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Anyone who watched UFC 207 last night was treated to one of the fastest knockouts in the sport’s history by a super talented fighter named Amanda Nunes. If you were a casual fan who had only watched the UFC’s commercials before the event you might not have known a thing about her.

And that’s a damed shame. She’s tremendous.

Ronda Rousey, who dominated the women’s side of the sport, was still billed as the dominant fighter by the promotion and the Vegas odds makers. This seemed crazy to me. Rousey changed absolutely nothing about her camp following her crushing defeat at the shin-to-the-face kick of former champion Holly Holm.

Following her previous defeat, Rousey did what it looks like a lot of America is doing right now. But feeling sorry for yourself and then not doing a damned thing different is a recipe for failure.

Rousey’s coach, Edmond Tarverdyan, is widely hated by the MMA world because he seems to have zero talents except the ability to fill a potentially talented fighter’s head with delusions about their standup game. If there’s a takeaway here, it’s that you should always get a second opinion about the value of your skill set and then aggressively seek to fix problems, and be wiling to change everything in your approach if necessary.

This is a great way to approach your life. Look at it with clear eyes. Look at the things that aren’t working. Then be ruthless in unearthing your faults. Once you have discovered them, crush them mercilessly. If it’s something you really can’t improve, then move on and work on something else.

The wrong move is to stay the course and blame others, even when they are legitimately to blame. If someone did stand in your way or continues to stand in your way, you have to defeat them. The only way to do that is to actively seek improvement. The version of you that lost will keep losing if you don’t make an adjustment.

If social media is to be believed, the armies of Mordor are at the gates and the world will soon be ending because we are about to run out of 80s icons. I do not believe the lies of social media.

2016 was pretty kick ass for me. Sure, I shed a tear or two for Carrie Fisher, but on the whole, I was rewarded for the effort I put in this year. I expect to be even more successful in 2017 because I have a taste for victory and a battle plan:

Spend less than I make. Save the difference.

Workout even when I don’t want to. Be consistent.

Listen to more Manowar and read more fiction.

Eat more good food than bad food. Cook at home.

Make more time for friends. Spend less time online.

Work on my skills. Write every day. Raise my freelance rates.

Drink more water. Watch less TV. Don’t pretend Netflix isn’t TV.

That’s pretty much what I did in 2016 and it worked. And it wasn’t like everything went smooth either. I had about $5k in dental bills, I still don’t own a motorcycle or an AR-15 because I got nickel and dimed by life and the IRS, and I’m ending the year with my first serious case of asthma in two decades (thanks West Oakland). We lost some good people (I’m not talking about celebrities). I was way more disagreeable than I should’ve been to some people.

But that shit can and will be overcome. My plan is to get more aggressive on what worked and cut out everything that didn’t. 2017 is going to be excellent because I’m going to force it to be. You should grab it by the face, too.

 

 

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The above image is from when Holly Holm face kicked Rona Rousey into a downward spiral back at UFC 193. None of the official promotions leading up to tonight’s fight have shown this. They’re also not really showing much of the defending champ, Amanda Nunes.

Rousey is obviously the draw here, but Nunes is no joke. She is tough and has a lot of different options. She’s a legit black belt in Jiu-Jitsu and holds a brown belt in Judo. I don’t expect that bum rush hip toss Rousey uses to be as effective against her, which will be a problem for Rousey.

Rousey has had a year to work on what was revealed to be a pretty mediocre standup game, but without changing camps, I wouldn’t expect much improvement. She looks like she’s in tremendous shape, though.

I think we’ll see a pretty measured first round with some decent exchanges, maybe a little clinch work, possibly even a takedown by Rousey. I expect Nunes will be able to weather it. Round two will come down to who’s the crisper puncher and has the better gas tank. If I had money on this, I’d say TKO by Nunes deep in the second round. Then early retirement for Rousey.

I’m sure the new owners of the UFC are hoping for a Rousey victory, but Nunes is an historically significant fighter because she’s the first openly gay UFC champ. She might even be the first openly gay champ of any fight sport. I’m sure some gay boxer  has held a belt, but I can’t think of anyone else who’s out.

I haven’t looked too closely at the rest of the card, but it looks like there are some decent fights scheduled.

 


Well, everyone in San Francisco is apparently incensed that three star Michelin restaraunt Quince is serving a dish on top of an iPad. Oh lord.

Look, Michelin stars are no joke, so the food is probably killer. My tastes are certainly more utilitarian, but I’m glad weird shit like this exists. It’s just someone trying to do something fun. It doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t matter.

Either eat there or don’t.

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In Good Will Hunting there’s a scene where therapist Sean Maguire, played by Robin Williams, is telling Will about a funny little memory he has of his wife: she farted so loud while sleeping she woke the dog up.

This is about as perfect a piece of dialog about love and life as exists in film. Anyone who has been married for any amount of time knows the absolute grace of these small memories. We all have them and we should all think about them more often.

Big, sweeping statements grab attention, but it’s these intimacies that’ll drive you to tears when no one is looking. Which brings me to the passing of Carrie Fisher and a tweet from her French Bulldog, Gary. I was holding it together over this loss until I read this:

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It might be because my wife took home a little dog from a recently departed friend this week, but this hit me in the heart in a way I didn’t expect it to. These little animals are part of our lives in so many unexpected ways. They are almost like physical manifestations of these small, wonderful moments.

I don’t really have anything else to say here. It’s already pretty rambling thanks to a three day Theraflu bender.

Also, if anyone’s wondering where the transition from Good Will Hunting to Carrie Fisher, well, blame Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. I’ll take the blame for the awkward and emotional writing here, though.

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guy

Last night I posted an article from Lucky Peach about Guy Fieri. The writer took the “brave” position that Mr. Frosted Tips’ show, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives is not just a guilty pleasure, it’s pretty good, actually soothing to watch. The author, Julia Turshen, makes sure to get her virtue signaling in, she identifies him as  a “famous, wealthy, white, straight, cisgender guy.” Just in case there was any doubt about who you are supposed to hate.

I can’t imagine anyone who’s ever seen Fieri’s show needed to be told that, but it’s not about identifying him. It’s about identifying Turshen’s politics.

This morning I read an essay in The Best Food Writing 2016 called The Case for Bad Coffee by Keith Pandolfi. It’s an autobiographical walk through his career in fancy coffee framed by his ultimate rejection of single origin snobbery in favor of the gloriously plebeian Maxwell House. The essay closes out with a story about an older family friend, presumably a Republican, who he used to enjoy conversations about life with over cheap diner coffee.

Pandolfi and Turshen’s essays both do the same thing. They inform the audience about what sort of special snowflakes they are while simultaneously demonstrating how different they are from the other special snowflakes by their nostalgically driven rejection of foodie values. In the same anthology Pandolfi’s essay appears in, there’s a lovingly written piece about the joy of basic ass chicken tenders.

You can’t simply reject what nerds are into, though. You have to have come through the epicurean fire first. It’s like when someone makes millions in some awful, dreary business and then quits to go build orphanages in the third world. You need the money first.

It’s not enough to say “I like cheap coffee, I never cared for the expensive stuff.” The foodie can only appreciate the cheap stuff by demonstrating their hard won knowledge of obscurity first. Only with a true education can you enjoy what the proles enjoy. It’s almost like foodie Marxism.

I knew this would be coming because the world seems to operate in cycles. Comic book writer Grant Morrison’s book Super Gods makes the argument that all of culture simply swings back and forth between the radical and the conservative. The rhythm seems to be about 8-12 years. The real money to be made off of society is from watching this ebb and flow and being slightly in front of it. Awareness of this cycle grants a smart person power over it. At least that’s Morrison’s theory.

The moment I knew the pendulum was swinging back was when Chef Sean Brock took Anthony Bourdain to The Waffle House. They sat drinking cheap coffee and ate  Southern cuisine perfected by the machines of capitalism. And they enjoyed it.

These two seasoned celebrity chefs rejected the anti-Waffle House hipsterdom I first heard in comedian Bill Hicks’ Waffle House bit. Hicks’s bit is about anti-intellectualism in the flyover states, which I believe is over.

The idea that the country is no longer full of uneducated bumpkins is a topic of conversation that keeps coming up on Joe Rogan’s podcast. He and his fellow comedian Bill Burr often remark that the middle of the country is full of really smart people now because of the internet.

I think there is also something to do with the rejection of coastal cities and their high prices going on here. In an article called How Every City Became Brooklyn, writer John Birdsall explores the excellent, but familiar, food scenes of out of the way fly-over cities. These places benefit from low rents and enthusiastic customers who want the kind of food they’ve seen on Bourdain and Fieri’s shows. Chefs who are done with the bullshit of $3000 a month studios with no parking are bringing their skill and ideas to places where they might actually thrive.

You’re going to see a lot more of this kind of thing. Cities like San Francisco and New York are always going to attract top-talent, but I believe they will not have the monopoly on culinary genius any more. There is going to be an exchange of sorts.

This brings me to my 2017 food predictions. I have only one: food hipsters are going to turn every thing normal people love to eat into the food version of PBR. They will act like they discovered fried chicken and lasagna. Maxwell House will appear on menus written in Helvetica. And these asshole food dorks are going to eat it up.

 

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I thought I’d be able to beat the gnarly sickness my wife brought home with her by sheer force of will and anger. It turns out that strategy only works for 90% of life. The other 10% require orange juice and medicine.

I haven’t been properly sick in many years, which seemed odd to me because I spent a lot of my time as a kid sick with pretty severe asthma. Last night was the first time I’ve had an “oh shit, it might be hospital time” scare for asthma in about 18 years. Thanks to the brutally expensive, but excellent drug Adair, I’m basically asthma free.

It’s crazy how emotional a feeling like not being able to breathe from asthma can be. As I coughed and wheezed a million childhood memories of sickness and sadness swept over me. It was not fun.

My asthma has been noticeably worse since I moved to West Oakland a year ago. Mrs. Lott doesn’t seem to believe it, but I’ve upped the dose of Advair I take and there are a million different articles online about how this industrial shit hole is basically asthma alley. 37% of adults who grew up here suffer from asthma. I’m willing to bet the dust from scrap metal recyclers, concrete factories and who knows what else around here is contributing.

Just more reason to save money and move to the mountains. That’s the dream one day. To be in a beautiful place with no one or no industry around. I can’t wait.

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The one tradition I maintain each Christmas is watching A Christmas Story. It might just be the prefect family movie. Thanks to TBS’ annual marathon, I’ve seen this film hundreds of times.

I think the appeal of Ralphie’s Christmas is how small the world and his areas of concern are. All he wants is a “Red Ryder BB Gun with a scope and a compass in the stock and a thing which tells time.” He’s not worried about careers and retirement and Russian election meddling. His biggest problems are Scut Farkus and whether or not his actions will please Santa enough to be rewarded with a magical weapon.

This is really a fairly pagan/heathen outlook. Santa may as well be Odin. Ralphie’s gift request is really a prayer to the All Father that he will be prepared to meet his family’s enemies in battle and destroy them. Or at least that’s my read this year.

On to your questions.

I normally have a hard time with depression around the holidays, but this year has been especially bad. The girl I was dating left me recently and my friends haven’t been really around. I find myself alone often and sad because I have no place to go and feel like I don’t matter. Any advice for getting out of a funk and meeting new people?

This is a serious question and something I have a lot of experience with. Depression is a motherfucker and it feels especially heavy when you’re surrounded by images of people enjoying life during the holidays. Add a relationship implosion on top and you’ve got a metaphorical one way ticket to the Island of Misfit Toys.

Sometimes depression sufferers do a really good job of seeming like they’re having a good time. Casual friends won’t typically be there for you, but your close friends usually are, they just don’t know to drag you out of the house. If it’s someone you really love, it’s ok to invite them to do things or just make plans to hang out. I know that when I’m in deep fugues of melancholy I straight up avoid people and turn invites down while simultaneously feeling alone. The quickest fix for this is to force yourself off the couch.

Trust me, I know how appealing it is to stay in with Netflix and avoid the world. Getting off the couch is often the hardest, most important step.

Joe Rogan and some of the writers in the post-Fight Club pagan tribal communities have this self-improvement concept that makes a lot of sense to me: treat yourself like you are the hero of your own story. So today you roll out of bed, feeling too old for this shit. Maybe you brush your teeth with a bottle of whisky. This is how all the cool action hero stories start.

Everything you do from this point on is to grow your legend. Hit the gym as hard and often as you can. Pick up a martial art. Go shooting. Get dressed up and hang out at an art opening with weird oligarchs. By working on your legend, you will cross paths with other people on this path. This cooler version of you will attract better friends and hotter mates.

For me, it’s important to do things. I know the sudden singleness can be sad, but now you don’t have to worry about pleasing anyone. If you want to get super into fly-fishing or dressage or collecting moon rocks, you can.

Crossfit/powerlifting and Jiu Jitsu/MMA gyms are great places to meet new people. There’s something about these difficult endeavors that attract good, solid humans. And weirdly enough, there are tons of hot girls at these places now. You don’t want that to be your primary reason to go, but if you happen to meet someone you like who happens to squat 2x their body weight, well that wouldn’t be so bad.

Maybe all this nonsense I mention isn’t your bag. That’s ok. The main suggestion is to get out there and do something fun that will make you better. I’ve tried drugs and most of the other depression treatments. Nothing has ever worked for me like staying active.

What movie can you watch all the time and never get tired of watching?

Well, as stated above, A Christmas Story, but I can always watch Idiocracy and Office Space.

What do you think is the most important and empowering single sentence a person could say to himself regularly in order to have an extraordinary life?

Do more because there isn’t much time left.

Who do you think is the most terrifying fictional sociopath and why?

I’m going to cheat a little bit on this one and name a character who is based on a real person: Amon Göth from Schindler’s List. That character played by Ralph Fiennes represents the banality of evil better than any I can think of. He is vain, weak, murderous, cruel, stupid, orderly, efficient, and a perfect Nazi.

In real life Göth was convicted and hung for war crimes. I hope he’s rotting in hell.

What are some instances that you’ve seen or heard of where men stood up and protected or helped women in need?

People are a lot dumber than most of us would be comfortable with, but I think they are also a lot more decent than you could imagine. I’ve seen a number of rough situations broken up by bouncers. I know cops who have gone above and beyond to make women safe. And many people open up their doors to bring people in who need help. Anyone who tries to tell you men are always the problem probably has too many cats and a degree in some putrid form of Marxist theory.

What is the craziest thing you have ever done for money?

My mom bet me $50 I wouldn’t eat a cat treat. It was gross. But I got the $50.

Have you ever scammed a scammer? What happened?

Not really. The closest thing like this I’ve experienced is when people try those “I need gas to get to work” scams. Usually they have some gimmick like a work vest or a big ring of keys and a clipboard. Every single time I’ve offered to take them to a gas station and get them a gallon container of gas they’ve turned me down. Fuck those dudes.