True Crime Podcast Exposing a Crime – Fogline

I browse Kickstarter every now and then, usually in the graphic novel or comics section. I like how Kickstarter and other platforms have helped fund projects that may not have existed otherwise. In one scroll, I noticed the campaign for Fogline. Fogline immediately piqued my interest. The premise of a True Crime podcast exposing a crime that a man committed 40 years ago and seemingly got away with was enough for me to officially back the campaign. Fogline was everything I hoped for and reminded me to check Kickstarter more often.

Before I talk about the graphic novel, I wanted to comment on the way it was shipped. Fogline was packaged in this white envelope. The packaging made it seem that the book was “evidence” that was collected at a crime scene. How neat is this?? I was surprised by the attention to detail. I’m for sure planning on keeping the package as a way to store Fogline versus simply throwing it away.

Fogline focuses on Henry, a retired trucker living with his daughter and grandson. Henry wakes up from nightmares on a consistent basis. His dreams are always the same; he is on a shift and accidentally hits and kills a woman. Henry instead of calling the police drags her body into a cornfield and buries her. As Henry plays with his grandson, he discovers his grandson is listening to a True Crime podcast that’s investigating her disappearance. Apparently, she was the daughter of a mob boss, so her death lead to additional violence during the time period. Henry is horrified and realizes that maybe he should confess after all.

I love this whole concept. It feels so on point with the world today. Henry is experiencing major guilt, however, I was anxiously awaiting how he would be caught. The art is told entirely in black & white which I felt fit the style of the graphic novel. The only critique I would have is Fogline was much shorter than I anticipated. I wanted more story! I wanted to see more of Henry and this True Crime podcast. I felt the story was skimmed over. It could be due to the fact that there will be a second volume and they’re preparing the campaign now which I will happily back.

Fogline by Mario Candelaria had an interesting premise and I’m happy to have helped bring the project to life. I did a quick search and I don’t see that Fogline is available to those outside of the Kickstarter. I checked Mario’s website and I don’t see Fogline mentioned. It’s an important reminder to check Kickstarter because there are a lot of creative people out there making content that’s so worth investing in.

Top Gun Maverick

My mom is a big fan of the original Top Gun. She saw Top Gun Maverick as soon as it opened in theaters. I wasn’t paying too much attention to the making of the film, however, I was taking notice of how well-received the movie was. My mom was telling me she was going to see Top Gun Maverick for a second time by herself and I offered to tag along. I was pleasantly surprised because honestly, Top Gun Maverick might be my favorite movie I have seen this year.

Top Gun Maverick takes place thirty-six years after the original film. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (played by Tom Cruise) is a test pilot. He’s made aware that the flight program he’s a part of is being decommissioned. Instead of accepting this decision, he flies a prototype to prove that the program is worth saving. Maverick destroys the plane angering the high-ranking officers. As a result, Maverick is sent to train other TOPGUN flyers. This forces Maverick to confront his past as one of the students is Goose’s son, Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (played by Miles Teller). For those who didn’t see the original Top Gun film, Goose was killed accidentally and Maverick holds a lot of guilt for his death. Maverick has to prove to the students that he can train them for their upcoming mission.

The story at times was intense! In the last hour when the mission is in progress, I was stressed. It’s clear that there was a lot at stake and the pilots had to prove to themselves that they were a team that could work together. Besides the intensity, I thought the story was fleshed out. As someone who hasn’t watched Top Gun in years, I felt I could easily follow this film. It can be difficult to watch a film where you feel left out, but Top Gun Maverick wasn’t like that.

The acting in Top Gun Maverick was top-notch. While it’s easy to focus on Tom Cruise specifically, I think Miles Teller steals the show. He clearly resembles Goose. In the scenes leading to Rooster climbing into his plane, you can see the anxiety he has. He feels like he isn’t ready and it’s read across his face. The whole cast does a great job. Glen Powell is another standout. He plays “Hangman” who is a bit of a jerk. He plays a big role later in the film. The whole cast rocked and each actor fit the role they were playing.

Top Gun Maverick is an absolutely perfect summer movie. It’s action-packed, there’s a fun soundtrack with 80s throwbacks, and it kept me entertained throughout the whole movie. Top Gun Maverick is easily one of the best sequels I have ever watched.

I Am Not Starfire by Mariko Tamaki and Yoshi Yoshitani

I Am Not Starfire has an average rating of 3.4 stars on Goodreads. As I read reviews, I was appalled at some of the comments. There were reviews from people who haven’t even read the novel and were already saying it was awful. There were comments about the author and illustrator not being talented and why DC Comics would ask them to create this. It’s upsetting that this novel received so much negative attention before it was released. I am happy to say I Am Not Starfire has a lot of heart and I’m glad I read it.

Mandy is the daughter of Starfire, a famous member of the Teen Titans. Starfire is attractive, thin, and popular amongst many. Mandy is the opposite and finds that she doesn’t want to constantly live under her mother’s shadow. As Mandy is balancing a crush at school, she’s confronted by someone from Starfire’s past. Mandy sees her mom from a new lens and decides to protect everything and everyone she holds dear.

As a reminder, this is a YA (Young Adult) graphic novel. I found a lot of the negative reviews didn’t mention this. Many of the negative reviews criticized Mandy. Mandy in many ways is a typical teenager. Teenagers can be selfish, rude, and over the top at times. Everything is a big deal at that age. One of my favorite moments is when Mandy was contemplating other options besides going to college. I thought this was insightful especially because college is emphasized after high school.

Besides Mandy, I liked the side characters. Lincoln serves as Mandy’s best friend. He relates to Mandy personally in many ways. Besides Lincoln, there’s Claire, Mandy’s school crush. They have a falling out towards the middle of the novel which I felt was realistic with what Mandy’s insecurities are.

I Am Not Starfire is undeserving of all the hate it received. I thought this was a lovely read. I rated I Am Not Starfire five stars on Goodreads.

Raccoon PI – Backbone

I have been playing a lot of animal-themed games lately. Earlier this year, I played Donut Country and now I have finished Backbone. Playing as a Raccoon is entertaining, to say the least. Backbone is a neo-noir game focused on a Raccoon PI uncovering corruption at every turn.

Backbone begins with Private Investigator Howard Lotor as he’s preparing to see his first client. He’s greeted by Odette, a well-dressed mouse who’s missing her husband. The case seems pretty standard to Howard. Through Howard’s investigation, he discovered Odette’s husband died under suspicious circumstances. Howard flees in terror and realizes this case may be much more dangerous than he previously thought.

One of the first things I noticed about Backbone was the music. I don’t normally pay attention to music in video games, but the music in Backbone was unsettling. For a game starring animals, I found myself on edge as Howard slinks through the town. There’s a part of the game where Howard is captured and the music becomes more intense where I found myself sitting on edge throughout that moment. The music helped capture the neo-noir experience Backbone was going for.

Besides the music, I liked the options throughout the game. For example, Howard is tasked with breaking into a nightclub. He can either go through the backdoor or go onto the roof. I liked being able to pick and choose how I wanted to proceed through the game. I chose the roof and that seemed to work out splendidly. Additionally, there are different dialogue options with different characters. Depending on the dialogue options chosen, this can lead to secret achievements being earned. I liked that about Backbone because it leaves some replay value to the game.

Backbone was a fun surprise as I wasn’t expecting to like the game as much as I did. Backbone can be downloaded on Xbox Game Pass or purchased through Steam.

High School Graduation – 10 Years Later

2012 was a pivotal year in my life. The Avengers was released which inspired me to start reading comics, the world was supposed to end thanks to the end of a Maya calendar, and I graduated from high school. High school is a period of time that I would never want to relive. It doesn’t mean that it was terrible per se, but it’s a time that I’m glad is over and done with. I wanted to take some time to reflect on how far I have come and where I’m at now.

In high school, I was a nobody. To be fair, my high school was huge! I think my graduating class was at least 900? There were so many people whom I had never met until I heard their names read at graduation. I didn’t stand out much in high school. I was in band through my senior year and it was one of my fondest memories. I tried marching band, but it wasn’t for me. I still have my alto sax at my mom’s house and I’m not ready to part with it yet. I went to prom with my friends and we took so many pictures. There were fun moments in high school that aren’t on the top of my mind.

When I think back to high school, I think about how shy I was. I hung out with my friends, but I absolutely hated being forced to talk to someone I didn’t know. High school was a period of time when I was insecure about who I was as a person. I think that’s completely normal for this time of anyone’s life. When I graduated, I couldn’t have been more thrilled at moving forward with my life.

As far as who I am now, I’m someone who is way more outgoing than I ever thought I would be. I would consider myself bubbly and social at work. I like talking to new people I have never met. I still need my alone time as I do find that I need to recharge in between any social interaction. Writing Bizarre Brunette has allowed me a creative outlet to discuss my geeky interests. I write because I genuinely enjoy it and I want to share my interests with others. I have come a long way from where I used to be.

Thankfully, I haven’t heard that my high school is doing a ten-year reunion. If you couldn’t tell, I have no interest in going to a reunion. I have all the close friends I would need and I don’t need to revisit a time of my life that has passed.

Percy & Vex’ahlia – My Favorite OTP

Video from Critical Role’s Youtube Channel

I’m still making my way through Vox Machina, Critical Role’s first campaign. I’m on episode #74 right now which means I have 40 episodes left to watch. It’s been going by fast despite the fact that it’s taken me a year and a half to get to this point. In one of the latest episodes I watched, Percy (played by Taliesin Jaffe) disclosed his feelings to Vex’ahlia (played by Laura Bailey) by giving her a kiss. I was so excited! This was a ship that was drawn out, so it was so satisfying to see their characters get together.

One of the beautiful things about Critical Role is the way that the characters go through growth. Percy’s backstory is rather tragic as most of his family was killed by The Briarwoods. Percy’s whole focus is vengeance and forcing those responsible to pay for their actions. In certain instances, Percy is blinded by this and the only one who can bring him out is Vex’ahlia. Vex’ahlia is a perfect foil to Percy as she helps him realize he isn’t alone in this world.

While the kiss was a huge deal, Percy and Vex’ahlia have other sweet moments that led to this moment. Vex’ahlia struggles with fitting in as she was treated as less than since she’s a half-elf. Percy does come from nobility and he tells Vex’ahlia “I’ve known a lot of people with money, and they are definitely not worth you.” My heart was so happy.

I have no regrets about starting Critical Role from the very beginning. While it’s a lot of content to get through, the characters make it worth it. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Percy and Vex’s relationship as I continue through the episodes.

Missoula – Rape and the Justice System in a College Town – Review

Content Warning: Sexual Assault (SA) I will not discuss graphic details.

Anyone of any sex or gender can be a victim of SA or a perpetrator. This book focuses specifically on cis, college women.

For one month out of the year, I do my best to read solely non-fiction. I never used to be a non-fiction reader, however, I like to learn new things and the best way to do that is through reading. For the month of June, I’m going to read only non-fiction. I have two more books lined up for the month, so I’m curious to see if I read them both. The first non-fiction book I read this month was Missoula Rape And The Justice System In A College Town.

Missoula is seemingly an ordinary college town. The University of Montana is the home base for the Grizzly football team which unites college kids and the town as a whole. Missoula became the home base for a scandal when articles were published alleging that Missoula wasn’t thoroughly investigating sexual assaults. Numerous women were coming forward saying they reported their sexual assault but were told there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute. Women who came forward were asked if they had a boyfriend or other deeply personal questions completely unrelated to their trauma. Jon Krakauer details the victims, their stories, and how Missoula came under investigation.

There are so many horrifying pieces in this story. In one instance, there’s a phrase that I have heard before where a rapist isn’t charged because “a victim declined to press charges” This statement in many ways is false. A SA victim can report this to the police, but if the criminal justice system doesn’t want to indict someone, they have the power to not move the case forward. It’s interesting because I have heard this statement before and it’s so misleading to what actually is going on.

One way I was impressed with Missoula was the way Krakauer brought up the fear of false SA charges. There was a case specifically referenced where a man was sent to prison and the victim came forward saying she made up that she was assaulted. This part of the book was delicate because it stated how awful false charges are and bridged that with how every case should be investigated with tenacity and diligence. I thought this was done in a respectful and tactful way.

The book itself kept me engaged throughout. There was a guide in the back where it listed all the individuals mentioned in the story. I found it easy to reference and follow along with all the key players in the book. I think the book was the perfect length where it wasn’t too long or too short. This was easily one of my all-time favorite non-fiction books I have ever read even though it was disturbing.

Missoula Rape And The Justice System In A College Town is a book I would recommend everyone to read. The survivors are the true heroes and without them, there wouldn’t have been any change.

Controllers & Coffee Gaming Update #5

It’s been a bit since I posted a Controllers & Coffee gaming update! This is one of my favorite posts to write because it keeps me accountable and on track with my gaming goals. I wanted to share what I have been playing and what’s next on my gaming backlog.

Consoles

I was planning on 100% completing LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga until my game glitched. It’s unfortunate because I still think this is a fun and well-made game. Since my game glitched, I’m going to move on to play Jedi Fallen Order. I originally played Jedi Fallen Order back in 2020 during quarantine, but I never finished it. I’m debating going back to my original save file or if I should start over and get the full experience. I’m leaning towards the latter. I can always change my mind and go back to my other unfinished save.

After Jedi Fallen Order, I could pick up Far Cry 5 again. I’m notorious for starting games and not completing them.

I’m also planning on going through Xbox Game Pass and seeing if there are any games on there I want to play. I like having options depending on what type of mood I’m in.

PC

I haven’t played any PC games for a while now. Coffee Talk is a great game, it’s just not enticing me to keep playing. I do want to look at either playing through another Nancy Drew game in my Steam library or potentially starting a new game.

Board Games

The only game I played recently was Doctor Who Fluxx which was a quick and easy-to-learn card game. I’m hoping to do a board game day soon with family and have more updates on this end.

Roleplaying

I’m still playing Curse of Strahd every other Thursday at Bad Wolf Adventure Studios. I’m loving it! It’s been nice being able to play DnD on a regular basis. Once Curse of Strahd is over, I definitely want to hop into another campaign at Bad Wolf.

I haven’t been able to play Adventurer’s League in a while, so Zehiri (my Tiefling Paladin) has been left in the dust. I am planning on signing up for a session soon as I miss it.

I have also been getting back to watching Critical Role Campaign #1 Vox Machina. I took a bit of a hiatus when I prioritized Star Wars content last month. I’m on episode #70 right now which was right after the resurrection of one of the characters who died in battle.

Miscellaneous

As far as gaming news, a new trailer for Stray – the game where you can play as a stray cat was released. I’m a big cat person, so I think this concept is cute. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, the sequel to Jedi Fallen Order, had a trailer drop during Star Wars Celebration. I want to finish Jedi Fallen Order so I can be prepared when the game releases in 2023.

I’m looking forward to playing Jedi Fallen Order, getting inspiration in PC gaming, and finding something new to play on Xbox Game Pass. Let me know what you’re playing through in the comments down below.

The Direction of Scarlet Witch – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Major Spoilers of Doctor Strange – Be Advised

I finally made time to see Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. This film had elements of horror in it which I loved. It felt like a different film than other Marvel films which I thought made the film stand out. Instead of writing a typical movie review, I wanted to focus on Scarlet Witch and the direction the film took the character. There’s no way to do this without revealing spoilers, so please be advised.

The last time we saw Scarlet Witch / Wanda Maximoff (played by Elizabeth Olson) was in WandaVision. She seemed to accept her role in Westview and how she let everyone go. It seemed she was going to confront her grief. I wanted this for her! Wanda has been through so much and deserves happiness. There was an after-credit sequence that showed Wanda discovering a magic book hinting that something more sinister was going to happen. Despite the after-credit sequence, I wanted to see her become a real ally.

With the first few scenes of Doctor Strange, I was quickly made aware that I was wrong. Scarlet Witch was using the Darkhold to send monsters after America Chavez (played by Xochitl Gomez) to steal her power and live with her children in another universe. Wanda has absolutely no problem with killing America to gather her power because Wanda feels that she has earned the right to be with her children.

As a side note, Elizabeth Olson’s acting was superb! She conveyed real emotion and while I rooted for her in WandaVision, I wanted to see her be defeated in Doctor Strange. Elizabeth Olson is talented.

I’m sad that the film took Wanda in this direction. As mentioned above, I wanted to see her evolve and grow as a character. Instead, it seemed that she completely retreated from the growth seen in WandaVision. I was surprised that none of the other characters thought to ask Wanda, “what would Vision think of you doing this?” While Wanda is motivated by seeing her children, there is no way Vision would support any of what Wanda was doing. I’m surprised that Stephen or Wong never brought this up. It may not have stopped Wanda’s actions, but I hoped it would at least force Wanda to confront her grief. It seemed that Doctor Strange left WandaVision in the dust which is so sad! WandaVision is easily one of my favorite Marvel series on Disney+

While I may not have agreed with Doctor Strange and Wanda’s direction, I didn’t let this impede on how I enjoyed the film. The horror elements along with the guest appearances were enough to create a fun experience seeing this film in theaters. The next Marvel film to be released is Thor Love and Thunder in July and I’m excited to see how Natalie Portman is re-introduced into the Marvel cinematic universe.

May the 4th Be With You – 2022 Plan Recap

Summer is in full swing and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I love the sun, the smell of sunscreen, and not needing a jacket every time I go outside. With the end of May, it comes my annual “May the 4th Be With You” recap. This month didn’t go exactly as I had planned, but I still think it was a great month regardless

Books and Comics

Unfortunately, I never received the rest of my Barnes & Noble order. I ended up missing Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray, Leia, Princess of Alderaan, and Star Wars: Darth Vader Volume #1. The only book that arrived was Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse. It’s unfortunate because I wanted to have a big reading month and it didn’t work out.

Resistance Reborn takes place between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. The book centers around recruiting former allies to fight for the Resistance and an action-packed mission. Poe, leader of the Black Squadron, is tasked with retrieving a Resistance prisoner list and breaking a prisoner out of a secure First Order facility.

Resistance Reborn was an enjoyable read. I will say there was a lot of story build-up. For some, this might be boring to read, but I like all the information and context. The last 100 pages are where the action intensified. I rated Resistance Reborn 3 1/2 stars on Goodreads.

Regarding comics, I only finished Star Wars: Princess Leia Vol #1. I do have the complete run of Star Wars: Poe Dameron to read, but I didn’t finish it in May like I thought I would. I’m looking forward to the coming months because I have fewer weekends booked solid like I did in May. I’m hoping for some free Saturday mornings to read comics.

Movies & TV

I’m sad to say that I didn’t finish The Clone Wars. I did watch The Clone Wars on my drive to and from Milwaukee, so that helped. I’m now on season #3. I’m determined to finally finish the show by the end of the year. I didn’t get to re-watch The Mandalorian or re-watch The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, or The Rise of Skywalker. I still feel accomplished for the month and I’m invested in watching more Star Wars content by the end of the year.

Gaming

I did play through LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga, however, my game glitched!! I am on the last episode, The Rise of Skywalker, and I’m forever stuck in light speed traveling to the next level. I looked on Reddit, and apparently, if you accepted a cargo side mission, the cargo doesn’t load at light speed, so you have to complete the cargo mission and it should fix the glitch. The problem is that I have no idea what cargo mission I accepted. I would have to go back and go through every individual side mission to figure out which one I accepted. Plus, this isn’t a guaranteed fix. There were some comments where players did this and it still didn’t fix the glitch.

I have invested so much time in this game that I’m so sad that I can’t even finish the story. The only hope that I have is if a patch is released that will fix my game save. I’m not willing to go through all the effort listed above and have it not work. I’m going to discontinue playing through the game which is such a bummer.

Since I’m done playing through LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga, I’m going to go back to Jedi Fallen Order. I played through the game back in 2020 and I never finished it. I’m going to start over and devote the time to finishing the game.

Miscellaneous Star Wars Content

I’m adding a section for the “miscellaneous” Star Wars content that I listened to or discovered this month. Thanks to Anakin + His Angel I discovered the Youtube channel, Always Believe. Always Believe is hosted by Ash and Bryan who share their love of Star Wars, Disney, and Marvel. I love their channel! They are both in their mid-30’s and I like to see people carry their interests as they get older. I’m genuinely excited to see when they release a new video and I like listening to their videos while I do various chores or tasks throughout the day.

While I’m at work, I discovered two Star Wars podcasts to help me get through the day. The first is Force Toast Podcast. Force Toast is hosted by Alyce and Laura and they are based in Chicago. They talk about Star Wars content, and Star Wars trivia over a drink. The other Star Wars podcast I found was Star Wars STUFF This is more of a Star Wars news podcast versus Force Toast being a casual Star Wars chat. Both podcasts I can see myself listening to throughout the coming months.

Overall, I think this was a successful Star Wars month despite some challenges I had. I do want to carry more Star Wars throughout the year as I find that once May ends, I find I don’t discuss Star Wars nearly as much. I do want to add Star Wars books to my TBR (to be read pile) along with continuing my re-watch of The Clone Wars. Let me know what Star Wars content you’re reading or loving in the comments down below.