Starter Kit: Reviews

Rating the Middle-Aged Men Who Try to Add Me on Social Media

Disaccharide sucrose-level contributor Sam Strohmeyer // Issue 26


Jeffrey is getting a low rating because it's clear we have nothing in common and I'm a people-who-say-godfearing-fearing individual 🌹. He gets some credit for "kindly" asking people not to catfish him. Oh, Jeffrey. I'm praying for you.


I sent this screenshot to Matt and he immediately knew our relationship was in jeopardy. His name is Humphrey Jackett for christsake. A king among men if there ever was one. Maximum points, obviously. #futureMrsJackett


Jordan sent a friend request and messaged me at the same time. A little forward, honestly. Definitely too forward for a married man with pictures of his wife on his profile.


I like that Michael is upfront about what he's looking for but having two first names is suspicious for sure. He's also going to lose points because he looks a bit too much like my dad.


Sylvester is one of my faves. $700 a week? I had a hard time turning this one down, not gonna lie. He also looks a bit like he belongs in The Hobbit. How whimsical!


Iré has a heart of gold. Perhaps he's mistaken me for one of the orphans in one of the orphanage homes he gives money to? Anyway, it's really cool he wants to help people financially with nothing in return. Nothing at all. Just a helpful guy.

Andrew Reviews: Women

Five-stars-on-Yelp-level contributor Andrew Piotrowski // Issue 4

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 However, this is an absurdist editorial written for a subpar newsletter, so please forgive any jokes based on these outdated generalizations.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.

Austin Cuisine Review

Provost-level contributor Alex Speed // Issue 6


As I'm sure you're aware, Austin, Texas has a wealth of exciting food offerings. We were recently named the 2nd most exciting food city in the country (fuck you, Los Angeles). As a native Austinite (no I'm not) I feel qualified (again, I'm really not qualified I eat mainly just eggs and sweet potatoes in a bowl drowned in hot sauce) to give you the hot scoop (it's a food pun, you philistine) on all things Austin. So without further ado:

Alex's Weekly Restaurant Roundup: That KFC on Lamar and Koenig

You know the one. It's in front of the Goodwill that shares a wall with Half Price Books. It's got that sweet-spot aura of open-most-of-the-time-and-pretty-cheap-so-you-might-as-well-I-guess. Inside it boasts like two trash cans and lots of posters for those bowls that cost way less than any food of positive nutritional value should.

I chose this KFC as the first installment of Alex's Weekly Restaurant Roundup because I think it exemplifies what Austin really is: a place to drunkenly order fried chicken because in the moment it seems like a great idea, but then a few hours later you realize you've given up more than you bargained for and that ultimately the Colonel always gets what he wants.

Also one time I came here when I was having a bad day and the cashier gave me a free cookie. Pretty cool.

This is the spot for you if you're:

  1. A real human being who can't afford the other places around town that charge $15 for a chicken biscuit.
  2. Someone who has come to terms with the fact that having a few extra pounds around really truly doesn't matter and sometimes it's nice to just pull up to a window and quickly receive sustenance.
  3. I dunno, from Kentucky?

That's it for this week's Roundup. Be sure to send in suggestions for next week's review, and if you visit this KFC, say hi to Jorge, he's a good dude.

I Want to Talk About Daddies (Of Lord of the Rings)

Chief Bloodline Correspondent Marina Martinez // Issue 29

I could talk about Lord of the Rings for....ever? But I won't. I'll just talk about some dads.

There are such great and iconic heroes in the LOTR trilogy (and beyond), but honestly, where would they be without their fathers? I'm here to shed some light on the best and worst of the Dads of Middle-earth. Here is my definitive ranking, the criteria of which are very accurate and do not need to be disclosed or evaluated.

10. Denethor II, Steward of Gondor

Children: Boromir and Faramir

Dad Score: -10/10, I want to give him a lower score but I have restraint.

Summary: I wanted to include more dads just so Denethor would somehow be lower on the list. I have no sympathy for you if you like Denethor. He neglects Faramir (more than usual after Boromir's death), orders his only remaining child to their death, and then lights himself on fire and runs off the side of Minas Tirith. Fuckin' hate this guy; 'Steward of Gondor' my butt. I'm done talking about him and his gross eating habits.

9. Thrór, King Under the Mountain

Children: Thráin II

Dad Score: 0/10, because 0 is the number of braincells he had and it looks like the Arkenstone.

Summary: This guy, this fuckin' guy. Can you imagine being single-handedly responsible for the fall of an entire kingdom? I can, because that's what this guy did. He coveted the Arkenstone and hoarded so much gold in Erebor that a dragon came and killed like 99% of his people. Like yeah there's a 'gold sickness' but they claim it's hereditary - did Erebor fall to any of the others in the line of Durin?? No. It fell thanks to this guy. And it's super ironic, too, because he'd lost his father and brother to a dragon in ANOTHER mountain years ago, and this was supposed to be his epic dwarven kingdom pt. 2. To be fair, he did have an 'oh shit' moment and try to recoup some losses in Moria, but he died failing. Plus that whole chain of events led to the deaths of his son, grandsons, and great-grandsons. So, not a super good dad.

8. Thráin II, King of Durin's Folk

Children: Thorin II, Frerin, Dis

Dad Score: 3/10, the number of mistakes he made per day.

Summary: Like, I get it - your father is the king and is crazy and could have you killed, so you gotta listen to him. But do you though? He literally could've overthrown his dad on the basis of Thrór being mad with gold-sickness but instead I guess he was just chilling. He's a little higher on the list because I feel bad that he was tortured by Sauron in Dol Guldur. But he still did just wander off with the last dwarven ring of power without telling anybody, so he's responsible for the deaths of a lot of dwarves, including Balin and Ori, who died trying to reclaim that ring in Moria.

7. Théoden, King of Rohan

Child: Théodred

Dad Score: 5/10, because he has half a brain.

Summary: Théoden seems like an okay guy, actually, but...who trusts a man named Wormtongue? Like, dude, did that evil sounding name 'Gríma Wormtongue' not clue you in even a LITTLE?? My guy is the King of Rohan but he's such an idiot. His only son and heir died because he was taking advice from the spy of Saruman the White. Died heroically, I guess, but it just seems like too little, too late.

6. Thranduil, King of the Woodland Realm

Child: Legolas Greenleaf

Dad Score: 6/10, a point or two deducted for being racist.

Summary: Okay so Thranduil is actually an okay dad, but he is a bit lower on the list because he just sucks in general otherwise. I mean, look, he did eventually help people when they needed help fighting the bad guys, but the dude was just so damn petty with dwarves that a lot of people died. Also his kingdom went from being called the Greenwood to Mirkwood, so the guy clearly was not super big on landscaping. Still, he did listen to his son and we have to assume he was cool when Legolas brought his dwarf husband into the Undying Lands with him, so we love to see a dad Ally.

5. Arathorn II, Chieftain of the Dúnedain

Child: Aragorn II

Dad Score: 7/10, which is five more years than he was a dad (ouch).

Summary: Arathorn is a very tragic character, which probably explains his son being Angsty Ranger Man. He never actually appears in the series because he was killed in an orc raid when his son was 2, but he was Chieftain of the Dúnedain for like 3 years, so that's cool. There's a really good fan film about him called Born of Hope that is free to watch on YouTube. That's how you know he's awesome.

4. Glóin

Child: Gimli

Dad Score: 8/10, that's how many times a day he boasts about Gimli.

Summary: Glóin is pretty wholesome, overall, and you gotta give him kudos for turning out chill even though he was probably bullied for his father being named Gróin. He had his own time in the spotlight as part of the quest to reclaim Erebor, and he was chill enough with the whole 'power hunger inherent to our bloodline' thing that his son, when confronted with the literal Ring, just tried to smash it with his hammer. I love that for them. This guy just loves his wife and son, which is the biggest dad energy.

3. Elrond Half-elven, Lord of Rivendell

Children: Elladan, Elrohir, Arwen

Dad Score: 10/10, Hugo Weaving can get it.

Summary: I have so many feelings about Elrond. So like, brief background: he and his twin bro Elros were both half-elven (duh), so when they came of age they had to choose between the elves and men. Elrond obvs chose to live as an elf, but Elros chose the life of a man - he died early into the second age, which is like...tragic short for an elf. (And then his daughter goes and does the same thing, this poor dude..) ANYWAY Elrond has three kick-ass kids and his mother-in-law is Galadriel, so you KNOW this man drinks his daily dose of Respect Women Juice.

2. Hamfast 'Old Gaffer' Gamgee

Children: Samwise (and 5 others, apparently, but I do not know anything about them)

Dad Score: 100/10, The Ultimate Dad.

Summary: Samwise Gamgee is, arguably, the hero of Lord of the Rings. Without him, the Ring would never have been destroyed, and Sauron's armies would've killed everybody. So of course Sam's dad is among the best dads, because he raised the best character. He's literally just a gardener, but he is so wholesome. If you heard this man tell a dad joke you would be obliterated instantly. But, like, with love.

1. Daddy Twofoot

Children: ????

Dad Score: 420/10, I don't know

Summary: I know - I can't believe this is a real character, either. There is an actual hobbit named Daddy Twofoot. He was in the book, the movie, the radio series, the trading cards, and the video games. Daddy's entire character arc consists of him gossiping about how fuckin' weird Frodo's mom was because she came from Buckland. He then attends Bilbo's farewell party. That is his whole character. I love him and I want to be him.

Candle Scent Descriptions by Jenna

Chief Olfactory Correspondent Jenna Hay // Issue 31

My first sexual awakening occurred on the toilet while reading the back of an Herbal Essences shampoo bottle. Reading shampoo bottle descriptions was how I'd pass my time in the restroom, and sometimes I would blush and get all tingly because of how erotic the descriptions would get. Seriously, we're talking R-rated imagery - your hair will be sensually and silky smooth? Let me lather you?? Voluptuous bounce??

Fast forward 16 years and I'm at college in Marketing Principles 101 and I'm learning that my shampoo bottle wasn't selling me good old fashioned hygiene at all, it was selling me sex, and that's totally a normal tactic marketers use when describing things they want to sell. Once I learned everyone in America is totally okay with being advertised experiences that have zero relevance to the product, I knew that crafting these deceitful descriptions would be my calling.

Fast forward to now, and I'm on a candle-buying binge because 'tis the season to smell like your favorite Starbucks latte. It's no secret that over the past few years the candle industry has gone completely off the rails. And I am HERE for it. They've turned everything into a scent. Salted Caramel Crème Brulee? Yes. Sheppard's Pie? Of course. Disappointing Gender Reveal? You got it. I love filling my home with smells of dessert and uncomfortable life events.

But what if in the future shopping in real-life stores isn't a possibility? How will we know which candles to buy if we can't give them a big in-person whiff? What if we can only view them online and imagine? Until someone invents an app for mobile scratch n' sniff, us aroma enthusiasts are going to have to solely rely on a marketing employee's ability to accurately describe candle smells.

Jenna "AP History" Hay knows a healthy job market when she sees one. Since candle scent description writing is a capitalistic endeavor on the rise, I'm practicing writing descriptions now so that I don't get left in the economic dust. Not again. Get woke.

Below are all the candles I bought last week. Read and smell them for yourself.

"Manly Indulgence: Vintage Oak" - Target

This candle captures the warm, rich essence of hauling a full-grown redwood tree on your bare, bronzed, excessively muscled back. Woodsy notes laced with subtle hints of brisket and sweat from your own brow create an exotic musk that reminds you of Ernest Hemingway's beard but not his books because reading is for nerds. Hazy notes of smoke and firewood compliment the discrete fragrance of suppressing your deepest emotions. This scent is so indulgently manly and strong and whiskey and hard rock and flannel and craft beer and chest hair. For his pleasure.

"Strelitzia" - World Market 70% Off Aisle

The fragrant combination of sugar cane, damp moss and tart berries evokes imagery from your most recent jungle adventure. Wait, what's that sound? It's the contagious giggle of your first-born child. You're starring in the Disney remake of the movie Tarzan. That child you just heard is infant Tarzan and you're the forgettable father figure. What, now what's that sound? Phil Collins. He's here, holding you. His sweet yodel gently tickles your ears and, oh god, you're both throttled by a panther. Aromatic notes of cedar and bird poop make this a soothing candle to burn as you die a slow, painful death and think wistfully of England.

"Sweet Pea Honeysuckle" - World Market 70% Off Aisle

Okay, no, this candle smells suspiciously like "Strelitzia". I am not an expert on plants, but I know for a gosh darn fact that strelitzia is not the same flower as honeysuckle. Just now I triple-sniffed both candles with my eyes shut, and I even cleansed my scent palette each time by shoving ice cubes up my nose. Same freaking smell. This is an outrage. If I ever become friends with a botanist, I can never confidently burn this candle around them because they will know I'm living a lie and I will be disgraced. In my own HOME. Is that what you wanted for Christmas, World Market? A friendless, disgraced customer?? Me and my high-class nose are on to you. Aromatic notes of lies and deceit.

"Jasmine Gardenia Petals" - World Market 70% Off Aisle

Exactly what you think this would smell like, with a contemporary twist of smelling exactly the opposite of what you think this would smell like.

"Frosty Air Air Glacial" - Michael's Clearance Rack

Double the air-to-candle ratio in this icy, scentastic experience. Overpoweringly strong aromas of mint and blue raspberry sting your nostrils when you inhale, giving you internal frostbite but in a good, relaxing way. The myriad of aromas reminds you of Christmas but in biblical times, so respectful notes of frankincense and myrrh layered with a hint of redemption which also smells like mocha. One of our best selling fragrances.