching position in Ohio and met my first adult Adam. We knew each other on a last-name basis. This history teacher and all-around affable human might best be remembered for his whistle. As a swimming coach, he used this impressive ability to communicate to his swimmers while they were under water. In a video I shot with my students, his whistle can be heard while I place 2 fingers in my mouth and poorly mime a whistle.

  • Adam S.

Though I taught high school for 5 years, I only encountered one student-Adam and he actually was never in my class. Played hockey; generally cheerful. I never heard him called Adam. He went by his last name while I was also never called Adam, but went by the cool-teacher name of Mr. Z. We’re so nickname-able, us Adams–knowledge I could have used in grade school.

  • Adam H.

Now, living in Chicago, there is an entire city of Adams to show me just who I might be. I took 8 weeks of class with this Adam at Second City. We did a scene once in an airport or some such place. The only note near his name in my notebook reads “avoid stereotypes or use them wisely.” Good advice, really.

  • Adam P.

Local bartender known only by his last name who was always around this large group of friends that drink at a bar they call “The Office.” He probably poured me a beer once. He must have. Maybe I just know more about him from others than from personal interaction. Based on what I know, it stands to reason, we should be besties.

  • Adam T.

 This Adam is a really good friend of a friend. Pleasant fellow. Last name to beat the band. Golf pro. I am terrible at golf, so, mad respect here. We have met so many times. We shake hands every time.

  • Adam V.

Thus, we arrive at the nexus of this list. When I met him, he had a ponytail. I used to have a ponytail. We barely spoke the first few months of our acquaintance, driven mostly by our mutually-declared suspicions of another creative person named Adam. After nights of gender-bending, substance wrangling, and spiral’s end adventures, he became the other Adam – his “V” to my “Z.” At a certain point, it is possible to share so many experiences with one person the word “friend” simply provides a frame of reference for everyone else. Beyond adjective. The fact that we share a first name, while initially essential, is now mere anecdote for the story of the time when we were foolish enough to believe it mattered. Don’t throw cinnamon on my grave, sir!

  • Adam F.

Chicago snow falling as I wait outside for him prior to a Blackhawks game. With kindness in his eyes, he ambles up smiling with his shoes untied and slowly filling with snow. We’ve barely spoken since then and never will again. As the older brother of someone I greatly respect, both known by their last name, I honor the years of identity-forming experiences I will never know, the stories that would never reach my ears, the words he might have conjured from dust that I will never read. Nothing now but the sense of loss, not for the past that was not mine but the future from which I might have learned how to be a better version of myself. Untied shoes and kind eyes. It is not enough, but as a first impression, it is the essence of how we all might hope to be seen. Let’s go Cubs!

  • Adam D.

The first conversation we ever had involved our first names and how odd we feel when we meet someone else named Adam. This might be the same for every person of every name and might explain some of the unusual names emerging from parents’ brain bins of late, but I can only reference my experience. This Adam is one of the friendliest people I know. He’s quick with a joke or to light up your smoke (research pending). He also happens to tend bar at my favorite watering hole in Chicago. Perhaps most importantly, of all the Adams I’ve met, we have only ever called each other by our first name. We must like feeling odd.

A Review of Korean Fan Death


  • Being woken up by mother in the middle of the night because she thinks a fan will kill me: – 500 stars
  • Bringing my mother to the other side of this horrible affliction: 5 stars *****
  • Being Korean in regards to fan death: No Comment

Several weeks ago, I set off from Seattle around 11:00 am on a Saturday in my car with my two pups headed for Chicago (or, the suburbs of, for those who require that level of specificity). I had it in my head to get there in one go (I have no idea why). Around 1:00 am Saturday night/Sunday morning, I pulled into a rest stop in southeastern Montana intending to get a few winks. Instead, I tossed and turned in my reclined seat, walked my dogs two times, went to the bathroom three times before finally falling asleep for just one hour as the sun came up. Around 7:00 am Sunday morning, I started my car, taking occasional 20-30 minute naps, and finally arriving at my parents’ home in Woodridge, Illinois around 8:00 am on Monday morning.

Having expected to arrive earlier, I had not requested that Monday off from my job, and set to work immediately, had dinner with my folks, and slept about 7 hours Monday night. Which is not nearly enough to recover from being up for nearly 60 hours. [Interesting side note from my friend Mike Bevel:

On Tuesday, after struggling through work, again having dinner with my folks, and battling what I thought was newly birthed insomnia, I fell asleep around 12:00 am. An hour later, I hear the dogs barking, notice a shadowy figure in the doorway I immediately recognize as my mother.

“What’s wrong?” I ask.

“I don’t want you to die,” she says as she enters the room.


For nearly a century, Korea has been tormented by a nighttime killer who finds his victims asleep in bed, taking their lives while dreams of Korean BBQ, soju, and good colleges (for themselves or for their children) dance in their head. Since the 1920s, Koreans have wondered if this or that night will be their last, wondered if they will be found in the morning by loved ones forever asleep.

Who is this 100-plus-year-old assailant? A fan. Or fans, rather. No, you racists. Not hand fans. This is not The Mikado or any geisha’s memoir.

I am talking about electric fans. Electric fans have been killing people in Korea.

What am I talking about? No, what are they talking about?

According to my mother, father, a greater portion of the 52 million people living in Korea, and this Wikipedia article:

Fan death is a popular myth and misconception, common to Korean culture, that running an electric fan in a closed room with unopened or no windows can lead to death. Despite no concrete evidence, fan death persists due to its popularity as urban myth or perhaps superstition.

 As a child, my family lived in the City of Chicago in an apartment without air-conditioning (but with plenty of mice and cockroaches). This is the most unfortunate thing in the world considering Chicago summers can be horrendous swamps, and my body runs hotter than most. So, when I attempted to set up a fan as an eight-year-old boy dying of heatstroke to blow in the direction of my top bunk, my parents told me that the fan would kill me.

Now, I’d say that I was probably more gullible and naïve than most children, but I wasn’t having that. Regardless, I think I lost that battle, but only in that I was not allowed to have a fan blowing on me while I slept. Is it any wonder I only sleep 5-6 hours on any given night in my adulthood?

And, I really didn’t hear much about fan death, or ever really think about it, until I was watching the news in Korea in September 2001, where I was living at the time, trying to get in touch with my roots—which is a story for another time. What I saw was something like this:

That is a nightly news story about another person’s life being taken by an electric fan. Somewhere between world news, politics, and weather, you will find, on occasion, a local story about someone dying beneath the breeze of an electric fan. For someone trying to get in touch with/work out their issues with the Korean portion of their identity, this is exactly the kind of thing you don’t want to see.


“I don’t want you to die,” she says as she enters the room, walking towards the electric fan I have set up in my room because we could not peacefully agree on a temperature to set the A/C too earlier in the evening after dinner.

“GET OUT OF MY ROOM RIGHT NOW WITH THIS!!!”  I say to my mother.

She leaves, then returns an hour later saying that she and my father will use extra blankets and turn the temperature down. I absolutely cannot, so I shoo her out of my room, and lock the door.

The next evening, I return home having gone out with friends. The temperature outside is in the mid-60s and breezy. I turn off the air and open up some windows. At which point, my sweet mother enters the hallway from her bedroom to tell me she has set the temp to 72 degrees, so that I can sleep. Then I take a good look at her. She is wearing two pairs of socks, sweatpants, sweatshirt, a knit scarf, and a winter’s cap.

Is this my life right now?” I wonder to myself.

The next morning at breakfast, I’ve decided this has got to stop.

Me: Uhma, fan death is not real.

Uhma: No, Wancy. It is. You don’t know. You don’t see news like I do.

Me: Uhma, that “news” is only happening in Korea.

Uhma: You just don’t like Korea.

Me: That’s another matter. But seriously, fan death is not real. . . . I will die from sleep exhaustion before an electric fan ever has a chance to kill me.

Uhma: No, it is! It take oxygen out of your body. Then no breathe and you die!

Me: That’s not science, Uhma. Hold on.

I pull my phone out, then Google “fan death.” I then show her the screen:



Me: Uhma, does this article titled “A Uniquely Korean Household Worry” by The New York Times, or “South Korea’s Quirky Notions About Electric Fans” by NPR tell you anything about what a joke has been pulled on the entire population of Korea for a hundred years?

Me: Oh . . . maybe . . . maybe you right . . .

For a second, I think perhaps this is like telling a child that Santa Claus is not real, but only for a second. The effect is something more like enlightenment.

I have done a good thing, I think.

A Review of the Movie “Nell”


  • Poison oak on my crotch: 0 stars
  • Nell (immediately after relief from the poison oak): IN-FUCKING-FINITY STARS
  • Nell (two years later): 0 stars

Was it Worth It: Take your pants off, please

Somehow that’s none of your business but also “I honestly don’t know?” I ended up with poison oak on my private dancer. Like, all over my private dancer and I don’t think I realized it at first, I was just, you know, sort of itchy in a way that guys— look, I’m not interested in explaining a man’s crotch because it’s mysterious, anyway, and sacred.

The point is, my penis was covered in poison oak and it became known to me via the fact that what happens when your dick is engulfed in itch is this: it gets VERY puffy. And maybe at first you think, “FINALLY*.” But then you think, hmm. And then it’s the worst and you’ll take several long showers a day because under hot running water everything makes sense, finally, and you stop scratching yourself and you start living. Until you have to get out of the shower.

You will also try coating your penis in Head’n’Shoulders because at the time it made sense.

[* And you think “finally” because that’s a fun anxiety men have that is also stupid and one time in your life a guy you will date after this story, but several years after, and who, if we’re honest, you shouldn’t have dated anyway for a variety of reasons that amount to “oh, he’s going to give me crabs at some point and then introduce me in an off-handed way to the guy with whom he’s been cheating” but I’m getting away from the main point, and that’s that one time you’ll be drunkenly stumbling from one bar to another and he’ll pull you into a store-front doorway and you’ll think, “Maybe this is it? Maybe he’ll say something like ‘I love you’ or ‘this feels right’ or ‘i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)'” but instead what he’ll say is “I’m not sure if this is going to last or not because I like guys who are bigger” and you’ll say “oh” and he’ll say “I mean bigger like, bigger endowed” and you’ll not correct his idiom because of course it’s clear what he means, was clear from the start, and your heart will break a little but this is all in the future and also now in the past but it is still tender only you can also laugh a little because you will be friends with him on Facebook for all of 10 minutes and he looks terrible.]

I see a doctor. I see a doctor because we have now moved beyond “puffy” to “mildly disfigured” and the doctor, a calm woman named Theresa, says, “Well, show me.” And I say, “Excuse me?” And she says, “You’ll need to drop your pants.” And I look desperately for a porcelain doll on whom to point, in the general area of my situation, while looking demurely away in the hopes that the other wives won’t hear of my curious condition and attempt to woo the shogun away from me, is how I think this happens, in history, right? But I am also the clever wife so I think I’ll win in the end and then everyone else will have to tap the bottoms of my feet lightly with those sticks and didn’t a lady fall off a roof in that movie?

I digress.

Theresa wants me to take off my pants and I want to die. She says helpful things like, “How bad can it be?” and “I am a trained professional, you know” and “Listen, I’ve seen a lot worse” and “It’s probably just a rash of some kind – maybe jock itch” and finally I just whoosh my sweat pants down and stand there in whatever glory is available to me as a fragile child of a loving God and Theresa makes a sharp sucking-in sound and mutters “JEEsus” and then says, “Ooof, that’s poison oak.”

“How did you get this?” she asked. And we’re back to the beginning of this piece where I say “somehow?” and “I honestly don’t know” and the thing is, please believe me, because I honestly don’t know because at that time in my life I wasn’t the sexually confident man you see before you, but was instead did things like leave awkward notes on mostly-clean napkins at restaurants to waiters whom I thought were cute and would be charmed, just charmed, by my wanting to take our relationship to the next level because I thought being conscientious meant saying things like “What do you recommend?” and “I am a patron who wants no part in being responsible for his choices because it’s a cute look on me and also I didn’t learn how to tip properly until about 5 years after this story.” My guess is it was when I peed outdoors. “And then you wiped everything off with a poison oak leaf?” How dare you.

We left that mystery as an offering to the universe and Theresa just said, “I hope you know what to look for next time,” and I said, “ ” – which is nothing, because I’m not going to learn botany, I just took the prescription for some sort of cortisone cream and these other pills, pills for itching, and I tried to wait until I was home but instead just rubbed lotion all over my tenderness in my car because I make great choices and let me tell you:

The itching stopped.

Whereas before my whole life had been rounded with aggravation I achieved a state of mental and spiritual clarity that I had never experienced before. In that time and at that moment I transcended whatever one transcends in situations like that; look, the point of the ineffable is that you’re not supposed to eff it, but just know I was full of Buddha nature and that’s why I decided to say yes! to life, yes! to love, and yes! to seeing the movie Nell with two friends who were also a couple who often needed a witness to their terrible relationship, in a theater, with other people.

It was the best movie I had ever seen in my life.

I started crying almost immediately, because I really identified with the mystical mist that settled over the mountains where Nell was living, by herself, after her mother died, but literally, the actual mist. I was free of bodily concern and as gentle to myself and others. I sobbed openly when Nell was tricked into lifting her dress up above her head when Liam Neeson and the Richardson who died took her into town because I had had to, sort of essentially, raise my own metaphorical skirt above my head by whooshing my sweatpants into a puddle of itch and shame at my feet. The friends with whom I was seeing the film had to pull me back down into my seat each time I tried to stand and applaud because acting like this deserved, in my opinion, a standing ovation. I mouthed the beautiful words that fell from Nell’s lips along with her – your “Tays inna winn*,” yes, but also the immortal “may’n’ma’n’ma’n’may” and, too, “Nell caw Mi’I – an Nell an’ Mi’I – ye.” When the Richardson who’s dead now tried to police Nell’s budding sexuality I said, “NO, Richardson whose full name I can’t remember, I WON’T ALLOW IT” and I keened in that Baptist way of the recently redeemed when the movie ends while Nell looks at a child, heartbroken both for what that child will never get to experience – life in the woods on its own with perfect teeth and a skull kept secret in the hollow by a stream – and what Nell will never get to experience: sex with Liam Neeson.

[* You can tell your Basic Bitches from your True Fans of the movie Nell by what lines people quote. Anyone who opens with “Tays inna winn” is not a fan of the film, but a fan of attention.]

I left that movie a changed person – both because my penis was on its way back to a normal shape that seemed representative of human genitalia; but also in my heart. Nell in the movie Nell was also a story about Mike. I told everyone I could find about how amazing that movie was – sometimes with even a catch in my voice. “THIS MOVIE WILL COMPLETE YOU,” I said. A lot. To many. For, like, a while. (“HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MOVIE?” I said to the usher as we were leaving. “Yeah, a few times, I work he–” “BUT HAVE YOU REALLY SEEN IT?” I demanded, before my friends pulled me away to the safety of anywhere but there.)

Several years later, I am living in Portland, Oregon – but actually Beaverton, Oregon, which has a food festival called A Taste of Beaverton! because we hate women to this day but also back then – and my roommate Michelle and I are…not getting along as great as I had hoped, now that we’re both living away from our own homes and with each other in a town we don’t know and lives that don’t yet make sense. “Nell is playing at the dollar theater,” she says to me, one afternoon, out of desperation and a need to leave the apartment. “Will you shut up about it if we see it?” And I said, “Shell Gordon, I will only see this movie if you are ready to have everything about your life completely changed.” She said– who can remember what she said. But we went. And it was awful. That movie is the worst movie that has ever been made and it wasn’t long after that that we both sort of said, “But what if we each spread our wings in different directions?” And maybe I thought a little bit about Nell, on that rock, and her new life, full of possibility, which is what you’re supposed to say, but maybe actually not that much possibility because it’s a tough job market out there for people who haven’t been raised in the woods with no language but twinspeak. Part of me, at that moment, thought that maybe the world was about to open up for me in exciting new ways; but, instead, it remained sort of familiarly closed and often lonely.

And that is my review of the movie Nell, starring Jodie Foster, Liam Neeson, and the Richardson who is dead.

A Review of the Top Five Bar Soaps in Order of Preference by Laura Jean Moore

First of all, let’s get one thing straight: I know a lot of other white folks buy their very organic and all-natural bar soaps at places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. If this is your preference, THAT’S JUST FINE (whatever), but I LIKE MY SOAP WITH CHEMICALS in it LIKE GOD AND PRESIDENT EISENHOWER INTENDED.

ALSO: THIS LIST IS STILL WHITE AS FUCK. You may not consider the soap you use to say anything about the culture you are a part of, but I don’t see any of the characters on Friends or [INSERT MORE CONTEMPORARY SHOW WITH WHITE PEOPLE] lathering up with Shea Moisture African Black, I’m just saying.


LJ’s Top Five Bar Soaps in Order of Preference

  1. Lever 2000

Rating: *****

But LJ, you may ask. If you did not grow up using Lever 2000, how did you become acquainted with the scented glories of this mild and milky wonderbar?

BECAUSE COSTCO, BITCHES. Like any self-respecting 30-something with a mortgage of student loans on my head, this penny-pinching queen has a Costco Membership of Glory. It just so happens that my Costco doesn’t sell multipacks of Ivory WHAT THE HELL.

WHAT IS A GIRL TO DO? Live on the goddamn edge?

You bet your ass. Light blue packaging is basically LJ crack, so CHOICE MADE. My soap stores went 0 to 100 real quick. LITTLE DID I KNOW that I was about to bask in the soft-skin splendor of HEALTHY FRESH FEELING SKIN. Hell, now that I think about it, Unilever should PAY ME for the up-close-and-personal trip it takes between my ass cheeks every morning.

This skin is gold. And Lever 2000 keeps it that way. 

  1. Ivory

Rating: *****

Ivory is the Dawn Soap of bar soap, and by that I mean, if you use Ivory, there will be NO OIL ON ANY PART OF YOUR BODY ANYWHERE (at least until tomorrow).

Ivory is so damn effective at drying out the filthy parts of your body that you’ll need a bucket of coconut oil to remind yourself that you are a living, breathing organic human and not a plastic MattelTM humanoid. I am the only oily woman in my family (DOVE SOAP USERS NEARLY EVERY ONE, THOSE BLASPHEMING BLASPHEMERS WHO BLASPHEME), and Ivory soap is THE ONLY REASON my face wasn’t one Deep Horizon disaster after another during my formative years in hell (I mean middle school).

Also, it floats, so it’s obviously a witch. WHAT COULD BE BETTER THAN BATHING YOURSELF WITH A WITCH?

  1. Dial

Rating: ****

Dial Soap reminds me of my grandfather. SO THE FUCK WHAT? you may ask. My grandfather is 87 and can still palm a basketball. The man regularly shoots 73 when playing 18 holes of golf FOUR DAYS A WEEK. In the past, HE MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE WRESTLED A PIG OR STEER. Disclaimer: I don’t farm. I just know those animals can be a real pain in the ass.

I do know that in the 1940s he held the county record for the most acres plowed in a day because he could RUN BEHIND A HORSE while still somehow keeping a hand plow driving straight into the goddamn ground. HE IS A TITAN. And he uses soap with REAL LYE like the sensitive, uber-MASC man in pink shorts and plaid shirts that he is. DON’T QUESTION IT.

You may not like the smell of immortality, but I do. DIAL FOREVER.

  1. Neutrogena

Rating: ****

So, my grandmother on the other side of the family has become a Neutrogena devoTEE, which doesn’t surprise me because the woman has TASTE. Why anyone wouldn’t want to scrub their body with the FINE AMBER RESIN of this marvelous semi-translucent soap brick is beyond me, but I guess some people ENJOY DEPRIVATION. The only reason Neutrogena soap is ranked #4 is because LIFE ISN’T FAIR and you can’t have three second places.

Every time I use Neutrogena, I fancy that I understand, deep down, a little of what it must be like to cross-country ski in the Norwegian woods during an evening snowfall, which is funny, really, because Neutrogena is based in Los Angeles and was invented by Belgians. Globalization’s a real bitch sometimes.

  1. Irish Spring

Rating: ***

Irish Spring is like that boyfriend you used to practice blowjobs on in high school—he had the necessary equipment, but LET’S NOT GET CARRIED AWAY with compliments. If you want to smell like Marlon Brando’s understudy in On The Waterfront, go right damn ahead.

Personally, I find Irish Spring is best for showering after 10 days camping when the FUNK on you is SO FREAKING POWERFUL you just need A COMPETING FUNK. Scrub off the dirt with this stuff and you’ll forget you ever had a better bathing experience in your life….until you take your next shower with the regular stuff.


Rating: ***

Zest gets an honorable mention because somewhere in the dark recesses of a closet in my house is a home video of me and my sister recreating early ’90s Zest commercials when we were snowed in during the Blizzard of 93. I’d show them to you, but then I think we’d both be in trouble for watching UNDERAGE BARE SHOULDERS.

As my dad used to say: ZEST ISN’T EVEN SOAP.

I think that’s the cleaning product equivalent of “not even wrong.” You decide.

Laura Jean Moore is the co-founder and once-co-host (still moonlighting) of Livin’ and Lovin’ in NYC, a frequently noted, amazingly sexy podcast about queer sex and heteroshit and mayhem. Her poetry, essays, and stories have been featured in VICE, [PANK], the EEEL, FLUX WEEKLY, ENTROPY, the Brooklyn Rail, Corium, the Cobalt Review, and Change Seven, where she is a monthly columnist. Forthcoming work will appear in the JF Review and she is currently an assistant editor at NOON. Follow the LJ Algorithm and other stuff she’s up to at or on Twitter, @ljabouttown.

A Review of Every Time Adam Duritz Sings “Yeah!” in Every Counting Crows Song by Adam G. Ziemkiewicz

A Review of Every Time Adam Duritz Sings “Yeah!” in Every Counting Crows Song.

“Yeah!” Intensity Rating:

* blasé blasé or verbal filler, often devoid of discernable emotion.

** matter-of-factly or mofly – more spoken than sung, usually to punctuate a point.

*** Folk-Rock Gold – the sweet satisfaction of a well-placed “Yeah!”

**** Stretch Yeahstrong – held over several notes or bars for maximum impact.

***** Yeahs Up! – as in, “Look out! Here comes a ‘Yeah!’”

********** Yawp! – Untranslatable.  Iconic.  Overwhelming.

Was it worth it? Yawp!

Listen while you read!!!

 “Are you ready to folk rock?”  For fans of Counting Crows, myself included, this rhetorical exhortation by their lead singer and primary songwriter, Adam Duritz, frequently opened their live shows.  Despite the somewhat dour nature of a majority of their lyrics, Counting Crows never stray too far from fun or, at least, the paradox of the impossibility of joy without pain or sadness or whatever passes for anti-joy these days.  Comments Sections of websites, maybe?

It is in this spirit of joy that I bring you a chronological review of “Yeah!” as it appears in Counting Crows’ original studio recordings.  As this journey brought me many discoveries, frustrations, and auditory hallucinations, I also include lyrics I found to guide me through each album.

1993: August and Everything After or “Just About as Funky as You Can Be

  • Mr. Jones

0:50 *** Over 20 years of crafting sincerity begins with a “sha-la-la”.  Though I believed myself an early convert to their particular brand of self-reflection, I also remember firmly arguing with a girl at a youth group garage sale that no one really listened to their lyrics … right before she quoted the entire opening of “Round Here”.  Immediately ashamed, I pretended the lines in the parking lot were a wire in a circus. Though this album contains the greatest percentage of “Yeah!” in their catalogue, you can understand why I expect at least one “Yeah!” in the opening song.  This was just the first of many surprises Mr. Duritz had in store for me.

1:00 **** This is more of a playful question, as in “Did you just groove on that ‘sha-la-la?’”  Yeah.  Yeah, you did.

1:26 ***** Given that this follows the declaration: “I wanna be someone who believes,” the “Yeah!” jars you into a new level of respect.  I had no previous reason to doubt his sincerity, but now I’m defending it.

2:05 ***** A certain conversational tenor.  But, the note he hits here!  Is there anyone with a voice like Adam Duritz?

2:29 ** As if there could be any question we are staring at the beautiful women.

2:55 ***** The letter “Y” at the beginning of this “Yeah!” is imperceptible, but the intensity and meaning behind this single-syllable word is a corker.

3:02 * A bit more spoken word, but still feels essential to the phrasing.

3:23 ***** A repetition of the pseudo-chorus.  I am still jarred by the power of his vocal delivery.

3:34 ** More staring at the beautiful women.  It is worth noting there are also background “ooh lah lah lah yeahs” on this track, but without distinct proof of Adam Duritz singing them, I will leave them as a footnote to this supremely satisfying song.

  • Perfect Blue Buildings

2:40 – 2:50 **** This extended falsetto “Yeah!” ushers in a new era of vowel-stretching.

3:52 *****  The end of the word “away” morphs into “Yeah EEEE Yeah EEEE Yeah!” and I am immediately aware I am in the presence of a master.  Bow down if you ain’t buckled up.

  • Time and Time Again

3:14 **** I’m calling this a raspy, falsetto half-whisper, though it extends a couple seconds.

3:40 ***** This “Yeah!” is so declarative it sounds like an answer to a question no one is asking. Since it follows “Gonna set fire to this city”, it stands to reason he is assuring us he is serious – as a yeah attack.

  • Rain King

3:52 ***** A string of hyper “Yeahs!”  In light of this song’s ending, this can only be viewed as priming us for what’s coming.

4:09 **********  Without question, this is the iconic “Yeah!” Whitmanesque in all his Song-of- Myself glory.  Adam Duritz sounds his “barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.” Given this song was based on a Saul Bellow novel, this particular “Yeah!” contains every word of this Bellow: “I am a true adorer of life, and if I can’t reach as high as the face of it, I plant my kiss somewhere lower.”  The intensity of every future “Yeah!” will be judged against this kiss.  I press repeat to bask, once again, in the beautiful absurdity of this song’s end.

  • Ghost Train

1:55 **** “Hey” morphs into “Yeah!” This guy’s vowels know no bounds.

  • A Murder of One

2:48 ** The most superfluous “Yeah!” on the album.  All adverb.  No adventure.

3:28 ** Appears right before “you don’t wanna waste your life.” I immediately accept the admonishment.  I have no argument against the accusation in this “Yeah!”

4:09 **** Here the word “change” morphs into “Yeah!”

4:58 **** Identical as above; some serious meta-textual lyrics going on here.

5:07 *** disguised as ***** The stream of “Yeah EEE Yeah EEE Yeah” at the end of this album is pure joy.  I haven’t been as eager to listen to their second album since my friend Mike, who worked at Record Exchange during high school, got me an advance copy and I blasted the speakers of my mom’s Geo Tracker.


1996: Recovering the Satellites or “The Fairground’s Deserted.”

  • Goodnight Elisabeth

3:52 ** After the trampoline party of their first album, this slight hint of raspy goodness left me disoriented.  I expect “Yeah!” to blast my brain at any moment, certain the word is looming on the horizon, crouched in the underbrush of each song.  I’m convinced Adam Duritz could, in fact, add “Yeah!” to every song, at intervals.  I try this with moderate success, but the projection is not as fun as the discovery.  I start to notice “No!” a bit more.

4:24 ** Similar to above. Sigh.

5:03 **  Another seeming throw away, although, this “Yeah!” is followed immediately by “I’m all alone.”  I begin to worry less about this review and more about what the attempt is doing to my sense of self.

  • Have You Seen Me Lately

0:36 ** Very conversational, equal parts reassurance and defiance.  The “No!” count on their second album continues to rise. Given the notorious struggle Adam Duritz had writing this album after the monster success (7 times platinum!) of their first album, this makes sense. Arguably their biggest hit, “Mr Jones”, was all about wanting to be big stars.  This album is filled with songs about what happened when they got their wish.  Little room for affirmation.

  • Recovering the Satellites

4:30 * Slipped one in there.  The lack of “Yeah!” on this album is disheartening.

  • Mercury

0:54 ****  This marks the first and only time “Yeah!” is actually written in the official lyrics for any of their songs.  This placement and vowel extension is much more intentional.  I decide to listen to the previous songs again and begin to hear a more playful quality to each “Yeah!”.  Did I just hear a wink?

1:29 **** As a fan of Counting Crows, I am aware of their tendency to improvise and ramble during live shows.  Although, even his rambling seems intentional.  “Yeah!” is no longer his default.

2:14 ** A bit quicker here, but not devoid of certainty.

  • A Long December

1:13 ** This is the song I’ve been waiting for, without a doubt.  I once tried to write a song called “Let’s All Go to Cleveland” which was an absolute knockoff of “A Long December.”  My first girlfriend once remarked that “this song is about me”.  While I admit immediately identifying with the sentiment of this song, the initial “nah nah nah nah” followed by a floating “Yeah!” explains why.  It reaches the height of incongruity; forcing a smile when all smiles seem pointless; pretending life could be better, but knowing it’s just pretend.  Given Adam Duritz suffers from Depersonalization Disorder and, after a brief internet search, I’m convinced teenage me also had this, every “Yeah!” in this song is both enlightening and exhausting.

2:14 *** A bit longer with added harmony and an additional quiet “Yeah!” for punctuation.

3:55 *** So many pearls on this song.

4:10 – 4:13 *** Vocal layering, stretched vowels, the works.

4:25 **** as *** Stretchy, folk-rock gold.

4:37 *** More harmonies and a concerted effort to convince everyone of the pot of gold at the end of the yeah-bow.

4:42: *** As the song slowly peters out—

4:47: – into the—

 4:50: – top-notch ending to the song: an endearing and enduring use of “Yeah!” at the end of a song, which is most definitely where Adam Duritz feels “Yeah!” belongs.  Remembering my teenage efforts to convince everyone to go to Cleveland, I can only nod in agreement.


1999: This Desert Life or “Waiting for the Train That Just Never Comes.”

  • Potter’s Lullaby

3:10 ** Total filler.  9 tracks on this album and only 2 songs contain a “Yeah!”, neither of which packs the celebratory oomph of previous placements.  This is a transitional “Yeah!” at best, which is what I’m hoping this album is, as well.

5:57: * Really more of a “ha-yeah.”  I think we’re supposed to have fun.

6:28: * A conjoined “aw yeah.”  I am not convinced.

  • Robinson in his Cadillac Dream

2:07 ** This is more of an “eah” – an almost non-existent “y” which seems to align with the influx of “Hey!” on this album.  Maybe he intended “Hey!” but his brain Tourettesed out a “Yeah!”

3:36 ** Almost duplicate of the previous, with a bit more “y”.  I can only hope this has all been a joke; that he is just setting up a few, future grand jams on later albums.


2002: Hard Candy or “You’ve Been Waiting a Long Time”

  • Hard Candy

2:42 * A subtle “Yeah!” I have not lost hope there is a buildup to something bigger.  Though this might be my favorite, complete album, I immediately notice a mono-syllabic progression from the 3 prior releases; the movement from “Yeah!” to “No!” to “Hey!” to “Oh!”

  • American Girls

4:13 ***** “Yeah!” followed by “you made me cry” punctures my malaise so profoundly that I “Whoop!” out loud and rewind the track, near tears of relief.

4:26 *** Hallelujah!  This “Yeah!” is back where it belongs, at the end of the song!  This song not only contains all four major mono-syllabic fillers, but also might, in fact, best represent exactly what Counting Crows is all about: expressions of the mixed emotions life elicits; a vehicle for traveling through memories.  In a sense, the “Yeah!” at the end of this song serves the triple purpose of recalling previous “Yeahs”, anticipating every future “Yeah!” while celebrating the true joy in each well-placed “Yeah!” throughout the entire history of pop music.

  • Miami

3:52 ***** An emphatic “Oh yeah!” that bridges into the crescendo of this song.

4:27 ***** Another “Oh yeah!” that leaps an octave with such intensity, my heart follows.

  • Carriage

0:47 ** We are back to subtle whispers again in the line “Yeah it’s all inside of you.”

1:29 ** Seemingly interchangeable with “But!” here.

1:43 **  Sigh. 14 songs on this album.  Too few punches to my yeah hole.  My hope wanes with the realization that I might be manufacturing meaning.


2008 Saturday Night & Sunday Mornings or “You Can’t Count on Me”

  • Sundays

3:38 – 3:50 **** Hope vanquished.  These are background vocals so I might be stretching a bit here myself; background goat-yodeling to augment the repetition of “I don’t believe in anything” which, in addition to providing a not-so-subtle soundtrack to this review, is also a direct call back to “Mr. Jones.”  Five albums worth of emotional escapism and there is still nothing to believe.  For some reason, I find this realization reassuring.

  • Come Around

3:51 ** The only other instance of “Yeah!” on this entire album. “Come on!” and “Now!” have ousted our aging friend “Yeah!”  Given this was their last major-label album, I guess there was no room for the inherent freedom of “Yeah!”  I do, however, listen to “Cowboys” again, a song one “Yeah!” away from transcendent.


2014 Somewhere Under Wonderland or “Following a Ghost”

  • Palisades Park

4:19 ** Used as transitional filler. It doesn’t mar a stunning, epic song, rife with “Oh!” and “Man!” and “Hey!”  But, at this point, I’m shouting “Yeah!” in the hopes the echo of my voice will magically transfer to the recording.

  • Cover Up the Sun

3:34 * “Yeah!” ends the song, which gave me momentary relief.  But, the word is whispered so quietly it feels like a mistake, as if he briefly forgot he doesn’t do that anymore.

Adam G. Ziemkiewicz is America’s most important critical voice. Storyteller, improviser and lyricist for the band, Menacerno, Adam was born in Bad Axe, Michigan, but now calls Chicago home.