AADL 2022 Staff Picks: Pulp Life


AADL's 2022 staff picks for Pulp Life

➥ AADL 2022 Staff Picks: Homepage
➥ AADL 2022 Staff Picks: Words
➥ AADL 2022 Staff Picks: Screens
➥ AADL 2022 Staff Picks: Audio

Games, apps, sports, outdoors, and any other kind of hard-to-categorize cultural and life activities:



Cultist Simulator (2019) video game
No tutorial. No clear idea of what you’re doing until several hours and a Google spreadsheet later. But the sound and visuals are gorgeous. {Website}

Turmoil (2016) video game
I drink your milkshake! I drink it up! A really simple oil drilling game where you try and outwit and outhustle your opponents to get the most bubbling crude and buy up the town you're operating out of. {Website}

Disco Elysium (2019) video game
My save crashed, and I lost all my progress about halfway through the game, but it’s a pretty amazing experience. You’re a detective, but maybe not a very good one, who wakes up in a trashed hotel room with no memory of who they are exactly. The role-playing style is excellent and the visuals are amazing. {Website}

Lifting Heavy Weights in My Garage
I saved up to buy the bare minimum accessories to create a setup in my garage to lift heavy weights. A rack for the major food groups of heavy-weight exercises, enough bumper plates to get me through the most ambitious of weight goals, two adjustable dumbbells, and one barbell. I spend about 60 minutes in the garage, optimistically three times a week, picking up heavy things and putting them back down safely. I don't feel any better about my body, but I'm a lot stronger than I was in 2020. Need someone to take a bunch of groceries in the house? I'm your guy! Car stuck in a snowbank? I'll push! Want help moving? HECK NO! That's my least favorite thing to do in the whole world. The only reason I'm writing about this on a work list is because I love connecting with other people who lift to talk about things that they've learned while also on this weird solitary journey. Email is open for any and all correspondence!

This isn't new to me, but every few months I take a spin through itch looking for tabletop, solo-play, and RPGs that amazing creators upload to the site. I've found some great things like Honey HeistThousand Year Old VampireThe WretchedPlot Armor, and You Are Quarantined with Adam Driver and He Is Insisting on Reading You His New Script. The experience has inspired me to try and build my own little itch project. Check for its release in 2043! {Website}



Summer Sings 2022: Johannes Brahms 
UMS hosted an event where anyone, regardless of musical ability, could show up at Hill Auditorium, learn portions of Johannes Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem and sing through the whole piece—all in less than three hours!! As a former choir nerd, this was one of the biggest highlights of my summer! {Website}



Creative Endeavors
I'm a crafty person by nature, but have always been a little intimidated by engineering-adjacent activities. This year, I went out of my comfort zone and created things in our Secret Lab, including a one-string electric guitar, a square-wave oscillator, and a flashlight. I'd definitely recommend trying out a creative event that sparks your interest, even if you have no skill in the area. You'll be surprised at what you can achieve! {Website}

Honestly, the best creature to ever be imagined by humankind—so round, much soft, way cute, and very sheep. Obviously the beeeh-st. {Website

Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker (2021) video game
I frankly don't have words for how incredible the Endwalker expansion is ... I'm still reeling from its story and discussing it with my friends a year after its release. The Final Fantasy MMO starts out rough with its base game, but it shines like a diamond by the end and shows that video games are absolutely an art form worthy of appreciation. Fun, moving, philosophical, and hilarious, I'd definitely recommend playing it (or watching a Let's Play if you're not a confident gamer). Enjoy with friends for an extra-special experience. {Website}



Going to Concerts
I went from going to maybe one concert a year to going to seven this year, three of which I traveled to Chicago for. The energy! The excitement! The vibes! I hope more of my faves tour in 2023. 



A Small Courthouse Wedding
Highly recommend saving the expensive party for later and just claiming those sweet, sweet legal benefits.

Shout-out to Emily H.! I caught the bug at “Bookbinding for Beginners” here at AADL and just finished making myself a beautifully wonky little sketchbook. My spouse knows what she's getting for Christmas.

NaNoWriMo (sort of)
Writing a 50K-word novel in a month is an ambitious goal, to say the least. I fell just shy of 10K words by the end of November, but it feels amazing to have finally started a project I've been kicking around for years. I've set a new word count goal for December, and I'm sticking to my new routine of writing first thing every morning!



Bike Party
Few things bring me as much pure joy as the monthly Bike Party (formerly Bike-In) held on the last Friday of the month. This slow ride through Ann Arbor travels all sorts of hidden roads and unfamiliar neighborhoods and yet is a ride for all abilities and ages. Riding with hundreds of other bikers, all the stress of the week just melts away. This is a rare event that draws townies and University of Michigan students alike and leaves me full of optimism. {Facebook}

Penny Seats Theatre Company
I finally got a chance to see a show produced by Penny Seats Theatre Company at the Stone Chalet! It was wonderful to have such an exciting experience as live theater again, right here in town. What a thrill to walk in and have people tell you a whole story live right in front of you. {Website}



Kirby and the Forgotten Land (2022) video game 
Pokémon LegendsArceus (2022) video game
Arceus marks the first Pokémon I’ve played since Pokémon Sapphire in 2002. Since getting a Nintendo Switch in 2020, my love of handheld gaming has been rekindled. This installment of Pokémon recaptured and improved on the experiences I had growing up! I love the open world and the realistic capture and battle mechanics. I'm so grateful Pokémon has given players the ability to see the Pokémon instead of being constantly stopped by invisible monsters when riding your bike through tall grass (it had TRULY been a long time since I had played Pokémon!). {Kirby Website} {Pokémon Website}

Planner & Journal 
This year was my second time using a Hobonichi Techo Cousin (A5 size planner). Hobonichi is famous for utilizing a day on each page, with monthly and weekly spreads in the beginning of the planner. The planner isn't too thick, as the Tomoe River Paper is thin enough to have over 400 pages in less than an inch binding. Tomoe River is also strong enough to handle fountain pens, watercolors, washi tape, and markers. The creative potential is limitless and became part of my problem as the year went on. My 2022 EDC (everyday carry) consisted of a Hobonichi Techo Cousin, Zebra Sarasa dry 0.4mm pen, and my extensive sticker and washi collection. I really love the space to be creative and artistic with stickers and decorations. But during the latter part of this year, I struggled to even write at all, let alone fill a whole page. Later in the year, I started using stickers and washi tape heavily. This helped fill up the pages and looks much more polished than my attempts at drawing. For 2023, I’m switching over to an A6 size Stalogy grid notebook. The paper is very similar, and I’m hoping the (much) smaller size will help the goal of filling a page every day be less daunting.  

2022 marks the year that I finished my first sweater! The pattern is the Soldotna Crop by Caitlyn Hunter; it’s a circular yoke Fair Isle colorwork sweater in neon colors and black. I know the palette of colors isn’t for everyone, but it makes me so happy, especially as we move into winter. I don’t think I’ve ever been in love with something I’ve made as much as I am with this sweater.  

English Paper Piecing 
I’m the kind of crafter that will try anything once, but I seem to ask myself: “I want to do this thing, so how can I make it cooler and more complex in a way that will drive me borderline insane?” And then I’ll do that instead of trying something less complicated. (Double insanity points if it’s a medium I’ve never worked in before. What can I say? I like creating in hardcore mode). The newest in this parade of stupid, intensely intricate mediums is English paper piecing (EPP). English paper piecing is a hand-sewn quilting method that uses scraps and small pieces of fabric. The fabric is hand-sewn onto paper templates, then each fabric-wrapped template is hand-sewn together. Once the pieces are sewn together, the finished piece is finished like any other quilt. EPP projects can vary in size from small cases to bed-size quilts. The most common template shapes are hexagons, diamonds, and “jewels,” which is essentially a combo of hand-quilting and geometry. It’s time-consuming, tedious, and beautiful. What’s next? Probably tatting or bobbin lace making. You say, “Nancy, Noooooooo.” I say, “NANCY, YES.” 

Walt Disney World  
December 2021 marked the first visit I made to Walt Disney World in 20 years. (It was too late to add it to my 2021 Staff Picks.) My partner and I did the Millennial thing and went as adults with friends, and it was one of the best vacations I’ve ever taken. Even though I’ve been there several times as a child, experiencing the parks as an adult was very different in surprising ways. My memories of them growing up are magical, but the memories I made on that trip were even more magical, awe-inspiring, and joyful than my memories. I’ll always treasure the wonder and fun I was able to experience in the parks during our visit. (This was a bit easier considering the Christmas holiday decorations were out and added so much to the atmosphere in the parks.) The parks are incredibly immersive, and the Imagineers do such a good job of selling that you’re in a different world. We walked in understanding that it would be impossible to experience everything the parks have to offer, so we would try to go in like kids—take everything as it came, celebrate being together, and relax into the fun. It’s difficult to choose one, but the most magical part was getting to build my lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop on Batuu in Galaxy’s Edge—a dream I’ve had since I was small. I’m not ashamed to admit that it was intensely emotional and worth every penny.



North Star Lounge
When the Aut Bar closed in 2019, Ann Arbor was left without a gay bar for the first time in more than 25 years. Now the North Star Lounge, a vegan bar run by the Detroit Street Filling Station owners, has taken up the mantle with LGBTQ Tuesday nights. It has been wonderful to have a queer gathering space again, even for only one week a night. I’m particularly partial to Lesbo Bingo, hosted once a month by Callie and Amy, who take the crowd through bingo with a hilarious side of lesbian history. It’s fun, it’s friendly, and it’s a gay old time! {Website}



Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Ghost Machine at The Purple Rose Theatre Company
This was my second time attending a show at the Purple Rose and my first time back since COVID. The show was excellently done. I love a good Sherlock Holmes story, and this one had plenty of twists and turns. The events seemed to take place after most of the short stories and novels by Arthur Conan Doyle. During the intermission, I noticed from a display in the lobby that this play seemed to be just the latest in a series of Sherlock Holmes plays the theater has produced. I’m hoping that they will do another run of some of the earlier plays because I would love to see them. {Website}

Monty Python’s Spamalot by the Burns Park Players at the Michigan Theater
I’ve seen Spamalot once before, but it was fun to see it again this year at the Michigan Theater. I went with a group of friends who had all seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail but hadn’t seen SpamalotSpamalot is a musical that is based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, or as they like to say “lovingly ripped off.” The Burns Park Players incorporated kids into all of the musical numbers and then the adults played the main roles. It was very well done, and we were laughing the whole time! {Website}



Death’s Door (2021) video game
This is an isometric action adventure where you are playing as a little crow who recovers souls and fights different creatures. Completely forgot about video games for a while, and I was in the middle of this game when I rediscovered them. I absolutely love it and am taking my sweet time playing. {Website}

Carrion (2020) video game
Who wouldn’t want to play as a red-tentacled monster who eats humans and is trying to escape a facility??? I feel like that’s all that needs to be said. {Website}

A Short Hike (2019) video game 
Loved it. This is a short and quick adventure game that had no negative repercussions, only good vibes in a cute art style. The perfect game to escape and just fly around as a little bird exploring an island. {Website}



Armour Astir: Advent (2022) tabletop roleplaying game
Inspired by Gundam and EscaflowneArmour Astir: Advent, written by Briar Sovereign (@weregazelle), is a masterstroke in lightweight game design and delivers a system that focuses on relationship development and anime-like narrative action. Using the Powered by the Apocalypse rules framework, you and your friends play members of the Cause, looking to topple the Authority and its various pillars. Take on various playbooks, like Channelers such as the Paradigm or the Witch, who march to battle in giant suits of magical armor known as Astirs. Or play as support staff: the Captain, who commands the Carrier for your party, or the Scout, who can engage with those Astirs *on foot.* 

Something I really enjoy about this game is the Gravity system: Your character can build relationships with other characters and use that relationship to help mechanically with rolls. With an engaged party, this can result in some wonderful roleplay and organic feeling scenes. I use the word “scenes” because Armour Astir frames the game in TV show language: The Game Master is named the Director, and the Non-player Characters are called actors, who are divided into extras, sides, and the main cast. Using a special mechanic called the Conflict Turn, even the players get to do storytelling outside of their characters. All of this results in a very unique roleplaying experience that emphasizes building an engaging plot over statblock density and discrete combat, although Astir customization still gives you some wiggle room to make your fighting experience unique. 

Armour Astir: Advent is available now on itch.io and even has a playbook expansion beta out for free! {Website}

Umineko When They Cry: Answer Arcs (Umineko no Naku Koro ni Chiru)
Ryukishi07 and 07th Expansion (2007-2019) visual novels

Last year I picked Umineko: The Question Arcs as one of my favorite visual novels, and this year I had the pleasure of playing through more of Ryukishi07’s work. Without spoiling anything, the Answer Arcs have started very strong in continuing the themes of the first four chapters, somehow exploring the depths of Ushiromiya Kinzo’s legacy even further. The team behind this visual novel crafts a tale that reveals a true mastery of the murder-mystery genre, while embroiling it in a framework of fantasy.

How will Ushiromiya Battler reveal to the readers the truth of what happened on the island of Rokkenjima? Was it really magic that caused these murders, or will we find a culprit? With new heart-pounding music and gut-wrenching passages, the conclusion to the visual novel does not disappoint. {Website}

Heaven Will Be Mine (2018) visual novel by The Worst Girls
What happens when Earth’s space program is dismantled, but the girls in space don't wanna go home? Revolution. Heaven Will Be Mine focuses on the experiences of three characters as they wrestle with each other’s loyalties, beliefs, and heartstrings out in the expanse. Follow Luna-Terra as she attempts to bring everyone back to Earth for Memorial Foundation. See how Pluto wants to lead Cradle’s Graces to a future in space. Watch as Saturn steals a Ship-Self from Celestial Mechanics and attempts to transcend humanity in her own way. With each duel, learn more and more about these three pilots and their messy romances with one another, all set to Alec Lambert's haunting and beautiful backing tracks.

Openly queer and polyamorous, Heaven Will Be Mine is most interested in asking questions about love and the self. There’s a light metaphor in gravity and culture that helps the game ask important questions. Does being detached from the rest of humanity really make someone an existential threat? If you’re loyal to everyone, doesn’t that mean you technically didn’t betray anyone? Isn’t the best kind of fighting the kind where no one dies? Explore these questions for yourself as you read through this visual novel about self-determination, sick space mecha, and yearning lesbians. {itch.io Website}{Steam Website}

Dark Souls (2012 Prepare to Die Edition) video game by FromSoftware Games
Whether you’ve played it or heard someone complain about it, Dark Souls is one of the most famous video game series to come out of the 2010s. FromSoftware Games paved the way for the “Soulsborne” genre, recently culminating in the smash hit Elden Ring. After a bunch of my friends pestered me to play the game, I finally got around to finishing my first playthrough of the game that started it all, and I cannot recommend it enough.

Although I’m sure everyone familiar with the name Dark Souls has heard of the punishing difficulty and gameplay, something I want to add to the conversation is the lurid and dark atmosphere that your hero ventures through. FromSoftware spends a lot of time meticulously detailing a fairytale world with tragic lineages, loyal factions, and horrific villains. The map that you travel through feels memorable and interconnected, from the Firelink Shrine to the Abyss, and you learn something new with each item description you read and every room you stumble into. Dying over and over can teach you something about the world and your relationship with it. And most importantly, the infamous boss fights, brutal as they are, each have their charm. All of it serves to give you the sense you are merely playing a small part in everything, however important it may be.

Ultimately, Dark Souls is a story about decay, which makes it extremely human, despite its gothic western fantasy elements. If you think you can handle the brutal highs and lows of the “Soulsborne” genre, there's nothing quite like taking a visit back to Lordran ... and getting squished repeatedly by a goofy skeleton wheel.

Note: I played a modded version of the Prepare to Die Edition on PC, but Remastered allegedly runs better these days on the computer. For console players, I don’t think you’ll run into too many issues.



Making Pasta From Scratch
I love to cook. I love to eat. Yet somehow I made it to my 33rd year without making homemade pasta. And, sure, at times I will still reach for that box of dried pasta for convenience, but whenever I want to make that A+ chef’s kiss meal, I’m doing it myself. (It’s faster and a more “magical” feeling if you’re able to invest in rolling/cutting attachments for a food processor, but rolling and cutting by hand can be meditative work, too.) {Recipe}



Symphony of War: The Nephilim Saga (2022) video game
Considering how many video games I play, this one came kinda out of nowhere this year. In a turn-based strategy roleplaying game, you command units of soldiers and try to capture the enemy base and resources. It plays a lot like Fire Emblem; however, it is also an homage to the Ogre Battle games, which started on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in the ‘90s. You place different soldier classes in your squads, which can level up and be promoted to other job classes. Said jobs attack with a specific skill automatically in battles the player does not control directly beyond initiating the fight. The game doesn’t have a tremendous amount of replayability, sadly, but there are different endings based on which characters you’ve recruited. Those characters may have died or fallen in love via a very stripped-down Fire Emblem-like relationship system. This game was developed by just a few people, so it isn’t a huge and polished AAA video game, but it has heart. And if you’re a fan of the older Fire Emblem games, or miss the Ogre Battle series, definitely check this one out! It can be purchased on PC from several storefronts, including Steam and Good Old Games {Steam Website} {GOG Website

VTubers are an interesting phenomenon. In short, they are avatars that are used in place of a camera feed when people are vlogging, or perhaps streaming video game play. They started popping up in the early 2010s, but the first major VTubing star was Kizuna Ai (who coined the phrase “VTuber” and presently has over 3 million subscribers on YouTube). While the phrase is short for “Virtual YouTuber,” VTubers are common on several streaming sites today, including Twitch.

I have several friends who began VTubing in the past couple of years, and it’s pretty cool. They each have their own communities of people that watch their streams and take part in their chats. My friends are artists, so they created their own avatars to represent them. Using facial-tracking software, they’re able to talk in front of a camera and have the avatar follow their movements and expressions. This works for both 3D-rendered avatars, as well as 2D-drawn characters, depending on the software used. I recently began VTubing myself, but still have a lot to learn. I’m presently using a rather simple program called Veadotube Mini, which doesn’t track my face but instead moves my 2D avatar around and changes expressions when I talk into my microphone or press a hotkey.

As an example, Ironmouse, a Puerto Rican-based VTuber, had become the most-subscribed-to-woman-led channel on Twitch in early 2022. At the time of writing this, she had 1.4 million subscribers on Twitch.

What can be said about TikTok in 2022? I’ve fallen into the app quite a bit this past year, thanks to my partner, who regularly trades fun TikToks with me. I rarely use Twitter anymore, and I hardly ever post on Instagram nowadays, and don’t get me started on SnapchatBut TikTok? Nearly every day I fall down a hole on the app, and then look up and realize I’ve spent over an hour just watching short videos from random people on my FYP (For You Page). The algorithm is so good at figuring out what will keep you watching, that TikTok has had to introduce warning videos that typically say, “You’ve been scrolling for a while. Maybe you should take a break?” This is a nice reminder to stop from the app that is constantly finding new ways to keep us staring at it. It even tells you to go to sleep, if it knows you’re scrolling late at night where you are. This just reads to me like a tacit acknowledgement that their app has the potential for an addictive quality 

TikTok is changing slang around the world due to the rigid censorship of its algorithm. If someone was talking about the pandemic early on in it, the algorithm would show their video to fewer people. So instead of saying “pandemic,” people started calling it the “Panini.” Instead of saying someone died, they say they’re “unalive.” Instead of saying “lesbian,” people use “le$bian,” which got turned into “le dollar bean” by the text-to-speech option. Various phrases and meanings like these originating from TikTokers have begun to enter common parlance. Just as words like “yeet,” and phrases like “on fleek” came from BIPOC creators on Vine in the last decade.

What is good about TikTok though? Considering how much I just wrote about it being manipulative and time-consuming, that is. Well, there are a lot of people making content on it. It’s easy to find people talking about your favorite book, video game, musician, film, sports team, etc. And with the Stitch and Duet features, people can respond to others much in the way they do with Retweets/Quote-tweets on Twitter, but with video. This leads to ongoing stories, arguments, post chains, and things along that nature. There are dance crazes that form, and viral challenges to conquer. Video filters and even sound-clips trend, allowing people lip sync or react to other people’s audio. The app is definitely holding its own among other social network apps, if not dominating the space today. With Twitter losing advertising and users, and Facebook struggling to get people interested in its “Metaverse,” it feels like TikTok is going to become even more relevant as time goes on.

Some TikTokers I like include sz.kul and EbonyWarriorStudios. And if you’re a huge nerd like me for retro video games, check out DKOldies.



Superior Township’s Cherry Hill Nature Preserve {Website}
Bridge Community Café in Ypsilanti {Facebook}



Running the Detroit Free Press International Marathon
Every October, Detroit hosts the beloved and very popular domestic and international half-marathon races and the international marathon race. This fall, I ran the international marathon, and it was an absolute hoot. Of course, the training is hard and time-consuming, but we don’t need to get into that. The race itself is a true delight, with the main attraction being that. For the international races, you run over the Ambassador Bridge into Windsor, run through Windsor, and then come back to the U.S. through the tunnel. If you’re lucky like I was, you see a beautiful sunrise as you cross over the bridge and are greeted with hordes of cheerful Canadians encouraging you on as you enter our fair country to the north, plus the Canadian border guards showing off their Tim Horton’s coffees and Timbits. The Detroit portions are fun, too. There are lots of fans along almost the whole course, a huge variety of neighborhoods and sights, kind aid-station folks handing out water and Gatorade, and tens of thousands of other runners from all over suffering along with you (which definitely does make it feel easier somehow). This was my first time doing this race, and it will now become a staple for me. And if a marathon seems daunting, the Detroit half marathons are great fun, too! {Website}



Phone Games: Scavenger Hunt and Cube Match 3D
When I’m not reading, I like to stretch my mind with my phone games. Looking for things that don’t belong in Scavenger Hunt and also looking for three of a kind on the Cube Match 3D

Geography Games: Globle & Worldle
I also really like geography and play two website geography games every day. With Globle, you start by naming a country, and it will show you how “hot or cold” you are by the distance between the country you named and the mystery country of the day. In Worldle, they show you the shape of the country, which makes some easier than others. Then they’ll let you know how far off you are from the correct country in percentages. {Globle} {Worldle}



The Outer Worlds (2019) video game by Obsidian Entertainment
While I have seen The Outer Worlds played before, I never thought I’d have the talent or ability to play it myself. This year I finally felt confident enough in my gaming abilities, so I went for it! It's incredible with lots of worlds to explore, fun dialogue, and a few expansion packs if you run out of stuff to do. I loved it so much that I bought an Xbox in preparation for The Outer Worlds 2. {Website}

Kirby and the Forgotten Land (2022) video game by HAL Laboratory
I'd never played a Kirby game before, but with a friend's suggestion and encouragement, I played Kirby and the Forgotten Land. It was incredible! Lots of fun, and the only game I’ve ever 100%ed (or 100 percent completed). When that same friend came to visit, we played multiplayer which was also excellent! I can't wait to replay it someday. {Website}

Ooblets (2020) video game by Glumberand
Originally released in 2020, Ooblets just came to the Switch, and I started playing it this year. A mix of Animal CrossingStardew Valley, and PokémonOoblets is the collector's dream. Full of fun creatures to collect, recipes to make, and villagers to talk to, it's lots of fun. Plus, don't get me started on the funny body physics! (Bones? Never heard of 'em.) {Website}



Get some nice bath salts, bath bombs, or whatever, and go crazy! Bring a good book, something to watch or listen to, whatever you like. Baths are especially nice in the colder months.



Walking Through Cemeteries in Fall
A peaceful, quiet walk under some of the most beautiful trees, next to local history and monuments dedicated to loved ones

FrankenFest (Lansing and Detroit)
Halloween in summer! A festival for those who enjoy the spooky any time of year. Tons of local artists, eerie presentations, and tasty snacks! {Frankenfest}



One-Page Zine Making
This year, I set what I thought was an easily attainable goal, considering my current lifestyle as someone who works full-time, is married with two children, one of whom is entering his last teenage year, and one of whom is exiting year “terrible two.” I thought that making a daily one-page zine would be low-hanging creative fruit. At this point, I should be well over 300 zines in, but nope. I did do over 100 of them, and they are in a way a record of this year. This is where the mortality joke comes in. One day when I was home alone with my older son, we were talking about these zines, and I said to him conspiratorially, “Hey, you’re my firstborn, so you get to decide ... do you want me to leave these to you when I die?” He hates when I joke about my mortality and was disgusted and aghast.

Drawing with Procreate
This year I also wanted to draw more, but pulling out art supplies when a nimble and determined toddler is around is, well, an experience. Enter Procreate. Now when I have the iPad, I can draw away. Bonus: Sometimes when I need to redirect my younger son, I can invite him to design a monster that I draw and then print for him. The last one had five eyes, six arms, and a “smiling mouth.”

A Flirtation with Riso
I’ve been into Kate Bingaman-Burt’s work for some time. I don't remember when it crossed my radar, but at this point, I’m pretty sure that it’s been over a decade. Her book, Obsessive Consumption, was published in 2010, and I remember poring over it in the apartment where I was living at the time. Kate Bingaman-Burt is one of those strangers that I have a weird one-sided attachment to. She’s my age, in the language of people who are over 40, but she is just a tad older than I am which puts me in the “are-you-my-role-model?” space. And also, her son is just a tad older than mine, and I feel a pull to others who are parenting very young children in their 40s. That is the scenic route to my flirtation with riso. I’m subscribed to the KBB Mail Club and remain charmed by her work. But the riso-printed zines that are a part of the mail club made me want to learn more about “risography.” That is what led me to take an online riso course with Taxonomy Press, which is based in Detroit. I loved it, and I want to experiment more, and this is now one of the numerous “I-want-to-do-that” desires that float around me like Pigpen's flies.

Slime Making
I blame TikTok for everything these days. And I got very obsessed with making slime this year. And bought all of these scents and now know my cloud slime from my butter slime. I know how to alter texture with artificial snow. I know what a bingsu bead is. And the fragrance oils. Let’s not talk about how much fragrance oil I have. But did you know that you can buy corn chip-scented oil. You're welcome. I'm sorry.

I got really into hummus this year. So much so that when it was starting, my older son asked, “Mom, Is this slime 2.0?” I think that he may know me better than anyone, and yes, it was. So much hummus, so much tahini, so many chickpeas. And being prone to obsession, I ordered takeout from every restaurant on my path to work that I know to serve hummus, except one. As a completionist, it is only a matter of time before I patronize that last establishment, the very one that introduced me to toum, another obsession that left a mark on my family.



Pittsfield Preserve and Marsh View Meadows Park
WHAT GEMS THESE PARKS ARE! I first visited them this fall when the colors were changing. Varying terrain and lots of different experiences in both. Rumor has it that Pittsfield Preserve is quite muddy in the spring, so summer and fall may be your best bet if you need some Nature Rx. Get outside! {Website} {Website}

I’m pretty sure I’ve listed this before, but my weekly attendance at parkrun since 2018 has been a really rewarding habit to build. These are free, weekly, and timed 5K events that happen all over the world every Saturday morning, rain or shine, or snow or polar vortex. Walkers, runners, and everyone in between are welcome—as are dogs and kids and strollers. It’s a super low-key way to move and be outside and meet new folks. We meet at Lillie Park South on Platt Road in Pittsfield Township at 9 am in the fall and winter (October through April) and 8 am in the summer (May through September). {Website}



slapslap at Ann Arbor Summer Fest
June 30, 2022
A live performance that featured two bassoonists, two percussionists, a jar full of real pickles, and heaps of audience participation plus joyful musical hijinks. May slapslap slap again at a future Ann Arbor Summer Fest! {A2SF}

Ann Arbor Bike Party 
A relaxed group bicycle ride that happens in and around downtown Ann Arbor on the last Friday of every month. Bike Party’s revolving themes and routes, plus the sheer number of cyclists mindfully and unhurriedly rolling around together, gives it a parade-like feel. In September, astounded Old West Side residents stood on their porches and clapped while we rolled through en masse with our bells, portable speakers, blinky lights, and Denim + Mustaches. {Facebook}

by Cyrus Highsmith
This font’s bold, playful shapes and subtle modulations offer a very exciting, unique take on the stencil-style alphabet. {Occupant Fonts}



World Famous Trivia
Ann Arbor District Library
Hi, I host this. It’s great. Last Fridays of the month—5:30 pm at the Westgate branch. QUIZZES, PRIZES, and moderate fun. {AADL}

Wow, do you like crunchy spicy THINGS? Go to SuperCrisp at 4830 Cass Ave. in the very mid of Midtown Detroit. For my first visit, I had a curry dog, which blew my mind. For my second visit, I had a wasabi burger, which blew my FACE. Plus, they have pops by Detroit City Sodas, and the ginger ale and orange cream are hex-quiz-eat MWAH. {Website}

Disco Elysium video game by ZA/UM
I had only heard about Disco Elysium from numerous year-end lists in 2019 and 2020, so besides knowing that it was a “detective” game, I went in blind, as I like to do with any game, book, movie, taco, etc. That approach was perfectly fitting for this game, in which you play as a dirty, drunken, down-and-out detective with absolutely no memory of who, where, or why he is. I include “why” there because the dialogue and general narration for the game (which are almost ENTIRELY voice-acted in various thick European accents) is painfully (in a good way) existential. The overall feel of the game is like a David Lynch film but without the no-eyed pigmen. I just started the game at the beginning of December, and am still mostly lost, but I think that's kinda the point, and I continue to stumble around, not even knowing my name, picking my pernicious paths, choosing my often-insane words, deeply entrenched in the mire of Revachol. {Website}

More AADL Staff Picks:
➥ 2021
➥ 2020
➥ 2019
➥ 2018
➥ 2017