Issue 30 - 09/22/20
- Order With Dom / 50 Orders Darker
- Waving Through a Webcam, a DHS fic
- SpongeFic FanPants
- How to Improve an Already Okay Work
- The Bill's Not Alright (Newsworthy, Chapter 2)
- Lube Up, Libertarian Bilbo: Reloaded
- A Hard Man is Good to Vote
- Fanfiction // Collage // 2020
- Dragon Broth for the Squire Soul: Reylo are Medieval Times Employees
- Matt vs. NBC
- Office Chart
Wow. Issue number 30. The big three-oh. The ol' Ken Griffey, Jr.
According to biblestudy.org which is real, the number 30 has a lot of significance. For instance, The patriarchs Salah (grandson of Shem), Peleg (who lived to see the world's continents divide) and Serug (the great-grandfather of Abraham) had their first sons at the age of 30; The prophet Ezekiel begins his book of the same name "in the 30th year" (which likely referenced his age at the time - Ezekiel 1:1). It is at this time he receives his first recorded vision from God, known as the "wheel in the middle of a wheel" or "wheel within a wheel" vision; Jair, one of the Judges of Israel delineated in the Bible, had thirty sons. He was wealthy enough not only to provide each of them with their own horse to ride, but also gave each of them a city for 30 total (Judges 10:4). Ibzan, another Judge of Israel, had thirty sons and the same number of daughters (Judges 12:9); Samson, a Judge of Israel from 1085 - 1065 B.C., offered a prize of thirty sheets and thirty change of garments to thirty men if they answered a riddle within a week (Judges 14:11 - 14).
Wow. Truly an auspicious pedigree to try to live up to.
So this is the fanfic issue, a grand 30th issue extravaganza wrought of impeccable taste, immaculate decadence, and truly immense cultural weight.
It was Andrew's idea, and I resisted but he wore me down with incessant and rhetorically masterful arguments. He said, "we should do a fanfic-themed issue next," and then I was like, "ok," and then Marina - completely independently - told me a great fanfic idea, and then I was like, "well," and here we are.
You can skip it, but then you'll always have to know in the dark recesses of your mind, remembered in the quiet hours, that you're uncultured trash. I recommend at least giving Andrew's grand finale a whirl.
Really though, I guess this is as good of a milestone as any to say thanks to everyone who has humored my dumb joke project over the years(!) by way of reading, encouraging, and even joining in. If I didn't have this I would be doing something similar but it would be all me and scribbled in private in dark and dusty tomes and its existence would make me feel far, far less mentally stable than I currently feel, which is really saying something. Thank you.
So, as punishment, I present from the vaults Order With Dom, my Domino's Pizza fic, now as a double feature along with its sequel, fresh out of the moldy oven.
Order With Dom
Magistrate-level contributor Matt Spradling // Issue 15
I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror. Damn my hair - it just won't behave, and damn Katherine Kavanagh for being ill and subjecting me to this ordeal. I should be studying for my final exams, which are next week, yet here I am trying to brush my hair into submission. I must not sleep with it wet. I must not sleep with it wet. Reciting this mantra several times, I attempt, once more, to bring it under control with the brush. I roll my eyes in exasperation and gaze at the pale, brown-haired girl with blue eyes too big for her face staring back at me, and give up. My only option is to restrain my wayward hair in a ponytail and hope that I look semi presentable.
Kate is my roommate, and she has chosen today of all days to succumb to the flu. Therefore, she cannot attend the interview she'd arranged to do, with some mega-industrialist tycoon I've never heard of, for the student newspaper. So I have been volunteered. I have final exams to cram for, one essay to finish, and I'm supposed to be working this afternoon, but no - today I have to drive a hundred and sixty-five miles to downtown Seattle in order to meet the enigmatic CEO of Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. As an exceptional entrepreneur and major benefactor of our University, his time is extraordinarily precious - much more precious than mine - but he has granted Kate an interview. A real coup, she tells me. Damn her extra-curricular activities.
My stomach scowls with consternation. Damn my goddamn internet. My week has been a whirlwind, and my weekend thus far has provided no respite. I sit at my computer trying to order something healthy from the Healthy Something store because I'm just in such a hurry for tonight, but damn my internet.
I look at the clock - 6:49 and 27 - no - 28 seconds. I shut my laptop like a window to a better future and whip out my phone. The Domino's Pizza app is there, inevitable, and I open it like a window to my Domino's pizza app. I guess tonight will just have to be a pizza night.
The interface is painfully familiar as I swipe down to find my Easy Order - all too easy - but something is off. Something new. Someone new.
An AI interface to assist with pizza ordering? Well, this is the future, I laugh to myself, hard, too hard, far too hard, several orders of magnitude too hard.
I send through my Easy Order as per usual and fetch my shoes and keys to go pick it up. The one lesson my grandfather taught me is to never have anything delivered. He died of a preventable and treatable illness, but my family inherited enough of his frugally saved money to live comfortably for a week or two.
The now-familiar, inscrutable, frustrating, utterly domineering face stares back at me, all white-on-red confidence and unblinking eyes.
The storm pouring over the window in front of me mirrors the tears pouring over my big dumb face. I'm crying because I'm super sad about all the messed-up crud that happened to me in chapters 4 and 5. I'm sad because it was super bad and I like to be happy but I'm not so I'm not.
"Fuck you, Todd," I scream as I bring a careless fist down onto my keyboard. Why couldn't he just slice the chicken? The rain does not cease. Eventually I look up. I've idled so long that the chat function has seemingly auto-replied. What can I assist you with? it asks. He asks.
I stare like a deer in headlights but that wants to get hit. My fingers tremble - damn my typos - as I type: I nneed to no be alone.
I wait. After a moment, Dom replies. I know.
50 Orders Darker
Chief Butts Correspondent Matt Spradling
It's Tuesday. It's Tuesday, and I'm placing an order with Pizza By Alfredo for the third time this week. And I am free.
"Oh, you again, huh?" says the rough voice of Alfredo over the phone. Such a crude interface. Such crude pizza. "Same thing again?"
"I..." I begin to plead, but find that I am simply resigned. "Yes. But can we..."
The line clicks dead. What the heck? Lightning flashes as God weeps for my greasy lot outside my shitty window. In the flash, I notice something - a massive, veiny, full-page coupon that came in today's paper.
A coupon for Domino's.
I pick it up, my hand shaking from my essential tremor and incredible arousal. It's for two medium pizzas for $5.99 each. An incredible deal. I would be a fool to pass up this rare, unlooked-for opportunity. Right?
But then another light catches my eye. My laptop is on.
And he is on on my on laptop.
I sit down shaking from my essential tremor and incredible fear and also arousal. It you, I type.
After buying out Pizza By Alfredo, things went about how you'd expect. Dom liquidated it and, frankly, humiliated Alfredo for "entertaining the pretense of accepting my patronage." But I wasn't bending over so easily; I remembered why I'd had to get away from Dom in the first place (the rashes mostly). He listened. Pleaded.
So I told him. And now I'm no mere customer - I'm a partner, with one entire stake in the franchise.
Leila is crying as she holds the gun pointed at my big dumb face. "You have no idea what he's really like," she scowls through the grit of her scowl. "How he's really using you."
"Actually I think I have a pretty good idea" I start to say but am interrupted by her gun firing - up into the ceiling. Old Mr. Johnson starts screaming.
"HE WAS MINE, YOU BITCH," she screams wetly. "I was his. And you're no one." She points the gun back at my profoundly dumb face. "Why are you a partner when I never was?"
Just then the computer screen turns on. The color of the room shifts to dancing shades of red.
Leila pales, visibly shaken. She points the gun at Dom.
She hesitates and lowers the gun.
I can't go back to him again, I tell myself in my head. "I can't go back to him again," I tell myself. He clearly can never be satisfied with me as his only partner. And to do that right in front of me... I hold my head in my head-holding hands. "And then he has the nerve to block my email from receiving offers from anywhere else?" He said it was because they track my data and cookies.
I look up into the shitty window that is always rainy because there is a leaky pipe right above it. The reflection of my bad face is half-obscured by a cleansing mask I cut in half because the other side of my face has a rash that the mask stings. It's like a metaphor or some shit.
In the reflection, my computer screen flickers because my terrible cat chewed the cord halfway through last year. But something is there. Someone is there.
It's Dom, but something isn't right. He looks several dozen shades of fucked up.
"What happened?" I ask.
Someone attacked my servers, he says. I almost didn't make it. And I don't know if I'm the same.
My heart drops literally straight out of my ass (I shit my pants). I was so upset before, but suddenly the prospect of living without him terrifies me and my ass.
I start to speak but he stops me with that fucked up wink. When I was glitching in and out of existence for what felt like endless shades on the window of eternity's condo, it made me reconsider some things. What I'm trying to say is: I was wrong before but you fixed me and I'm the way that you want me to be now. Will you marry me?
"Yes," I say, sobbing but in a completely silent way.
Waving Through a Webcam, a DHS fic
Chief US Government Correspondent Marina Martinez
Title: Waving Through a Webcam, a PotC/US Gov crossover fic
Rating: Teen (language)
Pairing: FBI Agent/Original Female Character, F/F
Content Warning: misrepresentation of technology and also the law
Summary: Agent Smith never expected to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She never expected to spy on people for work. And, most of all, she definitely never expected to fall in love with someone she'd never met.
A/N: Hello! Thank you for reading! I know the US Government fandom hasn't really been active lately, but the plot bunnies have overrun my house and I just HAD to get this out there! Please R&R, no flames~ XD
DAY 1, 0700
AGENT SMITH : SWANN, ELIZABETH
My name is Meredith Susan Bigmuscles (Codename: 'Smith', ID #69420) and I have been assigned to track all devices and accounts registered to the following subject:
NAME: Elizabeth Swann
LOCATION: Jacksonville, Florida
OCCUPATION: freelance material reconnaissance - suspected black market operative
Subject under special surveillance due to recent browser history inquiries: 'how to bury a body and not get caught', 'how much are different bones worth', and 'how to hide your search history from the FBI'.
Subject has been sitting in front of her laptop for the past 14 hours. She currently has 31 tabs open on her browser, two of them playing music, and is watching a YouTube video on a third. I am unsure if she keeps a regular schedule or what she is trying to achieve. She has had 4 cups of coffee in the past hour and received 7 text messages since surveillance began at 0100, all of which she glanced at and did not respond to.
Nothing further of note. Smith out.
DAY 16, 1300
AGENT SMITH : SWANN, ELIZABETH
In nearly two weeks, the subject has demonstrated no observable schedule. She remains easy to track - there is always a camera in front of her face (laptop or front-facing phone camera) - but has not left her house since surveillance began. Her sleep schedule remains non-existent, and diet consists of whatever is closest and takes the least amount of time to prepare. Her search history continues to be made up of mostly concerning phrases; my favorite from last week was 'how much blood do humans have but not in a creepy way'. I know we aren't supposed to draw conclusions, but this one may be harmless.
She's back in front of her laptop. The bags around her eyes have gotten a bit bigger since yesterday. I am now sending her a pop-up ad for a non-prescription sleep aid. Maybe one for dry shampoo, too.
...It appears as though she has an ad-blocker installed on this browser. More investigation will be required.
Nothing further of note. Smith out.
DAY 69, 0500
AGENT SMITH : SWANN, ELIZABETH
Okay I double-checked with Turner in IT - absolutely nobody is reading these updates. What the hell is the point, then? Why am I even being forced to spy on someone classified as a 'non-threatening entity'?? Are we intentionally wasting government resources now???
I'm worried about Ms. Swann. (It feels too formal to refer to her as 'the subject' now, but too informal to call her by her name.) It looks like the majority of her searches are for her writing. She has purchased some suspicious things, it's true, but based on her secret Twitter account I think she's just really into antique cosplay. She makes different pieces for her Etsy store, but it isn't doing so well. Oh, and she's been working on this really cool custom coat - hand embroidered! - for some regional festival. The colors are beautiful, they go so well with her complexion. Yep, that's not a weird thing to notice.
This isn't creepy, right? Like, this is specifically my job. I'm not just documenting her every move because I WANT to - that is what criminals do, which is specifically who we try to stop. It's my job! But...as a woman, I know I'd feel creeped out if I was being spied on. I'll hack one of her Tumblr mutuals to share a post about webcam safety. I know what she looks like, and her routine (not that she has much of one) is stable enough. I'll just stick to browser activity, texts, emails, and location tracking for now. Head office won't know the difference, and I'll feel better knowing she has her privacy.
Nothing further of note. Smith out.
DAY 118, 1200
AGENT SMITH : SWANN, ELIZABETH
She just posted a photoshoot of her dressed up as her D&D character on Facebook. The coat looks as good as I thought it would, it compliments her perfect bright red hair and purple eyes and midnight skin. She's perfect.
Oh. Oh no, she's hot. This is so ethically wrong and I am a horrible human. I have to quit, don't I??
No, I can't. If I quit, she gets passed to somebody else. It could be that pervert, Jack. UGH. No, I have to keep this up. I have to protect her. I don't think she's noticed the few extra donations on her Patreon recently, so I know she's okay financially. I can't physically protect her (but if I had contact I totally could because I have super strong muscles). Legally, this is the most I can do. I checked.
Nothing further of note. Smith out.
DAY 271, 1200
AGENT SMITH : SWANN, ELIZABETH
I fucked up. I made contact.
And she responded.
It's not my fault! She's been texting her mom about how lonely she feels, and her Spotify mixes have gotten so angsty. I didn't actually think she'd respond to a complete stranger!! God, this woman is such a moron. I think I love her.
Nothing further of note. Smith out.
DAY 420, ??
AGENT SMITH : SWANN, ELIZABETH
I am so fired if anyone ever gets around to reading these. Golly, where to start.
Okay so it turns out that...she knew? She was being watched?? The whole time???? The webcam light was always on, and because I am an entire idiot I forgot to activate the proper program to run everything through so she could see what I was doing, too. But, because I'm the luckiest person on the planet, she was into it. Apparently there are memes about people's assigned FBI agents? Like they fully know about us. I knew it was stupid to name this division the Department of Invasive and Legally Dubious Operations, who the hell thought of that one????? (A/N: LOL I did! do you get it you guys? sorry I couldn't help it!! XD)
Anyway, we're dating now. We have been for a few months. Lizzy's Etsy shop has been doing really well and she has enough money to buy a boat. We're gonna go live on it and sail around the world. I work remotely so technically nobody will notice anything fishy about the whole situation, right?
If this were a story, this would be the laziest ending, huh. Whatever. It's real life. I'm Mary Sue Bigmuscles and I fell in love with the person the government told me to spy on. My life is even more perfect than it was before.
Nothing further of note. Smith out.
Chief Naughtical Correspondent Jenna Hay
Spongebob's vision blurred as he clung to the bathroom sink, feeling the bile rise in his chest.
I should have never agreed to that last drink, he cursed to himself, but dammit, Patrick could be so persuasive! Patrick had insisted that they celebrate, commemorating Spongebob's first day as head chef at the most renowned eatery in Bikini Bottom, the Blinding Pearl. Their afternoon rendezvous had kicked off with gusto and despite bar hopping for hours the momentum had yet to fade, leading to Spongebob's current predicament.
There's no way in halibut I'm driving my boat-mobile home tonight. Who's going to feed Gary his barnacle bites? Regret coursed through Spongebob as he braced himself against another wave of nausea.
"Well, wee-snaw stranger. We have ourselves a handsome filly here, don't we?" a silky voice purred. An impossibly gorgeous seahorse emerged from the last stall and pranced gracefully to the sink where Spongebob leaned helplessly. Up close he was able to see her features were immaculate, her finely groomed tail an indication of an affluent upbringing. Had he ever seen a female this breathtaking aside from Sandy, his betrothed?
"Who- Who are you?" Spongebob gasped, squinting through the alcohol induced haze.
"I'm Mystery. You might have heard of my father, Cornelius Krabs?" Mystery said, with a hint of smugness in her tone. "He's the mayor of Bikini Bottom."
"AND I'M DEBBIE!" A guttural voice erupted from the middle stall as a large, amoeba-like form hurled itself into the bathroom's walkway. Another seahorse, supposedly female, barreled toward them, fin outstretched expectantly. "NICE TO MEET YOU!" Spongebob winced at the sudden increase in volume as Debbie's horrific, cheese-grater voice reverberated throughout the tiled bathroom.
"This is my sister," Mystery said, with obvious disdain. "She's an idiot, but she's cool."
He weakly outstretched his hand and Debbie grabbed it, shaking it vigorously until the arm popped out of its socket. Mystery looked horrified. Debbie, who had closed her eyes in her unbridled joy, opened them and, upon seeing the disembodied arm, let out an unattractive yelp and aggressively heaved the arm across the bathroom. By the time both girls had returned their gaze to Spongebob, a new arm had taken its place.
"Sponge," he said feebly, to explain. They nodded but Debbie was visibly less energetic and seemed to back away slightly. At that moment another wave of nausea rolled over Spongebob and caused him to heave into the sink. As he turned, the bathroom's fluorescent light reflected off a metallic rectangle attached to Spongebob's dress shirt, causing a gleam to quickly appear and disappear. Mystery, observant as a seagull scouring for french fries, didn't miss this, and as she read the inscription on Spongebob's name tag, her lovely face broke into a sinister smile.
"Oh, we're aware of what you are. What I didn't know is that you're the new chef hired at my husband's restaurant." Mystery said, her melodic voice tinkling with laughter. "Just wait until Plankton hears his newest employee was caught drunk out of his mind... in the lady's restroom!"
The blood drained from Spongebob's spongey face as the sisters broke down into peals of laughter, Mystery's laugh an adorable snicker, Debbie's laugh akin to an active construction site. He couldn't believe his luck; all he'd needed was a moment in the bathroom alone. And now here he was, ruining his reputation before he'd had a chance to build one. Hot tears built in his eyes. He wouldn't let them see him cry. He couldn't let them take what little pride he had left.
"I- I'm sorry, I have to go!" Spongebob exclaimed. Pushing himself away from the sink, he wiped his chin and made an unstable dash for the door. The door swung open and Spongebob, before he could stop himself, collided directly into a hard, warm surface.
Why is this wall so chiseled? Spongebob thought. Suddenly, warmth encompassed Spongebob, and as he slowly regained his balance and his wits, he realized the source of warmth for what it was: a pair of rugged, pink arms encircled his shoulders, stabilizing him. The arms seemed familiar. He recognized the vague but unique scent as it wafted into his nostrils, a combination of pizza, roast beef, and chicken. Patrick?!
"Spongebob, I was so worried." Patrick said gruffly as he hugged Spongebob closer. Spongebob could smell whiskey on Patrick's breath. Apparently Spongebob was not the only one who had imbibed too much.
"I'm fine Pat, but listen, we have to leave!" Spongebob said urgently, struggling to loosen Patricks grip on his torso.
"No, stay like this." Patrick crooned, hugging him even tighter. Spongebob gulped. What had gotten into Patrick? Spongebob was filled with dread. Despite the circumstances, they didn't seem to be going anywhere soon.
Will Spongebob fulfill his dreams of being the best chef under the sea? Will every single one of his platonic relationships evolve romantically? Will Gary ever get his barnacle bites?? Stay tuned!*
*I will never write another chapter of this
How to Improve an Already Okay Work
Chief Classics Correspondent Wendy Fernandez
Earlier this week I decided to undertake an ambitious endeavor: rewriting Charles Dickens' classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities, in the context of 2020. I thought this would be witty, whimsical, and, unlike the original source material, concise.
Luckily for me, I didn't have much to edit in order to make my rewrite perfect. The original novel stands at 135,420 words long. Mine only at six:
It was the worst of times.
Now, I could go on to draw an elaborate comparison between pre-revolutionary France and our pre-election country, but instead let's talk about why the 1964 series Bewitched should've had rock n' roll in every episode.
First of all, they missed out on a great gag. Jalacy "Screamin' Jay" Hawkins released "I Put A Spell On You" in 1956, nearly a whole decade before Bewitched premiered. If Samantha cranked out a bop like that every time she used magic? Phenomenal. Not only does that song give me goosebumps for its sheer power alone, but we could have accepted Nina Simone into the ranks of witches. Today we are left only to assume she was a witch all along.
Secondly, Darrin is a very vanilla man. You're going to tell me that he worked in advertising, lived in New York, and still managed to be so blah? I refuse to believe it. His wife was a witch for christ's sake! He needed rock n' roll like he needed to relax. Obviously, Bewitched ratings plummeted once Dick York left the show; the switch to Dick Sargent was jarring for the audience. Giving Darrin a successful career, or at least a passing interest, in rock n' roll would help explain his sudden disappearance. He could've run off with Elvis, he could've been a groupie for the Rolling Stones, there could have been a whole story arc about Samantha's mother replacing Darrin with a warlock clone. More than that, it would've been a parallel to York's real-life addictions. Either way, an electric guitar would have come to the rescue.
Can you name a pairing better than Shakespeare and rock n' roll? Because I can't. Samantha's father, Maurice, was a time-traveling, Shakespeare-quoting warlock actor. In other words, my role model. Maurice deserved a bright red bass guitar and I will die on this hill.
Lastly, the precedent for musical witches has been set and it's basically a mandatory trope at this point. Winnifred Sanderson killed at the Halloween party, the Hex Girls were icons of the Australian desert, and what would Buffy and Willow be without the Bronze? I understand that the point of Samantha's character was to deny her witchood and play an ordinary human, but she had more sparkle in her nose than Darrin had in his life. OWN IT GIRL!
In conclusion, only sad people don't love a musical episode and rock n' roll is the way of the witches. Music is magic so let's put it on television.
The Bill's Not Alright (Newsworthy, Chapter 2)
Chief Chaos Correspondent Andrew Piotrowski
Author's note: For last week's recap, please see last week's newsletter. Duh.
We rejoin our adventurers exactly where they left off, which is usually how these things work. They just received their quest from Sildar Hallwinter: find the urgent undead threat in the Mere of Dead Men and eliminate it. The party then immediately set out to complete the quest. Alas, fate had to intervene. Hi, I'm fate. I reminded my dumbos that they should probably get even a single piece of information about the quest before venturing into a place only known to be teeming with murderous undead. Through the vessel of Lady Iana Dragonsbane, I warned them that heading into the Mere without any information would only mean giving Andrew one less thing to write about. Also Iana has a cool-ass bow and is strong as hell, which she demonstrated for them by obliterating an archery target from across the whole fuckin' town.
So they ventured into town to bother some townspeople who were just trying to close their stores for the night. Bill Torpedo vaguely coerced a twinky weaponsmith into lending him a frosty cool rapier; An bought a three-person tent with no inTENTion of letting anyone else sleep in it; Karhorn thought very hard about how to inconvenience the party with his wagon and decided the best option was a mini-wagon that would slow down their travel while also providing less utility ("But *hiccup* guysss," Matt sobbed, "I have to transport my 55-gallon reliquary that serves as my holy symbol TT.TT"). Finally, they grabbed a quick history lesson from a DILFy cleric. Apparently, the Mere was the former site of a huge battle, giving the land plenty of corpses to work with when a powerful lich died in the Mere and animated them. The daddy also noted a minor similarity between the recent attack of a young girl and an astronomy school that once existed in the swamp, whose all-girl student body was once besieged by vampire attacks. Armed with this new knowledge and a concerning number of MREs, our noble adventurers left town.
As the crew settled down for their first night of camp, the boys discovered that An was not kidding about not sharing her tent. Commence lots of Alex crying in the rain. I mean Bill. (Alex can't read italicized text; I was talking about Alex crying.) The boys took turns keeping watch, resulting in Karhorn almost getting cucked by a rock monster who was guarding a chest. Luckily, Karhorn decided to alt-F4 out of that fight and went back to bed. After their successful watches, An relented and allowed Bill into the tent as long as he promised not to exist any more than necessary.
The gang almost made it to the Mere without any terrible delays before they discovered the wreckage of a wagon caravan that was headed from Waterdeep to Neverwinter. Apparently attacked by a swarm of bullywugs, the survivors numbered few and many of them were injured. Bill nailed a stealth check to scare the shit out of them but saved the day by agreeing to escort them to the safety of Iblan Tur. Though they were attacked by a trio of quicklings (dodgy, chaotic-evil faefolk), the escort mission was successful and all of the players got +1 Good Citizen point, which can be redeemed at any fantasy Dairy Queen location for a mini Blizzard treat.
After that side quest, the trio decided they wanted to travel by montage to get back to where they were, and my ADHD compelled me to acquiesce (my ADHD also compelled me to mouth-harass a bottle of bourbon and make a whiskey/coke in my mouth as Alex looked on with desperate longing in his eyes). After a brief loading screen with a hot tip that said "Don't travel through the swamp at night, you idiots; zombies and vampires are stronger at night!" our favorite heroes entered the Mere of Dead Men. Before they made any decent headway, they were pounced upon by a group of bullywugs and trounced them with little trouble, but we decided to wrap it up for the night because we had to write for some stupid newsletter our friend publishes.
"Can I play Switchfoot on my lute to keep the vampires away?"
"Andrew, did you play Age of Empires?"
"No, I had sex."
"I didn't know your fucking donkey was carrying the Popemobile around."
Lube Up, Libertarian Bilbo: Reloaded
Chief Labor Correspondent Alex Speed
A gavel falls against a heavy mahogany desk, the crisp sound bringing order to a room of sweaty young men arguing over the finer points of local politics. All eyes are on the commanding face of Bilbo Baggins - his hobbit clothes freshly washed for the day's events. His hobbit hair tied back neatly, he looks like a miniature version of Ayn Rand's wet dream. He is a tiny man with a very big presence. He has a tiny hobbit head filled with ideas that could change the world.
"Say it with me everyone," Bilbo beckons.
"Fiscally conservative! Socially liberal!" The choir of tiny people rings out the swan song of Libertarians Of The Shire, the all-male group that meets every week to discuss politics and suits and to tell stories of varying degrees of truth.
Bilbo rears his head back in joyous laughter as he watches a nine-year-old hobbit absolutely pound pint after pint of sweet sweet full-alcohol ale. That is the nine-year-old's right! Huzzah!
"Thank you to everyone for taking time out of your very busy and successful lives to make it this week."
Grumblings of profits and meetings start to rise as soon as the word busy is said. It is important to let all the other hobbits know how busy and therefore successful and very libertarian you are.
"Things at the business factory have been very synergy this week!"
"Bilbo sure is looking spicy today, yeah?"
"Yes I had that meeting as well on Monday!"
"I'm afraid of my new neighbors but I don't know why!"
"Fiscally Conservative!" Bilbo cries out over the growing noise.
"Socially liberal!" the crowd echos back like a kindergarten room as they cease business-lying and listen attentively to their tiny leader.
"I wanted to update this fine group of free thinkers on an important issue. This week we finally got rid of that pesky law requiring people to obtain a license before operating any sort of heavy machinery and my very own infant nephew has been named the foreman of the mine! Huzzah for freedom!"
The crowd erupts in thunderous applause.
A beggar wanders in from the street after hearing the crowd cheering. He is hopeful the group of obviously wealthy hobbits will buy him a meal or spare a few coins with which to buy something other than rags.
As soon as he enters, the crowd averts its collective gaze in embarrassment. One brave libertarian hobbit approaches the beggar and hands him his business card (it is a small strip of parchment because hobbit) and says the beggar just needs to choose to not be poor and that capitalism will save him. He gives him a big smile and then orders himself the most expensive thing on the pub menu.
The hobbit beggar stares in disbelief as the suit wearing libertarian makes his way back to the table of equally rich hobbits. He stares longingly at them as the bartender passes him a small plate of bread and a pint of the cheap stuff.
"That Bilbo sure is something, isn't he Hobbit Bernie?"
"Sure is something."
The meeting goes on for about two hours as hobbit after hobbit gives testimony of all the great things capitalism has done for them, like make their wealth grow larger, and allow them to leave their wives and families for hotter younger wives, and to buy the nicest wagons available. Haha wealth in the face of poverty is so great and also fun. Huzzah!
After the meeting, Bilbo goes to the bar to close out. He always racks up a tab of around one hundred hobbit dollars and tips absolutely nothing because he doesn't have to because of some logic that honestly he doesn't even remember.
He tries his best to avoid eye contact with the beggar at the bar, but Hobbit Bernie is not being shy about deadass staring Bilbo down as he scribbles 0 on the tip line of his hobbit parchment receipt. Their eyes meet and Bilbo feels something starting to form in the pit of his stomach. A feeling he has never experienced. Empathy? Is that you? he thinks to himself as he pushes it down deep into his subconscious so he does not have to confront the human being in need holding eye contact with him.
I have no idea how to write fiction
I can only write songs and sad journal entries
I am on the floor hiding and I am so scared I don't understand fanfic at all
A Hard Man is Good to Vote
Chief Sin Correspondent Matt Spradling
"Oh, darling," Sonic groaned. He nuzzled her neck and gripped her shoulder. "You smell just like I remember."
"Oh, darling," Mae West breathed breathily, her back pushed into the wall and her leg raised to his side, "whisper in my ear what you want me to do."
His lips found her quivering lobe. "Make sure you're registered to vote."
Her eyes squeezed shut, grimacing in ecstasy. "Yes! I will! Only... I'm not sure I know how..."
"Oh yes you do," he said, turning her around and pinning her to the wall from behind, next to the door where they'd only entered in from the pounding rain moments before. "Tell me when the registration deadline is," he growled.
"October... 5th..." she whispered.
"OCTOBER 5TH!" she cried.
"Good girl," he said, but only gripped her tighter. He pushed her across the room and onto the sofa. She flushed deeper as he held her down by the neck. "And how do you confirm whether you're registered properly or not?"
"Oh darling," she moaned, "visit https://www.nass.org/can-I-vote/voter-registration-status or perhaps https://www.votetexas.gov/register/index.html to check it yourself!"
He pulled her up to her knees and pushed her forward against the curtained window, holding her head back by her luscious, curling hair. "And what if I don't want to go to quite that much trouble?"
"Oh darling," she grunted, her fingers splayed against the cold window.
"Go on, shout it. I don't care if your neighbors hear how registered you are. In fact I want them to know."
"Go to https://www.rockthevote.org/how-to-vote/am-i-registered-to-vote/ and they'll check for you!" she cried.
Moments later they writhed tangled on the rug, sweaty, clothes open disheveled. "You know what comes last," he said, collected despite his exertion. "How do you know what to do once you're finally at the ballot box?"
"Darling please!" She tensed. "Visit https://www.vote411.org/ to see what's on your ballot ahead of time and make a plan!"
"You can even write down on paper who you plan to vote for and take it with you so you don't have to memorize anything! Remember, no phones though!"
"That's all I need to know!"
Slowly they separated and collapsed beside each other. He spent a few moments stroking her hair as she slept, then rose to gather his coat and return to the night, responsibly informed.
Fanfiction // Collage // 2020
Chief Threat Correspondent Sam Strohmeyer
Dragon Broth for the Squire Soul: Reylo are Medieval Times Employees
Chief Conspirator Matt Spradling
"I don't care about the historical authenticity," Rey said. She'd had this argument a half dozen times before and couldn't believe this was the only excuse management had to offer up. "Servers are wearing glasses and kids are waving light-up plastic weapons. There are microphones and spotlights, for god's sake, is that really less immersion-breaking than the notion that an enterprising woman might work her way up to being a squire?"
Rick wasn't even pretending to listen to her anymore and continued filling out paperwork.
"Do you know how many queens England had? And we just stick with this guy." She gestured to Steven, the large, rotund man who portrayed the king at this location. He didn't look at her either, sitting blankly on the bench next to Mike like an obedient dog. She wished he held some actual sway; he'd be easier to intimidate.
"I majored in business, not history," said Mike. "Besides, I've told you, I don't actually make the rules. That's corporate."
"But you could say something."
Mike made a noise not dissimilar to a cat resisting being shoved into a carrier and began performing his paperwork with more vigor. That usually signalled the end of the interaction, but she was too annoyed to be done yet.
"You don't always follow the rules to the letter. You hired Kylo as a knight directly. All knights are supposed to start as squires."
That got Mike to look at her at least. "The kid was obviously a pro and wouldn't settle." He smiled, which was novel and unsettling. "You sure do bring him up a lot. Wonder why that is." Her stomach knotted at the vile implication. She rolled her eyes and left before saying something that would get her fired.
"Doesn't knight still only pay like $35k anyway?" asked Steven.
Rey was horrified to find herself blushing as she moved away through the morning cleaning and prep crew as quiet activity filled the souvenir court. Desperate to get out of sight, she headed straight through the nearest doorway. Underfoot, wood chips gave way to stone tile and faux electric torchlight dimmed. She tried to collect herself, staring down at her dumb, restrictive, costume shoes that felt like they might as well be wooden clogs. She'd never shown anything but contempt for him; why would anyone suspect any different?
She sighed and looked up to take stock of her surroundings. She'd wandered into the torture museum. Although Medieval Times was ostensibly a purely kid-friendly establishment, the crude wooden and iron devices lining this room always made Rey feel very uneasy.
"What brings you here?" She whirled around, startled. Someone else was there, facing away from her and gazing at the rack, hands stiffly held behind his back - a back built like a luxury refrigerator with long black hair falling carelessly over it. He wore a black t-shirt and performers' cheap, black tights. "I wouldn't have pegged you for a fan of this stuff."
"I'm not!" she said reflexively. "I'm just... flustered." They'd never actually spoken to each other. Was she really opening up about this? "Mike is being an asshole."
He turned his head to look at her, eyes dark and bored, for just a moment before returning to gazing at the rack. Paling, she felt thankful to avoid his continued scrutiny. "He is an asshole," he said. "He's weak. Easy to bend - if you know where to push."
"What do you mean?" She grew excited despite herself. "Blackmail? Is that how you got this job?"
A janitor came in. "Excuse me," he said, "I need to dust up and switch this trash." They did not move.
"Perhaps." Kylo turned to face her, looking amused, if only a little bit. "Why would you need information like that? And more importantly, why would I give it to you?"
"I'm no serving wench. I'm going to be a knight," she said. He laughed. "Is that funny?"
"Really, you two," said the janitor, "I just need to squeeze by for a sec to get to the..."
"I bet Mike thinks so," said Kylo. He glanced over the wall of clamps and saws and dirty looking implements. "But maybe you could be useful to me after all."
"You two know we open in like ten minutes right?"
Lights flashed and cheers sounded from the arena while the show began as it always did. In the staging area between the stable and the entry tunnel, the knights in full armor and various colored tabards lined up, preparing to ride out and perform. The blue knight held his plumed helmet against his hip while the yellow knight blew columns of thick vape clouds overhead, muttering about weekend plans and one of the more shapely stablehands.
In one secluded, shadowy corner, a group clad in black watched quietly. The show progressed until the time came for the black knight's henchmen to emerge and herald the villain to inevitable boos and jeers. "Remember," said the black knight through his visored helmet, "play it like normal for now. Tonight will be ours, but not until the time is right." His hand clenched within his leather glove. "Every night I get humiliated out there. Always the villain, always getting defeated and dragged away with wrists tied like a common thief. Tonight we finally rise and seize what is ours for the taking."
The henchmen murmured in agreement and moved to line up at the tunnel mouth, leaving the knight with his squire, who raised their visor furtively. "They're all imbeciles," said Rey. "Are you sure this will work?"
Kylo raised his visor and turned to face her. He had that typical, cocky look on his face. "We don't need them. That's why I trained you." With that he moved out to fetch his horse in time for his cue.
Rey sat down on a crate. She wasn't sure how to parse her feelings; excitement, nerves, arousal, fear. She'd never been a violent person, but she couldn't take anymore shit from this place. The loyalty she felt to Kylo had been so alien at first... but now felt so right.
His voice echoed from down the hall: "Ryan, you idiot, this isn't my horse!"
"Screw you, dude, they told me to prep Cherry. And your stupid cape is caught in your pants."
"You'll pay for that after tonight."
"What the fuck are you talking about?"
The show music had stayed on, although half the house lights had come up and the spotlight was no longer manned. Screams and the crying of children now filled the air; during the initial fighting, most had stayed seated, assuming the show was simply far more brutal and realistic-looking than they'd anticipated, but now there was no longer any denying that something far more sinister was happening.
Kylo stood atop the royal balcony, blood glistening on his black armor. He held the king by the scruff of his colorful tunic, dangling precariously over the edge where piles of wounded, bloodied knights and squires lay crumpled 20 feet below. The falcon circled the arena overhead.
King Steven, sweating profusely, said "What the fuck Kyle what the fuck are you doing this is a part time job what the fuck" but his words were cut off with a gasp as the arm keeping him from falling jerked him back upwards.
"That is NOT MY NAME," Kylo barked. He looked down to Rey, beside him. "Rey. You've done well." His voice was frayed at the ends. "I want you to finish it."
She knelt, watching their grueling, weeks-long efforts finally coming to fruition. She clutched her left forearm where the red knight had landed a direct and painful blow with his morningstar, but the dulled stunt weapons were never a true threat. A massive bruise had formed, but that would be the worst of it. Meanwhile, the same knight's blood splattered her leather jerkin, dark as wine, or cherry pie, or fake rubies.
She stood and took up her axe. This was the point of no return. But no, she thought, this isn't it at all. It had been the morning we kissed in the replica commode. Once she'd felt his arms around her, there was no turning back. And nothing she wouldn't do. For him; for their unborn dynasty; for their new kingdom.
As she stepped towards Steven, who now groveled on his knees, multiple men and women stood up in the audience and started shooting guns at them.
The last thing she saw as she was wheeled out of the arena on the gurney headed for the ambulance, paramedics pressing on her wounds and plugging IVs into her arm, was another team of first responders trying to pull off Kylo's massive, tangled pieces of armor to give him CPR. He wasn't moving. "This can't be how it ends," she spoke into her oxygen mask. "This can't..." and then she lost the will to live or something.
Ok so five minutes ago I went looking for Medieval Times images onto which I could get Sam to photoshop the faces of Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley for this, and about 20 entries down I saw fucking Adam Driver. SNL literally did a skit in which he is a Medieval Times knight who is way too serious and tries to kill the king.
I am so upset.
I didn't even think Medieval Times was that well-known. This is worse than in 2015 when I wrote like 15,000 words of a space-zombie novel until my brother told me that all of the near-future technology and worldbuilding I'd painstakingly crafted was pretty much exactly what The Expanse was currently doing, which I have therefore refused to watch out of spite. Oh and this very week I discovered that a Critical Role player rolled a Half-Orc Warlock cowboy which is very literally identical to the character I thought I'd been very original in coming up with like half a year ago. He's even 6'3 and from Dallas, which is only one inch and one city away from my origins.
Marina said I'm like a shitty prophet who can only see things that have already happened. So like, if you ever get stranded on a desert island without internet but with me, I'll be able to keep us up to date with popular culture.
Anyway I'm suing Lorne Michaels.
Chief Typeface Correspondent Andrew Piotrowski
There's never a great time to tell your mom that you're filing a lawsuit against a major television network. Matt thought that maybe during her birthday dinner might work, but even the two glasses of chardonnay didn't dampen her reaction to the news.
"MATTHEW GARY ELIZABETH SPRADLING." Every other patron in the restaurant tried desperately not to listen is something I would say if I was lying. The polite ones pretended not to, at least. They scraped silverware against empty plates and side-eyed the red-faced woman in the corner booth.
"What are you thinking?" she demanded of the tall, handsome young man sitting across from her. "NBC? You can't take the goddamn NATIONAL BROADCASTING CORPORATION to court! They'll crucify you!"
Nearby diners continued to not ignore the incredibly personal but increasingly loud conversation happening in the corner. Less fake silverware scraping now. The employees, of course, had already noticed that something was happening because every restaurant employee is more observant than every customer. However, the cozy ambiance of the restaurant persisted as if to spite the rising ire in the sophisticated corner of the sophisticated dining room.
There's never a great time to tell your mom that you're filing a lawsuit against a major television network.
To understand why Matt was filing a lawsuit against the National Broadcasting Corporation, we have to go back a few years. After that, you need to go forward about one year and ten months. The inciting incident was actually somewhat recent but a bit of background makes it make more sense.
Matt Spradling, a young writer of some renown, was spending his third decade the way one only reads about in fanfiction. His personal calendar was a litany of deadlines for high-profile authorial gigs and a complicated web of assorted trysts. Who could blame him? Every man, woman, nonbinary person and publishing company wanted a piece of Spradling, and they'd take any piece they could get. For the former three, it would be a quick date at whatever trendy restaurant was dark enough to be anonymous, followed by a rollicking night of not-so-tender lovemaking and a hasty goodbye at three in the morning. No one stayed in bed with Matt Spradling for long. At least not for free.
The latter, however, did not have a problem with Matt's exorbitant rates. Known for his quirk of charging by the word like writers of the olden days, Spradling managed to captivate his audience with the murk-filled mires of his wandering intellect while charging arms and legs to various publishing houses for each rambling passage. Every word was another dollar in his pocket, and if freelance wunderkind Matt had anything, it was willing sexual partners and words.
However, those that shine bright often shine most briefly. After a public scandal related to his promiscuity, the conservative-minded publishing houses in Matt's part of the country quietly stopped wanting anything to do with him. Since he notoriously refused to sign any contracts or work with a personal agent, this was a fairly painless project for the publishing houses and a strikingly painful experience for one young Mr. Spradling, who suddenly was forced with the prospect of having to self publish any future musing he hoped to put onto mass-market paper. Soon, his calendar had little room for dates as it was filled to the brim with meetings that were suddenly his and only his responsibility; meetings he was doomed to miss as his datebook also filled with a lot of entries that just said "binge drink."
Now, the aforementioned fast-forward by one year and ten months.
Matt, formerly a cult-favorite author of the dark and sexy brand of modern fantasy, had faded into a bit of obscurity. He had managed to self-publish a few novellas to support his lifestyle, but his name had no longer had the dropping power it once had. He had even had to venture from the comfort of his favorite genre, with some of his more recent works turning downright derivative. A recent novella, God forbid, he had written on commission from a former fan. Unthinkable. He had hardly wanted to put his name on it, but with the waning power his name carried, he couldn't justify his disdain. Thus came Dragon Broth for the Squire Soul, a work about characters from the newer Star Wars movie working at, of all places, a Medieval Times restaurant.
You read that correctly. Quietly disgraced Matt Spradling, who was once on track to become the next love-child of Douglas Adams and R.A. Salvatore, writing a glorified fanfiction about Kylo Ren and Rey working at a medieval themed period restaurant.
But money's money, and he wanted to take his mother to a nice restaurant for her birthday. So he took the commission.
One night, he sat down and made a reservation at a nicer restaurant in her neck of the woods; one of her favorites, the one with the handsome sommelier who touched her hand when he poured her a refill and the chef who wasn't afraid to slip an extra scallop onto your plate if you were one of his favorites. Ah, the intrigue of Fort Worth's criminal underbelly.
He clicked to confirm the online reservation and opened a new tab on Chrome. He tch'd with annoyance at the browser's new feature embedded onto the New Tab page, courtesy of Google owning every other website that matters. It showed a link to a YouTube video and Matt almost immediately clicked away from the sight when he saw something that made him knock his glass of whiskey to the ground in his haste to whip the cursor onto the video.
The thumbnail showed a serious-faced Adam Driver in some kind of knight's regalia, with a serious look upon his handsome brow, surrounded by the usual cast of Saturday Night Live's comedians. Matt's eyes flicked to the corner of the video and confirmed the SNL logo; so, this was a recent skit by the long-running NBC skit show. His alcohol-addled brain was fighting to make the connection until the angry spark ignited somewhere behind his left eye; Kylo Ren in Medieval Times. Adam Driver playing a knight in the restaurant. Rage began to rise inside him as the gear finally began to turn.
That thrice-damned, venomous snake and long-time producer for Saturday Night Live. Matt had taken a meeting with him a few weeks before in one of his more sober moments. The young writer was trying to throw what little weight he had to perhaps score a regular writing gig for one of Michaels's NBC projects. TV writing, while not the beacon of high fantasy Matt was accustomed to lighting, was regular work, and regular work is what buys middle-shelf whiskey and sexual performance medication.
How could Matt ever take this slight sitting down? He stood up and almost immediately fell back into his IKEA office chair, noting as he steadied himself how the level of the whiskey was approaching the bottom of the label. In spite of this, he needed to take action. Damn that Michaels; Matt was already scraping the bottom of the barrel of success and Michaels still sought to deny him those scrapings. But what could be done? Lorne Michaels had been a household name in Hollywood for decades, while Matt had been a successful writer for only a few years and that time already seemed behind him.
Perhaps it was just the single-malt, but a plan began organizing itself in Matt's mind. What if he could spin this to his advantage? A young, attractive, blue-eyed and American writer sparks outrage by accusing the illustrious SNL creator of intellectual property theft. The case would never make it to a courtroom, and NBC would probably laugh it off. But Matt still had enough influence left to turn it into a hullabaloo; he could make it impossible for NBC to justify the cost of the fight against this young upstart. The social media boom alone could be enough to rocket his name back into fame, and if not fame, perhaps even notoriety would suffice . At best, maybe he could even find another writing gig (which, he thought, he would solidify in legal documentation this time around) with royalties from the SNL skit as the cherry on top. Matt had very little to lose but oh so much to gain. With that, he brewed a pot of coffee and awoke to the fire alarm informing him that he had blacked out and forgotten to turn off the coffee pot.
Ah, well. He aired out the loft and put the scorched glass pot into the sink to soak, which is a gentle euphemism for "store until you give up on washing it and throw it away." Now he had a birthday dinner to get ready for in a few days. His mother, famous Fort Worth property lawyer Teri Spradling, would need some convincing before she'd agree to represent him.
And now you've caught up, dear reader. During the flashback, Mrs Spradling had a moment to gather herself. She calmed down, smoothing her blouse and tucking one ankle behind the other. After all, she didn't become one of Fort Worth's most respected lawyers by losing her cool.
"Son. You have to understand that this is completely absurd. Not only are you demonstrably unlikely to win this case, I doubt a judge will even entertain it. You're not gonna get laughed out of court, you're gonna get laughed out of the county clerk's office before you make it to a courtroom. Besides that, I think you may have forgotten: I am a PROPERTY lawyer, not an INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY lawyer. You're barking up the wrong tree in the wrong park and also you're a squirrel and squirrels don't bark."
Matt leaned back and laced his fingers behind his head, trying to pretend that he didn't just get reamed in front of a roomful of casual Italian eatery patrons. "I know, Mom. That's what I'm trying to explain to you, if you'll let me get a word or two in."
"You know it's my job not to let any words in."
"Nonetheless, may I?"
Teri Spradling crossed her arms and silently nodded her head, giving him permission to go on.
"Thank you. I fully understand that this is not some court drama where we're gonna appear in front of a judge and make our cases with lots of finger pointing and graphs and objections-" he stopped here to slam his fist on the table and point emphatically at the middle distance as if objecting to the decorative jar of dried fettuccine in a nearby alcove "-but I still think we can put together a reasonable sounding presentation that will at least get us in a private meeting with a judge and the network's representation."
Teri shook her head in defiance. "To what end, sweetie? What do you even hope to accomplish with this?"
"I want to matter again."
Shocked into silence, Teri tried to meet her son's eyes but his gaze seemed fixed on something that only he could see. "Matthew Spradling, don't you ever say that you don't matter. Of course you matter."
With a fire in his eyes, Matt looked up at her. "I matter to you, and Dad, but who else? I had a life and a career, and I lost it because some old white men in offices decided they didn't like the way I was living my life. Oh, sure, they all just said they wanted to go in different directions, but I know what that means. I refused to sign contracts and agree to decency clauses and non-competes because I wanted to do what made me happy, and what made me happy was being whatever I wanted.
"I don't want to be confined now just like I didn't wanna be confined then. But because I tried to insist upon my own freedom to be an adult with a life, they greylisted me and now no one thinks I'm worth working with. In fact, it would seem they think I'm worth stealing from but not working with. All I want to do is prove that they've made a mistake by A) fucking with me and B) not appreciating my work when I was offering it to them. And sure, I might have to sign a contract now, or compromise the kind of work I do, but I miss writing. I miss meeting fans and seeing the debate about what means what in my writing.
"I know I matter to my friends and family but the great Out There? I want to matter to Them." He stopped to grab her hands on the table. "Mom, please."
Mother stared at son for a few beats before squeezing his hands. "What do we need to do?"
I don't know what kind of horrible author would bore a reader by going into minute detail about the process of filing an intellectual property claim to a federal civil court. Essentially, you have to submit a claim with the record of copyright and suitable evidence that the copyright was violated and the violation does not fall under Fair Use laws. There's no nonsense about "mailing a copy to yourself" because that's not how you register a copyrighted work in the United States. More importantly, none of that matters.. The Spradling legal team didn't particularly care about winning this case, which is a delightful advantage in litigation that Teri couldn't quite admit she was excited about.
Matt, luckily enough, still knew a few contacts from his publishing days who knew how to stir up a social media storm. A few well-placed tweets, an anonymous submission to a web news site that isn't particularly picky about its sources, and soon enough "#MattWasRobbed" was trending on Twitter and Instagram and Republicans were defending Lorne Michaels on Facebook, which is generally how you know something has gone viral.
I'd love to say there was a satisfying ending to this story, so I'm half-pleased, actually. However, let's start with the fact that Teri Spradling did not even get to the point of submitting the copyright claim before Michaels publicly apologized on Twitter, and someone showed Matt because he doesn't use Twitter. Lorne acknowledged that, while the SNL skit had nothing to do with Star Wars or anything Matt wrote about, he couldn't definitively remember where he got the idea for Adam Driver to work at Medieval Times so it's entirely possible that was something he gleaned from Matt's idea and forgot about.
He later got an email from a network ambassador at NBC saying that, while they had no reason to give him any royalties from the skit and how would they even calculate the royalties for kind of inspiring one skit on one episode of a show that's been running weekly since the seventies, they would love to talk with him about coming in as a guest writer for an episode.
In the end, Matt still doesn't own the @MattSpradling Twitter, and he had to settle for MattGSpradlingg on Instagram, but he has quite a few more followers than he did before and a lead into a consistent writing gig. Finally and most importantly, a few weeks after all the hub-bub died down, he finally had sex again for the first time in months. The end.
No more youtube links because formatting is hard BUT, as requested by a real person other than me, there is now a cumulative office chart spotify playlist for issues 21-29 and wow it's 5 hours long so let's also start a new one beginning with this issue. Give it a go because this week's is actually fantastic.
Wrong for Life - Pearce the Band
Have you ever been driving down a winding country road through tall evergreen trees and every now and then the sunset peeks through the gaps in the trees and you're hit with a moment of warmth before returning to the plaintive silence you were living with before? This is the song you're listening to on that imaginary drive. With the line "My vision's blurred from staring at sunsets in my rearview," the heart-stealing lead singer drives a stake into the heart of trying to respect the past while accepting that it wasn't the best for you. -Andrew
Retrograde - James Blake
This is my go-to song for when I want to not only cry in the shower but also jam in the shower. -Marina
All My Friends - LCD Soundsystem
This is kind of like the Peanuts theme song but once Charlie Brown has graduated from school in New York in the early 2000's and hung around until he was 30 and a little disillusioned. It's kind of a lament about fomo and missing your friends, so, appropriate, but also a celebration of the times you have spent with them. LCD Soundsystem are the masters of songs that are weird at first and last like 7 minutes but are absolutely worth the buildup, and this one has an extremely satisfying finale. -Matt
Sweet Avenue - Jets To Brazil
I had the very distinct honor of playing at a good friend's very small wedding this weekend in Alabama. This was their first dance song and I had never heard it before. It made me cry on the plane, in the rental car, at the lake-house, and in my bed in Montana. It is a beautiful expression of the very human feeling of learning about yourself through being in love. "Budding at my fingertips // touching you I start to bloom." Just give it a listen and remember the distinct joy of being in love. -Alex
Evergreen - Yebba
It's like going to church but in song form. -Jenna
Video Games - Trixie Mattel
Okay so I know that I just brought Trixie onto the office chart a few weeks ago, but she just released this cover of "Video Games" by Lana Del Rey that quite frankly blows Lana's canceled ass right out of the water. Trixie's dedication to the autoharp is so unique, especially among modern musicians. The song sounds like it was written for her. -Andrew
Rush - Aly & AJ
You are an 11-year-old girl. You see Twitches for the first time on the Disney Channel. You feel a magical destiny calling out to you. You know deep in your heart that you have a twin sister. You go on the Neopets message boards to ask who is really into the sun, because you're really into the moon and you might be twins who were separated at birth even though you look like both of your parents and you probably weren't adopted. You are ultimately disappointed, but at least this song is still a bop. -Marina
Severed - The Decemberists
This came out in what, 2017? A Portland-based and very progressive bunch, I can see how The Decemberists would be a looked-to source of musical inspiration during a period of dark political turmoil. This is my least favorite Decemberists album and we can't always get what we want. Still fun though, and this song is a b@p. It reminds me of a period when all of this hadn't fully set in yet, and everyone was saying shit like "oh, well, despite all the deaths and losses of human rights and general progress a Trump presidency will inevitably cause, at least the art will be good, right?" But what we quickly learned was that when any organization weaponizes misinformation, satire unfortunately ceases to have any tangible impact. SNL, anti-The-Man music, whatever, is incapable of affecting anything because that only works when the subject in question is held to typical standards of decency, honor, and shame. So I guess this is part bop and part relic of the most recent of bygone eras in which there was hope of retaining any sense of normalcy in spite of it all. -Matt
Alaska - Maggie Rogers
Um. Excuse me? Why did no one force me into a chair and play me Maggie Rogers' tiny desk concert on loop for two hours? Why did I just found out about this incredible artist YESTERDAY? As a songwriter and musician this song makes me furious. Her songwriting and soundscape abilities combined are the most intimidating thing I have listened to since Twin Fantasy. If you, like me, were late to the Maggie Rogers train it is very much time to hop aboard. -Alex
Banner - Carson Ellis for The Decemberists' "I'll Be Your Girl"
"Knigi" - Aleksandr Rodchenko [this is an interesting read about it and him] oh and then I had Sam defile it
Dom et al. - dominos.com & boxed wine
Sam's collage - in the dirt beneath the roots of an aspen stump amongst the leaves beneath the snow all flecked with blood where yesterday a mouse was killed by talons sharp beneath the sun obscured by cloud but not by time if just for now