Thomm Quackenbush, author

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    Xenology: Bryan's Engagement

    "You aren't going to say anything awful at my wedding, right?" Bryan, my younger brother, asks before his fiancée arrives to the restaurant for Thanksgiving. This is close to the first thing he says to me all day, as though he needs to get this squared away before we can begin our annual meal.

    "Of course not!" I protest. "Why would I?"

    "Colleen thought you might, then her mom asked me, so I got worried."

    "No, Bryan, I wouldn't," I say, feeling a touch offended that he would suggest such a thing. "Then again, now that you are telling me not to, I have to admit I am tempted. You shouldn't have put the idea in my head. What exactly could I say that would be most awful...?"

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    Xenology: The Time I Didn't Die of Breast Cancer

    Amber brought about this latest bout with death, while cuddled against me. "You have a bump," she said, jabbing at my chest.

    "How do I have a bump?"

    "Does it hurt?" she asked.

    "Because you jabbed at it. Otherwise, no."

    She poked it again. "Well, it's there."

    "About how big is it, would you say?" I asked, trying to keep my voice even.

    She directed my fingers to it. I feel a slight difference between the surrounding tissue and the bump, but then I want nothing more to do with it and do not want either one of us to touch it, as if it might subside if we just turn our backs on it.

    Men are much more likely than women to die of breast cancer because we are just too stupidly manly to get it checked out. A quick visit to Doctor Google told me that the best case scenario is that I have a lipoma, a harmless but obnoxious lump of fatty tissue, treated by surgical removal if they pass a certain threshold of annoyance or size. Mine is invisible except to careful touch.

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    Xenology: A Week in San Antonio

    We began our journey on November eighth, Election Day. If this is not one of the most stressful days to travel, it may only be because it does not come as often as Christmas. When we land in Detroit, I switch on my phone to see who has which electoral votes. Bearing in mind that I dislike both Trump and Clinton in uneven quantities, it is merely a question of how painful the next four years will be, on social media if not in life. The news sites report a shooting outside a polling station, but we cannot find the details fast enough. We barely get a heartening whisper before we are on another flight that technically offers WiFi, but at such a premium that we would rather be surprised on the ground.

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    Q's in a Pod: How Did We Get Here Edition

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    So, you elected Donald Trump to leader of the free world?
    Did you really think that through?

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    Q's in a Pod: Boy Shorts Edition

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    Freed from the constraints of a busy cohost, Daniel and Thomm talk love and romance, sex and sexuality. Set a good example for kiddies, even if you don't want any. Thomm doesn't want to make babies, but he will absolutely infest your rock with earthly bacteria.

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    Xenology: Inside a Samhain Ritual

    Waiting to enter, the woman in front of me frets because a man with a camera emerged from a doorway. She calls over one of the people who are assisting in this ritual, extracting a promise that no one would be recording her presence here.

    "No, of course not!" a woman in black tells her. "There are never any pictures during ritual." I wonder if this is a lesson learned. A decade and a half ago, a news affiliate recorded a one of this group's rituals and played it that on the evening broadcast, intercut with ominous music and scare filters, boldly showing the faces of minors as they described us as demon-worshipers at worst and very peculiar at best.

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    Q's in a Pod: Cast Not Your Pods Before Swine Edition

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    Kest Who Makes Masks joins us again to talk about how she duped her civics teacher. We probably shouldn't eat the sapient. .

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    Xenology: Your Rape Jokes Aren't Funny

    If I told you that there is a country where even minor infractions are regularly punished by brutal rape for years on end, you would decry that as a human rights abuse, banned by the Geneva Convention. You would imagine some sandy land a world away where people in strange clothes speak in ululations. You're too politically aware to call them savages at full volume, of course, but I bet you think it.

    You don't imagine that you are an active citizen of this land of punitive rape...

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    Xenology: A Trans-Girl on the Boys' Unit

    As a residential facility for boys adjudicated by the courts for a variety of crimes, the addition of a girl to the unit creates expected chaos.

    Our girls were not born with the bodies they want. The state takes a black-and-white approach to the occasional fact of transgender residents.

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    Q's in a Pod: The Unpresidential Debate Edition

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    We discuss the first presidential debate, which was far from presidential.

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