Love Is…

So, I was going to write a sappy post about love today, but then I thought about it and you know what?

Love is ordering one of the last available copies of the 8-Bit Freddy Kruger figure for your horror-obsessed hubby because you know he desperately wants it for his collection.

Love is when that hubby makes you your favorite meal even though it’s a bit of a pain in the ass and requires dragging yourself out of bed early in the morning.

Love is going to opening night of Deadpool together and laughing like absolute lunatics.

Love is helping your daughter write Valentines for her classmates and baking silly heart-shaped cookies together.

Love is using toys to act out that My Little Pony episode for the three-millionth time even though you kinda want to bury anything with a “cutie mark” in the deepest, darkest woods you can find..

And love is a hug and a kiss from the two most important people in the world before heading out for another shift out West, knowing that you’ll get those hugs and kisses back a hundred-fold when you walk back in the door two weeks from now.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. XOXO

 

The Eyes of a Monster

Flash Fiction Fridays

At first it was very dark. The girl thought that her eyes must have been closed, but she blinked a few times and realized that this was not the case. Blind then? She tried to lift her hand to wave it in front of her face, but found that she was unable to move very much. She wasn’t bound, but she appeared to be in a small, compressed space. She wiggled frantically and managed to coax her arms up near her face, but she her eyes refused to register them. So…blind, possibly, or perhaps just cut off from any inkling of light, given her current predicament.

She wiggled some more, twisted herself in all directions. She felt along the edges of her confinement as best she could. It seemed to be some kind of rectangular metal enclosure, positioned vertically so that she was forced to stand while in it. She felt all along it, twisting herself in circles, looking for an exit. She found a seam on one side, running vertically down along the juncture between walls, but she found no handle, no clasps, nothing to allow her to open the structure. Instead she tried pushing. She pushed with all her strength, breathing deep and slow. She pushed again and again, losing a little of her strength each time. She was getting nowhere, fast. And she was beginning to panic. Where the hell was she and why was she trapped in this…this coffin?!

Before she knew it her breathing had sped up, her heart begun to hammer. And then she noticed something that she hadn’t before, something that frightened her to her core. Her breath and her heartbeat were the only sounds she could hear. Otherwise, she was in complete and total silence. Horrifying, maddening silence. She began to beat on the walls, but she had very little space with which to gain momentum, thus her impacts created only the soft padding of her skin making contact with the metal surface.

That was when she tried to scream for the first time.

She couldn’t.

A deep dread set in. Mind-numbing terror.

She tried again. No sound escaped her throat but for the vague rasping of her breath leaving her body at rapidly increasing intervals. Again. Nothing. Again. Nothing. Her hands flew to her throat, clawing at it desperately, willing some noise to come from it.

She felt something strange. There was a seam on her throat. With wide, unseeing eyes, she traced the raised bit of skin from it’s starting point just under her chin, down, down, past her collarbone, past her breasts. There was something else there as well, she realized. Something that periodically broke the rigid seam that split her body in two.

Stitches.

She lost what tiny strand of sanity she was still clinging to. She opened her mouth in silent shrieks, breathing faster and harder, hyperventilating, drawing in every last ounce of oxygen in the tiny enclosure. She pounded on the walls of the box with every ounce of strength she could muster. She rocked back and forth, banging her entire body into the walls, shrieking her silent shrieks. She willed herself to make some kind of noise, any kind of noise.

Any kind of noise!

The light was so sudden that it shocked her into stillness. She fell back against the wall behind her and her hands flew to her face to block the onslaught of bright white. It took what seemed like a long time for the spots in front of her eyes to disappear, but then she slowly moved her fingers, one by one, until she could see what happened. A small square window had been opened up on the wall in front of her. The light shining through really wasn’t all that bright now that her vision was beginning to adjust, but what she could see through the window was more ghastly than anything she’d experienced up to that point.

A pair of dark green eyes stared back at her; cold, fathomless, without emotion. They were the eyes of someone running an experiment. The eyes of someone who didn’t give the slightest damn about her personal well-being. They were the eyes of a monster.

Smuggler’s Bounty “Resistance” Unboxing and Review

The premiere box for the brand new “Smuggler’s Bounty” subscription was themed around the “First Order” – the successors of the Galactic Empire. Although the box had a little bit of fluff in it (a lanyard…really?) I was more than happy with the stormtrooper t-shirt, the chrome Captain Plasma Pop! and the variant Tie Fighter Pop! The first Star Wars box powered by Funko was great, in my opinion, so I was definitely excited to see what would be in the “Resistance” box. Let’s check that out, shall we?

“BB-8” patch and “Poe Dameron” pin:
Straight out of the gates on these boxes is always a patch and pin set that commemorates the theme of the box. In some of the “Marvel Collector Corps” boxes the design on the patch and pin has been the same, but so far with the “Smuggler’s Bounty” boxes they’ve all been different. This time around the patch features our new favorite little bubbly droid, BB-8, and the pin garners the face of the Resistance’s flying ace, Poe Dameron.
Approximate value: $5 for the patch, $2 for the pin

“Resistance” Funko Pop! character t-shirt:
As I mentioned in the video, I know that some people aren’t into Funko Pop!-like characters being on t-shirts, but I personally think they’re actually pretty cute. This particular t-shirt features a bunch of Resistance characters and a couple of ships, and though it’s a little busy I really like it. I especially love Han and Chewie hovering over the new guys in the background there.
This shirt also could have come in four colors: black, blue, grey, and a kind of bluish-grey. I would have been happy with any color, but I’m glad to have not gotten black just because so many of these subscription box t-shirts come in black and it’s nice to see a little bit of variety.
Approximate value: $15

“C-3P0” Pop! Home mug:
I knew this was going to happen eventually, because I got a Pop! Home mug in my Collector Corps as well, but that doesn’t really soften the blow. These mugs are not awful (although, as I mentioned in the video, apparently not very functional), but they’re just not my bag. Maybe several years go before I had a kitchen full of grown-up dishware I would have made better use of them, but these days they just aren’t my thing.
That said, I will admit that it’s pretty cute how they made the “arm” of the mug red like 3P0’s replacement arm in the movie.
Approximate value: $15

“Chewbacca” exclusive ‘flocked’ Funko Pop! vinyl figure:
And here, as always, is the part of the box that really makes it for me…an exclusive Funko Pop! figure. This month it is our good friend Chewie (side note: my adorable daughter insists on saying “ChewBACCA”) and he is flocked for our pleasure.
Okay, forget I said that last part that way. >.>
Point being, this is a nice little addition to my Star Wars Pop! collection. I don’t have a lot of flocked stuff, and if there’s a Star Wars character that you’re going to want to be fuzzy, it would definitely be Chewie. Other than the furry overcoat, he’s pretty much the same as the basic “The Force Awakens” Chewie Pop!, but the fuzz is plenty for me to be happy. ^_^
Approximate value: $20

Approximate total value of box: $57
Approximate total cost to me: $50

Okay, so as always we have to talk about the value versus the cost, and it’s an annoying part of the conversation at the moment because the Canadian dollar is currently so low. That means, whereas “Marvel Collector Corps” ran me about $40 when I first signed up for it, “Smuggler’s Bounty” is currently costing me about $50 per box, and that obviously makes the overall value of the box feel lower. $57 would feel a lot nicer if the box had cost me $40.

However, you do have to take into consideration that everything in these boxes is exclusive to the box, so the “value” is actually in the eye of the beholder. I always assign everything a standard price based on my experience, but that doesn’t mean that that’s really what the item is worth. For instance, I figure an exclusive Funko Pop! is worth about $20, but depending on how few of them are around and how many people want them, they could be worth less or a lot more. Right at this moment Pop Price Guide shows this Chewbacca for $25. Tomorrow it could be $50. Next month it could be $75. The month after that it could be down to $10. So really, you can’t put TOO much stock in these numbers. Everything has to be worth what you feel it is worth.

And that’s a good thing, because I love Pop! figures and I’m enjoying the shirts, so those things make the high cost of the box a little more acceptable to me. I definitely still wish it was lower, but for a huge Star Wars fan and a Funko Pop! collector, I still think it’s worth it, and aside from the mug I still enjoyed this box.

What do  you guys think? Thumbs up, or thumbs down? How do you feel about the shirt? What do you do with all these patches and pins? Please share!

Loot Crate Unboxing and Review for January 2016

Well, January was a slow month for things like subscription boxes, because once again the delivery of all my fun stuff seems to align perfectly with the days I’m stuck on the other side of the country. You just can’t win with these things. But oh well, no sense in whining; you’ve just got to press on and publish posts like these a little late! It’s definitely not the end of the world. :P

So, the subscription box I have for you today is Loot Crate, which is a company that has been making changes lately, so we’ll talk about those as we go. First, check out the unboxing video, which also happens to be the first video from the YouTube channel reboot, now known as “Tracey’s Basement”!

The theme of January’s Loot Crate was “Invasion”…

“X-Files” Exclusive t-shirt:
The first item out of the box is a t-shirt, and also heralds one of those changes I was talking about. I can’t find anything definitive on the Loot Crate website, but I’ve been told by fellow Looters that the original Loot Crate box will be coming with a t-shirt every month from now on, as opposed to the once-every-three-or-four months schedule from before. So I guess we’ll see how that goes.
This particular shirt is definitely a win for me, with a very glow-ish “X-Files” design just in time for the new version of the show. I loved the show as a kid, so it’s pretty awesome to pick up this wearable that has a nostalgic feel to it. Two thumbs up!
Approximate value: $15

“Space Invaders” exclusive vinyl figure:
This awesome little throwback to the history of video games could have come in three different color schemes, but I’m perfectly happy with the pink-and-blue design that I got. There’s not a whole lot you can say about him because basically a handful of pixels, but this is definitely a super-cute idea for a vinyl figure that would go great on any gamer’s shelf. It’s difficult to put a value on this because it’s an exclusive item and I wasn’t able to find anything really similar on the internet, so I’ll have to go with an average value based on the size and vinyl figures in general.
Approximate value: $10

“Facehugger” plush toy:
Prior to receiving this box, if you had used the word “cute” To describe a facehugger from the “Alien” franchise, I probably would have assumed you’d just had a stroke. However, here we are. Loot Crate took the disgustingly creepy little creatures that look like a trilobite that grew long, thin fingers to cling to your face with, and turned it into a super-happy little monster in sunshine-yellow. This is so odd it breaks my mind.
Cute though.
The ultra-happy-to-see-you version is a Loot Crate exclusive, but you can get a devilish-looking one with mean eyebrows from Entertainment Earth.
Approximate value: holy hell, $17? Really? Um…okay then.

(P.S. I began to suspect this while I was editing the video, and a couple of my YouTube followers brought it up as well…we think the giant yellow rubber band might be in the box for the purpose of affixing the facehugger to your face. Nice one, Loot Crate.)

“Loot Pins” pin for January 2016:
This is another one of those little changes…the collectible pin that comes in every Loot Crate apparently now comes on a little backing with “#LootPins” written on it and a claim on the back that “this pin unlocks something epic”. Upon visiting the lootcrate.com/pins site I discovered that the “something epic” is extra loot that you unlock with a code on the back of the pin. This month’s extra is a digital download of a comic called “Letter 44 Volume 1: Escape Velocity”. So that’s actually pretty cool. I know nothing of the comic itself, but it’s neat that the little pins that were always just a little commemoration of the box are now actually loot in and of themselves.
Approximate value: we’ll say about $1 for the pin and about $4 for the digital download, for a total of $5

“Fifth Element” multi-pass replica:
I’m just going to go ahead and say it: “The Fifth Element”…not really my bag. I saw it exactly once and I honestly can’t remember much of anything about it other than the fact that Bruce Willis is in it. That said, for a fan this item is probably pretty interesting. It’s basically an ID-holder with a chain, but for the right kind of nerd it could definitely make your day. I hope there are lots of Looters out there who are wearing this to work as I type this.
This is supposed to be an exclusive item as well, but I’m not sure what exactly makes it exclusive since I’ve found what appear to be identical items on several different websites.
Approximate value: $5

“X-Files” mini flashlight:
This second “X-Files” item is just a wee bit lame. It’s useful, for sure, because everyone should have a flashlight, but it’s also one of a variety of flashlights that is worth little to nothing. At the core, it’s the exact same as one of the little mini-flashlights that you can get at Walmart or the Dollarama for $2, just with “The X-Files” printed on the side. So, yeah…useful but practically valueless.
Approximate value: $2

Mini-posters from “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “War of the Worlds”
To round off the “Invasion” theme, Loot Crate provided us with a couple of mini-posters from two of the biggest alien-invasion movies of the past. Pretty neat; not worth a hell of a lot, but pretty neat, and cute for any cinephile.
Approximate value: $5

Loot Crate mini-magazine:
And I just thought I’d throw this in here because, while it’s not really worth much of anything to the average collector, it’s a cute little extra that the Loot Crate crew probably puts a bit of effort into. Cheers, you guys!
Approximate value: $2

Total approximate value of box: $61
Total approximate cost to me: $41

So, what did I think of the box? Well, as I said in the video: it wasn’t the best but it definitely wasn’t the worst either. The value is there, although a large portion of that value is taken up in the facehugger plush, which I personally don’t think is worth nearly that much. I definitely like the shirt and the “Space Invaders” vinyl, and the mini-posters are pretty neat, while the flashlight feels like a bit of a cop-out item and the multi-pass really means nothing to me at all. I do, however, also think that the “bonus loot” from the pin is a pretty neat change that Loot Crate has made, and if I’m right about the rubber band…that’s just amusing.

So yeah, basically this was an okay box that I enjoyed opening. Nothing super-special, but it’s definitely not a bad one or anything like that. I give it…one thumb up. :)

What did you guys think of the “Invasion” box? What was your favorite item? Least favorite? What’s your opinion on the rumor that Loot Crate will always have a t-shirt for now on? Please share!

What’s in a Name?

Memoir Mondays

Today’s post comes thanks to The Daily Post, whose “Say Your Name” prompt asks us: Write about your first name: Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself?


The story of my name is pretty simple and boring, to be honest. My understanding of it is basically that my parents hadn’t settled on a name, but when I was born my dad officially chose “Tracey”. My middle name – “Lynn” – is the standard go-to attachment for a first name that ends in “-cey”, and there you go. Tracey Lynn Clarke is what I was for the first 25-ish years of my life.

What is a little more interesting is how I felt about my name growing up, and how it has affected me as an adult.

I wouldn’t say that I hated my name when I was a kid, but like many other kids I wasn’t particularly fond of it. Kids just tend to dislike their names for some reason…I don’t know what it is, but I guarantee you the majority of people reading this agree with me. I always felt that my name sounded boring. I was a kid who read a lot, played video games, watched lots of TV, and “Tracey Lynn” just seemed terribly unoriginal to me as a result. I would have preferred something more regal, or something that sounded heroic. I’m sure I thought of a thousand other names I would have liked to have instead. Or, sometimes, I would think that perhaps I could add something to my name. I already had a middle name, but I knew several kids who had four parts to their name and I thought that maybe I could add something to make the name in general sound more interesting. Once, on a school project in the third grade, I even signed my full name with an extra bit: “Tracey Lynn Marie Clarke”. I couldn’t possibly explain to you why I thought “Marie” would make my name sound cooler, but I’m sure it made sense at the time.

There was one other reason that my name made me twitch when I was a kid: for years I was known as “Tender Loving Care” because of my initials, and that drove me nuts. I was fortunate enough to go through most of elementary school with a classmate with those same initials, but his annoyance didn’t exactly damper mine. I wondered more than once if my parents had picked those initials on purpose, because it seemed like the kind of silly, cutesy thing new parents would do, but I’m quite confident that’s not how it went. It was just the luck of the draw.

Eventually, once I’d grown up, I learned to love my name and I began to realize that wishing for a more “unique” name was a bit silly. These days there are lots of “unique” names out there, and the kids who have them are often much worse off than I ever was. I’ve known kids with names that no one would ever possibly figure out how to spell, kids named after popular characters who have since fallen out of pop culture (thus the name just sounds weird now), and kids who are named after ever day objects, places, or events that sound nothing like a goddamn name.  And it’s kind of a sin. I’ve often wondered if some parents even take two seconds to consider the ramifications of the name their choose for their child. Such as a young girl my cousin taught named Abcde. No joke. It’s pronounced “Absidy”, and I would have accepted that spelling, but her parents chose to use the first five letters of the alphabet instead, and so that poor kid regularly has people staring at her name in confusion, like it has to be a typo or someone forgot to delete the “template” name on a form.

Anyway, I’ve gotten off track. The point is that these days I’m perfectly okay with my name, but there is one small annoyance that still pops up on a regular basis: my first name, which is what I’ve always gone by, is androgynous, and in the work world that means that everyone automatically assumes I’m a guy. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve checked in to the work camp that I live in while I’m on shift and had them line me up to share a bathroom with a man. This wouldn’t be an issue if the bathroom doors locked properly (they purposely made them easy to jimmy in case your neighbor accidentally locks you out while they’re gone), but it’s also a simple matter of logic. They may book me thinking that I’m a guy, but month after month they neglect to actually, you know…LOOK at me when I’m checking in. Eventually I had to call up our booking agent and have her permanently change my name in the system to “Tracey-Lynn” to avoid this issue, but believe it or not it still occurs on occasion, because I work in a male-dominated field so everyone’s mind defaults to, “Tracey is probably a guy”.

Maybe I’ll change the spelling to “Traci”. Pretty sure I’ve never met a guy with my name whose spelling looks like a porn star’s. :P

Dear Asshat:

There will be no “Flash Fiction Friday” today because I felt like getting this out of my system. Enjoy!


 

Dear Asshat on YouTube,

It’s a bit humorous that you appeared on my channel only about a week after my blog post about dealing with people like you on YouTube. Humorous enough, in fact, that I thought I’d go ahead and write this little letter to you to share the mirth with my loyal (and significantly less asshat-ish) followers.

You swooped in on one of my videos like an emotional time bomb, not content to simply rage directly at me, but also intent on spreading shrapnel to my viewers via rude replies on their comments as well. You were quite worked up, it seemed, about my decision to purchase 15 of the GameStop Black Friday Funko Mystery boxes back in November. That’s nothing new; plenty of people got a bit frustrated with the fact that I’d chosen to buy so many of the boxes (despite the fact that, as I’d explained, my particular store STILL had boxes over a month later, so I didn’t exactly keep anyone from managing to get one). However, while some people definitely got upset, defensive, and sometimes even a little mouthy and rude, your comments were a new kind of ridiculous.

You didn’t just get angry at me for buying so many boxes: you called my very character into question in the weirdest way I’ve ever seen. You called me a number of names and slurs and implied, to my complete and utter confusion, that spending so much money on my “stupid hobby” must mean that I get a huge baby bonus or that I’m on welfare. I can’t even begin to explain how stupid that sounds and how hard it made me laugh. Do you understand how things like welfare work? Also, did it never occur to you that, hey, maybe I can afford to spend a lot of money on my “stupid hobby” because I (*SHOCK*) have a good job? I know, totally hard to comprehend, right? Crazy-sauce, even. That totally couldn’t be it. No way.

I got a good chuckle out of your strange and unfounded accusations, and at first I was going to do what I usually do and simply ignore you, because there is clearly no sense in arguing with someone who jumps right from “she spends a lot of money on something frivolous” to “she’s totally on welfare”. But then I noticed that you continued your tirade on the comment threads of several of my more reasonable followers who weren’t being assholes. And in those tirades you implied that I am somehow a bad mother because I (*GASP*) spend some of my money on something that’s not directly related to mothering. THE HORROR. My daughter totally must be traipsing around in soiled hand-me-downs and subsisting on two crackers and a glass of water for each meal because I choose to purchase collectibles on occasion. That’s a totally reasonable jump right there. Excellent detective work, Sherlock.

DBZFunkos
Ah! Shit! Proof of my complete inability to love and raise a child! Get it away!   GET IT AWAY!

I could have left the comments up; I’m sure that either my husband or some of the followers whose comment threads you raped would have gotten pissed of to rip you a new one. Or I could have ripped you a new one myself, because lord knows you certainly deserve it for slinging unwarranted insults at someone you know nothing about. But you know what? It’s not worth it. It’s not worth letting the comment section of my video devolve into a bar-room brawl over this, because your poor attitude and strange, unreasonable slights show me that you’re clearly an emotional wreck who needed to take out a great deal of frustration and anger on a total stranger.

So, congratulations! You’re the first person to ever have not only one, but a large number of comments deleted from my YouTube channel, and if you feel like dropping by again I’ll be ready and waiting to report you for abuse. Cheers! And here’s hoping that you manage to find the anger management course that you so desperately seem to need.

Love and kisses,
Your Friendly Neighborhood “Stupid Bitch”

The Versatile Blogger Award!

versatile-blogger

I love getting recognized in any way, shape, or form, so it is with a little bit of giddy glee that I share with you today my nomination for the Versatile Blogger Award. I was nominated by an awesome blogger whose blog is called “The Flip of the Switch“; she writes about her journey with anxiety, panic attacks, hormone imbalance, and perimenopause, and the site is broken into “Good Days”, “Bad Days”, and “Everything Between”. If you’re suffering from any of these afflictions yourself, I think this would be a great blog to visit because she helps to show that it’s okay to be flipping back and forth all the time. We all have things to deal with, and that’s okay!

I actually first found this blog because she nominated me for this award, but I can promise you that I’ll be subscribing because this lady just seems amazing to me.

Okay, so the first rule of the Versatile Blogger Award is that you share with your nominator seven things about yourself, so here we go:

  1. I’m a bit of a serial multitasker. In fact, I’m writing this post while texting with my mother and watching a YouTube video from one of my favorite channels.
  2. The multitasking comes partially from the fact that I hate silence. Even if I’m not watching I almost always have the TV on or a YouTube video playing because I can’t stand not having some kind of background noise.
  3. I restrain myself when it comes to blogging and recording videos for YouTube, but off-screen I actually swear like a sailor.
  4. On a related note, I have some weird fascination with the word “shit”. Every time an actor in a show or movie says that word my husband looks at me because he knows I’ll be smiling or laughing. I don’t know what it is. I find it amusing for some reason.
  5. I’m actually quite introverted and need lots of time to recharge when I’ve been dealing with people a lot, which makes my job (12-hour days for 14-days straight) very hard on the system.
  6. I love hot baths. I would take one every single night if it weren’t for the fact that my husband and daughter hate it when I disappear for an hour or more at a time.
  7. I admit it: I’m completely addicted to my phone. I’m one of those people who scrolls through Facebook for ten minutes, closes the app, and then opens it back up 30 seconds later. I wouldn’t even want to see a statistic on how much time I waste on the silly thing.

Okay, so now that you know that I’m profane and a cellphone junkie, the second rule of the award is that I nominate other bloggers that I love. These awards always want you to nominate some huge number of other blogs, but I like to keep it a little more intimate, so today I’m going to share three of my current big favs, and I hope you’ll check them out!

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun  is a blog that I really admire because Jay posts more often than any other blogger I’ve ever come across. He talks about lots of interesting topics, what’s happening in the world, and what’s happening with his life, and he has several awesome features. I personally am a part of the “Authors Answer” feature, which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and I definitely thank him for hosting. :)

All in a Dad’s Work is a blog owned by a friend of mine, Mr Eric. He talks about lots of things, but mostly about life as a dad, and lots of his posts give me a good chuckle because he often talks about the humorous, not-so-glamorous side of being father to two rambunctious boys.

She Didn’t Come With Instructions is an awesome mommy-blog from a lovely young lady who I actually grew up with. Katie writes about being a single mom to a beautiful little girl and talks about everything from dealing with “sanctimommies” to why wine is sometimes a necessary part of the parenting process. She’s real, spews truth without a second thought, and definitely knows what she’s talking about. I love commiserating with her posts!

So that’s that! Big thanks again to the owner of “The Flip of the Switch” for nominating me (if you normally go by your actual name, sorry, I couldn’t find it on your blog anywhere!) and I hope the three bloggers I nominated will carry on the torch! Cheers! ^_^