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Based in New Orleans. Contributing stories about culture, media, news, LGBT+ topics, and internet rabbit holes. (She/Her)

The bizarre story of The Epoch Times, the far-right’s richest conspiracy machine

Elvert Barnes, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’ve had the absolute displeasure of arguing with conspiracy theorists online, you might have been sent videos like this:

Ken Jennings has Some Very Big Shoes to Fill

Peabody Awards, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’ve ever seen older women blush and fan their faces at Colonial Penn commercials, you’ve had a small taste of society’s love for Alex Trebek. In the wake of his death from pancreatic cancer last November and the news media tributes that memorialized him, it’s easy to get the sense that the beloved Jeopardy! host will be a very tough act to follow.

I’ve watched the show for as long as I can remember, and when I moved out of my childhood home in 2016, a few years before the show came to Netflix and Hulu, it was definitively…

The immensely stupid story of Garfield EATS and the founder who learned little.

Image by Strange Aeons. Used with Permission.

It’s not uncommon for businesses to fall head-first into memehood. After an ironic incident where Amazon used an image of Bernie Sanders to promote its fee-laden payment service, the lines between promotional and humorous images continue to fade. Still, PR departments seem a bit lost on the limits of “post-irony.”

Chain restaurants are often the worst offenders here. I still periodically shiver when I remember Wendy’s rage-inducing “Like a Boss” ad from 2015. GrubHub is currently under fire for making a nearly unwatchable animated monstrosity. Proper use of meme culture produces ads that improve public image but quickly lose relevance…

Appeals to decency won’t mend the great divide

(Public Domain Image)

Joe Biden officially won the Democratic primary on June 6th, smack in the sticky middle of the summer’s racial justice protests. Though he was leading in the state primaries, the timing still felt odd. In the midst of a furious fight against systemic, violent racism, summer voters chose a fabulously lukewarm candidate with a spotty record on progressive voting. Biden’s greatest selling points through primary season were his willingness to reach across the aisle, years in congress, slow-and-shameless approach to social progress, and his willingness to fight hard against Trump. …

It’s really, really, dark before the dawn

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Happy New Year, dear reader! If you’ve arrived at this article, that means that you’ve had the privilege of surviving 2020 without being killed by the coronavirus, the police, or the flaming world around us. Momentous a privilege as that is, the pandemic rages yet, and our daily cases are higher than ever. With a Christmas surge barely around the corner, and with vaccination numbers being so far underwhelming, we’ve got a ways to go before we see any semblance of a normal year.

At the earliest, shots will be available to most of us in mid-July. That leaves the…

How to stay safe as spam gets smarter

Photo by Tianyi Ma on Unsplash

I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. I was already getting into bed just before sunrise, and as my head hit the pillow I figured one last round through my email accounts for the day would help lull my mind to sleep. The very last account I checked, after my personal and writing emails, was the address for a private music class I teach on Thursdays. Admittedly, I don’t check this email very often, as I’ve closed new enrollment for the pandemic and I don’t go out of my way to promote the class online. …

Original Illustration by Aila Oakes

I remember walking into a Michael’s to buy paint back in October. To my horror, the craft store had engaged in a slimy and desperate corporate strategy I unaffectionately refer to as “pulling a CVS.” In the dead middle of October, only weeks away from Halloween, Michael’s was playing Christmas music.

Aside from the fact that I live in New Orleans and had entered this snowy travesty from an 85-degree parking lot, and neglecting the visual disconnect created by the plastic cobwebs in neighboring windows; something about this reeked far more than the store’s premature Christmas sales push.

Aila Oakes

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