Five Ways You’re Cooking Rice Completely and Irrevocably Wrong

1) Not adding salt to the water before boiling it.

Adding salt to the water before boiling it causes the water to boil at a higher temperature and allows for cleaner, more efficient cooking.

2) Not sticking your hand into the boiling water to see if it’s really boiling.

This is called the “false boil.” Originally observed in 1830 by Swedish physicist named Max Armstrong Armstrong Ericsson Leif Armstrong Leif Max Johannes, this is a phenomenon in which water that looks like it’s in a roiling boil is actually lukewarm or even cold.

He wrote: “There exists only one manner in which one can be assured water is actually boiling. One must submerge his hand in the water for at least five minutes. If the flesh starts to separate from the bone, the water has most likely reached a “boiling” state (Knarlsbaad Swedish medical journal,1832).

3) Not adding cumin to your rice

If you want real rice, you must add cumin. Rice without cumin is “ungerminated,” and can leave a bilis-like extract in your gall bladder. Therefore, in order to make the guacamole right, add diced onions, garlic, a little tomato, and sea salt to taste. Guacamole is an excellent dish to serve at family gatherings and chic dinner parties. It’s exotic but not too exotic. It’s green but not too green. It’s Mexican but not too Mexican.

4) Not leaving the lid on!!!!!!!(!!!!)

This rule can be stressed enough and will be stressed enough in this paragraph. When the rice is done, leave the lid on and let it sit for at least 5-10 minutes. This allows the rice to “mature” and move from an adolescent stage to a fully adult stage ready for consumption and/or consumation. The quality of the rice improves many fold during this stage (6.38 fold, to be exact).

5) Not cooking rice

Some Anthony-Bourdains-in-training get it wrong from the beginning. They attempt to cook rice and accidentally cook pasta. Or they attempt to cook rice and watch a Seattle Mariners baseball game. To properly cook rice, make sure you’ve actually got rice. It should be white, small, elongated and, when un-cooked, hard. Smell it. Does it smell like rice? Or does it smell like a piece of crumpled up toilet paper? If it doesn’t smell like rice it’s probably toilet paper.

So there you have it. Cooking rice isn’t that hard if you follow these five simple guidelines. Of course, as with most things, you get out of it what you put into it. So if you put in rice, you’ll probably get rice. But it if you put in rice without cumin, you might just get beef-bolognese.   

How to Tell if a Book is Good

1) The New York Times has a good review of it.

The New York Times is the best reviewer of books there is. If they say it’s good, it’s probably good. If they don’t, it’s probably not. Take The Sisters Brothers, for instance, by Patrick DeWitt. This book isn’t that good. The dialogue is annoying. The lack of contractions is annoying. The fact that you get the feeling the author thinks it’s good is annoying. On the cover it has some rave reviews from places like The Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail, but The New York Times is conspicuously absent. This is because The New York Times gave it a bad review. This is because it’s a bad book.

2) The cover looks nice.

Big publishing houses have a bigger budget for covers and can hire wonderful graphic designers and illustrators. Big publishing houses (generally) publish good books. Self-publishers and no-name publishing houses generally have smaller budgets and bad covers. Self-published and no-name publishing house books are generally bad books.

3) It doesn’t have the words, “The Girl…” in the title.

The Girl who Fell from the Sky. The Girl with all the Gifts. The Girl who Made Pancakes. The Girl who Woke up Late for School and Missed the Bus and Had to Walk. The Girl who Checked Out a Library Book and (Almost) Forgot to Take it Back. 

Not every book with the words, “The Girl…” in the title is bad, but most of them are.

4) The reviews are short and from publications/people you’ve heard of.

Good book: “Poignant and hilarious…Riveting.” –The Seattle Times (in reference to: A Voyage Long and Strange by Tony Horwitz).

Bad book: “Christopher Riley’s A Summer of Hummingbirds is an indispensable Baedeker to the American cultural landscape of the nineteenth century. He accomplishes for literature and art what The Metaphysical Club did for philosophy and politics — establishing crucial linkages, both biographically and intellectually, among a diverse group of writers and artists whose work defined a vibrant new aesthetic in the years after the Civil War. And who would have guessed that reclusive Emily Dickinson entertained a secret lover?” (the review goes on and on, but you get the idea). –Megan Marshall, author of The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism. (in reference to: A Summer of Hummingbirds by Christopher Riley).

5) The author’s name doesn’t have “d’Aprix Sweeney” in it.


6) The author’s name has “Knausgaard” or “Bolaño” in it.


7) It’s written by one person.

This rule is not hard and fast, but usually books with more than one author are bad. Usually they’re sports books and, while the subject matter is sometimes interesting, the writing is usually mediocre.


There it is! Now you never have to spend money or waste time on a bad book.

If only it were so easy…

10 Writing Hacks for 2017

1) Use the word “hack” as much as possible. Top 10 Basketball Free Throw Hacks. Top 10 Who’s Got the Right of Way at this Intersection Hacks. Top 10 Computer Hack Hacks.

2) Read what you’ve written aloud in an Isle of Man accent.

3) Alternate hands when writing to activate both sides of your brain.

4) Drink coffee and smoke cigarettes to be a “real” writer.

5) Write longhand and keep a Shakespeare dictionary close at hand. Every 20 minutes or so crumple up the paper, throw it on the floor and yell one randomly, pre-selected insult. “Geminy of baboons!” “Giantlike oxbeef!” “Gorbellied knaves!”

6) To catch errors, read what you’ve written backwards, then vertically, then diagonally. Finally, erase all errors by burning it and throwing it in the trash.

7) “Kill your darlings,” but also kill your sweethearts and apples of eye. In other words, if it’s remotely good, toss it.

8) Being a writer means learning how to handle rejection. Being a real writer, however, means dogged persistence. Form rejection letter? Call the publication and leave threatening voicemails or put a flaming bag of poop on their doorstep. Keep at it until they see the light and give your story the recognition it deserves.

9) Ingest mind-altering substances, like mold from vegetables left in the fridge or bleach mixture. Real writers work on a different plane of consciousness; how do you think they get there?

10) Above all, be conflicted, be an alcoholic, be dark and brooding, be anti-social, keep strange hours, and engage in the mystifying activities that separate the real writers from the (ahem) hacks.