Issue 33 - 10/15/20
- Matt Attempts to Make Sense of Suspiria (2018)
- erreur de traduction / Collage / 2020
- A Treatise On Beauty
- Why Are MMOs Fun?
- Twilight (A Review) (Abridged)
- A Moral Quandry
- Night of the Undead Siri
- Office Chart
Matt Attempts to Make Sense of Suspiria (2018)
Chief Cauldron Chili Correspondent Matt Spradling
Suspiria streams on Amazon prime and rents on YouTube, iTunes, and whatever Vudu is.
The Cold War by R.L. Stine is my favorite horror movie. This is a low bar, because I am the opposite of a horror movie aficionado, but nonetheless it is now an annual October watch (albeit a private one because neither Sam nor my cat will watch it with me).
Further disclaimers: I don't know shit about shit. But I do have a small public platform so I'm going to (ab)use it.
1. The Hooks
Suspiria is the remake of a 1977 film which was a pretty typical horror story about a young woman who finds herself in a ballet company run by witches she must defeat to escape, and is mostly a cult classic for the fun, flashy technicolor style it imbues its various gorefests with. The remake keeps this skeleton intact (with a couple key twists), but its meat is entirely different: while its predecessor was sleek, bright, and self-contained, the new iteration boasts a thicc two and a half hour runtime, is muted and grim in its style, and is inextricably tied up in its setting: 1977 Berlin and the backdrop of political violence during the German Autumn. It is bleak in mood, at times punishingly violent, and obfuscating and withholding with its themes. Hooray!
I'll avoid major spoilers, although honestly I don't think it's super spoilable - the plot resolution is unexpected, but it doesn't, like, hinge on this surprise, and it rewards multiple watches.
Brief synopsis: Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) leaves her amish midwest home to join the Markos Dance Company in Berlin, headed by Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton). She advances quickly in the company while generally spooky and gruesomely violent things happen (because as we know, the company's matrons are all deadass witches). These matrons seek a new host body to be taken over by their secret, decrepit headmistress, Mother Markos (also played by Tilda Swinton beneath heavy and disturbing prosthetics), said to be one of the three infamous Mothers (Tenebrarum, Lachrymarum, and Suspiriorum). This culminates in a climactic ritual in which Susie has an unforeseen role.
All this is intercut with the story of psychologist Josef Klemperer (secretly also played by Tilda Swinton despite being an old man - complete with a dick) who hears about the witches from one of his patients, a runaway dancer named Patricia, but dismisses her as delusional. We later learn he was similarly dismissive of the fears of his jewish wife during the rise of the Reich, persuading her not to flee Germany until it was too late, and he has been unable to find her or discover her fate ever since. Klemperer offers an entry point into what I think are two important facets of the movie's themes: failure to learn from the past and the myriad ways in which women suffer as a result.
2. A Storm That Took Everything
The past washes over the entire movie in murky waves, never quite focused and never resolved. Snippets about Baader-Meinhof and the RAF fill the backdrop of 1977 Berlin as the radical group fights against, among other things, what they see as Germany's failure to enact complete denazification after the war; The Berlin wall looms silently in the background of many scenes; Klemperer is left with his regrets about disbelieving his lost wife; the dancers (and audience) are left wondering what happened to Patricia, Klemperer's patient, who has gone missing and allegedly left to join the RAF; Susie separates herself from her upbringing which we see only vignettes of; we find the company in the throes of a power struggle as it prepares to perform the dance Blanc helped develop during wartime, about which Swinton says:
"Women in Germany under Hitler were considered breeders for good Aryan stock: the Nazis decreed that dance must be the exclusive province of fetishised female beauty and the cheerfulness of a devotion to the Third Reich: above all, never intellectual," said Swinton. "For Blanc, this rings a deep bell of resistance and outrage. She tells Susie, 'There are two things dance can never be again: Beautiful and cheerful... we must break the nose of every beautiful thing.'" (LA Times)
The choreography is, as this line from Blanc would suggest, angular, animalistic, and clearly menacing rather than celebratory or peaceful. I don't know very much about dance in general, but Suspiria's is constantly suspenseful, and not just because gruesome things tend to happen as a result. There's probably plenty to be written about dance as a form of ritualistic magic replete with Blanc's numerous quotes about bodies forming a language in space and the nature of balance and consequence, but I am not the one for that.
As it is, though, Blanc and her dance, "Volk," personify the feminism inherent to witchcraft, historically leveled as an accusation against women who refused to conform to common patriarchal rule. Meanwhile, Susie's journey from amish girl to encountering and embracing fearful magic on the other side of the world, and finding - and I swear this isn't used in as cliche a way as I make it sound - that she had this power within her all along, should resonate with anyone who has left behind the trappings of their upbringing, be they religious, political, whatever, because they were not true for them. Both of these portray a dogged resistance to the powers that be and the dangers they present, especially for women.
3. The Inevitable Pull
As with anything, though, this can be done to a fault. Sisterhood and camaraderie are typical facets of witchcraft, and are not absent from the Markos company. The matrons seem to care for their students on the surface: see Susie breaking down in tears of relief after being told they don't require payment for room and board ("In this company we fully understand the importance of a woman's financial autonomy"), and the surrogate mother relationship that develops between Blanc and Susie. Beneath this facade, though, the matrons are willing to brutally sacrifice the girls when deemed necessary, and deceive them about such things as the disappearance of Patricia. They ultimately objectify the girls as tools. There are several scenes in which the matrons come together to cook and eat and have fun, relaxed talks, but these too are merely shows performed while they communicate telepathically about grim and portentous business.
This leads me to think the central theme of the film, if there is one, is the destruction inherent to zealotry and fanaticism. When human connection and care is foregone in the name of crusades and idolatry, no matter how apparently justified, things tend to go awry. This is evident in every aspect of the film (and I've started saying film instead of movie so you know this is serious):
We have Baader-Meinhof and the RAF as historic symbols of the extremities of justice and accountability run amok - sympathetic, and yet terrorists. They contrast with a post-war German government that has not undergone complete denazification, for which we may say they had an optimistic and constructive approach to moving on, or we may say they wanted to bury their past too lightly.
We have the Markos Dance Company which carries a vital torch of underground resistance born out of the most oppressive culture possible, and yet is built on the lie of a false idol and thereby led to do harm against those who are supposedly its own.
We have Susie who embraces a new role as something of a figurehead herself (to be intentionally vague), but does so through the use of violent retribution and does not make clear whether the future will ultimately be any less chaotic thanks to her. In fact, Susie is most symbolic of the cyclical nature of all of this.
Her final act in the film is to erase Klemperer's memories of "the women of his undoing" - his lost wife, his lost patient, and the horrors he's witnessed over the course of the story. This seems to be done out of mercy, relieving him of trauma, but even this is destructive. This act rips away any purpose the story's proceedings had for Klemperer. He loses the lessons about believing women and about the dangers of both fanaticism and ignorance in the face thereof. He loses the ability to use these lessons to impact the tumultuous world of his present which still faces the same threat as ever. Our protagonist does what is in her newfound and seemingly benevolent nature, but is perhaps merely becoming the next example on the list of lofty figureheads who ultimately cause harm one way or another, intended or otherwise.
Her parting words to Klemperer are: "We need guilt, doctor. And shame. But not yours." I originally thought these were intended to portray mercy for a man who ultimately means well, or perhaps to solidify the idea that the only man in the entire story is in the end utterly irrelevant. But viewed through this other lens, perhaps the act is revealed to be misguided. In reality, we do need guilt and shame - and there are no exceptions.
4. The Balance of Things
This review is difficult to organize because I think the various themes and meanings are intended to form a complex web rather than clear lines, intentionally obfuscated. Much remains unresolved and unsatisfactory because the film's goal is not to set our minds at ease about the past; instead it dares us to stare into it, even though the things we witness are never simple to interpret.
Everything we can interpret is circling the drain of zealotry, and exemplifying, to be as broad as possible, a lack of balance, or poise, which feels like better dance terminology.
This story finds us at a time when, at the crux of an incredibly precarious election, we may soon find ourselves deciding whether to press on with the future in a benevolent but hurried manner, washing our hands of the last four years, or whether to entrench ourselves holding wrongdoers accountable, and to what extent.
If there's one thing this story is trying to tell us, perhaps it is this: Stay poised.
erreur de traduction / Collage / 2020
Chief Cuts Correspondent Sam Strohmeyer
A Treatise On Beauty
Chief Childlike Wonder Correspondent Jenna Hay
Sometimes you see something so beautiful that it changes you. So beautiful that it causes you to question if you've truly been a participant in your own life up until this point, or if you've simply been walking aimlessly with your eyes half closed, squinting but never seeing, seeing but never knowing, knowing but never understanding.
A unique experience happens when you witness raw beauty. Your consciousness expands and sensory awareness overtakes you like a wave; the stars and sun seem to surge in their intensity and colors blind you as they erupt into a spectrum of light. Your spirit tingles, as if you rubbed Bengay all over your cold, dead soul. Your senses awaken; you can taste the sweets and bitters of life itself on your tongue but also in your inner ear, and somehow it tastes even better there. The gentle beat of a butterfly's gossamer wings could send you over the edge with how powerful the sensations become, like the cinematic climax of a Planet Earth episode but the episode is this instance, here and now, and no lions are attacking you. Your breath catches but at the same time you gasp loudly. You create an alarming gurgling noise. So, this is what air tastes like. What exquisite tastes like.
You clutch at this feeling, try to halt time itself, if only to capture this intoxicating sensation for a second longer. Who knows when you might be this present again? Who knows how many eons will pass, how many generations will be lost to history before your synapses fire simultaneously like this again? For a brief second, calculus makes sense and so does the catalyst behind your breakup with Jonah, he was never going to appreciate your ability to recite the opening song to Danny Phantom, it was never going to work dammit. You find peace.
Alas, the clock's second hand ticks once farther into the future and you're called back to return from your journey through sensation and time space. The beautiful thing is still there, and it is still beautiful, but the awe you experienced begins to fade. The initial marvel you felt becomes only an echo as the unavoidable filter of time on a memory begins to take its toll. Just as a mountain range becomes a familiar backdrop to a herd of elk, or how the memory of your beloved hamster that died when you were five erodes to only a vaguely fond-ish feeling, the beautiful thing you witnessed becomes familiar to you as well. You learn and accept the sobering lesson that your life will be woven with gifts as often as it will be riddled with thieves. In this instance, the thief is the human experience, which is limited by your conscious need to find equilibrium and balance. And you know this to be good for you, because otherwise you'd be caught in what feels like an infinite skydive, which you assume would be bad for digestion or having casual conversation. With this acceptance, the unbridled feelings of exhilaration pass on. You take a ragged breath and be still. It is finished.
What could be so beautiful, you might wonder. What exists in our mortal realm that could possibly ignite such passion, such childlike joy? Lo, it befell upon me last Sunday, and although I was not prepared for the experience, I can attest to the worth it has showered on my days since. I had just completed my weekly pilgrimage to the best place on the planet, Central Market, or "food church" as I like to call it. Because I love myself, I bought a tub of cookie dough and was planning on baking cookies as a farewell to hot girl summer and as a hearty season's greetings to sweata weatha. As I finished securing my groceries in the passenger seat I realized, why wait? Tossing aside all personal standards and societal pressures, I opened the tub of cookie dough in the parking lot of Central Market. I dug my plastic fork in for a single bite, but what emerged was the entire contents of the tub. What I had on my fork was the largest ball of raw dough I'd ever seen. And it was beautiful.
Beauty can be designed. It can also appear unexpectedly. Some beauty only lasts a fleeting moment before you're too hungry and you take a bite of it. However beauty finds you, may it bless you as this dough ball has blessed me.
Why Are MMOs Fun?
Chief Paid Product Placement Correspondent Andrew Piotrowski
That, by itself, isn't a very good article. Besides, clearly there's something about MMOs that draws people in. There are countless variations on the genre roping in hundreds of millions of players around the world and making some sort of profit, I'm sure. I don't really know how money works but I'm excited for someone to teach me some day.
MMORPGs. MMOs for short. Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games for long. "Mother, More Oranges!" if you're Matt and stupid. They're online games designed to be played by a virtually limitless number of players all at one time. Many can be lumped into different categories but the scale of the games is the main common thread.
Luckily, this isn't a scientific newsletter so I don't have to get into the sociology of these games or the marketing schemes produced by the companies that make these games. Instead, I'll talk about my experience with them.
I gravitate toward the fantasy-adventure-RPG side of MMOs. Your big, name-brand example is obviously Blizzard's World of Warcraft, with its long history of Being a Game and Having Content (that sounds sarcastic, but being extant for as long as WoW has is an achievement unto itself). I've also dipped a toe into similarly-formatted games like Lord of the Rings Online, Guild Wars 2, and Final Fantasy XIV. On my wilder nights, I've wandered into the Minecraft-esque Trove and the 2D sidescroller Maplestory, famous for its colorful, friendly aesthetic.
My long tenure with World of Warcraft started when I was like 14, I guess. I can't be bothered to remember. I remember seeing the World of Warcraft box at Walmart and begging for it until my mom acquiesced. I realized later when I got home that it was actually just an expansion pack and I hadn't actually bought the game. Ah, the tantalizing chase.
I played that game for hours every day. I jeopardized the lifespan of our family PC almost as doggedly as Tr*mp has jeopardized the lifespans of marginalized people in my pursuit of the Ultimate Warcraft Prize. Which is....
There's not really an ultimate prize. Don't get me wrong, I know a lot of video games have some sort of open ending. But usually even those have some way to hit 100% achievement, even if it's a lofty goal. That's the weird thing about MMOs that seems to contradict their popularity: they're virtually unfinishable. There's no satisfaction to be gained by hitting an apex because as soon as you attain any sort of goal in an MMO you're just counting down until the next content update renders you obsolete.
So like, what's the point? You invest hours and days and weeks into these games. In the case of World of Warcraft, you might grind for reputation with a particular faction every day for a month just to unlock a single character customization option. For Lord of the Rings Online, you might log in for hours at a time, desperately wandering the game for something that makes it worth playing. You won't find it. Zing.
Honestly, I don't know what brings me back to MMOs every time I put them down. This week, I got back into WoW after not playing regularly for over a year because a new content patch came out. The new patch released a lot of new stuff; interestingly, one of the new options completely renders obsolete the reputation grind I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Hope you didn't waste your time every day for a month to unlock a single character customization option.
Perhaps it's the joy that people find in collecting things, though. Stamps, pressed flowers, state quarters, dick pics. We all collect things in one way or another. What makes a virtual collection any less valuable? Not to mention that these games often have a "robust" PvP system where you can make yourself feel better about your sad, sad life by clicking your keyboard a little better than some 14 year old from New Mexico. Yes, I'm bitter about World of Warcraft PvP and I can't get into it right now.
I wasn't really sure where to go with this next, so I asked resident useless gaming expert Sprad Matling.
"You could say something about how it's weird what things give our brain little doses of happy chemicals, and it's weird how we'll fixate seemingly at random on things like single customization options and grind for them for weeks, which I guess is true about life in general.
"Is making the pixels on your screen line up in a slightly different pattern really all that much more arbitrary than everything else we do?
"So it becomes an exercise in appreciating what you have, I suppose.
"Which is ironic because while you appreciated your game so much, your relationships crumbled and your job fired you."
In the end, I suppose the reason we get satisfaction from these open-ended, eternally unsatisfying mass-market corporate productions that inevitably exist to remind us about the values of imperialism and capitalism in a virtual space is that we, as humans, can derive pleasure from just about any stupid fucking thing and then we'll move on with our lives. Also fuck that guy that keeps killing me while I'm just trying to finish story quests in Tiragarde Sound. You're not cool and no one's entertained by your macros.
Twilight (A Review) (Abridged)
Chief Cold Cuts Correspondent Marina Martinez
Welcome to my highly anticipated 4-part series in which I will review, summarize, critique, and complain about each book/movie in the so-called 'Twilight Saga'. My first critique is that 4 parts of a mediocre fantasy romance series don't really call for the word 'saga'. A saga is supposed to be a long historical tale of heroic achievement, and it's supposed to be Icelandic. No offense to Stephanie, but this is...the opposite of that.
Also, disclaimer: my copies of the books are at my parent's house approximately 400 miles away and I have not read them in a WHILE but I feel like that's for the best. I read them about 20 times in middle school so I feel like I remember the gist. Anyway, here goes nothing.
So the first thing you need to understand about the Twilight books is that the protagonist, Isabella 'Bella' Swan, is a teenage girl. She is the epitome of 'I'm not like other girls'. She describes herself as plain and yet everyone is entranced by her looks. She reads old books for fun. I hope you believe me when I tell you that 2009 Kristen Stewart was the perfect casting choice for the movie. Okay, moving on to the plot.
Bella Swan decides to move from Arizona to Forks, Washington so that her mom can have more time with her new husband. It's a selfless move but it also makes her miserable, so obviously she's very mature and wise beyond her years. Her dad, Charlie - who is the best thing about this entire series - is the Sheriff of the extremely small and wet town of Forks, and he loves his daughter and is a great dad but they are both extremely awkward people so they don't interact much. Charlie is the perfect dad and I'm so glad that Bella recognizes that.
The first couple chapters take us through Bella's first day at a new school - she meets other teenagers who are soooooo much more vapid and shallow than her (but still kind to the new kid) and is introduced to the Cullens, who are so beautiful and mysterious that she can't stop thinking about them and describing their looks and actions. If this were an anime, they would all have neon colored hair and actual facial features. Edward Cullen is, of course, singled-out by Jessica, Bella's new 'BFF', who seems really bitter that Edward doesn't date anybody. We, the audience, are super aware that this is a vampire romance, so we can guess at this point that our boy Eddy is 1) a vampire, 2) the love interest, and 3) very sensible for not dating a teenager. Don't worry! He does in fact date a teenager later in the book. (Spoilers.)
I feel like I'm taking too long to describe everything that's happening. I Do Not Want to just rehash the entire book. So here is a list of notable incidents that Bella goes through before she is aware of the plot:
- She walks into her AP Bio class and Edward glares at her with black eyes. (We find out later in Midnight Sun that it was because she smelled like drugs and he was planning 100 different ways he could kill a classroom full of children in under 30 seconds.)
- The Cullens are absent from school for a couple of days and then Edward turns up in AP Bio with golden eyes and is friendly. Bella has metaphorical whiplash.
- Bella gets literal whiplash when she's almost smashed by a car in the school parking lot. Edward, who she was just gazing at longingly from across the lot, is by her side almost instantly to stop a van from squashing her. Somehow nobody sees this and she thinks she's delusional.
- Post-accident, she is treated by Carlisle Cullen, the head of the Cullen family and a super hot doctor, who also denies anything weird. But Bella is observant and knows something is UP.
At this point my memory gets kinda fuzzy. So Charlie has a friend, Billy Black, who lives with his son Jacob on the nearby Quileute reservation. The local white kids like to go to the beach there, La Push, to hang out, so Bella decides to go with them and invites Edward, who declines politely. (Everything he says and does is polite or formal, also. That's a fun vampire character trait.) Anyway Bella goes to La Push and sees Jacob and his friends, who are mostly there at this point in the story to mention that the Cullens aren't welcome on the Rez and it's because their ancestors have a feud. Yeah spoiler it's not the Cullens' ancestors it was them the whole time because they're immortal vampires.
ANYWAY the Quileutes are are 'wolf warriors' and they battled the 'cold ones' so Bella, a smart cookie, tries to Google that and instead of believing what she reads on the internet goes to an actual book store in Port Angeles. Once again a lot happens but basically she goes with Angela and Jessica (her human acquaintances) to buy dresses for prom, but obviously she's too mature to care about clothes and/or appearances (even though she's told us Edward's copper hair color like 50 times at this point) and needs to be surrounded by books, her one true love. After leaving the bookstore, she is followed by gross men and is almost in a Bad Situation but then Edward shows up in his awesome fuel-efficient car?? He's been stalking her, which we're obviously supposed to be grateful for in this situation.
Here are some things that happen next:
- Edward is IN A RAGE, this is the MADDEST HE'S EVER BEEN.
- Instead of going to the police, Bella lets Edward take her to dinner. They get Italian, because her name is Bella and she's italian?? (she's not)
- Her two friends, who WENT TO DINNER WITHOUT HER, are totally cool with just leaving her to chill with the guy who rescued her from a bad time but was also stalking her. I know they are teenagers, but there is a Bro Code and they obviously did not read the handbook on this one.
- Edward and Bella have dinner and Edward reveals he can read minds and that he's not human.
The next few chapters feature her putting the clues together, like we've been begging her to do since the dang book started. In her sad little eyes, this weirdo is her hero. And I mean, yeah, he has technically saved her life twice, but she did technically put herself into both of those situations. Also her dad is a cop, I would've LOVED it if she was just like 'uh, Dad, the Cullens are sus' and then they killed the whole town. That doesn't happen, regrettably, but a girl can dream.
Here's the thing I like about Bella - she knows what she wants and does not care about/is actually looking forward to the consequences. Bella getting absolutely horny for a non-human mind-reading hot guy is maybe the one relatable part of the whole dang series. This is why everybody got really into Twilight - we would all absolutely love it if a monster fell in love with us with, like, zero effort on our part. Even this repressed Mormon woman understands that.
There was more to this review, but let me get real with you here - the rest of the book is kind of a bummer. Once the metaphorical cat is out of the bag, Edward introduces her to the rest of his family (who are various levels of comfortable hanging out with humans, even though they're 'vegetarians'), they play some baseball during a thunderstorm because they are so fuckin ripped, they stage an elaborate cross-country journey to evade a rogue vampire who wants to hunt and kill Bella, and she barely escapes with her life. You know, it just seems dull now. It didn't 30 minutes ago, when I had 7 additional pages covering all the details, but now...it doesn't feel vital that you know all of that. But in the effort to maintain some semblance of continuity for future reviews, here are the important things:
- There are 3 vampires that interrupt the family baseball match: Laurent, James, and Victoria. James is the one that lures Bella in for the kill, BITES HER, and then gets decapitated. He was mated to Victoria, who is not happy with Bella, obvs.
- Edward sucks the venom out. There are a lot of jokes I could make here but I won't.
- This near death experience makes Bella sad somehow. Like, she wishes Edward had kept the venom in? She wants to be a vampire.
- This becomes A Thing. Edward wants her to be a teenager, she wants to become his immortal lover. A small difference of opinion is all it is.
And then the book ends with them going to prom together, because of course it does. She is a teenager!!!!!!!!!! And he is 107 years old. In 2007, Marina thought this was the most incredible romance of a generation. And you know what! Maybe. A little.
Okay folks, that's Twilight. Just imagine that but with a blue filter - that's what the movie looks like. Also the line 'hold on tight, spider monkey', for some reason. Stay tuned for the next installment, when I cover New Moon and we'll all be halfway through this nightmare and I can go back to writing goofs or something.
A Moral Quandry
Chief Recursive Footnote Correspondent Alex Speed
Today marks eleven days without any alcohol or drugs (not that I have ever done any sort of drugs in my life, mom) and in order to expel the extreme anxiety each day of sobriety brings I have been doing things like running five miles and then immediately trying to summit a mountain despite it being covered in snow and well beyond my skill level. On my last hike I had an idea for my next Newsletter article. I used to write cool and funny things like reviewing all the version of "Life Is A Highway" or listing ways to show your significant other you remember their name. These are not good articles but at least it wasn't me literally just writing about how I cried into two almost empty cans of lone star after me and my girlfriend broke up yano?
Upon opening up my laptop to write that super great idea I immediately forgot it. I only remember the title (see above) and I can't work my way back from that at all so here we are I guess.
Instead here is the very first article I ever tried to write for Newsletter that was so bad
Matt gave it the ol "No Thank You On This One, Chief."
Editors note: For the record, I didn't reject this for its quality so much as because Webnode in its infinite wisdom did not include the ability to format footnotes. It still doesn't. But now that's irrelevant, because with 30 more issues of experience under our belts, we've learned you can just spit in the face of your journalistic forefathers and do things like take blurry screenshots of entire articles on your mac and just post those instead.
Night of the Undead Siri
Chief Gasps Correspondent Matt Spradling
Once upon a time there was a boy named Mart Spralndig. He always updated to the newest available iOS because he was a good boy and just wanted his phone to work.
One day in September, one such new iOS version became available so he downloaded it. As per usual, most of the changes were nonsense, but at least everything was up to speed, and the ability to add custom photos to group chats was kind of fun, he supposed.
Then he double-clicked to switch between apps, and something curious appeared: a pop-up suggestion for podcasts. He had never received such a pop-up suggestion and immediately hated it. "It must be a new feature I should go turn off, because I'm still trying to get over the inescapable and unholy nightmare that is the new app library," Mart said, and his cat hit him.
Unable to find settings for anything called "invasive pop-ups on the phone you paid for and own," he eventually found "Siri & Search" settings. "Ah, turning off Suggestions on Home Screen (and everywhere for that matter) ought to do the trick," said Mart. He even went through every individual app listed on the page and manually turned off suggestions for each one, which took a long time.
He'd always turned Siri off in every possible capacity because he found that entire feature to be useless and annoying except for a brief stint in 9th grade when he found joy in trying to get it to say dirty words. He'd never before encountered resistance. Why should this be any different?
As he expected, this took care of the vexing but now vanquished invasive pop-up problem. He went on to have a wonderful day and was very productive and very cool and his cat loved him.
The next evening, Mart decided to imbibe alcohol because it seemed like the smart thing to do. After a fun night of games and revisiting godawful mid-2000's music videos with his partner, he spread out on the sofa and cracked open a crisp, ice-cold podcast.
The humid wind began to churn outside in the dark and the teens next door piled into their car parked right outside his living room window to hotbox and listen to loud music for several hours. Mart stuck his airpods in and clicked between apps, and that's when he saw it.
(pause for gasps)
"There must be some mistake," he said, and his cat hit him. "I specifically turned this the fuck off." He once again found the Siri & Search settings, and everything appeared turned off like he'd left it. Fearfully, he scrolled down through the long list of individual apps until he arrived at Podcasts, and clicked it with trepidation.
(pause for gasps)
A foe he thought dead stared back at him.
Mart hurriedly swiped it off once more and tried to get on with his evening, but he couldn't shake the feeling that something was amiss. Over the course of the next month, he was proven fearfully correct again and again. Each day he would turn off the setting, and each day it would turn itself back on, unkillable and unable to be kept from its dark task in the mortal world: to deliver annoying pop-ups that were hard to click around because Mart's fingers were big.
Mart tried everything he could think of. He tried googling the problem in like seven different wordings, but no one else seemed to have experienced this haunting. He tried resetting his phone, but this never ghoulsmashed it thoroughly enough to exorcise his personal pan poltergeist. He called 311 to tell them the changes were coming from inside the phone, but they always hung up on him. Never safe, he descended into madness, a dim half-life, a mockery of health and normalcy.
Weeks later, as he hid from the daylight under his bed, no longer able to feel his cat biting his ankles, he opened up to his friend Blex about his phantom problem.
"Have you tried cursing your phone?" he asked.
Mart replied that no, he hadn't thought to do that.
"The blue moon falls on Halloween this year," said Blex. "That would probably work. What could go wrong?"
To be continued.
I'm Not Crying. You're Not Crying, Are You? - Dear and the Headlights
Were you a high angst energy high schooler? Did you really really like The Fratellis despite literally no one else listening to them and not even receiving any cool indie cred because The Fratellis had one huge hit so people knew vaguely about them in a way that made you feel kinda weird about having a deep connection to a band everyone just sort of knows exists? This song is that feeling but in a song. Very weird. Pretty cool. -Alex
Full Moon - The Black Ghosts
This is the *Twilight Opening Credit Music* so ofc I'm making you listen to it. YouTube link because it's not on Spotify for some reason. -Marina
Safer - Krysta Rodriguez, First Date Original Broadway Cast
Okay so we can ignore for a moment that Krysta Rodriguez sings this song at basically a full belt for the entire duration. "Safer" is an anguished lament at the concept of protecting yourself at the cost of pushing away everyone around you, eventually getting to the point where you feel like there must be something wrong with you because everyone else just seems to Get It. Anyway, Krysta Rodriguez basically sings this song at a full belt the entire time and it's incredible. -Andrew
Hell To Da Naw Naw Naw - Bishop Bullwinkle
An R&B, easy romp that taught me how to say no in a fun and friendly way. Some preachy messages but you gotta love the hype guy in the background - he's the kind of friend figure you want backing you up in life. -Jenna
Suspirium - Thom Yorke
That's right, all that Suspiria stuff was just another trick so I could talk about Thom Yorke more, suckers. His score for the film is mostly haunting ambient numbers that are good for reading, but the 4-5 songs that include vocals are sublime. "Unmade" is my favorite for personal reasons, but "Suspirium," which is more or less the film's running theme, seems to be the most popular, and for good reason. It's fragile, cold, contemplative, and an all around beautiful piano waltz. -Matt
Please Be It - Generationals
Generationals was one of my favorite bands freshman year of college. I forgot they existed until I saw on Twitter that they were absolutely slamming a conservation group pretending to care about the environment but really just funneling money to republican senate candidates. Obviously I listened to their whole discography and this song stuck with me. The song wraps up an absolutely stellar album called Actor Caster. It feels like a train leaving a station. -Alex
July Flame - Laura Veirs
I know it's October but I listened to this song a lot in high school and I've been feeling really nostalgic for high school recently, sue me. -Marina
Younger - A Great Big World
This song stole my heart with the simple fact that it includes 8-bit audio effects and video game sound bites. Plus one of the band members is gay, which automatically makes it better than literally any music made only by straight people. The icing on the cake is the light-hearted celebration of days gone bye and an infectious pop-rock beat. -Andrew
505 - Arctic Monkeys
Favorite Worst Nightmare is an October album and I won't be convinced otherwise. This isn't exactly a deep cut, but the opening sounds (which are actually a sample from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) are what I hear when I think about this album and it's good vibes, like the sun setting on a cold, drizzly, autumn day. -Matt
Banner - Stanley Donwood & Dr. Tchock for Suspiria (2018)
erreur de traduction - a concerning Strohmeyer original
The archetypal cookie dough chungus - alas, now only in the past
Gibson - Dogs"R"Us
Undead Siri - watching me at all times. If I mysteriously disappear in the near future, please c