Monday chills and thrills: “Within” with Peter Bean

A short horror film from Peter Bean, Erick Claux, and Chispa Productions. This was shot by two people in one stairwell in a single night. Can you escape from the monster Within?

As Halloween approaches, there’s nothing like a good thriller to set the mood for the season. THis film is by someone regular readers of my site have already met, Peter Bean, who made his debut here guest-blogging right before everything shut down in March. He is a ridiculously talented filmmaker and editor (hire him!), as well as one of the nicest, down-to-earth people I know.
He got married at the beginning of October, just over two weeks ago. Woot!

He’s also made me much more environmentally conscious purely by example, and I want to be him when I grow up.

He’s made some pretty amazing short features, but since this is his only really spooky one so far — and because it’s an amazing example of what a crew of two can accomplish in a stairwell in San Francisco — I’m sharing Within, in which Peter is also the lead, proving that yes, he can act, too.

You can see some of his other films at his company’s, Chispa Productions, Youtube Channel. They’re all worth a look or two.

Image: Peter Bean in Within, © 2012 Chispa Productions

Momentous Monday: Welcome, Peter Bean

In honor of his marriage last Saturday, I’m running this story by Peter Bean again in which he writes about the Space Shuttle and its meaning to him. Hard to beleive that this piece originally ran at the beginning of lockdown in Los Angeles.

It’s a very special and, well, momentous Monday for one very big reason. This past Saturday, my friend Peter Bean tied the knot and married his fiancée, Cathleen, so in honor of the occasion, I’m rerunning this guest blog post he originally wrote in 2020.

First, I’m very excited to announce that today is the launch of what I hope will be many guest bloggers here, and my first guest is Peter Bean, who is a truly amazing human — the kind of person I really admire in that “I want to be him when I grow up” way. You can visit his blog and more at The Flushed.

Originally in honor of the ninth anniversary of the decommissioning of the space shuttle Discovery, in its honor I asked Peter to share his experience up close and personal with another shuttle, OV-105, better known as Endeavour, the one that wound up here in L.A. — my original, and his  adopted, hometown.

We finally both got to see the shuttle together a little over five years after it arrived here at the California Science Center, and it was a profoundly moving experience. Walking into that room and seeing the thing up close was like walking into a cathedral.

But now, I’m very proud to turn it over to Peter Bean, one of the most amazing and inspiring people I’ve ever met, and a walking anti-depressant. But don’t tell him I said any of that!

I hate you Space Shuttle, I love you Space Shuttle

By Peter Bean

Peter Bean as Endeavor continues its final voyage

The retired Endeavour space shuttle lumbers down an average Los Angeles street on October 13th, 2012, set to be on display in a local museum. As it rumbles towards me, feelings of love, hate, and sadness mix inside. The United States shuttle program crippled, gut-punched, and inspired humanity. The wings of the shuttle spread outward. Crowds of people push past me for a better look as I squint to see this plane. This is no rocket that pushed Neil Armstrong upward. I’m left wondering about when exactly we gave up the future. The Moon? Mars?

It was in a wood-paneled sixties-looking room complete with an ashtray, patterned fabric chairs, and white carpet. I can imagine the room was brimming with a specific old man funk due to the many, many reporters packed into the small space.

It’s January 5th 1972 and President Richard Nixon announces the shuttle program. He, his administration, and a Space Task Group he created all decided that the United States would not commit to a Mars mission, but instead to low-Earth orbit.

He’d be well out of office by the time the program began in 1981 due to his underhanded interest in getting dirt on his rivals. Between 1983 and 1992 space shuttles Columbia (1981), Challenger (1983), Discovery (1984), Atlantis (1985), and Endeavour (1992) were built and flown. Their primary function: deliver satellites into Earth’s orbit. No longer would we stretch humanity’s arms. No longer would we touch the soil of alien worlds.

The gut punch. Space isn’t easy. The Endeavour space shuttle is now directly in front of me as I stand on the sidewalk and I can see the nooks, the knobs, and the scrapes. It’s not the hulking beast I came to think of in my head. It’s fragile and vulnerable.

A miracle it too didn’t retire in the tragic way its sister ships did. Challenger disintegrated upon launch and killed all seven astronauts in 1986. Columbia broke up during reentry in 2003, killing all of its seven crew.

Challenger’s error came from an O-ring malfunction due to cost-cutting with new shuttle ship building. Columbia’s was a more systematic error in its underbelly shielding. Its sleek black bottom was meant to take on the heat of re-entry. Each tile is quite fragile and lightweight. It’s a marvel of engineering, but its fragility became its downfall.

After these public disasters we realized, as a country, that space very much was not, and is not easy. If there could be a silver lining to these tragedies, it came in the form of international relations. The Russian space program Roscosmos would help us with continued access to the ISS and beyond from then until the present day.

Endeavour’s many cones that form its butt inch past me at a snail’s pace and I can now see the other side of this wide Los Angeles street. There’s a large crowd of people smiling and waving at this space ship. A little girl sits on her dad’s shoulders watching.

With all of the missed opportunities, bloodshed, and limitations, there’s one thing the shuttle program has that Apollo missions before it didn’t: An Enterprise. The prototype ship named Enterprise was built in 1976 and never flew a mission.

I was a child when the shuttle program was in full force, but the television show Star Trek: The Next Generation got me falling in love with space exploration. Much like the beloved Enterprise ships of Captain Kirk and Picard, these real-world shuttles are objects that represent our need to explore. There are four surviving shuttles that a little kid can look upon seated high on their parents’ shoulders.

I recently had the chance to experience an Apollo VR game. It began with me sitting in a similar wood-paneled room much like the room in which Nixon announced the shuttle program, complete with an ashtray and blue fabric chairs. On the rounded television, President John F. Kennedy’s moon speech is blaring. His words echo around the room “Surely the opening vistas of space promise high costs and hardships. As well as high reward. So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer.”

The game carts me to the tall Saturn V rocket and I’m tucked in. I’m blasted off and ultimately in the lunar lander with Neil Armstrong. As we stand on the moon with my cats rubbing my leg, attempting to break my immersion, I glance upwards at the blue Earth.

It’s a mesmerizing sight that I’m in awe of. It’s often said that when we went to the moon, we discovered Earth. Neil and I (we’re on a first name basis) look back at our fragile world and Carl Sagan‘s voice pounds in my memory from his show Cosmos, when he talked about future space explorers:

“They will strain to find the blue dot. They will marvel at how vulnerable the repository of all our potential once was. How perilous our infancy.”

Since the Apollo program, the shuttles launched many Earth-monitoring satellites that helped us understand climate change. The Hubble space telescope was launched to help us see into deep space, stretching our eyes farther than the Apollo missions ever could.

The space shuttle Endeavour is now in the distance on this 2012 October day and, despite the potential crippling effect it had on getting humans beyond Earth’s orbit, the crowd around me is a testament to our affection for this object, this ship.

The shuttle program was a step towards something greater. It helped us see beyond our solar system and helped us understand the danger of space. It didn’t dull our curiosity about space, it enflamed it. As President Kennedy described, “It is one of the great adventures of all time.”

Shuttle Visit 02

Image credits:

Header: ©2018 Jon Bastian: Peter and Endeavour meet face-to-face at the California Science Center to talk about their love-hate relationship.

Top of Peter’s post: ©2012 Peter Bean: on the trail of Endeavour’s final voyage to its new forever home. That’s right, it’s a shelter shuttle!

End of article: ©2018 Peter Bean: Curtis Crumbie, Peter Bean, and Jon Bastian under the shuttle at the California Science Center.

If you’d like to be a guest-blogger, use the form below, or send me an email if the form isn’t showing up for you. I anticipate launching the program on May 16, 2020.

Wednesday Wonders: Chance Encounter

Last weekend, I attended the engagement party for someone who may be familiar to my regular readers: Peter Bean. It almost didn’t happen, and it actually took a gigantic and improbable coincidence to make it happen.

There were a few factors making me reluctant to go. First off, it was a long schlep — only about 40 miles by car, but in L.A. terms that might as well be to the Moon. Second, I still had COVID concerns regarding the possibility that the Delta variation is infectious even to fully vaccinated people, of which I am one.

On top of that, though, while Peter and I do have mutual friends, none of them were going to show up. He’d be the only person I’d know there, but since the event was going to be all about him and his fiancée, I also knew that his time would be getting divided all over the place so I’d have little chance to talk to him, and I’d just feel awkward.

Yeah, having not done live improv for well over a year has kind of stunted my social skills again.

But, the big factor on top of that was my old friend depression, which came back big-time a couple of months ago. My typical week would be this: Get up, work from home, maybe eat lunch at some point (if I had an appetite), take a nap after work, wake up, eat dinner if I hadn’t had lunch, then write my own stuff or watch various YouTube videos or streaming shows until bedtime.

Lather rinse repeat, except that the weekend schedule turned into Wake up whenever, turn noise-generator/rain machine back on for an hour, then another hour, and another. Eventually look at the clock and realize that it’s 1 p.m. — or 2 p.m. — or later.

So although I really wanted to be there to support a good friend, it was a case of the flesh was willing, but the spirit was weak. And the flesh wasn’t going anywhere or doing anything with no spirit in it.

Then I went grocery shopping on Friday night, the day before the party and my usual time and store. I’d gotten in line, but I turned out to be behind some customer having a coupon issue and paying by check, and all those awful things. But I noticed that at the other open check stand to my left, the dude with the cart was almost done, so I changed lanes.

I pushed my cart in, started putting my stuff on the belt, then looked at the guy in front of me and realized, “Hey — I recognize that hair. And those glasses. And even though he’s masked, I’m 99% sure…”

“Peter?” I ask tentatively. And, sure enough, it’s Peter Bean himself, in the flesh, and even though we haven’t seen each other in person in well over a year (only keeping in touch via social media) it’s like no time has passed at all.

We immediately get chatty, which I’m sure the clerk appreciated — nothing like talking to someone who makes time vanish for you to turn you into the kind of customer you hate for not paying attention! — but I told him that I probably wasn’t coming to the party and most of the reasons why (I left out the depression), and while he was mock-upset, he understood.

We walked out together and played catch-up for a while by my car, and all the while I was thinking, “What were the odds of this happening, and on this night?”

See, this has been my regular store for almost 13 years now, and I usually do my grocery shopping on Thursday or Friday nights. The thing is, though, is that it’s also Peter’s regular store — we live about two miles apart. But I’ve never seen him there before, nor has he seen me, and despite the proximity of or residences, we’ve never run into each other at random either.

And then, the night before the party I was going to miss, random chance put us together, and if either one of us had been a minute late or early, we would have missed each other; if the woman in my original line hadn’t been a total PITA, we would have missed each other. If he’d decided to grab the items he needed to decorate for the party at another store, we would have missed each other.

I don’t believe in the supernatural or the spiritual or anything like that, but it was truly like the universe was telling me, “Get your damn ass to this party. That’s an order.”

Later that evening, Peter did mention that a couple of people we both knew were coming, but they just weren’t our mutual friends on Facebook. So I made a list of what I needed to do to be ready for it, decided that I’d get up at the ungodly hour of 10:30 a.m. on Saturday in order to make the 3:00 p.m. party time, and set the alarm.

Then a funny thing happened in the morning. I woke up at 7:25 a.m., but only lolled around a little bit, and I was out of bed before 8:30. I had a mission and a list, and I put it into action.

The first thing I needed for the party were new clothes. Over the COVID era, the state of my wardrobe has gotten… ratty. I can’t wear most of my pants because of quarantine weight-gain, and I hadn’t done actual laundry in months, relying instead on probably ineffective bathtub washes when stuff started to stand up on its own.

So it was time for a trip to my go-to clothing emporium, ROSS Dress for Less, which is an amazing outlet that has all designer brands for really cheap. And, as I’d mentioned to Peter the night before, I tend to be cheap particularly when I actually have money. Well, okay, frugal. Why spend a couple hundred dollars on a pair of pants when you can spend $12.99?

So I picked up two pairs of dress pants — khaki and dark brown; a reversible belt, which is the best kind of belt because it’s two for one; a three pack of socks in brown/beige tones complimentary to the pants; a nice white Dockers dress shirt that turned out to be created with minimizing water usage in general and which appears to be some kind of linen or hemp; and a four-pack of undies, all for about $72 after taxes.

Yes, I was basically creating an entire outfit that didn’t have the reek of plague on it. The only things I already owned that I wore were a pair of brown wingtips and an orange and white striped tie.

And the simple act of shopping for and buying these clothes lifted my spirits further. But the next step was to get my unruly mane cropped.

Pre-COVID, I’d gotten my hair cut in February 2020, and then nothing. By July of that year, it was out of control, so I did what a lot of friends of mine did: Bought some clippers online, and then shaved my head for the first time in my life.

It looked… odd but actually felt great. And hey, I wasn’t going anywhere, right?

I didn’t have another haircut until February 2021, and this one was a freebie from my boss’s wife, who was a stylist, done in their backyard with both of us masked.

Full circle to July of this year, and with my normal salon open again, I made an appointment online and got it cropped so that I’d look human and not like a mad professor.

On the way home from the haircut, I grabbed a card for the happy couple — although a blank one, because pre-written engagement cards suck. I also grabbed a pair of bold ballpoint pens, since I didn’t have any working ones at home.

Finally, I needed to grab the engagement present, and all signs seemed to say that champagne was appropriate, so it was off to the local liquor retailer and, although they didn’t have the brand I’d picked from their website, I still found something comparable, definitely French, and in the mid-range cost-wise.

Side note: Apparently, champagne is a very popular engagement party gift. I think that Peter and his bride-to-be scored at least a case worth. Oops!

Finally, it was time to head to the party via a stop to check my mail at the post office, which was on the way, and then the epic drive. Leg one was going south past Downtown L.A. on the 101, then transitioning to the 60 and heading east.

Traffic was heavier than expected, so it took me longer than I thought, but I wound up arriving at the party at around 4:00 p.m. The first person I met was Cathleen, the fiancée, and I realized something as soon as I introduced myself.

I’d realized the nightmare that I’d had so many times over the last year and a half, and I’d left my mask in the car before walking into a very crowded house. I was tempted to run back and get it, but it felt like it was too late anyway, so I committed.

I gave Cathleen the gift, then found Peter, and met his mother almost immediately. Now, he’s told me a lot about her, but it was great to finally meet her, and we wound up bonding over all kinds of things, having several long conversations over the course of what turned out to be a very long party.

It also turned out that our two mutual friends did not show up at all, so that ultimate fear was realized and it turned out to not make any difference at all. And while Peter’s time and focus were naturally pulled all over the place, it didn’t really matter. I found myself able to talk to people again, with intermittent breaks of “I’m just going to sit over here now and watch interactions.”

What I learned from the party? Peter truly is a human anti-depressant. His fiancée is an incredibly wonderful person — gracious, poised, creative, funny, and friendly. Peter’s mother and I have the same sense of humor. I’ve never seen Peter look so happy for as long as I’ve known him. (Six years, if you’re keeping track.)

And, most importantly, if a Filipina mom presents you with food, you eat it. All of it. Now! (Note: You can swap Filipina for Italian, Jewish, or Mexican.) I had reasons for not eating that day, and apparently the bride’s tía was watching me like a hawk and noticed that I didn’t eat.

I wound up coming home with an overstuffed plate of, well, everything — except for the amazing potato balls from Porto’s, which had been swept away, along with the desserts, before I got to the doggie-bag portion of the evening.

I wound up staying a lot later than I ever though I would and managed to drive my way back out of the neighborhood and to the freeway without GPS — not a simple feat, but I’m a homing pigeon. Also: The trip back is always much shorter than the trip there despite being the same distance.

The party had turned out to be far from the nightmare I’d created in my mind. Instead, it was a very fun and positive experience, plus I got to hang out and bond with Peter, his fiancée Cathleen, and his mother Jean, and their various friends and family members.

None of which would have happened if not for a chance and very improbable grocery store encounter, which is really the lesson of this piece. Pay attention and listen to coincidences. Carl Jung would call this “synchronicity,” which are circumstances that appear meaningfully related, but which lack a causal connection.

My chance encounter with Peter at a grocery store the night before his engagement party certainly had all kinds of meaningful relation to the party, but the party didn’t cause it. Well, not directly. Yes, he was getting party stuff at that store, but that had nothing to do with me being there at the same time.

But… for the first time in a long time, it snapped me out of my funk, and that’s totally worth something.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, help is available. In the U.S., call the SAMHSA National Helpline. In the UK, contact Supportline. And although they tend to lump the subjects of suicide and depression together (despite a lot of us not having any suicidal ideation) help in other parts of the world is available via this list.

Sunday Nibble #44: A short guide to knowing your shit #8

I originally wrote these pieces for my friend Peter’s website,, back when they had been planning to expand their editorial content. However, the actual shitshow that 2020 turned into intervened, and we sort of forgot about it. Until now! Here, at least, you can read all about the anal emanations you’re likely to encounter in this ongoing series. How many of them do you recognize?

This poop will most often occur after you’ve binged on party food (particularly pot luck), when you’re on certain medications, or have had certain things to drink. It can behave like any other poop on this list, but it’s a secondary property that puts it into a category all its own.

The distinguishing feature is that what hits the water has a color that bears no resemblance to standard brown, or sometimes just for fun it may be two-toned or multi-colored. In fact, it can cover pretty much the whole rainbow.

If you’re getting red from your rump, it could be that you’ve recently eaten too much Red Velvet Cake or other foods dyed red, but if you haven’t and you don’t have hemorrhoids, then you should probably see your doctor.

Yes, it’s possible to have orange output, especially if you eat a lot of foods with beta carotene in them, like carrots or sweet potatoes.

One color not caused by food is yellow. If this starts happening, then it’s definitely time to doctor up, as you may be developing serious liver problems.

A green growler is usually caused by eating a lot of green foods, like gorging on spinach, or can also be due to food with green dye, so it can be quite common right after St. Patrick’s Day. On the other hand, green poop can also mean that your food is making the trip portal-to-portal through your body way too quickly, so that the bile in it hasn’t broken down enough to turn dark brown.

And if you would have normally had a yellow dump, you can get green instead if you have a lot of red wine or grape juice — although you really shouldn’t have any of the former if you’re already pooping yellow.

Blue butt blasts are also a result of eating a lot of food that is dyed or naturally blue.

The only one lacking is a purple poo, although you might get that one if you gorge yourself on Red Velvet Cake and blueberries. Don’t try this at home, though.

Finally, if you blow mud in black and you haven’t had Pepto-Bismol or black licorice lately, or your waste is white at all, it’s definitely doctor time. The former could indicate internal bleeding, and the latter probably means hepatitis or liver failure.

So there are many reasons you may find out that you missed the bus to brown town, but it’s not always something to worry about, and it can be an expected event that livens things up.

This is why we call this kind of poop La Caca Sorpresa

(Shout out to the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research for their explanations of various possible colors, and/or colours.)

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Sunday Nibble #43: A short guide to knowing your shit #7

I originally wrote these pieces for my friend Peter’s website,, back when they had been planning to expand their editorial content. However, the actual shitshow that 2020 turned into intervened, and we sort of forgot about it. Until now! Here, at least, you can read all about the anal emanations you’re likely to encounter in this ongoing series. How many of them do you recognize?

This is the rarest poop of them all, and one you’re lucky to encounter once in a very blue moon. You go to the toilet as normal and begin your routine. Of course, none of us ever knows what to expect. Will it be a cheek-ripping Decepticon, or the disappointing Phantom? Is it time to bless the Chocolate Rains down on Aquaman, or experience the wonders of an endless Anaconda?

Every time you come here, it’s literally a crapshoot.

Then comes that magical time when you squat and everything comes out almost immediately, in two or three solid plops that follow one after another like paratroopers leaping from the plane. No muss, no fuss, barely any clean-up, and you’re done. You didn’t even get a chance to open your browser.

This is Nature’s way of telling you, “Yes, you are getting enough fiber, and your diet is good.” This is the one that starts your day off right or makes your afternoon a thousand percent better. This is the one you want to share with friends, co-workers, or family by proudly stating, “I took the most satisfying dump today!”

By the way, did you ever wonder why the expression is “took” and not “left?” But I do digress.

When you experience this poop, it’s as if the heavens open and choirs of angels sing. You almost expect this one to smell like rainbows and cotton candy. You plan to buy a bunch of lottery tickets as soon as you get out of the bathroom, and you might even let someone else have the remote tonight. It’s just that good a moment.

If this happens for you every single day, then your gastrointestinal tract is truly blessed and your colon is probably more sparkly than the clean-room at JPL. You most likely pity your fellow humans.

But if this is a rarity for you, like it is for most of us mere mortals, count it as a lucky day when it’s snap, crackle, plop, and done, for you have just had the most wondrous poop of them all.

This rarest of poops is called The Unicorn

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Sunday Nibble #42: A short guide to knowing your shit #6

I originally wrote these pieces for my friend Peter’s website,, back when they had been planning to expand their editorial content. However, the actual shitshow that 2020 turned into intervened, and we sort of forgot about it. Until now! Here, at least, you can read all about the anal emanations you’re likely to encounter in this ongoing series. How many of them do you recognize?

This is possibly the worst of the poops, especially if it happens when you’re stuck in a public restroom stall with only TP on hand and no sink within reach. It tends to feel pretty normal right until it gets to wiping time, and then…

You slip the paper between your cheeks, take a swipe and feel a sudden and unfortunate warmness on your finger. For whatever reason, this particular poop didn’t nosedive out. Instead, it used its little hands and grabbed the sides, leaving nasty palm prints on the door jambs, as it were.

Think of it as a Play-Doh pumper when you’ve gotten the dough wet first. No matter how small the opening is, that stuff is going to smear sideways on the way out. And if you have any kind of butt hair at all in your crack (which you should keep if you do) ta-da — instant Velcro® that’ll hang onto the mess tightly.

The causes of this disaster are uncertain, but it would seem to be a combination of a Decepticon and a Traitor. The solidity of the former keeps it from becoming the latter but, at the same time, the squishiness of the latter expands and turns the former into something else. And, ta-da, it’s peanut butter jelly time.

There’s really no good way to deal with this one other than using about six tons of TP to scour your crack and your hand, over and over and over. It’s either that or waddle to the quite public sink with your posterior out for all to see, hoping that no one else comes in while you try to aim the water up your crack. It’s also a reminder that bidets are an excellent idea, and why they haven’t caught on in America is a complete mystery.

Once you’ve managed to feel clean enough downstairs, you’re still going to have to awkwardly re-dress with your non-wiping hand, and then go play Lady Macbeth at the sink until you once again feel pure, all the while swearing that you are going to drink more water and eat more fiber.

You have just been a victim of The Sloppy Joe

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Sunday Nibble #41: A short guide to knowing your shit #5

I originally wrote these pieces for my friend Peter’s website,, back when they had been planning to expand their editorial content. However, the actual shitshow that 2020 turned into intervened, and we sort of forgot about it. Until now! Here, at least, you can read all about the anal emanations you’re likely to encounter in this ongoing series. How many of them do you recognize?

Quite often, you won’t even detect this particular poop coming because it frequently happens during a normal morning dump. You won’t feel bloated or full, so figure it’ll be a quick trip as you settle down, smartphone in hand.

Then you sense movement. Your brown eye blinks open and the snake pokes out his head. Satisfied that he’s in the right place, he begins to slither out of his womb and into the world.

This is the Energizer Bunny of bowel movements — it just keeps going and going. Surprisingly, it doesn’t even really take any effort on your part. Gravity and the sheer mass of the thing are doing all the work for you. It may be moving slower than the line at the DMV, but it is moving.

To you, it feels like you’ve reeled out one foot, then another, and then it’s a yard. You marvel at the possibility of dropping a deuce that’s longer than you are tall, then wonder whether such a thing is even possible. After all, where could it all be hiding?

You’re beginning to regret that you didn’t weigh yourself before this one, because you’d sure love to know how much weight you’ll have lost when it’s finished. You haven’t timed it, but you’ve read four articles from the morning news feed and are starting a fifth with no end in sight. This thing is the CVS receipt of dumps.

Not once has this fecal freight train hesitated or stalled. It’s been rolling down the rails since it left the station. Far more than half of it is probably underwater by now. You’re contemplating instagramming the results — that is, if it ever actually stops coming out.

Secretly, you feel very proud of yourself, and perhaps even wonder how this can hurt so little in one direction and yet so much in the other. Then, as you’re finishing your sixth news story, you feel the tail of the serpent calmly slither past the pearly gates, which gently slide closed without any major ado.

In the aftermath, you’re surprised to find that, while this turd is impressively substantial, it’s nowhere near as long as it felt. It just decided to take its sweet time on the way out.

That was The Anaconda, also known as The Lincoln Log

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Sunday Nibble #40: A short guide to knowing your shit #4

I originally wrote these pieces for my friend Peter’s website,, back when they had been planning to expand their editorial content. However, the actual shitshow that 2020 turned into intervened, and we sort of forgot about it. Until now! Here, at least, you can read all about the anal emanations you’re likely to encounter in this ongoing series. How many of them do you recognize?

This one inevitably occurs when you’re in public. Perhaps you’re in line at the mall, or at a party, or grocery shopping. Even more likely, you’re at a formal event, like a wedding or funeral.

It starts small. Just that sudden little gassy feeling, only it’s not an impending burp. Well, in a sense it is, but let’s call it an Australian Belch — it wants to happen down under. The only problem, of course, is that there are a lot of people around, so you can’t slip one out and you can’t slip out of the room. Why, what would people think if you abruptly left your pew (or a P.U.) and ran down the aisle while Auntie Lou is eulogizing your late Grandpa John in glowing terms?

So you try to hold it in, but the more you do the more insistent it becomes. You may even experience the phenomenon of feeling gas bubbles in your intestines pop, which just makes the need to toot your horn even more pressing. All you can do is clench and suffer through it until the time is right.

Eventually, you finish checking out, or they finishing checking out your grandfather, and you’re able to make your way to a safe place to play a few bars of “Fart and Soul.” You’re not even going to try to find a bathroom, you’re just going to liberate the Methane Menace into the open air, perhaps on the fly. Maybe you duck into an alcove off of the church lobby, or one of those side corridors in the mall. You might even just call “Blast off” as soon as you’re outside the market and you have the cover of noise and a breeze.

All right, captain. You’re all clear, so it’s time to announce, “Engage,” and open the shuttle bay doors. You give that fart permission to launch with an encouraging nudge, and it’s finally free to fly away.

Then you realize with a sinking feeling that this shuttle was carrying a full cargo which did not make it into the open air. You’ve now experienced the exact opposite of The Phantom because you have just crapped your pants.

Meet The Traitor

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Sunday Nibble #39: A short guide to knowing your shit #3

I originally wrote these pieces for my friend Peter’s website,, back when they had been planning to expand their editorial content. However, the actual shitshow that 2020 turned into intervened, and we sort of forgot about it. Until now! Here, at least, you can read all about the anal emanations you’re likely to encounter in this ongoing series. How many of them do you recognize?

This one can come on just as strongly as Chocolate Rain and it may even come with sudden cramps. All you know is you’d better get to the facilities stat. You think you have barely enough time before the howitzer fires as you settle onto the pot, brace yourself, and then… nothing.

Okay, maybe a little assistance is required, so you bear down to try to exorcise the demon hiding in your rectum. There’s more rumbling and gurgling and maybe another cramp, so you give it another hard push and then it all comes out for what seems like an hour.

What’s most noticeable about this one is that while you don’t feel anything, you hear a lot. Your butt is now a thundercloud hovering over the upper Mid-West during the worst storm of the season and, while you don’t have lightning shooting out of your rosebud, it sure as heck sounds like you do. The windows rattle and you might even knock a picture or two off of the wall. Your pets have long since gone into hiding, and pity any roommates or loved ones who are in the same building. Did they hear you? Oh yes, they most certainly did and, by now, they can probably also smell you.

“This is going to be a full can of Febreze job,” you think to yourself as your butt-tuba continues to play its solo in your personal Symphony Number Two, First Movement. Perhaps, sloth-like, you won’t even have to poop for a whole week after this one.

At least the sounds on the inside have stopped and so has the cramping, but since this is a full symphony, there are still a few movements to go, broken only by the brief silences between them.

Then, finally, the clouds part and the Sun returns. You can’t wait to see exactly what monstrosity just used your heinie for some base-jumping. So you look in the bowl and there’s nothing. Zilch. Zip. Nada. This movement was full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

You expected so much but, alas, ‘twas but a fart.

This is known as The Phantom

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Read the next installment.

Sunday Nibble #38: A short guide to knowing your shit #2

I originally wrote these pieces for my friend Peter’s website,, back when they had been planning to expand their editorial content. However, the actual shitshow that 2020 turned into intervened, and we sort of forgot about it. Until now! Here, at least, you can read all about the anal emanations you’re likely to encounter in this ongoing series. How many of them do you recognize?

You knew that going to that new Indian-Mexican fusion place last night was a risky idea, but you’ve eaten there before and the food is just so damn awesome that the flaming chipotle sag paneer and tikka tacos with a side of chutney and mole salsa you had were totally worth it — until the next day, when you suffer Mahatmazuma’s Revenge.

It begins with a bit of rumbling and gurgling, then soon turns into a mad dash for the can, where you fumble your clothes into position for emergency evacuation, have a seat and, before you can say “Check, please,” the remains of last night’s meal blast out of you in a torrent that could launch a rocket for Elon Musk — and that’s just the beginning.

You didn’t even realize you could have this much in you, but every time you think you’re done, another wave hits the shore and firehoses its way out your nozzle. And the sound… oh, the noises you’re making! Just pray that this hit you at home and not anywhere you’d have to use a public bathroom, because the farts and gurgles and splats and splashes echoing in the porcelain bowl under your posterior could drown out all seven stages at Coachella combined, and the smell would make a skunk retch.

Did I mention how spicy that dinner was? Well, you’re experiencing that spiciness all over again, only this time via a more delicate opening. You subconsciously start humming Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” as you hope that it’s over, but you’re only halfway there. Now you’re regretting buying that rougher TP because it was cheaper. Like Spider Man, the aftermath isn’t going to feel so good.

When it finally seems like you’ve blasted out all of your internal organs, there’s one last, final hold-out, the only solid bit of the experience — the sad little turd that had to wait until the deluge was over. At least this job only needed one painful wipe. You glance in the bowl before you flush and mutter, “Holy moley,” because it looks exactly like the Mexican sauce that came with last night’s food.

My friends, you’ve just experienced Chocolate Rain

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Read the next installment.
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