Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.


As a big board-game geek, I’m always looking for something new, some novel experience that can break up the doldrums of rote games of Settlers Of Catan (or even Dominion, as wonderfully customizable as it is). The games of David Sirlin, which attempt to map competitive fighting game mechanics onto different styles of card games, have been a big boon in that regard, with my latest acquisition of his, Yomi, being a real stand-out. In its most basic iteration, Yomi is basically Paper, Scissors, Rock, played in slow motion; you and your opponent play a card at the same time, a simple system determines which of the two cards wins, and damage is dealt. The appeal of the game, then, spreads in two directions. One is the game’s meta-level: Each character in Yomi is a 52-card deck, representing all of their possible moves, and a few special rules that give them an advantage in battle (one character might make it harder for their opponent to block, maybe, or draw an extra card when attacking). These can get kind of complex, which is why the other direction is so important: The simple tension of setting a card out and seeing if your opponent out-guessed you. It’s all the psychological pressures and guesswork that sit at the edge of the old schoolyard game, except with extra layers of tension, mind games, and bluffs. At its best, it gives you a feeling of being almost psychic, as you read your opponent from start to finish, dancing around their hits and taking them to school. That same immediacy, unfortunately, is why the game’s online version—nicely implemented as it is—leaves me kind of cold; part of the pleasure is in reading your opponent’s face for twitches and tells. (There’s a reason each character is presented to the player as a poker deck, after all.) [William Hughes]


Stay Home Club

“Design for the disgruntled” goes the slogan of the Stay Home Club, a lifestyle brand “for people who have no life.” Started by Oliva Mew out of Montreal in 2012, the Stay Home Club offers T-shirts, bags, jewelry, cards, and more, all with a pitch-perfect message for those who’d rather stay home than go out, party alone, and indulge their feelings. Gemma Correll, a personal favorite, draws lovely designs that incorporate her whimsical style, both a loving empathizing with millennial culture and a gentle mocking of it. Stay Home Club merchandise includes a cotton denim gym bag labeled “emotional baggage,” an Elaine Ho-designed ring that reads “vomit,” and a poster that simply says, “sad songs.” The Club was kind enough to send me my new favorite T-shirt, a Correll original that has “stay home club” written around a drawing of a girl with her pets, hugging a pug. As a pug-owner myself, the shirt really represents what I want in life: to stay home, do my thing away from other people, and hug my anxious-faced pug. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]


Going back to the days when all the network had was Comedy Bang! Bang! and Sklarbro Country, Earwolf has been an important player in the world of comedy podcasts. It has spent the past couple of years moving beyond that incestuous realm, last year with the creation of Wolfpop (its pop-culture sister network) and most recently with Howl, a subscription service/app that collects all of Earwolf and Wolfpop’s shows—without ads—along with WTF and a bunch of shows that are only available on Howl. That includes I Know It Sounds Crazy, the A.V. Club podcast where Sean O’Neal and Erik Adams talk about fan theories in movies, so here’s the conflict-of-interest disclaimer (though I wasn’t involved with the show and, frankly, think Sean and Erik are blabbering hacks). Not affiliated with Onion Inc. at all: a Superego where the improvisers discuss great works of literature they haven’t read, a Wild Horses podcast, and a bunch more, along with every episode of WTF. For $5 a month, it’s worth it to skip the interminable ad reads alone. If you’re a fan of comedy podcasts, it’s practically your patriotic duty to support it. [Kyle Ryan]


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