I am cheap, part 2: making money!

A year ago, I made this blog post about free trials, offers, samples, contests, etc.  Since then, I have spent an embarrassing chunk of my time finding others ways to “get free stuff” online.  Affiliate links are marked with a “*”

  • Mintvine is one of those websites you’ve probably heard of where users are paid to take surveys.  Of all the websites I’ve tried, Mintvine is the best.  Users can reliably earn points every day by taking their daily poll.  I’ve already earned more than enough for a payout! mintvine.com*
  • Insta GC complete tasks for points towards redeeming a gift card of your choice. www.instagc.com*
  • Amazon Mechanical Turk: I’m not currently using this program, although it looks like it could be relatively lucrative for working at home.  www.mturk.com

New PAIN Single Black Knight Satellite is Reassuring

Time leaches almost every band’s unique sound more and more every release.  With lineup changes, pressure from record companies, and the pursuit of fame, many bands slowly crumble.  In a world regular humans are incapable of seeing, is a graveyard of bands metalheads used to like, before they sold out, or started to sound too much like pop music.  Any one who’s traced a band’s discography from early demos to their latest music video steps carefully here.  Learning that there is new music from your favorite artist can be bad news.  There’s always a good chance that the tracks are poorly mixed, or worse–the vocals are layered and modified into oblivion.  One’s darkest fear of all is that the new songs will sound closer to Kanye West than Metallica.

Peter Tagtgren has had a lot of success.  Most people know him as the frontman for Hypocrisy, or through his solo project, PAIN.  In the last year, he also released the album Skills in Pills with Till Lindemann of Rammstein, under the name Lindemann.  Peter’s work, whether alone or with others, has earned him an international cult following that mostly lives online.  When I heard the news, that there would be a new album and single, I wasn’t overly worried that the new stuff would be a nosedive in quality.  Peter is capable of making diverse sounding music, but he understands that going in a new artistic direction means a new project, with a new name.

Image result for Pain Dark Knight Sattelite  The new PAIN single, Black Knight Satellite, maintains the sound that fans recognise as PAIN.  This is a relief.  Black Knight Satellite will also be on the new album Coming Home.  I am inferring from this, that the other tracks will sound similar.  If the rest of Coming Home sounds like that, then we can all rest easy that PAIN hasn’t sold out.  That being said, I urge you all to go listen to the new single, protected by the foreknowledge that it won’t be an utter disappointment.

 

Top 10 PAIN Songs

 

  This September 9th, Peter Tagtgren will be releasing a new PAIN album, titled Coming Home.  Peter released a new single the other day too, called Black Knight Satellite.  Interestingly, his son Sebastian Tagtgren will be the studio drummer for the new album.  I didn’t even know he had a kid (Where did this homunculus of a son come from?!)  I wonder whether Peter Tagtgren will take his son on tour with him as well, although I doubt it…  Randomly appearing progeny aside, I thought it was fitting to celebrate the new album with the top ten PAIN songs according to moi.

The tracks below are listed in order from The Very Best to one-of-the-best, with the album in which they were first released in brackets.

  1. Just Think Again      (Psalms of Extinction)
  2. 12:42      (Rebirth)
  3. Close My Eyes      (Nothing Remains the Same)
  4. It’s Only Them      (Nothing Remains the Same)
  5. Nothing      (Dancing with the Dead)
  6. Don’t Count Me Out      (Dancing with the Dead)
  7. The Tables Have Turned      (Dancing with the Dead)
  8. Monster      (You Only Live Twice)
  9. I’m Going in      (Cynic Paradise)
  10. Computer God      (Psalms of Extinction)

Image result for Pain Dancing With the Dead ArtHonorable mentions go to the song Tear it up from the album Dancing With the Dead and Suicide Machine from the album Rebirth.

The Harvest 3.5/5 STARS

Yes, yes, I’ve got a movie review for you!  I’m a sucker for dark movies, but I thought this one–The Harvest–was worth recommending.  As someone who has trouble sitting through long movies, I found The Harvest(1hr 44min) very watchable.  From start to finish, the pacing was perfect.  I’d like to add that this movie deals with the death of one’s child, among other sensitive topics, so keep that in mind if you’re sensitive to that.  Even I was on edge, mouth twisted in disgust when things really started to get creepy.

A sickly boy(Charlie Tahan) is isolated from the outside and other children, “to keep his strength.”  His abusive mother(Samantha Morton) is a doctor, and mild father(Michael Shannon) a nurse.  When mounting evidence shows that the mother doesn’t truly care about the boy’s longevity, only the neighbor girl(Natasha Calis) can shine light on this dark family.  All of the characters in The Harvest are believable, with familiar dynamics that hearken to real life.  For example: the mother puts the father down by reminding him he’s just a nurse, and she an MD.  The father, conversely, resents her status as a doctor.

The movie opens with a pleasant scene: kids are playing baseball, parents yelling encouragements from the bleachers.  One kid, Bobby, is hit with the ball and flops to the ground, unresponsive.  Adults crowd around him, but you can hear a woman calling: “Please, let me through… I’m his mom. Let me through.”  Bobby is taken to hospital and saved.  His mother, relieved, thanks the doctor with a hug.  This seemingly inconsequential scene will not make sense until the very end of the movie.  Actually, I went back and watched the opening again because I had nearly forgotten it as it seemed totally unrelated.  Folks, I was wrong.  Go back and watch the beginning again if you need to: it really frames the message of the movie.


Sidenote: The Harvest is available on Canadian Netflix.

 

Peering Through a Canadian Perspective

The Gravedigger’s Art:  https://books.google.ca/books/about/The_Gravedigger_s_Art.html?id=qd8ymAEACAAJ&redir_esc=y

Front Cover

This is a really great book of poems by a Canadian, Owen Hughes.  I picked it up out of curiosity and enjoyed it very much.  If you know the author, please let me know, I can’t find this guy anywhere online and would like to know if he has written anything else and where his career has gone.  Seriously, Owen Hughes, let’s get in touch!

The Mask You Live In 4/5 STARS

When men complain about the pressure to be tall and muscular, they’re right.  They’re absolutely right that they’re expected to be physically imposing.  At it’s worst, they’re expected to assert their power through violence.  And, underneath the posturing, they are forced to hide their feelings.

The Mask You Live In, available on Canadian Netflix, lays all of the ways we set boys up for failure out in the open.  Most of us are desensitized to the messages beaten into us, that we become blind.  Not just physically, but psychologically, by the way we talk, what we watch, and who we idolize.

A few criticisms I’d make is that it’s alluded that boys watching “bondage porn” are somehow more toxically masculine.  While porn is a problem in the ways it portrays sex, I don’t really agree with the insinuated evil of kink/BDSM.  I’d like to add that different ways of having sex are fine as long as they are consensual.  I wish they had had a sex educator in the documentary explain this point…

Overall, I agreed with the film’s main ideas.  It covered the causes and effects of Toxic Masculinity and the Demonization of Femininity.  The Mask You Live In made me very emotional in spots: I teared up, and I’m not one to cry during movies.  Most of the time, I was just nodding my head.

A Normal Lost Phone: 3.5/5 STARS

ANormalLostPhone

What do you know about Sam?  Are they a boy, a girl?  Are they cheating on their girlfriend?  Where did they go on the 18th of January? Where are they now?

One user on Game Jolt commented:

“really hits me like a rock, cried like a baby”

Contrary to my introduction, A Normal Lost Phone is not a murder-mystery.  It’s not terribly suspenseful, but it’s ending is very, very real.  Even though I am not in Sam’s exact situation, their struggle reminded me of myself.  The game is written very well.  The end text, supposedly written by the main character, is minimal, to the point, and believable.  The only real complaint I have is that, in the cellphone’s contacts, there are so many names that are absolutely pointless.  It clutters up a screen that shouldn’t be.

Play A Normal Lost Phone by Accidental Queens here (available in English, French, and Spanish!)

 


SPOILERS

I referred to Samantha during my description as “they” as I wanted her gender to remain ambiguous, as to not spoil the story.  I am aware that she is a woman.

Hey Barbie, Let’s Talk

Mattel has just revealed their new Barbie “Fashionistas” dolls that activists and the company are calling “reflective of the world (girls) see today.”(hey, boys can play with Barbies too!) Parents and collectors alike can now pre order them online, which come in “Petite,” “Curvy,” “Tall,” and “Original” body types. There are precisely 7 skin tones, 22 eye colours, and 24 hairstyles.

I’m really loving the curvy, tall, and short body types.  Regrettably, Mattel, I’ve still got a bone to pick with you.

First off: gingers(or redheads.)  There are two dolls; one with brilliant vermillion hair, the other a more orangey shade, with (supposedly) natural red hair. This is great–orange hair is a recessive gene, making gingers a minority(1-2% of the population), and even people of color can have this trait.  Gingers with white skin are usually quite fair-skinned.  Freckles, moles, Rosacea, and other kinds of discoloration are common among this group.  The orange haired doll has a few moles on her face, so bravo to the creator. The doll with red, red hair has uniform skin. I had a friend with hair naturally that colour, and she was covered in (wonderful)freckles. This isn’t to say that all people with red hair are freckle-covered, but I think we can all agree that many fair skinned people have moles, ruddy skin, and freckles galore. Especially with such red hair and the skin that typically goes with it. I would love to see a Barbie Doll with even a peppering of freckles across the bridge of her nose and cheekbones–plenty of kids and adults look like this, as opposed to the even-skinned dolls Barbie has always sold.

Barbie® Fashionistas™ Doll 29 Terrific Teal - Tall - Shop.Mattel.comBarbie® Fashionistas™ Doll 16 Team Glam - Original - Shop.Mattel.com

 

Secondly, Barbie needs to lay off the Rhinoplasty. Every freaking doll has a tiny “button” nose. My dog has a (relatively)bigger nose than any Barbie–and he’s a Pug, who has

Barbie® Fashionistas™ Doll 25 Blue Brocade - Petite - Shop.Mattel.com

RIP Breathing

trouble breathing if the temperature changes too much. Noses come in all sorts of sizes and shapes–just like the rest of our bodies.  For most of my childhood and teen years, I was incredibly dissatisfied with my big, “ugly” nose. There is no famous woman I can think of(other than Uma Thurman) that has a nose typically considered “unappealing.” By the way, Thurman still gets slammed for her appearance, when she isn’t even in the spotlight. Can you imagine how strange it would be, to grow up never seeing somebody who looked like you? Point made, moving on.

 

One last thing I’d like to mention is that the proportions of Barbie are still unrealistic. For example, “Petite” does not always mean skinny.  The “Petite” sized dolls are like a shorter version of the “Original” Barbie. Do the creators of Barbie actually think everyone under 5’4(and over 6ft, for that matter) is super skinny? I’d suggest adding “Petite Curvy” and “Tall Curvy” Dolls to the mix at a later date.

Honorable Mentions and Positive Highlights of the New Barbies:

Barbie® Fashionistas™ Doll 32 Dolled Up Denim - Curvy - Shop.Mattel.com

This doll looks exactly like Jackie Brown, from the Tarantino movie of the same name. It’s uncanny!

Barbie® Fashionistas™ 44 Leather & Ruffles Doll & Fashions - Tall  - Shop.Mattel.com

This Doll, which looks like Jennifer Lawrence(sort of).

Barbie® Fashionistas™ Doll 19 Ruby Red Floral - Original - Shop.Mattel.com

An Asian Barbie! The new Line has a few other Asian Dolls, too.

 

Barbie® Fashionistas™ Doll 23 Love That Lace - Petite - Shop.Mattel.com

This doll, which has more realistic blond hair than the platinum locks of the Original Barbie(and it has a boss haircut).

Barbie® Fashionistas™ Doll 33 Fab Fringe - Tall - Shop.Mattel.com

This one has an awesome afro. It’s great to see Barbies with short hair!(Short hair isn’t just for lesbians… and even if she is gay, how is that a bad thing?)

 

Barbie® Fashionistas™ 43 Lacey Blue Doll & Fashion - Tall  - Shop.Mattel.com

Another Barbie with a mole!

Barbie® Fashionistas™ 39 Emoji Fun Doll & Fashions - Curvy  - Shop.Mattel.com

Your hair and glasses are on point, girl!