Friday, September 19th, 2014
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A Man Walks into a Bar

A man walks into a bar. He takes a seat at the bar, nods to the bartender, orders a Corona. The man is alone. He is the joke.

A man walks into a bar. His girlfriend is at home, alone, watching a Parks and Recreation rerun. She would love to have a drink, relax with a beer at the bar, but the man seems to have forgotten to invite her. Just like he forgot that they made plans to go to IKEA last week.

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"I Stopped Carrying a Wallet When I Became Homeless"

Maybe I should start carrying a wallet again. Maybe a nice, grown-up wallet would act as a talisman, attracting wealth and prosperity. The pink vinyl change purse I got at Target seems to only attract change. It’s not big enough to hold more than several bills and cards. Maybe a nice, leather upwardly mobile billfold would change my luck.

Since I was old enough to carry my own lunch money to school, I have had a wallet. Usually, I carried them until they fell apart, transferring them daily into whatever handbag matched that day’s outfit. Having a wallet felt like being a grown-up.

My father carried a wallet. Having lived [...]

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Adventures in Sexting: An Interview with Kara Stone

Kara Stone makes the games she wants to play. A Toronto-based artist, her primary mediums are interactive films and video games; her first game, Medication, Meditation was a Kill Screen Playlist Pick. Her latest, Sext Adventure, was recently chosen to be showcased at Indiecade.

Users playing Sext Adventure will find themselves sexting with an automated bot. The results of your sexting adventure are entirely up to you—the bot’s responses vary wildly. There is no way to predict the outcome of the game. Sext Adventure was designed to give the bot its own consciousness, personality, and sexuality as players progress. The bot can even reject its sexuality altogether, if [...]

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Every Job I've Had: Four Coffee Shops and Job Training in French Lick

As a 34-year-old woman with a college degree and a solid history of being promoted and beloved by supervisors, it’s a little sobering to look back and realize how little of my job history is fulfilling work designed for grownup people. Temp jobs not included.

Dairy Queen: There was a convenient bus line from this location to downtown Portland, Oregon, so a 15-year-old me could IN THEORY say she was going to work, go downtown to meet boys from other schools, come back, and then call her parents to pick her up. A "no visible hickeys" rule had to be implemented. This was not entirely my fault.

Small Movie Theater [...]

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Notes From a Future Shitbag Mother

On the last day of August in 2014, following an especially harrowing phone conversation, I typed, “I want to stop hating my mom” into Google. There were 63.5 million results.

This is a mere fraction of the 209 million results for “I love my mom,” but it is a result that gives me pause. At 29, I have landed solidly in that period of adulthood where choosing a partner might be largely informed by mutual interest in procreating. Friends have told me that the question of whether or not a date wants children has been a dealbreaker in a way that seemed unheard of even two years ago. The [...]

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The True Value of One Banana (In a Country Without Running Water)

When I accepted a position to teach English in Georgia, my life was ideal on paper. I had friends and a full time job in a city I didn’t mind, with a Chipotle right around the corner from my reasonably priced apartment. Everything was fairly good, but there was no sparkle. I refused to settle. I had a healthy savings account and the teaching position provided room, board, transportation, a monthly stipend, and the opportunity to gain teaching experience to the benefit of my career. I threw caution and reason to the wind and embarked on my adventure, fearless, naïve, and blissfully happy.



A week into the program, I [...]

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The Best Time I Was a Child Con Artist

My family has many unwritten rules. The second most important is: do not open the door if the doorbell rings only once. In our family, if the doorbell only rings once, you were either a salesperson or a canvasser. And salespersons and canvassers are liars and thieves.

My mother came to this conclusion shortly after she first immigrated to Canada; two scam artists pretending to work for the government tried to enter our home. Looking back, this is probably why I couldn’t make it as a (sort of) con artist, selling chocolates on the mean streets of southwestern Ontario.

I have a really big extended family by [...]

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Exploring the Hidden Racist Past of the Looney Toons

I have an uncomfortable confession to make: I have never liked the Looney Tunes. Despite the cultural pervasiveness of these characters, and a lifelong love of animation on my part, they’ve always struck me as annoying, repetitive, and boring—for all the pandemonium that Bugs Bunny and his ilk ostensibly represent, their chaos is bland, their destruction is predictable, and their lineage is corporate.

To be fair, my exposure to Looney Tunes at the time bore that out pretty well: I grew up in the age of Space Jam and the slew of jerseys, sneakers, McDonald’s toys, pogs, and cookie jars that film spawned. Today is no better, with the [...]

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Snackwave: A Comprehensive Guide to the Internet's Saltiest Meme

Over the past few years, an aesthetic we like to call "snackwave" has trickled up from Tumblr dashboards. Now a part of mainstream culture, snackwave is everywhere: it's printed on American Apparel clothes and seen in Katy Perry music videos. It's the antithesis to kale-ridden health food culture and the rise of Pinterest-worthy twee cupcake recipes. It’s the wording in your Instagram handle, a playful cheeseburger selfie, Jennifer Lawrence announcing on the red carpet that she’s hungry for a pizza. In snackwave world, everyone is Claudia Kishi, and your junk food drawer is also your blog.

What we’ve written here is merely a guide to [...]

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The Delicate Nature of Asking Your Parents for Financial Help

I have not asked my parents for very much, mostly because they've never had much, financially, to give. As a child, if you grow up with not that much, you don’t know what you’re missing. For so long, your worldview is only as big as the two-block radius you’re allowed to travel, and since you return home every night like a little boomerang, you only understand what it is that happens inside your house. You only understand the world within the context of what you’re living with, so when I was growing up, I understood on a very basic level that we had enough to get by.

After college, I [...]

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Disrupters, Disconnectionists, and Dicks

On Tuesday, Nev Schulman took a selfie in an elevator. The photo shows him standing with his hand over his heart, staring all serious straight into his iPhone. In the corner, a bag of groceries and a water bottle rest against the door to block it from closing. The light in a closed elevator is rarely flattering; when you have upwards of 740K followers, there’s not much room to fuck around.

“Cowards make me sick,” read his accompanying tweet. “Real men show strength through patience & honor. This elevator is abuse free. #RESPECT.”

Schulman is the star of the 2010 documentary Catfish, a film [...]

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Every Job I’ve Had: Indoor Bouncy House, Defense Contractor, Traveling Nerd

Front Desk at Surprisingly Sketchy Kids Indoor Bouncy House, 2007, $8.50/hour

My first and most colorful job. Also the only time I’ve ever been fired. I remember my mom dropping me off to fill out the application while she waited in the car. I’m pretty sure I was wearing a three-piece suit at the time, because that’s totally what you do for job interviews, right? Anyway, they were looking for people and I guess I looked eager enough.

Every weekday I walked about two miles round-trip in the Southwest desert heat for my never-more-than-four-hour shift. I liked hanging out with the families and kids even though I always ended up [...]

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Aziz Ansari on Selling Out Madison Square Garden and the Business Side of Comedy

Aziz Ansari might be a TV star on NBC's five-year favorite Parks and Recreation and soon-to-be published author, but performing live standup has always been his main love. Ansari recently finished up several dates on the Oddball tour and kicked off his own tour, Aziz Ansari Live!, becoming only the seventh comedian to sell out New York City's Madison Square Garden in the process. I recently got the chance to talk with Ansari all about his new tour as well as what it feels like to sell out the Garden, how he's working to make buying tickets a stress-free experience, and what we can expect from [...]

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A Song of Spice and Fire

The night's chill lingered into the early morning, coming through my window, rustling my curtains in their wake. Birds hooted from their branches: It's time, it's time. Bodega cats crawled from beneath their milk crates and yowled at the rising sun. In the distance, like on Coney Island where there's space, a tumbleweed rolled through a yard.

I awoke instantly, and I knew my call had come: Today I would drink my first Pumpkin Spice Latte.

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Bloodfeast: The "Ragwood" Sandwich

Let’s raise our Diva Cups for a toast. This is a momentous occasion: we are now all on same menstrual cycle. At least that’s what I’m happily assuming. Look at us, braiding each other’s hair, holding hands, surfborting together on ye olde crimson wave. Someone please pass the Midol. I’m wearing white culottes because I like to live dangerously. My dearest Sync Sisters, let’s celebrate this period party with a Bloodfeast snack we can all share!

A couple of years ago I hosted a party based on a legit fantasy: a “Midnight Cartoon Sandwich Party.” I wanted to surround myself with supportive friends cheering me on as I [...]

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An Airbnb Review of Charles and Linda's Unique Private Room, by Spencer Ham

Okay, first of all, stop looking for other Airbnb rooms in San Francisco right now. Just stop, because nothing will beat Charles and Linda’s private room. I stayed in their home for six nights and it cost me a grand total of zero dollars. That's right. This large, centrally located, beautiful space is free. F-r-e-e.

Now, there are some ground rules, but that’s to be expected. You will be required to wear a uniform. I know it sounds a little weird, but hey, a free room is a free room. The outfit consists of cargo shorts, an Angry Birds T-shirt, some Crocs, and [...]

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The White Beauty Myth

Growing up in suburban Connecticut, I was the minority by default. Anything and everything that was the physical manifestation of my non-white background was fuel for mockery. My hair was too curly, too kinky, and too frizzy. My lips were too big. My nose was too wide. People made a game out of guessing my ethnicity, believing such an activity was as harmless as pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. My peers and adults alike made it abundantly clear that I did not belong; my blackness was a constant reminder of my status as an outsider. I can distinctly recall riding the bus in elementary school with a white classmate; He turned to me and [...]

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A Weekend at the Last Abortion Clinic in McAllen, Texas

The walk from the rear parking lot at Whole Woman’s Health to the entrance on Main Street is 100 feet down a sidewalk. The clinic is located in southwest McAllen, Texas at the corner of Main and Houston Streets—both of which are busy thoroughfares that run through the old medical area where Whole Woman’s is. People driving by on those streets have been honking their horns at patients and volunteers outside the newly re-reopened clinic all day.

Next to the clinic is an empty lot filled with wooden signs that say things like, “Abortion, The Ultimate Child Abuse.” This is the same lot where protesters recently built a [...]

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The Costs of Living in Kazakhstan

The costs of moving to Kazakhstan were considerably more than the general costs of living in Kazakhstan. It's easy to live comfortably here in Astana. Though, I'm happy to have savings from my last job so that I can travel/easily escape.

Housing is covered by the library where I work, which is a relief because when I researched rental prices, they averaged about $700-800 for a modest one-bedroom apartment. I wouldn't have been able to afford that on my salary, which is about half of what I made at my last job in Vancouver, Canada.

I share an apartment with another international librarian. The apartment is much nicer than [...]

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The Cost of Five Days on Fire Island

The first time I went to Fire Island, it was on a whim. A friend told me that some friends of a friend had a room open in their house in Fair Harbor, and that it would be cheap. The promise of sitting by the ocean without having to carry everything I owned on the subway for an hour was all the convincing I needed. We spent three days swimming in the ocean and cooking dinner with a glass of wine in one hand. I met new people, got very tan in a short amount of time, and spent the equivalent of a cheap plane ticket to California in one [...]

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