Category: Miscellaneous/Unsorted

Let’s all go to Munchkinland

Welcome to “I put this off until late and decided to scrounge something together based on semi-recent activities as a last ditch effort” blog post #1738.

Trademarked.

Last night I spent St. Patrick’s Day in Fullerton celebrating with my friend Mimi and a few of her people. Even dragged my friend Juan out there with me, which was somewhat bizarre, but I would argue successful.

Bizarre mostly in that we’ve never really travelled outside of Redondo as a duo, that is. You can judge his personal eccentricities for yourself.

Oh and before you ask, I did not drink at the party. No Irish coffee for me.

Had to drive, and as Sonic Sez:

It was a small party with maybe eight people, and one that took up my entire evening with board games and video games and corned beef — hence my lack of a post yesterday.

Theoretically I could have written something before the party… But I got caught up with work meetings and getting homework done.

So sue me.

I figured you all would not be interested in the exciting adventures of leaving the gym early to go check on Grandpa after he fell out of his wheelchair. Especially since he’ll fine and will tell you he’s “impervious.” I believe it.

Instead, I think it might be fun to focus on a little game we played at last night’s called Munchkin.

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I took no pictures, so you’ll have to deal with a few stock images.

For those of you who only know Munchkins as delicious donut holes from Dunkin’ Donuts (Not an ad? But could be an ad), I’ll lay down the groundwork.

Munchkins the board game was developed by Steve Jackson Games and is, for all intents and purposes, a parody of Dungeons and Dragons. Players travel through a dungeon, collect treasure and class/race/gender changes and advance (mostly) by killing monsters like Lawyers and [Inter]Net Trolls.

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An example of some of the equipment players can utilize.

It’s a game where players can ask one another for help or screw each other over, which becomes an ocean of mind games once one player is poised to win and the rest stack curses and debuffs during their combat.

It’s a game which apparently has been around since 2001? Which is kind of insane to me.

This stupid game is as old as my little sister.

And only about half as stupid as her, am I right? *Insert Rimshot here*

*Insert inevitable slap upside the head for that comment here*

Jokes aside, the more I look into this game the more I’m generally impressed by it. There are nearly 200 products, playmats like in Yu-Gi-Oh! and. So many icons.

 

 

The fact that I’ve never heard of this game until yesterday is kind of astounding.

Though, to be fair, my board gaming experience didn’t go much further than Monopoly and Cards Against Humanity until my Gaming in American Culture class started.

That all said, I suppose this post has kind of turned into a bit of an endorsement for the game? It’s not an ad, but it could be an ad. Because I would certainly recommend it for people looking to play something engaging with a bunch of friends.

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Counters from the game.

I’m not joking when I say things get intense by the end.

I absolutely would have won my game if Mimi didn’t sweep the victory one rotation before my turn. And I’m still mad about it.

Plus, the game fits well into my recent dives into D&D creatures for my novel. It’s just the kind of thing that’s up my alley.

So take my enthusiasm with a grain of salt. Or with a pile of soft, sugary donut holes.

Your choice.


Images courtesy of Bobbyfinger and Pegasus Spiele via Wikimedia Commons

Ten-dollars worth of nihilism

Ten-dollars worth of nihilism

As I battle the unholy combination of impulsively long writing and too much content in the form of video game mechanics and aesthetics for my first Gaming in American Culture paper, it’s about time for a break.

Because my 4-6 page restriction has long since been surpassed by a 10-page first draft, and I’m electing to take advantage of the Sunday deadline’s opportunity for procrastination.

Instead, why not write a blog post?

In lieu of something substantial (as I have spent my afternoon writing about video games and listening to Ender’s Game), I figure why not take advantage of the Cognitive Psychology student presentation I watched during class this morning?

As I’ve briefly discussed in the past, our main grade outside of exams in Cog Psych are coming from presentations we have to give on a professional study which will become the subject of our research papers.

The presentation given today was about the spacing effect: In which we memorize better by spacing out information rehearsal over long periods of time than with condensed study.

To show us how this worked, the group’s activity involved learning obscure vocabulary terms intersperced by periods of rest and cat videos.

If you know me at all by now, you know that I can’t let a particularly interesting vocabulary word slip by without making a “ten-dollar word of the day” post.

Thus, I present to you:


Nihilarian

Noun

  1. A person who deals with things lacking importance.

via the Collins Dictionary


As a long-time user of nihilism, both in my vocabulary and philosophical musings (particularly fun with YouTube dives into popular culture), I was quite interested to learn a new word with a similar root.

It’s a simple but poignant term. Nihil-, the Latin word for nothingness, mixed with the suffix of different jobs — reminiscent of words like librarian, technician, etc.

While the word was used to help us learn a facet of psychology, my introduction to nihilarian engaged an entirely different part of my brain.

Now I’m going to look for any excuse to use the phrase to describe a character in my novel. Because the Honors Project is such a hodgepodge of influences from my daily experiences that I may as well.

Perhaps it could apply to one of my new mantis people.

See, I very recently had the drive to include a race of praying mantis-like characters. The idea came serendipitously in a dream I had last night — which I suppose is the kind of intuition I’m listening to now.

Next thing you know I’ll be a full-blown spiritualist.

They may be Thri-kreen, a la my similar inclusion of Aarakocra bird people from Dungeons and Dragons lore (because literally everything exists in D&D apparently, and my friend Sam is great at pointing out the obscure bits).

Or they may be something more humanoid of my own creation, considering how uncomfortable I am with full-on bug people after seeing the D&D depiction.

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Image courtest of the Forgotten Realms Wiki.

Either way, mantis folk are coming. And one of them will likely deal with things lacking importance.


Image courtesy of Woolchan via Wikimedia Commons

Ice cream passover

Ice cream passover

After Aly won big at the Dos Pueblos Jazz Festival last night, I decided it would only be appropriate to celebrate by taking her out for ice cream.

Thus, this beautiful image of us together was born.

The girl and I actually spent most of the day together. Waking up relatively early to make breakfast (Bacon and eggs? Can’t go wrong), listening to internet videos while sitting on the couch doing homework/novel-writing and, of course, getting ourselves some of that classic soft-serve frozen milk.

In the process we also made some classic lols, including the most brilliant movie script doctoring ever imagined by anyone in the history of time.

What a good gif!!

I’ll be waiting on my check, DreamWorks. Because as soon as more than ~35 people see this Bee Movie joke pulled straight out of 2017, I’ll be raking in the followers and likes for sure.

Alright all joking aside, that’s just the kind of dumb humor that flows out when my sister and I spend some quality time together.

But because I’m a terrible human being that somehow still finds Bee Movie jokes humorous, I figured I would share that quality post with the world.

Consider me inspired by Nando v. Movies recently finishing his Man of Steel rewrite.

Obviously this whole post is a little lackluster, and that’s more or less because I actually did spend most of the day either cooking or working on my Senior Honors Project. Doesn’t give me too many interesting things to share, but I also didn’t want to just leave another blank day after losing March 1 to my all-out lazy afternoon.

So consider this a passover post of sorts. Just a real quick 300 words about my day to tide you all over in the hopes that I have something more substantial tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’m going to get back to eating fancy pasta and writing. Because very rarely does my Comm Law class give out no homework, offering me the opportunity to catch up on my novel.

Looking to get past 100 pages before Tuesday.

Wish me luck.

Celebrating life

Celebrating life

Earlier today, my Cousin Erica said it was fitting that we held my Grandma’s celebration of life on the same day as the Oscars, because she loved that award show quite a bit.

To be fair the Oscars are only coincidentally happening on the same day. We held our gathering today because her birthday would be tomorrow if she was still with us.

I just couldn’t think of a better way to briefly express my appreciation for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse winning Best Animated at the awards. Since that’s really all I cared about from the Academy tonight.

Plus we saw the movie with my Grandpa not too long ago. That works as a transition, right?

Family, including my great-cousins out from New Jersey, as well as friends on both my Dad and Aunt Mindy’s Rolodex came out of the woodwork to help us celebrate.

My Aunt’s house was absolutely packed with people:

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Especially messy considering there were four dogs running around the house as well.

But all things being equal, it was a lot less of a mess than many of us had been expecting. Spending upwards of five hours this afternoon with such a packed house could have been an issue, but it wound up being a really chill, sweet time.

It probably helped that we had a ton of food lying around.

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If we Jews know how to do anything, it’s how to lay out a hell of a spread for a celebration. Plus a lot of our extended guests were happy to bring extra food in consolation.

While the food, the schmoozing among friends and my cousin’s heartfelt tribute were all wonderful parts of the event, probably my favorite part was getting to go through a lot of really old family photos and documents with my family around.

I threw a couple of them up on my social media in tribute:

But our collection went all over the place. From mid-1900s pictures with my close family to much more ancient stuff from the 1800s, before parts of that side moved to America during the turmoil of WWII in Eastern Europe.

Another one of my favorites was this piece, my Grandparent’s marriage certificate.

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Yet, it would be remiss of me not to spend at least a little bit of time talking about the doggos. I’m fairly convinced she liked those cuties a bit more than the rest of us by the end, anyway.

Which frankly is only half a joke. She loved these pups.

So here I am, becoming the king of the mutts:

That cute guy on the left is Rocky, who was my Grandma and Grandpa’s dog before they couldn’t really take care of him anymore. Though I do much prefer my photo with Rambo on the right.

Such a fluffy boi.

… Oh, and yes they are both named after Sylvester Stallone characters. Can’t tell you if that was intentional or not.

Though I can tell you that my doggo magnetism must run in the family, as I also got to see the original king of the dogs at work:

Look how happy he is. Gotta love it.

I’ve been a little silent about my Grandma lately, as we’re all just kind of chugging along trying to get used to that feeling in the back of our hearts. But realistically, that feeling might never go away.

It just so happens that days like today are really helpful to move forward with a smile and remember the good.

If you haven’t, hug your family everyone. You never know how many more chances you’ll have.

Stranded in Suburbia

Stranded in Suburbia

I’m in a bit of an odd predicament.

In my 22nd birthday blog post, I based the whole thing on the fact that there isn’t a lot of external fanfare surrounding 22 compared to 21.

But there is one specific thing that happened when I turned 22, which I sort of alluded to yesterday.

I was able to get a new driver’s license when I turned 21, one that would be horizontal instead of vertical to assure certain establishments that I am of age for things like drinking. But I didn’t have to get my new license because the old one wasn’t expired.

I can no longer say that because the expiration date came yesterday:

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Be glad I’m not showing you the full picture… It’s bad.

For the first time in close to four years, I am no longer legally able to drive myself.

Now I know some of you are probably saying that it shouldn’t matter, because what are the odds of getting pulled over?

Well… Sure. I could still drive around if I wanted, because it’s not like the license is inherently visible unless asked for specifically. I could still do things like hit the gym if I wanted, as I had planned on today to start working off that birthday cake.

After all, I hit 200 lbs on the scale as of my visit to the hematologist last week, and I don’t want to lose too much progress on my journey to become healthier.

But that being said, I live by the same anxieties as my Mom when it comes to these things. Twelve other people could be driving around with expired licenses around me, but with my luck I would be the one who gets caught and pays the price.

So I won’t be driving around on my own today. Just on the off-chance anything happens.

I could still get driven around by my parents, and Mom has gone to the gym with me in the past. It’s not like I’m totally stuck.

… Except for the fact that I stayed home this morning while the rest of the family went out to do chores. Because for some reason I decided doing homework was more important.

And you know, by ‘for some reason’ I mean because I have assignment deadlines.

Deadlines I could be working on instead of this blog post if I didn’t enjoy living on the edge.

Thus, as the title implies, I’m stuck at home doing work today. I even took that artsy Featured Image through the screen door just to imply bars.

Kinda proud of it, honestly.

On the bright side, my pseudo-house arrest shouldn’t last long. I have an appointment at the DMV tomorrow that I’m… Completely looking forward to…

But you know what, if I have to miss my morning class and suffer through government bureaucracy in order to get my driver’s license back, I suppose it will all be worth it in the end.

Who knows, the experience might even give me something interesting to talk about around here.

Guess we’ll just have to see.

A symmetrical birthday

A symmetrical birthday

Another year, another trip around the sun.

Turning 22 doesn’t offer nearly as many significant things to talk about as the ‘milestone’ 21, where drinking and properly oriented drivers’ licenses were officially on the table.

I won’t be starting this post off with a deep, important-sounding remark on the different milestones one hits in life.

Rather, 22 mainly stands out because… It’s symmetrical? I guess?

To be fair, 22 does have some things going for it. Most notably the fact that I’ll be graduating from college during that year. Yikes.

All of that is pretty forward thinking, though. Today there aren’t a whole lot of exciting things going on, as I’ll be saving the friend gatherings for later in the year when more people are back in town.

What I have gotten is a lovely breakfast made by my younger sister:

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Homemade waffles with fruit compote and whipped cream? I’ve been spoiled.

And a couple of birthday gifts from the family that I definitely did not know about from being in the store with them.

That would be ridiculous! I was honestly, truly surprised.

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Look at this adorable surprise!

Aly must know me real well if she thought to get me a Mimikyu-related gift again, totally without my input.

As much as it messes with my head that Sun and Moon came out almost three years ago, my love for this Pikachu lookalike remains strong. Even if I had to pull a Scizor out to take advantage of her weakness.

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Get it?

While Mimikyu and that new Switch controller are the main physical gifts I’ve gotten thus far, I have been eagerly watching all of the digital presents from various organizations roll in.

Like this cute little email from Nintendo helping me celebrate with all those Marro brahs:

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C’mon Bowser don’t be like that. Have some cake with your son.

Unfortunately platinum coins mean basically nothing next to gold coins, which would allow me to buy new video games.

Just give me more gold coins, Nintendo. I promise I’ll keep shilling for you if I can buy more games.

Until you do, I’ll just go back to Planet Fitness for my free water bottle.

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Not a joke.

I think it’s hilarious that my gym wants me to go spend my birthday working out as I’m sitting around eating ice cream cake, but to be fair I am planning on going tomorrow.

So I might actually use a free water bottle, as silly as that is.

At the very least water seems reasonable as an immediate necessity to keep my body working, which gives it an edge over this offer from Facebook:

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I get the sentiment here, getting members to create fundraisers for nonprofit organizations. It’s a nice goal in-and-of itself.

But one dollar? Seriously, Mark?

Pretty sure you could stand to offer a bit more of a generous care package all things considered. I know you have a bajillion users and that money stacks up in the long-run, but even something like $5 would look less silly as a ‘present.’

Alright, I’ll stop fruitlessly complaining at social media companies. I just honestly don’t have all that much more to say. After breakfast we went out for a bit to visit my Grandpa and buy special pasta ingredients for dinner.

We were greeted by a little bit of rain while out shopping, keeping up the tradition of water falling on my birthday.

Though it wasn’t near as bad as my 20th when I brought attention to the issue on the blog.

So that’s not an exciting direction to head down. Nor is all the homework that I’ll unfortunately be stuck doing tonight due to deadlines that leave no room for extensive birthday fun.

I think I’ll just wrap things up here, then. Get back to relaxing, spending some time with family and… Yeah, homework.

Just one more semester and I’ll never have to deal with that again.

As usual, thank you all for the support here on the blog and in my real life endeavors. Particularly to my old colleague/friend Ashlyn Ramirez who gave me shout outs on all the social media platforms unexpectedly.

That girl works hard, she deserves a little extra support!

But for all the rest of you as well, hope you’ll stick around for however many birthdays are still to come.

What it’s like to live in California

What it’s like to live in California

Being a connoisseur of popular culture that often turns a self-reflective mirror on the land of its origin — Hollywood and California as a whole, I’ve heard every joke about the Golden State.

I know all about the country’s perception that CA is a safe haven for crazy health-nut vegans, sunrise surfers-turned-CEOs, nerdy tech moguls living life in their slide-filled Silicon Valley offices and high-price juice shops, stoners riding skateboards down the beach promenade and, of course, fashion-conscious movie stars making the exact same schlock which perpetuates these views.

When they aren’t starring in Marvel films.

Well I’m here to report that all of these stereotypes are, in fact…

Entirely correct.

Even as a 21-year-old native to the west coast, I’ve never quite been in a place that screams ‘California liberal kookiness’ quite as much as Lazy Acres Natural Market.

This place is a Whole Foods-esque supermarket born and raised right here in the Golden State, and I swear it’s the one place you need to bring anybody from a fly-over state to assure them that everything the T.V. says about California is true.

So first off, most of the products are the kind of low-everything, non-GMO, gluten-free products you’d expect to see.

My favorites were these knock-off versions of popular candies

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Sour Blast Buddies, Sweet Fish and… Gummy Bears. Not trademarked I guess?

However, it’s much more fun to look at some of the individual portions of the store beyond generally ‘normal’ things like rows of fruit or 20 bottled water brands.

For instance this chain-specific juice bar/coffee shop:

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Or this absolutely massive collection of nuts:

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Every creed of nut is in this store. I didn’t know there were this many kinds of nuts!

I also didn’t know I could say nut this many times in one place without bursting into laughter.

Maybe the laughter was suppressed by trying to figure out this bizarre self-filling water station:

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Because you know. When I’m looking for “deionized” or “high pH alkaline” water, I want to go to my local supermarket and fill up a jug using a machine that looks like a mutated soda or ice cream dispenser.

That’s definitely one of the weirder things here.

Slightly less weird, but also very Californian, is the fresh sushi bar:

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A sushi bar in the middle of the supermarket.

Sure, why not.

That sushi bar is actually a part of the larger ‘kitchen’ section of the store, where they also sell sandwiches and salad bars full of hot food like mac n’ cheese. Right next to some cafeteria tables and a private room where cooking classes are held.

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Oh but don’t worry, ladies and gentlemen, I saved the best for last.

After everything I’ve shown you, is there any part of a supermarket you think Lazy Acres is missing? Merchandise to show the world you belong to their unique brand, perhaps?

Well yes, that exists.

An Instagram account?

Wouldn’t be a hipster, vegan supermarket without letting fans interact with overproduced brand advertisements over social media.

Or maybe, just maybe…

You think they’re missing a massive beehive right in the middle of the store.

Well, if you thought so, you’d be wrong.

Because they already have it:

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Not the Bees!

Look, I’ll be honest with all of you right now. When this place opened up in the shopping center over by my house, I didn’t have a particular desire to go in. We only happened to be there tonight to buy dinner.

Looked a little bougie. Real expensive, healthy supermarkets aren’t exactly uncommon in California, so I’d seen plenty and didn’t expect much.

But when I saw a god damn case full of bees in the middle of the store? I lost my mind.

Why would anyone want to go to this place for a second time after they find out there’s an actual, legitimate chance for bees to be released on an unsuspecting urban population in the middle of an enclosed space?

It’s just wild.

If nothing else, I can complement Lazy Acres for having nice counters around the edges. The meat, seafood and bakery sections all had good selections:

Plus I got a really nice meal out of the kitchen area!

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Yet unfortunately, alongside the craziness of the bees, it also introduced me to this monstrosity…

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So I’m pretty sure everything balances out and I will never go back to this crazy place.

California hath bested me.

Man remains the most extraordinary machine

Man remains the most extraordinary machine

Valentine’s Day 2019 will officially go down as the Valentine’s Day where I truly learned the value of a human touch.

Because when automatic email reply systems fail, you really need to break through and get an actual person on the other side.

What did you think I was referring to?

Oh, well okay I guess I can see where you were coming from. But no, it’s definitely not that.

Guess I should provide you with a little more context just to make sure we don’t get confused from here on out.

Toward the end of last semester, I was contacted by the Co-Curricular Coordinator for the University Honors Program on campus. Because I had applied to join the Honors Student Advisory Council earlier (in one of my attempts to find something other than the Daily Titan to focus on), he wanted to offer me the chance to create an event alongside other prior applicants.

I believe the argument was that they didn’t want to let all of the extra talent and brain power disappear on the breeze. Couldn’t argue with that.

Especially since it would let me put ‘event planner’ on my resume.

So this semester I’ve been working with another Honors student to set up an event for late March. A lot of the details are still being designed, but essentially we’ve decided to host a panel about networking in various industries.

The Honors Program is interdisciplinary, so having tips from all across the career spectrum seemed like a nice idea.

I’ve mostly been working on finding panelists to bring in, but the first step in that process was getting someone from the CSUF Career Center to jump on board. They seemed like a much more natural choice for a panel moderator who could keep the conversation focused on what a broad range of different students might need.

Last week I went into the Career Center and spoke with one of the students at the desk, who left a written message for the Associate Director of the center.

I also sent along a follow-up email, just for the sake of making sure the message got across.

However, despite my best efforts, I didn’t hear back from anyone leading into this week. So before my group met up again, I stopped by the Career Center one more time. They suggested I submit a workshop request through their website forum, as that apparently gets checked more often.

Today I finally got my response from the Career Center. Which recommended I… Submit a workshop request.

Through the same link I had submitted the request that the Career Center was replying to.

Definitely something a bit screwy about that automatic response.

I sent another email back letting them know how weird the response was, seeing whether I had missed something or could talk to someone in a face-to-face meeting. With the Associate Director added .

About five minutes after I sent that, she responded to me directly.

Then ten or so minutes after that, once I elaborated on what we were looking for, she sent off the message to Career Center specialists seeing who might be available.

All was good in the world, and I could finally move on to step two of my portion of the planning.

It just figures that only fifteen minutes were required to solve an issue I was waiting over a week for, simply because I finally got through to the right human being.

So this Valentine’s Day, if you’re sad and alone like I am, just remember that real human beings can make life better even if they aren’t doing it in that way.

Peace and love and all that good stuff.


Image Courtesy of Nevit Dilmen via Wikimedia Commons

I’m a Barbie girl.

I’m a Barbie girl.

For my Gaming in American Culture class today, we spent a good two hours or so playing board games.

As a means of practicing different ways of analyzing games. Not for fun.

Except… There was a lot of fun being had in my group.

Because we played The Barbie Game: Queen of the Prom.

In case you can’t read it through the box glare, the tag line for the game is “A fun game with real life appeal for all girls.”

Developed in the 1960s.

If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know, I don’t know what will.

That being said, I’m still about to tell you everything you need to know because by God this game is phenomenal in how atrocious it is.

Yet, we need to talk about some decent aspects of the game first. Namely its aesthetic presentation.

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There’s some cacophony on first glance, but the board itself is quite well laid out and screams art deco.

The box itself also comes with this nifty stage for all of the different relevant cards and bank money:

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Don’t worry, I’ll get into what these mean soon enough.

Our version of the game, provided by the professor, also happened to include some extra charm in the way of additional player pieces:

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Naturally I was an origami swan.

So the game is pretty and well laid out.

Unfortunately, that does not save it from being a perfect window into the sexist ways of the 1960s.

So what is the “real life appeal for all girls” that this game boasts?

Well, obviously the ultimate goal is to become prom queen.

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You get there through a lovely crowd of all-white, male/female couples. Unless of course your dress hem is down.

In order to make the arduous journey to prom, there are three things that you (presumably as one of four different Barbie girls™) need to collect along the way.

  1. A prom dress — This one actually makes a decent amount of sense.
  2. A steady boyfriend — Not just a boyfriend. You can get a boyfriend, but he won’t be REAL until he asks you out at a football game and you go steady. Also these are your choices:

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    One of these things is not like the other, and his name is Poindexter.
  3. The presidency in a school club — Seriously, how do you expect to be prom queen if you aren’t even the president of the drama club? You plebe.

With all three, you can achieve true supremacy.

Oh, and that’s only half a joke. The game is designed to make it harder for players to catch up if one is ahead. For instance, most of the club spaces are specific, so players who land there after you cannot receive the same presidency.

Though they may not want to considering how inept the drama club is.

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Mattel is currently reporting a net income of $14.9 million a year.

On top of that, two players cannot share a single boyfriend, so it might be harder to find the stragglers.

That said, boyfriends can’t be THAT hard to come by. Especially if you’re the most popular girl in school.

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Just toss the losers.

Or you get set up on a double date.

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The blinder, the better!

Or you know that some loser is an exploitable secret admirer.

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Fun fact, Poindexter wrote my friend Mimi a poem and got it published in a newspaper. He gave her $5 of the $10 he made from selling the copy… But didn’t ask her out on a date.

Or even better, just pick one out of a hat!

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That’s him! He’s yours!

It’s amazing that I never scored a boyfriend during our playtime when there are so many of them getting thrown about.

… Though that said I might not have wanted one, when date time includes things like this:

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Too bad there’s not a ‘dump his ass’ option.

So finally, there’s the prom dress. I saved this one for last because it’s arguably the most interesting as a game mechanic.

There are four dresses. The cheapest is $30 and the most expensive is $65.

In 2019 that sounds dope as hell. However, this is also Inflation: the game.

You start with $25 and make (typically) $5 at most. One of the few exceptions to that rule is a perfect example of why players who aren’t quick enough to get the cheap dresses are basically screwed.

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Thanks for nothing, Daddy.

All things considered, these goals might not seem like that much compared to a game like Monopoly, where you need to own the entire planet, build out hotels and literally bankrupt all of your friends (as well as your friendships with them).

But what I haven’t told you is that The Barbie Game has one four-sided dice.

So you’re moving around the board at a snail’s pace. While there are a number of spaces and “surprise” cards that allow you to go to whatever part of the board you want — arguably the only semblance of strategy in the entire experience, there are an infinitum more ways to wind up getting sent back home.

We found that this in itself was an interesting commentary on the nature of a teenage girl in the 60s only being able to go out to do one thing at a time before forcibly getting dragged back home for any number of reasons.

But you know. 2019 foresight again.

To extend the game’s runtime even further, there are a few different spaces which do literally nothing.

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This one was the best.

There was some 2010s time traveler in the room when they made this game who threw in this sarcastic Internet-era joke, I swear.

We didn’t get to finish a full game, so unfortunately I can’t regale you with the triumphant story of some lucky prom queen. But I hope if nothing else, this gave you a very interesting look into the mindset of people more than 50 years ago.

Good thing we’ve moved past this kind of stuff.

Oh wait that’s right, this was a reprint of the game.

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Who decided it was a good idea to bring this back in the mid-2000s??

We haven’t learned shit.

Luckily my group played a much better game soon after to wipe away the tears.

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Webcomics worth a watchful eye

Webcomics worth a watchful eye

Oh boy, this is a topic I’ve wanted to dive into for some time!

I consume a lot of media. Movies. Books. Video games. Podcasts. YouTube videos.

But also webcomics, which is a subject I haven’t had too many occasions to touch on despite it being one of my favorites.

The closest I’ve gotten was briefly mentioning my time with Homestuck the day it ended.

That particular comic was a different experience, however. My time with it was more concentrated to high school where updates were exciting events. It was much more of a social, community-driven interest for me.

I spent a good amount of time reading fan theories on Tumblr (recently in the news) and fan fictions on Wattpad (which I was surprised to find out still exists).

I went as Dave Strider to Anime Expo one year.

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Had to dig through the dark bowels of my early Facebook posts to find this…

I even started planning out this big Dungeons and Dragons-esque fan roleplay with my friend Sam.

Found the planning sheet for that when I was cleaning out my old Mac, and I think her reaction to it says everything:

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All that doesn’t take away from how excellent the webcomic itself was. Even before it was finished, there were some great think pieces about it — my favorite being from PBS Idea Channel.

Finding out that video is almost seven years old hurt my soul… So let’s move into contemporary subjects.

More of the webcomics I read today are quiet, personal experiences. Super fun and often passionate projects from individual creators and small teams that haven’t reached the scope of something like Homestuck.

The most recent of which, Kid Midnight, being my spark to finally talk about them.

It all started yesterday when I was catching up on a few episodes of the podcast Still Untitled (most notably starring Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame). The usual suspects were discussing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse with Ben Acker, who plugged his recent venture with the artist Natalie Nourigat.

His pitch was that the comic is an autobiographical story being drawn by a facsimile of Batman’s sidekick, Robin, as he tries to decide whether he’ll be a superhero or go to art school.

That was enough to sell me, but after reading through the seven current ‘episodes,’ I feel it sells the project short.

Kid Midnight is all about that sidekick dealing with not just career goals, but also the other trappings of adolescence. Love one is too scared to admit, popularity, imposter syndrome…

All guised in an incredibly charming, funny and beautiful comic.

Just go read it. I promise it’s worth the time, and you can bang out what’s there in a half hour tops. When I write this, anyway.

Next on my docket of favorite webcomics to suggest is Erma, by Brandon Santiago.

The elevator pitch for this comic is simple: Imagine if the monster from The Ring was actually a lovely, sociable woman who married a human that writes horror novels.

The comic centers around their young daughter — Erma — as she goes to school, spends time with her friends and does supernatural stuff.

It’s honestly one of the most adorable things I’ve ever read. You get a brilliant contrast between horror tropes and “scary” images that are followed by Erma watching Warrior Unicorn Princess with her babysitter.

The comic begins with one-off stories like you might see on the funny pages. But eventually there are sprawling story arcs — the current one about Erma and her family going to a Yokai village in Japan to meet her Yakuza-esque grandfather.

It’s wonderful to see the passionate community blossom over time, and the author has recently announced plans for spin-off comics being drawn by other artists and a phone app. There’s a lot to love!

For the final stop on my tour, I’m going to go in a bit more of an obtuse direction.

Tales of Elysium is another long-running comic from a team called Sleepless Skink Productions that presents a vision of Pokémon similar to the Mystery Dungeon series.

Except with a far darker tone and narrative.

The story centers around a Riolu named Leon and a Totodile named Vagus as they get sucked into conflict with a demented band of Pokémon and their feral underlings who hope to… Well we don’t totally know yet.

Presumably destroy all of the surviving members of an ancient civilization so they can take over the world.

We just haven’t gotten the full backstory at this point.

The story is quite long with no signs of slowing down anytime soon, and there are just as many quiet, enthralling character moments as there are swashbuckling Pokémon battles in a gruesome, more realistic style than you’ve probably ever seen.

I would argue the art direction of Tales of Elysium is its strongest selling point. Every single panel is immaculate — almost TOO good for a project focusing on Pokémon.

Though I wouldn’t say that because I adore Pokémon.

Also because the story and characters that have been created for that world more than justify a beautifully dramatic art style.

So there you are. Three different flavors of comics for your viewing pleasure.

Though I’m still fresh to Kid Midnight, I would definitely say it fits into my pantheon of weekly reads alongside Erma and Tales of Elysium. Catching up on my comics each Friday has become a favorite wind-down activity for me.

However, I’m always looking out for more!

If there are any webcomics out there that you love, please don’t hesitate to let me know about them. I’d love to expand my scope even further.