Issue 31 - 10/01/20
- On Grief (and Hope)
- Sober October
- Poem: You Are Allowed To Stop
- Candle Scent Descriptions by Jenna
- I Lived Through an Entire Gothic Romance While Playing Among Us
- Blight in August (Newsworthy, Chapter 3)
- I Commit a Ramen Sin
- Dear Sam
- Office Chart
On Grief (and Hope)
Chief Apocalypse Correspondent Sam Strohmeyer
Life seems sometimes like nothing more than a series of losses, from beginning to end. That's the given. How you respond to those losses, what you make of what's left, that's the part you have to make up as you go. - Katharine Weber
Hope is my duty; it is what my inherent dignity demands of me. - Austin Channing Brown
One evening a few weeks ago I went with Matt and my co-worker/podmate Lisa to liberate my desk chair and other supplies from our abandoned office at UT Austin. It's looking like we won't be working on campus again for, well, a while, so it was time to give my butt some relief from sitting in a wooden kitchen chair for approximately eight hours a day. That night I walked into an office that I have worked in for nearly four years but hadn't been to in six months.
I woke up around 7:00 am on March 13, 2020 to two texts from my employer. The first, sent around 5:00 am, said that we should all definitely come into work today. The second, sent around 6:00 am, said that the university was closed due to the, you know, suddenly very real pandemic.
God, do y'all remember when all of this was fresh? When uncertainty was a new part of our day-to-day? I went to campus that morning, full of adrenaline, and grabbed my laptop, a few supplies, and my lunch leftovers from the day before. It was eerie then, hurrying around the dark and deserted office, but that was nothing compared to walking into Calhoun Hall in September.
We've all been through a lot this year. At different points I've been depressed and lethargic, furious and irritable, and anxious. BOY have I been anxious. All the time, actually. But walking into CAL 528 and seeing the cardigan that I forgot I owned but once wore every day resting on the back of my chair, the dishes still drying in the rack next to the sink, the posters I designed for events that never ended up happening, and the invoices in my mailbox from businesses that have since closed due to the economic downturn plunged me right into grief.
I am beyond lucky to still have my job and to live with a partner I love and to be paying my rent and to not have lost anyone, directly or indirectly, to COVID-19. I try to focus on that as much as I can and remember that most are feeling this year harder than I am. But then I'm suddenly reminded of the life I used to lead. The one where I put on a dress every day and got on the bus and said hello to my smiling co-workers. I walked through hallways crowded with students and shook hands with esteemed scholars and went to the farmer's market on the weekend. I shared bags of chips with friends at the lake and pet dogs at the park and babysat for friends. Now when I watch TV I can't help but startle when the characters lean close to one another.
I was tired of walking into my closet and being surrounded by business casual clothes I won't be wearing anytime soon so I gave them away. They didn't fit, anyway. I don't even have the body I had in the before times and I don't know if I ever will again.
I piled my office chair high with cans of sparkling water that were going to expire (yes, expire) before people would once again be attending meetings or events in person and rolled it to the elevator, talking with my co-worker the whole time and knowing we were both overwhelmed with the feeling that this - taking these things home - was a big deal. Hauling our plants and candy dishes and pen holders out to Matt's waiting jeep was sad. It felt like giving in. I guess that's kind of what grief is, right? Acknowledging there has been a loss. Stumbling across campus with our arms full of our stuff felt like losing.
Blocking my family on social media because of their vile, racist views, after months of trying to talk them out of their ignorance and hate, felt like losing.
Realizing I was never going to get through to them because that would require them to love and respect me in the first place, which they ultimately didn't, and realizing those relationships were truly over, was a loss.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death was another loss, one that went straight to my chest and was accompanied by more fear than I have felt in a very long time.
And then the police officers who murdered Breonna Taylor in her bed escaped justice, and that is a loss in more ways than I can describe here, for all of us, especially her community, after everything they have endured on top of her death.
There is so much to grieve. There is so much to be grateful for. I feel overcome with both as I'm writing this.
I'm trying to hold on to that quote by Katharine Weber at the top. Life is full of loss. It was for our great grandparents and their great grandparents before them. All I can gather, after listening to people much wiser and more vulnerable than myself, is that we have to have hope. As Austin Channing Brown reminds us, it is our responsibility, to ourselves and to one another, to have hope. We have to grieve our losses and then we have to have hope so that we can fight for one another and we really have to do both at the same time.
I'm still working on it.
Chief Culture Correspondent Alex Speed
Have you seen this? Have you heard about this? A rhyming title for a month of no alcohol? If you are a longtime reader of newsletter (hey mom) then you know my whole schtick here is to get tequila-drunk the night before articles are due and crank out what can only be described as "sad funny haha's." I regret to inform the readers of newsletter that this will be my last tequila-driven tirade into the dark underworld of Alex Speed's psyche for the next month. As everyone knows, Sober October begins October first and I have decided to do that thing. This is of course because Joe Rogan told me the only way to have a hot sexy bod is to stop drinking for the month leading up to peak spooky time.
Honestly though this does feel like a break from tradition. Gone are the nights of Matt threatening to send his cat to murder me if I don't spew out some absolute genius level bullshit about Cuba or getting lost in the woods. I guess this is growing up?
Let's change gears and talk about exhaustion.
The experience of working a full-time job while also working completely remote while also also watching your friends quit their jobs or get fired is a pretty strange experience. I truly don't know where to project my own thoughts and opinions because arguing points of labor seem obtuse and uninformed in the wake of your close friends (who are just as capable and often times much smarter than you) ceasing to be employed. It really brings about the questions of employable skills and the horrible machine of the capitalist enterprise?
I just ran away with my comfortable work-from-home situation.
I sought refuge in the mountains of Montana.
I was able to leave behind my already comfortable life in Austin for my dream situation of mountain summits and craft beers in a place less populated than the fringe towns along I-35.
However even that was not enough to escape the monotonous exhaustion of maintaining a productive work week while 200K+ Americans die in a pandemic and watching two men argue the points of seemingly meaningless party affiliation. I quit smoking about a year ago and never have I been more tempted to buy a pack of Camel Reds than after the debate.
I think it ties into a feeling we are all sort of collectively sharing the burden of - the feeling of watching a system crumble around you while you frantically scramble to be a part of its begrudging life support.
The extreme imagery is meant to convey how fucking tired I am.
So I don't think it's a coincidence that this is the alliteration-addled time to step away from the crutch of sweet sweet tequila sodas. I think now more than ever is a good time to step away from numbing yourself on a nightly basis. It is so much harder to be present and aware than it is to partake in fun alcoholism that seems like a sort of pass on cultural awareness. I personally will be using this month of sobriety to observe what is going on in my community and how I can be a positive influence (and to get fucking yolked as hell, nerds) or at least what a good start would look like.
Obviously I am a person with many many flaws, but I hope we all are at least able to take a month or two a year devoted to finding real ways to be better versions of ourselves.
Poem: You Are Allowed To Stop (and Wait a Moment To Let People Go by So That You Don't Have To Force People To Squeeze Past You at an Unsafe and Uncomfortable Proximity Because You're Walking Down the Street and Someone Else Is Walking in the Same Direction on the Other Side of the Street When You Could Just Move Over and Be Behind Them and Make the Other Side of the Road Safe To Use for People Going the Other Way - The New Single by Fall Out Boy)
Chief Crossing Guard Matt Spradling
When venturing amidst the humid heat
You will be forced at times to cross the street
If other people also share this path
You should responsibly perform this math:
If one plus one means death by viral phlegm
Perhaps you should devise a stratagem
By which you can avoid collision course
With every goddamn woman, man, and horse
A pattern has appeared so it would seem
Data recorded daily by the ream
Pedestrians around me proud and tall
Are no more self-aware than a sex doll
We are not fixed to tracks like Thomas train
Nor are we hurried forth by threat of pain
So if someone is on a one-way path
For fuck's sake move (and also take a bath)
Candle Scent Descriptions by Jenna
Chief Olfactory Correspondent Jenna Hay
My first sexual awakening occurred on the toilet while reading the back of an Herbal Essences shampoo bottle. Reading shampoo bottle descriptions was how I'd pass my time in the restroom, and sometimes I would blush and get all tingly because of how erotic the descriptions would get. Seriously, we're talking R-rated imagery - your hair will be sensually and silky smooth? Let me lather you?? Voluptuous bounce??
Fast forward 16 years and I'm at college in Marketing Principles 101 and I'm learning that my shampoo bottle wasn't selling me good old fashioned hygiene at all, it was selling me sex, and that's totally a normal tactic marketers use when describing things they want to sell. Once I learned everyone in America is totally okay with being advertised experiences that have zero relevance to the product, I knew that crafting these deceitful descriptions would be my calling.
Fast forward to now, and I'm on a candle-buying binge because 'tis the season to smell like your favorite Starbucks latte. It's no secret that over the past few years the candle industry has gone completely off the rails. And I am HERE for it. They've turned everything into a scent. Salted Caramel Crème Brulee? Yes. Sheppard's Pie? Of course. Disappointing Gender Reveal? You got it. I love filling my home with smells of dessert and uncomfortable life events.
But what if in the future shopping in real-life stores isn't a possibility? How will we know which candles to buy if we can't give them a big in-person whiff? What if we can only view them online and imagine? Until someone invents an app for mobile scratch n' sniff, us aroma enthusiasts are going to have to solely rely on a marketing employee's ability to accurately describe candle smells.
Jenna "AP History" Hay knows a healthy job market when she sees one. Since candle scent description writing is a capitalistic endeavor on the rise, I'm practicing writing descriptions now so that I don't get left in the economic dust. Not again. Get woke.
Below are all the candles I bought last week. Read and smell them for yourself.
"Manly Indulgence: Vintage Oak" - Target
This candle captures the warm, rich essence of hauling a full-grown redwood tree on your bare, bronzed, excessively muscled back. Woodsy notes laced with subtle hints of brisket and sweat from your own brow create an exotic musk that reminds you of Ernest Hemingway's beard but not his books because reading is for nerds. Hazy notes of smoke and firewood compliment the discrete fragrance of suppressing your deepest emotions. This scent is so indulgently manly and strong and whiskey and hard rock and flannel and craft beer and chest hair. For his pleasure.
"Strelitzia" - World Market 70% Off Aisle
The fragrant combination of sugar cane, damp moss and tart berries evokes imagery from your most recent jungle adventure. Wait, what's that sound? It's the contagious giggle of your first-born child. You're starring in the Disney remake of the movie Tarzan. That child you just heard is infant Tarzan and you're the forgettable father figure. What, now what's that sound? Phil Collins. He's here, holding you. His sweet yodel gently tickles your ears and, oh god, you're both throttled by a panther. Aromatic notes of cedar and bird poop make this a soothing candle to burn as you die a slow, painful death and think wistfully of England.
"Sweet Pea Honeysuckle" - World Market 70% Off Aisle
Okay, no, this candle smells suspiciously like "Strelitzia". I am not an expert on plants, but I know for a gosh darn fact that strelitzia is not the same flower as honeysuckle. Just now I triple-sniffed both candles with my eyes shut, and I even cleansed my scent palette each time by shoving ice cubes up my nose. Same freaking smell. This is an outrage. If I ever become friends with a botanist, I can never confidently burn this candle around them because they will know I'm living a lie and I will be disgraced. In my own HOME. Is that what you wanted for Christmas, World Market? A friendless, disgraced customer?? Me and my high-class nose are on to you. Aromatic notes of lies and deceit.
"Jasmine Gardenia Petals" - World Market 70% Off Aisle
Exactly what you think this would smell like, with a contemporary twist of smelling exactly the opposite of what you think this would smell like.
Frosty Air Air Glacial - Michael's Clearance Rack
Double the air-to-candle ratio in this icy, scentastic experience. Overpoweringly strong aromas of mint and blue raspberry sting your nostrils when you inhale, giving you internal frostbite but in a good, relaxing way. The myriad of aromas reminds you of Christmas but in biblical times, so respectful notes of frankincense and myrrh layered with a hint of redemption which also smells like mocha. One of our best selling fragrances.
I Lived Through an Entire Gothic Romance While Playing Among Us
Chief Passion Correspondent Marina Martinez
According to vocabulary.com, a gothic romance is defined as "a romance that deals with desolate and mysterious and grotesque events." It's a very specific genre of work that spanned a short period of time between the 18th and 19th centuries, predominantly in England, and dealt with death, sadness, and horror being intertwined with the typical components of a romance novel. The two-year old but now suddenly viral game Among Us has the potential to meet these requirements nearly perfectly.
For the uninitiated, Among Us is a deceptively simple hidden role game that takes place on a spaceship. Here's an excerpt from the game's developer, Innersloth:
One crewmate has been replaced by a parasitic shapeshifter. Their goal is to eliminate the rest of the crew before the ship reaches home. The Impostor will sabotage the ship, sneak through vents, deceive, and frame others to remain anonymous and kill off the crew.
So we have the creepy setting, the elements of betrayal, horror and suspense...now we just need the romance.
Well buckle up, because yesterday I introduced half of my D&D group to Among Us and we accidentally created the perfect gothic romance story in just under three hours.
So Sam (Sam), Matt (Kernel) and I (Gimli) started a room. Just the basic map, recommended settings. We had between 4-7 random people join us for each game, and they caught on pretty quickly. We were overjoyed when other folks started playing repeat games with us - Snix and Potato bonded with us in particular. And, for some reason, Potato and I developed a bond that went beyond anonymous internet friendship. We fell in love in a hopeless place (our game room).
I did not capture the exact moment when Potato proposed marriage to me, but Sam captured our agreement to have a spring wedding:
(Some people in the lobby thought this was weird for some reason):
There was also some confusion about the spring wedding itself. One person shouted that it was Fall, so how could we have a Spring wedding? We gently explained that time, unbelievably, is still passing, so the wedding would occur in the future. I love explaining the passage of time to strangers on the internet, don't you?
Anyway, after several games, it became clear that my cyan avatar was extremely sexy to murder aliens, because I kept getting killed within the first minute of a game. (Yes, this was absolutely because I kept running right to the dark murder room aka 'Electrical' but I will choose to believe it was for sexy reasons instead.) My new fiancé did not take the news well, and Matt offered his services in their time of need:
It was disheartening for everybody. They had all already RSVP'd to our spring wedding, and we were stuck in a sci-fi horror time-loop where the bride kept getting eaten by an alien parasite.
One round, Potato tried to avenge me. They were not successful:
Everyone loves a good love story, even in the darkest of times. Even the Imposters who kept killing me:
It was perfection. I was in heaven - metaphorically, because physically I was still a ghost doomed to float around the spaceship doing my tasks until the game was over. I never wanted this tragically perfect game to end. But like all perfect things, especially in a gothic romance, they did in fact end in the worst possible way.
We played one final round. I'd made it through the last round alive, so I had my fingers crossed for this one. There were two Imposters on the ship; one of them, a fool, was found out almost immediately. I ran around desperately, palms sweating in my cyan space suit, trying to connect wires and empty trash chutes before it was too late. When I'd finally done it, we assembled in the Cafeteria for an emergency meeting. Unsuccessful, one Imposter still among us. The meeting was adjourned; I turned to my Potato for comfort. It was then that it happened.
My darling fiancé Potato MURDERED ME AND THEN LEFT:
In that moment I truly felt like the Corpse Bride - killed by my fiancé and left at the altar, never to love another. Our friends witnessed our entire relationship from beginning to end, torn apart time and time again by death and deception, and eventually destroyed forever by the fact that their mom probably made dinner or something.
Potato, if you are out there, I miss you already. Thank you for the memories, my love. I'll see you at our spring wedding. 👰🥔
Blight in August (Newsworthy, Chapter 3)
Chief Viscera Correspondent Matt Spradling
Welcome, 'tis I, Karhorn Prius, your favorite wagon salesman-dwarf, cool uncle, and relatable youth minister who seduces you into giving your heart to the service of Henriford, the truest - if least known - god. I'm back with my cohorts, this time with a third accent in as many sessions, this time profoundly Bavarian.
As you'll recall - and please see the previous issue if your recall is experiencing delays - Karhorn And The Jets (our party which is named this which we all agreed on I think) had just been ambushed in the swamp by bullywugs which I like to think of as Slippy from Starfox. After cleaning the amphibian guts off of my battle axe and taking their tongues as trophies in order to seem inscrutable and magical to my party members but ultimately for no reason, we set off once more into the Mere of Dead Dwarves.
After happening upon a relatively clear path leading vaguely towards our destination, more and more decaying bodies began to pop up, creating a general ambiance of spook and sparking a non-zero number of rounds of fuck-marry-kill. The lizard-woman remained as huffy as ever and the lad, Billiam, squeamish and sad. Hauling my miniature wagon by hand continued to be difficult but worth it in order to keep my massive, throbbing reliquary on-hand.
Eventually this grim, cadaver-bedazzled path arrived at an expansive and dilapidated building. Falling to me knees and making myself receptive to the whispers of Henriford, I sensed a hidden entrance to the East, and my communion with the lord was so powerful that An, the brutish barbarian, was able to sense it as well and find the door before I had even ended my prayer. Such is the lot of the pious cleric: when you've done well, it often will not seem as though you've done anything at all.
Inside the round-walled entryway, Billiam elected to play his lute to test the acoustics. I haven't much understanding of such artistry, but the notes returned to his ear caused him to shed a tear at their beauty. I suppose one must find their pleasure and purpose where they can when they're an idiot.
Further inside, I became distracted by the idea of hotdogs, although I'm not sure why. This seemed to annoy the lizard-woman who promptly bullied me into scouting ahead but leaving my wagon behind, which is very much against my code of wagon ethics.
Clinking gracefully through the dark in my full plate armor, I found a woman by a fire and she had barely even heard me coming. This turned out to be Adele, the former headmistress of this, the old girls' school of astronomy. She'd returned to clear the school of the Swamp Things which tend to flock to it and to rummage through the dormitories for lost magical items. She seemed offended at our presence and even sliced Bill's lute strings at one point which broke the poor boy's mind, but ultimately offered to reward us for helping clear some monsters.
It was at this point that I felt Henriford, upon whom I am so dependent for determining my actions and even my very thoughts, ate two too many chocolate muffins and fell into a sort of coma, so proceedings from this point on were something of a bloody blur.
Sneaking around upstairs, Karhorn And The Jets had two encounters with animated minotaur skeletons. In the first, we got the drop on it despite my stealthy clinking, encircled it, and systematically bashed out its lack of brains in about four attacks.
The second was less satisfying. In the next room, two more minotaur skeletons saw us coming and attacked first. One charged me and narrowly missed, for I am encased completely in steel. That was when the lord sent me a true sign - as I raised my axe to retaliate, a righteous beam of holy light emanated from my reliquary wagon like a bug zapper and connected with my axe, granting me the holy power to smite the ghoulish non-creature into oblivion.
Meanwhile, the other skeleton exchanged blows with young Billiam before dealing An the lizard-woman such a ferocious hit that she appeared to crumple dead on the spot. But Henriford must have intervened on her behalf as well, because in a series of strange metaphysical and metagaming steps, the thread of time itself seemed to unwind and re-spool in An's favor, and she immediately rose stronger than before and cracked the thing's skull like a walnut. There is hope for her soul yet.
After promptly delivering expert healing to my friends and digging around in the abandoned rooms only to find some magic smoke sticks, we returned to Adele's camp to sleep off our authentic battle damage. Bemused at our plan to sleep in the haunted castle overnight, she left to barricade herself in her sleep chambers and absolutely refused to let us tag along for safety's sake, which was pretty unchill.
I write this from my bedroll, which is to say laying flat atop my bedroll in full armor, which is the only way I know how to sleep. What fiends will arrive in the night to disrupt our sweet slumber? Will Adele ever be nice to me? Why are we here again? Only time will tell.
I Commit a Ramen Sin
Chief Culinary Correspondent Andrew Piotrowski
Guys, I think I fucked up. I put a piece of cheese in it.
Picture this. It's like 5:30pm, and I'm hungry. The only thing I've consumed until this point in the day? Iced coffee and popcorn.
I was so hype last night when I made the iced coffee, blending the end of one bag of coffee with the beginning of another: sometimes this creates a Frankencoffee, but luckily at this time of the year it was the end of a bag of pumpkin spice coffee and the beginning of a bag of pecan coffee. Thus, I was destined for a beautiful morning of pumpkin pecan bliss with some sweet-creamy vanilla cake flavored creamer along with it. Along with the fact that I was scheduled to work an hour later than usual, this combination was the harbinger of an easy, lazy day.
You might notice the use of the word harbinger there. According to grammarist.com, it was originally spelled "herberger" which is a lot more fun to say. Anyway, my herberger turned out to be incorrect. It was a busy day of work for me, regardless of getting to go in late. I didn't end up finishing my coffee til my shift was already over. A busy day at a restaurant can be a rough thing, which is not to say it was a bad day.
And then I put a piece of cheese in it.
After I got home from work, I didn't immediately have an appetite. My legs were tired and my joints were clicking randomly like an all-white production of West Side Story. I sat down on the couch with my roommate for a while, watching him paint and absent-mindedly watch some Irish historical drama. Thus, I didn't move for about half an hour, instead opting to play on my phone for a bit and watch Tiktoks. Have you seen my TikTok? It's pretty much just videos of me singing, although one of them is accompanied by noted journalist Alex Speed. I used my bluetooth earbuds to record it, which means the audio is a little off. I didn't expect that.
Just like I didn't expect to put a piece of cheese in my ramen.
My roommate stopped watching the show to play something on his Playstation, which prompted me to shuffle to my room since I was feeling a little tired. I threw on some Netflix, disrobed and climbed into bed. Before I could fall asleep, however, I heard a friend stop by to get something from my roommate so I threw on some clothes and went into the living room to say hi.
If only she had stopped me from putting a slice of packaged, American cheese into my ramen.
I remember reading an article a few weeks ago about the best things to add to instant ramen to elevate it. Eggs and hot sauce are the obvious choices, with spinach and other fresh vegetables on the list as well to add freshness. A few more hard-to-get resources, like nori and fish sauce, were recommended but I live in rural east Texas with few options for Asian grocery. There was one item on the listicle that especially drew my attention.
Processed, individually plastic-wrapped, infamously yellow. A slice of American cheese.
I made the ramen per package instructions, adding the provided seasoning as well as a dash of Worcestershire sauce, a bit of Sriracha and some cracked black pepper. When the noodles were cooked, I stirred in a few eggs to give the meal some heft and finally, with much trepidation, I did it.
I put a slice of cheese in it.
It was okay.
Chief Onomastics Correspondent Sam Strohmeyer
I feel like I've been eating the same three breakfast options all year. What can I do to change it up a little?
Lazy in Laredo
You absolute sack of shit. A person only needs one breakfast meal and it is a bagel with cream cheese and an SSRI on the side. Anything else is frankly silly. Still feeling the need to change it up a little? Don't.
What is the secret to popcorn seasoning? I like Fiesta's fajita seasoning but it's too powdery and makes me cough.
Congested in Cleveland
Put the seasoning on the popcorn instead of inhaling it.
How do you deal with a person that you're polite to despite disliking them? I have a co-worker that I don't care for but I'm friendly to them because we have to be in close quarters a lot, and I think they are interpreting it as actual friendship.
Uninterested in Uruguay
This might be one of the universal experiences. You have three options here, really. The first is to continue being friendly with the co-worker but keep hard boundaries with them. Keep it polite but decline any friendly activities or conversations. The second option is to start a rumor about yourself that is so horrid, so off-putting, that the co-worker starts to avoid you of their own volition. The third option is to key your full Christian name into the side of their car. I've tested all three of these and they are all equally effective.
Chief Escapism Correspondent Matt Spradling
Film Crit Hulk
Film Crit Hulk writes essays sort of in character as The Hulk, although that doesn't actually come into play ever except that the writing is in all caps. He does mostly film essays, as the name implies, but there's other stuff too.
This particular essay, "ALCOHOL, WITHNAIL, AND GARY KING," is about The World's End, the third movie in the "Cornetto Trilogy" along with Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. It is also, and perhaps more so, about alcoholism and addiction, and is probably the most compelling and insightful discussion about this topic that I have found. It is also extremely long, but hey, maybe you're bored at work. It certainly grabbed me. I have seen the film, but it was a long time ago and I only remember it very vaguely. This was compelling to me despite that.
Anyway, maybe someone else will benefit from reading this like I have, or simply find a new source of great pop culture writing.
I'm a total newbie here and am not going to pretend otherwise. I actually started and promptly gave up on listening to Critical Role a year ago because I had no idea what was going on, but have recently gotten into it successfully. I guess the gist is this:
- It's a Dungeons and Dragons game run by a group of voice actor friends.
- Each episode is live streamed on Thursdays, recorded, and can be watched afterwards on YouTube or listened to in podcast form.
- It started off-camera and went on for a couple years before turning into a public production.
- They continued this first preexisting campaign into the production which is why it maybe seems confusing at first as the characters are presented as familiar even though you're new to them.
- This first campaign finally wrapped up a couple years ago and they began a second campaign with new characters, and it's totally fine to start with the beginning of campaign 2 (which is what I have done.)
- There's also a sort of youtube-video-podcast series on the same channel called "Between the Sheets" in which each player gives long-form interviews about their lives and they're all delightful.
Anyway, it's some quality D&D if you're into that (or merely dungeon-curious) and very literally close to a thousand hours of content at this point, so it's a deep well if you have time to kill, but don't be intimidated.
Ghoulsmashers, Eriador Branch
The Lord of the Rings Online is an amazing game, as I touched upon in Issue 28. This week, Newsletter heroes Andrew, Marina and I created a new tynamic trio on the Arkenstone server and have been enjoying romping around causing mayhem together. It's free to play, so if you're curious and have a spare 40GB or so on your disk, make a lad and/or lass and send a letter to Barrold, SpritePepsi, or TwinkTwinkTwink.
Rabbit In Your Headlights - UNKLE
I love this album so much. It's so strange and is chock-full of interesting features and every track is different, but of course I'm going with the Thom Yorke track. This is peak 90's Thom and his sustained note in the climax is probably the best in his career which is saying something considering all that Radiohead hoo-ha. -Matt
Phoenix - Slaughter Beach Dog
Damn y'all. I made a playlist called "Sad Ass Shit" and this song pretty much sums up all 2 hours 36 minutes of big bummer energy bops I brought into this playlist. Slaughter Beach Dog is the side project of former Modern Baseball songwriter Jake and if you haven't listened to this song go ahead and prep a box of tissues and get to listening. -Alex
There Must Be More Than Blood - Car Seat Headrest
Soul No. 5 - Caroline Rose
One time I saw her live and she crushed a beer can on her forehead and then slid across the stage on her knees and it made my want to be her best friend. This song is just a good old-fashioned romp. I imagine me and all my girlfriends road tripping in a classic convertible with the windows down while also doing the hand jive. -Jenna
Season Of The Witch - Lana Del Rey
I did not think I was a Lana Del Rey fan, but I think I might be just based on the number of her movie tie-in songs I have on various playlists. This cover really speaks to me, and I'm willing to bet that it's in part due to the horrific scarecrow on the album art. Spook responsibly, my dudes. -Marina
Drunk On A Plane - Dierks Bentley
Alright so this song isn't indicative of my regularly scheduled listening since it initially comes across as your typical stadium-country party drinking male ego song. However, the lyrics play out a drama of a man who, left at the altar, hits his lowest point while stuck in an airplane with dozens of strangers. Right now, typing out the lyrics "I'd try anything / To drown out the pain / They all know why / I'm getting drunk on a plane" seems like anything but a party song. It creates a nuanced and emotional contrast that's not present in a lot of modern male country music. -Andrew
Edge of Seventeen - Stevie Nicks
It's "Edge of Seventeen" by Stevie Nicks. -Matt
Summer Teeth - Wilco
Y'all this song in nuts. I have never listened to Wilco, then I listened to the chorus "it's just this dream he keeps having // and it doesn't seem to mean anything" and IMMEDIATELY had a horrible dream about my ex girlfriend. I think maybe Jeff Tweedy is a wizard? I have no evidence of this other than this song. Let me know if you have any proof of sorcery. -Alex
Banner - "Faster" by Stanley Donwood
Among Us screenshots - the mind of Shakespeare himself
WAP screenshot - Andrew on Mondays