Product Spotlight: The Night Bunion Regulator!


The Night Bunion Regulator from FootSmart is the leading product in the competitive field of bunion regulation.

Dr. Kalvin Flavors started Footsmart technologies in 1943 out of a disused silo in rural Sopjaw, Idaho. Using assorted sticks and animal parts available to him via proximity, he perfected certain “stretching” and “holding” techniques to fashion a new kind shoe he called The Funion Bunion Sole Stretch Footwear Experience or F.B.S.S.F.E. which was commonly referred to as Fuhbuhsehsehfehee.  In fact, all the kids were saying it on the school yard. It was the number one gift for both dads and grads in the spring of ’44 and Roy Rogers scored a novelty hit with “These Dogs Are Barkin’ (and They’re Singin’ Bout Fuhbuhsehsehfehee)”

When Kalvin’s son Horg inherited the company in the wake of his father’s tragic silo accident, he famously said in an issue of Parade Magazine, “The Fuhbuhsehsehfehee is like a delicious banana ham bake but without the saucy gravy. I aim to bring the gravy back to bunion care.” Sure, the Fuhbuhsehsehfehee was successful but it also had certain drawbacks. Firstly, the sorry bunion sufferer needed to wear the boot for 23 hours a day coupled with bedrest. Further, all the sinew and tendon involved in their construction caused an awful stink after a few days.  Horg knew he needed to refine the formula.

Unfortunately, he had enjoyed a big meal before the interview and was thus a tired fella. So for years those beset by bunion pain dealt with that awful one-two punch of bedsores and tendonstench.  Luckily his daughter Clemclem came to the rescue with innovative thinking. In a backyard meeting with Footsmart shareholders, she tripped over a stray pile of rubber bands and other competing bunion relief products and had an epiphany. She thought, “What if we used rubber bands rather than tendons? And what if I stole ideas from ToeCo, Collective Sole and Sugarfeets?”  The first idea turned out to be a revolution, further refining her grandfather’s boot technology and ushering in the modern Night Bunion Regulator. The second idea, unfortunately, landed her in Hot Water.  That’s right, did you know that a prominent member of the Flavors family is interred at Hot Water, Georgia Correctional Facility to this very day? It’s true!

But what about the name? Well, in 1994 Clemclem’s son Warren G Flavors was at the peak of a successful career in the field of rap music. Though previously he’d found success in the hip hop supergroup 213, he was looking for a crossover hit. He found himself sharing a submarine sandwich with his friend Nate Dogg and trying to come up with a hook for his new song “Unnamed G Funk Era Single.”  At this point Nate Dogg , mouth full of Italian BMT, said, “Hey Warren, what’s that thing your great grandpa invented for feet? It does something to bunions, right?”  Warren said, “Well yeah Nate. It regulates them….regulate…hmmmm.”

And from that moment on, bunion history was made. Bunions had truly entered a funked out era and had become funked out with a gangster twist!

A Handy Guide to My Death


So, my birthday is coming up.

Over the past 34 years, I’ve come to realize that I’m going to die. It’s a total bummer, right? When you’re dead you don’t get to do things anymore. And what’s worse, death is unpredictable like weather. Maybe some well meaning person in a white coat can give me a ballpark guestimate but maybe I’ll just be walking around and my heart will stop like a refrigerator motor in the middle of the night. Inconvenient!

When you think about death the way I have for the last ten or twenty years, it really puts things in perspective. A terrible, crushing perspective. Here are the realizations I’ve made:

I will never, ever experience everything I want to experience. I’ve been moving through life like a cat riding a Roomba, collecting interesting things for later. Hmm, maybe I’ll read this book trilogy? Maybe I’ll play this series of games? Perhaps I’ll take up gardening? Bzzzt! Probably not!

  • My body is dying in pieces. Right now, while writing this, I’m pushing one of my teeth with my tongue and it feels a little like it’s moving a bit. An enthusiasm for bread has made me insulin resistant and now, there are parts of my body I simply can’t feel anymore due to nerve damage. My memory is worse, I get nauseated on roller coasters now.
  • I have no idea what happens when you die but my suspicion is nothing. And I don’t know what nothing feels like. I can’t know, it’s one of those meaningless concepts like infinity or Bill Berry’s unibrow.

As you might imagine, I’m fucking terrified. I’m scared enough that I’ve combed the closed stacks for the secrets of lichdom. I’m willing to make a Darke Pact with El Nosferatu in order to gain eternal life. I backed the Lazarus Protocol kickstarter at the $60 level (beta access, sticker, personal thank you). In the words of Steven Tyler, this generation’s greatest poet, “I don’t wanna miss a thing.”

In the face of mighty Thanatos, what can I do? That’s the thing. That’s the silBUTTERFIELD__621ver lining to all this morose navel gazing. I can be mindful and active, I can choose what I say and do and choose how I spend my time, not be shitty to people, not say things to hurt people. And when other people are shitty and hurtful, I can call them out for it. It’s my mortality that gives this weight and poignancy.

I fail at this over and over and over. I get mad and say something shitty, I waste time shadowboxing invisible monsters. I make my girlfriend cry. I project the worst possible connotations onto innocent statements and I project innocence onto ignorant, harmful rhetoric. I dismiss things that people care about, I forget that everything matters. I forget my privilege, I’m lazy and I don’t floss.

Here are some horrible things I’ve done, both through action and inaction:

  • In 7th grade I got into a fight with a kid because he called my mother a lesbian.
  • I’ve made cruel fun behind the backs of my friends.
  • When I first moved to Portland, I went to this pirate themed store. A clerk, dressed as a pirate said, “Arrr, can ye read, matey?” I said, “Yes.” He then pointed to a sign that instructed guests to check their bags. I apologized and he said, “It’s not really for you. It’s for those Mexicans and Puerto Ricans.” I just smiled and nodded like a racist coward.

I’m trying to be better though. I’m trying so fucking hard, which creates this amazing dissonance, this feeling of power and powerlessness. I think Tyler expressed the contrast best when he said, “Living it up while you’re going down.” It’s this sensation of being pulled between guilt and confidence.  I feel like a spring.

Anyway, back to my corpse. What do we even do with the danged thing? As previously stated, I don’t think I’ll have any consciousness to actually care.  The kind answer is to do whatever won’t distress the loved ones I leave behind. But, if it’s OK with my mom and girlfriend, if anyone wants to use my skull as a horcrux, I’m more or less down. Also, I’ll try to die in a graveyard to make things easypeasy.

I’d like there to be some sort of joke for my epitaph. Something like, “I’d get up but I am a skeleton.” Or, “Well, this sucks.” Or, “This is scary and I hate it but you should go be nice to someone instead of reading this.”


Staircase: Out of Order

I wrote this for Readretro without realizing that they had recently reviewed it. I thought I searched for it but I might have typo’d it or something. What a Derp! Anyway, Maniac Mansion is pretty special to me so I wanted to put these words somewhere:

Maniac Mansion is a game that features an alien meteor that moonlights as an aspiring writer, feuding rock and roll tentacles and a plant named Chuck. And at ten years old, it scared the shit out of me. It also features a pasty, sex crazed nurse who locks random teens in her dungeon to starve to death and almost as many ways to die as Shadowgate. And yet it was the first game to make me laugh. Maniac Mansion is all things to all people. It contains multitudes.

In 1990, adventure games were a rare thing on the NES. Sure, we had our MacVenture titles and King’s Quest 5 for some reason, but dyed in the wool PC adventure game ports were a poor fit for the system. The D-pad was a clunky replacement for the mouse and Nintendo of America’s draconian censorship policies meant that the subversive humor often found in the genre would have a hard time finding a place next to Mario and company. But here’s the thing: kids had affordable Nintendo Entertainment Systems at a time when a PC could run thousands of dollars. So when a game like Maniac Mansion slipped through the cracks, against all odds, it had the power to LITERALLY BLOW MY YOUNG MIND.

HUNGER GAMES: It may not seem like much but this scene struck abject terror into my young heart.

HUNGER GAMES: It may not seem like much but this scene struck abject terror into my young heart.

Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick’s classic Commodore 64 title features a group of seven kids exploring a spooky mansion in order to rescue their friend from the insane Dr. Fred. How this shakes out depends on which kids you choose. Each teen has his own strengths and weaknesses, corresponding to stereotypical social cliques and every combination of characters can reach the end of the game. Unlike most horror movies, you’re not screwed just for choosing to take the stoned surf enthusiast into the mansion of death.

Regardless of who you choose, you’re going to be moving throughout the house, a veritable adventure game Roomba, taking everything that isn’t nailed down and getting the lay of the land. The single house setting contributes a couple of important factors to the gameplay. By constraining all of the action to a single domicile, exploration is manageable. There are less than 40 rooms in the game, opulent for a living space, but modest for a game. Each room has a purpose which means that there’s very little need for the player to engage in abstraction. When you explore a town in Final Fantasy, you have to shut up the part of your brain that’s screaming, “Why are there only six people here and where do they sleep?” Maniac Mansion dodges this and does it in a way that aids memorization. It might be hard to remember exactly what The Towne of Hildeshire refers to but it’s easy to remember where the weight room is. And it’s easy to believe that there is a weight room.

ROAD TO NOWHERE: These stairs don't go anywhere. They exist entirely to tell this joke and that's great.

ROAD TO NOWHERE: These stairs don’t go anywhere. They exist entirely to tell this joke and that’s great.

Further, this house is occupied. In most games, NPCs walk back and forth waiting for you to ask them about the Orcs down at the Safeway. Not so here. Ed and Edna are active presences in the house, moving this way and that. Characters receive mail, they go to the kitchen for a snack, they visit one another. Since you’re trespassing, this adds an immense amount of tension.  When you’re rifling through the fridge and you see a cutscene where Ed says he’s feelin’ snacky, it’s thrilling. Hiding one room over, waiting for the goofy psychopath to get his cheese, you don’t know know if he’s going to make a side trip to the dining room or not. It plays on the common childhood fear of being somewhere you’re not supposed to be. The aliens in Maniac Mansion aren’t scary but being caught is.

What’s even more ingenious is that you can learn to manipulate the denizens. Need to get into Ed’s room to steal a certain infamous hamster? Well, you know he’s expecting a package so why not have someone ring the doorbell? This gives you precious minutes to get in and out and the feeling of manipulative transgression.

The combination of fear and humor is masterful. You can win this game by editing the meteor’s memoirs and getting him a publishing deal and that’s one of the best jokes in gaming history. But when you see a trail of unexplained slime coming from an abandoned crate or when you walk past the rotting pot roasts and desiccated turkeys in the dining room, like something out of Great Expectations, it’s unsettling. I’d argue this humor tinged with horror hasn’t been done as well in games before or since.

WINK: The censors didn't get every dirty joke out of this version.

WINK: The censors didn’t get every dirty joke out of this version.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the soundtrack, which is the best reason to choose this version over any other port. Previous versions of Maniac Mansion were almost entirely silent but Jaleco knew this would fly on the NES and commissioned one of the best video game soundtracks of all time. Each teen has a theme and in addition to being incredibly catchy, each reveals something about the character. Ubernerd Bernard listens to twitchy electronica, Metal chick Razor listens to hard punk and, well, regrettably, Michael listens to funk. Seriously, go listen to some of the soundtrack on Youtube. I’ll wait.

The NES version of Maniac Mansion isn’t without flaws. It’s a little tough to figure out what to do next from time to time and some of the censorship changes were a bummer. And the D-Pad controls take a while to get used to. But it’s still important today because it rubbed shoulders with Link and Donkey Kong. Sometimes by forcing a round peg into a square hole, you get something out of this world.


While reading a treatise on zero democracy law

Little brother pushed his fingertips against


Chapter One

he pressed so hard that his bones

tunneled out

The librarian leaned over and said,

That was my favorite

chapter too.

The pages got wet.

Little brother felt embarrassed, holding bones in front of his eyes.

Took a first step, his long foot bones in his left pushed through and cut into his sock.

He took a knee

nothing hurt.

I have


things I have to do before I crumble like a pot roast

The first is that I have to tell someone

I love you librarian

His hand limped at his wrist like a rubber glove caught on a watch.

Fetch me a blackboard! Fire up the projector!

If I kill a man we have determined the exact number of years that is worth.

Another number of years if I rob him or if I hit him or slander him.

Dollar amount too.

Think about that for a bit.

whole library quiet

Little brother outlining the principles of how we do what we do. His arm moved fast and shook off muscle and sinew and detritus.

You know, the extra stuff.
The way it happened was hard to explain

Have you seen an old screwballer where a man gets a

living lobster hooked up to his fingers and tries to shake it off?

It was like that but with blood.

little brother

human candle

so much verticality in the way he fell staggered

The third thing he needed to do was this:

I’m sorry.

is what it should have sounded like but he had only a


of a tongue remaining, the rest having sluiced past

little brother no jaw melted like a pile of clothing at ankle.


silver colossus that, I swear,

symbolizes nothing. It steps

on a lego that was cruft

in the shag.


It doesn’t feel it.


Because this specific Gordian not, or wasn’t,

travels, sinews

nerve from floor to foot

and up the leg.

should he be surprised

if he wakes up as less?

Maybe silver is hard and gold


And his blind ventricles will entangle

And rend.

his skull will


slowly with pudding

and when he reaches down

to peel lego from fallen arch

he’ll miss.

Get Total

on Tuesdays

she could think about

skates and the rays and

all the ways that main stream troubadours

(that were, to be sure, like 97 percent water)

ignore them.

I’d be a nurse shark, I’d be a total nurse shark

she writes with her finger, tracing the syllables in tress




you know what they say about the ocean?

nothing insightful or big.

what if the white noise was the whole school cheering


writing “metaphor” in the sand

writing “metaphor” in the water

this town needs a fire

and I need to sit, watch ash lap up

get some  sand between my toes


there’s a total nurse shark

out there and every time I see something move

some grisly flotsam

broken shell, timid crab

I know that I could grow up to ten feet in length

and I am too long

for local aquaria

An Open Letter to the Lady Who Knocked Three Times on the Bathroom Door of the MLK Blvd. Starbucks at 2:47PM on Sunday, November 17th.


We don’t know one another. We’re desperate, disparate motes of bio organic fuel for a system so big that we will never understand it. If we’re lucky, we’ll die somewhere an animal can eat us and where mushrooms will grow. And yet, we have had an impact on one another.

As one given to stomach problems from time to time (something ol’ grampy called the Thunderstums but I call indigestion), I was greatly relieved to find a Starbucks near where I was planning to meet my girlfriend for our one year anniversary date. We were going to get Indian food and watch Thor 2: The Dark World. We joked about Chicken Tanthori. A good chuckle was had by all.  Though I like to support local coffee shops with free range splenda and organic baristas, I admit I’m comforted by the anonymity of America’s favorite (but Seattle’s 2nd best) coffee. Especially when I need to drop trou and crank one.

Yes, indeed, cranking was on the menu. What can I say? I eat food and, if I’m lucky, I digest it. My body extracts the nutrients and the rest of it? That’s really none of my business so I get rid of it through my butt hole.

When I entered the Starbucks, you were arguing with the clerk and, in order to be totally transparent, I feel I should mention you had a service dog1 with you. I couldn’t determine why. I hope to illustrate through this missive that you were not an asshole because of whatever condition afforded you a hero animal companion but that you are an asshole AND you had a hero animal companion.

I took the bathroom key and made my way to do my dirty, sinful business. Inside, I also took two Aleve brand headache Aleve-iators and read a bit from my kindle. If the local news got a hold of this, a suggestive headline might be something like, “Local dipshit prevents disabled mother of some from using bathroom so he could do drugs and read about insanity.”

Is Vice hiring? “We got Gary Butterfield to do drugs in a Starbucks bathroom and tried to make him go mad while a woman and dog watched.”

Here are 20 gifs from Modern Family that express exactly what a disabled woman was feeling when Gary Butterfield used drugs in a Starbucks bathroom that she wanted to use.”

I did my business, I read The King in Yellow. And then: Knock knock knock.

This door had a clever little sign on it that showed that the bathroom was occupied. In fact, you could say it was lockupied. There were indeed three signs that showed that someone was in the bathroom. Let’s go through them chronologically.

  • You saw me take the key and go into the bathroom. Now, I know I previously established that you had a service animal. However, I also observed you observing things with your eyeballs. If you did have impaired vision, I imagine your other super senses would have heard the jingling of the keys, smelled my footsteps and tasted my sweaty palm upon the handle.
  • You saw the clever little sign that said occupied. Now, assuming, as I did in point one, that you could see, then for this point to work, I  must make another assumption: that you can read. I don’t want to flaunt my privilege in any way. But the word occupy is framed by an angry red color that communicates Grrr, Don’t Open, Human! or at the very least: danger. Or This Place is not a place of honor. No highly esteemed deed is commemorated here. Nothing valued is here. This place is a message and part of a system of messages. Pay attention to it! Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.
  • Also, you tested the handle. Can’t blame you for this in case you didn’t pay attention to the other signs or didn’t see them.  But it was locked. And if a bathroom door is locked, someone is in it. Bathroom doors that lock from the outside are only found in the stuff of nightmares and in the stuff of Nightline: Our Haunted, Abusive Nursing Homes.

I feel like any one of these signifiers should have dissuaded you from knocking. Does anyone like hearing a loud knock while expelling human waste? Any sort of waste, really. Is anyone just cool with it? Is anyone so comfortable expelling waste out of a butted hole that a sudden, Crash Boom Thwok is welcome? I think not.

So that put a damper on my romantic day, just a bit. Also, Thor 2 isn’t as good as the first one. Why did the Asgardians use blasters from star wars? What was up with the science sticks that Not Quite Aubrey Plaza was placing everywhere? If they had to be placed at specific points, why could they just toss them into Two Face at the end there?

Dinner was pretty good though.

Anyway, so, it wasn’t just that you knocked once. you knocked again. And then again. Did you expect the state of the bathroom to change? Like an atom when a science person looks at it? Did you expect I had somehow made a stealthy exit? I have yet to see a Starbucks bathroom with an emergency exit. I suppose I could have crawled through the vents like Solid Snake, ashamed of my bio disaster. But no, I just sat there, getting increasingly uncomfortable. I wasn’t able to complete my goals. And unlike an incumbent president, I couldn’t seek a second term. My time was done.

So I exited, Thunderstums in tow and you huffed on in to do whatever it is ladies do with toilets. It could have ended here. And I realize that there is another side to this story. That your Thunderstums are just as pressing as mine and that the only thing separating us is that I kept my eyes on the prize (toilet) and you were too busy berating some poor soul who presumably has to keep latte quotas and meet french press quarterly success initiatives. We were like two ships passing in the night, each with a sniper on board that fired an inconvenience gun.

But when I was waiting outside for my girlfriend and you exited, you spilled your coffee. Oops! Happens to all of us. But then you blamed your dog! I sat and watched you dress down this dog for your own mistake. You were mean! This was terrible! It wasn’t the dog’s fault, jerk. I know this by following a trail of breadcrumbs that starts with the fact that the dog was a dog and ends with the fact that dogs are generally dogs. In between these two breadcrumbs it’s worth noting that it was a service dog so I know it was exceptionally well trained AND I watched you spill your own coffee just like everybody does.

So, as I waited and watched this poor little scrappy pup stare at you with big dog like eyes, I realized you are an asshole. Maybe you were having a bad day, maybe you’re not always like that but November 17th, year of our lord 2013, you were a royal cunt.



PS: What’d you think of Thor 2? That Guardians of the Galaxy teaser is weird and confusing.
1 How did I know this was a service animal? If you’re ever trying to figure out if a dog in a Starbucks is a service animal and not just some Portlander disrespecting the concept of hygiene, here’s a simple tip: Look for the vest!


The Average Sunsets Cover Club

Average at best.

Average at best.

In Summer 2012 I was disappointed in myself because I had stopped recording pop music. I wanted an excuse to touch a keyboard and to sing (never my strong suit).  So I recruited some friends for something called The Average Sunsets Cover Club. The idea was I’d get some disparate musicians to cover the same song once per month. This went on for about six months or so before it lost steam.

Then my site got hacked and I lost all the posts.

Here are the contributions. Thank you to everyone who participated. If I ever have more than five free hours per week, I might try this again.

DON’T COME AROUND HERE NO MORE (Originally by T Petty)



Gary Butterfield


Alternate Version (still Gary Butterfield)


Mathew Dotson


Zach Adams


Ryan Green




I’M ON FIRE (originally by B Springsteen)

Alison Dennis (Hot Apparatus)


Gary Butterfield


Zach Adams


REVOLUTION 9 (Originally by the B-tles)



Gary Butterfield


Alison Dennis


Matt Dotson


ROAD TO NOWHERE (originally by the T-heads)

Alison Dennis


Alternate Version (Still by Alison)


Gary Butterfield


Zach Adams


Weasel Skunk Pocahontas


SOUND OF SILENCE (originally by P Simon)

Zach Adams


Michael Taylor


Fingers Lift




Gary Butterfield


 BEAUTIFUL WORLD (originally by D-vo)

Zach Adams


Alison Dennis


Gary Butterfield




CHRISTMAS SONGS (originally by J Christ)

Alison Dennis – XMASS Don’t Be Late

Mundhank – Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis


Gary Butterfield – Christmas Wish


Zach Adams – Breakfast Songs


Brayton Cameron – Auld Lang Syne


MISC (originally by M-isc)

NOGGINCRUSH – Tastes Just Like a Milkshake Baby


Alison Dennis – Willow Weep For Me


Fingers Lift – China Master


DEMONS – Big Black Car


Zach Adams – Headache


Gary Butterfield – Amelia


Gary Butterfield – Don’t Let’s Start