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We bought a board game called Planetarium. Tonight we playtested it in preparation for playing with friends later this month. I'm not inclined to do a full review based on one round, but I want to record some preliminary observations so I don't forget them. After I've played some more, I'll add more details and clean up the descriptions.

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Today we went out to visit Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery for a fall event.  There was a construction detour on the way, the parking lot was overfull and required parking in an unmown overflow lot, the trail to the barns wasn't well marked, and the activities weren't impressive either.  We did note that they sell raw honey, and we bought some goat sausage, so it wasn't a total bust.  We also bought some homemade donuts, which were very tasty, although the advertised flavors weren't really discernible.  On the whole, we were underwhelmed by the farm.  I suspect their heart's in the right place for community outreach, but they don't quite know what they're doing yet when it comes to event organization.  So not a terrible trip, but disappointing.

We decided to drown our sorrows in some draft root beer and gourmet pizza at Brixx.  This improved our mood and the day.

There was still grocery shopping to do ... but then my partner Doug spotted a new antique store near Wal-Mart.  By new, it turns out they've only been there for 8 days.  And this is where the day turned amazing.  :D  The place is called Captain Jack's Treasures.  Imagine, if you will, a typical antique store, the size of a barn, crammed full of stuff, 90% of which is crud.  Now throw out all the crud and cream off the top 10% into one largish room.   That room is this store. 

Chatty folks, too, the staff and customers alike, so plan to spend some time if you go there.  You're not going to get in and out in 10 minutes.  We did eventually get our groceries.  Very eventually.  I think we spent between half an hour and an hour in there.

The owner bills himself as a treasure hunter, and I agree.  I've seen hundreds of antique stores, and the vast majority of them look like they were stocked by magpies.  This one is different.  It is very carefully curated by someone with an exceptional eye for quality.  (They also stock some stuff from other vendors, including Timeless Treasures.)  There were all sorts of items I recognize but almost never see anymore.  Old tricycles and wagons.  Depression-era glass and books.  Crockery.  Some truly splendid hardwood furniture.  A wooden horse that may have come off a carousel or child's riding toy.  A genuine cookstove with the lids on top that come off to expose the fire.  And if they get a bargain, you get a bargain; there was a walnut-and-marble coffee table for $75, and a couple of art glass rolling pins that I'm pretty sure had more than their $45 price in raw materials alone.  Prices actually ranged from very cheap -- the book I got was $4 -- on up to quite expensive for the really old and rare treasures.  Granted, people like all different things, so there was a lot of stuff that didn't grab me -- but I can recognize good stuff even if I'm not into it personally.  I didn't see the outright junk  that clutters most antique stores.  It was basically like a museum where you could buy all the stuff.  So we came home with a book, a jello mold, and a set of mid-century burlap glasses.  \o/

If you're within driving distance of Champaign-Urbana (the shop is actually in Savoy, which is adjacent to the south) and you're into antiques, this is totally worth the trip. Too far away?  Look up Captain Jack's Treasures on eBay.  That's mostly smaller items; you can see some of the larger ones on their Facebook page.  This is what happens when someone with a pirate's eye for travel and treasure takes up a legitimate business.  <3  It's adorable.  It's like a little slice of Terramagne.  Most highly recommended.

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Last time we went to Harvest Market, we picked up a carton of skyr, which is Viking-style cultured milk.  It is similar to yogurt, but not quite the same thing.  It doesn't smooth out when stirred, but tends to stay chunky, not my favorite thing.  It is the sourest yogurt relative I have tasted.  :P  There are notes strongly similar to sour cream and cream cheese.  I do not like it at all for eating by itself.  However, it could make an excellent ingredient, for example in cream cheese or pastries.  For people who dislike sweet things and find regular yogurt too insipid, try this.
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We went to the Cheese Festival in Arthur today. Didn't look like much of a shopping fair at first, but we found some great stuff later on. My corn dog was meh, but the funnel cake was quite good, and so were the shakeups. The weather was gorgeous too, mostly sunny and cool. Show is still on Sunday if anyone wants to go.

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Oui Yogurt

Aug. 13th, 2017 05:18 pm
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Yoplait has a yogurt version that just appeared in stores near me.  Oui is a French-style yogurt in a glass jar, considerably more expensive than any of my usual selections, but sooooo good.  It is fully set with a thick, silky texture. The fruit is on the bottom, but the top layer also tastes like fruit even before stirring -- a distinct improvement over the Dannon fruit-on-the-bottom which was never any good until stirred, and nowadays the texture is gloppy and awful then, so I gave up on that version.  Also when you peel the foil off the cap, there's a happy little message on the bottom side.  Today's said "Dance in the mirror."  (Yes, I've done that.)  I love seeing little prosocial things like that.  Local-America doesn't seem to be reusing the jars, but T-America would.  First I tried the black cherry, today strawberry, both excellent.  I've seen blueberry and I think a few other flavors.  So my new rule is that I can buy one of these as a treat, along with the cheap stuff.  Yoplait Original is decent, and I love Annie's. The latter actually makes a vanilla that has flavor,  not just equivalent to plain, which I discovered by accident.  Anyway, if you like solid yogurt, try the Oui.  Tres bon!
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Today we visited the Indiana State Fair for $2 Tuesday. (There will be another one next week.) We had a lot of fun. The weather was sunny and temperate. So we got to stay until our feet wore out -- we were there a little over five hours. \o/ It's highly recommended if you are in driving distance. Total score: 8/10.

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For about three years now, my partner Doug has been hankering after Mister Softee, a soft-serve ice cream truck that he fondly remembers from his childhood. Mister Softee of Central Illinois has a Facebook page so you can find the truck. Today they were parked all day at the Warrensburg Corn Festival. So we went, and drove an hour to get ice cream ... and it was the best street fair we've been to. Tiny little thing -- no more than 5-6 vendors, maybe 6-8 food and beverage places, a midway with a handful of rides, and miscellaneous entertainment. But I give them 10 out of 10 points. Let me explain why...

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Spiderman

Jul. 27th, 2017 07:10 pm
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We went to see Spiderman today. It was a painful-to-watch paean to the misery of modern adolescence, Tony Stark's A+ parenting, and the infinite breadth of human stupidity. >_< The characters I liked best? The bad guys. They were hard-working citizens who got screwed out of jobs that were legally contracted as theirs. So they decided to do something else, by selling alien equipment. See, this is what happens when you fuck people over. It makes me want to go write Beach Hero, but I've got other stuff I'm trying to finish.
ysabetwordsmith: (gold star)
We went to see Wonder Woman today.  It was totally awesome.  Definitely one of the best superhera movies ever.  \o/  Lots of athletic women running around kicking butt.  Also check out the fantastic merchandise.  If you look closely at the dolls, you see they match the actress surprisingly well: reasonable breasts, a little hip, a fairly thick muscular waist, and nice powerful legs.  :D  Also the Amazons mostly weren't willowy.  They were trim and muscular, or beefy.  I lost count of how many times someone said "You can't ..." to Diana, and in the next frame they were looking around for her while she ran off doing it anyhow.  And that's feminism for you.

I have to look pretty hard to find flaws.  I did noticed that Diana's mother was an idiot.  (You made a baby Amazon, not a dahlia.  How could you possibly think she'd be a pacifist?)  It was just generally brilliant.

If you like watching women kick ass, go see this movie.

Harp Twins

Feb. 18th, 2017 10:55 pm
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Yesterday we went to see the Harp Twins perform in St. Louis.  They play rock music on acoustic concert harps and smaller electric harps.  They are exiting in person!  Among my favorites: "Stairway to Heaven," "Carry On, My Wayward Son," "One," and "The Imperial March."  (I imagine Darth Vader is spinning in his grave over having his scary music played by hot chicks on electric harps.)

We have the first two albums, and bought the second two, plus a couple of t-shirts.  Their stuff is available online too.  We also found out that they've been crowdfunding the purchase of new instruments, so this counts toward us supporting crowdfunded projects.  \o/  We actually got in line before the concert, but they had to close the line to start the concert.  I suggested giving out numbers to those of us who hadn't gotten through -- we'd been standing there for 20 minutes -- which the staff did.  If this happens to you occasionally, you can write numbers on scratch paper.  More than occasionally, just buy a strip of tickets you can tear off and hand to people, it's faster.  So we were able to get our swag quickly after the show.  :D

I suggest booking these talented ladies at Worldcon some time.  They have played other conventions, they already know a bunch of fan-relevant material, and there is nothing else like them.
ysabetwordsmith: (gold star)
Today we went to watch the movie Monster Trucks. It was hilarious and entertaining. I was expecting a pulp science fiction / teen adventure flick, and it turned out to contain quite a lot more science fiction than I anticipated. If you are at all into SF or adventure films, I highly recommend it. There are some excellent twists in it, so if you like being surprised, go see it now instead of reading further. It's not often that any entertainment can surprise me, but this one did.

Details and spoilers below the cut.

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We watched Dr. Strange today.  It was a good action movie, but also a lot funnier than I expected.  Everyone was laughing out loud during multiple parts.  Also, bonus points for multiple characters with disabilities, and different outcomes.

Favorite character: The Cloak of Levitation.  She's like the crazy ex-girlfriend.  Dr. Strange was awesome.  The Ancient One was interesting.  I kind of felt sorry for the villains.  But the Cloak. <3

Secret weapon: Boredom.  Yes, they went there. 

ROTFLMAO!  Money well spent.  :D
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Brixx, which I have mentioned before in April and May, continues to be a favorite pizza place. The last time we were there, we tried the 4x4 meat pizza.  This time we got the Hawaiian, which was bumped up a notch by the addition of fresh cilantro; that makes a surprisingly large improvement in an already good concept.  :D  Worth noting, they now have more desserts besides the s'mores pizza, which is excellent hot but doesn't reheat at all well so is only good when you have enough people to eat it all at once.  The sundaes are terrific -- we got a chocolate one, with a very complex sauce.  

Also, they're very responsive to feedback.  They've added NA beers.  We discovered this when my partner Doug spotted the St. Paulie Girl's on the menu.  They were out.  And instead of being either completely out of NA beer or offering a crappy version like O'Doul's, they had a replacement: Kaliber, one of Doug's other favorites.  Turns out one of the staff has been working hard to build a really top-notch selection of craft beers, not only the alcoholic but also the NA ones.  Since they already have a perfect-10 craft root beer -- which is my go-to beverage there even though I rarely get anything but water at a restaurant -- I also pointed out that there are a few small brewers catering to NA celebratory beverages with fancy sodas or sparkling fruit juices.  It was nice to see people who aren't looking at restaurant work as just a job, but as a passion, presenting edible art and hanging out with people.

It's kind of like a little slice of Terramagne.  \o/
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Our air conditioning was not enough to keep the house cool today, so we left in search of cooler places. We went to see "X-Men: Apocalypse." It was awesome.

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We watched the movie today. This review is in generalities rather than specifics, so not really spoilery, but I'll fold the page just in case.

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ysabetwordsmith: (gold star)
If you have not yet seen the movie Zootopia, go do that. It's about a rabbit policewoman and her quest to make the world a better place. This movie is sweet, funny, exciting, and even subtly creepy in a few places. Be careful with your popcorn and soda; this is "you could choke while laughing with your mouth full" territory. Zootopia is well worth the ticket price, and most highly recommended. This concludes the non-spoilery part of my review.

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My partner Doug forwarded me a review of a novel from the perspective of an autistic man. 
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Today's surprise awesomeness was our discovery of Americana Huckleberry soda.  For those of you not familiar with huckleberries, they are related to blueberries, with a flavor that is darker, wilder, and more intense.  It is like the Platonic ideal of what a blueberry is trying to be.  Much the same may be said of European bilberries.  

This particular soda is flavored with huckleberry and elderberry extracts.  Yes, the real thing.  Pop the cap and out comes an intense cloud of fruity aroma.  It is like standing in a berry patch, without having to watch for bears.  (I don't recommend drinking this outside in bear country.  Or where there are wasps.)  The top and middle notes are potent huckleberry goodness, with a luscious rumbling base of elderberry.  :D  My tail was wagging my butt all the way through the bottle.  To make matters better, it is sweetened with pure cane sugar and is not full of obnoxious chemical ingredients.  No nasty aftertaste.  Just awesome bubbly essence of berries.

You know how I've been raving about Terramagne's Azure Cap soda?  They have a huckleberry flavor.  It tastes like this.  <3
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
A friend of ours spotted what turned out to be a fun and unexpectedly brilliant card game, We Didn't Playtest This at All. (I'm pretty sure the title lies. I can't imagine a game this elegant developing without a lot of diligent work.) We expected it to be fun, because we love Fluxx, which is another card game of whimsically shifting rules. You can tell that much from the outside of the box; if you like games of this category, this is a great one. Basically you draw and play cards, then do what they say. This part of the game is light, fast, silly entertainment. However, there are other subtleties that emerge during play, which are elegant and impressive.

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[personal profile] the_vulture thoughtfully funded our trip to see Mad Max: Fury Road, and there was enough left over for ice cream afterwards. Many thanks!  :D We really enjoyed the movie. Some of my thoughts ...

Here there be spoilers!

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