Pork Manna

The S.W.A.T. team has only patrolled my neighborhood once. We bought this house on an overcast day during a blitzkrieg trip down from Alaska, but when we moved in, there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. I remember pausing with a box of dishes in my hand and looking east and seeing the building for the first time. I initially thought it was a Wal-Mart which spawned instant disappointment; who’d want to live so close to pure evil? My disappointment doubled when I noticed the sun glinting off of the razor wire. I’d much rather live a half mile away from a cesspit of consumerism than the adult detention center which was in fact my new neighbor.

One of the inmates was the type you usually only read about or see in shitty movies. He had car-jacked an eighty-three year old man and then executed him with a small caliber pistol before driving away in his outdated Lincoln. My wife was out of town when he escaped and I had the house to myself and my daughter. I guess he orchestrated some sort of mini riot/prison yard fight to distract the guards and then scaled three different fences of increasing height, all topped with razor or barbed wire, and then ran through my neighborhood. I had no idea. My next-door neighbor came over to check on me and when I opened the door, I noticed the S.W.A.T. team patrolling the streets over his shoulder. They had dogs and machine guns and batman-esque utility belts and those really cool radio thingies around their necks that you see in the same shitty movies that portray horrid criminals. He gave me the gist of what had happened and told me that the S.W.A.T. team was actually stopping outgoing traffic to check people’s trunks just in case he had taken a hostage or was being smuggled to freedom.

I have an arsenal of sorts, and this is the scenario we all “prepare” for, right? I live in a neighborhood of rednecks and guess what; the S.W.A.T. guys weren’t the only ones with assault rifles. I had a few choices. Should I arm myself with matching Glocks complete with mounted halogen lights in case I had to roll across the floor like Mel Gibson double fisting hand cannons? Or maybe I should strap on the .44 magnum and then just maybe I could finally ask someone if they feel lucky. “Well do ya, Punk?” Nah, I opted for the Remington 870 Magnum Marine pump shotgun loaded with alternating slugs and buckshot. It’s the same gun that the CIA uses for entries except mine is nickel and won’t rust. And after all, if I trusted it for bear protection back home, it’d do against anyone stupid enough to come knocking. I sat on my couch watching TV with the silver weapon in my lap until everything died down and the “all clear” was given. I’d imagine quite a few of my neighbors went to bed disappointed that night. We’d all have to put our guns away and acknowledge, if only to ourselves, that they’re useless.

There’s something viscerally pleasing about cooking meat over an open fire. I promise to tie this all together by the end so bear with me. I have a fire pit in my backyard and I had a few of the welders from work fabricate a spit so I could cook like a caveman. It’s big enough for an entire pig (or four turkeys… or twelve chickens… you get the idea). It’s a simple truth; I love cooking like a gourmet caveman. In fact, I roasted two turkeys over the fire this last weekend while I was hosting a UFC viewing at my house. Can you picture us? Five or six guys brandishing blackened bird meat and yelling at the TV while two men fight in a cage dripping sweat and blood? If that isn’t atavistic, I don’t know what is.

But turkeys are too healthy when you think about it. And I did. So I made a witch’s brew of butter and honey and red curry and injected the liquidized fat and sugar into my turkeys with an enormous syringe before sticking them on the spit. The honey-butter swells and sizzles while you cook the birds and the smell is intoxication to anyone proud of their canines.

I roasted them over mesquite charcoal from Mexico and peach wood. I have a peach tree right by the pit and I’ve found that if you throw in some of the fruit, it adds a pleasant favor (that’s usually missed by my drunken house guests).

Anyway, I’ve only roasted a pig once because it’s a gory feast to serve. If you get a big one, the head needs to come off via an enormous cleaver and there’s something sadistic about tying a pig’s feet together with bailing wire so he won’t fall off the spit. It took six hours to roast the beast and twenty of us barely ate half of it. I awoke the next day to a pig carcass and I had no idea what to do with it. A friend came over to help me clean up and we stood there with an empty keg between us and stared at the carnage for a good fifteen minutes before it came to me.

When prisoners are released from the adult detention center they have two choices; they can get a ride, or take the back way out which is a long and winding dirt trail that leads right past my neighborhood and empties out by an elementary school like a poorly positioned sewage drain. They’re mostly nonviolent criminals that were behind bars for this or that drug offence and I’m sure they’ll be back to once again be released so they can walk past my little world with all their possessions wrapped up in a white plastic hobo bindle. That trail represents a depressing cycle for them; one of freedom and incarceration punctuated by nice houses and happy children that could’ve been theirs if not for some piss-poor decision making.

My friend and I took the pig and threw it into a 55 gallon steel drum which we loaded into the bed of my pick up. We should’ve had the theme music from The Sopranos playing in the background because it definitely felt like we were doing something nefarious. We took the pig down that trail that means freedom for so many and found an ant hill slightly off the beaten path and left the pig for the insects. Those little red bastards swarmed out of their hill with veracious efficiency and cleaned that pig down to white sun-bleached bone in about a week.

Now that they’ve had a taste of meat would they want more? Had I created an army of red ants that preys on unsuspecting prisoners that shouldn’t be wondering past elementary schools anyway? I’d like to think so. At the least, I blew up the population of that ant hill thanks to the ridiculous influx of food that fell like manna down into their lives from the back of my F-150. They’d feed and breed and feed and breed in their own little gruesome cycle until the pig was consumed. The ants would be forced to strike out and form secondary colonies because the cornucopia was now empty. Maybe ants even have a shared conscious and the memory of all that meat would be passed down through the generations as a moment of genesis. It’s odd to think that such an event could be so profound from an ant’s perspective yet to us, it was just an act of lazy convenience.

And those are the thoughts that bounced around inside my skull as I cooked my turkeys. It’s pleasant to sit and think by the spit in the shade of my grape leaves. There are a few hornet’s nests close by, but if you hold really still, they usually don’t bother you. You can leisurely turn the spit wheel with some iced tea while the birds fly overhead completely oblivious to the fact that two of their cousins are roasting below.

Part Three – Savannah Grace

I sat down to write this third and final segment on indie authors shortly after realizing that this last author, Savannah Grace, was the third of three young women featured in my blog. Her book is nonfiction, but the central character is most definitely a female protagonist just as they’ve been in my last two segments. Why is that? Am I a closeted fan of chick-lit? Most of my own work is centered upon hillbillies with superpowers and I’m even delving a bit into horror so why did I choose to feature three women who write at the exact other end of the spectrum?

Statistics are freakishly boring and I usually tune out as soon as I see a percentage in text, but please stick with me; there’s something profound in these numbers. And as a disclaimer, I don’t plan on substantiating any of these figures or citing my sources because I can’t think of anything more boorish (this is my blog and I’ll write it as poorly as I wish). Here they are: Of all the classically published authors and professional writers (for TV and whatnot) on this planet, only 35% are women. Only 25% of the books reviewed by the great standards like the New York Times are written by women. This makes absolutely no sense when you consider the fact that 68% of all book purchases are accredited to women (maybe that’s why all my delightfully trashy fiction is selling so slowly).

Disparities don’t usually please me but this one does: over 55% of all self published authors are women. Screw the man, right? If the huge houses prefer male authors why not self publish and skip all that nonsense? We all know that J.K. Rowling chose to write under “J.K. Rowling” to make her name sound more masculine but what would’ve happened if she would’ve simply self published? It’s just simple speculation. I’m dedicating this last entry in this three part segment to the women authors I’ve met on-line and the fact that an ability to self publish will invariably dilute the inequality I’ve seen on the bookshelves; especially when you consider the fact that this last year, 78% off all books in the marketplace came from small presses or self published authors. I swear that was my last statistic and as soon as I finish this blog, I promise to write one about roasting meat over an open fire with guns galore so I don’t completely alienate the followers I’ve attracted with my manly drivel. I hope you enjoy.

Part Three – Savannah Grace

I’ve typically been annoyed by the fact that people think that an incredible event automatically translates into an incredible book. Kanye West’s mother went through the incredible journey of raising a superstar so of course she should write a book about it, right? I picked up her book, tritely entitled “Raising Kanye”, while I was in Hastings a while back, thumbed through it, and then dropped it back on the shelf as quickly as possible lest it steal some of my intelligence. I’ve read that 90% of all Americans believe they have a story to tell that’s worthy of a book deal (I guess I lied when I said there’d be no more statistics). Here it is: it doesn’t mean that you’re fated to be an author just because you’ve been through something extraordinary.

However, sometimes the yen and yang fit together perfectly and someone with such a story really does create a noteworthy book, and that’s what happened in “Sihpromatum” by Savannah Grace. The sub-text for her title is “I Grew my Boobs in China” and the word “boobs” may or may not have been why I originally gave this title a chance but I’m glad I did. Everything about this book just feels professional. It’s a nonfiction story that I suppose should be classified as a memoir, but it reads like a novel which is absolutely awesome. Sevannah’s style is polished and well beyond her years and she has some serious talent. I kept hunting through website for a publisher’s accreditation because it was hard to believe that such a work was self published. Sihpromatum is the type of book you’d expect Oprah to be throwing at her guests in one of her “favorite things” episodes (which I’ve never seen because I’m a manly man); it’s seriously that good (I mean, you know… if you’re in to that sort of thing). All joking aside, I don’t want to do Savannah’s work a disservice by pigeon-holing into the “chick-lit” category because to get something meaningful out of this book, the only prerequisite is to be human.

“SIHPROMATUM (Sip-row-may-tum): A blessing that initially appears to be a curse.

Sihpromatum is a memoir series of one family’s four-year backpacking adventure around the world. The first installment, “I Grew My Boobs in China” is the beginning of an intensely fascinating, sobering, and emotional memoir of Savannah’s introspective and innovative family adventure.

In 2005, 14-year-old Savannah Grace’s world is shattered when her mother unexpectedly announces that she and her family (mother 45, brother 25 and sister 17) would soon embark on an incredible, open-ended journey. When everything from her pets to the house she lived in either sold, given away or put in storage, this naïve teenage girl runs headlong into the reality and hardships of a life on the road.

Built around a startling backdrop of over eighty countries (I Grew my Boobs in China relates the family’s adventures in China and Mongolia), this is a tale of feminine maturation – of Savannah’s metamorphosis from ingénue to woman-of-the-world. Nibbling roasted duck tongues in China and being stranded in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert are just two experiences that contribute to Savannah’s exploration of new cultures and to the process of adapting to the world around her.”

I have two young daughters and while I can see immense strength in both of them, I can also feel that innate fragility in their youth that I’m so desperately trying to protect. That’s why Savannah’s story is so captivating. Even as a grown man I’m not sure I could handle the hand that was dealt to Savannah. Her story is incredible, and when you pair that with a natural prose and a love for storytelling, you get an absolutely viable book that belongs in the company of anything pumped out by the large publishing houses. I’m sure this book would’ve made it to the proverbial shelves even if self publishing wasn’t possible, but maybe not. Maybe the suits I mentioned in my first segment would’ve passed Sihpromatum by and chosen instead to publish the memoirs of a combat Marine thanks to gender. Who knows; all that matters now is that this book exists and it deserves attention, as does Savannah Grace.

On a personal level, Savannah comes across as fearless and genuine. It’s as if all her doubts have been melted away thanks to her struggle; I’d compare it to the way an athlete looses fat during their training.

Her story is a startling one about a young girl that looses everything before regaining something better by experiencing the world first hand with a brother, a sister, and a mother. Savannah writes a tale that stresses the importance of following a dream and staying positive despite the mirage in front of us. It’s a tale of that “trial by fire” that we all look for in our literature and I hope you’ll give it a chance. In any case, I’ve just written close to four thousand words in three segments about female authors and I need to get back to my own work before I too grow boobs.

Sihpromatum can be purchased through Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Sihpromatum-Grew-Boobs-China-ebook/dp/B008YZ0184/

You can find further reviews, blogs, and information on how to purchase this book through Smashwords or Kobo via Savannah’s site here: http://www.sihpromatum.com/

If you’d like to email the author directly you can do so here: sihpromatum@gmail.com

And everyone’s a fan of Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Sihpromatum-I-Grew-my-Boobs-in-China/367565703312088

Part Two – Jessica Sturman-Coombs

Have you ever eaten foreign food in a foreign land and had your mind blown? Ironically, I had an online conversation with this next author about just that; I swear it’s relevant so just bear with me. I was a pudgy kid in my early teens and takeout Chinese was one of my favorites. Sesame chicken and Mongolian Beef were my favorites, but then again, aren’t they everyone’s? I’d dive into those odd little foldable paper boxes with a vengeance and gorge on MSG enhanced food, and just like the stereotype suggests, I’d want more of the sticky sweet soy in a matter of hours.

I was fourteen when my mother took me for a month long trip into Taiwan. As it turns out, the Chinese have a completely different notion of what Chinese food should be. I ordered Mongolian Beef and instead of the bastardized version I’d get back in the states, I received a plate full of perfectly seared vegetables resting in a mild broth with a single piece of beef centered in the plate like an island of culinary perfection. I guess this was my first exposure to the idea that Americans probably shouldn’t make everything American. There are plenty of things I love about our pop culture but our tendency to homogenize everything, to push it through a funnel and make it more palatable, isn’t one of them.

I’ve decided to stick with the theme I started in Part One of this little delve into self publishing and examine exactly how it is that this ability to put our own work out into the market without the intervention of a third party is changing the literary universe. In this second installment, I’ll talk about an author that has written a story that feels genuine in its English setting that would’ve most likely been diluted had it been published by a third party. I hope you enjoy.

Part Two – Jessica Sturman-Coombs

I met Jessica Sturman-Coombs on Twitter and I’ll have to admit that it was her cover image that initially made me click “follow” (@JessSturman). The simplicity of the black on white portrait with the embellished font seemed inviting. And I know it’s a stretch to say that I “met” someone on twitter, but let’s face it; this whole “social media” thing is probably the best thing to happen to indie authors since the laptop. Anyway, Jessica was affable and her book was decently priced so I also clicked “buy” on my Kindle (which I’m absolutely addicted to).

I didn’t really know what to expect because her book, Poker Face, isn’t what I’d usually buy but I was pleasantly surprised. It was the genuine prose that first captivated me. The feel of it simply felt British; it was like she typed with an accent. Thus the food analogy I made earlier. I remember thinking that the Harry Potter books were a comfortable read when I finally gave in and picked up the first one but Rowling uses her British slang sparingly even though her books are set in the UK and based on UK characters. She sparingly uses a British feel in her prose like a garnish as opposed to salting it in everywhere. I’m sure she did it intentionally; her book was written for children in a global market so too much of a good thing might alienate the average reader, right? Or maybe Scholastic Press, her publisher, pressured Rowling to filter out a bit of the British feel to make her work a bit more palatable (I don’t know; this is just speculation).  After reading Poker Face, I’d say that such a paradigm is a fallacy. Ever since I went to Taiwan, I want my Chinese food to taste Chinese. And ever since reading Poker Face, I want my foreign books to feel foreign. Subtitles are part of the experience associated with foreign films, right? I don’t want to be one of those viewers that demands poor voiceovers for foreign works of art. I guess that’s why I enjoyed Jessica’s style of writing and the dialect between her characters. Since she was free to self-publish Poker Face sans the pressure to dilute her style for a global market, we’ve been treated with a story set in the UK with a palpable UK essence.

Lastly, I hope I’m not taking anything away from Poker Face by focusing on the British feel. Even without the novelty associated with Jessica’s foreign style, Poker Face is a fun read. Jessica has written a wonderful story centered on an even better character in Ruby Palmer. She’s brash and temperamental and flawed and comes across as an actual human being instead of a cliché following character, and that’s a must for any book I plan on taking seriously.

Poker Face is available via Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Poker-Face-ebook/dp/B00655U9XC

If you’re the type of reader that demands the feel of paper on your fingers, you can go to Jessica’s website for ordering information here: http://jesssturman.wix.com/jess-sturman-coombs

Sixteen year old Ruby Palmer is hot, feisty and out of control. She’s also about to walk into the most dangerous and frightening job imaginable; trainee office junior.

Her inability to type and her very bad attitude keep her moving around the firm like a hot potato and eventually she finds herself under the strict rule of Mr. Alessi – senior partner and successful criminal lawyer. Ruby soon discovers that Mr. Alessi isn’t quite what he seems when she accidently meets two of his very private clients. They come in through the backdoor, out of office hours believing the building to be empty, but Ruby is still there and now she’s seen too much.

All the worst kind of people think Mr. Alessi just employed himself an easy target. They intend to bully Ruby into retrieving an incriminating appeal file hidden somewhere in Mr. Alessi’s building. What they don’t realize is that Ruby isn’t one to bow down to intimidation or pressure.

She’s quick, she’s clever and she’s about to give them ALL a deadly run for their money.

Part One – DelSheree Gladden

I think the fact that we can self publish so easily is changing literature, or at least the associated industry, and I love it. The fact that anyone can publish and sell their fiction is changing the way we’re exposed to new authors; it’s becoming more like the way we’ve been introduced to music.

Think about it. Before the internet, before eReaders and Amazon and CreateSpace, a room full of suits decided what would and wouldn’t be published. Prospective authors could only attain the hallowed title of “writer” by paying for a MFA and then they’d query one of the aforementioned suits to see if their work was up to snuff.

Music has never been that way. Musicians would congregate and start small in bars or on the curb. They’d build a fan base gig by gig and once they had a following, their own group of suits would come in to produce and manage. Now authors can start small. We can bleed our souls into pieces of fiction or memoirs and then publish them for the world to see. We can market through blogs and Facebook and that vapid pool of idiots that is twitter. We can lure in a fan base and get more recognition from story to story and hope the suits will come in to buy our souls and get us movie rights so we too can have our works immortalized just like those damn sparkly vampires.

I think literature is progressing more quickly as a result. Campy tales rich with street vernacular are selling like crazy because the reading public has their eager fingers directly on the author pass/fail button and the large publishing houses are striving to catch up. At least that’s my take on things.

I’ve decided to take a short break from the drivel I usually blog about and do a three part segment on self published authors that I’ve run into in one way or another on the internet. I hope you enjoy.

Part One – DelSheree Gladden

One of the boons to being an indie author is that you have an incredible community at your disposal. It’s like we live in this weird little bubble that’s complexly devoid of cut-throat competition. Every indie author I’ve met has promoted other people’s work right alongside their own and that’s why I’ve decided to start this little series with DelSheree Gladden.

I don’t get jealous of other authors often, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little envious of Gladden. This woman has a freakish amount of drive, and other than an ability to levitate things via telekinesis, I don’t think there’s anything she can’t do. My wife met her in school where they’re both studying full time to be dental hygienists, she’s a married mother of two, she teaches my daughter gymnastics, she runs a rather in-depth blog, she’s a prolific author, and I even hear she makes some of her own cloths. You know that Steven Segal movie “Marked for Death” wherein the bad guy actually turns out to be twins? I have my suspicions that maybe that’s how it is with DelSheree and one of these days I’m going to prove it. One of the DelSherees is going to get a haircut and forget to tell the other one and then I’ll totally point it out and say “Ha!” and then she’ll say “and I would’ve gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for that meddling Jesse” or something like that.

Gladden’s blog, The Edible Bookshelf, is completely dedicated to reviewing books and interviewing authors. She does one book per week (give or take) and her comments and interview questions are really insightful. I don’t have the time to read one book per week let alone write badass books that approach the 100K word mark but DelSheree pulls it off effortlessly (again, this isn’t a compliment but rather proof that there’s actually two of them). This goes back to what I was saying earlier about how indie authors are all on the same side. I’d recommend her site to anyone that’s looking to find a good book or would like to query DelSheree for a review: http://theediblebookshelf.blogspot.com/

Anyway, DelSheree did it right. She wrote like crazy and was a tireless champion of her work. She blogged about it and self published it and joined all the sites you’re supposed to like Good Reads and she finally got her break recently when Briona Glen Publishing LLC published “Inquest” which is the first book in the Destroyer Trilogy. DelSheree let me read this book before it was finally published and I loved it. I guess I’d classify it as YA but it’s one of those stories that transcend genera and I’d recommend it to anyone. And actually, I did. I was given the opportunity to be one of those authors that write a short recommendation for the back of the book and I jumped all over it. As soon as it was available I ordered a copy and when it arrived in the mail, I ripped open the box and flipped over the book and there it was; my recommendation. How awesome is that? I was honored. I plan on running into my daughter’s gymnastics class waving the book and a pen like some half star crazed idiot begging for an autograph (all the while looking for proof of a twin).

Please go buy this book; it comes highly recommended: http://www.amazon.com/Inquest-Volume-The-Destroyer-Trilogy/dp/1618070622

For Libby Sparks, turning sixteen means only one thing…death. Guardian rule demands she attend the ritualistic Inquest that will unveil her talents and secure her place in society. But that isn’t all that will be revealed in Libby’s case.

The more talents you have the better, at least to some degree. Four or five talents will guarantee you a life of luxury, but seven…that is the mark of the Destroyer. Libby knows her Inquest will reveal her to be the Guardians’ greatest enemy. Their law requires her death before her eighteenth birthday. If she lives, prophecy foretells that the world will fall into chaos and destruction.

Once her destiny is revealed, Libby is abandoned when her mother throws her out, her boyfriend tries to kill her, and her best friend shuts her out. Only Milo, a slightly grungy outcast, seems willing to be her friend—but Libby soon realizes he has secrets of his own. His secrets may very well have everything to do with her own destiny.

In order to make it to her eighteenth birthday, Libby must bury her talents and convince the world she is harmless. Her plan only lasts until Milo is put in danger and Libby is forced to choose. Abandon her friend to save her own life, or embrace her destiny and truly become the Destroyer.

Here’s a guest segment DelSheree did that explains some of her thought process as it
applies to writing: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.com/?zx=9863897c50e78803


The bayous of Louisiana more closely resemble the Degobah System than a terrestrial landscape. I spent a few days in the swamps and lakes of Lafayette last week and I expected to see Luke knee deep in his ninja training doing flips and shit over logs with Yoda strapped to his back but I never did. I saw plenty of alligators, however, and I was profoundly affected. There’s something about man-eating dinosaurs that rub you in a visceral way and I simply couldn’t get enough. I booked a swamp tour for twenty bucks.


Our captain, who’s about to be featured in a History Chanel special on the invisible parts of Louisiana, would stop our flat bottomed boat amongst the vegetation and kill the outboard so we could hear him speak about this or that. There were three Americans (myself and two rather trashy gentlemen with Budweiser tallboys and homemade tattoos), three men from London, and a married couple from France. The French spoke French and our captain spoke bastardized Cajun as well as broken English. The blokes from London spoke impeccably. The two other Americans spoke ebonics at best and I was somewhere in the middle of it all laughing to myself.


It was easy to forget where I was while the boat was stopped and our captain droned on with his hypnotic slang. The water’s surface was a solid living mass of vegetation, and when our wake would finally die, it’d look like a smooth forest floor. I’d reach my hand out over the surface and slap it occasionally which would send out waves and make it look like solid ground was undulating; the forest floor was a water bed.  And that’s when the boat went silent. The captain casually pointed to eleven o’clock and said “gator”. The little bastard was looking right at me. I slowly raised my camera and snapped two quick pictures; the gator had seen enough and sank back down to the depths like a prehistoric submarine.


I have no idea why I did it but I forced myself to push my hand through the water’s living surface until my elbow was wet. The swamp was warm as soup. I imagined the scene from the gators perspective; a dark wet sky parting to let a wriggling snack through. I was exulted. The captain laughed and said something about “crazy Alaskans” before starting the motor and taking us back to shore. Everything in the lake from that point on, drift wood included, looked like something deadly but the captain would laugh and say that I had just spotted an “a-log-ator”. The Brits dubbed him a “cheeky fellow” thanks to his outback humor.


I had always assumed that swamps were fetid places that reeked of death and decay but these lush habitats smelled pure and verdant and I fell in love with the landscape instantly. The cypress trees grew straight from the water weeping moss and beauty back into their reflections.  Alien sounds bled from everywhere to compose a reptilian symphony. Monstrous birds that at first glance looked like pterodactyls, would slowly sweep their wings through the humid air as they flew in fright from my tour boat’s motor. It was a Cajun paradise.

I grew up in bear filled mountains and I now live in a desert wherein just about everything is poisonous but I’ve never before felt as if I was living at nature’s whim. The sun was setting and we were only a few miles from shore but what if I didn’t have the security of that skiff? Would I be able to make it back to land when I was surrounded by fifteen foot gators that were three quarters of a ton? That’s a lot of lizard. I was out of my element and I loved it. I’m positive those twenty bucks were well spent and when both of my daughters are old enough I’ll fly them to the deep south so they can breathe in the clean air of the bayou and taste that tinge of fear when a red-eyed monster looks at you like the morsel you really are. It’s a perspective we all need.