5 Reasons to Watch Ghost Squad

*I will receive a pack of Cards Against Humanity in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

5 Reasons to Watch Ghost Squad

Set in the Chicago-land, Ghost Squad is a fun mockumentary that’s a delight to watch. Quirky and funny, the pilot episode made me chuckle, laugh, and even chortle. Andy Kushnir, director and co-writer, accurately described the show to me as, “It’s Ghost Hunters meets The Office.”

Here are 5 reasons to drop what you are doing and watch Ghost Squad

1 – It’s set in Chicago

I’m biased, but I’m also right. How awesome is it to have a connection to a location in a series? Pretty awesome. Everyone who has been to Chicago will recognize the lake in the background as Desperado Miller, played by Abby McEnany, drives along the shoreline. The very realness of the city helps the series earn the weird turn it takes as Desperado tells the audience that she knows a ghost murdered her mom.

Desperado is the lead paranormal investigator for Ghost Squad 4.  She and her team head to the suburbs to exorcise a ghost. I appreciate when it’s acknowledge suburbs are used instead of trying to disguise one city for another. By acknowledging the place where the story happens is in the ‘burbs means we can use our our suspension of disbelief towards ghosts and not location.

2 – Ghost Squad is a fun mockumentary

I love me some absurd characters and there is no lack of absurd characters in this fun mockumentary. From motivational speaker Wind Larmer, played by Carley Moseley, to the Dinkel twins, played by Jo Feldman and Neil Jacobsen, absurd characters and situations abound. Each one which a solid motivation for their craz,y making them funnier as they become more relatable. Wind was a hoot. The way she went into evangelism mode every single time she had a line was brilliant. I could tell it was to hide something shoved deep into the recesses of her soul,  just like all evangelists.

One of my favorite things to play is the straight man to another improviser’s absurd one. Playing the straight man in a comedic show is a lot harder than it looks and is often overlooked in kudos and recognition. So, shout out to Laurel Krabacher who played Jodi Furber the home owner of the haunted house. She plays the straight character to an ensemble of absurd ones. She been through some real life of tragedies and here she is faced with yet another problem – a ghost. Being a sensible person she reaches out for some help and gets a motley crew of people who mean well, but who also eat all of her chips and salsa.

Also, shout out to Damian Anaya as Frank Fanning, the other straight character in this episode. He also happens to have  one of my favorite lines in the entire pilot, “I’m not, you know, one of those guys that like can’t talk about another guy’s penis, but uh, it’s just that I uh . . . don’t care? Yah, yah, I don’t care.”

3 – relationships and Apparitions are real

I like that the the reason the show is funny is tied to the characters and the relationships they have with each other. When relationships are the foundation of a series and characters are fun, it’s the set up for a great show. Ghost Squad has relationship drama in spades, quirky fun characters, and has the makings of a great series.

I was worried the joke would be that spirits weren’t real and this squad was running around futilely chasing ghosts. Instead, it’s a very real obstacle the crew must overcome. The story revolves around whether or not they can band together to help Jodi Furber. Instead of being about the thing, the show is about the people.

4 – outstanding writing, directing, and production

I appreciate when  time, effort, and money are put into a production. Ghost Squad is very well written.  From the relationships to the one-liners everything fits together like a jigsaw puzzle. The editing, directing, lights, sound, all of it are first-rate. Andy Kushnir and Carley Moseley wrote an exceptional story, and then they followed through with an excellent production.

Every bit in this episode is grounded in reality. For example, even though Desperado Miller seems over the top at times, it’s because she’s just very Chicago. Take a stroll through Andersonville, or hop the 22 Clark street bus, or walk into a Jewel-Osco and you will find a version of Desperado in the deodorant aisle talking to the store clerk about how aluminum gives women breast cancer. Someone who is over eager, under prepared, and yet thinks they have everything figured out.

5 – The Episode Ends With You  Wanting to See More

Since we dive right into the story, we only learn pieces of the character’s pasts in this first episode. I want to know more. I want to know the background story of Sendrick X, played by Peter Kim. How does a clearly self-absorbed crazy goth kid seem to be the most responsible person at times. Will we get to meet members from the other squads? What deep dark secret is Wind Larmer trying to hide behind a sunny smile?

So many questions! I guess I’ll just have to wait for the next episode to find out! You can watch the pilot at Ghost Squad on Vimeo.

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Pacifica Review: Finding My Center

This morning I started feeling . . .  off. So, I stopped what I was doing and thought, “If I open the Pacifica app right now what bigger emotion would I input and what underlying emotions would I tap on? …. Definitely “OK.” Not “Great”, but not “Awful.” I would probably put… “Floating” as an underlying emotion (even though it’s not an option in the app), maybe “Distracted.”

Hmmmm… OK. Now, how do I get to feeling “Grounded” and “Motiviated”?

It’s probably obvs from the fact that I haven’t posted in six months that life gets busy and it’s hard to find time to center ourselves. While I’m thankful for every single program that I’m a part of that takes up my time because I love all the things that I’m doing, it can leave me feeling outside of the moment. Like I am just doing the actions and not being present. It can be hard to find time to work at being still, centering myself, and self-regulating my emotions.

There’s An App For That

Also, did you know there’s an app for that? Well, kind of. There are two apps in particular I use to help me when I need to find a moment of stillness or I need to understand what emotions I am experiencing and problem solve if those emotions need regulating. Today I’m going to talk about Pacific, I’ll write about Insight Timer, the other app that I use, in the future.

Pacifica App Review

The app I use on a daily basis to aid me in discovering underlying emotions and understanding on those interaction with my other obligations is Pacifica. I set up Pacifica to ping me once a day at random. When it pings me I take a moment to stop and think about my overall emotional status, “OK”, “Good”, “Very Good”, etc. Then I look at the list of underlying emotions or feelings that the app provides and add those as well.

I’ve discovered that some days I can be “Very Good” and feel anxious. That some days I am only at “OK”, but still feel grateful. There are stats and a weekly update the get an over arching view of how my emotions have ranged throughout the week or month. This helps me look at particular stress points in my week and make sure I do some extra self care on those days.

 

It’s Not Just an App, It’s a Mindset

But the really cool thing after consistently using Pacific every. single. day? When I am “Not Good”, I realize it, I stop and think, ‘What underlying emotions exist right now?’ and ‘What can I do to address these emotions.’

Just like this morning, even though I had not been pinged by the app yet today, I was able to walk through the process of understanding my emotions and coming up with a solution because I have been doing that every. single. day. even when I feel “Very Good.” Using the app has changed the homeopath ways in my brain for the better.

It’s A Learning Curve

I don’t know about you, but I definitely was not taught to self regulate my emotions when I was growing up. I was told to stop having the emotions, which is not the same thing. I was told it was all hormones and to suck it up. I was not taught to take stock of what emotions I was having, to express them to myself, and to figure out a way to address those emotions with problem solving skills. Instead I was berated for not praying my panic attacks away.

Just this year I discovered the relief and feeling of support that comes from finding a good therapist. She encouraged me to see a doctor who has medication that helps my brain regulate serotonin levels. Now I have medication that addresses my anxiety and depression on a biological level.

I was never going to be able to just will it away, pray it away, or suck it up. My brain needs medical help for biological regulation of my mental issues just like people need medical help for their biological regulation of their physical issues.

My only wish is that I had discovered this earlier. Adulting is a learning curve.

WWWWD: What Would Wonder Woman Do?

I’m not sure the internets really needs another review of Wonder Woman, but the movie was so absolutely amazing I had to find a way to express my utter obsession with it someway other than going and see it over and over and over again. I’ve seen it twice and I’m tempted to head out to another viewing this weekend, but I wont. Probably.

I’ve admitted repeatedly I’m not a comic book nerd, so I wont go into accuracy because I’ve no idea. But that’s kind of why it was amazing to me. I had little knowledge of Wonder Woman, so the fact that the entire movie was about her back story and how she grows up on the Amazon island of Thesmyscira with amazing women warriors and sets out on her own path of bravery and awesomeness was so fitting and epic. I fell in love. I’m in love with the movie and in love with Gal Gadot for her portrayal of a strong, kind, beautiful warrior.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is truly inspiring.

Some times getting out of bed and taking the dog for a walk and putting on clothes and washing my face and making coffee and making myself sit down and work becomes hard and bothersome and difficult and hard to do. But it’s like Diana’s resolve to do the right thing in the face of hardship reaches through the screen and works it’s way into your body. Somehow that resolve is transferable. Maybe it’s her magical bracelets? Because now when the day seems really hard to face and I don’t feel like doing the things I should be doing, I just think, “What would Wonder Woman do?”

Well, she would do the shit. She just would. Because it is the thing to do. She would do it even if people told her not to. She would do it even if well meaning people gently tried to lead her away from the thing. She would do it even if it was hard because she just does the thing that needs to be done. If Wonder Woman can fight evil I can get out of bed in the morning.

Well, she does have god-like powers, so that helps. Maybe I need some god-like powers. . . No, I can still get out of bed without any powers.

I love so many things about the movie, and I don’t want to get into spoilers, but if you haven’t seen it you really should. And then go again. Take your daughters and let Princess Diana show them that women are strong and gentle, that they are fierce and giving, and that they can fight for what is right even with the odds against them. (Age of viewer is at your parental discretion of course. There are battle scenes and the movie is rated PG-13 for reasons.)

I’m really really grateful for this strong character, this well directed film, this amazing experience of learning and growing from watching a movie. I’m serious when I say it is inspiring. I’ve set out new and hard tasks for myself this summer. Old tasks that I just never got around to, I’ve just done them. New tasks I’ve wanted to start, I’ve started. I’ve more to do, more to learn, and there’s always more room for growing, and Wonder Woman gave me new life to try again at doing the hard things in life.

Thanks for transferring your indomitable spirit to us all Princess Diana.

Blooper reel below for your viewing pleasure. 😂😂😂

True Crime Podcasts

True Crime Podcasts RecommendationsI’m obsessed, obsessed with true crime podcasts. In general my most consumed media right now is podcasts. Yah I still watch my guilty pleasure shows (::coughlucifercough:: and ::coughcupcakewarscough::) and am fanatical about a few, like The Leftovers and Better Call Saul, but I probably listen to 6 or 7 hours of podcasts a week. I like a range of genres, and I’ll share my top faves across genres in another post, but I’ve been talking about my obsession with true crime podcasts lately and thought I’d write up a quick review of the recent series I’ve got my tooth and claws into lately so I can share one link easily across all my social media platforms. Because I’m lazy like that. Aren’t we all?

I use the app BeyondPod which allows me to download episodes over my WiFi, create a queue, and press play whenever I want to listen to something but not use up my data (yah, it’s awesome, it’s a win and I wish my husband would convert because he literally uses 5x as much data as I do and I swear it’s because of streaming podcasts).  Sorry Apple peeps, you’ll have to find one for iOS, I have an Android so no recommendation for your operating system.

Like every other podcast obsessed person I started with Serial as my first foray into the true crime podcast genre. I mean this podcast hit the social media frenzy and word of mouth virility in a short amount of time and it’s staying power exists because of the excellent investigative journalism exhibited and it’s intriguing story lines. Two season, two different story lines.

Season 1 Synopsis:

A high-school senior named Hae Min Lee disappeared one day after school in 1999, in Baltimore County, Maryland. A month later, her body was found in a city park. She’d been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was sentenced to life in prison. The case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan’s friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae’s body. But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae’s death. Some people believe he’s telling the truth. Many others don’t.

Season 2 Synopsis:

Sarah Koenig teams up with filmmaker Mark Boal to find out why one idiosyncratic guy,[Bowe Bergdahl], decided to walk away, into Afghanistan, and how the consequences of that decision have spun out wider and wider. It’s a story that has played out in unexpected ways from the start. And it’s a story that’s still going on.

Of course when I first started listening to Serial they were advertising another podcast which has some true crime elements to it, but in the end is a story about many things and one odd ball character in particular. So when I finished Serial I immediately started on S-Town.

Synopsis:

JOHN DESPISES HIS ALABAMA TOWN AND DECIDES TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. HE ASKS a reporter to investigate the son of a wealthy family who’s allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But then someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life.

And after that I was hooked but unsure of what to listen to next. I told everyone about these other podcasts and was hungry for something interesting and brain boggling to listen to next. Luckily my next door neighbor also listens to these types of podcasts and recommended, In the Dark. And dark it is. This story wont be for everyone, but it intrigued me and the consequences of the abduction, assault, and murder of young Jacob Wetterling were both widespread and far too late to help him.

Though I would caution people to not talk about stranger danger, but “Tricky People” vs “Safe Adults.” Read about the program here and how to talk to your kids about tricky adults who ask kids for help.

Season 1 Synopsis:

For 27 years, the investigation into the abduction of Jacob Wetterling in rural Minnesota yielded no answers. Reporter Madeleine Baran reveals how law enforcement mishandled one of the most notorious child abductions in the country and how those failures fueled national anxiety about stranger danger, led to the nation’s sex-offender registries and raise questions about crime-solving effectiveness and accountability.

Now I’m obsessed and googling, “True Crime Podcasts” and trying to track down another well investigated, well produced podcasts. Currently I’m listening to my latest obsession, Up and Vanished. I’ve gotten my sister hooked. I still haven’t finished the first season, but it definitely falls into the well investigated and well produced true crime podcast genre. I also enjoy all the “Case Evidence” in-between episodes and listen as attorneys, private investigators, and other journalists weigh in on the case.

‘UP AND VANISHED’ IS AN INVESTIGATIVE PODCAST THAT EXPLORES THE UNSOLVED DISAPPEARANCE OF GEORGIA BEAUTY QUEEN AND HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER, TARA GRINSTEAD, AN 11-YEAR-OLD MYSTERY THAT IS THE LARGEST CASE FILE IN GEORGIA’S HISTORY. FOLLOW ALONG AS HOST PAYNE LINDSEY, A DOCUMENTARIAN TURNED AMATEUR INVESTIGATOR, EXAMINES OLD CASE EVIDENCE, RE-INTERVIEWS PERSONS OF INTEREST, AND UNCOVERS NEW LEADS, WHILE GUIDING LISTENERS THROUGH HIS REAL TIME INVESTIGATION. A RECENT BREAK IN THE CASE MAY HAVE GIVEN US MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWER, AND THE MAIN QUESTION STILL REMAINS…

WHAT HAPPENED TO TARA GRINSTEAD?

What are your favorite True Crime podcasts? Post them in the comments and I may check them out!

Watch “American Gods | First Look | STARZ” on YouTube

Yes, please.

I literally cannot wait for this to come out. Super happy with the production value, this looks like it will be amazing!Gah!

I love how smart Shadow is. I can’t wait for other people this out. If you can’t wait either, get the full cast version of the audio book in the mean time, it is brilliantly done.

Nodds & Nends: Wacky Inventions, Diverse Casts in Kids Books, and Spamming the Spammers

It’s time, another Nodds & Nends, some Nerdy Odds and Ends on the internets that will hopefully make your day a little brighter.

Want to see some crazy things people have invented over the years? Check out this The Daily Buzz article, Wacky Inventions That Never Stood A Chance that was reposted by George Takei on his Facebook page.

I really really need those skates.

The Daily Buzz

Photo Credit: cracktwo

I really love reading the articles on The Book Wars blog. I was especially delighted with this list of children’s pictures books centered around the theme of dance that also have a diverse cast of characters. Read the article by Jane Whittingham Five Finds Lets Dance here.

I follow Misty Copeland on Instagram and was delighted to see that there is a picture book about her journey to be come a soloist with the American Ballet Theater. Awesome!

Firebird by Misty Copeland

Firebird by Misty Copeland

My most recent favorite find on the internets is the video about a guy who likes to respond to spam/scam emails until the spammer/scammer gives up and tells him to stop email them. Posted by Mashable this guy’s video about trying to get a toaster is hilarious!

When I shared this on my personal Facebook page a friend replied with an newspaper article from the Boston Globe that is along the same lines, The Spam Victim Strikes Back! By Mark Pothier. I giggled for a long time. 

I like to make fun of spammers as is evident by my posts Spam Mail, Spam Mail Part 2, and Spam Mail Part 3, but I do not actually engage with them in real life, just inside my head.

Movie Review: Swiss Army Man

I went and saw Swiss Army Man starring Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine) and Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter fame) in the theater this past weekend.

Swiss Army Man

Summary from Goodreads:

A hopeless man stranded in the wilderness befriends a dead body and together they go on a surreal journey to get home.

Surreal is a good word for this movie, also disturbing and flatulence.  Honestly, I could leave that one sentence and it would be my nicest review of this movie that I could give, but I guess I’ll put some effort into why I found this movie not exactly up to par with my expectations of humor and heart in a movie about disconnection and death.

Those are elements of humor and heart in this tale, but the reality of the story line grows more and more depressing as I settle into my understanding and emotional take away from it. In the end, there isn’t much to it. A man finds a dead body that he befriends and uses as a way to get back to reality. Sorta. Not really. Maybe? There are some joyous moments as Hank, played by Paul Dano, finally connects to something, in way he has not in his entire life. There are some funny moments as his adventure with a dead body takes him to surreal places. However, those moments do not mask the harsh reality that in the end it is a story about a man whose first real connection in a long time is to a dead body.

That is just depressing.

Plus, it feels as though the writers didn’t really know how they wanted to end it. I wont give away the ending, but I will say this, I expected maybe a sad ending or a weirdly wonderful one, like Seeking a Friend for the End of the World or Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind or countless other quirky and surreal movies that have heart and humor, but Swiss Army Man felt as though the writers wrote a weird ending to just to have a weird ending. Just, what is the weirdest way we can end this …. and yah lets do that weird ending. An unsubstantial ending that I felt derailed the entire journey of Hank.

I was the only one that thought this coming out of the theater. Everyone  in my group agreed it was a weird little movie, but several people loved that the ending was random and weird. However, the more I think about it, the more I feel my initial reaction was correct, that it was a non-ending in a way that was not very meaningful to the characters. And I think an entire movie that revolves around two people, one of them a dead body, should have a meaningful ending for those two people.

Interesting movie, yes. Fun to see the interactions of Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe, yes. Fascinating story, yes. Weird, humorous, and maybe worth watching at home some afternoon when your brain is going strange and you need a strange movie to watch alongside your strange brain. Sure. But. .  but. . . don’t expect to have a sense of . . . anything when you have finished watching it.

What it really boils down to is that it is a movie about farting, a dead hairy bottom, and a sad man who cannot connect with reality in any shape or form. Even sadder is that as a viewer I was wholly disconnected from the characters by the writers’ and director’s choice about how the story ends.