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Photo by Arlington Research on Unsplash

Back in early August, as schools and colleges were putting some of the finishing touches on their return policies, I was making a transition of my own from public school educator to university contact tracer. The move away from the classroom was a long time coming for me, and contact tracing felt like a way to use some of my teacher skills like patience, organization, and public speaking in a way that still helped my community.

Coming into the field, I didn’t have much experience with the industry (my years in retail had focused more on logistics than customer service) and wasn’t entirely sure what I’d be getting myself into. I expected complaints of privacy violation and noncompliance, but also situations with people who were experiencing illness or hardship beyond my ability to offer meaningful help. …

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Photo by Gilles Rolland-Monnet on Unsplash

lying (drip) in bed
drumming (drip) along
to the beat
of the upstairs
bathtub (drip) water
running down
my walls (drip)

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Photo by Anuja Mary Tilj on Unsplash

Toxic masculinity is a term that’s gained public attention in the past decade despite being around since the 1980s. The term refers to the escalation of traditional male social behaviors toward (more) unhealthy extremes. Rigid depictions of these behaviors in various types of media from radio and TV broadcasts to comic books, film, and new media serve to reinforce and escalate the cycle into the dangerous feedback loop that it has become today.

And certainly not all media supports this cycle. Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club came along in the 1990s, threatening to alter the way we view masculinity for the better, but it ultimately failed to make its intended impact, in large part due to the subtlety and nuance of its message. …

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Photo by Sergey Merkulov on Unsplash

Hildegarde sensed something moving in the darkness.

In the depths of the ruined castle, the only light came from the orange flame of her torch, its dim glow too weak to fully penetrate the dark. She closed her eyes and heard more clearly the rush of air in the distance, echoing through the dark halls. Whatever was lurking in the shadows of this shattered kingdom must truly be ferocious for her prince to send her on this mission.

Perhaps the same evil presence threatened her own homeland?

At the thought of Prince Gustav, Hildegarde instinctively touched the pendant around her neck. It was a token of honor from the prince for undertaking his dangerous request into the depths of uncertainty to reclaim a lost treasure. …

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Photo by Donald Teel on Unsplash

who reads aloud from a crumbling book
filled with the annotated history of civilization,
with tales of the Schwartzwald, recipes,
children’s cereal jingles, and baseball trivia.
He reads on and his words invade
my eardrums like saw teeth on oak —
Did you know? — The average number of fatalities —
Once upon a time — And the village was no more —
Arsenic tastes like almonds —
the fissure spreads
through the wood, squealing, snapping.
He reads on, eroding “what is” with the steady
application of “what if,” time, and pressure.

My Fear is a talker. He tramples interruptions,
filibusters dissent with a phonebook full of failures —
Name, address, cause of embarrassment.
His memory is bookmarked, cataloged, tab-divided.
Cross-referenced under shame.
Cross-referenced under heartbreak. …

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Photo by Justus Menke on Unsplash

Bolade Oliveira lit a cigarette and checked his watch. It was 7:42. The sunlight dimmed and the colorful favelas dulled in the dusk. He was behind schedule. He was going to have to drive fast; driving fast meant risking unwanted attention. “It’s not going to fit.”

“It’ll fit. You gonna stand there and bitch or you gonna help me get this into the trunk?”

“I am helping. You’re wasting your time.”

“Ain’t you the manual labor around here? Why don’t you help me out?”

Bolade sighed and stubbed out his cigarette on the tire, unbuttoned his right shirt cuff and rolled it up. His brown skin glistened against the white cotton fabric. “I’m not bitching, I’m telling you: your package isn’t going to fit. I was hired to move a package four feet by two feet by one-and-a-half feet — twelve cubic feet. …

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Photo credit: Amazon Studios

Socrates was renowned for being the gadfly of Athens, pestering its elite experts into revealing the limits of their own knowledge — and subsequently, the limits of our own knowledge. What is real? What is knowable? I’ve long wondered what a modern day Socrates might look like, and Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat character offers a distorted vision of what Socrates could look like in the modern landscape.

The distortion comes from Cohen’s blend of sophistry and Socratic method when conducting his satirical interviews and performances. …

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Photo by Bailey Zindel on Unsplash

With the explosive popularity of Zendikar Rising’s modal double-faces cards (MDFCs), landfall decks are getting a big boost. Solid performers like Flagstones of Trokair and Undiscovered Paradise see a sharp uptick in play and price, but are there any dark horse cards that can benefit from the landfall synergies Zendikar Rising brings to Commander without putting a hurt on your wallet?

Riftstone Portal

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Amazon Studios

If you could have any super power, what would you choose? Flight? Super strength? Invisibility? Power has been integral to the superhero mythos since the archetypal origins of Superman.

Responsible use of power. Courageous use of power. Who deserves and doesn’t deserve to wield power. The consequences of its abuse. For the most part, the superhero genre (especially in film and television) has been content to focus on these abstractions of power or of justice.

Amazon’s The Boys sets itself apart from the crowd, not because of its depictions of violence or graphic content (see: Deadpool, et al.), …

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Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

It hard to imagine the modern world without the presence of social media. This is in part due to its ubiquitous influence on our lives, but also that influence’s dulling of certain facets of creativity and imagination. In the relatively short time that its present incarnation has been around, social media has affected the global landscape in a way that few other forces have.

Its reach has connected disparate members with similar values in ways that allow them to provide support and camaraderie that would prove otherwise impossible given the amount or resources and time needed to seek out one another. That reach unites communities of artists and terror survivors, but also communities of pro-ana lifestyles and radicalized terrorists. …


Aaron Meacham

My name anagrams to “a man becomes.” I love Kurt Vonnegut and cold brew coffee. I don’t understand how anagrams work.

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