Issue 32 - 10/08/20

Filling Like Blackberry Jam

  • The Trunk Administration
  • Dearest Darling Andrew
  • "Barely Hanging On" Starter Kit
  • How to Run (Pandemic Edition)
  • Hello Sobriety Is So Good and Also So Fun I Love It
  • Just Some Thoughts, No Hidden Message
  • The Life-Changing Madness of Tidying Up
  • Stall Graffiti
  • Horoscopes: Autumn Aesthetic
  • Office Chart

The Trunk Administration

Chief Blood Feud Correspondent Wendy Fernandez

I'm the first to admit I hate Ryan Seacrest, especially when no one asks. Hypothetically, I'm also the first to climb into my trunk for curiosity's sake only to be locked in there. I'm not saying that scenario has ever happened to me, but what do these two things have in common? Last Saturday night.

Again, I did not not get stuck in my trunk. I could've left whenever I felt like it. But since it was night and I had a solid hour and a half alone with my thoughts, all I could think about was how much I hate that small, vapid man. Do you remember when he tried to high-five a blind man? Yeah, me too.

I don't know if it's his lack of personality, or his stupid hair, but I want to vomit every time I see Seacrest on my screen. His unwanted rise to fame started with his work on the Dick Clark show, and skyrocketed after Clark's death. Obviously, Seacrest killed him. There's literally no other reason I can think of why some guy named Ryan from Georgia would matter. I suspect it was a fatal mixture of Seacrest's hairspray and teeth whitening chemicals that caused Dick Clark's stroke and heart attack. The family had to scatter the man's ashes in the ocean so Seacrest would never find him again. The family wanted peace.

It was in the darkness of my alleged trunk at midnight that I lost feeling in my legs. I wish I could say the same for Ryan. I refuse to believe for a second that this man is 5'7. Clearly he underwent some height-altering plastic surgery in the mid 90's where they filled the bottom of his feet with latex implants. Maybe they even added some leg above his knees, or skin to his hips. If he had lost feeling in his legs after the surgeries, his obsession with shorts never would've come to fruition. We would never have been subjected to his line of custom designer shorts, or have had to watch him parade his knee caps and lack of scars around like a demented monkey freshly bathed from a lion attack. I wouldn't have to stand the man because he wouldn't be able to stand himself.

Listen to me, the empty eyes of Seacrest haunted my Saturday. Through a small crack in the window I could see Mars rising high in the South East sky, high above the car that I was definitely not in. Despite its beauty and magnificence, the red tint of Mars reminded me of the evil Seacrest carries within him at all times. This man creates nothing but empty chaos in the world. He founded Typo keyboard, a literal oxymoron that failed miserably and ripped off the Blackberry. Afterwards, he moved onto a fashion line with Burberry. Have some originality, Ryan. Burberry and Blueberry are two Vienna Sausages from the same can. He has no talent to his name but an obscene amount of wealth that he hoards like a sack of garbage. God I hate him.

Unlike Seacrest, I'm lucky that I have a friend down the street. If I were ever to call her at, let's say, 1:27 a.m. to ask her to come get me out of my trunk, she would. Ryan's longest lasting relationship has been on/off at its best. Not to mention he holds an honorary doctorate so really, he hasn't accomplished anything on his own. What a sad, unwanted man. He's as fake as his height.

Moral of the story is that, theoretically, if you were to lock yourself in the trunk of your car to see if you could fit comfortably, the answer is yes. Since I can only speculate about this, I feel like no one has to fact check me because it's just a solid feeling I have in my gut. Again, I did not lock myself in my trunk by accident, but if it were to happen, I would definitely fit well. Also, if I ever see Ryan Seacrest in person, I will kill him on sight.

Dearest Darling Andrew

Chief Minutiae Correspondent Andrew Piotrowski

Sam's been a bit busy this week, so I've decided to shoulder the Atlantean task of taking your queries and changing them sorcery-esque into sapience. So, without further ado...

Dearest Darling Andrew,

When I am asked for a fun fact about myself, this wipes my memory faster than my cat cleans the kitchen floor if I drop shredded Mexican blend cheese whilst making a quesadilla. How do I tell strangers about myself in a charming, single line?

Forever yours,

Factoidless in Fannin County

My beloved Factoidless,

The simple truth is that you only need a single interesting fact about yourself that you should burn into your memory like a quesadilla on an overheated skillet. For example, mine is that when I was born, the doctor who delivered me gave me a black eye. You don't have to remember a collection of minutiae about your life that you don't care about and other people don't pretend to care about. Just take one, and cement it into your mind forever. Very few people will ask for an additional curiosity and those people should be avoided anyway.

Dearest Darling Andrew,

What do I do when I am always sad and tired, and nothing has any meaning anymore?

Forever yours,

My Chemical Melancholia in McKinney

My beloved Melancholia,

Alas, my love; you do me wrong to cast yourself off discourteously. Let me first say that the bravest act is often to let those around you know that you're struggling. You've checked that box with aplomb by throwing your line into the deep and thoughtful pool of anonymous advice-mongering provided by an online newsletter. Following that step, I have a few nuggets of sagacity that help me in times of despondency.

First, you must accept that things as they are will not always be. True, it could always get worse, but there is no such thing as a plateau at the bottom of the hill. As long as there is earth beneath your feet, it will always rise at some point. Find what things you are looking forward to; the molehills that predict the mountains that will lift you up. If these are few and far between? Then take some of your wallow-mud and build yourself a hill. Create something in your life to look forward to; a handhold in the darkness and be proud that you are the one who dug it out.

Secondly, or perhaps firstly if you're not picky about the order of things, recognize that the future need not hold all of your answers. Seek out the bright spots in the darkness around you and allow them to grow. Forbid the darkness from expanding across your periphery, since what room is there for darkness when you empower the light of your friends, loved ones, favorite songs, anime waifus, comforting memories, breathtaking landscapes, and whatever else serves to burn away the depression?

These are not the only cures, but if there is a panacea for what ails you, my love, science knows it not.

Dearest Darling Andrew,

I'm dreading going home for the holidays and dealing with the usual family drama. How can I have a good vacation despite the dysfunction?

Forever yours,

Dreading in Dallas

My beloved Dreading,

I cannot hope to answer every concern you may have with your family any more than I can hope to count the number of straight men I've seen adjust their junk in my workplace before handing me their debit card. But some general advice, from a confidant with conservative kin, would be to decide what kind of coping you want to do. I, personally, am in the school of "I don't want to talk about anything that will stir the shit so not only will I not bring up any incisive topics, but I will also deliberately steer the conversation away from such topics." Avoidance is the game I play with family, and it usually works out pretty painlessly in the moment.

But let us say that you don't want to simply survive your family visits but to conquer them. This is less of a simple task, as it will require your research and diligence. Political foes, especially ones related to you, are hard to brush off, and it's entirely likely that you'll be rebuffed regardless of your preparation. Arm yourself with counter-arguments and cross-examination related to common talking points and you stand a chance of holding your own.

Finally, let me imagine that your misgivings about family time are completely apolitical. This is not a world in which I find myself, but I'll dip a toe into this family for you, my beloved. You must fill your mind with the comfort of positivity. What do you enjoy about your visits home? Where are your outlets outside of family where you can invoke joy and holiday peace? Who in your hometown serves the most delightful mulled cider / peppermint latte / seasonal brew? And, if all else fails, resort to avoidance and comfort your thoughts with what you return home to when your family visit ends.

Dearest Darling Andrew,

I've always loved handing out candy to trick or treaters but that isn't possible in COVID times. What can I do to bring the Halloween joy to my neighborhood?

Forever yours,

Festive in Fort Worth

My beloved Festive,

Allow me to be brief, since I have not given myself that allowance in the last half hour or so. Buy a projector. Put a sheet in one of your windows. Open your blinds. Broadcast a movie marathon through your open window from sundown to sunrise. Include Hocus Pocus at least twice.

Dearest Darling Andrew

My boyfriend wants us to wear a shocking and topical Halloween couple's costume, but I'd rather us go for something more cute and simple. How can we compromise and win the costume contest?

Forever yours,

Spooky in Spokane

My beloved Spooky,

Though my initial instinct is to recoil from giving straight people any advice about a holiday that is largely by and for the gays, I shall make an attempt. The simplest tip I can provide is that at the cross-section of topical and simple you will find nothing but puns.

Both of you must carry a cactus. One of you must also carry a vacuum, the other wears violet priest's vestments. When people ask, you calmly and clearly pronounce the word "Succulent."

I came up with that one on the fly; follow that theme and you'll probably get at least a pity chuckle from other straight people.

Chief Ink Correspondent Jenna Hay

How to Run (Pandemic Edition)

Chief Social Darwinism is a fallacious concept created by old-timey conservatives who didn't understand Darwin and were trying to co-opt evolutionary science and use it as a pseudosciencey argument in favor of racist imperialism Correspondent Matt Spradling

Many years ago (1 year) in issue 17 I wrote a best-selling article about how to run. It was genius and beautiful and everyone clapped. But that was written in the before times for the before times. It occurred to me today as I was outside trying and failing not to lose my faith in humanity even further that since a global pandemic changes the rules, someone ought to re-codify said rules and shout them into the void. What else are newsletters for?

Without further ado, here is a new and updated guide for running and general outdoorsmanship in the end times. These are tried and true tips that I've picked up on from people doing them around me every time I've gone out running or walking in the past five months.

1. Run on the right side of the road. This goes for walkers, too. Now, a lot of people and the law might have told you to do the opposite and stick to the left side when possible, but what they forgot is that this isn't oppressive England, this is America, and in America we go on the right. You have a right to be in the road just as much as any car, so act like a car. Need to see what's coming at you? Weak. This isn't about safety, it's about sending a message. Besides, many cars are now small enough that if you get hit you will simply roll up the hood instead of getting batted like a baseball which is significantly less likely to kill you, so.

2. Run in busy bike lanes when possible. Busy road with a normal sidewalk but there's an alluring bike lane right there? Of course you gotta go for it brah. Being a bicycle is the next step up from being a runner, unless you include a skateboard, which you should. This is great for a couple reasons; for one, you're still right next to the losers on the sidewalk, so you can gloat and show off; also, similar to the previous suggestion, you can and should run on the right side of the road when doing this so that any actual cyclists trying to use your bike lane will have to get stuck behind you and veer into traffic to get around you. I call this technique "stirring the pot" but the pot is the flesh of yourself and others and the stirring is the variety of impacts that will occur.

3. Spit. Yeah, just spit sometimes! If you're in the bike lane next to people on the sidewalk, probably spit to your left into the road because it would be funny if you hit a car and the people two feet away from you will see how cool and cavalier you are and how hard you're working. Also it's kind of a propellant situation, like how if you throw something in space it will move your body in the opposite direction. I think Usain Bolt probably uses this technique.

4. Get real close to people. This is more important than ever for a variety of reasons. Because of the global padnimick or whatever, we're all a little starved for quality hangout time, so you should use your exercise time to also exercise your emotions and get some camaraderie in. Plus, others will appreciate you for this; if one side of the street is crowded with people going one direction, and the other side of the street has only one person going the other direction, they'll probably feel pretty left out, so be a good samaritan, cross over to their side right before you get to them so they don't have time to avoid you (because sadly they don't think they're worthy of affection) and give them a friendly fly-by to leave a smile on their face. Unless they're wearing a mask, then you can't see their face, which would be pretty rude of them.

5. Never get out of anyone's path. This displays weakness and will make you a target for criminals and large cats. This is especially important if you're walking towards somebody from far away such that you and the stranger have plenty of time to watch and consider each other. This really is a simple game of chicken and you should never lose. Might as well shut your eyes, and if you literally run into each other, so be it. Also, sometimes you'll turn onto a road with someone already on it and will quickly have to choose which side to get on. If you get on the side that someone is already on, it's still important to stick with it. This even goes for when there are cars involved along with pedestrians - traffic safety is all about being predictable, and for you, predictable means being a fucking dumb piece of wet shit, so adjust your strategy to loitering in the middle of the road to assert dominance over car and man alike.

6. Never stop for any reason. Coming up on a potential collision with other people that would be easy to avoid if one party just stopped and waited for like five seconds for the congestion to pass? Seems pretty easy and reasonable right? WRONG. This is admitting that you can be stopped, and it trains your body to be a weak beta idiot. What's next, stopping for stop signs? That's a slippery slope of government tyranny and it starts with you. That's why, in the event that someone else stops and waits to let you go by, you should angle your trajectory near to them to save them from themselves.

7. Get wide. If you're running or walking with one or more other person, your party should make itself as big as possible. This stops people from being able to get around you easily which keeps you safe from sneak attacks and being flanked. It can even be used to signal invitations to join your meandering flotilla of flesh. This works on cars too if you're in the road, which you probably should be. Push strollers or have children zipping around your perimeter on scooters for added visibility, bulk, and reduced speed.

8. Blockade and ambush. This is one for the old-timers out there. I know it sounds outlandish, but it's really happened to me, and you can too! Are you a small, older woman, therefore highly susceptible to covid, and walking your dog without a mask? Good, you're on the right track. When you see your target coming up the street towards you, stop and talk to your first ally (another old woman walking their dog without a mask) in the very middle of the street. Do this near parked cars so that your target will be forced to get somewhat close (like 3-4 feet) to get past your barricade. This is where ally number 2 comes in. This entire third other small old lady walking her dog without a mask will be - and this is the genius part - just fucking standing behind the parked car waiting for god knows what but definitely not participating in the conversation with you and ally number one. If executed properly, your target will squeeze past the car you've funneled them towards only to find themselves a mere foot away from a surprise lady they had no way of seeing the entire time they've been running up the street. What a fun and fateful prank!

Hello Sobriety Is So Good and Also So Fun I Love It

Chief Wolves Howling at the Moon T-Shirt Correspondent Alex Speed

Day 7

I told myself that I wouldn't come right out of the gate writing about giving up drinking for a month but hey look where we are yano. I watched the vice presidential debate sober because I hate myself and now I am going to write this very article that you are reading absent of any tequila. It'll be an adventure for the both of us, reader.

I really tried a bunch of different methods for sober writing.

I walked around the grocery store listening to the Smiths hoping I would run into an indie love interest so I could write from the midst of an intoxicating Montana love affair. (Everyone just looked at me very intently and asked why I was visibly crying while staring at the protein powder.)

I tried to revert back to some of the classic Funny HaHa's of yesteryear including a weekly restaurant roundup of the Costco In Helena, Montana. However, that just turned into like 600 words of me describing the difference between a 2003 manual transmission Nissan Xterra and a 2008 automatic transmission Ford Escape. It also got really weird about capitalism and the famous $1.50 Costco hot dog and we just don't need that right now.

I tried my favorite method of coming up with ideas which is just texting Matt 100 times until he gives me a great list of ideas and I do none of them.

I asked Jenna if I could just draw a picture of a balloon lady and count that as art.

The point is I am very much out of my comfort zone. In movies or books or TV shows this would be the point where the protagonist (my very dumb ass) would reach deep within themselves and discover the answer was love and it was inside them all along! The reality unfortunately is that I have stumbled through 300 words of something that I frankly don't understand and have no idea how to finish - with every word I just sort of dig my own grave deeper into this meta word-mush.

I don't feel like I have done any of the very grand-sounding things I intended to do from my last article. I have no clue how to actually be a part of my community in Montana. I'm not sure that my awareness of the world around me is doing anyone any good (currently my awareness is just listening to wolf like 400 yards away so I hope I don't die to death writing this).

For now I am just sitting outside in the backyard next to a fire eating a pint of Ben and Jerry's trying to make the good words instead of accidentally make the bad words.

Sometimes all we can do is try - and hope that we accidentally become a part of something meaningful.

Just Some Thoughts, No Hidden Message

tnednopserroC egasseM neddiH terceS feihC Marina Martinez

I wasn't sure what to write about, so I'm just going to start typing everything I'm thinking about during my lunch break. Maybe I'll come up with something clever next week?

(This counts as an article, Sam, so please do not cut off my hands and feed them to me "raw like God intended.")

Honestly did not expect to miss going places and doing things so much, but we're going on 8 months now and boy howdy do I miss attending events.

I miss Panera Bread. I really want to go to a Panera and eat so many carbs. I mean, I eat a lot of carbs even when I'm not at Panera, but it's just not the same.

I have a lot of tattoo ideas, actually. I'm very excited to get them done, but it'll take years.

Loud gal Toadie screams at me during the day a lot, usually when I'm stressed about something, and I snap at her a lot. Am I a horrible person? I just can't indulge her all the time, I have to work. But she's just a cat who wants to be pet, she doesn't know why I'm mad.

Oh so when I was in high school, me and my mom saw six red lights in the sky. They hovered, moved a bit, then blinked out of existence. This was definitely a UFO and I'm so mad I didn't take a picture.

Very sus: Among Us really doesn't help with Imposter Syndrome, does it?

Everybody does it, I'm sure, but I use the word 'I' a lot. Am I a narcissist or am I just in my 20's?

Yikes okay how many more secret relatives do we all have???? In the past five years I found out about an adult cousin and a 3rd half-aunt. I cannot take much more.

All of us know JK is a TERF but I have an ongoing self-debate about whether I'm actually a Slytherin and that's going to haunt me for years. mom is a good person. I talk to her several times a week and I love her a lot and she's one of my closest friends, but she's also close-minded about some things and makes me sad a lot. I'm worried that I only tell people the bad and sad parts of who she is and they don't know how good she is.

Like why did I quit my job?? To afford things??? I like my new one but it's so stressful. The old one was chill and I had like NO responsibilities and now I have ALL responsibilities. I am a lazy gal and there are Regrets.

How long can I DM a whole ass D&D campaign without anyone realizing I have no clue what I'm doing?

Ah, to have a functioning back and not one that paralyzes me out of the blue. I wish I hadn't hurt my back in high school. I hate being out of commission for a week whenever it acts up.

I don't know if we're psychic or just extremely empathetic, but my family all feel and experience things we can't explain. I don't know how to tell people about this without sounding like I have more than a few loose screws.

Legitimate question: is my tendency to dream about stage productions and fugitives a result of the media I consume or is it just my brain's way of telling me that I am a dramatic bitch?

Sorry to be a bummer but I have agoraphobia. Before the pandemic, I was recovering and learning to live with it. But after 7 months in my apartment, I'm scared that I'll never be able to go back to being fully functioning once it's safe.

Allow me to reiterate how grateful I am for each and every one of my friends. I wish that I deserved literally any of them. But I'm glad I don't, because it's a nice goal to aspire to.

Tbh I want to cut my hair again but there's no hair to cut. Also I want it to grow out so I can start styling it. I wish I had patience. Should I just bleach and dye it again? No. Stupid. But what if??

And another thing: Why is 'being kind to others' the most difficult concept for some people? It takes no effort to accomplish. You just simply live and also think about other people and don't actively hurt or hate them.

Nothing is ever going to top Summer Vacation as a kid. No school, no rules. (Actually, a lot of rules, I had strict parents.)

The Life-Changing Madness of Tidying Up

Chief Vengeful Mania Correspondent Andrew Piotrowski

A few nights ago, I decided I was going to take apart my computer and dust the inner components.

This seems like an ordinary thing to do, but you must know:

  1. I've never taken apart my computer before 
  2. I've never dusted inside my computer before 
  3. I have no idea what parts of the inside of a computer are safe to dust

With these three facts in mind, you may wonder why, after four years of owning this Dell Inspiron PC, it was time to invade its innards. The explanation is simple: I wanted to see if I could make it run Dark Souls III faster. As far as I can tell, my computer easily surpasses the system requirements to run From Software's most accessible masterpiece. However, from the second I load into the overworld, my framerate drops lower than my opinion of the police. I tried antivirus and computer cleaning softwares but one of the recommendations for speeding up your computer is to simply root around in there a bit. Thus, I entered The Box.

As I carefully dusted with q-tips and a flashlight, some rage began building in my soul. This was a familiar feeling to me: a growing sense of vengeful mania that often inspires me to invest far more into a process than I normally would. So I grabbed it by the horns and started unscrewing components until every bit of dust was gone from the inside of the computer. It's like I was channeling the spirits of my ancestors, except my ancestors aren't cool. They're just attention-deficient and bipolar. So I dug my nails into my hyper-focused manic episode. After the computer was cleaned, what was I going to do? Put it back on the dirty desk? Absolutely fucking not. That desk was disgusting. And what is all of that shit all over it? And why is there so much useless trash in the drawers next to the desk?

Rage continued growing inside me as my brain realized that I had, in fact, created all of this mess and it had gotten to the point where it was actively affecting my life. So the time had come to be inexplicably mad at it. Segue!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a widely recognizable book written by Marie Kondo, which was later developed into a Netflix series and a lifestyle change. It's also what I was trying to type as the title of this article (not as plagiarism but to pair with a cheeky subtitle) but the typo was perfect so I kept it.

Every now and then I go through the above process; I like to call it "anger cleaning." This is the process by which I actually deep clean parts of my room that haven't received any attention in weeks or months because the little butler demon that lives inside my brain finally gets around to noticing the mess. And when I say notice, I don't mean "oh ew it's messy in here." I mean I suddenly look around and my peripheral vision is stained red with the blood of all of the junk mail stacked behind my monitor. I don't know if it's normal to go from "typical 20-something slob" to "righteous paladin for the cause of cleanliness" within the span of a few minutes, but that's generally how my cleaning goes. I encounter a single obstacle related to the mess that I've created and immediately use my bonus action to go into a rage.

There are, obviously, a few downsides to this knockoff of Ms Kondo's process. The obvious one is the exhaustion of being livid at a roomful of inanimate objects. After I've achieved a few goals through anger cleaning, I rarely want to do anything else with my day. On top of that, the anger cleaning is almost exclusively hyper-focused, as mentioned before. In the instance of the computer anger, it started with my desktop and didn't go much further than that, leaving my gaming setup pristine but the rest of the room unchanged. Finally, I'm no science nerd or anything, but a psychiatrist might say there's something mentally negative about conflating cleaning with anger and annoyance.

Now, don't get me wrong. Rage cleaning isn't my only hygiene outlet. Sometimes I get up and do the dishes just because I'm feeling well-rested and productive. Occasionally, I do laundry before I'm completely out of clean socks and wearing questionable underwear (they're clean, but far sluttier than is efficient). But these other times often feel lackadaisical and inefficient. There's nothing quite like the single-minded fury of dusting your fan because you noticed how dusty the room was when you were throwing out old community theatre programs after you straightened up your desk and needed somewhere to put the detritus when you were wiping down the desktop because you were unwilling to put your newly-dusted out CPU onto a dirty surface to test whether or not Dark Souls III will run at the proper specs now.

Wow, that run-on sentence was tiring. I'm gonna go punch a wall but then re-alphabetize my bookcase.

Stall Graffiti

Random Journal Entry 5/15/13 @ 1:00 am


So I get up and I stumble to the bathroom to pee.

I wish I had a glass of wine or two.

I'm frustrated it's after 1:00 am and for the second night this week I can't sleep.

God is trying to tell me something as Shug Avery from "The Color Purple" would say: "Can't sleep at night and your soul wonders why maybe God is tryin to tell you somethin."

I know he is.

The Pastor says you have to learn to live in between the gaps of God's blessings because he doesn't give them to you all at once.

He says that you have to allow God to open your eyes so that you can see the well in your desert like Hagar.

I am trying.

I know that God did not put this desire in me for nothing.

This burning feeling that I am supposed to write and direct and be successful at it.

Like REALLY successful.

I get discouraged when I think about people who have written great work in a short period of time.

For some reason I think I should do this.

Perhaps I'm putting a time limit on God with that mentality.

I think about the guy who wrote the movie Crash in 2 weeks and Zora Neal Hurston who wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God in just 7 weeks.

I tend to compare myself to people a lot and allow myself to become discouraged by their literary accomplishments or their possession of proper equipment and contact list.

Then I sit back frozen in my discouragement and don't write a single thing.

Dear EGrey from 7 years ago,

I think we've all been there with writer's block, and crippling yourself with comparison to the greats, and having to pee at night. Step 1 is hydration, so I think you're on the right track. Unfortunately step 2 is just doing the dang thing, even if it's rough and takes a lot of revising. Writing is deceptively hard work.

Like my Lyft driver Raheem says, "I've always been the one to say the first goodbye, had to love and lose a hundred million times, had to get it wrong to know just what I like, now I'm falling." Those might be Dua Lipa lyrics. He sings really monotone so I can't tell when he's talking to me.

Anyway I guess my point is that back when I was a perfectionist about writing I didn't finish or accomplish anything, but after making myself okay with writing some garbage, this newsletter was born which is very slightly better than nothing sometimes, so I hope you've embraced your inner garbage.  


Horoscopes: Autumn Aesthetic

Chief Organized Crime Correspondent Sam Strohmeyer

CAPRICORN - leaves and acorns crunching under your feet while you walk through the forest; the smell of leather and cinnamon; laying face down in your backyard while listening to "Roslyn" by Bon Iver and St. Vincent on repeat for 48 hours; developing a terrible cold from staying outside in the chilly air for too long; remembering you can't actually get sick from cold weather and you probably should have gotten a flu shot you dumbass

AQUARIUS - steaming mugs of hot tea; soft flannel blankets on a chilly day; curling up with a spooky movie on a cold night; a moose tearing through your cabin and killing your youngest; rebuilding your cabin before winter sets in and you and your wife and remaining children die of exposure

PISCES - putting on a light jacket to rake the leaves; raking the leaves into a big pile; jumping into the pile of leaves; raking the leaves back up into the pile; a gust of wind displacing some of the leaves you raked; raking the leaves back into a pile; a dog running through your leaf pile; raking the leaves back into a pile; growing old and dying

ARIES - sitting around the bonfire on a crisp fall evening; roasting marshmallows around the bonfire; singing along with your friends around the bonfire; dancing around the bonfire; screaming the songs of old to summon the devil from a bonfire; OPENING A PORTAL TO HELL FROM A BONFIRE; JUMPING INTO A BONFIRE HELL PORTAL TO JOIN YOUR TRUE FAMILY IN THE FLAMES

TAURUS - baking pumpkin cookies with your significant other; sipping apple cider at the pumpkin patch; forgetting that it's an election year for one blissful moment; seeing a man in a MAGA hat walk by you and remembering how nothing is sacred; throwing your cider on a man wearing a MAGA hat and people cheering


CANCER - walking through a graveyard on a cloudy day; a night in with friends and your ouija board; using a ouija board to contact the spirits; meeting a spirit named Harvel through the ouija board; slowly falling in love with an earthbound spirit named Harvel; getting married to a dead man named Harvel and conceiving ghost babies

LEO - oversized cable-knit sweaters with leggings; bringing home the first pumpkin of the year; cutting up a pumpkin; roasting pumpkin seeds; eating large segments of pumpkin; consuming an entire raw pumpkin by yourself while your roommate silently cries beside you; feeding roasted pumpkin seeds to squirrels by hand

VIRGO - a black cat crossing your path; reading poetry by candlelight; laying under a tree while its leaves fall around you; letting yourself be covered with red, orange and yellow leaves; being covered by several feet of fallen leaves; abandoning society by disappearing under miles of fallen leaves; ceasing to exist

LIBRA - wearing tall boots and fuzzy socks; reading in a window seat as the wind howls outside; the scents of clove and nutmeg filling your home; telling your racist dad to shut his fucking mouth; baking an apple pie with a friend and getting in a flour fight; orange fairy lights above your bed

SCORPIO - looking up at the full moon; shelves filled with magic books, potions, and cobwebs; black dresses and capes; a wolf howling in the distance; rereading Harry Potter; remembering you can't reread Harry Potter because J.K. Rowling is a bigot and while you'd like to be able to separate the art from the artist you know that isn't really possible, especially not with her being alive and actively being a piece of shit and all; growing up

SAGITTARIUS - warm tombstones on jackets; soup on the porch with the pumpkin spice deer raven bear; Fleet Foxes show the crunch and so many spiders hike; brisk in the barn hayride to the baked goods and skeleton; candle scented mushrooms while the owl watches Hocus Pocus; fireplaces to look at the pinecone and the scarf is longer; big gourd

My Friends - Oh Wonder

It's all about comfort and safety and friendship. All we've got is each other. Sorry, I have a twig in my eye, it's nothing.  -Marina

Don't Tell Me Where You're Going - Frog

There was a massive power outage in Bozeman while I was writing this week's masterpiece. I did what any sensible person would do and fled my spooky house to go to a McDonalds parking lot so I could finish my very smart and good writing. This song came on as I was pulling into the parking lot and it just felt too perfect not to dedicate a spot to Frog this week.  -Alex

Everything Is Free - Gillian Welch

I'll admit I thought this was a Father John Misty song but Gillian's OG version from 2001 is much prettier and basically everything she touches is pure, unadorned gold. A prescient lament about the shifting landscape of the music industry, but mostly just gorgeous. If I could play guitar like David Rawlings then the newsletter wouldn't exist because I would just do that all day.  -Matt

Can I Believe You - Fleet Foxes

I'm a simple woman; Fleet Foxes put out a new album and I listen. I think this is the new single but it also sticks out as a highlight of the album. It reminds me of my youth.  -Sam

Gonna Make You Sweat - C & C Music Factory

I've angrily punch-danced my way through this week to this song and it's been really pleasant.  -Jenna

Fancy - Dave Audé Remix - Reba McEntire

I love Reba McEntire. I loved her TV show, I love her music, and I love her Facebook page. So imagine my delight when a remix of one of her earliest, timeless hits began circling TikTok accompanying fabulous makeup videos. On top of that, it's a bop.  -Andrew

Sledgehammer - Rihanna

Did you know that Rihanna 1) is a Trekkie and 2) wrote a song for the most recent Star Trek movie? We as a society don't talk about either of these facts anywhere near enough. I'd also like to talk about Star Trek, please email me if you'd like to hear my Opinions.  -Marina

Hey Lover - Blake Mills

Damn y'all. You ever hear a song that makes you wish you were wearing overalls and just sort of dancing in the back of a hay truck? This song does that for me. It is very beautiful and good and Blake Mills is a genius.  -Alex

Lime Tree - Bright Eyes

I maintain that Conor Oberst is the greatest living American songwriter. I was going to add "Show Me Love" or "Break My Heart" here because it's been a wild week, but Bright Eyes is most often the bread and butter that's on in my car for months at a time. This is the closer for Cassadaga, his most sprawling album and my personal favorite, which I annually play a lot around the death of the summer (which I used to think of as August but I now know is October). Ultimately it's all about the lyrics - in this case a numb lament about the strange and ineffable cruelty of time and the bereavement of possible futures and dissatisfaction with the present - but the music mirrors this perfectly, with a sparse acoustic melody that lopes along until it hits a strong sour note which ultimately resolves back into the pattern, punctuated here and there by cute, cinematic orchestral sweeps. One of those very sad-but-peaceful-feeling songs for me. Perhaps the most so.  -Matt

Halloween - Phoebe Bridgers

Baby, it's Halloween.  -Sam

Easy Tiger - Billy Raffoul

You know how for some reason people like to imagine the saddest things possible right before they fall asleep? This would be a great song to listen to during that activity. Also, if no one else does that before bed just don't tell me.  -Jenna

Reflecting Light - Sam Phillips

If you're a cool cat, you may notice the name Sam Phillips and associate it with the musical work of the seminal TV smash, Gilmore Girls. If you're among this taste-making, trend-setting number, then you probably already know this song and its gentle, inviting acoustic guitar rhythm and carefully affectionate poetry.  -Andrew


Banner - Stanley Donwood for Kid A - that hidden extra booklet that's inside the jewel case and which is responsible for making the CD feel slightly heavier than normal when you pick it up and which I went to Half Price Books specifically to find in 2010 before ever hearing the album and they miraculously had it and I don't care if this is a rehash of Issue 11's design because it's appropriate because we all seem to be going insane to the same extent as I was then

Starter Pack drawing - Jenna can just do that I guess and meanwhile I still don't even have legible handwriting 

Gemini - you know it's true