AT AT MM Summer 2011
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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: lleeoo.deviantart.com lleeeeeoo.tumblr.com
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)
! ! REACT
[MEDIA & CULTURE]
[ESSAYS & FICTION]
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 â€“ 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
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
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
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,
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)
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
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
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
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-
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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 diďŹ€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 buďŹ€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 oďŹ€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:
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, weldsâ€Ś 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
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
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
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 stuďŹ€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 oďŹ€!
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
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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