Every month at the AE offices, we choose our Pop Culture Picks. It could be an album, a band, a book, a movie, a TV show, a podcast, or anything else we enjoyed over the previous 30 days. Keep scrolling to find out what caught our attention this month!
Viticulture (Board Game)
In short: Make wine, drink wine and have fun!
I have a fantasy of owning a vineyard named Duojong Wines. My fantasy co-owner Mij and I visit our vineyard annually to sip award-winning wines on our shaded patio. Ah….
In reality, I know running a vineyard is very hard work! Having spent one day picking Pinot Noir grapes during harvest season in Queenstown, I got a very small taste of what it takes to be in the business.
I feel like I’ve found my perfect middle ground with the board game Viticulture. I get to drink wine and pretend to run my own winery. Do I plant more Pinot Gris vines? Should I build my tasting room now or wait? Will I be able to fill an upcoming order for Champagne? Oh, the decisions!
Viticulture is a worker placement game. You use your workers to plant vines, build structures, harvest the grapes, cellar the wine and fill orders. Each season you can perform specific actions, like planting in the spring and harvesting in the fall. It’s all about using your resources wisely and figuring out the best strategy to get ahead on the leaderboard.
I’ve only played the game once but I’m hooked and already strategizing my next game!
B: The Beginning (TV Show)
TL;DR: An epic Netflix Anime series with stunning graphics, great characters, and an overlapping storyline that includes both crime AND supernatural powers!
Netflix has gathered quite the catalog of quality Anime, with favorites like Fullmetal Alchemist, Death Note, Psycho Pass, Ajin and more. Recently, the streaming giant has even started to create their own original Anime, such as B: The Beginning. While definitely worthy of a shout out, this 12-episode series is somewhat hard to describe, with two overlapping storylines.
The first storyline is a procedural crime drama involving an unorthodox, genius detective, Keith Flick. Along with his colleagues, Keith is looking into a series of crimes, primarily one involving a serial killer called “Killer B.”
The second storyline is a more supernatural tale about a secret group of young ‘god-like’ beings who have a variety of super-human abilities. This group is actually behind the crimes the detectives are trying to solve.
- Excellent animation. The characters are very well drawn and the action sequences of the crimes, as well as the supernatural battles, look visually stunning.
- Great characters. Keith Flick is very likable, as is Lily, who is the Watson to his Holmes. On the supernatural side I thought Koku, as the protagonist, and Minatsuki, as the villain, are well-matched and intriguing.
- Complicated storyline. The most common critique of the show is that the storyline is complex and convoluted. In its defense, the plot really does comes together at the end of the season. And throughout, each episode drew me in and kept me interested, making me want to see how it all pans out.
Overall, I feel like this was a great effort by Netflix and I would be interested in seeing more of the series. Judging by the title, B: The Beginning, I’d say this is a good possibility.
What We Do In The Shadows (2014) (Movie)
What you need to know: A horror-comedy-mockumentary about a group of vampire flatmates and their struggles with mundane life. If you hate vampire movies, watch this.
Vampires. There’s something about these mysterious, blood-sucking creatures that we are so taken with. And why not? They can be noble and villainous, seductive and sparkly- ready to fill any desire of the imagination.
This faux documentary follows a group of four vampire flatmates, living in Wellington, New Zealand. We sit in on their house meeting, go out on the town in search of blood, and attend the annual undead ball. Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, 2016), who wrote, directed and starred in the film, clearly had fun with this one. It’s quirky, goofy, and drop-dead hilarious throughout!
Highlights include delicious Kiwi accents, an Inception-style zero-gravity fight scene, and blood spurting worthy of Tarantino himself. Watch this film on Halloween with friends and family (or roommates if you’ve got any!) and be prepared to laugh your guts out.
Casey’s Tape / Harmontown Loops by Colleen Green (Album)
TL;DR: Sugary lo-fi pop rock and great songwriting, worthy of some of punk rock’s all-time greats.
I guess sounding like the Ramones is a bit of a cliché these days, but few do it with as much style and great songwriting as LA songwriter, Colleen Green. Casey’s Tape / Harmontown Loops is her first release since 2016’s also excellent I Want To Grow Up (there’s that Ramones thing again).
The album is made up of a recent EP and a couple of new tracks and is her most accomplished work to date. There’s a lot more than the Ramones influence going on here though. “I Wanna Be Ignored,” despite having a very Ramonesey title, is an infectious disco bounce and “Maybe I’ll Get Hit By A Car Tonight” adds synthesizers and doo-wop swing to the mix.
Colleen Green is one to watch. If you’re still not convinced, consider that her first album is named Milo Goes To Compton – a reference to both the Descendents and N.W.A! This alone is a reason to check her out.
Cat Lady (Board Game)
TL;DR: Are you bad at complex board games like I am, but still like to have fun? Then do I ever have the (quirky & cute) card game for you!
A few weeks ago, I was feeling pretty stressed out. My partner noticed and came home with Cat Lady! I laughed right away.
This is a simple “draft” card game with a straightforward objective: gain cats, feed them, and win with the most points! The deck has awesome cards featuring cat food, cat costumes, cat toys, and if you are lucky, catnip. Stray cat cards, for example, give you extra powers to help you win!
Cats include Chairman Meow, Pablo Picatso, Sir Cuddleface, LeVar Purrton and Waffle (you’re sure to win with this one!). I know it sounds silly in a bad way…But with artfully designed cards, cute cat names, and easy strategy, the game comes together so well. I still don’t win most of the time, but every once in a while I become the crazy cat lady!