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Real books to ebook to fan fiction, if it's worth reading I'll let you know.

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Whether it's on your tv or streaming online, I'll share my top picks with you.

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The music that moves me and is worth a listen.

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Comic books, action figures, conventions and other geeky fun.

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Apps, hardware and gadgets galore.

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I'm a wordy nerd with a lot to say.

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I'll give you all the details on various services and various products.

Friday, May 22, 2015

[Review] Dollar Shave Club: A Great and Affordable Option For Anyone Who Shaves!

Disclaimer: I'm not being paid for this review. I bought this product with my own money and I really like it. 

If you regularly shave any part of your body, face, or head, you know that all the stuff involved with the process is expensive. An average store bought razor costs upwards of $10 to $15. That is just for the handle and one razor head. Replacement cartridges can cost around $30 for a pack of 8. That breaks down to $3.75 per cartridge. Depending on how often you shave and replace your blades that gets really expensive really fast.

Enter the Dollar Shave Club.

I’ve been seeing their hilarious ads on Youtube and TV for awhile. Under all the humor the service sounded like a great deal. While most of their advertising targets men I decided to give the service a try, because shaving isn’t gender specific and neither should the associated products. 

There are three plans, ranging in price from $1 to $9 per month. The difference between the plans are in the size/style of the blade heads and shipping charges. The $6 and $9 per month plans come with free shipping. I decided to go with the $6 per month plan, I’m a sucker for free shipping. 

The $6 package gets you 4 blades/heads a month with free shipping and handling. The first package that comes has one handle, four blades, and a sample of their shave butter. 

The Service was easy and quick. The website is very easy to navigate and signing up was a breeze. Also, I love how they emailed me before my replenishment shipment went out to give me a chance to add to or change my services before it shipped out.

The Shipping was fast, like shockingly quick. Less than a week from the time I signed up to when I got the first package. The replacement blades came right on time. In fact, they arrived before I need them. So bonus.

Additional note: The service is available in the USA, Canada, and Australia. 

The Packaging is beautiful and hilarious. It has all kinds of humors anecdotes and plays on words all over the box and interior parts. If you’re a fan of graphic design and typography (which I am) you’ll have to fight the urge to not save every piece of the packaging. 

The Handle is a pretty standard, masculine coded design. It’s thick, has good weight to it, and a comfortable angle to grip in your hand. Plus there are plenty of texturized bits all over the handle to keep it form slipping even when it's wet. 

Note: If you loose or break your handle you can add a new one to your regular monthly order for $4. This is a nice feature if more than one person in the same house hold want to share the service. My husband and have our own handles. 

The Razor are freaking sharp! Holy crap. Wow, they make shaving fast and easy. Be careful shaving tight corners and angles, like your ankles or chin. Be especially careful shaving around the public area and labia with these blades. It's all fun and games until you nick your clit. 

Important Note: I’ve seen some reviews discussing people having difficulty with rinsing hair out of the head of the blade. I didn’t run into this problem, but it’s a far critique of the design of how the blade head attaches to the handled. Which causes it to have to be rinsed out more often when shaving thick hair growth. So if you have lots of dense amounts of thick, course hair this way affect how it performs for you. 

The Shaving Butter was really nice. I got a free sample with my initial kit. It smelled pleasant and left my skin nice and smooth. However, based on the ingredients and the fact that the entire kit is geared toward cis-men, I wouldn't recommend using it on or near the pubic area. No one wants a vaginal infection.

In summary, I love the product and the service. I’m saving a ton of money on blades and am able to shave more often without fearing razor burn from dull blades, since I’m not trying to make expensive razors last longer. On the whole I highly recommend the Dollar Shave Club for anyone who shaves any part of their body regularly. 

Additional note: I think it's a HUGE miss on the part of Dollar Shave Club that they're not marketing to women. Not that they need to make the razors pink or change the packaging at all. Every woman I know who shaves already uses men's razors, because they work better and are often cheaper. I think it's easy money to add onto their existing campaign to also appeal to women. Especially if they pitch the whole idea that couples can share the service. 

Dollar Shave Club is a great service for an affordable price. I highly recommend it. It also makes a great gift for anyone who shaves regularly, no matter their gender.

Happy Grooming.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

[Spoiler Review] 5 Things I Loved and 5 Things I Would Change About Avengers: Age of Ultron

[Spoiler Warning: I'm going to discuss details of the movie, many of which are spoilers. If you want to read my non-spoilery review click here.]

This is a follow up post to my review of Avengers: Age of Ultron. I wanted to dig into some spoilers and share a few more thoughts on the film This is going to be a list of things I liked, and things I would have changed. 

5 Things I Loved

Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff
FINALLY we get another woman on the Avengers team. While this Wanda isn’t the same character from the comic books, I adore this new MCU version of one of my favorite characters, who is arguably the most powerful individuals in the entire Marvel Universe. They also did a masterful job with Wanda’s powers. A much better job than the X-men movies ever did with Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix. 

Tony Stark
Tony's story arc is such a great example of how the MCU has mastered character continuity, for the most part. In Age of Ultron we see the same Tony we left in Iron Man, he's most secure and self assured, but still very much  struggling with the trauma he suffered during the first Avengers film. I really like that there wasn't a "quick fix" for his PTSD. He's managing it, but it's still ever present, as we see in his vision. 

That vision tells us so much more about what's really behind Tony's his fear and anxiety. Tony isn't so much afraid of death as he is afraid of losing the people he loves, especially when he alone is responsible for their safety. Tony's need to control EVERYTHING only exacerbates his anxiety.  Not to mention this particular fear hits Tony where he lives. Much like JARVIS is much more than a computerized personal assistance, the Avengers aren’t simply coworkers, they’re Tony's family. Underneath the armor and bravado there is a lonely, insecure emotionally orphaned boy with all the money and the most advance technology in the world who wants to "build a suit of armor around the world" to protect it. In the act of trying to save the world who almost destroys it. Perfectly punctuating the central theme of the movie. 

Vision vs. Ultron
I’m planning to write an entire post about these two, and the metaphors behind them. This is one of the best aspects of the movie that helped elevate it beyond a simple action comedy. It gives me a lot of hope for what Marvel Phase Three has in store for us. 

The Party
It was completely unnecessary, but oh so appreciate. I LOVE seeing all these characters just hanging and existing together. What a wonderful way to add dimension to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while allowing fans to feel like we’re getting a peak behind the scenes of the comic book pages. While I hate a few of the gross jokes made at the expends of women, overall it was wonderful to watch the Avengers relaxing and having fun.

Steve’s Flashback
This is a completely self indulgent fangirl thing. It’s really difficult to coherently communicate what it meant to see Steve and Peggy together again, even if it was in a vision. It was also such a very simple but affective way to show what it really means to be a “Man out of time.” Steve doesn’t just feel out of place the present, he feels out of touch with the person he was in the past. As he said that man who came out of the ice isn’t the same as the one who went in, and that has me all kind of excited to see how they is expanded upon this in Civil War.

5 Things I Would Change:

Introduce Captain Marvel and/or Black Panther. 
I don't think it needs to be justified. It should have already happened. 

Fix Bruce/Natasha
A complete overhaul of the Bruce/Natasha romantic subplot. It is a brilliant idea that was poorly executed. I’ll go into details of this in a future post.

Scrap Hawkeye’s secret family
Not only was the insta-family forced, also way to make a woman exist solely as a feature of a man’s story, but the “down home farmer" cliche doesn't fit Clint at all. It seems like a pretty blatant play on the popularity of the  “American Sniper” esthetic, and feels completely out of place in a superhero movie. Also the MCU already has an All American Soldier, and his name is Steve Rogers.

Deaf Hawkeye 
Imagine Clint adjusting to his hearing loss on top of the emotional and psychological trauma he suffered the first Avengers movie. It would also explain his notable absence in The Winter soldier. Deaf Clint could add some much needed representation for people with actual disabilities, rather than fictional superpowers that are sloppy metaphor for disability. As Matt Frantion’s brilliant run of Hawkeye showed, that Clint’s strength is in just being himself, and I think that’s a far better counter point to all the superpower angst going on with all the other Avengers.

Natasha should give the inspirational speech, instead of Clint. 
This is change so glaringly obvious, I suspect the speech was written for Natasha and later changed to Clint to give him more screen time. The problem is having Hawkeye, a content family man who’s most complex conflict is deciding how to remodel is house, a man who’s career is directly connected to the type violence Wanda and her brother are victims of, having this man deliver this speech comes off as condescending. I’m sure it worked great for every guy in the audience that was tired of Wanda experience “emotions” in the middle of a battle, and just wanted to her to work her magic while the wind blew up her mini-skirt. But for me, it felt forced and out of place. 

The twins felt like Clint and Natasha’s younger counterparts, and when you look at how they behave and their internal conflicts it’s really easy to see. This is only reenforced by Clint and Pietro interactions. Where they both shit-talk and show up each other. Natasha is far better suited to handle and relate to Wanda.

This young, angry, powerful girl is not unlike the girl Natasha once was. Who better to inspire Wanda to be an hero than a woman who has walked a similarly dark path and come out the other side, who is now an Avenger. There are many layers to Natasha saying “It doesn’t matter what you did or what you were.” 

Natasha is not just speaking to Wanda, she’s speaking to the girl she was in her vision of the past. It would be so meaningful for Natasha to step into the role of mentor, it would do some much to help move her beyond the violence and dehumanization of her past. Inhabiting a parental role for a young woman, so much like her former self, and inspire her to believe in herself and become a hero. This is how to make Natasha’s story arc about her, this is a distinctly feminine hero’s journey. Not to mention this is how you handle a cis-woman’s struggle with reconciling her infertility, without implying a woman’s inability to give birth is anything remotely like being a monster.


And that's the list. What were your favorite parts of Avengers: Age of Ultron. What would you have changed if you could? Leave your comments down below and thanks for stopping by.

Stay tuned for my future posts about Vision vs. Ultron, and Bruce/Natasha. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

[REVIEW] Avengers: Age of Ultron

Spoiler Warning: The Full review contains some very minor spoilers, most are hinted at or explicit in the trailers for the films, but if you want to remain spoiler free I suggest only reading the short review. 

Short Review
Age of Ultron is entertaining and promblematic in all the same way as the first Avengers movie. I liked it, but I’m also glad this is Joss Whedon’s last Marvel film. Bring on the age of the Russo brothers!

Full Review
The fear of sequel slump looms large for Age of Ultron considering the success of the first Avengers’ film. There’s a lot of ways to go wrong and very few ways to do it right. On the whole Age of Ultron does it right. It plays it safe with a good mixture of humor and action, but then also goes a step further by exploring the characters.

The first Avengers film centered around the question “can these superheroes really be a team?” The answer was yes, the opening sequence of Age of Ultron echoes it. We seen the Avengers at their best, working together they’re an unstoppable force. There’s even a joke about in the dialogue. 

So with the team established and stronger than ever, the new question asked in Age of Ultron is “what is the difference between heroes and monsters?” This question is the hidden genius that elevates Age of Ultron beyond a paint-by-numbers action comedy sequel, and sets the tone for Marvel Phase Three.

Ultron himself is the embodiment of crossing the line between superhero and monster. He’s a powerful AI created to protect the world, who turns into one of the most powerful villains the Avengers have ever faced. This perversion of good intentions, along with a dash of Scarlett Witch’s powers, forces each Avenger to question their own humanity. The answer is the underlining message of the film. 

In the age of super powers the difference between heroes and monsters is compassion and respect. Two qualities perfectly embodied in the new character Vision, who provides a powerful reminder for the entire Avengers team. Heroes defend the powerless, while Monsters seek to control them.

This theme is echoed through out the movie, in good ways and bad. I’m not going to lie, there’s a lot of stuff in this movie that annoyed the shit out of me. Like a romantic subplot that dominated Natasha’s story arc and felt like a huge step backward after all the amazing character development in The Winter Soldier. To be clear, I don’t have an issue with Natasha having a romantic subplot, and I actually like who she’s paired up with. (I’ve shipped it since the first Avengers film) I have a problem with the execution of it being one of the most cliche superhero tropes, that is not only sexist, but cissexist. TRIGGER WARNING! 

The issues don’t stop there. The only other women from the original Avengers film, Maria Hill, is relegated to a personal assistant, and is the butt of a gross objectifying joke about her being at the center of a tug-o-war between Tony and Fury. Add on top of this the notable absence of the other women of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jane and Pepper. Who are only mentioned in a joke where they are tokens of achievement for their significant other, Tony and Thor, to use in a pissing contest. While, Wanda “Scarlett Witch” Maximoff is a welcome addition to the sausage fest that is the MCU, and I love how the twins continue laying the ground work for “Civil War,” there is still a lot problems in Age of Ultron. Most of which can be laid at the feet of Joss Whedon.

I don’t want to turn this review into Whedon hate fest, but the things that don’t work for me are all embodied in him refusing to learn new tricks. Joss is that guy who keeps telling the same joke at every party, because it never stops being funny for him. Sadly, we’ve all already seen the first Avengers movie, and while it was great, recycling the humor isn’t. There are too many witty quips that seem out of character for the people saying them, and feel really forced in moments where subtle humor would have been a better fit. 

The initial villain in the film, Baron Strucker is not only a character from the comic books, but he’s established in the MCU, both in the post credit scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and in the current season of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but he’s used as a plot device and quickly tossed away. I don’t mind a few throwaway characters, but Age of Ultron is littered with the bodies of human plot devices, more than a few of whom are women. Like Dr. Helen Cho (yay woman of color) who seems to only function as a joke aimed at female fans of Thor and to deliver exposition about new technology that’s important to a male character. Not to mention some spoilery stuff that’s done to spotlight Hawkeye and his importance to the team that employs more throwaway characters and feels so forced it left me rolling my eyes. 

Honestly, they could have cut Hawkeye out of the film, given the significant scenes he has with the Maximoff twins to Natasha, and the scenes would resonated more with Natasha delivering those lines, especially in a crucial scene involving Wanda. Plus, we’d actually have two women talking to each other in a MCU film. As it is, the only reasons this movie (debatably) passes the Bechdel test, despite having 6 named women characters in the cast, is because of a brief conversation in a flashback.

It feels like more time and energy was spent on developing the men at the expense of women, and that includes making the character development of the ONLY woman Avenger about one of her male teammates. *smashes face into keyboard repeatedly* 

Marvel still isn’t any closer to solving it’s downright laughable issues with handling women. These aren’t new issue for Joss Whedon either. So keeping them in mind is important to tempering any expectations one might have of Age of Ultron being a better MCU film, in that respect. It’s more of the same, but at least it’s consistent in both what it does right as well as it’s failures.

What it does right is bring the action and laughs. It delivers jaw dropping visuals, and stunning moments of emotional resonance. We even get indulgent moments where fans get to see all the characters we love coexisting together, as friends and fellow fighters. That’s a big key to the magic of an Avengers film. 

I love this movie, if for no other reason than its flawless introduction and establishment of Vision, and a Steve Rogers moment that made me cry. All that aside, Avengers: Age of Ultron is a fun time at the movies. You’re milage may vary.

P.S. For those of you who are noticing similarities in the themes of Age of Ultron and the latest Batman v Superman trailer. Good eye. Yes, Marvel just threw down the gauntlet.

Age of Ultron is a straight-up slap in the face to the DC Cinematic Universe, and specifically a counter argument to Man of Steel. I’ll even go as far to say that MCU has effectively created a character who is more like comic book canon Superman than DC Cinematic Universe’s own canon Superman. I don’t make the statement lightly.

This is Marvel not only reestablishing that they know how to make great superhero movies, but that they are ahead of the game on every level. While DC is building up to introduce their superhero team, and are just starting asking questions about humanity in the face of super powers. Marvel effectively just kicked in DC’s door, took a big shit on their floor, and walked away whistling “I’ve got no strings on me.”