Natural Remedies Will Help Reduce Downtime When Sick

Just a disclaimer: I’m not a doctor and I suggest that if you feel you are seriously ill, you seek medical assistance. However, since I seem to get minor illnesses frequently and recover from them quickly, I felt perhaps I would share my knowledge on the subject and how I treat small things like colds and sinus infections.

It’s a fact that constantly bombarding our systems with different medications and antibiotics only end up making stronger bacteria and can wreak havoc on the delicate systems in our bodies from a chemical and hormonal standpoint. As healthcare advances, the things that make us sick seem to do the same.

It’s important to remember that getting sick is our body’s natural method of fighting off foreign pathogens. Our immune systems, as long as they are functioning properly, are well-oiled machines with each symptom, while simultaneously being annoying and sometimes painful, serving a purpose. Therefore, I try to stave off illness as naturally as possible, not completely eliminating symptoms such as fever or coughing thereby not disrupting my body’s natural processes.

Here’s my process:

  • On Day 1, as soon as you start feeling ill, begin taking 6 Wellness Formula and 2 oil of oregano capsules every 4 hours. While the former is a natural supplement that supercharges the immune system, the latter is a natural antibiotic. Yeah, I know it’s a lot to take, but trust me. Continue taking your other regular supplements such as probiotics, multivitamin, and omega-3 to keep energy up.
  • Drink as much water as possible to help flush your system and hydrate.
  • Consume primarily veggies, broth, and lean meat with healthy fats mixed in when hungry. Homemade chicken soup is ideal and can be made beforehand so you have it on-hand. Try to avoid grains as they can promote inflammation, making you achier. Try to avoid dairy as it can promote mucus production. In general, you don’t really need as many calories when you’re sick as long as you stay in bed because your body will be focused more on fighting infection than digesting food.
  • Stay in bed. Your body needs rest and sleep in order to heal. I admit I’m lucky I have a job where I can call out whenever needed, but it is essential that you take care of yourself when sick, at least for a day. Plus, no one wants you to go into the workplace and infect them with what you caught. If you have the option, take it. Your coworkers will survive without you.
  • Don’t take drugs if you can help it, including over-the-counter. OTC medications disrupt your body’s natural processes and don’t actually make you better. They simply make you feel better which can then lead to making your illness worse because you aren’t aware of it. The human body functions better, including fighting infection, at a higher temperature (i.e., fever), so taking something to lower it is actually counterproductive.
  • Be sure to stay stocked up on the strongest ginger tea you can find. This is going to be your main tool toward making you feel better. You can make your own in a pinch with a 1:3 combination of ground ginger and honey, but it’s just not as good. Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, so just drink some whenever you start to feel crappy or nauseous and the symptoms should mostly abate.
  • If you are having sinus issues–runny or stuffy nose, post nasal drip, sore throat, sneezing–use a neti pot to relieve symptoms and heal the inflammation.

When I concentrate on my health and nurse myself, I can sometimes be completely recovered within 48 hours. I usually avert most symptoms while I heal, except the general malaise, as long as I stay in bed and don’t waiver from my methods. Keep all this in mind the next time you feel a bug coming on.

The Punisher Season 2 Review

CAUTION: I’m going to get into some spoilery territory in this review, so if you don’t want to know anything that happens, just skip to the last paragraph.

The Punisher wasn’t one of the original properties Netflix signed up to make with Marvel, but there was such a clamor from fans after season 2 of Daredevil that they wanted to see more of the character. The character has notoriously never been a hit with general audiences when it came to film adaptations, but this version of the anti-hero was different. He seemed to have a moral complexity which made him more relatable and entertaining than past incarnations. We could sympathize with his struggles even though we didn’t support his methods. In response, the streaming service decided to take and a chance with the character and develop his series as a spinoff.

Season 1 was a success. Though it didn’t reach the highs achieved by the first seasons of contemporaries Daredevil and Jessica Jones, Frank Castle’s (Jon Bernthal) particular intricacies and backstory took to the forefront. The character ended up being more of a reluctant hero than the villain he was made out to be initially. As such, even though law enforcement didn’t approve of his ways, they let him walk free as a sort of necessary evil. The acting and character development were strong points, as was the action choreography, but the season suffered mostly from its grim atmosphere, length, and drawn out plot.

Season 2 picks up where the first left off, with Frank attempting to move on with his life after putting the past behind him. To that end, he stops off in a random backwater town and has a chance encounter with a teenager by the name of Rachel/Amy Bendix (Giorgia Whigham). Though she seems anxious about something, she saunters off alone. After an attempted abduction by and shootout with an as-yet-unknown group of nefarious people, Frank takes an unwilling Amy under his protective wing. Simultaneously, a mask-wearing Billy Russo (Ben Barnes) has awoken from his comatose state and is being stalked by distrustful Special Agent Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah) while Dr. Krista Dumont (Floriana Lima) tries to heal his broken psyche.

I have a lot to say about this season and not much of it good, so let’s get that out of the way first. The action is still as great here as it was in season 1, so there’s no worry there. It really feels like I’m experiencing every punch and gunshot as they’re inflicted on their victims. Bernthal still embodies the Punisher just as well as he ever did even if he seems to yell “RUSSO!” twice every episode. In fact, most of the acting is pretty spot on for a low-budget TV show, including a great performance by Josh Stewart as John Pilgrim. I really like how the season starts out with a small-scale conflict that wouldn’t be out of place in the Punisher comic–the man just happens into a gunfight while trying to live his life as a drifter and wants to protect the innocent by any means necessary.

This one conflict, and everything that goes along with it, would have made for a decent movie in a series of Punisher flicks. Hell, so would the conflict with Russo, aka Jigsaw, if the screenwriters would have played that story properly. Instead, we get two completely different stories told concurrently which each would have comprised 2-3 hours’ worth of content but are stretched out over 13 hours. Though there are breadcrumbs of Amy and Pilgrim’s low-key story scattered about, Russo’s story is portrayed as the main conflict until the very end of the season, when Pilgrim takes center stage and becomes more fleshed out. The whole narrative is so boring and slow, with characters either complaining about things already covered in season 1 or repeatedly fighting after resolving disputes in the previous scene, that I was able to do other things on the side while mostly following the show. I needed something else to pass the time. Even the end to Russo is anti-climactic.

Maybe this narrative style would have worked if either of the stories would have been fully compelling. Amy’s story is interesting until we find out that the reason she is being desperately hunted, which doesn’t get revealed until 6 hours into the season, is because she has photographic evidence that a Senator is secretly gay. (The SCANDAL!) I understand the Schultzes are super religious and power-hungry and have groomed David since birth, but in the real world, we now have an openly gay mayor, Pete Buttigieg, who is running for president. Not to mention the fact that other industrialized nations have already elected openly gay heads of state. It strikes me as especially absurd because exactly 500 people were killed in the show in order to keep the information from getting out. Seems extreme. Apparently, there’s a theory that this plotline was supposed to be an allegory for the Trump Administration, with the Russians having dirt on the future presidential candidate mirroring real life, but even that line of thinking comes off as sort of half-assed because I didn’t get that impression on my own.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Jigsaw plot is similarly out of touch. In the beginning, Russo is unhinged and kills a few people breaking out of police custody. Yeah, that’s bad. But after that, he unwittingly adopts a style similar to the Punisher. First, he kills a pedophile who abused him when he was young. Then, he and his buddies beat a tow-truck guy. Again, that’s bad, but if he has health insurance, he’s fine. After that, they rob a payday lender. This seems bad at first, but in the real world, these businesses are so flagrantly predatory that there was recent legislation to curb their practices. (Of course, the Trump Administration subsequently hindered those efforts to protect consumers, but that’s another story.) It’s worth noting that no one was killed or injured during the robbery. So Russo actually comes off as a modern-day Robin Hood on closer inspection until Frank shows up, guns blazing, and starts shooting people, as he does. PTSD-sufferer Russo then flips out when he sees the skull vest and starts a gang, which by the way only seems to target other gangs.

So the concurrent stories are largely boring and not well thought out by the screenwriters. The action, set design, and character portrayals are all decent, but if there’s nothing compelling or realistic to tie those things together, what’s the point of even watching? As such, this season is right down there with the Defenders and Iron Fist’s first season. Your valuable time would be better spent watching something else.

Score: 1.5 out of 5

Don’t Try to Hack Your Vita. It’s Not Worth It.

While the writing has been on the wall for some time now, the PS Vita, Sony’s attempt at a follow-up to it’s popular PlayStation Portable (PSP), has been discontinued. For the first year or so after its initial release to American audiences, the company made a half-assed effort to show support for the powerful piece of hardware, but in response to sales never quite picking up, they pulled all software support about halfway through its lifecycle, leaving the heavy lifting up to 3rd party and indie developers. And lift they did, eventually releasing a ton of games that, while mostly not exclusive to the system, were still fun to play on the go.

I could lament from atop my soapbox until the cows come home about the mistakes Sony made or the potential the Vita had to rival the Nintendo Switch, but that won’t change what has already happened. The only option now is to move forward. Sometimes to move forward though, one has to confront the past, and the truth is, the most glaring flaw with the development of the console is that only Sony’s proprietary memory sticks could be used for game storage. These things were at least twice the price of standard SD cards with equivalent storage and the maximum capacity available was a paltry 64 GB. For someone such as myself who has a lot of/too many games, that kind of storage doesn’t cut it without constantly doing storage management.

So a couple weeks ago, I started wondering if any 3rd party developers had ever created more sizable storage options in the years since the console’s launch. Such a thing is standard practice in the gaming industry, even for niche hardware. I happened upon some threads and Amazon listings suggesting that special adapters could be used to install micro SD cards in the game slot. My prayers had finally been answered! The only catch: I had to hack my system in order to do it. With fully detailed instructions all over the Web, how difficult could it be?

I suppose it’s worth mentioning that I have a small amount of experience having done soft hacks in the past. First, it was emulators, which wasn’t so much hacking as it was acquiring software from different places and using them correctly. Then, I started jailbreaking my first iPhones, enabling me to do things I couldn’t normally do with them. That was simply a matter of downloading the right program and running it with the phone physically connected to the PC. Next was my first actual hacking: the aforementioned PSP. I honestly don’t remember much about this because it didn’t last long. While I was able to successfully play a ton of games from different systems, the hardware was notoriously unstable and eventually bricked itself.

Much more recently, I installed a high storage memory card on my 2DS, allowing me to store all my games on it at once. This was simple, convenient, inexpensive, and didn’t really require hacking. I was hoping to get the same results from hacking the Vita. So after checking to make sure I had the right firmware–anything below version 3.70–I bought the two pieces I needed, the SD2 Vita and a 256 GB micro SD card. I briefly glanced over instructions for the process and, while tedious, most of the steps were simply copying and dragging files. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I’m not going to go over every step of the 4 or 5 hours I spent trying to get the software to work on my Vita, but suffice to say, it didn’t work. The first process I followed didn’t transfer the necessary software onto the handheld at all, so I sought out a more hands-on procedure. This next one actually did install one of the programs on the hardware, but after opening it and attempting to install the other ones, seen in the below menu, the system just crashed. Nothing I did could make it work, after wasting a night on it.

At first, the angel on my shoulder said, “You can just start the process over tomorrow. Maybe you made a mistake somewhere. Failing that, you can just find another procedure that’ll work better.” But the devil on my shoulder said, “What? And waste another night on this crap? Your time could be better spent blogging and playing video games!” So I listened to the devil and now I’m looking for a reason to keep my unopened 256 GB micro SD card. Storage management is annoying, but it’s not worth wasting multiple nights trying to avoid it.

If you must have a hacked Vita and can spare dropping around $300, which is nothing compared to all the money you’ve spent on your games if you don’t have storage space for them, there are plenty of pre-hacked consoles on eBay at the optimal firmware version, 3.65. They also have emulators for multiple former systems like the NES and Sega Genesis including their entire game libraries. I would recommend buying one of those.

The Umbrella Academy Season 1 Review

CAUTION: I’m going to get into a little spoilery territory in this review. Nothing too specific, but if you don’t want to know anything that happens, just skip to the last paragraph.

Netflix has been in some hot water lately with comic book adaptation enthusiasts due to their sudden cancellation of all Marvel shows. It wasn’t a huge surprise after the somewhat lukewarm, but still watchable, sophomore seasons of Iron Fist and Luke Cage were axed. When the streaming service followed up with canceling Daredevil after its explosive third season, it became clear that the company was not just clearing mediocre entertainment from their lineup but all shows from which they weren’t benefiting financially. Now that The Umbrella Academy has been released, an adaptation of the Dark Horse comic by the same name, it’s a little clearer what Netflix had in mind for its future in adaptations, as this deal was signed in 2017 well before the Marvel cancellations.

The first episode of the season recounts the significant occurrence that resulted in the events of the series; 43 women around the world, who were not pregnant when the day began, gave birth at the exact same time. The billionaire industrialist Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) tracks down and adopts/purchases 7 of the newborns to bring back to his mansion and raise. 6 of them were trained in combat to form a team of crime fighters. Their adventures and lives continued until one-by-one, each of the children left for their own reasons. At the sudden death of Sir Hargreeves, the now 30-year-old Academy students–Luther (Tom Hopper), Diego (David Castañeda), Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), Klaus (Robert Sheehan), Number Five (Aidan Gallagher), Ben (Justin H. Min), and Vanya (Ellen Page)–reunite to put him to rest, subsequently unearthing old skeletons.

The character setup could basically be described as Watchmen by means of dysfunctional X-Men with a small side of Preacher. If you enjoyed all 3 of those, as I did, you will probably like this series as well as it doesn’t stray too far from the paths already tread by its predecessors. That being said, the show definitely has its own distinct style to it; while it can get thematically dark at times, juxtaposing heavy moments with an uplifting musical track, that doesn’t keep it from being bright and funny the next moment or action-packed after that. The acting and delivery are top-notch from all the actors, but especially Page and Hopper, which is something we’ve come to expect from them already given their chops. Mary J. Blige and Cameron Britton certainly impress in their roles as Cha-Cha and Hazel, respectively.

The unexpected highlights of the show come from Sheehan and Galagher. Sheehan, I didn’t realize until after the fact, starred in the cult hit British TV show Misfits. He has been cast in a few badly reviewed movies but also in very well received series, so he is worth looking into. His emotional beats here seem so heartfelt and real that the viewer can’t help but empathize with his character’s struggles. Gallagher is a breakout star in the making, having gone straight from a few small Nickelodeon shows to a starring role in the Umbrella Academy. He proves himself to be completely capable as the time-traveling Number Five despite his young age, and I think we can expect great things from him in the future.

Overall, the show looks and sounds great, but not all is perfect. My main issue is with the story and pacing. Sir Hargreeves started Umbrella Academy, but having done so, he is responsible for the chain of events that lead to the thing that he was supposedly attempting to stop. We are given a small amount of backstory for him very late in the season, but it doesn’t explain anything about who he is or what he planned to do. Our heroes aren’t much less culpable as even though they are trying to stop it as well, they only end up making matters worse. If they would’ve done absolutely nothing or, you know, stopped excluding Vanya, they would have prevented this entire thing. Ending the season on a cliffhanger is an irritating leftover from network television that shows up here and feels very out of place when so many questions are left unanswered.

One of the great things the show does is give us a number of fully-realized characters. Each of them has their own arc and development that makes you empathize with their struggles. The flipside of that is there is so much going on that it starts to weigh down the middle of the season. It seems like the creators tried to give us a little levity at times, but compared to all the heavier scenes, the lightness tends to come off as slow. And then we get to one episode whose events are almost completely undone by Number Five due to time travel. That is a sign that writers have written themselves into a corner: all these horrible events are completely undone by traveling back in time. It’s one of the laziest tropes in TV. Except then, events start playing out a little differently and we’re not sure which version is occurring. Does the character know they’ve done this already or don’t they?

The Umbrella Academy is quite a mixed bag. While the action, script, and cinematography are superb, the story leaves a lot to be desired. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it though. There were moments when my eyes were glued to the screen wondering what was going to happen next. If you like superhero shows, you will like this one as well. Even people who like character dramas should get a little something out of it. I’ll be interested in seeing what happens next season, hoping more nagging issues get resolved.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

Stuff I’m Digging This Week

Tesla Dog Mode

My husband has become something of an ambassador for Tesla since he bought his Model 3. Now he can gloat about one more amazing feature that seeks to save puppers from overheating and owners from having their windows smashed in by well-meaning citizens. Next step: acquire dog.

Steve’s PaleoGoods Kimchi

Probiotics are super good for you and the microbiome in your gut. One of the best ways to get them inside you is by eating fermented foods like kimchi. You can throw it on anything to give it a little Korean kick and rest easy knowing you’re taking care of your body.

Ami Charcoal Blazer

You might get the feeling by now that the only clothes I dig are hyperstylized designer pieces, but in truth, I like the more wearable designs, too. I especially love when designers take classic articles like this and tweak some of the details to make them more modern. Thus, you can wear them in the office and out on the street.

Acne Studios Crossbody Bag

One of the things I love about Acne Studios is that a lot of their offerings are unisex (a lot of labels are like that today, as a matter of fact). Adding to that versatility, the shoulder strap of this bag is also removable, so you can simply carry it around by the handle if you wish.

Knoll Side Chair

DWR has been instrumental in bringing professionally-designed housewares to everyday consumers. Right now, they are running a sale on Knoll furnishings and this is one of my favorites. It’s simple so it coordinates with the rest of your decor regardless of style but also complex so it will surely be a conversation piece.

Visvim Baseball Shirt

There’s a cold, hard truth I have to share: you will probably never be able to afford a wardrobe full of visvim. Unless of course you are John Mayer. Still, it’s good to have goals and inspiration. Plus, if you find a piece that’s just so perfectly designed that it’s timeless, like this shirt, it might be worth a splurge.

Calvin Klein Jeans Est.1987 T-Shirt

One of the labels inspired by Raf Simons’ tenure at Calvin Klein has created a tee that feels 5 steps above the staid, plain-white variety. It will instantly elevate whatever you wear it with.

The Gigi Drawstring Pants

Summer will be here before you know it, so it would behoove you to stock up on clothes that will help you stay cool in the heat. This pair is 100% linen and easygoing enough to wear on the couch, the beach, and anywhere in between.

Suikoden V Review (PS2)

There was a time, not long ago in fact, that Konami was a well-known and venerated video game developer. The company was originally founded in 1969, and it was instrumental in releasing some of the most well-known games of the 80s such as Frogger, Gradius, Double Dribble, and Contra. That notoriety for creating great games, not the least of which included Castlevania, Metal Gear, and Silent Hill, continued until Konami became a holding company in 2006. Since then, their video game output has dwindled to just a handful every year, the majority of which are either remastered ports of old games or low-quality, high-return mobile games. This one, the fifth and final of the core series, released at the pinnacle of the company’s success, feels like a swansong for the once great Konami.

Suikoden was one of the company’s series that usually flew under the radar but was also top-tier in quality. While each entry’s narrative stands apart from the other, the overarching story revolves around the 27 True Runes–sources of tremendous power–and the civil wars caused by the struggle to command them. The objective in each game is to gather the 108 Stars of Destiny, forming an army lead by the silent protagonist to defeat the main antagonist in his attempt to rule over the nation. This premise is inspired by Water Margin, a classical Chinese novel attributed to Shi Nai’an. A few characters hop in and out of some of the games which helps to flesh out the world for people who follow the series.

The plot of the Suikoden V isn’t too different from what the series was already known for, but there are a few interesting twists and turns. You control the Prince of the Queendom of Falena. His mother, Queen Arshtat, rules via somewhat bipolar methods. While she is the main figurehead the nation looks up to, the Senate creates the laws of the land and is controlled by two opposing families–the Godwins and the Barowses. It becomes obvious the Queen is troubled by how the families have a stranglehold on her power, but she can rest with the knowledge that only she can wield the Sun Rune, a powerful True Rune. Soon, as she is the heir to the throne, Princess Lymsleia will have to take a husband which is chosen by the Sacred Games. This is where things start to go off the rails.

The story is definitely one of the high points of the game and is the main reason I kept playing. It usually kept me guessing at what would happen next, even though I saw one of the major plot twists from a mile away. Though I would have liked to have had more scenes and action from Lymsleia’s point of view, I found her character progression fascinating. I found it notable that, while the main character is male, this is a nation where females are typically the ones in power. In general, women are depicted as strong, caring leaders while the men who are trying to wrest power from them are arrogant and indifferent to the suffering caused. This is also the only Suikoden game in which the player never gets to control a True Rune, which adds an interesting dynamic to the series.

The game features a number of gameplay mechanics that should be familiar to people who’ve played these games before. 6-character parties make a return after their absence in Suikoden IV. The traversable-by-foot overworld map and the overhead view in towns have both been revived after their omission since Suikoden II. Skills from Suikoden III also have been added though they are less useful now than they were then. 1-on-1 duels and army battles, series mainstays, are also prevalent here. In fact, even the music, dungeon design, and enemy design all seem to be inspired by those from the first Suikoden. Voice acting returns as well from Suikoden IV and, at least during cutscenes, is still quite strong. In essence, this game looks and plays like a “best of” compilation of series gameplay mechanics. This was likely a conscious decision after the blowback from the huge departures made in the fourth entry.

One of the few new additions to the series in this entry is the style used for army battles. As far as I can remember (and correct me if I’m wrong) this is the first time real-time strategy has been implemented. I’m not going to lie; this was quite an adjustment coming from the classic turn-based style of yesteryear. At first, it seemed like these battles were out of control with soldiers everywhere. Luckily, I did eventually figure out how to fight these battles effectively and they became much easier. In fact, they were quite exhilarating. The only problem was, even with how proficient I became, sometimes I frantically had to move the cursor from one side of the map to the other because any battle would reset the camera’s position. Being able to simply switch between characters using the shoulder buttons would have solved that problem. This was a minor issue though.

My biggest problem with this game is that it is so. Fricking. Long. It’s one of the many reasons I haven’t written a game review in a long time. Just completing the main story will take the better part of 50 hours, but if you want to see the best ending, it will be around 70. A good portion of that is due to the excessive random encounter rate. Cutscenes also aren’t skippable which is odd given that this game was released in 2006 when the ability to skip was likely standard. Load times are especially outrageous and add a significant amount to playtime as you will get a load notification between almost every map, room, town, battle, etc. The cute low-res walking graphic is a very small consolation when you are frequently waiting up to 7 seconds traveling through dungeons, fighting monsters every few steps.

But enough about how long the game was (it was seriously long though). Some of the gameplay mechanics were also irritating. Whoever constructed the main menu should have been fired because it was not designed properly at all. For example, when you want to equip something, standard RPG procedures dictate that the game show you everything a particular character has equipped with empty spaces in the areas of the body where there’s nothing. You simply move the cursor to the area you want to equip something, select it, and it shows you what you have available in inventory to attach. Instead, when you select Equip in Suikoden V, it shows you all the items that are available to equip in inventory without being able to see what your characters already have on them. I could go on about these backassward designs, but be assured that this mentality carries through to many other areas such as rune placement, inventory management, and party formation.

As I pointed out above, skills made a return in this game. Unfortunately, they have very limited usage this time around as each character can only select two skills to use, and for many characters, the second skill slot is taken by an unremovable specialty skill. Stat-altering skills don’t become that useful until much later in the game when you gain access to epic skills which raise more than one stat. Even then, stats are so much higher by that point that raising them by 10 or 20 won’t have much of an effect in battle. Because SP (skill points) is so difficult to come by, you would have to grind for hours (see: long game) to make any headway toward the most useful skills for each character. Thus, skills are largely ineffective.

Another useless addition to gameplay is new to the series in this entry: formations. In the first 3 games, 6-character parties were always organized into 2 rows and 3 columns. This game says “To Hell with that noise!” and gives you the option of different formations which increase attack, defense, or some other stat. In theory, this was refreshing and led me to change my formation now and then depending on the situation…at first. In practice, I began noticing my medium-range fighters, the range that classically could attack enemies from either the front or back row, started missing all the time in these new formations. Without confusing you more than I already have, using alternate formations requires a lot more adjustment with regard to character range and placement than it should. As a result, my party spent most of the game in the classic 2×3 formation to ensure fighters could hit their marks.

There has been some speculation that Suikoden V was released before it was ready which would explain a lot of the issues I had. Perhaps the menus would have been cleaned up if development took longer. Perhaps the more cinematic cutscenes would have been replaced with FMV. It speaks to the quality of the game that I still felt drawn to finish it despite its flaws. The story is great, the graphics are adequate, the music is nostalgic and superb, and the battles are thrilling.

It’s unfortunate that we may never get closure on what Konami had in mind for the Suikoden series. Only 18 True Runes were ever revealed. Characters like Viki, Jeane, and Leknaat still remain mysterious with questionable motives. I always figured they were leading up to a final crossover game in which the bearers of the True Runes would team up and destroy some gargantuan, otherworldly power. Alas, that will probably never happen. However, the games that were released are still fun even if the full scope was never realized. If you still have a PS2 laying around (this is the only mainline Suikoden game still not released on PSN) I recommend playing Suikoden V.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

Stuff I’m Digging This Week

Update: I was so anxious to get yesterday’s post out that I forgot there were a couple items I wanted to add to this week’s SIDTW. The Framebridge and Dries shorts are new to this version.

It’s been a while since my last post, but don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. I had surgery last week, and due to all the work I missed and healing I had to do, I had to put off most of the things I enjoy until I felt up to the task. Unfortunately, this blog was one of those things, but I hope to get posts out more frequently from now on.

Farfetch Customer Loyalty Program

Less than 6 months ago, Farfetch, one of the greatest platforms for buying luxury clothing, went public. After an explosive first month, the share price has fallen off a little, but the company has recently introduced a customer loyalty program in light of its popularity with rewards increasing the more you spend. It looks as though the rewards reset annually. Maybe this is a sign of more good things to come from the IPO.

The Elder Statesman Cashmere Cardigan

While I was on Farfetch, I decided to take a look at what the finest purveyor of cashmere everything has been up to and this amazing cardigan/coat/robe caught my eye. It’s quite a departure from the usual tie-dye stylings they’ve been creating lately. One day I vow to own something from the brand, even if it’s something small (cashmere socks anyone?).

Match Striker Dish

I’m always a sucker for handsome, minimalist design when decorating the home, and this matchstick holder fits the bill. It displays so much character on its own that you don’t even need to put anything in it, matches or otherwise. It’s currently sold out, but keep an eye out for restocks.

Suicoke Sandals

One could forget, given the recent weather, that spring and summer are just around the corner, but right now is the perfect time to stock up on stylish offerings before they begin to sell out. Take these sandals from Suicoke for example. The label has grown in popularity lately due to numerous collabs, and it’s easy to see why considering its Vibram soles and sporty velcro straps. They’re going to sell like hotcakes when the mercury rises.

Entireworld Socks

Socks had a major renaissance in menswear well over a decade ago, and ever since, many designers have been experimenting with them in their collections. Look no further than genius Scott Sternberg’s latest brand to design understated but stylish creations. Some of them are reversible, some are almost entirely cashmere, while others are made of 100% (or close to it) recycled cotton.

Saturdays Short Sleeved Shirt

Every year like clockwork there’s a new pack of floral print, camp collar, short sleeve shirts to obsess over. I’m particularly inspired by how Saturdays has coordinated this shirt with coral-colored pieces in some of their fits for the season.

Framebridge Customer Service

I’ve discussed before how important customer service is in the digital marketplace. A month or two ago, I decided to try out Framebridge since I keep hearing their ads in my podcasts. The frame looked great when it arrived. Fast forward to a week ago, I look up at the frame and notice splotches all over the white mat. (That is not normal.) Dubious that the company would make repairs so long after the purchase date, I was surprised when they asked us to send it back to them. This is how companies should work.

Dries Van Noten Shorts

From the label that basically invented the marble print comes these amazing shorts that are primed and ready for summer. They are surprisingly inexpensive for the brand, but alas, I’m taking a break from brown bottoms because I already have too many of them.

Men Still an Afterthought in New Clothing Apps

Apps have taken over our digital devices, from laptops to smartphones, e-readers to TVs. They are predominantly how we access information and interact with each other and the rest of the world. As the software has developed from simple word processing and spreadsheet composition to complex ride-hailing and turn-by-turn GPS navigation (RIP Mapquest), they have also transformed the fashion industry and its accessibility.

One of the first apps I downloaded on my iPhone 3GS back in the day was Gilt. In fact, can attribute much of my early infatuation with menswear to this app which, while smaller than the women’s section, had a space devoted to men. It was how I bought my first two designer suits at a sensible price. It was where I discovered Gant, Michael Bastian, and Gant by Michael Bastian. Unfortunately, after the death of the flash sale business model, Gilt’s history has been turbulent, but I will always remember it for what it once was: a gateway to developing fashion knowledge and personal style at a time when there was little of that elsewhere.

Keep in mind that it’s difficult for many men to develop their sense of style. They are already at a loss because they likely don’t have a physical person to ask for advice if they want or need it. For a man, if you care too much about what you wear or how you look, your peers will call you gay. If you don’t care enough, they’ll say you’re a slob. For an adolescent man with self-esteem issues, it may not be easy to take chances fashion-wise and figure out the best way to express himself through clothing, so he may end up barely treading water wearing T-shirts and cargo shorts for the rest of his life. He could progress into adulthood and either never fully appreciate a suit or never learn how to coordinate one with a shirt and tie.

The industry no longer revolves around making new, attractive clothing only for women, and menswear is arguably more integral to fashion now than it’s ever been.

This is where apps are essential. They put information directly in the palm of your hand so you have no excuses for not having it except that you aren’t looking in the right place. The best apps today show not only brands that one should be aware of but also how to coordinate individual pieces into smart-looking outfits. For those men who are interested but don’t want to take a chance on someone seeing that they’re interested, apps and their companion websites can be a lifeline. For the rest of us who love their smartphones and simply want all that power at their fingertips, it is just as important as we are constantly looking for new ways to wear old items. This is why, ladies and gentlemen, I’m discouraged at what I still see in the App Store today. Or, more to the point, what I don’t see.

Rent the Runway has become quite a force since it was launched nearly a decade ago, in November 2009. As the name suggests, it enables women to rent clothes and looks short-term at a reasonable cost from high-end designers as opposed to paying full price to own the same clothes. Finery is a somewhat new business but seems to be making headway. They pull all previous online clothing purchases together to help create a digital wardrobe. It turns out that building a digital wardrobe is one of the many projects I’ve been putting off because it will require so much time and energy. An app like this would be invaluable to me. But, you guessed it, it’s only available for women, so I’m out of luck. These two examples are just the tip of the iceberg, but you get my drift–there are so many great apps and websites being created that are exclusive to women.

Men’s fashion has come a long way in the last decade. There is a portion of each fashion week in the four major capitals devoted to menswear, one of which (NYFW) is going on right now. We also have Pitti Uomo annually, which only keeps getting bigger. Many labels are created every year that cater exclusively to men. Hell, some of those brands, like John Elliott, have branched off into womenswear, so women are now benefitting from styles men have already made popular. The industry no longer revolves around making new, attractive clothing only for women, and menswear is arguably more integral to fashion now than it’s ever been.

I like being able to express myself, and it would be fantastic if I had access to the same tools as do members of the opposite sex.

The popularity of sites like Grailed and StockX, Highsnobiety and Hypebeast, once gave me hope that the future of men’s fashion in the pop culture sector would continue an upward trend. But more and more, I see men are an afterthought or altogether ignored in favor of pursuing what comes easy: promoting womenswear to women who likely already have too much of it. I’m not saying it’s a flawed business model necessarily as conscientious consumerism is much of what drives my writing, but when a service automatically excludes 49% of the world’s population while those people have nothing similar to act as a substitute, I think it is a disservice to the industry as a whole.

I’m going to step down off my soapbox before I get into how promoting exclusivity in the fashion industry is what makes it function (because that would be a little hypocritical), but I hope the aforementioned trends change. I like being able to express myself, and it would be fantastic if I had access to the same tools as do members of the opposite sex. But the future doesn’t change simply because we want it to. A select few have to lead the way and put ideas in front of people’s noses. I hope those talented individuals see the opportunity in an unserved market before it’s too late.

Stuff I’m Digging This Week

Schoolhouse Side Table

Last week’s little visit to the Schoolhouse website got me to look at this new bad boy they have in stock. This thing is handsome enough to serve as either a nightstand or an end table with plenty of storage built in for both.

Rhude Plaid Overcoat

I’ll give you the short version and simply tell you that plaid is HUGE right now. Seems like every label from Todd Snyder to Gucci is going all in on the pattern with wacky variations. Plaid coats are especially big, and this one looks like a dream. I love Rhude for their modern takes on classic menswear staples.

$2 off Hulu Subscription

Remember the uproar Netflix caused a few weeks ago when they said they were raising the price on their subscriptions? I have feelings on that, but I won’t get into it here. Anyway, Hulu made the best move ever and said that, in response, they would be lowering the cost of their own subscription service. The catch is that it’s only for their higher-tier no-ads service, but still, it was pretty genius marketing. It convinced me to upgrade.

Ovadia x Mouse T-shirt

Yeah I know, another collab. I’m not going to highlight the entire thing like I did last time, even though I really want to. Ovadia & Sons, another label that blends streetwear and fashion, has teamed up with Grateful Dead album cover artist Stanley Mouse to capitalize on the popularity of tie-dyed and GD-style clothing. This tee is just one of many pieces I find interesting. You might want to take a look at this gorgeous sequined jacket while you’re at it.

Burberry Plaid Trousers

I told you plaid was huge right now! Another thing that’s big is wearing clashing plaids together in the same outfit, as displayed here. I have a confession to make. Ever since I played through Persona 5, I’ve been dying to own a badass pair of plaid pants like the ones the Phantom Thieves wore to school. They don’t have to be exactly the same color scheme, but something audacious yet versatile would be great. This pair fits the bill.

HMS Owl Air Control Tower

I am always on the hunt for new travel experiences, which is one reason I follow Uncrate. They like to show off interesting places to stay or own like this old renovated military control tower in Scotland. The industrial furnishings sleep up to 4 with a king-sized bed overlooking the sunset. It even has a hot tub!

Kingdom Hearts III

After 14 years of waiting, we finally got the end to this long-running, beloved series. Reviews are out and they are mostly good. The one major drawback I’ve heard about the game is that the Final Fantasy characters were completely forgotten and left out, which is a bummer. Unfortunately, due to my sizable backlog which I decided I’d complete before starting on more modern games, I won’t be getting to this one for quite some time. Though exceptions have been made in the past.

“The Terror” Season 1 Review

A good horror TV show can be difficult to come by. Sure, there’s American Horror Story, but that series is often more camp than scares. There’s The Walking Dead, which has always felt more like a soap opera to me because it goes on and on with no endgame in mind. Speaking of soap operas, The Haunting of Hill House serves as a recent example of great horror TV, striking an ingenious balance between shock and family drama. As I’ve said before, in order for horror to succeed these days, it has to be creatively blended with other genres so it will be unique. This is especially true for TV because straight horror doesn’t really work for the medium.

The concept behind The Terror is twofold. First, the series is an adaptation of a book by the same name. Second, it is historical fiction based on actual events with some supernatural elements thrown in. The events on which the show is based revolve around two ships, the Erebus and the Terror, that departed England in 1845 in an effort to find a route through the Northwest Passage, a theoretical trade route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific via the Arctic. Both ships were lost and all the men are presumed to have perished in the attempt. The novel was written in 2007, but the wreckage of the ships was discovered more recently in 2014 and 2016, circumstances which were likely the inspiration behind creating the show.

Sir John Franklin (Ciarán Hinds), captain of the Erebus, is steadfast in his need to complete his mission. Francis Crozier (Jared Harris), his second-in-command and captain of the Terror, is less optimistic and doesn’t want to take any chances on the off chance the ships get stuck in the ice. As the series continues, Commander James Fitzjames (Tobias Menzies) plays a pivotal role as well, first as a foil to Crozier, then as a partner. These are the main three characters who drive much of the plot for the first couple of episodes while we get to know others along the way.

The series doesn’t waste any time getting into the story, and since there are only 10 episodes, such expediency is warranted. Almost immediately, the ships are having troubles getting through the icy waters of the Canadian Arctic. The first few episodes do a great job of setting up the main characters and the few side characters we’re led to care about such as Lady Silence (Nive Nielsen), one of the local Inuits native to this barren world. The mood and atmosphere are perfectly set for what promises to be a depressing plot, complete with murderous, seemingly otherworldly creatures. Slowly the crew is driven apart and destroyed by forces from within and without.

The only issue I had with the season is that there are a lot of characters, and each one has their own motivations. Some of them end up being more important than others, but in the beginning, it’s not very obvious which are which. It can be difficult to keep them all straight when some have their faces partially occluded by winter gear and general filth. Then they start growing beards and look completely different again. It’s possible this is by design in order to make the viewer anxious about not really knowing what’s going on or who’s doing what. If that’s the reason, it’s very effective. There was barely a moment when I wasn’t on the edge of my seat, waiting for the next shoe to drop.

The Terror had an excellent way of going through various events while still making the pace seem slow, plodding, and melancholic. The oppressive mood will make you begin to empathize with the men who went on this doomed voyage. Even the crazy ones can come off as somewhat sympathetic, like they’re just trying to survive in this hostile environment that just wants them dead.

I think you might be guessing where I’m headed with this one. When even the few faults seem like they may have been intentional which simply adds more to the show, it’s safe to say that if you love historical fiction or horror–psychological, Lovecraftian, or otherwise–you will love this show. Season 2 should be out this year and will be based on events taking place on the west coast during World War II.

Score: 5 out of 5