I’m a fairly tense person on even the calmest sorts of days. Ever since I was very small, I have fretted over so many inconsequential things. Several years ago, I began getting anxiety attacks (and one or two panic attacks, which I consider separate, worse things). Why is this? What is to blame? Could it be a complicated matter of brain chemicals malfunctioning? Or maybe it is a very simple matter. Is it the state of the world? Do I actually care that much? Is it too much coffee? No, I will never blame coffee for anything! Maybe it is just the act of living and aging and getting older and turning to dust oh god how is anyone ever able to relax?! Should I see a doctor? Probably, but I don’t have time for that! I’ll see the doctor AFTER I’M DEAD!!

Anyway, one day I was feeling pretty anxious and went to Chris for some sympathy. Ha ha, no, I was not that delusional. I only kid you. I simply happened to be speaking to him at the time, and he did that thing he does so well: make it clear that he was low-level annoyed that I was not entertaining enough because I was experiencing a rough day. BFFs.

Click the image to see me being ON EDGE up close and pixelatedly.

Who, I ask you!

We have all had our favorite food or drink items before. Something that, for whatever reason, you really take to and thoroughly enjoy above the sea of fairly similar products. As a child, you can probably recall your favorite candy. I’m sure most of you played it safe and fell in love with a candy that was a major household name, and one that you would never have to worry about not being there. Instead of going out there and taking chances, you took the easy way out. Does it make you proud? Probably not. But at least you haven’t had to deal with heartbreak due to your risk-taking. No, I am not crazy by talking about attaching yourself to a certain kind of candy and comparing it to falling in love. I HAVE loved and lost in the candy world, so I know what I am talking about.

I was 10 years old.

PB Max
Its name was PB Max.

We were in love, goddamnit.

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Well, it’s once again time for my favorite holiday to roll around. A holiday of lighthearted fun, fanciful masks, eerie flickering candles, and the taking of loot from total strangers. That’s right, this Saturday is “Mug a Furry Day.”

No! That was only in a dream I had that featured 50 Cent and Elmo from Sesame Street, and I have decided that I’d best not speak of it any further. No, this Monday is the holiday devoted to visions of madness and carbohydrates almost as unsettling as my dreams: Halloween.

Halloween is a great holiday. It’s not over-commercialized like Christmas, there are no Halloween-bowl games, and you’re not expected to eat too much of a mediocre dinner while being forcibly polite to people you hate. And it’s not like Thanksgiving, where you starve yourself the day before just so you can engage in acts of gluttony not seen since the vomitoriums of ancient Rome. Halloween is about fun, pure and simple. If you’re a kid, you get to dress up like a ninja or a ballerina or a cyborg skeleton zombie hellbeast or Khalil Gibran and go door-to-door asking for candy. If you’re an adult, you get to dress up as a robot or crack whore or acupuncturist or Karl Rove and, well, drink. If you’re lucky, you’ll also get to inflict some psychological scars on some trick-or-treaters.

The history of Halloween is a long and exciting one, filled with wars, aliens, potted ferns, knife fights, and even a musical number. The word Halloween comes from the Senior Citizen English Hall O’ Weenies, an annual fall festival where the British would gather in a large hall and drink. Soon they would pass out under the table, and the Druids would come in and rob them. It was in this manner that Halloween came to be used to refer to the Druidic Fall Festival of Savings, where the Druids would sell off their old hooded robes at or below cost while their boss was away. Obviously, these were truly crazy times in which to live.

Origins of Halloween by Amanda Wood

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Quality-wise costumes are one of the things that Present Day Halloween has over the days we old-timers enjoyed in the Eighties and Nineties. Masks are reaching very realistic levels, and are no longer those plastic faces with the string that cuts into the back of your head and causes your ears to hurt the entire night. Full outfits consist of just what it sounds like: a full, detailed outfit, not the mask spoken of above and a smock which, instead of having a body, just had the logo of whatever you were wearing.

Old Halloween Costumes by Amanda Wood

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Everyone has a point in their life where they wonder just how badly they are failing at becoming an adult. Many of us have this same point of worry multiple times in a week! This is a completely natural concern. We all also seem to eventually have a moment where we gasp, clutch at our hearts, and realize with horror that we have become our parents. Or at least, that we are getting very close to being our parents which then causes us to overreact and act like young people again but it is always pathetic because once you’ve reached a certain point of growing up, you can’t go back and oh god it makes me sick all of the time lost hold on I have to go hyperventilate into a brown paper bag.

Aging

Now you might be thinking to yourselves, you might even be shouting at your computer screens, “Amandoll, what would you of all people know about growing up? Look at you. You have never worked, you aren’t married, you never want kids, you’ve never even driven a car. Do you know what else you don’t have? You don’t have a bank account. You don’t even qualify as a thirteen year old most of the time, honestly. God. What good ARE you??”

WELL LISTEN, I may not have, like, practical experience on this matter, but I insist that I am very good at making observations and then taking these observations and creating threads of words with them that I can then pretend make good article topics for articles that need to be written as soon as possible because my goodness it is any day of the week already and I need more content all the time more more! Also I am pretty okay at crafting run on sentences of pure excellence today. It is my gift to you all.

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We originally wrote about Duolingo two years ago for another website, with the caveat that you still needed an invite back then. Well it’s 2015 and things have changed!

Duolingo is a free website to learn a language. Currently, you can learn Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Swedish, Danish, and Turkish. You can also learn Norwegian (Bokmal), Esperanto, and Ukrainian, but these are in beta. I’m learning Esperanto right now. (There are actually a lot more ways to learn, if you want to learn English as a speaker of another language. There’s even a test to earn an English certificate!)

We love Duolingo, whether we are logging on to pretend to finish learning the language we chose 3 years ago or picking a random made up language in Beta. Read on for all the highlights of this great, free, useful website that makes language-learning into an awesome game.

Even though Duo the Owl no longer pesters you at each and every wrong answer, he appears to still be on the right side, crying over me not reaching my daily goal. Be good to Duo. He is there to help you on your journey.

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We have all seen the Fortune-Tellers in our local carnivals. If they are not working the Tarot Cards, they are Reading Palms. Palmistry isn’t just a vehicle for seeing into that person’s future, did you know? It can also be used as a way to see their personality! In fact, it is probably more reliable as a personality-figuring tool than as a fortune-telling tool, simply because they are always telling you that you “still have free will.” So any future-telling is meant as a guideline which you can change by making decisions that will lead you in a totally different direction. That will be $25, please.

Palmistry

Reading a palm is supposed to be able to tell you about the person’s character, too. An experienced palm technician can examine (which includes a fair amount of touching) the hand and know about this person’s traits and inclinations. Forget about the future! Let’s learn about now! On the INSIDE!

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Sometimes, while listening to old, obscure music, you happen upon some fine gems. Just because a tune wasn’t on the Top 40 station within the past five years doesn’t mean it’s unlistenable, whippersnappers!

However, as with all journeys, one risks running into perils involving distasteful subjects, awkward moments, or even human emotions. On the day that I discovered Baby, How Can It Be? I was not expecting to also discover a piece of recording history that would change my mood. I had gone from cheerful to unsettled in the time that it took to simply read the track titles. My good friend, Billy Holiday, was there to comfort me in my hour of confusion and slight need.

Then I drew this comic of our conversation.

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In this modern day and age, human beings are often too caught up in their busy lives. I’m told they have work to do, bills to pay, stressful situations to cope with, and entertaining distractions galore. These distractions are what people currently use to “unwind” from their other stresses, but they aren’t really that relaxing.

In the yesteryears before electronic fun, a person had a lot of time to think quietly to themselves. Their relaxation involved peacefully sitting out on the back porch and reflecting on life and problems while watching the sunset. Perhaps they would also be sipping on an iced tea and sitting in comfortable silence with a good friend and a kitty cat, listening to the ambient noises of the gentle outdoors and feeling glad.

Personality

But this article isn’t about how to really get in touch with the real you inside. Heavens, no!

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In my perfect dream world, legendary children’s show Sesame Street would be populated by old time movie stars parodying themselves outlandishly. I think I would have learned better lessons, and learned them better, if it had been this way. Are children supposed to identify with or look up to a fuzzy green monster with a bad attitude? Well maybe they do, but a magically re-animated Greta Garbo would have gotten the job done with so much more melodramatic class.

If I ever get a wish-granting monkey paw, this will be the reality of children’s television programming.

As always, click to see it in the full size. (You can see the other example of Greta in imaginary kids television in our Yo Garbo Garbo post.)

Garbo Street