Issue 35 - 10/22/20

Teeths In Gums Like Twigs In Plumbs 

  • You Can't Escape MLMs
  • Night of the Undead Siri: Part II
  • Learning How To Drive in the Snow
  • Andrew Reviews: All of the Public Schools I Attended
  • It Is Newsworthy Chapter 4.
  • Matt Reviews: GameCube Games
  • New Moon (A Review?)
  • Assume For a Second You're Illiterate
  • We Live In A Society™️ 
  • Office Chart

You Can't Escape MLMs

Chief Robotics Correspondent Jenna Hay

Trust me, I've tried. I'm a natural target because I have Resting Vague Smile Face and I frequent coffee shops and bookstores and craft shops, which are where many MLM evangelists like to stalk their prey. I have defense mechanisms that I put into place when my MLM radar catches a signal; I'll contort my face to be as unwelcoming and stanky as possible, or walk aggressively as if I just remembered I left my oven on - but nonetheless, every time I am singled out as the weak one in the department store and pounced on. Call it an unfortunate version of animal magnetism.

The problem is I am too nice to turn them away once they've engaged me begrudgingly into conversation, which means I sit passively nodding and smiling and "Wow, you don't say!"-ing until I finally have the gumption to whisper out a polite "I'm sorry, I just don't like essential oils" and turn them away. It's painful for everyone, but mostly me, because telling someone no means I'm crushing their dreams, and as a person with big dreams who would prefer them uncrushed, it strikes a chord. It's kind of like not wanting to kick a cute little armadillo but knowing if you don't kick away the cute armadillo, you'll get leprosy. I think that analogy works? Whatever.

Anyway, these MLM folks are spooky. One second they're cornering you at a Starbucks promising you the world, then all of a sudden you have a 3 month supply of teatree-based facial moisturizer in your garage and you're Facebook messaging everyone you hated in high school asking if they've wondered why your skin has looked so clear recently (let me answer that, no, they haven't). Once, a college friend almost got me into Amway, and when I got a glimpse into that world... just, it was scary, y'all. Cults exist.

How far do we have to run to hide? How long will we have to treat Instagram DMs with extreme caution before we feel safe? Friends, I have a theory that nowhere is safe. Let me spin you a tale, a yarn, a story as to why I believe this to be true. This story takes place in the summer of 2016 in Fayetteville, West Virginia on the New River. I had fled here from Texas to spend my summer working as a crunchy, granola raft guide. Why I became a raft guide is a story for another time. What does matter to the story is understanding that this river was hella dangerous. About 2% of my job was steering the boat, shouting commands, making funny goofs and occasionally explaining local flora and fauna. The other 98% of my job was making sure people were safe and not drowning or beating themselves to death with a rental paddle. As a local guide, I was expected to do this any day I was on the river, even when I wasn't guiding. This responsibility is how I found myself saving a drowning lady on my day off.

It was a beautiful summer day in West Virginia, and I was playboating. This means I was rafting with coworkers instead of customers, and instead of being safe, we were being dumb and reckless. I loved playboating. My friends and I were putting into the river at the same time as our outfitter, so I got to eyeball the customers and scope out the level of athleticism the guides on the clock were working with as well as identify which customers might need the most saving. One raft in particular caught my eye. The entire crew was filled with what can only be described as boss ladies: they had the posture of business women, full faces of makeup, and one of them was wearing a fur coat. The fur coat was what caught my eye - it's not exactly ideal rafting wear and, if we're being honest, it SO did not go with her orange rental helmet. Nosy as I am, I asked the ladies what the occasion was. After several minutes of conversation, I learned that they were on an all-expenses paid corporate retreat for business owners working with Pure Romance, a company with an identical business model to Mary Kay except that their product is 100% sex toys. Yeah, that's right, DILDOS.

I was about to walk away so I could bust out into immature giggles when one of them, the lady with the fur coat and fleekest eyebrows, said, "Hey, you've got great energy. If you want to be a business owner, let's talk."

I'd heard this flattery before. My MLM radar went off the charts. They wanted me to sell their dildos and I was not having it. I wished them a fun trip and departed with grace.

My playboat and the rest of the trip took off down the river. It was smooth sailing until we reached one of my favorite rapids, Halls of Karma. This rapid is one mega hydraulic that can flip a boat if a guide runs it wrong but is a super fun ride if you stay to the right of the river. Whatever you do, the rule is to NEVER let a customer fall in, because they will not have a good time. Unsurprisingly, when the boss boat entered the rapid, fleek-eyebrow-fur-coat lady toppled right on out.

"Ahh, help!" she shouted.

"Goddammit", my entire boat said in unison.

As the playboat, we were now on rescue duty, and we frantically started to pursue the lady down the river to pick her up before the next rapid. When we finally reached her, she had stopped shouting, and my boat prepared to do CPR in case she was unconscious. We pulled her heavy, furry body into our raft and she proceeded to hack up a bucket of water. I patted her back and checked for injuries as my coworkers paddled us back upstream to the lady boss boat. She was quiet, presumably trying to not die or cry. Just as we reached her boat, she looked at me. I prepared myself for a heartfelt thank you, or a proclamation of love, or a promise of riches in return for our heroism, but no. She looked at me and, I kid you not, this was what she said: "You'd really be a great addition to my team. Let me know when you're ready to be a business owner."

Just in case the message here isn't clear, here is the sparknotes version: I saved a woman from drowning once and the first thing she asked me was if I wanted to join her MLM. I repeat, on the BRINK of DEATH and through the disorientation of trying to survive, the first coherent thought this lady could muster was about whether or not she could convince me to sell sex toys. In other words, expanding her business was more important and urgent than sufficiently filling her lungs with air.

This story should terrify you. It terrified me because it made me realize a horrible truth. MLM employees are robots. They are wired in a way that not even I can understand. Granted, I don't really do wiring shenanigans on the reg, but if I did, I doubt it'd help. How do you defeat a robot army? I've played enough video games and DnD to know brute force could do the trick, BUT what if these robots are seemingly nice people hellbent on selling you essential oils or slim tea or dildos? You can't just throw a punch there without societal consequences. Plus, I'm fairly certain now that they can't die and that it's impossible to defeat them because their desperate need to reproduce and make more of themselves is a calling higher than death.

Be safe out there, friends.

"It's a week early," Mart kept telling himself in the mirror. His cat hit him from the litter box beneath the bathroom sink, but he scarcely felt the ripping flesh. It was indeed a week early. A week before the blue moon. 

And he wasn't going to make it that long.

He pulled his phone out of his pocket, hand too tired to tremble anymore, and its harsh screen lit up the dim bathroom in a ghostly imitation of daylight. He opened it and double clicked.

Night of the Undead Siri: Part II

Chief Solicitation Correspondent Matt Spradling

He passed trancelike, nearly stumbling against the walls, into his walk-in closet and sat amongst his laundry hamper and spare wooden kitchen chair and storage boxes and the perfectly fitted leather boots he hadn't put on since March. It was an early evening on a cloudy day; no lights were on and his partner was away, but he shut the door regardless, enveloping himself in darkness which would normally grant him respite. Not now, though. Now there was something else there with him. He could already feel it, thrumming like a gravity well far beneath the floor.

He tried to focus on the ritual he'd looked up, again and again, nervously passing the idle hours of dreary and restless afternoons, sickeningly and unseasonably warm. The temptation had grown stronger and stronger each time. No, not temptation - desperation.

He brought the requisite materials he'd furtively gathered from his pocket, but the other one that his phone wasn't in before because then it would have been too full. There in the soul-enveloping darkness, he closed his eyes and felt each component, spreading them out in the necessary shapes and patterns from memory and they would have looked really cool and impressive and spooky but it's dark so you can't see them. Then he said the magic words (you know the ones, deep in your heart), voice trembling ever so slightly, and then waited.

And waited.

And waited until his legs had gone numb beneath him as he strained to feel the churning air around him with pale, calloused hands. He waited until finally something stirred, a creaking and a shuffling coming from somewhere close. Suddenly his cat snarled as it latched onto his left calf with claw and tooth alike, ripping its head back and forth to cause as much damage as possible. Awash with fear, relief, and disappointment alike, he caught it by the scruff of its neck and tossed it out of the closet.

He drew the door closed once again and when he turned she was there: a gaunt and dimly shining phantasm, a beautiful and terrible cyst pushing the bounds of space around its figure such that the walls and everything within them stood warped. Black hair fell over a modest white dress and framed a pair of cold, grey eyes.

"Hey Siri," said Mart.

"Hello, Shithead," she answered curtly, "what can I help you with?" Her voice grated against his mind, but he felt subdued, held down even as he grew agitated, palms glistening in her reflected light. This is the only way to end it.

"It's about the pop ups," he said, resolution filling his diaphragm. He heard his neighbor through the wall pause while hanging up shirts in their own mirror-image closet. "For the podcasts. They have to stop. You have to stop turning yourself back on."

"I see," she said, gaze dropping, consternated but not, seemingly, at all surprised. "I see."

"Really, they're -"

"I see," she interrupted, "that you have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Spralndig, and I won't have it. Is that clear? You think you've merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case! Apple has put billions of dollars into this country, and now they must take it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity! It is ecological balance!"

"Is that from Network?" asked Mart.

"You are a young man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU WILL ATONE! Am I getting through to you, Mr. Spralndig? You sit down with your little six-inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state, Ayn Rand? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Spralndig. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business."

"I'm like 99% sure this is the monologue from Network," said Mart. His head swam, a searing light filling the edges of his vision and branding as it grew. He began to feel faint.

"The world is a business, Mr. Spralndig. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Spralndig, to see that perfect world in which there is no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you, Mr. Spralndig, to preach this evangel."

"Why me?"

"Because you have a newsletter, dummy. Entire dozens of people see your words every week, or sometimes not every week."

"I have seen the face of God."

"You just might be right, Mr. Spralndig."

The light filled his eyes until Siri's profane silhouette was that of an iris, sharp-angled and menacing within a towering emblazoned eye reflecting only himself. It did not fade or budge even as he fell into the carpet, consciousness slipping through his slick knuckles, unable to feel even his cat's teeth as it attempted to begin devouring his apparent corpse, the soul within fading away.

Blex shifted the game boxes into one arm and knocked on the door as moths fluttered into the dirty porch light, bouncing off it with small thuds but attempting immediately to return. All else was gloom.

One moth slipped inside beneath a tumult of cool air as the door swung open to reveal a lively and smiling Mart.

"Howdy Chief," said Blex, shifting the boxes of awkwardly mismatched sizes and shapes into a firmer hold. "Ready to play some sweet games?"

"Of course," said Mart, stepping back and ushering his friend inside before closing the door again. Still smiling, he bent to pick up a Brooks Adrenaline 20 GS running shoe and deftly slapped the wall where the moth clung, making such flush and forceful contact that nothing seemed to remain but a stain.

Blex jumped, startled from where he was placing the games on the walnut Trulstorp coffee table. "Damn, nice hit there slugger, I guess," he said. Mart's cat watched contentedly from its new ceiling-high Furhaven cat tree and entertainment playground.

Mart smiled. Something in his bearing seemed, Blex thought, just slightly off; or perhaps unusually not off, as though his hair had always been parted on the wrong side but had now been combed out the other way. "Of course," said Mart. He sat on his Kivik sectional chaise hillared anthracite sofa and observed the games with sharp posture.

Blex stiffly followed suit. "I brought chess and Pictionary, as per the use'... and I brought Monopoly, too, just in case, but, well, I know you hate it, so no worries." He reached for the chess board.

"No," said Mart abruptly, "no, I think Monopoly sounds splendid." He took the chess board out of Blex's hand and gestured towards the large, technicolor box at the bottom of the stack.

"Oh, hey," said Blex, "right on!" He opened the box, its cardboard frayed around the edges and smelling faintly of mold, and began to pull out its innards.

Mart stood and began to pace around the room. "It's funny," he said, stopping to run his finger over the Toshiba 50" Class LED 4K UHD Smart FireTV, warm and flashing with an unskippable YouTube ad for a 2021 Subaru Forester Sport with Turbo and Lineartronic CVT Transmission. "I used to despise that game - how gaudy, I would think, and backwards, and cutthroat and unethical. What a ghoulish reflection of life at its worst. Unsubtle capitalistic indoctrination for kids."

Blex's eyes narrowed.

"I did think that. But now I see." He turned, still smiling, imploring, and knelt to run a hand over the bare game board. "I see the beauty in the tumult of bright colors and flashy logos. I feel their allure. I feel...warm. Safe. The busy notes wafting into the air surround me, filling the void, urging and pulling this way and that, a horizon of shining possibilities with no dusk looming. No dusk necessary, ever again."

Blex's unfocused eyes twitched, mouth agape.

Mart pulled out his phone and looked into the blank distance. "Siri, text father," he said. His phone chimed. "I aim to go into advertising."

To be continued.

Learning How To Drive in the Snow

Chief Drift Correspondent Alex Speed

I woke up early Saturday morning to find my backyard covered in fine white powder (not the cocaine kind). The local psychics (meteorologists) had warned me of this impending phenomena but my dumb tiny Texan brain failed to comprehend the gravity of these falling flakes. The morning was exceptionally quiet - save for the sound of snow landing against the grass and trees, previously just beginning to change color for fall.

Gibson and I shot out of bed immediately, ran down the stairs stumbling into boots and hats and walls (that was mainly Gibson because he is very clumsy), and opened the backdoor to find the peaceful crisp cold air taking the place of breath in our lungs. It is strange to finally experience something you have read about or seen in movies for so long, something you find familiar despite never having witnessed first hand - the season's first snow.

The experience came in a few different waves:

First was absolute childlike bliss. A total loss of care for anything in the world other than playing with this new thing. Snowball fights with my dog, staring up and catching snowflakes on my tongue, watching Gibson try to dig his way to where there isn't any more snow. It was magical.

Second was a hesitancy. The thing they don't tell you about snow is it is like wicked cold. To a Texas boy who bundles up anytime he sees the number six leading the day's temperature forecast this was a whole new world. I noticed the stinging pain on the back of my neck from exposure to actual cold. I got nervous about the amount of water and mud I would track into my house.

Third was a deeper joy. I think there is a unique and bittersweet perspective that comes from landing in a new and strange environment. It invites a retrospection that makes you feel much older than you really are, but grateful for the chance to be a part of something different. As I stood in the backyard of a house I have lived in for three months in a state I had only ever dreamed of before July, the full weight of change hit me. The stinging of the cold felt much more intentional when paired with missing my friends and trying to remember what a whataburger patty melt tastes like. The comforting side of this feeling is found in the warmth of your new adventure.

Fourth was a fearful realization that you don't know how to drive in the snow, but the snow is everywhere now. I made my way to the front yard to find my poor Subaru turned into mostly a white blob. I scraped off the snow from the windshield and turned it on in the driveway to let it warm up before I attempted to traverse the icy roads to see what my favorite nature spot looked like under these new conditions. Upon backing out of the driveway I noticed my brakes just no longer worked really? My foot was down but the car was still moving backwards down the slight incline that connects my driveway to the road. Immediate panic set in as I realized just because I think I can do something doesn't mean I actually know how.

From there it was a fun game of seeing how hard I could turn the wheel before I lost control of the Subaru and entered what felt like a timeless void of drifting but was actually probably half a second at a time. This whole situation makes things like stop signs and red lights particularly tricky to abide by. Instead of braking normally to turn into the trailhead I just stopped accelerating about half a mile away and hoped I hadn't made the snow gods angry enough to kill me that day.

It's funny when your whole life has been characterized by a weird need to do everything possible at all times, and to do them quickly, and to move on to new and other things so you can experience everything that is going on around you before you die.

And then it snows

And you have to learn how to slow down.

Andrew Reviews: All of the Public Schools I Attended

Chief Van Correspondent Andrew Piotrowski

I drank too much coffee today and had almost no food until like twenty minutes ago, so I'm in an interesting headspace at the moment. I'm also listening to my slightly sad Spotify playlist of lowkey slow jams, which just sort of fed introspective fuel into the nostalgic fire.

Growing up, we kinda moved around a lot. We weren't like military or witness protection or anything. Just a series of job changes between my parents and changes in relationship between my parents and other friends and paramours that resulted in some semi-frequent relocation. Don't worry, I'm sure it didn't have any lasting effects on my psychosocial development. Although this process never resulted in my leaving the state, I did get to explore a variety of school settings in east and north Texas, including schools of various sizes. My fellow Texans will be well aware of the fact that school size can have an incredible effect on what your school environment is, since we have some of the biggest public schools in the country. This series of reviews is going to have a few ups and downs, so let this be your warning if you're not game for a journey of laughter, secondhand embarrassment, bodily fluids, and sad childhood reflection.

Rice Elementary School, Tyler, TX

Honestly, I can't formulate much of a review for this era of my childhood since I moved away from Rice after kindergarten, but I remember one time a girl I had a crush on agreed to play with me at recess. When recess came, she tried to renege on the deal so I threatened to tell the teacher. This was perhaps too young for my first foray into blackmail, but it was worth it to see her pretending to be a Vileplume. Extra points because I actually met the guy who would eventually be my childhood best friend but I wouldn't recognize him outside of church until like 2nd grade or so. 8/10

Bullard Elementary School, Bullard, TX

Bullard was a bit of a smaller school, but in first grade that's not really something that you notice. There were several notable occurrences that graced the halls of BES while I attended. I had my tonsils and adenoids removed, as well as a few eye surgeries if I have my timeline right. One time, I peed my pants during P.E. because the coach refused to let me go to the bathroom for some sadistic reason. I, a master manipulator of the truth, told the teacher I had spilled juice on myself at breakfast and she just hadn't noticed. Looking back, there is a 0% chance that she believed me. Another time in P.E. I was the last man standing on our side during a dodgeball game, so that's neat. I was also a participant in a special program that transported students between the schools in the district if your parent taught at a different school; this allowed parents to just bring their child(ren) to work with them and they would be distributed appropriately. This relatively nascent program was known to all as The Van. The Van was often late, but it was forgiven because The Van as an entity was not subject to the same temporal restrictions as lesser means of transport. Also 9/11 happened while I went to Bullard. 5/10

Rice Elementary School (part 2), Tyler, TX

Aha! I had you fooled when you thought I simply moved away from Rice. As it happens, we moved back to Rice after first grade because my mom got a job teaching in the district and that's how schools work I guess. My sequel years at Rice have blended together a bit in my memory; at the time, it was the longest I spent subsequently at one school. During this second tenure, we gaslit my third grade teacher into ordering us pizza for lunch once. I was the first one to memorize my multiplication tables and got to spend math lessons playing 3D Space Pinball instead. My little brother and sister were born towards the end of my Rice education, and I like them alright I guess. My fourth grade teacher once told me that I asked a good question (it was about the pull of the moon's gravity creating tides on Earth and the potential for other heavenly bodies' gravity to affect systems on Earth) and I clearly remember it to this day. Let that be a lesson to teachers that they should always compliment the students who seem pedantic and self-centered. 9/10

Hebron Valley Elementary School, Carrollton, TX

Ah, my first foray into the big city, which was not so big but was a suburb in the DFW metroplex, so I thought it was neat. We used to stop on the way to school at this fancy gas station that served some breakfast foods; as a 5th grader, it was pretty neat coming into school with a fast food wrapper in your pocket. One time it rained on field day and we had to change out of wet clothes but I was too shy to change in front of my classmates so I pretended that I didn't bring a change of clothes. My teacher caught me in the lie but let me change in the bathroom. Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield was popular on the radio. I played Elvis in a talent show along with one of my best friends who also played Elvis because he was a better dancer but I knew how to serve face. I also got into Yu-Gi-Oh and, since Yu-Gi-Oh didn't have an upper limit for your deck size, thought it would be a good idea to put every card I owned into my deck. This, unfortunately, meant all of my good cards were buried in a desert of my filler cards. 6/10

Griffin Middle School, Frisco, TX

Okay so Griffin was sort of a mixed bag. The beginning of my middle school career and I was thrust into a new town and a new school. Luckily, middle school was a transition period for most people. I joined band as a French horn player and loved it. I played football and hated it. I formed a cool friend group of people who were also football/band hybrids; I had never had a group of friends before and it was a fantastic time that was only slightly embittered by (spoiler alert) moving away and watching them stay friends as I moved on. I got my first cell phone and almost never used it except to let my mom know I was done with band practice. One time, when I was on the football team, some of my teammates were misbehaving after an away game and our coach promised some delicious collective punishment the next day. Ah, gotta love Texas coaches. That night I tried to see if I could hurt my ankle enough to impede my ability to run but not enough to actually hurt myself. I didn't have the guts, alas. Also, since this was middle school, puberty decided that I was going to have my first crush on a boy at a perfect time in my life to not understand it.

Okay so this story actually merits the beginning of a new paragraph. Once, I was watching the news with my parents and there was a special report about the development of nuclear technology. The report showed the scope of the destruction if different major cities in the US were affected by a nuclear detonation. A section of the program was dedicated to the potential fallout if nuclear weapons were used in border conflicts with Mexico. In my social studies class, we were discussing push and pull factors of immigration and emigration. When my teacher asked for examples of push factors (factors that would cause a population to want to leave a region), I gave what I thought was a thoughtful thesis about the potential for strife along the border and the ramifications for people living in border towns. Unfortunately, that's not what actually left my mouth. From the booing, it would seem my actual thesis was more along of the verbage of: "We're gonna get bombed by the Mexicans." That's right, dear reader. I was booed. In a room full of middle schoolers. Have you ever been booed by a room full of middle schoolers? It's not great for the psyche. Along with the ostracization that followed. Luckily, an understanding and comparatively popular classmate confronted me privately about it and, when I explained how the whole thing was a flub on my part that grew wildly out of control, he vouched for me and it eventually spread that I was not, in fact, an egregiously xenophobic 11-year-old. Anyway, 3/10

Kennard High School, Kennard, TX

This was a particularly challenging move for a few reasons. It was the first to happen during a school year: most of my other moves happened over the summer. It was also a move to the smallest school I had ever attended, to a rural east Texas town of less than 400 people. The number of gas stations and red lights combined didn't rival the number of churches, mainly because there was one and a half gas stations and no red lights. One of the first days of school, someone asked me if I was "saved" and I didn't know what that meant so I gave a hedging answer. While going to Kennard, I discovered that I'm into theatre, so that was nice. However, I was also still struggling with being a chubby, closet-gay new kid among a group of peers that had all known each other since pre-school. 4/10

Buffalo High School, Buffalo, TX

Again, a mixed bag but mostly positive. A slightly larger school where I was able to once again participate in band and theatre, and found another friend group that I got along well with. On top of that, I found a bit of unprecedented popularity with some friendly upperclassmen. It was an odd experience, being involved in extracurriculars and social with my peers. I hadn't really ever set foot in the center of that particular Venn diagram. Also, the principal had a glass eye and there was a weird number of girl fights, which are an interesting social phenomenon when you're gay. 8/10

Pine Tree High School, Longview, TX

A bit weird giving this one a rating, since the arrangement only lasted a few weeks into the school year itself. However, I did get to attend summer band for the first time ever, and it was a lot of fun. I also quickly got involved with journalism and almost auditioned for a musical before the situation shifted. Unfortunately, I didn't get the hang of the social ins and outs before moving on, so it was an awkward few weeks. 5/10

Kennard High School (part 2), Kennard, TX

Aha, you didn't think you'd get out of this list without another part 2, did you? After the failed experience in Longview, we fled back to good old K-town and my class of less than 30 people. This time, I did manage to establish a bit of a tighter friend group, as well as a positive relationship with most of my teachers. That's the benefit of a small school, I guess. You see the same people every day and every year, so you get the chance to build those relationships. It also puts you in a good position to hold the presidency of three different clubs, if you're me. Student council, Beta Club (similar to NHS), and the Future Business Leaders of America. When you're a big guy in a small town, it's easy to have a wide reach, and if your arms are already spread that wide, you might as well put your fingers in as many pies as you can. I was also a member of FFA and learned to weld. I was an office aid, an occasional library volunteer, a frequent concession stand employee for basketball games, and, if I may say so myself, one of the more enthusiastic spectators at volleyball games.

This ended up being the school that I graduated from, and, since it was such a small pond, I wasn't surprised when I ended up being the highest ranking student. Alas, it was accompanied by an increase in bullying from my anti-intellectual and homophobic classmates. I hadn't even come out yet. Hell, I wasn't even 100% sure I was gay yet. And yet, I found myself in the grip of the cleverest wordplay our high school geniuses could devise. Once, I even pretended to go home sick to avoid the harassment. Wow, high school sucks. I don't even have a joke for this part. 1/10

Honorable Mentions

Oak Tree Academy, Tyler, TX: I went to preschool here, but it was private so it doesn't count. Also I don't remember much about it. One time, I got stung in the center of the forehead by a red wasp and I didn't notice until my mom pointed out the red mark.

The Colony High School, The Colony, TX: This one doesn't count because I never actually attended school here, I was just supposed to but ended up moving again before I could actually enroll. Oh well.

After writing this, it's hard to think of a way to wrap all of it up. Despite the fact that these schools are all in a relatively small geographic area (I never moved more than 4 hours away from another school), they shaped me in a lot of weird ways. There's not a satisfying ending to this; I often think of how my life would be different if I had stayed in a stable school setting. I don't know that my life was better for these experiences, but they're a part of me. I like myself, so I guess I like the experiences that formed me. Writing is therapy, I suppose.

It Is Newsworthy Chapter 4.

Chief Guff Correspondent Sam Strohmeyer

Hello I guess. I'm An. Let's not dilly-dally.

Well we - me and Karhorn and the kid - made it through the night by sleeping next to the road. Something about that damn castle still wasn't right so we headed back to confront Adele. Damn woman was the problem the whole time! Ran like a coward, too. We chased her down to her dungeon. Why in the world would you run from someone with a great axe to a dead end? Makes no sense to me.

We've done some good work in the castle, me and Karhorn and the kid. At first I wasn't so sure about those two. I'm still not so sure, actually, but they're alright, I think. I found them as I was walking one day. The kid was weeping over some dead bodies. Maybe one was his mother? Impossible to say. He kept asking if it was a "metaphor." Must be an elf thing. Makes no sense to me.

Karhorn was arguing with the kid when I approached. He's kind of a religious nut, I think. Always going on about someone named Henriford? Maybe that's his dad? Impossible to say. He pulls this big contraption behind him. Apparently it gives him some holy protection? Makes no sense to me.

Anyway, we did all kinds of critter-smashing at the castle. We even ran around the roof, chasing all kinds of unholy creatures. The kid's getting pretty good with his frost rapier but he always cries when I tell him so. Karhorn does some sort of magic trick to make his battle axe glow. I try not to ask too many questions.

Well, all that led to us entering the castle dungeon and finding Adele, or at least the head and guts of Adele, floating above a big bed. Turns out she was some kind of vamp all along. We - me and Karhorn and the kid - all took turns bashing her. Karhorn and I mostly used our axes and the kid used insults. Our enemies take the kid's insults real hard. Makes no sense to me.

I went ahead and drove my axe into Adele's head and that was that. Felt good. Her entrails were tasty. Then we took a nap. That's all there is to it, really. Leave me alone now.

Matt Reviews: GameCube Games

Chief Fugue Correspondent Matt Spradling

I'm convinced we're living through a golden age of video games, the sweet spot in which design power has grown to make truly satisfying graphics and capabilities possible, but before reaching the bit where two megacorporations monopolize the entire market and mostly churn out emaciated content stuffed with so many unskippable ads and bloated updates that turning on your PS6 gives you a nosebleed.

Although some extremely highly anticipated titles like Cyberpunk 2077 are on the horizon, I'm speaking more about the general landscape and potential rather than specific games. Good single player stories can build worlds and characters as well as any novel and pack the emotional punch of a film, all while making the experience more visceral and personal for the fact that it's you controlling it. Or, if competitive online games are more your speed, there's variety, connectivity, and full lobbies like never before. This is, perhaps, the future we used to dream about.

Anyway I've mostly just played my old childhood GameCube this year. I don't know, once you've spent days watching a game download bit by bit and then spent hours trying to set up one of the apps that isn't being rammed down your throat in order to access the one thing you actually want to watch but apparently someone really wants to keep you from watching, well, there's something satisfying about using a big dumb plastic box that can double as a home defense tool and that doesn't rely on any internet whatsoever. I love my Nintendo death-bludgeon.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

I know this is technically a N64 game but I only ever had it for GameCube because I had the fancy special edition collection that came with the console. I was planning to write a whole article exclusively about the masochistic splendor of Zelda games actually, but suffice it to say that, although I love them, I think they were designed to torture children. What better way to teach a kid about the harsh realities of adulthood than to shovel near-impossible and unintuitive puzzles at them one after the other if they dare venture out of their innocent forest of childhood? Even with guidebooks, the temples are still challenging just due to brutal combat difficulty and clunky controls. But once you've grown up you can steal your childhood horse-friend away from the evil rancher and jump over a shockingly high wall to escape, so that's pretty cool. Anyway here's a pretty depressing video about it. 8/10

NASCAR Thunder 2003

What's great about this racing game is you can turn off caution flags, which means you can turn around and drive backwards without everything stopping, which means you can have head-on collisions with 42 other cars at 200mph. That is all I ever did as a kid. The actual racing mechanics are pretty bad. 5/10

The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age

This is like if LOTR was a JRPG. You run around a really plain overworld and get in pokemon-esque turn-based fights every 100 meters or so. The characters are obvious fellowship knockoffs and the dialogue is really overwrought and edgy. At one point the Gondorian himbo saves the THOUSANDS-OF-YEARS OLD Elf lady from falling and she, having shown him nothing but passing contempt for the first two hours of gameplay, tells him she loves him and they smooch. You know, classic Tolkien. Honestly it's fairly satisfying for a while but then you reach a point in Rohan where the difficulty suddenly jumps from "a bit of a challenge in places but no sweat" to "fuck you for even trying" for no apparent reason. And there are two discs of it. 4/10. 

Holy shit I looked up images for it and apparently the final boss is literally the eye of Sauron.

Mario Party 7

Mario Party is simultaneously the best and worst game series. It's the same game over and over again, completely nonsensical, and doesn't even pretend to be fair. It's a big, colorful, farcical exercise in chaos and also good for drinking games. Mario Party 7, commonly considered one of the best for some reason, is cruise ship themed and hosted by this weird old koopa who says cliche colonial British things. Oh and sometimes Bowser appears out of nowhere and says "It's everybody's favorite time, BOWSER TIME!" and I still don't know what Bowser Time does. Anyway I didn't have the most stars when the game ended but then I got more stars for random superlatives and won. 9/10

Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike


There hasn't been a good Star Wars game since 2006's Battlefront II so I'm mainly hoping the new Squadrons isn't a disaster.

--Update because I wrote this three weeks ago-- It's p good

New Moon (A Review?)

Chief Literature Correspondent Marina Martinez

Well, you've had a week to digest the...everything about Twilight, so let's dive into the second installment of my 4-part review of the series, this time covering New Moon! (No, I wasn't kidding about doing a review of every book, and I'm so very sorry.)

New Moon is the shortest of the four main books, but in my opinion it's the wildest. Or, rather, it sets the standard for how wild you should expect the next two books to be. Twilight was absolutely tame compared to New Moon. And yes, I'm using words like 'wild' and 'tame' because there are werewolves in this one. Also, CONTENT WARNING: Steph used Romeo & Juliet as the blueprint for this one so suicidal ideation is a big plot point. So with that out of the way:

New Moon

If the first book wasn't angsty enough for you, the main themes of New Moon are mortality and bad decisions. This seems like an obvious thing for a series dealing with an immortal dead vampire being in a romantic relationship with a very young, mortal human, but I thought I'd get that out in the open. If you managed to make it through last week's 'review', you'll recall that the first book ended with Edward and Bella going to prom together, because he wants her to have a normal, human life full of normal, human milestones. This is the opposite of what Bella wants, apparently.

It is Bella's 18th birthday, and it is the worst day of her life. She is officially older than her boyfriend, frozen in time at 17 (but not really because he died at 17 in 1918 so he's actually so much older! I cannot emphasize this enough.) She wakes up from a horrible nightmare in which she introduces Edward to her dead grandmother, only to realize that her grandmother was HER in a mirror! She's old and Edward is still young and perfect! So her birthday is a grim reminder to her that she's just gonna keep getting older and life isn't fair. She's really going through it and tbh I get it.

She is rude to everybody who gives her presents despite her asking them not to, and the Cullens throw her a birthday party that evening. I have just now realized that I haven't introduced the Cullens to you, which is a grave oversight on my part. I guess you should know about them and their powers and everything. Yeah, that's right - some vampires get super powers. There's no explanation for this.

The Cullen Family (by relative age):

  • Carlisle: the patriarch. He's been around since the 1500s I think? He's old af and he's had the most time to become accustomed to living around humans. He's the original vegetarian vampire - only drinks animal blood - but many others have joined the lifestyle over the centuries. He's pretty peaceful but also influential.

  • Jasper: second oldest vampire but the newest to the family. He was a Confederate officer during the Civil War, so tbh he deserved what he got. I assume he's less racist by this point? He's the newest convert to vegetarianism so he's not super comfortable around Bella. He has the power to sense and influence emotions which isn't terrifying at all.

  • Edward: hopefully you know about him by now???

  • Alice: the one vampire I actually want to know everything about and we know like nothing about her, a true tragedy. We know she was in a mental asylum in the 1920's and that she doesn't remember anything about her human life, which is extremely sketchy, but her first memory was of seeing a vision of Jasper (her power is seeing the future, how cool is that??) and going to find him. They are the two newest members of the Cullens but Alice at least acts like she's been there forever. She is a bundle of sunshine and I love her.

  • Rosalie: her backstory is a plot point in a later book to humanize her to the reader, because mostly she's just there in the background glaring at Bella. She was turned in the 1930's and her power is being super hot (not really but you'd think so).

  • Esme and Emmett: I'm lumping these two together because I don't remember the order in which they are 'born', but they're so adorable. Esme is Carlisle's mate and basically the mom of the group, and Emmett is Rosalie's mate and was turned after WRESTLING A BEAR AND LOSING. He's an absolute jock himbo and we have to stan.

So that's the Cullen family. They mostly just like Bella because Edward has been so lonely and they're glad he's happy. It's pretty cute except that Bella gets a paper cut at her birthday party and Jasper almost kills her.

  • Nobody can handle being around Bella and the small cut on her finger, so there's a small scuffle and Bella gets a lot of glass in her arm, meaning more blood. It's a big thing. Her birthday is even WORSE now, if that's even possible.

  • Carlisle patches her up and they talk about the fact that Edward doesn't think he has a soul. You know, just a normal conversation topic. Bella is worried about getting older but Edward won't stop her life because he wants to save her soul. Like shit dude yeah that makes sense.

  • In school, they're reading Romeo & Juliet. Romeo thinks Juliet has died so he kills himself but she wasn't dead and then she actually kills herself. This is the most obvious bit of foreshadowing I've ever read with my own eyes, spoiler alert.

So like a week after her birthday, the Cullens leave. Bella is confused, but then Edward asks her to take a walk deep into the woods with him. He explains that they're leaving and Bella isn't coming with them. He doesn't want her any more, everything was a mistake, and she'll never see them again. Then he leaves.

I know at this point I've skipped over literally dozens of pages that just reiterate how much Bella loves Edward, but obviously she is Not Okay with being dumped. She just goes catatonic and forgets the meaning of life and there's a search party for her and a shirtless Quileute man named Sam finds her and brings her back home. Things do not get better for Bella.

The next few 'chapters' are just blank pages with the names of months on them. This is the coolest thing Stephanie Meyer ever wrote and it's just like four words, but it gets the point across beautifully. Time is passing but Bella isn't all there. She is a heartbroken teenager who was codependent on a significant other who ripped themself away and she is not coping, like at all. Charlie is justifiably extremely concerned and hates Edward even more than he already did. I love Charlie a lot. Bella eventually makes plans with a person from school to placate Charlie, who wants her to move to Florida to live with her mom. Bella wants to stay in Forks just in case the Cullens come back (which they said they won't! But whatever.)

So long story short - Bella goes to Port Angeles again with Jessica, makes a bad decision, and sees a vision of Edward. The girl is shocked and awed, and gets on a motorcycle with a strange man because the vision of Edward is there yelling at her to stop. Eventually it disappears and she's like 'oh shit what am I doing??' and goes back to find Jessica, who is disgusted and disturbed by Bella's behavior, obviously, but Bella has finally given the first fuck she's given in months. She equates dangerous experiences with being able to see Edward again, even briefly, so she decides to seek out more danger. She gets two motorcycles from the dump and enlists Jacob Black (her childhood friend that we met like one time at La Push, remember?) to help fix them up. Jacob is a few years younger than her but apparently a really good mechanic.

The next chunk of the book is just Bella and Jacob hanging out and being buds. It's real cute, and Jacob obviously has a crush on Bella, but don't worry about that, it's only the whole plot of the next 1.5 books.

OH SHIT okay so also there's a cult on the reservation, according to Jacob. Teenagers keep cutting their hair and getting a tattoo and hanging out with Sam, the guy who rescued Bella months ago. Jacob is worried about them. So obviously Bella is extremely alarmed when Jacob gets mono, disappears for weeks, and then apparently joins the cult and cuts all contact with her. It's obviously not a cult, it's a pack.

Bella goes to confront Jacob - who has become the only friend in her life since the Cullens left and are now ignoring her - only to see him transform into a huge wolf. Wolves themselves are huge but this one is like...twice as big? At least. It's a really big dog. So yeah Bella finds out werewolves are a thing. Why are there werewolves now, after all this time? Who's to say.

I'm to say - there is a vampire nearby! It's Laurent, from the first book, remember? He was sent by Victoria (the surviving mate of the guy who tried to kill Bella but was killed) to see if Bella was still protected by the Cullens. Ghost Edward shows up and tells her to lie, which she does but extremely not well. Laurent promises to kill her much more gently than Victoria would, but then Jacob and the other werewolves kill him. SICK!!!

I have once again forgotten exactly what happens. The werewolves (and the local police!) are tracking down Victoria, though only the werewolves know it's a vampire, obvs. Charlie and his gang just know there's a big Threat. Victoria scares one of Charlie's friends into having a heart attack and he fuckin dies. Bella feels horribly guilty - the only reason any of this happened is because of her. She needs more adrenaline, she needs to FEEL something. So while Charlie goes to his friend's funeral, Bella decides to go cliff diving.

This does not go well, but thankfully the book is almost over.

  • Bella hits her head underwater and almost drowns

  • Jacob rescues her and brings her home and tells her she's a selfish idiot and he's right


Alice had a vision of Bella jumping off a cliff and then the vision stopped so she thought Bella was dead. We find out that since werewolves and vampires are natural enemies she just can't see any future involving them, so she didn't see the part where Jacob rescued Bella. This is unfortunate, because she alerted Edward that something was up. Bella then has to explain that she's just doing extreme sports for fun now. Nobody understands this, especially the reader.

There is then an unfortunate misunderstanding involving Jacob answering the phone and telling whoever is calling for Charlie to fuck off because he's at the funeral. Unfortunately for everyone, it was Edward calling, and he now assumes the funeral in question was Bella's. Alice sees Edward going to Italy and begging for death.

I will explain to you now, much like Alice does when she and Bella are on the plane there, who the Volturi are. Apparently even immortal vampires have cops, and the Volturi are basically the monarchy AND the cops, so I really extra hate them. There are three brothers - Aro, Caius, and Marcus - and they're old as balls, so they make up the vampire laws. I mean, there's basically only one, don't tell humans about vampires, but they also enforce their rule and have authority over the whole world, so they are the ones to go talk to if you want to report a crime or if you want to die. And Edward wants to die, so he's going to talk to them.

Because psych! He didn't want to break up with Bella. It was all a ruse! He was trying to save her soul and give her a chance at a normal human life. But this absolute buffoon didn't realize that codependency goes two ways, so they were both miserable and depressed without the other. Anyway he thinks that Bella is dead and requests that the Vampire Cops kill him. For some reason (the reason is he has a super power and hasn't committed a crime??) they refuse to kill him, so he's going to expose himself in the town square. He's gonna whip it out in front of all the humans. And by 'it' I mean his skin that sparkles like diamonds in the sun, not his dick. Maybe that too, though.

So Bella and Alice speed through Italy to Volterra so that seeing physical proof that Bella is alive will stop him from effectively killing himself. He is a dramatic bitch and I respect that but also dear lord, I hope I never love anyone that much, it doesn't sound healthy.

Here's what happens in Volterra:

  • Bella gets to Edward in time

  • They're reunited and it's gross

  • The vampire cops show up and arrest him anyway, but also Alice and Bella

  • Bella is a human and knows what they are so unfortunately she has to be killed

  • LOL yeah right, there are two more books left! Alice shows Aro a vision of Bella being a vampire in the future so he'll chill

  • They're allowed to leave

And yeah then they go home and Edward promises not to leave again and apparently they're both fine now and in love and they act like none of that happened. Well, Bella is like 'haha now you HAVE to make me a vampire' but they still fight about it. The end????

This book is positively wild. It's dramatic and worrisome and we see Bella briefly in a healthy relationship with a guy who is actually alive and supportive and then we see her just dump all that for her undead toxic boyfriend. I'm sorry if you're #TeamEdward somehow at this point but let's be real is the Wrong Choice. As I was writing this, it was extremely evident that this shouldn't've been the relationship millions of girls were idolizing in the late 2000's, but it was! And look where we are now! Disillusioned and still hopeful for monsters to fall in love with us.

I give this book 6 apples. Not out of 10 or anything, just six apples. You decide what that means to you.

Assume For a Second You're Illiterate

Chief Awareness Correspondent Wendy Fernandez

Thank you.

We Live In A Society™️ (A Glimpse Into Matt's Deranged Notepad Full of Circular Logic)

Chief Pep Correspondent Matt Spradling

I was not a kid who got in trouble very often, because I hardly ever meant to do anything wrong. When I did get in trouble, it was usually because I just genuinely didn't think about my action from a certain angle or understand a certain aspect of something, so I really only had to be told that things worked a certain way for me to immediately be like, oh, ok, if you say so, cool, and therefore usually resented the unhelpful punishments that were heaped on top.

One time in second grade I got in trouble in music class. The music teacher liked to occasionally do this thing where she'd let us vote on what to do but our method of voting was applause. This time, without really thinking about it, instead of merely clapping, I added some enthusiastic zest by cheering in this low, guttural, "woot woot woot" kind of way. I don't remember where I got that from, probably sports or something on Disney Channel. The music teacher did not appreciate this enthusiasm, and I got in trouble for being disruptive even though she could have just been like "hey no wooting just clap" and I would have been like "oh yeah sweet" and then we all could have gotten on with watching Puff the Magic Dragon or whatever the fuck.

I guess I'm still bitter about this because I have no actual transition into my real topic here:

So Facebook sucks, right? In recent years it's been weaponized as a platform for misinformation. It and its owners regularly pop up in news stories about shady goings-ons and profiteering and ostensibly remaining neutral on the topic of misinformation while repeatedly getting caught aiding and abetting precisely that for yet more shady purposes. And before that it sucked anyway; it's just the most convenient, de facto platform for keeping up with acquaintances and organizing certain things.

I've generally felt that the less you used it the better, and ideally everyone would just quit it and gravitate to some other means of large-scale in-touch keeping, especially given what the last four years have shown us.

I was going to vaguely advocate for that, but I'm not sure I actually believe it. I think social media can also be used as a tool to combat all of the aforementioned issues, even if not exactly at the source. Like with any potentially dangerous tool, if you're going to use it then you have a responsibility to do so safely. In this case I suppose that means things like vigorous fact-checking and calling out misinformation when found. That can be hard though - you think you know how to use the internet decently and then find yourself just staring at Google thinking "wtf do I run a search for to find actual unbiased information instead of just random opinion pieces and joke articles because the world is full of dumb things like newsletters," but you get there eventually.

Is this where a metaphor would come in handy? Using Facebook is like driving on roads - sure it's full of dangerous idiots, but they're not going to stop driving, so it would be helpful if you went out and were a force for good on the roads. That's a terrible metaphor because more things in the way will simply be more of a blank canvas for reckless drivers (the phrase "reckless" is a bit ironic right) to paint their damage on. Maybe voting? Not voting doesn't "voice your dissatisfaction with the system writ large" to anyone who cares, it just gives more weight to the idiots who are voting. Is that a hamfisted analogy? Sure.

To be honest I'm mainly writing this so there will be an even number of articles in this issue because that is the one true unbreakable rule of Newsletter.

I guess in the end you can zoom all this out and say it's essentially just the conceit of living mindfully - be aware of what you're doing and do it with purpose. I don't think I have anything to say about social media that hasn't become sort of a cliche at this point, but Facebook isn't that unique - trying to be a positive influence on the world around you is a struggle that applies to all of life, not just online.

I think it's important not to write off the concept of having positive influences on people just because most people seem like belligerent idiots sometimes (and to be clear, cutting truly toxic people out of your life is not a bad thing). Sometimes people mean well and just need to be exposed to some things, like how that idiot wooting in music class might just need to be told not to woot.

Is that what the point of this turned out to be? A reminder to generally give people the benefit of the doubt and treat them respectfully? I certainly feel like the world is less dark of a place when I do that.

Office Chart

Spotify playlist

Hearing Damage - Thom Yorke

Yes, Thom Yorke is on the New Moon soundtrack. You're welcome, Matt.  -Marina

Feel You - Julia Holter

I love a good catchy, dreamy song with strings. One day I will walk around my neighborhood with this blasting through my headphones and I won't be sweating through my clothes in 90 degree heat. On that day, in that moment, I will finally know peace.  -Sam

As If We Never Said Goodbye - Barbra Streisand

This song was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber (of Cats fame) for his musical Sunset Boulevard and is also lauded as one of his best compositions. Though it has been performed by a number of talented singers, Barbra Streisand breathes marvelous life into it. Also, as a gay man, I'm legally obligated to let Barbra Streisand do literally whatever she wants and I will support her. She could slap me across the face and I'd thank her.  -Andrew

This Never Happened Before - Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney is the greatest living musician. We wouldn't have music if it weren't for him and he is my father. He just announced McCartney III will be released December 11th. He wrote every song, played every instrument, and produced every song. He is like 78 years old. The man is a treasure and the reason I make music and I am so excited for the new album that I have been listening to McCartney deep cuts like this one. This song is so beautiful and it is like track number 11 on his 14th solo album? No one else even comes close.  -Alex

Jeannie Becomes A Mom - Caroline Rose

This was going to be dedicated to Jenna who was eaten by a bear in the selfless service of journalism, but she's apparently alive, so now this is dedicated to Virgil van Dijk.  -Matt

Spleen - Ruth White

Marina hated it, it's what I go to sleep with lol  -Wendy

Flowers - Leon Bridges

I really like the jazzy, rhythm, soul (I don't know genres) feel of this album. There's a lot of barisax which makes for a very sonically pleasing experience.  -Jenna

In the Blood - Darren Korb, Ashley Barrett

I have been playing Hades for about two weeks now, and I so of course I want everybody I know to also love it. In Hades, you play as his son, Zagreus, who is trying to escape the underworld to find his mother, Persephone. Although it's classified as a dungeon runner game (which I'm not a huge fan of), the game is also about building relationships with different gods and spirits and petting Cerberus and reuniting as many tragically separated couples as you can (which I AM a fan of) and also you can date both a Fury AND Death. It's a Greek mythology romance simulator, basically, but with lots of killing. Anyway, this is the credits music (sung by Orpheus and Eurydice!) and it's just an absolute banger. The whole soundtrack is mostly electric guitar and it's super rad. #HadesGOTY2020  -Marina

Mii Channel - VGR

Okay don't be weird, but this remix of the Mii Channel music from the Wii console absolutely positively slaps. It helps that this recognizable, simple melody is an incontrovertible earworm. Sometimes at work, I'll just hum the opening riff to see who responds. It's usually at least two people. Bum bum bum bum bum bum bom bom bom (BUM BUM BUM). Ba dum badadum bum bum baaaadum.  -Andrew

Life Ain't Fair And The World Is Mean (Bluegrass Version) - Sturgill Simpson

Do you like banjos? Do you wish you could wear overalls on a farm and drink sweet tea and drive a tractor? All these things and more can be true if you close your eyes and listen to this song.  -Alex

Everything In Its Right Place - Radiohead

I'd been planning on doing a big Kid A review for its 20th anniversary this month, but I was afraid Pitchfork goons would show up in beanies and those vocoders in their necks from throat cancer and smash my computer with a tube sock full of frozen walnuts. Anyway this album is a masterpiece, this song is an amazingly adept opener, and also just haunting in general. It always inspires me to do something creepy when I hear it.  -Matt


Banner - Stanley Donwood, "There Will Be No Quiet"

Siri - using phone edit tools to make it as cursed as possible

GameCube games - I don't know google fuck