20
Jul

thomas-dolby-joins-intervention-7
 Thomas Dolby joins Intervention 7!

Well we have been busy.

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I am extremely excited to announce that professor and musician Thomas Dolby will be appearing at this year’s Intervention in Rockville, MD! If you are just showing up here to this blog, Intervention is the convention that I produce every Fall that you should register for right now.

In addition to his prolific musical work, Mr. Dolby is also a Homewood Professor of the Arts at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland where he does amazing work!

Mr. Dolby will be making a limited one-day speaking-only appearance on Friday of the event, so be sure to join us!

If you haven’t registered for the event, now’s a great time to do so — and check out all the other awesome guests joining us this year!

This year’s Intervention isn’t just going to be the best Intervention I have ever organized. It is the best thing I have ever done in my career. If there is 1 year to NOT miss, it’s this one.



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19
Jul

real-talk-movie-review-ghostbusters-2016-spoiler-free
 REAL TALK MOVIE REVIEW: Ghostbusters 2016 (spoiler free)

In all of my reviews I articulate my personal bias so that you can understand how to read it in a way that benefits you the most. I personally loathe remakes and reboots. Any film that is a remake or reboot has to work extra hard to get me to not dislike it.

I accidentally saw the trailer for Ghostbusters 2016 when it ran before a YouTube video that I was watching. I don’t care about trailers and I have no understanding about why people even pay attention to them. You guys really pay attention to trailers? Cool story. I also watch the grass grow, put squirrels down my pants, and bang my head into my car door for fun.

Same shit. Look at me with my squirrel pants trailer. Total blockbuster. Get your popcorn. I feel so informed now! Toot toot.

Trailers are always bullshit.

The Wild Wild West movie had a great trailer but is one of the biggest piles of shit I have ever had the misfortune of sitting through. Every trailer today has that stupid buzzing sound. They all may as well be the same. It’s like a bee took a shit all down the block like Family Circus.

I think it’s a waste of time to speculate too much about a film until you actually see it, so that’s what I did.

I didn’t go into the film expecting to love it. I did not expect to be saying this: From beginning to middle to end Ghostbusters 2016 was a really fun film. If you agree with me that Big Trouble in Little China is one of the best films of all time and also enjoy the original Ghostbusters film, you should drop your life and see this film immediately. They EARNED this review.

So what do I mean by this? Just like BTILC this is an action film with a modicum of comedy that allows both action and comedy to exist together without detracting from either concept. It also does not take itself too seriously. The ideas and attitude of the original Ghostbusters world were present but nothing felt like a shot by shot remake. Nothing felt boring.

Ghostbusters 2016 is simply a fun action comedy film that stands alone unto itself. The gender swap wasn’t gimmicky. They were just people doing things. That’s all.

Ghostbusters-2016

It felt like another story inside the Ghostbusters world that could have been an alternate universe story. Anime fans will recognize this concept because it is very common in Japan to have another telling of the world that compliments and reignites interest in the original idea. This isn’t a copy. It doesn’t try to erase anything from the past.

It feels like a love letter to the idea by some of the original actors and crew which was brought even more into focus by the numerous cameos they had in the film.

Self-Awareness and Character Balance:

I particularly loved the subtle send up they gave to the people who trashed the film before it ever came out. It was so light-handed that it’s likely many will have missed it – and that’s why it works so well. Nothing was preachy. In one particular scene they reference YouTube comments. I’d also argue that one of the villains in the film was part of this. They make it clear that the Ghostbusters have been bullied tremendously and so has the villain. The idea it brought to my mind is one that I’ve explored in the past with my art and comics – if you are bullied you can react positively and be a good person or you can become a negative person who tries to take others down. It’s your choice.

They pulled off self aware without being preachy or heavy. I loved the chemistry the new characters had together. You will no doubt hear that Holzmann was the best one. She is fabulous, but that’s also one thing I found that I didn’t care for about the writing in this film. It felt like they weighted the writing and development toward her and didn’t develop the other 3 Ghostbusters nearly as well as they should have.

You shouldn’t have to know the original films to fill in the blanks. You could have condensed the other 3 Ghostbusters into 1 character without much trouble – their personalities weren’t distinct enough.

These Ghostbusters are Erin Gilbert (Kristin Wiig), Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), and Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones). Chris Hemsworth plays Kevin Beckman, their rather dim but good-looking secretary. I gathered that Holtzmann was an inventor. I can reference the original film and get who each character was supposed to be based on, but in this film by itself it was hard (or impossible) to tell what the other Ghostbuster’s skills were other than funny quips and shooting things.

Chris Hemsworth seemed to be having a great time in his role and he was great to watch. (Stay through the credits.) An element of lazy writing in woman-focused films is to make the women smart and the men dumb in order to get their point across. While I enjoyed the film, you can see an example of this in Disney / Pixar’s Brave.

Ghostbusters did not do this.

Kevin was dim but likeable and clearly not reflective of all guys. The other men in the film were all intelligent and articulate for the most part which I felt reflected a diverse range of people and points of view.

That’s the key and why it worked.

The woman were smart but sort of clueless sometimes. This makes sense given that they are just figuring all of this out. It actually made it easy to identify with them, but my husband did remark that he wished the women had been smarter as a cohesive group. Again – Holtzmann seemed to be the only one who knew anything about what was going on. The group’s strongest point was being reactive after something had gone bad.

Character Differentiation:

The only people whose names I remembered after leaving the theater were Holtzmann and Patty. I actually had to google the others in order to write this review so that should give you an idea of how little they developed the other Ghostbusters as individual people. Erin Gilbert mostly just complained about stuff and shot or stabbed things. Some of her more frantic scenes could have been cut from the film entirely. Did we really need to see her embarrassing herself in a crowded restaurant? I’d argue that I’d have rather seen more character development of her skills and emotional motivation. Abby Yates was the vaguely sensible person who shot things. Patty Tolan was a subway worker who had an uncle who had a car and…also shot at things.

That said, it still worked. It worked DAMN well. The dialogue felt real and funny. The challenges felt extra real since the city didn’t want to give them a chance, much like the people who claim they hate this film but never even saw it. The film felt fresh and for folks like me who are tired of everything having to be XTREEEEME and gritty, this was a FABULOUS return to the fun, geeky action films of the 80s such as big Trouble in Little China, Bill and Ted, and more.

The issues this film has are minor. This isn’t Schindler’s List or something serious so it’s rather pointless to critique it (or classics like BTILC) on that level. It’s a fun action film. It gets my highest recommendation. In addition to that I have to say that it is pretty much never that you’ll see women written as actual people in a way that feels real and not written by a 67 year old guy who maybe saw a woman once. It’s also a really enjoyable reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise that will probably inspire a generation of kids to be themselves.

Conclusion:

God damn it, guys. I never thought I’d ever utter the phrase “really enjoyable reboot” in the same sentence. This film had everything stacked against it being a success for me yet it still won me (and pretty much everyone I know) over against all odds – including the terrible trailer they released that did more harm than good. (Seriously – they need to fire whoever cut that thing.)

Is it better than the original? Calm the f down. You were probably like 5 when the original came out. You still believed in Santa Claus. NOTHING is going to be better than a film you enjoyed through the eyes of a child. Also? I don’t think they were trying to be better. They were trying to simply be. I have to personally say that I’ve waited 30 years to see any sort of woman in a major film with whom I could see myself in and this is the first film I’ve ever seen that gave it to me.

You should definitely see Ghostbusters 2016 in the theater. If you go into it looking for fun, you’ll get it. For the first time that I can remember we have comedy, action, and great dialogue in a film without a pandering romance or other bullshit that we see in every single film ever made. We actually have a reboot that doesn’t piss me off and is good enough to see a second time. I’m glad this was the first movie I saw in a theater after my eye surgery.

That’s pretty huge. Everyone who was involved with this film should be proud of what they have accomplished.

SEE THIS ONE.



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07
Jul

no-bs-review-bite-beauty-agave-lip-mask
 NO BS REVIEW: Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask

Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask is $26 and one of the few things I have spent that much coin on that I find to be absolutely worth it so I figured I’d tell you guys about it.

bite beauty agave lip mask

I have super dry skin and have trouble especially when I am speaking at conventions. I inevitably get stupid dry and it feels like my lips are falling off. I’ve tried Carmex which was smelly and didn’t work as well as this. I also tried an ass load of lip glosses and lip balms over the course of my life – all which didn’t work as well as this and most of them gave me that stupid white line buildup. That shit is the worst.

Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask works better than anything else I’ve ever tried in my life, lasts a long time, and doesn’t really give me white line as readily as other lip balms. This is one of my convention bag must haves – indispensable when I don’t want to have to recheck how I look much.

Which is like every day. I’m a CEO, not a peacock.

I have not been able to find a cheaper product that works as well. When I had invisalign this was all I wore for that entire year because the original version is colorless and I didn’t have to worry about it smearing on my trays and looking stupid. Basically this thing solves my problem and has a very low risk of looking stupid. Win.

The only problem is that the packaging will look like this in about a week if you carry it in your bag with other items. Yes, I have had this one for a year plus, but it looked mostly like this after a week of being in my bag:

bite-beauty-agave-lip-mask

You will also notice that I literally have almost used up the entire tube and will eventually. I am not a fan of collecting makeup – I am a fan of spending intelligently on shit that I will actually use.

I already bought a second one of these. It took me like a year or more to get to this point so the price isn’t terrible considering how long it lasts.

Only quibble is that I do think that for a makeup product that falls in the “hella coin” (AKA high end) category, the packaging could be nicer.

I don’t know if Bite Beauty’s other products are as good as this, but this one item kicks The Ass. It’s my favorite lip balm of all time. If you have chronic dry lips and want that to cease to be an issue for long periods of time without having to worry about white line you should definitely try this. Sephora gives free samples if you ask so you can try it out before you buy it.



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06
Jul

 GUEST POST: Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Fest 2016 review

This is a guest post by contributor Donika Haddock.

Memorial Day weekend has several significant meanings to many people. For most people it marks the end of the school year, beginning of summer. For Busch Gardens, it’s also the beginning of their annual Food and Wine Festival.

In its fourth year, the Food and Wine Festival is back again, with its mix of foods and wines from various countries from around the world. It’s a great time to introduce yourself to foods you’ve never tried before, plus it’s a nice change of pace from the same theme park foods we’re used to at Busch Gardens (not that their food is bad, but something different is good once in a while, right?).

This year the park switched out two old booths for two new ones. Gone are the Scandinavia and Scotland booths. While I miss the Swedish meatballs from Scandinavia that is probably the only thing I miss from that booth. In its place, the park brought in Hawaii. What is a common food most people think of when they hear Hawaii? SPAM of course!! The Hawaii booth serves Spam sliders, with sriracha mayonnaise and grilled pineapple with a side of pineapple-coconut coleslaw.

spam sliders

To be honest here, I still can’t bring myself to try it……yet. But I HAVE tried the Huli Huli chicken, a soy BBQ chicken served with a side of sweet potato salad.

Unfortunately, this is one dish I would pass on trying again. I’m not one for potato salad to begin with, but I was curious about the sweet potato salad, and thought that would add an interesting twist with the orange and purple potatoes. Interesting is the key word. The potatoes were barely cooked (still crunchy), making the sweet potato salad unpalatable to me. While I can’t wait to go back each weekend, I have to admit, I have yet to make it through to the Hawaii booth to try everything I want, due to being too full from the other booths. Friends and other park guests have told me the root vegetable chips with Maui onion dip and the tune poke (pronounced pokay) are must tries. The dessert that’s offered is the Haupia Tart, a sweet coconut mousse with Kona coffee ganache. Mmmm…coffee….

The second new booth this year is Virginia, located in the former location of the Scotland booth. (Editor’s Note: Aaaah! Scotland was my fav booth! – Oni)

virginia

This is new booth has two of my favorite offerings this year. If you were a fan of the Scottish toffee, you’ll want to try the pecan, bacon, chocolate bars. The only way I can describe this dessert is toffee meets pecan pie meets bacon and chocolate. Seriously, I don’t like pecan pie and this dessert I can’t get enough of. Can’t make it to the park to get your hands on it? You can find the exact recipe (and others) here.

pecan pie

The Virginia booth also offers pork rinds with a variety of Southern dips (deviled ham, pimento cheese), bacon and cheddar hushpuppies, She-crab soup, and my second favorite, the Smithfield Ham Tasting. The tasting consists of three varieties of ham, Red eye country, hickory smoked, and applewood, paired up with apple butter, raspberry jam, and whole grain mustard, finished with a honey biscuit on the side. Sure to please the Southern in everyone.

I did venture out this year and finally tried the ratatouille. While I have to admit I’ve been curious about this, I hadn’t been brave enough to try it until this year. From the France booth, the ratatouille parfait is roasted veggies served in a cup with a twisted parmesan cheese stick. This is a change from previous years as the ratatouille used to be served as a tomato stuffed with the roasted vegetables. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the parfait style. While the presentation was nice, the initial layer of chilled veggies with the drizzle of balsamic vinegar tasted good, the bottom layer lacked flavor and seasoning. Should’ve stuck with the stuffed tomato. If this is how they will present the dish for future Food and Wine Festivals, I’ll definitely be passing on it again.

My biggest disappointments for this year comes from the France (again) and Caribbean booths. Besides the ratatouille, France also serves up Steak Au Poivre, or peppered steak.

france

I tried it twice this year, and both times I couldn’t eat it. The peppered over powered any flavor of steak, and actually made it spicy. From two people who love steak, neither of us could eat this. So disappointing. If they were to cut down on the amount of pepper, even slightly, it would be close to edible. From the Caribbean booth, the Jamaican Jerk Chicken was second on my list of disappointments for this year.

Caribbean

Last year, the jerk chicken was grilled, nicely charred, and full of delicious smoky, sweet bbq sauce. This year, the chicken was served up buried under its grilled pineapple salsa. Once the chicken was uncovered, it wasn’t grilled at all. Cooked, yes, but not grilled. The drumsticks this year looked and tasted as though they were boiled. No char on the outside, as the skin was still chewy and rubbery, and the bbq sauce was served on the side in a cup. If they can learn one thing from this, GRILL THE CHICKEN!!!!

The park has added several features to the event that have been long awaited and much needed. First off, as the Food is mostly small servings, it gets to be an expensive way to eat and indulge very quickly. The park finally added an option to purchase a food sampler pass. For $35, you get to try ten helpings of whatever food items you want, from any of the booths. $50 will get you fifteen samples. These passes are pure gold, and if you do it right, the average cost drops to around $3.50 per sampling. Perfect for spending the pass on the higher priced items like the bacon wrapped scallops in Spain, which runs $7 per order.

But what about the wine? You can’t have a Food and Wine Festival without wine, right? The wine tastings, located throughout the park yearly, run about fifteen dollars per tasting. The park added a wine tasting pass (wine tasting trio), that allows you to sample three wine tastings of your choice, for the price of $29.95, with a savings of around $15. This is another great deal for the event.

Along with the foods and wines, the returning food artists are a huge hit as always. It’s fun to watch them create masterpieces out of fresh cut melons, cakes, and fondant, and the displays change weekly. There’s also an ice carving demonstration nightly at 6pm in Ireland just outside of the Abbey Stone Theatre, where two food artists compete to be the first to carve a masterpiece out of their block of ice in under twenty minutes.

All in all, the event, even with its highs and lows, is still a great event to check out, whether it’s with a group of friends or a weekend date. It’s the perfect time to try new foods, enjoy the food art, and maybe hit up a few shows and rides while you’re at the park.

food and wine 2016 final


06
Jul

review-kevita-sparkling-probiotic-drink-murdered-my-stomach-flu-that-some-jerk-ass-bagel-shop-gave-me
 REVIEW: Kevita Sparkling Probiotic Drink murdered my stomach flu that some jerk ass bagel shop gave me

I should make a landing page that details my blog policy so I don’t have to keep re-stating that I am not paid to review this and that I bought this with my own money. All of my reviews are honest and I will turn down money from organizations that I do not like because otherwise my reviews would be useless.

So I made the mistake of eating at Brunswick Bagels on Rte. 18 in East Brunswick, New Jersey. Central Jersey where I live seems to have an inordinate amount of unclean/sloppy restaurants, possibly because of the constant rotation of college students in the area and them not caring about repeat customers. I have no idea. Just a guess. North Jersey is great. South Jersey is fabulous. In general the food is really good here. BUT…Central where I live I have gotten a stupid amount of food poisoning and worse.

I got gastroenteritis from this bagel shop so bad that I ended up at the doctor’s office 4 days later where he was able to examine me and make this diagnosis. It was a dull roar of cramping intestinal fits and trips to the bathroom. I was scared that I had cancer or something because google always tells me that, but it was only food contamination that set in shortly after eating an egg and cheese bagel at the a fore mentioned bagel shop.

The worst part was that I had planned a rare weekend of respite out of town the following weekend for the 4th of July holiday but it just hung around. I got to take my sick intestines with me and feel miserable while trying to have fun. As the doctor explained it to me, the bacteria in my intestines had been screwed up such that each time I ate food my body couldn’t digest it. My doctor recommended yogurt but that didn’t work that much.

It got so bad that I went to a supermarket and decided to try the probiotics. I ran into Kevita Sparkling Probiotic Drink and just bought it because please god help me give me some relief so I can enjoy my weekend…

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Dude! Within hours I was back to normal. I had been sick for about 7 days with the same symptoms and this thing neutralized it.

I don’t know much about how probiotics work and I always thought these drinks were silly but omg do they have a new fan now. I was able to go to the museum the next day without Oppressive Cramping Gas and worse ass fire.

So yeah I hope you don’t get the stomach flu from a bagel shop that has bad food handling practices, but if you do get yourself some of this. I have never been made better so quickly and Iw ish I knew about them before.

But kombucha still scares me. What even is that?



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