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 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.


I’ve loved poetry since I was a kid. My family had some old collection of children’s poems and songs, some of which were common and most of which weren’t. I got a collection of “Best Loved Poetry” from my grandparents pretty young from their much larger collection of classic books with matching bindings. At every point in my life there’s been at least one book of poems on my bookshelves, usually more than one.

Love of poetry also led me into a love of quotations and I used to build notebooks full of quotes based on songs and stories and poems. Eventually I started writing my own poetry, like any teenager full of emotion they’re inept at showing outwardly. I still have most of it, though it is admittedly horrible and full of conservative Christian beliefs and symbology because that’s the world I grew up in. It’s funny, I didn’t believe the godly stuff I added to my poems but the more people reading my poems, the more I added because I thought I had to.

In high school I also did speech competitions in the poetry category. I would memorize a poem every year to take to competition — my favorite to memorize was The Walrus and the Carpenter, which was just fun. The bitch to memorize and compete with was the one I did my senior year which was a good-sized portion from Paradise Lost. I never won anything, but I always really enjoyed picking out a new poem and memorizing it.

In my senior year I also did a special poetry project for extra credit (yeah, I know) that was a personally curated collection of poems. Basically it was a matter of curating poems that fit specific patterns, metres, genres. My teacher gave me a list of poem types to pick from and I ended up going over the top and picking a poem (sometimes two) for every genre or type listed. Mostly, I loved the internet rabbit holes that searching for poetry led me down. I also really enjoyed design work, so I specially designed the pages the poems went on in ways that matched the words.

It was during that project that I fell in love with the poem: “When We Two Parted” by George Gordon. Or for many years it was only attributed to a George Gordon. The full attribution is of course, George Gordon Byron, also known as Lord Byron.

When We Two Parted 
George Gordon Byron, 1788 – 1824 
 When we two parted 
 In silence and tears, 
Half broken-hearted 
 To sever for years,
 Pale grew thy cheek and cold, 
 Colder thy kiss; 
Truly that hour foretold 
 Sorrow to this.
 The dew of the morning 
 Sunk chill on my brow– 
 It felt like the warning 
 Of what I feel now. 
Thy vows are all broken, 
 And light is thy fame; 
I hear thy name spoken, 
 And share in its shame. 
 They name thee before me, 
 A knell to mine ear; 
A shudder comes o’er me– 
 Why wert thou so dear? 
They know not I knew thee, 
 Who knew thee too well– 
Long, long shall I rue thee, 
 Too deeply to tell. 
 In secret we met– 
 In silence I grieve, 
That thy heart could forget, 
 Thy spirit deceive. 
If I should meet thee 
 After long years, 
How should I greet thee?– 
 With silence and tears.

I’m still not sure what it was about this poem that really struck me the way it did. It’s not particularly complex and it’s not difficult to understand. What it does however is strike at the heart of what it’s like to have to see someone again that you’re not supposed to know anymore, let alone love. It’s worth noting that not long after this I feel in love with a country song “I’m Not Supposed to Love You Anymore” by Bryan White. Which as the title might suggest, has a similar sentiment. I think… looking back with the self-knowledge I have now, these works meant something to me not so much because of a specific person in my life but because of the nature of going to a very conservative, fundamental Christian school/church. I no longer knew anyone that wasn’t part of that church or school, but I still lived in the same town I’d always lived in. So I knew very well what it was like to see people you couldn’t associate with anymore. My tastes have shifted over the years, but this poem will always hold a place in my heart.

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick; reading different and switching up genres

Typically I read a lot of fantasy, modern (read: urban) and low-magic, but I also love a good historical fiction or horror novel. As not picky as I am about music, I tend to be pretty particular about the stuff I read. But lately, I’ve been a little tired of fiction, finding it difficult to get through the ends of books if it slows down even a little. I talked a little bit about it when I talked about reading Mamrie’s book. But since then I’ve picked up a few other memoir/non-fiction/celebrity kind of books to read. They tend to be a little short reads, but since they’re typically set up in short chapters/stories as well it feels like they’re faster too.

I finished Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick today. Memoir isn’t really the right word but it’s sort of a collection of her stories of getting into show business and the business of being a sort of an anxiety-ridden misanthrope. I’m a fan of her work both musicals and movies, I even saw Camp, which is … recommended only if you’re a fan of musicals and can stomach a poor teen comedy.

Anyway, I enjoyed her stories and honestly, it was just kind of nice to be grounded in stories about places and things that are recognizeable. It’s less work for my stressed brain. It might be one of the reasons I’m enjoying podcasts that are less about adventures and fantasy as well. As much fun as escapist fantasy can be, personally I think it requires more thought on my part that I’m not in the mood for lately. Especially on busy or stressful days.

I don’t know if anyone else is like this too. I doesn’t happen to me very often at all but this is lingering a little. Next up, I picked up I Know I Am, But What Are You? by Samantha Bee.

Audible, Luke Daniels, and The Buried Book by D.M. Pulley

I’m not sure if I’ve learned my lesson about buying audiobooks just because I like the narrator. I picked up The Buried Book by D.M. Pulley after browsing through a bunch of the books narrated by Luke Daniels… which is not the first time I’ve picked up a book narrated by Luke Daniels just because. Let me back up.

Luke Daniels is a fantastic narrator whom I once described to friend thusly: “I hope he has little kids that reads stories to at night doing all the voices.” Not that his voice work isn’t lovely, but somewhere out there I’d like to know there are some super lucky children getting to hear him do a variety of voices for Where the Wild Things Are or Harry Potter, or whatever.

I listen to a lot of audiobooks — I got so fed up with the radio in Kansas City about five years ago and switched over to audiobooks for my commute pretty much exclusively. Although even before that when my husband and I could commute together, we often had audiobooks playing. But my Audible library is extensive these days, and I feel like that comes with a need to find books read by really enjoyable voices. I found Luke Daniels when I started listening to the Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne (by way of the similarities in it and The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher, which I loved for years). Anyhow. When you find a narrator that’s good, getting into the book is easier and I feel like the stories go faster because they’re into the characters in a way that makes them flow.

Davina Porter is another narrator I’ve grown to love through her work on the Outlander series audiobooks. I don’t have a lot of series I listen to on Audible necessarily, mostly because if the narrator is only so-so, I don’t have a lot of interest in picking up the next book. [And of course, Audible lets you return books you don’t like… which I’ve done, and is a very nice feature.] (Again, #notspon, I just really like Audible.)

So, I say all this to say that I like Luke Daniels as a narrator and have several times gone through his catalog to see what new things he’s read that I might like to listen to. He’s done Scott Meyer’s Wizard 2.0 series which is … just okay? But not through any fault on his part as the narrator. The writing has some issues.

I got off-track again.

The Buried Book by D.M. Pulley. It’s a stand alone fiction novel based very loosely on one of the author’s family members who went missing for a time in the fifties. The story takes place from the point of the missing character’s nine year old son, Jasper. Jasper spends the book desperately trying to learn more about his mother’s life: her childhood, her work, and most importantly where she went and why no one will tell him what’s going on.

Luke Daniels narrates from the mind of this poor nine year old who sees and reads and learns more than any kid should about his mother’s troubled past, and present.

By the end of the book I was eager to finish, not just to have it over so I could move on to something more fascinating, but I was finally finally interested in what was going on. That took more than two-thirds of the book to accomplish. I felt like so much of this story was unnecessary. Sure, everything is daunting when you’re a nine year old boy in the early fifties and everyone is always telling you to butt out, that you’re not old enough, that you can’t understand. And here’s where the book falls down for me.

The thing that most often takes me out of a story is if I feel, as a reader, that I’m being condescended to by the author. I won’t say that’s what happened necessarily, at least not in a way that made me stop listening before it was over. But I did get very annoyed by the book many times because it’s far more obvious to an adult reader than a nine year old what’s going on. So I felt that the pacing of the story was just awful, it plodded along, doling out information in the slowest manner possible.

When the end came, and thank goodness it’s not a super massive book (12 hours, I think… which is average for a normal novel length story via audio), I didn’t feel vindicated on Jasper’s behalf either. I didn’t feel like anything had been accomplished. The small bits of resolution that do happen don’t really happen to any of the main characters. They happen around them, as circumstance.

Not too mention, even my favorite narrator is going to run out of new ways to make the same gruff, farmer voices of the early fifties sound distinct. So it was kind of a lose-meh book for me. The only victory (for me) is in having finished it at last so I could move on. [I have a horrible time quitting books, even if I don’t like them. I’ve only done it twice since joining Audible, once was the narrator and the second time was the book itself. *shudders just thinking about it*]

Is anyone else a huge fan of Audible though? Do you do this too — pick out books because of the narrator? And please tell me someone else love Luke’s narration like I do.

Orchestra Book Tag

Eve at Twist in the Taile has created the Orchestra book tag that looks really fun, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Basically the idea is to assign books or characters to each instrument in an orchestra. Being both a book and music nerd, this seemed like fun.

a character likely to mastermind an evil plan
I think I have to agree with Kaz Brekker from the Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom duology. However, he IS a criminal mastermind, so I feel like he’s a little bit too easy of an answer for my liking.

I think given time and purpose, Atticus O’Sullivan from the Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne is a good choice. He’s good-ish but with the morals of someone that’s always playing the long game. If he had to, he could plan one hell of an evil plan.

a popular book you enjoyed

The Martian, man. Hands down one of the best audiobooks I’ve ever listened to. It’s amazingly fun and funny and boy does it play with your emotions at times. I was STOKED that this book got the following it did. And the movie I feel was just as awesome. Probably one of the movies that most closely follows the book I’ve seen in a really long time. Excellently done.

a rich, nuanced character

Eleanor from Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. I think she’s a heartbreaking, heartwrenching character. Both she and Park are just wonderful characters because of the richness of their stories.

an overlooked book

So I don’t keep up with booktube much anymore, or a lot of YA book talk. But I tell you what from what I have seen, people fucking slept on Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. The concept and the execution were so well done. It’s a book within a book and it’s a BIG book but when I finished it, I immediately wanted more.

a book with an unusual premise

Oh this is so easy. This is my favorite book like… ever. Seriously. And boy it’s a strange one, but hands-down, my favorite story. Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente.

Now, people are generally either a BIG fan of how Valente writes, or they hate it with a passion. So if you’re not a fan of lyrical poetry type writing, this isn’t for you. But I urge you to try the audiobook instead anyway because I feel like the narrator does such a good job of making all of the prose just fade behind the characters enough to help you understand everything that’s happening.

The tl;dr of Palimpsest is that certain people have these tattoos of specific parts of a city. If you have this tattoo you can travel to this city in your dreams. Some people hate it, some people chase the ability to get there. The book follows four characters in and out of the city of Palimpsest and the reasons they do or don’t want to be there. AGH so good.

a versatile book you’d recommend to anyone

I’m now realizing how many books I love that have complicated story points, or time travel or confusing themes. Hm.

Okay how about this. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. (I knew I’d end up with more than one of her books on here.) It’s a book about two friends who work together in a normal corporate type work environment and send messages and emails back and forth to each other throughout the day. You only get bits of their lives through these messages because you’re reading them as someone else in the office. It’s really good.

a character who stands out from the rest

Miriam Black. From the series by Chuck Wendig. I’ve never loved an anti-hero as much as I’ve loved this drinking, smoking, swearing asshole of a woman. But I do.

a talked-about book on your TBR

I’ve seen a lot of people talking about Angel of the Blockade by Alex Wells. So that’s on my list of things to grab real soon like. Also Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi because if you’re on tumblr AT ALL, you’ve seen the post about her and her books go by at least once.

a historical book

Susannah Morrow by Megan Chance. It’s an older book now, but boy if you like stories about the Salem Witch Trials, this is a really great story. Second runner up is also an older book but The Burning Times by Jeanne Kalogridis is also another story about a woman during a really anti-witch time period. Thanks, Inquisition.

a book which strongly informs how you are as a person

ooooh. Reverse order maybe from newest (to me) to oldest. 
If I hadn’t already used Palimpsest, I’d put it here.

But instead this: As a teenager The Midnight Club by Christopher Pike really meant a lot to me. I still go back and read it often because it packs a really good emotional punch that is somehow comforting to me as an adult. Sati (also by Christopher Pike) is one of his adult books, but it holds a similar place in my heart.

However if you want to go way, way, way back. Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik and illustrated by Maurice Sendak has a really solid place in my heart.

a book which finished with a bang

The end of Feed by Mira Grant fucked me right up.
a very long book

Here’s a non-fiction book for you. The Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson is a really funny and informative book about well… everything. I highly recommend the audiobook (read by Bill Bryson himself) if you want to tear into this. But I’ve shared this with everyone I think, as it was once shared with me, because it’s just so, so good. 

Comic: Fangirl by Tom Stillwell

My house has a bad Kickstarter habit that sort of have under control. Although sometimes we still go a little crazy on smaller projects, especially from repeat creators. This isn’t that, this is a graphic novel I backed a WHILE ago. I’m not even sure how long ago, but I received all the fun stuff in the mail a few weeks ago and finally finished reading the comic this week.

I’m bad about keeping up on comics, both physical and digital versions. These days I tend to prefer a graphic novel (in either physical or digital variety) because I like having a lot of story in my hands. And as much as I like superheroes, I’m not much for following the never-ending parade of storylines with recons and new beginnings and all the sort of things that come with it. I know some people do, but I prefer a nice tight story arc that’s more reminiscent of novellas than a television series.
Fangirl written by Tom Stillwell [Pencils & Ink by Jessica Lynn, Colors by Zac Atkinson, Letters by Crank!] is just that. Fangirl is the story of a young woman who has a close group of friends from an online game that is finally meeting in person at a big fan convention. When two of them witness a murder you see them using the convention to their advantage to escape the murderer.
One of the great things about the story in Fangirl is that this group of online friends come together and there’s not much awkwardness about being new to each other. They pick up conversations they were having online, they reference the game they play together and the other media they like just as you’d expect friends to do. It evident of the progression people have made since the early days of online gaming where you might not know what someone looked like, or what their real name was…
They’re just friends. And they’re doing their best to get through the weekend. 
As someone that’s met friends through video games and online fan communities, of course I resonated with the group that meets up in this story. But I also just really appreciated the portrayal of enthusiastic fandom culture in a positive way. There’s maybe a few holes in the plot but given that this isn’t a novel, it’s a graphic novel, I’m not mad about it. I think it’s worth the read if you’ve got a few minutes — the art is cute and there’s plenty of fun stuff to enjoy in the convention backgrounds.
If you’d like to check it out you can find the digital version on comixology here

Fables, Wednesday Club and the Five Minute One-Shot

The Wednesday Club is Geek & Sundry’s comic book show on Alpha, hosted by Queen of Comic Knowledge Amy Dallen, Goth Dad Taliesin Jaffe & Dr. Strange mega-fan Matt Key. Each week (on Wednesday) they meet for about two hours to talk about some comic book related topic. I’m not enough of a comic fan that this was an immediate watch for me, despite my love for Amy’s old G&S Vlog series about comics. However, last night’s topic was the epic Bill Willingham series, Fables.

Fables is a series I’ve loved for years. I started collecting the deluxe hardbacks when they came out because I love getting all the extra art and behind the scenes bits in them. So for the first time last night I tuned in to catch a live episode of The Wednesday Club in order to listen to their talk on Fables. I really, really enjoyed the chat although I knew going in that there was so little they could talk about without giving things away. And the three of them did a really good job keeping things spoiler-free and still communicating a lot about the series.

Part of the amazing work of Fables is it’s ability to surprise you constantly with the characters, even when you’ve seen them before. Which was something talked about a few times, in addition to the fun topic Taliesin brought up about the stories of Fables being public domain. They briefly delve into Once Upon a Time and what it meant for Fables fans when that show got picked up. Amy has a really great idea for the opening sequence for a Fables tv show, which I LOVED.

At the end of the show, they take a topic question from chat and spend five minutes in discussion on that specific question. Those segments are related to the show’s topic, but then are also fielded to YouTube so if you don’t have Alpha, or watch on Twitch, you can check those out.

If you’re a comics fan — or if you want to get into comics, I highly recommend The Wednesday Club. It’s just a casual chat about comics between friends (and sometimes with guests). It’s a good time. 
[Ps. I really love that they do a letters column at the start of the show. The one in last night’s episode from a fan that had been encouraged by the show to try and get through their bad brain days and maybe make some new friends was incredibly sweet.]

Trying for Joyful; I’ve Got This Round by Mamrie Hart

Recently I finished reading I’ve Got This Round by Mamrie Hart, a popular YouTuber. This is her second book and in both her first one, You Deserve a Drink and this one, she shares humorous personal stories about her life. In her first book many of her wacky adventures can be written off by her youth, or her drinking, or both. In the second, the stories all take place within the two years since her previous book. So she’s older and more successful than before but her stories don’t feel that different. She’s still telling stories about wacky adventures that don’t sound much like she’s changed.

But really this isn’t a review for her book. (Or it kind of is, and it’s kind of more.)

I mean, if you like her or her humor, read it. She’s an engaging writer and you’ll find her new round of stories fun and on-brand. I just don’t think it’s for everyone, which I’m sure even she understands.

However, reading it did get me thinking. Mostly because I recognize how strange it can be to read the stories of people that have more money or time or influence. When they do crazy things like purchasing tickets to Paris, or going on a cruise all on a whim, it’s hard to imagine yourself in their place.

Mamrie is a person in a uncommon position of privilege. Her status as an influencer and as a YouTuber personality grants her opportunities the rest of us don’t get. So connecting to stories about being fabulous places where she can drink and have fun adventures, is difficult.

Here though, is where I started thinking about what else her stories have in common, and where it’s not necessary to read her book to grasp the concept.

This about finding the joy in things. What she does is say “yes” to new opportunities. She reaches out to friends and loved ones to share in her adventures. Sometimes, when life is hard or we don’t feel good, this is the sort of thing it’s hard to do.

I find it difficult to lean in to new experiences.

And that’s the thing I found most often in her stories. Sometimes there would be a turning point… that moment where it’d be really easy to kick back. Sure, I find a day at home with video games or movies enjoyable. I’m a homebody and an introvert and once I’m in comfy clothes it’s hard to get me out of the house. But this isn’t just about getting out of the house. This is about getting out of a comfort zone.

Sort of like I talked about in my post about going to Omaha recently. I was there for a purpose – to see my favorite poet. But several times I tried to talk myself out of it. I tried to avoid going by myself somewhere fancy for dinner. In the end, I had an extremely enjoyable dinner and saw a great show.

I think reading this book was a little reminder that it’s worth it sometimes to push yourself a little more. And it’s doesn’t have to be big moments either. It could be saying yes to little things, like singing loudly in your car, or inviting someone to have lunch with you at work. I’ve also been considering how easy it is to hide the things we’re passionate about.

There’s a story Mamrie tells about going on the Backstreet Boys cruise. And I couldn’t help but admire the joy in that story. Not only do she and her friend just completely lean in to enjoy the shit out of that cruise as best they can, but there’s a whole cruise ship full of women doing the same thing. Sure, maybe their all there for different reasons but if you’re buying tickets to the Backstreet Boys cruise, you’ve really embraced your love for that band. And I kind of love that.

We talk a lot about this kind of idea in fandom circles; how not to yuck someone else’s yum, and letting people enjoy the things they enjoy whether it be a certain type of story or character or art. I think there’s more to that we can apply to just every day life. Being present for the things we love and opening ourselves up to opportunities to love more stuff.

Really it’s part of why I wanted to do this blog, or any blog again. I’m a huge fan of video games, comics, music… and it’s fun to be able to talk about them more, or share them to people who might not otherwise know about them. So, I’m really trying to embrace that whole concept of being present for the joy I have in the things and people I love, and being open or confident enough to do it even more.

Poetry: Alternate Universe by Olivia Gatwood & TedxABQ “We Find Each Other in the Details”

“Alternate Universe” is a strong poem. It speaks to the nature of emotional investments not just in relationships but in ourselves and the effects of misogyny on both. It’s simple, it’s funny, and Olivia’s performance of it is awesome.

I think my favorite line is this: “I have so much beautiful time.”

I found Olivia’s poetry through this TedxABQ talk she did about finding each other in the details. Personally, I’m a big believer in small moments. Small moments where we give thanks, or love, or support or just memory to someone or something. She speaks there about a simple interaction between her and her best friend that she turned into a poem, and uses it to show the audience how she teaches others to write poems too.
In this, she tells us it’s about the details. We can tell stories about small things that are also about big things too. How a story or a poem about a bikini can also become a story about fat-shaming or body positivity or self-acceptance. If you’re a writer, it’s a really good way to think about framing devices. If you’re a human, it’s just a good way to think. 

Book: How to Be a Bawse by Lilly Singh

I’m way behind. Bawse came out last year, and I just finished it yesterday. Though truthfully, I’ve been reading it about a chapter or two at a time since I got it on release day.

This book is beautiful: thick demi-gloss pages, giant high quality pictures of Lilly at the start of every chapter, and bright, colorful graphics for pull quotes and end of chapter checklists. It’s not exactly what I expected, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You know, by the look and feel of this book, it seems very much like it wants to be a coffee table book. It does make an impact.

Through fifty chapters, Lilly outlines her values and ideas on achieving success in very clear, simple language. Given her YouTube audience, I’m not really in her demographic… but I am a regular viewer of her content because I find her brand of positive and confident hustle inspiring. Which it’s meant to be but not just for her audience but also for herself. And I’d be willing to be that’s exactly what her actual demographic finds so attractive as well.

Her ideas aren’t new, not groundbreaking, but they are presented in a way that makes them easily digestible for her audience. And at the end of each chapter she provides a little space to write your own checklist of people, things, places that will help you achieve whatever idea she’s just presented.

I’ve read a few self-help kind of books in my time and this one definitely breaks out from the norm. Mostly due to the way each chapter is presented. But also, Lilly’s brand of positive reinforcement and her very easily accessible brand of humor makes it feel like a conversation. I’ll also say that I think the fact that if you do watch her videos or her vlog, you can see that these aren’t just words she’s written down. This book doesn’t break from the person she shows so openly in her vlogs. You can see that this kind of positive hustle is the same thing she applies to her own success, daily.

I say that, and I think that two decades ago, this book might’ve really changed my mind. However I think that at my current age, having struggled to get to where I am in my own life, a lot of her values are things I’ve already learned or applied. They’re concepts that you learn with experience. If you take them to heart early in life though, maybe you’ll be a step up from the rest. Will you have 13 million YouTube followers? Probably not. But, maybe you could have a good start on where you want to be someday.