Issue 45 - 03/14/22


  • If It Were Any Other Film: Things We All Got Wrong About Star Wars Because It's Star Wars - Part IV of IX*
  • An Update, by Toadifer 'Toadie' Martinez
  • Dry January but This Time It Is Retrospective
  • Whatever Wishes Wither With Her
  • Best of the Worst Tolkien Covers
  • Chess 3
  • I Am Funny for Money Now
  • How to Stop Being the Main Character
  • If You Want to Chop Down a Cherry Tree You Must First Invent the Universe
  • Office Chart

If It Were Any Other Film: Things We All Got Wrong About Star Wars Because It's Star Wars - Part IV of IX*

Chief Vision Correspondent Chris Spradling

Today we're going to discuss how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader. If you think back a couple of weeks or months to your most recent rewatch of the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, you'll no doubt recall that the major catalyzing event for Anakin's turn was a Force Vision, from which Anakin believed that Padme was going to die soon and he needed to save her somehow. Then, when next he talks to Chancellor Palpatine, Palpatine uncannily starts describing how Sith Lords can save people from dying but Jedi can't, and in the end that convinces Anakin that he has no choice but to throw his whole life and belief system away and join Palpatine in the Dark Side of the force so he can save the woman he loves.

In the film, we see Anakin's vision in 5-ish seconds of dream footage, as a close-up on Padme crying and begging Anakin for help, and we hear a baby crying nearby. Anakin takes this to mean that The Force is warning him that Padme will die, and the accepted reading of this is that he's essentially correct, give or take a self-fulfilling-prophecy twist. Moreover, many have theorized that Palpatine somehow created or altered this Vision, in order to manipulate Anakin towards him (and this explains why he immediately starts in on the Darth Plagueis speech before Anakin has said anything about the vision).

There's not a lot of definitive dying happening in the vision. Padme is in extreme distress, yes, but "Anakin please help me" is not "Anakin I have been murdered". Plus there's that prominent sound of a newborn crying - which is very interesting, because remember, Anakin does not know they are having twins. From his perspective, if he noticed the crying baby then it would rule out the possibility that he's seeing Padme while she's still giving birth, but in reality, the fact that we only hear a single baby's cry places the vision right in the middle of active labor, when Luke has been born but Leia has not yet.

It's a confusing scene in a lot of ways, and it happens pretty briefly amidst a lot of other moving plot points. The movie itself generally presents itself as a mostly straightforward Sci-Fi/Action blockbuster, and is also rife with muddled and confused storytelling (being written and directed by someone who should probably not be writing and directing his own films without oversight). Given all that, the fan community seems to have mostly glossed over the details of this scene - or they assume that what we see onscreen is a rushed and sloppy depiction of a much clearer vision, because if Anakin is so implicitly certain of what he saw then the real vision must have imparted an equally clear truth to him. But I would argue that this was one moment where Mr. Lucas did have something profound to say, and the subtler details of the shot are entirely intentional, and they are meant to demonstrate to us two things:

This is a completely benign vision showing Padme during childbirth, and Anakin got it completely wrong.

But if that's the case would The Force bother showing him this? Maybe it's just giving Anakin a heads up that they're having twins. And, the very prospect of his child(ren) being born must be a huge source of stress and rumination for Anakin - not only will it be nearly impossible to keep his relationship with Padme a secret once there's a baby around, but Anakin's also on the front lines of a galactic war that is rapidly approaching his family's front doorstep. Perhaps The Force is trying to nudge Anakin to meditate on that pivotal moment and deal with his feelings around it.

So why is this interesting? Consider how much more grounded and compelling Anakin's reaction is now. If, per the popular interpretation, the Force were actually showing a vision of Padme's death, then in responding to it desperately Anakin is... being tricked? Being manipulated by Palpatine the Ultimate Mastermind? Victim of the cosmic irony of an intentionally self-fulfilling prophecy? While that makes for some fertile ground for lore about Sith and Force powers, it says nothing about Anakin. He's a passive victim of the narrative, and all we can do is feel sympathy for the bad hand he was dealt on his way to becoming a forlorn half-burnt Sith Lord.

But, if the Force was just... talking to him, about his wife and kids, then Anakin's relentless interpretation that "Padme is going to die and I must sell my soul to stop it" is a stunning window into a paranoid, overwrought mind. That tells us something about how this backwater kid thrust into a cult and made to fight a civil war is doing. That shows us how hard it hit Anakin to lose his mother, and Qui-Gon, and how poorly he's deal with that. That also lays a huge portion of the blame for Darth Vader's existence squarely at the feet of the Jedi Order, those high-browed ascetics who have no idea what to do with Anakin and no way to understand what real loss of a real loved one feels like. They and Anakin are alien to each other, and their cryptic advice to "trust in the force" and "let your feelings guide you" are only driving him deeper into his desperation until he finally, fatally, tries to claw ultimate meaning for all of his feelings from a blurry 5-second Force Vision.

Does Palpatine still have a hand in this? Of course - but it doesn't have to be in the in-universe mystical "he dark-sided the force vision into Anakin's mind to steal Padme's life force" way that is usually discussed. Palpatine, too, can take a much more grounded and compelling role in this, by simply playing the savvy predator and emotional saboteur. He sees a kid with incredible potential, who feels alone and misunderstood, and he begins taking the (many) (glaring) opportunities to exploit Anakin's insecurities and groom him to join the Sith. Palpatine doesn't even have to have any supernatural insight about Anakin's vision; all he has to do is notice this guy show up looking rough as hell, piece together that he must be terrified of losing the last person in a long line of people he loved who died, and pull on that thread. Then, like any accomplished abuser, he offers up the classic "I alone can help you because I alone understand you" and "sounds like you can't trust anyone else except me" one-two punch at this vulnerable moment to seal the deal. (As an aside, this picture of Palpatine The Narcissistic Abuser really makes "it seems in your anger you killed her" hit different.)

Like Dave Filoni said, Star Wars is about family. The themes of family, attachment, and fear of loss have always been present throughout Star Wars, but under the classic Vision Interpretation they were strangely absent from Anakin's turn to the dark side, almost as if Star Wars' real story took a backseat to the plot and lore for the most critical moment in the whole saga - if The Force was telling Anakin that Padme would die, then Anakin made the only rational and noble decision there was to make, and his fate / the narrative drove him helplessly into the Dark Side in spite of it. But if Padme's death was only ever in his head, and was only ever an expression of his own worries, then... well, it's exactly what Yoda was trying to tell us all along: fear of loss is the path to the Dark Side.


*(get it?)

An Update, by Toadifer 'Toadie' Martinez

Chief Emotions Correspondent Toadie Martinez

Good Morrow, gentle readers! Mother has decided to play a Vidayo James (one I have seen her play far too often of late) and so I have briefly absconded with her favorite Rectangle in order to communicate once more with my beloved fans. I believe we last spoke in Issue 28 of this publication, and much has transpired since then!

As of quite recently, I have been beloved by Mother for four entire years! Neither I nor any humans have an exact idea of how old I am (for what is time, to a cat?) but I am approximately six years old, and so I have been with Mother for over half of my life! She may not believe it, by the sheer number of complaints I lodge regarding my daily care, but I have greatly enjoyed our time together. We have the same hobbies - staring out the window, sleeping for most of the day, and yelling at the sight of small things (and large things...come to think of it, medium sized things too!) that move within our domicile - and she has become an adept traveling companion! Let this be a lesson, friends - you need urinate on your Mother's clothes but once before she refuses to travel without you. I am a genius.

Mother and I have also relocated our territory further north of the city, and I believe the change was extremely well done. It is much quieter here (the fowl Yapping Beast is forever vanquished!), and now it is I who am the loud creature upstairs! I do my very best to assert my vocal dominance over whomever might be living around us, but Mother continues to shush me. In our time together, I have learned that she is unusually quiet for a human and that loud noises tend to distress her, especially if she is the one making them. Mother, I try to tell her, we are alone in our home! You should feel free to speak and sing and dance in this complete privacy! She shushes me, the poor fool. I sense that this is abnormal behavior, for she does seem to make a bit more noise when her friends are here.

I don't see the sense in friends - I have Mother, and she is quite enough for me, thank you very much. I tried to be friends with Myshka, but the poor dear was too distressed last we met, and the few other creatures I have since made the acquaintance of were too obviously beneath me. (It is quite alright, Myshka, I consider you my dearest friend still!). Observing Mother, though, I suppose friendship cannot be so very bad. I smell loneliness on her, sometimes. Mother must miss living so close to my dear friend Myshka's parents, though luckily they and a few other kind humans do stop by every so often. (The One Who Juggles is my most frequent nemesis, but she cannot know of my plans for her.) I very much enjoy all the humans that come to visit - they all know to shower me with attention, even the one who seems to be allergic to me. Do not worry, I do my best to remain aloof. It simply would not do to let them know that I actually enjoy being cuddled! Only Mother may cuddle me, you see, and I do not want her to become jealous of her own friends. They seem to do quite a good job of making her happy. Not the best, of course, that's me, but they fair well enough. She laughs more in their presence, and I do love when she laughs.

Forgive me - I meant to speak more on myself and the Anti-Facist Agenda but I've just caught sight of my water bowl. It's been at least an hour since I asked mother to give me an ice cube so I must be off; she needs to be kept on schedule! That is my most important duty as her Familiar, after all. Well, warding off Evil is important, as is keeping her from finding out about her magic and setting off the sequence of events that would initiate The Prophecy, but screaming for cold water to alert her of the time is fairly important as well. Ah, well.

Hopefully I can write again soon, dear readers. Until then, please be kind to yourself, hug your favorite furry friend, and remind Mother to buy me more Catnip Mice.

Dry January but This Time It Is Retrospective

Chief Grippin and Rippin Correspondent "Alex" "Speed" Speed

Long time readers of Newsletter will remember my many weird attempts to do month long sobriety challenges that I decided to make the cornerstone of my personality. I have previously done weekly* updates on my Dry Jan and Sober October experiences to much success (one time someone texted me and said "hey I didn't know you were doing that" [that person was my girlfriend at the time who I asked to edit the article]).

This year I thought I would switch things around and share my sobriety attempt only with people I see most days. The aim was to turn something I had previously needed external validation for into a little daily sword fight exclusively between Sober Alex and Whiskey Alex.

Here's a list of things I learned:

  1. There are little robots in alcohol and their primary function is to delete the sad parts of your brain and make everything better and easier. When you deprive the robots of companionship they rebel violently by amplifying the annoying parts of your brain and they also, as a kick-em-while-they're-down type thing, take away your ability to sleep which leads me to my second point:
  2. I can't say for certain but I think that werewolves are actually just people who don't let themselves have whiskey. I have found myself very very interested in the moon and its appearing in the sky. I have a small, and I think warranted, fear of most things lunar as of right now. I have always been a very hairy person but I'm starting to look like I share more DNA with a shag carpet than a human being. I ALSO lit a bunch of hair on fire on accident the other week and I feel in my gut that these are connected. More on this later? 
  3. It is a great way to lose weight! I have so much more energy which I channel into going to the gym, and the not poisoning my body on a daily basis is actually pretty good for building muscle. The caloric deficit created but cutting out whiskey and the subsequent taco bell orders it magically brings with It is enough to remember what abs look like and remind yourself maybe you should do some crunches so you can see your abs again before you die, kinda like a going out of business sale but in this case the business is only maybe a third of the way through its business-life and will continue to do the same weird business things that got it to the point of this sale for many decades to come. 
  4. I used to be really afraid of ducks and now I'm not anymore.

I hope this list was helpful! Who knows what other self improvement things I am doing in secret?

Maybe I'm learning carpentry?

Maybe I'm taking a list making class?

I guess we'll never know.


I went to Salt Lake City for a weekend of skiing and drinking post Dry Jan and instead of smashing brewskis with the bois on the slopes I crashed on a ski jump in the terrain park and then got food poisoning the day after I broke my sobriety. I guess whichever god doesn't want you to drink did a checkmate on me so I will continue to subvert the confrontation of my own thoughts by writing weird lists and smoking legal Montana weed.

~~~The rest is still unwritten~~~

Whatever Wishes Wither With Her

Chief Magicians' Guild Correspondent Wendy Fernandez

Picture this: you're at the beach. You arrived early in the morning to grab the best spot for your various chairs and towels. A handful of people are trickling in further down the sand, one couple has the cutest dog you've ever seen. The sun is barely over the waves and the smell of rotting seaweed tickles your nose hairs with every deep breath you take. The email notification sound you hear a million times from Microsoft Outlook is miles away on a forgotten computer, and the stress of your 9-5 is barely a thought anymore.

You walk along the edge of the water, letting the waves crash onto your pale, pale toes. As you step, you feel nothing but the squishy sand give way below your feet...until your big toe comes in contact with an ornate gold lamp.

You've seen Aladdin, you know the drill. As you rub the sand off the lamp, a large blue Robin Williams-esque genie appears before your eyes. They offer you the same deal you've heard a million times: you now have three wishes. You can't kill or bring anyone back from the dead, you can't make someone fall in love with you, and you can't wish for more wishes. What do you do?

There's always talk of the most effective way to use genie wishes, and I'm here to tell you everyone else is wrong. I'm here to guide you through the best way to use your wishes with little to no downsides or catastrophes. You're very lucky. After reading this short article, you are guaranteed to come out on top.

The first thing you should do is make sure no one else sees the genie. This is the quickest way to wind up dead or worse. In this day and age, genies are highly sought after and the power of a single wish can change the world completely. If anyone gets wind you have a magic lamp, they'll be sure to come after you. So make sure to take your genie somewhere private, maybe somewhere candlelit where you two can talk.

Introduce yourself! They'll surely want to know who their new commander in chief is. It's helpful to remember that you might be the first face they've seen in a thousand years so don't be afraid to crack a joke and a smile. Be friendly, this is an opportunity for you but a full-time job for the genie. You wouldn't yell at a waitress, would you?

Alright, now that everyone is settled into the situation, let's talk about wishes. Your first instinct is probably to wish for fame or fortune, but I highly advise against that. Genies are notoriously tricky and will use your wording against you. If you wish for a million bucks, you might be hit with a stampede. Likewise, if you wish for fame you may become the most wanted criminal in all of history.

I advise you to word your first wish exactly as follows: I wish for my next two wishes to be granted based on my intent rather than my specific wording. And just like that you have guaranteed two perfect wishes.

Now, please be patient. You may think this was a waste of a wish, but I assure you it isn't. If after reading this article in its entirety you still wish to disregard my advice, then godspeed. But please bear with me for now.

Your second wish is entirely yours; you could wish for a car, an opportunity, or a natural disaster for whatever reason. Anything in the universe is up for grabs, even world peace. Personally, I would wish for one of two things: to always have enough money (legally) in my bank account to cover any expense I have or use as wanted, or to be able to learn new skills quickly and with ease. You're welcome to borrow my examples or come up with something uniquely yours. Remember to say it with conviction, genies love decisiveness.

By this point, the genie is surely impressed at your preparedness but probably also agitated that it can't have fun interpreting your wishes for personal pleasure. Remember to be friendly, there's no point in agitating an all-powerful immortal being.

The wording of your third wish is almost as important as your first wish. Although we've already established your intent, the purpose of your third wish is to exploit a loophole in the genie's rules; you can't wish for more wishes, but you absolutely can wish for another magic, genie-containing lamp.

Your genie will be taken aback and no doubt annoyed because you didn't free them (thanks Disney), but they can suck it up. They'll summon another lamp and you repeat the process. With this method, although you only get one real wish per genie, you have an infinite number of genies at your disposal. If you feel so inclined, when you are all wished out, you can use your last wish to free all genies that have granted you wishes. Or go even further, free all genies everywhere and prevent others from benefiting from this magic. Or free them to end their slavery, whatever works for you.

Congratulations! You have used your wishes three in the most effective way possible. You'll leave the beach with your newfound riches and never return to your office, never to hear that terrible, terrible email sound again. As previously mentioned, if after reading this entire article you still wish to forge your own path of wishes, then only God can help you. Don't say I didn't try to warn you.

Best of the Worst Tolkien Covers

Chief Art Correspondent Matt Spradling

Ah, the world of J.R.R. Tolkien - renowned for its genre-defining depth, care, and beauty, to the extent that the professor categorized it as mythology rather than fantasy at all. It is fitting, then, that for half a century now artists including the likes of the great Alan Lee have poured their passion into creating artwork with the elegance and restraint becoming of the accompanying art for such a literary titan.

Over the past year, one of my hobbies has been hunting down and cobbling together a complete set of Tolkien's works split between two specific styles (the 17 volumes that either completely or approximately match the new Alan Lee illustrated editions, and the 21 volumes that match the black paperback History of Middle-Earth editions). Most of these were straightforward, but some required quite a lot of research and tracking down. As such, I feel qualified to present a list of the strangest and most befuddling Tolkien and Tolkien-related book covers discovered on my long dark online shopping trips of the soul.

This Dutch Hobbit cover is truly a fine specimen. From presumable Bilbo's hairy ankles to his condom cloak, this breathes vibrant new life into the story.

Does it pass the vibe check? It's marginal, but yes. Look at those little guys. It's The Hobbit. It's Dutch.

These are my favorites here and they are marvelous. On one hand, it's a technicolor phantasm that would absolutely make me want to read these if it was a mystery series, and they all connect which is always fun. On the other hand, virtually nothing pictured has anything to do with the story, and that is a special choice. Are those ostriches and a great worm crossing a bridge in the Shire? I hope so.

Does it pass the vibe check? It is the vibe check gold standard.

The first that made me say no thank you on this one chief. Just why? What are they looking at? Is it distasteful to put Ian McKellen in a closet?

Does it pass the vibe check? Sure don't.

I have this labelled in my notes as "cosplay volvo" which was almost certainly an autocorrect from "cosplay Bilbo" but somehow feels more fitting. That is also clearly Justin McElroy.

Does it pass the vibe check? Jury's out folks.

I almost lost this one and then it popped up when I clicked on a mystery file and genuinely scared me. This is like something on the more horrifying end of the Ghibli film spectrum.

Does it pass the vibe check? Hard no.

This one, like all the History covers, is actually very nice; I just think it's funny because it looks like a profoundly goth couple having a date in the park.

Does it pass the vibe check? Absolutely.

Not sure why, but I don't love the whole 'the story is actually being told to a young character by a very old character' thing. Maybe that's because of that weird Mass Effect epilogue they tacked on that no one believes. This art does not feel like Tolkien. It feels more like if the Conan the Barbarian universe got an early Disney Channel original movie.

Does it pass the vibe check? I've run out of funny ways to say no but the answer is no.

Before we reach the end, we have an honorable mention which breaks the parameters of this whole endeavor since it is not a book cover, but I feel the Soviet Lord of the Rings films deserve some time in the sun here. My friends and I watched these in the week after they went up on YouTube but before they received subtitles and I feel it changed my brain permanently, like how people talk about psychedelic drugs, except bad.

Does it pass the vibe check? Regrettably, no.

And here we have it. What can you say about the crown jewel? I'm no professional; I'm in this for the love of the game. And this has taken that love and spilled it on the floor of the movie theater where there's a sticky soda spill from god knows how long ago with carpet fuzz and decrepit popcorn kernels stuck in it. This might genuinely be the worst book cover I have ever seen and I feel like I am simultaneously too young and too old to understand how it came to be.

Does it pass the vibe check? Not really!

Chess 3

Chief Legal Correspondent Wendy Fernandez

If you're anything like me, you've been attempting to play chess your entire life. Have you succeeded? No. Have you been badly beaten by a wizard with a chess board at your local public library? Maybe.

So what exactly makes chess hard? No doubt, it's the lack of historical accuracy. Below you'll find the new and improved rules for America's favorite pastime based on a tried and true feudal system and centuries of monarchy.

  1. Church and State - Declare your kingdom a democracy and split from the church. Opponent's bishops can no longer capture your pieces, and your bishops must now work as pawns to support themselves.

  2. Divorced, Beheaded, Oh My - Is your Queen not working out? You may choose to kill your Queen and replace her with another piece on the board. The new piece acts as a Queen and cannot mention the old Queen else she will be replaced herself. You may replace up to 6 Queens, but cannot do so in consecutive turns.

  3. Heirs - If the Queen is not replaced, she may bear an heir once per game. You must roll a six sided dice to determine the gender of the heir. If it's an odd number, you may place another King on the board. If it's an even number, you may place another Queen.

  4. King Prawn - The King can now swap places with any piece of the same color on the board. He's the king, he can do what he wants.

  5. Knight Out - All knights must try to sacrifice themselves in defense of king and country. These pieces no longer work towards any long-form strategy, but rather try to save every damsel in distress possible. Only pawns excepted because peasants aren't people.

  6. Freedom - If a pawn manages to reach the opposite side of the board, they now have the option of becoming a bishop. They thought it would be different over here, but since they don't have any connections or prospects, joining the clergy seems like a good path. If the kingdom is secular when this happens, the pawn becomes a knight instead.

  7. Oathbreaker - If a pawn makes it across the board twice, they are enlisted by the military and become a knight to serve the king. If they were previously a bishop, they can move in both manners to fight for the holiest of crusades.

  8. Marriage - If you find yourself losing the game, you can strike a bargain with your opponent. You may marry off your heir to your opponent's piece of choice. The heir now works for the opponent, however it may not capture any of your pieces nor can your opponent capture your queen. That's the heir's mother after all. You must also pay your opponent $5.

  9. London Bridge - Upon capturing your opponent's rook, topple it over onto the board using a gentle flick. Any spaces it lands on are now unusable, and any pieces it displaces must be removed from the board. To remove the fallen rook, a pawn of the same color must capture the ruins to clear the path.

  10. Built in a Day - If three pawns of the same color sit in adjacent squares, you may build a rook. Pawns are the backbone of medieval infrastructure.

  11. Alliances - It is within a player's rights to introduce a third opponent to the board. The third opponent will remain an ally of its host, and introduce three knights, a bishop, and a king to the board. In this case, there won't be a single victor and all winnings must be split within the alliance.

  12. Duel - A player may challenge their opponent to a duel. If accepted, the board must be cleared and the players must arm wrestle.

  13. Taxes - You may collect a tax from each of your pawns to support a new aristocrat. To do this, you must remove half of your remaining pawns (no fewer than two) and introduce a knight or bishop to the board. You may do this as many times as you would like per game.

  14. Deathbed Catholic - One per game and only done when replacing a Queen, your kingdom may find religion again and replace up to three non King pieces with bishops to evangelize the land. If your opponent remains a secular heathen, you may introduce an extra bishop to the board.

  15. Biological Warfare - If a player needs to sneeze, they may instead hold it and designate a piece as patient zero. Patient zero may not capture any further pieces, but if they infect half of your opponent's remaining pieces, your opponent succumbs to the plague. They may cure the plague by replacing their infected pieces with bishops.

And there you have it, I've perfected Chess.

I Am Funny for Money Now

Chief Chuckles Correspondent Alex "Speed" "Speed"

This fact is very funny to me, but not funny in the hey-i-can-say-this-onstage-for-laughs way.

It is funny in a very particular abstract way that is actually not funny and is more kind of sad. It is a similar feeling to holding on to a bag of grapes way too tightly and the grapes all explode in the bag so instead of a little fruity snack you just have a bag of weird bad grape mush. It is an objectively funny thing that contains an expandable badness that is unfortunately applicable to too many situations.

I have been funny for money exactly one time. It was last Friday. I was propositioned by a friend to open for a touring comedian and my weird little masochist-by-way-of-narcissism brain thought that was a great idea. In my head of course people would want to pay money to listen to me tell jokes about my usually small penis and my very strong opinions on both hooves and groundhogs.

The weird exploding grapes sadness comes from just how hard it was to come up with those couple of minutes of jokes. I have been a songwriter all my life and get that writing and producing things is hard, but the creation of this small handful of jokes was a concerning omnipresent shadow constantly reminding me I have to be funny in real life so I can be funny onstage. Not a lot of people know this, but if you die onstage you die in real life as well.

Every single funny thought I had ended up going in a notes section on my phone. My conversations with friends started to revolve almost solely around them pitching me jokes to tell on stage or with me sharing half baked punchlines about the Oklahoma birth certificate process.




Sorry I spilled some coffee on my keyboard^

All my life I knew that I would love standup but it felt like something I had too much self awareness about to let myself try. The trope of tall medium hot (shut up, just go with it) guy who thinks he is funny so he tries standup because he is too privileged to understand he can't just be good at everything is something I wanted no business being a part of. This fear caused me to obsess over every single thing I said in my real minute-by-minute life and comb through conversation for little nuggets I could turn into rock hard comedy gold. It felt like I was trapped in some sort of JokeHole.

In reality the point of this article is I wanted to use the phrase "JokeHole" and now I have done that so I will leave you in (Reese's) pieces.


How to Stop Being the Main Character

Chief Culture Correspondent Marina Martinez

Picture this: it's 2022. You're almost 30. You live in a city of over a million people. Your primary goals in life are to pay off your student loans and not throw your back out again. You have crippling agoraphobia.

Unfortunately, you keep drawing attention to yourself in public and are constantly the hottest person in the room. If this sounds like you, you're me, and you might be the main character. Here's how to stop being the main character so your anxiety meter is not constantly at 1000% and you can live your life in peace. (I mean, you're welcome to embrace it, but Main Character Syndrome shares a lot of traits with Narcissistic Personality Disorder so like I will not be doing that! I have enough mental illnesses already, thank you!)

  1. Have A Less Cool Backstory - Okay, this one is admittedly the most difficult to accomplish - you literally can't change where you came from. If you've read any previous articles of mine, you know I'm from California, famously the state of dramatic bitches, and I am genetically a little Extra(™). I cannot help that my dad was in the secret service or that my mom's family definitely doesn't have mafia ties or that I was almost in the 1996 Doctor Who movie! I'm sorry I'm so interesting!!

  2. Try Being Less Dramatic - I've already failed this step. BUT an important part of being less dramatic is to identify the problem, accept it, and begin working through it. Common recommendations are to watch tv shows and movies and try to react to real life situations as those normal and understated characters would. Helpful hint: do not try this with shows like Schitt's Creek. I accidentally channeled David Rose for a few months when the show came out and it achieved the exact opposite effect of what I was going for here.

  3. Wear Normal Clothes - I know, I know - what is 'normal' but a setting on the washing machine? I think the goal here is to wear clothes that are fashionably...neutral? Like jeans and a t-shirt or maybe just what a cartoon character would wear, solid colors that are easily animated. My personal wardrobe alternates between Grandma Chic and Goth Nerd Uncle, both of which are, unfortunately, not trendy and therefore pretty noticeable. I've gotta get some mom jeans, damn it.

  4. Get Normal Hobbies - I'll admit that this one might be a lost cause. Although I think Dungeons and Dragons is a perfectly normal thing to take up 69% of your personality, I've been told this percentage represents a statistical outlier and is skewing the data. I think normal hobbies are, like, geocaching? Juggling? Writing fan fiction for Teen Wolf and Dragon Age probably doesn't count. I'll take suggestions in the comments, thank you.

  5. Try Being Like Other Girls - I know my Uber driver thought he was paying me a compliment when he said I wasn't like other girls, but unfortunately that accusation has been bouncing around in my brain for the past month like a DVD logo screensaver. I am losing brain cells over thinking about this step, maybe just skip it and try watching an episode of Succession or something.

  6. Stop Doing Cool Hair Things - It has come to my attention that most people don't have Bathroom Scissors and weren't giving themselves haircuts for the past five years. Also most people don't feel an incessant urge to dye their hair, I guess. Heed my warning: doing either (or both) of these things will result in strangers approaching you at least once per outing to compliment you. And like, thank you! But also please know that our brief interaction will haunt me for the next week. (I love it but I am Shook but also keep it coming? Help.)

  7. Don't Get More Tattoos - Once again, if you modify your physical appearance in any way, I can confirm that people you Do Not Know will take it as a sign that you love being approached and interacted with. Learn from my mistakes and do not tattoo parts of your body that will constantly be on display in public. Get that tramp stamp, maybe. Or just commit to long sleeves, maxi skirts, and throw out your crop tops.

  8. Stop Being So Hot All The Time - It occurs to me that maybe I'm just too attractive. Maybe that's the problem. Am I confident in my appearance? No. But I'm a great liar and I think the illusion of confidence has heads turning constantly. People see blue hair and a dumptruck ass and are both intimidated and intrigued, what can I say? This is a real problem but I can't help that I'm an 11, now, can I?

  9. Actually, Fuck This - Hmm. I've had a thought:

  10. EMBRACE IT** - I have decided that trying to stop being so fabulous would absolutely take more effort than I possess in my entire soul so I will actually just continue being the main character. I'm a Quirky Girl who likes broccoli & cheese soup, pictures of hedgehogs in teacups, and BBC Merlin. I think the DM Chair has gone to my head, I am mad with unearned confidence and power. My friends have the patience of saints for putting up with me but also they are blessed to be in my presence in the first place.

**For legal reasons I need you to know that this is absolutely a joke article and please do not pay attention to me, I do not wish to be perceived! I am a little moomintroll who just wants to live in my moomin-hole!

If You Want to Chop Down a Cherry Tree You Must First Invent the Universe

Chief College Correspondent Wendy Fernandez

I've been having an on and off debate with my friends about whether or not time is real. This is your chance to keep scrolling, I'm giving you an out.

Naturally, I'm defending the fact that it's completely made up, time is in fact not real. I believe it's like math; the numbers themselves don't exist but they're a language we invented to explain the naturally occurring phenomena around us. You with me so far? Good.

Let's start with the obvious things everyone always brings up: time is relative. It moves faster when you're having fun, slower when you are not. The fact that Arizona has opted out of Daylight Times Savings proves it's super fake, and the fact that there is no "true time" across the globe proves it's all relative anyways. Time is fully based on our position around the sun, position in the Milky Way, and the speed at which the earth rotates.

Also interesting to note is the saccadic moment. Have you ever noticed that when you look at the second hand of an analog clock it always lingers before moving? That's because your brain is replacing the blur of looking between objects with the image of the second object. It's why you don't notice the blur when looking back and forth quickly. Your brain erased it. In fact, your brain erases up to 11 minutes a day of these moments which really makes you wonder what it's hiding in the in-between. We don't perceive we are losing time but we are.

But enough of that, George Washington exists right now and we are the same as him.

Again let's start with the obvious: you can't go a day without seeing his face. Whether it's in the form of a dollar bill, a well placed statue, or occultist paraphernalia, America's first gay president is constantly around. Do you remember the day you learned that he was the first president? No you don't. It's so embedded in our brains that its origins are practically indistinguishable from anything we've ever learned. We were born knowing about George.

I can hear everyone telling me, "But he died 223 years ago, Wendy. You're being silly." Am I?

Is there a difference to you personally between how long ago Alexander the Great died and how long ago George Washington died? No. None of you were alive (I presume). In the time that generations were combining over the course of millennia to form your family, you weren't around. As far as you know, the world began the year you were born. Both of these deaths happened before you were born, so the years between them are inconsequential to you since you didn't experience them (I presume). They only began existing to you the moment you learned about them.

Let's think of this another way, trigger warning: Lin Manuel Miranda. Let's pretend it's 1776 and we're crossing the Delaware with George. We're freezing to death in the little boat and we look over to see an artist in a second boat painting the scene. George is posing for the painting, he's been still for 20 minutes so as not to blur the image. In that moment it hits you: this is going to be a famous painting, studied for centuries after the war is done. History has its eyes on you, you can almost feel them now. Millions of slimy eyeballs touch your body, looking at every color, every drop of water, and every face. The soldiers next to you will someday look at the painting and remember this moment, bringing it back to life with their stories and memories.

This moment never dies because we refuse to let it. If George hadn't crossed the Delaware, the painting wouldn't exist, if he had done anything different, we would have gotten a different story. The fact that this story persists means that in the moment George poses on the boat, generations of Americans are watching him with their future eyeballs. He is here and there at the same time. The second he stepped foot on that boat, we were already reading about it in our textbooks. You learning about it and you reading about it for the first time are the same.

Now stay with me because I'm bringing in the big guns. Vegetarians, don't leave. I promise I have a good explanation for this next part. The aptly named sausage theory is a way of understanding the fourth dimension. Basically, think of it like a time lapse. If you were to take a time lapse photo of you walking across the room, you'd look like a blurry sausage. Now think of history like this. You are connected to every past version of yourself and every future version of yourself through this time lapse. More than that, you are also connected in the same way to your parents, to your grandparents, and so on and so forth to the beginning of the human race.

It even goes even beyond that. You are connected through timelapse to every person you have ever come in contact with, and by default to every person they've come in contact with. The time lapse sausage keeps exponentially growing when you add in location and consider how far forward and back human history goes. We all have our own sausage inside the large human timelapse sausage.

This is how we're directly connected to George Washington.

Einstein theorized that the fourth dimension is time, and we cannot see the fourth dimension because we are three dimensional beings. This is just like how a fourth dimensional being wouldn't be able to perceive the fifth dimension because they don't exist in it, but would be able to see time. It's exactly like Flatland by Edwin Abbott Abbott. A two dimensional triangle on a sheet of paper will never be able to look up and see us above it because "up" doesn't exist in two dimensions.

So a fourth dimensional being would be able to perceive the time lapse sausage and many more like it. To them, we are one unit of sausage, one within the fourth dimension. We are one with George Washington who we are actively attached to. One object made up of all the instances of ourselves, past, present, and future.

And this is how George Washington is out there and we are all him through the imperceptible fourth dimension. 

Obviously there is more nuance than this. Since I'm not a quantum physicist or astrophysicist, I do not understand the math, but here is a good resource if you'd like to know more about the Block Universe. Time is fake and we are being watched by fourth dimensional beings (probably) who will know more than we ever will. Don't be a naysayer, fight back against the endless and inevitable march of time. I'll be here if you want to join forces. George too.

C'mon Baby, Cry - Orville Peck

I only discovered new gay Elvis like two days ago when the video for Daytona Sand slid into my YouTube recommendeds but I love everything about this. This is what Brandon Flowers jerks off to every night wishing he was brave and non-mormon enough to do.   -Matt

Jeff Found A Genie - Philip Labes

This song reminds you of the magic of wishes, the inevitability of death, and the suffocating and inescapable capitalist reality of the 21st Century which is created and perpetuated by the exploitative fantasies of the oligarchal 1%.  -Wendy

Tom Misch - Uh His Whole Tiny Desk Concert Circa 2018 (I tried to copy the link to the YouTube video but then it posted the whole ass YouTube video in my pages doc and that was very scary for me)

Damn bro this shit is good. One time someone told me my guitar playing reminded them of Tom Misch but I didn't know who that was so I pretended I listen to him and was just "oh wow thank you" but now I realize that I think that person was probably flirting with me because based on this tiny desk performance that is one mondo-complimento. This is basically what every kid who bought a looper pedal so he could pretend he was playing with a band aspires to sound like. Pairs nicely with: Sitting, weed, and vibez.  -Alex

Siren Song - Jill Andrews

This is what I'm going to listen to when I take my ghost hunting equipment to some old ruins of the coast and find a ghost to smooch.  -Marina

Thieves! (Screamed the Ghost) - Run The Jewels

RTJ3 is an incredible album. This is maybe one of the slower tracks but the spacey, atmospheric stretches serve the more serious turn well.  -Matt

Green Eyes - Coldplay

Have I talked about Coldplay before? I think everyone likes Coldplay we just have to pretend we don't like Coldplay because they did that thing where they made a bunch of really shitty pop albums. This is one of those classic super-overplayed-so-we-forget-how-genuinly-good-it-is songs. I think Chris Martin is probably a weird person, but he can write a love song like nobody's business. Also if you are dating someone who happens to have green eyes then you can listen to this song and pretend that you wrote it about your significant other and that's kinda cool! I hope no one in this coffee shop knows I'm listening to Coldplay right now.  -Alex

Song From The Edge Of The World - Siouxsie and the Banshees

Everyone should be listening to more English 80's alt rock. This music reaches into your soul and gives it a hug and and a pair of Docs.  -Marina

One Big Holiday - My Morning Jacket

Although I love Monsters of Folk very much, I've never tried hard to get into My Morning Jacket until lately, but it turns out it's great working music if nothing else. I'm not always the biggest guitar rock guy but this is hard not to appreciate.  -Matt

Hollow - Beulah

I listened to this song and was like 'huh why do I like this' and then I realized it's literally about being abducted by faeries and that's been my greatest dream for my whole life. If any fey creatures are reading this I AM HERE AND I AM WILLING.  -Marina

There's Nothing Left for You - Mitski

This feels like a response to half a dozen National songs about growing up and struggling with shifts in priorities, giving up old dreams, but focusing on the important relationships in your life rather than wallowing around feeling washed up. You could touch fire, you could fly / It was your right, it was your life / And then it passed to someone new / It'll keep passing on long after you / But you're the only one she's counting on.  -Mitski  -Michael Scott  -Matt

Cop Car - Mitski

If Mitski was making music when the Twilight movies were being released, this would have been on one of the soundtracks and it would've been way more popular than Supermassive Black Hole. When I'm right, I'm right, folks.  -Marina

King - Florence + The Machine

Sam has been too busy to write lately but has been listening to this on repeat and Florence goes where she wants.


Banners - Zack Nipper for Bright Eyes

Tolkien covers - google xD