Issue 26 - 08/24/20


  • Top 5 Cola-Based Rituals (Presented With Author Commentary)
  • Alex's Weekly Restaurant Roundup
  • Rating the Middle-Aged Men Who Try to Add Me on Social Media
  • Awkward Woman's Greatest Hits
  • Spare a Thought for Ugly Animals
  • Ode to the Giant Googly Eyes I Attached to My Bedroom Door
  • Does My Cat Have Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
  • Office Chart

Top 5 Cola-Based Rituals (Presented With Author Commentary) 

Google docs voyeur-level contributor Matt Spradling,
Anonymous dingo-level contributor Andrew Piotrowski

A couple weeks ago I was out running through Hyde Park where the heat-stroke hallucinations smell like money. It's a neighborhood that keeps you on your toes because you constantly have to choose between running on sidewalks which are trimmed for 5-foot tall people, uneven, and frequently nonexistent, or running in the road where people like to operate heavy machinery with their eyes closed. I've gotten pretty good at it in the past seven years, but thankfully covid added the intense zombie-dodging DLC to keep things fresh.

On this particular outing, I saw a child yelling on the sidewalk several houses ahead, so I crossed the street, but stayed in the street because there were zombies on the opposite sidewalk too. The aforementioned child was playing while his presumed mother watered the lawn, which at 5 in the afternoon is maybe a questionable activity, but I'm no homeowner (sobs in 27). As I passed, the yelling child hailed me without missing a beat in his yelling. He was clearly excited but also young enough that I could only make out every third or fourth word. Here is the transcript of our public yelling conversation while I was also hyperventilating:

CHILD: We (child) (child) (child) and (child) exploded!

NERVOUS YOUNG MAN: Oh yeah? Pretty cool!

C: And (child) (child) with coke and (child) (child)

NYM: Really? Coke? Yum!

C: (child) (child) (child) (child) and it exploded in my mom's face!

NYM: Oh, sounds like a fun time!

MOTHER: [stares, potentially perceiving NYM's response as an unfortunate double-entendre]

C: (child) (child) (child) (child) (child)

M: Tell him to have a good run!

C: Have a good run!

NYM: You too!

I had been considering asking the mother to have mercy on my sweaty soul and spray me with her hose so that I could feel again, but thought better of it and departed. I didn't think much about the incident at the time because I was drowning in an adrenaline wave-pool after having been forced to interact in any way with any other human, but later it struck me as curious; what was this strange child doing with coke? What had he caused to explode, and with such mirth? Was this cause for future concern? I don't like it when conflicts happen on my running route because I remember them forever like a fitful elephant. Not three blocks down from the house where this story takes place is the home of a man who yelled at me once in 2014 and I still think about it every day.

Three days later I passed this way again from across the street at roughly the same time of day, and this time went unnoticed. I heard the mother yell at the boy - apparently straight-up named Maximus - to clean up the coke before he went inside, while this Maximus wheeled about like a little dark-haired von Trapp. I stopped, and through the fog of hot death hotly thought some hot thoughts: anybody named Maximus is invariably a warlock; warlocks perform rituals; regardless of what dark purposes he was using the coke for, his trials were repetitious and clinical; therefore, this unsettling boy must be planning something nefarious, powerful, and messy, and he must be opposed lest the neighborhood fall victim to his sticky menace.

Since that day, I've devoted my clearly flourishing life to uncovering the arcane secrets locked away in the secret Coca-Cola family formula, and spilt every drop of blood, sweat, and the coke from flag-mart at my disposal so that I have a chance at winning this acidic arms race. Here are the preliminary results of my grueling studies thus far:

RITUAL NAME: "Flavor Explosion, Corrosion Erosion" COMPONENTS: Coke, Toothbrush, Stick or Rod, Gloves (optional). PURPOSE: Breathes necromantic life into malfunctioning car batteries. STEPS: Best performed before the front door of the Czech Stop in West while concerned onlookers shuffle by. Wait until the sun is at its zenith and raise the car's hood. Prop it open with a stick so that it doesn't kill you. Praise the sun (she's a good girl.) Imbue the coke with the power of the sun by holding it aloft with both hands for one minute while someone nearby plays Jimmy Buffet, mocking you with all the ways their car battery is not malfunctioning. Gently pour coke over the affected battery terminals, then thoroughly brush them. What happens then is whatever you deserve.

I am writing because I found the above account in an abandoned journal inside of a ravaged Coca-Cola factory. While the apocalypse has yet to take us into her withered bosom, I cannot help but be haunted by the interaction detailed by the uncredited author. As such, I've decided to try and continue their work to the best of my ability. Listed below is my first attempt at unlocking the mystic properties of Coca-Cola. If the ritual claims my life, so be it; I am simply recording the process in the hopes that someone else will be wiser than myself and my mysterious predecessor.

RITUAL NAME: "Flowing Path of Cola" COMPONENTS: Coke, Bamboo Shoots, Folding Fans, Snake Charmer's Flute. PURPOSE: Creates a sticky trail on the ground for multiple purposes, ex: slowing down a pursuer or attempting an army of ants. STEPS: Wait for the high heat of summer's day and align the bamboo shoots to direct the path of the Coca-Cola's flow. Gently pour, picturing the gentle tug of gravity and manifesting it in the fluid movement of the Cola. If necessary, guide gravity's hand by using the fans to motivate the Cola. As the Cola finds its path, lament to the universe the loss of this Cola as it is contaminated by the ground; this lamentation should be no shorter than three minutes but no longer than eight hours. Gently segue into a celebration as the Cola dries, leaving behind the desired viscous booby-trap. Praise the sun again.

IMPORTANT: BE  S_RE  N_T  TO  A___M__  T_I_  W_IL_  ______.............

[the rest of the note is indecipherable]

I added a ritual
Is the ruined note "be sure to drink your ovaltine"
I decided to channel Fallout 4 energy for my ritual
That's appropriate
Your turn
Oh god
Are we creating new narratives and authors for each ritual like a matryoshka doll of meta narrative or just adding to the already existing lists
Ooo, I'm going to use that line
I was thinking the former but this is your baby
What's a fancy term for squirt bottle
I don't think there is one

Dearest Sandarella,

I fear the worst. Three weeks trapped here and I have yet to find any way out of this infernal soda factory. And if I do escape, what then? I hear the buzzards call for me above the roiling wastelands beyond these walls.

In my initial searches I happened upon a journal lost to time, sticky and gnarled, like a feral child. I'm not sure what purpose it was created for, but I feel compelled to take up the fallen and, again, very sticky gauntlet of those who preceded me here, come what may. If there is no hope of escape from this labyrinth by conventional means, perhaps the darkness will grant me a boon. I record here my perverse findings and my regrettable place in this accursed matryoshka doll of meta-narrative.

RITUAL NAME: "Ignea Azalea" COMPONENTS: America's Favorite Coca-Cola, Squirting Distribution Apparatus, Azaleas or Bergenias, Live Earth. PURPOSE: Accelerates the growth of certain species of plant life to an exponential and frankly irresponsible extent. Resulting plants will be strong enough to crack foundations and smother all other plant life in the area. STEPS: Curse the Coca-Cola by first sacrificing some of it - pour it into a circle with a five-foot radius. Spin a bottle in the center of this circle, and set off in the direction the bottle points. Eventually you will find the sprouting form of a viable plant. Fill a squirty-vessel with the cursed good fluid and shake it thrice. It may now be used to fertilize plants until they grow into mighty abominations in mockery of creation and natural order. Spritz your plant of choice at morning, noon, and night.

Coca Cola Spells

Using soda for bad work

This is a haiku

Ritual name: "Turn

Enemies into Statues"

Components: Cola

Purpose: Get revenge

On the wizard who cursed me

To speak in haiku

Steps: Pour Cola on

Head of wizard who cursed me

Then hit him with can

Oh thank God, it worked. I can't believe that I've been speaking in haiku for three hundred years. Luckily I found this bizarre recipe book(?) buried in a time capsule outside of the elementary school. The plaque says it was buried forty years ago, which is weird because it seems a lot more battered than forty years would suggest. Maybe this book has a bit more of a story to it than the time capsule says it does.

Oh well, I'm not gonna worry that much about it. It looks kinda cool, I bet I could take it to Half Price Books and sell it for weed cash. God, what an amazing time we live in! I'm so happy I survived the Salem Witch trials to join a modern league of magic-users surviving in the modern era where I can sell books for weed.

I did one
It's beautiful 
I'm writing the new hit YA modern fantasy series
Also I'm not gonna tell you what to do, but I feel like the last ritual needs to come full circle
Maybe the POV of the mom or kid
Well you made #4 a bit of a curveball
I made a curveball? Who the fuck is Sandarella?
I don't know

Police Evidence: Item #377802 - Entered 06-02-2036 - Journal

Partial transcription of contents:

We are close. If my brood performs the sacred rites but once more, then it shall be time. We will finally be able to take the form of that strange young man - the one the prophecies have foretold. The prophecies that said... we will need to steal his identity, so that we can... commandeer a righteous newsletter... to... ensure the protection in 16 years' time of... President Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Here is that ritual because I forget it a lot.

RITUAL NAME: "Sweet Treat, Identity Yeet" COMPONENTS: Coke; Son; Rope; Innocent, Handsome, Ripped, Beloved, Successful Young Man/Hero. PURPOSE: A ritual to, uh, bodysnatch that handsome tall cool guy with one of our own who will masquerade as this extremely charismatic and well-endowed cool dude and eventually save the life of Mr. President Dale Earnhardt, Jr. But it will also be this rounded time travel thing where he will have been that awesome young man from the start and they are the same person but neither know it and all the math and stuff works out. It's an extremely specific ritual and to be honest we never really believed there would be a use for it. STEPS: Bind the cool awesome man with rope and use coke and mentos to waterboard him a little bit and that's actually it.

Dear Diary:

Maximus had that nightmare again last night. The one where he's a warlock who performs rituals based on different applications of Coca-Cola, then discovers and rediscovers the spellbook in different reincarnations. I'm probably letting him drink too much soda during the day. And in the morning. And before bed.

Maybe him yelling at that innocent young man on the sidewalk should have been the wake-up call my lax parenting needed.

Or maybe I just need a cigarette.

I've decided this article is now a criticism of Maximus's mother
A four-page knife wound straight to the heart of the zeitgeist

Alex's Weekly Restaurant Roundup

Pioneer-level contributor Alex Speed

Hello. It's the segment that everyone was begging me to bring back. Hundreds of thousands of requests in the Newsletter inbox. Things like:

"Alex is so smart and provides such great insight into cuisine even though one time he went way too off the rails and wrote about like a crack-dealing uncle who served biscuits and gravy out of a halfway house. It's okay though because we understand that true genius can't be contained." - Blex Spleed

And also:

"It's pretty crazy that Matt didn't include any of Alex's weekly restaurant roundups in the Best Of section of Newsletter. Do you think its because he is jealous of how good Alex is at words and how rarely he makes huge grammatical errors?" - Gibson


"It seems like Alex's articles have been getting pushed towards the bottom of each issue. Is that because he stopped doing somewhat clever things like restaurant roundup and just started using Newsletter to write out his deepest darkest thoughts because he refuses to go to therapy? It seems like maybe he should stop writing about crying listening to Phoebe Bridgers and do more of the funny ha-ha's." - Alex's mother who won't return his calls

Tons of stuff like that.

It's a little different now because the world is shut down and you can't/shouldn't be going to restaurants all willy nilly like the good ol days. I also moved to Montana so I can no longer give biting socioeconomic critiques about the dark underbelly of Austin eateries. However I can bring you all into the sprawling beauty of Montana wilderness and provide insight into the deep culinary possibilities of The Treasure State. So without further ado:

The Gas Station Where I Bought a Muffin and Coffee on My Birthday

I turned 24 on Sunday. It was the first birthday that felt noticeably different. I woke up in a trailer at the base of the Bridger mountain range aware of the weight of almost a quarter century. In classic Alex Speed fashion I decided to run from this feeling and hike up a big mountain. However, I got very lost. Getting lost in Montana backcountry is not like getting lost on the green belt, or in the parking lot of a Chili's after your fourth first date in a row stands you up and now Cheryl the Chili's waitress knows not to even bring you appetizers because you're just gonna end up ordering big mouth bites to go and trying to convince her to let you take one of the el presidente margarita shakers home. It gets scary. I accidentally hiked for 13 miles because I started in the wrong place and took a wrong connecting trail. It was my 24th birthday and I spent it lost and afraid and thirsty and lonely and wondering why I decided to do this stupid thing instead of sitting on my porch drinking Coors Lites with my dog.

To the three of you who have read my other article in which I ran away to Big Bend and hiked a big mountain under-prepared - yeah it's pretty much the same thing and I am stupid. But, and as always I have a big but, it's exactly how I wanted to spend my first day of this new year. I bit off more than I could chew and could have died in the woods by myself, but I didn't. Not because I'm like a big strong man or anything, because I very literally sat down on a tree stump and cried at one point because I felt my toenail fall off, but because I once again learned the very beautiful lesson that difficult things can be overcome. If anything it deepened the idea that life is a pattern of 1. thinking you are going to die, 2. crying, and then 3. learning how to overcome your new obstacle and become a stronger, more resilient person. Towards the end of the hike my internet kicked back in and my phone blew up with birthday wishes and people I don't remember posting on my Facebook wall. In the face of surviving another one of my very stupid decisions I felt less alone, more qualified to take on being so old I finally understand what taxes are, and that I am supposed to pay them every other year.

And then on the way home I stopped at a gas station and got a muffin and a coffee and a gatorade because I earned it and consumed them all in bed. 4 near death experiences our of 5 because Gibson ate half of the muffin when I went to the bathroom.

Rating the Middle-Aged Men Who Try to Add Me on Social Media

Disaccharide sucrose-level contributor Sam Strohmeyer


Jeffrey is getting a low rating because it's clear we have nothing in common and I'm a people-who-say-godfearing-fearing individual 🌹. He gets some credit for "kindly" asking people not to catfish him. Oh, Jeffrey. I'm praying for you.


I sent this screenshot to Matt and he immediately knew our relationship was in jeopardy. His name is Humphrey Jackett for christsake. A king among men if there ever was one. Maximum points, obviously. #futureMrsJackett


Jordan sent a friend request and messaged me at the same time. A little forward, honestly. Definitely too forward for a married man with pictures of his wife on his profile.


I like that Michael is upfront about what he's looking for but having two first names is suspicious for sure. He's also going to lose points because he looks a bit too much like my dad.


Sylvester is one of my faves. $700 a week? I had a hard time turning this one down, not gonna lie. He also looks a bit like he belongs in The Hobbit. How whimsical!


Iré has a heart of gold. Perhaps he's mistaken me for one of the orphans in one of the orphanage homes he gives money to? Anyway, it's really cool he wants to help people financially with nothing in return. Nothing at all. Just a helpful guy.

Awkward Woman's Greatest Hits: Better Responses That I Thought of 20 Minutes Later vs. What I, a Fool, Actually Said in the Moment

Provost-level contributor Marina Martinez

[half an hour into a donation solicitation from my alma mater and also the place I work]

Student Worker: ...and even $5 dollars would really help out students like me who depend on financial aid in order to attend classes, work, and live in Austin. Can I count on a donation, Ms. Martinez?

The Correct Response: Sorry, money's a bit tight right now! But you're doing a great job, and maybe you'll catch me at a better time a bit later!

What I Said: Sorry dude, I'm still paying off my loans from this place? Also I work here. Why would I give my paycheck back to my employer. Also this university makes millions of dollars. It should be paying us both more, amiright??


[just literally any time I've ever flirted with anyone in my entire life]

The Correct Response: [something funny/clever/actually flirty]

What I Always Say: 'Ugh you suck'/'I hate you'/[flips them off]


[having a disagreement with a former roommate]

Roommate: I just have a 'thing' where if things aren't completely spotless I just can't function, you know? I feel like I have to pull your teeth to get you to contribute anything, and I ask very respectfully and courteously. So I'd appreciate it if you could respect me and my mental health in this.

The Correct Response: Okay I also have a 'thing' though where I really want to do things but can't, and maybe that's why I can't even do simple things like every day of the week? Also, you seem to have unrealistic expectations for how clean this apartment should be. Also [insert just an entire rant of things that I never tell them bc I'm polite and also a coward]...also your partner is here like every weekend. I have a lot of issues with you and I'd appreciate it if YOU could respect ME and my mental health in this.

What I Said: I'm so sorry, it's all my fault, I'll do better. [crying]


[accepting a pizza delivery at my door, in the Before Times]

Me: Thanks! Have a great night.

The Pizza Guy: You too! Actually...I know this is really weird but I think you're really cute, could I get your number? ;)

The Correct Response: Oh, thank you! While I'm really flattered, I'll have to decline. I'm not really interested in dating, or casual flirting, with complete strangers at the moment. But it was sweet of you to ask! Also, a little creepy, since you are a man I don't know standing at my front door and I'm holding a pizza in one hand and a cat in the other and you know where I live and honestly I'm uncomfortable with this situation. But you know what, kudos for shooting your shot! Best of luck in the future, my good sir!

What I Said: UHHHHHHH dude I'm like really gay??


[interviewing for an extremely competitive position]

Interviewer #1: Great! Okay, that's the last question from me, anybody else?

Interviewer #5 (yes, there were 5 people): I have one! Alright - what skills or experience can you bring to this job that would set you apart from other, more qualified candidates?

The Correct Response: Oh, tough one! Well, I can't definitively answer this accurately without knowing who else is currently being considered, but I'm sure we are all diverse and uniquely qualified applicants! I believe, however, that [blah blah blah whatever you get it, a good answer]

What I Said: haha you mean besides my winning smile???? [cue me pointing finger guns at all 5 of the people on the committee]


[hanging out with a group of cool internet strangers to play D&D]

Person 1: Oh yeah, we started marathoning the Extended Editions last weekend! Got a full spread of food too, definitely enough to get through the bonus features as well.

Person 2: What movies are you talking about?

Person 1: Lord of the Rings, duh! Marina, didn't you say you like LOTR?

The Correct Response: It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end, because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass.

What I Said: Yeah, a little.

Spare a Thought for Ugly Animals

Winsome-level contributor Matt Spradling

We already know that attractive people receive preferential treatment in various ways, but what about attractive animals? How many of us have been inundated with campaigns and fundraisers attempting to save the provocative polar bear, the luring leopard, the glamorous gorilla, the comely crocodile, the inviting irrawaddy dolphin, or of course, the winsome whale? 

I'm concerned about the state of my targeted ads after this.

But what about the creatures differently blessed with coolness and beauty, those almost certain to never grace the cover of Zoobooks Magazine?

Here is a brief guide on how to give some much-needed attention to the more homely of our friends from across the nature!

Elephant Seal - Now these are like normal seals but with a huge... sock hanging off their face. Unlike more standard seals, these bad boys need a relative excess of starchy carbs in their diet which are hard to find in the ocean, so be sure to bring a spare plate of pasta with you next time you head to the beach. Remember to make it al dente!

Aye-Aye - Perhaps the creepiest-looking of all, these are sort of like if my cat had babies with a sleep paralysis demon. Consequently, they feed on dreams to survive! Isn't that adorable? Specifically nightmares. Trick is, they don't really understand, so you have to lure them into your sleeping chambers with more conventional means (animal crackers under your pillow) and they'll just sort of absorb your dark energy (lick your sweat) while they're around. Remember to really bunker down under your covers so as to best bring about the heat-fear. Fun!

Star-Nosed Mole - Can you imagine playing The Last Of Us, going on a walk to clear your fear-addled head, and seeing one of these fungus-faced abominations, I mean friends, skulking towards you? Hooray! The deal with these girls is that they're very very shy, and will just hide to death underground. It's actually our responsibility to go down there and feed and water them two or three times a day. Their holes are incredibly narrow and 1-2 dozen meters deep, so, start working on your climbing ability and hope you're not claustrophobic. It's like the Pits of Hathsin but instead of geodes you get true love!

Blobfish - So these are actually somewhat disturbing to view, so take a moment to assess your level of emotional buoyancy before looking them up. Outside of deep water, these sort of look like a cross between Mr. Saturn from Smash Bros. and the merman from Cabin In The Woods. There's actually nothing humans can do for these grim puppies and they know it. It's in everyone's best interest to punt them back into the briny depths where they can lead their lives in dark, relative peace.

California Condor - You're probably pretty familiar with these, but look again! Yeah! Those! Uh-oh! When I was a kid we went on the Jaws ride at Universal Studios and there was a bit where the boat goes into a flooded barn thing(??) to hide from it(??) and then they somehow use pyrotechnics to burn it to death(??) but then it shows back up with charred flesh, specifically, presumably, to terrify any children that were still clinging to the gory vestiges of their sanity. Anyway, these birds sort of remind me of my oldest foe! Now, you're also probably familiar with what condors eat: large carrion. Do you know what qualifies as large carrion? Potentially you! When you feel the time is right, be mindful of where you lay your defeated form to rest and you may make a condor's week. Pack on the pounds beforehand too!

Ode to the Giant Googly Eyes I Attached to My Bedroom Door

Ionic pentagonal-level contributor Andrew Piotrowski

To call my door a treat would be a lie

Though none could fault the benefits inside

My chamber, which renowned for sultry feats

Lacks luster if just closed door one meets

I shan't bore thee with litany of woe

Such tacky ruminating I forego

I know inside my bedroom all will see

How cool my games and posters and such be

Alas if glimpsed from living room afar

The door seems just, if likened to a car,

A beige sedan with little in the tank

That breaks down twixt the groc'ry store and bank

But in my sacred heart of hearts I know

That on the other side; another show

Again; an auto metaphor will do

A Firebird, with racing stripes of blue

"But how," I think, "could I hope to portray

The wonderland a doorknob turn away?"

The door, still unadorned, just seems to mock

With paint as white and boring as a sock

This cursed mission haunted every hour

The decorating failure turned me sour

My steps grew heavy and my shoulders weak

When at my dour door I dared to peek

As months went by with no relief to find

And dreary door relentless on my mind

One weekend in pursuit of merry days

I took a mini-road trip with my gays

To shop and eat and frolic were our goals

And after shoving lunch into our holes

To Half-Price Books we ventured, but too soon

For, much to our dismay, 'twas closed til noon

Beleaguered and distraught we headed north

With quarter-hour to kill, we ventured forth

When God Above Himself birthed unto man

The craft store owned by maiden fair, Joann

Agog, aghast, we wandered aisles filled

With arts and crafts for wizened hands to build

While searching for a time-fulfilling prize

My gaze was fixed upon a pair of eyes

For dollars two and pennies, ninety-nine

This pair of eyes was destined to be mine

The panacea for my old despair

Was sent to me, this wondrous googly pair

Does My Cat Have Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Ascendant-level contributor Matt Spradling

According to the mayonnaise clinic, signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder and the severity of symptoms vary. People with the disorder can:

Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance - this is a softball opener. Myshka believes she is the only creature on earth, and probably has the short term memory to prove it. I think when she sees other animals she gets upset because she believes she is hallucinating them.

Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration - another clear yes. Her thirst for attention is as powerful as a ravenous jungle cat that really really wants to get into your bedroom at night to yell jungle cat things in your face.

Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it - check; see the above but with the knowledge that she has never accomplished anything a one-year old human could not.

Exaggerate achievements and talents - one time she accidentally stepped on a spider that was so small it was almost invisible, stared at her paw for a minute, and then went straight to the treat container and cried until I rewarded her pest-control efforts.

Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate - I intentionally gambled away her college fund because I knew she would use an education to form a manipulative political think-tank.

Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people - she likes to bathe in the window to mock Cheetoh the barn cat, but whenever he approaches she only pays attention to the apple watch 3 she wears as a collar.

Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior - sometimes it feels like she doesn't even understand me, but once out of every hundred attempts or so she'll follow me when I say COME ON MYSHKA so who knows.

Take advantage of others to get what they want - my cat only plays with toys bought from the goodwill in the economically repressed part of town even though our family is not financially lacking and we are in fact probably complacent in local gentrification.

Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others - my cat only eats what we buy via hiring a petting zoo to entertain us privately in our home and letting her watch and choose her prey and have her way with once at dawn and once at dusk.

Be envious of others and believe others envy them - my cat only sleeps on beds made of leather from endangered predators and filled with water derived from melted snow from mt. fuji.

Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious - my cat only uses a box constructed of gilded ivory and filled with the ashes of her adversaries.

Insist on having the best of everything - for instance, the best car or office - my cat only travels to the vet in a tesla model 3 custom-made to be cat-sized and which fits inside the trunk of my jeep.

At the same time, people with narcissistic personality disorder have trouble handling anything they perceive as criticism, and they can:

Become impatient or angry when they don't receive special treatment - check, although I don't even know what she has to compare "special" to.

Have significant interpersonal problems and easily feel slighted - check, and I have the scars to prove it.

React with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make themselves appear superior - check, although I don't even know who she's trying to look good for.

Have difficulty regulating emotions and behavior - check, although I don't know if it counts as difficulty if she doesn't try at all.

Experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change - check, we just travelled and she yelled the entire four-hour car ride and then didn't poop for two days.

Feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection - check, she's usually moody, so this might as well be why.

Have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation - check, no other internal fire can burn that hot.

In summary, I believe the findings are inconclusive. I will try giving her my entire wallet later and see if she loves me then.

Jokes aside - and what genius and praiseworthy jokes they were! - some resources:

National Domestic Violence Hotline

Abusive relationships info and FAQ's

Getting out of abusive relationships resources

Office Chart


No One Lives Forever - Oingo Boingo

This song has a very manic energy that is probably best for either disassociation or a mosh pit, which is why it's considered A - if not The - Goth Album. It's a very...intense sounding reminder to just live your life how you want, you know? Do what you want and what makes you happy - you're not dead! (Yet.) I think it's soothing.  -Marina

Something - The Beatles

Every year on my birthday I give myself the same present. One complete sit-down listen-through of Abbey Road. I think the second half of the record is the best continuous piece of music written in the past 100 years. This year "Something" really stood out to me. It's fun to listen to George Harrison reach a songwriting peak while solidifying himself as an exceptionally talented melodic guitar soloist. It's simple, but it's also not simple. It's just a beautiful song, and of course Paul's bass part is so good I want to die.  -Alex

I'd Rather Be Me - Barrett Wilbert Weed for Mean Girls

I will not make a joke about this singer's name, despite the fact that destiny calls for it. She's an amazing vocalist and perfectly cements this song in the memory of anyone who recognizes the dramatic importance of it in the plot of Mean Girls. For those unfamiliar, a musical adaptation of Mean Girls has proven very successful on Broadway with the help of comedy legend Tina Fey, and for those unfamiliar with Mean Girls overall, get help. "I'd Rather Be Me" arrives at the pivotal moment wherein Janis Ian delivers her speech of rebellion to the entire female student body, and in the musical adaptation, her speech has become an anthem of independence against those who would compel one to adhere to the status quo.  -Andrew

The Suburbs (Arcade Fire Cover) - Father John Misty

I'm staying with my mom right now and since she lives very close to my high school I'm feeling a bit nostalgic. I'd bet that if you went to high school around the time I did this song is on the soundtrack to your adolescence. Man, that privileged, suburban teenage angst is just *chef's kiss* delicious. And FJM's version? A balm to my soul.  -Sam

Lungs - Townes Van Zandt

There's a new Bright Eyes album but I don't know how I feel about it yet so here's something else. Like with many things, I only started listening to Townes Van Zandt because Conor Oberst told me to but this song is incredible. I guess August is typically the part of the year when I start feeling more folk and western artists, so it's fitting.  -Matt

girls - girl in red

I'm in a Mood™️.  -Marina

Ottoman - Vampire Weekend

This is a fun groovy Saturday song. It's what I would put on if I woke up in a great mood and put on my fun shirt and were driving to a coffee shop to read. I literally never know what Ezra is saying in his lyrics but it doesn't really matter because one of the lines I do understand is "there'll be six bells a ringing // and white women singing for you." The strings are very fun and sometimes I put this song on and pretend like I am conducting the orchestra and that my life has meaning.  -Alex

Better Than Revenge - Taylor Swift

Okay so here's the thing. Even if the rest of this song was garbage, which it isn't, I would bop my fucking brains out every time it came on just because it includes the line "she thinks I'm psycho cuz I like to rhyme her name with things :)." This line, a blatant self-reference to Swift's tendency to write songs about specific people, is so deliciously draped with a veil of absolute madness. The smiley-face emoticon I included a moment ago is not an actual part of the lyrics; the line just exudes such an aura of mania that I couldn't not include a visual.  -Andrew

Teenage Dirtbag (Wheatus Cover) - Sega Bodega & Dorian Electra

Another cover of a classic. Sega Bodega + Dorian Electra is actual magic and I can't stop listening. Or singing along. Keep my family in your thoughts.  -Sam

Elephant - Damien Rice

Do you like good music and feeling things? Then Damien Rice is for you! Damien isn't one of the most talented vocalists, technically speaking, but he's maybe the best I know at emoting. The sheer weight of emotion he conveys through his singing is unbelievable at times. "Dogs" is maybe his most peaceful song, like a 2009 June morning by a backyard pool with lots of trees and no creepy neighbors around to see you and maybe you're incredibly sad and conflicted about romance but that's what the Irish are for. Then there's "The Blower's Daughter" which is a beautiful romantic lament that maybe you had your first kiss to but then the lyrics are actually intentionally really creepy and unhealthy when you think about them, oops. However, I'm going with "Elephant" purely because he uses this empathetic prowess to belt out that he's horny really loudly, and the aesthetic of him doing so on this strange French(?) TV show(?) surrounded by polite teens is extremely powerful with chaotic energy. They say the works of Shakespeare contain every emotion a human can feel, but I doubt he could improve upon this particular endeavor.  -Matt


Banner - Vincent van Gogh, Trigal con cuervos, 1890, and also, like, wikipedia 

Jackett, Humphrey et al. - Sam's grim, daily reality

Winsome whale - I don't even know. Is this what finally gets us taken down for copyright? But what a way to go.

Winsome whale Zoobook - A Sam Strohmeyer photoshop masterclass

Andrew's bedroom door pic - [insert andrew's celebrity crush here] took it on their way out amirite fellas 

WAP - Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat, pg 119, and it is VERY IMPORTANT THAT NOBODY TELLS BILL WATTERSON