All posts by The Varsity Staff

Etiquette Squirrel

Dear Etiquette Squirrel,

I said good morning to my roommate today, and my speaker said good morning back. Should I be worried? I’m thinking of taking a baseball bat to it.

— Concerned Grandmother

Dear Concerned Grandmother,

It’s nothing to be afraid of… yet. There are fancy new speakers that will do that. However, if you start to see it walk, I suggest you talk to Watson from IBM — after all, he almost won Jeopardy.



Dear Etiquette Squirrel,

I’m making a family dinner next week and I have no idea what to make at the last minute. Do you have any good ideas?

— Janet

Dear Janet,

You can’t go wrong with Etiquette Squirrel’s natural enemy, the turkey.  I hear they roam the halls of Robarts looking to eat the brains of first years. I’d favour a good ol’ fashioned tur-tur-key-key — that’s a turkey stuffed inside an even larger turkey. Mmm, delicious.



Hey Etiquette Squirrel,

I have a class at Brennan Hall, but I’ll be coming straight from Bahen. Is it physically possible to get there in this winter weather?

— Not Fast But Furious

Dear Not Fast But Furious,

Based on your name, I’m inclined to recommend driving one of those gold sports cars outside of Sid Smith to get to the east side, but if you’ve got equipment and little to no shame, why not ski across campus? You wouldn’t be the first one.



Hiya Etiquette Squirrel,

I’ve never actually physically seen you IRL. Do you even exist? You’re probably just some student writer who goes under a pen name, like all the other classical authors I don’t read. Reveal yourself, heathen!

— Sneakily Suspicious

Dear Sneakily Suspicious,

I notice that you also haven’t revealed your real name. Oh how the turntables…



Hey Squirrel with a Reputation,

I wanna be your endgame

I wanna be your first string

I wanna be your A-Team

I wanna be your endgame, endgame

— Taylor Swift feat. Ed Sheeran & Future

Dear Taylor Swift feat. Ed Sheeran & Future,

Obsessed much? First of all, not interested. I’m taken already, if you haven’t heard. Second of all — not a fan. Of any of you. Except maybe Ed. He’s hot. Bye.




Dear Etiquette Squirrel,

I like food. Like, a lot. Help. Pls.

— Foodie

Dear Foodie,

Don’t listen to anyone. Go nuts (haha) on that two-piece meal with cajun fries from Popeye’s.


Dear Etiquette Squirrel,

How do you stay warm all winter?

— Freezing in Lash Miller

Dear Freezing in Lash Miller,

I have this thing called ‘fur.’ Ever heard of it?


Dear Etiquette Squirrel,

Cinnamon buns. Thoughts?

— Cinnamon challenge survivor

Dear CCS,

If you got bunz, hun, eat your heart out.

Where have you been?

“My friend wrote this while listening to a speech by the Director-General of UNESCO in Paris.”

“You can often get a sense for life in a new city by wandering through grocery stores. This card takes the journey back to Bangkok shelves a few decades ago.”

“Capuchin catacombs, Palermo.”

“I picked this up at the MOMA in New York City. I got distracted by pretzels and hotties on the street so I forgot to mail it.”

“I spotted these while roaming the streets of Barcelona looking for a cafe and sangria.”

“Frogs: no idea. I think I picked this card up in Portland, Oregon.”

“This is a photo of Thailand’s king and his wife in the 1960s.”

“The energy, passion, and patriotism was out of this world — I have never felt so proud to be Canadian as I did in Vancouver.”

“I visited California and bought this because it represents how much I hate highways.”

“I picked up this deadstock postcard at a photoshop/café in New York. A cool concept, but unfortunately the scent of photo chemicals doesn’t mesh well with coffee.”

Five cities in fiction


(Overside, Evan Dahm)

There are a bunch of cities in Overside, the world where webcomic artist Evan Dahm’s lovingly crafted tales are set, but none are as audaciously literal as Stonepalm. The city sits in the shadow of a set of stone fingers, and it is populated by orangey-brown creatures called Hornèd, whose names all stem from grammatical terms. What more could you want from a city?

—Ethan Chiel


(Berlin, Jason Lutes)

There’s a lot to see in Berlin, Jason Lutes’s fictional chronicle of the waning days of the Weimar Republic in the eponymous city. Complicated events and equally complicated characters cover the pages, creating a somewhat idealized, but nonetheless captivating, story of a city on the verge of a precipice.


Washington, DC

(Idiocracy, Mike Judge)

Mike Judge’s 2006 film Idiocracy presents a dystopian version of Washington, DC, where human intelligence has devolved to levels both ridiculously low and eerily familiar. The degenerating city features a metropolis-sized Costco with an internal subway system, a dustbowl fruitlessly irrigated with sports drink, a landfill mountain range, fast-food vending machines, and a self-serve hospital.

—Tom Adamson

Los Angeles 

(Blade Runner, Ridley Scott)

One of the details that makes the world of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner so rich is Cityspeak, the language spoken by the working class of Los Angeles in 2019. The language was constructed for the film by actor Edward James Olmos, and includes elements of Chinese, Spanish, and Hungarian, among other languages.

—Jamie Shilton


(Naked Lunch, William Burroughs)

Interzone, the setting for much of William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, is based on the international zone of Tangiers in the 1950s. Tangiers was probably an intense, chaotic, and amazing place then, but Burroughs takes things just a few steps further. Interzone is a hallucination of junkies, secret agents, crazed doctors, and giant black aquatic centipedes with addictive, vomit-inducing flesh.

—Simon Frank

About the cover

We have to confess, this magazine’s cover idea isn’t entirely original — but then again, these days, what is?

Back in 1989, a peculiar anthology film was released in the US. The film, New York Stories, was split into three segments, each with its own director (hence the “anthology film” moniker). All three were cinematic heavyweights at the time: Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, and Woody Allen, who had taken home an Academy Award for his screenplay for Hannah and Her Sisters two years previous. Though not an especially memorable film — Scorsese and Allen’s pieces were positively received by critics, and Coppola’s was torn to pieces — New York Stories has become iconic for its poster, depicting a simplified illustration of a classic New York City brownstone, with the World Trade Center towering above.

The original poster for New York Stories.

Using the poster as inspiration, The Varsity’s design team got to work on transplanting the idea and giving it a Toronto spin. Though several buildings were offered up as options (City Hall? Robarts? the Manulife Centre?), the Gooderham Building at the intersection of Wellington and Front ultimately won out. One of the few classic “flatirons” in North America, the Gooderham Building has been an iconic landmark for Toronto for over 120 years — that’s just 12 years after The Varsity was founded!