Open tab shopping, to buy or not to buy

I was looking at my open tabs just now, realizing that half of them are for things I want to pay for, but haven’t actually decided to buy yet. This isn’t new necessarily, although I open tabs for cool places a lot and leave them there for me to wander back to. But I don’t always have things actually IN the cart on those sites. So I thought I’d mention what I have open and maybe it’d help me make the decision of whether or not to buy something I’ve been looking at.

Amazon – Obviously. There’s snack food and books in my cart. My life at it’s most basic roots. To be honest, this isn’t really a question of whether or not to purchase, but when.

Black Moon Cosmetics – They make my most favorite formula of matte lipsticks, matte metallics specifically. They released new highlighters and a dark gray metallic lip. So I have that lip (which is called Castle btw) and two of the highlighters, Catshark & Shroom. Catshark is a nice pink shade – almost blush-like and Shroom is this amazing looking purple. TBH I want all of them, but these two most of all.

Beastly Beverages – My bud Gabe’s tea shop. He has a line of Dream Daddy coffees which are discontinuing and although I’m not normally a coffee drinker, I’ve fallen in love with Soft Boy – a peanuty mocha blend which is amazing with or without sugar. He’s also done a line of D&D teas and The Ranger (with a loving art homage to Vex’ahlia on the label) is really nice. So really this is just a plug for his awesome stuff because this is not an IF but a WHEN purchase. (He also sells the fan art he’s commissioned for labels, because it’s all so amazing.)

The BioWare store – Since it’s shutting down it’s affiliation with this shop, everything’s deeply discounted and I WANT the Andromeda package with the art book so so so much. Also, do I need another N7 hoodie? No. Do I want one at less than half the price? Yes.

Stem Plein Air – This is just registration for a cool local open air art thingy. I’m totally entering for the fun of it, not because I expect to make good art or to sell the mediocre (at best) art I plan on making. But it sounds fun and I miss painting.

do816 – A website for local shows and concerts specifically for the 816 area code. There’s some neat people coming to town all within like the first two weeks of May. So I’ve been trying to figure out a) what I already have tickets for, b) what I still want to get tickets for, and c) what do I really have time for.

Jen Bartel – Jen’s artwork is so beautiful, I just like looking at it TBH. However, she just released these cool Girl Gang and ‘Dead Men Can’t Catcall’ merch that I totally want one of everything.

Hush – Technically this is an app, not a website, but it counts. Hush is a company that sells makeup and they make these amazing dupes for really high end palettes. I bought a couple last week to use for my little sister’s wedding. But when they messed up my order they sent me a coupon code… so while I wait for my corrected order, I’ve been browsing.

Honorable Mention – I still have the MaxFunDrive page open, not because I forgot to subscribe (I actually bumped up my subscription this year because I consume McElroy content daily) but because of all the cool stuff you get access to when you subscribe.

Video Game Honorable Mention(s) – The Sims 4 is having a sale that includes some stuff packs I don’t have but want. But I haven’t been playing all that often (because Overwatch). Relatedly, I just got into Planet Coaster and they have some amazing stuff packs which I’d totally love to snag. Who doesn’t want to build a DeLorean for their park? Or the Munster house?

This is a lot. Honestly, it’s like window shopping. Sometimes I just like to look and touch the stuff I like with my mouse. I know I’m not the only one who does this. I’d love to see what other people have hanging out in their online carts.

 

Variety’s Power of Women event; honoree speeches

“When I first started out female comedy writers were treated like cappuccino machines.”

At Variety’s Power of Women event Tina Fey gave a speech about the power of surrounding yourself with other women, not only about looking up at women in positions of leadership but to other women where you can use your knowledge and privilege and lift other women up.

She goes on to talk about the power of stories and reading and the impact stories can have on you as a kid. She talks about her work with Reading is Fundamental and what that program meant to her as a kid. It’s a really great speech and worth a listen.

There’s great speeches from other women on YouTube from this event like Emily Blunt, Amy Poehler, Alicia Keys, Padma Lakshmi & Viola Davis. Listen to Tina’s and go from there.

Maze Arcana: Inkwell Society [Eberron Campaign]

For those of you who are fans of Critical Role and The Adventure Zone and other real play D&D or RPG streams or podcasts, I’d like to recommend a new one. Maze Arcana’s Inkwell Society game is an Eberron Campaign, which has a far different feel than most D&D games. Eberron is a D&D setting created for D&D 3.5 like a decade and a half ago. Eberron is a huge city with a low magic, high tech sort of steampunkish, noir style. Campaigns in Eberron tend to take on a much different vibe than people might be used to.

If you’ve watched other Geek & Sundry programming you might be familiar with Ruty Rutenburg & Satine Phoenix who have created the Maze Arcana channel and campaign stories. In fact, Satine took over GM Tips on Geek & Sundry after Matt Mercer’s dozen or so episodes. For Inkwell Society, Ruty Rutenburg is the GM with six players that include a Dragonmarked, Shifter and Warforged characters, which are much different races than what most people are used to.

One of the things I like about this campaign is that we see these characters meet in the first episode but there’s more of a mystery noir element to the continuing story. They refer to it as a Neon Noir. So instead of what we think of as the normal historical fantasy with magical races and big countrysides with lots of actual dungeons to explore, we get this gritty alchemical city with lots of mysteries to uncover. We’re only five episodes in, so who knows where it could go from here. But, I’m eager to see where it goes.

Watch INKWELL SOCIETY – Episode 1 : Arcana Noir #dnd #Eberron from MazeArcana on www.twitch.tv

Overwatch Retribution

I’m a little in love with Retribution mode in Overwatch’s most recent event. I’ve played so much of it that went I tried to go back and play a normal match I couldn’t remember how anything worked for the first half of the match. Is this happening to anyone else?

I play healers a lot and Moira has quickly become one of my favorites so getting the chance to see some of her interaction with Blackwatch is pretty exciting. It’s also hella stressful to play as the singular healer for these four dps characters.

I’ve been playing mostly on Hard mode which when you play solo queue like I do, means that even I think I’m on my game I’m losing about 50% of the time. People that play recklessly die quickly no matter how fast I am at healing. I’ve played enough of it to know where things are going to be and how to react in new areas but there’s no guarantee how many times the other three people have played.

The Apple; a very good, very bad, very disco musical

Over the weekend we got together with some friends to watch a very bad movie. What we watched was a really great bad musical called, The Apple. The Apple is a post-apocalyptic movie from 1980 telling an allegorical story of a future 1994 in which the boyfriend-girlfriend duet of Alphie & Bibi is tempted to music fame by Mr. Boogalow and his biggest stars: Dandi & Randi. Sure this movie is really loose on the plot and heavy on the allegorical retelling of Adam & Eve but it makes up for it in COSTUMES! And well choreographed (by Nigel Lythgoe, no less) numbers in which the lyrics and singing isn’t great but the music is usually bangin’.

If you like bad movies, bad musicals especially and you haven’t seen The Apple, you need to correct yourself immediately. It has everything. From the devil with one horn, Mr. Boogalow, the song about Coming that is as unsubtle as a brick the forehead, a mandatory nationwide dance-hour, to the biggest and most literal version of Deus Ex-Machina that’s ever happened in any movie ever; this movie has everything. And did I mention the costumes?

This movie, meant as a Hebrew stage presentation was being written in the mid-seventies and then updated to a musical movie meant to cash in on the musical movies fad that America was going through in the late seventies. And it might’ve been collectively panned when it came out, once you watch it you’ll see the hints of its influence all over the nineties and early aughts. It’s amazing. Speaking of influences, it’s filming location of West Berlin which is painfully obvious throughout the movie.

I don’t think you can watch the whole thing anywhere for free — though the soundtrack is on YouTube. There are also a lot of amazing clips from the movie on YouTube if you need a taste of just how fabulous it is. The video of BIM Hour is my favorite. BIM Hour is of course the hour of 4-5pm when everyone everywhere sets aside what they’re doing to dance. And it’s mandatory. Just like the holographic stickers (BIM marks) everyone is wearing. Don’t let the police catch you without one.

A word of warning if you take this on: there is a really unfortunate and tone-deaf reggae song where Mr. Boogalow talks about what a great ‘master’ he is. It’s an obvious reference to the allegorical part of the story, Mr. Boogalow is supposed to be the devil but it just comes across racially insensitive given that two of the principal singers are black.

I mentioned that it began as a Hebrew stage place, so it is also worth noting that the story was written by an Israeli husband-wife writing team, Cory & Iris Recht. And that the script for the movie was written and produced an Israeli man, Menahem Golan, who created a lot of movies under The Cannon Group a production company run by his cousin. The Cannon Group is well-known for it’s slate of early 80’s low-budget American action flicks, including Superman IV: A Quest for Peace.

If you’ve got 90 minutes to spare and want a few well-deserved laughs, The Apple has them waiting for you. I’ve heard there’s a Rifftrax’d version of this out there too, so if you prefer your laughs pre-filtered give that a shot instead.

After all, how can you say no to this masterpiece? It even comes complete with an ‘actual vampire’.

Music: Good Kisser by Lake Street Dive

The lead singer from Lake Street Dive, Rachael Price, has this deep, soulful voice that I just adore. The band’s music is sort of this multi-genre that bridges Blue-eyed Soul and Jazz with a southern sound. And it’s divine.

Good Kisser, one of the newest songs from Lake Street Dive has this kind of f-u attitude about a break-up and it’s upbeat and fun. It definitely makes me dance around a little every time I listen.

I first heard Lake Street Dive in this live video from a Boston sidewalk where the band played a really amazing cover of “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5.

Writing as Therapy and Revelation

[cw for both articles: mentions of physical & sexual abuse]

I read a non-fiction piece by Alexander Chee on the Sewanee Review called The Autobiography of My Novel. In this piece, Chee reflects on the process of writing his first published novel and the struggle of writing about real things he’s experienced through the lens of fictional characters. It’s a really amazing piece and a good read for people writing novels, or hoping to someday.

Reading it reminded me of the Junot Díaz piece that came out in The New Yorker recently, The Legacy of Childhood Abuse. Junot writes about the abuse he suffered as a young kid and how and why he hid it, refusing to acknowledge it even to a reader who may have needed a moment of solidarity with the author.

These pieces aren’t just for writers either. Stories like this remind us that we’re not alone in the world. But from the perspective an author, seeing how other authors have taken their experiences and written them consciously or unconsciously, or as a form of their own therapy is worth reading about.

My Brother, My Brother and Me: Road Trip Mysteries

[Happy Friday the 13th. I was trying to think about something spooky to cover today, but I wrote about Requiem yesterday which was spooky enough. This is tangential to the spooky supernatural but a little fun and funny too.]

MBMBAM Road Trip Mysteries is a fan-created comic about the three McElroy brothers of the My Brother, My Brother and Me podcast. As the site itself says, it started as a goof on the MBMBAM Appreciation Group (which I personally recommend for fans on Facebook) but the project grew and became something bigger. Twenty-Serpentine (or 20🐍 as most of us referred to it) was the MBMBAM motto for 2017. It was about doing something new, or different than usual. The creators took that to heart when creating MBMBAM Road Trip Mysteries.

The comic, written by Tim Hely & illustrated by Kayla Mitchell with a cover from Chris House, is free on the website roadtrip.axolstudio.com. Although there is a Patreon for Axol Studio, if you’d like to support them further. At the moment there’s just one issue of 24 pages, but I really hope they make more.

In Road Trip Mysteries, we see a comic version of brothers Justin, Griffin & Travis on a cross-country road trip in their own version of the Mysteries Machine, The MBMBAM Van. Griffin spots a theme park called Six Pennants out the window and demands they stop for a visit. Those good, good boys spend all day in the park and then settle in for a tiny break to rest when a mysterious sound gets their attention.

From there, we see the three brothers making their way through the park again, but this time after dark and with a mystery afoot. This story plays on goofs from the podcast, but I don’t think it’s necessary to have listened to the podcast to enjoy what the comic is doing. I think it’s pretty adorable and I also find great appreciation in things that are created out of love spawned by a podcast.

As I mentioned in my post the other day about the MaxFun drive, I get a lot of enjoyment out of the McElroy brothers bevy of work, specifically podcasts like MBMBAM and The Adventure Zone. And it’s awesome to see how their works inspire others in unexpected ways.

Requiem

Over the weekend I watched all six episodes of Requiem, a supernatural thriller series on Netflix. I hesitate to call it horror because there’s nothing overt about whatever’s happening in the story. Even the supernatural elements are subtle for most of the episodes. Although your mileage may vary depending on how much you like or dislike horror, I suppose.

Requiem is a series in part by the BBC and it takes place in small town in Wales. The main character, Matilda (played by Lydia Wilson), is a cellist whose mother dies in the first episode. As Matilda goes to her mother’s house to clean up she discovers a collection of photos that somehow relate to a disappearance of a small girl from this Welsh town. Matilda and her friend/accompanist, Hal, go to this town to figure out if or how her mother was involved in the girl’s disappearance.

What proceeds is a series of episodes in this fictional Welsh town of Penllynith where Tilly & Hal look for clues while meanwhile being shunned by the members of the same community. No one wants to think about the disappearance from 23 years prior, let alone when the past is being dredged up by some strangers harassing the mother of the missing girl.

 

At the same time, Tilly & Hal have been invited by a Australian man in town after the death of his uncle, to stay at what locals call the “big house”, a large estate owned by the deceased. This man, Nick, is hoping to sell the house, the land, whatever he can, in order to make some cash and return to his home in Australia.

The big house is also somehow tied to the missing kid from two decades prior. Strange things are happening in the house, to people in town, and to Tilly as she remains in the house.

Requiem is a slow-moving plot not unlike a lot of British mystery/thriller series. Think Broadchurch or The Fall. It’s going to take more than six episodes to get to the bottom of what’s happening. If you’re not up for the slower pace, the mystery may not keep you interested. I can’t even say I enjoyed it so much as I was interested in the supernatural mystery of it, which were both tied to the mystery of the missing girl … and also separate in its own way. If it comes back for a second season, I’ll keep an eye out for it.

The Mads are Back @ the Alamo Drafthouse KC

Saturday night Matt and I went to the Alamo to see The Mads are Back show live. Trace Beaulieu & Frank Conniff travel around doing shows a little like the Rifftrax crew or the current MST3K crew. They pick an old B movie to riff with one or two shorts. Frank & Trace also did a signing before and after, along with a Q&A after the show.

Frank and Trace created, wrote, and starred as Dr. Clayton Forrester/Crow T. Robot (Trace) and TV’s Frank (Frank). Saturday we watched the movie, The Choppers (another Arch Hall Sr. great) starring Arch Hall Jr. The Choppers is a movie about a gang of teenage boys that’ve gotten into the business of chopping cars and selling the parts to a local junk yard.

As seems to be typical of the Arch Hall Sr. movies, his son plays his own music in The Choppers. There are a couple of scenes in this one where Arch Hall Jr. is either playing the guitar or listening to the radio on which his music is playing. Nothing is ever said about these songs belonging to Arch Hall Jr. it’s just a fun piece of trivia. I’ve included a clip down below (thanks YouTube).

I’ve seen a lot of bad movies at these events and no matter which group is doing the riffing, it’s always a good time. The Mads event was no different, although I’ll admit that it was nice of them to do a Q&A afterward, talking about the movies they watch, their days on the old MST3K and what goes into the scripts they create for these events.

You don’t have to have any knowledge or history with MST3K to go to one of these events though, not even the Rifftrax ones. If you’re down for a bad movie and some good jokes, find one of these events and have yourself a good night out.