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AT AT MM Summer 2011

Dear Readers, Thank you for looking this digital magazine up in your magic

picture square. Although we here at ATOM Magazine are avid magic picture square fans, we really designed this magazine to be read on

paper. Yes, that s right, paper. Made of many dead trees. So, if you enjoy reading this magazine on your computer, perhaps you would be interested in ordering a colorful, tactile, printed copy of ATOM from...



Not only do you get a gorgeous, professionally printed version of the magazine you also get a DRM-free download to read whenever on the device of your choice. We think it s a pretty

excellent deal. We hope you enjoy reading the ďŹ rst issue of ATOM! -The


From the Editors

Spencer J. Sands

Ashleigh R. Hill

Brendan G. Nystedt


elcome to Atom Magazine! I m Ashleigh. I m the girl. Thanks for picking up this crazy little experiment of ours. I m so excited to finally be able to share this with everyone. Inside are all the things we here at the Atom love̶quick and simple recipes that Martha Stewart would scoff at, pretty pictures of random things, short fiction by writers we like, an article on great bands of the 90s, and beautiful drawings by talented artists. So flip on through and enjoy. And stay tuned for our Fall issue, which will be available in October. Enjoy! -A

tom Magazine is the culmination of a serious labour of love and I am so happy that you have taken the time out of your busy, busy day to check it out. I promise that if one looks hard enough, even the most cold-blooded amongst our species will find something to love in the humble publication. We young/hip people all live such multifaceted/hip lives and it is my humble/hip opinion that Atom reflects this wonderfully. I hope you have as much fun reading this as we did making it. -S


earest Readers, Welcome to the very first issue of Highlights for Children Atom Magazine. In this magazine, we bring together a smorgasbord of wonderful things we think you'll really grok. What started only 4 months ago has come together into something even better than I had imagined. It's simple, useful, stimulating, fun to read and includes a plethora of original written and visual content. I hope you enjoy the work we've put into this issue. Have a great summer, -b

Contributors Ashleigh Hill is a teacher, writer and theatre practitioner living in Northern California. She is a graduate of New Yo r k U n i v e r s i t y s Program in Educational Theatre and loves mustaches, acoustic guitar, and English period dramas. She enjoys spending time with her little sister, taking pictures, and laughing at her dog.

Rocketed to this world, the last son of a dying planet, Spencer Sands is a 23 year old boy deeply committed to enjoying everything, though it doesn't always work. He is a teacher, a surfer, a liar and a lover among other things. Presently, he is focusing most of his attention on his 2024 presidential bid. It sucks you have to be 35.

Brendan Nystedt is a w r i t e r. H e i s a graduate of UC Santa Cruz but hates hacky sacks and frisbees. He has often been told he is wise beyond his years. However this wisdom tends to makes him irascible and grumpy. In spite of this he laughs obnoxiously at just about everything.


My name is Coby Zeifman. I am from Seattle. I graduated from the University of Oregon. While in Eugene, OR I acquired a lifelong love of biking and continued my love of live music. I play bass guitar and I love the shit out of nature. I'm currently in school to become a teacher.

W. Clay is a college instructor who occasionally attempts to teach. In his leisure time he enjoys watching dark crime dramas with his wife, and drinking snobby microbrews, playing violent team sports, pretending to play musical instruments, and confusing his daughters by using too many weird words. This is his first magazine article.

Eli has realized very recently that the whole point of his college education was to finally understand the humor that he heard as a child uttered around the old kitchen table. Since then, he has been in search of a small dog who haunts his dreams and hopes to finally come face to face with a dachshund named Robert Dog who has been conspiring against him all over the United States. He lives in Oakland, CA with his wife and a very fluffy cat.

I am one of many things, above all else...El mas chingon. Why Berto, whatever does that mean? Well I ll tell you friend, it means, The B a d d e s t Motherf*cker . You can ask anyone that knows me and they ll tell you the same thing. I m originally from the Central Coast of California but now reside in Queens, New York with my girlfriend and two roommates.

On the cover and throughout this issue is our good friend Brandon Cook.

A community college student resuming class this Fall, Leonardo Santamaria has always had a feeling that the art world would be the utopia he'd grow up to be in. Aspiring to be an illustrator, he has plans to attend an art school and is inspired by the likes of Alphonse Mucha, Vania Zouravliov, and Tom Bagshaw. You can see more of his work at his websites:

Fordy Shoor is a Writer/Musician living in the South Bay Area. He is currently working on a book of short stories and a novel entitled Steady Diet, as well as helping co-write and develop the animated serial Copernicus Pox. Also a seasoned bassist, he has played with the bands Acid Westerns and The Ghost of Wrights.

L a u r e n Ya y e s a k i works as a receptionist and lives in that thin line between Manhattan and Harlem in New Yo r k C i t y . S h e i s originally from S a c r a m e n t o , California cow town capital and attended the University of California Santa Cruz hippy sun surf capital. Currently she really likes scones, art, watermelon, the opera and the movie Midnight in Paris.

Philipa Mendoza-Chan hails from the picturesque shores of the Louisiana bayou. When she s not s n o w s h o e i n g professionally, she writes a blog called Confessions of a Candlemaker. She enjoys showing her Amish family how to use the computer. They still haven t really learned how to work the devil mouse yet.

AT AT MM Editorial: Ashleigh R. Hill Brendan G. Nystedt Spencer J. Sands Contributors: Eli Sanchez Lauren Yayesaki Coby Zeifman Berto Preciado W. Clay Fordy Shoor Garrett Burke Leonardo Santamaria Additional Photography: Emma Nystedt Gaetan Lee Andrew Dressel Jomas Bergsten Sam Grover Evan Amos Norbert Schnitzler Alpha Six LytFyre NASA On the cover: Brandon Cook Photography by Ashleigh R. Hill All work is property of each respective creator except for Creative Commons materials used under the CC License.

Special Thanks: Arthur Rowland for Photoshop tutelage Boran Vukajlovic Our friends and families

! ! !

Convertible Greenhouse/Planter Box Tin Can Succulents

! ! !

Off-the-Shelf Chili On the Subject of Kitchen Necessities Last-minute Potluck Fixin’s

! ! ! ! ! !

Film Reviews (Midnight in Paris, Invisible Man, Hangover Part II) Book Review (Role Models)! ! ! ! Are the ‘90s back again? by W. Clay Levity is the Soul by Fordy Shoor Mutants in Our Own Minds!

! ! ! !

Bike Party San Jose by Coby Zeifman The Gygax Dating Method Maker Faire Improv State of Mind by Lauren Yayesaki!


Shave like Cary Grant One Thing


! !


The Tired Man by Fordy Shoor How It Is by Berto Presciado Naples (Not Australia)















Build a Convertible Greenhouse Planter Box* * (No Squangle Required)

by Brendan Nystedt & Spencer Sands


ardening is truly a wonderful pastime.

what we needed. If you only open your eyes, you will

Nothing can compare to eating food that

be shocked by just how many two-by-fours are just

you yourself are more or less directly responsible for creating. Even the grossest vegetables

lying around, begging for you to steal borrow them. In short, be tenacious. And remember, build to meet your

(beets, etc.) taste delicious when you are the driving force behind their existence. What we are proposing here is truly a twofer. The benefits of raised planter boxes are numerous: for lazy people, you don t have the bend over as far, they can help keep pests at bay, they can be put anywhere, and it s much easier to manage a fixed amount of soil. As for the roof, the greenhouse effect will allow you (given at least some regular sunlight) to grow all year, protect against overwatering from nature and her sidekick rain and finally, allow you to grow things that normally wouldn t grow in your climate zone. The greenhouse roof is easily removed or restored with two people and making the sides easy to roll up allows

needs and materials. If that means a 2 x2 box, then

the gardener to work without having to remove the

so be it; make these plans work for you. These

whole roof as well as regulate the inside temperature.

measurements worked for us, but might not be right for you. As it turned out, our box is one foot tall, six feet long, and four feet wide. Why is it those dimensions? you ask. Truthfully, it was what we had the materials to build. A basic (and I do mean basic, we all majored in liberal arts) understanding geometry and (shudder) trigonometry will go a long way to help you calculate the run on the arms of the roof. Just remember A squared plus B squared equals C squared (which, if we recall correctly, is the preamble to the the Bill of Rights). The box itself is made out of three crucial parts: 2 x

When we conceived of this project, the idea wasn t to

4 s, 4 x 4 s, and 12 x 2 s. The six foot runs along the

present you dear reader with a step-by-step, inch-forinch set of instructions for how to construct what we did. Instead, the idea was to show you how two guys with basically no skills were able to make a really viable greenhouse/planter-box with nothing but a basic set of tools and our collective wits. Spencer s dad, Chris, popped in to give us advice from his years of contracting. He assured us that what we needed to make the project was a tool called a squangle . We were dubious that such a thing even existed given how ridiculous it sounded. A few minutes later, he presented us with a metal tool with a pivoting arm on it clearly marked SQUANGLE. We didn t need it and neither will you.

longest sides are composed of the 12 x 2 s and, because we simply didn t have more than twelve feet

This planter cost us a whopping twenty-five bucks and that is mostly due to the fact that we spent a good amount of time going through scrap wood piles to get

of it to spare, we used stacks of three 2 x 4 s (3 x 4=12!) for the each of the shorter sides. That worked out well because it lent a neat set of horizontal lines to

the build, a look that we liked. The 4 x 4 s acted as

carefully cut 45º angles on both ends (opposing each

the points of connection for our sides and instead of

other, to give the wood a strange elongated

cutting them at an even 12 , we gave them all an

trapezoidal look) via the chop saw. You could do it with a hand saw, it would just take longer. After that, we predrilled screw holes in the cut angles and subsequently screwed them into the rest of the frame. With that the frame was complete, save for some additional toe-nailing that we used to reinforce the structure which we accomplished with a finishing nailgun. We also attached handles on both sides of the roof frame to make it easier to lift on and off. The final step was adding the painter s plastic to the frame to create the necessary greenhouse effect. It was just a matter of measuring and cutting, followed by zip-tying and stapling. We went with this type of plastic for the obvious cheap and cheerful reasons, but also because, in the event it were to tear or get ripped, it will be easily replaced. We only stapled the plastic to the roof line for the slopes. To keep in mostly in place, we suspended pieces of PVC pipe along the bottom edge, letting them hang just past where the roof ends. This allows the gardener to lift them up and get at what they are growing. The triangular portion was attached more permanently with lots of stapling.

extra inch (the purpose of which will become very apparent later on). Via a pneumatic nail-gun we attached it all though a screw gun or even an oldefashioned analog hammer and nails would absolutely suffice. The greenhouse absolutely constituted the hard thinking portion of this build. We started by building a frame out of 2 x4 s that perfectly match the frame of the planter. Once we had it all screwed together, we fit it on the top of the planter where the 4 x 4 s extended up. Those one inch extension serve as a simple way to hold the roof on when it is attached. Once we had the bottom build, we cut another piece of 2 x 4 that was 68 long which ultimately served as our roof line. We then cut 2 x 2 sections at 28 (a number based on that aforementioned pythagorean theorem) and set them vertically at the halfway point on the 4 sides of the 2 x 4 frame. We then strung the 68 piece between these two standing 2 x 2 s and

Now, simply fill with dirt and go bananas (note:

screwed it in place, securing the roof line that would

bananas will not grow in this greenhouse). If you are worried about gophers, moles and their subterranean

support the slope of the roof.

brethren, simply staple chicken wire on the very bottom before filling with dirt. Or, you could try a

We then hit the books, did the hard math, fought with

method suggested by a special ed student. He told me

each other about the hard math, and finally, figured out exactly what our dimensions need to be for the

to take gallon plastic milk jugs, cut the top off, poke holes in the bottom, and then plant in them with them

roof. We proceeded to cut our 2 x 2 s the requisite

submerged in the dirt. Kids are so clever.


for a 45º pitch on our roof. Next, we very

What You’ll Need: Tools A cordless drill hammer chop saw (a sawhorse and a regular saw will work in a pinch) measuring tape knife stapler Hardware Nails self-tapping screws staples metal handles zipties Materials 2”x4”s 2”x2”s 2”x12”s PVC pipe painter’s plastic sheeting


Hoban Press is proud to announce a new addition to our existing set of elegant calling card templates – a card that will perfectly mesh the timelessness of letterpress printing with the modern sophistication of a QR code.

Tin Can Planter by Spencer Sands


love plants, but have an uncanny ability to kill them. I have killed ferns; I have killed ivy; I have

killed entire planter boxes full of vegetables. And not for lack of care, au contraire. If anything, I care too much. That is to say, I drown them. Succulents are a wonderful exercise for me because they thrive on neglect. They need little water (most should only be re-watered once the soil they are in is

What You’ll Need: Tin cans (I used a large plum tomatoes can as well as a regular Campbell’s tomato soup can and finally, an old pickle jar) Planting mix/top soil

completely dry) and are far more resistant to cold than we give them credit for. They do like good light,

Gravel (for drainage)

but any decent windowsill should suffice. While it is


hard for me not to fret over the continued existence of a plant, my desire to have to remain beautiful far outweighs my need to hover. I cannot imagine the horrible parent I will be... Recycling is cool! Tin cans make great planters because of their size and availability. I used a Campbell s tomatoes soup can (just like Warhol) and a can of plum tomatoes. With an olde fashioned church-key or can-opener , I punched a few holes in the bottom of each of the cans to allow for drainage. Fill the cans a third of the way with gravel. Mine came out of my neighbors driveway (please don t tell on me). If you can get your hands on fish tank charcoal that is nice but by no means necessary. Filled the next third of the can with any good potting soil. Finally, place the succulents in an arrangement that you like. Be sure to separate the roots without damaging them and try not to overcrowd the can! The plants I chose all had similar watering and light requirements, so keep that in mind. I was able, for a whopping $20, to purchase five varieties and with those five, make three individual planters. Weeks later, all my succulents are looking awesome. The one living in the cup-holder of my Honda Civic seems to be doing particularly great. Final thought: these make great, cheap gifts or party favors, so keep that in mind.

(Really, at your discretion, just make sure that the plants you group together have similar care requirements )

On the Subject of Kitchen Necessities by Spencer Sands

My grandma made more amazing meals that anyone can count in the simplest conceivable kitchen.


hese days, a lot of emphasis is put on what a kitchen should be stocked with,

sincerest wish to dispel and demystify these misconceptions about what a kitchen absolutely has to

not just in terms of food items, but also


kitchen equipment. Proprietary machinery

designed to do any number of very speciďŹ c kitchen

You may not know it, dear reader, but there was a

tasks, often only one of them and more often than not, not all that well. It is my

time when I was very much like you. Young, newly independent, living in a foreign land literally tens of

miles from the area I grew up in with nothing but my

with only the two aforementioned blades, there is

wit and good looks to get me by. Now that I am an

nothing you will be rendered incapable of doing, save

elementary school teacher, making literally hundreds of dollars a year, it is fun to look back at that time and

serious femur splitting butchery.

wax nostalgic. At first, I felt inhibited as to what I

Pots and Pans: When you get right down to it, there

could cook. I had nothing. That is to say, my parents

are really very few pots and pans that one must own

had categorically refused to let me take things from

in order to be a successful cook. As with knives, the

their house and move them to mine. As is so often the case, and as Charles Darwin would have us believe, I

mantra about paying for what you use holds true, but I speak from experience when I say that I have worked

was forced to adapt. Blender and food processor

with both extremes and been just fine. I was given a

were replaced with a simple knife and cutting board.

boxed, 12 piece set (from Target of all places) of

Automatic bread maker with a mixing bowl, wooden

official Paula Deen non-stick pans, and 2 years later, I

spoon and an oven. Rice maker with a pot. Much to my delight, it all works just as well when done by hand

am still using them daily. What I think of as the most necessary pans for any kitchen are as follows: a frying

and moreover, you, the chef, are then allowed to rub

pan (10" and up), a sauce pan (at least 12"), a small

the manual labor associated with tasks normally

pot (for the boiling of water, and small batches of

relegated to machinery in the faces of your jerk

sauce or soup) and a large stock pot (for large soup/


sauce making). Of course each will need a lid. Beyond this simple list, the only real benefit to more pans is

This list/guide is by no means a complete one. With

that you can be cooking more things at once, without

thousands of items littering the shelves of kitchen

having to do dishes.

stores nationwide, the task is simply too Herculean to even attempt. Instead what I offer is a list of items that I deem utterly necessary to cooking, that without,

Cutting Boards: Wooden boards are nice, and composite ones even nicer, but for my money, you can

I would not be able to create that culinary

do no better for the money than simple, flexible plastic

masterpieces that myself and my live-in girlfriend

boards, usually sold in packs of four or five. For ten

enjoy regularly. Would you be wrong to ignore my

dollars, who cares if you destroy them (and you will)

advice and opt for a different collection of equipment? Empirically. But alas, print media being what it is,

but again, two years later, mine have held up very well. They allow you to not only prevent cross

there is no way from me to enforce my will upon you,

contamination by cutting only one item on each board,

and you may do what you like. At least for now....

but also allow you to transfer the food from counter to pan very easily (fold and pour!). They are

Absolute Essentials Knives: First and foremost, you cannot cook without

dishwasher safe, should you be so fortunate to have one, and are easily cleaned by hand as well.

knives. The only thing perhaps more basic would be stove/oven, but I am going to assume you possess

Baking: Pyrex is absolutely king in my humble (not

those, otherwise, really, what business do you have

really) opinion. A basic Pyrex boxed set offers you not

reading this article? None, I assure you. Despite what you may have read, or seen on the idiot-box,

only marvelous things to bake/roast in, but storage as well. Similarly, having a couple of cookie sheets will be

ultimately there are only two knives that one must

indispensable to you as a chef. From their namesake

own: a chef's knife (or santoku) of no less than five

cookies to pizza (no, you do not need a pizza stone, I

inches, and a paring knife. I am of the ernest opinion

promise) to roasting vegetables, cookie sheets

that the more often you use an item, the more you should be willing to spend on said item. My cutlery of

absolutely constitute a kitchen must-have. Finally, buy a pie plate. Everyone loves pie, and quiche is ok too. I

choice are the knives from Shun's basic line. That

will argue that while it is nice to have a muffin pan,

being said, Wustorf and Henkle certainly present the

muffins and their cupcakean brethren are just as

would-be chef with acceptable alternatives. The

easily done in the aluminum wrappers that you can get

greatest advice anyone can give in regards to getting the most out of your knives is to keep them far away

at any super market. Pro tip: you can reuse them, seriously.

from the dishwasher and not to store them in a drawer. Both of those will result in the premature

Measurement: Again, Pyrex is the gold standard. I

dulling of the blade, which is the last thing we want.

would highly recommend having no less than two

There are certainly other knives worth owning (a vegetable knife, a boning knife, a bread knife, etc) but

Pyrex measuring cups (the two cup ones are fine, but cup capacity will suffice in most instances) at your

disposal. In regards to spoons, don't cheap out; buy the metal ones. Seriously, just do it. Avoid at all cost

What You’ll Need:

plastic ones (especially those with the with the numbers printed on them, it will wash off), and

5+” Chef knife/Santoku

similarly, ones with idiot quantities like "a pinch" and "a

Paring knife


Frying pan w/ lid Sauce pan w/ lid

Tools: This is the realm of so much kitchen waste. Honestly, there are more pointless kitchen gadgets

Small pot w/ lid

that no one needs than I could ever hope to list in a

Stock pot w/ lid

single place. That being said, there are a few must

flexible plastic cutting boards

haves. As a rule, a good kitchen tool should be

Pyrex baking dish (at least 2)

something that preforms more than one job. Unitaskers (thanks, Alton Brown) are a waste of both

2 metal cookie sheets

time and space, for the most part. A manual canopener is a must. It needn t be expensive, but the

Pie plate Pyrex measuring cup

cheap ones will cause you far more headache than

Metal measuring spoons

they are worth. If you drink, a cork-screw with a bottle opener is a good idea. A wooden rolling pin is a great

Many, many wooden spoons

thing and does far more than just roll out dough. A


vegetable peeler will save you both time and your finger tips, as will a good cheese grater. I am a huge advocate of both box graters, and Microplanes. I own both and don t think it is decadent in the least. I love


Can opener Colander Rolling pin

wooden spoons and sincerely doubt that it is possible

Cheese grater

to have too many. They do everything. When it comes


to spatulas there are a couple different kinds that serve different purposes. A plastic one, the flatter the better, is the most versatile and will not ruin non-stick coatings, while I do find flipping much easier with metal. Colanders are important if you like/love pasta, or any thing that needs to be removed from boiling water (they re your fingers). Finally, strong scissors are important for both butchery and opening purposes. There are many, many things not on this list that I do in fact own and use regularly. I love my foodprocessor and I am crazy about my many, varied coffee making devices. However, there are next to no recipes that couldn t be tackled if you were only working with the above mentioned things. Could you get by with less? Probably. Would more stuff be cool too? Doesn t hurt. Your kitchen has to be your own. I suppose the thesis at hand here is that you don t need to be rich and have lots of pretty things to make awesome food. Glass half full, people! Make what you can with what you ve got!



e ve all been there: It s a sunny Saturday afternoon and you are about

to head to a friend s place to lounge the day away. As you put your keys into the ignition, you suddenly remember: POTLUCK!

Oh no, this thing is a

What to do?! First of all, step away from

Last-Minute Potluck Fixin’s

the potato chips and the Slim Jims̶if you are between the ages of 18 and 30, odds are at least 8 of the guests at this thing are bringing chips or weird

by Ashleigh Hi)

dried meat. But not you! Here are three easy, inexpensive things to bring that look like you put some serious thought into them and will win you tons of

-Parmesan cheese (1 cup) -Salt (1 tsp.)

brownie points. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Tear (don t cut) the S mores. Yes, they sound cheesy, but these things are BEYOND

bread up into manageable chunks, about bite sized. In a large bowl, toss the bread with the melted butter,

easy and everyone loves them. No fire? No problem.

some pressed garlic, salt, and the Parmesan cheese

An oven or a grill will suffice. Buy some aluminum foil (they even sell it in pre-cut squares, which cuts a step

until the bread is coated. Place bread on a cookie

out of this process), wrap them up, and you are good

minutes or until golden brown. That s it. Easy, quick, amazingly delicious.

sheet and put it in the oven. Bake for about 10

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches. Again, another impressive, easy treat that is great for hot summer days. Here s what you ll need: -Cookies. These can be homemade (if you have time) or store bought (or even bakery bought), but they must be a “normal” cookie size. Again, no minis! -Ice Cream. I’d pick 2 flavors, at least one of them being vanilla. Just like the s mores, this is a guest driven treat̶lay out the ingredients and let party-goers craft their own ice cream sandwich masterpiece. Important tip: If you to go. And these ain t your grandmother s s mores.

don t think that the place you are going will have

Once you get the staples̶graham crackers, milk

utensils, be sure to bring an ice cream scoop or big

chocolate bars, marshmallows (for the love of god get the big ones, not the minis)̶kick the s more


experience up a notch by also bringing: -Mini Reese’s peanut butter cups -White chocolate (or any other kind of chocolate bar. Imagine s’mores with chili-infused dark chocolate…hell yes) -Nutella or Peanut Butter Lay out the ingredients and let the party guests go to town making their own s more creation. Garlic Croutons. This one takes a little more time as it involves quick baking before you arrive, but it is still insanely easy and therefore makes the cut. Here s what you ll need: -Loaf of French bread (or sourdough. Or a fresh baguette. Anything, as long as it is not pre-sliced). -Garlic (8 cloves, pressed) -Butter (1 stick, melted)

Off-the-Shelf Chili by Spencer Sands

or me, cooking a meal meant for one night


In a large pot, over medium heat, heat butter and oil

is the anthesis of practical. I work far too

till the butter is completely melted. Brown the 2

much to make a new meal each night, or even every other night. Subsequently, I am

pounds of meat in the oil/butter combination. Liberally salt and pepper the meat. Using a wooden spoon,

a huge advocate big-pot-meals . That is to say, meals

break the meat up as it cooks in to pieces at a size of

made in a large pot that I can basically coast on for

your choosing and stir in half of your chili powder. Add

the bulk of the week. Undoubtedly the most popular

the frozen peppers, onion and corn, followed by the

one of these dishes in my humble abode is the chili I compose entirely of canned and frozen goods

garlic. Once they have had a chance to render, open and add the three cans of beans, followed by the

purchased at my local

TJ s (Trader Joe s). There is

tomatoes. Next, add the ale (all of it) to the pot. The

nothing hard about this, and moreover, it tastes

pot will foam but just keep stirring, it will subside. At

awesome and even more over, it lasts and even

this point, stir in the rest of the chili powder, the

more(er) over, it mutates into so many other delicious meals.

cumin, the paprika, and the crushed corn chips (the crushing can be accomplished via a mortar and pestle or a zip-lock bag and rolling pin). At this point, the

Perhaps the most important thing to note about this

only thing to do is let it simmer for an hour. The longer

recipe is that, in reference to the quanity of spices, it

the chili has to sit, the more the flavors will meld.

really depends on your own preference. If you like it spicy, then add more chili powder, or if you are feeling

Serve with whatever condiments you like; sour-cream, grated cheese, and diced chives are always good calls,

really bold, some diced chipotle peppers. The cumin

but corn-bread is truly a chili s best-friend.

and the paprika are really a personal preference too. The smokiness of the cumin and the sweetness of the paprika are tastes that I really like, but if you think that oregano and thyme are the secret-ingredients

Chili s Best Friend: Cornbread

that this chili needs, then do what you think is right.

Cornbread and chili go together like a really clever

With spicy spices, it is important to always add them

metaphor about two inseparable things. I highly

slowly and taste as you go. These flavors get out of

recommend the Trader Joe s Cornbread Mix. It is very

hand quickly and while you can always add more, your can t pull them out.

easy and very delicious, though I make two significant changes. Firstly, I add two tablespoons of honey and secondly, I bake mine in a cast-iron skillet. I start by

Off-the-Shelf Chili

coating the skillet with butter, but a real pro might use bacon-fat. The cast-iron skillet is really going to make

2 tablespoons of olive oil 2 tablespoons of butter 2 cans of black beans 2 cans of kidney beans 1 can diced (or crushed) tomatoes 1 can/1 frozen bag of whole cornel corn 1 bag of frozen “fire roasted peppers and onions”* 1 pound of ground beef (fat content doesn’t matter) 1 pound of ground lamb/pork/goat/whatever** 1 bottle of Mission Street Brown Ale or equivalent*** 1/2 cup of crushed corn chips 2 cloves of garlic (crushed or minced) Chili powder to taste (typically 1-2 tablespoons)**** Paprika to taste (typically 1-2 teaspoons) Cumin to taste (typically 1-2 teaspoons) Salt and pepper to taste

*If you don t shop at TJ s, two fresh bell-peppers and two medium yellow onions will suffice. The colors of the peppers are up to you. **You can use two pounds of ground beef if you like. I like the variation, but if you can t get anything but beef, it will still taste great. ***This is what I use, but feel free to use any 1 pint bottle of an ale that you like. ****Chili powder is both there for flavor as well as thickening. The flavor can get out of hand so be sure to add it slowly and taste as you go.

the edges of corn-bread very crispy, and if that is your thing, I encourage you to try it. A final note on the skillet; once, cooked, take a butter knife and move it around the edge of the skillet (where the bread meats the iron) then place a plate over the top of the skillet and CAREFULLY flip it over to cut and serve it. No cornbread would be complete without the ultimate cornbread condiment: honey butter. Honey butter could not be easier. Combine 2-3 tablespoons of soft, room temperature butter with 1-2 tablespoons of your favorite honey. Take a fork to it and vigorously whisk it together. Spreading this one warm cornbread will melt even the coldest of hearts.

Huevos Rancheros This dish not only uses up a some of that huge pot of chili, but can also be served morning, noon and night.

As for the eggs, I like them poached, but fried, scrambled or sunny-side-up are all entirely

All of these ingredients are for one portion.

appropriate. There is a misconception that poaching eggs is difficult, but nothing could be farther from the

2 large eggs (poached) 1 heaping scoop of chili 1 toasted tortilla 1 handful of grated cheese (cheddar, jack, or both) 1 half avocado (sliced) 1 spoonful of enchilada sauce, or salsa verde (heated)

truth. Simply get a pot of water to a running boil. Once there, carefully crack the eggs into the water. Depending on how firm or runny you take your yolks, you ll want to pull them out after 3-5 minutes. To remove the eggs from the water, I recommend a large spoon with slots in it to let the water drain.

Cilantro (garnish) Effectively, this recipe is all about assembly. Heat the chili over the stove, in the same pot if need be. Similarly, heat the enchilada sauce (or salsa) either over the stove or via the microwave. The tortilla can be toasted over the stove in a skillet or in a hot oven. You can heat it until crispy, or just until warm and soft, your call.

To assemble, lay the tortilla on the plate, followed by the chili, the avocado, the eggs, the cheese and finally the enchilada sauce/salsa. A sprig of cilantro looks nice too.

Chili in the Fashion of the Fine City of Cincinnati Chili as it is served in Cincinnati is something altogether different. The chili really has more to do

Get a pot of salted water to a rolling boil and pour a dash of olive oil into the pot. Cook the pasta (your

with a Greek take on spaghetti with a meat sauce. It is

choice, though I like regular spaghetti or angel hair)

cinnamony, sort of sweet and served on a bed of

the amount of time specified on the package. Drain.

noodles along with diced onions and a pile of grated

Simultaneously reheat the chili over the stove (though

cheese. While I m not going to suggest that you cinnamon-up your chili, the noodles, onions and

the microwave will suffice), and dice the onion finely. Grate the cheese. Finally place a portion of the pasta

cheese make a great addition/way to spice up/beat

on a plate, followed by the chili, then the onions and

the monotony of trying to finish an entire pot of chili.

the cheese. Garnish with the crackers.

This all being said, if you are feeling gutsy, by all means try re-spicing your chili. Be bold!

1 pack of the noodles of your choice 1 diced red onion 1 cup grated cheese (cheddar is nice) 1 heaping scoop of chili 1 packet of oyster crackers (optional)


Midnight in Paris

Invisible Man (1933)

Woody Allen's latest opus centers around a blocked

You might have heard the phrase before: "He pulled a

writer named Gil (Owen Wilson) who is visiting Paris

Claude Rains." What this really means is someone

with his fiancee Inez (Rachel McAdams). Right off the

disappeared or became invisible. The early Universal

bat, you sense the couple is struggling and that Gil

Studios Horror Classic pays homage to the novel by

has a more "follow his dreams" kind of ethos while Inez is more grounded in the here and now. One night, Gil

H.G. Wells by rendering the lead actor invisible through much of the film. Following formula of

ends up walking the streets of Paris late at night to

scientist with best intentions and becoming drunk with

get some air while his fiancee goes off with friends out

power, this masterpiece of early special effects and

dancing. At midnight, a car pulls up where Gill has

camera effects ushered in Claude Rains to many

stopped and he is picked up by some revelers who seem to be attending a 20's themed costume party

households and helped Universal establish another horror film champion alongside Frankenstein,

and Gil is sent off on the night of his life. The midnight

Dracula, and The Mummy. Also in the film, a very

chimes of Paris have seemingly created a time

young starlet by the name of Gloria Stuart, plays the

traveler's paradise for the person's reality; this one

love interest of the Invisible Jack Griffin. Stuart would

being Gil's love of the 20's era Paris and all of the art and culture of the times. Gil meets the likes of F. Scott

later become Oscar nominated for her role in James Cameron's Titanic.

Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, and Salvador Dali along the way.

The plot is simple: Scientist discovers formula for Invisibility, not realizing the side effects of the exotic

The film is reminiscent of Woody Allen's earlier film, Purple Rose of Cairo and gives life to an idealized

drug that is part of the mixture becomes "mad" and begins killing people off in a small English Town due to

sense of itself from a 2011 perspective. Woody Allen

extreme paranoia and by the fact that he can't

has wisely stepped away from acting to allow his alter

reverse the effect. It's only during the climax that we

ego to fit in with the soul of characters. The film is

truly see the invisible man, a quite visible man who

warm, sentimental, and filled with a protagonist's sense of ennui while at the same time, allowing one's

meddled with science and ultimately did himself in.

self to follow their dreams. The film is a real crowd-

This film, directed by James Whale (Frankenstein,

pleaser. (ES)

Bride of Frankenstein, The Old Dark House) features some clever scenes involving a skipping pair of pants with no body inside singing "here we go gathering nuts in May! while chasing a noticeably frightened villager in the middle of the night. (ES)

Role Models

The Hangover Part II

John Waters book, Role Models, is about exactly

Every so often a sequel comes around that is actually

what it purports to be about; the people that inspired

better than the first movie. The Hangover Part II

him, creatively, sexually, culturally and otherwise. If

was not one of those sequels. That being said the

you never seen a John Waters film you have done

movie, bringing back Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and

yourself a great disservice by way of neglect and I urge you to rectify this immediately. For those of you

Zach Galifianakis (The Wolfpack), is still a great time to be had by all. I went and saw this movie with the

in the cultural know, John Waters love of the low-

girlfriend and my best friend and his lady, we all had a

brow should be well established. This book serves as

good time but didn t find ourselves laughing as much

another love note to those most marginalized by

as I remember laughing during the first movie.

society. With characters (in every sense of the word) ranging from gonzo, gay porn stars, to one of Charles

All the gags were there: there was another missing

Manson s hench-women, to Johnny Mathis, the reader

person, and another marriage. The great thing about

really gets a sense of how varied his influences are.

the first movie was that it was something completely

Despite the huge variations in personalities, beliefs,

different, an amalgamation of comedy and a detective

and lifestyles of his subjects, Waters writes as lovingly as humanly possible about each and every one. He

story, it kept you guessing until the very end. The second one had that as well but it felt like a recycle of

doesn t sugar coat anything, but by the same token,

the first the entire time.

he is accepting and tries to acknowledge them as

cameo at the end of the movie that made absolutely

people, flawed though they may be.

no sense... you should also stay for the first part of

As a writer, Waters can be tough to read. He writes

the credits to see more outrageous photos. If you liked the first one and know that you re paying money

quickly and in a way more aligned with spoken word

to see the same movie then be on your way.

that with literary prose. His word choice and phrasing

can wait till it s out for rental then that is what I would

had me re-reading sentences far more than I am used

recommend. (BP)

to. That being said, this colloquial style makes everything he has to say seem that much more sincere. I have rarely read a more heartfelt meditation on anything and would highly recommend Role Models to even the most socially conservative. (SS)

They decided to have a

If you

Are the

90s here again? by W. Clay

ace it and embrace it: in our postmodern


birth control, the free flowing alcohol provided the

world, there is nothing new under the sun,

necessary lubrication, and when it was all over we

only our capacity to re-package and reconsume the things we previously enjoyed

sparked up incredibly mellow weed that, although still criminalized, was easily procured. Life was good.

or endured. The chirpy pop on the radio? All sounds like early Madonna and Expose to me. Skinny jeans

But then there were the inevitable hangovers, the

and Emo haircuts? Both merely reactions to clothes

broken relationships, the failed classes (and lost

that fit correctly and haircuts that don t get in your face. Nouveau muscle cars like the Challenger,

semesters) ‒ the reality that followed the fantasy. [I guess it is important to note, for the sake of the

Charger, Mustang, and Camaro that look strikingly like

impressionable young, that I didn t crack a book until

the original cars of the same name? I believe I ve made

my senior year and as a result, graduated barely and

my point. And this re-badging usually runs on a 20-

without honors] But in the darkness that followed the

year clock (which corresponds with each new subgeneration being given its first credit card, reaching

light, the music was what held it all together.

middle-age crisis mode, retiring, dying, etc.). That is

A good song can lift spirits, heal the sick, and make

why in 1990 everyone in my dorm was listening to

the dead rise again, and the 90s had much to offer.

Black Magic Woman and Franklin s Tower and in

Although a lot of bands̶the Cure, REM, New Order,

2002 every band on alternative radio sounded like Joy Division and Gang of Four. So we ve re-experienced

Echo & the Bunnymen, the Church, the Psychedelic Furs, the Jesus and Mary Chain (the franchise names

the 60s, the 70s, and 80s ‒ but what about the

of alternative rock)̶had their best albums behind


them, became bloated parodies of themselves, or crashed and burned entirely, there was still a vast

The signs are there: the 20th anniversary of Nirvana s Nevermind, Soundgarden re-forming, never ending

college radio audience awaiting the next big thing. 1990-1991 was the time of Shoegazing, Baggy, and

recession, tattoos, permissive drug use, Independent

all things British: floppy hair, Fender Jaguars and

films being relevant again. It is probably just the

Jazzmasters, lots of delay and distortion, indistinct

beginning ‒ a tidal wave of 90s nostalgia is on its way.

vocals with distinct regional accents. It was modern, it

And high time, really, because it was a damn good decade and has never really gotten its due.

was retro, and, if in the hands of a skilled re-mixer, it could be repackaged into a mildly danceable club version. Since I was going to school in the UK at the

Sure, I m biased because I actually was alive and

time, I caught all the shows I could and bought more

conscious (and often unconscious) during those ten

music than I could bring back home on the plane with

years in ways that I doubt many readers of this magazine were. See, I got a gauzy glimpse of the 70s

me. But, like my pub-fueled junior year, it was all over very quickly and, with the exception of My Bloody

(I remember Gordon Lightfoot and Jeep Cherokees),

Valentine, most of the shoegazer bands have been

and grew up during the 80s, which was honestly a

completely forgotten. I have to periodically play

really rough decade. We had the threat of nuclear war,

Curve s Doppelganger, or Ride s Leave Them All

inflation, K-cars, drum machines, the reality that spawned the fantasy of John Hughes films, Wham!,

Behind just to keep a dim flame burning. For the rest of the early 90s, pretty much all of British alternative

and a fair number of other phenomena which are only

rock and pop was unfairly neglected on account of the

quaint and humorous from a safe distance. But I

scourge of Seattle: Grunge.

turned 18 in 1990 and was thus, perfectly positioned to take on the next decade.

Although it takes a lot of flak, Grunge hit at the right time. It was loud and abrasive and offensive to Moms

Sex, drugs, booze, and music: these are what I

and Dads; it was my generation s punk rock, and

remember (in inverse order of importance). I guess

rightly so because it was a derivative of punk, though

because I was raised on a farm, I was unprepared for

its other constituent parts (metal, blues, classic rock)

the hedonistic culture shock of college. I couldn t get enough, of anything, and it was all there for the taking.

were difficult to quantify. Lumping together bands as different as Mudhoney and Soundgarden is kind of like

Before abstinence and the new morality, but after the

saying apples and acorns both grow on trees and

threat of AIDS, we practiced safe sex. And logically, in

leaving it there. In their infinite wisdom, the record

order to be truly safe, we had to practice a lot. College

executives did leave it there and in their feeding

campuses were covered in free condom dispensers, healthcare providers openly advocated and prescribed

frenzy to find the next Nirvana or Pearl Jam, they ended up signing every band in America with tattoos

and distortion pedals. Helmet? Nope, not grunge.

that happiness. On Dec. 31st, 1995 they played their

Candlebox? Definitely not grunge. Stone Temple

final show and the world was thereafter bereft of their

Pilots? Ding! We have a winner When the dust settled, there were a lot of CDs in the cutout bins and a lot of


bands with recording debts to repay, no promotion,

The story of the Coctails is inextricably linked to that

and a quick exit from the major label record rat race.

of Lounge Ax, where they served as the house band,

But the airwaves were flooded with new music and,

sort of. Life-size paper-mache likenesses of the four

strangely enough, a lot of it was the music that we kids actually listened to. [This is perfectly captured in

members presided over the bar, so their presence was always felt. Lounge Ax was the coolest venue in

the Verve song A New Decade ] It took a few years

Lincoln Park, and arguably the city. It was small, but

for the music industry to rectify this unfortunate

not too small, the tickets were cheap, and it was easy

phenomenon by unleashing Post-Grunge and

to get to (unlike the Double-Door and the Empty

Matchbox 20 ‒ radio was poison again by the end of 96.

Bottle, which were out in barely civilized Wicker Park). Pretty much every weekend there was something worth seeing, and even when there wasn t, the bar

I admit it, I liked Grunge, but it didn t afflict me with

was a cool place to hang out. Guided by Voices played

tunnel vision (or hearing, to be anatomically correct). I

there in 1995 and, in under an hour and a half, these

jumped off the bandwagon when I discovered Indie rock (the seeds of this were probably planted at my

five middle-aged guys from Dayton played 50 songs and drank north of 100 beers. I rank this show up

first Pavement show in 1992). It was even rougher

there with other significant life events like the birth of

around the edges, it was a little amateurish, it was

my children. I also saw the Sea and Cake play there

empowering and accessible. When I say accessible, I

for the first time and I credit them with pointing me

mean that I would see my favorite drummer walking down the street, or have a conversation about

towards both the Coctails (shared guitarist) and Tortoise (shared drummers). These three bands

custom-made t-shirts with the bassist from the band I

formed the holy trinity in my particular religion.

saw the night before. It was 1994 and I lived in Chicago. I was over-educated and under-employed.

Lounge Ax was gone by 2000, after facing five years

Once again, I spent all of my spare time at shows or in record shops.

of legal issues brought on by Lincoln Park residents. See, Lincoln Park was essentially an uncool part of town where yuppies yearned to live and consume

When most folks think of Chicago music they probably


and a music venue just didn t fit into this

conjure up images of sweaty electric blues, Smashing

picture. How dare somebody come into this quiet

Pumpkins, or heaven forbid, lite-rock favorites Chicago (the band) and Survivor. But for me, the spirit

enclave, plug in a guitar, and rock somebody s world. I guess I m over it now but I make sure to spit on the

of the city was embodied by the Coctails. Ironically,

Lincoln Ave. sidewalk whenever I m back in town.

the Coctails were Chicago transplants, moving there

Fittingly enough, the Coctails re-formed to play the

sometime between their first two albums. But from

final show at Lounge Ax on January 15, 2000. Was it

then until their premature demise in 1996, they formed the epicenter of an awesome little musical

awesome? You bet: it was all that, and more, but you really had to be there. I didn t even live in Chicago

universe. I won t try to describe the Coctails sound:

anymore, but I made the drive. I had to. It was a

50s roller rink music mixed with Bebop, Hank Williams

perfect ending to a killer decade.

Sr. and teenage garage rock. Alright, I described it but in no way did it justice. Also, the band members rotated on instruments (which included but was not

So, before everybody else starts re-discovering the nuggets of the 90s, I m going to give you the true

limited to: vibraphone, bass clarinet, singing saw,

insider s scoop on the 12 most significant albums/

theremin, banjo and harmonica) and made and sold

bands that I can think of off the top of my head. And

their own merchandise (including but not limited to: t-

this is just my opinion, so if I overlook something or

shirts, calendars, comic books, and plush dolls). I think I saw at least five of their shows in 1995 alone and

contradict the views of some-such critic, I couldn t care less. If you were to inhabit my soul, hop in a time

have at one time or another owned all of their merch

machine and head back 20 years, you would come to

with the exception of the dolls (to my eternal regret).

the same conclusions as me, so get over yourself and

Their music made people happy and I once nearly

listen up.

punched a belligerent drunk who was slurring through one of their quiet songs ‒ because he was spoiling

1. I’ve Seen Everything – The Trash Can Sinatras (1993) A uniformly excellent album by a criminally overlooked Scottish band. Mellower than their better known debut album, Cake, but not as cluttered with instrumentation and vocal production. There is an expert rawness to this album – you can hear individual voices and instr uments and their flaws, yet it al l creates something very lush. There is a depth of human experience in these songs that simply sucks you in and makes you remember exactly who you are. 2. The Biz – The Sea & Cake (1995) Their second album of that year and the arguable highpoint of the band’s career, it kind of came out of nowhere and knocked my socks off. Muscular, adventurous music with fully realized latin and jazz influences. 3. Maxinquaye – Tricky (1994) Deeper and darker than the other trip-hop offerings f ro m t h e s a m e ye a r a n d l o c a l e ( D u m m y a n d Protection), it is both beautiful and scary and Martina Topley-Bird’s voice is the perfect antidote to Tricky’s raspy rants. 4. Bee Thousand – Guided by Voices (1994) 20 songs and most of them are solid pop gems. As good as music about elves, robots, and demons recorded with a boom box can possibly be. 5. The Early Hi-Ball Years – The Coctails (1992) A cross-section of the Coctails’ first few vinyl-only releases: the cute instrumentals with a few hints to the more serious work they would do later on. Nobody else makes music like this.

soul type of stuff. And no raps, anywhere, or live singers for that matter (just ones ripped from the record grooves). 11. Oh Brother Where Art Thou? – The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group (1995) Bossa Nova from Minneapolis. Saw them at Lounge Ax of course. They should have been bigger but weren’t. I like bands that are in on their own joke. 12. Fly Stereophonic – Lida Husik (1997) 12 great tracks with buzzy organs, scratchy guitars and a wall of Husik’s voice all in the space of 30 odd minutes. I’m sure she could have made more albums like this, but opted not to.













6. Bakesale – Sebadoh (1994) This shit rocks in a serious way yet still has a sensitive side. The opposite of over-produced corporate rock. Grungy, but not grunge. 7. Anodyne – Uncle Tupelo (1993) Before there were Wilco and Son Volt, there was Uncle Tupelo and this album is the sound of a band ripping in half. Introspective with a few barnstormers for good measure: this is what alt-country should sound like yet rarely does. 8. TNT – Tortoise (1998) The best combination of electronica, progressive rock, and jazz that Tortoise has managed to throw together under one roof. Much more of an aesthetic emphasis on this one (as opposed to musical prowess and sheer weirdness). 9. Cure for Pain – Morphine (1993) Another unique band format with the baritone sax front and center. Who needs guitars when three guys can rock this hard without one. 10. Endtroducing – DJ Shadow (1996) This album really takes you somewhere with its dirty beats and terrifying samples – real dark night of the

Levity is the Soul


Tracing the roots of Soul to the present:

TV on the Radio’s Nine Types of Light & My Morning Jacket’s Circuital

by Fordy Shoor

he mystery of a soul has been a

as potent substances and equally potent injustice

vehemently discussed but seldom answered topic throughout the course of

threatened to stigmatize the modern Black experience.

mankind. Whether it refers to a tangible

As the sixties bled into the seventies, a popular young Soul musician made a bold move, despite the protests

manifestation of personality or an ethereal shadow of

of his label owner Berry Gordy, deciding to draw

memory, neither theological nor paranormal

words from the dialect of a different culture. With a

explanations shed any more than a candle-light on the actual implications of a soul. It maybe our irresistible

single release, Motown-Tamla implied a very different

fascination with our human experience that keeps us

and effective conduit for the same emotions, using the album What s Goin On as his soundbox. With a

gravitating towards the paradoxical notion of

fragile and uncertain touch, Marvin Gaye adorned his

something we can neither see nor define yet place so

album with songs that spoke of urban decay, poverty,

much value upon. It is this insatiable yet driving hunger that has invigorated all forms of art

abuse, and the unique pain from within aggravated by

throughout the ages, almost more than the respective

the pain from without. After that point, Soul became album-oriented anthems for Panthers and sign-

mediums themselves.

holders, with the first half of the seventies marked by similar sentiments from Sly & The Family Stone s

It is no wonder that the concept of Soul, in all its forms, proves such an enticing subject for music created by modern groups such as TV on the Radio

despondent There s A Riot Going On to Curtis Mayfield s cautionary Super Fly and Stevie Wonder s vitriolic Innervisions.

and My Morning Jacket. Reflecting such an expressive and tumultuous history, American roots music has set

It is from this particularly socially oriented material

the template for not only a national identity, but for the method by which we live. Almost more than most,

that TV on The Radio seemed to have molded their

Rhythm & Blues has proved itself the most firmly

unique tonal candor. At first listen, they may appear a familiarly quirky Disco-saturated Indie band from

established tradition within the modern American

Brooklyn but, under a more dedicated eye, their spots


of sub-cultural saavy begin to reveal the group as one of the most eclectic Art Rock bands in modern music.

by the skin color of its performers, Soul proved to be

Sounding not unlike a conglomeration of pages from history books, they compile intricate Doo-wop with

a very particular niche for the African American

minimalist Free Jazz, frenetic Dance Punk with

community. Blending the elemental structure and tone

polyrhythmic Trip-Hop, Psychedelic Soul accentuated

of blues with the blustery instrumentation of jazz and the residual, often secularized enthusiasm of gospel,

by Shoegaze guitars, all bound with the tightly woven

Shifting back to a time when music was categorized

falsetto of Prince and conceptual art.

Soul quickly evolved into a very distinctive yet equally indefinable genre. Resounding from the far corners of

Over the course of their ten-year span, they have

Memphis and Detroit, these musicians recounted the

evolved from a two-piece group of knob-twiddlers and

stagnant reality they saw in the midst of a supposedly shifting social climate. Iconic labels Stax and Motown

art students to a fully realized wall of sound reflecting

Records artists recounted tales of dangerous

a very different era of Soul. With releases such as OK Calculator and Young Liars, they brought a

partners, young hustlers and the inevitable

particularly moody and abstract minimalism to their

complexities that arise through the practice of love.

work. With Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes as

As the sixties moved on through to the seventies, sexual frustration seemed benign compared to the

their full, major label release, they filled in their sound

desperation that had begun to fester in urban areas

with thicker, more foreboding instrumentation that reflected a growing tension in the world; however, a very distinct theme became very clear with the first

track The Wrong Way, which noted what has since

influences subtlety bleed through the speakers with

become somewhat of a band creed, the value of

two very distinctive addenda to each band s sounds.

teaching folks the score about patience, understanding, Agape, babe, and sweet, sweet

This is not to say that Soul is a new influence on


With their acclaimed crowning achievement

modern music. The early 2000 s saw a revival of the

Return to Cookie Mountain, they painted a

music in England, carrying on the tradition of British

gorgeously stark picture of a near wasteland of a

Soul in the spirit of Dusty Springfield. Here in America,

country filled with a desperate if not hopeful inhabitants, an album that haunts and consoles in

the influence crept through our barren airwaves with artists such as Outkast, Alicia Keys and Raphael

equal parts with it s concept of love [as] a province

Saadiq. What proves particularly fascinating, is how

of the brave . Dear Science showed an invigorated

this genre, inherently sincere and joyful, has begun to

band, eager to follow up success with a thematically

resonate with an ever flighty Indie community. With

and commercially lighter sounding album that predicted a Golden Age where the tender hearted

the Black Keys winning a Grammy for their modern Soul saturated Brothers and horns beginning to

would assert their influence over the rest of the

appear on band line-ups, it makes one wonder if

world. By 2009, they were more successful than ever

hipsters had grown tired of the apathy that had come

and TV on the Radio was forced to face the

to mark the movement, at a point where Indie had

inescapable nagging question, the crux of underground music: should they focus on gaining

become short for Indifferent.

more fans at the risk of alienating the old ones?

However, these bands in particular, at the risk of facing upturned noses, have welcomed this growing

It was a familiar question that My Morning Jacket

influence into their gamut so thoroughly that Soul has

leader Jim James must have also been considering. With recent MMJ releases such as 2005 s Z and

now become an integral part of their sound. TV on the Radio and My Morning Jacket have both shown a

2008 s Evil Urges, James songwriting had begun to

relative tendency towards a new breed of Indie AOR

deviate from his Country/Folk Rock roots to the

(album-oriented-rock) and, with their recent releases,

smoother Soul and R & B sounds of the 1970 s and

they bring to mind Purple Rain more than the

80 s. Starting out in Louisville, KY, a scruffy young Jim James fused some of his own rootsy influences

standard laundry list of sub-culturally reliable Indie Rock albums. And it s in this long-form that these

with particularly odd affections for dark humor and

bands shine rather than the standard efficiently

the music of The Muppet Show band Dr. Teeth and

packaged singles. That noted, the bands two most

Electric Mayhem. What had started as a traditional

recent albums flow very differently, both compared to

alt-country band eventually morphed into a group of musicians that, with their song lengths and

past releases and with each other, with Nine Types of Light coming off as a great collection of jagged dance

psychedelic rock guitars, were often mistaken for a

revolution songs and Circuital flowing more

Jam Band. With simplistic yet resonant lyrics, James

seamlessly into the whimsical setting that we have

conveys songs of heartbreak, loneliness and hardship

come to expect from My Morning Jacket.

in only the way a White southern boy can, with a joyfully melancholic twang. It was with the release of

However, the first cut, whether we prefer to take

Z that we began to see more electricity and brevity

credence in the idea it or not, serves as an indelible

make their way into James songwriting repertoire,

first impression of both the album to follow and the

creating a delightfully odder and more lush

band itself. Should any aspect of the sound clash with

psychedelic soul-pop. Not unlike TVOTR s Dear Science, 2008 saw a polish of My Morning Jacket s

a listener s taste, it could prove, however inadvertent, a faux pax that threatens the potential budding

sharper edges with the highly successful Evil Urges,

romance between performer and listener. However,

most of the country and folk supplemented with

should the track win us over as keen observers, we

heavy doses of Funk Rock and Soul.

can use it as an anchor, almost a comfort blanket that

It was in this past spring, facing remarkably similar

allows us to face the cavernous unknown of the second and third songs, not to mention the abyss of

stylistic turning points, that both TV on the Radio and

side B. And nothing is more telling about these two

My Morning Jacket released their 5th and 6th albums

albums than their introductory songs.

respectively. Even upon first listen of both TVOTR s Nine Types of Light and MMJ s Circuital, the Soul

Taking a similar approach their past albums, Nine Types of Light starts out with the delightful yet

inappropriately titled Second Song ,

Morning Jacket, namely the low, fuzzy tinkle of a

serving as a blistering behemoth of

Fender Rhodes Electric piano, James earthy vocals

Neo-Soul Funk that mirrors the minimally hypnotic qualities of the

and his offbeat humor, demonstrated through a chorused falsetto somewhere between a bugle and a

album s monochromatic visual design.

war cry, bringing to mind an Ennio Morricone-scored

The track opens with wispy tonewheel organs and

Spaghetti Western. As it slowly builds over the course

woodwinds drifting over the modified bass drum

of nearly six minutes, the mood grows murkier while

beats and the feverish, ambient rapping of drumsticks on concrete. As lead vocalist Tunde Adebmipe comes

the groove grows more syncopated. By the end, Victory Dance has become a foreboding trance,

in with his delicate and worn tenor, his speech

resembling a Native American funeral dirge as

reflects the bands recognizable theme, noting the

performed by Neil Young or Creedence Clearwater

ease with which solipsism and apathy can infiltrate

Revival, reflecting pride and delusion in the American

our souls. The song soon reconciles the tension into a massive densely arranged chorus, with a hook so


inescapably catchy one would have difficulty keeping

The rest of Circuital is similarly a return to form for

his or her limbs and head stationary. Through his

the band, with longer song lengths, unearthly guitars,

smoldering falsetto, Tunde revises the TVOTR motto

restrained instrumentation and a distinctly Folk/

of unconditional Agape by encouraging all romantic idealists to pool their resources, pleading to every

Country oriented approach to R & B. What is interesting to note with Circuital is the quintessential

lover on a mission, shift your known position into the

folk/bluegrass structure to each song, with the end

light .

products often sounding like lost Woody Guthrie tracks arranged by Rick James, Brian Wilson or Jimmy

What follows Second Song is a very succinct album that reveals a band reinvigorated from a short hiatus,

Page. Whether it is this newfound consistency in Yim Yames songwriting or the general production,

having returned with a more disciplined songwriting

Circuital flows like an older album, smoother than any

ethos and a new cache of songs that split the

MMJ release to date. The album s title track breeds

difference between the grim mood of Return to

echoes of the Allman Brothers

Cookie Mountain and the sanguine assurance of Dear Science. Standout ballads like Keep Your

Light sounds like a electrically vaccinated hymnal, laden with beefy guitars and sharp, pulsating

Heart , Will Do and You reflect the 60 s Soul era

synthesizers. Where songs like Movin

with tales of unrequited affection and interpersonal

Wonderful come off as melancholic, Good Ol

turmoil. On the other side of the genre spectrum,

ballads like Slow, Slow Tune,

firecrackers like No Future Shock , Repetition and Caffeinated Consciousness reflect the desperation

and Holdin Onto Black Metal resemble straight Soul tunes written for Schoolhouse Rock. However eclectic,

and disembodied paranoia of a new era in furious little

My Morning Jacket s Circuital feels sporadically

spurts. Slower, darker cuts like Forgotten sound as

momentous, with holes that even James unique humor

though they could have been B-Sides from a more

and fine-tuned arrangements can t fill. Despite this,

cynical era, detailing apocalyptic fallout in sardonic detail. Though not quite as novel and moving as

this is still a relatively substantial and catchy effort by a band that proves that Soul is still trapped inside of

previous releases, Nine Types of Light proves a very

the Blue-eyed, long-bearded young Americans.


while First

Away and Boy

The Day is Coming

concentrated and well conceived, not to mention highly listenable, album. As a group, TV on the Radio

It almost seems that these two soulful and enjoyable

have always proved excellent at juxtaposing emotive performances with the sterility of electronic music to

albums were intentionally released to coincide with the escapist nature of summer, serving as soundtracks to

provide, the sum of its parts creating a Soul sound

endless bonfires, parties, blissful lounging and endless

that is so hauntingly and indescribably human.

cruising. This is the music that, for years, has served as an invitation for Americans to temporarily disregard

Circuital, My Morning Jacket s long awaited follow up to Evil Urges,

their worries, their anxieties and suffering and simply accept, even revel in the joy of experience. It is

opens with a very different first

undeniably this allure that brings us to music in the

impression, one that ever so slowly

first place and, in the end, imbues it with its true

lulls the listener into the seamlessly

power of levity. For without the experience, the music

flowing album with a feverish stomp dubbed Victory Dance . Within the first 30 seconds of the cut, we are

would simply be a series of deftly organized vibrations. It seems people are ready for that levity once again.

introduced to some of the defining elements of My

Mutants s d n i m own r u o n I

Brendan Nystedt & Spencer Sands revisit the X-Men film series.


e are nerds and we are proud of it.

mocked (Wolverine to Professor X: "What do they call

The X-Men film franchise holds a

you? Wheels? This is the stupidest thing I've ever

special place in both of our hearts, both its highs and lows. In

heard."). By making fun of that idea, the film gives itself license to embrace it without it feeling

preparation for X-Men: First Class, we decided to


take a moment (or six-hundred and sixty but who s counting?) and review as a whole what has been said

The character of anti-mutant Senator Kelly is played

about Marvel s Merry Mutants cinematically. Each film was watched again for the sake of memory jogging

with the right amount of sleaze by Bruce Davison. His forced transformation into what he loathes adds a

and we promise that we really did our best to keep

nice amount of symmetry. Kelly is utilized in a very

open minds (this was hard because X3 is in effect a

clever way in the next film. It s things like the way

giant turd sandwich). If you haven t seen the films, do

Kelly is handled which make this film hold up in spite

yourself a favor, most are on Netflix, and even if you have, go ahead and give them a second look because

of the dated special effects.

(for the most part) they deserve it. That being said,

S: X-Men the first is a remarkable film. Not so much

spoilers abound from this point on.

in regards to its special effects (they haven t aged that well) or the caliber of it s acting (which is very

X-Men B: The first X-Men film set

good, at least for the most part (I m looking at you, Halle Berry)). What makes this film so remarkable is

the precedent for future

that, in effect, it launched a genre. This was a film that

comic book based films.


really had no predecessors and subsequently, it feels

toes a line between a

like a real effort was made not too go to far at any

completely fantastical world and reality. Director Bryan


Singer assembled a mostly

It introduces the viewer to an alien world without

great cast and set them

being confusing and without turning you off to the

loose. Of note are Royal

possibility of people firing lasers out of their faces.

Shakespeare Company alums Patrick Stewart and

Moreover, it very successfully draws you into a story about the oppressed that truly mirrors that of almost

Ian McKellen as Prof. Charles Xavier and Eric

any group in modern history, particularly that of

"Magneto" Lehnsherr. Their brief interchanges carry

homosexuals. From the first cold open (one of two)

significant weight despite minimal dialogue.

you know this is not going to be a movie about popular people.

The choice to feature Wolverine and Rogue as the POV characters was inspired. Their relationship

It balances fan service and character development

develops as that of big brother and kid sister. There's

nimbly. As a young nerd, I wanted more than anything

a great scene in a Canadian bar where Wolverine is

to see all my favorite X-characters all at once, but

first introduced. He's in a cage fighting any and all comers. He's backlit by the harsh florescent lights and

watching the film, I find myself thoroughly sated by what is given to me. From Kitty Pride, to what looks to

takes a bracing shot of liquor. A challenger throws a

be a young Vanisher, to a girl that looks to be dressed

punch and because of Wolverine's metal skeleton, it

as nineties, mall-rat, mutant, sensation Jubilee, the

glances off. Wolverine takes yet another punkass out

film certainly knows it audience. That being said, it

like so much garbage. Hugh Jackman owns the role. He's not just a guy with steak knives stuck to his

keeps that lay person happy by not overwhelming (there are like 10 important characters). I m gushing

hands. He brings a depth required given his

and I need to stop. Next movie!

mysterious, traumatic past. It's fun to see his relationship with Cyclops (James Marsden) go from


bad to worse as the testosterone kicks in.

S: The movie starts off with Alan Cummings kicking the hell out of the secret service. It just has to be

Because of all the baggage that X-Men has to deal

good. This whole film feels like the movie that Bryan

with given the 40-year history of the series and

Singer wanted to make with the first film, but just

characters, there are some things that in any other

didn t have the budget or creative freedom to make.

movie would be ridiculous. One such idea is that fact that each X-Men has a "mutant" name. It's openly

X1 was good, no doubt, but it only dips its toes in the proverbial pool where as within the first six minutes of

X2, Singer and his cast have

racism, rather than hiding it behind a shiny veneer of

done a massive comic

superheroism. The film, similarly, uses this as a

cannonball (Colossus is in this one!).

lynchpin. There's a wonderful scene where mutant student Iceman has to 'come out' to his parents. His mother's reaction is particularly funny: "Have you tried

Brendan wants to tongue

not being a mutant?"

kiss Brian Cox s Stryker, and honestly, I m feeling it too. He is ten times the villain

The special effects are an improvement over the first film and so is the fight choreography and makeup.

that Magneto was in the

One place where I noticed a definite decline in quality

first. He is truly terrifying

was in the cinematography. Where the first film was

and wonderful. And

artfully shot, this feels like yet another action

Mystique! She was great in the first film (blue boobies!) but she is awesome in this film. Basically,

blockbuster film. The scope is increased greatly but what suffers are smaller character moments. The plot

every major actor in the film gets to play her, and

also seems to be a bit of a retread of the first film,

clearly they all had fun doing it. The strange humor

relying on the psychic amplifier Cerebro yet again as a

from the first film is here in full. Nightcrawler s inability


to explain his origins to anyone is an ongoing source of laughter for me, and the fact that the last track left

X3: The Last Stand B: I purposefully blocked

playing in Cyclops

out much of this film

car was N Sync is marvelously


because of the fact that it was such a harrowing

As much as I love this film, I do have problems with it too. The first installment is remarkably subtle and

experience. I may have developed post-traumatic

while X2 shares some of it, ultimately, it feels more

cinematic stress because it

like a summer blockbuster and less like a thoughtful


dissertation about the differences in all of us. Also, the

conceived and made film.

dam at the end of that movie was in no rush to break and honestly, it was too slow for my liking.




For this third installment, Bryan "ADD" Singer was distracted by a shiny

B: After taking in the first, excellent X-Men film I was

property over at DC and Warner Brothers

excited to revisit the second chapter of the saga. For

(Superman) and dropped out of the director's chair.

a long time, this ranked among my top superhero movies. Unfortunately, this film, despite being

Instead, Fox enlisted Brett the Rat Ratner to helm the film and it definitely suffers.

peppered with really awesome bits, is weak and highly lacking in common sense and logic.

To be quite honest, despite keeping an open mind about reliving this cinematic disaster, I was just too

X2 adds to its cast of characters a new baddie, played masterfully by Scottish scenery chewer Brian Cox. His

bored by it to have it offend me. I didn't care that it mistreated the characters and universe and message

character, William Stryker, is cunning and crazy all at

of the previous two films. I stopped caring as soon as

once. It is revealed that he is in charge of the secret

that crazy red haired lady made Captain Picard

project that created Wolverine. Alan Cumming plays a

explode. Wolverine's hairdo is out of control for this

new mutant hero named Nightcrawler, who is a little underused but what screen time he gets he shines

installment. He looks like a wreath of hair with a grimacing Hugh Jackman face in the middle.

brightly in. He portrays Nightcrawler as an abused, pious circus freak who just won't give up hope that

I'll let Spencer give you actual details. I am extremely

someday other people will understand him.

apathetic regarding this film.

He pities

those who hate him rather than hurling aggression back at them.

S: I think it is very telling that before the movie is even underway, some of the most important characters and

The film was adapted from the classic X-Men story

their respective actors found a way out of the film.

God Loves, Man Kills, one of my personal favorites.

Alan Cumming just didn t show up. James Marsden is

This particular story was one that knocked me off my feet as a kid because it is overtly about prejudice and

dead within the first fifteen minutes. Jean Luc... I mean, Patrick Stewart is killed by the half-hour mark.

Anna Paquin has maybe 20 lines in the whole film. Like

funny if he d had more than three lines. I think the only

rats leaving a sinking ship, these exceptionally talented

actor who really seemed to be enjoying any part of

actors and actresses got the hell out of a franchise that was going south. For Christssakes, a man who

this process was Liev Schreiber, who s Sabretooth made a great villain. Truly, he made Tyler Mane look

goes by the nickname of the Rat took over.

even stupider than he already did.

Everything is wrong. Brendan has oft likened watching

The movie makes pretty much no sense and that

Star Trek: Nemesis (the last Star Trek film before JJ Abrams rebooted the series) to going to a family

seems to stem from a ton of studio meddling. There is actually some artful technical direction happening in

reunion to find out that all the members of your

the early part of this movie, but it is soon overcome by

beloved family have massive brain tumors. I think you

simplistic (and by simplistic, I mean stupid) summer-

can see where I am going with this. The big moral of

block buster film making. All in all, Wolverine could

the first two films was acceptance, both of others as well as yourself. This movie blows that whole thing

have been cool but, alas, Fox sucks and so does this film.

straight to Hades by having Anna Paquin s Rogue, who arguable acted as our point of view character to

B: This film's reputation preceded it and so my opinion

this strange, mutant, infested world, opt out of her

was already shaded a vivid brown color. But, neither

gayness, I mean mutantness. Although a mutant cure is a classic X-Men trope, it is used in a way that kills

of us had seen it before and so as we are gluttons for punishment we hit the play button.

the message of these films. And the X-Men neutering Magneto at the end of the film seems to fly in such

Was it as bad as I was led to believe? Large swathes

direct opposition to their fundamental beliefs that I am

of Wolverine were indeed difficult to watch. The story

left to wonder if the Rat ever once in his life picked up an X-Men comic, or (in the more likely scenario) he did

has very little grounding in any reality either created by Bryan Singer or dictated by logic. The actual plot

all of his research by way of YouTube hence all of the

of the film doesn't begin starting to kick in until nearly

Juggernaut s (played moronically by Vinnie Jones)

the third quarter of the film at which point it becomes

dialogue. This movie pissed all over my childhood.

an overwrought superhero movie with dramatic action

Thanks for nothing.

sequences. X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Before that point, the film has a chance at creating

S: I was told going into this

what could have been a neat film. The fight

film just how bad it was, but

choreography in the beginning of the film was pretty

I pressed on. I am a true fan and I was not going to be

good and showcased both Wolverine and Sabretooth's powers in unique ways. Both characters were

deterred. Sometimes,

portrayed well and I especially enjoyed the industrial-

however, I wish the common

strength over the top villainy from Liev Schreiber as

sense part of my brain


could override the fanboy part, even if just for a

The fact of the matter is that anything cool or


interesting is squandered within the first 15 minutes. The opening credit sequence hints at the two main

This movie is a cruel bitch. That is to say, the first five

characters' lives together as brothers with the power

minutes are deceptively awesome. Seeing Wolverine and Sabretooth fight their way through history was a

to heal. They're practically immortal and take part in the Civil War, WWI, WWII and finally Vietnam. Why

comic-book nerd s wet-dream. And that is about were

not play this out as a drama across multiple time

I stopped caring. The dude playing Stryker (I m not

periods? The BBC does pretty much the same thing

going to look up his name because Brian Cox is the

with its long-running Doctor Who. Instead,

only Stryker for me) had huge shoes to fill and his did so like a toddler would his father s work-boots. That is

Wolverine takes place in an extremely befuddled late 1970s/early 1980s with anachronisms galore

to say, inadequately. I suppose inadequacy is really the

(Humvees, LCD flat panel computers, tazers).

hallmark of this film. Even the delightful Hugh Jackman

you're going to spend hundreds of millions on a film,

only seems to be working at about fifty percent.

make sure your production designer isn't asleep at the

Will.I.Am certainly read his lines like a 5th grader at the holiday pageant. Ryan Reynolds might have been

wheel, people.


By the end you'll likely realize that you just watched a

X but then Prof. X was walking in X-Men Origins:

film where characters say things you don't care about,

Wolverine. What the fuck. These are not the only

curse the heavens when something dramatic happens (that you don't care about) and fight each other just

examples, and seriously, they constitute the pluck of my complaints. Ok, that s not entirely true, I super

for the hell of it.

hated some of the choices in mutants that show up on X-Men First Class

screen. Rip-tide, Angel (bug-girl, not biblical) and

B: The latest installment of

Azazel? Not cool, and given the sheer bulk of the

the X-Men series throws out many of the missteps

material they had to work with, very frustrating.

made in the previous two.

Enough of that. This movie is in fact wonderful. I love

By setting itself before any

Mystique. As much as Rebecca Romijn s awesome

of the other films, it is able

blue boobies will always have a place in my heart,

to take creative liberties with some of the characters

Jennifer Lawrence absolutely steals the show. She personifies so perfectly the moral (or what should

we know and enjoy later on.

have been the moral) of all the films in her character arc. Why should she have to hide who she is? Isn t her

The 1960s vibe is achieved

naked, blue body beautiful? Yes, it is. Her and Beast s

very well not only by playing with historical events but also by borrowing from the collective popular culture

budding romance was a treat as is the way she played off the wonderful Michael Fassbender s Magneto.

knowledge of the era. It's the 1960s via James Bond and the script relishes in the impossible and wonderful

Ultimately what made me enjoy this movie so much

flourishes that entails. I wasn't able to stop talking

was how fun it was. It was serious and scary when it

about a certain vehicle emerging from another vehicle (I won't spoil it for you). Also, the X-Men fly in an

need to be (Kevin Bacon is creepy) while fun and borderline silly at other times. The Cuban Missile

SR-71 Blackbird to avert the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Crisis made a phenomenal back-drop for this

'Nuff said.

awesome romp through alternative mutant history.

Michael Fassbender takes over for the role of young Eric Lehnsherr/Magneto, James McAvoy aptly plays

Conclusion: To put this is baseball terms, the series is batting around a six-hundred. That is to say, three

Charles Xavier as a bit of an arrogant, overly educated

out of the five films we watched were great, and even

rich boy. Their bromance undoubtedly launched at

the less that great ones had their moments.

least five thousand homoerotic fan fictions the weekend of the film's release. The story works Mystique into the mix quite well as the adopted sister of Xavier. Jennifer Lawrence makes what was previously an excuse to ogle Rebecca Romjn into a real character. Not that Jennifer Lawrence isn t something to ogle. S: A James Bond movie with mutants? Hell yeah. The commitment to the time period, and subsequent political climate in the movie makes it a pleasure to watch. While there is a ton to like, I (ever the nerd) found some stupid pointless things to bitch about. That being said, this movie still was a treat. Bitching first: this film struggles more than anything else to fit into the continuity of its mutant predecessors. All in all it does it about as well as the Star Wars prequels or Star Trek: Enterprise did. That is to say, not all that well. Mystique and Prof. X are old time buddies? Makes no sense. Havok is a lot older than his brother, or possibly son given the time difference, Cyclops. Whacky. Magneto paralyzes Prof.

B re n d a n a n d S p e n c e r, i n a unanimous decision, break it down as follows: 1. X-Men 1. X-Men First Class 2. X2 3. X3: The Last Stand 4. X-Men Origins: Wolverine


m not a hermit. I would like to think I m more of

things to do. We all know that. As I was told by my

a social butterfly than a crustacean. It s not

older relatives when I announced I was moving here, I

generally hard for me to make friends. Moving to New York, I just sort of expected to make

was going to be a real working girl . Well, I sure as hell wasn t going to be a housewife at 23, thanks.

friends instantly. (Is that too optimistic?) I mean how hard could it be? You like music? That s cool, I like

I spent a good many of my days off going to all the

music. You like eating? Oh I do too! Let s be friends! I

places I was supposed to-- eating at famous

just expected these new, great, hip people to fall into my lap. I ve made work friends and I have friends that

restaurants, getting lost, etc. But after awhile, New York became a place I lived rather than a place I was

I knew before I moved here that live here. So I just

exploring. Yes, there was plenty of stuff left to see,

figured at some point these groups would join and

but it had downsized from the Empire State Building

bring their friends and more friends would come out

to the new restaurant down the street.

of it. Multiplication rules plain and simple. I was never really good at math. I needed a welcome week like in

I also like having plans, things to look forward to.

college where everyone came out for the friend

When I realized I d watched all 6 seasons of Lost

making awkwardness and activities.

because I had stopped exploring, I figured I needed to spice it up. Inspiration came in the form of my

New York, as I was told before I moved here, is a place of infinite excitement and adventure. Tons of

roommate Sarah, who majored in theater and works in Broadway advertising. While we lived together she

Improv State of Mind by Lauren Yayesaki

took improv classes as a birthday present from her

The enrollment process coupled with showing up the

grandmother. She would come home on Thursday

first day were the hardest parts (by far). I got there

nights beaming from such a great class. The encouraging and comfortable group that made up her

on my first day and milled about the classroom door looking for other awkward looking people. The usual

class threw out all her hesitations and gave her the

anxieties of the first day of school were creeping up

support she needed to push herself. (Or... at least

my neck. Was this a good idea? What was I doing? I

that s how I felt after my first classes. I don t think it s

just had to hold out until I actually entered the room

too far off from her experience.)

and got my ID card. Then there would be no way to back out.

I was curious and went to a couple of Sarah s performances and felt an odd combination of terrified

My classmates were of a variety of ages, different

and that pit feeling in your stomach which (when

professions and personalities. This was a great asset

mixed with a competitive streak) shouts I can do that! . Maybe I can even do this better than they can

to our class because we had a lot of material to pull from. If we were all accountants it would just be

(at least just as good, anyway). Now I just had to

number jokes all the time (and as much fun as that

prove it.

sounds) it would be flat. Our class played a game where one person would create and act a character of

Improv is basically coming up with material on the spot. You usually get a recommendation from the

their own creation and the rest of class had to question him or her. We had bald computer tech guy

audience and you run with it, making your own skit. It

named Radioactive Richard (we had to come up with

requires the belief that everyone else in your group is

superpower names to help learn everyone s name)

a genius and you love whatever idea they have.

who played an awesome/evil, awkward Harvard

Creativity and enthusiasm are your best friends here. Also, try to be funny, but actually that comes more

scientist. There was also Lipitor-arthritis Lucy, a pint sized girl who played a cool Rastafarian man who was

naturally once you get all the other stuff.

afraid of his weed stash being found. Another notable creation was Ass-Kicking Adam. He had the voice of

So back to the part where I hadn t decided to take the

the All State guy, and played a hustler who called

class yet. I ve been toying with this masochistic tendency the past few years wherein I test my level of

himself Sweets .

comfort for various things. Was I scared of heights? I

Our teacher emphasized the importance of saying

made myself go sky diving. Scared of singing in front

yes to each other, building on our partner s idea and

of people? I got drunk and did karaoke. I figured this

running with it. I loved that any sort of person can do

way I would realize I wasn t good at certain things and add them to my list of careers I should not pursue.

the class and everyone had something to contribute. In another exercise we did, half the class had roughly 15 seconds to create a scene the other part of the

Everyone secretly wants to be famous. There are

class suggested. After time was up, we had to freeze

various degrees of famous. Your next door neighbor

in our positions. My favorite one was my suggested

might want to be famous for discovering a cure for skin cancer whereas your sister may want to become

soap opera where a love triangle erupted onstage with murder a distinct possibility. This yes attitude had

a reality TV star. For other people, it may be having

my classmates and me running onstage to become a

the best relationship ever and all their friends are

wheel if we are building a car or becoming a baby if

jealous of how wonderful they are. Whatever.

I ve

we are at a christening, whatever our partners

always wondered if I was funny or if I could act. I was an art major and it looked like there was a great deal

needed. Everyone says yes to them by following and building on what they have done- becoming another of

of creativity needed for improv so it seemed like I

the four wheels or becoming the priest that baptizes

might have a chance.

the baby, etc.

I sincerely felt I could try this̶ thinking out of the box is what I was programmed to do in school. While

It started with me saying yes to the nagging urge to try something new, and it continued with me learning

watching my roommate s shows, I found myself

to say yes to my peers. I challenged myself to take a

thinking of my own scenarios and personalities, all of

chance, and so did Radioactive Richard and Ass-

which received roaring mental applause.

Kicking Adam, and none of us regret any of it. Honestly, I am falling behind on a lot of important TV, and I couldn t care less.

Free-wheeling words by Coby Zeifman images by Garrett Birke


ve seen someone ride a unicycle ten miles. I ve seen a girl in a Scooby-Doo costume drinking malt liquor and riding a beach cruiser bicycle. I ve seen a marriage proposal. I ve seen lot of things at San Jose Bike Party. At San Jose Bike Party I mostly see a community event that has cracked though the sprawling concrete jungle culture of suburban Silicon Valley. Bike Party is a monthly, Friday night group bike ride (of between 2,000 and 4,000 riders) through the quiet neighborhood streets and box store strip-malls of Silicon Valley. San Jose Bike Party has gotten so popular, in fact, that it has stemmed both an East Bay Bike Party and a San Francisco Bike Party.

Using a dierent starting point each month, Bike Party travels an ever-changing 25-mile route at an extremely slow pace. People tow subwoofers and sound systems on wheels. People ride ďŹ xed gears, mountain bikes, beach cruisers and everything in between. If you were to stand at an intersection and watch Bike Party go by, it would take a full half hour.

Each Bike Party has a theme. The zombie ride was my favorite; the S & M themed ride had mercifully low participation. Attendees run the gamut, from young partyers to people in their 50 s and 60 s to spandexclad ďŹ tness bus.

Bike Party is a community event: if you break down, a stranger will always be there to help and a dedicated core of volunteers plan, organize, and direct Bike Party every month. People love Bike Party.

Riders love it. Police oer their support and assistance. Parents ride with their (sometimes surprisingly young) children. Thousands of people come together to embrace something that is fun, social and uniquely their own.

In the communities we ride through, adults and children stand on their front porches and watch us go by, and wave to us. Sometimes people ask,

Who are you guys? What is this?

And we answer:

We are

Bike Party.

The Gygax Dating Method Or The D20 Date Guide


et s face it, dating can be hard. Coming up with creative dates is an involving task. We ve come up with a genius solution which will save you time and energy. All it requires is a single 20-sided die (or D20 as your roleplaying friends might know it as). There are 3 categories and you are allowed one saving throw (do-over) if the selection is not to your (or more importantly your partner s) liking. Each numbered item corresponds to a number on the randomly generated, computer-selected list we ve included in this issue.

by Brendan Nystedt & Spencer Sands Feel free to tear the facing page out and keep it in your pocket along with your trusty D20 at all times. PS: you have the option of either rolling for activities before your date shows up (and taking credit for all our genius and hard work) or including him/her in the procedure. Beware: if you re trying to act like a cool kid then it s probably best to do it in your parents basement where you probably live. That s my current address.

Before Dinner 1. Take a hike 2. Go for a drive on a scenic route 3. Museum 4. Stroll in the park 5. Amusement Park/fair 6. Take in a matinĂŠe 7. Bike ride 8. People watching in a crowded place 9. Batting Cages 10. Laser Tag 11. Bowling 12. Fishing 13. Window shopping (cheap date) 14. Aquarium/Zoo 15. Video arcade 16. Fly a kite 17. Go to the beach (watch the surf) 18. Ice/Dry skating 19. Go karting 20. Baking

Dinner 1. Sushi 2.Vietnamese 3.Make something at home (don't forget the candlesticks!) 4.McDonald's (for ironic purposes) 5.Vegetarian 6.In & Out Burger (West Coast only)/Five Guys (East Coast only) 7.Bread, Cheese & Wine picnic 8.Chinese 9.Mexican 10. Tapas 11. Ethnic Supermarket (make your own or buy from their deli) 12.Indian 13.Italian 14.Mongolian BBQ 15.Sandwiches 16.Steakhouse (big spender) 17.Soul Food 18.Bad diner food 19.Pizza 20.French

After Dinner 1. Watch the sun set 2.Make your way to your favorite 'vista spot' 3. Coffee and pastries 4. Movie 5. DVD at home 6. Wii Sports 7. Urban exploring 8.Listen to records 9. Jam session (don't wake the neighbors!) 10. Bar/Nightclub 11. Comedy club 12. Wander aimlessly at a book store 13. Concert 14.Karaoke 15. The theatre 16.Poetry slam 17. Dancing 18.Sporting event 19.Stargazing 20.Make art

MakerFaire by Brendan Nystedt &


akerFaire is the annual gathering of the craftiest demographic out there. Not crafty in the tricky sense as much as crafty in a build-it-with-your-own-two-hands way. Neither is this just a collection of quilters and scrapbook enthusiasts. Truly, this festival brings DIY enthusiasts from all corners of the country together to talk shop, compare notes, and make awesome things come to life.

What kinds of things? If it spins, lights up, rolls around autonomously, prints, zaps, welds‌ the list goes on and on. There were booths with robots, stereolithographs (3D printers), electroluminescent and LED light projects, solar panels, old-school computers, steam engines and letterpresses. There were also entertaining musical performances on instruments ranging from Game Boys to a gigantic pair of dangerous Tesla coils.

A festival for the DIY set Spencer Sands

This year s spokesperson/attention-grabber was Mythbusters host Adam Savage. Having a major name like his attached to this festival did a lot to bring people in. Maker Faire was crowded. Crowded enough that we would think twice about bringing small children. That being said, there was no shortage of children in attendance so if anklebiters aren t your scene, beware. If you bring your family there are plenty of workshops for the younger set, fear not that there will be something for them to learn and discover.

For ten dollars a head, we had more fun in a crowded place than we can remember having in a long time. It was a supreme pleasure to see the hard work of so many people in one very, very crowded place. The Faire we attended was in San Mateo, CA but there are upcoming dates in Detroit on July 30th and 31st and in New York on September 17th and 18th.


Add into the equation the lessened environmental impact and it's clear to see that it's a smarter way to shave. Cartridge razors are complicated to manufacture and have plastic components which are


ke t tedt i L n ys e ra n N v a G nda h S ry Bre Ca by

having used to be something that was a rite of passage for men, handed down from generation to generation. Now, however, it seems to be something that you're just

expected to learn. But there's definitely an art to it. The shaving world has become cluttered with all kinds of junk. What s a modern man to do? I chose to switch to an old-fashioned safety razor and I think it's a great solution. I like to think of it like a Jedi s lightsaber̶ a more elegant weapon from a more civilized age. Getting in the door can be a bit of an investment, but I think if you're a careful shopper you can probably spend less than I did (I bought my equipment at a local shop because I always prefer to support locally owned businesses). There are a few necessary parts to get you off and shaving: -A razor handle. I spent $45 on a Merkur 25C long handled razor. It's made up of 3 components and if treated properly will literally last a lifetime and then some. You won’t find any plastic or rubber or vibrating batter y powered motors here, only polished and knurled metal. -A package of double-sided razor blades. This will run you around $7. I bought the matching Merkur brand blades but there are others out there. -A badger bristle brush with a stand. I spent around $50 for these items. I had previously used a boar hair brush but the badger hair is finer and creates a much nicer lather. A stand is highly recommended to allow the brush to dry correctly (brushes can develop mildew over time). -Glycerine-based shaving soap. $5. When it s all said and done, it s roughly $100 to get started. But, the upside is that although the cost of entry is a little high, the long-term cost is significantly lower. The modern razor business model revolves around the sale of overpriced blade cartridges. The typical cost for a Gillette Mach5 cartridge is $5, while old school razor blades cost less than $1 per blade.

just thrown away. With a safety razor, all that gets switched out is a single, thin piece of stainless steel (which is highly recyclable). Because you're whipping up your own lather, you're not releasing harmful hydrocarbons (butane, propane and the like) into the air as you would with canned shave foams and gels. Although the end result is largely the same as shaving with a multi-blade, the technique of shaving with a safety razor is much different. I've found that a few ideas helped me understand how to accomplish a clean, close shave with as little damage as possible. But, I m warning you; just like the Academy Awardwinning film, There Will Be Blood. It s all too easy to cut yourself to ribbons until you hone your skills. Here s what I ve found to work the best: -Imagine in your mind s eye that your face is a diamond. Break it up into facets which are flat planes and shave each of these areas. Try not to segue between facets because these edges are where it s extremely easy to cut yourself. -Hold the razor s head at a 30º angle against your face with the tips of your fingers. Allow gravity to pull it down. Try not to press down on your face with the razor. -Plan on doing two or three passes. Depending on follicle growth, you ll have to change direction. -Make it a ritual. Set aside enough time so you can do a good job. Take a piping hot shower to soften the beard beforehand and after the shave, finish with a lightweight moisturizer. After you ve gotten a feel for using a double-edged safety razor, you won t want to go back. I know I don t.

One Thing We asked our contributors to write about something that they cherish, either because of sentimental reasons or because they use it every day.

Every kid had a stuffed teddy bear. I had a cat. Growing up, my grandmother hated cats, which was probably why I loved them so much. When I was 7 my parents bought me a stuffed animal cat. I named her Holly Higgins Hill. Holly was a Siamese cat with big blue eyes. I loved her instantly. My neighbor, Tura, crocheted her a fashionable, rainbow-colored tank top and skirt, which she wore all the time. As a little girl, I was convinced I couldn t sleep without her. When we went on vacation, Holly was right there next to me. I loved that her plastic eyes made a soft click click sound when I absentmindedly ran her down the wall in the hallway on the way to the living room. When I went off to college, Holly came too. Even now, long after I discovered I could sleep without her, she guards the end of my bed. And while I know I don t need her, it is nice to know she is there. (AH)

I have been made the keeper of many family heirlooms. I ve inherited my grandfather s dog tags, ring and Omega watch. From my dad s side, I inherited my grandfather s leather bomber jacket from the Navy (which I wear whenever I can) and to keep all my precious nick knacks together, a lovely box. My dad s dad made it for my grandmother while he was away on an aircraft carrier after the war. It s lucky that I have the exact same initials as my grandmother because the box is inlaid with contrasting wood in a gothic script spelling out BN . Given that I no longer have any living grandparents, this box and its contents have become extremely important to me. (BN)

Every day as I wake up, my eyes shift to the lowangled loft corners of my bedroom, catching the dusty boxes of records that rest there. Stacked high, they serve as monument to the city from whence they came, that is, New York City. Upon clearing out my storage facility in Brooklyn, effectively stripping myself of three years worth of material from a very different life, I decided to choose not only the most cumbersome and cumulatively heavy forms of media, but the most antiquated as well. And so I trudged through blackened snow to the nearest post office, carrying disheveled patchwork boxes postmarked for California. I can vividly recall the energy, time and money expended bringing them back here, not to mention the method of obtaining each one individually. Staring at each weathered cover, I can recount each of the melodies contained within as I imagine the shimmering vinyl revolving in dim lamplight. This morning, as I stare into the pile of forlorn antiquities, my gaze meets with the now dysfunctional turntable that I had once depended on as a dispensary of joy. Knowing that I cannot possibly listen to my well-traveled discs, I feel, though for entirely different reasons, the true sting of being a collector. (FS)

My childhood was sprinkled with hundreds of fishing trips, flea market excursions, late night stargazing trips to the observatory and early morning openings at the Christmas tree lot. Among these many varied, odd hour outings, there were always two constants̶my awesome father and his similarly awesome Stanley thermos. I assume it was filled with coffee, but I wasn't drinking it so, honestly, I have no idea. My dad is a carpenter and the dictionary definition of blue-collar. None of his many accoutrements seem to sum this up more perfectly than the aforementioned Stanley brand vacuum thermos. As much I would love to steal the original (he still has the same one), I took the moral high road and bought my own. Not only does it serve as a constant reminder to me of how radical my dad is, but it also keeps liquids warm for like 12 hours, which is also radical. (SS)

I have one item in my possession that I cherish. It s a very unorthodox item but it does have a lot of meaning for me. The item that I speak of is the NWO championship belt! When I was younger I was a big fan of pro wrestling, a mark if you will. During that time my best friend, Nelson, gave me this belt to symbolize our rivalry. Whenever we played any games; if things got serious we would challenge each other for the belt. That way one of us would always be the champion. We would loudly proclaim, All right, this match is for the title! Whoever won got to take the belt home until challenged once more. The most memorable match came in the Summer of 05 when we were facing each other in a ladder match in the Smackdown video game for the PS2. That match felt like it went on for hours but at the end of the match Nelson ended up the victor. I won it back from him and now retain the title with no one to challenge my reign. (BP)


(Not Australia) by Brendan Nystedt

eaving Rome wasn t difficult. I had not


and so we scarfed our delicious pies and joined the

gotten the best feeling from the place; the


warm-fuzzies just weren t happening for me. The history was rich but the

He took out a photocopied map from his desk along

atmosphere was touristy and irritating. I ve since been

with a set of highlighters and began telling us all about

told that Rome is like a good shot of espresso, meant

Napoli. His well-practiced spiel came between drags

to be swirled on the pallet and savored instead of

from one of his Lucky Strikes (he would later call

gulped. I ll reserve full judgment for another visit, perhaps. Idyllic scenery fluttered outside the windows

cigarettes his "oxygen"). Two sections on either side of the main downtown were off limits, because of crime

of the hot train car. Italy s countryside reminded me

from the mafia. He promised maps for everyone once

of parts of the valley in central California.

he had a chance to draw more up by hand. For each attraction, he showed the group a picture from a book

Arriving in Naples, my sister and I followed the directions from the hostel s website the best we

or pamphlet to illustrate.

could. Straight down from the train station, left in

Giovanni brought out a book and started a rant about

front of the Archaeological museum, another left. We

the Amalfi Coast. He claimed that he had never heard

were overheated and lost, dragging our bags (at this

about it until about 10 years prior, when he speculated

point in our trip, filled to the brim with bits and bobs from England, France, Holland and Sweden) along the

it was invented by Lonely Planet to sell guidebooks. He flipped to a page in the book, showing a snapshot of a

craggy sidewalk. We had passed the street thinking it

cliff and some rocks set against a deep blue ocean.

just couldn t be right. It was a steep climb up an

Water and rocks. "Big deal", he spat. Because (as he

alleyway barely wide enough for a single compact car

dramatically flipped to the cover of the book), he was

to make it through. Exhausted, we finally found the correct address and rang the bell. Our host, Giovanni,

showing us pictures of Australia.

answered the intercom and buzzed us in. Inside the

He quickly took a shine to me and my sister. He took

gate to the building waited the tallest stairs I have

my sister out on a tour of the city by motorbike,

ever seen. Three flights of them; hard, uncaring

helped her get a SIM card for her phone, and took her

marble chipped at the edges by decades of abuse. By the time we made it to the landing where Giovanni s

for the best coffee, a potent shot of chocolatey espresso which goes by the name of caffe strapazatto.

hostel was located, we were sopping wet and ready

Don t try to Google it for an idea of what s in it, you

to take a nap.

just have to go and get some in Naples. Trust me. He gave me a mokapot coffee maker which, although it

Although the AC inside the room was greatly appreciated, the thick cigarette smoke sucker-

failed to work when I got home, made me feel appreciated in a way only a good, spontaneous gift

punched me in the nostrils. Giovanni sat at his desk,


smoke swirling up from his ashtray. He squinted at us from worn eyes set behind rectangular glasses,

Our trust in Giovanni was not in vain as he appreciated

welcoming us to the hostel. I wanted nothing more than to lie down for a while but I was denied. Giovanni

our presence in his home for a week. He told us that we had brought happiness back into his life because

told us to put our bags in a pile on the floor and go

we were staying in the hostel for such a long time;

get some food. He was insisting, nay, ordering us to

recently people had been staying one or two nights

get pizza.

which was hardly enough time to establish a rapport.

Best pizza. You need to go. Get it to go then we talk.

He took us out for fried pizza and fried zucchini flowers, greeted us with bella/o! and eventually even

Gino Sorbillo. He went to draw us a map but then

made us a dinner of delicious mushroom pasta. The

realized another lodger already had one. He

only thing I don t miss is breathing Giovanni s

summoned the guy and retrieved the map, handing it


to my sister. I had a moment of pause. Were we really going to trust this stranger with our luggage and our

Between day trips to Pompeii, Herculaneum, Capri and

fates? I had a feeling, deep in the pit of my stomach,

the rich environs of the city, I finally fell in love with

that everything was going to be fine if we put our

Italy. I came to understand why, cataclysm after

trust in Giovanni. So we got pizza, came back and ate

cataclysm, people came back to the region. Vesuvio is

up. There were other guests waiting around for us to finish eating. Our bald Italian host told us to hurry up

an Old Testament-style god; with one hand he gives and the other he takes away. And what an area that ancient volcano has created for these lucky people.

The Tired Man by Fordy Shoor


he Tired Man looked exhausted as he

the utilitarian model sitting to his right. He felt as

stared into an apparent personal oblivion.

though he were watching a postpartum mother

The train within which he was encased swayed rhythmically, the motion pacifying

nourishing her newborn infant as it reclined in her arms, satiated and appreciative.

him with the recollection of past comforts. He had very particular memories that he had refinished,

A squealing of mechanized brakes sounded out,

sharpened in form for mornings just like this. He

rousing the man from his digression. As he returned

called them as his Soul Food memories. At the jolt of t h e s u b w a y c a r, h e f o u n d h i m s e l f a l m o s t

his gaze forward, The Tired Man shook his head in disdain. He pitied the boy and reviled the object. He

instantaneously knocked back into the material world.

sat wondering why anybody would even want a device

The graveyard shift that he had just minutes ago

like the one the young man treasured.

completed trickled back into his mind, as did the removed malaise of occupational sleeplessness. As he scanned the car, he noticed the particularly sparse

His toughened finger rubbed a tickle off his sandy upper lip. The Tired Man turned to survey the rest of

quality to the Northbound train. Fast food wrappers,

the scene to his right, actively gazing over the

plastic flasks and energy drink cans swayed across

business casual newsboy sitting beside him. Without

the floor of the train like a mobile collage, detailing

turning his head, he positioned his eyeballs downward

the remnants of the previous nights revelries. He noticed a grizzled man, tainted with the grim of

in their sockets. Seeing the colorful interface of the device, he fixed his peripheral focus onto it, noting the

vagrancy, sleeping upright with a book folded in place

efficiency with which the young man organized his

across his chest, its weathered cover reading


Unlimited Power by: Anthony Robbins . His day was nearing its conclusion. He eagerly awaited the moment in which he knew he was home at his cozy

Realizing he had been seduced yet again, The Tired Man snapped his gaze back forward, shaking his head

Flushing apartment, prying off his boots in the mud

more vigorously, now in self-disgust. Squinting his

room between the door and the main house.

eyes in concern, he brooded over the concept of the device s almost universal attraction. Was it the

All these thoughts and visuals he entertained in the moments following the lurching halt of the subway

meticulously streamlined design? Or could it have been the bright colors that innately beckoned each person.

car. He licked his lips, feeling the growing fissures on

Or maybe it was simply the fact that the boy had

the surface, developed through hours of working in

attached such a magnificent value, an abiding

the stagnant, nagging winter air. The pneumatic doors

adoration that released the bridled lust throughout his

opened with a charge of cold air and clambering appendages, the rushing sensation pummeling his

neurons. The man s eyes were sore and he closed his lids for a moment, resting his hands in his lap.

body. Incoming passengers judiciously surveyed the car, hunting for seats aboard the dense morning

He could see the young man in his kitchen fixing

commuter train.

himself a vegan dinner. In between tending to the

A young man in an immaculate brown Peacoat

simmering pots, he would methodically set four places, then lay the meals in front of the four settings. Each

hopped through the closing doors and, before

seat was occupied by his portable music player,

scanning the car himself, walked stridently over to the

computer and e-tablet respectively. Their jovial

empty seat next to The Tired Man. Sitting down, The

conversation rang out between his ears; their daily

Tired Man noticed his flat Gatsby cap and the murky scent of budget cologne, the male counterpart to

gripes, their triumphs, their losses, their elusive technocentric jokes were all comforting to him.

Shelly s perfume. Argyle socks crept out from

Nearing the end of the dinner, the young man would

underneath his corduroy pants as he crossed his legs

watch television as the versatile implements helped

and pulled out his E-Tablet. The Tired Man noted the

scrub the dishes. Once finished, the tablet would

chic cavalier outfit the boy sported, resembling more a militant paperboy than a professional graphic

cuddle up next to him, radiating kinetic heat underneath their shared knit blanket. The young man

designer or non-profit organizer.

would periodically turn to the screen and gaze with adoring eyes while its attention was fixed towards

His fingers padding frenetically across the sleek

whatever program the two enjoyed. At the end of the

interface, the young man looked as though he were signing to his deaf-mute counterpart. With his weary,

night, the young man would slip underneath the covers, the E-tablet nestled beside him. Washed in its

pulsating eyes, the man sat entranced as he glared at

pale white light, he d make love to it, weeping tenderly

nap. Recalling the young man, he decided not to even

as he did so.

glance to see if he was still there, device in hand. He

Imagining the boy s domesticated digital aid made him

gritted his teeth in scorn at the thought of the militant news-hawker and his digital companion. And yet, the

smile with pride from the benign malice of his

pulse of curious envy permeated him with greater

creativity. Relief radiated through him as he visualized

frequency than it had before. After great restraint, he

himself walking through his own front door. His wife

turned to his right to notice a disheveled man curled

Shelly, having just returned home from the night shift at the hospital near the airport, would be preparing

up next to him, using a stained pair of pants as a pillow. The train slowed to an abruptly static halt.

their dinner in the form of an elaborate American breakfast. She would await him with a steaming cup

Before exiting the train, The Tired Man yawned deep

of fresh brewed coffee and a cold beer. Considering

enough to nearly pull his jaw muscle. The pneumatic

they often worked simultaneous night shifts, Shelly designated alternating days for each of them to cook;

doors opened to a frigid overhead platform. The Tired Man shuffled his way down the stairs, passing an

today, being a Friday, was one of her days. Their

elderly Puerto Rican woman carrying half her weight in

brownstone would be warm and inviting to him when

groceries, her metal cart clattering with each

he finally arrived home around 7:30 AM.

descending step. His nose was dripping by the time he

Soon after breakfast, he and Shelly would shuffle

reached the street. Passing a bodega, he noted the stalactite icicles reaching down from the overhang,

their strained bones into their television room, where

wondering if he stayed out long enough, would his

they would proceed to draw their wool blackout

mucus freeze similarly. The cold asphalt felt rubbery

curtains and switch on all their lamps. He would go to

underneath his feet as he shuffled down the street to

their digital video recorder and turn on one of the previous evening s prerecorded programs. They sat

his brownstone. The warmth of the heater stung his frigid hands as he fumbled to pry off his boots in the

down to their favorite episodes of shows and football

mud-room hallway. As he sat down to dinner, Shelly

games, commercials included, a habit they had

poured him a cup of the leftover coffee from the

enjoyed maintaining, allowing them to receive the full

previous day and they started eating quietly.

experience of the previous nights programming. There they d lay, sipping from their beers as they

At the end of the recording, he looked to Shelly and

relax for their evening, finally comfortable. The

noticed her sleeping soundly in her chair next to him.

reverberations of the subway overhead signaled a

Brushing her brittle, highlighted hair behind her ear he

rushed morning commute to the rest of the world

decided it was time to replace her old perfume and

while, to Shelly and her husband, they indicated the nine-to-five crowd returning home after a busy day of

buy something truly special for her birthday. She was deserving of such consideration but he couldn t for the


life of him illustrate a particular reason why. After a moment, he tried to recall the actual date but found

Finally they would settle into bed for their night of

himself at a loss, the memory washed away in pale

sleep. As they lay on the worn mattress, The Tired Man would inch up behind his wife and sling his arm

white light.

around her soft, ample waist. Her permed hair would smell like latex hospital gloves and the Chanel No. 5 imitation perfume her sister had given her for her birthday. Throughout the five years they had maintained this lifestyle, this smell, more than anything else about her, had grown to comfort him. It allowed him to reconcile the notion that the most time he spent with Shelly was when they were both asleep. He asserted with confidence that they were no more asleep than Day People were in their waking hours, he had always maintained. THE NEXT STOP IS...WILLETS BOULEVARD-SHEA STADIUM, proclaimed the train in an affable tone. The less tired man awoke from a shallow sleep, recognizing from habitual sensation his next stop mid-




by Berto Preciado you can say that they accomplished what they set out

s I sit in my stuy, hot apartment in

to be when they were children?

Queens I am reminded of the day when my parents, scratch that, society told me one

There is a small, relatively unknown movie out there

of the greatest lies that can be told to a

that hits this frustration head on called Fight Club. At

very impressionable youth: When you grow up, you

one point the main character says,

can be anything you want to be. Looking at my life

raised on television to believe that one day we d all be

We ve all been

right now, I realize what a huge crock of shit that was. I m not a cowboy-astronaut-millionaire-football-

millionaires, and movie gods, and rockstars. But we won t. And we re slowly learning that fact. And we re

player right now, which is what I dreamed of being

very, very pissed o!

when I was young. But, I can t complain. How many of

problem? Starting a club where people beat the shit

What s the solution to this

out of each other to feel alive and Project Mayhem?

Sounds like fun but it s not a practical solution, is it?

want some kind of purpose in our life. What is that

How many friends can you find that will get into fights

purpose? I don t mean to get all existential but what is

with you for fun and pull illegal hijinks because they aren t happy with their current life? I can probably

the meaning of your life? Take a second and think about what you want to do with the rest of your life.

count maybe 1 or 2 because I ve got some crazy

There are just too many factors in life, aren t there?

fuckers for friends but I feel like my number may be

There is so much in life to worry about̶crackpot cults

unrealistic. That doesn t change the fact that I m

that tell you doomsday is coming, crackpot economists

pissed about things not going the way that I imagined them as a kid. What does a guy need to reach the

telling you that you re money is going to be gone, crackpot scientist telling you that the earth is dying

unreachable star? Do you need money? Do you need

because of Mako reactor...the list is just endless.

time? Connections? Luck? The answer is yes to all of

What do we do?

these. Back in the Middle Ages everyone wanted the life of a

You could rebel for a great change to occur. Then you will be remembered as that guy that stood up for that

royal. Hell, what s not to want̶being pampered,

thing. You could improve upon yourself until you re

living off of the peasants, being able to take what you

satisfied with what you ve accomplished. You could

want whenever you wanted. It was good to be the

give in and just laze about...Or you could do what I m

king! Small problem: you had to be born into this life (which is probably why they say that a man is the king

doing and just live. Find those select bones in life and suck the marrow out of them. Have a day off? Start

of his castle). People are lucky if they are born into

that novel that you ve been putting off for all of those

things like money or status (and before any of you

years. Learn how to play guitar, read that book that

rich or status imbued people start talking about what

you ve always wanted to read but never found the

a pain it is and that no one understands the anguish of the responsibility and such, remember that I m

time for, go for hike, hang out with your friends at a bar and share a pint and bitch about the day.

writing this from the downtrodden perspective). Luck plays a huge role in what you want to be.

There are so many things in life that you should be grateful for. Sure, life may not have ended up how you

When I started living in the city I looked for good karaoke places. Being new in town I did what any

thought that it would but you ve got friends, family, and yourself. Why waste energy wishing that you had

tourist in a big city would do: I went to Google. As I

a better life when you can spend energy making your

was googling places, I found people asking where in

life better? Remember that,

the city is the karaoke bar that talent agents or

talented that wins. But the ones who won because

record execs go to. The chances of being picked up by a label (at a karaoke joint no less) is ridiculous. So

they persevered!

ridiculous that I can t even fabricate a number. I can t be a rockstar, movie star, or cowboy-astronautmillionaire-football-player! So what am I? I ve got a dead end job where people complain to me about their issues. I m not going to sugarcoat it̶I work in retail, one of the seven levels of hell that was written about long ago. Am I happy with my job? No. Do I get anything out of being at that job? Yes. I have a great insurance plan, the people I work with are great, and the pay gets my debt down, keeps food on my table and a roof over my head. These are necessities in life, especially if you have a medical condition that costs a shitload of money to manage. I m not happy with my career but I bear it because it has these things. Of course you could point out that benefits come with other jobs as well as the people and pay, but how many of those other jobs could you say that you yourself could qualify for? Do I want to be in retail the rest of my life? Oh, hell no! No one in life wants to be just drifting about aimlessly. We all

It s not always the

Artist Spotlight: Leonardo Santamaria

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See you in the fall!



Atom Magazine Summer 2011  

Our very first issue! Follow us on twitter: @atommag