// On Big Sur, California

Sarah Rotrock and Ricky Stephens walking down Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur California

On October 27th 2016 I was lucky enough to marry my best friend. We basically eloped, bringing only ten people with us, and we couldn't have been more happy with that decision. We were throwing ourselves back into the magic of a place that already meant a lot to us- and we didn't want a huge guest list or series of events to distract from the feeling of being back there. 

You probably don't know what I mean.

Sarah and I got together at the end of 2010 and immediately started planning grand adventures. Somewhere along the way we found a picture of Big Sur and never wanted to stop looking at it- unless we could be there to see it in person. It was September 2011 when we landed in Monterey and hopped on a bus headed south to Bixby Bridge. We spent the next few days hiking through Andrew Molera State Park, hitchhiking with an old hippy woman, and wishing we never had to come home. 

Big Sur California, Bixby Creek Bridge, photo by Ricky Stephens of A Modern Villain

If you flash forward around five years you will arrive at an exciting time in our relationship. I was getting ready to ask Sarah that big question "Do you want to hang out... forever?" I spent countless hours on Etsy looking for the perfect ring; Sarah has an Etsy shop so I like to support independent makers as often as I can. I knew that Sarah wouldn't want anything too traditional so I chose to stay away from yellow gold, opting for a rose gold ring made by Doron Merov, and I set off to find an ethical diamond. It was a long process but the end result, I think, was perfect. 

I wanted to ask Sarah to marry me in a unique way. I wanted to win the engagement story competition forever. I wanted to steal her away and give her some worthwhile story to tell. I love her or whatever.

Big Sur California by Ricky Stephens of A Modern Villain

I booked a surprise trip to Europe and told her that she needed to take some time off of work. I didn't tell her where we were going and I didn't give her any hints no matter how often she begged. I would throw her off with comments about Nepal and Everest and climbing gear. She got really frustrated. 

In reality I'd booked a ten day trip to Athens, Paris, and Amsterdam. I asked her to marry me in front of the Eiffel Tower using a book that collected the happy moments of my life. The pages had little messages like "the day we got Beasley", "our trip to California", and ended with "the day I asked you to marry me".

From that point on we started planning our wedding and California just seemed right. 

Sarah Rotrock of The Rucksack Refinery on Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur California

I used to want to live inside that picture we found back in 2011 but, now, I want to live inside the one right above this sentence. It's impossible for a picture to capture the way a moment feels but, if I had to describe that moment in one word, it would be... happiness.

We kept our ceremony short, literally under five minutes, and we exchanged our vows in private the next morning. We went out on the Garrapata Bluff Trail to say sweet things to one another in private. I'll upload some pictures from that excursion in a future post.

Noir Dopp Kit: Travel Essentials for The Modern Villain

Noir Dopp Kit, Villainous Travel Essentials, Men's Travel Kit, Toiletry Bag

I'm at a crossroads in my life when it comes to travel. I used to be the type of person who would see an image online, decide that I want to live inside that image, and focus all of my attention on getting to that particular destination. These days I'm realizing more and more that there is something to be said of the journey, of the flight or the road trip, that gets you where you're going. It's just as much fun to be mischievous in between places as it is to be mischievous in one specific place.

When you think about travel, though, you aren't typically thinking of your suitcase, your laundry, or your god damn tooth brush. Lugging those paltry essentials around has to be the most tedious and ordinary part of the travel experience. That's why I put together this Noir Dopp Kit- to make the act of transporting your deodorant look as cool as it possibly can.

This dopp kit, from The Rucksack Refinery, is big enough to fit all of your favorite toiletries... and maybe even a travel sized bottle of whiskey.

/// Not pictures but very important: Beverly Hills Formula Black Toothpaste, Cyr Care Charcoal Deodroant, Rebels Refinery Skull Lip Balm

Why Harry Potter wasn't sorted into Hogwarts House Slytherin

Dark Mark and Harry Potter Glasses Minimal Design, Dark and Light, Black Brick, White Brick, Death Eater Fandom

The internet is dark and full of terrors. Some of those terrors come in the way of fandom that imagines Harry Potter as a member of House Slytherin. In response to those Tumblr screenshots I always see, I wanted to take a minute to discuss why Harry Potter wasn't sorted into Slytherin in the first place. 

When Voldemort attacked the Potter family his killing curse was rebounded by, of all things, Lilly Potter's love for her child. While the rebounding spell had a lot of terrible consequences for the Dark Lord, the worst thing that happened was that a bit of Voldemort's already fragmented soul was transferred to Harry.  This is why Harry has the ability to speak with snakes, why he has a lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead, why he has the wand that he uses, why everyone knows his name, and why he must die at the end of the series.

Slytherin Snake

When the Sorting Hat is placed on Harry's head it immediately begins searching for qualities that make him suitable for one of the four Hogwarts houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin. The qualities that Sorting Hat finds, though, are the ones imparted on Harry by the presence of Voldemort's soul. That is why the Sorting Hat considers putting Harry in Slytherin at all- because it senses the great talent of Tom Riddle. 

The qualities of the boy Harry Potter are so slight and insignificant that they were getting drowned out by even a shard of Lord Voldemort's soul. Harry Potter did not get sorted into Slytherin because Harry Potter is unworthy of Slytherin house- he is not cunning, ambitious, or resourceful. Harry was placed in Gryffindor because the Sorting Hat couldn't find any special qualities to designate him anywhere... so it simply granted his request to be with his friends.

Find below a YouTube clip of the Sorting Hat scene from Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone, and a short transcript of the events.

"hmm.. difficult, very difficult. Plenty of courage I see. Not a bad mind either. There's talent, oh yes, and a thirst to prove yourself. But where to put you?"

This is where Harry begs the Sorting Hat by whispering the words "Not Slytherin".

"Not Slytherin, eh? Are you sure? You could be great you know, it's all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness. There's no doubt about that. No? Well, if you're sure, better be... Gryffindor!"

Ricky Stephens Dark Mark Temporary Tattoo Red Wing Iron Rangers A Modern Villain

It's also worth noting that the rest of the series, not just the Sorting Hat scene, depicts Harry as more of a liability than an asset. His friends are always rallying to save his life and defend him against the consequences of the rules he breaks. Ron and Hermione follow Harry into disastrous situations and rely on their own skills, knowledge and courage respectively, to find a way out.

At the beginning of the series the only thing unique about Harry is the level of attention he gets from the wizarding community and the way trouble constantly finds him- and both of those qualities are thanks to Voldemort. As the series goes on, Harry's experience builds him an army of students that want to learn his defense against the dark arts skills- but Harry even has Voldemort to thank for putting him the situations where he developed those skills. Without Voldemort, who is Harry Potter?

Dark Mark | Harry Potter Glasses | Slytherin | Those Cunning Folk

Comic Books Every Magneto Fan Should Read

Books Every Magneto Fan Should Read

Classic X-Men #12

In Classic X-Men #12  flashbacks show Magneto, still known as Max Eisenhardt, living with his wife Magda and their daughter Anya. Max is working as a laborer and is angered by his unfairly low wage. During an argument, Max uses his innate power to hurl a crowbar at his boss. Max is shocked at his newfound ability to create/control magnetic fields but the destruction doesn't stop there...

Planet X

 In New X-Men Vol. 6 #146- #150 "Planet X", a villain named Xorn uses his abilities to make a "special class" mutant named Dust attack Charles Xavier. As the attack begins, Xorn imprisons Dust in a jar (sort of the way Spider-Man vacuums up SandMan in Amazing Spider-Man #4to keep her from interfering; and Xorn removes his helmet to reveal that he is actually Magneto in disguise. 

At this point in the story, Xavier has been regaining full functionality/mobility of his body due to the "nanite sentinels" implanted in his body by Cassandra Nova. Magneto, after his identity reveal, explains that he is the one responsible for the sentinel implants and, in that way, he is responsible for Xavier's improvement. Magneto uses his powers to undo the work of the nanite sentinels and cripple Xavier once again- trapping him in a glass tank from which Charles Xavier cannot escape.

As the story progresses, Magneto reveals his true goals and his plans to force humans into "crematoriums" as they await extinction. 

X-Men #25 Fatal Attractions

The events of "Fatal Attraction" begin as Magneto and his Acolytes take control of Cable's space station, renaming it "Avalon", and use it as a base to recruit new mutants. The United Nations sets up satellites around the station which inhibit Magneto's power and prevent him from bringing any in any new mutants. Magneto retaliates by releasing an electromagnetic pulse that causes the world's electrical system to go crazy and kills thousands of humans. This is also the issue when, confronted by the X-Men, Magneto rips the adamantium from Wolverine's body.

X-Men: Ultimatum

In X-Men: Ultimatum Magneto's ultimate goal is to destroy the world due to the death of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver inUltimates #3. He gains possession of Thor's Hammer and uses it to amplify his powers and cause natural disasters in an attempt destroy the world. A tsunami hits Manhattan and a lightning storm threatens New York City- killing millions of innocent people and a number of "ultimates" like Valkyrie and Captain America.  There are other, more significant, character deaths in this story arc as well. 

Classic X-Men #112

In Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 #112 Magneto is attacked by all of the X-Men, at one time, and defeats them with ease. 

Uncanny X-Men #200 

In Uncanny X-Men #200 Magneto is put on trial for his crimes against humanity. Afraid that he will be sentenced to death, Magneto uses the power of his helmet to remove the anti-mutant sentiment from the judge's brain. Tinkering with the judge's brain leads to Magneto being set free and raises ethical questions about whether the manipulation made Magneto's trial more or less fair.

Magneto has been around so long, and has been given so much individual attention, that he is more popular than many of his X-Men adversaries. On a very basic level Magneto's cause is noble, and it causes readers to question whether Magneto is a villain or an anti-hero. When a reader can't decide Magneto's alignment, and they question their own moral compass, that is Magneto's most villainous moment. 

Uncanny X-Men #150 "I, Magneto..."

Uncanny X-Men #150 "I, Magneto..." is a true show of power for the master of magnetism. In this issue Magneto makes a bid for world domination by announcing that, if the population does not name him their ruler, he will end all life on the planet. When the Soviet Union sends a submarine to launch nuclear missiles at Magneto's island, he destroys them and sinks the sub- killing the entire crew. 

In this issue Magneto also causes a volcano to erupt and destroy an entire town. He does this using a special device that he has made. The X-Men sneak into the holding area for the device and labor intensely to destroy it. When Magneto walks in, interrupting the X-Men, he uses his power to reassemble the device as though it took no effort at all. This scene puts Magneto's power in sharp new focus and makes the X-Men realize how futile their efforts to stop Magneto really are. 

Magneto makes the X-Men his prisoners and continues with his plan. 

Uncanny X-Men #1

Uncanny X-Men #1 is important because it is the first issue of the X-Men series and introduces a number of staple characters like Cyclops, Beast, Professor Xavier, and, of course, Magneto.

God Loves, Man Kills

In God Loves, Man Kills Magneto makes a shaky alliance with the X-Men against a reverend who is speaking out against mutants. This book is an important addition to this list because it shows Magneto staying on message, working in support of mutant rights, despite his distaste for the X-Men. 


Is Luke Skywalker the Villain in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope?

It is pretty widely accepted that Emperor Palpatine, the Sith Lord, is the main villain in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. However, I would like to take a more critical look at the hero of the movie, Luke Skywalker, to discuss his role in story events. I would like to pose the argument that, when you change perspective, Luke Skywalker is actually the biggest villain (at least the biggest antagonist/jerk) in the first installment of the Star Wars series.

1. In the movie the only family that Luke has ever known is his Aunt Beru and his Uncle Owen. They raised him and taught him valuable skills, while working on their moisture farm, that he channels throughout the rest of the series.

Luke repays his Aunt and Uncle with constant pressure to send him away to "the academy" so he can join the Rebels. Ignoring the fact that Beru and Owen are both of advancing age and obviously need help running their farm- Luke's request is akin to a modern day teenager asking their parents to join Isis.

It gets a little worse, though. Luke goes on a trip to Mos Eisley with Obi-Wan Kenobi and, when he returns, he finds his Aunt and Uncle dead. Their farm is burning to ashes and Luke is sad... for about thirty seconds. He uses his new freedom to jump on board the Millennium Falcon and never mention his dead family members again.

2. When Luke finally does meet up with the Rebels, and they are making plans to attack the Death Star, he gets a warning about the difficulty of the situation. Luke is told about the narrow corridor where he will be flying, the small opening he needs to fire through, and the amount of time he has to get out of before the resulting explosion consumes his ship.

His answer?

"I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home, they're not much bigger than two meters."

Great, Luke! Your hobby back home was, what, murder? I am not an expert on this type of thing but I'm pretty sure killing animals is one of the biggest red flags that a child will grow up to be a serial killer. 

3. Luke destroys the Death Star in an act of terrorist rebellion. The Death Star was a space station that had just been built by a legitimately elected government- and was housing thousands of innocent people who worked on board.

Luke gives no thought to the countless government workers, independent contractors, and maintenance crews that were killed in the blast. Instead, he and all of his team let out cheers of excitement.

They cheer for mass murder and, actually, so does the audience.  

 - Opponents to my claims will argue that the government contractors onboard the Death Star were not innocent. However, in the real world, how often do we actually know the intentions of our governing bodies? Would a mechanic or someone working in the canteen be given the same access to information as a top tier officer? If the answer is no, and it obviously is, then why is it acceptable for the rebels to condemn everyone on board the space station to die? Have they all committed the same crime- and should that crime actually be punishable by death? 

Is it possible, instead, that the workers on The Death Star were just normal people who landed some pretty sweet government jobs? 

Further, If the Rebels do overthrow the Empire, who is going to follow them? The simple act of destroying the Death Star diminishes the credibility of the Rebel Alliance as a governing body and stains their hands just as red as the the Empire's. 

 - I'm sure that people, thinking critically, will question why the Empire's space station was named The Death Star to begin with. I think that it was built as a weaponized space station, and given an intimidating name, as a show of power to the rising Rebel threat. This is just speculation/opinion but I do think that citizens of any place want to believe that their government is strong enough to protect them. 

 - My final thought on the matter deals with Alderaan. I have heard it said before that Alderaan was a planet full of innocent people- but it was also the home of Princess Leia and many other Rebel sympathizers. It is important, in order to put things in perspective, that we think critically about the implications of harboring terrorists. Claiming that Alderaan is totally innocent is the same as saying Pakistan is totally innocent for harboring Bin Ladin. You know, someone had to know what was going on. 

The photos in this post come from Google, and the videos from Youtube; but because this post is Star Wars related it is important for me to also credit George Lukas and Disney. 


The Ron Swanson Collection: A Gift Guide for Parks And Recreation Fans

The Ron Swanson Collection: A Gift Guide for fans of Parks & Recreation on NBC + Netflix

Sarah & I are in the middle of watching Parks & Recreation all the way through. When the show was in its final two seasons we were, I guess, living in Oz. While we didn't see any flying monkeys, wicked witches, or people made of tin (though there were an odd number of people in red slippers...) but we did live in a world without cable television. That's like living in Oz, right?

Anyway, we couldn't watch the last few seasons as they aired on television and so we are using Netflix to relive Parks & Rec in all of its glory. Aside from April & Andy (as a unit), my favorite character has always been Ron Swanson- so today I am proud to present a Ron Swanson themed gift guide for fans of Parks & Recreation. 

Ron Swanson Gift Guide

  1. Lagavulin 16 Year Single Malt Scotch
  2. Offerman Woodshop Canoe
  3. Swanson Pyramid of Greatness Print
  4. Charles Mulligan's Steak House Poster
  5. Sanborn Canoe Trout Valley Paddle
  6. J. Crew Red Polo
  7. Smoking Pipe "Ship" from SovietHouse on Etsy
  8. The Nutmeg of Consolation by Patrick O'Brian
  9. Steak & Eggs from a Breakfast Restaurant (IHOP)

As a special bonus, here are a few of my favorite Ron Swanson quotes!

  • Honor: If you need it defined, you don't have it.
  • Crying: Acceptable at funerals and the Grand Canyon.
  • Friends: One to three is sufficient.
  • Sting like a bee. Do not float like a butterfly, that is ridiculous.
  • I'd wish you the best of luck but I believe luck is a concept created by the weak to explain their failures.
  • Fishing relaxes me. It's like yoga except I still get to kill something.
  • Never half ass two things. Whole ass one thing.
  • Go outside. Remain.
  • When people get too chummy with me, I like to call them by the wrong name to let them know I don't really care about them.
  • Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish... and feed yourself. He's a grown man and fishing is not that hard.
  • I'm allergic to two things: cowardice and weak-willed men. And hazelnuts.
  • I regret nothing. The end.


Pokémon Every Villain Should Catch Pt. II

Next Gen Pokemon that every villain should catch in pokemon go

Today I present a follow up to my "Pokémon Every Villain Should Catch in Pokémon Go!" post with nine villainous nextgen Pokémon. These Pokémon, I think, are even more mischievous than the first bunch and would be terrifically hard to defeat should you encounter them in the real world. The descriptions come to us courtesy of the official Pokédex.

Disclaimer: These Pokémon are not yet in Pokémon Go but I am sure they will claw their way into the game some time soon.


In a Houndoom pack, the one with its horns raked sharply toward the back serves a leadership role. These Pokémon choose their leader by fighting among themselves.

Type | Dark, Fire

Weakness | Fighting, Ground, Rock, Water


The heads on their arms do not have brains. They use all three heads to consume and destroy everything.

Type | Dark, Dragon

Weakness | Ice, Fighting, Bug, Dragon, Fairy


This legendary Pokémon can scorch the world with lightning. It assists those who want to build an ideal world.

Type | Electric, Dragon

Weakness | Ice, Ground, Dragon, Fairy


It chases people and Pokémon from its territory by causing them to experience deep, nightmarish slumbers.

Type | Dark

Weakness | Fighting, Bug, Fairy


Thanks to its gargantuan jaws, which could shred thick metal plates as if they were paper, it was invincible in the ancient world it once inhabited.

Type | Rock, Dragon

Weakness | Steel, Ice, Dragon, Fighting, Fairy, Ground


Aggron claims an entire mountain as its own territory. It mercilessly beats up anything that violates its environment. This Pokémon vigilantly patrols its territory at all times.

Type | Rock, Steel

Weakness | Water, Fighting, Ground


When this ill-tempered Pokémon runs wild, it shoots lightning from its mane in all directions.

Type | Electric

Weakness |  Ground


Nicknamed “the bully of the sea," Sharpedo is widely feared. Its cruel fangs grow back immediately if they snap off. Just one of these Pokémon can thoroughly tear apart a supertanker.

Type | Water, Dark

Weakness |  Bug, Electric, Fighting, Grass, Fairy


Mightyena gives obvious signals when it is preparing to attack. It starts to growl deeply and then flattens its body. This Pokémon will bite savagely with its sharply pointed fangs.

Type | Dark

Weakness | Fighting, Fairy, Bug

If you're interested in the dark side of Pokémon you should definitely check out the independent game Pokémon: Insurgence. The game, by Canadian developer Wyatt Verchere (thesuzerain), tells the story of a murderous cult who is trying to use their Pokémon to take over the region. I've just started playing it and already my character has witnessed Pokémon used for mortal violence like in no other Pokémon game. It's awesome. 

Death Eater Gift Guide

Gift Guide for Death Eaters and Fans of Voldemort in preparation for Harry Potter & The Cursed Child

Death Eater Gift Guide

  1. Rough Design Co. Death or Glory Rings
  2. Woe & Shucks Death Eater T-Shirt
  3. Harry Potter & The Deathly Hollows Pt. 1
  4. Aberfeldy 21 Year Scotch
  5. KikoIlustrador Daily Prophet Cover Page
  6. G. Wiseman Handmade Knife
  7. Red Wing Iron Ranger Boots
  8. Geek Tat Dark Mark Temporary Tattoo
  9. Farrow Co. Hand Engraved Zippo Lighter


I've spent years waiting for J.K. Rowling to see the light- and by "see the light" I mean that I've been waiting for her to come to the dark side. Today marks the release of the official script book for Harry Potter & The Cursed Child but, while I already picked up my copy, this collection was more inspired by Andy Kluthe's art for Dorkly. In his renderings, Kluthe reimagines the covers of every book in the Harry Potter series so that they reflect Voldemort's struggles. My favorite is Voldemort and the Year Part of My Soul Was Stabbed By That F****ing Potter Kid, Seriously What Are The F***ing Odds?

I've always wanted to read at least one book that went further into Tom Riddle's story. I want to learn about why he developed an interest in the dark arts and, more than that, how he became the most powerful dark wizard in history. I don't want a book that will try to spin the story. I don't want people to come around to Voldemort's point of view because the book portrays him as some misunderstood hero. What I want is a literary celebration of Tom Riddle's vicious ambition and his relentless pursuit of power. 

J.K., if you're reading this, hook a muggle up.

I chose to include a DVD/Blu Ray of Harry Potter & The Deathly Hollows Pt. 1 in this collection because I feel that movie is where the cinematic story should have ended.

Related Posts: Slytherin Gift Guide, Harry Potter Spells For Death Eaters, How it ended, The Cursed Child

Pokémon Every Villain Should Catch in Pokémon Go!

Pokémon every villain should catch in Pokémon Go plus Pokémon Go tips and tricks

When making a list of Pokémon that every Villain should catch, it's really hard to resist just putting in Pokémon because you remember them or like how they look. I had a hard time resisting the urge to include Charizard, believe me, but he's a noble dragon who won't attack a weaker being. I've chosen these particular Pokémon, not because of their looks, because of their personalities and their descriptions in the official Pokédex. The resulting list are Pokémon that, I feel, are mischievous enough to make a good counterpart for a villain living in the Pokémon universe.


"This Pokémon is not satisfied unless it is rampaging at all times. If there is no opponent for Tauros to battle, it will charge at thick trees and knock them down to calm itself."

Type | Normal

Weakness | Fighting


"Ninetales casts a sinister light from its bright red eyes to gain total control over its foe's mind. This Pokémon is said to live for a thousand years."

Type | Fire

Weakness | Ground, Rock, Water


"This Pokémon is terrifically strong in order to constrict things with its body. It can even flatten steel oil drums. Once Arbok wraps its body around its foe, escaping its crunching embrace is impossible."

Type | Poison

Weakness | Ground, Psychic


"When Magikarp evolves into Gyarados, its brain cells undergo a structural transformation. It is said that this transformation is to blame for this Pokémon's wildly violent nature"

Type | Water, Flying

Weakness | Electric, Rock


"Sometimes, on a dark night, your shadow thrown by a streetlight will suddenly and startlingly overtake you. It is actually a Gengar running past you, pretending to be your shadow."

Type | Ghost, Poison

Weakness | Dark, Ghost, Psychic


"Mewtwo is a Pokémon that was created by genetic manipulation. However, even though the scientific power of humans created this Pokémon's body, they failed to endow Mewtwo with a compassionate heart."

Type | Psychic

Weakness | Dark, Ghost, Bug


"Rhydon's horn can crush even uncut diamonds. One sweeping blow of its tail can topple a building. This Pokémon's hide is extremely tough. Even direct cannon hits don't leave a scratch."

Type | Ground, Rock

Weakness | Grass, Water, Fighting, Ground, Ice, Steel


"Golbat loves to drink the blood of living things. It is particularly active in the pitch black of night. This Pokémon flits around in the night skies, seeking fresh blood."

Type | Poison, Flying

Weakness | Electric, Ice, Psychic, Rock


"Nidoking's thick tail packs enormously destructive power. With one swing, it can topple a metal transmission tower. Once this Pokémon goes on a rampage, there is no stopping it."

Type | Poison, Ground

Weakness | Ground,  Ice, Psychic, Water

At the time of this post Pokémon Go only includes Pokémon from the original games. Some villainous next gen Pokémon are:

ZekromHydreigon, Zebstrika, Darkrai, Houndoom, Tyrantrum, Mightyena, Aggron, Sharpedo, Dialga

Where do I find Pokémon in Pokémon Go?

Pokémon spawn most frequently in high traffic areas like college campuses, shopping malls, and downtown areas. When you see rustling grass it means there is a Pokémon nearby.

How do I get more Poké Balls?

When you run out of Poké Balls you need to find Poké Stops near you. When you approach a Poké Stop you need to click on it and spin the medallion. The medallion should change from a blue color to a purple color. When the Poké Stop turns purple it will give you items like Poké balls, potions, eggs, etc. Be sure to click on them (or swipe through them) to ensure you pick them up! You can swipe the Poké Stop again in 3-5 minutes.

How do I level up and evolve my Pokémon?

In order to evolve a Pokémon you need to catch, or hatch, multiples of it. For example, in order to get a Pidgeotto or a Pidgeot you need to collect multiple Pidgeys. Keep one Pidgey but transfer your duplicates to Professor Willow in order to collect "Pidgey Candy". Each Pokémon requires a certain amount of candy to evolve. For example, Magikarp takes 400 candy to become Gyarados. 

How do gyms work?

As a new trainer you may have noticed gyms in various locations around town. You can access these gyms when you reach level 5 and, at that point, you have the ability to choose a team. When you see a gym that is controlled by your team, doing battle there will train the gym and increase its level. Once you've increased the gyms level you can add more Pokémon to the gym and, therefore, make it harder for other teams to defeat. During a training match you will take on all the Pokémon at the gym while only using one of your Pokémon.

When you see a gym that belongs to another team, attacking it (and winning) will reduce the gym's prestige and level. When gyms lose prestige they can hold less Pokémon. When you get the gym to a low enough level it will turn gray and you can then "take" the gym by assigning your own Pokémon to defend it. Pokémon battles against other teams differ from training in that you use a team of six Pokémon for the attack- and your Pokémon can be knocked out.

How do I attack during a gym battle?

Battles are fun but they consist of a lot of quick tapping. Each Pokémon has a normal attack and a heavy attack which you can view by looking at the Pokémon's details. During a gym battle your Pokémon will attack if you tap on the enemy Pokémon. You'll want to do this quickly to try and get as many hits in as possible.

Each successful attack will fill a blue gauge in the left hand corner of your screen. That gauge is your heavy attack bar. When the heavy attack bar fills up it will begin to flash. Tap and hold your finger down on the enemy Pokémon. You'll notice that the screen narrows and becomes a dark at the edges. Your Pokémon will use their heavy attack and, hopefully, cause some real devastation to the enemy Pokémon. 

You can also dodge enemy attacks by swiping left or right during a battle. Wait to swipe until the enemy begins their attack, timing is very important when dodging. It will take some practice. 

How do I heal my Pokémon? 

During training sessions a Pokémon may lose health points (HP) but will not be knocked out. To heal your Pokémon, simply access your items menu and select the type of potion you wish to use. Standard potions heal your Pokémon by 20 HP, Super Potions by 50 HP, and Hyper Potions by 200 HP.

After a gym battle you may find that your Pokémon have been knocked out. You need a Revive to restore your Pokémon. After you use a Revive you can replenish their health the rest of the way using different types of potions. Revives only restore half of the fainted Pokémon's maximum HP.

How do I change my team?

When you reach level 5 you have the ability to choose between Team Mystic (blue), Team Valor (Red), and Team Instinct (Yellow). You do not have the ability, in the confines of the game, to change your team once you have made a selection. However, many trainers have found that they were able to change their team by contacting Niantic (the company that made the game) directly. Click this link to contact Niantic and get change your team. You may not change your team more than once. 

Comic Books Every Dr. Doom Fan Should Read

Comic Books Every Dr. Doom Fan Should Read

Dr. Doom & Dr. Strange: Triumph and Torment

Dr. Doom's mother, Cynthia, was a sorceress who sold her soul to the devil (Mephisto) for more power. When she passes away, Dr. Doom makes annual trips to hell in an attempt to rescue her. In Dr. Doom and Dr. Strange: Triumph and Torment, he finally succeeds in securing his mother's freedom... at any cost.

Emperor Doom

After stealing power from Zebediah Killgrave (Purple Man), Dr. Doom uses his new mind control powers to eliminate free will and take over the world. Doom, having succeeded in his push for world domination, soon grows bored. During a fight with the Avengers, Doom basically lets Purple Man escape just to shake things up a little bit.

Secret Wars

The Secret Wars story arc began back in the 80's and became relevant again in the last year or two. In the story, Dr. Doom (and some other, lesser, characters) are faced with a strong enemy called The Beyonders. The Beyonders are a race of omnipotent aliens who are hellbent on destroying the multiverse. In order to stop the Beyonders, Dr. Doom destroys the multiverse himself.

Molecule Man sacrifices himself so that Doom can absorb his power. Doom then travels throughout various alternate realities to murder all other versions of Molecule Man and absorb their power as well. When he is strong enough, Doom finally takes on The Beyonders alone. 

Fantastic Four Annual #2

In Fantastic Four Annual #2, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee give us our first real look into Dr. Doom's origin.  From the issue: "As a young boy, Victor von Doom's father --a gypsy healer-- is asked by the King's men to heal the King's wife. Werner von Doom tries his best but fails, and when the King's wife later dies of her illness he sends his troops to get Werner. Werner and his son Victor then fled into the mountains where the father wrapped the boy in his own coat while they hid in the snow and ice. They were later found by the rest of their clan and taken back to the village. There Werner died of exposure, but not before asking Boris to look after his son. Boris took this to mean to watch out for the boy, not look after him. Furious at the death of both his father and mother at the hands of the King, Victor dug up his mothers old chest filled with mystical potions and books."

Fantastic Four: Books of Doom

Fantastic Four: Books of Doom is a retelling of Dr. Doom's origin story that gives us more insight into the character's development. The first few issues of this arc revolve around Doom's relationship with his mother and that's important because it gives more credence to his annual visit to hell. The book goes on to explain Doom's facial scarring, his suit, and various other important aspects of his character. As far as I'm concerned, Books of Doom is a must read for anyone trying to learn about Dr. Doom's background.

Fantastic Four #58  

This should really be listed as Fantastic Four #57-60 but I chose to highlight #58 for one very specific reason- Doom is winning!

 In Fantastic Four #57  Dr. Doom tricks the Silver Surfer into standing before a machine that steals his power, transferring it to Doom. In Fantastic Four # 58 Doom uses Silver Surfer's board to fly to New York and attack the Fantastic Four. One by one all of the members of the Fantastic Four fall to Doom's new power- but he does not kill them. Instead, Doom tells them that resistance against is plans is futile and gloats about his victory. 

Fantastic Four: Unthinkable

The story of Fantastic Four: Unthinkable revolves around Dr. Doom and his desire to return to magic- feeling that science and technology are no longer a suitable means to conquer his enemies. In his pursuit of power, Doom makes a deal with the Haazareth Demons that will increase his power. This is the infamous book that sees Dr. Doom reunited with Valeria, the love of his life, only to betray her and make a new suit of armor from her skin.

Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #5

Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #5 makes this list for the sole reason that it is Dr. Doom's first appearance. 

Fantastic Four #258

Fantastic Four #258 is an issue that offers a unique look into the daily life of Dr. Doom. This issue sees a doombot destroyed for failing a mission, a potential rival slain, and offers a unique glimpse into the relationship Doom shares with his son Kristoff.


Slytherin Gift Guide

Slytherin Gift Guide for Harry Potter Fans, Pre Cursed Child Release 7/30

The official script book for Harry Potter & The Cursed Child is scheduled for release on 31 July 2016 and, as that date draws near, my excitement continually grows. I read the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the week that it was released here in the States and have found it difficult to live in the muggle world ever since.  I've put together a "Gift Guide for Modern Slytherins" as a way to jump back in to the wizarding world and get prepared for a day when J.K. Rowling will no longer ask fans to #keepthesecrets

The website for The Cursed Child has a pretty strong selection of Slytherin gifts. It's a little bit ironic that I didn't look through their merchandise until I was writing this post and inserting all of my links. Sarah & I are going to the Brand New and Modest Mouse concert tonight and I wish that I had that Slytherin House t-shirt to wear! 

Slytherin Gift Guide

  1. Theory 11 Monarch Playing Card (Green Edition)
  2. Aliexpress Black Peacoat
  3. Juniper Press Slytherin Book Set
  4. Tobermory 10 Year Scotch
  5. Natalie B Jewelry Slytherin Ring
  6. The Patriarchy Slytherin Banner
  7. Malfoy Tea Emporeum "Malfoy" Loose Leaf Tea
  8. Boker Rosewood Lock Back Knife
  9. The Witches Brew Python Leather Journal w/ Latch 

Related: Slytherin Merchandise from the Cursed Child Site, Harry Potter Spells for Death Eaters, How the Harry Potter Movie Series Should Have Ended, Death Eater Gift Guide, Harry Potter & The Cursed Child

Vanilla Blood Orange Old Fashioned Recipe

Sarah & I spent the weekend celebrating American independence by going to the beach, watching The Patriot, reading about the Declaration of Independence, and drinking prohibition era cocktails.

Sarah learned a recipe for the Clover Club and, while I sampled about four of those delicious drinks, I thought fondly about my love for bourbon. As for my own offering to the internet, I would like to present a slight variation on the classic Old Fashioned cocktail recipe. 

Vanilla Blood Orange Old Fashioned Recipe

Vanilla Blood Orange Old Fashioned

What you will need:

(For Old Fashioned Cocktail)

(For Vanilla Syrup)

  • 1 Vanilla bean
  • 1 Cup water
  • 1 Cup sugar

Step 1 | Make vanilla bean simple syrup by adding sugar and water to a small sauce pan. Slice the vanilla bean down the center and scrape out all of the tiny black seeds. Add the seeds and the pod into the water/sugar mixture. Turn the stove to medium high and heat the mixture for 10-15 minutes- until it comes to a boil and the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove the vanilla bean syrup from the heat and pour it into a glass container for storage. You can save this syrup in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Step 2 | Cut desired number of slices from your blood orange. I usually do at least one slice to be shaken with the cocktail and one more for garnish. 

Step 3 | In a shaker combine 1 tbsp water, 2 tbsp homemade vanilla bean syrup, 1.5 oz bourbon, a few dashes of bitters, and 1-2 slices of blood orange. 

Step 4 | Shake cocktail mixture vigorously and add ice to your whiskey glass.

Step 5 | Pour cocktail mixture over ice, garnish with a slice of blood orange, and enjoy!

I know it isn't a traditional Old Fashioned but I find this cocktail to be totally delicious and enjoyable. Let me know if you have any edits or bourbon recipe suggestions!

Related: 1, 2, 3

What I'm Reading (Independence Day Edition)

What I'm Reading Kindle paperwhite July 2016 Independence Day Collection
  1. American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence by Pauline Maier
  2. Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence by Joseph J. Ellis
  3. Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis
  4. 1776 by David McCullough
  5. Common Sense by Thomas Paine

This month's WIR is dedicated to the American Revolution and the circumstances which drove the colonies to declare themselves independent from Great Britain. It all started when I was collecting items for my "4th of July Essentials" post. I got so carried away that I (honestly) imagined an alternate version of myself, alive in 1775, adding to the atmosphere of revolution with my snarky words and rebellious attitude. When I came back to reality I scoured the internet for books that would give me a deeper understanding of the Revolution, what it meant, and the people that created a nation. 

Faux Leather Case Kindle paperwhite by The Rucksack Refinery, What I'm Reading July 4th 2016, A Modern Villain

 1 American Scripture: Making The Declaration of Independence by Pauline Maier 

This book covers the Declaration of Independence in great detail by discussing its creation, its influence, and the true origin of its ideas. Thomas Jefferson has famously said that the Declaration was  "Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion." In American Scripture, Pauline Maier expands on this sentiment by examining the sources of Jefferson's ideas.

 2 Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence by Joseph J. Ellis

I'm a big fan of the way Joseph J. Ellis transforms historical accounts into an entertaining, flowing, narrative. In Revolutionary Summer, Ellis discusses some of the major players of the American Revolution- George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, etc.- and the influence they had on world events. 

3 Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis

Another book by Joseph J. Ellis, this was actually the first book that I read. I originally picked this book up because I wanted to read about the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr- but I kept reading because of the insightful way Ellis humanizes the Founding Fathers. 

4 1776 by David McCullough

I'm currently reading 1776 and I'm really enjoying the way McCullogh portrays George Washington and his military campaign during the Revolutionary War. Where the other books on this list do a good job of discussing the political/social climate of the colonies that lead to our separation from Great Britain- 1776 describes the military operations that made that separation a reality. 

5 Common Sense by Thomas Paine

Common Sense by Thomas Paine was a pamphlet printed during the time of the Revolutionary War. Though it contained little, if any, original thoughts Common Sense encouraged readers to discuss their feelings/grievances publicly- which helped the revolutionary mentality to spread throughout the colonies. 

Well that's it for the 4th of July edition of WIR. The next edition probably won't be as patriotic. 

4th of July Essentials

A Modern Villain, 4th of July Collection

For the past few months Sarah & I have been binge watching House of Cards to the point that, well, we finished all four seasons. Now we're stuck in a weird Netflix limbo, with the music of that damned intro stuck in our heads, until 2017

While House of Cards didn't charge me to take on a career in politics it did inspire within me a new level or patriotism and appreciation for my home country. The aesthetics of the show were always just dark enough to be mysterious and sophisticated enough to be aspirational. I think its similar to the way Dos Equis' "Most Interesting Man in the World" makes you wish you were an old man telling stories and a young man living them all at one time. While watching I found myself trying to develop classy habits or to garner American versions of the ones that I already had. For example: I stopped spending my tip money on scotch and, instead, purchased nice bottles of bourbon. 

 House of Cards made me wish there were real politicians that are ruthless and ambitious enough to behave like Frank Underwood. It isn't his murderous nature or his corrupt actions that I appreciate- it's the passion behind his actions and, above all, his desire to leave something worthwhile behind. 

As Independence Day approaches I have been reading up on the Founding Fathers, the American Revolution, and the Declaration of Independence. I started putting together a collection of items that I'm calling "4th of July Essentials"- a list of goods to help you celebrate in style. I did my best to include only American made products here but, in the end, I think its our freedom to choose what we buy/how we live our lives that makes America great.  Happy independence Day!

4th of July Essentials

  1. Theory 11 "Union" Playing Cards by Jay Fletcher
  2. Leather Head Sports "Handsome Dan" Leather Football
  3. John Mihovetz Vintage American Flag
  4. Design Unsanctioned Bottle Opener Key Fob
  5. Peg & Awl Duffel Bag in "Moss"
  6. Blanton's Original Single Barrel Bourbon
  7. Penguin Random House Declaration of Independence & Constitution
  8. Lucky Liberty 1989 Coin Ring
  9. Diamond Sparklers Gold Sparkler #10 
  10. Manready Mercantile "Work Hard Live Well" Coaster Set
  11. Society Six USA 1927 Throw Pillow by Jon Contino (I wish it were a 1776 pillow.)