VICE feed for https://www.vice.comenFri, 16 Nov 2018 05:00:00 +0000<![CDATA[People Don't Understand Serena Williams's Controversial 'GQ' Cover]]>, 16 Nov 2018 05:00:00 +0000Serena Williams’ cover of GQ Magazine was meant to be a celebration. That’s generally why you put someone on the cover of a lifestyle magazine: to celebrate them. Particularly when you give them a lofty title like Woman of the Year. But Williams’ latest cover kicked off a stream of criticism, calling the intention of the legacy men’s publication into question over a set of quotation marks that, depending on the context in which you view them, come as a part of a established creative practice, or as a part of a longstanding critique of Williams’ womanhood.

As one of four covers, the image features Williams in a long-sleeved black bodysuit by Alix, vintage Chanel belt, and David Webb jewelry. Around her sit the requisite cover lines, including her designation as “The Champion.” But the line in question reads, in all caps, MAN OF THE YEAR. In what’s designed to look like handwritten black sharpie, the word “MAN” is crossed out with “WOMAN” scrawled above it—quotations included—courtesy of designer, DJ, and all around creative Virgil Abloh.

The brunt of the criticism boils down to the use of the use of the quotation marks which, according to detractors, nods to insults Serena has faced for the majority of her career. The athlete has gone on the record about those attacks, particularly in 2017 when she wrote a letter to her mother on Reddit saying “I've been called man because I appeared outwardly strong. It has been said that that I use drugs (No, I have always had far too much integrity to behave dishonestly in order to gain an advantage). It has been said I don't belong in Women's sports—that I belong in Men's—because I look stronger than many other women do. (No, I just work hard and I was born with this badass body and proud of it).” While some have surfaced concerns that attacks surrounding the athlete’s body and gender border the line of transphobic, as Williams is not trans, that criticism seems ill-fit.

Watch: Being a Black Bull Rider in a Majority White Sport

While transphobia does seek to deny trans women and trans men their identity as men and women, it is not the only way in which people are dehumanized and ridiculed. Black women endure misogynoir, a mixture of racism and misogyny that has seen them routinely written out of what it means to be a woman. These attacks are just one example of that. And though it may look similar, these are two separate and distinct ways of marginalization and should be discussed as such.

“Objectively, I can understand how the optics of this decision to have the quotes around ‘woman’ appear misogynistic and racist, especially after years of attack on Williams’s body,” fashion historian and curator Darnell Lisby told VICE in a statement about the cover. “Black women and their bodies in the US have always been demonized in mainstream culture through being interpreted as over-sexualized or viewed as intimidating, thus I think this outcry [around] the cover delineates the progression of culture to appreciate and celebrate Black Women’s bodies.”

While the criticism against the quotations seem sound considering this assertion, it negates the context of Virgil Abloh, a designer of clothing (his own label, Off-White, as well as Louis Vuitton men’s), furniture, and other objects (this oeuvre will be put on display in his first major solo museum exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago come 2019).

Abloh’s work via Off-White contains very few connective design threads. One hallmark that often appears in his designs is a word related to the piece written in all uppercase letters, set in quotation marks. The detail has appeared on boots, wallets, and scarves, some labeled for what they are (“WALLET”) while others are labeled for what they are meant for (“FOR WALKING”). Abloh himself has taken a Sharpie to sneakers at talks, labeling them before giving the styles away. He has said in the past that he employs that design signature to invoke an idea of irony, and has done so in collaboration with Williams before, as he designed her tennis dress and shoes for the most recent US Open.

Abloh’s history and inclusion can not be negated here. As the cover story was a collaboration with him, it would make sense that the actual cover include a design signature of his. In addition, as the cover story, it’s highly likely that this finalized image came with the explicit and express approval of Williams herself as the current status of magazines routinely undergo talent approval for someone of her stature.

The issue is, of course, knowing this additional context. Though many may know of Abloh, considering he was a high profile creative partner of Kanye West’s for years, their knowledge may not go deeper than surface level.

“Though fashion historians, like myself, may easily understand Virgil’s design history and the cover, most people don’t have the patience to break the nuances down,” Lisby said. “Delivery matters despite the intent in fashion. In this era, fashion magazines are not bubbles separated from politics and society like back in the 1950s during the fanciful days of Dior and Balenciaga; they have become a central facet to mainstream culture and politics.”

A confluence of events including social media, the corporatization of fashion brands, and the progression of digital media have lead to a democratization of fashion and a variety of related creative communities. It has brought with it a reckoning as people have demanded that what were once insular industry events, like fashion weeks, now pose as representation for a global audience. Along with it, details that may have once been understood, now become divorced from the context they were meant for and applied to larger cultural conversations, nuance be damned, and the industry gets called to task for these new implications. It is in this way that a set of quotation marks, meant to pose as a creative’s fingerprints become a smoking gun.

Follow Mikelle Street on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

gy7qg3Mikelle StreetAlex ZaragozaCultureRACISMVirgil AblohtransphobiaSerena WilliamsGQgq magazinemisgynoir
<![CDATA[Meet Brad, the Guy Keeping Your Vibrator Safe from Hackers]]>, 16 Nov 2018 04:15:00 +0000Over the last few years, the world has started waking up to the disconcerting vulnerabilities of internet enabled sex toys. Information security (infosec) experts and white hat hackers have shown, often through eye-catching stunts, that thanks to apparent security oversights, it is possible for malicious actors to access data on certain toys’ users, muck with toys’ operations, and even take control of them. Back end monkeying could shut down toys until a user or manufacturer pays a ransom. Stolen data on things concerning usage time, location, device pairing, account names, emails, or IP addresses, or a user’s sexual orientation—not to mention pilfered chat logs, images, audio, or videos connected to a toy—could be used for humiliation, extortion, or even physical stalking. Hijacked devices could be used to commit long-distance assault, a type of sex crime our legal system is clearly not yet equipped to handle. And that’s just scratching the surface of mischief bad actors could get up to by hacking toys.

As the sex toy industry continues to boom, smart toys grow more common and cheaper, and toy makers develop rigs capable of monitoring and recording more intimate data, the risks associated with these vulnerabilities grow more real and potent. The infosec community, though, does not seem to be tackling this threat full force. They’ve conducted an illustrative hack and reported a vulnerability here and there. But their reports sometimes take a juvenile tone, seemingly trivializing the adult industry and the security challenges toy makers and consumers face. And, as sex tech industry observer Jenna Owsianik sees it, most of their efforts are apparently piecemeal or one-off stunts, performed “to get their names in the headlines and thus more attention and likely work to their businesses that operate outside of sex tech.”

A lack of dedicated infosec attention to sex toys puts the onus on users to educate themselves about how their devices work, and on manufacturers to catch every possible security flaw. But that isn't practical. Few users will jump through the hoops necessary to guarantee their digital security. And few manufacturers, especially small outfits accustomed to making “dumb” toys, will have the resources or expertise necessary to spot every risk.

Fortunately, at least one hacker, Brad Haines, a Canadian with almost two decades of infosec experience who goes by “RenderMan,” has been running a project for almost two years now aimed squarely at this issue: the Internet of Dongs (or IoD, a play on a term for smart devices writ large, the Internet of Things, or IoT). Originally conceived as an archive for his own hacks and vulnerability reports, Render has turned the IoD into a sex toy security information and advocacy hub. The project aims to help sex toy makers learn about best security practices, infosec researchers and white hat hackers communicate their findings to the industry, and consumers know how to interpret news stories or industry claims about toy security.

“I am attempting,” Render tells me, “to bridge between the infosec world’s collective knowledge and the connected sex toy vendors to create a safer world of smart masturbation for all."

Render, like a few other hackers out there, has actually been thinking about the risks associated with smart sex toys for over a decade, “ever since the first Bluetooth vibrator— The Toy, now defunct—came on the market.” But he only decided to start seriously exploring the field around the start of 2016, as the smart sex toy market began to heat up. He started to test some toys on the market at the time, donated by The Traveling Tickle Trunk, a sex shop in his home of Edmonton, Alberta. He claims he applied to speak on his findings at that year’s DEF CON hacker convention, including on flaws in major sex toy We-Vibe’s privacy policy language (which technically omitted information about their app’s data collection), as well as other potential vulnerabilities. However New Zealand hackers g0ldfisk and follower wound up speaking at the conference about their own research on We-Vibe, which Render claims “matched mine perfectly.” This overlap, he claims, was a wake-up call.

Watch: Shopping for Sex Toys in South Korea’s New Adult Stores

“It was nice to know that, one, I was not the only one crazy enough to look at these issues,” he says, “and, two, that the issues I found were now independently verified.” When, after the talk, a consumer hit We-Vibe with a lawsuit that later ended in a highly publicized (but little understood) $3.75 million settlement over that policy snafu, Render adds, “I put my plans for launching the [IoD] into overdrive in order to ride the wave” of newfound public awareness. The Internet of Dongs officially came into being at a conference in November 2016.

From the outside, Render’s project seems simple. He parses toys with an expert eye, looking for any tiny flaw or concern; to date, he has dissected toys from at least eight companies.

But some companies can get suspicious of external hackers reporting flaws in their systems. That is likely especially true when those hackers are reporting highly technical and seemingly obscure security bugs to an industry with little experience with white hat reporting. “Most companies, when I first engage them,” says Render, “their reaction is pretty universal, like, ‘OK, you want something, you’re going to hold us ransom, or whatever.’”

“They’re suspicious,” he adds, “because this is weird.”

Sometimes, that suspicion and an unwillingness to engage can be to a company's own detriment. Render claims he tried to report his findings to Standard Innovation, We-Vibe's parent company, before they got sued, but never heard back. And Ken Munro of the British infosec firm Pen Test Partners claims that, pre-IoD, when they tried to report vulnerabilities in Lovense’s Nora vibrator, they “were completely ignored by the vendor.” Later research into Svakom’s Siime Eye, a dildo with an endoscopic camera on the end which Pen Test found could easily be hacked, conducted around the same time Render was getting the IoD up and running, “also resulted in a brick wall from the vendor,” says Munro.

Fortunately, Render had a connection at another firm he reached out to in late September 2016: Lovense. According to Lovense spokesman Joris Guisado, the company had talked to other hackers in the past, including someone who reached out in January 2016 for information on their toys for a personal project. That individual, he says, later made a proper intro between Lovense and Render, who pointed out some potential flaws in their user email privacy. By the end of 2016, Lovense had enough faith in the project to partner with the IoD moving forward.

Watch: The Digital Love Industry

Render also got some valuable early support and credibility when he, early in the IoD’s history, sent an apparently drunken email to Pornhub after learning about their (iffy) charitable ventures, asking if they might want to support his work. They responded almost immediately, becoming a sponsor soon after his launch and supplying him with cash to acquire new toys. “Our involvement with this project,” explains Pornhub VP Corey Price of the streaming giant’s rapid backing for Render, “demonstrated our continued commitment to a holistic approach to sexual wellness, security, and privacy.” Not bad values to try to align one’s brand with, for an unclear but likely relatively low investment, given all the ethical criticisms Pornhub faces in the adult world.

Timing the project’s rollout to the We-Vibe lawsuit was a solid move, too. Sure, We-Vibe wasn’t actually hacked. But the lawsuit was a huge wake-up for developers about the potential costs of stumbling into a security or privacy flaw. It also, says Veronique Verreault, founder of techy toy company Miss VV’s Mystery, led customers to ask more security-minded questions. Verreault acknowledges that for small companies and start-ups, the imperative to move fast is strong, and the cost of a deep investment in security, can be daunting. But, she says, “there is no way for us not to collaborate” with the IoD and similar ventures, “because that will make us look bad.”

Early in 2017, Render did report some vulnerabilities to Miss VV’s Mystery, which they moved to fix with his help. Verreault says the changes they had to make did wind up costing her a few customers, but concludes that the guarantee of safety for consumers was worth it.

It doesn’t hurt that Render has established himself as a moderate, skeptical voice on toy security issues. He used his platform to debunk a story that circulated last year, claiming that there was a major security flaw in a Lovense product allowing it to record and store user audio. (“Media outlets picked up that Reddit thread, started by a person who admitted they weren’t tech savvy,” says Owsianik. “I assume for the salacious clickbait headlines about sex, security, and so-called secret and unauthorized sex session recordings.”) He has even criticized Pen Test, a brother in arms of sorts, for the sensationalist tone of some of their past vulnerability reporting. And he’s downplayed the threat of controlling someone’s vibrator or butt plug via short-range Bluetooth hacking, a major source of media scares. “If you’re worried about someone hacking your vibrator from within six feet of you,” he says, “you’ve got a bigger problem. The call is coming from within the house.”

“It’s always good to have a serious project giving an informed opinion,” says Lovense’s Guisado.

Throughout 2017, Render established relationships with, and secured open support from, not only Lovense and Miss VV’s Mystery, but also major sex tech companies like OhMiBod, Kiiroo, Mystery Vibe, and Vibease. He has been working with these companies to identify any security bugs in their toys, and help them develop vulnerability reporting pathways and protocols. Render says he’s been heartened by how many companies have recognized the need to step up their game as soon as he’s approached them, sometimes going so far as to look into regular third party security auditing, bug bounties for white hat hackers, and hiring staff privacy specialists. And, says Munro, since the IoD got up and running, it has been easier to report vulnerabilities to the companies they've worked with. “So we strongly support its work,” he says of IoD.

But the project is still very much in its infancy, and Render acknowledges he slacked on the project for much of 2018, thanks to his full-time job and general life getting in the way—he says he receives no compensation for his IoD efforts, and runs a Patreon to try to cover web hosting and other operational costs.

Thankfully, the IoD is not alone in the connected sex toy security advocacy space anymore. Standard Innovation’s Alexander notes that a number of researchers, hacker groups, and industry collectives are starting to do dedicated work on these issues. And Pornhub’s Price says the company is always eager to support similar initiatives. As these parallel projects gain steam, working on their own or in conjunction with the IoD, they may be able to build on the foundation Render has built.

No matter where the IoD and other projects go, though, they’re already doing a great service to toy users and developers. Render and his ilk are helping us confront a new, precarious reality of potential sexual insecurity. As Render often calls it, a “brave new world with such dongs in it.”

Follow Mark Hay on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

zmdxnjMark HayBrian McManussex toysInternetHackingLifewhite hat hackersmale sex toysSmart Toyssmart vibratorsSEXScitech
<![CDATA[We Went to Australia's Outback to Find Love]]>, 16 Nov 2018 03:00:00 +0000

With 89 percent of Australians living in cities, we’re the most urbanized country in the world. That’s pretty amazing considering we sell ourselves as a nation of beer chugging, red dusk covered, larrikins. But with most of our population crammed into cities, you have to feel for the other 11 percent. Meeting someone special (or special-ish) is hard enough without living 15km from your nearest neighbor.

That’s where B&S balls come in. B&S, or bachelors and spinsters balls, are held in rural Australia to give single young adults the chance to meet their distant neighbors. The participants waste no time cramming a year's worth of socializing, drinking, partying—and lets be honest, nudity—into a single night.

We drove up to the B&S ball in Elmore, Victoria to check out the party. Our guides were Ashlie, a shy young country girl hoping to win her second consecutive wet t-shirt competition without the aid of alcohol; and Glenn, an abattoir worker looking for love.

This article originally appeared on VICE AU.

wd4e4qVICE StafftravelSexlovePartyvideoAustraliaNSFWdrunkLifeoutbackVice BlogAussie
<![CDATA[A Love Letter to Cook Out, the Most Underrated US Fast Food Chain]]>, 16 Nov 2018 01:30:00 +0000I hadn’t even attended my first college class when a new friend packed me into a car and drove me to Cook Out. For a Yankee transplant in Greensboro, North Carolina, it was a baptism-by-milkshake into this Southern tradition.

We parked along the small, black box of a restaurant and loped past the dual drive-thru lines to a walk-up window. There, an overflowing menu board advertised more than 40 milkshakes and a dizzying assortment of fast food. With no indoor seating for customers, we retreated back to the car with our orders, soaking in the August night air and anticipating what college would hold.

Founded in Greensboro, Cook Out will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2019. For the majority of its tenure, Cook Out was a uniquely North Carolina thing. It wasn’t until 2010—the year I graduated from college—that Cook Out crossed state lines, expanding across the Southeast with more than 200 restaurants, though the lion’s share are still in North Carolina.

I stayed in Greensboro for 12 years, eating a lot of Cook Out and coming to understand why this fast food chain is the place to take out of town visitors. The native North Carolinians I spoke to agreed that there are several underlying factors that make the chain reign supreme. Like all good fast food, it’s fast and cheap, but here’s what makes it something special.

The Unbeatable Cook Out Tray

Aside from the shakes, Cook Out’s raison d'être is its Tray, appropriately dubbed “the best combo in town.” For less than $6, you can walk away with a double hamburger, a bacon wrap, a quesadilla, and a large drink. The amount of food you receive for so little is almost obscene.

The Cook Out Tray is designed to be customizable. I have a friend who would order what she called “The Chicken Slaughter” combo: a spicy chicken sandwich, chicken wrap with ranch, chicken nuggets, and a milkshake. Hangover averted.

Mains include the Big Double Burger, twin hot dogs, and no vegetarian options. The sides, of which you get two, are sizable snacks in their own right: chicken nuggets, onion rings, corn dogs, back wraps, cajun fries… really just a lot of batter and oil no matter where you look. True North Carolinians order the “huge tea”—understood to be sweet, obviously—or the Cheerwine float. Pepsi may hail from the Carolinas, but down there we swear by Cheerwine, a syrupy soda similar to a cross between Cherry Coke and Dr. Pepper.

Or, for a nominal fee, you could add a milkshake instead. And if it’s your first time at the Cook Out, that’s what I recommend.

The “Fancy” Milkshakes

Katie Quine learned to love Cook Out as a high schooler in Charlotte. During college at UNC-Chapel Hill, she’d make pilgrimages to a location near rival Duke University’s campus in Durham for her beloved chocolate cheesecake shake, which mixes an entire slice into the ice cream.

Several years later, while working at the vaunted, glossy Our State magazine that celebrates North Carolina, Quine and her coworker Andy Busam launched the witty and visually abrasive The self-described “best website on the internet” rates all of Cook Out’s more than 40 milkshakes on a scale—which includes color, bouquet, sweetness, body/texture, flavor/taste, finish, and quality—borrowed from a wine competition Quine had recently judged.

Over the course of one summer, Quine and her roommate tried every shake. “It was a good incentive to commit to running a half marathon I’d always promised myself I would do,” Quine said.

At the bottom of the rankings were shakes like the Hi-C Fruit Punch. “It is like Pepto-Bismol in both taste and color,” the review reads in part. “It has zero redeeming qualities, and may God have mercy on its shake soul.” Quine gave it a 5 out of 17 possible points.

Reese’s Cup stole first, with just a half-point lead over Blueberry. “When I die, I hope to be brought back as a Reese’s Cup milkshake,” the review says. “Maybe then everyone will want to be my friend.”

“Most fast-food places kind of repulse me,” said Quine, who’s now the board chair of Slow Food Middle Tennessee, “but [Cook Out] is kind of my Kryptonite.”

It’s Unabashedly Kitschy

Picture a small, rectangular building about the size of a studio apartment. Wrapped around the middle of the exterior wall are tinted mirrors that throw your disheveled image back in your face—the exact opposite of inviting you in. Indeed, you can’t go inside most Cook Out locales, not even to order. They’re not the only walk-up windows in the state—Big Oak Drive-In & Bar-B-Q comes to mind—but they're certainly the most iconic to forgo indoor seating entirely.

The rest of the aesthetic choices feel equally untouched by focus groups or marketing agencies. The Styrofoam cups say “God Bless America” and feature Bible verses, but the overall design feels more “stoned teens at a nightclub” than “church group.”

It’s unwelcoming. It’s loud. It’s unedited, unrefined, and unbelievably popular with everyone, but especially young people (who are, after all, arbiters of cool). Just try going to the Cook Outs near NC State or UNC-Wilmington on a Friday or Saturday night.

As my partner Kacie, a Greensboro native who grew up loving the chain, explained, “They are who they are. They do their thing, and they don’t really stray from it. It just feels weirdly cool.”

The Nostalgia Factor

Cook Out’s distinct setup has made it a hangout destination for high schoolers and college kids alike. This, plus it’s domination across the state, makes it a perfect symbol of your younger days as a wee Tar Heel.

My old coworker Sayaka Matsuoka, a journalist who grew up in Greensboro, rarely eats fast food and hasn’t been to Cook Out in years. But she’ll fight you if you argue that another restaurant, like In-N-Out Burger, is better. It’s part of her local obligation, rooted in formative years spent at the chain’s Battleground Avenue location as a high schooler. She’d go with teammates after tennis practice sometimes, or just loiter there with friends.

“For a while we would all just kind of congregate in the parking lot,” she told me. “It was less about the food. For me it was more about the social aspect, and I think it was because of the walk-up [window].”

By keeping customers outside the building and by not providing any seating, Matsuoka said Cook Out created an informal, backyard-barbecue kind of feel that’s perfect for teenagers. They’d traipse down a small embankment to an adjoining parking lot and commercial strip, commandeering patio furniture from the nearby Maxie B’s bakery or just sitting on the curb in the glow of a 24/7 gym.

Sayaka at Cook Out for prom
Matsuoka at Cook Out before her Prom. Courtesy Sayaka Matsuoka

When senior prom rolled around, the choice for a pre-prom dinner seemed obvious. Broke and already comfortable with Cook Out as a primary hangout locale, Matsuoka and her friends brought a folding table, a shitty red table cloth, and camping chairs to set up near a line of dumpsters.

The Food is Excellent

Whether you come for the Banana Fudge or Oreo Mint shake, the sweet tea or the Cheerwine float, you can’t go wrong. It’s not just drunk food, Cook Out is legitimately delicious, and a great introduction to unpretentious Southern food.

On visits home, sometimes Christian Bryant, a Greensboro native who now lives in Chicago, said he’ll often stop there before making it to his parents’ house. He’s got his order down: Oreo shake, seasoned fries, and an Out West Style burger that comes with barbecue sauce and bacon.

“They’re charred perfectly,” he said of the burgers, adding that sometimes he’ll get the “huge” version with two patties. “It’s the barbecue sauce that really sets it the fuck off.”

Despite Cook Out’s Greensboro roots, the sauce served on burgers is the thicker style found outside the Carolinas. But elsewhere on the menu, the chain tackles the region’s iconic, highly specific style of barbecue. In a state known for its distinctive pulled pork, Kacie’s decision to order the barbecue sandwich as part of her Tray isn’t a position she takes lightly.

“They do a really good job and they don’t really get credit for it,” she told me, adding that it’s a no-frills, affordable, and tasty meal—as N.C. barbecue should be.

She’s right. I’ve written about North Carolina barbecue for outlets like Newsday, Triad City Beat, and Winston-Salem Monthly, and have to say that Cook Out’s version is startlingly good. Despite not making it the “right” way—by slow cooking it over hickory wood—the taste is undeniably delicious.

I left North Carolina earlier this year for Brooklyn. There are plenty of things I miss about the Old North State—the Eden drive-in theater, the mountains surrounding Bryson City, Tarheel basketball, and swimming in the Eno River Quarry—but when I went back to visit for the first time, Cook Out is the only place I went twice. Blame it on the nostalgia or the milkshakes, but this was non-negotiable.

Cook Out has changed a little in the dozen years I’ve been a devotee. Its expansion beyond North Carolina has meant some revamped store designs that includes indoor seating at certain locations. But for those of us who developed our allegiances back when everything was still weird, our love for Cook Out will prevail through these shifts—at least as long as the things that make Cook Out distinct aren’t entirely wiped away.

This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES.

yw7d4yEric GinsburgHannah KeyserFast FoodBarbecueBurgerchain restaurantsfood chainnot an adcook out
<![CDATA[Life Hack: Name Your Pet After a Plural Food Item]]>, 16 Nov 2018 01:00:00 +0000My two cats are named Gatsby and Kilgore Trout (although everyone calls the latter Killer)—which is fine, if a little pretentious for a pair of felines owned by a pair of writers living in Brooklyn. These are their names because I was 22-years-old and about to graduate with a liberal arts degree when I got Gatsby, and because my now-husband was my new boyfriend who wanted to impress me with his bookish bonafides when we got Killer. Gatsby is slight and finicky but deeply committed to curling atop a warm body. Killer is a puppy-like massive pile of fur that flops around the apartment with abandon.

I couldn't love them any more if they were named Sandwiches and Sauerkraut, or Profiteroles and Pickles, or Walnuts and Whiskey Sours. But, I would love their names more.

Watch: Getting Paid to Pretend to be a Pet

Allow me to make a humble suggestion that will in no way resolve any real issues in your life but which will reliably elicit a subconscious smile: Name your pets after food. Allow me to make an addendum to that suggestion that will seem laughably minuscule but in fact distinguishes you as a person of subtly discerning taste: Make that food name plural.

That's it. That's the whole hack, and could conceivably be the end of this blog, but 200 words seems a little light so this is where we have fun with examples. First of all, these kittens, who are not the original source of this theory but a welcome manifestation of the first half of the hack:

Are you not verklempt? Of course, a kitten by any other name would be just as cute, but doesn't even the idea of little Ravioli make you want to sign up for 12 to 18 years of scooping poop and never investing in nice furniture? (If it does and you're also, incidentally, living in the Rochester area, a similarly named litter is currently available for adoption.)

Consider, though, for the sake of the addendum, that even if you're ordering an entire plate of the stuff, "ravioli" and "ziti" sound singular. Noodles, meanwhile, is notably more adorable than Noodle would be... just like Bagels > Bagel, and Peppers > Pepper, and Cookies > Cookie, and while we're on the subject someone name their dog Tagalongs, please.

What else?

A cat named Dumplings.

A dog named Tacos.

A horse named Pinto Beans (sorry.)

A fish named Scrapple and a pig named Sushi (but not the other way around).

A lizard named Mimosas.

A hermit crab named Fruity Pebbles.

Kimchi, Tater Tots, Kiwis, Churros, Applesauce, Croissants, Sausages, Moules-frites, Macaroons, Cheetos, Bananas, Salami, Tofu, Milkshakes, Biscuits...

I could, quite literally, do this all day.

This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES.

qvq8edHannah KeyserdogsANIMALScatspetsLife Hack
<![CDATA[Life After Heroin Is Beautiful and Boring]]>, 16 Nov 2018 00:00:00 +0000 ‘What I Want to Tell You About Heroin’ is a new series from VICE friend and contributor Hannah Brooks. Hannah is a Melbourne-based writer and musician, who has spent the past several years battling a heroin addiction. These articles were written while she was a guest of Hope Rehab in Thailand.

It’s Wednesday, 9 PM. I am in the back of a large four-wheel drive traveling from Sriracha to Bang Saray, a fishing village outside Pattaya on the east coast of Thailand. I rest my head against the left window and look out the right. I see the tangled electrical wires along Sukhumvit Road draping the street lights like snakes. The driver pulls into a 7-Eleven with a billboard that reads: “Child trafficking for begging is illegal.” From a fruit stall I buy a “Lady Fragile Drink” smoothie and light a cigarette. I catch my reflection in a window and it surprises me.

I am blonde with a tan, smoking a long, white menthol cigarette.

I am clean, and I have just left rehab.

Akiko, a 22-year-old heroin addict from Australia, is also with me. We have left rehab before and used drugs again. This time we are going straight from rehab to Hope House, a sober living facility. It feels like the safest step. We forget about home for now because for Akiko and I home is too dangerous. Going back to Australia and the ruins of our using would trigger our impulse to shoot drugs, fiercely. There are too many memories and associations, and it is too soon to be amongst them. We cannot risk it, so we stay in Thailand, exiled by our addiction, and cling to each other like kittens.

Previously, I have used drugs within one hour of leaving treatment. Sometimes I knew I’d use. Other times circumstance defeated me. Once a member of Narcotics Anonymous was sent to collect me from detox. I didn’t know her, but I was told that she was safe and we’d get along. She’d been in the cult Australian film Dogs in Space. Nick Cave had “died inside her” on tour in Berlin. She was Australian junkie royalty who’d been abstinent from drugs for a decade, relapsed briefly, and was now nine months clean.

On the drive home, she asked me if I was still having cravings.

“Yeah,” I answered. “Not too bad. I know with time they’ll lessen.”

She stared at the road ahead.

“Do you want to get on?” she asked.


“Do you want to have a taste?”

My palms started sweating and I felt a familiar fluttering in my chest. I was in trouble. I had just spent a week in detox: sweating, shivering, sick. Did I want to go through it all again?

Just once, I promised.

We turned off the highway, towards my dealer’s house. We got high and and talked about Astral Weeks and Tim Buckley and how she had grown up in Italy on a commune. We finished the gear, put lipstick on our cheeks and drove to the 6 PM NA meeting, where I received a round of applause for coming back clean.

When I wake up, it’s light. Initially, I do not recognize the curtains or that I am in my new room at the sober house. It’s quiet. I’ve slept till 7 AM, later than I have for months, and no one is around. After being in rehab surrounded by 30 people, it’s strange. I explore the grounds. The house is large and white and split into three levels. An overweight white puppy appears and runs towards me. Next door is a shack, precariously held together, where children and skinny chickens roam the yard. Outside the gate is a sleek chocolate horse and a pack of street dogs that, I am told, attacked and ripped a leg off the previous sober house dog. I’m careful to shut the gate.

Not much happens.

I stay clean.

I follow the sober house schedule. I show up on time. I write. I ride my bicycle to the beach where young boys jog slowly along the shore, training to be Muay Thai boxers. I only listen to 60s and 70s folk. Everything else seems ill-fitting; too jerky and jilting. I visit the temple at night to buy vintage bathing suits no one else wants, and during the day to pray. I make my bed and wash my hair no more than three times a week.

Life is simple, and I stay clean.

In the mornings, I buy fruit for breakfast. I do not steal, although I am tempted to because I miss the kick it gave me. I have plenty of time and I spend it perusing mangoes. I smell them. I press my fingers gently against their loud yellow flesh. I am delighted by the tiniest things. I used to be delighted by scoring drugs. I loved heroin, but I loved the anticipation of the high more. I lived for the moment when I had a full syringe, ready to shoot. Then the world was perfect. I was God, I was a queen, and everything after was a letdown.

When I was using a lot of heroin, I used to sneer at people performing mundane tasks: jogging, buying bread, eating in cafes. Their humanity was on show, and I wanted no part in it. I lived as though my feet were on fire. Everything was wild and disheveled. I resented the simplicity of their lives and was exhausted by the complexity of mine. Sometimes I would get so tired. I would look fondly at the ground I walked on and imagine myself lying down, softly, and staying there forever. I would never move again. The ground would be warm from the sun and I would be at peace. I would lie still and wait for the ground to swallow me, and if it would not, I would wait for the sky to collapse and fall, one cloud at a time.

We are all transforming in our own ways. Akiko pulls out her pencils and begins, for the first time in years, to draw. Another resident, Jester, the British-Jamaican junkie, wears a flu-mask and dances to old R&B on her balcony. Afid lives on the top floor and is quiet. He is Egyptian and was heavily involved in the revolution.

“My life was like an action film,” he says. He tells me about the battles he fought while on heroin and LSD.

He waves an arm at the swimming pool where our peers laze about and sighs.

“I am not used to this.”

My life had been disordered for years but I was at my most deranged in the final weeks before coming to Hope. Everything had piled up. I had been busted so many times by the police that most dealers refused to sell to me because I was too hot. I could not smell a sandwich without vomiting. My arms were like a bad tapestry. My brother refused to say my name. I would practice smiling in my car’s rear vision mirror because it no longer came naturally to me. My addiction kept escalating. I stumbled into progressively worse situations. I could no longer deal with the chaos I was causing. I lurched from one disaster to the next, suffocating under the consequences. I no longer apologized for or tried to remedy anything because I could not guarantee I wouldn’t do it again.

My boyfriend tried to save me. He was always driving me to some detox, and I was always leaving. He took me to the beach, where I lay sweating on a boat. He took me to a city, and I tried to jump out of his moving car. He took me to an isolated cabin on a mountain and I made it through but scored the moment we arrived home. Afterwards, he drove me back to my regular detox clinic. I had heroin delivered for three days before convincing him to pick me up, take me to buy smack, pay for it and hold my tourniquet while I shot up in front of him, even though he was in recovery from heroin addiction. I promised him it would be the last time and I do not know why he believed me because I didn’t. On the scarf I used as a tourniquet, I wrote a vow with blood-smeared fingers: “It’s over”.

We mean these things as we say them.

I tied the scarf around a heavy rock and asked my boyfriend to drive to the lighthouse, where I threw it off a cliff into the dark water below.

This is the last time.

I used again as soon as dawn broke.

Not long after this, I stopped going home. I could not bear the lying or the guilt, the dodging and weaving. It would be easier for everyone if I disappeared.

In the absence of chaos I relax. I change gears. My grip loosens. I am no longer on high alert. I start to experience a wider range of feelings; softer ones, and the depth of them is startling. Usually if I managed to feel anything it was either elation or terror. I surfed a line between numbness and extreme emotions. I had no middle ground.

“Hannah,” a counsellor once told me, “you mistake anxiety for love”.

It was true. I felt comfortable with big emotions but living in that state stopped me feeling anything deeper. I felt best in the swell of drama. I wanted everything intense, always. The most excruciating, unforgiving music. The slowest, heaviest films. Partners who exhilarated me, but who I could equally detest. If people got too close or things got too stable, I would sabotage things. I liked tough because tough was familiar.

“You are addicted to chaos,” Henk, a counsellor at Hope told me, and even though I hated agreeing with him, he was right.

I receive an email from Gabriella, a woman I was in love with 10 years ago and have not heard from for two. When Gabriella and I broke up I started using heroin. I adored her, and the demise of our relationship devastated me. It was a dark time. My father had a heart attack and I saw him for the first time in years. I started slicing myself in the bath. Lightbulbs exploded when I walked into rooms. The energy was gloomy, and eventually Gabriella left. She went home to Argentina and I stayed in our apartment. I missed her and hated myself for not being able to preserve our relationship. I was in pain and did not know how to say that. I loved her and did not know how to show her that. So I hosted parties I did not want to have. I never slept. I sometimes showed up to work. All the drugs I was taking became redundant so I started using heroin.

It was a conscious decision.

I will become a junkie and that will show them.

Two of my friends had died from heroin overdoses by the time I was 22. I knew what it did, but I did it anyway. I didn’t know what else to do and becoming a junkie, I thought, would suit my temperament. It was a perverse decision with life-altering consequences but I was strong. I could handle it.

I smoke a packet of Camels re-reading her email:

“I am so proud of you

Not as a parent

Not out of vanity

But in true awe that

You are and exist

And that this vital force

In you is something great



I am and exist.

I am touched.

Great, grand, rare.

I love her so much that I don’t know what to say so I don’t write back.

Things start to fall apart. Cracks emerge. The fabric tears.

I feel flat.

I am bored.

Is this all there is?

Bob, a British alcoholic I was at Hope with, is asked to leave the sober house because of the way he speaks about women. He sits in a condo, watching Thai TV and crying. Alexi stays awake all night and sleeps till noon. Jester is seen walking on the beach with a massage lady who doesn’t massage. Charlie is fed up with Thailand. “I want to go home,” he says. “I want cold English weather, cups of tea and no mosquitos. I’ve had enough.” Alan gets 10 tattoos in three weeks.

We act out. We create drama because there is none. Fights start. Charlie and Alexi have their hands around each other’s throats. Charlie almost punches a staff member at Muay Thai. Jester and Bob sling verbal shots at each other over dinner. The whole group erupts into yelling when Afid brings up feminism. Alexi takes it further: he tells me that women are paid less than men because they are less productive. Women just aren’t as good at their jobs, he says. I want to kill him. Instead, I do a juice fast. I consume no food for four days. I say it’s for my health but it’s not; it’s an attempt to feel something severe to counteract the mundanity. Day one is fine but day two is not and day three is worse. I am starving. My stomach sounds strangled. I meditate and things get stranger. I have visions of pizza. I taste almond croissants. I smell freshly-baked banana bread. My teeth feel numb and foreign from not chewing. I get through four days. Once I eat again, and the intensity is over, I wish it wasn’t.

I have not used heroin, or any mind or mood altering drugs for over 100 days. My brain is undergoing synaptic pruning. I am shedding wasteful neural connections:

Crisp air and the rattle of tram wheels. Thick veins that rise like fireworks. The rustle of a paper bag.

My brain forms new neural pathways. Nerve endings blossom and spark. My hippocampus lays down new memories:

Akiko’s smile. Eating som tum at sunset by a Bang Saray beach. The purple orchids and orange marigolds I throw into the sea at dawn.

I learn to cycle through the peaks and troughs. Each day is different. I no longer need a chart to identify my feelings. What to eat for lunch becomes less of a crippling decision. I accept that I don’t have to be right all the time. I accept that sometimes I don’t get what I want, and sometimes I get better than what I imagined. I begin to see a future, and I start to stand a little taller.

Follow Hannah on Instagram . And read the rest of her articles in this series here.

This article originally appeared on VICE AU.

bjeze4Hannah BrooksWendy SyfretDrugsaddictionHEROINrecoveryrehabThailandLifesobrietySoberDrug UseaddictWhat I Want to Tell You About Heroin
<![CDATA[Most Money Advice Is Worthless When You’re Poor]]>, 15 Nov 2018 23:00:00 +0000For the entirety of my working life, I’ve been poor. I currently make sandwiches for a living and my last job was making smoothies. Before that, it was washing dishes. Even though I went to college—following that myth that a degree is a career guarantee—some might say I was destined to be poor: I was a latchkey kid raised by a single, working-class mother who moved us all over California, jumping from apartment to apartment to trailer in the middle of the desert. My only source of nutrition was the free lunch program at school.

Now, I’m on Medicaid. Last year I worked as much as 60 hours a week split between two part-time food service jobs just to make ends meet. Alongside those jobs, I worked side gigs when I could get them. I made about $23,000 USD. It sucks enormous chunks.

Sometime last year, I started frequently googling “why am I poor” and “how do I stop being poor.” Every result insisted the problem is I go out too much (I don’t go out, I’m too tired), I don’t have a savings account (I don’t have enough kick around cash to open a savings account), or I’m not planning my money right (I plan to pay my rent and then cry in a corner until my next paycheck, does that count?).

Watch: A Woman's Guide on Getting More Money

According to popular thinking, if you’re poor, it’s your fault and therefore your responsibility to fix things. It’s not your employer paying you less than a living wage. Or your local officials approving the building of luxury condos in your neighborhood. It’s not the skyrocketing cost of living. It’s not anti-union efforts across the country’s largest companies. No, dear sandwich maker. The reason you’re broke is because you decided to buy yourself a latte between 16-hour workdays. Shame on you.

Here’s the thing: Not only is it okay to spend on yourself, but for low-income people, it’s an entirely normal coping mechanism.

“Poor person brain” explained

If you’re among the 39.7 million Americans living in poverty or the millions more who struggle to make ends meet, the real reason you’re bad at saving or you feel you’re spending too much on non-essentials is something I call “poor person brain.”

Allow me to elaborate. “Poor person brain” is when you’re just about out of your mind stressed about how you don’t have enough to get by. Despite the fact that I currently have $45.90 USD in my bank account to last through next week, it’s not uncommon to treat myself to a burger after a particularly grueling week. It’s a habit that I see both as an egregious failure to save my money and as a necessary expenditure to find the will to keep grinding away.

Ne-Yo puts it best in his song “Time of Our Lives”:

I knew my rent was gon' be late bout a week ago
I worked my ass off, but I still can't pay it though
But I got just enough
To get off in this club
Have me a good time, before my time is up

Boy, those lyrics cut deep.

Why short-term thinking makes sense when you’re poor

I recently spoke with Linda Tirado, who wrote Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America, which details her experiences with (and misconceptions about) low-income life. Trying to align with the standard expectation of how to interact with your money when you’re low income, she tells me, is useless: “You are adapting to your circumstances, thinking in the short term. It would be maladaptive for a low wage worker to set even middle class financial goals. It doesn’t make sense to maintain a savings account if you can’t pay your rent.” Lots of recent research on the topic backs her viewpoint.

As Tirado explains, "if you’re working low wages, the whole concept of saving and investing goes away because you don’t have the luxury of that long term; it’s hypothetical.”

I often ask myself: how come I’m working all the time, my body is breaking down, I’ve cut and tightened every way I can think of, and despite how much I’m sacrificing, I still can’t manage to make rent? It’s at this point that poor person brain blossoms: I’m still going to struggle whether or not I buy a bag of chips, so I might as well buy the chips. As Tirado puts it, “there’s no reason to put anything off for the long term if there is no long term that will be better than today.”

Buy the chips. Have you a good time, before your time is up. The immediate necessity for psychological survival negates the bogus narrative that you just have to work harder, and it’ll get better when you know it won’t.

The way I see it, being poor is like having cancer: You can’t bootstrap your way out of having cancer. You can seek medical assistance to fight the cancer (Medicaid). You can seek spiritual guidance to give you mental fortitude to power through the cancer (Jack In the Box two for $1 tacos, a manicure, seeing a movie). You can get surgery and radiation to remove the cancer (loans). But ultimately, you have still had cancer, there’s no guarantee it won’t come back, and your efforts to fight through it have permanently altered your genetic code and brain structure.

Most financial advice is for middle class people who make bad choices

I’m just going to say it: All the financial advice out there tells us the only way to resolve our financial pressures is by following specific guidelines because all that advice is founded on a homogenized perspective that appeals predominantly to a shrinking middle class.

If you’re not low income, you have more wiggle room to be less stringent about how you use your money. Maybe you buy a new iPhone every year. Maybe you take a vacation that temporarily puts you in credit card debt. Maybe you don’t have a separate savings account because staring at all those sweet, sweet zeroes in your checking account gets you hot. And so, the financial advice is geared toward the financially stable who make bad financial choices, like investing in bitcoin this year or getting bangs after a breakup.

Meanwhile, these guidelines reinforce negative stereotypes about low-income people and inspire heaps of criticism for those who inherently can’t follow them: You’re living in poverty because you sometimes buy snacks. You’re on the verge of eviction because you, minimum wage worker, simply aren’t trying hard enough. As if trying harder is what cures cancer.

And with that, maybe the best financial advice for those struggling is none at all. You know your finances better than anyone, because you’re constantly fighting against income that’s not commensurate with how much work you do. You know what you need to do to survive until next week. And you know the difference between buying to survive and splurging to purge what could be saved.

Go ahead, buy that bag of fries

Maybe the best thing we poor person brainers can do is embrace it. Embrace your financial woes, regain the autonomy that the status quo thinks we don’t deserve, if only to spite those who think we are less than for having less than. I’m poor and I like doing face masks to cheer myself up. I’m poor and I like to eat a meal I didn’t have to make when I’m too tired to keep going. Bite me.

If you’re poor, take a day off every few months and use it to heal and recharge. If a huge bag of McDonald’s fries is what’ll give you a mental tuneup to keep going, to push back, you go to McDonald’s, buy that unhealthy, greasy fast food, and you chow down on those bad boys with pride. You know how much money you have. You know how you’re spending it. Own your need to survive. Turn it into a decision to live for right now and laugh. Laugh loudly, with your mouth full of fries, at anyone who tries to criticize you for it.

Follow Talia Jane on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on FREE.

ev3ddeTalia JaneAnita HamiltonFOODpovertyrentNe-YoMcDonald'ssaving moneyMedicaidliving wagespendingsavingsavings accountmoney brain
<![CDATA[Being a Single Mother Made Me Embrace the Sex Drive I Thought Was Dead]]>, 15 Nov 2018 15:00:00 +0000As a single mom, after two kids and an almost ten-year relationship, I've taken to connecting with other women in a similar walk of life. I talk frequently to single mothers about everything from separation agreements and the process of divorce, to the complicated (and yet, seemingly necessary) world of online dating. There’s a lot to divulge, from the few-and-far-between good dates, to the total disasters that stem from dating profile red flags (read: abs-only shots or ten pictures of a dog and none of a human). In local online groups—where I met many of these women—screenshots are frequently shared. Warning: narcissist, raging alcoholic, MARRIED!! But one of the most constant (and fun) topics of our conversations revolves around the glory that is post-separation sex.

There’s good reason for all the sex talk: As it turns out, the libido of the newly dating single mother is, well, a bit intense. I’d been properly warned about the phenomenon (by my mother, in fact), but I didn’t expect it to be quite so extreme. Still, I found my sex drive came flooding back pretty much the moment I mentally marked myself “separated.” Partly, I knew it had gone away because the stress of motherhood coupled with the unavoidable issues in my marriage had washed away every last speck of romance in my relationship.

Still, I could’ve have imagined what was lying dormant. Other single mothers, deep in their own sexual awakenings both in real life and in online chats, encouraged me to embrace it. Go on that date; have that one night stand; go ahead and put “DTF” on your dating profile. The steady stream of stories about embracing sexuality made my newfound horniness feel like a rite of passage—one I gladly accepted.

Watch: Mamah Dedeh is the Badass Muslim Preaching Mom of Indonesia

At the end of my very first post-marriage date, I found myself making out like a teenager outside a restaurant, next to the light blue van I drive my kids around in, willingly ignoring the sounds of passersby. For weeks after the street make-out, I let the scene play out over and over in my foggy, inattentive mind. I struggled to focus on my usual, mundane tasks. I stared out the window while doing dishes and typing on my computer. I closed my eyes and let the fantasies consume me. And after my first few romps with the same man, and later, a new partner, I was so distracted I missed meals.

Now, I’m having frequent, intoxicating sex for the first time in years. The libido I thought to be near death was actually alive and well—so much that I wondered how I’d managed to overlook it for so long.

Strikingly similar stories from other single moms ease my confusion, though. Crystal Benton, a Maryland mother of one who prefers to use a pseudonym since she is still legally married, says she always enjoyed sex but in her married life it became a rare occurrence. While her sex drive didn’t exactly go away, intimacy with her partner was unsatisfying and infrequent. She says that even though she still had sexual urges, she felt that once you were married with kids, it was perfectly normal for sex to become boring. “I repressed my sexual side,” she tells me. “We would have sex once a month and it would last around five minutes. No real foreplay. I orgasmed from sex three times the entire 12 years we were together.”

Regardless of her underwhelming sex life, Benton says she stayed in her marriage as long as she could for her family but, eventually, her mental health began to deteriorate and she became depressed. Now, having been separated for a year and a half, Benton is embracing sex again. She and her current partner both have kids so they can’t see each other as often as they like to, but when they are together, she says they have sex around three times a day. “I feel more fulfilled now than I ever did when I was married,” she says.

This "awakening" among single mothers who say they “feel like a teenager again” is not uncommon, says Sandra Caron, a professor of family relations and human sexuality at the University of Maine and author of several books about sexuality. “No longer stuck in what may have been a sexless marriage, many single mothers find that there’s time to focus on her own needs versus that of her children and former partner.” This time around, Caron adds, the woman is more knowledgeable about her own desires—her likes and dislikes—and she has more experience communicating. And by being sexually experienced, she may find she has fewer inhibitions.

Though it can feel like a mother's sex drive was gone, it has simply been put on the backburner, Caron says, because in some cases there are too many other duties that come with having a family that sex fails to make it onto the to-do list. “Despite the romantic notion a couple might have about how adding a baby will make their relationship complete, the reality is that adding a baby into the relationship can subtract the sex,” she tells me.

And because mothers still do much of the childrearing and household duties—despite the fact that more and more mothers have full-time careers—they are typically the more stressed, exhausted parent who is suffering from nagging mental drain. My experts tell me that biological factors for women (pregnancy, breastfeeding, hormone fluctuations) influence sex drive, too, meaning mothers can disproportionately experience that loss of interest in their partner once parenting begins.

Based on my own experience, I’d have to agree. My near-sexless marriage was mostly of my own making. I was tired, irritable, and overall, disinterested. Much of it was fueled by a near-constant frustration with the issues in my marriage, like feeling as if I was doing the majority of the child-rearing, home maintenance, and managing the dreaded mental load of being the organizer and planner of all family-centric things. These issues were so common among married mothers I knew that my fast-fading sex life almost felt normal, as well. But not quite—especially not when another mother would casually mention that her and her husband had a quickie in the bathroom while their toddler watched a three-minute youtube video just because they had to have each other, right then.

For me, the love and the lust between my partner and I seemed to fade as soon as my first bout of raging morning sickness wracked me almost a decade ago. At a certain point, I knew it wasn’t coming back, at least while in my marriage.

Before I was a wife and a mother, I couldn’t have imagined a life that lacked commitment to my own contentment, which has to do, at least in part, with sexual satisfaction. But how easily it happened to me was startling. I willingly I told myself lies to keep me in a life that stunted me: that plenty of couples don’t have sex anymore, that it wasn’t important, and that I was being selfish. It was a kind of betrayal, if only to myself. Still, I tried not to imagine that I might be wasting the best years of my sex life because I was too many things to too many people.

For many mothers, believing our sex drives have value (or even remembering that they still exist at all) can sometimes be a journey. And I understand now why the sex drive of the single mother is fierce. But the truth is, thanks to my raging post-marital libido, sex is better now than I ever remember it being. I’m in the sexual prime of my life, which I have been in for a while. Only now, I actually get to feel that way and—at the encouragement of the other newly dating single mothers in my corner—to finally embrace it.

This article originally appeared on Tonic.

kzj479Sarah BregelRajul PunjabiDIVORCEDatingmental healthrelationshipsLibidoLifebodyParental AdvisorymindmotherhoodDoin It WellSEX
<![CDATA[We Asked Indians Across the Country What Food and Home Mean to Them]]>, 15 Nov 2018 14:00:00 +0000A few years ago, I embarked on a personal quest to piece together what had become a fractured relationship with my mother tongue—Garhwali. Having lived across the country (courtesy my father’s 10-odd army postings), my native language was lost to me not just linguistically, but culturally as well. It was a cut that was deepened when a UNESCO list of disappearing languages across the world put Garhwali in the ‘vulnerable’ category. And so, my first instinct to regain this piece of identity was through food. Tor Kulat (a thick lentil preparation), Mandua ki Roti (chappati made of finger millet), or the creamy, sumptuous Gahat (horse gram)—I devoured Garhwali food to understand not just my roots, but also my history and identity.

Which brings us here. Nothing takes forward a cultural conversation better than food. It’s, as the late chef Anthony Bourdain had once said, everything we are: “It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get-go.” And so, we reached out to people from across the country to tell us about that one dish—a staple, a street food, or a specialty—that acts as windows to their personal stories while being inclusive of larger conversations on history, migration and, of course, nostalgia.

Kancha Posto, Kolkata

"The beauty about Goan cuisine is its variety in terms of the Hindu way of preparation and Portuguese influence on food in Christian homes."

Goan food to me is an explosion of two distinct flavours, spicy and sour. The intensity, density and impact varies on the dilution of other ingredients which sometimes tone down and at other times, heighten either one or both of the above mentioned flavours. The beauty about Goan cuisine is its variety in terms of the Hindu way of preparation and Portuguese influence on food in Christian homes. Add to it the variation that happens as you move from north Goa towards south. Certain ingredients are very unique and so many people claim to taste them from the first time in their lives. One of them is kokum or sola, which is used to make the curries sour and also adds a wonderful reddish orange colour. The second is Telphal pods, which has a unique flavour and is largely added to mackerel curry.
Sampriya Bhandare, designer

Follow Pallavi Pundir on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on VICE IN.

qvq8qpPallavi PundirRituparna SomFOODINDIAdiversityLifekashmirgoaAssamKolkataKeralaMeghalayaParsi foodLucknowFood & Drinksindhhyperlocalkumaongarhwal
<![CDATA[We're Getting a Harry Potter Version of 'Pokémon GO']]>, 15 Nov 2018 13:30:00 +0000Remember Pokémon GO, the augmented reality game that was supposed to change how people play forever, but instead led kids to a dead body, distracted a father from his kid falling off a balcony, spied on your Google activity, and might have caused billions of dollars worth of property damage? Well the company behind it, Niantic, Inc., is back with a Harry Potter-themed game aiming to "put magic in the hands of players worldwide." What could go wrong?

A new teaser for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite dropped on Wednesday morning, showing a young woman apparating—which is essentially teleporting, for all you muggles out there—into an alleyway, magicking a poster onto a wall, and disapparating away. "The Wizarding World is at risk of exposure," the poster reads. "We need your help." The whole thing looks like it was shot by a security camera, a nice throwback to Niantic's first big project, a cult favorite AR spy game called Ingress that pitted two shadowy teams against each other in a worldwide battle for territory.

The poster sets up a plot far less benign than Pokémon GO's charge to catch 'em all. Who's trying to expose the Wizarding World? How high are the stakes here? According to the press release, players will "unravel a global mystery, cast spells, and encounter fantastic beasts and iconic characters along the way," though it's unclear what that'll actually look like, gameplay wise.

Honestly, that sounds like it could be dope. Pokémon GO got a lot of crap for not working a lot of the time, but if Niantic has ironed out the kinks that made it difficult to play for disabled people, rural communities, and people who like to do stupid things in dangerous places, maybe this game could actually be, well, game-changing. At the very least, it'll probably bring joy to people who are still obsessed with Pokémon Go for some reason.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, a collaboration between Niantic, Inc., Warner Bros. Games, and Portkey Games, will drop in 2019.

Follow Beckett Mufson on Twitter and Instagram .

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

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