Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Pokemon Obsession.... What?

Wow, where did Abundance of Erica go?! I'm so sad I haven't been able to keep this blog updated very much. There's actually no excuse - I just seem to have forgotten! :( I figured I would talk about something a little different today, and that's Pokemon. As we all know, Pokemon Go has taken over the world, and I'm 100% obsessed. I was so excited for this game to release, so when it came out in Australia first, I created an "Australian" iTunes account just so I could download it. I've been playing for around 2 months now and I'm nowhere near as advanced as some other players, but I still enjoy it nonetheless.

That's me!

Unfortunately I don't find myself out and about very often because I work from home and I live in the suburbs, meaning I don't often get rare spawns. The "rarest" thing I would say I've caught is a wild Slowbro. In terms of egg hatches my best one has been a Charmander. I think the app still has a lot of work to do (better Pokemon tracking system, adjust Pokestops based on location - why do I need 100 potions if there are no gyms nearby?!) and the updates roll out quite slowly. Other than that it's been tons of fun.

One of my favorite things to come out of this Pokemon craze is the social aspect of it. I love watching gaming YouTubers go out on catching missions (faves: Lachlan, Vikkstar, Ali A). It's so cute when they meet up with their fans who give them tips on where to find certain Pokemon in the area. I have also loved seeing the positive impact on mental health. The feeling of community is really awesome and I think Connor Manning explains it perfectly (watch below).

Seeing as my capabilities playing Pokemon Go are limited since I don't venture out too much, I actually started playing old Pokemon Gameboy games via an online emulator to get my Pokemon fill, which is just crazy. Like who would've thought at 23 I would be digging up old Gameboy games from the grave and still thoroughly enjoying them?!

I know this kind of thing comes with a lot of criticism, but I hate the thought that people can be too old to enjoy this type of thing. I don't think it's infantilizing at all - these are the games that we grew up with and enjoyed, so there's certainly a sense of nostalgia that comes with it. Personally, the game has gotten me out of the house, getting exercise (whaaaaat? walks and bike rides), and it's a simple incentive to go out and explore. The people who criticize are the people who don't understand that some things can be fun just for the sake of it. There's no "point" and there doesn't have to be. I can be invested in Pokemon Go and do other more "productive" things equally. They don't cancel out.

Anyway, these are my thoughts about Pokemon Go. Overall I'm excited for new game updates and I can't wait for them to introduce Gen 2!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

New Reality TV Obsession: The Genius

Hey everyone! Seeing as Survivor and Big Brother Canada just ended, I figured I would give The Genius a shot since I see a lot of game show bloggers/live Tweeters talk about it. (FYI I am also one of these people hahaha so if you would like to follow me: @ericaefff).

The Genius is a Korean TV show that can be watched subtitled in English. The first season is available on YouTube, and subsequent seasons are available thanks to an anonymous Genius god named "Bumdidlyumptious" who uploads the episodes on Daily Motion (Google it, lol). At first it's a little difficult to wrap your head around the concepts and the characters because you have to be reading the subtitles, but if you like strategy games, I can assure you that it's well worth it.

The basic concept of the show is that 12 (I believe - something along this number) people are cast, and they have to win strategy games to move on to further episodes. Each episode comprises of a "main match" and a "death match". Every player competes in the main match, and the loser of the main match enters the death match. The loser of the death match is then eliminated from the show. Simple enough.

The strategy games are very, very interesting. I definitely wish that Big Brother, and to some extent Survivor, would adjust themselves with a few cues from The Genius. The games do involve a certain degree of intellect. Sometimes basic math and logic is involved, but, moreso, the games favor those with political and social prowess. A lot of the games cannot be won solo, and require forming alliances with other players. It would be strategically beneficial, therefore, for someone who struggles with mathematical concepts but who can be a good social liaison to team up with someone who can do the calculations/probabilities.

Another cool concept that The Genius introduces is the use of in-game currency. Each player has the opportunity to accumulate "garnets" - little red, cubical gems - worth 1,000,000 of real Korean money, which amounts to roughly $1000/garnet. The players go through the game amassing garnets, and the ultimate winner collects all of the garnets happen to be in play during the finale episode which are then exchanged for real money. Garnets can also be used to bribe other players, as well as purchase advantages during competitions. I love the idea that the gameplay throughout the season affects the final amount in the pot - it adds an element of accountability and pressure to perform well.

This is the element that I think would work well for Big Brother. Having tokens worth real $$ that can be put in play during the season adds an extra bit of thrill with possible gambles during comps, and it has the power to flip the social game on its head because people would definitely be motivated by money.

Back to The Genius. One thing I love about the show is the casting. Actually, I have one gripe about the casting which I'll put out there first: there is a highly disproportionate amount of men cast versus women, which sucks. That said, the men and women that are cast are entertaining, charismatic, and brilliant. Some of them truly are geniuses: sky-high IQs, MENSA members, Harvard grads. Some of them are pro-gamers: videogamers, professional pool, and poker players. That said, the majority of the cast are other public figures like pop stars, broadcasters, and actors. You get a really satisfying mix of intellect and charisma.

Nearly none of the characters are boring, and all are eager to get involved in the gameplay. I believe this is a product of good casting and game dynamics. The games are set up so that there is a definitive winner and a definitive loser - the fact that there is a definitive loser who is in danger every episode is what differentiates the competition gameplay from that of Big Brother and Survivor. Imagine if the first off the pole in a Survivor immunity challenge would be automatically up for elimination? That adds an entirely new degree of strategy and will to survive. Big Brother-wise, the chances of "floating" being a viable strategy would greatly diminish. I think both shows would become exponentially more entertaining if losing a competition put you in some kind of danger.

In terms of the games on The Genius, they are wildly entertaining and strategic. One of my favorites so far has been the Zombie Game, in which all 12 or so players pick cards out of a hat that assign them the role of "human" or "zombie". At the beginning of the game there are 2 zombies. There are 10 rounds, and each round a player must "touch" another player by both placing their hands on a glowing orb in the center of the room. If a zombie touches with a human, the human becomes a zombie. If a human touches with a human, they both remain safe and win a garnet each. If a zombie touches a zombie, nothing happens. The catch is that they must touch with a different player each round at least once, but they can touch multiple times too. Also, they each get one vial of antidote which they can consume within 10 minutes of touching another player if they believe they've accidentally touched with a zombie. They can also purchase additional vials with garnets if necessary. If, by the end of the game, every player has turned into a zombie, the 2 original zombies share a joint win. If there are humans left over, the human with the highest number of garnets wins and the human with the lowest number of garnets loses. If the number of garnets are equal amongst the humans, they share a joint win and pick a zombie for elimination. Watching the players scramble to figure out who's a zombie and who isn't is so much fun.

As you can probably tell, the opportunity for strategizing, lying, bribing, and forming beneficial alliances is pretty immense, which opens the show up to some pretty fantastic gaming. I'm about halfway through season 2 and I can't wait to see who wins!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Montreal Nordstrom Warehouse Sale Haul

I haven't done a haul in sooo long, mostly because I haven't really had anything super exciting to share. HOWEVER. Last weekend I went to the Nordstrom sale where the old Target was, and I was so pleasantly surprised that I couldn't not blog about it. The irony of my last haul being the Target closing liquidation haul is not lost on me hahaha.

So, first of all, it's weird that Nordstrom had a sale here to begin with seeing as there is no actual Nordstrom store in Montreal. I guess the sale was meant to serve as an indicator of how well a Nordstrom would potentially do here, and also as a means to get customer emails. (If you provided your email at checkout you got an extra 10% off). The sale was put on by a company called Style Democracy that specializes in putting on sample/warehouse/liquidation sales across Canada (which, by the way, I think is such a fantastic business idea).

Essentially, the place was packed with rows and rows of women's clothing racks. Each clothing item was tagged with a colored dot sticker, which corresponded to a certain pricepoint. There were some really good brands available like Free People, Mink Pink, Madewell, and Wildfox - all for under $20. I can't even stress how incredible that is.

I was actually so pleased that I was at the sale both Saturday and Sunday, but had I known about it sooner I definitely would've gone during the week as well. My friend went a total of 3 times and got over 15 items. You could seriously go over and over and keep finding new things because they would keep replenishing and people would try things on and stuff would get put back on the racks.

The first thing I picked up is this casual comfy grey sweater. This was one of the items that you would see repeated in different sizes throughout the racks (whereas other things were one-of-a-kind). I liked it because the cut is really flattering. On me it's fitted at the top & on the arms, and then goes flowy on the stomach area which is perfect.

Then, I found this pretty patterned tank top. The cut of the neckline is a little low so I'll have to play around with it, but the overall fit was quite nice. I don't usually go for tank tops because I don't like showing my arms, but I like pairing them with sheer shirts or kimonos in the summer.

And surprisingly, I got a total of 3 tank tops in this haul. This one is from Free People so I automatically picked up. Free People clothes are great quality and usually so expensive. I really liked the color of this tank top (I have nothing like it), and I love how it flares out at the bottom.

I also picked up this sheer black lace kimono. Like I said, I love layering with these kinds of items in the summer. This one actually has strings so it can be used as a robe/coverup situation (it may even be intended as lingerie...?) but I might cut them off. It's the perfect length for wearing over leggings/tighter pants too.

I also picked up these casual cotton shorts to wear around the house during the summer. I know they look super plain but they're SO soft and I love the color.

Last but not least, another tank top! I really like the bold print of these. I can easily pair it with black or even maroon colored jeans, and it looks cute under the kimono too.

Overall I'd say the sale was a big success. Getting 6 clothing items in one go is really rare for me because not a lot of things fit me nicely. If you have a more typical body type, I would say it's all the more easy to find things at a sale like this. My mom, for instance, bought over 20 items (!!!) and we ended up paying no more than $20 for each item. On the Sunday (the final day of the sale) all tops were slashed down to $10 each, and all bottoms down to $14CAD.

Another note is that the changing room situation was pretty good too. It was great that the sale took place in the old Target, because you had the option of standing in line to wait for a proper changing room, or you could try clothes on in a communal changing area (separated by gender) that was lined with mirrors. I really liked having the choice.

I would 100% attend another sale like this if the opportunity arose! I'm so glad Target died and the Nordstrom sale rose. LOL.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Let Down by The 100

(Beware of spoilers)

I want to get something off my chest: season 3 of The 100 is terrible. I guess I could begin by explaining how I hoped the show would unfold after season 2, because season 2 was great! I hoped the writers were going to focus on the fallout post-Mt. Weather. I hoped the writers were going to continue to show the character progression of each pivotal character and how they were affected by Mt. Weather.

Instead, the show fastforwarded to months? weeks? after Mt. Weather, and we were introduced to a slew of new characters (why!). It almost seemed as though each original character had developed significantly since the s2 finale and we were left trying to connect the dots ourselves. I get that shows do this. I get that they don't want to baby their audience by providing all the details. The thing is, so many shows take this approach and fail, because it almost certainly leads to plot holes. Look at Pretty Little Liars. Look at Orphan Black. Those are two shows I had to stop watching because they twisted the plot so much that it became frustrating because they overlooked the importance of filling the audience in.

The most annoying character development we've seen in The 100 so far is Bellamy's. Bellamy was awful at the beginning of season 1. He was selfish and tyrannical, but by the end of the season he softened up. In season 2 he became a hero of sorts. He learned empathy and seemed to have a strong moral compass. In season 3, it all went to waste. He flip flopped back to being emotionless and taking part in the genocide of the grounders. I seriously do not get how this happens. He warmed up to Lincoln, he was amicable with Indra, and he seemed to understand that not all grounders are the same. It's such a shame that his character devolved so much in the span of like, 3 episodes.

And then we have Clarke. Clarke decided, as per the end of season 2, that she no longer wanted to live with Sky Crew. The season ends with her leaving the Arc and walking into the forest alone. Bellamy did not go with her. Clarke's broken relationship with the Sky Crew and the grounders should have been the primary focus, yet season 3 began with Clarke being hunted by the Ice Queen. Where did this Ice Queen even come from? How did we get from point A to point B? What were Clarke's intentions in wandering off into the wild on her own? None of this was addressed.

Now Lexa's dead and the LGBTQIA audience is devastated. The showrunner, Jason Rothenberg, issued an apology about perpetuating the "bury your gays" trope in tv writing. The apology is alright (though I 100% understand if the LGBTQIA audience don't accept it), but Rothenberg should also apologize for convoluting the plot and letting character development fall by the wayside.

I'm not sure if I want to continue watching this season. I don't know how it can recover. We're already 8/12 episodes into season 3 and I don't see how it's going to improve. Absolutely no progress has been made for the show's true heroes... It's all pretty sad.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Best Sushi Ever: Vegan!!!

Hey everyone! Last week I went to try vegan sushi with my friends for my birthday, and I'm not exaggerating: it was the best sushi I've ever had. One of my favorite things about vegan cooking is that all the ingredients shine in a different way, whereas if you're having a meat dish, the star is the chicken/steak/fish/whatever and everything else is complementary. My impression is that with vegan food every ingredient plays a key role. This sushi was so innovative and so delicious, it kinda blew my mind a little and I can't stop thinking about it!

The restaurant in question is called Sushi Momo and it's located in the Plateau area of downtown Montreal. The only downside to this restaurant is that the service is horrendous because they do takeout and have a seating area, but presumably they only have one chef. That said, I was able to put up with it because the sushi was so tasty.

At first I was a little taken aback by the a-la-carte pricing. I think I'm just used to having all-you-can-eat sushi for like $20-25 and not worrying about it, but in the end I only ended up paying $14 which is pretty good. Bear in mind that the sushi in the following photos was split amongst 3 people. I was totally satisfied hunger-wise by the end of my meal, but I do wish I ordered more so I could taste all the awesome variations of vegan sushi.

I honestly can't really remember what exactly was in all of these but here's what I can recall. There was one roll (I believe the 5 pieces on the right) that included vegan cream cheese, tomato, avocado, carrot, and sliced green apple, which I know sounds SO odd but it was really good. I think it was called the "Four Seasons" roll.

Then we got these two which were the total standouts for me. The roll on the left was stuffed with "creamy jackfruit". I definitely knew I wanted to try something with jackfruit because although it is literally a fruit, vegan chefs use this to mimic pulled pork/chicken texture, and it does a pretty good job of picking up the flavor of whatever you cook it in. Then on the right was a spicy, creamy tofu roll which was honestly just as delicious as the jackfruit. It actually might have been my favorite.

We also shared a plate of tempura sushi that had sweet tofu, mango and avocado, and it was so amazing I forgot to take a picture of it. I loved the texture combo of having creamy avocado sushi fried in a tempura batter. The mango was a really nice tangy touch too.

Last but not least, we had to try the "Poutine Hosomaki". Basically, this dish consists of sweet potato sushi cut into bite sized pieces, fried tempura-style, then baked in "cheddar cheese" (I have no clue how they did this) and shiitake teriyaki sauce. Um... yes. It was everything.

All in all, I desperately need to go back to this place. Next time I would definitely go for lunch on a not-so-busy day because I'm thinking the service was slowed down because it was a Saturday night. Or maybe I can try and probably not succeed at making this stuff myself...!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

3 Makeup Tutorials to Try in 2016

One item that did not make it to my New Year's Resolutions list but is still very much a goal of mine, is to get back into enjoying makeup! I can probably count the number of times I wore a full face of makeup last year on one hand, which is such a shame because I have so much makeup & I love to apply it. I don't know why I didn't delve into makeup more last year... I probably got lazy, and to be honest I wasn't really feeling myself ~appearance-wise~ so I guess I didn't want to. I figured I would put together a short list of tutorials I would like to try out in 2016.

I usually think grey/black when I think "smokey eye" but a nice, warm brown-red smokey eye sounds amazing. I love the way the glowy cheeks & subtle lip balance out the eye makeup. This is a must-try for me.

This dark lip paired with cool, silvery eyes is such a nice combination. I definitely have to attempt to pull this off before spring rolls around!

I love the idea of blue/green eyeshadow and this seems like such a polished & classy way to do it! This is tagged as a NYE look but I think it can easily work year-round. The bright blue would be nice in summer as well.

I'm excited to try these out :)