vol. 10, no. 2
pop culture, politics, college, etc.
Inside this issue: History of Gnomes
-in all their sexy glory
Are You Fan Enough? -musical fanbases
-not sure if still funny or...
Dateability of the 7 Dwarves
-find your ideal dwarf hubby
-big impacts on pop culture
kitsch magazine “K
itsch” is a funny word. It’s one of those words whose meaning everyone knows, yet is exceedingly hard to define. Given this conundrum, “kitsch” is exactly the name this magazine should have. Whenever someone asks me what kind of magazine we publish, I always describe it as the magazine that covers what others don’t. Our features touch upon politics, pop culture, the town of Ithaca, the world at large, and everything in between. I am honored to be the Editor-in-Chief for our 10th anniversary issue. Given this special occasion, we decided to honor our mascot, the Gnome, and theme this issue in his name. It’s just as hard to define why gnomes themselves are kitschy or how to interpret that for an article, which has leant itself to a vast array of content that has been included. Drawing inspiration literally from our gnome, “Sexy History: Gnomes” (p. 7) explores how the gnome evolved in cultures around the world, and “Dateability of the Seven Dwarves” (p. 32) rates the most recognized gnome-like companions in pop culture for those of you looking for a short date. Taking cue from a more figurative impression of the gnome, “Eccentric People Who Changed the World” (p. 29) seeks to highlight the importance such types of people have in making our lives more enjoyable. “Crazy kitsch Stories” (p. 11) highlights some of the most memorable (or notso-memorable) adventures that our friends have had, the kind of stories that we wish had a video of with a bowl of popcorn in our laps. As I graduate this semester, I realize what I’ve learned from kitsch is immeasurable, and the memories I have of late-night layout sessions and bonding nights will last forever. But as all students must move on and grow at some point, kitsch must change and grow as well. I’ve helped it along its path as much as I can, but now it’s time to pass the responsibility to the next set of Cornellians and IC students that share a profound dedication to our success. I’m really going to miss this place.
2 - Letter from the Editor 4 - Masthead
6 - On the Plaza 7 - Sexy History: Gnomes 8 - Is a Flock of Black Sheep Still a Flock?
9 - A Ghost Hunt in Greene 11 - Krazy kitsch Stories 15 - Beards
Zooming Out 17 20 23 29
Table of Contents
Café or Caffè? Adventures in Ambiland Photoessay: the kitsch Knome Studies Abroad Eccentric People Who Changed the World
Watch & Listen
32 - Dateability of the 7 Dwarves 34 - Not Sure if Still Funny or Beating the Dead Horse with a Hovercat 37 - Are You Fan Enough? 41 - Chaining the Net
Fiction 44 45 46 48 50
The Practical Art of Thaumatechnology Beerios I Am Not God Walking on Water Barista Boy
an independent student publication
Thanks to the SAFC and SGA!
Thank you, Michael Koch and Catherine Taylor!
editor-in-chief James Fairbrother
managing editor Alex Newman
Ithaca College editor
asst. design editor
watch and listen Gina Cargas
lead copy editor
Katie Tregurtha, Rebecca Lucash
Thanks to Cayuga Press!
H.E. Bergeron, Dorothy Chan, Scott Chiusano, Ryan Larkin, Courtney Mayzsak, Tory
Thanks also to Olive Tjaden!
Starzyk, Charmaine Tan, Kaitlyn Tiffany, Shaye Torres, Zachary Velcoff
Joanna Ladzinksi, Tory Starzyk, Kaitlyn Tiffany, Laura Van Winkle
Catherine Schrage, Peter Zawistowicz
Evelyn Fok, Karina Parikh, Joseph Young
Michael Koch English, Cornell University
Catherine Taylor Writing, Ithaca College
See you next semester. GNOMESSSSS AWAY!
Kitsch Magazine, an independent student organization located at Cornell University and Ithaca College, produced and is responsible for the content of this publication. This publication was not reviewed or approved by, nor does it necessarily express or reflect the policies or opinions of Cornell University, Ithaca College, or its designated representatives.
“Phoenix, because I could save Harry Potter. And I like the idea of rebirth.” - Lenny ‘13 “I hate animals. I would never want to be one.” - Rhea ‘12
“A mantis shrimp. They’re strong and powerful and I could see the bottom of the sea, which I’ve never seen before.” - Thomas ‘12 “Dumbo because you can fly and you have all the power and strength of an elephant.” - Emma ‘15
“A mermaid because they’re hot, they’re mysterious, and everyone wants to know if they really exist.” - Mari ‘13
If you could be any living, extinct, or mystical creature, what would you be?
“Pterodactyl. They make awesome noises... allegedly. And they’re carnivorous. That’s an excellent plus.” - Alisha ‘13 “Squirrel because they’re fast and cute.” - Adam ‘14 “Dragon. I need to reinforce my masculinity with large, powerful things.” - Jon ‘15 “One of the house elves in “Harry Potter.” Like Dobby. He’s always happy.” - Juana, Pre-frosh
Plaza layout by Becky Ochs
“A duck. They’re cute and shit.” - Mike ‘15 “A unicorn. Unicorns fly “An eagle because they can right? Yeah, Pegasus!” fly, they have freedom, and - Ellen ‘13 nothing can eat them.” - Ian, Grad student “A hawk. Eyes like a hawk. You get metaphors written about you.” -Ryan ‘14 “A whale because they’re fucking huge. You can just chill underwater and not get eaten.” - Juliana ‘14
Gnomes SHAYE TORRES
art by ALLIE RIGGS layout by JAMES FAIRBROTHER
ere at kitsch, our mascot is the garden gnome—an eccentric, mischievous creature that has been present in many fantasies and gardens for over five hundred years. The gnome itself was invented by Paracelsus, a Swiss alchemist from the 16th century, who claimed that the “gnomus” was a tiny Earth dwelling creature that spent its time greedily guarding treasure mines against human meddling. This depiction of the gnome was later applied, derogatorily, to Swiss bankers. After a British politician accused the financiers of raising speculation against the pound, they claimed in frustration, “The gnomes of Zurich are at work again.” This characterization of gnomes as greedy hoarders is also seen in Alexander Pope’s satire “The Rape of the Lock;” however, instead of guarding money, these gnomes hoard sex. Reincarnations of former prudish women, they spent their time guarding the chastity of ladies, much to the chagrin of suitors. The 20th century brought a transformation to the gnome’s image, ending its days as a greedy earth dweller, and bringing about the more familiar image of the domestic helper and gardener. The gnome appears as a benevolent dwarf-like creature in some of the most popular works of fantasy fiction, including “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” and “The Lord of the Rings.” One of the most recent depictions of gnomes is in J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series, in which the creatures are insidious garden pests who can only be removed by literally kicking or throwing them out. Probably the most popular role of the gnome is its function as a garden decoration, akin in tackiness to the legendary ceramic flamingo. Although gnome figurines have been around for some time, the appearance of the modern garden gnome, a stout bearded man, comes from Disney’s 1939 classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, as well as from the Dutch children’s book “The Secret Book of Gnomes.” In this story, its function relates back to its days as a guardian. However, instead of keeping an eye on treasure or virginity, it mostly acts as a means of warding off weeds and dog urine. The gnome has recently made a comeback from its image as a cheesy item of decor, mostly due to stunts performed by Le Front de Libération des Nains de Jardin (The Garden Gnome Liberation Front). From 1997-2000, members of the Front “liberated” supposedly imprisoned gnomes from their gardens. This is referenced in the quirky French film Amélie, where the heroine pokes fun at the Front. She sends her father’s garden gnome abroad with her flight attendant friend, who photographs the little figurine in a number of foreign landmarks. This inspired a popular advertising campaign for Travelocity, which also featured a traveling gnome. It isn’t surprising that the gnome’s image has changed so much over the past five centuries; after all, it is the brainchild of an alchemist. However, from prudish hoarder to liberated traveler, the gnome is consistently a figure of eccentricity and undeniable kitchiness—in other words, our perfect mascot. ◊
hese days, the word “anarchy” doesn’t come with a lot of positive connotations. It seems that the image of violent bombhurling radicals can’t escape the general cultural consciousness, and those who dare speak of a stateless society are often shouted down without much regard. Suffice to say, anarchy isn’t an easy idea to pitch. However, you may be surprised by the amount of anarchism that you already have in you. To many anarchists, including local activist Ryan Clover, anarchy is inherently present in all humans and authority is the antithesis to that force. Clover is involved in facilitating and participating in anarchist networks and events throughout Ithaca and the greater Northeast. In addition, he runs Silent City Distro, a publishing organization working to distribute subversive literature around the Finger Lakes region. “Anarchism is just a philosophy that explains the human nature of cooperation,” he said. “As a political theory it explains how authoritarian power structures divide us and keep us from cooperating with each other and teach us that competition is the most import human trait.” According to Clover, anarchism’s core is the fight against hierarchy and the class, race, and gender oppression that maintains it. However, anarchism proves difficult to practice in the traditional paradigm under which we treat other “-isms.” “How the hell do you define something that goes against politics in general? It’s like the anti-politic politic,” said Clover. Even for an anarchist, it’s difficult to overcome the language of the culture that we’ve been brought up in. Being “anarchist” is not the same as being “Marxist,” “feminist,” or “pacifist.” Anarchism is a movement that is necessarily accepting of diversity, and sometimes even contradicts itself. If two groups within the movement disagree with each other, neither will possess the authority to expel the other.
zations such as states and corporations.’” This is how anarchy works in practice. Anarchism generally expresses itself most effectively on a smaller scale. For instance, affinity groups—small groups of activists closely connected by their views and ability to cooperate—are very popular amongst anarchists as an organizational structure. Affinity groups are non-hierarchical and decisions within the group are made using consensus. In anarchist protests and direct actions, different affinity groups can come together under specific goals, and these varying goals can even coexist. This was successfully implemented in the shutdown of the Republican National Convention Lanny Huang in 2008, where diverse groups from around the country were able to effectively organize themselves in a large-scale direct action despite a lack of central leadership. Although groups disagreed on how they wanted to deal with certain issues, including tactics in dealing with police, they were able to succeed in their ultimate goal. What makes this kind of organization revolutionary is the fact that it flies in the face of those who say anarchism can never work. These actions prove that anarchy in small groups can serve as a model for larger communities. Factions within anarchist movements do not hinder their progress so long as they stand in solidarity. Anarchists reject the idea that in order to have peace and equality, we must all conform to a single worldview and share the same thoughts. Even democracy in America fails in this regard, as we are divided into two groups locked in eternal competition. For Clover, “anarchism is the belief that many worlds are possible.” With that principle comes the simple humble acceptance that we, as a species, are not going to agree with each other. Sure, if we all agreed with each other, we would have peace, but just because we don’t agree, doesn’t mean that we can’t have that same peace. “I want everybody to think for themselves and take action on things they care about and I don’t think that people need to identify as an anarchist to do that.” Ultimately, we share a desire for equality, peace and happiness. Although we may differ in the methods we think will achieve these things, anarchism provides a framework that allows for those differences while still moving towards accomplishing these goals. ◊
layout by GINA CARGAS
The dynamics of anarchism
I want everybody to think for themselves “The anarchist movement as a social movement really stands aside from a lot of other movements that say that they’re going to have our utopia after they take control of the government,” explained Clover. “The anarchist movement is more along the lines of ‘we’re going to create social relationships that are going to build the kind of community we want to live in, and that community will exist in resistance to authoritarian organi-
art and layout by Lanny HUang
friday night at the Baron’s Inn
he Baron’s Inn Friday night crowd talks about chiropractor appointments, the weather, and ghosts. One of this seasoned crowd, at the bar with a hot pink cosmopolitan and a plate of cheese- and bacon-bit-covered potato skins, is Bill Lenga. He’s here for the ghosts. By weekday, Bill is a dining services manager at Ithaca College, but he spends his weekend nights in the most haunted house in Chenango County—throwing back a few with his friends and inspecting the large, old house’s many sites with reported paranormal activity. Elena, the bartender, is pacing back and forth, ensuring each of her friends has a fresh drink. She has experienced the majority of the spooky stuff reported at the Inn. She mentions that she saw one of the “shadow people,” (who Bill says that we all see, when something unidentifiable shows up in the corners of our eyes), in passing as she pours a beer for a man who insisted twice that he didn’t want another before acquiescing. This is a regular occurrence for her. When Bill finished his potato skins, he says “see you in an hour” to his wife, who doesn’t believe in ghosts and never goes on his investigations. He leads us away from the bar, and into a room that probably hasn’t been redone since the 1950s. Everyone else returned to their drinks and conversation.
ghost stories and history lessons The Baron’s Inn story is far from happy and, as we will see, nearing its end. The Inn was built in the mid-19th century and is, as in most American horror stories, on Native American lands. A village in the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy prospered along the Chenango River until the Clinton and Sullivan Cam-
paigns during the Revolutionary War, which ravaged the community and pushed the Haudenosaunee people westward. The name of this Haudenosaunee village is long forgotten, and is now named Greene after Revolutionary War General Nathanael Greene, who fought bravely at Brandywine Creek and also has a town in Georgia named after him. The 400-year-old tree (age confirmed by archaeobotanist and Ithaca College professor Jack Rossen) that still stands in the backyard is all that lived on the property until 1830, when the Harrisons built the house and settled in with their six children. According to Bill, one of the children, Annabelle, still lives there. Her parents mistook her for mentally disabled, although she was only deaf, and with unimaginable cruelty, kept her locked in the basement of the house. When she was finally able to engineer an escape, her father caught her and threw her down the stairs and back into the cellar. She did not survive the fall. Bill says that mediums who have seen Annabelle told him that she had bloody hands, probably from trying to scrape her way out through the cinderblock house foundation . The house remained uninhabited until nearly a century later, when the Dey family bought the house and property—but as history repeats itself, one of the Dey sons shot himself in 1940. Rose and Emery Baron took the house on and opened the Baron’s Inn in the 1950s. Not too long afterward, Emery Baron was killed in a plane crash. The Barons’ daughter still lives across the street from the inn, and she does not believe in ghosts. Albert Ouylette, who owned the business with Mr. Baron, eventually hung himself. Ouylette had very definite ideas about how to run a bar and a business that included the opinion that women should not be bartenders. Bill contends that he hung around the Baron’s Inn after his death, and continues to voice his opinion by scaring the living daylights out of Elena. She hung a portrait of Jesus Christ on the door of the room where the liquor is kept. The door to this room doesn’t line up with the hinges or
the floor, and is very difficult to close. But this door suddenly and effortlessly closes on her when she’s in the basement by herself. When the story was finished and we knew the cast of characters, Bill told us of his history with the occult and otherworldly.
the paranormal investigator Bill carries an air unlike that of the made-up, overly dramatic, athletic gear-wearing ghost hunters with gel-spiked hair of cable television. He has always been able to see spirits—the beings that live beyond what he calls the “Earth plane.” He had an imaginary friend as a young boy, with whom he would play army. Bill fervently believes that his playmate was the ghost of a soldier. Bill went on to join the real army, serving in Vietnam and for many years afterward. His first adult paranormal experience came in 1983, when he was stationed at the army base near Warrenton, Fauquier County, Virginia. He and his fellow volunteer firemen had to cross county lines to buy their beer, as they fought fires in one of the South’s many dry counties. They liked to drink on the property of an abandoned Civil War era farmhouse. For initiation purposes, the other firemen sent Bill on a dare into the property’s supposedly haunted barn. They told him to climb the ladder to the loft of the barn and to look up. A black man’s face would be looking down at him. Sure enough, it was. But he insists that he wasn’t scared. Somehow, none of this was new for him. And each night, the top floor of the farmhouse is illuminated and an unnatural, blood-curdling scream rings out from one of the lighted rooms. Sure enough, they heard the scream. Bill went back the next day to investigate. As the house dates back to 1865, there are no electrical leads going into the house. In the backyard of the house, there are headstones of the victims of the crazed Confederate Bull Run veteran who owned the house. One belongs to the soldier’s slave, the man in the loft; the other, his wife, the woman responsible for the scream. Bill has kept close to the Civil War. He lives in a house from that terrible conflict, too, in Smithville, just up the road from Greene. While most Civil War houses have at least one or two ghost stories, he senses no strange activity in his, other than their old cat Midnight, who passed away but prefers to stay close to Bill and his wife. Over the years, Bill has become an established investigator in this extremely haunted region of the country. Like a true pro, he is a skeptic first. He maintains that most of the cases that fall into his lap are bunk, and have a very normal explanation. One woman who called him blamed the inexplicable noises coming from her attic on demons. He immediately thought squirrels or birds were causing the ruckus, but the woman was insistent about a demonic presence. Bill went to investigate and found the cause of the noise: her
extremely old house is on an extremely busy road, and as such, the entire foundation shakes when trucks go by. Bill doesn’t believe in demons.
the tour I wanted to see something. I wanted to feel something. I was envious of Bill, Elena, and the mediums for their experiences. But nothing happened. The jury is still out on whether I lack the necessary sensitivity, or if it’s all coincidental hogwash. But that’s not to say that our little ghost hunt wasn’t fun. The incredible stories continued through the tour of the banquet hall and the eerie basement of the house—from the couple in early 1900s clothing who waved to a formerly skeptical waitress through the banquet hall’s french doors, to the spirit of a wolf that lives under the house’s foundation. My friends captured a few possible orb photos (white or blue spots of light that usually point to the presence of something paranormal, which, if blown up in image editing software, according to Bill, resemble human faces) with their iPhones, which beat most high-tech cameras in orb-capturing. Much was left up in the air about this ghost hunt because we couldn’t see the most haunted area of the house: the attic. A very old doll was found with its legs unnaturally splayed and arms broken, as a medium visitor once guessed, as Annabelle Harrison’s were at the bottom of the cellar a little less than two centuries earlier. The attic was converted into the first of the fifteen apartments that will eventually make up the new Baron’s Inn. When I ask Bill if the new tenants know the stories, he replies, “No, but they will... some will like it, and some won’t.” I really wanted to see something. Maybe the ghosts aren’t angry enough.
An unnatural, blood-curdling scream rings out from one of the lighted rooms.
an inn no more
Elena is mostly unfazed by Albert’s continuing pranks. Linda Zimmer, the current owner, senses no malignancy and maintains that the Inn’s spirits are “all just jokesters.” Bill does not believe in evil spirits, only in spirits with bad attitudes. Linda adds that the spirits are being quiet during the apartment renovations, since the building isn’t changing hands. Linda’s husband Mike is (in the best way possible) “meaner than hell,” and has never believed in the ghosts. Bill thinks that the ghosts are afraid of Mike. Bill, above all, believes that our spiritual energy remains on the Earth plane, because he has seen it. He jokes that he leads a “very boring life” among the kind people, beef stroganoff and shadow people of the Baron’s Inn. Maybe the Friday night regulars are keeping the ghost around, and alive, because they want something from the Inn to live on. They want something that will endure beyond their bar, the Friday night surf and turf, and the cosmopolitans. They want something that escapes the impermanence of life on Earth. ◊
art and layout by CHARLES WANG
Think your nights are wild and crazy? Check out these stories from kitsch and company and you might change your mind. becky ochs Please note that all names in this article have been changed. Additionally, although we at kitsch appreciate a strong cocktail from time to time, we strongly discourage anyone from trying any of the following at home. While these stories all have relatively harmless endings, heavy drinking and blacking out both carry serious and very real risks, including alcohol poisoning, injury, and unwanted sex, not to mention the significant damage that heavy drinking wreaks on your body. The individuals in each of the stories may not have experienced any serious trauma as a result of their escapades, but that does not mean the night’s events did not have an effect on their minds or bodies. Each of the following stories, while admitted-
ly entertaining, serves as a reminder that unintended—and even scary—situations emerge with the overconsumption of alcohol. When looking back on their crazy nights, the individuals involved in each of the scenarios see themselves as lucky to have come out of it unharmed, and they know that the situation could have easily ended very differently. For these reasons, we hope you enjoy reading about the wild experiences, but please take them for what they are: a reminder that a supposedly average night can quickly escalate into a potentially life-threatening situation with the addition of too much alcohol.
ub crawls in Europe inevitably lead to very drunk Americans and Australians—and, in this case, a few Scandinavian military men— destroying bars across the European continent and pissing off the locals in every way possible. And that’s exactly what happened to a girl one kitsch writer knows. On a trip to Prague during her semester abroad in Paris, Sarah and her friends decided to go on a very touristy but completely necessary pub-crawl. They drank, mingled, and drank some more, and in the process found a group of young and dangerously handsome Danes and Swedes. The alcohol was flowing freely; the first few rounds were fine, but once the absinthe made an appearance all hope of an uneventful night was lost. The circumstanc-
crazy kitsch stories
zooming in es are hazy, but somewhere between shot #1 and shot #5 she realized the entire group had moved on to the next bar on the list, leaving her and her Danish lieutenant to fend for themselves. With no money, no phone, and no address of the apartment she and her friends were renting for the weekend, she panicked. Luckily, her new Danish friend called the other guys he was with and found out they were at Five Story Club, a popular nightclub on the banks of the Vltava that lives up to its name. Although she thought she had avoided catastrophe, the effects of the absinthe were only beginning to cloud her judgment. Although she still does not know how or why, Sarah managed to get herself and Danish Boy kicked out of the club before they even saw the dance floor. Desperate to rejoin their respective parties—and to make the most of the 50 Euros they paid for the pub-crawl— they were determined to get in. The guy attempted to negotiate their way into the club while Sarah snuck through security, only to get caught again and forcibly pushed out the door by a very large and very angry Czech bouncer. Witnessing the blatant manhandling, Danish Boy said some choice words to the bouncer, who apparently was in a bad mood that night. The bouncer raised his muscular, central-European arm and delivered a swift backhand slap to the guy’s face. His nose immediately began to bleed and he and Sarah quickly got out of sight of the bouncer. Standing alongside the river with techno emanating from the walls of the club, Sarah was stuck with a bleeding Dane and slim chances of finding her friends. Noticing how frantic Sarah was becoming about the situation, he said he had a room in a nearby hotel and that she could stay with him if she needed to. Sarah saw three options for handling the situation: (1) wait outside the club hoping her friends would leave through that exit, instead of one of the other four, and see her, (2) get in a cab and run the risk of being kidnapped, robbed, or raped, and still never finding the apartment whose address she stupidly didn’t write down, or (3) go back with the guy and pray that he wasn’t a serial killer. She decided that the last option was the least sketchy and yielded the highest probability of returning to Paris alive. So, she walked to his hotel, had to show ID and sign in as a guest (a good sign in her opinion, since at least now if something terrible happened there would be a record of her being there) and went to his room. To her relief, he turned out to be exactly the guy he came off as throughout the night: a gentleman. He didn’t try anything and Sarah passed the fuck out in his bed, falling asleep instantly as a result of both the alcohol and the newfound knowledge that she was most likely not going to die that night. Although Sarah has since pieced together the events of the night, they were not immediately clear to her when she woke up the next morning. In fact, as is common after a night out, she woke up to an unfamiliar room and an unfamiliar shirtless man and thought WHAT. THE. FUUUUCK. She was terrified. Taking in the generic yet still tasteful décor and the layout of the room,
she slowly realized she was in a hotel room. And a nice hotel room at that. Next issue was the shirtless dude. With some further scrutiny she realized that not only was he pretty sexy, but he was also the Danish Boy from the night before. She breathed a sigh of relief, especially after noting that her bra and thong were still securely clinging to her body underneath her skirt and top. All seemed as it should be, until… Looking around the room for her purse and shoes while Danish Boy was still asleep, Sarah noticed something peculiar. There were personal belongings around the room that clearly belonged to a woman. Among these were a purple lace bra, a hair dryer, and make-up. Even more odd was that there was no woman in the room. Immediately, Sarah thought that either the dude was a cross-dresser or there was a girl staying with him who for whatever reason had not been in the room the night before. Deciding that neither of these scenarios would be fun to deal with, Sarah didn’t stay to find out. She grabbed her things, tiptoed quickly out the door, and booked it, trying not to scar the children in the lobby as she blatantly walk-of-shamed through a series of family vacations. Once on the street, Sarah still had no idea how she was going to get back to the apartment, which she knew was in some far away neighborhood of the city. But then she remembered that there was a tram stop called IP Pavlova where she and her friends caught the tram back to their apartment the day before. So, she found a tram that went to IP Pavlova, and while she didn’t know the name of the stop she needed to get off at to get to her hotel, she knew she would recognize the strange Slavic letters when she saw them. Sure enough, this worked. Sarah got off the tram, walked the block-and-a-half back to the apartment, and was reunited with her friends. She packed her bag and made it safely back to Paris, albeit with A LOT of explaining to do to her friends about her whereabouts the night before. Needless to say, Sarah learned her lesson and will never again be caught without money, a phone, and the address of where she is staying, and after this experience she will never sympathize with someone complaining about a walk of shame from Collegetown to North Campus. Bitch, please.
She decided that the last option was the least sketchy and yielded the highest probability of returning to Paris alive.
slope day shots As far as campus events go, Slope Day never fails to bring a bit of debauchery into the lives of Cornell students. While many leave for the slope after a nice morning of mimosas and the ubiquitous Keystone Light, others are not as fortunate. This was the case for one student freshman year, who told kitsch all about his unplanned trip to Gannett one Slope Day. Having gotten little sleep the night before, Juan began the day by chugging a Red Bull, then went to drink in a friend’s room
in the freshman dorms. In typical Slope Day fashion, it was early in the morning and the group was drinking vodka. When taking shots, generally there is a group toast, an intake of the liquor, possibly a suppression of a gag reflex, and finally a lull of conversation, dancing, laughing, whatever. The point is, there is a break between taking the next shot. Juan however decided to ignore this concept, and continued to take shots by himself while everyone else was doing other activities. On top of that, Juan had never mixed alcohol and energy drinks, so, in his words “it was the perfect storm coming together.” As anyone who has had a Four Loko can attest, the combination is a recipe for sheer disaster. After this, Juan described the day’s events getting very hazy. He somewhat remembers walking to the slope, but after that, everything he recounted about the morning was told to him by others. Once he got to the slope, Juan lost his friends, thanks in part to a voicemail from a different friend telling him there was an emergency and he needed to come right away. Turns out she just wanted to see him. Anyway, Juan never found this girl, and at some point was picked up on the slope by CUPD, EMS, or some other type of security. They attempted to read his blood pressure and other vitals, but Juan was texting incessantly and they had to confiscate his phone. They took him off the slope on some kind of truck, and once he arrived at Gannett, doctors determined he was so drunk that they needed to induce vomiting. They gave Juan syrup of ipecac, and he started puking. However, while throwing up, Juan continued to chat up ev-
eryone in Gannett—nurses, other drunk people, even individuals who were passed out. After making friends, Juan passed out for an hour or two, then woke up and texted a friend to act sober and come pick him up. When she got to Gannett it was a terrible scene. She said there were gurneys everywhere with people hooked up to IVs, and it looked like some sort of disaster had struck Cornell’s student body. She finally spotted Juan chatting on his phone towards the back, but before she could make her way over to him, a Gannett employee came up to her and said, “This is her!” Worried that they were trying to treat her for alcohol poisoning, she attempted to assure the man she was fine, but then more people pointed to her, yelling “She’s the one taking Juan home! She’s here, it’s her!” Although she was relieved, this girl was confused as to why everyone in Gannett knew of Juan. It turns out he made friends with the entire staff in the midst of his induced vomiting. The girl walked Juan out as he waved goodbye to all his new friends, and they stopped at Louie’s on the way back to North Campus. He got a grilled cheese and fries, but didn’t eat them, and threw up more once back in his dorm. Juan passed out for a few hours, woke up around 11 p.m., and proceeded to eat the aforementioned grilled cheese, despite the fact that it had fallen on the ground. Although not remembering doing so might make it more excusable, Juan clearly remembers brushing off the dirt, eating the sandwich, and vomiting after finishing the last bite. Defeated, Juan went to sleep until the next afternoon. The day’s events followed Juan for some time after Slope Day ended. Not only did he literally gag when the thought of vodka entered his mind for the next week, but he was dizzy for the next 36 hours and couldn’t eat solid food for a few days. According to Juan, his body never fully recovered from the damage and no living thing could repair itself after drinking so much. The lesson Juan took away from this situation, besides realizing the risks that come with drinking so much, was to not drink during the “lull” between rounds of shots. Although it may seem obvious, it’s a valuable lesson, and one that everyone should be aware of. This Slope Day, be attentive to your own alcohol consumption but also to any individual in the group drinking at times when no one else is, and hopefully then you will avoid a trip to Gannett—even if it results in lots of new friends.
According to Juan, his body never fully recovered from the damage and no living thing could repair itself after drinking so much.
Another kitsch acquaintance told us a story of how one night at Pixel turned into a pretty unexplainable morning. The night started out like any other weekend evening; Mackenzie and her roommate Jess pre-gamed with friends at their Collegetown apartment and, once sufficiently buzzed, they left for to the bars. After drinking from a friend’s vat of alcohol—this was
zooming in literally a large bowl of mystery booze—Mackenzie and Jess made out with each other on the Pixel dance floor. This caught the attention of one of Mackenzie’s hookups, who promptly abandoned the girl he was talking to and headed towards them. And that’s the last thing that either Mackenzie or Jess can remember. The next thing they remembered was waking up in Mackenzie’s bed, with a third individual sandwiched between them. This person was none other than Jake, the guy they saw in Pixel who Mackenzie had been hooking up with that semester. Even more interesting, Jess and the guy were completely naked, while Mackenzie was fully clothed. She was wearing exactly what she had on the night before with the exception of her pants (which later turned up in the hallway of her apartment). In addition to the array of clothing, there were three lightly used condoms, jingly reindeer antlers, and a Santa hat strewn across the bedroom floor, which—although amusing and of unexplainable origin—were an acceptable souvenir from the previous night given the approaching holidays. While you can probably gather what most likely occurred, this story still has some holes. To this day none of those three individuals knows the answer for sure. In this sense, the morning was comical not only because of the sight on the floor and the sheer ridiculousness of waking up to that scene, but also because it immediately became clear that not a single one of them knew how those condoms were put to use. The guy was hoping for an affirmation that he could tell all his friends back home that he had a threesome, but what truly happened that night shall forever remain a mystery.
A few days later, however, Ally got a strange text from a friend in a different fraternity about her “guest appearance” at his house (Frat B). It turns out that not only did Ally run away unexplainably from Peter’s frat, but she stopped at another house and rang the doorbell. She told the guys who answered the door that she was on her way home and needed to warm up, and apparently she was only wearing a sweatshirt. No underwear, no shoes, just a sweatshirt. She must have realized this at some point because she ran to the laundry room once inside Frat B and grabbed a pair of athletic shorts. Not long after, Peter and the other two people she remembers being in the car with her showed up at the house, said they would handle it from there, and took her to the car and back to Frat A where all her stuff was. Besides the obvious embarrassment as a result of the night, Ally experienced intense pain in her feet that made it difficult to walk for the next few days. It turns out that her barefoot stroll through the snow had given her frostbite, unsurprising given the sudden shock of snow on her uncovered feet. Her toes and the bottoms of her feet alternated between burning, tingling, and feeling numb for some time, and were bright red, then white and blistered. Over a month later her toes were still blistered and numb to most sensation. While it is unfortunate that this happened on one of the few nights it snowed in Ithaca this winter, Ally will definitely be more cautious about drinking in cold weather. At the same time, her footprints in the snow were what allowed Peter to find her, so maybe it wasn’t bad after all.
snowy stroll As anyone who has been here can testify, the weather in Ithaca has a tendency to switch from 60 degrees and sunny one day to 28 degrees with a blizzard the next. Although this past winter has been warmer than usual, it still contained weeks where the temperature suddenly plummeted. This was the case when Ally, another friend of kitsch, went to after hours with Peter, a guy she ran into at the bars, at his fraternity. Although she had had a class with him, Ally did not know him well and thought it would be fun to hang out. She got a ride with him and some of his brothers back to the frat house, but doesn’t remember anything after that. The next thing she remembers is being in a different car going back to the frat (referred to from here on as Frat A) for the second time. She was immediately confused since she didn’t remember leaving the house in the first place. In the car were the driver, a girl in the passenger seat, and Peter, who sat with Ally in the back, and they told her that she had run away from the house, leaving behind her purse, phone, dress and shoes. It was snowing pretty heavily outside, so they had left to go find her. Everyone was laughing because Peter and the others only found her by tracking her footprints through the snow. They brought Ally back to the frat, got her things, and put her to bed after adding the other girl’s number, titled “Jen Call If Freaked Out,” to Ally’s contacts. Ally woke up the next day with a painful burning sensation in her feet and got a ride from a friend back to her house. She decided she needed to take it easier from now on and then continued with her day.
Put a beard on it!
art by Joanna Ladzinski layout by PETER ZAWISTOWICZ
ollege campuses have the highest proportion of bearded guys anywhere. No, I don’t have any proof for my theory, but please, take a moment to look around. If you’re on the Cornell campus, I guarantee there’s a guy with a beard somewhere nearby (as long as you’re not alone in your room, because that would just be creepy). Now think about what he might look like without that beard. Just as manly? Well, studies show maybe not.
what your facial hair says about you
Well, there you go kiddies. A few tales from the friends of kitsch to entertain you as you take a break from studying for that Orgo final, to warn you that binge drinking and blacking out do carry real dangers, to remind you that the girl sitting behind you in Wines may be freakier than you think, and to make your lives seem less like a shitshow. ◊
Like all trends, beard styles change over time. A study on 130 years of beard fashion in Britain, conducted by Professor Christopher Oldstone-Moore of Wright State University in 2005, showed that when there were more single men of marriageable age, facial hair was more common among men. When there were few single men (a weak marriage market for women), women might fear “sexual exploitation and desertion,” and men were more likely to be clean-shaven. So facial hair has both the effect of making a man stand out from his peers in manliness, but also adds a sense of danger. It is a delicate balance of trends: a beard makes you manly, but being clean- shaven makes you trustworthy. Still, when men need to compete for women facial hair may just be their best bet. And since there is probably
Rebecca Lucash nowhere on Earth with more men desperately trying to pick up girls than a college campus, suddenly all the beards make sense. As it turns out, all facial hair is not created equal. Men with beards are generally perceived as more educated, intelligent, enthusiastic, open-minded, masculine, and of higher status. They are also seen as more courageous and industrious—basically, men with beards are seen as being manlier than their beardless peers. Some studies have even shown that bearded men are more likely to be hired after an interview, but I wouldn’t advise growing out a beard when interviewing for your dream job. There are just as many studies showing that beards make men seem threatening and mean, which is never good when you’re trying to set a career in motion. None of the scientists and researchers are quite sure why their studies keep showing different results. The current favored hypothesis is that beards come and go in fashion just like everything else.
the moustache vs. the beard
It gets really interesting reading the many studies that found differences in how men with beards were perceived as opposed to men with mustaches. Along with clean-shaven men, men with mustaches are less likely to be positively evaluated than bearded men. What is it about the mustache that makes it undesirable? It
zooming in turns out that there is a distinct difference between the two types of mustache—the thin, wimpy mustache of the pubescent middle schooler and the adult pedophile, and the thick, all-American mustache of a hero. To get a sense of how Cornell students feel about this stereotype, I consulted my friend Chavo ‘12. According to Chavo, the mentality of the middle-schooler is “I went through puberty first, I can grow this dirty little mustache.” See? Competition. Though in this case, such facial hair is likely detrimental to one’s love life. Because as it turns out, a dirty little mustache is possibly the worst type of facial hair a guy could have. Just the mention of a thin mustache conjures up a feeling of discomfort. Ironically, when Disney World first allowed its employees to sport facial hair it only permitted mustaches. That’s just the image a children’s theme park wants. Most of us associate mustaches with pedophiles, but almost no one can give a solid explanation of why that is. There is even a Facebook group devoted to the subject: “Not all people with mustaches are pedophiles but all pedophiles have them.” A few websites said it was
art by Allie riggs layout by James fairbrother
Do you know who Ron Swanson is?...the epitome of man.
because of the 70s, but gave no reason beyond that. Chops ‘13 had no explanation, and simply admitted to being creeped out by mustaches, unless they’re a part of a goatee. Chavo, on the other hand, immediately recognized that this odd trend was because of grimy 70s porn stars. It seems that mustaches (nowadays) are acceptable only if they are full, thick, and all-American looking. “Do you know who Ron Swanson is?” Chops asked me. “He’s on Parks and Recreation. The epitome of man.” I did some Google research, and have honestly never seen a more impressive mustache. Maybe on Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Howard Taft. According to one website on Teddy Roosevelt, “God couldn’t have grown a better mustache.” The allAmerican mustache he sported is one of his trademark characteristics. Adding to that, America is the only country to have its very own Mustache Institute (a non-profit facial hair advocacy group, founded in 1965).
your remaining options
Admittedly, though, some styles of facial hair just don’t work out perfectly in real life. For a lot of men, it takes until around age twenty to grow a remotely respectable beard, and sometimes as late as thirty for a full one. So if you’re going to grow out facial hair, wait until you can do it well. Or look like a pre-pubescent pedophilic 70s porn star. But if you dream of a full beard in your old age, keep in mind that the beards on characters like Dumbledore and Gandalf are just downright impossible. Why don’t real mentors look like that? “No one actually has a long white beard in real life,” Chops told me, “and if they did, you probably wouldn’t think they were wise. You would think there was something wrong with them.” My advice to any male readers, then, is to have fun with beard styles while you can. According to Chavo, “It’s like an etch-a-sketch. And this is the last chance you have. You can’t just start growing out weird shit on your way to work.” It might not be a good idea to show up to your finance interview with a fu manchu. And I can’t guarantee you the results you’re going to have with girls. I like a good five o’clock shadow (or even what some people call “scruff”) myself, but I know for a fact my roommate hates facial hair of all kinds. Chops noted, “Girls get upset with guys who have five o’clock shadow because it’s prickly, which is ironic because they also say it looks sexier.” Ah, such words of wisdom. But really, there is no magic formula, so do what you want. ◊
Why Starbucks can’t succeed in Italy
aking up irritated and grumbling at 7 a.m., my first instinct is to beeline for the coffee machine. Judging by the drooping dark eye circles I see in my 8:40 a.m. classes and the monstrous line at Libe Café just before closing, I’m not the only one with this ritual. Coffee-drinking has been ingrained in American culture for decades, but its current evolved form shows a striking dissimilarity from that of Europe, and in particular, Italy, considered by many to be the epitome of coffee culture. Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, claims to have taken inspiration for the Starbucks brand from Italian coffee bars, but it seems as though most aspects have been lost in translation. The differences are so significant, in fact, that it’s extremely difficult to reconcile American drinking habits with those of Italians. But that doesn’t mean Schultz won’t try. Americans have long thought of coffee as necessary to survive those first few hours of each workday. Krystal D’Costa, who writes a blog for Scientific American, has described how coffee in the 1970s was bland and tasteless. Essentially, coffee was to adults what antibiotics are to small children: a horrible attack on taste buds, but a crucial part of correcting a malfunctioning body. The coffee industry declined somewhat in the following years as the next generation of professionals saw the beverage as a “grown-up” substance their parents drank out of obligation. Following this trend, the subsequent generation of Americans saw a different form of marketing. Coffee companies began to emphasize taste and enjoyment of that morning jolt to what was deemed the “Me Generation.” However, the culture of coffee as an everyday rather than a social commodity lingered.
This is visible today in many aspects of American culture. Dunkin’ Donuts, the country’s largest purveyor of coffee, has successfully incorporated the catchphrase “America runs on Dunkin’” into nearly every one of its advertising slots. Commercials starring Rachel Ray depict her scurrying around at high speed after drinking her morning coffee, and even advertisements for sweeter, flavored coffee and non-coffee drinks all end with the same tagline. This places the emphasis on the caffeine content of coffee, telling us that our addiction to it is okay. The development of flavored syrups and sugary lattes loaded with milk seems to be more a result of Americans seeking a way to tolerate coffee than a way to enhance it. Not that all Americans hate coffee—some, in fact, truly enjoy it.
brewing big bucks A shining example of the love that many have for coffee lies in the Pacific Northwest. The Coffee Addiction, a special on NBC about American coffee culture, has ascertained that about one third of the country’s most caffeinated cities are located in Washington or Oregon, with Seattle taking the crown. Independent roasters and coffee shops select specific beans and create their own blends with the goal of obtaining a signature style that can be called an amazing cup of coffee. Starbucks has been the most successful in capitalizing on this new style of coffee. The Seattlebased company has been able to create a brand with revenue of 12.2 billion dollars in the last 12 months alone. Providing consistent offerings and custom blends that are marketed as premium
café or caffè
Cappuccinos and macchiatos are only drunk with breakfast, as the idea of drinking hot, frothy milk later in the day with a full stomach sounds absurd
products, along with a distinct coffee shop atmosphere, the brand has grown to become instantly recognizable almost everywhere in the country. While many dislike the signature nutty, roasted flavor present even in their lighter roasts, the company’s mission statement is in fact to become a “third place” between work and home where people can congregate and socialize. If you pay close attention, however, you’ll notice that the vast majority of customers take a paper cup full of searing hot coffee to-go on their way to work, and that many of the patrons that remain to enjoy their beverage are in fact business professionals working on laptops or students studying for their next exam. There is little socialization outside an immediate friend group, and the stores either remain a convenient way to get a caffeine fix on a morning commute or serve as de facto offices for those that have none. Although Starbucks is supposedly based on Italian coffee bars, the type of coffee Americans are served and the manner in which they drink it is in complete contrast with the way things are done in Italy.
the art of espresso Italian coffee culture grew out of enjoyment as opposed to caffeine dependency. Italians value the quality of their coffee, and can be quite particular as to how it is prepared. A series of commercials for the brand Caffè Vergnano features Dustin Hoffman attempting to learn the subtleties of preparing Italian coffee. The emphasis is placed on the barista’s skill and the knowledge that a coffee done right is small and strong. Hoffman is portrayed apologizing to his mentor in each ad for his caffè faux pas, whether it is improperly handling the manual espresso machine or drinking an American size coffee from a large mug. If you order “un caffè” in an Italian bar, you’ll get a shot of espresso at just the right temperature to throw back in one or maybe two gulps, not a large drink that comes from an automated machine requiring little skill. There are certain nuances to the coffee culture of Italy that are unspoken but understood by locals. Cappuccinos and macchiatos are only drunk with breakfast, as
the idea of drinking hot, frothy milk later in the day with a full stomach sounds absurd to Italians. Considering a rule like this, it’s no wonder baristas judge foreign visitors when they order americanos. The name alone explains why. The standards for quality of this espresso are high, and though Italians drink coffee on their way to work, there is no “to-go” culture as there is in the U.S. Lines of Italians can be seen crowding an expertly trained barista, downing their coffee, and leaving. In my semester abroad, not once did I see a single paper cup. Yes, Italians will drink coffee for a pick me up, but that is not the primary reason. Even those in a rush will pause to have a polite conversation with the barista or another patron. When you want to meet with a friend, the most common suggestion is, “Prendiamo un caffè?” The answer is inevitably yes, since coffee bars serve as a social setting for most Italians. They drink it on their way to work, on a lunch break, after work, and after dinner. It is a natural part of a conversation. If Italians do decide to sit at a bar, it’s never to catch up on homework or to design an advertising campaign. It is to enjoy the company of others and enjoy a tasty drink. That drink, however, may not always be coffee. Italian bars almost always serve alcohol as well. Friends will meet after work and before dinner, much like our happy hour, at a coffee bar for an aperitif. Wine is as common in Italy as the coffee, and being able to drink them in the same place is certainly a smart way to conduct business. This disconnect in coffee culture between American and Italian coffee drinkers is beginning to change, however. Kelly West ’14 admits that she usually drinks coffee before work or while studying, but that she sometimes will sit in a coffee shop with friends to socialize. She values the flavor and caffeine content of coffee the most, and recognizes that many of the people
In my semester abroad, not once did I see a single paper cup.
sitting in a college town coffee shop are there to study, not discuss their personal lives. When asked what she thinks of the idea of a café offering wine or beer, she says, “[she] would like that, it gives it more of a social atmosphere and would create more business for the coffee shop,” and that she would probably drink more coffee as a result.
breaking coffee barriers The shifting attitudes the West shares with others are beginning to more closely resemble the coffee culture of Italy. As a result, Starbucks has announced that it is currently testing wine and beer service in several of its stores across the country. We’ll have to wait and see how these stores do before we can start boozing it up at the corner café next to that group of highschool students downing frozen sugar comas. While Americans seem to be moving towards the more social consumption of coffee favored in Europe, Europeans in general are not keen on
the idea of the to-go culture that pervades America. Starbucks struggles to make a profit in European nations, particularly in France, where the consumption of coffee tends to resemble that of the sit-down style in Italy. This has primarily been attributed to the fact that profits in America are based heavily on the rapid succession of to-go coffee purchases of drip coffee, which is something that simply isn’t desired in France. The company hasn’t even tried to expand into Italy. Howard Schultz has stated that he wants to build stores in Rome and other areas of the country, but it has yet to happen. Personally, I think Starbucks would be wiser not to try. How could an American coffee company that specializes in drip coffee compete in a nation that has set the gold standard for espresso, where drip coffee is nearly impossible to find? Most Italians haven’t even tasted it except for travel abroad. If Starbucks and American coffee culture wants to stand a chance at succeeding in Italy, it needs to be sure that the quality matches or is better than what is already available, while still being able to compete price-wise. (An Italian espresso is almost never more than 1€, and often costs less.) Until this happens, traditional Italian coffee culture will dominate, and the cultures of other European nations seem
to be holding closer to that than converting to our own distinct manner of consumption in America. Hopefully, Europe is able to maintain its historic coffee culture. The day I see a Starbucks next to the Coliseum is the day whoever authorized that should be thrown to the lions. The lines in American coffee culture that used to be clearly defined are beginning to blur, but slowly. Most people I know still won’t drink a straight espresso, and even fewer understand the complex process of extraction using an espresso machine and what constitutes a truly amazing espresso experience. Coffee shops are beginning to become more social, however, and I usually meet friends at a coffee shop to socialize several times a week. Despite this, it still serves as my morning, afternoon, and late-night crutch—though at this point, the caffeine has almost no effect on me anymore. I admit to studying in coffee shops, Starbucks and independent stores alike, but I much prefer the coffee bars of Italy. There’s something very special about sitting down with an espresso that you know a barista put care into making for you. And the option of tacking on a glass of a bold Italian red with a cheese plate at the end certainly makes it even better. ◊
layout by CHARLES WANG
Ambiland Confessions of an insomniac and the scary side of sleep drugs
art by allie riggs
veryone has a personal routine when it comes to falling asleep. Some play a little jazz, others read a book, and a few might do breathing exercises to bring their body to a tranquil state. I’ve even come to know a few individuals who swear that counting sheep actually works. But if it doesn’t, there are always aromatherapy, candles, lavender pillows, tea, hypnosis, massage, and a universal favorite: sex. Unfortunately none of that stuff works for me. I am a real, wide-eyed, raging insomniac. You might ask, what’s an insomniac to do in a 9-to-5 world, where all you get to see are the eyelids of your loved ones, and the local possum on its crepuscular walk? Well, there are three options I know of: OPTION 1: Be nocturnal for the rest of your life. This means watching sunrises instead of sunsets and accepting your pasty skin tone as is, because you will never see the warm rays of the sun again. No more beaches, unless you like to take long walks at night, but that’s too dangerous. Remember what happened to that girl in the beginning of Jaws? Be prepared to decide between A) enjoying a spirited nightlife and developing liver failure, which, if you are reading this article from somewhere on our beloved Cornell campus, you most likely already have, and B) getting a night job. In Ithaca, your options are limited to the Taco Bell drive thru or Kuma’s Charmers, both of which inevitably result in friends named Portia and Ferrari and the all too familiar sight of boob glitter and fishnets. But let’s be real, it’s a hard knock life if you choose either of these lifestyles. How do these nocturnal individuals ever get to spend time with family or enjoy a walk in the park, when their loved ones are snoring soundly and the park is filled with hooligans and creepers at the only times they are awake? If you
Tory starzyk go this route, be prepared for the many long and lonely nights ahead. Say goodbye to Christmas mornings and pancake breakfasts, baby, because you are and forever will be an insomniac, caught in your natural environment. Desirable? Didn’t think so. This leads me to: OPTION 2: Become a crazed coffee addict. The only way for you to lead a normal life is to be sleepdeprived, always one coffee away from a leading role in Dawn of the Dead. This is how it usually goes for me: 10 p.m.: WIRED. 11 p.m.: WIRED. 12 a.m.: WIRED. Watch an entire season of How I Met Your Mother. 3 a.m.: Listen to the symphony that my roommate’s nostrils and the owl outside my window have so cleverly composed for my enjoyment. Remain unamused. 5 a.m.: WIRED. But struck with creative genius and write the best poetry of my life and come up with inventions greater than those of Leonardo da Vinci (or so I think at the time). 6 a.m.: EXHAUSTION from exercising my genius capacities. 7 a.m.: WIRED. 8 a.m.: Successful 20 minute nap. 8:20 a.m.: Time for class. 9 a.m.: COFFEE. 10 a.m.: COFFEE. 11 a.m.: Espresso. I tend to feel fancy at this hour. 12 p.m.: COFFEE and a delicious salad from Ivy Room, with grape leaves. 1 p.m.: COFFEE. 2 p.m.: Nap time!
4 p.m.: Meetings. And COFFEE. Or sleep through everything accidentally. At this point I think you get the picture and I don’t want to bore you with any more mundane details of daily life. This option is still not particularly desirable, which leads me to the last choice. Now watch how much more exciting this routine becomes with one little pill. OPTION 3: Take sleep drugs. Now, you’ll be faced with a lot of choices when it comes to selecting a sleep drug. Some may trigger hallucinations, others may cause you to feel irritable, and some may compel you to engage in unspeakable sex acts. Even if you consider yourself an all-together innocent dandelion, watch out, because this shit will bring out the lion. As you can see, choosing the appropriate drug is imperative, but for many like myself, the road to selecting the right sleep drug is a twisty one that can make you a hazard to yourself and others. It took me about two years to get it right, but now I happily sleep through the night—well, most of the time. I still enjoy a good cup of Joe, but I’m no longer dependent on it, nor am I in a perpetual state of funk. No sleep = no mind = no life. I’ll let you be the judge of what option/lifestyle/ drug you prefer, but before you decide which rabbit hole to go down, let me tell you about some of the more colorful adventures and mishaps myself and a select few others have experienced in a place I like to call Ambiland. One of the most prominent side effects of sleep drugs is hallucinating, and it is one that I have experienced while on Ambien, my drug of choice. The first time that I hallucinated on Ambien there was a lit candle in my room and, I kid you not, I saw two tiny people dancing in the fire. They were so cute, but being an EMT, I was a little concerned by the potential burns, so I looked away and tried to fall asleep. At that point, however, I was so captivated by my hallucinations that I repeatedly found myself getting distracted. Once again, I lay awake all night, only this time with a bit more entertainment than that
damn owl outside my window. I saw my tissue box transform into a flag, and my lamp stand do things that I dare not divulge entirely. I often like to write while I am tripping on Ambien, and I would like to share this excerpt from that night’s entry in my bedside Ambien notebook. As an additional note, my spelling is much worse on Ambien than it is below, but for your benefit, reader, I have corrected some of the typos. The grammar still sucks, but what can you expect from a girl quite frankly trippin’ balls? My right hand sticks snugly against the monitor. Below the keyboard is little pillows of disrespect. The firelight on my wall becomes a crocodile, sneers out of the wall and started snapping. A person with a mad face looking at me but swirling transforming I showed him a picture of myself and he looked back at me with a smile. The tiles are normal again. The king man keeps transforming from a ferocious lion to a sweet rabbit, and then back to the king. It’s like the objects in my room want to have a say in my story. The lines between what is real and what is not are blurred. You start to question everything that you took for granted. Things so simple no longer are. The seemingly mundane tissue box next to your bed transforms into a flag. The page begins to curve. It intimidates me \.
OPTION 2: Become a crazed coffee addict.
The last line has to be my favorite; I find the slash so poetic. As you can see, by the end I started to get a bit paranoid, but that’s just how I am on Ambien. Sure, it can be fun, but it leaves me in basically the same place I was in Option #2: without sleep and addicted to coffee…. and now also to Ambien. After a night like this, the most professors can expect from me in class is a nod or a dumb, innocent smile. This is because my brain has undergone a transformation into what I like to call Ambibrain. The term refers to the inability to think or act the morning after taking Ambien, combined with the usual grogginess that accompanies sleep deprivation. Essentially, I am as high and dizzy as the solar system the morning after, and possess the coordination of a newborn deer. Given that I am clumsy to begin with, Ambibrain is disastrous for me. I might try to hug the professor and miss. Or maybe attempt to participate in a class discussion only to find out later that while everyone else was
Drawing from the night I hallucinated that my lamp was up to no good.
debating the French presidential election, I was studiously offering up my opinions on Ryan Gosling while struggling to stand on my chair. While these experiences seem relatively harmless, not all hallucinations are friendly ones. Numerous individuals who use sleep drugs have reported severe paranoia accompanying the hallucinations, so if you begin to experience these sensations, maybe it’s time to work with your doctor to find a drug that won’t make you feel like John Nash in A Beautiful Mind, except without the crazy math capabilities. Another phenomenon that many have come to experience while on Ambien is the sudden urge to be a sex kitten. A wave of openness overcomes you, instilling the desire to try everything from role-play as a chicken and a duck to doing the Slinky on a gazebo. Experiences such as these can be found on ambienoverdose.org, a site I find amusing, comforting, and disconcerting all at the same time, where many openly share their wildest Ambien stories. Most of the stories seem innocent enough: a wife finally opening up to the hidden desires of her husband or a spunky couple letting loose. However, there are others that are not quite as common, and I encourage you to check them out, should you for some reason wish to be left with a weird taste in your mouth. When reading up on my latest sleep drug, I realized that my personal experiences with Ambien were just the tip of the iceberg. It reported some rather strange side-effects including: sleep-driving, making and eating food, having sex, and sleepwalking. While these are all concerning in their own ways, the side effect that worries me the most is potential loss of consciousness and self-awareness. Many users report waking up the morning after taking the drug with no recollection of any of the crazy things they are told that they did the night before. This is scary, especially because it can quickly blur the lines of what constitutes consensual sex, thereby creating victims and
predators. Similar to the risks of overdosing on alcohol, sleep drugs leave the user in a vulnerable state, and often result in complete amnesia the next morning. Because of these effects, there is an increasing number of predators out there using sleep drugs to take advantage of people in a new, less-noticed way. In fact, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, as of 2006, Ambien was already overtaking illicit sedatives, such as GHB and Rohypnol, as the most-common date-rape drug. Moreover, sleep drugs are easier than ever to obtain, since according to manufacturers, more prescriptions for them are being written every year. There is also growing concern for personal abuse of various sleep drugs. The allure of these drugs lies in the calming effect they produce, the hallucinations and crazy sex one might experience after taking them, and the simple fact that they give an almost guaranteed good night’s rest. This has led to an increasing trend of abuse, addiction and dependence on Ambien and other similar drugs. According to an article in The New York Times, “Are Sleeping Pills Addictive?” drugs like these can be psychologically habit-forming. Take, for example, my lovely grandmother; she began using sleep drugs in her older-age, and now cannot fall asleep without them. I don’t know if she has ever been formally diagnosed with insomnia or another sleep disorder, but I do know that her nurses are having a hell of a time prying the pills out of her hands. I have also heard stories from a dependable source that at least one group on campus has come to use Ambien recreationally. If not for hallucinatory effects, then for a fun little game they invented called “let’s see who can dance the longest without falling over while on Ambien.” While I question how fun that game is to begin with (with the exception of whoever gets to watch), it is even less amusing given the danger of prescription drugs. So please just stick to the booze, boys! (Drink responsibly.) An additional unsettling trend I have noticed is the combining of stimulants and depressants in order to alter study and sleep habits at the same time. I personally know and have heard of even more individuals at Cornell who have started taking psychostimulant drugs such as Ritalin or Adderall during the day, followed by drugs like Ambien and Oxycodone at night, without a prescription for either drug. Once again, the dangers of this practice are blaringly obvious for most: harmful drug combinations, overdose, addiction, dependence, and even death. It’s a dumb way to die, and I find it ironic that people take such risks in the name of getting better grades and creating more opportunities after graduation, all while jeopardizing their future. While there are significant dangers in regards to sleep drugs and their abusers, the generally harmless hallucinations continue to be a part of my life on nights I cannot sleep, and many other insomniacs share this experience. In these settings, as with any drug you are prescribed, you must be aware of the side effects. So picture yourself as an insomniac. Having carefully read the label, the prescription from your doctor for Ambien now sits nearby on your nightstand. But, as for what will ensue, well, that is totally up to you. ◊
the kitsch knome Studies Abroad! layout by Catherine Schrage photos by Meaghan McSorley and Catherine Schrage
WARNING: Do not try any of this at home without the permission of a doctor. May cause severe hallucinations, Ambibrain, embarrassment, an apparent sex drive, “freakiness,” and inability to make good decisions, which can only be rivaled in comparison by Lindsay Lohan in her later years.
art by Kaitlyn TIFFANY
ssuming that you picked up this magazine, one entitled kitsch and heavily adorned with gnomes, out of your own free will, you are most likely the type of person who has a soft spot for all things eccentric. Eccentricity is a word difficultly defined, but easily spotted. For example, a man whose inability to stop doodling causes him to drop out of graduate school fits into this category. As does a woman who openly attributes her ability to hold onto her virginity until adulthood to her stellar wardrobe of bike shorts, oversized T-shirts, fanny packs, and wrestling shoes. While the dictionary tells us that an eccentric is someone who deviates from the conventional or established norm, David Weeks, author of “Eccentrics: A Story of Sanity and Strangeness,” tells us that there is “next to nothing to be found on the subject of eccentricity in modern scholarly literature.” In 1984, Weeks performed a study in Edinburgh, Scotland, in an attempt to specifically identify what exactly it is that we classify as eccentric. He found that, in general, eccentrics bear many similarities to schizophrenics and people with other personality disorders, but with one distinguishing factor: eccentrics seem entirely in control of their oddities, and even seem to delight in them. However, there is nothing physically wrong with an eccentric’s brain, and eccentric individuals actually tend to be healthier and live longer than the average person. In introducing his study and its findings, Weeks has these words of encouragement for us fans of eccentricity: “Psychology now takes itself, its image, and its methods far too seriously. It has largely turned its back on the excitement of guesswork and
on the wonderment of speculation which is fundamental to doing any real science.” In the spirit of “guesswork,” “wonderment,” and not taking ourselves “too seriously,” we now veer away from science. Neglecting to make full citations, and completely ignoring the credibility of our sources, we delve into the wonderful world of eccentrics. Specifically speaking, the world of wonderfully eccentric weirdos to which we owe the most gratitude for creating the less horrible aspects of the world we live in today.
the asexual dwarf eccentric After a failed marriage at the age of 34, the logic follows that your love life is now permanently over and it is time to resign yourself to an asexual adulthood. By this I don’t mean never remarrying. I mean never interacting with the opposite sex in anything other than a completely “rated-G” fashion ever again. It is also logical to become the best of friends with a married woman and her two sons. If you happen to have a peculiar disorder known as “psychogenic dwarfism,” the condition in which an early emotional trauma causes the body to “fear growing up” and rarely grow past the height of 4’ 9”, that’s even better. This trifecta of marvelous oddities was possessed by none other than James M. Barrie, author of the wonderful play “The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up,” followed shortly by the novel “Peter and Wendy.” As the movie Finding Neverland so elegantly portrayed for us, Barrie was a bit of a weirdo who was absolutely obsessed with two children known as the Davies boys. And, of
how eccentrics shaped popular culture course, with getting into Kate Winslet’s pants. Barrie’s inspiration for Peter Pan, however, came from a slightly less sexuallycharged backstory. When Barrie’s’ older brother David died at age 13, his inconsolable mother was said to repeatedly assert that her son was not dead, just “refusing to grow up.” She spent the rest of her life saying crazy shit like this until she sunk into a final state of depression and died, failing to notice that her remaining son was being physically stunted in his growth by her absolute lunacy, and probably, in following with her well-known neglect, malnutrition. Even in 1911, when “Peter and Wendy” was published, it was not particularly normal to be a reclusive neardwarf with more child friends than adult ones. Contributing to the weirdness, Barrie adopted the Davies boys in 1910, following the death of their mother. Barrie spent most of his life with this extremely limited social group, which, as Weeks tells us, is one characteristic of an eccentric personality. Moreover, Barrie had an absolute obsession with conventions of childhood and with the paradigm of “growing up.” In “Margaret Ogilvy” he wrote, “The horror of my boyhood was that I knew a time would come when I must give up games and how it was to be done I saw not. This agony still returns to me in dreams, when I catch myself playing marbles, and look on with cold displeasure; I felt that I must continue playing in secret.” Play in secret he did, and, in doing so, Barrie created one of the most classic characters of children’s literature. On his deathbed he left the rights to Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, which continues to experience its benefits to this day, a nice sum since, if I remember correctly, there were a couple of Disney movies that did pretty well.
In the spirit of guesswork, wonderment, and not taking ourselves too seriously, we now veer away from science.
the semi-racist doodling eccentric In the introduction I mentioned a man whose compulsive doodling caused him to drop out of graduate school. This same man wrote and illustrated a book that was designed to be read “in-utero,” exclusively to children still in the womb. That book was called “The Cat in the Hat.” Take a guess! He was also a children’s author who never had any of his own children, despite having two long-term marriages. This man was Theodore Geisel, otherwise known as Dr. Seuss, and he began his career illustrating insecticide advertisements, in addition to a series of blatantly racist political cartoons during World War II. His pen name, Dr. Seuss, came from his days writing for the Jack-O-Lantern humor magazine at Dartmouth, where he was unable to use his own name after being caught serving Scotch out of his dorm room. Besides the obvious (and amazing) things that Dr. Seuss did for children’s fiction—conveying messages of open-mindedness, environmentalism, anti-imperialism, literacy, and solidarity, to name a few—he also had several little-known triumphs that
made the world a much more delightful place. It was Dr. Seuss himself who coined the word “nerd” in popular culture when “If I Ran the Zoo” was published in 1950. The accompanying illustration showed a grumpy humanoid with unruly hair and sideburns, wearing a black T-shirt (a fitting image for a nerd these days). He also wrote the book “Green Eggs and Ham” using exactly 50 different words, simply in the interest of winning a bet. He threatened to sue the pro-life pants off of an anti-abortion group that had printed on their letterhead “A person’s a person, no matter how small!” from his book “Horton Hears a Who.” But what’s even more impressive is that he managed to hire the original Tony the Tiger to sing the song “You’re a Mean One” in the cartoon version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Now that’s pretty freaking bad-ass. Although Seuss became famous for his interesting and unique children’s books that withstood the test of time, he also won several notable awards for his other works. In 1947, he won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Picture for Design for Death, a movie about Japanese culture during World War II. In 1950, he won another Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for Gerald McBoing-Boing, the story of a little boy who speaks only in sound effects rather than words. Finally, in 1984, he won a Special Citation from the Pulitzer Prize Board “for his special contribution over nearly half a century to the education and enjoyment of America’s children and their parents;” and in the same year, his birthday, March 2nd, was declared National Read Across America Day.
the comic felon eccentric In 1974, an incredibly limber, red-headed Frenchman walked the distance between the twin towers of the World Trade Center eight times, balancing on a cable a quarter mile above the ground, for literally no discernible reason. An otherwise illegal series of breaking and entering, reckless endangerment, and impersonation of a government employee, the man faced few legal ramifications for his acts simply because what he did was just too cool to punish. Philippe Petit’s act is memorialized in the award-winning documentary Man on Wire, his own memoir “To Reach the Clouds,” and the novel “Let the Great World Spin” by Colum McCann. In his novel, McCann called the act, “an enduring moment, the man alone against scale, still capable of myth in the face of all other evidence.” He also commented, “Originally I wanted my tightrope walker to fall, as the Bush Years seemed to imply that he
must: the administration had turned justice into revenge, and the way for women in comedy, becoming the first head writer of what better metaphor would there be than to pervert history SNL, and writing and starring in movies such as Mean Girls, Baby and to turn the art of the walk upside down? But the more I Mama, and Date Night, as well as the show loosely based on her worked on it, the more interested I became in the ordinary peo- experiences at SNL, 30 Rock. Fey has received several primetime ple on the street, the ones who walked a tightrope just one inch Emmys, in addition to the 2010 Mark Twain Prize, which is given off the ground.” With this, McCann declared Petit’s walk a great to “a person whose body of work is defining our time.” work of art, done for all the people on the ground that lived their Not only did Fey create a successful career in comedy for herself, she brought along her buddies. Among them are Maya lives in an equally fearless, but less obvious way. When asked why he did it, Petit replied with only, “When I see Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, and Casey Wilson. Perhaps most notable three oranges, I juggle. When I see two towers, I walk.” The man were revolutionary women such as Amy Poehler, co-star of Baby Mama and later the star of her is an eccentric powerhouse: a The Best of Tina Fey: own show Parks and Recreation, ginger who walks tightropes and Kristen Wiig, writer of the for a living, and who is also a screenplay trained equestrian, bullfighter, “Gay people don’t actually try Oscar-nominated for Bridesmaids, the top grossfencer, rock-climber, and 18thto convert people. That’s Jeho- ing rated-R female comedy of century cabin-builder. Notice that nothing on that list could vah’s Witnesses you’re thinking of.” all time. These women are so constitute an actual job. He’s significant because they are the artist in residence at the the people who made it okay “Politics aside, the success of Sarah for women to be funny. Before Cathedral of Saint John the DiPalin and women like her is good for them, female comedians were vine, and he has been awarded the James Park Morton Interall women—except, of course, those simply not accepted in the industry. In 1976, for example, faith Award, the New York Hiswho will end up, you know, like, payJohn Belushi reportedly asked torical Society Award, and the ing for their own rape kit ‘n stuff. But SNL producer Lorne Michaels Streb Action Maverick Award. for everybody else, it’s a win-win. Un- every day to fire the female members, constantly arthe modern awkless you’re a gay woman that wants to cast ward eccentric guing, “Women aren’t funny.” marry your partner of 20 years—what- However, times have changed, As first evidenced by that ever. But for most women, the suc- thanks to these women. The lovely leading lady in the wrescess of conservative women is good New York Times described Fey tling shoes and fanny pack, we “More like America’s eccentric for all of us. Unless you believe in evo- aunt than its sweetheart,” and are moving towards an era in lution. You know, actually, I take it Michaels himself referred to which being socially-awkward is far from a pitfall. Tina Fey was back. The whole thing is a disaster.” Wiig as one of the best SNL cast a virgin until the age of 24, her members of all time. husband is six inches shorter And so it seems that we owe “Politics and prostitution have to be the a lot to the world’s oddballs afthan she is, and she blatantly confesses to a time in her life only jobs where inexperience is con- ter all. They may not cure canwhen she was 30 pounds overor solve the problems in sidered a virtue. In what other profes- cer weight and therefore wore the Middle East, but they make sion would you brag about not know- the world shockingly less dull. only a pair of denim overalls for six months. In her book ing stuff? ‘I’m not one of those fancy They’ve accepted their place in “Bossypants,” she cites her abHarvard heart surgeons. I’m just an un- society. They know that they’re solute loner status during her called “weird” and “freakish” belicensed plumber with a dream and I’d hind their backs. Fey even mencollege years: “What nineteenlike to cut your chest open.’ The crowd tions a time she was called the year-old Virginia boy doesn’t want a wide-hipped, sarcastic “c-word” behind her back. “No. cheers.” Greek girl with short hair that’s You don’t get to call me that,” permed on top? What’s that she said. “My parents love me! you say? None of them want that? You are correct.” I’m not some adult child of an alcoholic that’s going to take that It was Fey’s self-proclaimed “awkwardness” that first earned shit.” And therein lies the strength of eccentrics. Like Fey, they her a co-anchor spot on Weekend Update alongside Jimmy Fal- can handle anything that’s thrown at them. They lie down on the lon. The producer, Lorne Michaels, believed her “average girl” tracks for those of us too scared to step outside of “normal.” So, image and seeming discomfort gave her perfect chemistry basically they’re Batman… “Because he can take it. Because he’s with Jimmy Fallon’s boyish approach. Fey has also cited Satur- not our hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark day Night Live’s first female star Gilda Radner as her comedic knight.” The eccentrics stand up for weirdos everywhere. They inspiration. Radner was known for breaking down stereotypes make “art” out of “strange”. They’re the protectors of our collecof “cutely” funny women and committing to unflattering, physi- tive kitschiness. ◊ cal, and even crude humor. Following this example, Fey paved
art by Allie Riggs
watch & listen
Dateability of the
Seven Dwarves The long haul never looked so short
adies, has selecting viable dating candidates got you down? Are you bored with human males found in civilized areas? Is normal height and physical stature just not your thing? Do you tend to favor the bald, bearded, cottage-dwelling type? If so, I encourage you to look to the forest, for therein lies your Dwarf Charming. While there may be plenty of fish in the sea, there appear to be exactly seven dwarves in the woods, and no, you cannot have all seven. How ever will you choose? Fear not, my lonesome, lusty friends. To guide you on your quest for love, I have assessed the dateability of each!
General Interests: Plastic toy ponies, beer Looking for: Someone whose eyes sparkle like Christmas lights Ideal first date: Whatever, as long as it ends with the two of you sitting on a rooftop, surrounded by cigarette butts and empty bottles of wine Happy is exactly what you would expect him to be—a jolly bucket of convivial sunshine. More importantly, he’s a wholesome guy that can provide heartfelt commitment and stability—the type that has a yellow lab and a really great credit score. Happy is a wellspring of kindness that gushes with empathy, jokes, optimistic anecdotes, and glitter. He’s the most popular dwarf amongst all forest creatures, so be prepared to attend many exclusive woodland parties. He’s also an excellent dancer and makes terrific mixtapes. I dare you to spend an evening with Happy without walking home singing a show tune and skipping like a bow-tied buffoon. White weighs in: “Clouds parted and rainbows appeared the day I met Happy, teehee. He loves my gooseberry pie, teeheehee.”
General interests: Statements implying you need to go to the gym, Affliction T-shirts Looking for: Someone who is both tolerable and tolerant Ideal first date: Criticizing everything that’s on TV
Courtney Mayszak Grumpy is a dwarfopomorphic version of a cold sore. You know the type—he hits “Reply-All” on e-mails and he’ll accidentally forget to call you on Valentine’s Day. He’s flaky and mannerless and asks, “Who else is there?” when you invite him out. I don’t care how extraordinarily gorgeous he is, you do not want to get involved with someone who says things like, “She’s a female, and all females are poison. They’re full of wicked wiles.” It doesn’t take a feminist to see that this guy is a sexist asshat who is clearly unwilling to make any sacrifices for the sake of a relationship. Allow his intoxicating energy to suck you in, and in a few months you’d have completely lost yourself. You’d begin making excuses for his awful behavior, telling your friends, “You just don’t know him like I do.” Save yourself the romantic energy and stay away. I know he’s stunningly attractive, but you need to face the cold hard truth: he thinks you’re poison. It will never work. White weighs in: “Grumpy replies to all my texts with, ‘k.’ That’s all. One fucking letter.”
Grumpy is a dwarfopomorphic version of a cold sore.
General interests: Eating dirt, blowing bubbles Looking for: Someone to fill the silence Ideal first date: Finger-painting Dating is exhausting. Constantly dazzling people with your intellect and witticism can be draining. Are you looking for a low-maintenance, no-pressure type of relationship? Do you just
want someone who will like you for you? If so, look no further than Dopey, because he’s dumber than a box of rocks. Blissfully ignorant of his surroundings, Dopey won’t judge you when you misuse a word or pronounce something incorrectly. He probably won’t even realize you were talking in the first place. If you can forget that he looks like a Mickey Rooney-Dil Pickles hybrid, if you can see past the fact that he has no hair for you to stroke, and if you’re not bothered by how his description reads more like that of a toddler than anything else, then Dopey’s your man. White weighs in: “Dopey’s ears are so funny. I like to use them as little handles when we dance together.”
General interests: Argyle sweaters, kitten calendars Looking for: Someone who will make the first move Ideal first date: Riding bikes through a sunny meadow So he has a serious case of redface. Can we really fault him for that? Perhaps it’s a medical condition. Perhaps it’s genetic. Perhaps Bashful is just hyperaware of his actions in the same way everyone is when they have a crush. As you get to know Bashful, as you slowly strip away his insecure exterior, you’ll find that physical appearance becomes secondary, and that the red, sweaty face is simply packaging for the gem that lies within. Overcoming the shyness barrier won’t be easy, but once you do, you’ll see that Bashful can provide you with an undying devotion that will make you feel beautiful, desired, and safe. A river of meaning will form between your heart and his, and flow with love. You’ll run hand-in-hand in the rain together, and most of what he says to you will be a compliment. You’ll look into those sheepish eyes, complete with those androgynous eyelashes, and you’ll find that there is so much to see. White weighs in: “Bashful’s the one with the green hat, right? Teeheehee.”
General interests: Doctor’s offices, humidifiers Looking for: An effective, non-drowsy decongestant Ideal first date: NOT Indian food Let’s not kid ourselves—Sneezy is an incubus of viral plague. I’m sure he has a great personality, but let’s be real. Anyone who is capable of producing a maelstrom of mucus strong enough to clear cobwebs poses a threat to your personal safety. Are you willing to succumb to such a health hazard only for the relationship to potentially dissipate in the end? You have a life to live! You have the world to explore—a world teeming with pollen, dustmites, and other allergens. Don’t let your man’s hypersensitivity to infection hold you back. Sneezy is nothing more than a congested ball and chain. Unless you foresee hospital beds and IVs in your happily-ever-after, Sneezy isn’t the guy for you. White weighs in: “Ew! Boogers!”
General interests: Egyptian cotton, smooth jazz Looking for: A non-insomniac Ideal first date: Putting the “party” in “slumber party” Are you a go-getter? Do you do your homework while working out while eating an energy bar while fixing a leaky sink? If so, stop reading. If you appreciate rest and relaxation, however, you should consider Sleepy. The two of you would never be bothered by “going out” and “doing things” like you hear other couples talk about. All bonding would instead transpire while trapped in a silent slumber, and you both know that’s really the best way to connect. Also, when he’s not sleeping, one can only assume he’s cuddling. Although all the dwarves have the same cuddle-friendly physique—extra cushioning, warm and cozy body hair, and a short build that fits nicely into most beds and couches—Sleepy, unlike the other dwarves, is willing to cuddle anywhere, with anyone, at any moment’s notice. Some may call this chronic laziness; I call it dedication. Snuggling demonstrates the impulse to protect, shows that he’s in it for the long haul, and that he’s not just looking to hit it and quit it (Disney’s words, not mine). Everyone needs a snuggle buddy. You could be his little spoon. White weighs in: “I’ve never actually seen Sleepy outside the bedroom.” *overly exaggerated wink*
General interests: Being self-assured to the point of obnoxiousness, pretending to read the encyclopedia Looking for: Someone who finds him fascinating Ideal first date: A chess match, in which he would win Don’t let the name fool you; this Doc is clearly not of the PhD variety. Aside from the audacity to compare himself to a doctor and the vanity associated with being the self-proclaimed leader of the dwarves, Doc has demonstrated a severe lack of control of the English language, often stuttering and tripping over his words. Doc is neither a gentleman nor a scholar. Instead, he’s like that douchebag in your Sociology class—he struts around with a pompous sense of entitlement without any real substance to back it up. His entire persona is nothing more than an extravagant front. Are those prescription glasses? Why the deception, Doc? What else are you hiding? White weighs in: “I’m a Princess!” Well, there you have it. If Snow is any indication, most of these little guys really know how to please a woman. Sure, Snow’s a hot blank slate of idle giggles, but she did live with all seven, all at once. I’m sure that if she were capable of communicating effectively, she would attest to the giving, naïve, and loving souls that inhabit our bearded, big-nosed friends. They’re beautiful, fragile creatures that represent a greater innocence that we could all do well to appreciate. And they’re all currently single! Just pick a dwarf, ladies, and you’ll be frolicking through city squares, scaring pigeons, and belting children’s songs in no time. ◊
art and layout by CHARLES WANG The mid-late 2000s were the golden age of meme creation. Most common memes today are in some way descendants of images created during this period. The end of 2005 marked the O RLY Owl’s rise to popularity, setting the stage for every captioned animal to come, including the first LOLcat to can haz cheeseburger, which appeared only a few months later. 2006 saw the advent of the Demotivational poster parodying the inspirational posters often found in the cubicles of office zombies. The Demotivational, with its image and white text surrounded by a thick black border, has defined the format for dozens of memes. Every Advice Animal, including their hipster spinoffs, can be traced to 2006 as well, when Advice Dog first offered his sage words of wisdom on a color wheel backdrop. (Disclaimer: kitsch magazine does not recommend following anything said by Advice Dog.)
aka, I herd u like memes so I put some memes in yo mag so you can rofl while you rofl
emes. They’re everywhere these days. Thanks to sites like 9GAG and the many Tumblr accounts created for the sole purpose of reblogging macros and gifs, the meme is no longer relegated to the realm of the geeky. What started out as inside jokes passed back and forth between nerdcore gamers and trolls has become a phenomenon so bizarre even Conspiracy Keanu couldn’t come up with a theory stranger than the reality. Rev up your DeLoreans, folks. We’re going for a ride.
2001: a space-time odyssey
CHARLES WANG nied by some sort of caption, and is almost always created with humor in mind. At that time, the internet was still BG (before Google), and was more of a novelty than anything else for those of us who would eventually become the Facebook generation. To find the true start of the meme, we look to 2001, to find a music video featuring a game known as Zero Wing. The game itself was nothing spectacular, a fairly standard side-scrolling shootem-up. What made it stand out, however, was the horrendous “Engrish” that resulted when the dialogue was translated from its original Japanese. True nerds will know the entire opening sequence, the most well-known line being the infamous “All your base are belong to us.” To this day, memes can still be found captioned with this line in some form.
2005-2008: it’s over 9000!
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly where the meme was born. Although some would attribute it to the 1996 Dancing Baby, one of the first videos to go viral, it is too far removed from the form of the modern meme, which is typically defined as a simple image, video clip, or looping gif animation, often accompa-
ingly ingrained in the public mindset. One of the last major innovations in meme-making may have come in 2008, when the first Rage Comic was posted to 4chan, featuring the now famous Herp Derp. The simplicity of this stick-figure style, reminiscent of bad MS Paint drawings, leant itself well to memes, as anyone with an Internet connection could attach one of the stock faces onto a self-drawn body or even a photo. Since then, countless rage faces have been added to the stocks, including the outlined faces of several celebrities, in addition to the original characters. At this point, it would be remiss not to mention the importance of social networks. 2007 and 2008 marked a major shift in online interaction, as users around the USA converged and settled on Facebook as their networking site of choice. Previously, MySpace had been the most popular, but even then the online landscape was far from uniform; LiveJournal, Xanga, even sites like Gaia and Neopets competed for attention, serving to isolate individual groups from each other. With Facebook came a unification of the masses. Now, a single post could share something with not just a few friends, but everyone you knew and didn’t hate enough to block. The dispersion of ideas on such a massive scale was previously unseen, and made it possible for memes to explode in popularity. Enthusiasts no longer shared inside jokes within their own fandoms; every post, every share, was communicated to the world.
In 2007, however, all this changed thanks to a homicidal AI and some CGI abs
Up until this point, however, the majority of memes were largely unknown to the masses. Many were inside jokes created by and for individual fandoms. Anime lovers made flash animations of their favorite characters doing the Caramelldansen dance. Kids who had grown up watching Dragon Ball Z shouted the popular catchphrase “It’s over 9000!” at each other, while gamers mocked World of Warcraft addicts by charging around screaming “LEEEEROOYYYY JEEENKINSSSS.” Even the most famous of cat pictures were mostly found on forums, sent between friends without generating the kind of exposure seen today. In 2007, however, all this changed thanks to a homicidal AI and some CGI abs. A series of easily accessible pop culture references, combined with the creativity of the Internet, meant that the time was ripe for memes to hit the world on a larger scale. As Portal fans gleefully debated over the veracity of the cake, even non-gamers were compelled to try and understand what they were talking about, generating wave after wave of quote-reciting fans, many of whom had never even touched the game. The movie 300 broke box office records left and right, creating a massive public awareness that was quickly taken advantage of. As friends posted images of Sparta kicks and song remixes to each other, the concept of the meme became increas-
2010-present: FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUU (oh god why)
Memes seem to be making a return to their roots in some way. The widespread popularity of memes has caused an overload of sorts. It is
watch & listen
Fan almost impossible to keep up with all the meme images that are constantly being created on just about everything. The result is that, although memes are now firmly within the realm of popular culture, individuals are separating themselves from each other once again, selecting to participate in just a few preferred fandoms. However, there is still plenty of overlap, especially among related subjects. Cat people continue to coo over pictures of kittehs, but have added baby sloths to their repertoire. Whovians have joined with Sherlock fans to create WhoLock crossovers, which range from brilliant to bizarre. On a more local scale, colleges create their own meme circles, making image macros out of professors, returning to inside jokes as a source for meme production. Unfortunately, mass popularity has also brought a certain level of stagnation to meme-making. Due to its simplicity, especially with online meme-generators, the overall quality of memes seems to be declining, with gross misuse of memes becoming increasingly common as many creators fail to understand the point of the original image.
With Facebook came a unification of the masses. Now, a single post could share something with not just a few friends, but everyone you knew...
An inside look at Cornell’s true music devotees
2012: end of ze world (fuckin’ kangaroos)
art by CHARLES WANG and LAURA VAN WINKLE layout by GINA CARGAS
Like it or not, memes are here to stay. By nature, a meme feeds itself, in a veritable virtual human centipede (Yeah, I went there. Problem?) of increasingly bad jokes until it is left to die an ignoble death (see Nancy Pelosi’s Rickroll). Our generation, the Facebook generation, is one that was brought up on the Internet. We are a technologically savvy generation; our cameras let us collect ALL the best pictures, and our computers give us the power to manipulate those images however we see fit. And we have chosen to use that power to create a singing Pop-Tart cat. We had the chance to stand tall on the shoulders of giants, but instead we have stumble’d and tumbl’d. ◊
hen I first saw A Hard Day’s Night in the third grade, I was still happily lost in Imagination Land. Armed with little more than a copy of “The Golden Compass” and a White Witch of Narnia costume, my eight-year-old self failed to understand huge portions of the movie. If John’s suggestive jokes and George’s blatant flirting sailed straight over my head, what did stick were the scenes of devoted Beatles fans maniacally chasing their heroes through Liverpudlian streets. This scene was my first introduction to the true band obsessive. These days, though, avid fans don’t crowd around the transistor radio eagerly awaiting their favorite artist’s new album. Instead, they gather on fan sites and message boards to meticulously dissect their idol’s latest album or most recent interview—and more often than not, each other. It’s a new phenomenon that seems to have intensified the music appreciation experience, bringing with it a sense of the larger community, a new set of standards, and—for a select few—fame. Interestingly, the most notorious of these communities are loyal to rock bands. Sure, Beyoncé has her faithful few, but perfect-arch eyebrows and lyrics like “All up in the kitchen in my heels, dinner time” can only get you so far. With the possible exceptions of Beliebers and Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters, music fans prone to obsession appear to be drawn to music of a more emotional, complex, and guitar-based nature. Whether it’s the tie-dyed feel-goodery of Phish, the comic-book mythology of My Chemical Romance, or the emotive crooning of Radiohead,
GINA CARGAS rock bands possess a certain quality that appeals and addicts a horde of rabid fans. So what makes these artists so popular— and more importantly, who are the people that follow them so faithfully?
teach a man to phish, he’ll jam for a lifetime Page through any number of Phish fan sites and it’s clear that this community is all about the music. While occasional threads on everything from the Red Sox to DMT appear on fan forums, the vast majority of these sites focus on intense dissection of every album, song, and concert Phish has ever produced. Arguably the best jam band since the Grateful Dead, Phish is noted for improvisational and lengthy concerts—and its worshipful fanbase. “Most people like them because they want to hear interesting, quirky, and groundbreaking music,” said Kyle Walsh, a Cornell sophomore and self-proclaimed Phishhead. “But the thing that attracts a lot of people is their amazing live shows.” A live Phish concert seems to be the core of the Phishhead experience. Though Walsh has attended an astounding fifteen Phish shows, his level of dedication is considered moderate amongst the bearded masses. Many fans have seen the band over 100 times, willingly handing over hundreds of dollars—not
Sure, Beyonce has her Phishheads are even shockrespectful in their web interfaithful few, but lyr- ingly actions. While sites like phish.net an occasional angry tirade, ics like “All up in the feature the majority of users appreciate kitchen in my heels, their fellow fans, even the “noobs.” Walsh, however, claims that a hierdinner time” can only archy does exist. “Some people who saw get you so far. Phish in the nineties get to deter-
to mention hours—to the Vermont-based fourpiece. According to Walsh, the secret to Phish’s unrelenting appeal is a combination of improvisation, variety, and respect for the fans. With set lists that wildly differ each night and incredible improvisational skill, Phish shows generally last between three and four hours. “This is why a lot of people dislike them,” Walsh said. “They think the jams sound boring or too long, which I can relate to because I thought the same at first. But in reality their jams have a lot of nuance to them and mix many different musical styles… And the fact that they improvise on some of their songs also means that 20-year-old songs never really get old.” The culture of the live Phish show also plays a major role in its popularity. Your average Phish concert is packed with friendly, possibly-stoned folks exuding an aura of positivity: the kind of people my uncle calls “liberal hippie scum.” Beyond the welcoming hippies, each concert includes a shopping area called “Shakedown Street,” where vendors—many of whom make their living off of Phish tours—sell vegan burritos, beer, pipes, art, and clothing.
mine whether their latest shows are up to par or not,” he said. “To them, Phish were gods back then and are now shadows of themselves.” Yet at every live event, the community is overwhelmingly welcoming. Phish veterans are happy to initiate those at their first show, and any condescension seems to be restricted to the anonymous online asshole. “I always feel like I’m welcomed and that everybody is a friend,” Walsh added, and it’s easy to see why. When every concert is essentially its own mini music festival, what’s not to love?
bicurious punk rockers are the new pegasus But for some fanbases, the music itself is far less central. My Chemical Romance epitomizes the mythological band: a group
are you fan enough
Leaders of the “stage gay” phenomenon, MCR live shows can look a lot more like a bizarre softcore musical than your traditional punk concert.
whose lore is so appealing that the songs themselves are often secondary. A group of eyeliner-wearing white boys with dyed hair and skin-tight jeans, My Chemical Romance is pop-punk to its core. Over the years, the band has garnered critical attention due to a series of on- and off-stage gimmicks. Leaders of the “stage gay” phenomenon, MCR live shows can look a lot more like a bizarre softcore porn musical than your traditional punk concert. As if this weren’t enough to attract hordes of Tumblr-addicted fifteen-year-old girls, frontman Gerard Way has also created a comic book world in which each member of the band lives an alternate, infinitely more badass life. Based on a comic book that Way has yet to release, the Killjoy universe features a post-apocalyptic city monitored by Better Living Industries, a pharmaceutical company that produces medicine to homogenize the human experience. Essentially, the Killjoys—the alternate personas of each band member—are a group of leather-clad rebels that reject the concept of medicated happiness. Interestingly, the introduction of the band’s destructive, violent alter egos has accompanied a shift to brighter music as the band grows older. According to Cornell graduate and Cortland native Laura Van Winkle, this change has created a rift between fans. “There are basically the mythology fans and the music fans,” she explained. “The music fans are super snobs that like Metallica and the Misfits and are really into the punk scene and say things like ‘I liked MCR before it was cool.’ But there’s a really big split between those people and those who are, you know, writing Frank and Gerard fanfiction.” To be honest, buying into the mythology seems like a lot more fun. From pornographic fanfiction to art blogs to ComicCon meet ups, these people—often called the MCRmy—are enjoying the hell out of MCR’s music. And within such a vibrant community, it’s possible to gain a certain degree of fame— something Van Winkle has certainly accomplished. Between working at a comic shop and applying to graduate school, she somehow finds time to run Ask Poison, a popular blog that’s garnered her plenty of attention in the MCR world. “People will send me questions,” she said. “And I draw an
answer to the question in the character of Party Poison”—Gerard Way’s Killjoy alter-ego—“and post it online. So people are basically interacting with the character created by the band.” While the blog has attracted Van Winkle her own personal fanbase, she says it has also served as an inspiration for younger My Chemical Romance fans. Many teenagers in the MCRmy see the band as more than just an obsession; it’s a way of life, or more often, a way of coping with life. “All the time I get messages from people that are like, ‘this blog saved my life!’” Van Winkle said. “And I’m like, ah, shut up! Don’t tell me that! Because I’ll be making a stupid post about poop. You know, real quality blogging.” Much like Phish, the mutual respect between band and fans plays a key role in the level of devotion—however, this clearly isn’t the main attraction. Combining upbeat pop-punk, bicurious sex-fiend musicians, and a dramatic war-torn alternate universe, MCR doesn’t half-ass anything. This is a band of proud, musically talented geeks whose shameless exhibitionism is hard to condemn.
not quite at ease Phish fans may be overly analytical, and their MCR counterparts might reasonably be called sex-addled, but neither group even approaches the contentious insanity of Radiohead obsessives. While the Phish and MCR fanbases rely on a sense of community grounded in the fans’ love
watch & listen
of the band, Radiohead’s community has long since departed from discussing the music. According to Cornell sophomores Sophie Griswold and Paige Roosa, the Radiohead experience takes place almost entirely online on three separate fan forums. “First you get Revolving Doors 2, which is just a bunch of happy people that like to write disgusting slash fiction about Radiohead,” said Griswold. “And then there’s Mortigi Tempo, which is filled with moderately crazy fans. And then there’s At Ease Web, which is like the wild west of fan forums.” A gossipy, drama-fueled site, At Ease Web serves as the focal point of the hardcore Radiohead enthusiast’s experience. It’s the seedy underbelly beneath Radiohead’s emotional crooning—and a source of major conflict between fans. At Ease Web users befriend, date, dump, and fight each other at a stunning rate. It’s an online community divided, contentious, and almost completely removed from the music. Sure, when the British weep-rockers release a new album, the devotees go wild. Yet in the downtime between In Rainbows and The King of Limbs, the fans spend a lot less time dissecting the songs and a lot more time dissecting each other. While Phish and MCR communities are bound together by a “we’re-all-inthis-together” mentality, Radiohead’s online fans seem hell-bent on generating drama and suspicion. “They never believe I was real,” said Roosa. “We’d post pictures of Sophie and me together, but they still wouldn’t believe me. They always thought I was Sophie because I’d go to her house and use the same IP address.“ Yet denying Roosa’s existence is on the tamer end of At Ease Web’s crazy spectrum. The site is filled with stories of users’ attempted suicides, failed relationships, deportations, and international trips to meet each other. One woman uprooted her entire family and moved to Oxford just to be closer to the band, while
Griswold welcomed a British fan she met on the forum into her parents’ home one high school summer. For many fans, what started as a love for Radiohead has ended in all-encompassing obsession. “The music tends to be very emotional and strong in a spiritual way,” Griswold explained. “I think especially in this day and age, when people don’t have strong religious affiliations or a sense of community, Radiohead becomes their community.” While the devotion seems extreme, this community isn’t always a bad thing. Both Griswold and Roosa have made friends on the board from all backgrounds, ages, and locations. From pen pals in New Zealand to a close friendship with a 47-year-old woman in New York City, At Ease Web has the capacity to form positive relationships. Like both MCR and Phish, this fanbase is filled with users looking for likeminded individuals; Radiohead fans just get a little more distracted than the others.
Phish, My Chemical Romance, and Radiohead are massively different bands, and the appeal of each group is most definitely individualized. For Phishheads, the sheer talent and laidback nature of the band is addicting, not to mention the incredible concert culture. The MCRmy, meanwhile, are attracted by the emotional mythology of their punked-out idols, as well as the reverent web community. And for Radiohead fans, it’s some bizarre combination of empathy with Thom Yorke’s eternal pain, sexualization of the band, and a morbid fascination with Internet drama. What they all have in common, though, is a distinct personality and a damn good marketing team. Whether it’s Phish’s endorsement of loving, hippie culture, My Chemical Romance’s embrace of the hypersexual and fantastic, or Radiohead’s status as inhuman gods of “indie” rock, each band has created and embraced a specific identity that its audience finds hard to resist. ◊
art and layout by CHARLES WANG
Chaining the Net
arlier in 2012, the frenzy over Internet censorship reached its peak when the now-infamous SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PROTECT IP (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act) bills were brought to vote in the House and the Senate. Had they been passed, the bills would have enabled the attorney general to block or censor virtually any website suspected of infringing copyright with no questions asked. SOPA would even have enabled private companies to sue service providers for briefly and unknowingly hosting copyrighted content, effectively negating the protection of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In light of this, it’s unsurprising that both bills were deferred in the face of an incredible amount of protest from all over the world. However, it is questionable why such bills would even be brought to vote in the first place, given the current state of the economy and job market. While the need to prevent the infringement of creative works through the Internet is understandable, such extreme anti-infringement legislation based on censorship threatens to inflict an alarming amount of collateral damage. Setting aside the obvious threat that bills like SOPA and PROTECT IP pose to the First Amendment rights of American citizens, there is also the distinct possibility that Internet censorship could cripple
RYAN LARKIN both jobs and innovation on a global scale. Imagine for a moment that the SOPA bill had passed, and that web-based companies were now liable for the actions of their users. Compliance with SOPA would require user-generated sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter to spend massive amounts of money on moderators and moderating software dedicated to preventing the posting and transmission of infringing material. While this would admittedly create jobs for the people hired to monitor and censor content, it would also cause the financial burdens and legal risks associated with Internet companies to skyrocket. This in turn would make it almost impossible for young and/or inexperienced entrepreneurs on the web to get their business ideas off the ground. Adding to the threat that censorship poses to jobs and innovation is its inevitable futility as a solution to online piracy. The Internet is simply too big to be controlled, and online pirates will always find a way to overcome copyright laws. Even if the federal government had the power to arbitrarily shut down specific websites and social networks associated with copyright infringement, new ones would emerge almost immediately to take their place. This exact scenario happens already with BitTorrent and file-sharing sites. For instance, the shutdown of The Pirate Bay by Swedish authorities in 2006 did very little to curb
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the flow of copyrighted material across torrents, and the more recent shutdown of Megaupload has done nothing but force pirates to change where they host their content. Such examples show that censorship will remain impractical as long as the users and designers of such sites are able to conceal their identities, since anonymity is what makes it so easy to exchange information on the web. Considering the sheer number of ways that a person can mask his online identity—from VPNs to IP-spoofing—it is hard to believe that censorship will ever be more than a costly and ineffective method for fighting the unfightable. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the SOPA legislation would have cost the American people $47 million tax dollars a year. This tremendous price tag was for a bill that not only wouldn’t have worked, but would also have further damaged the job market and stifled online innovation. It might seem strange that this article has focused on the possible economic consequences of legislation like SOPA and PROTECT IP rather than the question of their constitutionality. However, this has been a deliberate effort to explain why the federal government’s recent approaches to dealing with copyright infringement seem so foolish. The entertainment industry might indeed be losing an enormous amount of money to online piracy, but this is no time for politicians and industry lobbyists to be proposing crazy Internet censorship mechanisms that will hurt an already struggling economy. Instead, these people should be devoting their efforts to designing alternative anti-piracy initiatives that will not do more harm than good. The OPEN (Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade) Act is a recently proposed piece of anti-piracy legislation that might offer just such a promising alternative. Though the new bill is still being drafted, it already offers several significant improvements to its forerunners. For one thing, it does not advocate censorship without due process of law. This means that if
Setting aside the obvious threat that bills like SOPA and PROTECT IP pose to the First Amendment rights of American citizens, there is also the distinct possibility that internet censorship could cripple both jobs and innovation on a global scale.
The entertainment industry might indeed be losing an enormous amount of money to online piracy, but this is no time for politicians and industry lobbyists to be proposing crazy Internet censorship mechanisms that will hurt an already struggling economy.
a private company believed a website to be guilty of infringing on a copyright, it would need to give the website’s owners effective notice and call for an investigation by the International Trade Commission (ITC) before the site could be taken down. Any final permanent injunction could be challenged in a federal court. The OPEN bill also narrows the definition of websites that can be targeted in a way that excludes service providers and search engines. As a result, only websites “dedicated to infringing activity” or with a “limited purpose or use other than engaging in infringing activity“ would be at risk; sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube would retain their present immunity. OPEN thus offers a significant reduction in cost over legislation based on broader standards, which would call for a far greater number of investigations. While the OPEN Act is a promising step away from the ridiculous solutions offered by SOPA and PROTECT IP, it is by no means a perfect bill. The new legislation has inherited many flaws from its predecessors, and some of the restrictions that it currently calls for could hurt the economy and job market just as badly as SOPA might have. OPEN attempts to provide clear standards for investigators to work with, but many of its definitions remain dangerously vague. An interactive website dedicated to improving OPEN has been established at keepthewebopen.com, and it enables people worldwide to voice their opinions on the bill. Yet, this will probably not be enough. The OPEN Act has not gotten much attention primarily because the entertainment industry does not support it; in an official statement, the Motion Picture Association of America complained that the legislation “goes easy on online piracy and counterfeiting.” All of the industry’s influence is instead focused on keeping the SOPA and PROTECT IP bills alive in Congress, albeit in slightly altered forms. Unless the entertainment industry and its supporters are able to let go of the idea that piracy can be conquered through censorship, the OPEN bill’s potential will never be realized and the economy will suffer because of it. ◊
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The Practical Art of Thaumatechnology
Shortly after Tullius had snuggled the hamsters back into their cage, Gavius appeared in his doorway to ask: “Hey, do you guys want to go to dinner soon?” “This computer!” Tullius raged, throwing his hands into the air. Iulia, the fifth student on their hallway, walked in then, still dressed in lab robes and a coat—she must have just gotten back from class. “Tullius, what are you doing? I want to go to dinner.” “My. Computer. Is. broken.” Tullius crossed his arms over his chest and glared at the device. Iulia removed her spectacles, polished them on her hem, and put them back on. “Well, have you tried unbraiding and rebraiding the cables? Only the copper and silver ones, of course, gold is nonconductive except to electricity and certain forms of rarified light energy.” “...what?” asked Tullius. Iulia shook her head and sighed heavily. “Honestly. Turn it off, Tullius. And then turn it back on again.”
H. E. Bergeron “I think I broke my computer,” Tullius said to his roommate. Corinna looked up from the tome on the lectern by her bed, and regarded Tullius’s desk. His computer sprawled listlessly across it. The hamsters huddled in a corner of their cage near the bottom, their rune-scribed wheel idle, and the crystal-display monitor on top was a shade of flawless sky blue. When Tullius tapped a key on the keyboard, it managed to be out of tune with itself. “I concur,” Corinna said. “Well? You’re a Scientist. Fix it,” Tullius commanded. He flicked the monitor several times. It turned sunset-gold, and then a deep navy that was almost, but not quite, black. “I’m a Literary Scientist, not an Engineer,” said Corinna archly, and returned to her reading. Tullius sighed and walked out into the hallway to see who was around for him to bother. The door to Gavius’s room was open, so he tapped on it. “Gavius, my computer crashed. Completely bluescreened. I think it’s giving me an atemporal feed of the local skyscape, in fact.” Gavius was lying on his back on the floor of his room, using two laser pointers to draw on the ceiling. He was an Optical Engineer, and the kind of person who liked to wear thrift-store robes even though he could afford cutting-edge fashion. He wasn’t likely to be able to fix Tullius’s computer, but he was well suited for complaining to. “Are the hamsters fed?” he asked Tullius without looking away from his light painting. “I just gave them seeds this morning. And water.” “Is the crystal sitting on anything it can form a sympathetic connection with? Maybe the harmonics cracked it.” “Feynman, no,” Tullius swore. “I’m not an idiot.” “Sorry,” Gavius apologized, slightly miffed, “But you asked.” “What did he ask?” inquired Festus. He must have overheard some of the conversation from his room, two doors down. Tullius took several steps backwards out of Gavius’s room and pivoted. Festus was leaning out of his own doorway, moodily backlit by the luminous aquatic display taking up half of his room. “I didn’t ask, I complained,” said Tullius. “He broke his computer,” Gavius added, directed both laser pointers at his door, and, with an effort of will, added enough mass to the emitted photons that the door swung shut from their repeated impacts. “You know, using a liquid display and solar power is way more efficient,” Festus pointed out. Tullius rolled his eyes. “Freaking hipster. I just need something to run cantrips on and browse the æthernet.” “Well, that’s your problem,” said Festus, raising one shoulder. “You can wipe and rescribe the circle. That always fixes everything.” He sounded completely deadpan. Tullius was not fooled. “I don’t really want to lose everything I haven’t backed up and, you know, have to spend a day retuning the matrix. Also, doesn’t that kill the hamsters?” “Only one. You need to draw the circle in blood.” “Ugh.” Tullius hadn’t had to deal with the nitty-gritty of animal sacrifice since his rituals lab in freshman year. He hated blood—one of the reasons he had decided not to be an Engineer or Experimental Scientist. “I think I’ll see if there are any less drastic solutions first.” “You know, if you switch to solar, you can draw the circle with a gold stick.” “I don’t have the parts. And I like being able to stay up late using my computer, thanks,” said Tullius, vexed. “Suit yourself,” said Festus. Tullius crossed the hallway back to his room, to make the usual motions. He tried buffing the crystal. He went into the backup cache and defragged it, carefully shifting the little metal bits into a more compact shape. He administered percussive maintenance with a couple of whacks of one of his heftier hardcover books. He even let the hamsters out for a little exercise, and offered them some bits of an apple he had stolen from the dining hall.
Beerios Zachary Velcoff
I do not want just Cheerios, I rather would have Beerios! Forget the milk, it’s fucking stale! Let’s have our cereal with ale! The greatest way to start the day! “Beerios,” we’ll cheer, “hooray!” Get drunk so you can drive to work! Punch your boss! That guy’s a jerk! Crash your car, puke on your cat! Beerios, that’s where it’s at! Grope your waitress, beat your wife! Beerios, now that’s the life! Beerios, the perfect breakfast! Start your morning feeling reckless!*
*Consume Beerios responsibly. If you are consuming Beerios, do not drive or be pregnant.
I Am Not God Charmaine Tan
Perhaps he’s going to resign. The journalists assembled in the Grand Hyatt’s ballroom—how they missed the quiet tension of Number 10, but terrorism changed all that—chewed thoughtfully over this as they sampled the breakfast hors d’oeuvres. Or maybe he’s dying of an incredibly painful, incurable disease. Maybe he’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s! Or coming out of the closet! Anything but more of those Churchillian “in times of trouble, we must soldier on” speeches that don’t do any good, and look terrible on paper. The flushed face of the portly Prime Minister mincing unsteadily up to the podium suggested port, but at the sound of his powerful plum-pudding voice, the crowd hushed. “Ladies and gentlemen of the press—good morning, and welcome. I am sorry to have dragged you out of your nice warm beds so early this thundery Monday, and am perhaps even more sorry that so many of you have actually turned up.” Pause. “Rather like sharks circling a small rowboat.” The soft sound of scribbling froze for a moment, decided that it had been hallucinating, and continued on its merry way. “In any case, this press conference will address one or two issues discussed of late in your fine newspapers. I ask that you withhold all questions until the end. “To begin, I would like to address the rather controversial issue of, well—” Under the podium, he twiddled his thumbs. “Sex.” There, he’d said it. Push on, quick. “Now, statistics from the Health Minister attribute the nation’s plummeting birth rates to three causes: inadequate opportunities to build a fulfilling sex life, an overuse of contraceptives, and finally, a condition in older men she refers to as ‘The Leaning Tower of Pisa.’ Therefore, beginning next quarter, a curfew will be implemented between the hours of 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., on Fridays, Saturdays, and alternate Wednesdays, to help citizens establish a rhythm to their—” The Prime Minister shuffled his speech. “Nocturnal activities. During curfew, there will be a nationwide electrical outage, to prevent any distractions, and only scented candles may be used. On these days, the alcohol tax will be waived, as an additional lubricant. It is also now illegal for citizens over the age of twenty-one to purchase condoms. Finally, the state has put aside a portion of its budget for the next five years to bankroll a monthly supply of medication for men over the age of forty-five, to be collected from their nearest pharmacy.” There. That’s the difficult bit done. “Next on the agenda is the unemployment rate. It pains me to read, of late, that I am being described in your publications as ineffectual, out-of-touch. Even—” He looked at the audience down the end of his long crooked nose. “Impotent.” “As the Minister of Manpower has pointed out, we can do little to alleviate these numbers, short of making ‘dole-collector’ an official occupation. I do realize that, given the numbers currently thus employed, that may not be as ludicrous as it sounds. The Minister of Manpower may even show his solidarity with his fellow workers by joining the dole line next month.” The room of reporters exchanged looks and wrote furiously, while the Prime Minister glared at the unfortunate Minister of Manpower across the stage. “In any case, job creation is underway. Tying in with the recent debates about the influx of migrant workers into the country, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority will employ 10,000 new ‘border officials’ to form their dole line along our coast, thus denying the entry of ‘undesirable persons’ swimming to ‘freedom.’ These measures will be implemented once the Minister of
Manpower assures us that we will not have to import the ammunitions required. “Finally, I would like to address the talk of environmentalism in the media. Let me first make this very clear: I. Am not. God. I have no clear solution to global warming. While I do sincerely care for the health of our children and our planet, I do not believe in the economy of having all our cows break wind into bottles to fuel the local power plant. The required infrastructure is more than what our budget can afford, after hiring all those new dole-collectors. “However, I believe that there is another way to simultaneously reduce methane emissions and provide a healthier source of protein for our children. I am, of course, referring to the latest advance in food sciences by the Japanese: ‘poop burgers.’ In the act of extracting the proteins from human excrement and artificially creating ‘steak,’ we would not only reduce the amounts of waste and emissions produced, but also prevent cruelty to animals—” The PETA representative suddenly found herself the target of a number of heavy stares. “—but also consume much fewer calories, leading to better health. To prove that the product is nearly impossible to distinguish from ordinary beef, the Japanese consulate kindly provided us with a sample that was served at the reception buffet earlier.” Fifty-four individual spitting and gagging sounds were heard from below the podium. The Prime Minister pretended not to hear. “It is thus my hope that we can all look forward to a brighter future, except of course, between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m., on Fridays, Saturdays, and alternate Wednesdays. “To conclude, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank you for your time and kind attention. The Transport Minister has also just informed me that because of the heavy rains, the roads and Underground are flooded and impassable. I am therefore exceptionally pleased that we are all already gathered here together, so that you may begin flaying me alive for this latest disaster, that is somehow, my fault. “Right, do you vultures have any questions, or would you just like to start feeding on my rotting, water-bloated carcass?”
Walking on Water
It took four years for you to show me who you really were. I didn’t even notice the first time I saw you. It was the second day of classes, and I was too busy freaking out that my creative thesis was now due in exactly three months, and that the start of my last semester in college was only bringing me closer to the real world. There were five other people in our thesis class, in a room with a large oak table that kept us all so far apart. On the sixth day of class, I noticed you were there, sitting across from me. When I stared into the dark of your eyes it was like looking blankly at the blackboard behind you. You never looked back. You never smiled at me, or even knew I existed. I noticed the clawlike grip you had on your pencil when you scribbled words on the page, the way you wrapped your fingers around it as if you were carving your name into tree bark with a pocket knife. I hated that. In the second week of the semester, I saw you through the window of a Starbucks. You were sitting by yourself and I don’t know why but part of me was relieved. The thought of coffee usually made me sick but I went inside and ordered a latte with the crumpled five-dollar bill I found in my pocket from my last load of laundry. I could only see your forehead behind the bulky screen of your Lenovo, the only one in a place full of Macs. The cashier gave me a disgusted look when I handed her the wet and wrinkled bill, but I pretended not to notice. I took my latte and sat down in the stool one away from yours. You started to turn your head as if to look at me, but then it snapped back into place with your eyes in front of you. I looked at you from the side and for a second I thought you were beautiful. There was nothing for me to stare at while I sat there, so I pretended to take particular interest in the “Specials” sign above your head. “That caramel mocha latte sure sounds good.” Now your neck was craned to see the sign and you slowly turned around to face me with this mischief in your eyes. You weren’t drinking anything. I asked you if you wanted to try it. “Maybe some other time.” You closed your laptop and my gaze followed the hem of your skirt as you got up and walked out, holding on to the glass door until it shut so that it didn’t make a sound. You still wouldn’t sit next to me in class; you still wouldn’t meet my eyes when I looked up at you. One week after Valentine’s Day I took my time placing my only notebook in my backpack and walked out next to you. I told you that Starbucks only had that special latte for a few more days and that I had really been craving one ever since we had talked about it. “Are you asking me out,” was the second thing you ever said to me. I wasn’t exactly sure if I was, but apparently, you were. I was a city boy without a car so we walked everywhere together. There was nothing for us to do but tell each other stories. I told you about my parents, hippie-aged high school teachers who had met on the rooftop of a van on the way home from Woodstock and had shared a joint and everything else ever since. I told you about all the things I was writing: my “soon-to-begreat American novel” about a New York City street performer, the short stories about sex and love and all the other things I knew nothing about. You laughed and squeezed my bicep tighter and told me about your perfect parents who had met in medical school and gave you whatever you needed. I thought you were telling me everything, but really you said nothing at all. Almost two years out of college and we were both struggling writers living in a one-room studio in the Bronx. I finally had a steady job at a local newspaper that paid the rent, but you refused to detach yourself from your novel. You said you couldn’t focus on anything else and that if you tried, you lost all your inspiration. I woke up every night and rolled over, hoping to feel the warmth of your hip on my thigh. But there was nothing to stop me from reaching the other side of the bed, and I lay spreadeagled with my eyes to the dark ceiling, the clicks of your typing pervading the silence. I let you write because I thought it made you happy. I had given up on my novel long ago, but I didn’t want to see you do the same. I needed you to write because I couldn’t anymore. I asked you why you stayed up all night and you told me you were afraid that you might lose a part of your story in the solitary fortress of sleep. The bags started to appear under your bloodshot eyes and I told you that you needed to relax, but you said the pinky of your right hand was forever glued to the backspace key. One night I was sitting on the couch and you came over in just your bra and panties. Your jet-black hair had strands sticking every which way. You clutched a stack of white paper to your breast and I was almost jealous you never showed that type of affection to me.
“I’m sending it to an editor,” you said. “It’s finished.” I waited for you to ask me to read it, for you to tell me my opinion meant more to you than any editor’s, but you never did. You sent it off to him and you never even told me what it was about. I thought with it out of your hands, you would be able to sleep again, but I was wrong. I could see it in the paleness of your face that all you could think about was who was reading it at that very moment. I suggested that we go to my aunt and uncle’s beach house in Spring Lake, that they were away for the weekend at some silent auction and had given me the keys. You surprised me when you said yes. We packed the car with beach umbrellas and sunscreen and started the hour trip down the Jersey turnpike. You didn’t say a word the entire time; as you looked dreamily out the window I though maybe you were catching up on all those lost hours of sleep, but then your eyes were wide open. That night we lay on the beach looking at the stars that we could never see in the city. The washed-up sand encrusted in your hair looked like blonde streaks. You had your hand on my naked chest, stroking me with the tips of your fingernails. I asked you why you never told me what you wrote about. “Do you really want to know,” you said. I said yes, and you sat up and leaned back on your wrists. You told me that you wrote about a little girl who had been separated from her parents during the Cold War and escaped with her brother to the United States. You said that the story was about her struggle to fit into a country that didn’t want her, with foster parents who didn’t care about her. You said her brother told her every night that if she looked hard enough at the horizon on the ocean, and here you pointed beyond the water before us, that she could see another continent, where her parents were. You told me that you wrote this one scene that had taken you almost a year, where the girl sees the moon’s reflection in the water behind her home. It seems almost to split the ocean in half, making it look like a golden road, and the girl asks her brother if she walked on the water, could she find her parents all the way across the world. You stopped then, and turned away from me. I told you that sounded beautiful, and then we sat in silence for a while, staring out at the unmoving sea. Then you got up and told me it was getting cold. You dusted the sand off your back, folded up your towel, and walked back up the hill to the house. I stayed on the beach for a while, trying to make out the path in the water. When I got back, you were on your cell phone. I raised my eyebrows at you and you mouthed the word “editor” back at me and went into the bedroom. When you came out of the room ten minutes later you looked exactly as you had when we were sitting in that Starbucks the first time you ever spoke to me, but this time I knew you were beautiful. “I need to go for a walk,” you said. I asked you if you wanted me to come. You told me that you’d rather do this alone, and from the painful look in your eyes I knew that I should let you. I watched you go and then went outside onto the beach deck. There was a full moon in the sky and the strength of its light illuminated the sand underneath the deck. I leaned over the railing and sucked in the cool air. I looked out at the ocean, where the fluorescent moonlight had split the sea in half. And there you were, the sunburnt back of your neck glistening, and you were stepping deeper into the water like an angelic mermaid that had been imprisoned on shore too long. The golden road grew thinner as with every step your body was shrouded in the ocean’s breath, and there I was leaping over the railing and sprinting down the sand dunes after you.
Barista Boy Dorothy Chan
the paste going down down down, the dimples of these bums teasing my stomach, then me cheekily smiling at the actual Birthday Girl. “I need another one—” (to eat up for breakfast) and let me eat yours up too, Birthday Girl,
I Told the Barista Boy with Braces, “We need another minute,” and he blushed those peaches-and-cream cheeks against the silvers of his neck that I wanted my tongue to grab, like the holes in those baby strawberry doughnuts I would gobble up for breakfast, until I could kiss their white sprinkles, then plunge them down my throat,
like how I wanted to eat up this barista boy’s cheeks for breakfast, lunch, second lunch, dinner, and dessert— until there were no meals left in the day… The barista boy with braces handed me the baby doughnuts, and I salivated looking at his cheeks, cheekily grinning
filled as a beaker with the coffee he poured in, giving my throaty voice a minute to clear. My eyes couldn’t undress, only caress this pure boy—and his dim sum birthday bun cheeks— the Asian mid-day feast of his face in this nightly hour. Oh how I wanted to stroke the rosies of his face,
at my dream breakfast, until some words came out of his mouth, and he eyes couldn’t caress, only undress me, his lips the sprinkles, adorning my body, his eyes moving from the doughnuts to my ears— “We need a minute.”
the rosies that would taste like the whites, plain like sprinkles, plain like the tops of the albino Chinese pastries of my girlhood, their curvy lines gliding in the middle— my throat-to-throat with them, devouring their lotus paste after seconds of pinching their pink dimpled cheeks,
u o y
Quit blocking my sun!
e ! e r S xt e t ne mes se