Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

Why did I wait so long to watch Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings? Am I the only one who felt that out of all the Marvel movies, Shang Chi was the one that was least advertised? I have started to fall behind in watching Marvel content as I still haven’t seen Black Widow or Hawkeye on Disney+. I’m hoping to get caught up shortly before I’m accidentally spoiled. I watched Shang Chi and this film rocked.

Shaun aka. Shang Chi (played by Simu Lee) is a valet in San Francisco alongside his friend, Katy (played by Awkwafina). During the bus ride to work, Shaun is attacked and fights in expert hand-to-hand combat shocking Katy. Shaun reveals to Katy his real name, Shang Chi, and how his dad is evil, and his sister is someone he needs to protect. Throughout the film, Shang Chi finds out more about his family and discovers a plane he knew nothing about.

One of my favorite action sequences is at the beginning where Shang Chi is fighting on the San Francisco bus. The bus served as a perfect backdrop as Katy is driving through hilly intersections. Speaking of Katy, Awkwafina plays her perfectly. Katy is the getaway driver and provides the one-liners throughout the film. The best one-liner is after she hears about Shang Chi’s identity, she says “You changed your name from Shang to Shaun? No wonder your father found you”. Besides both Simu Lee and Awkwafina, this film features a ton of talent including Michelle Yeoh, Tony Leung, and Meng’er Zhang. According to Wikipedia, Shang Chi was Meng’er Zhang’s first film role. I wouldn’t have thought that seeing her on-screen as Shang’s sister who her father mostly ignored. I have been a big fan of Michelle Yeoh ever since Tomorrow Never Dies Yeoh abolishing the Bond girl stereotype. I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen films featuring Tony Leung, but I wouldn’t be opposed.

One thing that surprised me about Shang Chi was the odes to past Marvel films. I can’t say anything more without spoiling the film, but there was one tie-in to a previous Marvel film that completely changes that Marvel film for me. While Shang Chi has been out for months, I refuse to be the one to accidentally spoil a film for someone.

I’m glad I finally got around to watching Shang Chi and I wished I was able to see it in theaters. I hope to see Shang Chi, Katy, and Xu Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) in future Marvel films. I did check the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness cast list and I didn’t see Simu Lee listed, so I hope I’m wrong. Shang Chi can be streamed on Disney+

Dopesick (2021)

I remember a former friend in high school would sell her mom’s OxyContin pills at my high school. That was probably the first time I ever heard Oxy referenced. OxyContin has a turbulent history especially seen in John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight episode on Opioids. I discovered Dopesick while browsing through Hulu and while the series is harrowing, it’s well worth the watch.

Dopesick is based on a non-fiction book written by Beth Macy titled Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America. Dr. Samuel Finnix (played by Michael Keaton) is a doctor in the rural areas of Virginia. Finnix is targeted by Purdue Pharma sales rep, Billy Cutler (played by Will Poulter) who tells Finnix that OxyContin can help his patients who suffer injuries while working in the mines. Finnix is persuaded based on the fact that “less than 1% of users on OxyContin get addicted” even though OxyContin is an opioid. This is further from the truth as both Finnix and another patient, Betsy Mallum (played by Kaitlyn Dever) are addicted to Oxy. Besides following Finnix and his rural town, there’s the DEA investigating Purdue Pharma along with the lawsuit of how Purdue Pharma blatantly lied about what Oxy to make money.

I hope Kaitlyn Dever wins an award because her story was the most heartbreaking. She’s in the closet and she tells her parents she’s a lesbian and her father tells her to leave. It’s sad because it’s clear Betsy is trying to get off Oxy, however, Oxy and opioid use alter brain chemistry, so Betsy heavily struggles to remain clean. Michael Keaton also did a great job along with Will Poulter who’s a sales rep who wants to succeed under the shadow of his successful parents. The acting in this was heavy.

Dopesick also highlights Purdue Pharma and how evil they are. Most pharmaceutical companies are iffy at best, but Purdue Pharma sucks. It’s clear that the Sackler family knew about their drug, but they didn’t care. If that didn’t piss me off, what’s worse is Purdue Pharma blaming addicts for getting addicted and not the drug itself. Purdue Pharma are the worst and it sounds like the Sackler’s won’t be penalized for what damage they have done.

One thing Dopesick doesn’t touch on is where Oxy is at now. While OxyContin caused a majority of overdose deaths, it’s now cheaper Opioids like Heroin or Fentanyl that are keeping the Opioid crisis alive today. Heroin and Fentanyl are cheaper than Oxy is, so it’s often at the heart of overdose deaths. I felt Dopesick should have touched on this more.

I highly recommend watching Dopesick, but it’s a dark show. I hope Dopesick wins an award or two because it highlights the reality of living in rural America and how one company destroyed and keeps destroying small communities.

2021 Pop Culture Year in Review

2021 is almost over! It’s hard to believe that 2022 will mark two years since the dreaded 2020 lockdown. While we have a vaccine and a booster, it still feels like the pandemic is far from over. 2021 was a fairly decent year especially because there was a lot more going on since I was able to get vaccinated in May.

Movies I Saw In Theaters

  • The Suicide Squad
  • No Time to Die
  • SpiderMan: Far From Home

It’s fitting that the last movie I saw in theaters before the pandemic was Birds of Prey and the first movie I saw in theaters after I was vaccinated was The Suicide Squad. Out of the above three, I would say Spider-Man: Far From Home and The Suicide Squad would be tied at number one.

Besides the above movies, I also watched WW84, From Russia With Love, Rocketman, Just Mercy, Free Brittany, Justice League Snyder Cut, Heroin(e), Charlie’s Angels 2019 film, Untouchable, I, Tonya and Pray Away. The worst movie I watched in 2021 was WW84. All the joy from the first Wonder Woman movie was sucked out of the sequel.

TV Shows I Watched:

  • Wandavision
  • Harley Quinn – animated series
  • Falcon & the Winter Soldier
  • Loki
  • Bar Rescue
  • Dopesick

I didn’t watch as much TV this year partly because I got into Critical Role while still quarantined earlier in the year. My favorite TV show I watched this year was easily Wandavision. It was such a heartbreaking show and Elizabeth Olson did such an amazing job portraying Scarlet Witch and someone suffering from the weight of grief. I did finish watching Dopesick recently which is a documentary series about the rise of Purdue Pharma and Oxycontin. It was intriguing and appalling.

Video Games I Played

  • Vampire the Masquerade Shadows of New York
  • Miles Morales
  • Night Call
  • Doki Doki Literature Club
  • Nancy Drew & The Haunted Carousel
  • Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill
  • Animal Crossing New Horizons
  • Nancy Drew Alibi in Ashes
  • Nancy Drew Message in a Haunted Mansion
  • Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 & 5-7

My favorite game I played this year was Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Despite the game being shorter and having no DLC, it was still my favorite this year. I’m normally not a video game soundtrack person, however, I ended up listening to the Miles Morales soundtrack on and off throughout 2021.

The most disturbing game I played was Doki Doki Literature Club. I wanted to play it to see what the game was all about. I will never touch it again. Besides playing through Doki Doki Literature Club, I played through quite a few of the Nancy Drew PC games since becoming more invested into Steam last year.

In 2022, I look forward to starting the Guardians of the Galaxy game since I finally unlocked all the PS4 trophies for Lego Harry Potter.

Gaming in 2021

  • Watching Critical Role (for the first half of the year, I couldn’t play D&D in person)
  • City of Remnants
  • Vampire the Masquerade one shot in July
  • Mysterium
  • Adventurer’s League

My highlight of 2021 was being able to play D&D in person. Beginning in 2022, I will be playing in a longer semi-weekly campaign and I’m thrilled. Watching Critical Role helped keep my love of roleplaying active while waiting to be vaccinated. This year, I didn’t play very many board games although I finally opened Mysterium for the first time and I loved it. I can’t wait to play again.

Graphic Novels / Comics I Read This Year

Single Issue Comics

  • King in Black: #1 – #5
  • King in Black: Black Cat #1 – #3
  • King in Black: Gwenom vs. Carnage #1 – #3
  • Jinny Hex #1
  • King in Black: Return of the Valkyries #1 – #3
  • Batman/ Catwoman #1
  • Future State Kara Zor-El Superwoman #1
  • Future State Green Lantern #1
  • Future State Wonder Woman #1 – #2
  • Future State Catwoman #1
  • Home Sick Pilots #1 – #5
  • Future State Robin Eternal #1
  • Hollywood Trash #1
  • King in Black: Planet of the Symbiotes #1
  • Dark Nights: Death Metal The Last Stories of the DC Universe #1
  • Luna #1
  • Future State Suicide Squad #1 – #2
  • King in Black: Black Knight
  • King in Black: Miles Morales #23
  • Future State Wonder Woman #1
  • Teen Titans Academy #1
  • King in Black: Captain America #1
  • King in Black Scream #1
  • King in Black: The Amazing Spider-Man #1
  • James Bond Agents of Spectre #1 – #4
  • Witchblood #1 – #5
  • DC Suicide Squad #1
  • Destiny NY #1 – #5
  • Miskatonic University #1
  • Vox Machina Critical Role Origins III #1 – #4
  • Life is Strange #2.1 – 2.4
  • Bettie Page Curse of the Banshee #1
  • Alice in Leatherland #1 – #4
  • DC Deathstroke #1
  • MOM #1

I read so many single issue comics partly due to the fact that I have a pull list at a comic book store. I try and stop in at least once every other week. As I review the above list, I would say there were two series that would be tied for being my favorite comic series in 2021. The first would be the King in Black main series along with King in Black: Black Cat. Another notable standout was Witchblood. I love how the series takes place in the Wild West and it’s a vampires vs. witches standoff series. Other memorable series include Destiny NY, Alice in Leatherland, and Vox Machina.

Graphic Novels

  • Glitter Vipers
  • The Vision
  • Black Mage
  • Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi Captain Phasma
  • Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren
  • Star Wars Adventures Vol #1
  • Aquicorn Cove
  • Wolverine Season One
  • Blackbird
  • Mooncakes

This is the first year where I have read more single issues than graphic novels. My favorite graphic novel I read this year was The Vision as I read it right when I started watching Wandavision. A runner up would be Glitter Vipers. I backed the Kickstarter for it as I liked the idea of a group of drag queens getting into vigilante work. I have a huge stack of graphic novels to read in 2022, so I’m assuming this number will be higher next year.

2021 Pop Culture Moments

  • Trump Protestors invading the capital (it’s only the seventh day of the new year!!!)
  • Afghanistan’s government collapsing to the Taliban
  • Free Britany

Podcasts I Couldn’t Stop Listening To

  • Fantastic Geeks
  • This Podcast Will Kill You
  • Not Another DnD Podcast
  • Ain’t Slayed Nobody

I didn’t discover any new podcasts in 2021. Listening to podcasts has been a hit or a miss. I usually listen to music while driving around the area and save podcasts for longer trips.

Catchiest Song in 2021

According to Spotify, my top song was “Head & Heart” by Joel Corry x MNEK.

Conventions I Attended in 2021

I attended two conventions in 2021: Planet Comic Con in August and C2E2 in December. I hope to attend Emerald City Comic Con in August next year along with Gen Con and Convergence. I might add one more out of state convention on my list for next year.

Personal Memories

Top Three Memories of 2021

Getting Married

Going on our Mini Moon

Getting Vaccinated

Bar Rescue & The Research Behind Owning a Bar

I don’t watch too much reality TV. I used to be a fan of Keeping Up With the Kardashians although I haven’t watched the show in years. However, one of my favorite reality TV shows right now is Bar Rescue. Bar Rescue is similar to Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares but for bars. Bar Rescue is hosted by Jon Taffer who visits failing bars and revamps them in order to save the bar. Me and my husband love this show and every time we watch an episode, we learn a little bit more about alcohol and how to make various cocktails.

Jon Taffer hosts Bar Rescue and teams up with various mixologists and chefs to save failing bars. According to Jon’s website, he’s an entrepreneur and owner of Taffer’s Tavern based in Georgia. I have never heard of Taffer before until I started watching Bar Rescue. With each rescue, Taffer brings in data and research to help the bar find its niche audience. For example, does a certain city cater to college students or young, working professionals who have money to spend. This helps design a bar to entice the community who live in that area.

With every reality TV show, it’s unclear how much is real and how much is fake. Some bars smell bad, other bars had problems with insects. I’m not sure how much was set up for the drama aspect of TV versus what was going on at each bar. In each episode, a bar is thrown into what’s called a “stress test” Jon has a crowd of people waiting outside to come into the bar, so Jon can observe and see how well the bar does when it’s busy. Some bars navigate through the stress test with minimal issues, and some bars have their tests ended early because they fell so far behind. It’s interesting seeing how management or an owner reacts when a bar is busy.

Bar Rescue has also taught me a lot about alcohol and what goes into a cocktail. For beer, the foam otherwise known as the head of a beer should be between 0.5-1 inch. Whenever I visit a brewery and I’m served a beer, I have started to pay attention to the head of a beer and what it looks like. Another important aspect that I have noticed from Bar Rescue is having proper drinkware. Last summer, I ordered a watermelon mule. A mule is served in a copper mug or a smaller glass. The watermelon mule I ordered was served in a pint glass. The problem with serving a mule in a pint glass is it’s watered down. I can’t have half a pint glass filled with vodka, so more soda or ginger beer is added which makes the drink sweeter. I ended up not finishing the drink because it was too sweet. Bar Rescue has made me more aware of alcohol and what tastes good in a cocktail.

Bar Rescue is one of my favorite shows to watch. Me and my husband will compare notes throughout each episode and see if the bars from the episodes are still open. More often than not, the bars are closed after the episode premieres. Jon Taffer may be successful in real life, but clearly, his rescues aren’t sustainable. With any reality TV, the goal is making the show entertaining to watch and that applies to Bar Rescue.

Laudna – Witchy & Creepy – Critical Role Campaign #3

My husband commented the other day about how the only thing I watch now is Critical Role. He’s right. I haven’t found a TV show that has captured my interest. I tried watching True Detective on HBO max, but I quit watching halfway through. With Critical Role, I’m watching campaign #1 and campaign #3 at the same time, which takes up most of my time. One standout character from campaign #3 is Laudna played by Marisha Ray. I wanted to share how I feel about Laudna and how much I adore her.

Laudna’s look – Critical Role Wiki.

Laudna is a gothic, creepy witch who seems like a sweetheart deep down. She’s close to Imogen (played by Laura Bailey) and it seems like Laudna is Imogen’s confidant. When Marisha described her look, it reminded me of Enchantress from the 2016 Suicide Squad movie except less smoky. Laudna is dressed in red and her gray, ashy skin seems pale and sickly. She’s a Warlock Sorcerer interested in death and decay. I like the creepy aesthetic of Laudna as I think it hasn’t been explored in any of the characters from Critical Role thus far. (As a side note, I haven’t watched campaign #2 yet, so there might be characters similar to Laudna that I haven’t been exposed to).

I like how Laudna has links back to the previous campaigns for Critical Role. Laudna is from Whitestone which is Percy’s hometown from Vox Machina. Laudna mentions how when she was young, the DeRolo family was killed, and the Briarwoods took over. This was a big arc in Vox Machina. I’m curious as to how Laudna leans. Was she involved in the Briarwood rebellion? Was she associated with the Briarwoods? I’m intrigued as to what Laudna’s true origin story will be.

I’m happy for Marisha as it seems like Laudna has become a fan favorite from the beginning. Marisha has been roleplaying characters from both of their campaigns. Keyleth, Marisha’s character from Campaign #1, received a lot of hatred based on the decisions Keyleth would make. Keyleth’s persona is that she’s inexperienced and a bit immature which didn’t resonate with some fans of Critical Role. Marisha discussed this on her Between The Sheets interview which I will link down below. Based on watching campaign #3 so far, it seems like Marisha is genuinely having fun and enjoying playing Laudna. The fans also enjoy Laudna and some of the fan art that’s been released on Twitter is so good.

It’s been a blast being able to watch a Critical Role campaign live. I came into Critical Role late, so I have been playing catch-up. While the episodes air on Thursdays, I wait till Monday to watch because I can’t stay up that late on Thursday nights to watch the full episode. I’m excited to see how campaign #3 plays out and how Laudna plays a role in the group.

Seeing NADDPOD Live

One of my geeky interests is D&D/roleplaying. I talk about Critical Role frequently as I’m trying to get caught up on both campaigns plus watching campaign three as each episode is transferred onto Youtube. The original D&D podcast I listened to was Not Another D&D Podcast abbreviated NADDPOD I started listening to NADDPOD in 2018 and I loved the show. One memory I have of attending Gen Con in 2019 was listening to NADDPOD as I drove to Indianapolis.

NADDPOD will do live shows in various big US cities such as Boston or New York. In their live show announcements, the midwest is skipped. In NADDPOD’s recent announcement, not only was Chicago on their list but Minneapolis as well. I was pumped! I never thought I would be able to go to one of their live shows, so I instantly pre-bought tickets. I was talking to my husband about this because I was so happy that NADDPOD would be in Minneapolis. My husband asked if I was going with anyone else. I wasn’t because none of my friends were listening to NADDPOD (at least that I know of). My husband as sweet as he is agreed to go with me, so I didn’t have to go myself. As a disclaimer, I think we should normalize doing activities alone. I have no shame in going to a show or a movie by myself, so I was all on board with attending the NADDPOD show by myself. It’s nice that my husband is coming with me, but I would have gone regardless.

I’m debating between wearing my Moonshine Cybin t-shirt or trying to put together a makeshift cosplay of her character. Her character is a woodsy elf druid wearing overalls and living her best life in nature. I do have overalls I could wear and I could buy some leafy hair accessories to add to the look. I have time to figure this out.

I’m so excited about the live show! I’m currently re-listening to the Bahumia campaign which was the first campaign they aired. I’m not sure how far I will get because of working from home, I listen to podcasts less. However, I will still make it a priority now that seeing them live is a reality for me. Time to start counting down the days until the show!

No Time To Die (2021)

No Time to Die was one of the movies I was most looking forward to. With the pandemic, the release for No Time to Die kept getting pushed back until finally, it was released this year. The release of No Time to Die is a big deal as this is Daniel Craig’s last Bond film. It’s a much easier transition for the next Bond actor if the last film ends on a high note. I enjoyed No Time to Die as I thought it took the franchise in a different direction and explored Bond in a way that the other films have not.

James Bond (Daniel Craig) is on vacation with his beautiful partner, Madeleine Swann (played by Lea Seydoux). As Bond is going to visit Vesper’s grave, he’s attacked by Spectre. As he and Madeleine flee, Bond is under the impression that Madeleine betrayed him. As such, Bond leaves her. Five years later, Bond is retired. He is approached by Felix Leiter (played by Jeffrey Wright) who is wanting Bond’s help to find an MI6 scientist who aided in creating a biological weapon. Bond is swayed into helping and ends up reconnecting with Madeleine under extreme circumstances.

One major highlight of the film is the appearance of Paloma (played by Ana de Armas). She is in the movie for a short time and I think her appearance is incredibly important. The Bond films are notorious for killing women in violent ways especially once these women sleep with Bond. With Paloma, she’s introduced and helps Bond, and once her role is done, she is on her way. She’s still alive and doesn’t suffer. This was something I loved. It also leaves the door open for Paloma to come back in another film with a different Bond actor.

Besides the women, the Bond films are known for classic villains. In No Time to Die, the villain Safin (played by Rami Malek) was seeking revenge against Spectre for the murder of his family. When I heard about Malek’s casting in this film, I was excited. There are certain types of Bond villains. There are the villains who pose a physical threat to Bond. An example would be Jaws although he may be considered a henchman, not a villain. Some villains are more of a psychological threat to Bond. I think of Raoul Silva from Skyfall to fit this category. I would rank Safin into this category as well.

The main critique I had for this film was the run time. No Time To Die is 163 minutes or 2 hours and 43 minutes. I find it difficult to keep my attention if a movie is longer than 2 1/2 hours. While watching No Time to Die, it didn’t feel long. However, I think this easily could have been made into a 2 1/2 hour movie.

No Time to Die was an entertaining and fitting end to what Craig brought to the role. I will miss Daniel Craig in the role as I think he took Bond in a different direction than the other actors did. One of the things I enjoy about the Bond franchise is each actor’s unique take on the character. It makes me excited for the future Bond films and to see who is willing to take up the mantle of Bond especially because they will have big shoes to fill.

If you’re curious, I did include a couple of paragraphs summarizing some major spoilers from No Time to Die. Feel free to read at your own risk.

SPOILERS DOWN BELOW

I can’t write a review about No Time to Die without revealing some spoilers. The biggest spoiler of them all was killing off Bond. Bond is trapped in Safin’s lair as he doesn’t have time to escape the island before the missile strike happens. Additionally, Safin gave Bond the nanobots specifically to kill Madeleine and Bond’s daughter, Mathilde. There was no way I was expecting this to happen. Bond died!?!?! I thought this was a shocking yet fitting end to Craig’s tenure as the character. He lost his first love Vesper, and now he dies saving his second love, Madeleine. I know some Bond fans were disappointed by his death, but I figure in the next film, Bond will be cast as the new 007 to take over Craig’s spot. Plus each Bond actor is treated so differently, so I don’t think it will be a problem for the next Bond movie.

I loved how Bond ended up having a daughter. The character of James Bond is depressing in the sense that he doesn’t have a family and his entire focus goes into his job. Craig brought some humanity back into Bond and while Bond is still a flawed character, he’s grown so much as a person throughout the films.

Gatekeeping Opinions That Suck

I was reading comments on a random Facebook post. This post was about audiobooks and how this particular person found joy in listening to an audiobook during their work commute. I’m not an audiobook fan myself as I prefer podcasts, however, I can see why audiobooks have gotten popular. One comment on this post was from a person who stated that audiobooks don’t count as reading. I could feel myself getting irritated once I read this. It inspired me to turn this into a full-blown post of gatekeeping opinions that suck.

Audiobooks Don’t Count as Reading

I completely disagree. Reading has evolved from reading physical books to kindles, and audiobooks making a huge comeback. This comes off as a gatekeeping opinion because it’s dictating what counts as reading. I’m a huge reader and I don’t want people to be criticized because they read differently. This opinion also discrimnates against disabled people. If someone is visually impaired leading them to listen to audiobooks, are they less of a reader due to a disability? Nope.

All Fans are Valid and Equal – (i.e reading the books or watching the movies only)

I see this a lot specifically in the Harry Potter or Game of Thrones fan communities. I do not have the bandwidth to handle reading all the Game of Thrones books, would I be less of a fan if I only watch the show? Not at all. Reading is extremely time-consuming, and watching a show or a film is a lot easier.

Playing Video Games on an Easier Difficulty

When I was younger, I had the time to play Halo Reach on the Legendary difficulty. Now, I barely have time to play a game for an hour. I don’t want to sit and struggle in my gaming free time. Therefore, I usually play on either an easier difficulty or whatever counts as the medium. I like a challenge, but I also like to use gaming as a way to unwind. It’s completely valid to be a gamer who plays in an easier difficulty setting.

Taking Six Months to Watch a Show vs. Binge-Watching

I’m a slow TV watcher. I don’t usually finish a show within a few days or a week. I have some friends that are able to binge-watch a show, and that’s cool. It doesn’t matter how much time it takes to watch a show, as long as you’re a fan of the show, you’re a fan! A good example of this is Schitt’s Creek. I love Schitt’s Creek, but I’m still on season #2 and it’s been at least four or five months since I watched. Planning a wedding doesn’t help with this as that has sucked up most of my free time. I’m still a fan of Schitt’s Creek even if it takes me the rest of this year to complete every season.

Those were all the gatekeeping opinions I have personally witnessed recently. Let me know in the comments if there were any I missed!

Ain’t Slayed Nobody – Call of Cthulhu Podcast

I go through phases when I listen to podcasts. Sometimes, I listen to podcasts daily or I go months without listening to a single episode. I’m in a phase where I haven’t been listening to podcasts as frequently as I used to. When I drove home from Kansas City, I found myself getting bored by listening to the same music. Instead of listening to music, I decided to get caught up on one of the most entertaining DnD roleplaying podcasts, Ain’t Slayed Nobody. Ain’t Slayed Nobody kept me on the edge of my seat while I drove through Iowa which is quite the achievement. I actually got to the point in my drive where I didn’t want to get home because of this podcast.

Ain’t Slayed Nobody is a Call of Cthulhu podcast. Ain’t Slayed Nobody takes place in the Wild West in the 1800s. There are five characters within this game: Sheriff Ellie Bishop (played by Alex McDaniel), Outlaw Lance Kilkenny (played by Jay Arnold), Priest Father Flint Westwater (played by Brandon Wainerdi), Miner Jeremiah Fensworth (played by Wes Davis), and Nomadic Drifter Johnny Rhodes (played by Chuck). The centered story arc is solving the murder of Ellie’s father. As the investigation continues, the group stumbles upon several bizarre incidents that test their sanity.

Ain’t Slayed Nobody does a brilliant job at storytelling. Immediately after listening to episode #1, I was hooked. The episodes often end on cliffhangers meaning I’m forced to wait until the next episode airs to find out what happens. As I listen to each episode, I feel like I’m in the Wild West with the characters as they learn more about each other. Eventually, Ellie does realize what happened to her father which leads to a shocking twist I didn’t see coming.

With the characters, it’s tough for me to pick a favorite. Jay’s Irish accent attached to Lance is so well done. Jeremiah is another fan favorite with his one-liners including “I’m going to turn his femur into mist”. Wes attaches an accent to Jeremiah as well which helps solidify his character. I’m listening to the season finale of Ain’t Slayed Nobody and it’s clear there are major character deaths. Out of all the roleplaying podcasts I have listened to, Ain’t Slayed Nobody feels like there are actual stakes. These characters could become insane, die a painful death or have another horrific event happen to them.

Listening to a role-playing podcast, the keeper or the dungeon master can make or break a podcast. For Aint Slayed Nobody, cuppycup is the keeper and he does a great job narrating the podcast. He speaks clearly into the mic along with talking at a steady speed. He doesn’t talk too quickly, so I never felt myself not being able to follow the story.

Ain’t Slayed Nobody made driving through Iowa fun which is not something I thought I would say. The last episode in the first arc is releasing on Tuesday, August 31st, and I have never been more excited for a podcast episode to air.

Pray Away (2021)

In one of my recent posts, I wrote about having a free weekend and being able to unwind. During this weekend, I devoted some time to watch whatever I wanted to watch on Netflix. One documentary I had my eye on for a while was Pray Away, a documentary detailing the rise of Conversion therapy and why it’s so psychologically damaging. For those who are unfamiliar, Conversion therapy is a form of “therapy” (I put therapy in quotes because I wouldn’t call this therapy) surrounding the idea that gay people can be cured and converted back into being straight. Pray Away was a heartbreaking documentary, but one I would highly recommend watching.

Pray Away interweaves the stories of survivors of conversion therapy along with several prominent Conversion therapy activists. As the history of Conversion therapy unfolds, it seems that what was being sold to the public was completely false. John Paulk was a major voice in Conversion therapy as he was a “former” gay man who was now married to a woman. His wife, Anne, also went through Conversion therapy and that’s how John and Anne met. John mentions in the documentary that he, “ached to be loved by a man”. Hearing him tell his story about how he was selling something he didn’t believe in made me feel for him. Today, John has divorced his wife and is now openly gay.

Another story that the documentary focused on was Julie Rodgers. Julie came out to her family at a young age and was taken to Conversion therapy. She was there for many years and was encouraged to speak at various religious conferences. During Conversion therapy, she was coerced into telling a deeply personal story in front of many people. Julie eventually was able to get out of therapy and has just married her lovely wife. This story showed clips of her wedding and how she was able to get married in a church. I will admit, I sometimes have a negative bias towards religion, however, seeing Julie reclaim her religion for herself was so endearing to me.

I couldn’t imagine what it must be like to not be able to love the person you’re meant to be with. As I spent time writing my vows this week, it made me think back to the lives shown in Pray Away. While many who survived Conversion therapy went to live long and authentic lives, so many didn’t because of the psychological damage of not being able to cure being gay. Suicide was prevalent amongst Conversion therapy, and I’m glad to see strides being taken to ban this form of “therapy” altogether.

Pray Away was a well-made, engaging and thoughtful documentary. This documentary did take an emotional toll, so I would only recommend it if you’re in the mood for something a bit more emotional. Pray Away can be watched on Netflix.