2022 – A Year in Flux


L: Again with the yelling, don’t you ever shut up?

N: Not when I’m awake.

L: Unless I’ve run you ragged, or jammed a—

N: No need to be explicit. 

L: You started it.

N: I take no responsibility. For anything anymore. That’s what 2022 was about, right? Retiring a life of stoicism and embracing epicureanism. *** sobs *** 

L: Are you still upset about the cancellation of rum raisin ice cream?

N: Maybe…

L: Because LITERALLY everyone who likes it, except you, is dead. It’s just business, Nog.

N: Fascists.

L: Let’s get to the matter at hand, shall we? Each year asking the previous to hold its beer and 2022 was really no exception. 

Lola and Noggy’s 2022 Wheel of the Year. In Brief.

N: Well, brief’ish.


N: New Years! Naked snow angels! Leaning into photographic evidence by making the best custom calendar ever.

L: We wrote the 2022 year in review. And it was a DOOZY.

N: Your dad’s weed infused absinthe.

L: I lost about 16 hours, for real.


L: We tempted the Gods of Winter and went Ice Fishing at Gull Lake for Noggy’s b-day. This requires an entire review of its own: -30C, biscuits, dumb fish, a month’s worth of booze, and all-night ice cracking.

N: Don’t forget you got me a Texas Mickey of Smirnoff’s! Which was drank. Drunk. Drunken?

L: It got you running again after having your Achilles’ smashed through a meat grinder.


N: Hey, remember when you gave me Covid? From Costco? Kirkland Covid, Jesus…

L: We caught up on a decade of TV, so stop bitching.

N: At least we recovered. Steve… he ate mouth full of mud. I don’t think he’s been the same since.

L: And then we made Borscht from a three-thousand-year-old Mennonite recipe.

N: Mmm, and Worm Moon night run magic.

L: Seeing Broken Toyz at the Back Alley where you wore a kimono and sunglasses and everyone thought you were some kind of celebrity.

N: I recall you nearly got kicked out of the bar for being naughty!

L: Happens. More often than you’d think.

N: Remember Velocipastor?

L: Trying not to. Do you remember David Sedaris complimenting my sweater?

N: Traffic cone strikes again!

L: I made a lot of rather drastic decisions post-covid. Bye, bye Medusa, was seriously time for a big chop.

N: And a large-ish tattoo in a post-covid fog. Totally good decision.

L: And Toxic Femininity. Where they ran out of fucking air in the coffee shop. Who runs out of air? Really?

N: And broken plate magic.

L: Which seemed cool until we found out it was a dumb Tik Tok thing. Kids these days…


N: We have a guest reviewer for May.

L: Shit.

Steve: Fuck you both. I’m not sure why I invited you animals to come to Victoria for a week. Not saying that I regret it, but… let’s see. You hid in my house like vermin, poked a dead elephant seal, forced me to eat cinnamon buns and latte’s mid beach run, to drink at least forty expensive cocktails at the Bard and Banker, eat weird shit at the Fork n Pork in the middle of the night, listen to yacht rock, walk halfway across Vancouver island to find nostalgia at Spinnakers, run to the liquor store while you soaking wet losers had a nap in a dog blanket, made me run into highway traffic and almost get pancaked by a semi, and be friendly with bathroom stoners.

N: You missed Ferris’s not having Jambalaya, literally the only reason we even came to visit.

L: And the Empress bathrooms. 

S: …

N: …


L: We descended upon Julie’s book launch, totally unclear on which 80’s theme it was.

N: Pretty sure it was Def Lepard 80’s.

L: Debbie Gibson, all the way.

N: What else is there?

L: The writing retreat, in which I scared the absolute shit out of some unsuspecting memoirists.

N: And listened to drunk stories of cats licking balls.

L: And throwing watermelon rinds at cows.

N: Did we actually write?

L: Now that you mention it…

N: What about our awesome Horror Con cosplay?

L: Baby and Otis!

N: Of the notorious Firefly Family. We’ll never get the blood out. Never.

N: It was nice that summer kicked off with patios. So many patios. And magic. We purified a hell of a lot of patios.

L: Living the vagabond lifestyle my mother always warned me about.

N: We even made it to Stampede for the first time in years.

L: We went there for the weird food and couldn’t find any of it. But hey, my dad got totally fucked up and acquired covid. At least I hope that’s all he got…

N: And you took me kayaking. Twice! And we didn’t kill each other.

L: If at first (or second) you don’t succeed…

L: Stampede breakfast at the Baptist Church could have gone either way.

N: It definitely went some kind of way. With that Baptist Youth Band…


L: Ah, August. More house sitting. More patios. And hey, more nude beach.

N: Two words: pocket gopher.

L: At the nude beach!

N: Could have been a sundial.

L: Anyways… We crashed Squamish! Ran fifty fucking miles through forests and over mountains. Shout out to the August Jack Motor Lodge. Ate BBQ. Steve’s b-day in Vancouver, starting with posh cucumber margs in Yaletown, followed by Paper Planes in Gastown, and capping it off with the worst fucking old fashioneds imaginable at the Shark Club. Which in fairness, should not have been a surprise.

N: We also had that all day YYC craft brewery crawl.

L: Followed by Cornfest! Your 37th high school reunion, and a first date on the 2nd Berry Go Round.

N: We rocked the YYC Pride Market.

L: And we released Rhonda’s awesome book – Hell Hath No Sorrow like a Woman Haunted!


N: Crustless pizza where have you been all my life?

L: We needed the calories. You know, for stuff…

N: Like WAM.

L: WAM, Wam, wam. A three-day stage mountain ultra-race in Whistler. Why do I let you idiots talk me into these things?

N: The deadliest part was your dad trying to eat a Blizzard while driving through a mountain pass construction zone one-handed, trying to beat the road closure.

L: Here’s to Mad Dads…

N: Cheers!


L: Did anything happen besides Halloween?

N: Cocktails at the Wednesday Room with the Overlook Hotel carpet. And candy.

L: Soooo much candy. Twinkies, yes, Big Turks, less yes.

N: You had me at Big Turk.

L: Halloween though!

N: Lazlo and Nadja. Fangs. Blood. Possessed dolls.

L: We outdid ourselves this year, gotta say.

N: Wanted, Sasquatch skull.

L: That all you got?

N: Except for about two hundred birthday parties.

L: Moving right along…


L: A month late and two pennies short, but we managed to give birth to our latest Purgatorio book, Terrace V: Penitent’s Gold, and inflict more Trace and Solomon on the universe.

N: Running streak! Fucking cold running streak.

L: Don’t forget drinking a gallon of Colyte in preparation for your colonoscopy.

N: You’ll be old one day too!

L: I’ll never be as old as you. Plus, you recovered for Solstice at the Dorian.

N: True. Though you tried your best to kill me on that horrible frozen death run before Christmas.

L: Weird Christmas II: The Weirdening.

N: With bonus Boxing Day parking lot gin.

L: And another seriously required Dead Week. Betty Lou’s Library and Burlesque!

And that’s, as they say in shrew business, a wrap. And now on to 2023, which we’ll preemptively refer to as the haunted Wheel of Fortune…

The Arby’s S’mores Milkshake Experience

Sometimes Lola Silkysocks wants to go where nobody knows her name and the feature milkshake is orange. Where Picasso prints line the walls, an annoyed shift worker slouches behind the counter, and the place is usually a graveyard. Until it’s not.

After the Garlic Butter Steak Sandwich catastrophe, I’d learned my lesson to not experiment at Arby’s, to just order my goddamn beef n’ cheddar and enjoy the fuck out of it under the sallow cubist gaze of the deserted dining room.

I do not peruse the menu. I know what I want. Noggy and I place our orders. The bored cashier asks if there’s anything else. I swear it’s another voice coming out of my mouth.

“I’ll have a S’mores Milkshake.”

As you may or may not know, Noggy has two glares. There’s affectionate exasperation or I suffer you to live, and they’re functionally identical. Though after the way I carried on about the buttered steak, you can guess which one this was.

How to describe the S’mores Milkshake? It makes you wonder things you never wondered before, like, “What are marshmallows supposed to taste like?” When a marshmallow forward milkshake prompts this question, you know you’re in shark infested waters and Terry is about to offer you a shrimp.

I slurp some more. There are chunks. I’m 60% sure they’re graham crackers. A vague thrill of chocolate runs through the whole business, though little more than it takes to lull you into a false sense of trust.

Meanwhile people are wandering into Arby’s by the dozen. Boomers ordering coffee, bougie boxing week shoppers, a mom berating her small child like she’s his parole officer. Arby’s employees leap into unprecedented levels of animation. The meat trays empty and full baskets of curly fries sizzle in their vats. Metaphysical laws are being broken. This is Arby’s. The very gates of Purgatory. No one comes here intentionally. But it is the season for Deadly Sins, and I’m heavily distracted by this confusing confection that is the S’mores Milkshake.

Eventually it had to happen. “Hey Nog, try this.”

In my defense, he didn’t have to drink the whole thing. But he did, and he can tell you the rest…

It should be obvious, if you’ve been paying attention, that Lola has this thing about trying ‘new’ and ‘possibly interesting’ items on the menu at our vintage Picasso adorned local Arby’s. Undeterred by the nightmare that was the Garlic Butter Steak Sandwich, and ravenous after running for thirty days straight, she swore they couldn’t possibly fuck up a milkshake.


I should have known something was up when Lola had a couple sips, pushed it across the table, and said “Try this.” She had that look in her eye. That glazed look. The kind you get when you’re teetering on the edge of a coma. And it wasn’t so much an offering, as a challenge. Sadly, I can’t resist a challenge, or any eatable substance jammed in my face.

Well, I’m going to come right out and say it. It’s not that it’s… bad. And not that it’s… good. It’s just… sickly sweet. Like you used a Christmas elf to clean your teeth with and then washed it down with liquid marshmallow juice. While it does taste vaguely S’more’ish (as any combination of graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallow tends to) it’s a pale imitation of the actual heavenly camping staple.

Regrets? So many. Within minutes, my stomach began to gurgle. Within an hour, I was little more than a perturbed sea cucumber, nastily expelling both my stomach and twenty feet of large intestine, while hastily scrawling my last will and testament on three sheets of toilet paper I couldn’t actually spare.

Will I drink it again? Uncertain. I guess that depends on if she thrusts it in my face next year.

Noggy and Lola went back and forth on a flame rating and ultimately split the difference between the not totally terrible flavour profile and post-shake warp core ejection.


Arby’s Garlic Butter Steak Sandwich

When it comes time for The Seventh Terrace Strategic Planning meeting, there’s only one place to go. Conveniently located directly across from Starbucks, midway between Purgatory Towers and the Factory. Yes, I’m talking about the much-maligned Arby’s. Willing our dreams into reality, one quarterly meatcraft gorging at a time.

Here’s the thing about Arby’s, kids. We’re not saying it’s the best. The menu is semi-monstrous. They have a weird selection of pseudo-Greek items for some reason, and their usual feature milkshake is orange. The ambience is total ass. Vinyl. Plastic. Wretchedly faded impressionist prints. But the primal satisfaction and sensual flavours? Curly fries? Half pound Beef n’ Cheddar sandwiches? They’re goddamn delicious, so stop lying to yourselves and the world. It’s okay to love Arby’s. We do, and we’re not sorry.

My point, and of course I have one, is that nothing that will make you want to throw up your hands and let it all burn like Arby’s new Garlic Butter Steak Sandwich.


No one asked for fine dining, Arby’s. No one asked for anything with an identifiable organic origin or visible grain. No one asked for steak. We like our meat in grey-brown tatters crumpled under a blanket of hot cheese.

Arby’s has never disappointed me before, and when that happens, you really take stock of all the choices that led you to that moment. Staring down a ciabatta bun (I’ve had it with all the different buns, but that’s another review) piled with uniform strips of steak, lettuce, tomato, and a thin drool of garlic butter. If only it was vile. That would be easier to process emotionally. But it was fine. It was devastating. It was no Beef n’ Cheddar. My darlings, at this juncture I must remind you that Octoclot loves food and requires frequent feedings but I left this abomination not even half eaten on the tray. Not even Horsey Sauce could save it. Even the glorious curly fries couldn’t lift my spirits.

I can’t blame Arby’s. They’re taking risks, a quality I admire. This one is on me. There’s a time and a place to experiment with food, and Arby’s is not it. That steak sandwich broke my heart.