culture, movies

the revenant

In a word … Wow!

The Revenant feels a bit like True Grit meets Gangs of New York. The movie left me exhausted. The bear scene. Yikes! Though director Alejandro González Iñárritu and screenwriter Mark L. Smith take quite a bit of of creative liberties with the original story (see below for some links), I would definitely recommend seeing the movie.

There has been a lot of buzz about this being the movie that finally gets Leonardo DiCaprio an Oscar. That may be true, but I think Tom Hardy also did an amazing job, and I could him receiving a nomination for best supporting actor.

Here is an interesting interview with director Alejandro González Iñárritu.

If you want some greater detail on the backstory of The Revenant, as well as the approach González Iñárritu and Smith took with the story, click here or here. Please be forewarned that these articles contain spoilers.

Did you see The Revenant? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments.

culture, infographics

40 ways to stay (or get) creative

As a new year quickly approaches, a lot of us are reflecting on 2015, and drawing out plans to do things better or differently in 2016. One thing I think about — a lot — is how to sustain my creativity, or reignite it when it’s gone dormant. I spotted this cool infographic by Layerform, a graphic design blog, that has a lot of simple suggestions for keeping, or kick starting, your creative mojo in 2016. I hope you enjoy and find it useful.



trying out subscription boxes

It seems like subscription boxes are all the rage these days. I don’t suffer from FOMO, so I haven’t thought much about signing up for boxes. Well, I have been a member of the Dollar Shave Club for sometime. I guess that, technically, qualifies as a subscription box. I have been quite happy with the razors and other stuff I get from Dollar Shave Club. Here’s a post that I wrote after receiving my first shipment.

I thought about signing up for TrunkClub earlier this year, but the combination of high price and lack of clothing for a bigger guy made me lose interest before joining.

Here is my experience with a couple of subscription box services that I tried this year.

Nature Box

I was watching some videos on YouTube by Lamar Wilson, and he featured snacks by NatureBox. The company produces snacks that are more natural and free of artificial sweeteners and preservatives. I thought. What the heck, I’ll sign up for the trial box and see how it goes. The trial box was free (I paid for shipping — about $4), and you receive one regular-sized snack bag, and samplers of four other snacks. The regular monthly membership cost is $19.95, and you receive five snacks, which you choose on the website. You can also opt to have NatureBox select your snacks, if you like surprises.












The sampler box compelled me to give NatureBox a shot. I received the boxes for several months. The snacks were pretty good, and I never received a clunker — mainly because I selected the snacks instead of opting for surprise boxes.   After a while, though, I didn’t see the need to pay $20 a month for snacks, particularly when I was making an effort to cut down and/or eliminate snacks from my diet. If you like snacks, and want items that aren’t heavily processed, NatureBox might be a subscription service worth checking out. I doesn’t look like the free sampler box is available anymore, but NatureBox offers 50% off the first month’s box. The upside of this deal is that you’ll receive 3 or 5 snacks for $7 or $10, respectively.

Moustache Stationery

If you’ve read my blog for a while, or know me even a little, then you should be aware how much I love paper, pens, and pencils. I am always on the prowl for high-quality paper, notebooks, pens, pencils, and markers. Fortunately, I am able to keep my purchases in check, but if you drop me into a good paper store, my pockets will be light by the time I walk out. I suspect that I came across Moustache Stationery on Instagram because I follow Appointed, a DC-based company that makes fantastic paper and office products. I also follow as a number of people who post pictures of pens and paper. You thought I was kidding about my love for paper and pens? The struggle is real.

I saw a number of people posting pictures of their Moustache Stationery boxes on Instagram, and my interest was piqued. After looking up the company, my frugal sensibilities were almost immediately tested by the $39.95 monthly cost. Whoa! I found a coupon online for 10-15% off the first box, so I gave it a shot.

My first box was delayed. Sadly, by the time I received my November box, my anticipation and excitement was quickly shot down when I opened the package.













After seeing some really cool boxes on Instagram from the previous months, I was quite let down by the items in my box. I even went so far as to look up the retail cost of each item to see if I received $40 worth of goods. Just barely. I am pretty certain that I could have put this box together for less than $40. I was, and still am, bummed.

Nevertheless, I always try to give companies more than one shot to keep my business, so I resisted immediately canceling my subscription.

I received my second box today. I was cautiously encouraged that the packaged looked a larger than the first one. Here are the contents of the December box.
















Now this is more like it. I didn’t look up the retail cost of each item, but at least the contents of this month’s box are more in line with what I was expecting from Moustache Stationery. That said, even though this month’s box was much better than the first, I still decided to cancel my subscription. As much as I love paper and pens, I can’t say that I spend $40 a month on those items. I can’t even say that I spend $480 on paper and pens in a year. Even if I did spend that much, I would prefer to have control over the items I want, and not be at the mercy of what turns up in the box.

A lot of people like the mystery of subscription boxes. There are websites dedicated to discovering subscriptions boxes. I suspect that I would too if the price point was right. The $19.95 monthly cost of NatureBox doesn’t seem unreasonable, particular for snacks that are made with natural, unprocessed ingredients. There’s something about $40 a month for a smattering of notepads and colored pens, though, that just doesn’t sit right with me. The cost of subscription boxes and services makes me feel a lot better about my $10 monthly Spotify subscription.

Edited to add: Of course, no sooner do I write this post than I come across BespokePost — a subscription box service that looks pretty interesting. Ugh! I’m hiding my wallet.

Do you subscribe to any monthly product box services? If so, please share the name and your experience(s) in the comments.