Archived entries for Shezcrafti Updates

Mandatory Two Month Check-In

Sorry, this is going to be one of those “Has it really been X days/weeks/months since I last posted something?” kind of posts, which are the worst kind of posts. Seriously, I hate these posts, but what I hate even more is looking at the calendar each day and seeing that “X” number go up.

Being that today is exactly 2 months since my last update, which doesn’t feel very good, I thought now’s as good a time as any to check in, make sure the internets know I’m still alive, etc, etc, but mostly it’s because emails with subject lines like “ARE YOU OK??” have started to appear in my inbox. (Thank you for your concern, guys, I miss you too. For reals.)

I won’t bore you with details, but just know as far as Reasons Why I Haven’t Been Blogging go, I’ve had some pretty legit ones. They include, in no particular order, changing jobs (yes, again), a death in the family plus all the lovely complications resulting from it, something of a medical scare where for a couple of extremely nerve-wracking days my eye doctor thought I may have brain cancer (I don’t, so no worries), and finally, good ‘ol just not giving a shit, which is easy to do (or is that not do?) when you’re dealing with all of the above. Also, because of the new job, my commute is now an hour each way–on a good day–so by the time I get home at night I don’t feel much like doing anything except sweatpantsing and Netflixing (hot, right?), preferably at the same time, while mentally preparing to do it all over again tomorrow. And the day after.

2013 isn’t fucking around, ya’ll. Since last December it’s been one shitty thing after the next that I’ve had to deal with, like that Miley Cyrus VMA performance (whatever, I’m on a roll and everyone hates her anyway).

But things aren’t as bad as all that. On the job front, I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere in my career, like all the bullshit I’ve had to deal with over the past year has been leading up to something.

And speaking of leading up to something…

Shawn & Jaime

This is a thing that’s happening. That has been happening, I should say.  I got to know Shawn from Branded in the 80s soon after I discovered his blog last year–in fact (I will never forget this) it was this post about TMNT postcards that led to my finding it. Fast forward to a year later: we’re best friends, we do a podcast together, and suddenly we both find ourselves…available.  I couldn’t tell you how many tweets, blog comments, emails, and other miscellaneous communications we’ve exchanged since we first met, but I can tell you I’ve looked forward to every single one.

Somewhere along the line, I fell in love. Wait a minute, no, I remember the exact moment–it was a few months ago when I had a shitty day at work and Shawn drew this to cheer me up:

Ninja Turtle Care Bear

Despite the logistics (Shawn’s in Atlanta, I’m in Baltimore), somehow we’re making it work, thanks to Facebook, a Delta Skymiles card, and constant, often amusing updates about all the silly little things going on in our lives throughout each day. Of course the distance complicates things, and some days it feels like I’m dating my iPhone, but whenever we’re reunited I instantly remember why all of this is so completely worth it. 

So now you know why I haven’t been around much. The new job is making it especially hard to devote as much time as I’d like to keeping this blog up, and I can’t promise I’ll be able to post as much as I used to, but I am trying. I miss your comments, I miss the camaraderie,  but most of all I miss feeling like I know what the hell is going on in my dumb little corner of the internet.

The “I’m Not Dead” Post

Jesus. Has it really been almost a month?

Contrary to popular belief, I am not dead, kidnapped, or locked in the trunk of Paxton Holley’s car. At least not anymore…

Behind the scenes I’ve been on a bit of a roller coaster ride with work stuff but things are finally calming down. A few weeks ago I reached the absolute limit of my tolerance for workplace bullshit and quit my job, just shy of going full Milton Waddams and setting the building on fire.

It was worse than this movie.

At the same time, I was working with a recruiter in pursuit of a high-paying but too-far-away corporate job that would have required driving an hour through I-95 Baltimore Harbor Tunnel gridlock both ways, so ultimately I turned it down. But let me tell you, saying “no” to a salary that high was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make, and yes, I had to question my sanity too. Somewhere in the midst of all that, in an unexpected but totally welcome twist of fate, I was offered my old job back–yup, the same one I left last November.

Long story short, I’m still gainfully employed, back working at a place that I love doing a job that I love surrounded by people I enjoy working with. I never did get my red Swingline stapler back, though…

This development also means I’ll have more time for this blog and my social (media) life in general. As much as I love you guys, my shenanigans here on ShezCrafti don’t pay the bills, so I had to abandon them temporarily while all of this other stuff was going on. But now that I’m back, I would like to publicly say thanks to one of you in particular, who has stuck by my side to offer support and advice throughout this whole process. You know who you are.

Of course, being away for a month also means I’m now staring at a RICOCKULOUS number of unread items in my feed reader.

FML!After a while Google’s just like, “Dude, I don’t even know anymore,” and hits you with that mysterious “1000+” number. There could be 10,000 awesome/amazing things I haven’t read, or there could be 75,000. Or more!

Oh God...

So, in conclusion, it’s probably a safe bet I haven’t had a chance to read that Top 10 Reasons Why Sophia Is the Hottest Golden Girl post you did, but I’ll get around to it…eventually…

All the crap I did while I wasn’t blogging.

So yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. Sixteen days, to be exact. The past few weeks have been a blur of work (of both the kind that pays the bills and the kind that doesn’t), sleep, and time with family, punctuated by a business trip to NYC, the fulfillment of one of my biggest gamer fangirl dreams (more on that in the next post), and a few very special days spent with Michael, the new guy in my life. I’ve been meaning to mention him on this blog, so that time might as well be now. This past weekend was only our second time seeing each other because he lives three states away. The story of how we met is quite a geeky one; maybe one of these days I’ll share it with you. But for now we’re just trying to make this long distance thing work, and I won’t lie–it ain’t easy.

While it’s true I’ve been extra busy with work and side projects on top of personal stuff that has kept me from blogging, I can’t say I didn’t welcome the break. I desperately needed some time away to recharge my batteries and experience some of the things I’d been missing. While I probably could have snuck in a few blog posts during my limited downtime over the past couple of weeks, I decided to say “fuck it” and go play video games or watch movies or TV shows instead.

Look at all this crap.

Just so it wasn’t a total loss in terms of content for this blog, here’s a list of everything I watched, played, or listened to, accompanied by some random thoughts on each.

Movies

Spring Breakers (2013)

Spring Breakers

Michael and I went to go see this on Easter Sunday. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ than a movie about drugs, murder and tits. Spring Breakers was, well, not quite what I was expecting. But then again, nobody knows what to expect from a Harmony Korine movie anyway. This is the same guy that gave us Kids and Gummo, two movies which aren’t even half as coherent as this one. Aside from everything looking like a candy-coated version of Natural Born Killers and all the pointless repetition (“Spring Break…Spring Break…Spring Break Forever!”) I found myself enjoying it, thanks in no small part to James Franco. He’s easily the best thing about this movie, and the sole reason I would watch it again.

Motivational Growth (2013)

Motivational Growth

Now I have seen some batshit crazy movies, and this one is right up there with the best of them. I was introduced to Motivational Growth by way of The Goodwill Geek, who got in touch with writer/director Don Thacker about letting us weirdos in the Cult Film Club get our grubby little hands on it, and he was gracious enough to comply. It’s a hard movie to watch (Poop! Vomit! Adipocere!), and an even harder one to describe (Talking Mold Monster!), but I do know that I liked it. I did, however, have to get up and take a shower immediately afterward to scrub my body free of the on-screen filth I felt sure was permeating through my monitor, spreading into my hair and under my fingernails. My co-host Shawn and I both sucked on this movie like a mold-covered teat and compared notes, so don’t be surprised if this ends up on Cult Flim Club somehow.

TV Shows

The Walking Dead, Season 3 Finale

The Walking Dead - Season 3

I wasn’t able to watch it live, but despite having a job that requires me to be on the internet pretty much all day long, by some miracle I managed to avoid spoilers until I could catch up on DVR. I’m not one of those assholes who goes around ruining things for other people, so I won’t tell you who dies (because this is The Walking Dead, so you know somebody major dies, right?) but I will say this: I’m happy to see that person go. I’ve wanted him/her dead since Season 1. If that makes me cold, so be it. Ain’t nobody got time for diplomacy during the zombie apocalypse.

Game of Thrones, Season 3 Premiere

Game of Thrones Season 3

Game of Thrones is back on! Game of Thrones is back on! Game of Thrones is back on! I was starting to get separation anxiety, how about you? The fact that Season 3′s premiere coincided with The Walking Dead Season 3 finale was a geekstravaganza of such epic proportions, it was almost too much to handle.

Enlightened, Seasons 1-2

Enlightened

Against my better judgement, I decided to watch Enlightened, a show I knew HBO had already cancelled. While it’s frustrating to know I’ll never truly get to know how Amy Jellico’s journey of enlightenment ends, I don’t regret having watched this show. Laura Dern is a brilliant, underrated actress so I knew her performance alone would be worth it. What ended up surprising me is how much I loved the rest of the characters, especially the peanut gallery of quirky characters that make up Amy’s co-workers at Abaddon Industries. I would watch a whole spinoff starring Dougie and his righteous hair about his failed exploits trying to pick up babes.

Girls, Season 2

HBO Girls, Season 3

Due to it’s love/hate (but mostly hate) relationship with audiences, a fact I haven’t advertised too heavily around here is that I am a fan of HBO’s Girls. At first my interest in the show was born purely of curiosity, having been sucked into the advertising hype surrounding its series premiere and subsequent, often hysterical press in the gossip blogs. But this is HBO, and HBO doesn’t put out bad shows. Though I can’t say I relate much to any of the main characters–four spoiled twenty-somethings trying to become adults and make it  in New York City–I’m fascinated just watching them try, and the usual train wrecks that result. It helps that Girls is generously peppered with gratuitous sex (again, this is HBO after all), hilariously awkward social  situations and “I can’t believe they just went there” topics of conversation. Can someone tell me why people hate Lena Dunham so much?

Curb Your Enthusiasm, Season 8

Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 8

Thank God for HBO Go. On a recent bus trip up to New York City, it saved me from completely losing my shit and stabbing the other passengers. Megabus packs you in like sardines, but at least they give you free Wi-Fi. I’ve long been a fan of Curb Your Enthusiasm and all the riotously funny, misunderstood situations Larry David finds himself in, but I hadn’t yet watched any of Season 8. Yes, a show that takes place in NYC while on my way to NYC. That’s how I roll. I was able to knock out a sizeable chunk of the season on my way to and from Manhattan, headphones cranked as loud as they would go, which was necessary to drown out all the asshattery surrounding me.

The Killing, Seasons 1-2

AMC's The Killing

Back when The Killing first premiered on AMC, I watched the first one or two episodes then for some reason or another lost interest. I’m glad I gave it a second chance because now I am hooked. I breezed through the entire first season (even re-watching those intial episodes) in just a couple of nights, and now I’m halfway through the second. I still don’t know who Rose Larsen’s killer is, but I’m getting closer and cloer. I can taste it. (Translation: if you spoil this for me, I will fucking cut you.) Also, if I’m being totally honest, I have a pretty big crush on Detective Holder.

Games

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

I’ve played all of the Professor Layton games to date, this being my first one for 3DS. Though I bought this game a few months ago back when I got my 3DS (the best self-Christmas gift ever), I didn’t finish it until last week. My total playtime to complete the main storyline and puzzles was about 12 hours. The 3D aspect added some cool elements to the puzzles here and there, but for the most part I kept the 3D turned off, save for the cutscenes where it really popped. Professor Layton games always have interesting mysteries, and Miracle Mask was no exception. It was, however, a little too predictable for my liking. Either that or I’ve just played so many of these games I know too well what to expect.

Ridiculous Fishing

Ridiculous Fishing

‘Tis no finer bathroom gaming in all the land. Ridiculous Fishing is easily the best $2.99 I spent for my iPhone. With its 8-bit aesthetics and addictive gameplay, I didn’t think it was possible to enjoy a fishing game this much, which goes something like this:

Step 1.  Cast lure, avoiding obstacles on your way down.

Step 2.  Hook as many fish as you can and blow the shit out of ‘em with your gun.

Step 3.  ?????

Step 4. Profit.

As you rack up points and money, you can purchase additional fishing gear that will increase your skill and abilities. If you thought it was fun blowing up fish with a Shotgun, just wait ’til you get the Bazooka. Or the Chainsaw Lure. I am all about the Chainsaw Lure.

Music

Maniac (2012) Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtTnwlPPU3E

Another shout-out to Shawn Robare to thank him for pointing me to the soundtrack for Maniac, the 2012 horror film remake starring Elijah Wood. I haven’t yet seen the movie but the soundtrack was enough to make me promote it to the top of my watchlist–and there are a lot of other movies on my watchlist, to say the least. Dark, heavy 80s-esque synth? You got my attention.

Electric Six

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2a4gyJsY0mc

Is this not the best music video you’ve ever seen? Tell me it’s not. You can’t do it because that’s impossible.

The Polish Ambassador

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWEcUKLS0Eo

I’m not sure what I love more–this guy’s music, or his ridiculously cheesy videos.

</crap>

Sorry to blow a proverbial load of awesome all over your face like this, but it’s been welling up inside me for over two weeks. I hope you haven’t missed me too much.

Listen to me fail at 80s TV Trivia! [UnderScoopFire Podcast #57]

Last week I was a guest on the UnderScoopFire podcast for the first (and quite possibly last!) edition of What’s.. The.. SCOOP?!! — the 80′s TV Trivia game show hosted by Howie Decker’s charismatic alter-ego, Dick Decker.  I’m one of three lovely contestants, along with internet-famous “blerd” (that’s “black nerd”) William Bruce West and Mr. Serious himself, Corey Chapman.

(Click the TV to listen to the episode!)

What's the Scoop?

It’s astounding how little I actually know about 80s TV, as I find out in this podcast. But to be fair, hardly any of the shows I actually watched back in the day came up as my questions. I mean, where was Charles in Charge!? Where was Facts of Life!?  Also, I should point out that Will is a Pop Culture Kung Fu MASTER, so I was up against some pretty stiff competition, but I think I held my own pretty well. My saving grace was Roseanne, Care Bears, Saved by the Bell, and those sweet, sweet multiple-choice questions.

Hey, at least I didn’t come in dead-last! And for that I think a celebratory dance is in order:

Three ways to play:

Listen / Download UnderScoopFire Episode #57 on iTunes

Listen / Download UnderScoopFire Episode #57 on BuzzSprout

Take UnderScoopFire Episode #57 TO GO with the Stitcher Radio app for smartphones

– OR –

Listen or download directly on the UnderScoopFire website.

Sneak Peek @ ShezCrafti 3.0 & Some Announcement-y Type Stuff

Sup, guys?

Updates have been a little thin the past few days, but it’s because I’ve been working on a revamped version of ShezCrafti. I’ve had this same design for over 2 years now, and I feel I’m ready for a change, even if just mostly cosmetic.

Retro-tastic!

My Facebook friends have already seen this because it’s my new cover photo, but here’s a sneak peek at the direction I’m going in:

(Click to make bigger-er)

ShezCrafti Collage

I want the site to look more “me,” if that makes sense. This retro-tastic collage of some of my favorite things is a step in that direction, and the framework for what I’m designing for the blog.

Re: “30-something going on 12.”

You might have also noticed in the past month or so that my tagline changed from, “A gamer, geek, and girl who doesn’t get out much” to what you see above. While that whole “doesn’t get out much” part is still true (you know…because I’m 31, work 2 jobs, live alone with my cat, and love Ninja Turtles–GET AT ME, FELLAS), I decided to go with something just a little less pathetic-sounding that spoke more to my inner child, and why I often blog about stupid crap from back in the day like Sally Struthers infomercials and Corey Feldman’s Michael Jackson phase. The late 80s and early 90s were the happiest, most carefree years of my childhood, and I want to devote a little more time around here to re-capturing them. I need that right now.

RunJumpFire

Also, starting in March, I’m heading to another castle as co-editor and contributor of a soon-to-launch gaming site called RunJumpFire along with my long-time Twitter friend & fellow gamer, Mark Stevens of Retroblique. Basically I want to tone down the amount of video game-y stuff on ShezCrafti (since you guys mostly don’t care about that anyway, according to the crickets that can be heard on those posts) and instead save that type of content for RunJumpFire. (Which, by the way, we’re still welcoming new writers if anyone out there wants in. Shoot me an email.) I’m not going to totally do away with video game-related posts here, but anything more substantial than just a game preview or quick & dirty lists (like this one) will end up over there.

Cult Film Club

Oh! Don’t forget, I’m also co-hosting the Cult Film Club podcast now, along with Shawn Robare of Branded in the 80s and Paxton Holley of Cavalcade of Awesome. We tackle a different cult film every month (like The Wraith!) and then embarrass ourselves by pretending to sound smart while discussing it. No, wait–I’m the only one who does that. Sorry. But seriously, folks, it’s a fun show, and the three of us have a lot of fun doing it. SHAMELESS PLUG INCOMING: Please check out the podcast, Like us on Facebook, and consider joining the club! And be sure to tell all your friends–especially if they have crappy taste in movies, just like us!

Peace Out

Well, I guess that’s about it for now. If you come to this site in the next week or so (or whenever I get around to it) and it looks drastically different, now you’ll know why.

Play me out, Young MC.

Just a quick post-Christmas update…

Fuck You Santa

As you may have guessed, I did not get the one thing I really wanted for Christmas. That’s all I’ll say about it. Time to pick up the pieces and move the hell on. But as it turns out, getting dumped right before Christmas is not the only thing that can ruin your holiday. You can also have the flu!

In addition to some cool, geeky gifts from family and friends (which I plan to do a post about at some point), Santa gave me another present this year: a debilitating strain of influenza complete with fever, chills, and all-over body aches that, after passing through four different members of my family, has mutated into this monster beast of a flu/cold/stomach virus combination that is now working its charms on me.

And here I thought I was being so careful, washing my hands a lot, not eating or drinking after anyone and following other well-meaning and practical but useless advice. But I guess when you spend Christmas in a house full of sick people–exchanging gifts as well as germs–getting sick yourself is inevitable. But hey, on the plus side, I learned how to make my family’s traditional, secret recipe Red Velvet Cake this year, since my mom was too sick (and by “too sick” I mean only slightly less sick than myself) to do it. That’s something, I guess.

I want to be sure and thank all my League, Dork Horde and Twitter friends who sent Christmas gifts, cards, and general well wishes and humorous attempts at life advice my way. You can expect a proper thank you on this blog in the near future, as soon as I’m feeling more up to it (read: not feeling like death).

I suppose you can also expect this site to be around quite a while longer. I was fully prepared to delete myself from the internet in order to work things out with my now ex-boyfriend (god, that’s going to take some getting used to) but now I guess it doesn’t matter. So if you consider yourself a regular visitor who enjoys all the EXTREMELY IMPORTANT STUFF AND THINGS I write about, yay for you! And thanks for sticking with me.

My dream job is to do nothing.

This week’s assignment from The League was an interesting one:

If money was not a concern and you could choose any career path, what would be your ultimate dream job? 

Well, first of all, there’s a false assumption here that I would want to have this thing called “a job” if I didn’t have to. If money was not a concern, I would happily live out my days playing video games, watching movies, reading books, etc. etc. and get out even less than I do now. That’s right, I would do nothing.

But, if I have to give an answer (and you know how seriously I take these League assignments, so I will), my first inclination would be to say I’d pursue something creative, whether it’s writing a novel or screenplay, directing a film, or rekindling my long-held dream of designing a video game–specifically a point-and-click adventure game just like my personal gaming hero, Jane Jensen.

But my problem, as always, is the fear that once it becomes my job to do these things, I’ll cease being passionate about them. That’s kind of the bitch about creative endeavors. Once things like contracts and money and deadlines and obligations and other people’s opinions are involved, I’m almost positive I will lose interest. I often wonder what amazing films, books and games would exist if the talent behind such works had absolute creative power and unlimited resources. Then again, I look at guys like George Lucas and start to re-think this position.

What’s your ultimate dream job?

Wondering what this is all about? This week’s assignment from The League of Extraordinary Bloggers was to pretend that money was no concern and pursue a career we’re passionate about. Here’s what my fellow Leaguers said:

Adamotomy wants to do something involving management…and golf?
Fortune and Glory Days wishes he could be a toy hunter. Or an archaeologist! They’re the same thing, really.
That Figures wants to explore space. SPACE, bitches!
Lair of the Dork Horde already has his dream job. And yeah, we’re all jealous.
Flashlights are Something to Eat wishes he could work at and indie record store, like in High Fidelity.
The Man Who Stares At Toys wants to write a book on the history of toys! Fitting.
Hench Girl’s dream job is very specific: to be a Well-Heeled Executive of a Sleazy Company I admire that kind of brazenness.

Merry Geekmas! Come get your presents!

Yeah, you heard me. Presents!

Thanksgiving may be over, but I’m feeling especially thankful right now, in this moment. In the span of a single month, I survived a hurricane, lost my job AND my car died on the same day (that’s what this post was all about, by the way–thanks to everyone who sent words of support and encouragement my way) only to gain a new job mere weeks later, get my car fully repaired, helped start up a new podcast, made guest appearances on two other awesome podcasts (here & here), and officially joined The Dork Horde. And of course on top of all that, the holiday season is in full swing and my halls are nowhere near finished being decked.

I’ve been insanely busy and the posting quality and frequency around here probably reflects that, but I feel overwhelmingly grateful to not only have been able to turn my situation around, but to have come out of it swinging–and I’m positive it’s all because this blog exists. So, not to get all sappy and stuff, but I want you regular readers, commenters, and toy-pushing enablers to know how much your online camaraderie means to me.

Blah, blah blah–where’s my present?

Yay presents!If you’re in The League, The Dork Horde, a Twitter friend, a Cult Film Club devotee,  or just a “fan” of ShezCrafti.com (which feels weird to say), I WANT TO GIVE YOU A GIFT. (That is, if you feel comfortable giving your mailing address to a 31-year-old who loves video games and Ninja Turtles.) It’s not going to be something extravagant, obviously, but it will be something small, cool, geeky, and above all,  heartfelt.

So, please send me an email with the subject “Merry Geekmas!” and include your mailing address if you’d like to get on my gift list. I don’t expect anything in return, nor will I be upset if you re-gift what I send you, but you might get some funny looks if you do (there, consider that your hint).

Update 12/17/12
Sorry, the deadline to get on my gift lift has passed!
But you can still send me your address if you’d like this year’s Christmas card.

Oh, right–and since this post is also serving as this week’s League Assignment, here’s my “something festive”:

IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #5

More holiday spirit from around The League!

This week’s League assignment was to “write or photograph something festive and pop culture oriented.” Okay, so I cheated a little bit with the comic scan, but since I’m not done decorating my house yet, there isn’t much else to show right now. BUT! Do check out all the festive & merry things my fellow Leaguers posted:

I’m in a good Dubmood today.

I know this is a lame update, but I had a good day. So good, in fact, I’ve had zero time to even think about coming up with something better to post, so instead you’re getting this: one of my favorite chiptunes albums by Dubmood, which is a “Best Of” compilation of his crackscene music–the kind of stuff you often hear when using keygens and installing pirated software. Not that I would know anything about that.

It’s relevant since both this music and the good news I got today = #WINNING. More on that situation as it develops.

Dubmood - Best of Crackscene Music 2004-2007

 

 

ShezCrafti Joins The Dork Horde

After a rigorous application process that involved creating a mask out of an old black t-shirt and posing for a geeky photo, I’m proud to announce ShezCrafti is now an official member of The Dork Horde! (Incidentally I’m also the first female to join the ranks.)  As the supreme Lord of Dorkness and founder of The Dork Horde, Reis O’Brien heads up a great community that brings together bloggers who have been recognized as ambassadors of geek culture.

ShezCrafti Joins The Dork Horde

ShezCrafti
Member:
#00021
Rank: Hordyte
Guardian of: Gaming & Movies
Specialization: Head Professor of Ninja Turtle Lore
and Hater of Candy Corn

Since a bunch of Dork Horde members are also in The League of Extraordinary Bloggers, I’m already pretty familiar with my dorky brethren and visit many of their blogs quite frequently. Really, I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to join their ranks, other than epic procrastination. Or maybe deep down I was afraid Reis wouldn’t let in any candy corn haters; the fear of rejection and all that. Whatever the case, I’m honored to have been accepted and I’m looking forward to getting to know my fellow Dorks better and reading all the awesome stuff they post.

FOR THE HORDE!

Defeat does not exist in this dojo.

Defeat does not exist in this dojo.

But every now and then I have days like today, when my karate’s no good here (or anywhere). For reals, it was THE WORST. I’m not feeling very in the Halloween spirit tonight so I’m skipping this evening’s countdown post. I’ll try to make it up tomorrow or something. Tonight I just want to veg and not do a damn thing. I’m even considering going to bed early.

Life. It has swept my leg.

 

Speaking of The Great Pumpkin…

…I want to thank my personal Great Pumpkin for sending this awesome box of Halloween goodies my way:

The Great Pumpkin Gift

I have two things I want to say to you:

  1. I know who you are. The candy corn was a dead giveaway.
  2. You did good, kid. My eyes lit up when I saw all those mummies! The squishy, eye-popping one is my favorite. A+ for taking notes.

I have been munching on caramel apple taffy (you can see it’s already half gone in the picture) and reading my new collection of books and poems. The mummies will look right at home on a shelf with my other wrapped undead friends, illuminated by the soft glow of my mummy string lights.

Thank you, again, for all of this great stuff. It made my week! I tried to pay it forward in the gift I sent my own patcher.

Always a bridesmaid…

Bridesmaids

Just a quick update to let you guys know I’ll be away this weekend to attend my cousin’s wedding, and therefore posts around here will be a little thin. However, through the magic of WordPress’s “Schedule Post” function, the 31 DVDs of Halloween countdown will continue as planned–I just may not be around to respond to all those comments I know you’re just dying to leave. I’m a bridesmaid, so I kind of have to go.

I have three thoughts about this wedding:

  1. I’m so, SO happy for my cousin, who I know is going to be a stunningly gorgeous bride, and honored to be a part of her special day (and other sentiments that sound like they were written on a Hallmark card).
  2. I am terrified about having to wear a frilly purple dress and high heels. I really hope I don’t fuck this up.
  3. Because I love my cousin so much, I will forgive her for making me miss Nick’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles this Saturday morning.

I also want to take this opportunity to congratulate fellow Leaguer Kevin Hellions, who is also getting married tomorrow.

Love is in the air. And stuff.

ShezCrafti Then & Now: The State of the Site

Seriously, guys. I don't know WTF I'm doing.

The League is mixing things up yet again this week with a topic that steps outside our regularly scheduled pop culture programming. Go grab yourself a snack or something–I suggest these–and settle in, because this is going to be a long post.

Write a “State of the Site” for your web site. How’s it going? What exciting things have happened this past year? Where do you want your site to be in a year’s time? 

I found this topic to be more than a little challenging. This website is me, so quite a bit of my personality and personal history is intertwined with the state of ShezCrafti.com, and it’s never easy to write about yourself. Also, I don’t really have any grandiose plans, ambitions, or visions of world domination for ShezCrafti and therefore it’s difficult for me to look at my site from the perspective of whether or not it’s a success. Hell, I don’t even run any ads here.

As a personal blog, ShezCrafti is simply a place for me to geek out about whatever it is I happen to be geeking out over on any given day–usually that’s video games, terrible movies, TV shows, comics, music, 80′s & 90′s pop culture, and yeah, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I use this site as a way to collect, share and organize all the geeky/stupid/random things I care about as well as a means to “officially” put new things I’m excited about on my radar. Occasionally I’ll have a coherent thought, humorous anecdote,  or something insightful to say about whatever it is that I’m sharing and the words I write will resonate with a random visitor and they’ll go out of their way to leave me a comment. I like it when that happens. But as far as success metrics go, you could say I’ve set the bar pretty low.

But before I get into what I’ve been up to lately and how this past year has gone, I’d like to take some time to reflect back on the history of this site and how it came to be–for posterity’s sake, as well as your potential amusement.

Please, please, a moment to reflect.

Secret of the Ooze - A Moment to Reflect

 

Creation: The Late ’90s

The mythology of ShezCrafti’s origin is one that is deeply rich and steeped in lore.

Picture it. AOL. 1998.  That was the year before I graduated high school, and a time when America Online was the nation’s primary means of accessing the internet. It was also the year the Beastie Boys dropped their bomb-ass album Hello Nasty! on us which I used to listen to non-stop and it contributed heavily to the definitive soundtrack to my senior year.

AOHELL

As I mention on my About page because I do get asked rather frequently what this name means, I was once very obsessed with the Beastie Boys. “She’s Crafty” is my favorite song by them, so that’s what I chose for the all-important, personality-defining AOL screen name that would become legendary among the 312 privileged people on my Buddy List.

And then: TRAGEDY STRUCK. “ShesCrafty” was already taken–by someone whom I suspect is a much less cool and deserving individual–and so I had to spell it retardedly, and thus ShezCrafti was born. That’s my legacy, folks. And as Howie from UnderScoopFire once told me, I own it.

Late Antiquity: 2001 – 2004 (ish)

You may be surprised to learn that ShezCrafti.com actually began life sometime back in 2001 as ShezCrafti.net, a crappy, self-centric personal homepage I was hosting on Yahoo Geocities (lol!) as a way to keep in touch with friends, write blog posts about things probably only 5 other people in the universe cared about, and collect all the stupid, random crap I had stumbled upon on the internet; you know, classic time-wasters like All Your Base and the  Hamster Dance. The concept of “blogging” wasn’t nearly as popular back then as it is today, and blogs were generally associated with LiveJournal and similar sites.  This was back before social networking had officially become “a thing,” before MySpace and Facebook existed, before Twitter, before “the cloud”, even before WordPress which is the platform making it possible for you to read these very words.

During my college years, the original ShezCrafti site was something of a weird creative outlet, as well as a way for me to practice HTML and learn CSS. But mostly it was an excuse to dick around on the internet while pretending like I was doing something important or something that anyone outside of my close circle of friends gave two shits about.

Through the miracle of The Wayback Machine, I was able to cobble together this screenshot for you:

ShezCrafti: The Early Years

As you can see, I was going through my crucial anime phase and evidently I preferred a monochromatic color scheme. “Life. Stuff. Whatever.” I was deep. I’ve chosen to blur out some of the stupid things I wrote because reading it ten years later just makes me want to gag. (It’s also a sobering reminder that the things you put on the internet have a tendency to live forever.) I have no idea who I was or what I was thinking when I wrote or shared most of this stuff, and my life today resembles nothing of that girl’s. Hilariously, though, I also discovered that my old Guestbook (remember those things?) is STILL functional. That was worth looking up my 21-year-old internet self for.

The Dark Ages: 2004 – 2007 (ish)

During this period I wasn’t very active online, if at all. For two years the role of ShezCrafti was played by an unhappily married woman whose career was in flux and didn’t have much to offer creatively. This was also around the time she became addicted to World of Warcraft and as is typical of most WoW addicts, the productivity levels for most other aspects of her life reached an all-time low. I completely let ShezCrafti.net go and eventually Yahoo took it down. The *crickets* were deafening.

WoW Addict

The Renaissance: 2008 – 2011 (ish)

After going through a divorce, landing an awesome new job, and living on my own for the first time, I began to get back in touch with myself and sort of re-discover all the things I was once interested in that I had been missing. My creative muse returned and I started doing freelance web design & development work on the side not because I needed to, but because it was something I’m genuinely interested in. After building several sites and WordPress blogs for other people, I thought, hey, why not do this for myself? I had gotten the itch to start doing something creative again, but I wasn’t sure what. I was inspired by pop culture sites like X-Entertainment and The Surfing Pizza, but I didn’t necessarily want or have the motivation to write a collection of lengthy, nostalgic personal essays, as much as I enjoyed reading theirs. I also wanted to write about video games in some capacity, since I am a gamer and do play them quite a bit and make an effort to keep up with all the latest gaming news. I just knew I wanted to do something, anything.

And so it was that I launched ShezCrafti.com in November of 2008, not really knowing what the hell I was doing or what I was getting myself into. This was my first post. In it, I attempt to explain why I started this site and what readers could expect from me, not that I had any idea what that would be at the time this was written. There’s also a great picture of 5-year-old me petting a goat. (Yeah, I don’t know either.)

Today

Although this website in its current form has been around since 2008, it wasn’t until February/March of this year that I began blogging with any sort of regularity. After getting a third notice that my domain was up for renewal, I made it a New Year’s resolution of mine to get back in the habit of posting regularly with the goal of transforming this site into something that was valuable to me; otherwise I didn’t see the point of keeping it around. That’s when I switched gears and established the following “rules” for ShezCrafti:

  • Write only about the things I genuinely care about and feel like writing about. No other obligations need apply.
  • Not every post has to be a masterpiece or even well-written, though I do try. This saves me from getting too hung up on the impossibly high standards I sometimes set for myself. (Believe it or not, I do have standards sometimes, you guys.)
  • Above all, I have to be having fun.

So far these rules seem to be working out, and it’s been very freeing to abandon formalities and simply blog for myself and not worry too much about what anyone else thinks. Following this path has led me to meeting some awesome new internet friends and other bloggers with whom I have a lot in common, even if there’s thousands of physical miles between us.

The biggest step forward for ShezCrafti, however, was joining The League of Extraordinary Bloggers back in June, which is headed up by the super awesome Brian of Cool and Collected. I had stumbled upon a couple of League-related posts over at Branded In The 80s and Flashlights Are Something To Eat and knew right away I wanted to be a part of this crazy crew. I mean  how could I NOT want to participate in group blogging topics like “When I Was 12″, “Kurt Russell is Awesome” and “Why 1984 is Possibly the Greatest Year in Pop Culture History”? I don’t mean to brag, but I’m an expert on those topics.

Since joining The League I’ve met and connected with even more amazing bloggers, and have even come out of my shell a little bit to participate in a few podcasts, write guest posts, and in general join in all the geeky pop culture camaraderie that seems to surround The League. I look forward every day to reading and commenting on all of the great things they post. I originally planned to give a shout-out to a few of my favorite fellow Leaguers in this paragraph, but as I started making the list it quickly spiraled out of control. There’s just too many awesome sites and people in The League, and there’s no way I could give them the individual level of praise and attention they deserve, so I’ll just leave this here as it applies to all of you:

You're Awesome

The Future

I have no idea where ShezCrafti will be even in a year’s time, and I won’t pretend like I have lofty goals or ambitions for this site beyond just having a nerdy corner of the internet to call home and connecting with like-minded bloggers.  And for right now, I’m 100% OK with that.

What state are you in?

Wondering what this is all about? This week The League was tasked with writing a “State of the Site” address for our websites. Here’s what some of my fellow Leaguers had to say:

Reddit > ShezCrafti

So apparently over this past weekend someone submitted a humorous/NSFW post I did a few months back to Reddit which directed a bunch of traffic my way and effectively killed ShezCrafti.com this morning.

Epic Traffic Spike
Thanks random Redditor, whoever you are! That’s what I get for including “porn” and “Harry Potter” in the same blog post. But now I’m (obviously) back up and running thanks to my friend/savior/ex-Wow guildie/hero Shawn who, for some reason, continues to tolerate me and gives me free hosting.

What this means for you regulars who keep coming back here to read all the stupid crap I post:

  • I now return you to my regularly-scheduled stupid crap.
  • My planned Halloween Countdown post(s) for today will be a bit delayed.
  • Yes, I can be a bit of a perv sometimes. I’m sorry you had to find out this way.

Here’s a something to make up for all the precious time we lost together:

Disco Turtle

 

 

 

And so it begins. [Countdown to Halloween 2012]

Countdown to Halloween

It is now past midnight on the first of October, which means the Countdown to Halloween has officially started! As if on cue, the fall weather has arrived here in northern Maryland almost overnight; I had to put on a sweatshirt today from the chill. Last night I got my first whiff of that unmistakable scent that’s in the air this time of year–something like burning embers, dead leaves and damp earth. I wish I could bottle that scent.

The Countdown

You may have already seen a couple of Halloween-related posts around here, but those were just a warm up. From here on out until October 31st, there’ll be at least one Halloween-themed post from me each day. The Countdown is, after all, a month-long Halloween blogging challenge. There’ll still be plenty of non-Halloween posts, too, because not even my favorite holiday can completely derail me from my typical geeky repertoire–and I fully expect there to be a good amount of overlap between my interests.

I’ve got a lot of great Halloween ideas, to-do’s, fun-tivities (a word I totally just made up!) reviews, lists, and other cool things I want to show you. The challenge now is to find the time to write about them all (and in some cases get creative and make stuff) in what is already a very busy month for me. To be quite honest, I’m a little nervous about the commitment, as this is the first marathon blogging challenge I’ve ever taken on. On the other hand, I’m also really looking forward to see what my fellow Cryptkeepers will be posting during the Countdown–especially those of you in The League–and I’m thankful for the camaraderie and shared challenge, which should help to keep us all motivated and in the Halloween spirit.

I’m ready, October. Bring it on!

This Is Halloween

Because I can’t think of a more appropriate song to kick off the season.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOtEdhKOMgQ

P.S. – 31 Days ‘Til Halloween

31 days 'til Halloween!

What are you asking The Great Pumpkin for this year?

Great Pumpkin Gift Exchange

Friend of ShezCrafti.com, fellow Leaguer, and all-around nice guy Dex over at AEIOU…and Sometimes Why is doing something really cool for Halloween this year–hosting a Halloween-themed version of Secret Santa! He’s calling it The Great Pumpkin Gift Exchange and here’s how you can get in on it:

The Great Pumpkin Gift Exchange

Click here for full details and the sign-up form.

What is it?

You’re familiar with Secret Santa? Well, this is an online Halloween version. People that sign up will act on behalf of the Great Pumpkin and send a gift to another randomly assigned participant, henceforth called “patchers” because they are waiting in the pumpkin patch for you, their Great Pumpkin!

How it works:

You sign up and get randomly assigned a patcher. You’ll be sent their info and have until 10/20 to send them a gift. Another person will get your info and send you a gift. Everyone gets their gifts and much Halloween happiness ensues.

Gift Guidelines:

The minimum cost will be $10 USD, not including shipping. There is no maximum but don’t expect a life-size Headless Horseman to show up at your door. You don’t have to spend the entire amount on a single item. Bargain/dollar stores can have some cool stuff and give you more bang for your buck.

In addition to your gift, Dex is asking that you also include a little “touch of magic.” What this is, is up to each Great Pumpkin, but could be anything from a signed note letting your patcher know who you are to little toys to a small Trick or Treat bag with treats. Doesn’t have to be anything big, get creative!

Wish List?

There is a section on the sign up form to list things you’d like to receive. Try to list at least four or five things to give your Great Pumpkin something to work with. You could list favorite imagery (witches, pumpkins , etc),  favorite monsters or even favorite candy (please don’t send $10 worth of candy!) Some Great Pumpkins may be artsy people, it may be helpful to mention if you wouldn’t mind getting a handmade gift in case they want to send something unique. Feel free to also list some things you would not like to get.

Important Dates:

Sign up deadline will be 11:59pm EST on 10/6. Patcher info will be sent after the cut off. Shipping deadline will be 10/20 to ensure patchers will have time to enjoy the gift in season.

Spread the word!

Please share the link to this page anywhere you want: blogs, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, laser engrave the moon. The more people we have, the better it will be for everyone!

 

It’s my party and I’ll play with Ninja Turtle toys if I want to.

So, I turned 31 today. I was kinda hoping the day would fly under most people’s radar because getting old sucks and I’ve never enjoyed being fussed over. It’s bad enough that there’s mandatory cake and singing at my office whenever it’s someone’s birthday (although we do get a day off as a birthday gift, which is pretty great). Plus, the older I get the more glaring it becomes that I’m just a child pretending to be an adult. I’d much prefer to bury myself in video games and Ninja Turtle cartoons and let the day pass by without any fanfare…except Facebook makes that nearly impossible–but thanks for the birthday wishes, everyone!

And then there was this message from fellow Leaguer Team Hellions on Twitter:

[tweet https://twitter.com/TeamHellions/status/249514112873283584]

Oh Kevin, you so silly! You don’t know how true that is. Last night my boyfriend surprised me with a couple of awesome early birthday gifts:

Awesome Gift #1 – Power Sound FX Turtles

Power Sound FX TMNT

These guys are about two-thirds bigger than the basic Nick Turtles figures and shout out battle cries like “HIIIIYAAAA!!” and “BRING IT!” when you pull their arms and legs. As far as I can tell, the voices are all contributed by the same actors who voice each Turtle on the new show. I’m a little bummed that Raph doesn’t have the notch missing from his shell, however.

 

Basic Raph vs. Power Sound FX Raph

Their faces are also much more detailed–for example, they have painted-on eyes as opposed to the all white eyes that the basic figures have. One of the unique things about the new show is that the Turtles have all been designed with different eye colors–Leo’s are blue, Mikey’s are blue, Raph’s are green and Donnie’s are brown. I like that you can see that on these toys.

Power Sound FX Leonardo

Power Sound FX Michaelangelo

Power Sound FX Raphael

Although I do think Donatello looks mildly constipated:

Power Sound FX Donatello

Minor complaints aside, these are awesome toys that’ll be right at home with my now “serious” Nickelodeon TMNT collection. Now I just need Power Sound FX Shredder! Yes, I need him.

Awesome Gift #2 – Sewer Spinnin’ Skateboard

Sewer Spinnin' Skateboard

The Sewer Spinnin’ Skateboard was the only vehicle I didn’t have yet, so this worked out well. I’d say my boyfriend did pretty good for not knowing jack about the Turtles or what all I had in my collection already. The decals, particularly the wheel stickers, were kind of a pain to peel off delicately (but nowhere nearly as difficult as what I had to go through for the Shellraiser) but other than that, no problems.

Unassembled Sewer Spinnin' Skateboard

Mikey seemed pretty happy with the final result.

Mikey Skateboard

Ninja Turtles + Cupcakes, but not Ninja Turtle Cupcakes.

The Turtles decided to throw an impromptu cupcake party for me! Really, cupcakes are the only possible thing I can think of that makes Ninja Turtle toys even better.

TMNT Toys and Cupcakes

Here’s what I’m guessing is happening in this picture:

  • Leonardo, ever the valiant warrior, is proudly protecting my cupcakes with his mighty katanas.
  • Raphael, always eager to show off, is demonstrating his signature Statue of Liberty move.
  • Donatello has scientifically analyzed my cupcakes and decided the ratio of sprinkles to cupcake was insufficient.
  • Michaelangelo, meanwhile, is attempting to sneak off with one unnoticed.

Mikey Sneaking Off with Cupcake

Happy birthday to me and stuff.

Video Game Hoarders Intervention Extreme Makeover Home Edition

Look at the top of this page, you guys. Everything you need to know about me is summed up in those three statements:

  • I’m a gamer
  • I’m a geek
  • I’m a girl who doesn’t get out much

The fact is, my life is just not that interesting. On top of that, I’m an introvert and I don’t like (most) people–you guys are cool, though. So when I saw that this week’s League assignment was to star in our own reality TV show, by far the most daunting League assignment to date for me, I did what I always do when I want to ignore something: go play video games.

But while I was buried in ICO this weekend, it occurred to me that video games could be the one aspect of my life that has reality TV show potential.

The Elevator Pitch

My reality show would be a combination of Hoarders, Intervention, and Extreme Makeover Home Edition, except for gamers.

Video Game Hoarders Intervention Extreme Makeover Home Edition Honey Boo Boo

Why the Honey Boo Boo reference? For ratings.

She’d randomly appear once per episode and say retarded things like this:

Honey Boo Boo

But First…

I want to give you a photographic glimpse into my gaming life, so you know where I’m coming from.

Thankfully, I look nothing like anyone from the Honey Boo Boo show:

ShezCrafti

At least I hope I don’t. You’d tell me if I did, right?

Anyway, moving on…

So this is my living room, the place where I do most of my gaming. (Look, I even tidied up for you guys.) Directly across from the TV, is my spot, which I guard more fiercely than Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory. That’s a 60″ 3D HDTV. My philosophy on TVs is that they can never be big enough. I would own the 85″ version of this TV if I had the room for it. Playing games on this thing is glorious.

My Living Room

From casual glances around my home, you’d never know I was a gamer. I live in a townhouse, so I don’t have much room to display my collection and most of my storage is hidden. Start opening my cabinets, however, and you’ll find all kinds of video game stuff stashed away.

Like my Xbox 360…

Xbox 360

…my PS3…

PS3

..and my Wii. Not to mention a whole crapload of Wii add-ons like Motion Plus, wheels, nunchucks, and classic controllers.

Nintendo Wii

And then there’s all my retro gaming consoles, which are stored in pull-out plastic crates up in my office/rec room. I would love to have all of these hooked up simultaneously, but it’s just not realistic to do that yet. If I have a desire to play an old game, I’ll just hook up the system I want to play it on and return it to the crate when I’m done.

Video Game Consoles

I’m lazy about this, though, so often I’ll have at least one old console laying around that I haven’t gotten around to putting away yet.

Gaming PC

Also in the bowels of my collection you’ll find almost every iteration of the Game Boy since the original. I don’t know why I hold on to these things; I guess I just have a hard time letting go; my game systems are like my children. I still play my Nintendo DS regularly, which I don’t see changing anytime soon unless I break down and get a 3DS.

Nintendo Game Boys

My other gaming handhelds are a PSP (which I rarely use and only keep around for certain games) and my new iPad which is loaded up with all kinds of retro gaming goodness.

iPad & PSP

The major problem with having all this gaming stuff is having to store it. I have at least two controllers for every system…

Game Controllers

…but then there’s stuff like this which is much bigger and bulkier:

Music Game Peripherals

Ever tried to hide a Rock Band drum set? It’s not easy.

Then there’s the issue of storing the games themselves. Right now, most of my old games–LOTS and LOTS of games!–are in boxes.

Video Games in Boxes

Video Games in Boxes

More games in boxes...

About the Show

A video game show combining Hoarders, Intervention, and Extreme Makeover Home Edition might seem pretty odd at first, but hear me out.

Anyone who has too many video games, either because you’re an avid collector, or you just feel compelled to buy them, will be able to relate to the Hoarders aspect of the show. As I go from room to room showing viewers my game stash, a professional psychiatrist will probe me with difficult questions like, “Why do you keep buying games that you’ll never completely finish?” and “Why are there new games on your shelf but no groceries in the fridge?” I face these struggles on a daily basis.

The Intervention part happens afterward, when I’m confronted by friends and family I’ve been ignoring for weeks because I’ve deemed Skyrim more important. “We haven’t seen you for weeks!” they’ll say. “How do we know you’re not dead?” And at that point I would cry, humbled by their outpouring of concern, and then direct them to my Twitter feed.

To lighten things back up, we move into the Extreme Makeover Home Edition part of the show. As I mentioned above, storage for all of my gaming stuff is becoming a real problem, and keeping my games stashed away in boxes means I’m not getting as much enjoyment out of them as I should be. I want to have a place where I can easily access my entire collection and proudly display it all. The good news is that I have a basement! The bad news is that it’s unfinished. However, if it was all fixed up, it would be the perfect game lair. Trust me, I have big plans for it. And so the latter part of my reality show would be devoted to transforming my basement into the ultimate video game and media room. When my friends and family eventually see how awesome it is, they’ll all be jealous and start being super nice to me so that I’ll invite them over more.

So there you have it–a three-part reality show in which I’m shamed, humbled, and ultimately redeemed by the excess of video games in my life. If you don’t like it, hey, that’s cool. I’m sure it’ll be cancelled after one episode anyway.

Reality TV Shows Starring The League of Extraordinary Bloggers

Wondering what this is all about? This week television executives have determined that I, and my fellow League members, lead amazing lives and have pegged us as the next big reality TV stars. Here’re the reality shows I’d watch:

What’s with the all the Halloween stuff around here?

Countdown to Halloween

You may have noticed that I’ve given this site a not-so-subtle temporary Halloween makeover. I know it’s still early September, but I’m one of those over-enthusiastic weirdos who decorates early for Halloween and doesn’t take anything down until I start getting dirty looks from the neighbors.  Halloween is my favorite holiday and waiting until October simply won’t do.

I hope you like what I’ve done with the theme. I didn’t want to deviate too much from my usual 8-bit Nintendo theme, so there’s a Boo Diddley, a cute little ghost from the Mario games lurking about somewhere on this blog. See if you can spot him!

I am a Cryptkeeper (and so can you!)

This year ShezCrafti.com is participating in Countdown to Halloween, an annual month-long, group blogging marathon celebrating all things Halloween. The goal is to post something Halloween-related at least once every day in October. I plan to get started a little early, posting a few Halloween things here and there leading up to October when I’ll be in full-on Halloween mode.

There’s already a bunch of great blogs participating in this year’s Countdown–look out for those “Cryptkeeper 2012″ badges like the one in my sidebar to know who we are. The badges are like lit pumpkins on the doorsteps of friendly houses when you’re trick-or-treating (unlike those lame-ass people who turn off their lights and pretend they’re not home). If you’ve got a blog, why not join in the fun?