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210-892-0951 ext. 116 | JANUARY 2016


NO T E F R OM T HE E DI T OR | by mark stenberg

As my dad tells it, there were 100 female nurses and 5 male nurses in his 1982 graduating class. Two of the male nurses were gay, so they didn’t count. One of the other male nurses was way more attractive than my dad, so he got first pass at whomever he wanted. This meant my dad and the other male nurse had completely unimpeded access to the remaining 99 nurses. Here’s the kicker though: The other male nurse, the only other guy my dad had to compete with, had a hook for a hand. This is no joke. Tom Arnaud had lost his arm in an accident at a threshing mill in southern Idaho when he was a teenager. For whatever reason, he interpreted the dismemberment as a sign that he should go into the medical field. Arnaud moved to Seattle to get his nursing degree from the University of Washington in 1981, where he became a licensed nurse, hook hand and all. Of course, nobody was a bigger supporter of Arnaud’s



medical ambitions than my dad, who tirelessly helped him to fulfill his dreams. In my dad’s mind, Arnaud occupied a male nurse spot that could’ve just as easily been filled by someone with two healthy hands, and my dad was determined to help himself by helping Arnaud. As Benjamin Franklin put it, “Do good by doing well.” Come graduation, my dad had created a situation in which his only romantic competition for 99 nurses was a man who haunted the nightmares of colonoscopy patients throughout the hospital. With the kind of confidence that only an unimpeachable beta-male could have, my dad surveyed the field. Soon after, he met my mom. Six months later they were married. The funny thing is, what must’ve seemed like an embarrassment of riches to my dad (there’s a Jay-Z joke here somewhere), would be just a drop in the ocean of modern romance. In fact, in the time it’s taken to read this, you probably could’ve swiped through a hundred willing partners on Tinder, and of course that’s just the tip of the internet iceberg. Within just the last decade, the concepts of love, sex, romance, dating and relationships have all changed enormously. Aziz Ansari has a good book about it. Depending on who you ask of course, the results can be a lot of fun, but they can also be confusing. Some pine for the bygone days of destiny (pg. 38), while forward-thinkers look to the future for love (pg. 32). But whether you’re looking to soundtrack your current love status (pg. 16), figure out Valentine’s Day plans (pg. 18), or just get over your ex (pg. 14), we’re here to help.



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S UN GOD | by dillon scott

MEDITATING BEATS MEDICATING When I entered a 12-step program nineteen years ago, they started talking to me about prayer and meditation. I was familiar with the prayer part, having been raised Southern Baptist. But this meditation thing was new to me. My understanding of meditation was infantile. Having never been exposed to it, my perspective was taken from cartoons I had seen as a kid. I imagined a hermit sitting crossed-legged on a mountain-top chanting gibberish. I thought meditation was only for yogis. Boy, was I wrong. If you’ve ever caught yourself daydreaming, or worse yet, been caught by your mother or teacher staring off into space, these are simple forms of meditation. Like prayer, meditation is a very personal thing. There is no right or wrong way to do it. My preference has always been to do it first thing in the morning when I wake up while I’m having my coffee. It’s a good way for me to start my day. At first I did a lot of journaling, writing my thoughts down at they came to me. I was methodical with my writing, thinking that my words would reveal some enlightened wisdom about myself. Eventually my thoughts came so fast that my hand couldn’t keep up with my head, and my writing became scribble. It didn’t matter. What mattered was that I got the thoughts out of my head and onto paper. Turns out that “pen to paper” is as old a custom as when humans first learned to write. There’s something therapeutic about it. After I journal, I sit and see if any ideas come to me. Sometimes they do. What’s important for me is that it’s become a healthy habit. It’s taken the place of the old habits I had for medicating myself. This can be any sort of external substance used to make me feel better. Drugs, alcohol, sex, work, shopping, eating, etc., are all forms of unhealthy medication if taken to the extreme. Sometimes I experience what’s called “dark night of the soul.” That’s when my morning mediation really comes in handy. It gives me some stability to get my mind back on track. Today there are devices that measure brain waves and electro-magnetic energy. They’ve been used to verify that meditation aids the body in dealing with stress and such. I’m no scientist. But in the many years that I’ve practiced meditation, I know that it has saved my sanity, if not literally my life.


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MOR E L IK E C OL D F OR E P L AY | by elijah watson

banana peppers! Those tiny, crunchy bursts of briny sweetness that pop their tart tang into your mouth—they really are all yellow! Top any pizza with a few and you’ll have a halftime snack that comes out swinging but mellows out toward the end —kind of like the opposite of Chris.

2. A Rush Of Blood To The Head BBQ Beef Brisket


(Chris Martin’s Ex-Wife? He and I Are Cool About It Though)

Celebrating My Ex-Husband’s Super Bowl Halftime Performance with Seven Album-Inspired Recipes Hello, fellow food and football enthusiasts! Even though Chris and I consciously uncoupled in 2014, I still wanted to do something special to celebrate his Super Bowl performance. I’m still super supportive of all of his achievements, but more importantly, I’m super supportive of good drinks, good food and good times—I even occasionally enjoy a light American Spirit! This year, I thought it would be a fun idea to make seven football-friendly recipes for Super Bowl 50, and base each one on a Coldplay album. So, let’s get cooking! And if you were wondering, yes, this is the time to break out that $56 Brewer Clifton Pinot Noir you’ve been saving. Wait, you don’t have—? How do you—? No I’m not going to say tha—A bottle of Barefoot will do just fine, too!

1. Parachutes Banana Pepper Pizza

Ok! So, Parachutes—Chris’ first album. I hadn’t met Chris yet, but when I heard “Yellow” for the first time, I could tell right away that he was a foodie, because he was writing about

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One time when I locked myself in Chris’ dressing room closet, I overheard him talking about recording A Rush Of Blood To The Head. “The new songs are reflective of new attitudes,” he said. “[They tell listeners] not to be frightened. Anybody can achieve whatever they want to.” So brave, hopeful, and dreamy—did it just get really, really hot in here? Whoo! Talk about a rush, right? Ha, that totally deserves another glass of Brewster Clifton. Sure, “Green Eyes” wasn’t technically about me but whatever. We got to go on a double date with the coolest couple ever, Beyonce and Jay Z — because back then I was a star…Where did that glass of wine go? Hehe! Anyways, BBQ beef brisket. Savory, smoky, sweet, and slow cooked at a low temp for hours, this rump roast will be fork tender and taste better with every bite. A bit like listening to “Clocks” and letting that piano riff settle in your eardrums, slowly crescendoing into a combination of bass, drums and Chris’ soothing “Youuuuuu areeeeee.”

3. X&Y Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

X&Y means a lot to me because Chris dedicated the entire album to my late father, Bruce W. Paltrow. I will always admire and appreciate him for that, because he was (and still is, we’re totally cool) there for me. He was comforting, patient and supportive—a great friend. A contributor to my mental, physical and spiritual cleansing, if you will. While these zucchini cookies probably won’t do the exact same thing, they are a fun, yummy way to sneak some veggies past your sweet tooth! I like to think we’re having fun here :) Make sure to eat one of these fresh out of the oven so that ooey gooey goodness melts on your tongue — just like my heart melted when I first heard “Speed Of Sound.”

4. Viva La Vida Vegan Tacos

By the time Viva La Vida was released, Chris and I had gotten married and had two children, Apple and Moses. To quote Drake, what a time to be alive. (That’s right, did you forget that this badass bitch rocked “Started From The Bottom” on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon? I don’t need Chris to be cool.) Viva La Vida is celebratory. When Chris sang, “I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing / Roman cavalry choirs are singing,” I felt triumphant. And why not? 2008 was a great year for the two of us: Viva La Vida ended up being the world’s best selling

album and I starred in Iron Man. Needless to say we ruled the world — sort of. Yeah, sure, I’m taking some of the lyrics out of context and reinterpreting the song’s theme of suffering, but you can’t really “viva la vida” without some suffering anyway, right? Whoo, that took a philosophical turn! I don’t even speak Spanish, so I have no idea if I’m right! Maybe I should take a break from the wine. Just kidding. Anyways, vegan tacos: delicious, festive, fun, gone before you know it—just like Chris.

5. Mylo Xyloto Avocado Smoothies

Here’s how Chris explained Mylo Xyloto to me when he was stoned. “Imagine an Orwellian society,” Chris said to me, “where a supremacist regime (Silencers) is waging a war against color and sound. The government sends a member of their army, Mylo, on a mission to track down people who harness energy and light to create sparks (Sparkers).” “Mylo finds Xyloto, a Sparker who’s wanted by the government. But then magically, through her, Mylo discovers that he’s also a Sparker! They fall in love and try to run away together, and guess what? They do! Why? Because love conquers all! Don’t you get it, Gwyney the Poo, we’re straddling “Last Friday Night” and “Karma Police” with this one! Plus, we have Rihanna on a song.” Chris was so bold and creative on this album. He reinvented his band, but still managed to maintain what everyone loved about them. Kind of like this avocado smoothie, which, I gotta say, tastes like “Para, para, paradise!”

6. Ghost Stories Guacamole

Ghost Stories was released several months after Chris and I’s conscious uncoupling. Normally, I wouldn’t say anything about the album, but this wine has me in my feels. “Wait for your call, love / The call never came”? Whatever, dude. “Cause you’re a sky / Cause you’re a sky full of stars”? No, I’m not. I’m Pepper FREAKING Potts. Did you even watch Iron Man 3? I saved Iron Man. I survived the Extremis procedure. THE EXTREMIS PROCEDURE. Ghost Stories sucks. It’s bland and uninspired like guacamole. I hate guacamole. I hate Chris.

7. A Head Full Of Dreams Daiquiris

Sorry about that! Whoo. Chris and I are good. That’s why I was on Coldplay’s latest album, A Head Full Of Dreams. Everything’s fine! Everything’s good! It’s a celebration! Chris is a chimpanzee! No, seriously. Have you seen the music video for “Adventure Of A Lifetime”? So. Funny. I suggest you watch it while drinking a daiquiri; both are fun and sweet (only one is tasty). Also, I’ve got to be honest with you guys — I totally made this daiquiri before popping open one, two, three, four bottles of wine. How does the saying go? Liquor before wine and you’ll be fine, right? JANUARY 2016

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C ON V I V I A L P UR S UI T | by michael t yler


08 07


04 09 OBSTACLES Take 5 VERY large steps back: They prefer Ed Sheeran over Kanye West Take 7 Steps back: They do a Cartman impression that they’re very proud of

Take 10 Steps Back: Every year, they dress up in full cat costume for Electric Dasiy Festival

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GOOD THINGS: Take 3 Steps Forward: You find out they went viral hitting the quan in business casual at their work one day

MARRY THEM: They can rap Busta Rhyme’s entire verse in “Look at Me Now” without messing up



A PL AY L IS T F OR T HE BOA RD GA ME OF L OV E 01. YOU ARE SINGLE Maybe you’re still single this Valentine’s Day with no real prospects for love and you’re trying to be okay with it and maybe this list is making you real annoyed at me, but I got you covered for that. Here are the best songs for being single: i - Kendrick Lamar

Feeling Myself - Nicki Minaj featuring Beyonce

02. YOU ARE SINGLE & STILL A LIL HURT Alright maybe you have been dreading this month for the entire year and this whole love thing makes you wanna puke because hey, you are over your ex, but you’re maybe still a little sore from the heartbreak. I got you covered. Here are the best “fuck your ex im over it but maybe not entirely” songs:


Fuck It (I Don’t Want You Back) - Eamon

What Goes Around...Comes Around - Justin Timberlake


03. SINGLE & READY TO MINGLE Maybe this year the whole love thing is cheesy to you but you want to at least hook up with someone and you’re def going out. You gonna search the club for the right person, and y’all are going to make it happen. Here are the best grinding songs for you then, my booty shaking amigo(a): No Hands - Waka Flocka Flame Toot It & Boot It – YG

04. FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS Okay so you’ve found yourself a young person that is as interested in you physically as you are to them and you’ve got a consistent thing going. You both understand your roles as late night booty call and it isn’t paradise and you for sure wouldn’t introduce them to your parents, but hey, the winter is cold, who can blame ya? Cuddy Buddy – Mike Jones featuring T-Pain, Lil Wayne and Twista Hotline Bling – Drake

05. BAE DOES NOT EVEN KNOW YOU EXIST Does Bae know you exist? Is your love as unrequited as ever? If the answer is “they def don’t know I exist,” then we got the songs for you: Why Can’t I? - Liz Phair

You Don’t Know My Name – Alicia Keys

Bae kept you around because you have the history but you certainly don’t have the trust anymore, at least not right now. This Valentine’s Day may be exactly what you need to get back in good graces with Bae, and if that is the case, allow me to soundtrack your journey back from the doldrums: It Wasn’t Me - Shaggy Sorry – Justin Bieber

08. YOUR LOVE HAS STALED When you met at Chi Oh Formal two years ago, he promised, in between shots of Fireball and grinding to Drake songs, that this love would last forever, and while his presence in your life has certainly been appreciated, something is just missing. Don’t you dare fret. You’re still young and have plenty more time to find the right Bae for the semiformal that is life. Throw on these tracks and look your significant other dead in the eye and realize that this might be the end of this rodeo. At least it was fun while it lasted: Burn – Usher


Say Goodbye – Chris Brown

Have you been friendzoned but you’re hopeful and for sure making progress? Here are the tracks for you:


Just A Friend – Biz Markie

You Belong With Me – Taylor Swift

07. GOT CAUGHT CHEATING: Maybe one Bae wasn’t enough for you and you got caught red handed with your hand in the metaphorical cookie jar.

Are you guys smitten? Is your love as fresh as ever? If so, then throw on a few of these stellar tracks, get the camp fire going, and get ready for some serious cuddle time with Bae: Flotus - Flying Lotus

I Really Like You - Carly Rae Jepsen My Kind of Woman - Mac Demarco


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VA L E N T INE S DAY V S S H A R K S | by john david white

Log in


VALENTINES DAY VS. SHARKS Valentines Day is this month. Good grief, another Hallmark holiday that excludes a third of the world’s population. Please shoot me in the face if gun control still doesn’t exist by the time this is published. I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes because of my insensitive gun control joke, but I bet most of you are rolling your eyes because you’ve got a big night planned with your significant other. But to you I say—What does it all mean? Why do you have to prove your love on February 14th of all days and

Article Talk Read not like on a hot and sexy Tuesday Main Page Valentine’s in September? And Contents Day vs. Sharks Featured Content why are months Current Events and days of the SB: So, Wikipedia, Random Events what’re the origins week proper nouns Donate to Wiki behind this Western traWiki Home that need to be dition that’s so ingrained capitalized? But I in our culture? What Interaction digress. does it all mean? Help To get to the About Wiki Wikipedia: Valentine Community Portal bottom of this, of Terni became bishop Recent Changes I helped Study of Interamna (modern Contact Page Terni) about AD 197 Breaks interview and is said to have Tools a close friend of been martyred during What Links mine who happens the persecution under Related Changes Emperor Aurelian. Saint to be an accredited Upload Valentine’s head was Special Pages historian and preserved in the abbey Permanent Link philosopher. Here’s of New Minster, WinPage Information what we learned. chester, and venerated. Cite this Page (diagram to the SB: Scandalous! And do Printable right) YOU have plans this year Create a Book Despite my for Valentines Day? Downlaod as PDF interview, I Printable Version Wikipedia: still had a lot https://en.wikipedia. of questions org/wiki/Breast about the true meaning behind the “holiday.” More importantly, we’d yet to answer the question looming in the collective unconsciousness since the paleo-dawn of Valentine’s Day traditions. That is course, which is better— sharks or Valentine’s day? Very little research has been done on the subject since Shark of Valenintus died so grotesquely in AD 69 studying shark orthodontia, but I will do my noblest to break it down. Most of the college professors and researchers spearheading the debate declined an interview, so we turn first to a well-known media-giant in environmental science—The Discovery Channel. They dedicate an entire WEEK to sharks,

GUESS WHAT DAY IT IS? GUESS WHAT DAY IT IS? -Geico Hump Day Camel (2013-2015) In memoriam

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which is six bloody, chummy days more than what that naked angel baby deserves. Cupid..more like stupid. *Gives you high five somehow To my knowledge, the Discovery Channel has absolutely zero specials dedicated to Valentines Day. This is because the apex predator of the sea doesn’t have time to wine and dine its mate at the local Red Lobster before flailing around and making dozens of terrifying sharklets. The next criteria that I scrutinized under the lens of truth was each party’s ability to eat fish in large quantities. What comes to mind when you think of Valentines Day—a massacre? Maybe an emotional massacre or a Prohibitionera massacre, but there’s hardly any fish-related massacres (pescacide) directly associated with V-day. Chocolates, roses, lachrymose sex— no fish graveyards. Sharks are fearless, godless killing machines with hundreds of battle-ready razorblades. Do you see badass surfer dudes wearing necklaces of Hershey kisses? No. They wear shark-teeth around their necks because they are the pinnacle of fashion.


Female sharks have a chemical in their brain that kicks in right before going into labor that annihilates their appetite for days so that they aren’t tempted to eat their cute little shark puppies. There is also a species of shark called the blue shark that vomits while it’s gorging on fish so that it JANUARY 2016

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More like the one that got *IN t h e w a y. can consume more than its stomach ordinarily allows. Now I’ve been on my fair share of Valentine’s dates, but that’s the sexiest thing I’ve ever heard. Plus, sharks have been around since the dinosaurs and have survived because they’ve evolved. You know what hasn’t evolved? Valentine’s Day. The VD traditions we mindlessly observe like headless lemmings are outdated and sexist. Hollywood’s neoimperialist agenda blatantly conflicts with the progressive values of the day and age that we live in. It’s a holiday where a MAN is supposed to take out a WOMAN and spend a ton of money on her because we make the assumption that she is a poor little girl with no job, no skills and no arms to open doors with. She is just a giant walking, talking uterus. Sharks are less discriminatory. It’s a fact that 90 percent of all shark attack victims are male—now take that statistic and flip it around and you’ve got the human statistic for domestic violence. Most female sharks are also equipped with rougher and thicker skin so that they can defend themselves against male roughness both at meal times and during mating. On top of that, there’s a large number of shark species in which the lady sharks have evolved to be larger than the males. Scientists are unsure if they have discovered the fetish of “smothering” yet. Lastly, sharks don’t abide by the Hollywood brand of nuclear monogamy—they mate with whoever they want, whenever they want (as long as its mating season). So there you have it. All the facts laid out and tied together with a nice little bow. Now I’m not the number one authority on the matter, and I didn’t “major” in “Shark” at the “University

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of Coral,” but what I’ve learned today is that sharks are hipper, sexier and more progressive than Hallmark’s Valentine’s Day. So whether you plan on cuddling with a significant other this February 14th or beerbonging fish guts with your buddies just remember one thing: *Sharks have two penises.

Sharks are less discriminatory. It’s a fact that 90 percent of all shark attack victims are male—now take that statistic and flip it around and you’ve got the human statistic for domestic violence.



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P R E S IDE N T I A L T INDE R B IO S | by emilio hidalgo

Marco Rubio, 44

Hillary Clinton, 68

Hi! I’m Marco. You may remember me from drinking water after Obama’s State of the Union address, but believe me I’m not thirsty! If you ask about my height, I can ask about your weight lol jk I don’t swipe left on fatties That’s right, if you’re a thick Miami pap…I mean mommi, you’re a yes in my book I’m Roman Catholic though, so you have to say we met at Adoration I was my party’s majority whip, and yes I still have it And just know if 420 is in your bio, that’s a by-o from me!

Howdy! See, I can be warm I’m married but I’m finally cashing in my Hall Pass, so take that, Bill I love new tech so if we match I’ll be sure to send my email and don’t worry our messages will be safe Born in the Chi so you know I like some chocolate in this vanilla latté. Let’s just say that Bill might’ve played sax, but it Colin P blowing my bari My friends are my world. I even dropped out of the race in 2008 to give my brother Barack, (like brotha from another motha brother) a chance, and me timbers he won! Now it’s Hillary’s time to shine, so swipe right and be mine!

Bernie Sanders, 74

Donald Trump, 69

Berninator, reporting for duty! Brooklyn’s very own is now on Tinder and he’s the hip grandpa who knows what the kids and the ladies want I’m friends with Ben and Jerry too, so the only Rocky Road’s we’ll have come in pints Not looking for hookups here looking for the real thing, so Amazon and all-nighter of talking? I’m a strong Independent man who don’t need no party support, kinda like Queen Bey

I’m a self-made man: Power suit

69 miles away

$1.2 trillion miles away

Swipe right if you feel the Bern and it’s not your eczema Twitter/IG/SC: BerninMan69 | Myspace: SparxandMarxShatteredWhisper

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Location unknown

0 miles away

Power hair And from what people on the internet say, Power Bottom Don’t know what that means, but I like power! Name a place and I own something or someone there Our first date, we can take my jet wherever you like, except Mexico for obvious reasons, or anywhere in the Middle East, or Europe or Russia or China or Florida

Ben Carson, 64

Jeb Bush, 62

Obama set the precedent, ladies. Once you go black you never go back. Forget first lady, you can be the first sidepiece Graduated from Yale, but still love Wale and that Lotus Flower I don’t believe in love at first but I believe in love at first Also a Doctor, yeah I know, here’s a towel clean yourself up I don’t believe in carbon dating, but if you fine I do believe in Carbons dating, unless you’re a dude I believe in the second amendment so be ready for my bear arms. Also I’ve killed a man.

Tx FL MA UT Graduate, and yes everything is bigger in Texas ;) Former Massachusetts governor, and cooler than my older brother, plus I can actually get the Mission Accomplished if you catch my drift Even thought I’m not defined by my last name, I still am what I eat ;) You may have heard of my dad Phi Betta Kappa, even though I tried to start the Kappa Kappa Kappa but for some reason it was outlawed Athlete and I still have the racket And ladies I’m more than just a pretty face, I graduated Magna Cum laude so swipe right!

Ted Cruz, 45

Sarah Palin, 51

I don’t mean to brag but I went to Harvard and Princeton, so I’m street smart and book smart And yes I know I look like Kevin from The Office, but I fancy myself as more of an Angela or Oscar, cause I am good with numbers, partly because I graduated from Harvard and Princeton On our date we can do like my last name and Cruz around with my chauffer, getting money like we post to be, then I’ll buy you some groceries, then eat ‘em cause I’m hungry!!! So swipe right, unless you went to a bastard school like Brown. I say that because I graduated from Harvard and Princeton

Back on this thing bc my running mate didn’t work out I know I’m not a favorite, but good luck Nailin’ this Pailin’ down I’m not ur typical girl, > I believe in both parts of a shotgun wedding Cal me Gillette cuz I’m the best a man can I get. And I’ll cut u Not here for a hook-up!!!!! But we can Netflix and Bison Chili… just don’t be a minority Rather be ur shot of tequila than ur cup of tea We could watch SNL now that Tina Fey is gone! Former VP candidate, future HBIC of this great country

2 (like split Siamese twins) miles away

Where’s Harvard from here miles away

Hindsight is 20/20 miles away

420 miles away


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T HE B L A CK NE S S P L AY L I S T | by elijah watson

Black History Month is important because it’s a reminder of how far black people have come since this country’s creation. The good, bad, ugly—we’ve endured (and continue to endure) so much, embodying the perseverance and strength that black icons and leaders throughout history have shown. In honor of Black History Month, I spoke with several black students and artists in Texas about the albums that influenced their blackness. Their responses speak to the diverse voices of black artists that have defined and refined what blackness really is: beautiful, multifaceted and powerful. ELIJAH WATSON,

Music Writer, Study Breaks N*E*R*D, In Search Of There’s not much for a 10-year old to do during the summer. There was the neighborhood park and playground, and if you did your chores, maybe there was that arcade where you could blow your allowance on House Of The Dead.


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But for the most part, summer days as a millennial pre-teen were spent staring at a screen and eating all the junk food. But in that adolescent listlessness is the possibility of discovery— in my case, Pharrell’s alternative-funk-pop-rock project, N*E*R*D. I remember watching music videos on MTV2 when “Rockstar” came on. The concept was a teen weirdo’s dream: the nerds, punks, rockers and JANUARY 2016 • STUDYBREAKS.COM


Vocalist, Magna Carda Erykah Badu, Baduizm The one album that I’ve been spinning ever since my childhood is Baduizm by Erykah Badu. My mom got the album when it first dropped and would play it nonstop. Even into my adult years I never get tired of it. It’s been so influential seeing a unique, creative and expressive black woman making music important to other black women. Baduizm speaks to love, motherhood and black plight. In future albums, she continued to push those boundaries to get our voices heard. I’ve also listened to this album in almost every format I could: cassette, CD, digital, vinyl, live album— it never gets old. It never stops being an inspiring piece of art for black women and black mothers in America, for sure. QUINTON BOUDWIN

Senior, UT Austin Tyler, The Creator, Goblin For me, this album serves as a symbol of Tyler’s success. His backdoor entry into the sacred space of blackness that is hiphop validated young oddballs like myself. Tyler and his gang of misfits all represented different kinds of black kids, just like my homies. They were themselves. All too often we’re clumped together and painted with one broad stroke because of bad representation. But Tyler and his homies represented a young era of black kids who weren’t low-income, but weren’t rich. They liked hip-hop, but still

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skateboarders are the cool kids with the pretty cheerleaders, and they’re causing chaos in a school gym. At the center of the revolt was Pharrell Williams, leading the pack with a charisma and confidence brighter than a pair of Ice Cream sneakers. I became obsessed—his display of blackness was new for me. Pharrell was an anomaly, singing about skateboarding and splitting a Slurpee with a girl. They’re everyday activities, but that’s kind of why it was so refreshing that a black dude was talking about them. I laugh at it now, but back then I remember both family and friends describing my interests as “white.” That’s why I was so influenced by that album. Pharrell encouraged individuality. “Just be yourself,” he says on “Rockstar.” It’s a universal sentiment but was (and still is) relevant to the identity crisis that black people face as they figure out what form of blackness works for them. You can still see In Search Of’s influence over a decade later. From Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco, to Tyler, the Creator and others, Pharrell presented a type of blackness that was born from groups like A Tribe Called Quest, but had an added, distinctive touch, one that reassured young black people like myself that different can be liberating.





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O T HE R IN S P IRING B L A C K A L B UM S : Gil Scott-Heron Pieces Of A Man Bad Brains Bad Brains

James Brown Live At The Apollo Miles Davis

Bitches Brew Missy Elliott

Supa Dupa Fly Outkast


Michael Jackson Off The Wall

A Tribe Called Quest Midnight Marauders Marvin Gaye

What’s Going On Lauryn Hill

The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill TLC

CrazySexyCool D’Angelo Voodoo

Parliament Mothership Connection Prince 1999

Chance The Rapper Acid Rap

Nina Simone ‘Nuff Said! DJ Screw

3 ‘n the Mornin’ (Part Two) J Dilla


TV On The Radio Dear Science

Vince Staples Summertime ‘06

Magnolia Shorty Monkey On The Dick Death

...For The Whole World To See

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listened to their dad’s jazz; played sports, but had creative outlets too. As soon as I saw Mos Def and Tyler jumping around on Jimmy Fallon, some walls were knocked down for me. LEO MEMPHIS REED

Senior, UT Austin Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a delicate approximation of vice and heaven. Between hellish beats and desecrated biblical imagery Kanye West spins a yarn of the inner turmoil of a black man. As the plight of blacks in America grows more dire, this album sees Mr. West tunneling deeper into the depravity projected onto black men in various musical spaces. As a young black girl, this album was a twisted lullaby, its rocking beats lulling me into dangerous ideologies. ALESIA LANI

Vocalist, Alesia Lani The Fugees, The Score I would have to say The Fugees really did it for me with the The Score. The realness in their rhymes and storytelling seemed to show no mercy when describing the life of a black man or woman. It was a testament to the perks and consequences of having darker skin. Hands down Lauryn Hill is the best female MC hands down with lyrics like “Sweet like licorice dangerous like syphilis.” TAYLOR JONES

Videographer, Mashable Lupe Fiasco, Food & Liquor The first time I heard “Kick Push” I remember feeling an immediate ease. The song, a jazz-infused jaunt from Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor, was the breezy tale of a skater who practiced

his kickflips and cruised around town with crushes spun effortlessly. It was instantly familiar to me, a black teen and wannabe Bob Burnquist who came of age in suburbia during the high tide of early Aughts skate culture. And it was a revelation, my first access point to Lupe’s incredible debut, a sui generis collage of acrobatic rhymes, piercing social inquiry, backpacker conventions, jazz samples and worldly curiosity. Food & Liquor was the definitive text of my black experience, a book with pages of my own hopes, doubts and dreams. AMARIE GIPSON

Sophomore, St. Edward’s University Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp A Butterfly Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly was released right after my 19th birthday, marking the year I came into consciousness. For every black intellectual, this is a very fragile time in their journey of awareness and spirituality. As a black artist from the inner city of Houston, Kendrick’s work exemplifies how one can acknowledge your history and society’s negative expectations of you, but still determine your own fate and remain true to yourself in the process. To see someone from a much worse hood than mine capture the attention and respect of mainstream America with his talents, then drop a conscious bomb on them was beyond inspiring. The album helped me sort through the myriad of emotions I felt when I was constantly confronted with the complex nature of the nation’s race issues, and it gave me the confidence and energy I needed to have a hand in our humanitarian crisis. To Pimp A Butterfly is my generation’s most impactful cultural artifact. JANUARY 2016

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S UP E R B O W L DR INK ING G A ME | by will strecker

THIRST MAKES ME A MODERN FAN: THE STUDY BREAKS SUPER BOWL DRINKING GAME Yes, it’s that time of year again. For many of us, the Super Bowl means crowding around the TV to watch the two best NFL teams have at each other to decide, once and for all, who the best team is. Not only do sports fans have 3+ hours of pure ecstasy to look forward to on the first Sunday in February, but casual sports fans and non-fans alike are also rewarded for sitting through the mind-numbing, seasonlong discussions over fantasy stats, recent scandals, and, of course, which coaches and players “sucked” this season. For those who couldn’t care less, the last football game for six months is also cause for celebration. Second to the emotions surrounding the football season’s finale, fans are treated to a blockbuster halftime performance and the best three hours of commercials television has to offer. And following closely behind: Hours of getting absolutely plastered with friends and family while yelling obscenities at the TV screen. However, simply drinking upwards of ten Miller Lites or sipping on Arnold Palmers for three hours can leave you feeling unfulfilled. There’s more to be had, my friend, and that’s what Uncle Willy is here for.

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GROUND RULES Liquor: If you find yourself rooting for the home team, your liquor of choice must be dark. For those that side with the away team, you get clear liquor. This can be vodka, gin, white rum or white tequila, or anything else that resembles, but isn’t, water. The goal here is to get as drunk as possible in order to achieve maximum fun times, so there will be beer drinking as well. Your choice of beer is up to you, but I recommend staying away from O’Doul’s, Pearl and Miller 64 based on alcohol content. Also, steer clear of fruity beers, if for no other reason than too many of them and it’s not inconceivable that you’ll turn into whichever fruit your beer tastes like (I’ve had good friends turn into Red’s Apples).

FIELD GOA L S Whenever your team kicks and scores a field goal, take a shot of your respective liquor. So if you’re rooting for the home team and the home team scores on a field goal, take a shot of dark liquor. However, if you’re going for the away team and they block the home team’s field goal, then the away team’s fans must take a shot of clear liquor. In addition, if that kick is sequentially returned for a touchdown, the scoring team’s fans must chug their beers for six seconds, in honor of the six points put on the board. This brings us to touchdowns.


For every touchdown, you must chug, in seconds, equal to however many points the team now has. If the score is 0-0 and you’re rooting for the home team, and the home team scores a touchdown, you chug your (hopefully) non-fruity beer for six seconds. “But Will, what about the extra point?” Good question, friend. Since the extra point accounts for one point, one

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sip will suffice. However, if your team scores to go up, say, 13-7, you must chug for 13 seconds. Upon a successful extra point, take another sip of your beer, and so on and so forth. Make sense? Also, if your team attempts, and successfully converts, a two-point conversion, you can either take two

sips, two gulps, or chug for two seconds—whatever you see fit. In the unlikely event that your team misses the extra point kick, fill a shot glass with your respective liquor, find a coin (preferably a quarter) and with one shot, attempt to make the coin into the shot glass. If you make it, you’re spared the shot until the rules require you to take it. But, if you miss, you must take the shot then and there.


Sacks and fumbles lost, as well as interceptions, equal a shot for both sets of fans. If a receiver for your team makes a breathtaking catch, take a sip of beer. I’m inclined to say take a shot here, but at this point there are so many instances where you’ll be taking a shot I’m beginning to feel

like an irresponsible game warden. However, if you’d rather take a shot, I probably can’t stop you. I’m just a voice in a paper. But do so at your own peril. Feel free to take a shot or sip your beer whenever a player does something you really like, as well. For example, if a player converts a 3rd down and makes the first down motion real emphatically with his arms, you could take a sip of beer. Or, if a player makes a pretty good play and does a little celebration dance, take a sip of beer. If said player goes all out on his celebration dance, take a shot! The world is your oyster. After a scoring play, if the player who scored does a silly celebration dance, I want everyone rooting for that player’s team to find an opposing team’s fan and whisper “How you like that?” in his or her ear. That sounds fun.

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COACHES There are few things more entertaining than seeing a coach lose his shit at a player. So, if this happens, take a sip of beer. If you see a coach crack a smile, cough up one shot and spit it back into your shot glass for later consumption. If this phenomenon occurs prior to any other drinking, make a mental note and cough up your next shot. Just kidding. That’s obviously a strange rule for a game, given most people don’t possess the gag reflexes required to cough up already ingested alcohol on a moment’s notice, and even if you do happen to possess this remarkable trait, I don’t advise you to actually spit up a shot. Your esophagus could be seriously damaged, and you’ll likely never want to play this game again, perhaps even write Study Breaks an unpleasant letter calling for my job, which I certainly don’t want. So, really, disregard all of this section except the very beginning.


One of my favorite things about football are the commentators. For this year’s Super Bowl, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will be gracing our TV


screens to provide insight into each play. In the interest of drinking, we’re going to focus on Phil. Every time he says the phrase “we talked about” to Jim Nantz, take a sip of beer. For example, via the @philsimmsquotes Twitter account,

and suspense that is otherwise absent from the breaks in football. For those that would rather drink during commercials instead of during the game, that’s certainly an option, and I implore those drinking for both not to talk down to those opting to drink only

during the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys game on December 19th, Simms said, “It’s one of the things we talked about, Jim, we talked about it constantly, the Jets’ offensive line.” So, in this case, you would take two sips of beer, since Simms said “talked about” twice. Also, any time Phil doesn’t seem to know something, go ahead and take a sip. A dead give away would be when he says something along the lines of “I don’t know,” or if he tries to analyze a play, but gives an obviously incorrect analysis of what happened. This is a little subjective, so don’t sip your beer unless there’s a group consensus that Phil really goofed on analyzing the play.

during commercials. Here are the rules. For Coca Cola commercials, sip a beer. If that Coke commercial features polar bears, take a shot. Also, if the commercial features a Coke being poured into a glass full of ice, take a shot. If the commercial tells you to Shazam it, you have to microwave a shot and drink it. Similar rules apply for Sprite commercials, except substitute basketball players for polar bears. For car commercials, take a sip of beer. If that car commercial features a car driving through a dark tunnel, take a shot of dark liquor. Or if it shows their advertised car driving down a winding road in either a desert or a forest, take a shot. Take two if there’s someone talking to you as the car narrowly avoids hitting them. In other words, if greenscreen was obviously used to make it look like someone narrowly


At this point, there’s probably a lot of drinking happening at your Super Bowl party, so whether you think drinking for the commercials is necessary is entirely up to you. Personally, I think it adds another dimension of excitement

A non-UT student reported that he stood up and yelled “Roll Tide!” in Section 7 of the stadium during a football game. After bellowing his affection, he was pushed from behind, causing him to fall into the fans seated in the row in front of his seat. The Alabama student was not injured and did not wish to file charges. The pushing student was located and ejected from the stadium.


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avoided a fatal accident while absentmindedly standing in the way of a fast moving vehicle, take two shots. If you find a commercial really funny, laugh. Then sip your beer. Based on last year’s commercials, Wonderful pistachios are an example of such a commercial. If you find the commercial really not funny when it was trying to be, don’t laugh. Tweet about how lame of a commercial it was, so that everyone has a better idea of your sense of humor. Not funny commercials can come from anywhere, so you must pay extra attention to these. For a St. Jude’s commercial, it’s counter-productive to drink. So don’t. Instead, think about all of the great things St. Jude’s does, and be thankful such a place exists in our society. Then proceed to forget about St. Jude’s once the next commercial starts, which will likely be either Budweiser or Coca Cola. Which brings me to Budweiser. Man oh man, these guys have some great commercials. If you happen to be drinking Budweiser or any other Anheuser-Busch product, finish your drink and crack open a new one so you’re ready for the next commercial. I anticipate this will result in one person in your group of friends finishing at least one drink per commercial break, so make sure you monitor his or her coherence. He or she could be in for a long night. This is by no means a strict list to follow, so feel free to cut some things out or add your own rules if you think you can improve on my game. Just know that I spent exhaustive hours putting this together for optimal entertainment, so altering my game for your benefit essentially makes all of my hard work meaningless. Regardless, have fun, enjoy the game and happy drinking!


Austin, TX

By Mark Stenberg

When I was just a greenhorn beer drinker, I went to Crown and Anchor with some friends. In an act of good will, one of them ordered a pitcher of Ranger IPA—a gritty, hair-on-your-chest type beer. Being youngsters, our virgin palates were lightyears away from the maturity levels needed to drink a mildly robust beer, let alone Ranger. In other words, we all hated it.

Knowing it’s an odd man who doesn’t finish a free beer, we all gamely happycupped a glass, but even that didn’t work. With our tails between our legs, we poured the beers back into the pitcher and I returned it, nearly full, to the bar.

When asked, I sheepishly told the bartender that there was nothing wrong with the beer, we just didn’t like it. Then—and this I’ll never forget—the bartender apologized (??), took the pitcher, asked what I wanted (Shiner) and then gave me two pitchers of it for free. I knew then and there that Crown and Anchor was a special place. Years later, when I tell people I miss Austin, I really mean I miss Crown and Anchor. The iconic bar has been in business for more than 25 years, and is all things to all people: Greek students, old people serious about darts, grad students, roller derby teams, engineers on awkward dates.

Their beer selection is so comprehensive and affordable that it took a friend asking why they didn’t serve liquor for me to realize that they didn’t serve liquor. It’s close to campus, but far enough away to have to look to find it, like the public house version of the Mirror of Erised. There’s no gimmicks, no put-ons, no promotions—just a based bar with friendly staff, pool, darts, scattered TVs, great hamburgers and plenty outdoor seating. And Ranger IPA. JANUARY 2016

| 31

M Y T IME IN T HE TA NK | by andrew wilson

Wet and sweaty, dark and silent, I sat in an oversized tub filled with supersaturated medicinal salt water for sixty minutes. I learned about my body and mind, and the futility of my existence was reaffirmed.

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Love as the Absence of Pain The goal of the Sensory Deprivation Tank (SDT) is to deprive the body of all senses. In order to achieve this, the tanks must be completely dark and soundproof, which adds SDTs to the incredibly long list of enjoyable things that claustrophobic will never be able to enjoy. The water is then supersaturated with salt for two reasons. First, because the salt increases the buoyancy of the water, which allows the body to float effortlessly; and second, to maintain a constant temperature of 98.6° Fahrenheit, the heat of a normal human, so that the water itself doesn’t provide any sensory stimulation. Hot water burns and cold water chills, but skintemperature water makes you lose all sense of your body! The concept of the SDT was first realized by an odd character named John Lilly in 1953. At the time, Lilly

was working with the US Public Health Service Commissioned Officers Corps on a way to isolate the human mind from external stimulation. While his career can be summarized as researching consciousness through psychedelic drugs and dolphin communication, the details are far more engaging. Lilly worked for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence project with a group of scientists who called themselves The Order of the Dolphin. He theorized that human-engineered electronics could, or already have, created autonomous creatures able to thrive in low-temperature vacuums that would later engage in intellectual and physical warfare with humans. The true magnum opus of

Lilly’s work, however, is the Earth Coincidence Control Office theory that claims there is a hierarchy of cosmic beings, and that the ECCO is the guiding intelligence in our

universe. The galactic Beatrice to humanity’s Dante.

Lilly’s portfolio is a scientific Mona

Lisa. His contributions range from practical approaches to electrical

stimulation in neuroprosthetics, to

outlandish theories of invisible, warfaring intelligence.


| 33

But it wasn’t until Lilly opened the first consumer-friendly flotation tank in Beverly Hills that he struck gold with New-Age capitalists. What started as experiments on the consciousness by a chronic psychedelic drug user turned into a fad among the well-to-do. Brilliant. I had to find the cheapest f loatation center in Austin. Apparently there is enough demand to financially support over five f loatation centers in the city, all of them located in the suburbs. Can you imagine how many lonely, loaded housewives that amounts to? By my estimates—1,800. And for one special hour I got to be number 1,801, f loating in a tank situated deep in one of the most hallmarked bastions of Americana: the strip mall. Walking in, it smelled like all the chemicals of an indoor pool, reminiscent of the year I dove in high school. Fittingly, a short high-schooler wearing designer athletic apparel sat at the reception desk. When we failed to ask about how he was doing, he initiated that he had been working out since the sixth grade and the people at LA Fitness freak him out. I didn’t expect the receptionist of a New-Age therapy clinic to be a self-conscious teenage gym rat. “My mom told me to try out floating. It may take a few minutes to get into it. I was skeptical too, trust me.” Admittedly, I held no skepticism. I had already bought into the methodology of SDTs and hyped it up for myself for weeks prior. I have the perfect mix of gullibility and willingness to try new things that new age healing methods prey on. Grace, my photographer, takes a mint from the large goblet on the receptionist desk. “I feel like I need clean breath before

34 |


going into this.” The receptionist invites us to choose the sound that will signal when our individual sessions and shower time begin and end. “7 and 10 are the most popular,” he advised. Native American Flute and Ocean Wave, respectively. I select number 15, Sea of Whales, because of my spirit animal, the blue whale. It seems fitting. The pod is white and sterile, hooked up to its own water filtration system that runs after each session. The door hinges lightly thanks to its hydraulics, so release is easily accessible. The water is about a foot and a half deep. There is a panic button. “Not that anyone has ever needed it,” the receptionist remarked. Most confuse it for the identical button on the other side that changes the light settings. The light show is cool, but antithetical to sense deprivation. “I see you brought a swimsuit,” the receptionist said. “Floating is intended to be done in the nude. The swimsuit can mess you up. Sensorially.” I do not want my dick to have its initial publication in a

Study Breaks magazine, so I waited until post-photo shoot

to get in the nude. Nude felt better. Nakedness pleases the senses, or lack thereof.

It is dark and I try to trace the grooves in the dome above

me in my mind. My memory is not only not photographic, but bad. I make no headway in reimagining my surroundings. I feel the reassurance of the panic button. My ears sink into the water, although I remember the receptionist saying something about earplugs something something.

Every stressor slips away bit by bit. The levels of body-

awareness come gradually. First I become aware of how much my body expands during inhalation. I feel like I could inhale

limitlessly, getting more and more self-important in size if it weren’t for the physical limitation of my lungs.

Next, I feel my heartbeat and the vibration of the water

resulting from aortic contractions. Then I hear the clicking noise of my eyes opening. Being that aware of myself and

realizing that I had never known the tiny noises I make every second alarms me. I am a stranger to myself.

I lose my body. I can not tell where my fingers begin and

the water starts. I know my fingers are there, and if I wiggle

them enough they become definite again. I hallucinate and see the same patterns that I do as when I close my eyes for a long


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time, projected onto the back of my eyelids.

At this point I can not tell whether

my eyes are opened or closed. The hallucinations run for five to ten minutes, then back to black.

A quick aside about consciousness:

For ages the stuff of philosophical

puzzles, the idea of consciousness

is slowly crossing into the arena of

biological science. All research points to consciousness being a sliding

scale in animals. Generally, the more

evolutionarily advanced the brain, the more conscious the being is. In this

way, the SDT is Descartes’ wet dream. It drives home the division between

the physical and the mental, the heart of dualism.

Consciousness is horrifying,

existing generally is. Divorcing

the futility of physicality from the relatively limitless power of the

human mind makes it that much

easier. Death does not seem so impending. In the tank, I am

only with myself. How do I convey that singularity? How do I describe the feeling of shedding mortality? Good? Great.

I do not have a recollection of my time in the womb, but this

experience triggered something for me. If our brains are all that matter, and by removing sensory information we can be that much more in tune with our body, I do not think it would be such a bad life, perpetually in an SDT. I understand why babies are so pissed to get born. I understand why no one asks to be born. The Matrix unfairly vilified the goo-filled pod lifestyle. If The Matrix’s stack of red-gelled pods and warehouse style arrangement of human bodies were traded in for something similar to a Beverly Hills spa, isolating the thinking thing from the physical thing could catch on. My experience in the SDT felt natal, but not like rebirth. The tank did not rebirth me. I expected something more, but nothing came. I experienced every sensation that the

online forums touted. I opened my lid and adjusted my eyes to the light as whale song played, signaling the end of my session. Timely. I showered, desalinating my body and getting ready for the sinners’ world outside. I left my room, had a cup of tea, used an assortment of the provided skincare products and waited for Grace to come out of her session. We leave and I go back to writing essays and cramming for tests. Salt cakes my eardrums. “It doesn’t do any harm, but it is a little uncomfortable,” one advice website reads. It is annoying. I am conscious of every burp and every time my ears readjust to the pressure. Every yawn and gulp give a crystalline cracking sound. I am irritated, overly sensitive to my own biology. I toss my swimsuit aside in my room, a personal windowless, concrete-walled, SDT of sorts. The suit holds its shape for the next eternity because of chemistry. The water had evaporated, leaving my swimsuit to be the host for the salt crystals. I take a lick; the suit is salty.

The campus police were called after a female student arrived at her 8am Friday class wearing a big tee shirt without any shorts on underneath. The professor acknowledged that many female students wear shirts large enough to obscure their shorts, but this student claimed that she had been in a rush and forgot to put any on after she put her shirt on. The student was escorted back to her apartment and given a warning.


36 |


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For reasons that we don’t really need to get into, I resolved that in 2016 I was going to declutter my love life. To do so, I devised a two-step process. The first move was to comb through my romantic tangles by channeling my inner Marie Kondo. I assessed, pared down, tidied up, and organized. All the failed attempts at keeping in touch, ignored Snapchats, trashed polaroids and misdirected romances were mentally dated and postmarked in preparation for part two—going off the grid. Let me first preface my Luddism, though, by saying that I harbor exactly zero ill will toward the union of romance and technology. Tinder, Bumble, Grinder, OkCupid, Hinge, FarmersOnly, Christian Mingle, Whiplr, Craigslist—whatever gets you through cuffing season, I love and support them all. In fact, it’d be a lot closer to the truth to say that I’m not really swearing off the love tech as much as I’m just taking a break

38 |


from it (except for Japanese dating sim apps, which wait for no one). But, the fact remained. If I were really going to declutter, simplify, and untangle my love life, unplugging was a major key. So, I gave the old fashioned way a try. And then after a week, I changed my mind a little bit. It turns out that dating apps are a lot like nine-to-five jobs in that they suck, but pretty much everyone has one. In other words, if you swear off Tinder, that just means you’re the only person on campus who doesn’t know if you and that TA would be a match. So no matter how noble or pure-hearted your intentions might be, going off the grid really just makes things more difficult. Plus, it turns out that old-fashioned romance isn’t even that steamy. There’s a reason that our ancestors ditched snail mail nudeys for sexts: Modern man has a good thing going. What I needed was the best of both worlds—a little new, a little old. Better yet, I needed something that was simple yet whimsical,

L O V E IN T HE CL IME OF C A N A DA | by alina shaikh

vintage without the hipster. I needed my fortune told. I scheduled meetings with three of the best psychics and tarot readers in Toronto. I told them that I was looking to find love in a hopeless place, and that they should interpret that however they want. Unfortunately, I was met with the same rebuke from all three readers. They each said making predictions about my love life was impossible. To do anything of the sort, they would have to have someone in mind for them to focus on, which couldn’t happen because I had no potential candidates to submit to them. So we did the next best thing. By looking at my past relationships and reading me, each clairvoyant would try to see what my romantic strengths and weaknesses were, and what I could do to cope with or improve them. It wasn’t the Instagram handle of my future spooning partner, but it wasn’t bad. The highest rated psychic in Toronto is non-ironically named Crystal, and she lives in the exposed brick/nouveau riche neighborhood of Kensington. “My name is actually Crystal,” she said as I settled into the cozy workspace. “I’m basically here for people to go, ‘Crystal, what’s up?’ Then have them express themselves, to prove me wrong.” As the stereotype holds, she gets coy when it comes to explaining just how she can be proved wrong. “I tell people

things, sure,” she shrugs. “But it’s on them to change it.” She asks me to shuffle a deck of cards, which I was nearly incapable of doing. Crystal either doesn’t see my untidy bridge, or my lack of dexterity has no affect on my fortune. “You have a lot of fire here,” she says as she lines up cards from the deck. I sit up in my seat. “Do you know what that means?” I begin to question where I went wrong in my life. “Uh. No?” She leans forward tantalizingly. I shift to the edge of my seat. “What does fire do?” For a moment I think she’s implying that my future holds the possibility of burning in hell. The session hasn’t even gone ten minutes. “Burn?” I rasp out, my croak breaking the silence. “Yup!” she nods vehemently. “You’re either way up here,” she says, throwing a hand above her head, “or way down here,” dropping her other hand below the table, presumably to the depths of hell. “There’s no in-between with you,” Crystal warns. “There’s no balance.” She looked up at me. “Shit,” I say in my head, and maybe out loud. Her sympathetic nod makes me think it was definitely also out loud. “Your throat chakra is weak,” she says. She looks up to see my furrowed brows and narrowed eyes. “Don’t get me wrong— you talk a shit ton.” I begin to like her. “You’re just not nearly as sincere with your potential partners as you are with family and friends.” At that diagnosis I begin to envision my “list of potential partners” (a phrase Crystal uses that makes it sound like I have some sort of huge variety of options) nodding passionately. She asks me to think of someone that I’d like to know more about. I tell her the first girl that pops into my mind, who just so happens to be the clichéd one-that-got-away. “I like her,” Crystal said, which puzzled me. This is girl that

Campus police were called when a student attempted to drive through campus with a boat attached to his Ford F-150. The boat was filled with students who were under the impression that they could drink freely because they were on a boat. The driver, who had alcohol on his breath but passed a Breathalyzer examination, repeated constantly that the keys were to make it and to never give up. The boat was escorted off campus. False


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broke my heart, Crystal, where’s your tact. But then I thought about it. Of course Crystal would like my ex’s vibes. They’re good vibes. At one point, I liked them a lot myself. “She’s a good person,” she said, looking me in the eyes. “You just gotta stop comparing what you have now to what you had then. It’s not fair to anyone.” The next day as I stumbled out of my run-down student apartment, I thought about Crystal’s tough-love summation of my problems. “Drop her. She’s confused,” Crystal had said. She’d looked up at me and sighed. “You’re not gonna listen to me anyways.” I interrupted her with a meek “No I will,” but even I could hear how half-assed it sounded. As I left, she implored me to be safe. It didn’t feel like a platitude, though. It felt genuine, like when a parent says it. In the end, I don’t think she minded my stubbornness. I walked to a local café to get my usual fix of Earl Grey, but was stopped at the counter. The cute barista’s nametag read Natalie. I started wondering if she hates being called “Nat” too, like the Natalie I talked about with Crystal. Her dimple piercings glint as she turns to smirk at me. It would be so, so easy to ignore everything Crystal had just told me. I’m pretty much calculating how easy it’ll be getting this cute barista’s number and having a “Natalie” in my phone once again, until I remember Crystal’s little fire metaphor. I wanted to prove her wrong, so I ignored Natalie’s purposeful lean onto the counter, her crossed arms pushing her chest up and her batting eyelashes. I order my tea and get the hell out of there. Maybe I could have some balance after all. The next psychic on the list, Tara Tarot, also lives in Toronto. To improve her tarot reading, Tara’s studied psychology, symbology, mysticism and dream theory. Her prognostications seem kind of like the book smarts version of Crystal’s street smarts. “I’m really just picking up your energy,” she explains. “It’s a matter of trust. Tarot is just a means to tune into yourself.” She

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uses the phrase “self-mirroring,” which seems redundant but still makes a lot of sense. “I always just knew,” Tara says, explaining her qualifications. Her self-confidence is infectious. “It came in clear, full memories. Past lives. Everyone gets these clues of ‘Who I am,’ and ‘What I’m supposed to be doing.’” Tara helps clients identify what those clues are in their lives, so they can find figure out what they should be doing. Her tarot is a means of disambiguation, like cutting through the fog. “The tarot will always be accurate,” says Tara. “I don’t advertise as 100 percent, though. I don’t like that pressure. I feel like it’s counter-intuitive. It’s hard to say one single thing that’s definitely going to happen in the myriad of possibilities. Tarot’s something very personal. But we can only predict probability, not the exact outcome.” A lot of clients get frustrated with psychics for not giving them a step-by-step plan to follow, but I prefer Tara’s method to the standard $50 compliment bath that other psychics will give you. “You have free will,” she says. “You have choices and you can act on them. You are in charge of your life.” Despite making a livelihood out of predicting futures, she tells me that she believes in adaptable destiny and that fate is not predetermined. That’s why reading tarot is a tool meant to guide clients’ futures, not illustrate them. “If you’re not happy with [the prediction],” she says, “you have to take responsibility for creating your own life.” But what did she say about my love life? Not much. But I did take away one important lesson. Where Crystal illustrated how my personality influenced my love life, Tara stressed my ability to control my personality. To her, fate is just the accumulation of your actions and choices. So since you have control over what you do, you have control over your destiny! There’s a Dead Poet’s Society reference here somewhere. Point is: My romantic history doesn’t have to affect my romantic future. My third psychic was Liz Worth, another one of the highestrated tarot readers in Toronto.

“Everyone’s on different life paths, right?” she says. “Even though we’re all going through many of the same experiences, we live through them in different ways. We think about them in different ways, and we have to take different lessons from all of them.” The next day, when the thought of taking on another job seemed crucial, what with the textbook fees and new residence apps coming up, I remembered what Liz had told me. “You’re very early in your process,” Liz said, “but on a very fruitful path.” The generality bothered me. So school is a good thing? Should I continue doing college exactly the way I am now, aka staring at my professor’s jeans, writing essays based on Yahoo! Answers crowdsourcing, and travelling westward to add time zones to midnight deadlines? “Thing’s might not always be happening as quickly as you want them to,” Liz said, which was hard news to stomach. During my reading, Liz had pointed to the Page of Pentacles card. It indicates an independent person, someone who’s good at creating their own path, someone who wants things to happen as quickly as she wants them to. A lot like a student who, I don’t know, maybe moved alone from New York to Toronto for college, has a brother in Jordan, Skypes her parents in Buffalo, and pays bills with the fumes of a bank account that perpetually runs on E, all because of her stupid determination to do things on her own? Smh, Page of Pentacles. Independence sucks. Next I drew the Hanged Man card, which had me seconds away from swearing off tarot and all its creepy shit for good, until Liz pointed out that it symbolizes the need to self-reflect. “When we try to fix things by launching ourselves into something totally different,” she said, “we don’t really get to the root of the problem.” Which is basically my trademark. I looked down at all the blocked numbers and missed calls on my phone. I’ve met a lot of interesting people that way. “Just step back. You don’t have to throw another action into the mix,” she said, affirming my decision to declutter. While it might have just been an echo of what I was already thinking, it kind of felt like an echo that I needed to hear. Looking back, I’d be lying if I said I got any hard and fast predictions. I didn’t; 2016 is going to be just as much of a shapeless void as 2015 was. But I did learn some things. I need to stop looking for what I don’t have. My romantic foibles are fixable, not fixed. And I need to do me for a little while. I guess it’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s one thing to get good advice from your friends. It’s another to get it from people you paid $30/session to talk to. It makes it seem more objectively true for some reason. I don’t know. I’ll probably get on Tinder after I finish this. But at least Crystal and I are friends now. And if you were wondering if it’s totally fucking cool having a psychic friend, you’re right. It is. JANUARY 2016

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FA K E E L E C T ION | by justin heller THE REPUBLICANS:

WHICH FAKE PRESIDENT WOULD WIN A FAKE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION? A fun, lighthearted exercise to help you ignore the hideous political reality engulfing your pitiful life. In honor of President’s Day and the titillation of Election Season, I’ve compiled a list of fictional Commander in Chiefs from various cinema, TV series and whatever you would call Olympus Has Fallen to compete against each other in a hypothetical election. I figured that if modern entertainment is all about enabling you sheeple to ignore the cultural maelstrom that’s tearing our world apart, then the only way I could stir up some grassroots democracy was to drag the electoral process inside the escapism. As a result, here are eight fake Presidential candidates and the results of a fake Presidential election. Let’s hope Trump doesn’t win the actual election or this graphic might become required reading for U.S. History According to Donnie. God help us all.

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Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb Hopefully redeemable. Definitely likeable. Probably conservative. Ruefully bad at foreign diplomacy. Slightly inarticulate. Who knows— possibly a genius economist. Alternatively, a radical philanthropist. Record of discomfort in the Hot Seat during nuclear crisis. Likely a pacifist. Conflict prevention a must, all things considered. Probably elected on a ballot fluke. Thinks the Electoral College is an Ivy League institution. Started balding at age 17. T HOM A S J. W HI T MOR E

Independence Day

Old school guy. Spur-of-the-moment

hero. Delivered one of the greatest

orations in movie history following an alien invasion. Global warming,

gas prices and gay marriage policies

unknown. Those things don’t matter

when you’re about to be incinerated. Or do they? When a reporter called him a ‘Doomsdayer,’ he retorted: “Well, I

hired the Fresh Prince to deal with it. If you have a better idea, I’m all ears.”



Olympus Has Fallen Largely helpless. Must hope bloodthirsty enemies don’t sneak into the White House under the guise of diplomacy. Classic presidential look of white-collar white guy. Good at being dragged around in handcuffs. Perhaps an elaborate metaphor for a Democratic president dealing with a Republican Congress? Similar to Whitmore, although sans riveting speeches.


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Medal of Honor recipient. Knock ‘em down, drag ‘em out, old school guy. If Indiana Jones got a haircut, joined the military, and funded a presidential campaign. Comes equipped with a presidential name. Family man at heart. Quick on his feet. If you can survive a terrorism attack at 30,000 ft., you can deal with Congress. Badum-tshh. Am I right? Slightly gruff. Drunk off autonomy. Voters might view his lone-wolf streak as volatile. Cracker-jack foreign diplomat.

Wears Jordans to work. Isn’t afraid to blast through issues with a rocket launcher. Treats staff with dignity. Is both well liked and well respected. Bespectacled timidity suggests a collegiate, not military background. Perfect peacetime President. Probably would be President during a war.

Air Force One


Deep Impact Positive, “We Will Prevail” attitude. Ethos > logos. Constantly having to tell fellow Americans the bad news. Puts on facade of positivity in the face of danger. Though he declares martial law, I think we can agree it was within reason to do so given the circumstances. Logical, decisive, aware. Great foreign diplomacy skills. Teams up with the Russians to destroy the comet. Yeah, the Russians. Influenced by the media. Forced to reveal his plan of action to America. Does so with grace and intelligence.

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White House Down


House of Cards

Cold-blooded Southern drawl.

Disarming ability to get people on

his side. Ruthless foreign diplomacy a forte. Honesty not a forte. Loves self more than country. Allows

personal interests to interfere in decision making. The kind of guy who wins in politics, but loses at life. Good thing the First Lady’s

posture is irrelevant to elections. Or is it? A seated Underwood looks like a White House pillar. A NDR E W SHEPA R D

The American President Penchant for riveting, memorable

speeches. Passionate romance with a lobbyist casts his objectivity

into doubt. Self-declared liberal.

Strong on heavier crime control (not just gun control), environmental

endorsements, the war on drugs. Also—the guy just fucking looks like a president. COM





After a couple Wolf Blitzer-led debates, Muffley cracks under pressure and starts looking worse than 1960’s Nixon. Asher seems like a shoe-in due to generous Wall Street backing, but the American people realize he doesn’t have the first clue about how to run a country. Whitmore emerges as frontrunner based on charisma, charm, and his fearless “Man of Action” mentality. Marshall, after initially resisting due to a strong sense of individualism dating back to his teenage years, accepts the Vice President ticket. Whitmore/Marshall become every conservative’s dream. Texas erects a statue of them shooting guns and throwing education vouchers from a Whataburger bag on top of a bald eagle flying over oil country.

Despite Underwood’s conniving schemes, America all of

a sudden becomes a country of smart and well-informed

voters. The .003 percent of America that votes sees through his political malarkey. Underwood loses all support and takes a job cutting brisket at Freddy’s BBQ Joint.

Shepard loses almost all of his funding and votes

after it surfaces that he literally went to bed with an

environmental lobbyist. Sawyer is a crowd favorite, but

people question his experience and toughness. Beck wins

the nomination, mostly because it’s Morgan Freeman, and who doesn’t want Morgan Freeman to be president?


Study Breaks Writer Me! I create the list. I create the rules. I have become Deaf, destroyer of words. None of these people are real, don’t you get it? Beck, Underwood, Muffley, Sawyer, Shepard, Whitmore, Asher, Marshall, Asher—they’re all fake; it’s an anagram. Open your eyes, you droogs. BUMS SWAM. ‘61? The Bay of Pigs? Listen to Ummagumma backwards while watching Rosemary’s Baby and the mark of the beast will reveal itself. Wake up, sheeple, 7/11 was my brother’s part-time job! Hitler’s body, Osama’s body, Obi Wan’s body—what do they have in common with my dad? Das ist komisch.


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DE A DP OOL | by jacoby bancroft

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HE’S NOT JUST FOR NERDS Until very recently, the people who make these kind of decisions had assumed that Deadpool was unmarketable. He’s a deformed comic book anti-hero that’s foulmouthed, constantly breaks the fourth wall and loves tacos. As a result, executive kittenishness had kept his breakthrough movie stuck in developmental hell for years. Fortunately, the recent glut of superhero films have forced movie studios to think more creatively. Stale superhero caricatures have made audiences, especially this college generation, want something different in their superhero movies, and Deadpool is their answer. Even though it’s been a long journey from the comic book pages to the big screen, this month the Deadpool movie finally makes its triumphant debut. Not only will the “Merc with the Mouth” finally get a proper introduction to mainstream culture, his arrival will mark an important watershed moment. The movie’s release is an indication that mainstream moviegoers are finally ready to embrace a more offbeat brand of caped crusader. Outside of committed DeadHeads, there are essentially two kinds of people in the world: Those unfamiliar with Wade Wilson aka Deadpool; and those familiar with the disastrous interpretation of the character from the maligned X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Whatever the case may be, I’m here to help introduce you to a character that has had an undeniable influence on modern comics. Originally created as a villain in the 90’s, Deadpool was infamously antithetical to the righteous, do-gooder heroes of the Marvel universe. Since then, he has evolved from an intriguing antihero to a figure that offers a satirical, almost metaphysical JANUARY 2016

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commentary on the very concept of comic book superheroes. On the surface, Deadpool looks shallow. He’s a mentally unstable and horribly disfigured mercenary with the superhuman ability of accelerated healing. He can’t be killed no matter how many people want him dead. He’s been shot, stabbed, pulverized by The Hulk and decapitated more than once, but he’s always able to pull himself back together. Personality-wise, he’s known for his irreverence and wit, as well as his annoying tendency to keep talking. But the one trait that really sets Deadpool apart from the bazillion other colorfully costumed superheroes flying around saving the world is his metaphysical awareness,

i.e. knowing and discussing the fact that he only exists in a comic book (and now a movie).This is a big deal. He’s constantly breaking the fourth wall to talk to audience members about his current situation. He’s been known to read his own comic book in order to gain vital information about his enemies or catch up on plot points that he missed. Most people he comes into contact with chalk up his random asides and unintelligible rambles to his well-documented mental instability, but readers know that Deadpool is talking to them. This rule-breaking Sophoclean irony allows for a shared secret knowledge to exist between the character and his audience. It makes plots engagingly

complex, especially because of the possibilities it creates as a result of the pictorial format and serial publication structure of the comic book universe. What’s even more inventive is that because Deadpool is an anti-hero, his clairvoyance is more fiendish than prophetic, like a time-traveler who buys stock in Apple but keeps mum about the housing bubble. Deadpool’s unpredictability makes him an absolute joy to read, because he never truly falls on either side of the good or bad spectrum. He’s a good guy until he decides not to be, and he’s a bad guy until something else catches his attention. He’s saved the world and he’s destroyed it. He’ll kill someone when he’s hired to, and he’ll

A non-student attempted to enter the stadium with a guitar case containing a Luna Gypsy guitar. A bag check representative told the subject he couldn’t bring the guitar into the stadium and offered to keep the guitar during the game. The bag check representative provided the owner with a number he could call at the end of the game to claim his guitar. After the game, the owner could not get anyone to answer his phone calls but did receive a text stating, “Sorry, bro, I don’t know where your guitar is.” True

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kill someone for saying the Star Wars prequels are superior to the originals. He’s hilarious and dark, but expresses just enough humanity to make him endearing. Go to any Comic-Con or cosplay gathering and without a doubt, you’ll find a few Deadpools walking around. He’s become iconic in the nerd community because he blurs the stereotypical boundaries of comic book superheroes, and is gut-bustingly funny while doing it. Fittingly, the story behind Deadpool’s production is almost as non-traditional and fascinating as its eponymous lead. Interest from studios to bring Deadpool to theaters started back in 2004, but no one could get an idea off the ground. It wasn’t until 2009 when it was announced that uber-fan Ryan Reynolds would play Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, that hopes of a spin-off were born. Financially, X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a success, but it was bashed critically for its lame depiction of Deadpool

(they sew his mouth shut, which is akin to blinding a NASCAR driver). 20th Century Fox still owned the rights to Deadpool and wanted to use his character, but they were afraid to give a film about Deadpool a green light. Even after a screenplay written by the people behind Zombieland became one of the most talked about scripts in Hollywood, and visual effects specialist Tim Miller was hired as director, Fox still wouldn’t back the project. Critics suspected that Fox was afraid that an R-rated superhero film wouldn’t make back its budget. The project stalled and was assumed dead until July of 2014. Then, someone “accidently” leaked test footage for the film made in 2012, a short clip that saw Deadpool dispatch a van full of armed guards. I use quotation marks because even though officially the leak was accidental, most people assume it was just a coy testing of the waters. Finally, after the overwhelmingly positive response, Fox had the confidence to bankroll

the film. When the first trailer was released at Comic-Con in 2015, fans went nuts and demanded that they show it a second time. Executives happily obliged. The massive hype surrounding Deadpool has made people question why Fox ever hesitated to pull the trigger on the project in the first place, but the studio has actually benefitted from its reticence. Deadpool works best as a violent, biting satire of regular superheroes. Now that the world has become inundated by the beige exploits of Iron Man, Superman and the X-Men, Deadpool will only pop more. When Deadpool shoots a few bad guys and sniffs his gun before looking at the camera to say “I’m touching myself tonight,” that’s funny. When audiences see that after years of watching platitudinous heroes like Captain America fight for righteousness and justice, or when they lament the fact that nobody in the DC universe knows how to smile,


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Deadpool’s ultraviolent, irreverent asides become downright hilarious. Which makes now the perfect time for the Deadpool movie. With superhero films being released faster than a speeding bullet, studios feel the need to keep topping themselves to remain relevant. It’s why Captain America will be fighting Iron Man in Captain America: Civil War, and it’s why DC is throwing everyone into Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice in order to get to Justice League faster. They don’t understand that bigger isn’t always better. What audiences are really craving is a different perspective. It’s why Guardians of the Galaxy did so well at the box office and why DC’s upcoming Suicide Squad is garnering so much buzz. Of course there’s still the chance that audiences aren’t ready for Deadpool’s style, but unless you’re a Star Wars movie, there’s never a guarantee of box office success. Although rabidly popular in the nerd community, Deadpool could still flop on its February 12th release. And although that doesn’t seem catastrophic, it could be. Few people realize how important Deadpool is. Whatever ends up happening to it will shape the future of the superhero landscape.

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Let’s run through two scenarios. Scenario #1—Deadpool is successful. Although most superhero blockbusters have enormous budgets, many writers and critics have commented on Deadpool’s relatively low budget. In a way, it had to be low or Fox never would have given it a green light; it is still, in Fox’s eyes, a gamble. Still, this gives the movie some wiggle room regarding the definition of success. Will it post Avengers-like numbers for its opening weekend? Absolutely not, but it doesn’t have to. All Deadpool needs is a healthy opening weekend and positive wordof-mouth to bring in fans and show that the film has an audience. If it meets or exceeds those standards, expect more Deadpool in the future. In this scenario, sequels and X-Men related team-ups would likely follow. The best case scenario, of course, is one in which Deadpool enjoys massive success and Ryan Reynolds becomes the deformed face of a new wave of violent, self-aware superhero films. Scenario #2—Deadpool is unsuccessful. Critics pan it for its excessive violence and misplaced comic relief, and devoted fans who have been dying to see a proper live-


action Deadpool are disappointed when their expectations aren’t met. It opens at number three behind Zoolander 2 and the Coen Brothers’ Hail Caesar, and disappears completely by the following week. If this happens, Fox will have suffered another huge flop after the disastrous Fantastic Four, and would be forced to double-down on their only successful superhero franchise, the X-Men, until it runs dry creatively. No studio will want to risk making another Deadpool, and Marvel’s darker, grittier side will be relegated to the catacombs of Netflix. Personally, I’m optimistic. Deadpool’s fanbase is small but mighty, and the desire for a different kind of superhero experience will draw in a large audience, at least once. Ryan Reynolds gets the opportunity to play the character again after portraying him in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which is a chance that not many actors get. He’s stayed by the project’s side since the beginning, and has showed time and again that he’s a fan of the character and wants to do him justice. I think with that level of passion behind the camera, Deadpool is about to have a very nice Valentine’s Day.








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