I’ve been cheating on you.

Something really weird happened about a year ago: I got really into tea. Obsessed, basically. Drinking several cups a day. Trying new types. Putting reviews of them onto tea sites.

People took notice of my explosive, comedic, freewheeling writing style.

I was invited to become a Sororitea Sisters blogger! Free tea in exchange for reviews!

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I’ll still be posting here, of course. Tea was never the thrust of this blog; this is more of an illustration and geekiness site. But if you like me and tea, you can catch my reviews here. They’re mostly about tea, but this one also talks about Batman Forever, this one talks about the duality of Shakespeare’s work, and this one revels in sweet, sweet ponies.

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I’m not a Pegasister, but I can definitely appreciate steeping stallions.

Recommendation: Try Maria Bamford’s new show “Lady Dynamite” on Netflix

Lots of stuff isn’t usually “funny.” Dead pets, passive-aggressive friends, African war-children, compromising one’s ideals for work, breakups — oh, and getting committed to an asylum.

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Maria Bamford has to deal with all that shit in “Lady Dynamite” (Netflix streaming). This somewhat-autobiographical show had me laughing, cringing, and nodding in equal measure. It’s uncomfortable to watch sometimes. It takes a few episodes to get rolling. But once it’s on its way, it’s addictive.

It’s not quite like anything I’ve ever seen before, which is hard to say.

Plus, the dogs talk.

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The dogs’ plots are central to the main plot.

I respect that.

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$55 doesn’t get you much in the way of puffin pets.

My mom likes puffins, so I put “puffin adoption” into my browser history. I found a very nice Adopt A Horned Puffin page for $55. What a steal, I thought.

Friendship. Companionship. Good conversation starter. Excellent excuse not to turn the heat up in the winter.

There didn’t even appear to be shipping! I mean, shipping a live puffin from Antarctica Iceland has to be costly.

Done, sold.

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I found the catch:

Turns out the adoption is symbolic. Which means you don’t get shit, except vague comfort that the environment is being helped.

Plus, the World Wildlife Fund stole “WWF” from pro wrestling. “WWE” sucks.

“World Wrestling Entertainment”? That’s for, no pun intended, the birds.

What a scam, guys. Don’t believe the panda logo. The only panda you can trust is the Panda Express panda.

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Panda Express has never once sold me “symbolic” food.

I think.

Some of it is dubious.

I recommend the Strain for people who like being grossed out and depressed.

I settled down to watch The Strain‘s Season 3 premiere last night, hoping to see Angel, my favorite vampire-fighting former luchador.

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^ (not him specifically, just a general luchador)

When Angel didn’t appear, I couldn’t remember if he was dead. This is double-embarrassing because I’ve also read the books. 

I can never remember who’s dead on a TV show between seasons.

If a show has more than, say, 10 characters, I can’t keep track of them. I require very concise recaps before the credits every time, if possible.

Back to the Season 3 opener of The Strain, a show I mostly like because the vampires are not sparkly or sexy. During transformation, their noses and genitalia literally fall off. Their hair falls out. They develop giant attacking throat-tongues. In the books, a huge deal is made of the fact that they pee and poop from the same hole, and it smells like ammonia.

Oh, and the Nazis‘ Holocaust was their trial run for human-farming methods.

This show is so gross. Every time it comes on, I’m surprised anew at that FX will put this content on TV.

Every scene is sprinkled with viscera. Every character is flawed to the point of being hateful. The vampires are heinous. The child-acting is a disaster.

Which brings us back to Angel (who was not in this episode). He is an old Latino guy with a limp who can use his old, buff body to rip those genderless uni-pooping bodies to shreds. I don’t think he’s dead. I hope he isn’t. He my shimmering favorite in a world of sadness.

If you want to immerse yourself in The Strain‘s horrific, virulent misery, it’s on Hulu.

My Top 5 Summer Reads!

SUMMERPICKS

I’ve read precisely 20 books this summer, which feels so good, you guys. It’s an accomplishment, but more importantly, it’s a round number.

It’s like petting a puppy. Or taking off your bra at the end of the day. The world is right and you are doing okay.

Of those 20, I’ve picked my top 5 for you to try. 5 is a nice, attractive digit. It has a sharp part and a curve.

Of the twenty, it is “one-quarter,” a phrase that sounds British somehow.

Without further dithering, I present my summer reads, which are, I suppose, going to have to be your fall reads.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel. A bunch of giant, ancient, metallic body parts turn up all over the world. Where did they come from? What happens when they assemble? Is humanity ready?

This book is mostly interview transcripts and journal entries, and the postmodern jumble works here.

I found out in my research for this post that there’s a sequel, which I hadn’t been expecting. The book works well on its own. You can read it without feeling compelled to get sucked into a series.

The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu. What happens you blend Asian mythology, science fiction, magical realism, and oodles of heart-rending emotion? Something much tastier than that paltry protein shake you’re drinking at home, that’s for sure.

This collection of short stories has a ridiculously good percentage of winners. I describe most short story collections as “hit and miss,” but this one was “hit, and hit, and hit, and hit, and I guess that one was just okay. Now back to more hits.”

All The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. An awkward young teenage witch befriends and falls out with an awkward teenage genius. Years later, they find themselves on the opposite end of a war of magic vs technology in a quest to determine, you know, the fate of the Earth.

Usually books about the fate of the Earth reach too high and, like Icarus, become violently re-acquainted with the ground. Not so here. The ending is satisfying.

But What If We’re Wrong by Chuck Klosterman. This book features a section in which the author gets in a tiff with Neil deGrasse Tyson over whether another scientific revolution is possible. Their interaction alone is worth a read.

But the rest of the book is interesting too. It talks about how most of history is distilled down to simple ideas or representative figureheads for movements. And it’s not always the thing that’s popular at the time.

The writing of history is written, of course, after it happens. We’ll never know how we’re going to be remembered. We can guess, but we’d be wrong.

Klosterman’s points often get muddled by digressions, but I like that. You don’t go in there for answers. You go in there to plod through his head. You’re flipping up rugs. Sitting on the couch in the frontal lobes. Checking out the refrigerator behind the limbic system.

Grunt by Mary Roach. I’ve loved Mary Roach since Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. She looks into the science that’s less popular, and typically considered “icky,” if not outright offensive.

Her approach to the science of soldiers isn’t about guns, nukes, formations, etc. It’s about the off-kilter, unsung science you don’t consider about war. Reducing insects. Controlling diarrhea. Replacing injured penises.

Sure, you thought about prosthetic legs. But have you considered prosthetic schlongs? What about transplanted ding-a-lings from corpses?

You haven’t. Until now. You’re welcome.

This book is compulsively readable. You will also enjoy reading it aloud to the people around you. If you have to know about these things, so does everyone else.

It occurs to me that I’ve given you these recommendations as school is starting. Think of them as your anti-syllabus to complete while you’re avoiding your actual duties.