Board Game Bucket List

I used to believe that gaming meant only using a console, handheld or using a PC. This summer, when I stayed in Winona, I discovered a cute little gaming store called River Quest.

**Edit: 12/10/2017 I found out River Quest was closing!  Sad Day 😦 **

My roommate got a job working there, so I was in the store at least once a week or every other week. I got to know the owner, who is one of the coolest guys in the Winona area. I was opened up to a world of a different type of gaming.

I’m creating a Bucket List of Board Games that I haven’t played yet, but I intend to. I will sticky this to the front page of the Gaming Section and I plan to update it as I play new games. Also I hope to post a review on some of these board games especially the ones with the strike out through the name. In the meantime, enjoy my bucket list! Also feel free to comment with various board games that I can add on the list.

Here is my Board Game Bucket List:

  1. Exploding Kittens Card Game
  2. Munchkin *any version*
  3. Star Wars Destiny
  4. Ticket To Ride
  5. Monsters & Other Childish Things
  6. Red Dragon Inn
  7. Arkham Horror/Eldrich Horror
  8. Star Wars X-Wing
  9. Red Dragon Inn 4
  10. Pandemic
  11. Love Letter *card game*
  12. Smash Up
  13. Bang *card game*
  14. Red7
  15. Sentinels of the Multiverse
  16. Letters from White Chapel
  17. Here Kitty Kitty 
  18. Stone Age
  19. Agricola
  20. Betrayal at House on the Hill
  21. Seasons
  22. Takenoko
  23. Code Names
  24. Shadow Hunters 
  25. Dixit
  26. Doctor Who Time of the Daleks
  27. Fury of Dracula
  28. Dead of Winter
  29. Hogwarts Deck Building Game

Link to my Board Game Reviews:

Women of Bond – From Russia With Love

From Russia With Love was the first Bond film to feature a villainess. Rosa Klebb and her poisonous dagger hidden in her shoe became a totem to the Bond franchise. Tatiana Romanova was a beautiful cipher clerk who was a pawn in SPECTRE’s plans. Both women have specific roles in the progression of this movie. In my Dr. No post, I didn’t touch on women’s rights in 1962. This was due to the fact that there was only a year between Dr. No and From Russia With Love’s release dates. 1963 was a big year in the feminist movie which coincided with From Russia with Love’s release. For my From Russia with Love Women of Bond series, I will discuss the Bond women and major moments for women’s rights in 1963.

Rosa Klebb was played by Austrian-American actress Lotte Lenya. Lenya was a classically trained dancer and had experience performing in Opera. (1) Lenya later in her life won a Tony Award for her role in The Threepenny Opera. (1) Lenya won her Tony before she began filming From Russia With Love (FRWL) After the release of FRWL, she was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the movie, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone. (1) Lenya lived an incredible life with her natural talents as a dancer, singing in various opera performances, and as a badass female villain who almost took Bond out with a shoe.

Tatiana Romanova was played by Italian actress, Daniela Bianchi. Bianchi was a model winning the Miss Rome pageant in 1960. (2) Bianchi was in numerous Italian films before appearing in FRWL. (2) For her audition, she was too sick to leave her bed, so director Terence Young came to see her and have her perform her audition at her home. (2) After filming FRWL, Bianchi retired from acting to raise her son. Bianchi’s role in FRWL is timeless.

As far as the misogyny in Bond films, Romanova deserved better. Bond slaps Romanova because he thinks she’s hiding information from him only to be proven incorrect. He doesn’t apologize to her. It’s uncomfortable re-watching this scene. It shows how Bond treats women and establishes how he is seen as the dominant world spy who can get away with whatever he wants.

While FRWL had some icky moments for the female characters, 1963 was a big year for women’s rights. Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique which discussed women and their unhappiness being in the home. (3) This was unheard of at the time and it was assumed women liked being at home. Friedan’s book led to the creation of the National Organisation of Women. (3) All Friedan did was write about experiences women were having during this time including the research supporting her statements. I think about my grandma and the expectations she had versus what I have for myself today. I’m happy to be a woman during this time, and Friedan is one to thank for that.

If I can summarize the Connery era thus far, I find these Bond films are more difficult to watch. I’m trying to separate them from the period they were made, but I find Bond’s misogyny comes out more in these films. That’s why I find this portion of my Bond series crucial. The women have helped make the Bond films as memorable as they are although I find the men portraying Bond get most of the credit. If I thought FRWL was bad for women, Goldfinger will take the cake, I mean who names a female character Pussy? Ian Fleming thought it was fine.

Sources: (1) (2) (3)

Paola’s Pixels

I started using Etsy more now since the pandemic. I feel good about purchasing merchandise from small businesses and Etsy is the perfect place to look. Usually when I browse on Etsy, I’m not looking for anything specific. A couple weeks ago, I was looking for geeky lanyards to hang the rest of my convention badges. As I was browsing for lanyards, I stumbled upon Paola’s Pixels. Paola’s Pixels is a roleplaying themed online store with lanyards, mugs, clothing, and leggings. I found several lanyards that I adored along with a pair of leggings. I am extremely hesitant to order clothes through Etsy because I’m not sure how the fit will be. However, I was so in love with these leggings that I decided to wing it and order them. I’m so glad I did because I’m obsessed with these leggings.

I ordered four lanyards in total and purchased two of the yellow pattern. The lanyards are so soft! They seem well-made and not cheap-looking. The hook fit perfectly around my convention badges. I prefer the yellow design the most hence why I ordered two of them. I like how random the items are. There’s a cat, a feather, a sword, and flames. The pattern accompanies the randomness that occurs during a DnD campaign.

I saved the best for last which was the DnD themed leggings. I’m not an influencer, so when I say it took me one to two hours to take these photos, I’m not kidding. I wad drawn to the alchemist pattern because of the potions. It reminded me of one roleplaying session I was in where I was the only one in our group who bought healing potions. I was debating between sizes because I heard some of the leggings were sized a bit small. I like my leggings to fit tightly on my legs while leaving room in the waist. I don’t like clothing that fits tightly around the waist, it’s a personal thing for me. I decided to order a medium which is my usual size. If for some reason they didn’t fit, I could always return them.

My initial reaction when trying on these leggings was how soft they are! I will say that the leggings do fit a bit tight on my waist which as I mentioned, I’m not a fan of. I do find the more I wear these leggings, the more the waist loosens. The leggings aren’t see-through which is a huge factor as to whether I will wear them out in public or around the apartment. I can’t wait to wear these to my next convention!

I’m extremely pleased with my order from Paola’s Pixels. The shipping was fast, and accurate. I didn’t need to worry about my order being lost in the mail. For my next order, I want to try out the joggers as the joggers are a cross between leggings and sweatpants. Paola’s Pixels is critical for any roleplayers who want cute merch while rolling a D20.

Vampire the Masquerade Shadows of New York

Vampire the Masquerade. The screenshot was taken by me.

Last year, I invited a couple of friends down to my apartment to play Vampire the Masquerade. Vampire the Masquerade is a roleplaying game released by White Wolf where players create their vampires and roam around a dark city. Vampire the Masquerade is one of my favorite role playing games as I love the dark aesthetic of the game. I found on Steam a variety of different Vampire the Masquerade video games and decided to try it on a whim. Overall, it’s a gritty gaming experience, although I was left wanting more.

Vampire the Masquerade Shadows of New York tells the story of Julia who’s a reporter in NYC. The story she’s writing falls through and she’s swiftly fired from her job. On the subway home, she’s approached by a vampire where she’s “embraced” which is Vampire the Masquerade terminology for being turned into a vampire. As Julia gets comfortable with vampire society, she’s sent to investigate a murder of an older, more senior member of their clan. As she starts interviewing other vampires, she realizes the murder is only the beginning of a sinister plot set to unfold.

Downtown Time Square. Screenshot taken by me.

I loved the art in Shadows of New York, it was easily the highlight of playing this game. I felt each scene Julia was in had darker tones mixed with a dark purple which reminds me of the cover of the Vampire the Masquerade rulebook. The above screenshot is right when Julia was Embraced. She looks down at New York with sudden darkness she never had access to before. I also liked how each vampire had its style. Julia had a gothic look to her while Qadir, the sheriff of the region, was well dressed. Each vampire in the game had these beautiful golden eyes that felt unnatural to look at. Everything artistic about the game was aesthetically pleasing to look at.

Shadows of New York is described on Steam as a “visual novel” which is fitting to the game. There isn’t much interaction I had as the player, it was a lot of listening to the dialogue and choosing actions when prompted. There were times I felt slightly bored since there wasn’t a whole lot of opportunity for me to choose what Julia said at what times. The game prided itself on being able to sway the outcome of the story, however, there were only five “major” choices for Julia. I wish there was more. I don’t feel duped as this was a “visual novel” so it’s more viewing the story versus participating in the game, but I wish I was able to choose more outcomes in the game.

Besides the interaction piece, the game felt too short. According to Steam, I only played this game for five hours. There isn’t anything I need to replay since I finished the game twice and I have unlocked all the achievements. I do think it was worth it to replay this game twice to see both endings. Five hours for two full playthroughs of the game means each time I played a full game it was about two and a half hours apiece. The game itself is priced at $12.99 which I would say is fair for what I got. I wonder if DLC will get released for this because I would buy it in a heartbeat.

Vampire the Masquerade Shadows of New York was an enjoyable game, however, I wish there was more to the game. I want a game released similar to Shadows of New York, but make it more investigative. Let me as the player examine crime scenes and pick which mortal I can feed on. Let me customize my vampire, pick my faction, and change the appearance of my vampire. Once that game is released, I will be a happy, vampire camper.

Just Mercy (2019)

If I have extra time at work, I like to listen to TED talks. One TED talk I recently watched was lawyer Bryan Stevenson who talks about racial injustice within our legal system. Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative a nonprofit organization that provides legal assistance to those arrested illegally and those who are innocent of the crimes they have supposedly committed. The Equal Justice Initiative fights back against the use of capital punishment in certain states. Stevenson wrote a book about this injustice titled Just Mercy where a subsequent movie adaptation was made. I watched Just Mercy and it left me feeling broken and infuriated.

Just Mercy follows Stevenson (played by Michael B. Jordan) as he is beginning to establish the Equal Justice Initiative. While reviewing cases in Alabama, he’s introduced to Walter “Johnny D” McMillian (played by Jamie Foxx) who’s in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Walter has lost hope in his case due to several lawyers offering their assistance and then declining the case. After Stevenson meets with Johnny’s family does Johnny realizes Stevenson’s intentions are pure. Stevenson faces several roadblocks in the case such as being physically intimidated by the police, the blatant refusal by the judge of a retrial even though the evidence is shady, and the reluctant town who is convinced Johnny is guilty. Stevenson barrels through the obstacles and ultimately, Johnny is released from prison.

The whole cast of this movie shined in replicating Stevenson’s story. Michael B. Jordan has quickly become one of my favorite actors on screen. I wasn’t expecting to see Brie Larson in this. She plays Stevenson’s partner. I’m a fan of Brie Larson despite what her haters feel about her. Jamie Foxx of course does a great job. The best performance in this film comes from Rob Morgan who plays another death row inmate, Herbert Richardson. While Stevenson does everything in his power to rescue him, Richardson is executed. Morgan’s emotional performance as he awaits to be escorted to the electric chair was powerful. Where was Morgan’s Oscar Nomination??

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, this movie infuriated me. After watching the film, I read more about Johnny D’s story, Richardson’s story, and another inmate featured in the film. The movie is accurate based on these real events. Our justice system is broken and Stevenson is one of the passionate fighters who is fighting the just cause. Racism is responsible for putting Black men in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. As a reminder, this story took place in Alabama in the 80s. This only occurred 30 years ago. I’m against the death penalty and this movie reminded me of why I hold this stance.

Just Mercy was a heartwrenching story about how racism destroys lives. It’s a film that’s uncomfortable to watch, although that’s part of the importance of the film. I have added Stevenson’s book to my TBR on Goodreads to continue the education of racism and how it seeps into our justice system.

Becoming a Bodmer – Wedding Planning

I haven’t written a personal post in a while, so here it goes. Wedding planning has taken up the majority of my time. This week I was organizing my hair and makeup schedule for the bridal party along with booking our hotel block. I’m trying not to get stressed with having to remember everything I need to book. Throughout this experience, I’m discovering I don’t like planning events. I’m going wedding dress shopping next weekend and the actual dress shopping isn’t even the part I’m most looking forward to. I’m excited to gather my friends together and to have their honest opinion when I try on dresses. With this post, I wanted to share what I have learned from planning a wedding along with documenting this experience.

Planning a wedding is a lot of work, so I find it’s crucial to be organized. My fiance works in finance, so he created an excel sheet with all of our vendors and what we owe. Additionally, we have been logging any down payments or payments made throughout the year. I have also been using my planner to log any checklist items I need to complete for that particular week. This helped me gather almost all of the addresses I needed for save the dates. It helps make wedding planning more feasible versus forgetting what I’m supposed to be doing this week.

The fun part about wedding planning is having an opinion on how the wedding should be. I’m all for the Fall theme. We are planning to have white pumpkins on various shelves at the winery which will feature pictures of loved ones who have passed. Our floral arrangement will be a mix of dark red, orange, and mustard yellow. I still haven’t picked out centerpieces for the tables, so that’s a work in progress. After a conversation with our DJ, he mentioned how at one wedding he was at, he played the song that plays in the Great Hall in the Harry Potter movies. I turned to my fiance who looked less than enthused about playing that at our reception.

While the wedding will be a fun day, I’m more excited to say I’m married to my partner. He is such a lovely human who is respectful to anyone he meets. He has always lifted me when I’m down and I love his knowledge about cars. He will fix things on my car and take my car to get the check engine light looked at. He is someone who I want to grow with as we go through the various phases in our life. After our wedding in October, we will be looking to buy a house. There are a couple of trips I want to go on before I’m fully ready to have kids, but that’s something we both want eventually.

I realize this post was less of a “wedding planning” and more of a personal tone with the relationship I have with my fiance. I do plan on documenting some aspects of our wedding planning as that’s been taking up a lot of my time. Time has been flying by and before I know it, it will be the time to walk down the aisle in the vineyard.

Code Breaking in From Russia With Love – Science Behind Bond

This is my second “Science Behind Bond” post. While I’m trying to post once a week for my James Bond blog series, I find these posts require more research. I enjoy researching and learning new things, but it’s also extremely time-consuming. I wrote this post on Superbowl Sunday, so while everyone is watching Football, here I am writing about code breaking foreign intelligence. In this “Science Behind Bond” post, I’m going to discuss code breaking and the Lektor in From Russia With Love.

The fight scene between Bond (played by Sean Connery) and Red Grant (played by Robert Shaw).

In From Russia With Love, Bond is sent to steal a Lektor cryptography device from the Soviet Union in Istanbul. In the From Russia With Love book by Ian Fleming, Fleming based this device similar to an Enigma machine used in WWII (1). The Enigma machine would encode messages with delicate information such as military plans or other forms of foreign intelligence (2). As the user would type a message, the rotor on the machine would take the message and put it into other letters or numbers, therefore encoding the message (2). For the message to be viewed, the receiving machine would also need an enigma to be able to translate the message (2). The device itself looks like a standard typewriter. The Germans used this in WWII where the Allies would have to break the code. There’s a cool video in the Smithsonian article listed in my sources that I’d recommend watching to discover how the Allies broke the German code.

In the above picture, this is how From Russia With Love portrays the Lektor. This looks like a fancy movie prop than anything else. Based on the information provided, I’m not sure how valuable this would be to the British government. In the previous paragraph, I stated how in order to receive communications and translate them, an enigma would be needed. If the British government was able to deconstruct the machine and figure out what messages were sent, maybe this would have worked. Otherwise, without the corresponding enigma, I’m not sure how quickly the code could have been broken.

From Russia With Love has a bit more accuracy and historical inspiration than Dr. No. Fleming fought in WWII under Britain’s Naval Intelligence Division, so a lot of the inspiration from From Russia With Love comes from previous experience (3). For my next Bond series post, I will write about the Bond women in From Russia With Love.

Sources: (1). (2)

Source #3 Ian Fleming’s website. ^

It – Which Loser Am I?

Towards the end of last month, I FINALLY finished reading It by Stephen King. I started reading It back in October to get in the mood for Halloween. I ended up putting It aside to read a couple of other books on my TBR. When 2021 arrived, I set a personal mission to finish It. I felt if I couldn’t finish It by the end of last month, I would give up. I was debating whether or not I wanted to write a review of the book. Instead, I decided to take Buzzfeed’s quiz to see which of the “Losers” I am. I thought this would be more fun than trying to write a review for a book that’s almost 1,200 pages.

Image from Pixabay images.

Buzzfeed’s Which Member of the Losers’ Club from It.

Choose a Dog Breed

I picked a Corgi because they are derpy. However, if I were to ever adopt a dog, I would want to rescue a mutt.

Pick an Iconic Song from the ’80s

I Wanna Dance With Somebody was the song I picked. I’m partial to this song because I used it to teach an ’80s themed workout class at the YMCA for my internship in college.

What’s Something You’re Not Afraid Of.

Blood. I have never felt faint at the sight of blood. It simply doesn’t faze me.

How Do You Love to Spend Your Holidays?

I was debating between reading or playing video games as both of those options are what I like to do with my extended free time. I chose reading because I have been doing a lot more reading than gaming lately.

Pick a Classic ’80s film

All of the movie choices provided weren’t movies I’m drawn to. I decided to pick The Shining.

Pick a School Subject

Science! I found whenever I had electives in high school, I ended up picking science courses.

Choose a Clothing Item

Sweaters. I live in Minnesota. As I’m typing this blog post, the wind chill is negative 20 outside.

Which of Its Forms Would You Rather Face?

Alvin Marsh was the option I chose. I chose Alvin because he was a character I hated. I would be more likely to win in a battle over someone I hate versus one of my greatest fears.

What Would You Take to The Ritual of Chud?

I picked Something Reminding Me of Family. It is such a dark, desolate creature. For me to feel empowered to defeat It, I would have to bring something full of love. I chose something from my family because my family is important to me.

Choose an Item from The Films

Mike’s Stun Gun. Having a weapon on me would give me a solid footing in being able to defeat It.

Where in Derry Would You Like to Visit?

I picked the Derry Town Library. Libraries are beautiful places. They are quiet and I would be able to settle with a book and not be disturbed.

After taking the Buzzfeed quiz, I got Stanley Uris! Noooooooooooo Stanley doesn’t even survive till the end. The reason I got Stanley was that I like quiet places and I’m constantly rolling my eyes at my friends. If I had to pick a favorite “Loser” I think it would be Mike Hanlon. Mike is someone who likes the quieter things in life. He works at the Derry library, he chronicles Derry’s history and he’s the one who got the Losers together when It returned. He also stands up to Henry Bowers on multiple occasions. He rose above adversity where I feel some of the other Losers weren’t able to do so.

I’m glad I read It. I ended up rating It three stars on Goodreads. I like how in-depth the book went into Derry and how the Losers bonded with each other. There were certain scenes I’m glad the movies left out because either they made no sense or they were unnecessarily sexual or violent. The book at times was confusing to follow and I’m still unsure as to what the Ritual of Chud is. For February, I’m going to be reading romance books which will be a nice change in genre for me.

Rocketman (2019)

My mom was a teenager when Elton John released Rocketman. I told my mom I watched the Rocketman biopic and she reminisced about Elton John and how his music had shaped her younger years. When I spoke to my mom about Elton John, she brought up his charity work for HIV / AIDS and how he was a personal friend to Princess Diana. This biopic focuses less on his charity work and more on his life story. I thought this was a fun, musical film. The soundtrack is pretty good too as I find myself listening to it while I work.

The film opens up with Elton (played by Taron Egerton) in addiction therapy wearing an orange horned costume. The film discusses Elton’s (birth name Reginald Dwight) home life with his absent father, stern mother, and lovely grandmother. Elton is a brilliant piano player, leading him to study at the Royal Academy of Music. Eventually, Elton is partnered with Bernie Taupin (played by Jamie Bell) who writes the music Elton plays. Elton like many musicians is thrown into the rock and roll scene by his manager John Reid (played by Richard Madden). Elton struggles with his sexuality, weight, and his home life which leads to him going to rehab.

I thought Taron Egerton did a fabulous job portraying Elton. Taron did do all of his own singing which was something Elton wanted for the actor who played him in the movie. Richard Madden is one of my favorite actors and he was ruthless in this movie. If you haven’t watched Bodyguard on Netflix, you absolutely need to. Bernie and Elton’s friendship is so special and it felt like Jamie and Taron had legitimate chemistry together.

This biopic does feel a bit more like a musical than other biopics I have watched. I found myself comparing this to Bohemian Rhapsody while watching the film. In Bohemian Rhapsody it was less of a musical, more of a serious film with the music playing in the background. In Rocketman, there are choreographed musical routines especially towards the beginning of the film. I’m a bit picky with musicals, they are usually not my favorite genre to watch. However, I think Rocketman feels like an Elton John movie and it captures Elton’s flamboyant persona.

Towards the end of the film, words appear on screen detailing Elton’s life post-rehab. He has been sober for 28 years! He’s been sober longer than I have been alive. There is a brief description of Elton’s charity work with AIDS. The Elton John AIDS Foundation was established in 1992 with the end goal of ending the HIV epidemic. I remember watching an Oprah Winfrey interview with Elton as he talks about why he needed to change and why he’s passionate about HIV. He mentions the death of Ryan White, who was a teenager who died of the disease. Elton used his fame and fortune to help others and I think that’s something I wish Rocketman would have touched on more.

Rocketman was a fun film with a decent soundrack. Rocketman can be streamed on Hulu.

King In Black & Jinny Hex – Comic Single Issues

Every week, I visit Hot Comics to collect my pulls. Before I pay for my comics, I tend to wander the comic shelves and pick up random issues to see if I would like the series. I picked up quite a bit throughout these weekly comic trips. While I still have a lot to read, I did get through a couple of issues and I’m loving what I picked up. Instead of doing a full review of every single issue, I’m going to describe the issue in one word. Additionally, I will share what I rated every single issue. I have been using Goodreads to track the single-issue comics I have been reading.

Black Cat #1 MacKay, Villa, and Reber

One Word: Sassy

This comic perfectly portrays Black Cat as she joins the King In Black Marvel crossover series. I loved this issue and I have added this to my pull list for however long King In Black lasts. I rated this issue five stars.

Gwenom vs. Carnage #1 McGuire, Flaviano, and Renzi

One Word: Unexpected

Gwen Stacy is swinging home from Empire State University when she’s attacked by Knull’s symbiote creatures. She ends up battling Carnage who is not who you would think it would be. I rated this issue four stars.

Jinny Hex Special Visaggio, Melnikov, Guerrero

One Word: Dauntless *I tried to use a new word here!*

Jinny Hex is related to Jonah Hex. She is a mechanic at a local autobody shop when her father stops by. Her father steals a supernatural item from her mother and Jinny won’t let that stand. Jinny and her friend, Lady Bird go on an adventure to stop her ruthless father. This is a one-shot which is so unfortunate because I loved this issue. I rated this issue five stars.

Let me know what comics you’re reading in the comments below. I want to grow my pull list!

Reaching Out to Old Friends

Last week, I reached out to a friend of mine. She lives in Minneapolis and we have been friends since 3rd grade. I reached out to her regarding wedding information, however, we ended up talking for much longer. The next week she called me again and I found we were talking for almost an hour. Whether our conversation was about wedding stuff, anime, or playing the Sims, it was refreshing to hear what was going on in her life. It’s sad because my thought that went through my head originally was “she’s probably busy, and she won’t answer”. My assumption was incorrect. This post is a reminder to me and others during this time to check in on your friends during the pandemic.

I was watching the news with my fiance this week and I saw a news story that made me sad. Mental illness is skyrocketing in the pandemic. This is unsurprising, to say the least. It’s a stressful time of trying to stay quarantined, not seeing older family members and avoiding events or big groups of people. I find myself longing to attend conventions again. I miss being around like-minded people and cosplay! I haven’t planned any cosplays in a while because I have no place to go to wear them. I’m an introvert to a certain degree and even I find myself feeling lonely or missing old aspects of my life.

Me and my friend are set to hang out sometime today and I can’t wait. I’m hoping we will play Sims, watch anime, and play with her new puppy. This is my reminder to you to reach out to anyone you haven’t seen in a while. Send them a text, Facebook message, call, or DM them on Twitter. It doesn’t matter if it’s been 6+ months since you last reached out. It feels good to receive a message from someone I haven’t spoken to in a while. If you’re struggling during this time, feel free to DM me on Twitter @bizzarebrunette My DM’s are open.