Prints Please

I’m pretty sure that extremely stylish aliens sprinkled fashion dust in all the thrift stores in Austin, Texas because the items I found are out of this world. I only visited two stores but I found wonders in both of them.

There is power in a good print. When I go thrift shopping my eye goes from crazy print to crazy print. I usually won’t pick up any thing that is a solid color unless its a color that stands out. If it’s not printed all over the garment. I like my clothes to have some sort of special detail. Whether it be cool buttons or something embroidered along the bottom of the garment.

Don’t be afraid of a crazy print! By crazy I just mean out of the norm. Anything can be taken down a notch by pairing it with a solid colored item. Like a patterned skirt with a solid colored top.  If you’re more daring have a little fun and pair prints with similar colors together.

Try a print! I double-dog dare you. Here are some of the goodies I found this weekend in Austin.

 

 

$4.99 Savers Austin, Texas

Skirt $2.99 Savers Austin, Texas

$2.99 Savers Austin, Texas

Shirt $1.99 Family Thrift

Shirt $1.99 Savers Austin, Texas

Denim Skirt $2.99

Poor Man’s Gamer Presents: Strategy is Key Pt. 1, The Banner Saga

When I was a kid I got into chess for a little while, I was never any good at it, but whenever I got a chance to I would play it just for the fun of it.  As I got older I fell out of this phase, but deep down it instilled a love of strategy in me.  Strategy games can be ruthless in their difficulty and the learning curve required to play them, but there are countless games that go beyond this to achieve gaming that is not only fun but also addicting.  Over the next few weeks I will be exploring some of my favorite strategy games and sharing them with you.  To start off here’s a fairly new game.

A few weeks ago I finally got around to indulging myself in The Banner Saga, a turn-based strategy game set in a Norse fantasy world full of horned giants (Varl) and shadowy, armored creatures called Dredge.  In it you play through a set of different storylines as you investigate the never setting sun and the unexpected resurgence of the wicked Dredge.  The game takes place through two main parts: an action-filled fighting part and a party management part.  You change between them as the story progresses keeping your heroes properly outfitted for the ensuing battles.

The Banner Saga has a wonderful art style and story; both are prominent and unique in the current world of gaming.  The art style is in the form of 2D animations reminiscent of Don Bluth-era Disney (Sleeping Beauty, Robin Hood, The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound, and The Black Cauldron all fall into this era).  The story borrows lightly from Viking lore and takes place in a fictional land covered in snow.  The game’s story is deep and branching, engrossing from the beginning.  As you progress in the game you are given different choices that affect not only the story but also your party and your future potential.

As I said before this game is a turn-based strategy.  You take turns moving and attacking with a team that you develop throughout the story.  As you progress you face incredibly harder enemies and hordes as you risk your heroes to try and destroy the Dredge.  The game takes a few missions to get a good feel of the mechanics and a little while longer to understand how each character works best in conjunction with the others you happen to pick up.

Apart from the main story and playthrough, The Banner Saga also offers a free multiplayer mode called Banner Saga: Factions, which implements the games great strategy gameplay in a way that you can enjoy with others.

The Banner Saga puts together a fun and vibrant world full of exciting battle and gripping story.  The Banner Saga is a game that you should not pass up.  You can pick it up for $24.99.

The Comedy Corner: Kroll Show

Today’s topic is a show that many people (myself included) consider to be the most underrated sketch show on TV today – Comedy Central’s Kroll Show. Odds are, you probably haven’t heard much about Kroll Show, unless you’ve happened to catch an episode or two in between South Park and Tosh.0 re-runs. And I can’t blame you, because it took me a while to properly discover it myself. While Kroll Show has been a fixture of Comedy Central’s original programming since January of last year, I myself only recently discovered it, thanks to some recommendations from friends and a bored afternoon on Hulu. And let me tell you, I’ve been hooked ever since. While Kroll Show might look like just an odd hodge-podge of absurdity, it is quickly becoming one of the smartest and most consistent sketch shows on TV. And, with the recent announcement of Comedy Central’s renewal of Kroll Show’s for a (well-deserved) third season, you’d be crazy not to want to check it out.

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So much of Kroll Show’s success is due to the genius of its creator, executive producer, namesake, and star: Nick Kroll. Kroll – who you probably recognize from his role as Rodney Ruxin on the superb ensemble comedy The League, as well as his occasional appearances in everything from Parks and Recreation and Community to movies like Get Him To The Greek and I Love You, Man – has been an integral part of the comedy community for years. This is, in part, because of his insane catalog of characters, which he has been showcasing in multiple forums, including years of stand-up routines, Funny or Die videos, and podcasts like Comedy Bang! Bang!. Kroll Show, however, proves to be the perfect forum for these bizarre, yet surprisingly entertaining characters. Almost every sketch on Kroll Show contains a character played by Kroll, and every new episode further establishes him as one of the most versatile character actors in comedy today. Whether he is dressed in drag and sipping smoothies as the obnoxious publicist Liz, or DJ-ing/amateur ghost hunting as the ridiculous Jersey Shore-reject Bobby Bottleservice, Kroll proves that he has absolutely no desire to take himself too seriously, and that he can be equally as entertaining in almost any setting.

While many of Kroll’s characters sound more like absurd caricatures as opposed to people you’d be willing to follow week after week, Kroll Show provides the perfect environment to help entertain even the wariest of casual viewers. Many of the sketches on Kroll Show are framed as reality show parodies, mocking everything from The Bachelor and Bad Girls Club to Shark Tank and Pawn Stars. By placing Kroll’s insane characters in these culturally familiar settings, the show provides a middle ground that is sure to get a first-time viewer hooked. In doing so, Kroll Show cleverly utilizes the very tactic that draws us to reality shows in the first place: the mentality of “it’s so ridiculous, but I can’t look away.”

And while the majority of Kroll’s characters are not particularly likeable, they sure are funny. This is because of, in part, the show’s brilliant writing team, many of whom have previously contributed to shows like Arrested Development and Portlandia. This particularly becomes clear when looking at the seasons as a whole, as the show is packed with subtle references and inside jokes, the vast majority of which satisfyingly develop throughout the seasons. And even when taking into account individual episodes, it becomes obvious that the show’s creative team knows how to craft genuinely hilarious jokes, which only grow in abundance as the show progresses. Whether parodying current pop culture (I dare you to find a more solid Justin Bieber parody than in the show’s Degrassi-inspired sketch ‘Wheels, Ontario’) or just building off of insane original characters (fan-favorite sketch ‘Oh, Hello’, which stars Kroll and his long-time writing partner John Mulaney as two elderly divorcees with a love of tuna fish, has quickly grown into its own delightfully entertaining saga), Kroll Show has become one of the most consistently entertaining sketch shows on TV today.

Although much of the show’s excellence can be contributed to Kroll, it would be absolutely despicable to not acknowledge many of the show’s recurring actors, all of whom are Kroll’s good friends. While the number of amazing castmates grows with each new episode, some of the standouts include Jon Daly, Jenny Slate, Jason Mantzoukas, Seth Morris, and Chelsea Peretti, all of whom have lent their talents to multiple sketches over the past two seasons. And the show’s wide variety of guest stars – including Zach Galifianakis, Laura Dern, Brie Larson, Maria Bamford, and Fred Armisen – have helped turn Kroll Show into a sort of delightful sketch-comedy playground. Even Kroll’s real-life girlfriend, comedy queen Amy Poehler, has appeared in the show’s second season, in a role that can best be described as the “anti-Leslie Knope.” This just shows that Kroll Show is quickly becoming one of the prime places to see comedians in their strangest – and often funniest – roles.

With its surplus of guest stars, incredible writing team, and absolutely wonderful star, Kroll Show has cemented itself as one of the strongest sketch shows on TV today. While it may not have the exposure of shows like Portlandia and Key and Peele, it has accomplished quite a lot in its first two seasons, and I personally can’t wait to see more of it in the future. So if you’re looking for an absurd, yet wholeheartedly enjoyable sketch show, then you should definitely check out Kroll Show. New episodes air Tuesdays at 10:30/9:30 CT on Comedy Central, and all previous episodes can be found at Hulu.com or CC.com.

Poor Man’s Gamer Presents: Indie²

Throughout the wide and vast world of PC Gaming you will find games aplenty, some are big and some are small, some are good and some are bad, but they all provide the same thing: the extension of an idea into an interactive medium.  Today I’d like to take the chance to talk to you about four little Indie games that have caught my eye.  These are games that have not gone onto Early Access, instead choosing to work towards a finished project before presenting the game to the world.  Some of these games are still so deep in development that the only information on them exists in development blogs, FAQs, and design notes; one of these games is in the middle of its own open beta as it works towards creating a better game; and one game has just made it through the development process with the hopes that it may soon be picked up by large online stores like Steam.

The first game I’d like to talk about is Mother 4.  For those of you who don’t know the Mother series is a series of games put out by Nintendo primarily in Japan.  The series yielded a single US release called Earthbound which was released for the Super Nintendo to great acclaim.  The series follows a group of children (different in each game) and explores their encounters with aliens and mad scientists and strange psychic powers in strange and mysterious lands.  For those of you who are big fans of the Super Smash Bros. series, Ness and Lucas are characters from the Mother games.  Mother 4 is an unofficial addition to the series made by fans for the PC.  The game follows the traditional Mother system of distorted RPG in an abstract America and follows the tradition well but with the addition of a new and original story.  The game is set to be released in winter of this year and is currently set to be free.

Next up is a game that I am awaiting with much anticipation.  If you’ve been reading my posts for a while you will know what a huge fan of Edmund McMillen I am, well McMillen’s next project is a game called Mew-Genics and like always it is a strange and dark and twisted and full of childish wonder and fear, so nothing new for McMillen and Team Meat.  Mew-Genics is self-described as “a cross between The Sims and Pokemon with a sprinkling of Animal Crossing and a dash of Tamagotchi.”  In this game you raise, breed, and fight cats to create strange and interesting mutations and deformities.  You can care for your cats in any way you see fit and after a while evolve into their adult forms which can bring on a whole world of new surprises.  As of right now there’s still a lot of mystery shrouded around Mew-Genics.  As it stands there is no set release date or price.  There are a few comics up on the website and a lot of development screenshots, personally I already have high hopes for this game, though it may just be that I’m biased.

The next game I want to talk about is a game that’s been in beta for a while now.  It’s not available on Steam’s Early Access, though it has been greenlit on Steam.  The game I’d like to talk to you is called Broforce.  In Broforce you play as a mercenary fighting your way through a level towards a helicopter.  In the game the terrain is completely destroyable and explosions and gun shots are plentiful in the action (much to your own demise).   You play as one of many titular “bros” who take their appearance and inspiration from eighties action movies.  For example you can play as characters such as Rambro (Rambo) or the Brominator (Terminator) as well as a bunch of awesome and amazing characters like Walker Texas Ranger, Neo, Will Smith from Men In Black, McGyver, Robocop, and Mr. T.  The game allows for four-player co-op which is simply loads of unrelenting fun.  More often than not you just end up killing each other by accident, but you will just keep trucking on and playing for the fun of it.  As I said before the game is still in beta and being worked on and there hasn’t been an official release date for the game yet, but from what I have seen Broforce is a wild and out of control take on Metal Slug, it’s truly game worth not missing.  If you are interested in buying it you can do so for $15.

The final game I would like to talk to you about is one that I literally stumbled upon just about a week ago.  It is the game that sparked my interest in doing a post on my self-coined “Super Indie” games.  I found the game while rummaging around the Humble Store for any good sales and I picked it up almost immediately not knowing exactly what I was getting into.  What I ended buying was a game called Retro Game Crunch.  What Retro Game Crunch manages to do so well is mimic the style and feel of classic NES games with original storylines and mostly original gameplay.  The game comes as a bundle of 7 separate games all of which include their own stories and play styles as well as ideas and graphics.  In one you play as a robot trying to kill yourself, in another you are a strange creature trying to evolve your way towards progress, in another you find yourself in a strange cross between the metroidvania genre and Ocarina of Time.  Additionally there are a few multiplayer games ranging from classic beat ‘em ups to shoot ‘em ups (…I feel like there may be a better way to phrase that…).  I’ll be honest I haven’t had a chance to play through all of the games to the end, but what I’ve seen has left me very satisfied, these games accomplish what they set out to do flawlessly.  Any of them could have lived and prospered in the 8-bit era and now they serve as a gateway back to that nostalgia.  You can pick up Retro Game Crunch for $15.

In these four games I see hope for the gaming industry far away from the halls of EA and other AAA developers, away even from the grasp of distributors like Steam, in these games I see promise that gaming can thrive without big names and without help from publishers.  To make a good game you simply have to go out and make it.