Tuesday, August 31, 2021

AuGHOST 2021!

Another August has come and gone, so that means it's time to share some ghost drawings!


Yes, for the FOURTH year in a row, I participated in the #AuGHOST drawing prompt!

But first links to the previous entries: 2020, 2019, 2018

#31 - Future

"IT'S LIKE I CAN TOUCH YOU!"

My approach for this drawing was "Wow Ghost is looking through VR goggles." I hope I got that message across. The goggles looked better in my head.


...Wait, that's it?! Yeah, sorry folks. This month had been pretty busy and stressful, so I didn't want to really commit to a daily drawing this year. And to be honest, I got intimidated by some of the prompts. I know I wasn't bound to do every prompt, but the completionist in me demands an all or nothing approach. How the hell was I supposed to draw a catapult, anyway?! 

In any case, maybe I'll go back to do the rest eventually? Drawing this one earlier today was pretty fun. I'm still rusty, but I bet I can improve once I realize I need to spend more than ten minutes on these things.

But I'll tell you about something else I did last week!

Pokemon cards have really exploded in popularity over the last year for some reason. Maybe because people were cooped up in their houses and decided to buy new stuff, and sell what they had because they were bored? Maybe new sets had some really cool looking (and valuable) cards in them and people went into a frenzy?

I'm pretty sure the spark came from one of the youtube douchebags that decided to auction off some unopened Base Set packs and it launched a frenzy that I think is starting to finally dwindle down. Seriously, packs and boxes that sat on shelves for months disappeared in the span of a week to the point where places like Target either watch those packs like a hawk, or stopped selling them altogether.

Between Pokemon, Yugioh, and all the sports cards are rising in popularity, this hobby hasn't seen this level of enthusiasm in years. Seriously, the last time Pokemon reached "we're putting limits on this crap" status was nearly twenty years ago when the cards first came out.

And naturally, I was one of those kids that got sucked into it. I was in middle school and just discovered the concept of disposable income. Nobody could really stop me from going to the card shop in town and just cleaning house...within reason. Back then, buying a few packs every so often wouldn't do it for me, so I started buying them by the box to scratch that itch.

Eventually, I wanna say mid 2001, I just...stopped being interested in cards. It was a combination of buyer's remorse and the gambling bug being much too strong for me to resist. The Neo line for the Johto games had started coming out, and I guessed I wondered why I kept bothering. I kept buying packs, and I knew the cards were never gonna stop being made. It was getting repetitive and draining my wallet, so I stopped keeping up with it.

Jump to last year when I got caught in that frenzy again. I didn't do much, just bought a few packs here and there, not really liking what I got out of the packs. The company that made the cards changed from Wizards of The Coast to the Pokemon Company itself several years ago and I had some catching up on all the new kinds of cards they made.

In the old days, you wanted holo cards, if you got lucky. The Japanese sets guaranteed one in every pack. Not so much the English versions. Now the holo cards are just "okay." What everyone wants are full art cards, VMAX cards, alt art cards, rainbow cards, gold cards. It goes on, and frankly I no longer have the patience for that.

But two sets caught my eye. One was Shining Fates. It wasn't a normal set that you could just go down to the store and get, no problem. No, this set (along with Champion's Path and Hidden Fates) could only be bought out of multipacks and things called Elite Trainer Boxes.


Or these boxes with giant promo cards. Oh, and since they get snatched up the moment they get onto shelves, you pretty much have to pay out the ass on eBay for these.

What's special about Shining Fates is that there's a crapload of shiny pokemon cards. Hidden Fates has them too, but I love the art in this set, and frankly it's newer and cheaper, so I naturally gravitated towards this set.

The other set that caught my eye is the newest one that got released, Evolving Skies. These days about two Japanese sets are used for every English set, and this one used a set for dragons, and another one called Eevee Heroes. That name, as you could guess, is all about Eevee and its evolutions. 

I found a few packs of those a month ago, and got some gorgeous looking cards. I love me some Eeveelutions, most notably Vaporeon and Sylveon, I had to get my hands on these as soon as I could. 

So on Saturday I stumbled on a collectable store that I had never been in before, and they had just about everything. Most of the Pokemon stuff was priced out the ass...but not this booster box. Maybe because it was brand new? Either way, much like twenty years ago I had money to burn and the set was full of cards I fell in love with. This was a VERY dangerous combination and it came home with me.

BOOM! Rainbow card! Only eight packs in, too. That's also the danger of gambling, there's a hit every once in a while to keep your interest going as long as possible. The odds of pulling one were roughly 1/108 packs, and this set has SIXTEEN of them.

And BOOM! The other big hit: Alt Art Umbreon. This really is a nice looking card. The odds of pulling an alt art card is roughly 1/101, and I got both of these in the same box.


And here are the other hits. They're still really impressive, and pretty to look at. Out of 36 packs, 17 of them gave me anything worth writing home about. I never wrote down the ratio of what it would've been back then, but the odds seemed the same, if my old collection was any indication. It means that pull odds aren't very good, and it's a good way for people to buy LOTS of packs, or buy them off someone else. I'd say they were meant to be traded, but who honestly trades these cards anymore?

Also worth noting is that every pack contains a reverse holo. Meaning, every part of the card is holo except for the art. That means ANY card can be holo, even the ones that normally are, like the Entei seen above. None of them are worth much, moneywise. I just think some of them look cool, like these two.

And isn't that the most important thing about collecting Pokemon cards?

The answer is no.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

I Beat Animal Crossing!

Well, there's no "real" way to beat Animal Crossing besides paying off your house, and I did that a year ago.

The way I usually consider beating those games is catching every fish (which I did back in December), and every bug.


Well, this past Tuesday I finally caught the final bug: The Scarab Beetle. It's one of the hardest bugs to spawn in the game, and it took me a solid year to try to catch it again. It only spawns on trees during July and August...and only after 11pm. I haven't been able to stay awake long enough to commit myself to try to find one for more than an hour at a time, and thankfully that attempt only took about twenty minutes.

Compare that to the other rare spawn, the Golden Stag. This one also only spawns during July and August, but only on coconut trees. I managed to catch that one a few weeks back, and THAT took about two hours.

As much as Blathers hated it, I was finally done!

And when you catch the last bug, you're sent a recipe for the Golden Net the next day.


And of course you get an achievement for crafting it, and it was the last golden tool I needed.

Thanks to boredom, this was the first Animal Crossing game I got all the golden tools for. The golden axe was way easier to get this time around, you just had to break 100 axes, and that took forever. The golden shovel required you to help Gulliver 30 times. And the pirate version didn't count towards that, and regular Gulliver shows up roughly every week, so this would take you at least half a year to complete. For the watering pail, you needed to get a five star island rating, and this was the first game where I had enough patience to actually try to achieve that. I needed to cut down a lot of trees. You needed to pop twenty balloons to get the golden slingshot, and the recipe showed up in a golden balloon. The golden fishing rod, as I said earlier, required you to catch every fish.


And what now? Just catch bugs in a cool looking net? Guess so.


Wednesday, June 30, 2021

June is Done!

Well, another June has come and gone, and frankly, even with the stress I've been under lately, this month's gone better than the last couple of Junes.

No one (I know) died, and nothing was broken nor did any real misfortune plague me. There's still a few hours left of the month, I shouldn't jinx myself.

But first, some big news!


Baja Blast is back! In bottle form! It's pretty much the only flavor of Mountain Dew I like, and since I refuse to go to Taco Bell after they discontinued the Cool Ranch Dorito Taco, I gotta wait until these bad babies hit store shelves. As of right now, I can only find them at gas stations, and only certain ones, and attempts to buy in bulk and ration them had failed. Seriously, I bought two because there was a buy two deal to drink one then, and save the other for another day, and guess what I did? Drink them both that same day. I couldn't help myself! I kept turning down Pepsi Blue because these two sodas aren't available in the same places.


Oh yeah, Pepsi Blue is back, too. I thought I mentioned it before on here, but turns out I hadn't.

I hadn't had the stuff in over fifteen years, but wouldn't you know it, it's still great! It tastes exactly the same: Blue. I said back in the day that it was like drinking a blue raspberry Airhead, and suffice it to say Pepsi had not changed it at all.

I've realized that I have a difference in preference for these two sodas. I have to be in a certain mood to crave Pepsi Blue; whereas if I'm not careful, Baja Blast has the potential to replace water in my diet. I used to date someone who let that happen to her, and I can say from the experience that Mountain Dew addiction is real and not pleasant to deal with.


I also finally tried Burger King's entry in the Fast Food Chicken Sandwich War. This is the Ch'King sandwich, and of course it's the spicy kind.

This lunch got me to start thinking. This whole spicy chicken craze didn't start with everyone trying to copy Chik-Fil-A to try to sap their customers away.

"It's just as good as Chik-Fil-A, only eating this one means you don't support a (openly) homophobic company!" I'd imagine the marketing people were thinking.

No, every single one of these chains are trying to ape the success of Popeye's,  They're trying to replicate the massive demand and sales the sandwich got, but no other place has come close to realizing why Popeye's got all the attention. The secret is that they struck gold with the taste of its spices and breading of its regular chicken, but in sandwich form. It's as simple as that. And also because they were the first ones out of the gate, with the rest of the industry playing catch up.

Burger King has come the closest to replicating that sandwich, right down to the style of the bun and the pickles. All in all, I liked it, but I could tell it was a cheap imitator of the Popeye's sandwich, and if you have a Popeye's nearby, I suggest you head there. Not to say that this was a bad sandwich at all! There was something a bit off. I could only briefly taste the spices, and the flavor of the breading and the bun reminded me too much of Popeye's.


And finally, Conan O'Brien bid farewell to late night tv for the third time. He might just be going to HBO Max, but this is truly an end to an era. I can truly say that my awful sleep schedule can be blamed on staying up to watch his show at 12:30 at night during High School. Oh, at first I'd just watch Letterman, but since I wasn't going to sleep anyway, I might as well check out that guy that danced with Bart Simpson.

What I found amongst the celebrity interviews and performances by bands no one's heard of (yet always had the biggest audience reaction) were absurd, odd sketches by equally odd characters. Conan wasn't afraid to be weird, and nearly thirty years on, he still finds ways to show that off. 

Case in point, my favorite remote of his during the TBS era was when he visited the American Girl Doll Store.

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It only took a few minutes before Conan's headcanon with his doll became that she lived in Nazi Germany and was a raging alcoholic. Only Conan. My early (and let's face it, current) attempts at comedy was trying to pull off even a tenth of what he does.


Thanks, Conan. Thonan.

Monday, May 31, 2021

BTS McNuggets

Lately McDonalds has done promotions for various celebrity "meals", gimmick orders by celebrities that I've barely heard of. 

First with J Balvin (whoever that is)

And then Travis Scott.

These looked okay, but nothing REALLY special. Like, there's no special bun or meat made from something I hope was meat at one time. One was a Big Mac meal (sans pickles) with a McFlurry, the other was a Quarter Pounder meal with a Sprite and BBQ sauce. Pass.

And then came BTS.

You know, that Korean boy band whose fanbase combats conservative trolls by brigading twitter with gifs of them?

Well, they just dropped a meal, too.

It's just a 10 piece McNugget meal...but it comes with two sauces I've never encountered before: Sweet Chili and Cajun.

I knew I'd check these out eventually, but a positive review from former Simpsons writer & showrunner Bill Oakley made me want to check it out pronto.

And here it is! Again, just a McNugget meal. But the sauces...THE SAUCES.

Sweet Chili was like a spicy sweet & sour: tangy, but also really sweet and spicy. Cajun, meanwhile, was a mustard-based sauce that was also spicy. Both of them were pretty fantastic. I'm surprised they gave me two of each, usually fast food places are stingy with all their sauces these days. I took the extras home with me, they're definitely not gonna go to waste.

They were definitely better than when I tried Szechuan sauce when it got released a few years back.


That one tasted like sweet and sour mixed with teriyaki. I know some people like that kind of flavor, but I didn't. 

These two sauces are way better. It's a definite recommend from me. Apparently it's only here until June 20th, but I'd grab it as soon as you can.

The first three pictures in this post are from this Insider article.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Vaxxed and Ready to Relax

Well, as of April 24th, I am fully vaxxed from Covid! Even got a second sticker to show for it!


I'm finally ready to re-enter society! But that poses a new question: is society currently worth re-entering? The jury's still out on that one.

As for relaxing? Well, I'm definitely not relaxing NOW, but I certainly deserve some rest after all this crap.

You see, gentle readers, I thought I tanked the second shot with only some lingering side effects. I was tired (but couldn't tell the difference between the shot or normal tired), a slight headache, and the arm that was sore for a couple of days.

That was all well and good up until three days later. I'm pretty sure the soreness disappeared from my arm and traveled to my head, triggering a bad case of vertigo. It seems that I somehow missed that joint aches were also a common side effect, and I definitely felt that one. Any part of my body that could've ached, did. That included my neck, as well as my head.

You ever have that "room spinning" feeling when you haven't had a drop to drink? It sucks, and it took me almost a week to fully get over it. I'm more or less back to normal now, although I think I've forgotten what feeling "normal" was.'

But that's officially in the past. Now we talk about the present, which will soon be the recent past.


This is the kind of thing I think about late at night and feeling down: I wonder what Arnold Stang's signature goes for these days? eBay would give the the answer: Not much, at least not this piece. It just arrived today!

If the name sounds familiar, he was an actor and comedian back in the day, and these days he's most likely best known as the voice of Top Cat. For a dead, obscure comedian I was surprised just how much something he signed goes for. Usually it's on something Top Cat, or Top Cat adjacent (one listing had a signed index card next to a picture of Top Cat). 

This was from some movie called "Let's Go Steady," and I couldn't tell you for the life of me what it was about. I'm assuming Mel Torme and his amazing suit were the stars of the show.

If you can look closely, The Velvet Fog himself is on here, too. He was even more famous (he composed the music to "The Christmas Song" for one thing, and co-wrote it, too), and on this pic it seems like an afterthought. Arnold Stang died in 2009, while Mel passed in 1999, so this was a shock to me, too that I just stumbled across this. This came to about forty bucks before shipping.

And then comes to the other thing I got today.

NEW Pokemon Snap! If I wasn't so beat from a long day (and a long week) of work, I would've cracked it open the moment I got home. Alas, it'll have to wait til tomorrow. I've waited over twenty years for a new game, what's another couple of hours? I keep hearing it's good.

It's taking pictures of Pokemon, there's variety from all eight generations, and it's in HD! What's not to like? I'll be preoccupied with that for the foreseeable future.

Until next time, readers.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Biden Bucks!

It's the end of March so my birthday has come and gone. 34 is a weird age and I don't like being reminded of that.

I'll tell you what I did get!

My first vaccine shot! I'm halfway to turning back to normal! After lots of frustration with New York's appointment system (I got serious flashbacks to when I waited in virtual queues to buy New York Comic Con badges), my parents managed to get through and got me an appointment back on the 20th. My parents and I tried my best, and one of us managed to get through. The vaccine appointment wasn't a lot of fuss. Just go to the site that looks like the government wants to take away my magic alien friend, show them your ID and the ticket you got for reserving the appointment, and you get a shot. I was in and out in 45 minutes. Since it was only the first shot, I had a small headache for a day and my right arm was sore for about three, but other than that I've been fine. They say the second shot is the one that sucks, but I'll know when I go back on April 10th.

Oh, I got my 1400 bucks from the government, and I did the stupid thing and put it in the bank. Most of it (plus my tax return) is most likely going to pay off my car insurance, just like last year. Boo.

Well, okay, I had to spend some money on SOMETHING, and I bought this:

An Elite Trainer Box from the new Shining Fates set.

I haven't seriously collected Pokemon cards in roughly 20 years, but I've been slowly getting back into it thanks to some friends, and the things suddenly exploding in popularity. Maybe it's because some of the recent sets had special Charizard cards that have been going for big money on eBay? Everyone likes Charizard for some reason. Been that way since Day One, and hasn't let up.

Maybe it's because everyone's been stuck in quarantine for a year and that affected production so there's been shortages, and the resell market's been booming from the desperation. It's also likely because one of those popular Youtube idiots decided to sell some old cards and everyone went ballistic over it.

Whatever reason it was, cards are back in style and I haven't seen them in more demand since their heyday back in the late 90s. As in "people rush stores at wee hours in the morning for the first chance at them, so stores have to implement hard limits on these things" popular. For people that actually work for a living or don't really care much about them anymore, we're at the mercy of the scraps and the inflated prices online.

Well, these boxes normally retail for about $40 or so. This one cost me...a little more than that. Under a hundred dollars, and that's all I'll say.

What's special about the Shining Fates line is that the set revolves around shiny Pokemon, and while sets tend to feature one or two of those at the most, this set has 120 of them. That's crazy, and that's on top of the 70 regular cards, plus the five promos that you only get from special gift boxes like the Elite Trainer Boxes or the gift boxes with four packs in them.

And have I mentioned that these special boxes are the only way to get them? This, much like the earlier Champion's Path set are more for the collectors and aren't really meant for playing in the game. It's more for the art and the gambler's high you get from opening packs. Add in all of that plus there's, you guessed it, a Charizard in this set, and you can see why these are tough to get your hands on.

Elite Trainer Boxes are special since they have TEN packs in them, and outside of outright buying booster boxes (if you could for this set), they're the best bang for the buck.

These were the good pulls out of then packs. The game has really changed since I stopped paying attention to it. Back in the day, you were lucky if a pack had a holo card in it. Now there's full art cards, rainbow full arts, V cards(?), VMax cards(??), secret black and gold cards. It's all weird, but the art has been fantastic. I didn't get the Charizard this time, but I liked what I got.

And here are the "lesser" pulls from the box. Just about every pack these days contains a "reverse holo," where the card is holo except for the picture on it. And just about every card in the set can be one, even run of the mill energy cards. They still look really cool, though, so I can't really complain.

I missed the thrill of opening packs so much. It's rather intoxicating, but I can safely say that my itch has finally been scratched after ages and ages. I MIGHT blow some money on this again...but I don't have the urge to. Not for a while.

Before I go, I was scrolling through old posts and realized I never followed through with a promise I made back in November.



The McRib came back! These were some of the first pics I took with the new cell phone, and doesn't it look much better?

Well, it's still the McRib, still the same sauce, still the same taste. It was good to have again, but I only had it about two or three times before I forgot about it and it went away again.

Well, I promise to come back in a month. Thanks for reading! 

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Lucky 13!

 It's February, and that means that the blog has gotten another year older!

Yes, the first blog post was written exactly 13 years ago yesterday! It's officially a teenager. Honestly, where has the time gone? I haven't done much with this place lately, sadly. Blogs seem to be a dying breed. But nevertheless, this one persisted, and shall persist.

But one, sadly, will not. Now would be a time to officially announce that my sister blog, In 10 Words, has been discontinued. I haven't updated it since New Year's Day, and frankly no one noticed. 

My reasoning for starting that blog it was the same reason I started this one: to keep my mind sane. Summing things up in exactly ten words was a fun mental exercise, and that turned into twelve years of insanity.  Maybe piggy back off the success of a more popular blog and get a book deal out of it? But obviously that didn't happen. 

Single topic blogs about pop culture gets rather taxing when you're not in tune with it as much as possible. I kept stressing myself up to keep a deadline for an audience in the single digits. I've been wanting to retire that blog for ages, and it finally came. I thought I'd put this whole fanfare about it. But my mental health has been so taxed I decided to just quietly stop updating it. Maybe I'll pick it up again in the future? Who knows. It's been a long, crazy ride, but it's finally over. For now. It's been a load off of my mental health, since I spent the better part of the last year running on fumes. I haven't been this relaxed in a while.

With that out of the way, it's now time for some 13 related imagery!





Thanks for reading! See you next month!


Sunday, January 31, 2021

Shiny!

Man, what a year it's been, huh? 

First, Covid is still around. Then, Trump people stormed the US Capitol and for some reason they all WEREN'T automatically arrested for it.

Saturday Morning Cartoons are back! 

MeTV even has a weekday morning block showing old cartoons that Cartoon Network refuses to touch. We're talking most of the Looney Tunes catalog, we're talking Droopy, black and white Popeye, the works. I knew January 6th was gonna be a weird one when I discovered that they let Pepe le Pew back on TV.

Ken Jennings hosts Jeopardy now, and he's also on a new version of The Chase with Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer (this primetime ABC version is kind of boring, TBH)

We lost some good people like Cecily Tyson, Hank Aaron, Sonny Fox, Cloris Leachman, Marc Wilmore, Allan Burns (co-created The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Munsters, My Mother The Car, and Cap'n Crunch!), and of course Larry King.

Bernie Sanders was everywhere

And now GameStop and AMC are the hottest stocks in the country.

I wonder what 2022 will have in store, and...Hold on, it's only JANUARY?!

Fuck.

Well...what else have I been up to this past month?

With YOU KNOW WHO finally out of the White House, I decided it was time to dive back into the world of Pokemon Sword.

It took five days to add about fifty more Pokemon, but I finally got around to completing the Galar Pokedex with all 400 mons to get the Shiny Charm! It makes shinies appear much easier in the game.

There's several methods of catching shiny Pokemon in this game, but the normal odds of finding a shiny in the wild are 1 in 4096, and that drops to 1 in roughly 1365. And if you try to breed a shiny through what's known as the Masuda Method (breeding pokemon from two different regions), that number goes from 1 in 682 to 1 in 512. So, still a long shot, but better.

And since I got that shiny charm roughly a week and a half ago, I've found five shinies.


My first attempt was Wooloo. I've been searching for this one on and off for more or less the entire time I've had the game. I get the shiny charm and BOOM, I find one within a day. I named it Tommy Boy.

BUT, alas dear readers, what you're reading was my FIRST attempt. Yes, through sheer panic and anxiety of finally finding my white whale (which was in this case a black sheep), I forgot to save the game when I caught it, and at least an entire hour's worth of progress went down the drain.

After some mild panic set in, I decided to go back to the hunt. I waited this long for one to show up, what's another few hours gonna go?

But we're in luck! A second one showed up after 29 battles, or about half an hour.

This one was female, so I named her Hydrox. Don't worry, I saved at least three times after I caught it.

Then came egg hatching a Buneary.

Why this one? Well, I already have a shiny Bunnelby and a Scorbunny, so I might as well get ALL of the shiny buns. And then I realized that Azumarill survived Dexit, too, so I'll be on the hunt for a shiny one of those later.


This one...was just dumb luck. I wasn't even looking for anything, I just decided to go battle a random Hitmonlee and BOOM, it was green!

It was only fitting that I named him Kickpuncher.

This Landorus came off Surprise Trade and quite frankly, I think it was hacked. Or at least made in a technically legal way, it looks like it came from one of those giveaway accounts.

And finally, I hatched one of my favorite shinies, this Carvahna, just a few hours ago. I call the big one Bitey.


Well, that'll do it for this month. Hope to see you all in February!