A Proper Old-Fashioned

Please stop putting cherries in Old-Fashioneds. I don't know what bartending school or cheap joke store book people got that recipe out of, but stop it.

A proper old-fashioned is simple: sugar (preferably a cube of raw sugar), a couple of dashes of good bitters, muddle an orange (the meat, not the skin, you want the zest, but not the bitterness), crushed ice, bourbon, crushed ice, bourbon.

That's it. No rye, no brandy, no cherry. Sparingly on the bitters, like vermouth with a martini, you aren't doing anyone favors by being heavy on bitters.

Get that glass frosty, layering the crushed ice will do that. This works best with a higher proof bourbon so the melting ice doesn't hurt the taste. Can't stomach that Bookers because it's 129 proof? Try it in an Old-Fashioned.

I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to old-fashioneds and I'm particular, but come on, just enjoy your bourbon. The world is finally getting with the times, but too many places are rushing it into production. You just aren't going to turn out a good product in under 9 years, so STOP TRYING TO SELL IT TO PEOPLE!

Want irony? I'm drinking a screwdriver right now.

Fight or flight

I've never been in a fight. Never once.

That might not seem like anything significant, but in northern Minnesota, growing up in a town with little more to do than fall into the gender stereotypes that you would see in any coming-of-age movie or book, it definitely wasn't normal.

It wasn't like I avoided it necessarily, or stepped down if people started something, it was more that the fights that happened just didn't really happen what I was around.

Part of me regrets that. I wonder if it makes me more or less afraid of confrontation. I think maybe it means that I'm less afraid.

But I've been taken. There is that.

There is that fear that exists in the back of myself that no one could ever come close to.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that my fears only ever come from one thing.

One place.

Nothing else really registers.

But that one place...

I stopped running, but can I fight if it came down to it?

I don't think I can.

Cooking With Your Coffee Maker Site


I'm intrigued, as should you. But then I saw the corned beef in a coffee maker recipe and I just got sad. Admittedly, there is no way that I am ever going to put forward the effort it would take to make anything more complicated than oatmeal or Ramen in my coffee maker.

But still, it's nice to know that I have options.

And now you do to! See, being a depressed shut in can still be educational!


Office horrors

If you work in an office building, or really any sort of corporate structure, or if you were born before 1990, you've probably seen the movie Office Space.

You probably also hate how close to real life that stuff actually is.

Let me tell you another story. Don't worry, it's not scary. Sort of.

I was working at a radio station I don't need to name, but it was run on a budget that is probably less than the bigger podcasts have right now. The owners and management were cheap and on the odd occasion that there was any sort of paid lunch or anything even resembling the sort the leftover food was swarmed on by employees like a Biblical plague of locusts.

You might say I'm over-reacting, and maybe I am, but let me explain. It would be one thing if the food was there to be eaten, but it really wasn't. The station didn't even have paper plates or plastic silverware, so if there was a leftover salad, there were people there who would actually use coffee filters as bowls and eat with their fingers.

That was annoying/sad enough, but that wasn't the worst.

One time there was some to-do with the sales department and they bought a bunch of those family-size aluminum containers of Italian food, I think it was penne, but that isn't important I suppose.

This event was on a Thursday. Monday morning I walked into the break area and saw one of my coworkers shovelling some of leftover pasta out of one of the containers and into a coffee filter before popping it into the microwave and walking away.

Here's the kicker.

That was garbage.

When I came in that morning, someone must have decided that it took up too much room in the refrigerator, but instead of taking it outside and throwing it into the dumpster, they balanced it on top of the garbage can, which was too small to actually fit it in.

That means one of two things happened: either she saw it on the garbage and figured it was still good (I still pray that not to be the case) or someone else came in, needed to throw something away and set the container on the counter. At which point she walked in, figured that someone had just taken it out and figured that some 7am pasta was the way to go.

Not only was it four days old, but it had been sitting out for three days, resting on a garbage can overnight, but was still so appealing that it would be scooped out and heated up in a coffee filter for breakfast.

You don't need to hear things to be surrounded by horror.

Why tell you this? Because you've probably seen worse. And that makes me feel better.


They say that your phobias are based on how you died in a past life.

Are you afraid of drowning? Flying? Clowns?

I don't even want to think about that last one.

But doesn't that mean that everyone should be afraid of dying?

The dying part isn't so scary. At least not compared to the "how".

Who are you?

One day my friend was walking home from school. It was like any other day. As he walked up to the front door his mother opened it, looked out and screamed, "Who are you? What are you doing?!"

My friend turned around and saw a man he'd never met running away.

He always wondered what would have happened if his mother never opened the door.

That never really happened.

But I know what would have happened.

Growing up

I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I'd just say the same things as everyone else. That I wanted to be a cop or an astronaut or a firefighter. I had no interest in working with dad or mom or any of my friends parents. Their jobs all seemed so boring. Most of the time I just wanted to watch TV.

Then one day I grew up and people stopped asking me what I wanted to be. They just expected that I be something and it didn't matter what. They didn't care if it was something that would make me happy or something that I thought was exciting.

I was glad for that.

I hate it when people lie to me and say that everything will be okay.


How bored do you have to get before you finally turn to the dusty old book in the nightstand?

I hadn't expected that book to be Jesse Ventura's "I Ain't Got Time to Bleed."

This is a weird state. Maybe it's an inside joke that I'm missing or maybe the Gideon's just changed their standards.

Interesting fact, did you know that Jean Claude Van Damm was originally supposed to play the Predator in the movie "Predator"? Which is to say he was supposed to be the guy inside the suit?

I thought that was interesting.

The part that wasn't so interesting was the bit that JCVD quit almost immediately and they had to get a replacement, yet somehow, in his infinite foresight, the future/once Governor of Minnesota said to himself that JCVD was going to be a big star someday.

Seriously. That's in the book.

That's what the silence does to you.

It's getting late and the sun's going down. With a little luck I'll be able to get the "Murder Under Glass" episode of Columbo before my mind starts to wander too much.


It's 3am, but I don't want to go back to sleep.

Scared to stay awake. Scared to go to sleep. How pathetic is that?

There was rain today. I watched it out the motel room window for a while before walking out for a few minutes just to stand in the middle of it.

It came and went, little flash showers here and there. An hour or so before sunset there was just one patch of clouds, it looked like a mountain hanging by itself in the air, slowly floating by.

I watched as lightning danced around the top of it in bolts of orange light. Nothing went to the ground, just confined to the top.

It looked...playful. Like the lightning was chasing itself around the top. A bolt here. A flash there as it drifted off.

Light amongst the darkness.

It was nice.

I'm tired.

I don't want to go to sleep.


There are worse things than coffee pot ramen.

A lot worse things.

It's nice staying here, even if it's just a motel room. I have my laptop, Netflix when I can get anything resembling the WiFi signal that the motel manager assures me is "top of the line". Though, top of the line here is just about a step above dial up, so if I'm lucky I can get in a movie a day, otherwise it's public TV and infomercials.

Sometimes I look at the files TIm sent me. I don't listen. I just stare at them.

It's been cold, but the weather is supposed to warm up this week. May in Minnesota. Sometimes, before the sunsets I'll go outside and sit on the curb outside of the door and have a beer.

I sit and drink and stop thinking for just the moment between when I twist of the cap and when the last foam slide out of the bottle.

It feels free.


Weather reflects feelings: bad.

It's all of about 36 degrees outside, no sun. Middle of May in Minnesota and it could just about be snowing here. I looked up the weather in Atlanta, I shouldn't have but I did.

It's 70 and mostly sunny.

It makes things harder, getting out of bed, even taking a shower. I just want to lay in bed and do nothing. Sometimes I stare at the door because I think I hear someone walking by on the loose gravel of the make-shift parking lot outside the motel.

But no one ever knocks.

Not sure if that makes me happy or not. I think about giving Roger a call, though I don't have his phone number, I'm sure he's in the book.

Since hearing the audio Tim recovered...

There wasn't anyone in the house. I know there wasn't.

There wasn't.

The motel manager wants me to pay for the next week in advance. Sadly, this is cheaper than living in Atlanta, but it still ain't free.

I think I'm going to go back to sleep.




Now you know it all. At least as far as everything I know.

If you listened to the last episode, you heard the interview. And you heard the laughter.

It's not that I can't sleep. It's that I really don't want to.

There's just too much going on right now. I don't know how I'm supposed to handle all of this on my own. Between getting everything sorted out with Dad's attorney, being back here in Crayton and just the idea of what I'm supposed to do next, it all feels kind of crushing.

I really appreciate the support I've been getting through all of this, really. It's just hard. Harder than I ever thought it would be.

I can't believe the laughter is back.

Did you hear it?

05/06/16 part 2

Watching "Valley Uprising" on my laptop. Thanks Netflix. The wifi here isn't very good, so it's taken a good three hours to watch a 90 minute doc, but it gives me time to think.

Besides it being a really great documentary, there's such a strong idea of romanticism that I can't help but dwell on. I'm selfish, I think about me a lot. I'm not a climber, I never have been. I've never been to Yosemite and frankly, regardless of how good the doc is, I really don't have any desire to go. 

I think what draws me to it, what draws me to documentaries in the first place is the romanticized idea of any life or lifestyle that that goes in the face of the norms. When you live the counter-culture lifestyle and become an icon of sorts, you become legend.

Legends are romantic. They are dreamt about. People want to be them for all the glory, but not so much for their pain and failure. 

The rebels of Yosemite (in the doc) living a life outlined by Jack Kerouac, finding their own path in a world that wasn't what they wanted. Climbing, being free, no money, just them and what they loved.

I mentioned before that I liked being a cook. I have stories from that too, stories that criss-cross with major moments in my life. I read Anthony Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential" and I knew the names like  Marco Pierre White, loved the picture of him staring at the camera, cigarette hanging from his lips as he stood out like a rockstar in the culinary world, giving back his Michelin stars. 

I lived a life were I was surrounded by literal rockstars who spanned three generations, four if you include that one run-in with Charlie Watts and how you define the length of a generation. 

You get lost in the romance of it all. The highlights. The single frames of images that become your idea of the world. 

I don't think there will ever be a "rockstar podcaster", someone who really pushes the boundaries and lives a life saying "you can't tell me how to podcast, man" (or is that what they are all doing in the first place?), but I can tell you one thing, as someone who is living inside of something where I am only showing the "highlights", the stuff in between isn't romantic.

It's boring. And quiet. And painful. There is nothing romantic about sitting alone in this room right now typing these thoughts and wondering what tomorrow will bring. Is there adventure in it? Sure. 

But it's also lonely as hell. 

Legends happen in between everything else.



Adding bourbon to margarita mix isn't a good idea. 

The worst part about being here is the downtime. There is nothing here. How did I do it as a kid? I woke up every day of my life for over eighteen years and looked out onto the town of Crayton only to do something that in some way involved the town of Crayton.

You tend to try alcohol for the first time pretty young around here.

Sure, we did little vacations up to Canada, over to Duluth or Lutsen or Grand Marais. Once, maybe twice a year we would do a day trip down to the Twin Cities to see a Twins, or eventually Saints, game. But the vast majority of the time, at least 98% of my life was in Crayton. 

I needed to take out my phone to figure that meant that I woke up approximately 6,500 times and then spent my day somewhere within the immediate vicinity of a place with less than 700 people. 

Sure, as a kid you go ride your bike, play in the woods, learn the intricacies of Ding Dong Ditch. Then you start to grow up and things get a little more risque to include the ideas of making out, sneaking a beer, smoking. 

But then you get older and a lot of us stayed around and kept up the same routine as our parents. Got jobs in or around Crayton. 


I left. Ran, whatever. But looking back on myself as a kid, times when I know that I was an insufferable little pest complaining about being bored and that there was nothing to do only to grow up and look back on that little kid and say "Yeah, you're right. And cleaning your room doesn't count as something to do. It's just something parents say."

I could leave. I know that. I could drive back to Atlanta, sign a new lease on the apartment, get a job, maybe in a kitchen. I could do that. But I came here to get a job done. 

On top of that, I know there are people who read this who have questions, wonder what is going on with me, have even sent emails to smalltownhorrorpodcast@gmail.com with things to say (which I appreciate, it helps pass the time). 

There are answers that I am here to get, answers that I feel closer to know than ever. But at the same time, that search is long and drawn out and it creates more questions than it answers. And it's frustrating. 

So I sit in the room and watch TV. Sometimes I go out to the bar. I don't really talk to anyone, but it's good to at least be around people. It feels safe. Anything feels safer than Dad's house anyway. 

I think I might take a trip up to Grand Marais for a few days while I wait for my friend Tim to get back to me. He's checking on the audio I sent from that night in Dad's house. Hopefully he gets back to me soon. 

Maybe it was just the furnace trying to turn on or something. I'm not used to the noises here yet. But that sound. I know I heard something. I know other people heard it by your responses too. 

I need to go drink some more water. It's a nice day. Maybe I'll go for a walk.

Thanks for listening.


I couldn't do it. I couldn't go back into the woods.

I posted the short clip on Twitter HERE, thinking that maybe I would walk back into the woods, just a little bit. It was 1pm, the sun was out, for all intents and purposes, it's a beautiful day, but I couldn't do it. 

I wasn't even thinking about retracing the Sinner's Game. I just wanted to go into the woods to show that I could. 

I'm not sure if I'm more embarrassed about being afraid to walk a few yards into the woods, or about how many people probably saw me just standing there, holding my phone and chickening out at the last second.

It just felt wrong. I've been dealing with a lot lately, dad's old stuff, old memories. 

It wasn't right.

There's just a lot to process now. I have to go and get some more stuff. I'll get into that more and record more about what's going on. I'll probably just post it at https://www.patreon.com/smalltownhorror?ty=h 

I'll save the normal podcasts for every two weeks, once I get more information. I already got one piece of audio for everyone to hear, so they can understand what happened to me. But I still need one more thing.

Gotta go, the storage shed is in Bemidji. It's a nice day. I'll probably drive slow. The sun through the windshield always feels good.