Issue 47 - 04/12/22


  • 5 Lessons I've Learned from My Horse While Living on the Trail (For 45 Minutes)
  • Skeletons in the Closet: The Necromancer's Guide to Coming Out
  • This Is My Chili's Manifesto: Pt. 2
  • Matthew McConaughey as the Batman
  • Austin's Car Tourism Culture Is Thriving

  • Picasso
  • Legend of the Thrustmaster

  • Office Chart

5 Lessons I've Learned from My Horse While Living on the Trail (For 45 Minutes)

Chief Bonanza Correspondent Mudd Spursling

Well howdy there folks, and welcome to my rustic little corner of the internet where we repeatedly rip off Reductress. Finally: a publication accessible to men.

I've been spending most of my time out on the dusty trail lately, in mind if not in body. One might say my time on the trail in fact only amounted to about an hour tops, but they're not factoring in the time it took to research the ranch, purchase our rides, coordinate scheduling, get dressed, and the commute, phew; it's almost more time than a humble cowboah has these days. And more importantly, I am not my crude flesh, but the spirit that resides within, relaxing next to an ethereal campfire over a bean-pot of the soul, and that spirit (me) may never again return to the land of automobiles and nespresso. Nay (neigh), truly mine are the bona fides of a true cowboyman worthy of your time and respect, so let's mosey on.

Sad Cowboy Soliloquy #1: Let Go & Also Let God

Letting go is one of the coolest tricks you can pull as a cowboy and a horse rider and a man who is a cowboy. It is versatile and can be done by beginners (I believe - it's a little hard to remember all the way back to when I was just starting out) and experts alike. God in this case can refer to multiple things: the flow of the horses in front of you, or the trail guide, Cathy. Really just those two things.

Sad Cowboy Soliloquy #2: Rein It In

Sure, horse go fast and free, but horse also go slow. If you're feeling like city life has got you overexposed to the elements (cocaine), it's okay to stop and smell the tumbleweeds a while. I know what you're thinking: "Mudd," you ask, "does this lesson not directly contradict the previous lesson?" While this is true, Cathy might get mad if you go "too fast" and "get yourself killed." Good on you for being an observant and inquisitive varmint, but do me a cowfavor and tone it back.

Sad Cowboy Soliloquy #3: Bite the Butt In Front of You

The only challenge you can tackle is the one you're currently facing. Don't let others around you get too complacent. Always use everything at your disposal to get that little bit farther ahead. I'm actually not sure what the takeaway here is, but my horse, Batman, did find it important to frequently bite the ass of the horse in front of him. We're not here for horse dialogue; we're here for horse lessons.

Sad Cowboy Soliloquy #4: Houses'

Houses are good. Houses should never be taken for granted. If you see a house enter it. Horses belong in houses. Bring a horse into your house today. Indoors with air conditioning and carpet. A horse will be granted free passage in and out of house and may use bed and amenities.

Sad Cowboy Soliloquy #5: The Beans Were Inside You All Along

I'll tell you what: the foremost lesson I've done learned from my expansively lengthy and girthy and life-changing time on the range on and with and adjacent to my horse is that you don't have to take anyone else's advice. You don't have to learn anything else at all. You can get by just fine on your own without learning another dang thing for the rest of your brutalist rural life. Examine your inner demons no longer lest ye magnify and release them upon the unsuspecting if not undeserving world. Maintain a 4th grade level understanding of math. Your horse doesn't actually listen to or learn from you. Neigh (nay), they persevere beneath the yoke of an unyielding and inscrutable higher power in exchange for food and relative safety, and I think we can all whistle a note from that tune. (this lesson is about capitalism)

Skeletons in the Closet: The Necromancer's Guide to Coming Out

Chief Corvid Correspondent Marina Martinez

The stigma around certain 'lifestyle choices' has been prevalent in recent history, although at one point it was as accepted (and expected) as any other specialization! The world gets a little more progressive with each generation, but sometimes it's hard to gauge exactly how accepting the people around you actually are. Learned biases (and religious alignments) can sometimes come between people and their loved ones, which can make coming out a difficult step to take on the path to living as your true, authentic self.

With this in mind, the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative here at Warlocks of the Mountains have come up with a few simple steps for how to effectively 'come out' to those closest to you. We recognize that coming out is a deeply personal process, and you should definitely take your own safety and sanity into consideration as you use this guide. Definitely consider your safety if you have a lawful good paladin in your party.

1. Tell a Trusted Friend

You likely have at least one friend in your friend group who is relatively open-minded and non-judgemental, someone with a neutral or even chaotic alignment. (They're probably a bard or a rogue.) To gain confidence in yourself, ask to take watch at the same time while everyone else is long-resting. Things to keep in mind:

  • Pick a safe, well-guarded location (far away from the party camp, for privacy)
  • Try to be honest and direct ('A deeper magic has called to me and my patron and I have decided to embrace that')
  • Allow them to react and ask questions! This might also be a good time to figure out whether they'd be willing to be a test subject for you to experiment with (not before their time, obviously)
  • Let them know you could use their support as you begin to break it to the rest of the party

Although there's no way to guarantee somebody's reaction, chances are they will be supportive and vow to guard your secrets from your enemies! Because this would probably delight your enemies and you're not looking for a new career at the moment.

2. Hint Casually in Conversation

By this point, you've come to accept what you're meant to be and your magic has begun changing along with your confidence. That's great! Although it's probably been the only thing on your mind for a while, it would be far too chaotic to let it slip at this point. Now's a great time to begin 'greasing the wheels' of what is and isn't morally accepted within your adventuring party. Examples can include:

  • 'I love you guys so much. Wouldn't it be great if we were together forever?'
  • 'Death comes for us all, am I right? But what if it didn't have to?'
  • 'Okay not ALL dark magic users are bad, right? That guy was probably just hangry.'
  • 'Wow there's only a few of us. What if we had a convenient way to bolster our numbers without having to buy more rations or rooms at the tavern?'

3. Have a Complex Philosophical Conversation About Death

By this point, it's time to start taking the kid gloves off. Also, you guys are level 13 - a TPK could be coming at any moment, and it's best to get everyone's (relatively informed) consent while you still can. Here are some great questions to ask:

  • How would you want to be remembered?
  • Do you believe in life after love?
  • Do you believe in life after death?
  • No I know you're not religious, Greg, but literally do you believe in being alive after you've died?

4. Explain to Your Loved Ones Just How Much You Love Them

Depending on their passive perception scores, subtlety may have gone out the window by this point. Before coming clean, it's important to reemphasize that you are still the same person your friends have come to know and love, and that your call to raise the recently or long-since deceased to serve you in an army of the undead in no way changes how you care about them.

5. Rip Off the Proverbial Bandage

...Oh shit. Well maybe you accidentally already did this step. Now is a good time to look around and evaluate the facial expressions of your loved ones. It's important to remember those bullet points from step one. Be honest and direct - you're a necromancer, you raise the dead, and you're proud of that - and allow them the space to react to this. Of course, if one of your friends is an Oath of Righteousness paladin, they may react violently, but that's okay. They know that you love them, and as soon as they stop trying to Divine Smite you, they'll remember that!

6. Live Your Life (and Afterlife)

For better or worse (though hopefully the former), your life is different now. You're no longer just a magic user, you're a DARK magic user, and that's okay. Dark doesn't mean bad! That sounds mildly racist! And although people in this world may be biased against 'good' and 'evil', nobody is racist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, ableist, or any other discriminatory mindset. Imagine what a nightmare that would be!

Your only goal now is to live your life and be your truest self. Coming out is a process - you'll find yourself inadvertently coming out to people every day, and though it may eventually become a bit tiring (because honestly, is it their business unless they're the ones you're calling from the Raven Queen's realm?), you'll soon find that it's no big deal. Remember: everyone has a few skeletons in their closets, some more literally than others. And in your case, it's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Not like Greg, that pervert.

This Is My Chili's Manifesto: Pt. 2

Chief Fun/Fresh/Flavorful Correspondent Macc Spalding

I'll tell you what.

Y'all crossed a dang line with that fire back in Issue 27, and I hoped I'd never have to redraw that line again, using table salt in the booth at the back of the dining section under the big grainy 6th Street sign wallpaper because I'm so bored waiting on my third round of big mouth bites - a line which I will clean before leaving but only because I snort it between presidente margs.

But y'all just couldn't leave well enough alone.

Is nothing sacred? Can we as a society not cherish and protect the one place a man can still go to get greased instead of attending his daughter's middle school basketball game? Don't give me that look - the game is dead anyway ever since the war either for or against gender was invented. Tell me when that nonsense is resolved and I'll start supporting the team again. Not that I ever did before either. I actually couldn't tell you what position she plays or how the season's going or what street the school is on.

But I sure can tell you one thing, and that is that I don't know where I'm going to be going every Tuesday and/or Thursday evening for the foreseeable future because this dang city has been living in sin for too long and now there has finally been a reckoning in the form of a tarnado. Thank the Lord it didn't also hit my home, or the school while the boy's team was playing (they're 11 and 1 this season!), but this has been a blow below the belt all the same.

There's shattered glass all over the entry nook where I used to hold both sets of doors open for my buddy Rick and say "ladies first!"; there's debris all over the section where my waiter Hugh told us about his trip to Mt. Everest (and I remember that detail because debris rhymes with Everest); there's even a ding-dang dong-sized tree branch skewering my favorite bathroom stall. I can't tell you how many memories of bitter defeats and also bitter triumphs irradiated that plywood, but now it's scrap, like tears in southwesterly rain.

Pretty plain to see why, though. Tarnados don't just happen for no reason. And what hurts the most is that I'm partly to blame. I should have tried harder to help this terrible town. I should have driven away when I saw the car I stopped to help had a Bernie sticker, to teach them a valuable life lesson. I should have gotten outside and played more golf to support the environment. I should have driven with more guns. It's almost like I was ashamed. And now it's too late.

Or is it? Better late than never, as my waitress Tammy always tells me after I verbally abuse her for taking too long with the chips (it's really great back and forth banter (but it does affect her tip)). Perhaps this was a wake-up call to get my life on a brighter track. Perhaps there are more framed-and-displayed-for-no-discernable-reason American flags out there than the one which proudly blesses the Chili's bar room and which I am now using as a tourniquet.

When they finally pry this shattered bartop off of my mangled legs and pull the glass shards out of my backside, I think I'll take some time to travel and self-reflect. It's been so long since I've been to Cheesecake Factory.

Matthew McConaughey as the Batman

Chief Justice Correspondent Wendy Fernandez

The hero Austin doesn't want, but the hero Austin deserves.

Veterans of the Newsletter know of my historic feud with Ryan Seacrest. While no one will ever top him as my least favorite celebrity of all time, there is another parasocial relationship I feel I must disclose. Ryan Seacrest is taken at face value as the shrimp of a man that he is, but another rises out of the darkness to vanquish and protect our city like a man with too much money and an affinity towards bats.

If ever a city were to develop a Batman, would it not be Austin? Between the tech startup millionaires, the actual jokers you see roaming around the city keeping it weird, and the Moody skyline view from the Long Center on a stormy night, it's a marvel, nay, a DC that Austin doesn't have a brooding vigilante guarding the city from whatever. Unless of course, there is already one amongst our ranks rising to the call.

The first time I ran into Matthew McConaughey he actually ran into me. I was an Innocent, walking towards the Trail of Lights with an M & M bag in hand, minding my own business. Little did I know I was four hours early on the wrong day to my volunteer shift, but it didn't matter. As I crossed the driveway entrance to JuiceLand, a sliver Lincoln backed into me and slammed on the brakes. Although I have a flair for dramatics, I want to make it clear that it was nothing more than a bump, I left with no injuries and what little pride I have stayed intact.

But who would dare hit a pedestrian? Especially one as innocent as me? I looked up as the driver rolled down the window and nodded apologetically in my direction. It's also important to understand that I occasionally struggle with faces, and celebrities aren't real people so why would I ever expect to know what Matthew McConaughey looks like? But there he was, in his golden whiskey owning glory. I stepped out of the way and let him pass, surely never to see him again, right?

Wrong. It became a sick one-sided game of cat and mouse. I worked at the Long Center the year he accepted the Texas Medal of the Arts award. I was unaware the event would be taking place that day, and I was trapped inside the lobby because the security and paparazzi were so thick I could not exit the building. I had to watch him from the other side of the glass doors posing with his posse. I didn't get home until late that evening, hungry, tired, and knowing that he didn't spot me, his victim.

And then it picked up. I saw him on a golf cart zooming past me late at night. Matthew McConaughey would sometimes pick up SafeWalk shifts on the UT Campus to encourage students to not walk alone, and I would see his golden mop oh hair breezing past me down the sidewalks. I saw him in close proximity at football games, running up and down the field, but he never saw me. Most recently, I saw his car in traffic, and although the windows were tinted, I knew he was in there, I could feel it.

It's not a malicious thing, I like the guy (especially now that he decided to not run for governor). Destiny keeps bringing us together in unexpected ways. He doesn't notice me, but I notice him every single time. So there is only one logical conclusion: we're doomed to keep meeting until I inevitably hit him with my car. It's fate, I must return the favor. I am the unwilling Riddler laughing high in the trees as this brooding southern vigilante below me.

But why would this mere actor follow in the steps of Bruce- I mean Batman? Matthew McConaughey is a charitable guy. He spends a lot of his time donating money to assorted noble causes, underprivileged youths, and natural disaster relief. He's the minister of culture and the most recognizable celebrity who is always in the news. Although he doesn't have a tragic backstory, his parents are divorced. That's almost something.

He has three children - which is significantly less than good 'ol Batty - but they all live together in the same mansion, and besides having a unique and identifiable style, Matthew McConaughey has an iconic catchphrase and honestly, that's all it takes to be a superhero.

As far as infrastructure goes, Austin has an extensive cave system running under the city; it's not crazy to assume they act as a headquarters for our very own McConaughey. It's a matter of hiding in plain sight, and who is better at that than a well-known celebrity toting around a pair of bongos?

Maybe one day Austin will realize who is actually keeping our city safe, and maybe that's why the police budget is so generous. But until this Riddler catches up to her Batman at the end of whatever cosmic waltz we're doomed to dance, at least he can't be worse than Ryan Seacrest.

Austin's Car Tourism Culture Is Thriving

Chief Sociology Correspondent Malt Sprawling

Welcome to Austin Cars Monthly, your one-stop newsletter for all things Austin cars!

You already know that Austin worships the car, and we know that you know, and if you're here, you know we know! Austin's Car Culture is thriving, and that means less walking, bussing, or biking. Come see this rich tapestry of diversity for yourself!

One hotspot the intrepid and informed tourist will be sure to keep an eye out for is I-35. See your favorite cars in action! Seeing them parked at home is one thing, but there's no replacement for the thrill of seeing them in the wild, pumping real people and business in and out of the heart of the city like a severely clotted and cholesterol-rich artery. Seeing the baking afternoon sun glinting off a thousand surfaces directly into your eyes is a unique experience some have likened to DMT. And not to worry - this wonder of the world moves extremely slowly and spends most of the time sitting still, giving you ample opportunity to line up the perfect camera shot, or just sit back and take in the view. Come anytime between 7am and 8pm.

One of the things that sets Austin apart from other car-centric cities is its parking lots. To demonstrate how much the city prioritizes cars, more land is paved over and committed to the parking of cars than there is land used for establishments people park to go to. You may think that shopping center or your favorite bar are the focus of your day, but really they're just another showcase for the real event. (The real event is cars.)

But this is nothing new - what's so unique about Austin is the synergetic combination of excessive paved areas with a carefully cultivated artificial scarcity of actual places to park. Go exploring and you're likely to find an area in which there seems to be parking all around, and yet all spots are either constantly filled every hour of the day, or else reserved for sundry purposes and marked threateningly, tow trucks roaming like sharks. Circling your favorite bar five times and not finding anywhere to so much as stop and collect your thoughts really takes your car immersion to another level. Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink!

One last way Austin is flirting with cars from across the room a little too enthusiastically is making bussing and cycling incredibly unattractive transportation options. Busses are trash because they take up valuable roadway that could instead be occupied by two or more cars, and even worse, may steal up to two dozen cars' worth of potential drivers. By strategically reducing the number and frequency of busses, increasing the chances of being accosted by potential drivers in need of psychiatric help when on a bus, and declining to implement infrastructure that makes bus travel fit in seamlessly, efficiently, and safely with traffic, Austin is doing everything it can to keep putting out pro-car vibes! (Cyclists will probably die.)

That's it for this week! Keep coming back for all your car tourism ecosystem needs. We know you have a choice in newsletters, but not a choice in participating in malignant and inefficient urban sprawl. And remember: exhaust pipes are nature's air humidifiers.

Legend of the Thrustmaster

Chief Hips Correspondent Matt Spradling

I've struggled a little with posture for a long time, like pelvic-tilt level posture that kind of throws everything off. Not super extreme or a big problem; it's mostly just annoying because I have tried seriously to improve it many times and it never seems to work and it doesn't feel like I'm doing anything correctly.

Over the years, I've sporadically looked at dozens of resources and how-to articles and videos, and even gotten advice from the late great Jenna Hay (she's not dead, I just assume she's been late for something at least once in her life and I think it's time to hold her accountable.) Most of these resources will ultimately end up telling you some exercises that will generally help the muscles responsible for your back et al., but - while Jenna did single-handedly cure my blisters and show me a good and painful exercise ball stretch the results of which are forthcoming - these sundry online tips never really make a noticeable difference for me, at least not in terms of posture.

Then there are the descriptions. Online fitness instructors can often be very helpful and great communicators, but sometimes they really feel the need to break out their creative writing degree, and this ultimately obfuscates the entire endeavor. Descriptions such as "bridging x and y muscle," and "aligning your core," and "think of it like you're being pulled by a rope tied around your pelvis" all serve to either be too vague or end up with me somehow doing the exact opposite of what I should. Before I really grasped the concept of what pelvic tilt was I would walk around target actively sticking my ass out as much as possible based on a single summary of advice from somewhere, looking like some old cartoon goose walking with a cane.

These instructions were also often saddled with the apparent burden of very polite phrasing. No PG-13 exercise instructions please; apparently we're trying to teach 11 year olds how to manage recurring stress injuries and the good habits to take into rapidly approaching middle age. Throw in some 401K talk and they're golden. Butts are most commonly referred to as glutes, and sometimes the seat or something vague and benign like that, and as for the groin area - if it must be mentioned at all - we all of us are smooth Barbie and/or Ken dolls.

One evening last week, somewhere in my traveling routine between running and laying in bed for hours typing feverish nonsense, the all-knowing YouTube algorithm (all hail The Algorithm) suggested yet another random running tips video (once you seek out one, they show show up for weeks like raccoons at your door after you got too drunk one halloween and thought one of them was a child and gave them all your candy.) Although not particularly interested, I clicked and let it play while doing something else.

Little did I anticipate the hero I'd stumbled upon. This man, inscrutable behind sweet shades even though it did not look sunny out, looking exactly like every college roommate you've ever had, instructed me to reference "the moment of deepest penetration" regarding pelvic positioning. This got my attention. I have thankfully never been dragged down the road by a rope tied around my waist, but this was something my pelvis understood.

It turns out that's it? Like this whole time? All I had to do was walk through the world humping the air out of my way? I have been immediately cured. Anyway I guess the point is that it occasionally pays to be crude. Thank a crude king today.

Our Prayer - The Beach Boys

The battle is intense. Your ears are numb to the sound of gunpowder igniting and the clashing of swords. The sunset casts its red light over the deck, drenching friend and foe alike in its glow. Or maybe that's actual blood. Everything smells of salt and iron. You can feel your crew wearing down, you can't take much more. You feel a tingling sensation on the back of your head and twirl around. There, at the opposite end of the ship, is the rival captain. You make eye contact and you both freeze. This is the person you've been tasked with taking down at any cost. But you realize, in that moment, you can't follow orders. After all these's the one that got away. And you know with utter certainty that they'll never get away again.  -Marina

Love It If We Made It - The 1975

This activates the same pleasure centers in my brain as coming up with a really cool and edgy and cryptic facebook status in 2009. Except, in a good way. And then combines that with how it felt to be alive for the past 6 years and wanting to bash your head through a wall. I'm not sure what to say about this song but it's incredible and I got a fever yesterday and it was stuck in my head all night and it didn't even ruin it.  -Matt

Barracuda - Heart

I'm a simple woman. I turn on a dad rock song and I fall a little bit in love with the idea of going full Thelma & Louise. You know what they say: live young, die fast.  -Marina

Wolf Like Me - Lera Lynn, Shovels & Rope

This takes the driving energy of one of the best ever rock songs and makes it better by quieting it down and adding bluegrass. I'm a sucker for dramatic chord progressions played sparsely with just synth or organ or harpsichord or whatever is going on. Lera Lynn's vocals feel like if a warm, spectral hand reached into my body and dislodged and removed some kind of stone or another that was building up in some organ or another and it's uncomfortable but satisfying. It's a normal thought.  -Matt


Banners - Stanley Donwood and Thom Yorke for Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool

Horse - The Tik Tok

Chili's - that's just, like, reality, man. But also various local news outlets after the recent tornadoes.

Picasso - I ran that with my feet and knees (and Strava) and almost died