Shows

Show Review: Sherlock Season 1 (Spoiler-Free)

Show: Sherlock, Season 1 (2010)

10 out of 10 stars

Although I have written movie and book reviews, this is my first show review. I am thrilled to be able to share with you my reaction to and rating of Sherlock Season 1.

As this is a spoiler-free review, I will limit how much I reveal of the plot.

Background

Sherlock Season 1 aired in 2010 and was produced by BBC and Hartswood films. It is based off of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books, but instead of being placed in Victorian England, the show is set in modern-day London.

The show stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs, Mark Gatiss, Louise Brealey, and Andrew Scott.

In addition to being nominated for various awards, Sherlock won in three categories in the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Pros

  • Phenomenal acting
  • Immersive setting highly relevant to a modern-day audience
  • Strong character development
  • Benefit of a familiar character with a new spin
  • Intelligent, occasionally comical, script
  • Intriguing titles
  • Engaging plot

Cons

  • I could not think of any specific cons for this season.

Review

The acting, especially by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, was incredible. They both played their parts well. All of the fantastic and obnoxious qualities of Sherlock were brought out and emphasized.

The setting is more relevant to a modern-day audience than Victorian London and allows for a unique spin on a Sherlock Holmes story. The presence of modern conveniences such as security cameras and phones creates a new playing field for a new Sherlock to test his intellect.

The main characters are highly developed.

Sherlock is a highly intelligent man who lacks empathy. He is nevertheless shown on several occasions to have at least some degree of care depending on who the person is. He is blunt, but occasionally shows remorse for his words when they have caused damage. He diagnoses himself as a sociopath, which is shown by this comment:

I’m not a psychopath, Anderson. I’m a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research.”

Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock

Ironically, he is not actually a psychopath or a sociopath, which is argued very strongly in this article by psychologist Maria Konnikova. One line of reasoning used in the article is that he is not actually devoid of empathy, shown by his treatment of Watson and Mrs. Hudson on numerous occasions. Another point is that he does feel emotions and that his calculated coldness is learned rather than innate. Konnikova makes several other valid points, so I would recommend her article.

Watson also seems to be of higher-than-average intelligence, but he cannot compete with Sherlock. Watson, however, has a deep sense of empathy and values human life while wanting to negate human suffering. He has his own dark side, however, and when Sherlock asks him if he wants to see more death, he says:

Oh, God, yes.”

John Watson in Sherlock

Sherlock Holmes is a familiar character, which means that the directors of this show have to find a way to embrace the old while creating a new take on Sherlock. They have done this masterfully.

The first time we see Sherlock, he is viciously beating a corpse with a whip. That seems contrary to his character: the cold, intelligent type. But it isn’t. It’s a new take on his character. By emphasizing his lack of empathy at the beginning, the directors make his character more ambiguous.

Is Sherlock good or bad? Well, he’s both, just like any other human being. He has his negative and positive qualities, and by showing his negative qualities first, the directors introduced the possibility of a bad or morally ambiguous character.

It is a way of generating curiosity and analysis. Viewers get to know the harder parts of Sherlock and then have to decide if that is somewhat made up for by his better qualities.

This makes Sherlock so much more than the intelligent “consulting detective.”

The script is often comical and further develops the characters. When Sherlock asks Molly about her lipstick and Anderson about how long his wife has been away, this reveals both his lack of tact and the ingenuity of the script that made that apparent.

The titles of the episodes are intriguing. For instance, a quick search of “A Study in Pink” finds that it is an echo of the first Sherlock Holmes book written by Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet. It is also a strange title because of the associations people have with the color pink: for example, happiness, peppiness, even superficiality. It stands out from the darker atmosphere of Sherlock. It is also interesting to note that this becomes the name of Watson’s blog article.

The plot is engaging and kept me watching carefully. It is always fun to try to deduce how Sherlock has come to his conclusions before he condescends to explain it. The first episode, “A Study in Pink,” is solving the case of serial suicides, which I thought was creative.

Conclusion

I would rate this show 10 out of 10 stars. It was so good that I failed to find any cons. Have you watched it yourself? Or do you intend to? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Shows

The Worst Episode of The Flash I’ve Ever Watched

The CW's 'The Flash' is back: Here's what to expect – Film Daily

Warning: Spoilers!!!

During my first couple of years at college, my roommate and I would reward ourselves for getting homework done with occasional episodes of the Flash.

Season 1 was a strong start, Season 2 was simultaneously repetitive and bizarre, and we never made it further than a couple of episodes into Season 3.

Anyway, somehow my roommate and I decided we would be more motivated if for every 20 minutes of homework, we could watch 5 minutes of a show.

Yeah, that was a terrible idea. We would pause the show in the middle of fight sequences, sad scenes, and at all the wrong times. Despite that, the habit stuck for awhile.

It made the worst episode of The Flash I have ever watched take FOREVER.

So, what was the worst episode? The one that had us looking forward more to the 20 minutes of homework than the 5 minute break?

It’s called “The Runaway Dinosaur.”

What’s funny is this same episode that my roommate and I hated is celebrated on several sites as one of the best episodes of the season. I honestly cannot understand why.

I mean, it was bad enough that I even remembered the name of the episode for more than a year. I never remember the names of episodes.

(One more warning: spoilers ahead!)

The Flash Recap With Spoilers: The Runaway Dinosaur
The book “The Runaway Dinosaur” from The Flash

Here’s some context for the episode: When Zoom threatens Wally, Barry Allen (The Flash) gives up his powers to save him. Later, Dr. Wells sets off a particle accelerator to try to bring back Barry Allen’s powers.

Does Barry get his powers back? Nope. He essentially explodes out of existence. Oops!

The Actual Episode:

The episode starts out with them all in shock, because Barry was supposed to be all speedy again, and instead they think they killed him.

Then they all find out that Jesse and Wally were knocked out. To make matters worse, Jesse’s heart has stopped beating.

Wally is woken up almost immediately by Iris and Joe, who are relieved and act as if nothing at all is wrong with Jesse. Dr. Wells is distraught and pretty much freaking out. Joe and Iris offer no assistance to Wells, and when Jesse starts breathing again, they do not show any sign of caring.

When they get back into the room where Barry poofed out of existence, Joe asks Barry’s father to go take care of Jesse. With no sign of haste on either of their parts, Jesse eventually gets help. (About time!)

Then Cisco uses his Vibe powers when touching the suit to locate Barry, who is apparently in a vortex of zappy energy.

Barry wakes up in his bed in his childhood home. He catches a glimpse of the book the episode is named for – The Runaway Dinosaur.

He goes downstairs and sees Joe. Except – here’s the catch – it’s not Joe. It’s the speed force in human form. Why? Well, because…

We thought you would be more comfortable talking to someone who looked familiar in a place you knew.”

From the episode “The Runaway Dinosaur”

Yeah, because that would make anyone comfortable. Having the literal force of speed manifest in the body of a loved one. That’s not creepy at all…

To further explain, Mr. Speed Force Joe says that “we” (the speed force) have been around since the beginning and will be around until the heat death of the universe.

Barry says, “That’s trippy.”

And Mr. Speed Force Joe says what no one would ever think the force of speed would say if it could talk.

We pretty much invented trippy here.”

From the episode “The Runaway Dinosaur”

Where even is here? Why did using a particle accelerator on Barry trap him in the force of speed? Why is speed itself a pluralistic being?

To make it even better, he can’t go home until he catches this quickly moving silhouette that zips around. So poor Barry chases it around for awhile. This seems like the speed force’s way of torturing Barry.

Meanwhile, back at STAR labs, Cisco and Iris go to the building’s morgue, where they are apparently still keeping all the bodies of dead meta-humans. They are looking for records that might help Jesse. They also find zombie-Tony, who was apparently woken up by the particle accelerator.

Instead of acting scared like any normal person, Cisco sounds more annoyed.

A zombie? For real?”

From the episode “The Runaway Dinosaur”

Then, it’s back to Barry. He asks the speed force why he was given his powers.

Because you’re the Flash, Barry.”

From the episode “The Runaway Dinosaur”

Now, that just seems like circular reasoning. Why was he made the Flash? Well, because he is the Flash. See how that really isn’t an answer?

I don’t know why I expected the physical manifestation of speed to be more logical, but I did.

Then back to Cisco and Dr. Wells, who have figured out how to reach Barry through a “simple feedback loop.” Wells explains matter-of-factly that this means he will need to zap Cisco while he is vibing, and then they can separate Barry from speed itself.

Did that explanation make your head hurt? Well, apparently none of us are as smart as Dr. Wells, because it makes perfect sense in his mind.

At the same time, Iris and Joe find out the zombie-Tony has a major crush on Iris that even death hasn’t stifled. So, of course they decide to use Iris as bait. True, she’s all for it, but it’s still disturbing.

After the speed force takes Barry to his mother’s grave, and he runs off, he finds himself back home. There, he is confronted by the speed force again, in the shape of his mother.

Then it gets weirder. Speed Force Mom kisses him on the forehead and reads him a children’s book that his actual mother, Nora Allen, used to read him when he was younger.

It’s called The Runaway Dinosaur. The dinosaur in it feels like there is nothing special about being a Maiasaur and wants to be a different kind of dinosaur. The book boasts cutesy lines such as this:

But if you were a T-Rex,” said his mother, “how would you hug me with your tiny little arms?”

From the episode “The Runaway Dinosaur”

That’s cute and all, but the book has nothing to do with running away. Why is it even called The Runaway Dinosaur? Is it supposed to be figurative? Like, he’s “running” away from his identity? Well, okay, but this is a board book, which means it’s mostly for kiddos 3 years and younger. How are they supposed to pick up on that?

Then he catches the silhouette, which happens to be himself, and gets his powers back. Cisco and Iris try to reach him again, because zombie-Tony is literally trying to break down the door to get Iris and they need Barry to save them.

Iris calls Barry home and Barry deals with zombie-Tony by running in circles around him. Dr. Wells slaps a sci-fi explanation on that and voila! Zombie-Tony goes back to sleep.

The Flash is then able to revive Jesse because of the speed force, which apparently also can do miracle healings.

The episode ends with the Flash making all sorts of new revelations about fate and his relationship with Iris.

So, what happened here?

My guess is they wanted Barry to go through something as powerful as a religious experience, but with secular vibes. So they had the speed force play God and attach meaning to everything. Because this pseudo-religious experience was just an assortment of false experiences with his fake loved-ones, it came across as empty and absurd.

Also, it was a way for Barry to face his emotions and the loss of his mother. I just don’t think getting a bedtime story from Speed Force Mom was the right way to heal that trauma.

Did you watch this episode? Do you feel like it was terrible, great, or just alright? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Books

Book Review: Still Life by Louise Penny

Louise Penny: Still Life | D.K. Wall

4.9 out of 5 stars

Intro

In my book reviews, I consider the literary merit of the book by examining aspects such as character development, world-building, illustrations, and storytelling.

Just as a precaution before you delve in – my opinion and preferences have an impact on the rating. When it comes to judging literature, it is impossible not to let personal biases interfere.

I will, however, honestly evaluate the aspects of the book to the best of my ability so my review can help you determine if it sounds like it’s the book for you.

If you happen to disagree with my evaluation for any reason, feel free to leave a comment.

Background

Quick facts about Louise Penny:

  • She is a Canadian author who lives near Montreal.
  • Her husband of 22 years inspired her to write the character of Armand Gamache, Chief Inspector in her novels.
  • She was in her 40s when her first book was published.
  • You can learn more at her website.

Still Life is Penny’s fascinating debut. The story is set in Three Pines, where the elderly Jane Neal is found dead from an arrow wound. Most suspect that this is simply a tragic hunting accident, but Chief Inspector Gamache suspects it is murder.

Pros

  • Strong sense of setting
  • Rich character development
  • Suspenseful yet nuanced storytelling
  • Effective use of quotes and literary sources
  • Well-written poetry included
  • Did her research

Cons

  • Somewhat scattered beginning, a little hard to get into at first

Review

The Beginning

The book starts like this:

“Miss Jane Neal met her maker in the early morning mist of Thanksgiving Sunday. It was pretty much a surprise all round…”

“She had fallen spread-eagled, as though making angels in the bright and brittle leaves.”

Still Life by Louise Penny
photo of dried leaves on soil

I enjoyed Penny’s language. I was bemused at the caricature of death she made by comparing a woman’s position at death with the idea of children making snow angels.

Then the story goes back in time to when she was supposed to meet her friend for coffee. After that, it explains how a group of local boys pelted a gay couple with duck manure.

It goes on to explain that Jane Neal is a shy artist who is just finally willing to show her art to the public eye. Only problem? Her masterpiece, Fair Day, is like a child’s drawing, or an ancient cave drawing.

All of that happens before 10 pages are up. Now, I am no great reader of mysteries. In fact, this is probably the first mystery I’ve read in 10 years. But I was thinking, hey, let’s go back to the snow-angel corpse instead of this odd series of occurrences that I’m frankly not interested in.

But I was wrong. Every detail of those first 10 pages was absolutely integral to the story. I just didn’t have the perspective of the whole story in mind.

As a result, I will say that it was not a novel whose beginning gripped me, but I will concede that these pages were necessary to the development of the drama of the novel.

Setting

The story is set in the village of Three Pines, which is compared rightfully to Narnia. There is certainly something magical about the personalities of the characters who live there. They have the glint of life about them, the engaging complexities of truly well-developed characters.

Olivier and Gabri’s Bistro and B & B are my favorite places in Three Pines. Each piece of furniture and decor in the Bistro has a price tag attached to it. People can buy the table they are eating at, the coat rack, the chairs! It is such a creative place for the characters to spend their time.

Antiques signage

“Each piece looked as though it had been born there.”

Still Life by Louise Penny

Character Development

Each of Penny’s characters has many facets to their colorful personality.

Gamache, for example is careful, pushy, kind, stern, intelligent, ignorant…

Clara is a woman who grieves for the loss of Jane but has an edge of steel in her at times. Her husband, Peter, can be cold as ice or warm and loving, easily offended but loyal.

Ruth is a toughie who raps her cane off the ground to shock people to attention, isn’t afraid to let her opinions be known, and has a penchant for poetry.

There were many more complex characters, but these were some of my favorites.

Storytelling

The storytelling was remarkable because of the way seemingly unrelated events and pieces of information came together in the end. Penny is clearly a master at foreshadowing without giving away the mystery, at providing both depth and forthright depictions.

This is not a thriller – the suspense of what might happen at any moment is not sharp. Instead, the book draws you into Three Pines, where the action is happening, and invites you to stay awhile. It promises a good story, without car chases, without shootouts, but with a certain compelling sense of danger and turmoil lurking just below the surface.

Quotes and Literary Sources

Penny is clearly well-read. She uses a host of references and direct quotes from Auden, Melville, and John Donne, as well as several others. One that stuck out to me as particularly well chosen was this one:

“Evil is unspectacular and always human, and shares our bed and eats at our own table.”

W. H. Auden

Poetry

Ruth Zardo is a poet in the novel, and Penny has included poems she has written for the character. I will say that they do give the impression of being by an actual poet. It’s convincing, that’s what matters.

Research

man holding archer statue

Penny did her research, and that’s part of what makes the novel so intriguing. This is notable in the section of the book where Gamache is trying to figure out the details of hunting with a bow. Penny uses Gamache’s ignorance as an excuse to reveal beginner’s hunting mistakes, the differences between bows, common myths about hunting with bows, and all the little details of this topic.

Final Comments

This book is one of the best I have read in recent years, which has earned it the rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars.

Life

10 Things to do During a Pandemic

red and white UNKs restaurant

Before Covid-19, I had some preconceptions about what a pandemic would be like. Frightening, restricting, dangerous. Like one of those dystopian novels I read for fun, perhaps like the plague in Legend by Marie Lu.

Never in a million years would I have suspected living during a pandemic would be boring.

Sure, those who have contracted Covid-19 and their friends and family are fully aware of how terrible a pandemic is.

But for the rest of us – those who have to isolate, or limit social interaction, or have had all their plans cancelled – bored might be the perfect word.

If you are not bored and you and your loved ones are healthy, good for you. But if you are bored – this is the article for you.

Below are my suggestions to make the most of life during a pandemic.

#1 Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

person wearing orange and gray Nike shoes walking on gray concrete stairs

If you’re anything like me, quarantine life has made you lax when it comes to exercise.

Without the routine of heading to the local YMCA to train at my Tang Soo Do studio, I quickly became unfit. Even when restrictions were lifted somewhat and I was able to return to the studio on occasion, I had trouble getting into a regular routine of exercise.

Recently I’ve made a new resolution to do better with exercise – and I know how I’ll do it.

The pandemic has made things like going to the gym a colossal pain for some and nearly impossible for others, so I’ll focus on the things that can be done without equipment.

Walking, for instance. It has never been my thing, but with how beautiful campus is in the summer and fall, it’s almost irresistible.

I also plan to get into a daily routine similar to my warm-ups for Tang Soo Do. Push-ups, jumping jacks, crunches. Dying cockroach.

Yeah, you read that right. There is an exercise called dying cockroach, where you lay on your back and flail your arms and legs in frenzied motions for a long time. It’s brutal.

There are also plenty of stairs in the dorm where I am residing, so I may just spend half an hour sometime walking up and down them. That would be a workout!

Hopefully some of these ideas will work for you as well.

#2 Be artsy!

paint brushes next to drawing book and water color palette

For this section, I am going to assume you have little to no experience in art. If you already are an artist, you already know you can spend time during a pandemic doing artsy stuff and likely are doing that anyway.

Here are several media to consider:

Colored pencils

One thing you can do with these is try an adult coloring book. It’s relaxing and fun and there’s not as much pressure to create from your imagination since you just have to fill in the line. Yet there is creativity in the colors you choose and skill in how well the design is colored in.

My great grandma had the creative idea of turning her coloring book creations into cards for her loved ones. It was sweet, and sending off such colorful cards may help to alleviate loneliness for yourself and your friends during this time.

If you decide to go freestyle, use good colored pencils and at least decent paper in case you decide to preserve some of your creations.

Watercolor Paint

For watercolor paint, I use Artist Loft brand. I know, it’s cheap – but I have found it sufficient for my projects. Not the pan set, the tubes. I hate those hardened little cakes of paint.

Beginner’s tip – if you use the tubes, you only need a tiny drop of paint mixed with plenty of water. Don’t waste paint. It’s called watercolor for a reason.

Another tip – if you use low-quality paper, you’ll get a low-quality result even if you are a quite talented artist. You can tell a high-quality paper not by the price tag, but by the thickness. I recommend at least 140 lb. paper (if you’re not sure what that means, it’s okay – watercolor paper lists this right on the front so you can tell if you got the right one.)

A final tip – choose your brushes carefully. They don’t have to be expensive but you have to be sure there aren’t any stray bristles and that you take good care of them. I won’t even link to brushes I recommend because I always buy mine in a physical store so I can examine them. Never store them bristle down! If you’re washing them, don’t leave them upside down in water. That’s okay for a short time, but if you leave them for too long, it will damage them.

Acrylic Paint

The best acrylic paint is not too watery and not chunky either – it goes onto paper smoothly.

I recommend going with a great brand such as Martha Stewart or the professional option of Golden acrylics. It’s an investment, but you’ll find that they last a while if you are conservative and only use what you need.

Martha Stewart brand acrylic paint has great quality. I’ve used it before teaching in the classroom at the art store where I work.

I started using Golden acrylics recently and they are brilliant, with vibrant colors and smooth texture.

I just use watercolor paper for acrylics, too. For brushes, I buy these in a physical store as well and look for tell-tale signs they are not any good such as stray bristles.

Oil Paint

I am not as experienced in oil paint, but I can give some beginner’s advice because I’ve already made all the beginner’s mistakes with my first painting…oops…

First of all, do not get Artist Loft brand. They suck when it comes to oil paints. I kept the paints in a box for a couple of months before trying to use them and then all the oily stuff oozed out all over the tubes and made them sticky and gross.

Try a good brand, like Winsor & Newton instead.

For brushes, I won’t recommend any. I would have to see them in person to tell their quality, touch them and examine them. However, keep in mind that they will need to be washed in paint thinner, not water. Water doesn’t mix with oil-based paint and will not take it out of the brush.

I actually just used canvas for my oil painting, but you can get oil paint paper. I don’t know enough to be helpful in recommending what surface to paint on for oil, but I will say that canvas was sufficient for my purposes.

Markers

I began with markers using Copics. Those are professional markers and they are expensive. However, they blend remarkably well and are refillable. I would recommend a pack of grays, skin tones, and primaries to start if you use these. I prefer Copic Sketch over Copic Ciao because the Sketch markers can hold more ink.

Fair warning – they are addicting.

Use the multiliner that comes with their gray pack or buy a separate pack of multiliners of that brand to be sure your pen lines don’t bleed when marker is applied.

A Quick Note….

I have found that using high quality media, while more expensive, has better results. The professionals use high quality equipment for a reason – it makes it easier, not harder, to create masterpieces.

Some of the links above lead to cheap alternatives to high quality media that I have found sufficient for my own amateur artwork. Others lead to more expensive varieties I would nevertheless recommend even for beginners to achieve higher quality results.

I work in an art store, so I have background in helping customers find products that will fit their artistic needs. As a result, I am aware of the best brands and the brands that are cheaper but can produce phenomenal results.

#3 Journaling or Writing Emails

black click pen on notebook

Journaling is an amazing way to spend the time if you are in quarantine or restricted in activities due to Covid-19. Chronicle your experience of living during a pandemic to show off to your future grandchildren.

Keep a daily record of reflections and insights you think of randomly in the middle of night or during your daily routine.

Writing emails or letters is another way to connect with friends let people know you are thinking of them. Make sure if it’s a letter that your friends and relatives aren’t going to be upset about the small possibility of spreading Covid-19 that way. Chances are, they won’t be worried about it, but it’s better to ask in times like these.

#4 Make a time capsule

selective focus photo of brown and blue hourglass on stones

A time capsule would be a good way to remind our future selves what the Covid-19 Crisis was like, or to show our children or grandchildren.

First, buy a durable container. Metal is best if you want it to last for a long time, but undoubtedly plastic would last too even if it has a higher chance of cracking under the weight of dirt.

Second, carefully choose items that represent the times, such as reusable masks and pictures. Be sure that these are things you don’t mind parting with, because digging the box up again would be a pain and counter-intuitive.

Third, pick a place in the yard and bury the capsule. 3 or 4 feet deep would probably be sufficient, but if it’s less than that it could be dug up by mistake.

Fourth, mark the spot with something that will last like a large painted rock. On the marker, write the date the capsule was buried as well as the date it should be dug up.

#5 Sew masks

stack of white yellow green and blue textiles

Sewing masks is not as hard as it may seem. I made two before I was gifted several and no longer had the need for more, and they have served me well.

I recommend getting on Youtube for some helpful how-to videos.

#6 Watch something new

Avatar: The Last Airbender' Live-Action Series Set at Netflix - Variety
Characters from Avatar: The Last Airbender

If you don’t know, the reason why I posted a picture from Avatar: The Last Airbender is because it is now airing on Netflix. I have seen it make Netflix’s top ten several times in the past few weeks, and for good reason! If you like it, follow it up with The Legend of Korra.

If you usually watch all the shows in a particular genre, try a different genre. If you typically don’t watch anime, try anime! If you are squeamish about horror, try something with slight elements of horror. If you usually avoid the sad stuff, try something sad like A Silent Voice, which my sisters recommended to me. Get outside your comfort zone!

#7 Learn!

fountain pen on spiral book

Learn something new! During the pandemic, when I was bored I downloaded the Khan Academy app, the Duolingo app, and the TED Talks app. I’ve used Duolingo and TED talks the most out of the three.

With Khan Academy, you can learn any school subject or lesson that you may have forgotten or that you are not familiar with. You don’t have to make an account, but if you do, it’s free and it tracks your progress.

With Duolingo, you can learn another language. I am currently learning Latin and Spanish little by little.

With the TED Talk app, you can listen to talks about a variety of educational subjects, as well as ones that are just funny. I watched this one recently, which explains the concept behind a video game that teaches about loneliness. I also watched this hilarious one where a comedian describes what happened when he replied to spam emails.

While I wouldn’t say I learned much from the spam email one, it is true that TED Talks in general provide great educational content.

#8 Socialize…long distance

person sitting front of laptop

Socializing long distance can take many forms. It could be an email or letter. It could be a Zoom or Skype call.

James Wilson, a founder of the podcast Tabletop Gaming Guild, offered me a new idea about how to connect with my friends.

Tabletop Simulator and Board Game Arena. If you’re a gamer or just getting into board gaming, these are places where you can play games with friends.

Tabletop Simulator is more expensive at $19.99 for a subscription, but offers a variety of games, including Wingspan, Blood Rage and Scythe.

Board Game Arena is completely FREE. You can play games such as Stone Age, 7 Wonders, Terra Mystica, Takenoko, Saboteur, and so much more!

Full disclaimer – I haven’t tried either yet, but I wanted to pass on the suggestion. I’m at college, so I am lucky enough to be able to see many of my friends in person. In the event my friends and I are sent home due to the risk of Covid-19, I will definitely start online gaming with my friends.

#9 Read!

man reading book on beach near lake during daytime

I’m big on reading. If you’re a reader too, I recommend trying out some of my favorites:

  1. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
    • A YA Fantasy about a rich criminal mastermind who happens to be 12 years old. This mastermind, Artemis Fowl, is determined to get his hands on fairy gold. The fairies he deals with are not the ones from typical bedtime stories – they have advanced technology and live underground.
    • For more information, check out my full review.
    • Btw, it’s nothing like the movie, which was terrible. I also made a review of the movie.
  2. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
    • This is a touching novel mostly about a dying father writing to his young son, and his many reflections. It is about love, betrayal, faith, and family, and it’s fascinating. The language and metaphors are beautiful and creative.
  3. Still Life by Louise Penny
    • This is a murder mystery. I typically dislike murder mysteries, but this one I adored.
    • It’s about an old woman who dies in what appears to be a hunting accident, but Inspector Gamache suspects it may be murder. The beginning is a little slow, but every part of it is an essential piece of the puzzle and contributes to the power of the work.
    • For more information, check out my full review.

#10 Start a website!

MacBook Pro on table beside white iMac and Magic Mouse

Starting a website is not as hard as it looks.

You could take the route I did and pay for the domain, then use WordPress to organize your site. It’s not hard because WordPress is so intuitive. WordPress allows for both pages and posts, so if you want to create a blog, it’s never been easier!

Or you can use Wix.com or Weebly.com to create your website for free. There is less freedom this way though. For example, Weebly.com requires “weebly” to be in the site name.

I can tell you that Weebly is pretty good because I’ve used it for college classes. Back when I was an education major, I made my digital portfolio using Weebly.

Wix has been recommended to me on numerous occasions by close friends, so I thought I would include it as well, although I haven’t had experience with it myself.

No matter which route you take, Youtube will be your best friend! Look up how-to videos to make the most of your website-building experience.

Movies

Movie Review: Jumanji: The Next Level (Spoiler-Free)

Jumanji: The Next Level | Buy, Rent or Watch on FandangoNOW

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Intro:

For my sister’s graduation party, she was allowed to choose any movie for the family to watch. She chose Jumanji: The Next Level, and boy, am I glad she did. This hilarious sequel to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle truly takes the game to a whole ‘nother level.

This movie was released in 2019, and fits into three genres: Fantasy, Adventure, and Comedy. It stars Jack Black, Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Alex Wolff, Nick Jonas, Morgan Turner, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, Awkwafina, Rory McCann, Danny Glover, and Danny DeVito.

Summary:

Embarrassed and disappointed by how his boring life compares to that of his friends, Spencer repairs the game console that originally sucked him and his friends into the game Jumanji. Entering the game, he hopes to become Smolder Bravestone and find a sense of purpose again.

His friends are shocked and bewildered by Spencer’s choice to return to Jumanji. After some hesitation, they decide to enter the game to bring him back.

Only things don’t go as planned. The two elderly men upstairs (Spencer’s grandfather Eddie and Eddie’s once-friend Milo Walker) get sucked into the game as well.

Jumanji: The Next Level review: a pretty good body-swap comedy ...
Smolder Bravestone and Franklin Finbar

What follows is hilarious. Catching Eddie and Milo up to speed is harder than expected, allowing for a lot of jokes.

Nigel then gives them their next mission, which is to defeat Jurgen the Brutal and return the Falcon Jewel to its rightful owner.

Throughout their journey, the heroes face a herd of ferocious ostriches, a rope bridge maze reminiscent of the randomly moving staircases at Hogwarts, and a horde of violent simians.

The twist at the end offers hope of a sequel.

Qualities

The humor and irony offered in this movie was great, although at one point it was extremely cringy. Just wait for the part with the hyenas, and you’ll see what I mean.

The length of the move is 123 minutes, which was long enough that it didn’t feel rushed and short enough that it didn’t drag on.

Eddie’s antics were hilarious at first but almost got annoying because of his stubbornness and bad judgement.

Milo’s tendency to draw his explanations out made for some funny scenes.

The relationship between Eddie and Milo created some of the most touching moments in the movie.

I didn’t see as much of some characters as I would have liked.

Jurgen, like the villain of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, is not well-developed at all. He is a pretty standard bad guy with almost no backstory. Yep, he’s just evil because he’s evil. I even forgot his name because he wasn’t very memorable, and had to look it up.

Conclusion:

Overall, I rated this movie 7 out of 10 stars because it was hilarious and enjoyable, but certainly wasn’t one of the best movies I ever watched. I wouldn’t mind watching it again in a few years.

Books

Book Review: Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel

114725

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Intro:

In my book reviews, I consider the literary merit of the book by examining aspects such as character development, world-building, illustrations, and storytelling.

Just as a precaution before you delve in – my opinion and preferences have an impact on the rating. When it comes to judging literature, it is impossible not to let personal biases interfere.

I will, however, honestly evaluate the aspects of the book to the best of my ability so my review can help you determine if it sounds like it’s the book for you.

If you happen to disagree with my evaluation for any reason, feel free to describe your point of view in the comments.

Background

Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel is based on the novel Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. Andrew Donkin created the illustrations for the graphic novel. It was published in 2007, six years after Colfer published the first Artemis Fowl novel.

The titular character, Artemis Fowl, is a twelve-year-old criminal mastermind. Artemis Fowl wants to expand his family fortune by getting his hands on fairy gold.

To do so, he seeks out and finds a book of fairy secrets that he uses to exploit the People (a name for fairykind). He kidnaps a fairy officer named Holly Short to use as leverage.

Along with his bodyguard Butler and Butler’s sister Juliet, Artemis attempts to pull off the amazing feat of separating fairies from their gold, which few have managed to achieve before.

Pros

  • Mostly faithful to book despite being shorter
  • Strong storytelling
  • Color themes matched mood and tension

Cons

  • Ugly artwork
  • Unnecessary changes to character appearance
  • Inconsistency in fairy culture

Review

Any fan of the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer will notice upon reading this graphic novel that it is faithful to its source. There are even sentences that are word-for-word copies of sentences in the original novel.

The storyline likewise remains unaltered. There are no nasty surprise changes in plot like in some novel adaptations. That’s a relief.

As a result, even in this truncated version of the original, the storytelling is vibrant and engaging. I was hooked from the first page and read the whole graphic novel within an hour.

To provide a sense of mood, Donkin created color themes for different scene that reflected the atmosphere. This was unrealistic, but I recognized that it was an artistic choice that added rather than subtracted from the narrative.

Some of Donkin’s other artistic choices were poor ones. The artwork was ugly. It just was. I get that he has artistic license with how he can portray the characters and scenes, but this was too much.

For example, look at Foaly.

Foaly | Artemis Fowl | Fandom
Foaly from Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel

He’s blue and looks elderly. He’s not wearing his customary tin hat. Nothing is right about this picture except that he is still a centaur.

If you read the original novel, is this how you pictured Foaly? It’s not how I did. He came off to me as young and geeky, and somewhat comical. Not geriatric.

Butler is even worse. He looks like a disproportional mountain of flesh. In the original series, he was described as a “man mountain,” so I understand where Donkin was coming from. But he looks horrible, and I imagined him as a large muscular man with some style, not just sheer immensity.

Artemis Fowl | Epic Heroism for the 21st Century: a Multimedia Web ...
Butler and Artemis from Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel)

Also, can I just say that Artemis’s eyes are supposed to be blue? Not brown. Blue.

10 Best Artimus Fowl images | Fowl, Artemis fowl, Artemis
Holly Short from Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel

Also, Holly is supposed to have “nut-brown” skin. Instead her skin is this sallow shade of white. Why? That was an entirely unnecessary change. There was not a single person of color in this novel, to its detriment. There was no need to whitewash the novel.

Also, I will explain why I think the fairy culture in the graphic novel is inconsistent. In Haven City, the billboards were all written in English rather than Gnommish even though fairies look down on humans. The fairies would never have adopted English for their advertisements and daily life. It’s a silly little mistake, but worth noting.

Based mostly on the story and on some (very few) good artistic choices, I rated this graphic novel a 3.5 out of 5. Artistic choices including character appearance were its biggest downfall, but I was able to stomach that because of the rich storytelling.

Board Games

Board Game Review: Wingspan

Wingspan Cover Artwork

Rating: 8.58 out of 10 stars

Intro

What I hope to accomplish with my board game review is to introduce you to a new game and help you determine whether the game is a good fit for you. I will consider and rank five criteria: gameplay, design, strategy, originality, and replayability.

Description

Wingspan is a competitive game where your goal is to collect diverse species of birds on your wildlife reserve.

There are two variations of the game.

One of the variations is more “friendly,” allowing all players to receive end of round points for meeting the round objective. Round objectives vary, but an example is receiving one point per bird in your water habitat.

The other variation is more competitive, and only the players who get first, second, and third place for the end of round objective get points. For example, if the objective provides points for birds in water habitats, only the players with the most birds in the water habitats would get points.

Personally, I prefer the “friendly” variation of the game because it rewards you for how much you have achieved rather than based on how you measure up to other players.

Gameplay (9 out of 10 stars)

Gameplay offers a lot of options for each player’s turn even though you can only take one action per turn.

One action you can take is playing a bird card in one of your habitats by paying its food and egg costs (if applicable.)

A second action allows you to obtain food from the dice rolled in the bird feeder. If there is only one food type left in the feeder, you can reroll all the dice and then choose.

A third action allows eggs to be laid by the birds in your habitats. There are restrictions on the number of eggs each bird can lay in its nest, which vary based on the species.

A fourth action is drawing more bird cards to put in your hand. These can be played in future turns after paying the cost of the card (in food and eggs).

The resources you get from completing the second, third, or fourth action increase based on the number of birds in the habitat. You always get the resources indicated on the space to the right of the last bird you placed in that habitat.

Birds that are placed have powers that occur either when first played, when activated, or between round. They are indicated at the bottom of the card.

Furthermore, it is worthwhile to note that sometimes you can convert resources to other resources. Two of any one resource can count as one of a different resource. Also, when taking the second, third, or fourth action you can occasionally convert an egg, a food token, or a card to a different resource indicated on the space to the right of your bird.

It is also interesting that each round of the game is shorter than the last, because it puts more pressure on the players to take the most efficient actions.

Design (9.9 out of 10 stars)

Design includes two categories: art and components.

The art in Wingspan is phenomenal. The bird images remind me of the watercolor paintings by John James Audubon, though the lines are bit crisper in Wingspan.

The components are beautiful as well. I especially appreciate the colorful eggs, the custom wooden dice, and the dice tower bird house.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-4-768x1024.png
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-6-768x1024.png

My only complaint is that on the end-of-round bonuses are labeled by round from right to left instead of left to right. Since English is read from left to right, I have accidentally prepared for the wrong bonus and failed to gain points as a result.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-2-768x1024.png

The player boards are also designed to look like worn journals on the outside.

Strategy (9 out of 10 stars)

This is a game where you can take on a variety of strategies based on your preferences. For example, you can try to broaden the species of birds on your reserve, accumulate eggs on your cards, or try to achieve your secret goals. Of course, it is best to do all of these things, but often one of these becomes the focus of your game.

Originality/Creativity (8 out of 10 stars)

The concept of a game where you are building a wildlife reserve for birds is unique. Except for Wingspan, I have not come across a game with a theme like that. The closest are maybe a few zoo-building games like Zooloretto.

The mechanisms of the game are not unique, but the combination of them was creative and provides for a unique experience overall.

Replayability (7 out of 10 stars)

Replayability is decent because of the number of cards in the deck. You get a different experience every time. Because there are a bunch of strategies, playing repeatedly can be enjoyable, allowing you to change your strategy each time.

Links

To learn more: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/266192/wingspan

To learn how to play: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgDgcLI2B0U&vl=en-US

Books

Book Review: Artemis Fowl

6699003. sx318

Rank: 4.9 out of 5 stars

Intro:

In my book reviews, I consider the literary merit of the book by examining aspects such as character development, world-building, illustrations, and storytelling.

Just as a precaution before you delve in – my opinion and preferences have an impact on the rating. When it comes to judging literature, it is impossible not to let personal biases interfere.

I will, however, honestly evaluate the aspects of the book to the best of my ability so my review can help you determine if it sounds like it’s the book for you.

If you happen to disagree with my evaluation for any reason, feel free to describe your point of view in the comments.

Background:

Artemis Fowl was written by Eoin Colfer and published in 2001. It has been translated into 40 languages and was named a Puffin Modern Classic.

The titular character, Artemis Fowl, is a twelve-year-old criminal mastermind. Artemis Fowl wants to expand his family fortune by getting his hands on fairy gold.

To do so, he seeks out and finds a book of fairy secrets that he uses to exploit the People (a name for fairykind). He kidnaps a fairy officer named Holly Short to use as leverage.

Along with his bodyguard Butler and Butler’s sister Juliet, Artemis attempts to pull off the amazing feat of separating fairies from their gold, which few have managed to achieve before.

Pros:

  • Fantastic storytelling
  • Complex worldbuilding
  • Well-developed and intriguing characters

Cons:

  • The translation from Gnommish to perfectly rhymed English is unrealistic.

Review:

Storytelling:

Eoin Colfer knows how to tell a story. This story is told in third person omniscient, but focuses primarily on the characters Artemis and Holly. Keeping it omniscient is an effective choice because it reveals the way the characters think. If first person point of view had been used, so much of the narrative voice would have been lost.

Colfer’s book has a strong connection to setting. Whether it is a wedding party in Italy, a meeting with a contact in Ho Chi Minh City, or Fowl Manor in Ireland, Colfer makes sure the story is not existing in blank space.

He does his research. He lives in Ireland and uses Ireland as the main setting for his story, but does not let that stop him from using places he is less familiar with and doing it well.

For example, he is specific.

“They [Artemis and Butler] were sitting outside a curbside cafe on Dong Khai Street, watching the local teenagers circle the square on mopeds.”

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

The language he uses also contributes to his storytelling. Rather than saying that Artemis’s bodyguard Butler is armed and dangerous, Colfer cleverly uses a detailed list.

“…a Sig Sauer in his shoulder holster. two shrike-throwing knives in his boots, a derringer two-shot up his sleeve, garrotte wire in his watch, and three stun grenades in various pockets.”

Artemis Fowl to Nguyen in the book Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

This list not only makes Butler seem even more dangerous, it also paints a precise picture. Even not knowing what the items look like does not take away from the sense that Butler is a skilled bodyguard with an in-depth knowledge of weaponry.

I had to look up most of these items to know what they looked like, but I don’t think that is a problem because Colfer’s imaginative storytelling compelled me to do so.

Garrotte wire, for example, is used for strangulation.

There are so many advanced vocabulary words in this book that Vocabulary.com has a list of difficult words just for Artemis Fowl. I believe that this does not take away from the storytelling, because Colfer uses precise words that convey a specific meaning.

World-building:

The world-building is phenomenal. Colfer bases it partially on Irish fairy tales, but with a sci-fi twist.

LEPrecon basically refers to police officers and their commanders in the fairy world. Get it? Leprechaun? The LEP stands for Lower Elements police.

Like in Irish mythology, “fairy” is a catch-all term that includes elves, pixies, dwarfs, trolls, etc.

Fairies live underground and use magma flows and pods to reach the surface. There is technology such as iris-cams and finger darts.

The finger darts are hilarious. They meld to slip on, look exactly like your finger, and do not feel unusual. This has led to the incapacitation of some officers who forgot they were wearing them and picked their nose, setting off the dart.

Character Development:

Colfer’s strong point is definitely his characters.

Artemis Fowl is not your ordinary twelve-year-old. He’s a criminal mastermind. One who looks as pale as a vampire in sunlight because of long periods of time spent in front of a computer, hiding away indoors.

Artemis exhibits both the qualities of a child and an adult. According to Colfer,

“He still retained a childlike belief in magic, tempered by an adult determination to exploit it.”

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

When he does something out of character, his own thoughts let readers know that it is unusual. For instance, he makes a joke twice (not very funny ones because he is unpracticed) and it is more amusing in that he had the inclination toward a sense of humor for once. He even notes this himself.

Butler is loyal to Artemis, but occasionally is disapproving of Artemis’s more dangerous plans, especially when he puts Butler’s sister Juliet in danger.

Colfer doesn’t just tell us Butler is dangerous, he shows it. The “man mountain” carries an assortment of weapons and demonstrates his martial prowess against shielded fairies. Even he can be caught off guard – but those times are comparatively few.

Holly Short is stubborn and resentful. She is a rule-breaker with both a temper and a compassionate side.

Her superior Commander Root is a short-tempered fairy who cares for his officers and despite being blatantly rude and domineering toward them.

Foaly is a centaur who is witty and intelligent. He is indispensible to the LEPrecon team because he rigged up a lot of their technology and is basically the resident genius on the team, so no matter how many snarky remarks he makes, Commander Root can’t afford to fire him.

There are an assortment of other characters who are well-developed and intriguing, but I won’t go into more detail here. Read the book for yourself

A side note:

By the way, this is completely out of context, but my favorite line in the entire book is this:

“I don’t like lollipops.”

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

It just made me crack up. To see why, read the book.

Translation Issues:

My only complaint in this book is that when Artemis translates the Book that is written in Gnommish, it becomes perfectly rhymed English.

Anyone who has ever tried to translate anything from one language to another knows that something is lost in translation, and this is especially true of poetry.

Words that rhyme in one language rarely do in another. And why would a language whose closest kin is Egyptian show such remarkable resemblance to English by being translated into perfectly rhymed poetry?

Another thing is he had Gnommish written on the bottom of the pages that could be translated letter by letter with English. That was completely different from the way it was described in writing, where it was like an almost unbreakable code.

Recommendations

I would recommend this book both for a young adult audience and for adults.

If you like Fantasy or Sci-fi, or have a penchant for fairy tales, or just want to be immersed in a good story, I fully recommend this book.

Links

Life

10 Things I Never Expected to Need in my Dorm Room

The transition from high school to college is rarely an easy one. With the Covid-19 crisis in full swing, it will be especially difficult for freshman this year. That’s why I compiled this list of things I never expected to need in my dorm room – so you can be prepared for whatever dorm life throws at you.

This list will also help you avoid some of the mistakes I made. Going into my senior year at Grove City College, I will be sure to pack the following items to make this semester a good one.

#1: Thank You cards and stamps

dog biting Thank You mail paper

One thing I didn’t expect to need was thank you cards, but when I needed to write some thank yous to scholarship donors, they weren’t there. I had left mine at home.

You may also need thank you cards to show appreciation for teachers who write recommendation letters or for interviews. You may even want to give one to a friend who helped you study, or a family member who provided support.

If you don’t have stamps, your thank you cards won’t get far. Unless you’re sending the letters to someone on campus. Stamps are such a small thing and such an easy thing to forget. Don’t be the one who has to track down the local post office to buy more stamps.

#2 Wipes

green and blue labeled pack

Wipes are a must, especially during a pandemic. I found out the hard way that I should have had some on hand in my dorm.

During fall break, we were permitted to leave our refrigerator plugged in. Both my roommate and I checked before we left that our refrigerator was still plugged in, and it was.

Whoever was in charge of checking our room must have unplugged it for whatever reason.

When I came back to my dorm after break, I opened my refrigerator to put away some food and was met with a horrific stench. Mold climbed the walls of the fridge. A pool of water sat stagnant at the bottom.

Disgusted, my first instinct was to visit the college store to figure out if they had wipes. The only wipes they had were for removing makeup.

I used soap. Lots and Lots of soap.

After that, I made sure the room was well-stocked with wipes for mold-related emergencies.

#3 First Aid supplies

red and white x logo

So at Grove City College, there are these obnoxious desk chairs that are slanted at the bottom. As a result, the chair will shift suddenly to a different angle if you lean forward or back. I cannot tell you how many times I have bashed my knees off the desk because I accidentally leaned forward.

That’s what I get for trying to grab a pencil, or picking up a mug. Bloody knees.

That’s where a first aid kit comes in handy. First thing is to make sure you have bandages of various sizes. Waterproof bandages too, in case you want to go swimming without exposing open wounds.

Pack enough bandages in case your roommate needs them too, and your friends, and your friends’ friends. I’ve given mine away on numerous occasions. Pack a couple in your backpack so you have them if you’re away from the dorm too.

If you use hydrogen peroxide, bring a bottle of that too, along with q-tips to dab it on in case the cut isn’t big enough to need to pour it on.

I used plenty of it, but my roommate’s friend used a decent amount of it too when she ripped the skin off her knees falling on a treadmill.

Make sure you get cream to treat burns, triple-antibiotic cream, and sunscreen.

Pack over-the-counter medicines such as Advil or Tylenol, allergy medicine if you have allergies, Pepto Bismol for stomach problems, cough drops, etc.

(Don’t forget any personal medicines you have to take, and keep them in their original prescription containers. Many colleges require them to be in their original container with medical information included.)

Add to that list a thermometer to check if you have a fever.

#4 Paper plates and cups

File:Paper plates - isolated.png - Wikimedia Commons

Maybe you’re super into buying what’s environmentally-friendly. That’s fine, but when finals hit, at least for me, that went out the window. I no longer had time to constantly clean dishes. I was always studying.

For times in the semester that are so busy that even completing basic tasks is too time consuming, I recommend having a set of paper plates, napkins, and cups.

#5 Lamp

brown and white table lamp with light

Usually college dorms come with their own lighting, making a lamp unnecessary. I would list this under things that are not essential but are desirable.

The reason is that roommates often operate on different schedules. For example, my roommate stays up several hours later than I do each night.

Rather than keeping the room lights on or turning them off, my roommate uses a lamp near her bed that is dim enough that I can sleep. Yet she can study by it.

#6 List of common phone numbers

white printer paper beside silver laptop computer

Most people don’t have phone numbers memorized anymore. I know of people who don’t even know their own phone number and will check their phone to figure it out when necessary.

A list (on paper) of important contacts is definitely useful.

I lose my phone constantly, and having a list of contacts helps if you need to use someone else’s phone.

#7 Gift Wrap

person holding white gift card

Friends have birthdays. Christmas draws near. Someone gets married.

All of these are great reasons to have gift wrap. Because it may not be available in your college store, or you may have to pay a ridiculous price for it.

#8 Watch

watch at 10:34

Watches are great for testing environments. It’s best to have a watch with no special functions so teachers are okay with you wearing one during a test. If you’re like me, you want to know how much time has passed during testing.

Having a simple watch is the best way to tell time during a test, since looking up at the clock looks suspicious since you are looking up during a test repeatedly. The clock also may be in a position where you can’t see it from your location.

#9 Sewing Kit

scissors and knitting kits on box

I had to use a mini sewing kit on numerous occasions. One was when I had to fix an embarrassing hole in the armpit of my Newman Club t-shirt. I also had to mend a pair of pants, and various other articles of clothing.

I think this is especially important now because of the requirement at many colleges of wearing masks. Masks often need repaired after repeated use.

#10 Tide Pen

Tide to Go Stain Remover Pen | Stain Removers | Laundry Supplies ...

Tide pens are indispensable. I’ve used two up completely and plan on buying more this semester. They take out almost all stains with very little effort.

If you get one, try to carry it with you in your backpack, because you never know when you might need it.

Good luck with the fall semester! If you have any more suggestions for must-have but little thought of items needed in a dorm room, feel free to leave a comment.

Life

Recommended Packing List for College

As I was creating a list of items I would need to pack for college, I realized a list might be helpful for freshman starting this semester. As a result, I decided to share mine. I hope you find it helpful.

Clothes

  • T-shirts
  • Long-sleeve shirts
  • Jeans
  • Dress pants
  • Shorts
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Tennis shoes
  • Coats
  • Jackets
  • Snow boots
  • Dress/Suit
  • Dress shoes
  • Flip flops
  • Sandals
  • Swimsuit
  • Goggles
  • Pajamas
  • Bathrobe
  • Jewelry
  • Masks
  • Belts

Bedding

  • Sheets (twin XL size)
  • Pillow cases
  • Pillows
  • Blankets
  • Mattress pad

School Supplies

  • Notebooks (At least 1 per class)
  • Folders (At least 1 per class)
  • Stapler (with extra staples)
  • Hole punch
  • Paper clips
  • Rubber bands
  • Post-it notes
  • Pens (of many colors, ideally)
  • #2 Pencils
  • Highlighters
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Scotch tape
  • Masking tape
  • Eraser
  • Sharpener
  • Glue
  • Super Glue
  • Wite-Out
  • Thumb tacks
  • Lap desk
  • Backpack
  • Lanyard (for room and mailbox keys)
  • Thumbdrive
  • Calculator
  • Desk Organizer
  • Flash cards
  • Envelopes
  • Stamps
  • Thank you Cards
  • Birthday Cards
  • Command Strips
  • Printer paper
  • Clipboard

Technology

  • Phone
  • Phone charger
  • Laptop
  • Laptop charger
  • Printer
  • Printer Ink
  • Headphones
  • Power strip
  • Earphones
  • Batteries

Household

  • Towels
  • Washcloths
  • Kitchen Towels
  • Paper Towels
  • Napkins
  • Thermos
  • Silverware (metal and washable)
  • Silverware (disposable)
  • Plates & Bowls (washable)
  • Plates (disposable)
  • Mugs
  • Paper Cups
  • Detergent
  • Tide Pen
  • Hangers
  • Ziploc bags
  • Dish soap
  • Trash can
  • Trash bags
  • Laundry basket
  • Sewing kit
  • Shower Caddy
  • Tupperware
  • Lint roller
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Light bulbs
  • Clorox wipes

Food & Drinks

  • K-Cups
  • Snacks
  • Water jugs or bottles

Toiletries

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Mouthwash
  • Hair bands (if you have long hair)
  • Nail Clippers
  • Nail file
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Feminine Pads (if applicable)
  • Tampons (if applicable)
  • Makeup
  • Makeup remover
  • Razor
  • Deodorant
  • Brush
  • Comb
  • Command Strips
  • Hand mirror
  • Tweezers
  • Tissues

First Aid

  • Bandages
  • Triple-Antibiotic Cream
  • Advil or Tylenol or Motrin
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Q-tips
  • Alcohol Wipes
  • Cough Drops
  • Pepto Bismol
  • Prescription Medicines (if applicable)
  • Sunscreen
  • Ice pack
  • Thermometer
  • Hand Sanitizer

Furniture & Appliances

  • Lamp
  • Collapsible Table
  • Refrigerator
  • Microwave
  • Keurig
  • Curling Iron (if applicable)
  • Fan
  • Hair dryer

Documents

  • Debit and/or Credit Card
  • Photo ID
  • Insurance Cards
  • Checkbook
  • Password book

Other Supplies

  • Umbrella
  • Carpet
  • Games
  • DVDs
  • String Lights