Rugby Shirts Will Get You Through Spring in Style

This year more than most others in my memory, every brand and designer under the sun has come up with their own take on the classic rugby. Whether it’s the fact that the kinda polo, kinda sports jersey top blurs the line between casual and business wear (read: smart casual) or that athletic clothing has taken over fashion is anyone’s guess. None of that really matters though when the shirt is so right for the season, when the temperature can drop 20 degrees within a few hours. You can wear the shirt by itself or layered up with a light jacket. If you care at all about your style, you are doing yourself a disservice by not having at least one in your wardrobe. Whether you want a solid color or a crazy pattern, budget brand or high-end, there is a rugby shirt that will meet your needs. These are my favorites on sale right now.

JW Anderson

JW Anderson tries his hand at the rebuilt trend that’s been gaining traction, designing a rugby that is eminently wearable.

Rowing Blazers

A super preppy shirt from Rowing Blazers that will go perfect with a navy blazer or jeans.

Billionaire Boys Club

Speaking of preppy, this rugby looks like it’s designed more for sailing boats, complete with zip collar and kangaroo pouch, than running a ball down the field.

Tommy Hilfiger x Lewis Hamilton

Tommy Hilfiger’s decision to bring the Formula One driver in for a collaboration is just the latest in a long line of brands working with sports celebrities. This one’s not only fun but also functional with an attached hood.


Leave it to Gucci to design something both fashion forward and basic looking at the same time.


The reasonably-priced streetwear brand continues to produce on-point clothing.


Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking. (Also awesome.)

Rag & Bone

Rag & Bone’s quality is so great and this combination of yellow and navy is eye-catching and versatile. Plus, it’s on clearance!


You’ll be surprised how much a little color can do for your mood. Not to mention the favorable looks you’ll get on the street from the emblazoned logo.

Remi Relief

This one’s perfect for the guy who doesn’t want a boring rugby but just wants to get his feet wet. Also perfect for toning down an outfit that’s already loud enough.

Mr P.

When Mr P. first started, their focus was mainly on high quality basics that won’t break the bank. It’s safe to say they’re beginning to branch out into more adventurous territory.

Polo Ralph Lauren

What I love about this one is the punch that the red collar and embroidered crest give to the rest of the basic shirt. It’s just enough to keep it from being boring.

Aimé Leon Dore

Aimé Leon Dore has proven themselves especially adept at dialing into the fusion of sportswear and fashion.


Being the younger, estranged sibling of Band of Outsiders, Entireworld displays their keen ability to deliver top quality and versatile style at a reasonable price point.

Stuff I’m Digging This Week

Camiel Fortgens Popover

Mr. Fortgens is relatively new to the fashion scene, having only begun designing in 2014. Taking inspiration from his dyslexia, he builds his collections upon rethinking how garments work, constructing them in a way that makes sense to him. His clothes are quite inspired, but this shirt is especially so.

The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America

Let’s face it, birdwatching is for the birds. When has a bird ever done anything for you? The author of this book understands that birds can be jerks, thinking that they’re better than you. But seriously, if you like avians and/or have a sense of humor about you, you should pre-order this book.

Sage de Crêt Seersucker Trousers

Summer will be here soon and it’ll be time for lighter clothing. Enter seersucker. But this isn’t your usual boring striped seersucker from yesteryear. Sage de Crêt has created these trousers with a much more versatile plaid pattern which will see you through the warm months in style.

Ami Long Windbreaker

And here I thought coat season was over. Ami is here to prove otherwise. Not only will a long windbreaker like this elongate your frame, making you look taller, it’ll also help protect you from sudden showers. Or, you know, wind.

JAXA x Toyota Lunar Rover

Toyota is officially getting into the reinvigorated space race with their new agreement with JAXA. While this may not sound like a big deal, the truth is that it is much more difficult to make a case for space exploration if there’s no potential profit for companies. Now that automobile companies are involved, humanity might get more serious about it.

Scotch & Soda Button-up Polo

Hawaiian themes are everywhere right now, but that alone isn’t what I love about this polo. What strikes me is that this polo looks like something Amiri would design. You know, the brand that perfected the skinny jean. So basically what you get with this shirt is not only something that looks stylish but also looks five times the price.

Balenciaga Leather Tote

Omg. A yellow leather bag with kittens on it? Fuck everything else, I want this!

Google Stadia

So Google recently had a press release that consisted of the announcement of the company’s push into the game industry. They didn’t have much to say about Stadia except that it wouldn’t require a box like a PS4, just a suitably robust internet connection. With that, one can stream 4K games to any screen just as they would Netflix. There’s no doubt that this is the direction the industry is headed anyway, but what remains to be seen is whether the tech giant can deliver on its promises where other game companies have so far made no headway. Hopefully it is more successful than Google Glass.

LEGO Steamboat Willie Set

I normally don’t dig toys, but having grown up playing with LEGOs, I have a soft spot for them. In honor of the 90th anniversary of Mickey Mouse’s screen debut, the company made this detailed set. It’s feasible that a care-free adult could even display this on a bookshelf in his home right next to his birdwatching books.

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Jordan Peele Proves He Is a Master of Modern Horror with ‘Us’

It’s almost impossible to view this movie in a vacuum, a void in which director Jordan Peele didn’t make his directorial debut two years ago with the remarkable Get Out, a movie which garnered a large number of award nominations, going on to win many including the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. That weight is inescapable, but instead of trying to reinvent the wheel with his hotly anticipated sophomore effort, Peele reaches into a grab bag of horror tropes familiar to 80s and 90s horror enthusiasts and mixes them with some premises he used in his first film to create something altogether unique. The result is a genre-bending roller coaster ride that will have you on the edge of your seat one moment, then laughing yourself off the edge the next.

A few introductory scenes depict a young girl in 1986 watching a commercial for Hands Across America. Later on, she wanders off the boardwalk by herself and into a funhouse where she is frightened by a figure that looks like herself. In the present day, we are then introduced to the Wilsons, a lovely family of four on a car ride to their Northern California vacation home–the distant but protective mother, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o); the goofy, well-intentioned father, Gabe (Winston Duke); the teenage, smartphone-wise daughter, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph); and the scamp of a preteen son, Jason (Evan Alex). Attempting to enjoy themselves and relax, the family heads to the beach. Though Adelaide seemingly has mild PTSD from the aforementioned events she experienced as a child, she never talks about what happened, even as the Santa Cruz beach triggers repressed memories. All this changes when four strangers appear that night at the end of their driveway.

From start to finish, Nyong’o is particularly amazing in her role, going for broke in every scene. Adelaide is well in line with other strong, female badasses such as Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, and her transformation through the movie is very interesting to watch. Duke also plays his part well with Gabe acting as the comic relief essential for this movie to work. Peele, as he did in Get Out, loves to mix in dashes of grounded comedy, allowing for levity now and then. While Elizabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker are both serviceabe in their roles as Kitty and Josh respectively, their characters are only in a couple scenes and don’t add much to the plot except to move it forward, not knowing enough about them to care. The Wilson kids are much more integral and both are embodied well by their child actors.

Though there is a lot of violence and death, most of those deaths are never
seen directly, only implied by blood spatters and the use of sound. Many people flinch or look away when deaths are shown on-screen, so this style allows even antsy viewers to keep watching, building the sense of dread even more. When death is shown on-screen in Us, it is always a pivotal moment that no viewer will be likely to turn away from, their eyes glued to the screen. The fact that people won’t want to miss watching those deaths might say something about us as people and perhaps Peele wants us to confront that.

Many horror movies rely on overly gruesome scenes to induce scares, but Us instead depends on sound effects and music. Their implementation here is very effective at conveying emotion and provoking jumps. In one scene, when the Wilson doppelganger family is being introduced, the score strategically changes from loud orchestral music to complete silence except for some very creepy sounds, leaving us to fill the sudden void with our imagination of what will happen next. This style is also held over from 80s horror movies, but Peele uses it to such great effect here.

It’s notable how horror can be drawn from seemingly normal, everyday events and contrasting imagery. Right from the beginning, the camera follows young Adelaide closely while she walks the boardwalk with her parents. Everything is bigger than life and sounds are loud and foreign. The child holds a perfect, uneaten candy apple, signifying pure innocence. That is, of course, until she drops it and walks into the funhouse. This sort of imagery continues throughout the movie with rabbits and the color red all over the place, which only adds to the creepy atmosphere.

Peele is wonderfully on-point with the symbolism. The overall theme that everyone has a secret dark side is wonderfully executed. That, if everyone’s dark sides were revealed, they would kill everyone brings to mind the Purge movie series. However, the more poignant allusion expressed in Us is that of Trump and his effect on America, how large groups of people were forced to live in the shadows until he ran for president and now his unwavering supporters have come out of the woodwork and comprise almost half of the country’s population.

If there’s one thing that holds this movie back, it would be that the story is so dense that many ideas end up not panning out on closer inspection. For example, there is a particular verse that is alluded to a number of times. The verse itself is sort of prophetic for what happens in the movie, but it’s not clear why, say, Jason points to the alarm clock when it reads the verse number. In another scene, when everyone is enjoying themselves on the beach, a random red frisbee with a star on it nearly hits Adelaide, falls, and completely covers a blue circle on the towel. She acts concerned when she sees it, but beyond the symbolism and foreshadowing this occurrence would provide for the viewer, it’s not clear why she would think this was out of the ordinary.

In fact, there are quite a few questions the film presents, many of which are never answered. Adelaide’s early explanation of “things seem to be falling into place” doesn’t make much sense since the only thing supernatural occurring this world is the tethering concept. Peele himself may offer answers to a lot of these inconsistencies in the form of sequels, which he has alluded to being open to making. On the other hand, he has said that not providing every answer, leaving people to guess, merely adds to the psychological horror.

Jordan Peele’s much-anticipated sophomore effort is outstanding, just like his debut. His method of almost completely switching genres every 20 minutes really works for Us and keeps the viewer guessing. The underlying mystery at its core, with a twist that’s not entirely surprising, is unreservedly performed by its cast with Nyong’o standing out in particular. Though its story may not be as streamlined as Get Out, Us deserves just as much attention for its use of iconography and current-day themes and its clever merging of classic tropes with new ideas.

Score: 4.5 out of 5

6 New Shoes You Should Buy Before They Disappear

Since so many great shoes were released this week, I couldn’t narrow them down to just one or two and stick them in Stuff I’m Digging This Week. I figured I should let you know all these great shoes are available now (or will be soon) and going quick. Pitter patter!

1017 Alyx 9SM Snake Hiking Boots

Snakeskin on hiking boots?! No, unfortunately it’s not real, but the embossed leather was likely influenced by the cowboy craze of last year. And that…thing attached to the bottom is just so eye-catching. You almost overlook the silver detailing on the side.

New Balance x Bodega 997S

Bodega is a little-known establishment based in Boston that is a mecca for streetwear enthusiasts. If you are a menswear fanatic, you owe it to yourself to go to the store at least once. This collaboration is so colorful and fun, they will be sure to get you through the summer in style. They’re not for sale yet, but will be in early April. Be on the lookout.

Dr. Martens x United Arrows & Sons Bit Loafers

I’m not crazy about every Dr. Martens collab, but this one is special. United Arrows is a Japanese cult menswear label that has a distinct way of reinterpreting preppy basics like many of their peers do. I’d love to wear these with a cricket sweater and plaid pants. Only available by preorder via UA’s website. Be sure to figure out your correct shoe size.

New Balance Tokyo Design Studio RC2

Tokyo Design Studio is a joint effort by New Balance’s American and Japanese design teams to utilize skillful craftsmanship unique to Japan. This is just one of the four colorways they’ve released exclusively to Notre.

Castaner Perseo Espadrilles

Summer is on its way, and temperatures are already beginning to warm up. If you don’t buy your warm weather gear now, it’ll be sold out by the time you get around to it. Espadrilles are the best summer shoes because they won’t weigh down your outfit or your feet. These will maintain the perfect balance of comfort and style till the weather cools off again.

Puma x MTV RS-X Tracks

Puma’s been killing it with their latest designs and this shoe continues the trend. A collab with MTV that evokes the decade in which the channel began airing, these also play on the neon trend that has become almost mainstream in its popularity. Preorder these while you can at the Puma site.

CAT Intruder Shoe

It’s not so odd when you think about it. CAT isn’t traditionally known for being fashionable, erring on the side of utility to a fault. But in an era when Dickies and Carhartt are more popular than ever on the street, the company best known for steel-toed boots decided to make a shoe that could appeal to fashion and function.

Acne Studios Shows Us How to Wear Nantucket Reds

If you haven’t seen The Devil Wears Prada, having watched a pivotal scene in the movie is the key to understanding today’s rant. If you haven’t seen the film yet, I recommend it as an enjoyable, popcorn-worthy chick flick (even though I’d probably only give it about a 2.5 today). Yes, I know that scene was written using information that isn’t true. And no, it doesn’t escape me that that fact really makes the entire film lose its message, but that’s a tirade for another day.

Acne Studios recently dropped their SS19 collection, and I’m loving the mixture of off-beat colors, punchy patterns, and subtle twists on neutral basics, all of which the label is known for. But something really bothers me about how they’ve marketed the pair of pants seen in the above pictures. Okay, they’re not exactly the same. The one on the left is a runway piece made of ripstop while the one on the right is ready-to-wear made of twill. However, they’re obviously meant to be the same color, and that is why I’m channeling Miranda Priestly today.

What you don’t know is that these pants are not just orange, they’re not ginger orange, they’re not dark coral, they’re actually Nantucket red. You see, in the 1940s, Murray’s Toggle Shop on the little island of Nantucket began selling chinos in a brick red color which sold like hotcakes. Due to the amount of sailing the residents of the prep style capital did, the salt spray and sunlight began bleaching the pants into a salmon-like shade. The popularity of the pants lead Philip C. Murray to trademark the name Nantucket Reds along with the color, selling them exclusively at his shop. The faded red trousers have been a staple in preppy wardrobes ever since, with the garment serving as something of a badge of honor for the Ivy League types.

The fact is Murray’s pants are not designed well and fit like crap, and after several years, the made-to-fade red pants start looking rather…well…pink. Fashion labels like the color and its history, but they want to be able to tweak the pants to coordinate well with their looks. Thus, similarly colored pants tend to show up in the collections of labels known for preppy clothing like Polo Ralph Lauren and J.Crew or in other labels every decade or so when prepwear becomes popular again. Now is that time. Of course, no one can actually call the color “Nantucket red” because of the trademark, so they have to invent other color names like tropical orange or dusty berry. I really wish they all would just stick to one color name instead of making us guess.

It’s odd that I was just recently trying to figure out how one was expected to mix this preppy staple into a modern-looking outfit. (I don’t always feel up to wearing a white OCBD and navy blazer.) Acne is reading my mind, and now I have some inspiration. For your consideration, you’d probably be safe to mix in pieces from other modern prep fashion labels such as Noah, Rowing Blazers, or Kent & Curwen. Mix it up and don’t take the color too seriously.

Rant over.

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Shopping the DWR Sale

Design Within Reach is not necessarily known for being inexpensive, but in the housewares industry, just like most every other industry, you get what you pay for. That sometimes-hefty pricetag pays for top-tier quality paired with customer service that is second to none. Today, DWR is basically the equivalent of the fashion industry’s Mr. Porter, a meticulously curated collection of modern furnishings. And just like Mr. Porter, they put most of their pieces in context so you can get an idea of how to style them in your own home.

Right now, DWR is running their semiannual sale to take advantage of the coming of spring and everyone’s desperation to shake off their seasonal affective disorder symptoms. This sale is excellent because if you’re considering the purchase of one of their expensive sofas anyway, it could save you $1000. At the same time, other pieces that are normally a decent price are even cheaper now, so if you were waiting to pick them up, now is the time to strike. These are just a few of the pieces I like that are on sale.

Story Bookcase

I’ve always loved the look of this bookcase because of how simple it is. Instead of being some wood-framed monstrosity that you have to somehow fit into a room, the look of this one is effectively a large stack of books that you can sit anywhere. You can even twist the shelves around to different angles and put knick-knacks on them.

KnifeForkSpoon Flatware

As a kid, my family had a bazillion different mismatched designs in the silverware drawer. While that’s kind of kitschy and rustic, there’s a certain comfort in giving all your dinner guests the same uniform flatware.

Chilewich Bouclé Placemats

While I used to think there was no real point to placemats besides making the table look pretty, I’ve come to learn that they can help make cleanup much easier. They catch all the crumbs and spatters, then you can simply throw them in the clothes washer.

Teak Bathroom Mat

I love the look of teak in a bathroom. It’s so warm and inviting. The wood is great because it requires virtually no maintenance and eventually develops a silvery patina, lending a more rustic feel to the room.

Finesse Glassware

For those who don’t know (and don’t feel bad because I didn’t either before I researched) crystal is preferred over glass in drinkware because it is stronger and thus can be made thinner without compromising durability. I can personally vouch for these glasses and say that they are the best I’ve ever owned, great for everyday use and dishwasher safe. Whereas many others have broken over time, these have yet to break once.

Dusen Dusen Towels

While I do plan to one day convert my entire collection of terry cloth towels to foutas, I might keep these on hand for guests because of how fun and colorful they are yet simultaneously modern.

Flight Recliner

It’s the chair that inspired my loyalty to DWR, but today they have so many more choices available than back then. What’s more, EVERY combination you can think of is on sale, not just a select few. So go hog wild and save a few hundred bucks.

Mondrian Mirror

Every adult person must have at least one full-body mirror somewhere in their house so that they know whether their outfit looks like a pile of crap or not. Even if you don’t really care about that, having one in a room can also make a small one look bigger. Two birds with one stone. Plus the black frame looks cool.

Model 2097 30 Chandelier

Now that is a bad ass chandelier.

Nelson Ball Clock

This clock is so cool! It can easily make a cold, neutral palette room more warm and inviting.

Sheepskin Throw

Shiny furniture (e.g., chrome and leather) tend to be a little standoffish in a living room. Simply throwing a textured piece like sheepskin will make the space more spontaneous, less chilly.

Line Media Console

This is another piece I can vouch for. Though it is short, it features a surprising amount of storage, all of which is well-concealed by the console’s design. It is sturdy and probably the best furniture we have in the living room, and that’s saying something

Raleigh Bed

I think the effect of mixing different materials and textiles tastefully into one piece is one of the neatest things in design. This bed does that beautifully without compromising its modernity or its headboard, both of which are essential.

Trove Rectangular Deep Box with Lid

At its core, modern design has always been about utility, and this box is nothing if not utilitarian. It gives you both a place to squirrel small objects away and a bonus valet tray. It might just be the most useful item on this list.

Stuff I’m Digging This Week

Palace on Farfetch

For the uninitiated, Palace is basically the British response to Supreme, the American skateboarding shop and clothing brand. As skateboarding and skaterwear became more popular across the pond, they needed their own brands that exhumed their culture better. Some argue their clothes are better made, but they are certainly less mainstream and more understated. Unbeknownst to me, the label is now available on Farfetch. I might be rocking the clothes soon.

Landlord T-Shirt

Neon clothing has reached massive popularity over the last couple years along with the resurgence of the 90s. Truth be told, the colors look quite good against an otherwise neutral outfit. If you don’t want to go all in on the trend, a simple tee is easy enough to pull off.

Premiata Shoes

I love learning the rich history of brands I’ve never heard of. Premiata didn’t begin making shoes as a brand until 1991, but the family traditions that birthed the company go back two generations to 1885. While the shoes have a more streetwear look, you can bet that they not only fit like a dream but are also built to last.

August Doorbell Camera

I’ve been very slow at buying into the whole smart home concept, but my eyes were opened to the concept’s utility when I bought an August Smart Lock. Now I just walk in the door instead of digging my key out and fiddling with the keyhole at night. This doorbell might be next on my list. You can get an alert on your phone when someone rings it, see them via the camera, then (if you have the Smart Lock) unlock the door for them. We are living in the future. Or Back to the Future.

Gucci Plaid Trousers

I told you I love plaid pants! Gucci seems to make all the best ones (even if they do cost a mortgage payment).

Armand Diradourian Eye Mask

One piece of wisdom my husband has imparted upon me is that an eye mask and some ear plugs can promote great sleep, especially in a city. I’ll be damned if I’m going to sleep with a polyester piece of junk on my face all night. Sign me up for cashmere and silk!

JW Anderson Sweater

JW Anderson is well-known for mixing traditional British wear with modern design. This is very evident in this unisex sweater which only comes in one size. It also plays on the popular art print I’ve mentioned before.

Needles T-Shirt

I love Needles and their Japanese-infused take on American streetwear. They are also one of the few labels that I feel can make re-constructed clothing look good. Their t-shirts go on my must-buy list every year (though I have yet to pull the trigger).

9 Alternatives to Amazon That Will Save You Money

When I first became an Amazon Prime member several years ago, I actually joined for Prime Video. However, as I started using the site to buy food and general merchandise, my eyes were opened to all the things I could buy that I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. Plus, free 2-day shipping! If there was a problem with my order, everything was usually returnable with no questions asked. Customer service was top notch, which is essential for any online business. I was an Amazon loyalist for a long time, spending sometimes hundreds a month on food and everyday items.

However, the company has grown so much since I became a member that many important aspects of their business have degraded, and I’ve about had it with them. Using the site to look for a product is now a tedious process unless you know exactly what you’re looking for. Reviews and vendors are often fake. Prices are usually inflated to offset the price of the free shipping and any 3rd parties involved. There’s been no move from the company to make the Prime Video or Amazon website interfaces more streamlined or user-friendly. The last straw is that it’s often a gamble whether packages show up in 2 days or 5, sometimes even more. I don’t mind waiting longer for things, but when I pay for a service, I expect to receive it.

Lucky for us consumers, there are many more retailers available today that will help people save money on the high-quality products they are used to. While none are quite as expansive as Amazon on their own, the right combination could save you hundreds or thousands per year on everything from grass-fed ghee to gaming computers. As a last resort, if you just want the free shipping, you can simply buy what you need on Amazon as long as you hit the $25 threshold. But if you don’t like spending around 2x the normal cost on the things you buy on a regular basis, give some of these vendors a look.

Thrive Market has especially homed in on the food side, selling quality products categorized by diet, not just vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free but paleo, Whole30, and keto as well. Their focus on high quality extends to the rest of their offerings as well. Products tend to cost about half of what they do on Amazon, so there’s potential for big savings. The big catches that after the 30-day trial the membership fee is $59.95 and shipping is only free above $49. Still, if you stock up, this shouldn’t be an issue.

As opposed to Thrive, Vitacost tends to focus more on general merchandise and supplements with the same mentality about quality materials and ingredients. They don’t have as much food but they carry a lot of the necessities. Similar to Thrive, their prices are often around 50% of what you’ll find on Amazon, and shipping is free above $49. However, they stay competitive by offering their service with no membership fee, which definitely puts the company in the run for consideration.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Public Goods’ product line has grown, and I’ve been very impressed with their business model. All products and packaging are designed to have as little impact on the environment as possible without compromising quality. The company ships direct to consumer, allowing items to be sold for pocket change. After a 30-day free trial, annual membership is $59, but a lifetime membership is only $99–less than the price of an annual Amazon subscription. Shipping is also free over $25.

Jet is roughly the same concept of Amazon except many of the details important to a great shopping experience weren’t overlooked. Offerings look to be curated and categorized properly. As opposed to Amazon’s habit of overstuffing the home page, Jet’s looks clean and considered. 2-5 day shipping is free for orders over $35 and returns are free as well. What’s more, there are no membership fees. The only thing to be aware of is that Jet is now owned by Walmart. If that doesn’t bother you, have at it.

If you’re specifically trying to avoid Amazon, Newegg is your best bet when it comes to buying brand-name electronics. They sell new, refurbished, and open-box merchandise all at competitive prices. Though the average Joe likely won’t need it, the company does have a Premier membership program that includes free expedited shipping on all orders. The few times I’ve shopped on the site, shipping has been free, so there’s likely a threshold to meet, but they don’t state what it is. So…shrug emoji?

I was just as surprised as you to find out that eBay doesn’t only sell used goods via auctions, they also sell brand new items as well, sometimes with a substantial discount. Many of the listings offer free shipping and returns as well. Case in point, I recently purchased a top-of-the-line TV on the site for almost $1000 off the price offered anywhere else. While the first shipment arrived damaged, it was replaced days later at no cost to me.

I know what you’re thinking. They don’t call the store “Whole Paycheck” for nothing. Plus, the organic market was recently acquired by Amazon, so they’re just as bad, right? Not necessarily. Though I know walking to the store isn’t as convenient as shopping online, I’ve found many of the things I buy, such as Siete tortilla chips and Jilz crackers, are a fraction of their cost on Amazon. We all could use the extra steps anyway.

I don’t need to sing the praises of Trader Joe’s any more than everyone else has, but Aldi is just as good with a very similar business model, even though they’re only sibling companies. Due to their minimal overhead and advertising, both can manage to offer high-quality products at a low-cost if you’re lucky enough to have a store in your area. Products often include minimally processed foods with sustainable packaging.

Though I personally have never shopped at Costco, I have become more aware of their offerings through some of my Facebook groups. The wholesaler does offer some healthier and organic foods, but it might not be the best option for people with limited storage. Just be sure to tread lightly with this one and do some research before purchasing a year’s membership.

My recommendation, if you’re looking to compare prices, is to put together a spreadsheet starting with all costs incurred from Amazon over the last year or two. Compare all purchases and fees paid to the company to what you would pay for similar offerings from other services and retailers, then calculate the difference between the totals. It’s a lot of work and might take several days to complete, but with the right mixing and matching of the different offerings, plus buying directly from the manufacturer if necessary, the savings could be substantial and all that work will pay for itself. In this era when companies are willing to take advantage of your faith in them and turn that faith into profits, it pays to micromanage and be smart about where you spend your money.

Captain Marvel 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 history of Captain Marvel goes back quite a ways, as many of Marvel’s characters do, but this one in particular is especially complex. It all started with a Captain Marvel, created in 1939, that was published by Fawcett Comics. DC Comics sued Fawcett in 1951, claiming the character was too similar to Superman, leading the latter company to cease publication of the hero. However, since Marvel Comics officially changed their name in 1961, they had every right to create a character by the same name, which they did in 1967. The catch, since Fawcett and subsequently DC also owned the Captain Marvel trademark until his name was changed to Shazam in 1972, was that Marvel had to publish a title using the name at least once every two years or they would lose the rights. As such, 7 different characters within the mainline Marvel Comics universe have held the mantle, the latest being Carol Danvers, previously known as Ms. Marvel (in turn, passing that mantle to the first Muslim character to headline a comic book, Kamala Khan).

With such a long history, it would be difficult to compress such a character down to a 2-hour+ runtime. The route the MCU takes with it is likely the easiest and most effective with the first and latest Captain Marvels at the forefront. The film begins with Carol (Brie Larson), called Vers here even though we all know what her real name is, waking from dreams she can’t explain. We come to infer from her interactions with mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) that she is a Kree, a militant and advanced alien race from the planet Hala. The Kree are at war with the Skrull, a shape-shifting alien race. Yon-Rogg is trying to teach Carol how to control her emotions and powers in battle, which he feels will make her stronger, but she is haunted by shadows of memories she can’t access because she has amnesia. They are both part of an elite task force which is soon deployed to another planet to hunt down Skrull. After a fight and crash landing, Carol finds herself on Earth and in trying to evade the Skrull that follow her and escape, she finds out who she is and the true depth of her power.

There is a lot to love in this movie. While I still wonder if we could have received a better Carol Danvers from an actress that is not so girly, Larson is absolutely capable with the part and that quality adds an interesting dimension to the character. The supporting cast is outstanding with Samuel L. Jackson, Clark Gregg, and Lee Pace returning to their previous roles and Ben Mendelsohn and Annette Bening playing new characters Talos and Mar-Vell, respectively. Goose the cat absolutely steals every scene he is in. The references to the 90s get quite a few chuckles at times, complete with cameos from Blockbuster, Radio Shack, TLC, Garbage, Smashing Pumpkins, AOL, Windows loading icons, and more. The action choreography and special effects are generally pretty great as well, especially with the de-aging deployed on Jackson and Gregg. Story-wise, Captain Marvel is decent as a prequel to the MCU, setting up things that are yet to happen, while simultaneously alluding to events we will see play out in Avengers: Endgame.

When you gloss over the movie, it’s quite functional, bright, and fun, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense upon closer inspection. When the rest of the MCU is taken into consideration and the fact that this movie chronologically takes place before all the others except the first Captain America, the timing of the communicator’s usage at the end of Infinity War, never before, seems very questionable. Not when the Chitauri attacked New York. Not when Ultron was was going to obliterate the Earth. Only right before Thanos was about to snap half of all life in the universe out of existence. Moreover, there was no guarantee that Carol wouldn’t have been snapped out of existence as well, so why would Fury have waited until the very last minute to call her?

Even when viewing the movie on its own, it doesn’t hold up very well as a stand-alone screenplay. The information dumps that seem to happen at every major plot point can be a little jarring, so much so that I think I missed some important details in the beginning of the movie while I was still adjusting to the setup. As far as origin stories go, the only reason Carol’s is interesting here is because of the amnesia angle, but that is such a predictable and overused movie trope that using it just feels lazy. The “friends become enemies, enemies become friends” story is also a twist that’s not too surprising. It’s not always clear why some things are happening or why some characters act the way they do. Fury seems to have no reaction when he finds out there’s alien life beyond Earth, and Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) acts pissed off and then sad after she finds out her best friend who disappeared 6 years prior didn’t actually die. Then she has to be talked into helping said best friend by her young daughter.

The biggest issue this movie has is that it is inconsequential from almost every angle. Sure, it introduces the titular character and the dynamic between Fury and her was entertaining to watch, but we already knew Captain Marvel existed based off of events in other movies and that she will likely save the day in the next Avengers film. DC managed to beat Marvel by having Wonder Woman as the first female-led superhero movie of the modern era. The message of this film is very muddled and seems to be that determination will overcome any obstacle, but that is never blatantly clear and only becomes apparent very near the end. After the genre-defining genius on display in Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, and Spiderman: Homecoming, this movie checks all the necessary boxes but fails to set itself apart or live up to the high bar of excellence those films set for the MCU. If you are not very invested in this universe, you probably won’t miss much by skipping Captain Marvel.

Score: 3 out of 5

Stuff I’m Digging This Week

OpkixOne Camera

A couple years ago I went to an amazing Tame Impala concert. I was so torn between wanting to experience it first hand and wanting to record it for the world (and myself) to see later. I did get a couple clips, but it’s just not the same. Opkix has developed a camera so small that it attaches to your glasses so you don’t have to choose anymore

Rowing Blazers End-of-the-Day Rugby

As I’ve said before, remixed prep is in and Rowing Blazers has got you covered. Taking inspiration from the rugby tradition of sewing opponents’ shirts onto one’s own, the brand makes these from scraps left over from the more normal rugbies they sell. Each is one of a kind, so you will be sure to stand out for all the right reasons.

CMMN SWDN Sweatshirt

Yup, another basic item. But there are several details that set it apart from your usual sweatshirt. The dimensions on the sleeves and body have been reworked and the shoulders have been dropped to give the piece a modern but comfy look and feel.

MENU LED Pendant Light

Aside from simply hanging a lightbulb from a cord, which you can absolutely do, lighting doesn’t get more minimalist than this pendant. It will add a modern vibe to a space without weighing it down.

Story Mfg. Velvet Sweatshirt

Sometimes a brand comes into your purview that you are surprised you’ve never heard of before. Story Mfg. is one of those cases. Between their on-trend design, commitment to ethical production, and relatively reasonable pricing strategy, the British label is now on my list of labels to keep an eye on. This shirt in particular is a must-have.

Public Goods

I’ve had Public Goods on my radar for quite a while. They sell sustainable, inexpensive, basic items with no additives that you would normally purchase at the grocery store. There is a yearly fee that comes out to nearly $5 a month, but the first month is free as well as shipping for orders over $25. I might make this the year I finally try them out.

Our Legacy Track Pants

Track pants are everywhere and if you want to get a pair but are unsure of what color or style would work best with your wardrobe, look no further than this simple pair from the Swedish brand that does simple the best. (White Cuban boots optional but recommended.)

Calvin Klein 205W39NYC Jaws T-shirt

This t-shirt is the signature piece from Raf Simons’ final collection at Calvin Klein. Now is your chance to own one before it sells out and shows up on Grailed for twice the price. Wear it with jeans, a suit, or go all in with a pair of neoprene pants.