Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Awkwardly Early September Birchbox

Well you parasitic sacks of entrails, the swag is mine. Once again Birchbox delivered my box about a week before the month ended, so I have been a little late in getting this review out, but none of you would have known that had I not been so honest. I genuinely cannot remember what this month's theme was supposed to be, but the boys at Birchbox Man teamed up with Bonobos which is apparently a store that sells overpriced clothing that looks like it's well worn fair-trade crap. It's a hipsters paradise. But we don't like to be called hipsters. We hate labels. I think I'm just bitter that I didn't get one of the Golden Tickets this month for a $100 gift card to the Bonobos store, they have some fantastic plum colored dress slacks. It was either buy the pants or buy a new graphics card and I have to see what all this Skyrim hype is about.

The goods

I keep it in it's protective sleeve to retain the value.

A man’s sophistication, class and refinement can wholeheartedly be judged by the quality of his pocket square. Therein lies the problem; they rarely look good when not used in conjunction with a tuxedo. While the opening sentence is hyperbole, it’s hardly far from the insinuations that the BirchBox community would have you believe based on their included marketing literature. This lovely little 100% cotton handkerchief is that it deceptively looks like something I would consider a “casual pocket square”. A dash of spice to add to a business casual outfit that isn’t too flashy but adds a little oomph to your ensemble. 3 steps into the office and I quickly learned there is no such thing as a “casual pocket square”. I had a literal target in my breast pocket. I had to constantly informing coworkers that I wished for them to address my face and not my chest. I may as well have gone worn my tuxedo complete with red bow tie and cumber-bun.

Was easily confused as a roach-clip

Is there anything more infuriating, on a primal level, than a necktie being out of place? A gust of wind, jumping jacks, parkour; all of these become culprits to the atrocities that can be avoided with a tie clip. I’ve never experienced the sheer joy of NOT having to worry about the essential accessory running rampant. 6 years of speech and debate in the Home School Legal Defense Association and not once was I able to prevent the embarrassment of an unkempt tie at bay. Why? Because I wasn’t equipped with the correct tool to protect myself. Never again. With a rugged wood finish, I can clip ties to my shirt with style and comfort.

The Emperor's New Deodorant.  

I require adequate underarm protection. Not necessarily for myself, but for those I am closest to...proximity wise that is. My skepticism for a more natural deodorant was not lessened with this sample. I have not had the opportunity to give this a rigorous trial, which is disconcerting due to the fact that after only 5 hours I already feel the vulnerability of impending body stank. Perhaps that’s a testament to the product. While I’m used to a much stronger scent, this one has very little. Despite my concerns no one has complained, cringed or died due to it’s ineffectiveness. This is not my favorite deodorant, but it will work in an emergency far better than using a sample of cherry blossom body butter from Bath & Body Works. The real test comes this weekend when I prepare to spend a weekend at PAX with thousands of sweaty nerds.

Washin faces all day e'r day.

I’m in the market for a good face wash. I’ve grown accustomed to a cheap walmart brand that smells like candy, which is making it all that much harder to switch to something that smells closer to a car freshener than my delicious zours. Billy Jealousy offers an effective wash that has a pleasant enough smell, albeit light. The consistency is similar to that of suntan lotion but thankfully not greasy. It toats exfoliating properties. It’s as exfoliating as a down pillow. I’ll have a better idea on how much I enjoy it after a few more uses, but initially it’s just alright.

Sounds delicious!

It kills me that there are marketing jobs out there with the sole purpose to create exotic sounding descriptions of products. Mental images of sandy paradises imprint themselves into the minds of readers with only the use of words. You know where this cologne took my wife? Asthma City. With a few sprays I hold her respiratory life in my hands, and I don’t know if that’s a power I’m ready to wield. I personally didn’t find the scent too invasive, if anything almost too light. Fortunately for the misses I didn’t go on any kind of crazy cologne bath with it. The smell is musky and rugged with written descriptions of spices that would leave anyone preparing a proper Turkey dinner drooling. Of the three sample scents I’ve been mailed it is by far my least favorite.

It was a fine box, but not a spectacular one. There was very little wow factor to it. The face wash was nice, but as I said, they pocket square was not as practical as I had anticipated, perhaps it'll grow on me. That leather bracelet I railed on lat month? I ended up wearing it quite a bit, so I'm either a liar for the sake of entertainment or I have more changes of heart than Pharaoh when dealing with the Israelites. I think Birchbox is trying to cause a cultural shift in my brain. I have two styles that are at constant combat with each other, causing my general appearance to remain in flux. Having spent the last weekend at PAX I would say the no shaving, free T-shirt wearing persona has taken the lead this month.

If you're interested in trying out Birchbox follow this referral link!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

PAXing it up: My Top 5

The Penny Arcade Expo has become the mecca to all game loving nerds. It’s essentially a four day feast in which developers give consumers a chance to test out new games, and see what's in store for the future. It also offers opportunities to revisit or discover games that have been on the market for a while. This was my first year attending, and while I only managed to make it to the last two days I think I got the basic gist of it. Deodorant is optional and you can pass gas anywhere you want because with 75,000 people crowded together no one will hear anything and it will be impossible to pinpoint the source. I managed to get my NES Tetris cartridge signed by the creator of the game,Alexey Pajitnov, which I was pretty excited about. While in line I also learned something that I should have assumed all along, pro-gaming is taken seriously. Projected on a giant screen above the autograph line were two gentlemen in suits commentating on a pro Halo match and it sounded almost exactly like a football game.

Anywho, I’m going to give my top five games I experienced while at PAX Prime 2014. Shmee also has a similar list, which I recommend checking out.

I need to preface this with a few things. I was fed all the delicious food I could eat (including bacon maple donuts as an horderve)  and given absolutely anything I wanted to drink while playing this game. Then to top things off I was given a T-shirt and mousepad. That combined with the exclusivity of the event and the atmosphere of where we played it made it the best part of my PAX experience. That aside, Fortnight was an absolute blast to play. You and a team of 3 friends must farm resources by destroying your generated environment, then take the gained resources and build forts and weapons to defend against zombies that come at night.

The most apt description of this game is a mixture of Team Fortress 2 and Minecraft. It’s hilarious how you can destroy almost anything to get resources, and the AI associated with the monsters is always changing in order to adapt to your strategy. Different levels gave us different goals, so we had a chance to try out a lot of what the game had to offer.

The Shadowrun universe enters the tabletop deck builder world. It’s definitely not a casual gaming card game...which is kind of a bummer. It was a blast to play, and the cooperative game play was unique and only rivaled by the combat system.

I was really impressed with the ease of learning the game combined with the large amount of possibilities associated with a deck builder. True to the Shadowrun universe, runners can upgrade themselves by the use of "karma" a type of currency used to buy new skills for the next time you play. It’s expensive and has some quirks that I could have done without, but it’s a blast.

Valiant Entertainment is home to a group of little known comic book characters that I was completely unaware of until having an opportunity to play a Tabletop RPG based in their universe. I felt that the demo didn’t give enough time to fully understand or enjoy the setting of the RPG, but the rules were dead simple, which is insanely awesome. When you approach something like Shadowrun or Pathfinder, you’re dealing with a dictionary full of rules that can cause your gaming sessions and character creation to drag on for a proverbial eternity. I showed up after the rules were explained, sat down and was able to pick up the rules as we played. Despite having such a lite rule set, the game wasn’t lacking. you got to RP as superheroes, and it was easy to learn.

I got the opportunity to play as a super bubbly teenage girl with the ability to fly.

Essentially a simplified and themed version of egyptian War (rats/rat slap/rat screw/rat kill/whatever you call it). Each player has 6 lives and there is a deck with 3 types of cards. If you’re the first to slap the gun card and point at another player they lose a life, unless they managed to slap their base in time to protect themselves. If you slap the cannon and point the player loses a life regardless of if they slapped their base. If a bronco card pops up the first person to slap it loses a life, or the last person to slap their base if no one slapped the deck.  

It’s a simple, quick indie card game that’s competitive and gets your heart rate going. They’ve successfully completed their kickstarter so it should be hitting shelves soon. Or you can still back them and pre-order it for yourself.

Disney teamed up with Harmonix to create a more organized rhythm based Fruit Ninja. Using the Xbox Kinect, The game has the players perform a number of hand motions in order to gain points. The basic idea is that you’re conducting an orchestra. While not the most original concept, and certainly hitting on some familiar territory, that didn’t prevent Disney from going all out on their booth. I played it twice and enjoyed myself probably more than I had any right to. It’s a silly dancing game, in the same vein as just dance, sans silly moves. Like Guitar hero, the music is dependent on your motions matching those on screen. When you’re in the midst of it, you and another player are syncing movements and controlling every inch of the music (not really, but it feels like it). There are other elements to the game, but I’m sure anyone can understand the basic gist, and if I owned an Xbox, I would be buying this.

Here's a little game-play footage for you.