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Welp. It happened. A whole summer went by and now it's time to head back to the wonderful fairyland called college, where responsibility is kept to a minimum and partying is a club sport.

It just snuck up on you, right? But fear not. With the start of another school year at hand, The Black Table investigated the things you're gonna need -- and need to know about -- before heading back to that nasty, beer soaked couch to eat pizza.

And so we present the Black Table's Primer on Collegiate Preparedness.



Sometimes school can bully you into being a submissive cog. From the social circles, to the teachers, to the lessons taught, there's always going to be a patch of seemingly inconsolable frustration that

  more often than not, derails a person from their very being. Resist. Take a lesson from Ignatius J. Riley, the oafish, boorish, absurd, and selectively ignorant protagonist of John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces who is not only endearing to read about, but invaluable to live without. The story of Ignatius, his curmudgeon, but ever-fawning mother, the delightfully dim Miss Trixie and the revolution at Levy Pants taps into and validates that frustrating feeling of being smarter than everybody else around you -- especially those presumed to be "superiors". What adds another level of legend to ACOD is the tale of its author. Toole, emotionally depleted by years of professional rejection and personal trouble, committed suicide at age 32

before he could witness his towering Ignatius captivate so many people -- and also before he could see ACOD waddle away with the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981. This is as close to perfection as most stories will get. People who do enjoy it, do so on such an immense, worshipful and salutatory level that it can be a little overwhelming to actually think a book can be that good and life changing (or affirming). Be prepared, dear reader, to make that decision for your self.



Bored college students take their pot smoking seriously, constructing monstrous water bongs that can reach lengths of 20 feet. But while a


two-story bong hit makes for a comatose afternoon, it's not the kind of thing that's easily stashed when the parents come over for a visit. And when it comes to pot smoke, it's not quantity, but a combination of density and quality that determines how high you get, which means your huge bong is an even bigger waste of time.

Want a little bong that's dirt cheap and kicks like a government mule? Consider making a small gravity bong out of a one liter bottle, a small bucket and a bowl piece. 1.) Cut off the bottom of the bottle, fill the small bucket with water and jam that bowl piece in a bottle cap. 2.) With the cap on and weed packed, light the bowl and pull up on the bottle, using the suction to pull smoke into the bottle. 3.) Unscrew the cap. 4.) Push down on the bottle,


letting the smoke fill your lungs as you breath it in. 5.) Resist the urge to smoke again as the effect of the incredibly dense hit takes hold. 6.) Find a Frisbee and go to the quad.



Stale cookie-cutter conservative Republican values aren't going to cut it on the campus this year. You're going to need an even smaller band of self-righteous weirdos to hang with. Forget about dabbling in homosexuality, going vegan, entering Hippiedom or being nihilistic. Like Dan Quayle jokes, it's all been done before.

Try Zoroastrianism on for size.

Zorro-what? Zor-OH-as-TREE-an-ism. It was founded in 700 B.C. by the prophet Zarathushtra (Zoroaster to the Greeks) in the area


where Iran and Iraq are today. It was the dominant religion at the time of Jesus and provided the evolutionary blueprint for the rest of the world's faiths, with its universal struggle between dark and light forces. The major tenets of the faith were put forth in a book called the Avesta. The major symbol of the religion is "Asha," or fire, which passed through pop consciousness not long ago on the back of Cornershop's hit single, "Brimful of Asha."

Whoa. That's some serious old school street credibility and tremendous upside potential for the returning college student!

Other fine points include the religion's motto: "Good thoughts, good words, good deeds." While it sounds like the kind of thing you'd chant at an all girl's school, its simple, effective message allows for serious flexibility when you're completely hammered.

As an added bonus, there's the extreme exclusivity of Zoroastrianism. You want cache? With only 170,000 members worldwide -- mostly in India and Iran -- and less than 10,000 in North America, you'll be the only


one in town wearing a sudreh and kusti. And since the religion doesn't really do conversion -- or is at least divided on the issue -- getting in is even harder than the LSATS!

Best of all -- it would settle that messy debate over abortion on campus once and for all. Under Zoroastrianism, "a child is said to be formed, and a soul added to its body, after a woman has been pregnant for four months and ten days." Forget pro choice and pro life. It's 130 days after you did it. Easy.

For more on Zoroastrianism, we highly recommend:


Those kitschy aluminum or plastic lunchboxes with 1980's era sitcoms emblazoned on them have had their day in the sun.

People who care about the flavor, temperature and taste of their food


would be wise to consider the next generation lunchboxes from Thermos, which evoke space-age cool and hard-core functionality instead of stale retro-chic. The company's top-of-the-line lunchtote, given the very unsexy name of "Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Wide Mouth Lunch Tote," is pricey at $42, but in this case, you certainly get what you pay for. The SSVIWMLT, which includes four microwave-safe airtight containers that fit and stack


in an insulated stainless steel tube, can keep hot foods warm for 12 hours and cold food chilled for a full day.

With a tote like this, entire universes of food become perfect lunch fodder. Last night's leftovers can be microwaved in the morning and eaten while warm at lunch. Sushi becomes a viable option, without fear that it's slowly breeding enough salmonella to kill a large buffalo. It holds a full 48 ounces of food, enough for the biggest lunchers,


and while it can't do anything to improve dining hall fare, it can ensure it doesn't end up warm and soggy in your cute, but useless, lunchbox with a glorified hand puppet on it.





The Internet makes it easier than ever to plagiarize -- just ask Jayson Blair -- but as the number of sites devoted to selling pilfered papers rises, so has teacher awareness of the problem. It's reached such a boiling point that schools and universities have cracked down on Internet-assisted plagiarism, using specialized software and search engines that allow professors to drop in suspicious language students would never use in a paper, like "hegemonic control of socialized industry" and see exactly where it was cribbed from.

In order to get away with cheating in this day and age, students are going to have to work harder -- and on many levels, it may be easier to actually read Kant and Nietzsche than find a paper that's clean. Often times, not only are these paid-for-papers written in incomprehensible English that teachers can pick out from a mile away, they also contain spelling mistakes, capitalization errors and out-and-out inaccuracies. And with costs as high as $10 per prewritten page, before you even start considering using one of those digital paper mills, it may be better to weigh whether you even need to cheat. Here are three times not to cheat.

DON'T CHEAT IF ... YOUR PROFESSOR IS A SHARP COOKIE. If your teacher's cut from the same mold that Mark Harmon popped from in Summer School, you could write out the Declaration of Independence, double space it, pass it in and get an A. But the hardest classes with the most work tend to be taught by the most diligent teachers -- those professors willing to go the extra mile and screen your paper with

Our advice: Instead of getting caught, ask a nerd who is doing well in the class to get a drink at a bar after class. Once smart guy is wasted, pull out your notebook and start pumping for information, under the guise of a friendly study session. While it's not necessarily the same thing as paying attention in class, it's probably enough to get you a C.

... THERE ARE MULTIPLE PAPERS DUE THAT TERM. That last paper of the term is always a killer, but after writing three papers already, your professor knows how you write. With your five-cent vocabulary, a store-bought paper filled with 25-cent-words will end up getting a dime dropped on you, so you may have to bite the bullet. That is, unless you're willing to buy a prewritten paper and spend the time to copyedit the thing and rewrite parts that aren't in your voice, which will take as much time as actually writing the paper.

Our advice: When in doubt, a simple pow-wow session with the teaching assistant should cover it. Pretend to be clueless and flustered, play up the fact the TA teaches the class and does all the work and ask for advice. With the TA's suggestions in your head, skim the pertinent chapters, answer whatever you can and set your margins to one-and-half inches with 12-point Courier New.

... YOU HAVE TO GIVE AN OPINION ON ANYTHING CURRENT. The most limiting thing about digital paper mills is that essays are written in the broadest possible manner to meet the widest possible audience. As a result, that paper on Marxism is more like Cliff's notes on the class struggle than a deep analytical piece that shows you understand and can apply the things you're supposed to be learning. Also, papers can be 20 years out of date, which means your little 10-page winner on the ethical implications of genetic engineering could be laughably archaic.

Our advice: If you must plagiarize when writing this kind of term paper, simply rewrite the opinions found on the editorial pages of current newspapers and magazines, where the freshest information resides. Be wary of science papers, where great papers are hard to find and information can go stale fastest.



New shoes, new haircuts, and new book bags -- why leave your penis out on all the fun? Back-to-school time not only means there is massive amounts of homework and studying to do, but also massive amounts of casual, consensual sex. So, dress your little feller up into something nice and comfortable before he goes trolling through the


bushes. The Black Table asked its friends down at NYC's Toys in Babeland for some advice on how to make your cock the cock-of-the-walk this fall.

According to the Babes, Pleasure Plus condoms are highly recommended, particularly for


guys who want more traction with their hump action. "Pleasure Plus has a baggy pouch underneath the head of the penis so that there is more friction and sensation at the sensitive frenulum (the sweet spot on the underside of the penis where the head connects to the shaft)," TIB's Laura Weide says.

"Shopping for condoms can be a bit like shopping for shoes -- all size 10's don't feel the same. So we recommend trying out a few different brands to find the one that feels best to you," she adds. Yee-Fucking-Haw!

For the curious, Babeland has a condom sampler featuring 11 of their top latex condoms. The Condom Sampler Pack includes one each of Inspiral, Kimono Microthin, Kimono Sensation, Pleasure Plus, Ria, Rough Rider, Trustex Strawberry, Trustex Vanilla, Crown, Beyond 7, and Lifestyles Kiss of Mint condoms. All for $7.25! Finally, for you sissy guys who are allergic or sensitive to latex and get penis eczema after the rumpy-pump, or have partners who are sensitive (You know, hot crotch.) Weide recommends the Avanti polyeurethane condom. Just find what works for you. And for garsh sakes, wrap it up, man. AIDS and unwanted pregnancy are *so* 1988. Now, if you'll excuse us, we have to go wash our frenulum again.