Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Snapshot of the Day: Extracting Goodness From Megatron

The new Synesso Hydra at Grouchy John's Coffee Shop pulls a wonderful, rich shot of espresso, extracting a taste of heaven from Colorado River Coffee Roasters' Redwall espresso blend.

Whether you want it straight up or in a latte, I can't wait to serve you one.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Snapshot of the Day: Looking For A Recipe...

Snapshot of the Day: CRCR's 1st Shipment to the Shop

Colorado River Coffee Roasters has just dropped off their first shipment to the Grouchy John's Coffee Shop!

We've got Redwall Espresso Blend, as well as coffees from Sumatra & El Salvador. What you're looking at is about 70 pounds of specially imported, locally-roasted-and-blended awesomeness.

Once we're open, stop by for some caffeinated happiness!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Anecdote of the Day: What Day Is This?

So, as I was walking out of the library yesterday afternoon, a young couple stopped me.

"Excuse me," the young man said. "But could you tell me what day this is?"

I had other things on my mind and only half-listened to him.

"It's the 23rd," I answered.

The girl chuckled, and the young man shot her a glance before turning back to me.

"No, I'm sorry," he said. "But I need to know what day it is."

"Oh," I said. "It's, um, Thursday."

The young man nodded.

"So yesterday was Wednesday?" he asked.

"That's right," I told him.

"And tomorrow's Friday," the young man continued.

"Yeah," I replied, starting to get a little annoyed.

"Thank you," the young man said. Then he turned to the girl with him. "You owe me a quarter," he told her. She chuckled again, and handed one over.

They moved past me into the library, and I continued on my way.

Now I wonder: what, exactly, were they betting on?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Snapshot of the Day: Grouchy John Gets A Facial

Yeah, that's Grouchy John himself, getting steamed by the new Synesso Hydra that's just been installed in our shop.

It's an incredible machine, a state-of-the-art American-made beauty that allows us to control all kinds of parameters, although I haven't been able to get it to make me a sandwich.

I think John may actually be in love with it...

NOTE: Our opening date for the shop looks like it will happen in the first week of March. Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Snapshot of the Day: Perspective from the Year I Was Born

Its official name is "NASA image AS8-14-2383"
but most people call it "Earthrise"

This shot was taken by the astronauts of Apollo 8 on December 24, 1968.

I was 4 months old.

Since then, we have abandoned our ambitions to send manned spacecraft across the solar system. Instead, we spend billions on weaponry, and we bicker over trivial differences, like tribalism and party politics (like there's a difference).

So, instead of extending our reach, we have, after a few brief visits to the moon, reverted to the petty squabbles which have been the hallmark of human history.

I hate for believing, as a kid, that I would one day be vacationing on the moon. I should have known.

Yet the message of this picture is clear: our home is but one small speck in a large, wonderful but indifferent universe.

It's only a matter of time before something happens to our home.

Wouldn't it be nice if we had options when it does?

Snapshot of the Night: Looks Like Grouchy John Found Someone To Sleep With!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Snapshot of the Day: Grouchy John's & Chi-Town Hustler Downtown til 4pm

Grouchy John's Coffee is downtown at the historic Fifth Street School until 4pm today, serving the patrons of the Rainbow Youth Company. Note the Federal Courthouse in the background.

AND we've got Chi-Town Hustler serving alongside us!

You can get to us just off 4th Street. Walk right up and order some great food and wonderful caffeinated happiness!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


(Here's some random crap about me. All of it is true. Almost none of it is important.)

There are few things I enjoy more than working a barbecue grill. A beer in one hand, tongs in the other, with a mess of meat cooking and people walking up with empty plates onto which I can pile the fixings. Heaven.

I will never be skinny again.

If you have strong political or religious beliefs, you should probably just go ahead and assume I disagree with you. Despite this, you should also know that I like & respect you and consider you a better person than me. But don't get a big head. I think everyone is a better person than me. (I actually kind of hate myself.)

Because of a girl I knew when I was a sophomore in high school, "Boogie On Reggae Woman" is my favorite Stevie Wonder song.

I enjoy sushi. Eel, tuna, mackerel, whatever, as long as it's fresh. However, though I love eating the fruit of the sea, too much shellfish can kill me. In fact, I can barely tolerate a single bite of shrimp. But it's oh, so delicious!

The only tattoo I've ever considered getting is the name of my wife. If and when I have kids, their names could be tattoos, as well. Otherwise, no.

Because of a girl I knew in college, Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl" makes me wistful and sometimes brings tears to my eyes.

Though I love reading Shakespeare, I can barely stand watching a performance of any of his plays. Explaining this would be even more boring than this already is.

You speak, and I smile and laugh and make pleasant conversation. But what goes through my head is dark, dark, dark. If I said one percent of what I thought, I'd have been locked up long ago. Or killed.

But don't be scared. I would rather throw myself in front of a speeding bus than harm a hair on someone else's head. If you think this makes me weak, then you have no idea how much it takes to hold back my inner psycho. Sometimes, it slips out. People call this "a fit" or "being snarky." Then I somehow manage to bottle it back up and start acting normal again.

My all-time favorite shoes are Chuck Taylor All-Stars. More modern shoe technology is a mirage. Padding, tread -- it's all snake oil. OLD SCHOOL!

I am one of those people who recognizes that the world would be a horrible place if more people were like me.

I also know that people are more important than books, but not by much.

If there are better men than my father, I have never met them. My father and I don't speak very often, but his voice is always there, in my head, guiding me on. I don't always listen. But I try.

Because of another girl I knew, songs from the Aerosmith album, "Pump," always bring a smile to my face.

I like it when kids are loud, when they break things and make messes and run around acting like idiots. It cracks me up, and I honestly think it's their job. If and when I have a child of my own, I am going to spoil it rotten.

My mother's biggest disappointment is that I was never a contestant on "Jeopardy!" I wish I were making that up.

Despite what I may be going through or how I may be feeling, I am genuinely & completely glad to see you. All of you. Really I am. Connecting with other people, even for the briefest instant, is what life is all about. Whatever has happened between us in the past, it's really great to see you. And, of course, I apologize.

Because of the woman I am married to, my world is full of delight and wonder. She brings light & warmth to every room she enters.

Whenever I get asked for advice, my answer is always some variation of this: do what you think is right, which usually means engaging in a slow & difficult process of recovering & rebuilding what you just destroyed. There are no magic bullets.

I always have room for pie.

How much of a sociopath am I? Well, the easiest way to get me NOT to do something is to tell me to do it. Ask me nicely, however, and I'll gladly comply with the most difficult & unpleasant request. Even from strangers. It's sick, I know.

I also know, deep in my bones, that I am better than no one. No one. Not the most crass hypocrite, nor the sickest predator. For I see those impulses in myself.

I'm glad that looks matter less the more you get to know a person. Otherwise, no one would like me.

Now, just because I sit in judgment of no one doesn't mean I don't recognize the pettiness and malice that pervades the world around us. It's just that I try hard to look past it and stay focused on what's important. And what's important is us. All of us.

I am a happy drunk.

Writing is how I clear the debris from my mind. This is why I don't understand people who don't write. Do they just walk around with this confused tangle of half-articulated thoughts flying around the inside of their skulls? If there's a better way to quiet the chorus so I can focus on the task-at-hand, please let me know.

Snapshot of the Day: Grouchy John's Complete Signage

The guys came to put up the rest of the signage for Grouchy John's Coffee shop, adding the logo and the drive-thru signs.

It's all coming together now...

...and this is what the signage looks like at night:

Cool, huh?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Snapshot of the Day: Grouchy John's First Customer Today

This young man is enjoying a Suicide Smoothie from Grouchy John's Coffee, as we serve out of the trailer alongside Lulu's On The Move in front of Metro Pizza.

It's a warm, beautiful morning in the Las Vegas valley, so I anticipate selling a ton of these before the day is through, especially since we'll be at VegasStreats tonight in front of the El Cortez.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Snapshot of the Day: Tonight's Show at GVHS

Boy, have things changed since I was in high school!

This Green Valley High School production of Legally Blonde was truly impressive in both its production and performance.

It was well worth the price of a ticket.

Anecdote of the Day: A Talk With My Mom

(Note: I have previously written about my mother here and here.)

So I called my Mom today because I hadn't talked with her in a while, even though she lives just down the street from me.

My stepdad answered the phone, and we chatted for a bit. He yawned a few times because, even though it was just past noon, it was his bedtime. He works the graveyard shift over at The Palms. This is why I generally can't call my Mom in the afternoon, because my stepdad is sleeping.

When I mentioned that I'd been leaving messages for the past 3 weeks or so without getting a call back, my stepdad just said, "Well, you know she hates checking the machine. But I've been telling her you called. I don't know why she hasn't called you back."

I mentioned that the last time I came by their house, my mother didn't answer the door, even though she knew I was coming to bring her her favorite cranberry juice. I just left the bottles by the garage door and hoped for the best.

"I must have been out shopping or something," my stepdad said, yawning again. "But you know how she gets. Hold on, I'll get her for you."

After a few minutes my Mom came on the phone with her usual soft, drawn-out "Hello" that always makes me think I just woke her up.

"Hi, Mom," I said. "Did I wake you up?"

"No. I'm up," she replied. "Is everything okay?"

I told her I was just calling to see how she was doing because I hadn't heard from her in a while.

"Well, I know you're busy," she said.

"I'm not too busy to pick up when you call," I told her.

"But I know you've been busy with your business and the shop opening up," she told me. "Plus I don't want to jinx you."


"I know you're going to open your shop soon," my Mom said. "And I don't want to bring you bad luck."

"Why would you bring me bad luck, Mom?"

"I've been having lots of bad luck flying around me these days," she said. Then her voice took on a harder edge. "I've been fighting it, though. I didn't want to talk to you until I've beaten it."

"Mom, that's ridiculous," I said. "You're not going to bring me bad luck."

This is a recurring theme with my Mother, the subtext of which is that she thinks I'm embarrassed of her. This is why, for years, she was convinced that the Princess & I had married in secret, just so we wouldn't have to invite her to the wedding. My only defense against this line of reasoning was to repeatedly pledge to her that, when the Princess & I got married, my mother would be invited to sit in the front row.

The fact that this is exactly what happened at my wedding has apparently not reassured my Mother that I am not, in fact, embarrassed of her.

"I'm trying not to jinx you," my Mother said. "That's why I'm fighting it every day with my prayers and my spells."

"So, you've been avoiding me because you're worried that you'll infect me with bad luck if we talk on the phone?"

"That's how bad luck works," my Mom explained. "It goes from person to person. Just like an infection."

I was suddenly sorry for introducing that particular metaphor into the conversation.

"Mom, I want you there for the grand opening," I told her. "You won't jinx it. I promise."

"Maybe I shouldn't come," said my Mother. "If something goes bad, you'll blame me."

"Mom, nothing is going to go bad," I said. "And even if it does, I doubt it will be your fault."

"Of course, you won't think so," she replied. "You don't see things that I do."

"You're right, Mom. I don't. But I want you there anyway."

"Are you sure?" my Mom asked. "I'm having a hard enough time fighting off the bad luck now. I don't want to make things worse by infecting you and your business, too."

"Mom, I want you there on opening day," I said firmly. "We're not sure what day that is, yet. But I will let you know as soon as I can."

"Okay, I'll come," my Mother said. "As long as you think it's a good idea."

"I do."

"Good," she said, actually sounding happy for a second. "But now I've got some work to do. I don't want you getting infected before I'm ready to protect you."

And, with that, she hung up.

I considered calling back to say a proper goodbye, but I figured she was busy.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Movie Idiolect

A GREAT MOVIE (according to me)
available from Amazon

I begin with a question: What movies make you you? If someone were to ask you to assemble a resume of movie preferences that could somehow define and/or capture who you are, what movies would be on that list?

In linguistics, someone's idiolect is the particular menu of words, phrases, accents and grammar that make up one person's language. For example, while I speak American English, I do NOT speak with a southern or northeastern accent, and I rarely ever use the phrase, "up in here." (I do, however, use the word "however" a lot.)

And the list below constitutes, in a way, my movie idiolect.

A note about preferences: A long time ago, I was in a seminar with the writer John Barth when he got asked about preferring one type of fiction over another. At the time, in the writing classes I was attending, there was hot debate about the merits of realism over fantasy in fiction. Barth's answer stuck with me.
"I hesitate to state a preference," he said (and I'm, of course, paraphrasing), "because so many people think that this means I don't like the thing I'm not preferring. In other words, because I don't prefer a certain choice, I'm implying that it shouldn't exist. But I prefer to live in a world where choices exists. I prefer a world where I get to choose, and I even get to change my mind, especially when it comes to art."
I feel the same way. But, for the sake of discussion, I'm listing movies that are my personal favorites -- my pantheon of great cinematic entertainment. Like Barth's answer, these movies stuck with me in some way. That is, these are movies I can rewatch endlessly and not just from beginning to end. I can just dip into them, revisiting individual scenes out of sheer pleasure, and I often quote from them. After some soul-searching, I've narrowed the list down to these twenty-one, in no particular order:

  1. Glengarry Glen Ross - the best of the all the eminently-quotable Mamet movies, and based on his award-winning play. Alec Baldwin's scene alone is worth the price of admission, though every other member of the ensemble cast also gives a master class in inhabiting their lines.
  2. Grosse Pointe Blank - it turns out that this movie almost exactly fits me in a demographic sense, so its story, its references, and its soundtrack all speak deeply to my own remembrances of high school. Beyond that, it's a really good comedy. It's theme of a prodigal son returning home also strikes me deeply.
  3. Star Wars & The Empire Strikes Back (But NOT Return of the Jedi) - because I see the first 3 movies as a single entity, not to be confused with the latter trilogy which was merely tedious. But the 3rd part of that first trilogy really jumped the shark, as they say. It got too cute, and I knew it, even as an adoring kid.
  4. Blade Runner - Ridley Scott's sci-fi masterpiece still holds up, even after decades of advances in special effects. Of course, having Harrison Ford doing some of his best work helps.
  5. Big Trouble in Little China - perhaps my all-time favorite movie in terms of pure pleasure. Kurt Russell hams it up brilliantly. The dialog is hilarious, and the action is both intense and tongue-in-cheek at the same time. It's a big, pulpy mess, and I love every second of it.
  6. Unforgiven - the capstone of Clint Eastwood's career in westerns. It's dark, dreary and violent -- the perfect antidote to the romanticism that pervades most movies, especially westerns. 
  7. Band of Brothers - okay, so including a whole miniseries is kind of cheating, but this series was so completely engrossing that I just couldn't leave it off the list. Think of it as a more sublime Saving Private Ryan.
  8. Hamlet, directed by Kenneth Branagh - unlike other movie adaptations of Shakespeare's play, this one is a so-called "full-text" adaptation. And I'm a sucker for Shakespeare, anyway. This one's got Branagh himself in the lead, with an inspired supporting cast.
  9. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off - if I even need to explain this, then you don't know me. And if you haven't seen it...well, I'll try to forgive you.
  10. Serenity - take the hokey space-opera aspects of Star Trek and Star Wars, but add hilarious dialog and believably likable characters -- and you have this, the cinematic finale of Joss Whedon's single-series TV show, Firefly.
  11. Primer - the only movie involving time-travel (with the possible exception of FAQ About Time Travel) that I can respect. This low-budget, brainy gem is a bravura exercise in fragmented storytelling and narrative economy. The IQ & inventiveness on display in this movie dwarfs the combined quotients of every Star Trek movie ever made.
  12. The Godfather - the best and most groundbreaking of the trilogy, this is the movie that pretty much cemented the American gangster ethos, so much so that real gangsters have adopted it as gospel. Its sequel is excellent, even though it's really just more of the same. But that third one...
  13. Ghost Dog: the way of the samurai - Jim Jarmusch's skewering of the gangster/warrior ethos also embodies it in the form of one of Forest Whitaker's finest roles.
  14. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension - a comic book lover's movie, if there ever was one. And John Lithgow is pure awesomeness.
  15. Pulp Fiction - Quentin Tarantino's masterpiece does it all. It's funny, sad, mind-bendingly self-aware, and an homage to movies, especially of a certain era. What I like about it is that every character who comes on-screen pretty much gets their stage-time, even the minor ones. In that way, it's not just a flick; it's a whole world.
  16. High Fidelity - I know, another John Cusack movie. But I just can't help myself. This one also hits so close to home that it's hard to discuss. Let's just say that, in my past, I've made my share of mix tapes. And Jack Black's closing number is a moment of perfect pitch.
  17. Miller's Crossing - My favorite of all of the Coen brothers' movies, a gangster epic inspired by Dashiell Hammett's The Glass Key but recast into something even greater.
  18. Fight Club - a movie adaptation of a good novel that's actually better than the novel! (And I say this as an aspiring novelist.) And that's all I can say. (See rules 1 and 2.)
  19. The Blues Brothers - Just watch it. It's a movie that's so full of great gags and iconic moments that I'm hard-pressed to understand why anyone would NOT put this movie on their list. But that's just me.
  20. Much Ado About Nothing - yeah, it's Shakespeare by Branagh again, but the play between actors in this movie is a joy to behold. Even the wooden Keanu Reeves can't ruin the magic. And Michael Keaton very nearly steals the whole show!
  21. Apocalypse Now: Redux - Coppola's recasting of Conrad's Heart of Darkness is a hot mess. It's also incredibly beautiful, hauntingly true, and bafflingly alien, all at the same time. We shall probably never see its like again.
This is by no means a definitive or comprehensive list, but I'm struck by the absence of more so-called greatness. No Kubrick or Kurosawa, no Spielberg or Scorsese, no Monty Python or Mel Brooks, all of whom I adore and revere. Maybe that's just a symptom of my lowbrow soul. After all, we're all the products of our upbringings, and, as you can probably tell from the list above, mine was full of science-fiction, comic books, and comedy of all stripes.

Now, I'd like to know, what movies make up your idiolect?

Snapshot of the Day: Our Backsides

Don't get excited.

It's just Grouchy John's Coffee & TastyBunz parked right outside UMC & Valley Hospitals.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Grouchy John's Super Bowl Party

So, we decided to have a little get-together at our upcoming Grouchy John's Coffee shop to watch the Super Bowl. You know, something informal and fun in the space where, in a few weeks we'll be working like slaves.

Grouchy John's Mama cooked up some fajitas, meatballs, wings, and this delicious strawberry-shortcake dessert that had several guests asking for the recipe, and we brought a TV from home to show the Big Game. Someone even brought a bucket of KFC!

We want to thank the Ynigues clan and members of TastyBunz, SausageFest, Haulin Balls, Top Notch BBQ, Bread & Butter bakery, Great Bao, and Ben's BBQ for making it happen & keeping the laughs and Hennessy flowing.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

These Just Happened at Grouchy John's Trailer

Earlier, this guy walks up to the trailer, which has "Grouchy John's Coffee" printed on every side, and he asks if we sell fish & chips.

I tell him we just sold out.

Later, two boys run up to the trailer and start ogling our menu.

A voice from far away yells, "Hey, what are you guys doing?"

Almost in unison, the boys yell back, "But, Dad, they have smooooothies!" (Yeah, that's how they said it.)

"Well, are they free?" the voice asks.

The boys look up to me with pleading eyes, but I have to shake my head. Hey, I'm running a business here.

"No," the boys yell back, again almost in unison.

"Then get in the damned car!"

The boy take off running.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Second Snapshot of the Day: Where It's At

M-M-M-My Muffaletta from Bread & Butter

So, I wasn't even hungry. Really.

But Brother Juan (or Grouchy John to you) and the Princess (my wife) both wanted to go to Bread & Butter for lunch.

And I walked up to the counter to order lunch for my wife, fully intending to just get a root beer for myself. Honestly.

But, just as I was about to say, "Nothing for me," I saw one of these beauties land at a nearby table.

So "Nothing for me" became "muffaletta" just like that.

I don't regret one bit.

10940 S. Eastern Avenue
Open 7am-4pm Weekdays, 7am-2pm Weekends

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Snapshot of the Day: Bao from Chairman Bao at Khoury's Fine Wine

This is the kind of deliciousness you can find when you show up to one of the free tastings at Khoury's Fine Wine & Spirits on Wednesdays or Thursdays nights.

Tonight, there were some wonderful European wines (whose names & provenances I've sadly forgotten), as well as food from two great trucks: San Francisco-based Chairman Bao and the local stalwart SausageFest.

Pictured above is a kind of sampler platter from the Chairman Bao truck: (clockwise from upper left) Pork Belly, Tofu, Spicy Chicken, another Tofu, and (in the middle) Coke-braised pork. All were exceedingly scrumptious, and my personal fave was the Pork Belly Bao. Fine food made by very nice people.

Although tonight was ostensibly a wine-tasting, I paired the platter above with a glass of New Belgium Cocoa Mole (which I've written about previously). The combination put a smile on my face and filled my belly with happiness.

Of the 5 wines being sampled, I preferred the chardonnay (though I'm not sure it was actually a chardonnay) and the cheaper cabernet (probably owing to my rather untrained, blue-collar palate). But, honestly, they were all very good.

For dessert, I topped it all off with some venison sausage from SausageFest, which was rich & flavorful.

Of course, all of this wonderful fare wouldn't be half as fulfilling without the charming & gracious company of such people as the Khourys, Kim, Lisa, the other Kim & Caleb, Chris, Natalie, Josh, Oliver, and the rest of motley denizens of Khoury's Fine Wine & Spirits. They make it fun.

For a snapshot of some of us, including me acting goofy, go here. Another one is here.

If I die tonight, it'll be as a happy man.

Maybe you'll join me next week?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Dream of My Wife (with Unicorn)

(Note: This is another actual dream I had, though the process of writing it down has changed it a bit. I woke up at the end.)

We were driving along a narrow road surrounded by forest.

"Pull over," my wife said. "I think I saw a unicorn."

"What?" I asked. I was busy trying to figure out where we were.

"Just pull over."

I did, and she bounded from the car so quickly I thought I would lose her in the darkening twilight. Luckily, she was wearing that bright pink hoodie she always wears to the gym.

She jogged along the shoulder of the road back the way we had come for a bit, and then she turned and sprinted into the woods. I could barely keep up with her because I was only wearing flipflops.

Briefly, I worried about our car, sitting there on the side of the road with the passenger door flung open. I had closed my door, and I had the keys with me. Still, all our stuff was just sitting there, waiting for someone to come along and take it.

But I couldn't even chance glancing back for fear of losing my wife as we wove through the trees. I was too scared of getting my feet cut up to kick my flipflops off.

"I told you," my wife said and stopped so quickly that I almost ran into her.

We had come upon a clearing, a large oval of grass surrounded by a short horse fence of rough timber. And standing in the exact center of this oval was a massive white horse, his head bent low as he grazed. Despite the gathering darkness around us, this little meadow seemed bathed in sunlight.

"He's beautiful, isn't he?" she said.

"He's no unicorn," I replied.

"How can you not see a unicorn?" my wife asked and then started to climb the fence. The horse trotted over to us, and I got a little scared. He was huge! I put my hand on my wife's leg as she started to swing it over the top of the fence.

"Wait," I said. "What if he isn't friendly?"

"Don't be silly," my wife said, shaking my hand off. She scrambled the rest of the way over the fence and hopped down to the grass. "He's a unicorn!"

I started to climb the fence as well, but I was clumsy about it and fell backwards, landing on my backside. My beloved wife was too busy staring at the horse to notice.

"I'm okay," I said to no one listening.

The horse slowed as he got close to my wife, and she reached out a hand to him. He was so tall he had to lower his head so she could touch him on the nose.

"That's a nice boy," she whispered, repeating it, as she walked along his side, rubbing her hands along his neck and flank. The horse's mane was so long that it hung down in thick strands, and I realized what my wife was going to do just before she did it.

"Honey," I blurted. "Don't!"

But it was too late. My wife, still whispering at the horse, grabbed two large handfuls of mane and pulled herself up just as, in the same instant, the horse turned its neck and lowered its head so that it could use its muzzle as a kind of step to boost my wife onto its back.

As I got to my feet, the horse began to trot along the fence, and my wife gave a laugh.

"Oh, my god," she gasped. "Can you believe this? I'm riding a unicorn!"

"That is no unicorn!" I yelled at her. I started climbing the fence again and landed on the other side just as the horse was completing its lap of the clearing with my laughing wife on its back.

"Take a picture!" she said as the horse stopped a few feet from me. "That way we have proof I rode a unicorn!"

As I dug my phone out of my pocket, I said, "How many times do I have to tell you? That's no unicorn. It's just a horse."

And this is when a voice inside my head said, "Of course I'm a unicorn. You just need to open your eyes."

I suddenly realized two things: that the horse's voice was inside my head, and that its voice was female.

"What?" I said out loud.

"Take a picture!" my wife exclaimed, striking a pose with both hands in the air.

"I'm a unicorn," repeated the voice inside my head. "And you should do what your wife tells you."

I raised my phone and snapped a photo. Then the horse began another slow lap of the clearing. As it did, my wife began laughing again, and I could see that, indeed, the horse was female.

"Look at the picture you just took," said the voice inside my head.

The image on the screen of my phone clearly showed my wife sitting on the back of a large, white unicorn, with a long, twisted, multicolored horn sticking straight up out of its snout.

"Not everyone can see it," said the voice inside my head.

I was dumbfounded.

"You're a girl," I stammered. It was the best I could do.

"All unicorns are of the opposite sex, silly," replied the voice. By now, the unicorn and my wife had completed another lap, and they began another, this time speeding up to a gallop. My wife was whooping it up like she was on a rollercoaster, recklessly throwing her hands in the air as the unicorn went faster and faster.

Now that I'd seen the horn in the picture, I could see it in real life. It was beautiful. I had to struggle to look away from it.

I watched as the unicorn and my wife sped around the clearing for yet another lap.

"My wife knew you were a unicorn," I said aloud.

"She's special," said the voice inside my head. "She sees things most people can't."

They finished their lap, and the unicorn stopped right in front of me. My wife slid down from its back and came over, collapsing against me in a hug.

"That was fantastic," she gasped. "But now I'm hungry. We should go."

"Yes," the voice in my head said. "You should go now."

I heard a howl in the distance. It seemed to come from the woods between us and our car.

"What was that?" I asked. I couldn’t tell if it was a coyote or a wolf or something else.

"What was what?" my wife replied. She hadn't heard anything. But the unicorn stamped its front hooves and then reared back on its hind legs.

"That," said the voice in my head, "is part of the reason you need to leave now."

Meanwhile, my wife had taken the phone out of my hand. She hadn't even seen the unicorn rear up behind her, and now she was holding the phone's screen out to me.

"Hey," she said. "What happened?"

Again, I looked at my phone's screen. But the picture it displayed had changed. It showed my wife sitting on the back of an ordinary white horse. No horn. But, in the photo, tiny, rainbow-colored gossamer wings had sprouted from my wife's back.

"I don't know," I told her, taking my phone back. "But I think we'd better go."

I looked at my wife to see if the wings were there, and there they were, sticking out of her shoulder blades and so small that they couldn't possibly be practical. They were so thin I could see right through them, and they just kind of fluttered whenever she moved. I wondered if I should point them out to her.

There was another howl, but this time it was closer. And it was answered by more howls. Whatever was out there wasn't alone.

"Yeah, I'm famished," my wife said, and, with that, she scaled the fence in what seemed like a single bound.

I started to follow her, but the voice in my head said, "Wait. Look down."

There, at my feet, was a large knife stuck into the ground. I pulled it out and looked at it. Its blade was as long as my hand and very shiny, and its handle was made of twisted, multicolored horn.

"Take it with you," said the voice in my head. "You're going to need it."

I looked at my wife on the other side of the fence. She was just standing there admiring the unicorn. I couldn't see her wings anymore, but I had the feeling they were still there, just invisible.

Another burst of howls filled the air around us. Whatever they were, they were very close.

"I'm supposed to protect my wife with this?" I asked.

"She's not the one who needs it," the voice in my head replied.

Without looking back at the unicorn, I put the blade between my teeth and scrambled over the fence. As soon as I landed on the other side, my wife said, "Race you to the car," and took off.

"I've never used a knife before," I said aloud after taking the knife out of my mouth. I began chasing my beloved back through the forest.

"Do what you can," said the voice in my head.

I hated to take my eyes off the shrinking splash of pink that was my wife, but I stole a glance back at the unicorn. It was standing in the middle of the fenced-in clearing -- I swear it was shivering -- and I suddenly realized why the fence was there. It wasn't to keep the unicorn in.

"Last one back pays for dinner!" yelled my wife, oblivious to the howling shadows closing in on us.

I hefted the knife and ran after her.

"Right behind you, honey," I said.

Snapshot of the Day: Looks Like A Fun Trip!

An RV, a jeep, canoes, and bikes. Wish I was going with them!