Life

An Amazing Ashley Acrostic…with Additional Anecdotes!

an interview with Joanne Brown

What’s an acrostic? An acrostic is a type of writing where certain letters – typically the first letter (though it can be certain specified letters of a line) of each line, word, or paragraph—spell out a word. In this case I am using Ashley’s first and last name to introduce some fun things about her! Enjoy!

Who is Ashley?

That’s always a complicated question people ask!”

Ashley’s response to that question!

I recently had the pleasure to spend a late morning with Ashley Ostrowski, one of the guest bloggers on this site. She is

  • A pretty interesting young woman.
  • S-orority Girl … Sigma Delta 5 – a.k.a. the D5s!
  • H-ates it when people burn popcorn at school and the fire alarm goes off at like 9:00, midnight, or 2:00am and everyone has to leave the building. It’s truly a pet peeve!
  • L-oves the Summer because of the beach…But she’s torn between that and Autumn for her favorite Season
  • E-nglish Major…A senior at Grove City College (GCC)…She graduates this coming May!
  • Y-oga is a something she picked up since Covid started.

If you look like a person who has the answers, you will get bombarded [with questions].”

Ashley when asked to say one thing she learned when she worked at Walmart!

  • O-hhh, she’s pretty chill.
  • S-eafood, crablegs, pasta = her favorite foods.
  • T-he number nine. It’s complicated, but it’s her favorite number! 9
  • R-eserved… but she can be more outgoing … but then she’s shy at times too…
  • O-rganized … yeah, she could be more organized.
  • W-orked at Goodwill too…which leads one to ask her opinion on hoarding… She has no problem on that front: This past New Year she and her mom decided to go through stuff to get rid of the crap they didn’t need or use. If she said to herself about something she had been keeping, “I never am going to get back to that,” then she just tossed it. YAY ASHLEY!
  • S-quare = her favorite shape
  • K – that’s a letter in sKy blue … and also in light pinK … both colors she really likes …
  • I-mportant to her? FRIENDSHIPS!

I feel like we live in a time where we talk about things that are shallow. I …want to be able to … grow relationships with people … build energy for my friends.”

Ashley

Random Raves:

  • Ashley has a website she created for a professor at school. Yeah, it was an assignment, but she created a site where she talks about books, movies, and tv shows. She looks at culture and moral values. She calls herself The Perusing Muse. (Remember the avatar above?!!) It is so apropos because, going back to the Greeks, muses were used as inspiration … and to peruse something is to look at it in depth … And that all works for her site.
  • Probably her most favorite class in her GCC career was the Modern Poetry class she took. She liked analyzing. She liked the class discussions. She liked the diversity. And, she found a love for free verse poetry.
  • Including school must reads, Ashley reads somewhere between 30 – 50 books a year. She loves to read about different things.
  • As I said before, Ashley graduates this coming May. She describes herself in a weird transition period right now … She is excited for the future, but nervous. There are so many things to think about: where to live, jobs … what job she really wants – because it’s setting up for a lifestyle. Should she work remotely from home, or what? This search is also about finding out where she belongs. She has always imagined a family and kids. But having a job she is serious about would make her happy. She would like to work in Technical Writing or Marketing and Blog for a Company. . . . Interestingly, after the interview and the great conversation we shared, she voiced an interest in maybe exploring this whole interviewing people and sharing who they are thing. Isn’t it great that there are so many options – and an entire lifetime still to test things out!
  • Defining moments of the whole Covid situation
    • It was her sophomore year of college and she remembers that she was studying Shakespeare when she heard that the campus would be closing and she would have to go home.
    • Leaving the dorms was tough. Everyone was leaving. Completely. They had to get everything out. Seeing those dorms bare, it didn’t feel right. It was a sad, weird moment. This was before the nation was big on masks.
    • The big question was, ‘What’s going to happen?’ She didn’t know how to feel.
    • Looking back at it now, she realizes that she didn’t waste the lessons to be learned. She took the time to hammer down on her classes. And, as we discovered in the acrostic, she picked up Yoga. She began going for runs regularly. She found the good out of the bad situation.
  • Most exciting gift she got this past Christmas?
    • a RECORD PLAYER!
    • she got a number of 45s. One was a Spiderman intro/comic book read aloud … an original form of “audio books!” She feels like she is in a retro scene right now!
    • She loves listening to everything, Pop, Jazz, Alternative, a little bit of Classical.

I like the idea of buying something I really like … (maybe) Beetle’s Records!”

What she thinks she might like to do in the very near future!

T hank you, Ashley!

H earing your words

A nd sharing in your thoughts has been totally fun!

N ow we

K now a little about you and we think you are one

S uper, special person!

Anime, Shows

“Struck by lightning, didn’t die. Crazy Thursday”

Cover Art for RWBY Volume 5

Anime Review (with spoilers!):

RWBY Volume 5

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Overview

Pros

  • Memorable heroes
  • Effective villains
  • Unique weapons and apparel
  • Interesting character naming rules
  • Phenomenal fight scenes
  • Interesting setting
  • Original music
  • Attractive intro
  • Balance of comedic and dark moments
  • Groundbreaking American Anime
  • Beautiful art style and animation

Cons

  • No specific cons, just overall felt like a 9 star volume.

Observations

  • Animation much better than in early seasons

Review

First off, I want to say that the cover art from this volume, shown above is beautiful. There is only one part I don’t like about it and that is the fact that Blake is several times the size of the other characters – that seems to make the whole image somewhat asymmetrical. A small complaint for an attractive piece of cover art.

RWBY Volume 5 was released in 2017 and was created by Rooster Teeth. Rooster Teeth teased this volume by saying:

The huntresses of Team RWBY continue to search for answers on their individual journeys toward Haven Academy. Will the four finally reunite? What fate awaits the broken world of Remnant?

Rooster Teeth

Where pros or cons were too similar to the information in reviews for previous seasons, I did not include details. See other reviews for more information.

Spoilers beyond this point!

It is so refreshing to see Weiss finally escape the trap of her family home by airship. The pilot is not just an extra–although he remains nameless and is killed off quickly. His refusal to help people in need is very human, but he is not just one note.

Weiss vs. the Lancers is an interesting battle to watch, with Weiss utilizing the cargo of dust to obliterate her enemies. The crash is unfortunate but not unexpected, and the pilot’s subsequent death is not shown. I think that it should have been shown or at least alluded to, even though it can be implied since Weiss is the only one to emerge from the wreckage.

I also like that Oscar Pine’s first words to Ruby are “You have silver eyes.” If you remember, those are also Ozpin’s first words to Ruby. This underscores the similarities between Ozpin and Oscar and points to the fact that eventually their souls will merge and become one. While tragic, I found this choice to be creative and to raise the sense of loss that permeates the RWBY series and rears its head from time to time, such as in the death of Pyrrha.

Adam’s coup was also well-executed and tragic. Sienna Khan, the head of the White Fang, was interesting–I wish we had seen more of her. There is a trailer that shows her in action a bit more, but that’s about it. Hazel is exceedingly polite when he deals with Sienna, and is clearly disappointed when Adam kills her.

I love Vernal’s name because it suggests Spring. All signs point to her being the Spring Maiden, so when Raven is revealed to be the Spring Maiden instead, it comes as a shock.

We get to learn more about the semblances of the heroes. Ren can mask emotions, while Nora can channel electricity into power. She discovered her semblance by accident.

Struck by lightning, didn’t die. Crazy Thursday.

Nora Valkrie

Jaune’s semblance is only revealed when he heals Weiss by amplifying her aura. He can do the same with his own. It is great to see Jaune developing in power and character.

I love how Blake tells Sun that she tries to understand people by a single word representing what they stand for. For Ruby, “purity.” For Weiss, “defiance.” For Yang, “strength.” Adam is harder for Blake to pin down and understand. At first, she thinks he represents “justice.” Then she amends that to “passion.” Finally, she if forced to admit that Adam embodies “spite.”

Illia’s crush on Blake is sweet and poignant, but makes their rivalry even more intense. It is good to see some representation of LGBTQ+ characters.

Weiss truly realizes who she is as a person when she defies her family and leaves them for good.

I am more than a name.”

Weiss Schnee
Yang and Raven

The final battle between Raven and Cinder is epic. Yang confronting her mom is one of the best scenes too.

You might be powerful, but that doesn’t make you strong.”

Yang Xiao Long to Raven

The songs in Volume 5 are not as good as some of the others from the earlier seasons, but they are still fun to listen to. Posting some good ones from Volume 5 below.

The trailer is beautiful and exciting, using the song “The Triumph.” It definitely got me interested in what was to come.

Overall, I would recommend this volume and RWBY in general to anyone who enjoys anime and epic battles. I would say that the overall series is best for ages 13 and up, even though this particular volume might be okay for people who are younger. This my not my favorite volume, but I still found it very enjoyable.

Links

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Card Games

My Top 10 Favorite Card Games in 2021

Recently, I created a list of my top ten favorite board games in 2021, and I thought, why not one for card games in 2021? In general, I enjoy board games more than card games, but these ten I enjoy every time they make it to the table.

Here is my list:

#10: Coup

Coup is a bluffing and risk-taking game. Your objective is to manipulate others and take control of the court.

Each player has two cards that represent the influence of particular character types; for example, assassins or a dukes. Each character type has an advantage named at the bottom of the card, such as allowing you to draw three coins.

You can use the abilities on the cards in your hand, or pretend to have a card with a different ability. Other players may catch you if you are bluffing and force you to lose influence. If the other player is wrong, however, he or she is the one who will lose influence.

Once you reach 7 coins, you can launch an unblockable coup, forcing another player to lose influence.

Since each card in your hand represents influence, when you lose influence, you lose a card. You never draw another another card, so once you lose two cards, you are eliminated.

Even though I am not particularly skilled at bluffing, I enjoy playing this with family members who are good at it. I generally play it safe at the beginning, but some people start bluffing from the start.

It’s a simple game that is perfect as a warm-up for a lengthier board game, or for when you only have a short time to play.

#9: Sushi Go!/Sushi Go! Party

Sushi Go! is a drafting game. Each player starts with a hand, chooses a card, and passes their hand to the next player. All players then flip their chosen card and those cards take effect.

Some basic cards just score the points denoted on the card. Others require two or three in a matching set to score the point. Some are kept until the end of the round, and some until the end of the game, before scoring.

I like this game because of its cute theme and easy gameplay. After one game, players can easily become accustomed to the scoring system. It’s a great game to bust out when there is not much time to play.

The variant, Sushi Go! Party, provides an even greater variety of cards to make the game less repetitive. I fully recommend Sushi Go! Party if you can get it instead of Sushi Go!, but even the original simpler version will give you a good time.

#8: Bohnanza

Bohnanza is a game where the objective is to plant and harvest beans to gain coins.

In the beginning, each player receives five cards. The order of the cards matters in this game, so you cannot organize the cards in your hand.

On your turn, the first action you must take is to plant bean cards from your hand. The first card you must play on one of your fields. The second is optional, but can only be placed if it matches one of the beans you already have in your fields.

The cards you place must be the first (and second if you decide to place two) card on the right side of your hand.

Next on your turn, you turn over two bean cards from the top of the deck. You can then decide if you want to keep and immediately plant those two cards, or get rid of them. The only way to get rid of them is by trading with the other players. If no one is willing to trade, you must plant those beans. The active player can also trade cards in their hand along with the two beans from the deck.

A player can also give bean cards for free. This may happen because they want to get rid of cards they would otherwise have to place in their fields.

The third part of your turn is planting the turned-over cards from the deck if you haven’t traded them, and/or planting the traded cards. If you plant a bean that doesn’t match either of your stacks of beans in your fields, you must harvest your largest bean crop and then plant the bean.

You can harvest beans at any time, whether during your turn or someone else’s. When you do, you look at the beanometer at the bottom of the card that says how much different amounts of beans are worth. Then you gain coins matching the amount listed on the bottom for the number of beans you have.

The game ends when the draw pile is emptied and shuffled for a third time.

There is a variation that includes several more types of beans: the cocoa been, wax been, and coffee bean.

#7: Point Salad

The game is super simple. On your turn you can take one point card or two veggie cards. The point cards dictate what veggies you need to earn points. The veggies allow you to actually earn those points.

There is another optional action that you can do once per turn. That is to flip over a point card in order to gain the veggie on its back. (Cards are doublesided.)

There are over a hundred ways to earn points, and more experienced players can earn vast amounts of points by employing effective strategies.

That’s it. Easy to learn, harder to master.

#6: Dixit

I believe Dixit qualifies as a card game rather than a board game because the small board is only used for scoring purposes.

Dixit is a party game in which players take turns with the storyteller role. The storyteller looks at the cards in their hand, picks one, and without showing it to anyone else, uses a word or phrase that they hope will lead some players, but not all players, to guess it. For example, “Mirror, mirror.”

The goal for the other players is to guess the storyteller’s card.

Each other player uses the word or phrase to choose a card from their own hand, trying to trick the other players into falling for their card instead. For example, let’s say the storyteller’s card is of a woman who looks like an evil queen, and the storyteller is thinking of the classic Snow White.

Another player chooses a card with a literal mirror on it. A third, remembering that the queen asked for Snow White’s heart, uses a card with a picture of a heart on a platter. And so on.

These cards are mixed up randomly, and then players vote secretly using upside down numbered tokens on which one they think is the storyteller’s.

As explained before, the goal for the storyteller is to have some, but not all, of the players guess the storyteller’s card. The goal for everyone else is to choose the storyteller’s card.

If no one chooses the storyteller, or everyone chooses the storyteller, the storyteller gets zero points. This means the hint was either too vague or too obvious.

Players who are not the storyteller can gain bonus points if they trick someone else into voting for their card.

When my family plays, we have a rule that no one can comment after the storyteller chooses his or her word or phrase. This is to prevent players from accidentally giving further clues, such as by saying what the word or phrase reminds them of.

This is one of my favorite card games. It is a bit more complex than most party games, which I appreciate. I love the art on the cards, especially with the expansions. I think it is hilarious how two of my sisters use obscure anime references that they both understand to get ahead in the game.

Other relatives use references to sports, which they know that some players will get, but that my sisters and I will be clueless about.

One caution is that it is not good in groups where most people know each other really well, but there are some newcomers. The newcomers will feel left out and discouraged by how well the other people play off of each other.

Dixit has artwork that is stunning and intriguing, which lends itself well to giving ambiguous hints. I like all of Dixit’s expansions, and while they do not change the rules, they provide more cards with new artwork and styles.

#5: Saboteur

In Saboteur, you play a dwarf mining for treasure in caverns. The game is three rounds long. Each game, there is at least one, but usually two saboteurs.

The goal of the regular miners is to make a trail seven cards long to the treasure, which can be in one of three places. (Generally, they use maps to ascertain the location as soon as possible.)

The goal of the saboteur is to prevent the other miners from reaching the treasure. This can be done by placing dead ends, turns, and other unhelpful pieces. Saboteurs can also sabotage the tools of the other miners, breaking lanterns, pickaxes, and wheelbarrows.

When a dwarf has a broken tool, he or she cannot place anymore tunnel pieces until they are healed.

The dwarf that puts the finishing card on the tunnel gets to choose from the treasure first. For the Saboteur to win, the other miners must be unable to place more cards or obviously be unable to finish the tunnel to the gold. After winning, the Saboteur automatically gets three gold because it is harder to win as the Saboteur.

This game is so much fun, we have played several consecutive games in a row on some days. It doesn’t feel like simply a warm-up for a more complex board game – it’s more like the main event. This is one game that is simple enough to learn quickly and yet does not get boring.

#4: Dominion

Dominion is a deck-building game. In it, you play as a monarch attempting to gain influence and expand your kingdom. You start out with a small deck and use treasure to buy cards to add to your deck.

The real goal is to gain victory points by buying victory cards, but these otherwise powerless cards clutter your deck and make it harder to take actions during your turn.

The base game has some variety in which cards you can create the store with, but the expansions greatly modify gameplay and what your decks will consist of.

One of my favorite cards is the Witch, which curses other players by giving them -1 victory point cards to clutter their deck.

This is a phenomenal introductory deck-building game that has dozens of variations. I would recommend any of the expansions to add on to the game, because all of the expansions I have played have changed the course of the game and made it very interesting.

#3: The Bears and the Bees

In the Bears and the Bees, all cards are hexagon shape like honeycombs. When placing a card, you must match two sides with the adjacent cards. If you match three sides with the adjoining cards, you get to place an additional card. Sides that look like honey are wild.

all of their cards scores the best, getting zero points. You are supposed to get the lowest number of points to win. The first person to put down all of their cards scores the best, getting zero points. The other players score points according to what cards are remaining in their hands. That ends the round. The game is played over three rounds.

There are several special cards:

Bear: Has to be played with one side touching honey. After it is placed, no other cards can be played touching it.

Flower: Makes all other players draw a card.

Worker bee: Make one player draw a card.

Drone bee: Has three sides that are honey.

Even though I am not great at this game, I found it creative and very enjoyable.

#2: The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine

The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine is a cooperative, trick-taking game made up of 50 missions. You can binge these missions and do them all one after another, or you can complete them on different days and start off where you left off. Technically you can do them out of order, but I don’t know why you would do that because they each increase slightly in difficulty if you do them in order.

The Crew is unique because not only is it a trick-taking game, you also have to win certain tricks and are only allowed very limited communication with your crewmates (fellow players).

#1: Cover Your Kingdom

Cover Your Kingdom is a set collection party game. Each player chooses a kingdom to rule, and you will try to convince creatures such as Pigxies, Uniquehorns, or Sighclops, to reside there. You do this by matching two creatures from your hand and placing them down to make a clan, or by trying to steal clans from your rivals by using cards that match their clan type in your hand.

Each separate clan you make is placed in either the Mountains or the Valley. Each new clan is placed over the preceding clan in its respective region, alternating horizontal and vertical. Rivals can only steal the clan on the top, so it is important to cover high-scoring clans. The more often a clan is stolen, the higher worth it is because it will accumulate more cards.

You win by having the most points at the end of the game. It is ruthless–it is fun. It is my favorite card game because it is not only easy to teach, it also causes much laughter and drama.

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Anime, Music

My Top 10 Favorite Anime Songs in 2021

In 2020, I completed my first top 10 anime songs list. Now that it’s 2022, I am taking a look back at 2021 to see how my top ten has changed.

One thing I changed since 2020 is that I now use Spotify instead of Pandora for all my musical needs. It’s just better for me–I can look up specific tracks from various anime and add them to my playlist. Below is a sneak peak of my full anime playlist on Spotify.

One of the major differences you will notice with my new top ten is that it doesn’t include any songs from Fairy Tail. That is not because I don’t like those songs any more. It is because I have been introduced to new anime since then that have broadened my tastes. A few songs like those from Angel Beats made a reappearance, but my top ten has certainly changed.

Why do I listen to anime songs? Some I listen to because they remind me of anime I enjoyed. Some I listen to because they have a great sound. And some I listen to because I have read and appreciated the lyrics or translations of the lyrics.

Below I have listed my favorite anime counting down from #10 to #1.

#10: Netsujō no Spectrum by Ikimono-gakari

I will preface this by saying that I do not actually like The Seven Deadly Sins at all so far. I do, however, enjoy the first intro song for this anime.

The song is all about love. The singer explains that the love and words of another person have changed her. It has a great sound to it, which is why I liked it even when I hadn’t known the translation.

#9: No. 7 by Jibaku Shonen Band

I love, love, love this anime. The art style is beautiful, the animation is superb, and the characters are loveable. The anime is called Toilet-bound Hanako-Kun.

I know, weird name, right? I didn’t expect to like it when I heard the name, but it was recommended by my best friend and so I couldn’t pass it up.

The song is great, except it starts with weird whispering that I can’t figure out if I like or not. Otherwise it probably would be rated higher.

#8: Gurenge by LiSA

I really enjoyed Demon Slayer Season 1, even though it is not the typical style I like to watch. I generally prefer lighthearted anime, and this anime is a bit dark. I love the bond between the two main characters, siblings Tanjiro and Nezuko.

The song is all about becoming strong for someone else. I love the way the song flows. It sounds beautiful.

#7: Sincerely by TRUE

Violet Evergarden is one of the most touching anime I’ve ever watched, and the intro song is beautiful to listen to. It is all about the power of words and that fits the anime so well. Violet has spent her whole life being trained and used as a weapon, and it is not until after the war ends and she takes a job as a ghostwriter that she learns empathy.

#6: The Red Means I Love You by Madds Buckley

This song is not from an anime, but it is inspired by one. The Red Means I Love You is based on Himiko Toga, a girl from My Hero Academia who drinks blood from people in order to change her appearance to match them. She only drinks the blood of those she is infatuated with–guys and girls alike. The song is about her obsession with blood and her feeling of being an outcast.

#5: Goya No Machiawase by Hello Sleepwalkers

This song is a bolder rock song with the theme of moving on from the past, even if it means metaphorically killing your past self.

#4: Kōkai no Uta by Sayuri

This song I mostly like because of the way it sounds, but it has decent lyrics about moving forward when you don’t have the strength. Eri is an amazing little girl from My Hero Academia and I associate this song with her because the outro that included this music was filled with glimpses of her life.

#3: Brave Song by Aoi Tada

Brave Song FULL VER. - Lyrics and Music by Angel Beats ! arranged ...

This song is the outro to the anime Angel Beats. It is about a lonely girl who is struggling to be strong in the face of adversity. It ends with the realization that she will someday be left only with memories of her friends.

The song fits the anime well, which is definitely one of the saddest anime I have ever watched. The song seems to refer to Yuri, who has a tragic backstory that explains the brooding nature of this song.

Spotify doesn’t have a good version, so here’s the Youtube one.

#2: Ichiban no Takaramono (Yui final ver.) by Girls Dead Monster

This song is so incredibly sad and happy at the same time. I can’t say much more without spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that without explaining what the song is about. The English translation of the title is “My Most Precious Treasure.” This is not on Spotify, so the Youtube link is here.

#1: Red Like Roses Part II

Okay, a quick disclaimer. Some people consider RWBY to be an anime, some do not. The people who do not consider RWBY an anime generally hold the position that all anime must be from Japan.

However, there is so much overlap in styles now, with western countries exploring traditionally Japanese styles, and Japanese companies exploring traditionally western themes. As a result, the line between what is anime and what is not has been blurred.

Furthermore, RWBY appears on the anime streaming service CrunchyRoll.

Personally, I will refer to RWBY as an American anime. If you disagree, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Red Like Roses Part II is about the tragic loss of a loved one and dealing with grief. It is a fast-paced rock song, and unlike the others in the list, this one is completely in English.

I love the imagery used in this song, such as describing blood as “red like roses.”

While glancing through the comments on Youtube, I found that many people could relate to the songs theme of loss, especially the line: “All the joy that I had known for all my life, was stripped away from me the minute that you died.”

The wonderful thing about the songs from RWBY is that they reveal more about the characters and create depth. They also are just good stand-alone songs even without the anime – the lyrics are relateable for many people even without the context of the show.

I fully recommend checking the song out because it is my absolute favorite.

Conclusion

Even if you haven’t watched anime, I would recommend you listen to these songs and see if you like them. Who knows, maybe you’ll like them.

I plan to analyze most of them at one point or another so you’ll be seeing them again.

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