Archive for September, 2012

(Un)real Candy

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m a bzzagent, and occasionally get new products for free or at a discount in exchange for sharing my honest opinion of them with others.

My most recent bzzcampaign was for (un)real candy! I was really excited about this since I haven’t gotten a bzzcampaign in a while and because I love candy (even though I don’t eat it that often). What’s different about (un)real candy is that they don’t use hydrogenated oils, artificial dyes or preservatives. Their mission is to make candy less bad for you and maybe even taste better.

I got one coupon for a free 1.3 – 1.7 oz candy, and a several buy one get one free coupons. Using the coupons I purchased every type of (un)real available at my local CVS. The official names are (un)real 77,   8 and 54, but I’ll be referring to them as knock off reese’s, snickers and peanut M&Ms respectively.

Some one took the square root of a negative, things are no longer real. AWWW YEAH!!

I’ll start with the knock off Snickers.

nice, but needs more peanuts.

Now for the knock off M&M’s…

the natural dyes remind me of easter eggs for some reason

And I didn’t take a picture of the knock off Reese’s so I’ll share my opinion now. One thing I noticed about each of these candies is that they didn’t taste as sugary or sweet as their main competition, and all of the chocolate tasted more like dark than milk. I am a fan of this. I was also able to recognize most of the ingredients on the wrapper. I was delighted to see the dyes used for the chocolate covered peanuts came from beets, turmeric and red cabbage. Cane sugar and agave were the main sweeteners.

I could tell the difference between them and their competition, but my boyfriend couldn’t right off the bat. It’s probably because I eat more candy, or I might have more refined taste buds. Who knows? You’ll have to give them a try yourself if you really want to know.

Why You Shouldn’t Like This:

  • They cost a tad more than their main competition, and are smaller.
  • The number “names” for their candy are stupid and hard to remember.
  • (Un)real 8 needed more peanuts.
  • If they’re taking the “healthier” route, it’d be nice if they added some vegan options in there. Especially since I’ve found a lot of vegan knock off packaged foods are full of “questionable” ingredients.

Overall I did like these, and will be using the rest of my coupons on myself if I don’t give them away.  I prefer candy with less sugar. One of the things I’ve always wondered is why they couldn’t just make things like candy and soda with less sugar to begin with. I prefer it so much more to nasty fake sugar that has a godawful after taste. If you know me personally and would like some of the coupons, hit me up, if not… more for me 😀

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(Comic) Book Review: Erstwhile

Not too long ago I took part in a kick starter campaign for Erstwhile, which is a webcomic that illustrates lesser known fairy tales. These are the ones that haven’t been made into movies, and that you’ll end up reading different versions of in each fairy tale book you pick up. That’s something I’ve always been into, probably from the time I was five or six years old.

The irony here is that I haven’t read all of the stories online, and that I only kicked in because I’ve been following another webcomic, Red String,  by one of the authors/illustrators Gina Biggs, for at least 5 years. She promised extra updates if they surpassed their goal by a certain amount, I liked the little I did read of Erstwhile, and I knew some of the money had to help support her comics, so I chipped in $20 to get a hard copy of the book. $10 would have gotten me a pdf, but I figured if I was going to donate I might as well get myself a physical copy of what I was supporting. In the end they didn’t surpass their goal by the amount they wanted, but came close enough that we did get a some extra updates 😀

But anyway, my awesome package came in the other day so now we have this review!

I was not expecting the book to be hard cover, I was already pleasantly surprised by that. And I forgot about the bonus bookmark and post cards I was promised! They’re adorable!

Stories featured in this book that I have read *some* version of in the past are: 

Maid Maleen, The Farmer’s Clever Daughter (this story is amazing, if you have not read it, please do so, I LOVE THAT GIRL), All Fur, The Sweet Porridge and A Tale With a Riddle (I read a similar much longer version).

Stories I read for the first time in this book: 

The Bird, the Mouse & the Sausage, The Little Shroud and The Old Man & his Grandson

What I liked about this collection of stories is that more of them focused on heroines who were able to advance themselves, or rescue themselves, through their own wit coupled with some good fortune. I know of many more folk tales that have this theme, even of some where the princess has to “rescue” the prince, and they really should get more attention (and from what I’ve been led to believe, that was part of the reason Erstwhile was started.) They serve as much better role models for young girls and these are stories that make you think. I love how folk tales like they ones they’ve illustrated always feature clever solutions or cunning tricks, or even just weird things that make you think. You probably won’t get what I mean by that if you’ve never been exposed to any folk tales of the sort.

Why You Shouldn’t Like This: 

  • I get that they were trying to be multicultural with some of the stories by including people of different races and colors, but I’d prefer if they illustrated Native American, African, South American, Asian and other folk tales so that their cultures are really represented. Or, they could stick with European stories, but mix up the races instead of just going with one (only one story did this), kind of like the Cinderella movie with Whitney Houston and Brandy (which was amazing if you have yet to see it).
  • The retail price of the book is $20, which is pretty steep on a student’s budget. I could see more people going for a $10 soft cover version. But if you follow the comic and want to support it, $20 doesn’t feel like that much.
  • I wish it was longer!!

And that’s it, I really don’t have anything bad to say about this. I truly love the authors for giving these “lesser known” stories more attention, because they *need* more attention. Even if you don’t want to buy the book, I reeeeeeally recommend checking out the webcomics, which are available to read for free, online. I’m speaking more about Red String now when I say that it really is updated regularly, which is no small feat, I can’t tell you how many webcomics I’ve dropped over the years because updates became terribly sporadic or just stopped all together.

I only hope that I’ll be able to make it to Otakon one year (or that she can make it up to NYCC) so I can have Gina Biggs autograph my copy, and so I can tell her how much I love her comics (and regular updates!) in person.

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Two Wolf Anime Reviews

I recently finished two animes, Ookami-san and Her Seven Companions, and Wolf’s Rain. I’ll start with the shittier (for lack of a better word) of the two. Both of these are about 90% spoiler free, I haven’t revealed anything major so it shouldn’t ruin anything for you.

Ookami-san and Her Seven Companions (2010)

My original reason for wanting to watch this was because in the dub version, Briana Palencia (dub voice actress of Holo in Spice and Wolf), also voices another “wolf,” Ookami-san, the main character. At times she sounds like Holo, and at times she sounds like Ciel from Black Butler. Her sounding like Holo at times was really what kept me going… :/ what else am I supposed to do when I have no season 3?

Anyway, the anime is about a girl nicked-named Ookami (wolf), her friends, and the club they’re all in. They do favors for kids around school with the promise that they’ll be repaid. Every character is based off someone from either a European or Asian fairy tale. But they didn’t go so in depth that them not “getting everything right” pissed me off. It was pretty nice to see the twists they put on it and try and catch all of the references. Although I still don’t get little red riding hood/the wolf/the hunter all being friends.

I got the initial impression that’d it’d be a cute/funny, but short (12 episodes) slice of life anime. For the most part it was, but then some serious drama/post traumatic stress syndrome started coming up, more specifically attempted rape.  It was handled pretty well, but it still bothered me and clashed with the humor. That aside, this anime features an awesome narrator that makes fun of the show (save during the serious parts). However, if you’re watching the sub version, it’s a little harder to pick up on because she talks over the characters and you have to be able to read quickly. It’s not a problem with the dub version, but the voice of the sub narrator is a little better suited for the role.

Why You Shouldn’t Like This: 

  • The main character is pretty cool, except for when she’s being tsundere or having mental break downs from PTSD.
  • The main guy could be cool if they didn’t force him to be the stereotypical sweet husbando with some embarrassing issue. In this case, he’s pretty weak and freaks out when people stare at him.
  • The ending didn’t feel like a true ending, which makes sense because the series is based off of light novels which have yet to be concluded. But I still wish it was a bit more conclusive, or that there was a second season.

I’d say watch it if you’re into fairy tales and don’t want an anime you have to invest a lot of time into. That, the narrator and Ookami occasionally sounding like Holo are really the only things that make it worth watching.

Now onto a much better anime…

Wolf’s Rain + OVA (2003)

I decided to give this anime a go because I saw it listed as being “similar” to Spice and Wolf. The synopsis said it was about a wolf Kiba’s search for the flower maiden that would lead wolves to paradise. Male wolf and a girl in search of a destined homeland of sorts? It sounded close enough to Spice and Wolf for me to give it a try. And at 26 episodes, plus 4 OVA episodes, I figured if it was good I’d be glad it was longer than Spice and Wolf.

It takes place in some nasty (80’s feeling) post apocalyptic type world, it reminded me of Road Warrior or Escape from New York a little. Everything’s gone to shit, people have broken down cars and guns, while the rich people (nobles) have all the “real” technology. You can’t tell exactly where it takes place, at first I thought it was in Japan, but later it seemed like it was taking place in the American south west. It’s believed that all wolves are dead, but they’re really still around and have been using “magic” to appear human. Legends say that when wolves find paradise, the world will end. It sounds depressing, but you really find yourself rooting for the wolves to get there.

The character interaction and development is great, and the show is full of surprises. The dub voices are good for the most part, I was only annoyed with one of them. I can’t say anything about the sub since I was only able to find the dub. I also like how the show handled romance, there are places where you feel like they could be forcing it, but they don’t. The bonds the characters share go deeper than just “kawaii” romantic attraction, and there’s no fan service. Even the music was different. I didn’t really like the opening and ending theme songs, but the music that ran throughout the anime was great. They had a mix of American, South American, European and Japanese artists contribute.

Why You Shouldn’t Like This: 

  • It doesn’t get good until the seventh episode, and there are four recap episodes after it starts getting really good.
  • They don’t really stay true to wolf pack mentality
  • Parts of it were confusing, they were explained down the line, but the (true) OVA ending was somewhat confusing. I think I’ll need to read the manga or consult the internet for an explanation.
  • The villian(s) didn’t have much character development. There was some, but I wish I knew more about what their motives were.
  • The OVA was really (almost senselessly) sad ;__;

If you’re looking for an anime that’s different and doesn’t fit the usual mold, watch this. It’s interesting and unique in so many ways that I can’t describe them all. If you can make it past episode 6, you’re in for a great anime.

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My Blog Finally Has A New Name

My blog is no longer called, “Of Math and Other Awesome Things,” since I rarely blog about math. I already took the word pedagogy out of there long before this. But anyway, I realized that most of my blogs are reviews, and that I find problems with everything, even things I really enjoyed. So I give you my new blog title: “Why You Shouldn’t Like This: because this nerd finds problems with everything”

I’ll also be writing my posts slightly differently. I plan on ending them all with reasons why you should not like whatever I blogged about, in case my mentioning every little problem didn’t make it apparent by then. The only thing I expect not to follow this format is any future posts about Crohn’s disease.

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Review: Black Butler Season 1

If you have been to an anime convention, you’ll have heard of this series, even if you never watched it. Why? Because Black Butler’s characters are being whored out by cosplayers, almost to the same scale as Heitalia (but not to the degree of Homestuck). Anyway, Black Butler is about the mysteries 13 year old orphaned and excessively wealthy Ciel and his demon butler Sebastian solve. It takes place in Victorian England and caters to the yaoi crowd.

The Good

-I got a few good laughs out of it and found it to be pretty entertaining in general.

-It was really gay. Which is probably why it was so funny. Every episode I found myself saying under my breath all of the following, “this is so gay,” “GAY GAY GAY,” “I cannot believe they just went there. This is so gay!”

-Some of the side characters were really great, I’m talking about the reaper, undertaker and hell-hound. All were pretty funny, one, in particular, was really gay.

-I was watching the dub, and I found it hilarious that Ciel and Sebastian had the same voice actors as Holo and Lawrence (Wolf and Spice) respectively. It’s like some really weird role reversal if you’ve seen both series.

The Bad

-The second half of the season got pretty slow, mostly because of lame new characters and the disappearance of older ones I really enjoyed.

-Ciel was an annoying little angsty emo bitch.

-As usual, Japan has shown that they can never get another country’s culture and history right. On this note, every so often something just completely did not make sense. But all animes have that, so I shouldn’t complain.

-As gay as it was, **spoiler** nothing major ever happens between any of the characters, or if it does they don’t show it. That really annoys me, for all the  fanservice in these cliche harem animes you think they could show two guys kissing or ass grabbing or something. I was pretty disappoint.

Final Notes: 

I only finished this anime because when I was on the verge of dropping it, I only had about five episodes left, and so I decided to push on. I’m hesitant to watch season 2, because I was happy with the ending to season 1 and I’m not sure how they could really continue it. But I’ll probably watch anyway, so long as it gets less serious and more funny (gay). I recommend it if you’re bored and want a laugh, but aren’t looking for an anime to make a major investment in. I’d give it a 3/5, mostly for the laughs and how funny all of the gayness is.

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Prosperity Dumpling

I’d been meaning to blog about this place forever, but I had fallen out of the blogging habit. Now that I’m back in it, this place is getting the bets review ever.

Ladies and gentlemen, do you like dumplings? Of course you do! What kind of fool doesn’t like dumplings? Do you like delicious cheap food? If you don’t, get the hell off my blog and out of Chinatown.

Prosperity Dumpling, located on 46 Eldridge Street (take the  B or D train to Grand St and walk toward Chrystie St. until you hit Eldridge),  has the best cheap food that I know of.  I was getting my lunch here every day when I was working in Chinatown this summer. It’s just so delicious and so cheap, there’s no way I couldn’t eat there at every given opportunity.

Note the A rating in the window

When I say cheap, I mean that two people can eat a filling meal here for under $10.  The most I ever spent on lunch was $3. I am not fucking kidding, look at this menu.

click to enlarge, those prices are no joke.

This isn’t really a place you can sit down to eat in, there are a few stools and counters against the walls but you’ll be better off taking your dumplings to the park across the street and eating it on the benches there. Normally they’re just used by people pouring the complimentary soy sauce and sriracha sauce  on their dumplings before taking them elsewhere. And the sriracha sauce doesn’t make the food taste good, it’s delicious on it’s own, it just makes it better.  Prosperity Dumpling is definitely a hole in the wall. But we don’t care about that, I’ll get to talking about the food.

They’ve got three wok’s running at all times, one for fried dumplings, one for boiled dumplings and one for a Chinese pancake (more on that latter).

Fried Dumplings (5 for $1) 

These are usually the quickest thing you can get. If they’re ready in the wok, you’ll get them right away, if not, you have to wait for them to cook. But really, how can anyone argue with that price?? They only offer pork/chive dumplings fried. These are delicious, when you bite into them, they are full of delicious juice that will fall out if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Boiled Dumplings

They use another wok to boil dumplings, they change the water out after each batch or so that’s ordered. You can get 10 pork/chive or pork/cabbage boiled for $2, 10 shrimp for $3 or 8 veggie for $2.50. All of these are delicious. The pork ones again have that delicious juice inside them. In some ways I prefer them to the fried ones, but you always have to wait for boiled dumplings. The veggie and shrimp ones are great too, but they’re less filing. I don’t understand how the veggie ones are more expensive than the meat ones, but they’re  still damn cheap. I’d say the veggie ones are my favorite. They’re probably vegan, but if you’re a crazy vegan you probably would want to avoid this place since they do boil the veggie ones in the same wok pork ones have been boiled in. If you’re vegetarian you should probably be fine with them.

Sesame/Chive Pancakes 

I have always meant to photograph one of these but I always eat them before I remember.  It’s not a normal pancake, it’s more like a piece of fried bread they make sandwiches with. You can get it plain ($1), with veggie ($1.25) or with meat and veggie ($1.75). I’m not sure if they use egg or not, so I have no idea if the first two options are vegan, they’re definitely vegetarian though. But if you’re not a veggie and are gonna go for the meat, don’t waste your money on the chicken or pork, get the peaking duck. It’s amazing. Not as filling as 10 dumplings, but it’s one of the more unique things you can get there that you can’t get anywhere else. This is also something you can get very quickly, unless they’ve run out of pancake slices. But they’re always making more pancakes so that’s not really an issue.

Frozen Dumplings 

Now if you find you love their food so much, but can’t keep trekking to Chinatown, they sell their dumplings frozen. On my last day of work I bought 50 veggie and 50 pork frozen ($20 combined) because I knew I wouldn’t be going back there for a while 😦  They taste good at home, but not as good as they do when you get them from the shop. Maybe they need to be boiled in a wok? Who knows? I’m not a culinary expert XD

In the End… 

The only downside to going to this place is that it will make you a cheap ass. I used to not mind spending $5-6 on my lunch, and not being completely filled up by it. Now it pisses me off. If I can get something so delicious and filling in Chinatown for $3, why should I have to pay twice that for a meal that won’t even completely rid me of hunger?  Also since going there I bought my own bottle of sriracha sauce and now I’ve been putting it on everything (pizza, sandwiches, potatoes, etc.), I think it may be developing into a problem. Oh, and this place dashed some of the hopes I had of going “more” vegetarian. I love their veggie dumplings the best, but I need two orders to be full and that’s $5…. I don’t want to spend $5 damnit!!

I give this place 4/5 stars. The reason it’s not 5/5 is because they don’t offer fried veggie dumplings. Also their pork buns aren’t that tasty. I don’t recommend them.

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Nintendo, I am no longer disappoint.

Now you may remember, a while back I wrote this post about how disappoint I was with Nintendo’s event in Times Square promoting the new Super Mario Bros. game.

Today I went to an event at Nintendo World, the Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, to be precise. The event didn’t start until 6pm, but we got there around 12. I guess I’ll divide this into two parts, the waiting on line, and the main event.

The Waiting On Line

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I must say, the organization was pretty damn good. They had barriers, they gave out numbered wrist bands and keepsake tickets to the people on line, the Rockefeller Center security guards were present. It was wonderful!

When we got there, there weren’t that many people ahead of us, but in the end we still didn’t get the free stuff because we weren’t among the first 25. I was number 39. At least that doesn’t hurt as much as being number 26. That aside, we talked with some cool people near us on the line while we waited. My street passes from New York greatly outnumbered my street passes from Jersey 🙂 That was the good part of being on line, the bad follows.

We forgot to bring a blanket, so we sat on the ground for the most part, but that was the least of what went wrong. For some reason Bronies decided to have a meetup at this Nintendo event, and they congregated near us. They were annoying as hell. The best way to describe them is socially awkward nerds with my little pony buttons all over them. Listening to their conversations was almost unbearable. There were also a fair amount of n00bs. One guy started asking Scott if he lived “near here” and if he could help him beat Skyward Sword. Seriously? Get on game FAQs.

The Main Event

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They let us in around 6:15 or so. I bought a symphony of the goddess t-shirt, they sold out of ocarinas very fast. I was pretty disappointed the Link cosplayer had the Skyward Sword outfit on, but it turned out to be a girl cosplayer, and since I have no sexual attraction whatsoever towards Skyward Sword Link, I became okay with it. They had some presentation by an ocarina player about the instrument’s history and how to play one, but we didn’t really hang around for that. We watched the concert, which was great. I believe they had a violin, a viola (or a second violin, I couldn’t tell), a flute, a bass and a Lyon and Healy (for those who don’t know, L&H is pretty much the top harp manufacturer). There were no seats, I assume to fit more people in, so we sat on the floor.

The guy who did the arrangements spoke before the concert and trolled us, said he worked with Koji Kondo up until around noon and that he said hi. Made me think Koji might show up for a minute or two. Oh well. The music was great, except for a few assholes who were talking. My only complaint about the music was that they had everything connected to amps. I never like hearing acoustic stuff hooked up to amps, it takes the vibrations away. And the room wasn’t that big, if everyone shut up they may have been able to get away without using amps.Or maybe if they just had amps playing the music for the people downstairs.

After the concert was over they were doing a meet and greet/autograph session. Instead of hanging around I opted to take my picture with that Link cosplayer because the line was shorter.

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awwww yeaaaaaah gangnam style!!

My Final Thoughts 

It’s pretty obvious to me that they did this just to hype up the Symphony of the Goddess concert that’ll be in Madison Square Garden on November 28th. Originally I wanted to go, but after seeing this I’m not sure that I am. I know that it’ll be all amped out at MSG because that’s the type of venue it is. This type of concert would be much better suited for Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, or even the Metropolitan Opera House. Acoustic music doesn’t feel live if you can’t feel the vibrations, and amps totally take that away. Not sure it’s worth blowing $50+ on.  I also regret not asking if they’d be using a Steinway. Defiantly not worth blowing $50+ on if they’ll be using a Yamaha.

Seriously Nintendo, the concert halls I mentioned were designed to amplify, yes they are smaller, but why not just play for 2 or 3 nights? *sigh* I guess they’re just catering to the videogame crowd 😦

Oh well, you can enjoy this hilarious photo Scott managed to get

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SOON

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