Slime Rancher!

Slime Rancher 1

A blogger friend and I recently fell down a comment section hole with regards to the post-apocalyptic, pre-apocalyptic and intra-apocalyptic literature we’ve both been gravitating towards the last number of years, concluding at the end that we were just bloody tired of it all – tired of the dire and tired of the bleak.  It can’t all be zombies and geo-political crises and environmental disaster all the time, or at least it shouldn’t be.  Not if you’d like to stay reasonably sane in today’s geo-political atmosphere.

And that’s precisely what makes Slime Rancher, a sweet, colourful, gentle little game, so very, very special and unlike anything else on the games market today – it’s adorably innocent, and completely unconcerned with anything other than being cute and making its players contentedly happy.  And that’s the kind of media philosophy I think we could all stand to pay a bit more attention to these days – the simple pleasures of a thing designed just to bring you joy.  What a novel idea!

The Slime sitch plays out thusly: You are Beatrix LeBeau, first person Slime farmer on a planet far, far away.  As Beatrix, you explore the area around your ranch, collecting resources and rounding up free range Slimes, which are round, squashy, bouncy little balls of mischievous glee.  The Slime on my thumb here is a Pink Slime, the most common of the Slimes.  Slimes come in all shapes (Tabby Slimes!) and sizes (Giant Golden Gordos!) and need quite a bit of managing – each type has a structured diet, and some even come with musical preferences (Rock Slimes are, quite unsurprisingly, total metalheads.)  Slimes require fencing and feeding and all manner of other tending, and it’s all rather expensive.  And so financial consideration is provided by Plorts, little diamond-shaped trinkets the Slimes spit out (or at least I hope it’s spit!) which act as a kind of currency ’round the ranch.

Slime Rancher 2

My favourite thing about the game, besides tending my large pen of grey striped Tabby Slimes, is just heading out into the nighttime desert to stand beneath the gently twinkling night sky as a cluster of Pink Slimes bounce daffily about, emitting goofy “Woo hoo!” noises with every sproing and brroing (something I tried to capture with this manicure.)  With the gentle, cheerful music tinkling about merrily in the background, it’s more relaxing than staring at a computer screen should ever possibly be.  It’s just a ton of fun, with no shooting, no killing and no misery.  Armed with a kind of vacuum canister gun, you, Beatrix, suck up any Slimes that catch your eye and then deposit them safely back on your ranch.  And that’s the extent of the “weaponry,” delightfully enough.  And the worse you can do to the lone bad guys of the game, Tarr Slimes – giant black blobs shot through with rainbow veins who hypnotize other Slimes and subsume them – is suck them up with your vacuum gun and then shoot them out over the sea.  Even then, if it’s between the hours of sundown and sunup, the Tarr Slimes’ prime huntin’ hours, they’ll just come back, no harm, no foul.  It’s seriously such a gentle, sweet little game – I actually fear for it on the playground; the other video games will surely pick on its gentle naivete, won’t they?

Slime Rancher 3

Anyhow, if you’d like to check out a game that won’t have you contemplating either the end of times OR throwing your controller across the room in maximum difficulty frustration, I’d implore you to check out Slime Rancher.  It’s currently available on Steam for $21.99 Canadian, and it’s a real sweetheart – well worth the very reasonable price, and a ton of fun, woo hoo!

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Fall Fun Series II: Movies, Manis and Melts

Movies and Melts Collage

Spooky movies (or television shows, or books, or what-entertainment-have-you) are the name of this weekend’s FFS game (games, too, if there are any that are autumn appropriate.)  Supernaturally-tinged things have always been *my* thing, so I have quite a few schlocky favourites I like to pull out around this time of year.  Turns out I also have a number of matching manis (with a major emphasis on the Beetlejuice side of things) AND some complimentary wax melts as well.  This is far from an exhaustive list of favoured frightening films, and there are an absolute ton of one-off television shows I love that bring the delightful Halloween spooks (Roseanne’s Halloween episodes were brilliant, as were Buffy’s, AND Brooklyn 9-9.)  But these are clearly the ones that have captured my nostalgia-lovin’ heart.  Don’t know what to tell you, I likes what I likes. 🙂

Beetlejuice Wax and Manis Collage

I probably shouldn’t have included Beetlejuice on this list; that’s an all-the-time watch around these parts, no seasonal designations necessary.  Here I’ve paired five very striped manis with Super Tarts’ Beetlejuice, who apparently smells like apple butter, oatmeal cookies with icing and buttermilk pancakes.  I would have thought mold and moss, but I’ll take these fruity pancakes over that rank-sounding combo any day.

Blair Witch Wax and Mani Collage

I have mentioned before that my favourite movie to watch at this time of year is Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows.  It is SO bad!  But Jeffrey Donovan. 🙂  Actually, I love this makes-no-sense-on-any-level sequel so much, I bought this hideous-sounding (and kind of hideous-smelling) Blair Witch wax tart, a blend of Leaves, lemon, marshmallow cream and “a hint of salted caramel.”  None of those scent notes are particularly compatible, but then again, nothing in the movie works in tandem either.  Except Jeffrey Donovan’s farm rat hotness – it’s clear, a focusing point for my attention.  And eyes.  Or would that be his foine naked arse there at the end of the movie? … (sorry, got a little carried away there…)

TWD Wax and Manis Collage

I keep thinking that one of these days I’ll simply will myself into liking The Walking Dead through pure osmosis, but that remains to be the case.  It’s just a terrible, terrible show.  And this is coming from the person who freely admits to loving Death Note.  So until that day arrives, I’ll just content myself with a number of walker-centric manis, as well as this Zombie Brains wax tart from Super Tarts.  I like the design of this clamshell; it looks like that snot green, TWD-inspired polish on the far right, Look at the Flowers, Lizzie.  Don’t love the smell, though – this key lime, pomegranate and cotton candy blend is hella powdery and provokes mini sneezing fits.  And that simply won’t do when you’re sprinting through the Atlanta woods with a pack of walkers hot on your heels (oh, who am I kidding, this is The Walking Dead; they can’t get above more than a leisurely stroll.  That’s why everyone keeps dying and why they haven’t made it beyond Virginia in seven seasons.)

Addam's Family Wax and Mani Collage

The Addam’s Family is so cute.  I love how hot Gomez and Morticia are for each other, like they’re always just on the verge of throwing down right in front of Lurch and Cousin It.  I’m actually sort of surprised they only have three children – you know they’re boning down allllll over that creepy old house.  Here I’ve paired Addam’s Family, another Super Tart blend of salted caramel, pie crust and pumpkin cupcakes, with Glam Polish’s indigo-to-purple matte micro-glimmer, Wednesday.

The Lost Boys Wax and Mani Collage

Better than Beetlejuice.  Better than The Goonies.  Better than Death Note, ha!  The Lost Boys is legion and I won’t hear a single word against it.  I’ve also joked in the past that I think Super Tarts missed the mark on this scent blend.  As yummy as it is, no way in Santa Carla hell would David and his crew smell like pomegranate, apple cider and toasted marshmallows.  More like salty sea air, spilled bong water and general boy funk.

Friday the 13th Wax and Mani Collage

Speaking of the undead, here’s everybody’s favourite masked movie killer, Jason Voorhees.  Well, I suppose all those horny, machete-d camp counselors aren’t so fond of him.  I used to sit down every Fall and marathon all bajillion of the Friday the 13th movies until one day, I realized I didn’t actually like them very much.  The mid-to-late ’80s sequels in particular (V, Jason X, Jason Takes Manhattan) are atrocious.  But I will always have a soft spot in my heart for 1986’s Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, in which Jason is bested by an outboard motor.  It’s easily the worst of all of them!  This wax blend – another clamshell from Super Tarts – is quite nice, though, a pleasant, mild combination of apricot, buttercream, ice cream scoop bread and a slash of red berry currant.

Gravity Falls Mani Collage

And while I have no wax inspired by Gravity Falls, I’d be remiss – remiss, I tell you! – in leaving it off this list; the residents of Gravity Falls are so into Halloween, they create a mid-point holiday by the name of Summerween to satisfy their never-ending need for creeps.  They carve Jack-o-Melons, visit obnoxious Summerween Superstores and get haunted – or is that hunted? – by the Summerween Trickster, a malevolent meanie made entirely of discarded “loser candy.”  It’s kind of the cutest. 🙂

Death Note

Death Note Apple

This is most likely going to be a very unpopular sentiment, but I really liked the new Netflix version of Death Note.  And by that I mean I friggin’ LOVED it – it’s a total goof, just a fun, super slick-looking trifle of a thing filled with lots of neon lights, quirky characters and scenery-gnawing performances.  Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

First, a bit of a refresher for the fans, former fans and the blissfully unaware – Netflix’s new movie is an hour and a half-long adaptation of the beloved and long-running Japanese manga Death Note.  Both follow a teenage boy named Light (Turner in this new version, Yagami in the original) after he comes into possession of a mysterious notebook that holds the power of death.  Light first uses the book – and its author, a spiked, nine-foot-tall death god named Ryuk, voiced by Willem Dafoe – to settle a couple of personal scores, the untouchable mob boss who struck and killed his mother chief among them.  But then, sensing that there’s more to be done with this incredibly powerful object, Light takes the name Kira (“Light” in Celtic or Russian, “Killer” in Japanese) and begins settling the world’s scores, offing warlords and dictators and rapists and murderers by the hundreds, and all at an undetected distance.  Unsurprisingly, global authorities don’t have much of an issue with Light’s activities – the bad guys are either dying or turning themselves in, and Lord Kira has erased the world’s most-wanted list.  Who’s going to complain about that?

Well, less traditional law enforcement types, for one, including L, a sort of masked ninja samurai detective (played with a weird kind of bonkers energy in the Netflix version by Lakeith Stanfield) hot on Light’s tail.  In fact, here I am working out the kinks in my L Halloween costume.  I think it needs more hoodie.

Death Note

Anyways, I believe my (positive) opinion of Netflix’s Death Note is most likely an unpopular one because, like all movies (or TV shows, or books) based off a beloved, long-running series, Death Note comes with a lot of fan baggage.  And the complaints run the usual gamut, from whitewashing (undeniable when you take a Japanese property, set it in Seattle and then cast it with pretty well nothing but Caucasian actors) to a fundamental lack of respect for the source material (I understand the original is more of a hard boiled crime procedural than a neon-splashed teen horror lark.)

And while those might be valid complaints (I call bullshit on the total whitewashing of Death Note, however – two of the movie’s five major characters are Japanese and African American, respectively) I’m also of that generation that has watched virtually every movie, television show or book I love (or merely feel somewhat fondly towards) get turned into a hideous, rebooted bastardization of its original self.  And ultimately, for all the fuss, all the calls for boycotts, all the virtual vitriol, NONE OF IT MATTERS.  A new version of something – even one you loathe – cannot change, should not change, how you feel about that original thing.  Because it wasn’t made for you, the diehard fan, it was made in service of attracting a larger (and always younger) audience.  So are you upset that others have discovered your secret club?  Because you’d think you want more members.  Or are you just upset because the new version doesn’t rigidly conform to the story as you know it?  Because that’s called a creative dictatorship, and they’re generally frowned upon. 😉

Long story short, I think the Netflix version of Death Note is way dope; no complaints here, just nail art.  And a ripe Red Delicious for Ryuk.

Death Note Fingers

Literary Inspiration: The New Hunger

Warm Bodies Collage

First off, reading challenge assessment time.  Grade received: Total crap!  Because I’ve read just 10 books out of a possible 24.  And I can only lay so much blame at the feet of Stephen King, whose gigantic tomes I’ve already read in service of two of the challenge themes.  Reading for pleasure (instead of panic, ie. whatever horrifying news is coming out of American politics this hour) is just not an activity I gravitate towards any more.  I wish I knew why that need to read has departed – I was a voracious reader when I was a kid – but hopefully it will return.

Until then, there are infinitely worse ways to pass the hours than in the broken but healing, dying but not yet dead world of Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies.  And so for the ninth challenge prompt – a story that takes you to another place and time, real or imagined – I chose The New Hunger, a prequel novella from Marion set in the Warm Bodies universe.

If you’ve only seen the 2013 Warm Bodies movie, you can be forgiven for assuming that The New Hunger is a trifle of a book.  I liked the film – correction: I like Nicholas Hoult, will watch him in virtually anything, although I recommend the sexy-as-hell Equals – but there really wasn’t very much there.  It was an enjoyable watch, but a tepid shadow of 2010’s fiery novel (which I see that Wikipedia has sorted into both the post-apocalyptic and gothic fiction tags, neat.)  But the movie – quite apart from some major changes to the story – failed to capture the beleaguered optimism of the novel, distilling R and Julie’s passionate, revolutionary call-to-arms down to a simple Romeo and Juliet story, with zombies.  I adored the book; it’s one of the best things I’ve read in decades, but the film adaptation did it, and the deeply layered Warm Bodies universe, no terrific favours.  Isaac Marion is a fantastic writer – his prose is tidy and to-the-point, peppered with heartbreakingly poignant observations about war, politics, geo-political turmoil, man’s inhumanity to man, life, death and all those other terrifically lightweight subjects.  Warm Bodies, the novel, deserved more.

So a trifle it is not, and neither is The New Hunger, a 2013 prequel novella set in the four or five years before R, Julie, Nora and M make their last stand in Stadium City.  I actually read this book when it was first released via e-reader in 2013.  Scared the crap out of me; the last 10 or so pages left me breathless, wide-eyed, shocked.  As always, I can’t say more than that without spoiling this excellent, taut little examination of the downfall (and subsequent resurrection) of man, but the book links our four main characters years before they ever meet face to face – R, newly awoken as a reluctant zombie desperately clinging to the last vestiges of rational thought; Julie, 12-years-old, living out of her parents’ armored truck and dreaming of the kind of stable childhood she was never allowed to enjoy; M dying alone in the bathroom of the Space Needle; and finally Nora, 16-years-old, on a trek across the flooded port of Seattle in search of food, shelter and safety.

The New Hunger Cover

The bulk of The New Hunger concerns itself with Nora’s story, which ends in a place no less bleak than its beginning.  After years of global crises, nuclear war, destructive political posturing and rising sea levels (sound frighteningly familiar?) humanity has reached its breaking point.  Then, as the final flaming cherry on the end-of-times sundae, the dead rise up to drag the few remaining down.  In the midst of all this – abandoned cities, deserted safe zones, looters and cultists and much, much worse – Nora and her little brother, Addison, have been dumped in a Seattle suburb by their junkie parents.  Nora wakes one morning to find that they’ve simply left, taking all the food and weapons with them.  Nora tries to tell herself that they probably committed that final atrocious act out of some concern that two kids left alone with a gun are bound to hurt or kill themselves with that gun, but she knows better – her parents didn’t give a shit, cared more about their final score than they ever did about their own children.  It’s heartbreaking.

And real.  Maybe a bit too real given some of the realities of today.  I said before that this book genuinely scared the crap out of me.  It did back in 2013, and it continues to frighten me today, albeit for different reasons beyond “ooh, zombies, scary.”  It’s all hitting just a little bit too close to home.  Truly, absent the living dead, Marion’s template of the downfall of humanity seems to be one we’re following note for note these days.  Takes a bit of joy out of post-apocalyptic literature, that.

But you get your kicks where you can, and for me, that always means accompanying nail art, here my approximation of the flooded, fog-shrouded Seattle skyline Nora and Addison cross on their path to what just has to be something better.  Something I think we could all work towards – something better.

Seattle Silhouette

 

Literary Inspiration: Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book

Ben and Jerry's Collage

I’ll concede straight off the top that my choice of this little cookbook, Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book, is an odd one in satisfaction of the seventh prompt in my friend Julie’s reading challenge.  The task was to tackle a book from which you learn something (you know, other than that you’ve really outgrown chick lit.)  I immediately thought about this bitty little cookbook that my parents gave me when I was maybe nine or 10 years old.  Which, for those keeping score at home, means I’ve had this book – a bargain bin find of less than $1.50 in 1987 on account of the small notch in the upper right-hand corner of the cover – for 31 years. This book has seen things, man. Specifically, it’s seen a LOT of action – this is the cookbook from which my much-beloved chocolate chip cookies are birthed (your standard chocolate chip cookie recipe, but there’s just something to them that makes people lose their minds a bit when they’re in their presence.  I can’t share the recipe with you, because then I’d have to kill you.)

But all great things aside, it’s an odd choice in that The Story of Ben & Jerry’s that kicks off the book – a very entertaining, informative read about the duo’s early years – is just 17 pages long, and the rest is recipes.  Easy-to-follow recipes that produce delicious results, as I can attest across about a dozen different ice creams and desserts, but recipes all the same.  Also, it’s a book I’ve had in my life forever, and when I started this reading challenge, one of the stipulations I made was that all of the books I chose were going to be from my to-be-read pile, and I have absolutely enjoyed this cookbook – both the recipes and the cute, witty little story that kicks off the book – time and time again.  So I may have to revisit the seventh prompt in this reading challenge with a slightly beefier, newer read (Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil Degrasse Tyson is on my hit list.)

Ben and Jerry's Book with Nails

But this book is such a charming little treat, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass to do another inspired-by manicure.

Ben and Jerry's Nails

And there’s also much to be learned from this book, with its rags-to-slightly-ritzier-rags origin story, really fantastic recipes (I’ll never understand the voodoo that those chocolate chip cookies hoodoo, but wow, do people love the results) and adorable illustrations.  I have always loved the graphic design of this book, with its bubbly lettering, hand-drawn characters and bright colour palette.  It’s so. darn. cute.

Ben and Jerry's Pages Collage

Definite problem, though, particularly when you’re trying to watch your diet: reading Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book WILL make you ravenously hungry for creamy sweets, in the way that reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will make you want to immediately eat a chocolate bar or watching Pulp Fiction will make you want to devour whatever the hell a Big Kahuna burger is (surely not just me.)  But a small pittance to pay for such a cute and entertaining read. 🙂

The Blogging Mermaid

The Pottery Mermaid Fingers Front

Eons ago – actually more like just four or five weeks ago, but we’re going for dramatic emphasis here – my blogger friend Julie of The Redolent Mermaid asked me if I’d be kind enough to create a manicure on her behalf.  So when Julie, who is really into pottery, posted about a lovely little glazed planter she recently bought, I thought it would make the perfect (partial) inspiration for those long-promised nails.

Full confession: Pottery?  Like, hand-thrown bowls and vases and stuff?  Not really my thing, although I can – and do – admire the hard work and talent that undoubtedly goes into the creation of every charmingly lumpy piece.  I’m just more of a china dishware kind of person.

However, I can always appreciate a gorgeous colour and a beautiful finish, and Julie’s little planter has both of those things in spades – I was particularly taken with the iridescent blue glaze on the inside of the pot and the multi-chromatic plum drips along the rim.

And so I used both colours – Polish Me Silly’s plummy purple multi-chrome, Guilty Pleasure, and A England’s purple-tinged turquoise, Whispering Waves, here alongside A England’s stormy grey Wuthering Heights – in this fun, mermaid-y mani that incorporates some of Julie’s favourite things with my talent for turning total randomness into nail art.  Enjoy!

Blogging Mermaid Nails Angle

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman Shade Fingers

Tonight’s entertainment.  I’ve heard it’s pretty great, and I am TOTALLY in the mood to watch a badass woman throat-punch a bunch of Nazis.  Not for nothing, Diana, but we could really use your services now.  The world sucks and we need a (super)hero, and one that’s not just handy with the nail art. 😉