Wednesday, January 28, 2015

5 Reasons Why - A Workaholics & Always Sunny Crossover Needs to Happen

Television history has given us some classic crossover episodes.  A few months ago, Family Guy and The Simpsons released a long-awaited crossover episode and it was glorious.  Quahog met Springfield, a massive and superbly chaotic chicken fight was had, and all was right and good within the very small universe of animated dysfunctional families. (Cue the ‘It’s A Small World’ music.)

However, back in the larger world of dysfunctional live action – it’s totally time for the Workaholics and Always Sunny gangs to meet.

See? Here's evidence.
They're totally curious.
 Let's make this happen.
(I'm so serious, I wrote a haiku caption.)
Photo credits: /

C’mon, they air on the same night, so it’s a safe bet that you’re already watching both shows.  If you’re not, you should be.  There are a bunch of great parallels that can be drawn between the two. Each one is reliably hilarious and comprised mostly of standalone episodes.  The lack of plot is a refreshing change of pace, as is the characters steadfast refusal to conform to traditional societal responsibilities. Seriously, who needs to be an adult when you can drink all day, execute endless hare-brained schemes, and live by your own rules?  People on TV, that’s who.

Full disclosure: I wish I had half of the conviction and moxie of the characters on these shows.  If they wanted a crossover to happen, they’d do something about it.  So, riding high off a snow day binge of Netflix, coffee, and Starburst I present to you – 5 Reasons Why A Workaholics and Always Sunny crossover needs to happen.

One – Nothing is taboo.  Both shows are rooted in humble beginnings as ambitious series initially created independently, without a network. Therefore the premise of each series is devoid of any corporate tinkering or censorship.  Thankfully the networks that picked up these shows have continued the ‘anything goes’ lead of the series creators and allowed each show to do its own thing.  Which brings us to…

Two – Booze.  So.  Much.  Booze.  And drugs.  But mostly booze.  Each cast of characters is completely comprised of a group of functional alcoholics.  This conceit is delightfully addressed in two separate ‘Very Special Episodes’: Dry Guys (S2E2, Workaholics) and The Gang Gets Quarantined (S9E7, Always Sunny).  Only, um, the episodes aren’t exactly ‘special’ because no one learns any life lessons, and everyone decides to wholeheartedly embrace their lives as alcoholics at the end.  Oh, also there’s no cheesy 90’s music blaring in the background. 

C'mon Kelly, just do it.  Nike says so.
Photo Credit: pursuitofhappinesss on tumblr
Don’t try to deny that watching these two crews go toe-to-toe at the bar would be epic.  And what bar would they be drinking at?  As if you even had to ask….

Three – Paddy’s Pub. You know that you not only want to see these characters drink together, you definitely want to see them drink together at that iconic trash dump of a bar in Philly.  What are they doing?  I’m not too sure, but I love the idea of a plot involving Dennis convincing Anders to seduce a clueless and probably drunk Dee (for completely self-motivated reasons, of course).  Charlie tries to rope Blake into doing all the 'Charlie Work' around the bar, but they end up huffing spray paint and/or getting stoned in the basement.  Meanwhile, Karl collaborates with Frank in a scheme to import medicinal marijuana from California to Philly.  Mac and Adam are so obviously in on the venture if only to provide security detail. Karate kicks, sock huffing, chugging contests, and hilarity ensue.  

Four – Anders and Dennis.  Speaking of Anders, he’s basically just Dennis in training.  Sure, he’s currently got a a good deal more heart than Dennis does, but with the right amount of guidance he could become a full-fledged menace to society.  The duo could unleash a smarmy, vaguely sinister brand of charm all over the East Coast.  Anders is the wingman Dennis never knew he always wanted, and in a crossover he’d be right there for the manipulating. 

Five – The episode could be an entire HOUR long. Instead of being limited to 30 minutes with each show, it’s 60 minutes of BOTH.  TOGETHER.  Two for one.  It's not only great for entertainment, it's totally a savvy business decision.  Frank would totally approve.

What’s the hold up?  Comedy Central + FXX = Let’s make this happen bitches.

Hotel Bag in a Box - Aka: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Welcome Bags But Were Afraid To Ask

What’s a bag in a box, you ask?  A hotel box carries only the best in creature comforts for your guests while they’re in town for your wedding. 

I designed and assembled these boxes while planning for my wedding.  My undying love for mini toiletries, junk food, and clearly organized information fueled my process.  I truly believe it is a perfect box and will help keep a traveling crew happy, healthy and in the know for the entirety of any wedding weekend. 

The hotel boxes for our wedding included a nifty schedule (from on the front, and a small bag of essential toiletries on the inside.  They were also stocked to the gills with delicious goodies including: 

- one full package of M&M’s
- one full Snickers bar
- one full bag of Sour Patch Kids
- one snack bag of Cheezits
- one snack bag of pretzels
- one snack bag of Smartfood popcorn
- two Trader Joes granola bars
- two small bags of ‘Omega Trail Mix’ from Trader Joes
- two 16 oz bottled waters (to stave off hangovers, obvi)
- one 5 stick pack of peppermint gum (no one wants to be the one with stank breath)

It’s an odd thing, but most of the treats from our box somehow made their way into our cabinet before I had a chance to take pictures.  I regret nothing. #sorrynotsorry

My aim was to create a box that cost approximately $15.  If you're looking to spend less, there are places where you can compromise or leave certain items out to modify the cost. Because I have information from when I priced everything out, I have decided to share my knowledge with the world.  For example: for all the edible goodies above, I spent a total of $6 per box.  Do with this information what you will.

Before I go into all the particulars, I wanted to give a shout out to writer Meredith Goldstein for providing me with an incredibly helpful account of what it's like to be a traveling guest at a wedding (see it here on HuffPo).  Written back in 2012, Meredith's article was by far the most witty, interesting and informative piece about the specific topic of wedding welcome bags that I encountered in my (extensive) search for info on what to include in my boxes.  I incorporated a good percentage of her ideas, and if this were a business venture I'd probably owe her some money.  

Where appropriate, I have included links to sites where I clicked a few buttons online and then stuff appeared at my doorstep like magic.

The Logo

We asked our close friend Chansoda, of design the logo for our wedding.  (PSA: Chansoda is an amazing graphic designer with over a decade of experience.  She is thoughtful, creative and fantastically personable.  In short:  Chansoda is amazing!  Chansoda for all your design needs!) 

The logo was a super useful element that helped us tie together many of our wedding elements such as the website, invitations, programs and the hotel boxes. As we had our wedding ceremony at a library, the logo is comprised of a book with pages flipping into the air to form my husbands and my initials.  Like overeager kindergarteners we immediately made stickers featuring the logo and stuck them on anything and everything we could get our hands on. 

Fun With Stickers

White and Clear Printable Stickers - - OL350CK(Clear) / OL7425WX (White)
Raffia Ribbon: Michaels

COST: $1.20 per box

Sure, you have to assemble each box but the resulting receptacle is sturdy, large enough to fit oodles of goodies, and won't tip over or rumple in transit like the traditional gift bag.  It's totally practical and super affordable.  

We centered the logo on one side of the box, and then printed it slightly askew on the clear label so we could have a fancy piece of 'tape' to keep the Infobooks in place.

Infobooks - Aka: Keep Your People In The Loop

COST: $4.00 each

This was my big splurge.  In all honesty you could probably make your own infobooks/schedules and exponentially cut this cost, but I instantly fell in love with the Minted ‘Minibook’ and desperately wanted to incorporate into our wedding stationery somehow.  For a Photoshop noob like me, I had a great experience finding a template on the Minted site that worked for me, and then communicating with the designers to get everything just the way I wanted it.  The quality of the printing, the durability of the paper and the addition of the two metal reinforced holes on the spine of the booklet made it perfect for this project.  In addition, the booklet had space for all the information I could possibly want to convey to our guests, including a comprehensive schedule for the events of the weekend.  

HOW TO:  I used the holes from one of the Minibooks to measure and mark each box, and then used a sharp nail to poke through the markings and create holes. DISCLAIMER:  Use caution when poking the holes.  That’s what she said.  Ahahaha.  Ok, end DISCLAIMER.  After the poking was complete I threaded a small strip of raffia through each booklet and then tied the ends together on the inside of the box.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezey.

If You Love Toiletries, And Gettin' Caught In the Rain

One of my great loves in life are toiletries.  Specifically mini toiletries.  Give me a wall of travel size conditioners and shampoos and I'm in heaven.  I really don't know why.  Maybe I was a giant in a past life or something. 

Therefore, I decided to be really thorough about the toiletries I selected for the bag.

Advil/Shout Wipe/Tylenol/Pepto/Muslin Bags  - Amazon
LA Fresh Makeup Remover Wipe: LA Fresh (Online)

COST: $5.75 per bag

I chose both Tylenol and Advil as per the suggestion of Ms. Goldstein, a Shout wipe for any stains that may have sprung up throughout the course of the evening (I don't want to know), Pepto for all the various things Pepto works on, a sewing kit and an LA Fresh eco-friendly makeup remover.

(Side note: If you're a lady and you've ever been at a fancy event that involves unlimited free booze, chances are that you're not removing your makeup before you face-plant into bed.  Um, 'lady' was definitely the wrong word choice there.  I don't think ladies face-plant.  Let's rephrase: There are usually so many things to regret after a night of drinking, makeup shouldn't be one of them.)

I chose to stuff all the toiletries into a small muslin bag and adorned it with a small iron-on version of our logo, because, logo.

That's All, Folks

If you've been doing the math, you'll see that I ended up a little over budget, with a total cost of $16.95 per box.  I admit that I did go a bit overboard, but my philosophy is that if your guests are paying a hundred-plus bucks per night to stay over for your wedding, the least you can do is give them a great goodie bag.

Happy Wedding!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

5 Reasons Why - A Dark Room

Awake, head throbbing, vision blurry.

Either you’re waking up on a Sunday morning with a vicious hangover, or you’ve just entered the world of ‘A Dark Room’, a text-based adventure game.  For your sake, I hope it's the latter.  If not, please pop some Advil, chug a big ole glass of water, cue up the Netflix, and come back later. Feel better!

‘A Dark Room’ is a perfect activity for a long winter weekend.  I’m a bit late to the party on this one, as the game came out over a year ago, but it’s likely that you haven’t played it either.  I’m here to tell you that there are 5 Reasons Why you should download it immediately.

One – Initially the game only provides you with one option – light fire.  Do it. 

What follows is a slowly unfolding world, akin to a ‘Choose Your Adventure’ with survivalist hints of ‘Oregon Trail’ tossed in for good measure (#ChildOfThe80s4Lyfe).  In a world of increasingly impressive and life-like graphics, 'A Dark Room' dares to ask you to activate your imagination and fill in the blanks.  Visually the game is comprised of little else than simple text and a three-color palate - white, black and blue.  Nope, not even a pixelated wagon or stream are provided for reference.  Graphic design has indeed made some leaps and bounds in the past few decades, but the game reinforces the notion that nothing compares to ‘pure imagination’.

Wonka knows best.  Listen to Wonka.
Two – Hitting milestones as a savvy adventurer feels exceptionally satisfying.  At first the only few options available could best be categorized as ‘gathering stuff’.  However, I would argue that ‘gathering stuff’ (yes, even in a game on your phone) satisfies some evolutionary urge, at least in me.  Honestly, do I want to actually gather thousands of cords or wood, or subsist on cured meat?  Absolutely not.  But if I can play at doing so while I subsist on chicken-flavored ramen, and gather my iPhone charger from the other room then, consider my primal instincts satisfied. 

Three  One word.  Couch.  I’ve always been a fan of anything I can do from my couch. And this game is couch-ready.  Sure, in reality you’re slumped over some cushions in an old college sweatshirt covered in ramen stains, tapping frantically at your iPhone screen.  But in your mind you are on an epic journey.  Who doesn’t want to feel productive while simultaneously sitting on their couch?  If you answer ‘no’ to that question, go home, you’re drunk.

Four – To say much more about the game would likely ruin some of the surprises.  The story is twisty, like a good movie or book, keeping you interested and invested in the gameplay.  Also, the story is told in the present moment, asking you to fill in portions of the backstory related to your character as well as the world that surrounds you.  If nothing else, ‘A Dark Room’ is a welcome exercise for the imagination. 

Five – Good news!  All the mysteries of the game can be revealed in one weekend, or one really long sitting. Yes, even for a rusty and plodding player like me.  It took me just shy of six hours to complete it, but for most gamers it apparently takes somewhere in the neighborhood of three or four hours.  It’s not a spoiler to say that at the finish line you will be rewarded with 24 minutes of somewhat dry, but wholly interesting commentary on the game by the two developers, revealing a cache of secrets about the game.

Now, in the immortal (and bastardized) words of The Doors / Jimi Morrison: C’mon baby, light that fire.