Andy Blissenbach - Modern Masculinity

Andrew Blissenbach

A literary stab at masculinity

June 22, 2017

Alive in the Superunknown: Chris Cornell and the Wonderful Doubt of a Demigod

Alive in the Superunknown: Chris Cornell and the Wonderful Doubt of a Demigod

You are the music while the music lasts. -T.S. Eliot, The Four Quarters Chris Cornell started in Soundgarden as a drummer. I still have a problem wrapping my head around that fact. Sure, there are plenty of examples of drummers becoming prominent front men. Dave Grohl. J Mascis. That guy from Godsmack. And, dude, Phil Collins! …

August 19, 2015

The Art of Zen and Gunpowder (Part Three)

The Art of Zen and Gunpowder (Part Three)

About an hour passed. Cold wind intermittently bullied anything organic and brought with it the odors of fallen leaves and dung. Light was on the wane and I was getting antsy again. Vats full of fermented minutiae were sloshed onto my frontal lobe. What’s the difference between ketchup and catsup? How many snowflakes have fallen …

August 12, 2015

The Art of Zen and Gunpowder (Part Two)

The Art of Zen and Gunpowder (Part Two)

Joe’s SUV hummed over the pavement of single-lane highways. Pods of other vehicles on the road, all trucks and SUVs similar to Joe’s, glided past us in the opposite direction. “No one used to hunt around here,” Joe said. “Most guys that do it nowadays get along, but there are a few jerks.” Joe’s remarks …

August 5, 2015

The Art of Zen and Gunpowder (Part One)

The Art of Zen and Gunpowder (Part One)

I had never shot a rifle before. Growing up in St. Paul, Minnesota, left precious few moments to fire a one-shot .50 caliber muzzleloader like the one I held in my hands. There was a target thirty-five or forty yards away. Concentric black circles that grew smaller in size, until a red bull’s-eye. Plywood held …

August 14, 2014

Yuck!

Yuck!

Surgery is not a delicate process. My left arm was flayed open, from the wrist to the middle of the forearm, and a surgeon was sawing my left ulna in half. The electric whirl of his saw produced a lower octave once it started eating away at the bone, much like a bandsaw does when it bites into wood. Burning enamel, iron, and some brand of iodine percolated in my sinuses.

August 7, 2014

The Winners of MANDREW’s Blissenblog’s First-Annual Essay Contest!

The Winners of MANDREW’s Blissenblog’s First-Annual Essay Contest!

Greetings and salutations, faithful readers! There were so many submissions to the essay contest that it crashed the servers! The situation was so dire that Steve Jobs himself was brought back from the dead to fix the problem (and then, after the internet was put back together, Jobs was re-situated in his aerodynamic and Window-less …

July 31, 2014

Life and Death in Increments of Iron

Life and Death in Increments of Iron

The first thing I learned: when it matters most, you go deaf. There’s an iron bar hovering above the end of your sternum and it’s either going to go up or down and your breath and a elephantine pressure are the only two things you’re aware of.

July 24, 2014

MANDREW’s KVLTURE VULTURE FILE #2: The Dark Knight Triumphant: Why Batman is the Most Compelling Character in American Entertainment

MANDREW’s KVLTURE VULTURE FILE #2: The Dark Knight Triumphant: Why Batman is the Most Compelling Character in American Entertainment

A bit of a thought experiment here: quickly name, off the top of your head, the most compelling characters in American literature, film, and television. Here’s what I came up with in about three minutes of thinking: Ahab, Huck Finn, Scout Finch, Charles Foster “Citizen” Kane, Ellen Ripley, Lucy Ricardo, Don Draper, Holden Caulfield, Rocky …

July 22, 2014

MANDREW’s Blissenblog’s First-Annual Essay Contest!

MANDREW’s Blissenblog’s First-Annual Essay Contest!

            Do you like MONEY? Do you like receiving up to $100 CASH for your excellent art? Or do you like receiving $20 CASH just for pushing a few keys on your computer? Do you like to WRITE? You got a STORY? Are you into short fiction, experimental creative nonfiction, muckraking journalism, or poetry? Maybe …

July 17, 2014

Part Eleven: Water in Polychrome

Part Eleven: Water in Polychrome

So this is LAKE St. Anything organic and sensorial is consumed by its steeled tide of traffic. Car alarms and police sirens are the street’s cicadas. Blobs of gum dotting the sidewalk, long ago turned black, are like the animal tracks of a nervous and overwhelmed subspecies. But it works somehow; however inured we are …

July 10, 2014

Part Ten: The Path Most Taken

Part Ten: The Path Most Taken

It’s 2:07 p.m. and I have less than three hours to walk home from LORING PARK. A caveat I forgot to mention, prior to my fence-climbing-and-urinating-wherever-I-please jamboree: I have to get home by 5 p.m., as I must retrieve my daughter from school (alright, it’s daycare, but my wife and I spend pretty much all …

July 3, 2014

Part Nine: A Walk in the Park

Part Nine: A Walk in the Park

After almost three hours of walking, a slight fatigue begins its ascent, starting in my heels and ending in my consciousness. Going south on EAST LYNDALE Ave. N (yeah, it never ends), it’s easy to ignore sore feet. My brain, however, is a near-useless pool of warm gelatin. Man, it’s just that absorbing so much …

June 26, 2014

Part Eight: A Shrine to Inhumanity

Part Eight: A Shrine to Inhumanity

There’s a pitbull about 30 yards in front of me. I’m trotting southeast on N 7TH St., toward the City View apartments, so I can simultaneously investigate some living quarters while also pointing my compass homeward (I live in the Nokomis neighborhood of Minneapolis, which is in the city’s southeast corner). The pitbull is (not …

June 19, 2014

Part Seven: Call of the North

Part Seven: Call of the North

  Traveling west on N PLYMOUTH Ave., I’m once again surprised by how quickly Minneapolis can transition from wooded alcoves to an industrial blandness colored Dickensian gray. The clouds, the sidewalk, the roads: all the same un-color. Photosynthesis to propylene glycol. This is the gateway to North Minneapolis. On my left is the Star Tribune …

May 31, 2014

An Object in Motion…

An Object in Motion…

I can’t stop moving. As you read this, I’m tapping my fingers or double-bass drumming or stretching my back or chewing my nails or doing power cleans or keeping time with my teeth to some imagined 4/4 rock song. I am from a generation of men who shrug at the letters ADD and ADHD, who …

April 25, 2014

Part Six: …And Through the Woods

Part Six: …And Through the Woods

It’s cleaner than I would have suspected underneath THE HENNEPIN AVENUE BRIDGE. Dark and cool and shot through with abyssal alcoves, but no trace of anything, really. No opossums or rabid raccoons or pack of starving dogs looking to make a meal out of a lone traveler. Blankets and boxes and the ramshackle, pell-mell leavings of the homeless: no sign.

March 27, 2014

Part Five: Over the River…

Part Five: Over the River…

The elevation of E HENNEPIN Ave. crests shortly after I leave Pizza Nea. Going southwest, the landscape sinks into the rut carved by ancient glaciers and the Mighty Mississippi. To my left is Nye’s Polonaise Room, a Polish eatery festooned in 1950s supper-club kitsch, with a polka lounge to boot.

March 6, 2014

Part Four: Blue Friday

Part Four: Blue Friday

Her name is Billie. Billie Blue. “Cool name! Alliterative. Sounds like a soap opera name,” I say, the whole of my being facing my waitress. Billie’s eyes, colored like cherry wood, colored like trouble, don’t shrink from the word “alliterative.” Her lips are glossed pink and they are smiling and loose and playful. What I …

February 17, 2014

Part Three: Pleasant Jackhammers, Delicious Women, Attractive Pizza

Part Three: Pleasant Jackhammers, Delicious Women, Attractive Pizza

“PLEASE WAIT! PLEASE WAIT!” A flashing DON’T WALK sign on CENTRAL Ave.  says this to me. Well, I guess it’s not the sign, but some speaker commands me to wait. I take umbrage not with the coercive language, but with the urgent inhumanity of the tone, like it actually has an interest in my well-being. …

January 30, 2014

Part Two: The Things (I Carried)

Part Two: The Things (I Carried)

Drills and hammers continue to make their iron racket and I dare to turn around, to look at the abandoned building I just exited. A bearded man, young and blonde and handsome in that sunburned, construction-worker way, smokes a cigarette while pulling at the stubborn guts of a window frame. Noticing my hands-in-pockets nonchalance, he …

January 22, 2014

Part One: Fresh and Strong the World We Seize

Part One: Fresh and Strong the World We Seize

I’m blindfolded in my wife’s car, moments away from being dropped off in an unknown location. The two things I’m certain of, as the car slows: I’m somewhere in Minneapolis (a city I’ve called home for most of my adult life) and, regardless of where I am, I’ll have to walk a lengthy southern route …

October 18, 2013

Spitting Image

Spitting Image

“That would have killed a man,” my dad would say, with such deadpan assurance that I actually believed him. Believed him only for a second, though. Even as a six-year-old riding in the backseat, I knew my dad’s spit couldn’t really kill a man. Pretty sure, anyway. But the propulsive force that he used to …

August 21, 2013

MANDREW’s KVLTURE VULTURE FILE #1: Five Underappreciated Modern Metal Bands

MANDREW’s KVLTURE VULTURE FILE #1: Five Underappreciated Modern Metal Bands

Heyo! This is the first installment of MANDREW’s KVLTURE VULTURE FILE, a place on the Blissenblog where books, music, television, movies, and a bunch of other KVLT-urally relevant information will be cleaved, gutted, eviscerated, and (place violent, highly-active verb here), all for your reading pleasure! Now I’m not a professional reviewer, so this will have …

August 7, 2013

It’s Approximately Six Miles to ONE

It’s Approximately Six Miles to ONE

I’d like to laugh, but I’m about to die. Laugh about the word “deciduous” to be more precise. It sounds made-up, a word your buddy from grad school would use to display his Latinate declension skills. Dying gets in the way of humor, though. I’m running around Lake Nokomis (world famous, at least in Minneapolis) …

August 1, 2013

Teenagers and Birds and Writing and Stuff

Teenagers and Birds and Writing and Stuff

My shirt is stuck to my back. This is one of two things that are inside my cavernous skull at 12:58 p.m. on Monday, June 20th. I’m exactly twelve seconds into my stint as a creative nonfiction instructor in Hamline University’s Young Writers Workshop and I’ve said this and this only: “Greetings and salutations! My name is Andy Blissenbach and this is Writing from Real Life.”

July 30, 2013

A Little Less Conversation…

A Little Less Conversation…

One of my favorite movie scenes of the 1980s involves two men shaking hands. Except that the two men, Arnold Schwarzenegger (as Major Dutch Schaefer) and Carl Weathers (as CIA crony George Dillon), aren’t really shaking hands at all, but are more or less trying to rupture the other’s biceps in a glorified arm wrestling match. In this shot from Predator, director John McTiernan lingers on the glistening and hypertrophic muscles of both Schwarzenegger and Weathers for what seems like an epoch.

July 30, 2013

Delilah-ed!

Delilah-ed!

It was May 5th and I was going to chop it all off. Outside of Juut Salon in Edina, MN, I looked into the glass door and examined my shadowed reflection, a near-colorless, gunmetal self. The very definition of the word “self,” in my case at least, could be refined and distilled in what hung …