Issue 4 - 12/31/18


  • Showering with the Lights Off: A Treatise
  • Andrew Reviews: Women
  • Matt Reviews: Men
  • Best Songs to Borrow Your Mom's 2006 Chevy Tahoe To
  • Does Proximity Matter? Genuinely Asking
  • Poem: A Year in Review
  • 2019 Horoscopes
  • Office Chart
  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Showering with the Lights Off: A Treatise

Ascendant-level contributor Matt Spradling

Let's get this out of the way: I'm not a psychopath.

You'll just have to believe me and then if they nab me for brunching the neighbor's dog this time next year then you can point the prosecuting attorneys here. This bit here, ladies and gentlemen of the law, this newsletter nonsense. You didn't think it was weird when he advocated showering with the lights off in broad daylight? Well it was mostly inane bits about cheese and books, we didn't think something was wrong until Issue 6 was nothing but increasingly risque pictures of Spiderman. We'll have that next, sure.

Point is, no, I don't mean door closed, blackout, batten the hatches, Fevers & Mirrors dark. Although I guess you could do that too. Shower's not exactly going to be a sensory deprivation tank - with mine you have to choose between painful temperature and the pipe doing its best Kate Bush - but you could pretend you're in a sinking ship, enjoying a nice rinse in the pressure leak that will soon hug you to death like Lenny or sad tunic boy in Gladiator. That's how most days feel already anyway. Or you could pretend you're deep in some complex cave system, albino mutant horrorshows bringing you luxury toiletries in exchange for you keeping their secret from the overworld. I dunno, weird choice but your fantasies are your own. Which touches on one upside of this dubious endeavor: some of us grew up with windows in our shower for some architecturally inexplicable reason, in the snow and both ways, and if you're already used to stealth tactics when you find yourself in such a precarious position, it'll be easier to hide your shame from the world. E.g. butt, face.

The central idea is, obviously, lighting. Ever walk through an apartment complex where half the tenants are weirdos who leave their blinds and curtains open apparently 24/7? Some rooms will look cozy, warmly lamp-lit as though with a nice rustic fire. These are the rooms in which you relax, read, host, eat, feel decent, engage with emotions in a healthy way. Then you'll pass others that have stuck with some perverted loyalty to the default overhead florescent lights, lending their corner of the complex a more sickly and sterile aesthetic. These are the rooms in which you do a bit of afternoon heroin, cry over homework, study autopsies/appreciate David Fincher films.

The interior-decoration senses of most healthy adults tend to gradually evolve into the former type of ambiance with the exception of bathrooms. Thems just stay on blast. And I get it, you want to have strong, clear lighting to best see and therefore best mitigate your face disasters. My bathroom at my parents' house is actually pretty dim so as far as I know I've looked great this week. Anyway - I wouldn't advocate removing these lights unless you're strongly ignorance-is-bliss or just perfect by default. Like remember when high schools started doing that thing where they took the mirrors out of girls' restrooms and replaced them with a sign reading You are beautiful? Aye I'm beautiful but this salami-shaped mustard splatter on my face isn't. Imagine being a high school girl and walking into that chamber of secrets shit.

I digress. Point is: keep the light on in whatever room or hall connects to your bathroom (unless this is a living room in which your roommate is in fact currently living), keep the door open, and you then have a nice, dim, indirect light by which you can see but not be under a spotlight. Pair it with music for enhanced relaxation and atmosphere. Throw on some Paradis and you're a neon light away from living in the luxury beauty products corner of an oddly cyberpunk mall circa 2010, but in a good way. Take a drink with you if it's crimbo. 

Will this change your life? Kinda. Is this more relaxing? Yes. Does this actually matter? I don't know. Does this make it slightly easier for you to mix up which kind of soap or shampoo you're using? Yes, though frankly with twenty-something years under our belts we should probably have the routine down pat by now.

Mistakes happen.

So at least make mistakes while trying to do something great.

Andrew Reviews: Women

Five-stars-on-Yelp-level contributor Andrew Lucas Piotrowski

Disclaimer: the following review is written from the perspective of an incredibly gay cisgender man, who will certainly do his very best to avoid falling into the trappings of traditional cissexist gender stereotypes. However, this is an absurdist editorial written for a subpar newsletter, so please forgive any jokes based on these outdated generalizations.

Women are icky. Full stop. Quite frankly, I don't understand the fascination with their bits and bobs, and for the most part, I would not even consider allowing one into my Jesus-only zones.

However, I must admit that they have some aesthetic aspects that are not completely without merit, so without further ado or cliches, but with plenty of badly formatted journalism, here's some review categories that might elucidate my opinions on the "fairer" sex.

Aesthetic: The feminine aesthetic is not something that I actually have a problem with. I, like most men I know, have a pair of hoop earrings inlaid with the word "femme," which I keep in the medicine cabinet with the rest of my earrings and some of my other hygiene products. The societal concept of womanhood certainly has its ups and downs, but for the most part, it includes being able to enjoy health and beauty products that men would be ridiculed for wearing. This is obviously a construct of a patriarchal society which only serves to punish men for femininity and shame women for "shallowness" or "frivolity." In any case, I find myself at the delicious corner of "male privilege" and "confident enough to use whatever products I want," so I rate this category 4 out of 5.

Panache: I don't know what this word means, and suggested the category as a joke. However, it has the word "pan" in it, which means bread in Spanish. Many well-known bakeries are either named after or were founded by women, so I rate this category a question mark out of exclamation point.

Je ne sais quoi: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Taste: I confess, I am probably not the best judge for this category, as I've tasted very few women compared to the number of men I've tasted. My most recent woman-tasting was at a very fun Halloween kickback, where we played a form of beer pong where the penalty for losing a cup on your side of the table was that the player must complete a predetermined dare, printed on coaster-like cards for exactly this purpose. One of the dares I had to complete for losing a cup required me to make-out with my (consenting) opponent, who happened to be a lovely woman. She said I was a very good kisser, and used my teeth well. I was wearing kitty-cat face paint, which left a black smudge on her cheek. The dares on the cards were rated green to yellow to red depending on the life-altering severity of the dare. Therefore, I rate this category green out of green.

Horsepower: Unfortunately for women, men have been historically allowed to own more horses. However, my mission is to review women, not men, so the objective horsepower of women would probably allow them to pull a lot of carts, considering the strength women have had to summon to resist the urge to punch every wannabe sexual predator on the street. I rate this category Seabiscuit out of Secretariat.

Save-ability in a house fire: I am a Very Strong Boy, with Big Beefy Thighs and Tasty Shoulders, so I am not especially frightened of my ability to lift women. Plus, I'm told that in situations of extreme duress, one can typically perform unimaginable physical feats, like when moms lift cars off of toddlers or when women in sororities listen to college-aged boys tell stories at house parties. If the fire were to happen at such a house party, I am confident that every woman in the house would be delighted at the opportunity to politely rain-check those conversations due to impending immolation. I rate this category 1/1.

Matt Reviews: Men

Ascendant-level contributor Matt Spradling

I don't know man, like

It's hard because the majority of my favorite people are men but that's because clearly men get the upper hand with opportunities at things like musical success and being sports heroes/santa, and I could very well also be super duper rife with innate biases in that regard. There's a certain lack of purity to the whole endeavor. 

But I guess I'm reviewing the sexual appeal of men in general, which - you know how in Mario Party you can roll a normal dice or your character's special dice, so instead of 1-2-3-4-5-6 it could be 1-1-1-1-1-8? I feel like that's where most women are and the controller's broked. 

Aesthetic: I rolled a dice and got a 4, which means 1. So we're talking dirt, funny jeans, hunting paraphernalia because he's a psychopath,  general stiffness also I guess because he's a psychopath. I know that's harsh but hey I rolled a 1. There are the Antoni Porowskis of the world and the Nikolaj Coster-Waldaus of the world, but we don't get them. Nobody does. They belong to the sea.

Panache: I also don't know what this word means, but unlike the fairer half of it, it embodies the word "ache," and also I rolled a 2, which means 1. I guess an ache is inherently unpleasant, but there are still good aches like when you're sore from working out, aching for some whataburger, or, to be fair, perhaps aching for dick. Is that what Fight Club was about? It's been a hot minute since 11th grade. 

Mise en scène: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ [4] [1]

Taste: This is where Andrew has me at a distinct advantage, because not only have I tasted zero men, he is frequently eager to point out that he has tasted several times more women than I have. So maybe I'm going to the wrong Halloween parties. I rolled a 5, which means 1. I imagine men would taste like, at best, nothing, and at worst, nothing but layered with hair and dirt and sweat. Maybe some straight women are into that in a pheromone kind of way? Call me old fashioned, but I would just enjoy a sandwich more if I knew it hadn't been wearing the same pants every day for two months.

Horsepower: I rolled a 6, which means 8. Consider Viggo Mortenson, Karl Urban, Ian McKellan. Although I will say, there's an old horse that lives in the field behind my parents' house, and since they fed it a treat like twice it now has nothing better to do than stand at the fence and wait for more. Which sounds wholesome and pastoral but the practical result is that you wake up early, drag yourself down to eat breakfast in the kitchen, and there's a fucking horse staring at you. I'm slow to suggest that there is such thing as too much horse, just proceed carefully. 

Save-ability in a house fire: I don't remember what I had in mind when I suggested this category. I rolled a 1, which means 1. I guess they're big and hard so you wouldn't want to do many stairs but you would probably be fine throwing them through a window. We like scars and that. I'm out of clever because I had a milkshake for dinner. I just wanted a strawberry one. Sonic was closing in ten so I went to McDonald's. Of course the shake machine was "down" thus depriving me of both my goal and the last precious minutes of potential Sonic time. So I tracked down a Whataburger open 24/7 (are they all that way?) and had to wait in line for 15 minutes because yeah. Then it turned out to be a chocolate shake. So do we really want saving from the fire?

Best Songs to Borrow Your Mom's 2006 Chevy Tahoe To

Ascendant-level contributor Matt Spradling,

Provost-level contributor Alex Speed

Tahoes are big girls. Hefty. Would derail a train if you're not careful. I'm not stuck on these tracks with you, etc. I nicknamed her Chips. 

Just this, really.

Or this if you're nasty.

Does Proximity Matter? Genuinely Asking

Ascendant-level contributor Matt Spradling

It's new years, isn't that when we look back, reevaluate, make changes? is it weird to have one single designated time of year for that? Do most people even do it? Today I went into the kitchen but forgot why I'd gone in. Stood around for a bit, had a look around. There was this store-bought banana nut loaf that was pretty great so I had some of that. There's no moral to this story. I'm still on edge and if it's not resolved by midnight I think I get docked maximum hit points or something. 

Does our proximity to our ideas matter? We have to make decisions and move on, remembering the decisions but not necessarily how or why we arrived at them, in order to stay sane and not constantly awash with hopeless analyzing and uncertainty. But what's the expiration date on those stances? At what point should we revisit them just for the sake of upkeep?

I remember during and immediately after high school, I became aware of a phenomenon in which every adult you'll ever talk to looks back fondly on high school, waxing nostalgic about specific people and events. But I kind of hated high school. I remember feeling a weird determination to remember my feelings at the time and not lose them to the gradual onset of rose colored glasses or whatever. Not out of bitterness, just honesty. And now already, less than a decade later, I do get a little nostalgic driving past the old prison-looking place. Is that a betrayal of my younger self, or do some previously honest truths change with enough distance and learned perspective?

I remember when I worked as a delivery driver for Jimmy Johns, getting tipped one or two extra dollars could really put a pep in my step and make me feel ahead of the curve and almost make an entire night. So I came to the conclusion that it's always worth it to tip a couple extra bucks for your own deliveries because it's literally spending a dollar on greatly improving a stranger's day, and it's almost unthinkable that that wouldn't be a pleasing prospect. Now that I haven't delivered in many years, I don't think that stance will fade, but doesn't it seem like it'd be quite lazy and sad if it did?

I guess more to the point - in high school when I did some looking into the factory farming industry and all that I couldn't bring myself to eat meat for like a week after. Then I remember feeling that if a certain reality directly caused that effect, wouldn't it be pretty dishonest and intentionally ignorant (specifically for me, specifically for that situation) to go back to the way I was before without learning about that particular aspect of reality? I imagined that if I were to go back and read and watch and think about those same things, I would continue to feel unable to eat meat, and I didn't want to read those things, so I should probably just permanently make it my stance not to eat meat. It seems like the honest price of avoidance. I don't know if that's the best way to go about it, but it's what happened. 

That's probably not going to change, but some things are wont to change and some things should change. Maybe that's where political opinions (though not necessarily the underlying principles) fall. If I become certain about something but then eventually lose the ability to explain that certainty, what then? Do I just keep my opinion but abstain from trying to convince others of it? Do I no longer have a right to that opinion? Is it fine as long as it's dormant, but requires upkeep as soon as it begins to potentially affect others? Like renewing a license? Is it weak-minded to see the world this way at all, myself feeble and unable to carry the full weight of nuance of forty disparate concepts?

You could argue it's also a source of enrichment. Doesn't it help you grow to reach out to the limits of our grasp and establish footholds, then withdrawing a bit out of necessity and ceasing to engage directly with that belief? But then if you don't know your way back, that belief has no checks, and that seems important. I guess the takeaway is that it is necessary to be able to change and necessary to not link our identities and pride to ideas. Ideas change and the reality surrounding ideas changes, and if one deserves to be killed off, it's unhealthy to resist doing so out of egotism. 

This could go all ship-of-theseus but there's cake and champagne to be had.

Poem: A Year in Review

Ascendant-level contributor Matt Spradling

Is this normally

When we discuss what we learned?

'Cus I learned fuck-all.

2019 Horoscopes

Seneschal-level contributor Sam Strohmeyer

AQUARIUS - 2019 will be your year! It's time to reach your full potential. Turn that hobby into your side hustle and be your own boss. The time is now!

PISCES - Uh oh Pisces! You were a bit naughty in 2018, weren't you?! You didn't think anyone was watching but I was watching and I am telling them what I saw. You won't be able to hide from them in 2019.

ARIES - Aries, you silly goose. Keep ignoring the rules in 2019. The law doesn't apply to you anymore. The cops can't see you. Guns don't work. Fear is only a memory.

TAURUS - You will take 2019 by the horns, Taurus! It's time to take control of your destiny. Make eye contact with a bull before you slaughter it.

GEMINI - Your twin nature will make for an interesting 2019, Gemini. It's time to start relying on your family for support. Gather them together in your home and hug them all, one at a time. Whisper a terrible secret to each of them.

CANCER - Cancer, 2019 will be full of challenges. Allow them to make you stronger and don't eat any vegetables. Actually, don't even look at a vegetable. Please listen to me. Don't think about vegetables!

LEO - We get it.

VIRGO - You had a hectic 2018, Virgo. 2019 is going to be so, so much worse. You're going to be bitten by an Orca. They don't normally attack people but that big ocean monster is going to make an exception for you.

LIBRA - A balanced 2019 is in the stars for you, Libra. Feel free to try something new. And something old. Date someone older than you. Date the oldest person you can find.

SCORPIO - What do you want, Scorpio? What are you looking for? Who are you? You don't even know. Your 2019 will be fine I guess. Figure it out.

SAGITTARIUS - You ate the lime in 2018, Sag. Get ready to eat the LEMON in 2019! Bite the juice if you think you can but remember to protect your heart. Travel is in the sky and the birds will smell them all up. Good!

Office Chart

Digitalism - Pogo

The Felice Brothers - Plunder

David Bowie - Girl Loves Me

Car Seat Headrest - Bodys

Daft Punk - Instant Crush

Aristophanes - Humans Become Machines

New Order - Ceremony

Radiohead - Separator 



I don't know why you read this far, but on the off-chance you actually enjoy it, consider contributing! You clearly have good taste and also it's less work for me. Mainly it's less work for me. Also mainly I'd like if this became less of a me thing (original intentions of semi-ironic obnoxiousness notwithstanding) and more of a community thing.