Issue 12 - 04/01/19

Blackberry Filling

  • Business Ideas
  • Audiobook Shuffle: The Lord of the Rings: The Inception of Boromir
  • Alex Makes Your Life Better with Good Advice That Is Not Bad
  • Poem: ew
  • 9 Ways to Organize Your Bookshelves and What They Say About You
  • A Picture of My Cat but You Can't Skip Ahead to It You Have to Read Everything Else in Order First and I'll Know If You're Lying
  • Dream Journal
  • Office Chart

Business Ideas

Ascendant-level contributor Matt Spradling

Some enterprises I've been brainstorming. They've gotten some good feedback from friends and peers, and also some bad feedback, but also some good feedback. Investors (Alex) are interested (presumably.)

Free State Summer Camp

Today I interacted with a man wearing a shirt which proudly proclaimed "American Citizen Until Texas Secedes" or something like that. I thought this was dumb, and because I thought this was dumb, it gave me an idea, like many dumb things do.

Premise: Establish a camp out in the central Texas backwoods and advertise it as being a free, sovereign state independent of the US government. Would this be technically true? No. Do people always fact check things they want to be true? No. Mavericks will flock from all over intending to set up shop and live a free life, potentially long-term, potentially forever. Or short-term but forever.

Source of income: That one's a bit hazy to be honest. Do we convince these settlers to pool their resources and then embezzle the hell out of it while they're busy shooting trees? Pooling resources doesn't seem to be their bag. Charge a stiff entry fee and hope their enthusiasm carries them through? Or simply require they include the camp founders in their wills in the event they do live out their lives here, and the profit we make on deaths will really be the friends we made along the way and also their money and assets.

Fun features: 19th Century technology only and just a whole bunch of dysentery. 17+.

Mediation Pizza

You know that quote from Game of Thrones, "You can only make peace with your enemies, that's why it's called making peace"? Well, you know how "You can only make pizza with your enemies" is better?

Premise: A pizza parlor where customers come to settle disputes and also buy pizza. A variety of rooms and booths specially made to serve the requirements of engaging in physical combat, having a quiet conversation, addressing congress via skype, and general court case nonsense.

Source of income: It's pizza. It's nice. No free refills.

Fun features: Play-place in the deposition room. Let the kid blow off some steam after having to choose who to live with. You want to do this shit at Chuck'E'Cheese? They have pests. Their mascot is a pest. Our mascot is a therapy dog name Hammurabi.


Bear with us because this has some serious content matter, but it's for a good cause. Casual GPS tracking has come a long way - think Pokemon Go, think that creepy find-your-friends thing. This is kind of like those, but more important.

Premise: Finally, an app that shows the location of all children in the surrounding area of the user at all times, in order for convicted sex offenders who are not legally allowed within a certain distance of children to know exactly where children are so they can stay a responsible distance away from said children. I made a similar app to help prevent poaching, which got shut down, but that was kind of a unique situation.

Source of income: I mean

Fun features: Customize alert tones. Privacy options to hide the location of users seems fair.


Premise: Write "for a good time call - " on various bathroom walls, but the number is a police crime tip hotline.

Source of income: This is what needs the most ironing out at this promising stage in development.

Fun features: N/A

Audiobook Shuffle: The Lord of the Rings: The Inception of Boromir

Ascendant-level contributor Matt Spradling

I wrote a very long intro for this complete with childhood secrets but you don't actually need any other information. This is exactly what the title says. Also, this is using the BBC version; the American version is much wilder but I'm also missing 1/3 of it.

Part I: A cold open begins with a very serious monologue as a character named Pippin swears an oath to some place called Gondor. Upon completion, the swearee bids the swearer to tell him the tale of his son, Boromir. A clever framing device, it seems most of this story will take place in the past while we periodically check back in with the present, a la The Kingkiller Chronicles. I'm excited to see where this goes.

Part II: I guess a transition here helps, but this song is wild. A sort of opera about a bunch of new names, a lot of riding, the usual. Fading back in, two men are discussing their intent to destroy something by throwing it into a volcano. That's a sick left hook. I wonder when we'll find out what the thing is. A character named Sam joins the first, Frodo, and there's some drama about having heard about the sick volcano plan. Sam is understandably psyched.

Part III: Cut to Boromir, already dead, going over a waterfall in a boat. Sick. Disconcertingly, it seems like Pippin is recounting his tale with the same framing device as the book's author. This would be reasonable to characters in the story, but from the audience's perspective, we find ourselves on the precipice of an Inception-esque miasma of Russian doll dimensions. Three hunters are extremely stoked to go run a really long time. Are they running to take news of Boromir's death? Great. We're now entering the third layer of story pie and we may never reemerge to see the present story line again.

Part IV: About 40 new characters arrive at a castle called Helm's Deep, followed closely by a large group of orcs. Everyone seems pretty concerned about this, as though the orcs are clearly bad news. It all feels a bit prejudiced. It is unclear how this is Boromir's story.

Part V: We cut to a song that's just one character singing very enthusiastically without any music. It's not bad but nonetheless awkward to listen to alone in an apartment. A vaguely BDSM scene ensues with whipping and whimpering and "the fun beginning," until Sam shows up and fucking kills someone. Frodo is unphased by this murder. This coupled with the singing indicates that he and Sam are probably tripping pretty badly. They have some hallucinations and scuffle over a goddamn ring. Perhaps this is kind of a The Hangover thing but instead of the mystery being where someone is, it's how Boromir died during a crazy party.

Part VI: Another duo, Merry and Pippin, are also tripping, though they're less violent. They hallucinate about talking trees and hear some songs about doom. Everyone is super stoked to go to Isengard, presumably a fast food restaurant, although some of the party keep singing about bringing doom which is concerning because you want to be very clear with your group beforehand whether you're going somewhere to buy things or smash things. Meanwhile, the older character, Gandalf, seems to be the only sober one and is looking for everyone else. He argues for a little while with a door warden, presumably to some club. He introduces his gang and they are eventually let in. Security tries to take their weapons, which is reasonable, but Gandalf smuggles one in. Maybe he's not the responsible one after all.

Part VII: Frodo and Sam are back out on the road, and seem to have come down a little bit but are still very tired and cranky. A gang of guys starts making fun of them. In an interesting reveal, the gang's leader turns out to be Faramir, the brother of Boromir. Maybe we'll finally get Boromir's story on the rails and start to choo-choo up out of this quicksand story structure. GODDAMMIT Frodo breaks the news about Boromir and Faramir hasn't heard it yet, and begs Frodo to tell him about it.

To recap, we are now in Inception Level Four, a story being told to Boromir's brother about his death, within Inception Level Three, as the whole gang roams around in various groupings on a night of debauchery, which is actually the story of Boromir's death that Aragorn and his two friends take with them up on Inception Level Two as they sprint into the night after disposing of Boromir's body by sending him over a goddamn waterfall, and this was how Pippin, who at this point must be either a genius or completely incompetent storyteller, has begun his tale to Boromir's father explaining his son's death, the present and Inception Level One. I feel a little nauseous. Also, imagine being a dad trying to figure out how your son died and his friend is pulling out this film school shit. We the audience (yes, we) holding the book/listening to the audiobook are Inception Level Zero, I guess is how Inception works. It's so late. I'm so tired. 

Part VIII: Frodo and Sam's explanation about Boromir begins with Aragorn stumbling through the woods, out of breath and clearly agitated. He is looking all over the place for Sam, but you know how weekend retreats go. There's a lot of shouting and ruckus all over the place, kind of like Burning Man, and Aragorn starts shouting the name Elendil, presumably his favorite band or school or team or something, and joins in. After this fades a bit, FINALLY Boromir appears in the story alive. 

Aragorn has found him but he's fallen over and seems to be really messed up. They have some strained conversation about Boromir being felled by orcs after having tried to take Frodo's ring (which we already know he has a weird thing about). And then Boromir just dies. The orcs who saw him trying to drunkenly rob Frodo must have thrown him out pretty roughly. Boromir's last words are that the hobbits went with the orcs, but now Aragorn and his two other friends are alone with dead Boromir and don't know how to find the apparently migrating party. 

Aragorn et al. decide that 1. they can't just be found here with a corpse and that 2. this wasn't nearly a cool enough death for their friend, so they of course deign to put him in a boat and send it over a waterfall before running off and spreading the lie of his death to save his reputation.

From here it follows that Pippin knows the truth but agreed in his less-than-sober state that Boromir died a radical party hero pulling the sickest stunt of all time and sailing gloriously down a massive raging waterfall. Now, however, in the present and the cold, hungover light of day, it would seem he is second-guessing this decision and having a difficult time telling it to Boromir's dad's face, and is trying to hedge and beat around the bush.

To be continued.

Alex Makes Your Life Better with Good Advice That Is Not Bad

From the vaults: Brewmaster-level contributor Alex Speed

How was your Valentine's Day? Did you go to dinner but it sucked because you forgot to consult Austin's sole authority on unique eateries ( it me )? I bet you did something stupid like go to a building with a waiter and a kitchen and a menu that has at least five things. I bet your date looked into your big dumb eyes and said "This is great, but I don't at all feel the sweet, sweet thrill of teetering on the edge of death during this frankly bland and cliche meal experience." I'm sure you looked down at the loop of rusted barbed wire you had fashioned into an engagement ring and decided - not this time.

Don't let this happen to you again, reader! Take heed of my advice!

Alex's Weekly Restaurant Roundup: My Uncle Fil's House

The thing about my Uncle Fil's house is that it is no longer technically considered a building by the City of Austin. The whole place is a group of mostly standing walls tied together with worn out t-shirts from Grateful Dead shows that nobody remembers. Fil himself is a business man (the kind who sells crack) who prides himself on thinking outside the box (mostly because the crack has ruined his ability to think anywhere else). Fil is a weird guy, but he has lived in Texas long enough to thoroughly believe in southern hospitality so if you show up to his house he will probably offer you some tea or crackers or something (Do not eat these, they will be riddled with the crack that isn't good enough for Fil to sell) and that sounds like a restaurant to me.

My Uncle Fil's house is a great place to enjoy your next Valentine's Day dinner. Fil is a real romantic and will ramble on and on about how important love is, the lessons he has learned about sustaining a healthy marriage, and how the Earth is really flat and that heliocentric ideology is brainwashing propaganda put worth by the lizard people who control NASA. I would recommend trying to book reservations now, because it will take you a seriously long time to figure out where this place is. I will offer you one clue to help in your search for what will undoubtedly be next year's hot V-day spot:

Poem: ew

Charli XCX-level contributor Roberto Mendez

Matt: Rob write something for the newsletter

Robbo: by when

M: Right now

R: how long oh my god

M: Idk

R: i have writer's block already :'(

M: It's been less than thirty seconds since I said Rob write something for the newsletter 

R: i don't know what to write about

M: A poem?

R: i need structure matt, i am a bottom and ew

Andrew: A sub bottom, to boot

M: How are you feeling

R: i don't feel anything

M: Name a color

R: blue

M: Too cliche

R: okay well green

M: Now combine those two things

R: blue and green ?

M: No your feeling and color

R: well if i feel complete numbness and the color green that doesn't make any sense

M: "I feel numb / And it is green" is not not a poem

R: i know

M: You're gonna be a star kid

R: i know that matt

A: Take a screenshot of your notes

9 Ways to Organize Your Bookshelves and What They Say About You 

Ascendant-level contributor Matt Spradling

1. Alphabetically by author - Not the best but not the worst. You're extremely rule-oriented in life and probably don't know the meaning of forgiveness (which in fairness isn't the most watertight concept.)

2. Alphabetically by title - Also not the best but not the worst, but a little closer towards the worst. Why would you do this? You probably are very bad at knowing where North is at any given time. Either that or you can always find North but never anything else. Horrific implications.

3. By genre/alphabetical by author within genre - Not bad. You value logic over common sense and probably know a lot of great recipes.

4. By genre/by region within genre - For the spatially oriented. Become a college tour guide! You can lure people into isolated places which is convenient for your friend who is a #9.

5. By genre/by philosophy or topic within genre - Good on you for not conflating region and philosophy. And to have regions. My shelf is white as hell.

6. Intuitively - This is a - what's that term that means a polite wording for something bad? Right, bullshit. My only example of this is when my brother organized his with no rhyme or reason but refused to change it because it was familiar. No wonder he thought his apartment was haunted once. That shelf should probably be burned. Wait, he gave it to me when he moved and it's in my bedroom now. Oh god. 

7. By hair color of author - Better than by the color of other things? Still conceivably fascist, though.

8. By spine color - Only advisable if being used as a background for your youtube channel and also still not advisable. It hurts.

9. You created a mechanical bookshelf that constantly rearranges books in a random way - You're probably great at I-Spy and also absolutely a serial killer sorry you had to find out this way.

A Picture of My Cat but You Can't Skip Ahead to It You Have to Read Everything Else in Order First and I'll Know If You're Lying

is my favorite Panic! at the Disco song

Dream Journal

Ascendant-level contributor Matt Spradling

Seneschal-level contributor Sam Strohmeyer is asleep, so in lieu of her world-famous horoscopes, I figured I could provide you with my dream journal. 

It's only one entry long, and it's that I dreamed I was brushing my teeth except instead of a toothbrush it was a big knife and instead of toothpaste it was butter. 

I think dreams are boring and meaningless even in the best circumstances but I really don't know how to spin this one. 

Let me know what y'all use to lubricate your toothknives.

Office Chart

Thom Yorke - Black Swan

Car Seat Headrest - Misheard Lyrics (Feat. Norah Knight)

Japanese Breakfast - Road Head

The Decemberists - January Hymn

M. Ward - Let's Dance

Frankie Cosmos - Young

The Killers - Smile Like You Mean It

Cursive - What Have I Done?


"Understandable, have a nice day" - Landon Ruiz