museum patrons

For the last several months, while in limbo between student life and the real life, I’ve ben working at a small museum in my hometown, a job that falls somewhere between exactly what I want to do with my life and something I’d rather just avoid. It was a fine job, and it came to me at a time I really needed it or whatever. It involved a lot of boredom though. And the pay wasn’t that great. And I felt disrespected. But whatever. I’m complaining. The museum did provide a fair amount of bizarre moments though, mostly through interactions with the museum’s odd crew of patrons.

Most of the people who came to my museum were of the older variety. As a young person I relish any opportunity to bitch about baby boomers, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I don’t know if this is common for museums in general or if this was exclusive for St. Joseph, Missouri (which I wouldn’t doubt), but I had this one lady complain that a portrait of her great-great-greatX3 grandma was not getting proper treatment. Basically, someone, maybe this lady, donated this portrait because, according to the lady, her ancestor was an early settler of the town. When the lady saw the portrait, she complained that the portrait was not given a placard to identify the woman. She complained in person and then sent a HANDWRITTEN letter expressing her disdain. Mind you, the portrait was being taken care of and was prominently displayed in the museum. The woman’s letter explained that the lady in the portrait was named Rachel Burns-Fleming, and her claim to fame was that she inherited a business after her husband died. It’s impressive that a woman owned a business in the 1850s, but at the same time, is it really that important? Because the museum’s small and needs money, it basically caters to any whim a person  has, and we had to make sure that we knew everything we could about Rachel Fleming. Even worse, this lady CAME BACK about two months later to make sure that we had sufficiently educated ourselves. It was like theSpanish Inquisition, except slightly more brutal. If you want to know how a museums wallows in mediocrity, this is it.

Old people really like their participation trophy equivalents at that museum. Before I started working there, this ancient woman painted a portrait of Edmond Eckel, a prominent architect in St. Joseph, and donated it to the museum. “Donated” is a bit strong of a word though. Donating implies that it’s charitable and, y’know, free. The portrait itself was indeed free, but she wanted the museum director to pay for a frame. It wasn’t a cheap frame either. And much like Rachel Whatsherface, it was expected that the Eckel portrait be displayed for all eternity. Here’s the thing though; the Eckel painting sucked. Like, it was not good. He’s wearing a bow tie that’s mostly a black splotch, and his skin is Trump orange. If this were just someone’s art project it would be fine, but it wasn’t. This lady felt it was entitled to be a museum piece. And because the museum, much like an overweight kid at prom, was held captive by anyone who gave them attention, they spent the money to frame it and planned to hang it. But the artist’s demands were not done. She not only expected the museum to frame it; she wanted an event to commemorate the unveiling of the museum. Once again, the museum obliged. Except, she canceled last minute for that event. And then she didn’t want the museum to display it until she could be there. So about five years later they finally were able to get the lady and her huge family on sight to dedicate the artwork. The ceremony was the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. It was the equivalent of parents overly praising their kids’ drawings, except the drawing was in a $60 frame and was expected to be displayed in a museum.

Most memorable incidents at the museum went like this. Someone, typically over the age of 70, demanded something they donated be put on display. One time someone legitimately called with a vague threat to the museum because the museum’s executive director was not listed as a member of the museum. Old people, man. But I’m being too harsh on the seniors. Let’s pick on some young people. 

September rings in the annual celebration of Free Museum Day, a tradition started by the Smithsonian. It’s a great idea that gives everyone a chance to explore museums, which can otherwise be quite costly. Museums serve as an educational tool, and quite frankly most people aren’t willing to spend money to learn. And I can’t blame them. You have $10 to either see a movie or a museum. There’s no shame in picking the former. Free Museum Day is a great way to bring people in who normally wouldn’t. My hometown is also a battleground in the opioid epidemic though, so use your imagination to guess the sorts of demographics Free Museum Day brings in. A tall, methy-looking dude and his wife/girlfriend/SO were some of my favorites. He walked around like he was an absolute expert on everything only to make statements like, “Look babe! The Fan!” He said that while pointing at a random fan on the wall, which according to him contained some history I was unaware of. He’s the expert I guess.

And then came a family that just made me sad. The parents were both pushing around 400 pounds, and their four kids were dirty and wearing torn tank tops. The dad was heavily tattooed, with special attention deserved to a fishhook that sat permanently on his face. The kids ran through the tiny museum without a hint of awareness for social norms, and I wasn’t paid enough to chase them down. Meanwhile their fat ass father stood there half aware saying, “Slow down, James,” in a gravely voice. I initially thought this was a funny sight, and since they didn’t break any priceless artifacts I guess I am more inclined to say it was funny, but when I thought about it later on it mostly just made me sad. Those poor kids were in the cycle. Lackluster parenting turns into a future where they themselves might have fishhooks on their faces. Or maybe I’m just judging people unfairly. Neither option speaks too highly about humanity.
Wow that took a turn I wasn’t expecting. Anyway, TL;DR the museum was generally boring and had a lot of annoying guests, but it did help me out when I needed it. Now let’s get back to laughing at some old folks.


the time the worry wouldn’t go away

Writing about anxiety is a weird thing for me. It’s not like I’m hesitant to share my experiences or anything. I consider myself a pretty open book on the subject. Have any questions? I’ll answer them. But it’s hard for me to really put into words the things I felt and the extent to which they bothered me. Most of the time the things I got transfixed on were nothing, small issues that I had no business spending hours and hours a day replaying in my head. This hard to explain part of anxiety was what really made me realize I needed help, and there is one moment I can pinpoint as the time the worry drifted beyond rational and couldn’t be handled with any sort of logic.

For a little background, I had several scholarships throughout college. Humble brag, right? These really made it possible for me to go through college on the timetable that I did and were, not to brag but, deservedly mine. I followed all of their guidelines and had nothing to worry about as far as losing scholarships or anything. But starting in the fall of my junior year my worries, which usually caused me to assume I had cancer or caused car accidents I didn’t notice, targeted my scholarships.

I wish I could remember the exact logic I used to conclude that I was violating my scholarship. It started with this vague feeling I would often get while anxious that something was “off”. Medically this was just my body responding to anxiety and my mind grabbing on to SOMETHING that could be causing the worrying to occur. I went through scholarship stipulations for a random scholarship I had nothing to worry about and concluded that I had probably done something to violate it even though logic would tell me that I had not. Immediately my forehead got sweaty and my heart ticked quicker. I knew this was one of those worries, the ones that would last a long time and couldn’t easily be swayed.

I had had a few of these types of worries before. They were painful and impossible to fully deal with until some odd condition was met. I would worry I had made a costly mistake that I wouldn’t know for certain was okay until a certain deadline, often one that would cause me to worry for weeks. Usually I would spend the time before then distracting myself, and I’d have periods in which I’d realize the thing I was worrying about was nothing, which would end and be replaced with more worry a few days later.

But here was a situation with no deadline. The way my anxious mind processed the situation was that I had to endlessly worry about the scholarship for basically ever. If I had made an error, I would hear about it from the school. Or the cops. Once my anxiety had time to age, the fears grew far out of proportion. An imaginary scholarship issue would result in jail time, for example. But if I didn’t hear from the school, it didn’t mean I was in the clear. It meant the school might not have found the error yet. Again, there was no error for them to find, but I worried. At this point in time my mind knew I was anxious, but even though it processed that I had anxiety, it still took worries like this completely seriously.

I remember staying awake that night, unable to twist correctly in my bed to get comfortable. I worried that the consequences of my nonexistent scholarship crisis would catch up with me. Even more though, I worried about the indefinite worry that this would cause me.

The next few weeks produced a daily cycle of worry that I convinced myself was going to be my reality from then on. I would wake up feeling good and ready to face the day only to be almost immediately reminded of my worry. I’d search for phrases like “scholarship fraud” and “receiving an incorrect scholarship” to reaffirm that my fears were justified. I’d find almost no results, and the results I’d find would have almost no relevance to my situation. Still I’d worry. I’d go to my archiving internship and then to class, and I would go back and forth between worrying and paying attention to material. When classes were over I’d go back to my dorm. I quickly realized that staying alone in my dorm did nothing to help my anxieties. I adopted the floor lounge instead. I was still alone, but at least he space was open. This did serve to help a little bit. Most nights I’d ask friends if they wanted to get dinner or something. Anything to distract me. And I’d try and fail to resist the temptation to go back to my unhelpful Google searches. At the end of the day I would get into bed and try to think of things to distract myself from worrying untilI tricked myself into falling asleep. The process repeated itself the next day.

Then I decided I wanted to put an end to this cycle. If I were thinking clearly I would’ve known that the solution would be to go speak to a doctor about options for anxiety treatment. Instead what I did was email my financial aid advisor. This was an option I had thought of previously but avoided because I worried about the consequences if they actually found that I had made an error. I sent this email on a Friday. In an ideal world I would’ve gotten a response immediately, and my worry would immediately subside. I did get a response, but it was an automated response telling me that the advisor was out of the office until Monday. Suddenly my slight albeit painful nagging anxiety had turned into a severe one as I knew that I would have an answer, but that I had to wait. The physical symptoms of anxiety, like the sweating and heart palpitations, were constant rather than occasional. Whereas I usually managed to distract myself for a few hours at a time, I could never distract myself. It really was one of the worst weekends of my life.

Finally Monday morning came. I checked my email every few minutes in a weird combination of excitement and hesitation. I wanted an answer. I didn’t want a certain answer. A response came back at about 9:15. The advisor confirmed what would’ve been obvious to most people; I hadn’t done anything wrong. Rereading the words of the email from my desktop screen at my internship, I breathed a sigh of relief. It felt good. I sweat for a while, and it felt like I was sweating the last of the worries from the scholarship conundrum away.

That afternoon I felt on top of the world. I couldn’t really explain why this was to anyone though, since I realized that my issue was crazy in the first place, and there was no way to adequately explain it. But it felt so relieving to go to class and be able to just think about class. Or if my mind wandered, it would be to fun things, not whether or not I had committed “scholarship fraud,” whatever that is. I ate lunch and was able to just relax. It felt so good. When I got back to my dorm I started my homework and was never tempted to open an incognito window to do my crazed searching in. It felt good.

Until it didn’t. I had this feeling up my spine that something was going to cause the worry to come back. I tried to ride the wave of positivity though. I asked a friend to go get evening coffee. If I could get out of my dorm, hang out with someone, have some laughs, that would ease my negative thoughts. I had my answer from the financial aid office, and there was nothing to worry about. But the friend couldn’t get coffee. I stayed in the dorm that night.

“What if they didn’t know the full situation?” I asked myself as the hours passed.

“What if by emailing them I made them think there might be a problem?” my worries kept going throughout the night.

“There’s no way to know for certain if I’m okay,” I eventually concluded.

I woke up the next morning and was immediately greeted with that familiar worry. It was as though I never got an answer from the aid advisor. At one point I even asked them again to see if that would help my worries. It did, but I quickly found another thing to worry about. It took me another few months of cycles of worry like this to finally convince myself I needed to see someone. It’s hard nowadays to even really remember exactly how badly I felt when anxiety was at its worst, which makes it challenging to put into words the way it controlled my life. Mostly though, I’m just glad it doesn’t happen to me anymore.

carlie appreciation

It’s funny to think of how drastically different, and often drastically worse, things could be if small actions were done differently. What if I had picked slightly different lottery numbers? What if I didn’t apply to that job?

I try not to think about how things would have been if I hadn’t spent the morning of Sunday, December 3rd swiping on Tinder. At the time I was struggling to work up the motivation to get out of bed. I knew I had essays to write and finals to prepare for, but my bed was comfortable, and I was enjoying being unproductive. I was disillusioned with Tinder at that point. My philosophy of just asking people to go on dates had amounted to very little, and even though I’d like to say I got used to not making connections or getting ghosted, it never really happened. The day before that Sunday, I actually had a Tinder date. I often forget about it because it was completely irrelevant.

But thankfully I was swiping on Tinder that morning. And somewhere between the boring, conventionally attractive sorority girls, probably sweet but unfortunately unattractive girls, and confusingly transsexual types that make me feel bigoted for swiping left I found Carlie. Her profile was one I fortunately didn’t ignore. Her primary photo was her Bitmoji, a decision I know she made because she doesn’t seek the attention of lousy, easy-to-please dudes who get off on unironic pickup lines they somehow expect to advance them further in life. She’s the type of person who could get attention without having to beg for it. Her linked Instagram was a meme account, hilariously called @trash_bandic00t. I loved her cool attitude, the kind I always wished I could have myself, as well as her sense of humor I immediately picked up on, one deeply in tune with bizarre modern memes. Plus, as her other photos showed, she was indeed very pretty. I’m not going to sit here and pretend to be the unrealistic type that doesn’t think looks matter.

So I swiped right and waited. Again, I was pretty disillusioned with Tinder by this point. Sure, Carlie seemed like the type of person I would get along with, but I hadn’t made a real connection with anyone yet, so there was really no reason to expect that this would be any different. But I was hoping we would match. It was early in the afternoon when we matched, if I’m remembering correctly. I know I was watching the Packers play the Buccaneers, so that seems right. When I checked Tinder for whatever time it was, I saw I had a new match. What followed was a concerted effort on my part to seem as cool and funny as Carlie through my initial messages. Inevitably I just looked as nerdy as I actually am.

Even so, we connected! Carlie added me to a meme-trading GroupMe, and I sent her my most recent meme finds in an attempt to look cool. We talked through the afternoon, and I eagerly awaited every new message she sent. I knew I wanted to meet her IRL, but timing asking someone out and striking the right tone were things that deeply concerned me. Ultimately I asked her to get coffee with me because I thought she was, “super rad” (It might’ve also been “hella rad,” my exact quotation may be off). Because I’m a basic bitch, I always went for coffee as a first date choice. It just seemed standard. Carlie is much cooler than coffee, and she suggested we go to Popeyes instead since we both like fried chicken and I mentioned that I hadn’t gone before. I already felt different talking to her than I did to other Tinder matches, and this just served as a metaphor for that. She is Popeyes when everyone else was coffee.

Our date, which is a word Carlie humorously does not like to refer to such meet ups as, was scheduled for December 5th, and I met her at the community newspaper she was an editor for as part of her journalism program. There was never a period of awkward introductions for us, or if there was I didn’t feel it, and I’m always awkward around new people (and old friends too). The period that normally would’ve been reserved for awkward silence was replaced with her showing me around the newsroom before we walked to her car to go to Popeyes. That’s not to say I wasn’t nervous on the inside because I was. She was really pretty and gave off the same cool energy she did over text, but I did feel a sort of calmness too, like we already knew each other or already had some cliche connection

We told a lot of stories to each other on that first date (where I was also introduced to the best chain fried chicken), but the biggest takeaway I had about Carlie from that first meet up was her driving. Watching Carlie drive was like watching Mozart conduct. She had every street in town memorized and she navigated them with the sort of precision no one else could achieve. I don’t know for certain if I fell in love watching her drive, but at the very least it confirmed those feelings. And we drove around a lot that night, and that is in no way a euphemism. We really did just drive around town, with each of us finding new ways to prolong the drive. And when she finally took me back to my dorm, we gave each other a salute as we separated.

I spent the rest of the night hoping she liked me the same way I liked her. I was never good at determining exactly how someone felt about me, but it certainly seemed to go well. I gave the date twelve salutes out of ten at least. But I was excited to see her again, to make sure she felt the same way as I did.

And I didn’t have to wait long. She informed me over text that she was going to go to the local piano bar on Thursday, which I did every week with my friend crew. I had never seen her before, so I hoped she was going because of me. Did she think I was just a friend she wanted to hang out with? No dipshit, if she wasn’t actually into you she wouldn’t want to meet up at a bar. That’s not how this works. Of course, I had no idea how these things were supposed to go. But anyway we met up and went to the piano bar.

A few drinks passed, and I attempted to keep up my obviously not-very-convincing facade of being cooler than I was. Soon enough, and I don’t really remember who started it or if either of us definitively did, but suddenly any questions I had about how she felt about me were cleared up and we started gushing over how we felt about each other. Even more telling was when we started making out in the middle of the dance floor. This was the sort of thing I would’e been so embarrassed about previously, but not here. Here it felt so right, and I never wanted it to stop. We bumped into other people on the floor, got in the way, I had someone passing by give me a wet willy, but it was amazing.

This began the endless honeymoon period of Carliethan. (Get it? It’s a perfect couple name)

I had never had a relationship before, so I didn’t really know how these things normally progressed. It was only a week or so until we would go to our respective homes for Christmas break. I was worried that if we didn’t go into break on a high note that she’d forget about me. Obviously, Carlie would never do that. Carlie is the most caring person out there, but I still worried. I wanted to spend every moment we had before break together because I knew after that I wouldn’t see her for a month. And thankfully we got to spend a lot of time together. She drove us around lot, which I quickly learned as a a turn on of mine. Basically everything she does is a turn on for me, but whatever.

Most of the time I wondered why she wanted to be with such a nerd like me. She could basically be with anyone she wants. No one can match her in terms of basically every category a guy could look for, and yet somehow I was the lucky one. One major example of this neediness came from when I asked her to be my girlfriend. It happened about a week after I met her, and I asked her over text while wine drunk. To be fair, I really just wanted to clear any confusion I had up, but that also was about the lamest thing I could have done. And yet, she didn’t tell me no, and she didn’t criticize me for it like I assume anyone else would have. Later she asked that I give her a proper promposal to ask her out, which took me until our two monthiversary to do. I still feel pretty bad about asking her the way I did because she truly deserves better, but I guess it could have turned out worse.

And we’ve been together ever since, for almost ten months now. I find it funny when I realize how it’s been so recently that we met each other, when it’s really difficult to picture a time in my life where I didn’t have Carlie with me. She boosts my confidence in the way no one else has ever been able to before. When she laughs at a joke of mine, I know it’s a good joke. She’s the type of person who would send a postcard from Japan addressed to my cat because it makes her smile and she knows I would appreciate it too.

I feel like any time with Carlie can be an adventure, and a good adventure at that. One day she sent me a message that she wanted to leave our college town for a weekend and go to Indianapolis. Why Indianapolis? Why not? And we had no plans, and I know the trip was stressful, but I don’t feel like most people could just decide to have an adventure like that. Even our conventionally boring times are adventures to me. One of my favorite memories so far is simply bingeing BuzzFeed’s Unsolved series with her.

Not to brag, but I don’t think I’ve seen a relationship work better than Carliethan. Every couple I see is always fighting or just doesn’t seem to complement each other well in some form or another. But we don’t fight. Like, at all. And it’s funny because we’re pretty different if you actually look into it. Our personalities, on paper, can come across as almost opposites (introvert vs. extrovert, optimist vs. pessimist), and yet we go together perfectly. I think that might be partially the key to it all. Find someone who complements your strengths and weaknesses like Carliethan.

Plus, being with someone as perfect with Carlie has helped me in a number of practical ways as well. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life before I met Carlie, and in some ways I honestly still don’t, but being with her has helped me prioritize things for myself. I know generally what makes me happy, and I’ve been able to find jobs that would help me further my happiness. She has also taught me the importance of skin and haircare. Every time I lotion my face I do so knowing that it is something Carlie would approve of. That’s a generally good rule of life: live in such a way that Carlie would approve of.

I have an endless supply of things to say about Carlie because it really is not an overstatement to say that she is the best thing that has happened in my life, as cheesy as that definitely sounds. I think I’ll stop here though. This is just a taste of how amazing she is. Long live Carliethan!

Y’all should be jealous of me because I get the title of Carlie’s boyfriend,

Ethan Tyrrell

ideas for new star wars

Like it or not, Star Wars is going to be around forever. As long as Disney is able to fill those gross mouse pockets, there will be at least one new movie every year from now until the end of time. Sure, they’re currently experiencing a setback after The Last Jedi polarized fans (even though apparently 91% of critics liked it) and no one saw Solo, but I am confident that our corporate overlords will come together and continue to pitch us movie after movie after movie until the actual star war wipes us all out. But worry not, nerds in Jedi costumes, because Your Humble Narrator is here to offer some great ideas for new Star Wars films!


One of the most highly requested topics for a Star Wars movies is the galaxy’s favorite bounty hunter. According to basement dwellers who read all the novels and whatnot, Boba Fett is a crucial character who plays key roles in the galaxy after the original trilogy. Unfortunately, Return of the Jedi shows that Boba Fett gets eaten alive in the sarlacc pit. What a shame. Eventually he somehow blasts his way out and goes on interstellar adventures, but where’s the fun in that? No, Boba: A Sarlacc Story will take a far more avant garde approach to filmmaking. Picture this: two and a half hours of darkness with only atmospheric sounds to accompany it. Viewers will truly feel like Boba Fett as he is trapped in a pitch black beast. Sure, it may not be exactly what viewers are wanting, but it’s what they need

Projected box office total: 5 million USD

Rotten Tomatoes score: 99%

Review highlight: “I was afraid of sounding like a plebeian by not accepting this as high art.” -Antoine Haydn,


What do American audiences love more than a good ol’ sports drama? Rocky, Rudy, all those baseball movies. Audiences eat these up. Now This is Podracing will take viewers back to the world of Tatooine for a high-speed thriller. Goombu Boomba is a young Scroomba who dreams of being a podracing. Unfortunately his displeased father wants him to continue the family business of farming for blue milk™. Also Goombu is blind and deaf because the Scroomba people are evolutionarily disadvantaged. Will Goombu speed his way to the top? Stay tuned.

Projected  box office total: 500 million USD

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 50%

Review highlight: “As a blind, deaf Scroomba, I too wonder what it would be like to podrace.” -Loomba Joomba, Poomba Times


What is trendier in the United States right now than feminism and fascism? The Last Jedi presented viewers with an overdose of new and atrocious beloved characters, one of whom, Vice Admiral Holdo represents the best of both worlds! Remember that memorable scene where Poe Dameron had the AUDACITY to ask what the plan was when the Resistance was on the verge of getting wiped out? The pink haired Holdo made sure to put him in his place, much to the pleasure of audiences everywhere. Pink Hair Don’t Care follows a younger Holdo as she rises to the top of the Resistance. She will stomp down own anyone who dares to question her judgment while proclaiming that women are just as capable of being authoritarians as men!

Projected box office total: 1 billion USD

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Review highlight: “As someone who loves both violent oppression and the resistance of women, this was my ideal movie.” Rain Bow,, they/them


Ok, picture this: Darth Maul survives his duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi and forms a two-man band with himself on guitar and his severed lower half on drums. They go on musical adventures throughout the galaxy. Enough said.

Projected box office total: 1

Rotten Tomatoes Score: ?

Review highlight: “I made a better Star Wars movie than this.” -Rian Johnson


One of the objectively greatest parts of The Last Jedi was Rose Tico. I liked the part where she almost killed herself and Finn and then said some bullshit about saving what we love. Unfortunately, those bigots out there did not appreciate her, and this led to a lot of Walmart shelves that looked something like this:DZdhcFXX0AAgwBk.jpg

Yikes! That’s rough buddy! But picture this: what if this is actually a good thing? A potential to make a new movie. See, Disney has both the rights to Star Wars AND Toy Story, right? I’d say it’s time for a crossover! In Rose Tico: A Toy Story, an army of unsold Rose action figures meet up with Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the gang. I don’t know what happens next because this idea literally made my brain hurt.

Projected box office total: $6.97

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Review highlight: “Rose Tico is an inspiration. I didn’t watch the movie, but I loved it.”-xXTicoStanXx, Tumblr

So there you have it. Disney, if you are interested in any ideas, please contact me. I have scripts written for each of them.

to all the boys i’ve loved before-if it achieved a 95% on rotten tomatoes, so can you!

Welcome to an IWaP movie review, where someone with a minimal understanding of film rants excessively about movies he just saw. Since MoviePass is experiencing the consequences of its questionable business model, I’m left watching movies for cheap, so today I’ll talk about the Netflix smash hit, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, a film with a title long enough to be on an old Fall Out Boy album.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, or TAtBILB as I’ll call it because I’m lazy, has gotten rave reviews because it has a protagonist from a group incredibly underrepresented in Hollywood of its charming cast and generally wholesome tone. The teen rom-com is an adaptation of a young adult novel of the same name by Jenny Han. Since its release on August 17th, it has amassed quite a following, and critical praise of it has resulted in a  Rotten Tomatoes score of 95% (Note: This does not mean critics say it is a 95% quality movie; rather it means that 95% of critics would at least classify it as good).

As someone who hates when something gets universal praise due to some weird, inexplicable belief that there has to be balance in the universe, I admittedly had a negative preconception of TAtBILB before viewing it, but I tried to keep an open mind. Upon seeing it my verdict is… meh. See, I come from a bizarre place of finding the current wave of young adult fiction to be obnoxious as hell, but at the same time I have a weird, only semi-ironic love of late 90s, early 2000s teen comedies. While they’re probably objectively bad, I love movies like She’s All That. I also sometimes like coming of age stories, and sometimes I don’t. I loved 2016’s The Edge of Seventeen… but I don’t really like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Anyway, whats’ the premise of To All the Boys Who Stole My Lunch Money In Middle School? Lara Jean, played by Lana Condor, is a junior in high school. She’s the middle child with her older sister, Margot, moving abroad for college, and her younger sister, Kitty, in fifth grade. Lara Jean has very few friends and mostly keeps to herself in her room. Except she has a secret; she has written five love letters to boys she has loved over the years and stored the letters in a box. Her story starts when Kitty steals the letters and sends them out in an effort to get Lara out of her comfort zone. The premise sets itself up for some fun moments interacting with the five recipients as she starts to express herself and grow up.

But what we get is a very by-the-books love triangle with not too much new to add to the genre or anything too interesting to say in general. My first complaint may solely be an Ethan Nitpick™, but I didn’t like the way the letter plot ended up. One of the letters is returned to sender because Lara Jean mailed it to the camp she fell in love with the boy at. A second, sent to a boy she met at Model UN, doesn’t really ever turn into anything. A letter sent to Lucas, a boy she danced with at homecoming, amounts to nothing because Lucas is gay. That leaves us with the final two letters, which leave Lara Jean with the classic young adult dilemma of which boring, conventionally attractive white boy she wants to bang PG-13 make out with.

Maybe this is also a rare problem, but it needs to be said. It was hard to tell the two generic white guys apart for a while. Noah Centineo who plays Peter and Israel Broussard who plays Josh are similar enough that it honestly took halfway through the movie for me to confidently say who I was seeing when a scene started. It’s clear early on that they are there to make young girls fantasize about being the girls they fall for instead of Lara Jean because their personalities are even blander than their appearances. Peter is a jock who just broke up with Genevieve, Lara Jean’s ex best friend, and Josh is an artsy (?) type who used to be a close friend of Lara Jean’s and, more importantly, was dating Margot until Margot broke up with him before leaving for college. Lara Jean had crushes on both of them at different points, but after the letters get out, she is forced to confront her feelings for them.

Except she really isn’t? Apart from a moment of initial embarrassment, the movie quickly shifts to a far more important plot device: this really convoluted plan between Peter and Lara Jean. In order to make Genevieve jealous, they planned to pretend to be dating. The rest of the movie takes a very predictable route of this fake dating turning into them actually developing feelings for one another. This makes the actual love triangle of the movie between Lara Jean, Peter, and Genevieve. Because Josh is out of the movie for like an hour. Seriously, Josh gets completely left out after a while only to come back in the end to give Lara Jean the ok to go after Peter. It almost felt like the writers had an idea for the Josh/Lara Jean relationship and then scrapped it a fourth of the way through to focus on Peter/Lara Jean, but then they never edited their old material out.

Ok, now that I’ve typed out Lara Jean enough times I have to commence my rant on this character. Lana Condor does a good job with the material she’s given, and as I’ll talk about later she does have some moments that are legitimately charming, but the general character of the TAtBILB protagonist just comes across as obnoxious, the way adults think quirky teens are. First off, the writers did a quick cop out by giving her two first names in place of a personality. “Lulz, isn’t it quirky that she goes by Lara Jean instead of Lara or Jean?” Her only real conflict in life seems to be that her mother died when she was young, which doesn’t really seem like that big of a deal because her father is shown to be a loving, supportive figure. Plus, she’s a doctor’s kid in a comfy upper middle class house, so I feel very little sympathy for her. What really makes her annoying is the bullshit idealistic artsy tendencies they give her. The title of the movie alone should be enough to illicit a groan in most groan adults who have realized that love is not all cute and perfect and can be wrapped up in a beautiful little love letter. When she narrates the point of the letters to the audience, it comes across as forced poeticism, a trap all of these poorly-written young adult movies/books fall into. No one talks like that. They do              k i n d   o f  touch on this in one point I actually liked about the movie. At the end when Josh tells Lara Jean that she can’t live life writing things in letters and never doing anything about them. In general though they seem to portray this #adorkable style of romance to be a good thing. Oh, and another thing about Lara Jean. One of the few personality traits they give her is that she can’t drive. Good job, team. Way to give combat  stereotypes.

Wait, how have I not talked about Lara Jean’s friend yet? Apart from Lucas, the gay recipient of Lara Jean’s letter who sometimes is friends with her throughout the film, Lara Jean’s only real friend is Christine. I think they were trying to make her a hilarious rebellious type, but it never really landed for me. Her motivation in the movie is that she’s Genevieve’s cousin, so she wants to get revenge on her too? It’s weird. And she ditches school at lunch to go get Subway™. One of her main personality traits comes from product placement. I’m never too harsh on product placement as long as it doesn’t interfere with a movie since sometimes it’s necessary to get a movie funded, but at the same time, it probably should not be a key part of a character. Anyway, she doesn’t really do much apart from eat Subway.

There were a few times where the movie did live up to its charming status. When Lara Jean and Peter are coming up with the terms for their fake relationship, Lara Jean offers to allow Peter to put his hand in her back pocket. When Peter asks why she offered that, Lara Jean replies that that’s what they do in Sixteen Candles. This is a rare instance where her naivety does come across endearingly, and it’s a great detail for how limited Lara Jean’s real world experience is; John Hughes movies are her standards for romance. I liked it. Good job. Another moment I liked came after a video was posted of Lara Jean and Peter kissing in a hot tub. Lara Jean, again because she was so naive, stated that she was embarrassed a sex tape of her was uploaded. They unfortunately kind of ruined this by repeating it a few times in a single scene. Like, I got it the first time. It was cute. Move on.

The movie ends on a happy note that’s mostly deserved, even though Josh is completely, unjustly ignored. I honestly think if To All the Boys I’ve Sang Mr. Brightside With At The Bar was not as hyped as it is, I would probably think it was cute when I watched it, and then I’d never think of it again. But I’ve seen so many articles and tweets about it that I sadly must be so opinionated about it.

Here’s some thin ice for me to walk on: representation in film. It is an important thing. People deserve to see themselves represented in film. Black Panther was an awesome movie that gave a large number of people a chance to see someone who liked like them on the big screen. That’s really cool. However, we should not simply praise a film for inclusiveness. We need more movies about Asian Americans, but I don’t personally think a movie should receive the amount of praise TAtBILB has solely on the basis of its representation though. Anyway, I’m going to stop before I say anything incriminating.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before certainly isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen. But the laughs in it are sparse, the drama is minimal, the characters are pretty shallow, and it really does stick to rom-com tropes way too closely. There’s apparently some appeal to it, but I didn’t really get it.

I give To All the Boys Who Said “You Up?” on Tinder a six-inch Subway sandwich out of a delicious footlong Subway sandwich.


a love letter to lounge life

Due to a misguided moral compass and miscellaneous irrational fears, I opted to be one of what I assume to be at most 5% of college students who partied a total of zero times throughout the course of freshmen year. Whether this was a good choice or a bad one is something I’ve spent too long thinking about, and really there’s no point in weighing the pros or cons of it. Who knows if I would’ve been happier or sadder if I chose to actually go out? The bottom line is that I didn’t, and even if later on I realized that drunken mistakes didn’t make a person a bad person, this was the decision I made at the time, and there’s nothing I can do about that now. This isn’t a post about partying; it’s a post about the year I spent in the floor lounge.

The third floor lounge of College Avenue Hall, or simply College Ave as we fondly called it, was a special place for me, the sort of place I reminisced about when I drove by on the street that gave it its name. It was an open space next to the building’s elevators with a wall of windows that overlooked the busy Columbia street and bridge that connected College Ave to the main campus. It was furnished with four chairs and a couch that were all limited in their ability to be comfortable by the wooden arms that limited positions they could be sat in. A TV hung on the wall. It wasn’t particularly big, but it got the job done. Apart from that and a coffee table, there was not much in the lounge. But it was home.

The story of the floor lounge is really the story of freshman year. I knew a total of one person in my dorm when I moved in. That one person happened to be my lifelong best friend who opted to live on the same floor as me, but still. That was a lot of new people and a lot of major life changes at one time. At the start of the year, the lounge served as the mingling spot for the floor. It’s actually fairly cool, now that I’m thinking about it. Since everyone was out of their element, the lounge broke apart social norms and got people from all groups together. I had the burden of representing socially awkward nerds. From this big melting pot, the lounge dwindled with time as each person found the group they opted to belong to. These were inevitably also broken down in time because everyone eventually got more adventurous as the year went on, and people were more inclined to making friends outside of their dorm floor. That’s not my story though. My story revolves around the good folks who stayed in the lounge. There were around fifteen of us once the lounge settled down. We were linked by not being in Greek Life and by (for most of us anyway) liking sports, which we kept on the floor TV most of the time. I don’t want to say that we were social misfits or anything. I certainly was, but that doesn’t speak for the group. We were types that didn’t go out much. Some of us drank; others didn’t. I loved the group personally, even if it broke down gradually throughout the year.

One thing I loved about the group was how we were able to collectively take pride in what we were: lounge dwellers. There were a few moments where we saw other people on the floor making fun of us, but instead of hiding in our shells, which is what I would have done in high school, we became more publicly annoying, more of a presence the rest of the floor couldn’t escape. It sounds dumb now, but I had never really been part of a group like the before.

It’s hard to really identify the “height” of lounge culture. There were a few episodes that really stick out to me. The first chronologically was the saga that became known in fable as Meme Night. GroupMe, the messaging app we all used, allowed users to meme images with bold white font, and one night the lounge crew went overboard with memeing pictures of each other. Was it that funny? Probably not, but at the time it was. Admittedly, I think everything and everyone should be a target to make fun of, but I also worry about consequences of doing so, and this was especially true back then when my anxiety wasn’t under control. This made me very uncomfortable when this blind kid on the floor became a target of memes. Don’t get me wrong; the dude deserved to be mocked. He was kind of a dick. At the same time, I felt like that could’ve gotten us in trouble by some unknown entity I feared. Thankfully, the group found my memes funny, even the ones that tried to divert attention from the blind guy. Meme Night became popular among lounge dwellers, especially because it was when several mainstays of the group joined our ranks. For me, it was also cool to have a group of people appreciating my humor. That never really happened in high school and was one of the main reasons I loved the lounge crew. They always appreciated my humor.

The next moment in lounge life will go down as one of the great “what ifs” of my life. It started when we were all sharing stories of our high school proms, and one member of the group stated that she didn’t go to hers. As the group often did, a few jokes turned into some crazy ideas, which turned into a “What if we actually did this?” Thus, College Ave Prom was formally planned. A date was set and everything. To lay all my cards on the table, I had ulterior motives for prom. See children, I was not always the suave, sexually confident man that sits behind a keyboard today. I used to suck at romance. I mean, I probably still do, but I’m super happy with where I am now. I thought prom would give me the chance to make a move on a girl I had a crush on. Normal people would have just, y’know, asked her out. Not me though. No, I had to ask her to dance at a fake prom. This is what happens when one bases their expectations for love off of Jim and Pam from The Office. Alas, it would not happen. Not just me asking her to dance (although that probably wouldn’t have happened either). I’m talking about prom itself. I’m not really sure when everyone decided not to do it or what happened, but the day for prom came, and no one said anything. The night went on as usual, with us all in the lounge, and prom never happened. I was low-key bummed about prom’s cancelation. It seemed fun and like the sort of ultra embarrassing thing I would have avoided in high school. The group would’ve been much more cohesive if prom happened. Just sayin’.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, or at the very least a schism. By Thanksgiving break there was already tension in the group, which is really just what happens when people have to deal with each other 24/7. Because I was naive and hopeful, I thought everyone having time at home would allow their batteries to recharge. That didn’t happen. In a semi-ironic turn of events, the first real fight I can remember happening amongst loungers came because of holiday decorating. We had cut snowflakes to hang from the ceiling and everything. A Jewish member of the group brought a cute plush Menorah to contribute. Well, according to her, a few people in the group were “throwing it around like a football.” I don’t know if that happened. If it did, it probably wasn’t meant to be a sign of disrespect. But whatever, it caused controversy. The floor resident advisor got involved because he was all in for social justice. While the group recovered from the incident, I think this really represented a split. Some people stopped hanging out in the lounge as often, and a few might’ve even left the GroupMe.

Oh, that got me thinking about the floor RA. He was crazy. Like, literally crazy. Diagnosed bipolar. I am all for mental health advocacy, but I also understand that sometimes it does in fact limit what a person can do. Example: being in charge of a dorm floor. The bipolar RA was the type of person who really shouldn’t have been given the sort of responsibility he had. My favorite moment of his was when he made a bulletin board and then when a drunk girl ripped a corner of it off called the police due to “vandalism.” And because he had the sorts of odd powers of an RA, he almost ruined a few of my friends’ lives on more than one occasion by accusing them of things that would have gotten them kicked from the dorm. Most of the time though, he was mostly just someone to laugh at. If I’m comparing the dorm to The Office, he was our Dwight.

And he bought us a black Christmas tree. As part of our holiday decor, we wanted to get a tree. I’m assuming because he didn’t want to offend anyone, the great RA bought the least Christmassy tree possible. We got the tree the same day as the Menorah debacle. A few days later, some old scones showed up on the lounge coffee table. Naturally, it was decided that the scones needed to go on the tree. This created the great holiday of Sconemas! We have actually celebrated Sconemas since this, but with fewer black Christmas trees. There’s really no way to celebrate Sconemas apart from putting scones on a tree. This probably is one of those jokes that’s a lot funnier if you were there…

The second and final main split in the group came early in the spring semester. Much as I did over Thanksgiving, I hoped that the month off for Christmas break would give everyone time to cool down and for the group to become one nice happy family again. That didn’t happen, and ultimately the group exploded into insults on GroupMe. I don’t remember why exactly, but I was in my room when this happened, and I wasn’t paying attention to the drama until it already happened. The argument was mostly between two people, and the only other people who really got into it were the closest friends of the two involved. A few people left the GroupMe, a few others made a separate GroupMe, and the rest of us were just confused and wishing everyone would get along.

After this, the remainder of the year played out with a lounge about halfway as full as it used to be. It was kind of sad not to have as wide of a group around, especially for a nineteen year old who thought he found a new family at college, but at the same time the ones who stuck around made up the bulk of my friends for the rest of my collegiate career.

The lounge was never the most exciting place to be. A lot of time in the lounge was spent talking about how much we wanted to get out of the lounge. I loved it though, even if I may mostly be saying that with rose-tinted glasses now. Maybe I would have enjoyed freshman year more of I got out of the bubble I put myself in, but I don’t regret being a lounge dweller. I am proud to say that the third floor lounge of College Ave was my home.

a friend in youtube: it’s just game reviews

Previously on IWaP: YouTube videos I liked when I was like 12-14 were discussed. Most of them wouldn’t hold up today. Then I realized just how many channels I regularly watched starting around age 16 who were really all the same thing, and I decided they needed their own post. Without further ado, here’s about 2,000 words of bullshit.

If you looked up video game content on YouTube from about 2012 to 2015, you probably can remember two types of content. The first was let’s plays, which consist of dudes playing games and putting commentary over their footage. It’s boring, and I don’t get it. But the most subscribed channel on YouTube does just that, so what do I know? The second, were game reviewers. But not critical, helpful reviews. I’m talking about reviews of games from ten to fifteen years prior given by young white dudes who typically think a joke consists of shouting, “THIS GAME REMINDS ME OF MY ASS” to a camera. They would all have h i l a r i o u s gags involving struggling to put a game in a console. Reviews would be a mix of live action bits and gameplay footage. And for a long time, I adored these. These days though, I don’t spend a lot of time watching the same channels I watched back then, for a variety of reasons.

The first reviewer I found who made these sorts of videos went by the name Caddicarus. I found him because he made a series of videos about Crash Bandicoot, one of my all-time favorite game series. This was cool to see at the time because, weirdly, YouTube in the early days was filled with nostalgia over Nintendo games from the 80s and early 90s. Seeing something about a game I had actually played was new for me. His videos were typically almost 20 minutes long, as though they were a TV sitcom, and he talked about a variety of PlayStation games, some of which I had played and others so obscure that I didn’t even know they existed until he started playing them. Caddicarus videos were fast-paced, with quick joke after quick joke. Even if some of the bits didn’t hit their mark, he moved on to the next one so quickly that the viewer didn’t have time to notice. I think what ultimately took me away from Caddicarus was simply finding other channels who did he did and did so… well, better. This isn’t to say that Caddicarus is unfunny, but a lot of his humor is predictable. He’ll say the name of a game incorrectly. He’ll make a joke and repeat it ten times a video. I still sometimes watch his videos, but it’s not on a regular basis. One thing he did that always kind of bothered me was withholding reviews of the Spyro the Dragon series. This is the game series that everyone wanted him to do the most, especially after covering Crash Bandicoot. However, Caddicarus always maintained Spyro would be reserved for when he hit 1,000,000 subscribers. I started watching him in 2012. Six years later, and long after the height of my interest in these sorts of videos, he is only just over halfway to that mark with 583,000. I understand that he wanted to save content, but the tradeoff in this was intentionally keeping loyal viewers waiting. Even if he ever did make the Spyro reviews, I really wouldn’t care at this point. That being said, I still respect the hell out of him as a content creator. As I’ll talk about soon, one of the biggest problem with game reviewers of this kind was that they took ages to upload videos. Caddicarus does so on a weekly basis and has done that for years. So kudos to that.

Following Caddicarus entered me into what I didn’t realize was already a thriving community of YouTube reviewers. The first of these I watched goes by the moniker PeanutButterGamer, or PBG. He started making content before Caddicarus, and it’s fairly clear he was an influence. The types of jokes were similar as were the video structures. His main difference came in the types of games he covered. He covered a fairly wide variety of games, and even though I’ve tried to sum up his main focus, I really can’t do it justice. One of his most popular series of videos came from his annual Zelda Month, which occurred in November. Zelda Month gave viewers at least one main video a week in the form of either a review, top ten video, or miscellaneous content about The Legend of Zelda, another favorite series of mine. He stopped doing Zelda Month this past year though. That might be representative of something, but I can’t pick the meaning out of it. Oddly enough, I remember much more content from PBG’s second channel, PBGGameplay. It was a let’s play channel, which as stated above, is content I usually just didn’t care about. However, his series of Minecraft challenges under the “Hardcore” series title were the one major exception. Hardcore was a collaboration with five or so other YouTubers, many of whom I liked quite a bit, and it was fun for someone like me who spent so much time consuming this content to see all my favorites interacting and playing games together. Yeah, it sounds lame now. My interest in PBG’s main content died out pretty quickly, and it wasn’t until I looked him back up for this video that I realized he’s still heavily active on YouTube and getting solid views every video. There were probably a lot of reasons my interest in his content declined, but mostly his style of humor just doesn’t do a lot for me. Plus, 2013 gaming YouTube consisted of an endless number of PBG clones. The content just got stale.

Reaching similar popularity at the same time was the funniest personality to ever grace the servers of YouTube, JonTron. He made similar types of reviews as PBG, except his style of humor focused a tad more on the surreal, which was new to me when I first saw his channel. I discovered his channel at the same time as PeanturButterGamer’s, and JonTron was always better in my eyes. But following JonTron’s channel for an extended period of time taught me a few things. First and foremost was that Jon’s upload schedule was nonexistent. While it wasn’t like this in the earliest days of his channel, for the last several years it has not been uncommon to wait for half a year between videos. Then he’ll come back for a few more. Then he’ll leave for another half a year. Part of this came because he used to be part of a let’s play duo called GameGrumps , but since he stopped doing this, who knows why it takes so long? This leads into the second thing I concluded about his channel; his content got better as he went along. There have been several “eras” of JonTron where he changed the structure of the episodes, often indicated most easily by the set he’s on, and his writing gets funnier with each change. The increase in quality has made it so that old videos of his, which I used to find hilarious, are nothing compared to the newer stuff. I’ve spent a sad amount of time grappling with the tradeoff between having better content but rarely getting it, and I’m not sure where the line is okay. If I had to wait for anything else int he world for the same duration of time that I have to wait for JonTron videos, then I would probably stop watching them. JonTron’s content is good enough to make up for the long periods of absence though, even if it can still get frustrating. Oddly enough, the last few years JonTron has strayed away from video game reviews and now makes content about a number of different things. Possibly his most famous video is one of his latest ones, which covered the As-Seen-On-TV giant Flex Tape and seemed to singlehandedly launch a meme. It’s been eight months since he’s uploaded a video, and while that’s a crazy amount of time when you think about it, I’ll still watch his newest video the instant I get a notification about it. Y’know, if he ever uploads it.

I said that back in 2013, YouTube was full of wannabe PeanutButterGamers, and I really can think of a ton right off the bat. I guess more accurately they wanted to be both PBG and JonTron, but most of their comedic styles lined more closely with PBG. That’s not to say that all of them were bad though. I actually enjoyed several of them quite a bit, and I’m glad PBG and JonTron created a formula for game reviews that led to some really creative people to find their place in YouTube. This also created another favorite channel of mine, brutalmoose. Brutalmoose, or Ian as I’ll call him since it’s his actual name and what he went by mostly in his videos, reviewed mostly PC games, the weirder and worse the better, and he became known for reviewed educational games, or “edutainment.” In my completely superior opinion, brutalmoose is probably the best game review channel out there. I know I said Storm Dain is favorite, but that’s more of a nostalgic thing. Ian at his height released a video on about a monthly basis, and his content is unmatched in its production value and sarcastic humor. JonTron is funnier than Ian, but at least I know that Ian was going to produce more videos. I have a number of brutalmoose videos permanently etched in my mind because the way he goes about reviewing games is just entertaining. Ian represents a weird place as far as YouTubers I used to love because when I watch his new content, there is definitely something there. The old brutalmoose is definitely in there. It’s just that he completely changed the content he makes, and not always for the better in my, again, superior opinion. His last three videos consist of a mostly unscripted obscure movie review, a demonstration of some science toy, and a cooking video. It’s not that these are bad, but the style of video he mostly does now focuses a lot less on going by a script, and while his personality is enjoyable regardless, Ian is just better when working with a script. All this being said, he gets more viewers now than ever, so maybe my opinion isn’t actually that superior. Who knows?

The last channel I want to talk about for all one of you who hasn’t fallen asleep yet is one that I forgot how much I enjoyed until writing this. Yungtown is one of the most unique and talented people on YouTube, which is probably why he only barely got over 100,000 subscribers and polarized people with his content. Back in the day, the rapper/game reviewer Yungtown walked a tight line between serious and satire. His series of reviews entitled Dem Games often mocked the typical PBG/JonTron style of review in ways so subtle they drew some wonderfully cringey comment responses. At one point he even made a “how to” video on becoming a Youtube game reviewer that used the Krabby Patty Training Video template from Spongebob and essentially said that all game reviews were shit. Among his Dem Games reviews were a number of video game raps, which were fine. They weren’t my thing, but his flow is strong, and he seems to love doing them. Additionally, Yungtown had a few bizarrely hilarious running jokes, like a love of Christmas, which led to Yungtown changing his name on twitter to Christmastown for an entire year. This also led to a way too short-lived let’s play parody channel called Santa Plays, where he played games in his Santa Claus character. I tried to find the videos for this, but it seems like he removed them. This makes sense because after a few years of joy with Dem Games, Yungtown announced that he was abandoning the satire to focus on more serious content. The humor was not completely gone, but the snark mostly was. It seemed that he was tired of having such a hard time gaining an audience with the sort of satirical content he was producing. I still watch his new videos, even if they aren’t my tastes like his old content, but he hasn’t released anything new in almost a year. Even his Twitter has been inactive. It’s sad, but I really do think Yungtown is simply an instance of content being too specific for a wide, sustainable audience. YouTubers loved him. Even though he essentially pointed out everything wrong with the typical review format, he was objectively funny and didn’t outright hate on anyone in particular. I vividly remember other YouTube gamers promoting the hashtag #subtoyungtown. Oh well, sometimes life isn’t fair and popularity doesn’t come to those who deserve it.

Writing this has been kind of an experience of its own. I’m at a point of transition in my life, from student to employee, young adult to adult, etc, and this has really gotten me to look back on things I loved in my late teen years. I know admitting I spent so much time watching YouTube gamers is inherently kind of embarrassing, but after going back I am proud of young me for the content he found because a lot of these channels still really do hold up. Plus, this has led me to rewatch Yungtown videos. That has been a joy.


Ethan Tyrrell