Bringing Home the Freshest Kill

Posts in the December category


In years past — specifically, each December — I’ve celebrated the medium of blogging by inviting writers I like to compose guest posts here, at this blog.

These events have gone by the moniker “A BORSCHT-IN,” and they have been good fun.


Part of the fun was watching talented scribes like Daniel Kalder and Ricky Sprague do their thing, and do it damn well.


But this year, I’m inverting the process. This year, instead of soliciting blog posts for this site, I’m offering to guest-post at other peoples’ blogs in December.

Lucy Steigerwald on Hollywood Boulevard

I’ve already promised the brilliant Lucy Steigerwald an item for her blog. I also have something brewing for the blog of my amazing friend Ruth Waytz.

Ruth as Clay Matthews

So, I humbly throw this idea out to the shifting, whispering sands of the Internet — who else would like to taint their brand by allowing me to pilot their blog for a post or two during the month of December?

I only have one rule for this experiment — if you ask me to blog for you, you must assign me a blogging topic.

Somehow it just seems more fun that way.

Game on, comrades.


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A Borscht-In 2012

I’m hosting guest-blogger month in December here once again.

Friends of this esteemed blog are cordially invited to contribute as many pieces as they’d like from December 1-31st.

I can’t afford to pay anyone, but I have occasional high-traffic moments here and it’s usually kind of fun to do this (I skipped last year because I was busy moving).

All contributors retain creative control/copyright/ownership of their stuff, and if you have an avatar photo you’d like me to use, go ahead and send it along with a two or three sentence bio.

There are no rules and I won’t edit pieces or mess with anyone’s grammar unless you request it. Topics are wide open — year-end ‘best’ lists, 2012 apocalypse stories, books, travel, sex, comedy, travel, politics (left, right, middle) etc are all welcome. Pseudonyms are fine and so are real names. It’s up to everyone and their personal preference.

Please email me if you want in. (mike @ this domain name).

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Welcome back to “A Borscht-In,” i.e. Guest-Blogger Month here at the site.

Last year’s experiment was so good that there was never any doubt that it warranted an encore performance.

Thus “A Borscht-In II” was conceived, and now it’s finally here —  “Sophomore Year.” From this point forward, everything will be beach parties and sugar plums.


Up first in the 2nd Act is the ever-alluring, omni-seraphic and inarguably brilliant Ruth Waytz from Los Angeles, California.

Ruth Waytz

Ruth can be found online here, here and here. Not only is she everything I said and more, she’s also a Green Bay Packers fan, which brings her closer to God than anyone ever in the history of Southern California. (Just joshin” you Californians. Unlike my fellow Oregonians — I actually like the Golden State.)

Ruth’s first installment is about PERFECTION, and I don’t mean the wonderful John Travolta film. Please check out her posts from last year as well, especially “This is What I Want“:


UPDATE! A new post from Ruth revisits PERFECTION, and does so with completely beautiful VENOM. A must-read! And Ruth delivers the scoop on her transformation into a football fan here. Good stuff, and I greatly appreciate the props for Clay Matthews.




Daniel Kalder

The newest arrival at the Borscht-In is void-wandering Scotsman Daniel Kalder.

I’m excited to have Daniel on-board because he is truly one of my favorite authors. His books Lost Cosmonaut and Strange Telescopes are both stellar. Below is a short review yours truly wrote for Lost Cosmonaut back in May. I hope it offers some insight into D.K.’s considerable literary gifts:

Hilarity, Desolation, and Chess: A Review of Daniel Kalder’s Lost Cosmonaut

I became so enthused about this book that I found myself reading passages aloud to friends. One such passage involves a conversation between the author, Daniel Kalder, and a man named Konstantin, who is Kalder’s liaison to a pagan mystic in Mari El. The two discuss the mundanity of offering some non-descript meat to the gods in an oak grove. It’s a perfect encapsulation of the absurdity that seems to dominate much of Russian life.

Kalder excels at diagramming these types of dry and often humorous exchanges, which is probably difficult to do in estranged Russian lands. A lesser writer might fall prey to one of two tendencies:

Smug, ironic condescension e.g. “Look at this hilarious, f#cked up place and these hilarious, f#cked up people!“; or

Solemn, empathic condescension e.g. “My god, look at these sad, terrible places and grim, empty people.”

Happily, Kalder avoids both traps. He doesn’t settle for “easy.” He milks uncomfortable moments for all they’re worth; he refuses to dress up anti-climax with false cheer; and most impressively, he navigates the nether-voids of these desolate places without succumbing to a pretentious, Nietzsche-ish tone.

Misanthropy? No; that’s an “easy” emotion; there’s more to Lost Cosmonaut than that. This is skilled, clever writing. Kalder sees people as multi-faceted character studies, not simplistic caricatures. Lost Cosmonaut forces the reader to confront the clichéd but true-to-life dilemma of “not wanting the story to end.”

Oh, and it features a journey into the deep, dark underbelly of the global chess scene. All hail Ilyumzhinov!

Daniel’s contribution to the 2010 Borscht-In expounds on an idea that D.K. riffed on with much panache elsewhere this year, i.e. the sentience of his facial hair. I won’t elaborate — doing so would only broadcast my clumsiness while robbing D.K.’s post of the double kick-drum power it deftly wields. Instead, I provide direct linkage — straight to the source:



Thanks to everyone for participating and/or reading. It is great fun. (And if you want to join the fray, click here. There is still plenty of time, and I’m fine with entries bleeding over into the New Year.)

— Mike/Iced Borscht, December 2010


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Last year, I started a tradition here at Iced Borscht wherein friends and other bloggers provide guest posts for the month of December. It’s called “A Borscht-In.”

Some of you might recall that Ruth Waytz provided some great material, as did Conrad Heiney and Jacob Grier. All three of them are invited back for A Borscht-In II, of course, but newcomers are welcome also.

Who wants in? The topics are up to you. There are no hard and fast rules. Below is a list of subjects typically covered at this site:

  • Russia and other transcontinental cha cha cha
  • Gurgitation and culinary treasures
  • Women
  • Portland
  • Humor
  • The Pack
  • Sex
  • Music
  • Deep-fried dystopia
  • Politics (any perspective is welcome, on any end of the political spectrum)
  • Strange places
  • Strange people

The veteran guest bloggers I already mentioned (Ruth; Conrad; Jacob) will get full-on user IDs of their own so they can log on and post at their leisure. Neophytes will have to e-mail their contributions to Big Daddy.

There are no deadlines, per se, but contributions are welcome between now and the end of December. The guest posts will officially go live on December 1, 2010.

That’s all there is to it.

You know you want to do it!


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It’s a Borscht-In!

Ruth Waytz

First let me say how honored and thrilled I am to be included in such a prestigious yet non-gastronomical event.

Yes, I’m afraid no borscht will be served. At least not by me.

That said, and by way of introduction, I’ll clue you in on my overall theme: that this is The Year Everything Changes — and summarize the words of a fellow I met this year.

He claims the ability to “read” people, and after a few short minutes of
deep, silent staring and a bit of throat-clearing, he said he’d got me entirely figured out.

“You’re the Trickster God, aren’t you,” he said. “You just want to show the whole world the joke.”

And you know what? He’s right. He was probably just trying to get into my pants, but he was actually right. My deal, if I have one, is certainly to point things out, or at very least to express them in ways you never saw them before.

So get ready. December is just begun and I’ve got the proverbial Good News and Bad News: this horrible fantastic surprising relentless eff’d up awesome year ain’t over yet.

Ruth Waytz

Catch me spouting the provocative and the insane, pretty much weekly, on The Filter. Los Angeles is my home.


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