Issue 24 - 05/08/20


  • On Anxiety
  • Making A Door Less Open: A (Real) Review
  • Book Report: The Three Body Problem
  • My Top 10 Favorite Video Games of All Time
  • Bones: An Index (Vol. II)

  • You Thought That Was All?
  • Music As Ethos
  • A Portrait of the Teen as a Young Man
  • Trend Alert
  • Office Chart

On Anxiety

Journeyman-level contributor Sam Strohmeyer

For nearly ten years I have been operating under the idea that my anxiety disorder was something I could, with enough effort, win. Like I was running a race and if I could push myself hard enough I would start clearing hurdles instead of tripping on them and eventually cross the finish line with my brain all fixed.

The more progress I made, the more confident I was that I was almost finished and the more devastated I was when I hit a setback. I coordinate events for a living and sometimes that looks like standing in front of an audience of 60 silent and staring academics and trying to figure out why the projector isn't working, ten minutes after the lecture was supposed to begin. On that day I eventually fixed the problem and after exiting the venue all I could think was, "I've failed." I wasn't bothered by the projector not working; God created projectors to punish me, a fact I accepted long ago. I was upset that I felt anxiety, the emotion I have been trying my damnedest to kill since 2011. It didn't occur to me in that moment that the anxiety I felt was entirely justified. Any time it popped up for me was a defeat in my eyes.

Emotions are messages. Anxiety is a message that something is wrong; a signal to be alert and aware. It's extremely useful and in small doses very good at keeping us alive. Some of us just have a little too much of it and wowza doth my cup runneth over. When the anxiety signal is in overdrive and there isn't an obvious cause, like getting chased by a lion or something, our minds create stories to bridge the gap between how we feel and the reality we are experiencing. That's how you end up standing in your bathroom at 4:00 am, inspecting the ceiling to make sure the air conditioner isn't going to fall through and kill your boyfriend while he's in the shower.

I used to be so confused and surprised by what my mind assigned all my excess anxiety to but I've found the common denominator: control. If the problem my anxiety is tied to is that the air conditioner is going to fall out of the ceiling, I can call the apartment maintenance man to fix it. If the problem my anxiety is assigned to is that I didn't lock the door, I can check that I locked it. And check again. And maybe a third time to be safe. The door, the air conditioner, those aren't the sources of anxiety. The anxiety was there already and my mind created stories in an attempt to make the anxiety make sense and give me relief via the sense of control I feel from checking.

See? I get it. I know my mind's little tricky tricks. Years of therapy and experience have given me a greater understanding of myself than I ever imagined I could have. I've become aware of my patterns and have all kinds of words to describe my thoughts and feelings. But seeing it and understanding it doesn't make the feeling go away. I know. I was shocked, too.

I got back into bed after examining the bathroom ceiling that night and said to myself, "I thought we didn't do this anymore." And my mind, trying her goddamn best to help, replied, "Matt is going to die. We should probably check the ceiling again." I knew that wasn't true, so I resisted the urge to get up, but I wasn't able to go back to sleep. 

I hate writing about this. The second I sat down to start I developed a chic, full-body sweat tuxedo under my clothes. This feels way too vulnerable for me. But I'm doing it because I feel the need to share what I've just recently come to accept and what has been helping me in these hard times: I'm never going to perfect this. Perfection doesn't exist. There is no finish line. There's progress to be made and coping strategies to learn and work to be done, sure. But by accepting that I am not going to "master" my anxiety, by taking that responsibility off my shoulders, I can have some compassion for myself. I can experience highs and lows knowing that I am on a lifelong journey and that things will continue to change and I will continue to grow.

And if you're like me, and a global pandemic has recently started to make things really hard, please remember it doesn't mean you've failed.

Making A Door Less Open: A (Real) Review

Sexpert-level contributor Alex Speed

So if you are a longtime reader of Newsletter you know that Matt and I and I think Sam are very passionate fans of this band called Car Seat Headrest. They might have the most mentions out of any organization outside of Liverpool Football Club in the Newsletter's vast (year and a half?) history. One of the best nights of my life was when the three of us went to go see them in Austin and I drank 100 Lone Stars and cried and fought everyone at Emo's for the setlist. That was the first time I heard a handful of these new songs that would eventually become Making A Door Less Open. I remember (vaguely [you know - because alcohol]) being really impressed with what I heard and excited that my favorite band was going to keep making music I enjoyed.

Matt and I have been sharing live Youtube versions of some of these songs for almost a year. And now, for the first time since 2016, Car Seat Headrest has released a new album of original material.

In 2011 Will Toledo (frontman, genius boi, possible alien) recorded Twin Fantasy - an album he made mostly at his parents' house on cheap microphones and a shitty laptop. The original Twin Fantasy is an hour long anthem seemingly devoted to those of us who feel shitty and lost and lonely and just want to yell out our car windows while driving too quickly down Enfield Road at 2:00AM because it's the only time of day or night you can feel specific feelings too gross to be articulated through anything other than primitive yells. Also at one point he sings "do you have something against dogs?"'s fun. I would say his entire catalog follows in this vein. It is all really masterfully done angst rock that honestly changed my life when I was nineteen.

My point in all of this is that when you love something as much as I love Will Toledo's music, there is a certain amount of anxiety that goes into meeting a new album. It's like a first date after you end a long relationship. You are excited and hopeful, but you know you won't be able to just enjoy this in sweatpants after skipping a shower and ordering in pizza for the third time this week. Car Seat Headrest has been the soundtrack of my less-than-stellar moments and has played a huge part in my own artistic endeavors. The last time I heard a new record from them it was a re-recording and revisiting of one of my favorite albums of all time, Twin Fantasy - it was awesome. The first time I heard the new album, Making A Door Less Open, I was pretty disappointed. Not an oh-thats-not-good-but-oh-well disappointed. I really felt like I had been duped for eleven straight songs, like someone had done me wrong in the form of taking something I love and turning it into a weird expression of ideas I don't think I agree with. Not that there weren't great songs on the album, it just was in no way a Car Seat Headrest album.

Then I listened to it like four more times. I still felt like maybe it was a joke? The big synths and EDM-feeling parts just seemed too brash to be in the same catalog as "Stop Smoking (We Love You)."

The supreme irony here is that upon first listen I thought they had just tried to make something more pop-focused and "accessible." This resulted in their core fans feeling instantly left behind and unable to approach the newest piece of work from their favorite artist. Instead of giving everyone pop candy they essentially gave their biggest fans a plate full of steamed broccoli and said deal with it, idiot.

Then I listened to it like ten times total and started to really look for what the album was supposed to be instead of what I wanted it to be. I started reading interviews from Will and trying to listen to where the band was going, instead of comparing them to what I didn't want them to leave behind. I realized "There Must Be More Than Blood" is really more of a perfect LCD Soundsystem song from the perspective of someone more relatable than James Murphy, and that "Life Worth Missing" has a novel's worth of emotional ups and downs: "You're coming up short // in a life worth nothing" hits you just like any moment of Twin Fantasy or Teens of Denial. I understood that this album isn't one continuous story, it is a collection of poems independent of each other that hits you eleven different ways. To me this album is an exercise in leaving behind what is comfortable and therefore easy in search of something new. New is difficult. It is not always better, it is almost always awkward, but in this case it is interesting and exciting.

In conclusion, I think this album is very good and an important reminder to accept art as what it is before you assign your own ideas to works you had nothing to do with. If you want to listen to it don't listen to it in order, listen to the back half first and then listen to "Weightlifters" and try to pretend like "Hollywood" doesn't exist or is just a joke between Will and Andrew.

Book Report: The Three Body Problem

Advent-level contributor Matt Spradling

This is not actually a book report of The Three Body Problem because I don't think I can really discuss it without spoiling a bunch of stuff (although simultaneously I'm not sure I could spoil it if I tried?) and everyone should read this if remotely interested in science fiction. Turns out China's real good at that stuff.

Instead, I'm just going to write about one particularly wild part because I can't tell if it was the best part of the book or the worst part and it's keeping me up at night. Disclaimer 1: I have absolutely no idea how much real scientific theory exists in this field. Disclaimer 2: I am unbelievably unqualified to explain it either way but you're stuck with me, your dumb tour guide at Disney World back from when they seemed to have some rights to star wars but not all of them so it was called Star Tours or something. Treat this as a bedtime story if you'd like.

This book does a lot of brooding over scale - mainly in the macro (how vast the universe is and how distances in space work) but also in the micro (at the subatomic and quantum levels.) At one point, an advanced civilization of aliens attempts to "unfold" a proton into two dimensions - the idea being (again I have no idea how grounded this is) that particles exist in 11 dimensions, 9 of which the civilization can control. Think about a three dimensional cube, and how you can unfold it into a larger, flat cross. That's three dimensions unfolded into two. If that same cube exists in more dimensions, say five, then unfolding it to four and then to three and then to two would create a vastly larger flat surface. If you're a nerd but in the other direction, think of it as like, 1 gold coin equals 100 silver coins and 1 silver coin equals 100 copper coins; a gold coin and copper coin are the same size, but if you "unfolded" the gold's value into copper, it would become 1,000 coins. So if such an object, even as tiny as a proton, actually contains eleven dimensions, unfolding it all the way down to two would result in an enormous surface area.

So, they successfully achieve this (and then sketch out computer circuits on the enormous surface before folding it back up to create a super intelligent computer proton - just alien things) but before they do, in a prior attempt they accidentally unfold a proton into three dimensions rather than two, resulting in a spew of strange geometric shapes in low orbit. These eventually start to mush together creating larger shapes and these eventually turn into EYES.

Please take a moment to appreciate the concept that in such microspace, such vast space exists with different properties of physics that each particle as we know it could harbor within it a universe's worth of material, life, and even intelligence, unfathomable seas of incomprehensible civilizations eradicated each time a particle is destroyed in scientific experiment. Then consider the idea of bringing this space into our own, its intelligence manifested in the forms of our dimensions, and watching as it shapes itself into eyeballs with which to behold us, floating around in the night sky with cosmic unrest.

After apparently studying the alien world a while, what does this microcosmic entity choose to do? Why, it works to form itself into an enormous magnifying lens in an attempt to destroy this alien world using the light of their sun.

Sweet dreams!

My Top 10 Favorite Video Games of All Time (Ranked by How Much I Want to Play Them Right Now)

Wolf-level contributor Marina Martinez

I'm very sorry for writing about such a potentially alienating topic as video games for two weeks in a row. To be fair, I was going to write something fun and lighthearted, but then I got introspective and it got really dark. So instead here's a list I'm making up on the spot that has absolutely no quantifiable criteria except that these are all games that I'm not playing as I'm writing this. Enjoy!

10. The Yukon Trail

Starting off the list with a real winner! I know everyone and their computer teacher played The Oregon Trail in elementary school (there's even a very good musical about it), but until my dream the other night, I'd almost forgotten about the existence of its even cooler cousin, The Yukon Trail. Yes, it is technically an educational game from 1994, but I think this is technically the first RPG I ever played and I love it a lot. You basically get to participate in the Yukon Gold Rush of 1897, and who doesn't want to live out that fantasy? I don't remember ever having died in this game, despite being like 5 years old at the time, so that's reason enough to play it. Learn some stuff!

9. Undertale

If I hadn't just replayed this game a few weeks ago, it'd probably be much higher on the list. I'm a huge fan of deceptively easy games that have a very profound story, and Undertale is definitely one of the best examples. You play as a human child that has fallen down into a world filled with monsters, and your goal is to find your way back home. The mechanics (and graphics) are super simple (and pixelated), but without giving any spoilers, it changed a lot about the way a lot of players play games. The writing is fantastic and, one way or another, you'll probably cry at the end.

8. Dragon Age: Inquisition

Like most video games that are numbered (this one is the third in the series), I ignored the numbers and played them in whatever order I wanted. I do not recommend this method, but it worked out okay in this case! Dragon Age has everything I want in a video game: dragons, magic, romanceable NPCs, poor fantasy world building that relies on some races to be enslaved and colonized, the option to side with a group of people who are dehumanised and stripped of rights because of abilities they were born with or siding with their militant oppressors, and the option to ignore all that silliness and instead focus on the pretty music and graphics. Did I mention there are dragons? I love dragons.

7. RollerCoaster Tycoon 2

I re-downloaded this recently because of my nostalgia but every time I try to play it my computer crashes. PCs just weren't meant to handle an exact recreation of Six Flags, I guess. Anyway it's on the list because I'd still really like to play it right now, but also I'd like my computer to continue functioning.

6. Baulder's Gate II: Dark Alliance

One year, after a dance recital my dad bought me a Playstation 2. Up until recently, it was the only game console I've ever owned, so I was PSYCHED. I also played my dad's games when he wasn't looking, so this was unknowingly my first D&D experience and I was 8. It was very good, but I was frustrated that the only female character (a mage, because women aren't strong enough to lift big swords) didn't really have any armor that seemed to fit her. Oh well, it was still fun and I want to play it!

5. The Stanley Parable

This game is really impossible to explain without giving away the entire premise, but it's very good and only has two controls. Here, watch the trailer, then consider playing it. Apparently it's coming out with new content on consoles this year, so that's exciting!

4. Monster Prom

I held out this long to include something from my second-favorite genre, dating sims, so you're welcome. I don't know what to tell you - you get to play as a high school student and you're just trying to get a date for prom (or ruin prom for your friends in multiplayer mode). Also, you and everyone else are monsters. If you had a Twilight phase (or find yourself re-entering it because of Midnight Sun's imminent release), please play this game. And then friend me on Steam so we can play together.

3. Katamari Damacy REROLL

I bought this on Steam last year when it was on sale for like $5 and it is the most relaxing game I've ever played possibly?? You just roll up a bunch of objects in a ball. Your father is the King of the Cosmos and he times you. That's it, that's the game. This cute, mindless game is one of few activities that allows my ADHD brain to focus enough to listen to podcasts. 10/10, would recommend.

2. The Wolf Among Us

All the games by Telltale (RIP) are incredible, but I haven't played this one in years because I'm trying to erase the memory of it from my brain so I can play it like new again. It's an interactive novel/choose your own adventure game disguised as a gritty fairytale reboot set in 1980s New York City, I need to say more? I don't need, but I want to. But I won't.

1. Stardew Valley

There is never a time when I don't wish I was playing Stardew Valley, so this was inevitable. You should've seen this coming, honestly. Stardew Valley a cute farming simulator but also there's magic and also you can date/marry 10 of the NPCs (from experience, I would not recommend doing this in the same play-through) and it's just such a charming game with no set goal? You can chill out and do whatever you want. It's what I would be playing right now if I weren't playing Animal Crossing, which is Stardew Valley minus the farm, plus anthropomorphic animals. (Also there's an underlying theme that capitalism is the root of all evil, which I am a BIG fan of.) Anyway, I love this game so much that according to Steam I've spent over 500 hours playing it and I will spend 500 more.

Bones: An Index (Vol. II)

Baby back-level contributor Matt Spradling

Occipital Bone - Otherwise known as: Brain's Back-Hatch. Strength: sort of like if the skull was a heavy duty bank vault for the brain and sneak-theives would try to get in the back way but there's no combination lock to sneak-hack. Weakness: could definitely brute-force it to disastrous effect. Potentially improved upon by: the business end of a chastity belt.

Cervical Rib - Otherwise known as: Adam's Geocache. Strength: an extra rib that appears in 0.5% of people - remember in the last star wars movie when Reylo do the canonically unsupported thing where they pass the lightsaber to each other? Maybe this is like that and someone (god) snuck an extra tool in there for when you need it most. Weakness: just a rib though. Potentially improved upon by: well, a lightsaber, if that's on the table.

Clavicle - Otherwise known as: Cliffside Balance-Board. Strength: along with the Scapula, is part of the Pectoral Girdle, which sounds like Pec Griddle which evokes the image of a barrel-chested man with dual waffle griddles on his sick pecs. Weakness: a frequent injury that occurs in FIFA even though it never occurs in real life. Potentially improved upon by: waffle griddles with very high impact resistance.

Illium - Otherwise known as: Dante's Hula-Hoops. Strength: look like human skeletons absorbed moose antlers to add to their mass in an unsettling mistwraith-esque amalgamation of collagen, blood and maple syrup. Weakness: sort of make skeletons look like they're wearing diapers. Potentially improved upon by: an innertube, but the really tough kind.

Osteoderms and Scutes (Armor Plates) - Otherwise known as: Stegosaur Kevlar. Strength: a legacy that started with the dinosaur with the most 'tude and has ended up in the hands of turtles. Weakness: earth-altering asteroids. Potentially improved upon by: textbooks.

Trapezoid Bone - Otherwise known as: I can't think of a Euclidean circus trapeze pun. Strength: this is apparently a real thing but when I clicked on it to learn more I was met with an empty Wikipedia page and an apparent expectation and relief that I was finally there to provide info about this bone. So its strength lies in secrecy. Weakness: trapezoids are basically lazy rectangles. Potentially improved upon by: a million hexagons and your whole body is hexagons and you are a monster too beautiful to live and who must be put down but you can't be killed because of your perfect and impenetrable bone structure. 

You Thought That was All? Here Are Numbers 20-11, Idiots

Khuzdul-level contributor Marina Martinez

I'm sorry, that was aggressive. But I have no restraint and also Matt is an enabler.

20. BioShock Infinite

As a surprise to no one, I bought this game for the 1912 Americana aesthetic. I'd watched the 'movie' (a cutscene compilation of the game) on youtube and liked it so much that I got the game on sale and played the dang thing. I usually don't like games centered around straight up killing your way through levels, but this one had just enough of a super cool story that I didn't mind braining cops with my metal sky-hook.

19. The Lord of the Rings Online

According to Steam, I have logged 1,169 hours on this game. Most of that was during college, when I should've been doing readings or writing papers. My guild, Beat Bobby Flay, was pretty active on the Evernight server. I would just run around Lothlorien because it was so pretty and the music made me cry. I miss this game.

18. Dream Daddy

I will not admit how many dating simulators I've played, but this one is one of my favorites. Not just because you get to customize a dad and then proceed to date all the hot dads in your neighborhood, FYI. Most of the game is actually about being a dad - it should be called 'Loving-My-Daughter-Even-When-She-Absolutely-OWNS-Me-For-My-Love-of-Ska Simulator'. So many good dad jokes, so much wholesomeness. 10/10, would be a parent again.

17. Va-11 Hall-A

Please do not judge this based on the url of the game site. Picture a visual novel that's also a bartending simulator set in a cyberpunk dystopia. That's the game. I also love games where your dialogue choices impact the plot of the story or relationships with characters (as evidenced by my love of Telltale games), but in this game the only thing you get to choose is which drinks to serve. It's super compelling and I want to play it again but this time maybe not use a walkthrough so I don't upset any of my fictional friends.

16. Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom

Okay look I had like four PS2 games and this was one of them and it had the best controls so I played it a lot. All the levels were set in different areas from the show and you got to swap characters and Sandy lasso'd floating hooks hanging from Texas symbols and instead of hearts you collected underpants for health. There's a whole level that's basically Inception. Christopher Nolan played this game and stole the idea, don't @ me.

EDIT: I looked it up and they're rereleasing it in June???? With MULTIPLAYER???????? It's tagged as a 'cult classic'. You cannot convince me I didn't just will this into existence. I am unto a god.

15. Assassin's Creed: Odyssey

I wasn't sure whether to include Syndicate or Odyssey on this list but really it's not even a choice. What other game are you going to play that lets you run around ancient Greece and battle a gorgon and a minotaur and man, the true monster?? I love Kassandra of Sparta with my whole entire heart. She is a buff demigod with a pet eagle and a heart of gold and I learned how to play the music theme on my kalimba for her.

14. Mass Effect: Andromeda

Full disclosure, this is the only Mass Effect game I've played, and frankly, I don't see the need to play the first 3. Andromeda is essentially an alien dating simulator. I mean, yes, there's a plot, but it's bad! You're colonizing the Andromeda galaxy and you're the protagonist! Yuck! Instead, focus on all the romanceable NPCs! Multiple genders AND species? Sign me tf UP!

13. Divinity: Original Sin 2

I bought this on a recommendation from a friend, found it frustrating, and then didn't touch it again for a year. Having now played it for 96 hours, I can only hope that my friends will buy it and find it initially disappointing as well. Essentially, it's a prewritten solo D&D campaign but you may or may not be the protagonist. It's a turn-based combat game, but so much of it is story and lore and character-building side quests, but dear LORD if you're a huge nerd like me you'll love it. I'm kind of hoping nobody in my D&D group ever plays it because I am definitely planning on stealing some story ideas. Why am I including this. Matt and Sam - don't play this one.

12. Tales from the Borderlands

The Borderlands games are the perfect mashup of a first-person shooter, an RPG, and a futuristic space western. This game is basically an interactive movie that takes place in between Borderlands 2 and the Pre-Sequel/Borderlands 3 (the timeline is complicated, okay), but trust me when I say you can jump in with absolutely no knowledge of anything. This list is making me realize how much emphasis I put on not only good writing but good music in a game, and this obviously has both. It's number 12 on my secondary list, it's clearly amazing.

11. Assassin's Creed: Valhalla

This game isn't out yet but GOLLY do I want to play it. I'm deciding that this is allowed on my arbitrary list because this is like the unexplored west and there are no rules here, just right. My one semester of Norwegian will finally come in handy! I can't wait to play as a buff viking lady with wife-lifting arms who desperately tries to be a pacifist but is surrounded by idiots who force her hand for the good of her clan! This can be the closest I get to playing Gimli Gloinson in a video game, basically, so I cannot describe how pumped I am. Norse mythology was a huge influence for Tolkien in Lord of the Rings, therefore I know a lot about it (almost as much as Greek mythology), and I really need to hug whoever decided on the last two AC game settings. Whoever you are, I owe you my life.

Music As Ethos

Reckoner-level contributor Matt Spradling

Last June (I know it was June because Liverpool had just won the champions league and I was wearing my Liverpool jersey because Liverpool had just won the champions league and I shared intimate hugs with multiple strangers because I was wearing my Liverpool jersey) we went out to some bars with five friends or so, and ultimately ended up at Barbarella. The main thing I remember was standing on the patio screaming into my friend's friend's ear doing a bit like I could only say the sentences you'd find in a beginner's language guide. DO YOU LIKE RESTAURANTS? It's a good bit. There was lots of dancing too because why not. Late in the evening and at the point of drinking where you still have the energy and focus to fixate on something you think is important but probably lack the wisdom to fixate on the correct thing, I remember being on the stage being weird with deacon-level contributor Alex and Nirvana comes on as the last song. Alex, who I assume to be much further gone than I, endeavors to leap off the stage and start a mosh pit, so I, who I assume to be much less gone than he, endeavor to loyally follow and protect him. The moshing is intense and I, the jolly green giant, am several times thrown into other people which I would normally feel bad about but when in Rome or something. I become convinced we are going to get kicked out so I grab Alex from behind and start to push him off the floor towards the door repeatedly insisting we have to go. He is compliant at first but halfway there turns around and Alex is not Alex but an imposter wearing the same shirt as Alex. I don't remember what happens next but I'm pretty sure I blink into a separate plane and transport my friends outside through supernatural means (I would make a great mother but do not want the responsibility.) Later it transpires that Alex was not actually particularly drunk and there was no mosh pit but he did push me as hard as he could several times.

Is music mainly ethos? Genuinely asking. You remember ethos, tip of the ethos-logos-pathos triangle and the section of your rhetorical analysis in tenth grade english where you talked about how handsome MLK Jr. was or something. Ethos is largely about credibility - throwing the weight of an established identity behind an idea to enhance it.

Music is like all art, which is to say life I guess: what's literally there isn't much on it's own and what matters is the meaning we're able to imbue it with ourselves, and personalize, and take with us as we grow until it's part of our history and, to whatever extent, wrapped up in our identity.

That's not to discount there being an objective experience in music - you can hear a really well-crafted pop melody on the radio and find it pleasant at face value without having any context derived from the artist or lyrics or anything - but I think when we really dig deep into our favorite music, the artist becomes an important element. For instance - and I know, I never talk about myself or the things I like - my favorite song, "Reckoner," is as great as it is largely because of the context of Radiohead's discography. If that song was on one of their first albums, it would be compelling musically, but no one would care about it that much. But after spending a decade experimenting with new sounds and experiencing immense highs and lows and generally having a rough go of it, hearing the band arrive at a place of such peace and beauty becomes extremely moving.

That's right idiots, this was all just a trick to talk about In Rainbows.

I guess my point is that context can be incredibly impactful in music, and following the growth and journey of an artist can make songs really intimate or emotionally charged when they could otherwise rightfully be described as random bleeps and bloops that you don't understand why anyone would care about. So I guess the real lesson here is to choose something and dive into it as deeply as you can. Casting a wide net and having expansive, eclectic tastes is also rewarding and good for growing and discovering, but every great experience I've had with music has come out of being a long-term listener to a specific singer. I'm going to move on now because I'm basically saying "music is good" which is about the most inane thing you can possibly say other than putting "I love having fun" on dating profiles.

A Portrait of the Teen as a Young Man

Former-teen-level contributor Matt Spradling

One time my mom was driving and I pulled the key out of the ignition for truly no reason at all and it turns out that's a perfectly fine thing to do but I wasn't sure of that at the time.

Trend Alert

Gossip Girl-level contributor Sam Strohmeyer

It's no secret that I have my finger on the pulse of all things cool and hip. I'm tired of everyone blowing up my phone and asking me what's in fashion for the upcoming season so I'm posting all my advice here from now on.

OUT: TikTok. The second this whole pandemic thing started a bunch of bored, underemployed millennials hopped on and now gen Z are running for the hills and by the hills I mean Now they're doing all their shitposting and thirst trapping in comment sections under meatloaf and eggplant parm recipes.

IN: Carrying small sticks to hit white people with dreadlocks until they STOP IT.

OUT: Music. Music is TIRED, people! Scientists say we've officially made every song possible so what's even the point. The only thing playing out of my speakers this summer will be recordings of elderly people sleep talking.

IN: Making the Duolingo owl your boyfriend. I don't need to explain this one.

OUT: Colorful hair. And also hair in general. We're removing every follicle from our flesh this summer to achieve #dolphinvibes.

IN: Leather jumpsuits. This is actually real. Get ready to S W E A T.

OUT: Hanging out with friends and shopping and going to the beach and taking vacations :')

IN: Eating cream cheese directly from the tub. I know you want to do it and I'm sick and tired of you not following your dreams out of some childhood insecurities. Life is short! Get out there and have your tangy treat. You deserve it.

OUT: Reading. From now on we look at pictures exclusively. A picture is worth a thousand words so why would we write so many words when we could be efficient and use pictures? Make it make sense.


Office Chart

Digitalism - Kitsuné Tabloid

You know how on iPhones when you click to download something from the app store and it makes that immensely satisfying click and dinging noise, which I won't make a lewd joke about but seems to make your phone very happy? Well Digitalism's entire first album is basically that sensation arranged in a thousand different ways. This is not that album, although it contains some of it. I don't actually know what this is. A full DJ set for...a French(?) magazine(?) Was my favorite bit of weird electronic music from the 2000's.  -Matt

Anne Müller - Nummer 2

Haunting and suspenseful and strangely calming at the same time. I recommend headphones and the loudest volume your delicate little ears allow. There's a part towards the end of this performance where I swear you can see Anne smile like she knows in that moment she's made something incredible. Love that.  -Sam

Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash - Girl From The North Country

This is one of my absolute favorite moments of music in the entire world. Not just because it is two legends singing a beautiful song, but because Johnny Cash clearly has no fucking idea what the words are. He just sings them more confidently and Bob Dylan just like follows along even though he wrote the song. Incredible.  -Alex

Father John Misty - Ideal Husband

This is probably not the song you want to admit to feeling like you relate to, but I do. So. What's up internet  -Matt

Clairo - Bags

This song is extremely popular for good reason and I never get tired of it. I'd be embarrassed if spotify told me how many times I've listened to it. I love this performance because you see that she and her whole band looks 20 tops. Good for them. Does listening to Clairo make me an honorary member of Gen Z? Let me know.  -Sam

Oberhofer - Haus

Oberhofer doesn't really make any sense. He made two really incredible albums and now he just does like movie soundtracks and instagram videos of him wearing tiny sunglasses and playing synths. This song is from his first album and is just a simple fun Saturday afternoon love song. This song also does a really cool halfway mark breakdown that still gets me every time.  -Alex

Car Seat Headrest - Life Worth Missing

"One day, I thought I'd find a hole in my own backyard I'd never seen before / I'd follow it down, underneath that fence, come back up on the other side, live another life." I think this is actually the best on the new album? There are others that have cooler vibes, but this one just feels so goddam good to listen to. Kind of a weird hybrid of The National and LCD Soundsystem and old school Car Seat.  -Matt

boygenius - Read My Mind


Lake Street Dive - Rich Girl

Honestly I think we have all been really sad lately and could do with a happy groove sung by a literal angel. This is one of those songs that's a cover, but like, is it?  -Alex

Car Seat Headrest - Deadlines (Thoughtful)

My other contender for favorite new song. From 2:10 onwards is addicting. I think a lot of this album is about growing older and the struggle between settling and reinventing yourself and how neither of those things tend to go how you expect them to.  -Matt

Mitski - Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart

Mitski's last album, Be The Cowboy, is a masterpiece full of smooth bangers. Listen to it. This is not from that album. This is from an old album. It feels like a lovely musical number you somehow wrote during a dream but it was a very scary dream actively collapsing around you. All ten office chart entries were already done but I was compelled to add this by dark unseen forces.  -Matt


Banner - this is actually a real photo of space. This is what space actually looks like and you can't disprove that in the time it would take you to stop caring

Car Seat Headrest - MADLO

Star Tours - a real thing

Dumb eyes in space iStock picture - well, iStock. Maybe they'll sponsor us? 

Bird - I'm not convinced Sam didn't craft that out of household knick-knacks 

boygenius youtube comment - Alyssa, clearly