Cereal

“Breakfast Crackers”

Millennials. We get a bad wrap. We’re the cause of…all of the world’s problems. We’re entitled, lazy, and are constantly destroying solid American pillars.

One of those institutions? Cereal. Depending on who you believe, we’re either too lazy to clean up after ourselves to eat cereal, or we’re focused on healthy breakfast options more than the previous generation – long story short, cereal sales are down.

To be fair, ever since I left the nest at the ripe old age of 18 (and then summarily returned at the age of 24, only to fly again at 25), I don’t buy cereal. Buying cereal means I have to buy milk, and I don’t drink enough milk to not have it go bad in my fridge. I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing or smelling bad milk, but word on the street is that it’s an unpleasant experience.

Don’t get me wrong, cereal is absolutely delicious. Especially the kind we ate as children. Who wouldn’t want marshmallows for breakfast? Growing up I had three favorite types of cereal.

Honey Bunches of Oats – This combination of oat clusters and nuts always felt like it was the healthiest. No wrong could come to my body as long as I started the day with a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats.

Kix – Kid Tested, Mother Approved. A bowl of these plain colored orbs were a true treat. Especially when you threw them at friends.

Lucky Charms – Obviously Lucky Charms makes the cut. I considered putting Golden Grahams as my third option, but the magical mystery of clovers and rainbows were too enticing to pass up. Holy shit this was just a bowl full of sugar crack. I feel like Lucky Charms may have been the root cause of a lot of ADD diagnoses.

So we’re killing cereal, but like a magnificent forest, sometimes there needs to be destruction for greater growth to occur. Now that I’m in my 30’s, I’m all about fiber. And you know what is a great source of fiber?

Cereal, that’s what. So while I’ve traded in my horseshoes and tasty red balloons for brands that help me poop, it’s nice to feel like a Millennial that isn’t killing something.

Cereal – 3 out of 5 Stars

Tevas

“Like Sandals for Really Really Cool People”

It’s been very very hot in California this summer. In a gross way. In a way that our state has burst into flames all across the mountains and valleys.

Right now, the largest fire in state history is burning, it’s called the Mendocino Complex fire, and it’s the size of the entirety of Los Angeles.

Fire PSA over, I’m just trying to make a sympathetic point that it’s hot.

Now that I’ve got you freaked out by wildfires, and in an emotional state of support, let’s talk about Teva Sandals.

My first encounter with Tevas was when I was 13 years old, and with a group of Boy Scouts and parents (Thanks Dad!) I backpacked into the Grand Canyon and spent 4 days in a magical place called Havasupai.

This is not to be confused with Lake Havasu, the popular spring break destination. A grueling 10-mile hike is the only way to get to this secluded and beautiful destination. We wore hiking boots to get in there, but once there all of us enjoyed the heavy duty protection of Tevas, while still being able to swim in waterfalls and the lake without wearing wet socks.

After that moment, I thought Tevas were basically the Dippin Dots of shoes – the future. High school and college quickly proved me wrong. Since I didn’t go to UC Berkeley or live in Boulder, Tevas weren’t commonplace.

Senior year of college, I took an ill-fated canoe trip through the Everglades. I ended up being hospitalized for five days, but that was completely unrelated to my footwear choices. My roommate and I wore Tevas, and passed the time by getting in hotly contested debates with the trip leaders about the superior merits of Tevas over the other mainstay of what I like to call “Tactical Sandals,” Chacos.

I hung up my Tevas for almost half a decade after that, until I took the free trip to Israel known as Birthright. I traipsed all across the contested holy land in my Tevas, and while feeling no stronger ties to religion, I was struck with holy fever for my sandals.

All of these moments led up to yesterday when the local news told me yet again that it was going to be a scorcher in Los Angeles. I work in a fashion-forward office, so I decided to roll the dice and rock my trusty Tevas to my job.

Turns out Los Angeles wasn’t the only thing that got roasted yesterday. My fashion choice was met with a small section of support, but the overwhelming vibe was that I shouldn’t mix Tevas with Trabajo.

Tevas – 3 out of 5 Stars 

Buying New Jeans

“I should do this more often”

I’m a terrible clothes shopper. I exist in two realms of shopping:

1. I will simply buy the first thing I see, without trying it on, to accomplish my fashion goal as fast as possible

2. I will find something I love, balk at the price, leave the store, and 99% of the time revert to realm 1.

There are few things that I take the time to try out – but through trial and error, I’ve realized that purchasing a new pair of jeans is worth the dedicated effort.

For years, I was a Levi’s guy, and I still have a strong brand affinity with them. For half a decade I wore 511’s in grey and blue. Then through a series of gifts, I branched out in terms of my jean brands.

No matter the brand you prefer, getting a new pair of jeans is almost like getting a new family member. Realistically I have about four pairs of pants that I wear regularly. So if I break that out, I’ll be wearing each pair about 90 days out of the year, basically a pair of jeans per season.

I also wear jeans until they’re in tatters. Whenever I visited home from college, my mother would throw away my jeans that had more than two holes in them. No matter how many cries of “they’re perfectly broken in” I said, her response was always “they’re just broken”

What I’m getting at is, I added a new pair of jeans to my rotation, and I’m pleased with the results so far. The breaking in process has just begun, but there’s no worse feeling than spending your hard-earned wealth on jeans, only to discover a few days later that they aren’t the fit you were hoping for. And you know my policy on returning things. Luckily, these aren’t in that category

Next time you shop for a new pair of jeans, take your time. If you choose correctly, they will accompany you on adventures for at least two years. They’ll take you camping, through the rain, on dates, into new countries, and who knows where else. Just make sure they fit.

Buying New Jeans – 3 out of 5 Stars 

Soju

“Sneaky Fire Water”

The first time I had the Korean liquor soju, it was the day before my 23rd birthday.

I was living in Bangkok at the time, and in a random twist of fate, a very good friend from high school had popped back into my life. He had spent the last few months traveling and was cooling his jet-setting heels for a bit in the Thai City of Angels.

Our friendship reunited, he insisted on taking me out to dinner for a proper Korean meal as his birthday present. I was slowly starting to realize that the best gifts aren’t items, but life experiences, so I gladly accepted.

He found a delightful spot near my apartment, and we sat down to gorge ourselves on a scrumptious array of banchan (small side dishes) as the wait staff began to grill meat for us.

“Have you ever had soju?” he asked me.

“No, is it like sake?”

“Kind of, but better. It sneaks up on you”

A small green bottle of soju appeared at the table, and because I was older than him, he poured me a shot of perfectly clear and pleasant smelling liquid, then he poured himself one. We exchanged a loud “Geonbae!” and threw them back.

Sweet, smooth, and soothing, this soju stuff was great!

Part of Korean drinking culture (or at least that night it was) is to always keep the glasses full of others around the table. Pouring a drink for someone else is an act of respect, as well as drinking with one another. Over the course of a few hours, we polished off three bottles of soju together.

When complemented with smoking hot meat, this chilled and clear liquid seemed like the optimal counter-point to the charred and spicy flavors that were exploding in my mouth.

The meal done and our bellies full, we left the restaurant. Up until that moment, I had felt in full control of my senses. Standing outside, I turned to my friend.

“Oh man, I feel like I want to go get in a fight or something”

He laughed, “SojuJoey has arrived!”

Don’t worry, from that night until today, I’ve continued my pacifist streak of never getting into a fight. Like my streak of pacificism, my love affair with soju has continued as well. It’s been a staple in every Korean meal and Karaoke session since then.

Tonight I’ll be saying 여보세요 again to my old friend soju for a work event. I can’t wait to catch up with soju, hear the stories it has to tell and sing it’s praises with a loud “Geonbae!”

Soju – 3 out of 5 Stars

Triathlons

“Well, That was Hard”

As I’ve mentioned in past few weeks, I signed up for a triathlon, and this weekend I did it.

I’ll never be able to pinpoint exactly why I decided to pay money to swim a quarter mile in the ocean, bike 10 miles and then end it all with a 5k run.

Perhaps because I saw it as a good excuse to bond with new coworkers. Maybe I wanted to see if I could do it. Or it could be possible that it’s the continuation of the trend in my life where I do things that aren’t well thought out, purely with the idea that “this will be a good story to write about later.”

My motivations still a mystery, I’m here to tell you that I did it! I did all that stupid exercise in the correct order in one hour and twenty minutes. Here’s a breakdown of each.

The Swim:

Before you actually jump in the water, you stand in a loose clump with your gender, separated by age group. So at 7:06 AM last Sunday, myself and probably another 150 31 to 39-year-old men, in various states of aquatic gear (From Wetsuits to Speedos) found ourselves breathing heavily and staring at the Pacific Ocean.

A siren was rung, and we were off. I had been keeping up my open water practice, but I hadn’t factored in the 149 other people who I would be sharing the water with.

It was a 400-meter swim, straight out to a buoy, a 90-degree turn that put me parallel to the shore, and then another buoy that sent me back to the beach. I did okay, but halfway through I definitely wanted to quit. My arms screamed in confusion, and I worked hard to not gulp down seawater.

The only thing that kept me going was the dual thoughts of “you might die if you stop swimming” and “don’t be the guy the lifeguards have to rescue” – so I put my head down and continue to pump my shoulders, eventually making it back to shore.

The Bike: 

It was a three lap circuit, and it took me two circuits to even catch my breath from the swim. The best part about a triathlon is that every single participant has their age written in marker on their left calf. So as numerous “On your lefts” were shouted at me, I could feel the humble shame of watching a 63-year-old in a speedo zoom by. My favorite part was when a 14-year-old girl passed me, and then as she did she yelled “good job!”

Thank you little 14-year-old triathlete. I needed that good job.

The Run:

The run was the easiest part for me, except that two minutes I realized that I desperately had to pee. Wearing nothing but a spandex unitard, I had the serious question in my brain pop up – should I just pee myself?

Then I remembered it was a 5k, not a run for my life, so I luckily found a clean bathroom. Less liquid, I was able to complete the 5k in just about 30 minutes, a new PR.

Overall, I’ve never felt physically better after finishing the race. Looking back, the swim definitely was the part that took it out of me, but the rest was pretty manageable. It was a neat emotion realizing that I haven’t done something that physically strenuous… almost ever.

Even weirder is that I’m now in the “have done a triathlon” column. The weirdest thing though? I’ll probably do another one. Mostly just for the smug reply to “what did you do this weekend” though.

Triathlons – 3 out of 5 Stars

Father John Misty at The Hollywood Bowl

“Hipster Cat Nip”

He’s a ridiculous caricature, but I’m a sucker for a good crooner, and Father John Misty is one of the best. He just released a new album, and when I saw that he was playing at the Hollywood Bowl, I immediately snapped up four tickets.

What I didn’t realize is that I had bought tickets for the same day as my triathlon. So when we went to the Bowl, my body was on the delightful edge of physical exhaustion, which is exactly how everyone should see Father John Misty in one of the most iconic music venues in America.

I’ve been a fan of FJM for years, seeing him in San Diego for $5 at the Casbah in 2012, and then helping my best friend cover him for FYF.  Hipster cred certified, it was really amazing to see his act go from dive bar band to Hollywood Bowl star.

Strutting out in an all-white suit and giving off the stage presence of David Byrne combined with the wiggly body motions of a young Mick Jagger, FJM came out and played the hits. And that’s exactly what you want when you see someone at the Bowl. This isn’t time to trot out obscure b side material.

Opening up one of his first singles, when he sang the line “Look Out Hollywood, Here I Come” it was a nice moment.

As he ran through his songs, the visuals of his show deserve a mention. Jumping from album to album, the songs he chose told a story about the greed of humanity, our addiction to technology, the casual plundering of the environment, resulting in…the end of human life. Using a combination of animations and lights, the graphicl story he told was both engaging and stunning.

I took my parents to the show, and was a little concerned because neither of them had listened to FJM (besides on the car ride to the show), but luckily, FJM’s on stage theatrics combined with sweeping narratives of his music made the experience enjoyable for all who were there, as it simply was pure comedy.

Father John Misty at the Hollywood Bowl – 3 out of 5 Stars

Ginger Shots

“Searing Your Belly With Goodness”

Whenever I stop into the high-end grocery store on the way home from work, no matter what I’m there to procure, be it a salad, broccolini for dinner, or some other must-have necessity that justifies paying the extra charge for organic and locally grown, I always find myself clutching a Ginger shot as I step up to pay.

For those unfamiliar, a ginger shot is exactly what it sounds like – a small serving of blended ginger that is an immediate kick-start to your immune system. They’re basically impossible to drink like a dram of whiskey, you have to measure out your ginger sips responsibly.

Upon taking a stomachful of ginger, your face will do an extreme version of the bitter beer face commercials that were prevalent about a decade ago. As the yellow liquid trickles through your system, your nerves feel awake, your toes tingle, your eyes will water, and you might very well sneeze.

Why would someone do this voluntarily?

Smugness mostly.

The places that sell Ginger shots are where “wellness” has taken over, root and stem. I’m the direct descendant of practitioners of western medicine for two generations, but there is something about going the natural route that is slightly appealing.

Now, let’s not put me in the anti-vaxxer camp so quickly. Ginger shots, while gross, make me feel like I’m putting good stuff in my body, that I don’t normally take the time or effort to ingest. That feeling of well-being is central to the wellness movement.

It’s understandable, everyone wants their body to feel good. To me, it’s a question of the level of difficulty you’re willing to go through in an attempt to reach that goodness. Ginger shots are fine. Ayahuasca ceremonies where you lose control of your bowels and go on a journey that lasts for hours? I don’t think they sell that at the grocery store near me, and either way, that sounds like too high of a price tag for my body.

Ginger Shots – 3 out of 5 Stars