Free Riffs with Rifftrax app!

Free Riffs with Rifftrax app!

I LOVE Rifftrax – I mean, I was a fan of MST3K back in the day, so it only makes sense that my love transferred over when these guys started to make fun of modern movies and more.

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Right now, they are giving away 4 free Riffs if you download their new and improved app. The Riffs are “just the jokes” but with the new app, you can turn on the movie and your device will hear the audio and sync up automatically! Can’t wait to test this out!

The free Riffs are for Iron Man, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Twilight: New Moon and Star Trek V. Once you’ve downloaded the app, just search for each title and hit “download” to make it yours. They say “free” in the corner.

I can tell you from experience these are perfect for gatherings with friends (especially if adult beverages are involved) or when you’re home sick and need to laugh between the coughing. Or when you just need a good laugh (and dont’ we all?)

Grab the app and the movie Riffs before they change their mind!

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video game thoughts: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (2017)

video game thoughts: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (2017)

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I cannot stop thinking about this game. I flew through the 8 hours of gameplay time (well, it took me more than that because I am a very cautious fighter LOL) and I miss Senua already.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is the story of a warrior woman whose lover was murdered by invading Norsemen and she has decided to go into hell to free his soul.

But Senua is not a normal woman – she hears voices. Her mother heard them too. They whisper to her, constant companions since she was young. These voices have kept her separated from the rest of her tribe, which is why she wants so badly to find Dillion’s soul – he was the one person who truly cared for her. I know this sounds cliche, but I have to say that love is the one force out there that will make people challenge gods, even if those gods are not their own.

I love how the game just drops you into the story – no tutorial mode, not even a flash of instruction on the screen to coach you. You must figure it out (even if that simply means hitting “pause” to bring up the control menu) – the game designers have faith in your abilities to play from the start and they don’t want to pull you out of the narrative to go through some clunky “What does the A button do?” screen or cheesy flashback to find an excuse to learn how to make your character walk.

I really feel like this game is another great example of video games as art. I feel like to show how a thing is art, you must give examples of how it brings out emotions in us that no other format can; how it can tell a story that would not be nearly as powerful as just a printed page or even as a moving image.

I played Hellblade as the creator’s suggested: with headphones on. This let me experience the voices the way Senua did – hearing them immediately as our shared quest began and growing both frustrated and fond of their chatter. I don’t think the printed text of a novel could have done this for me and while I can be emotionally connected to a character in a movie or tv show, you can’t become them the way you can in a video game. And while I don’t think I was ever Senua, I felt like I was with her the whole way.

I know this game is already getting a lot of push back from people with mental illness. Ninja Theory, the game design company, did a lot of homework in trying to represent the different ways psychosis can feel. I’ve seen at least one reviewer who are not happy because they suffer from mental illness and didn’t think the game represented them, and I can understand that. The designers could only do so much and they reached out to professionals and got as much feedback as possible but they can’t know what it is like for someone and no game will really ever replicated that experience.

I am coming from a completely different place, and this game really made me think a lot about all of the voices in everyone’s head and how some of us can shrug them off and others are forced to hear them. The voices of self doubt, of fear, of resignation beside the voices that also push you on. I’ve never suffered from psychosis and I can’t even begin to understand what life would be like for someone living with it, but for those 8 hours, I had those voices in my ears and it made me think of how hard that can make everything – if I was struggling in a fictional world to run forward and stay focused, what must it be like for someone in modern society? No idea, I know I can never know.

While I didn’t love the ending (too soon, I wanted more), I loved the game as a whole. I really enjoyed that it was more than just a button mashing fighter game and that the (thankfully few) boss fights all had strategies to them. It reminded me of Legend of Zelda and how each “boss” was more than just a simple fight, you had to pay attention. There were just as many puzzles and hidden things to make me want to keep going, and bits of Norse legend peppered through-out which made me want to go find Neil Gaiman’s new book and see if there were more to those legends.

It was a beautiful game, I loved seeing it on my screen, watching Senua wander the mystical world. I really hope we have more adventures with her.

For more details about the game and how to buy a (digital only for PC and PS4), visit the official Ninja Theory site.

Give the gift of books

Need help finding a gift for the young adult lit fans in your life? Here is a quick list of awesome books and who will like them.

If you liked The Hunger Games:

  • Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins – Collins first series may have a younger protagonist but the themes of war, hard choices and shades of gray are still there and by the end of book 5 you may have a hard time deciding which of the series you like more. Gregor is a normal kid growing up in the city with his mother and baby sister. When his sister manages to fall down a vent in the laundry room, Gregor jumps in after her and tumbles into a world underneath the city he never knew existed. Filled with giant cockroaches and bats large enough for humans to ride, Gregor is definitely a fantasy story, but the hero must make some hard choices when the final battle between the humans and the rats approaches.
  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman – Book 3 in this series was just released and it is full of action but also tough questions. In a near future, after a war on abortion rights tore the country apart, a compromise was reached: parents have the choice to unwind their unwanted children up until the age of 18, selling the child’s body parts for money. Three teens fight back in 3 different ways and the story gets more intense as each books goes on.
  • Uglies by Scott Westerfeld – a great dystopian trilogy about the power and prejudice of beauty. Everyone is considered ugly until their 16 birthday when they are sent for the special surgery to make them pretty. Tally is excited about her approaching birthday, until her new friend Shay raises some questions about what really happens when you turn pretty.
  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers – Ismae escapes an arranged marriage and hides herself in what appears to be a convent. She soon learns that this isn’t just a sanctuary for young girls, but a place where they learn to the art of assassination. After years of training, Ismae is finally ready for her first assignment. A dark tale definitely for the old young adult reader.

If you liked Fault in Our Stars:

  • King Dork by Frank Portman – A teen struggles with the long absence of his father while trying to navigate senior year of high school (and try to understand his teacher’s obsession with Catcher in the Rye). Hilarious and heart felt, good for those at the older end of YA.
  • Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl – Another story about teens dealing with cancer though this one has a lot more boner jokes. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
  • Ask the Passengers by A.S. King – a teen girl deals with living in a small town, her parent’s issues, and her own questions about her sexuality. Every night she lies on the picnic table in her backyard and “sends her love” to the planes flying overhead.

If you want any other read-alike suggestions for certain books, leave me a comment and I’ll find you a match!