1 Mar

March 2017 Calendar of Events

Happy March, friends! Bulbs are coming up, days are getting longer, and we've got a whole new month of celebrations, of course! From Women of Color Day, to National Napping Day, to Won't You Be My Neighbor Day, and National Respect Your Cat Day, there's a whole lot to celebrate. Read on to see what's getting our panties in a bunch this month! Read more >>

24 Feb

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Pride & Prejudice for a New Generation

It is a rare occasion that I give even a moment's thought to the question "Is this adaptation even close to as good as the source material?" So it is during these rare occasions that I must put a spotlight on the adaptation in question. Few stories are able to reach these heights. Aside from the focus of this blog, the only adaptations I can think of in this category are Matilda, Harry Potters 1-3, and Spider-Man 2, the movie and video game. To fit this category, an adaptation should not simply be a word-for-word recreation of the text, nor should it stray too far. It is, to me, most important to capture the energy and feelings evoked from the work. This criteria is what makes The Lizzie Bennet Diaries one of the strongest adaptations ever.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a retelling of the Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, using vlogging as the platform. It aired from 2012-2013 on YouTube. Produced by Hank Green, this adaptation tackles both the love lives and careers of a streamlined three Bennet sisters—Lizzie, Jane, and Lydia—and Charlotte, Lizzie's best friend. In modern day, Lizzie and Charlotte are media grad students entering their last year, while Jane works as an unpaid intern for a fashion line, and Lydia is finishing college. They all live at home, something very sympathetic to this blogger, and one of the small things that makes Pride and Prejudice an eternal story.

At its core, P&P is a story about family, love, life, and social advancement. These don't change when you add in a series of jump cuts and character twitter accounts. The social media and vlogs started by other characters add to the story in ways that other adaptations simply can't. As she comes to learn throughout the plot, Lizzie is a horribly stubborn character who can't reliably narrate her way out of a social formal. Because this is a modern story, other characters are able to give their opinions and thoughts on the happenings surrounding them. We get a fuller perspective on what's going on as characters like Gigi Darcy enter the stage much sooner through their social media presence than they actually appear on screen.

A great aspect of this story is the time given to individual moments. The original release had multiple episodes coming out every week for a year, ranging from three to ten minutes each. The result is the longest adaptation of Pride and Prejudice ever, in bite-sized pieces. It is easy to lose hours watching the series. "Just one more" only means another four minutes, but as you get lost in the Southern Californian lives of the Bennet sisters, you quickly forget what you were planning to do after you finish "just this episode."

Although the love story of Lizzie and Darcy, dubbed "Dizzie" by fans (I kind of hate name-smashing as a ship name. Whatever happened to the good old days of MSR? And why can't people be fine with a simple slash or x between names? I digress.), is still quite the presence, it's not the dominating story line as it is in many takes on the tale, and in people's minds. Darcy is, of course, still the incredibly prejudiced, but incredibly loving, socially-awkward, hot dude he's always been meant to be, but more of the plot is dedicated to exploring the dynamics of four young women striving to advance their lives and careers. I cried more over the fights and arguments between the girls than I ever did over the heartbreak and love lives, and I'm sure most viewers did the same.

I implore you, dearest reader, whether you have loved Pride and Prejudice for a long time or have never even thought about picking up the book (as I had not before watching this web series), to watch The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. As for my original question, I don't know that The LBD quite stacks up to the power of the original novel, but no adaptation truly can. It is a worthy adaptation all the same for being able to even start the conversation, and it is my favorite adaptation of Pride and Prejudice for the same reason. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is patient and kind when the title character is less than so. It loves its characters and wants to tell everyone's side of the story even when she does not, and especially when she cannot. You can start with episode one, following along with all the associated social media in chronological order by following this link (click it, click it please!).

20 Feb

Find Someone to Love You Unconditionally on National Love Your Pet Day!

February 20th is National Love Your Pet Day!  Aka the best and most beautiful day of the year!  We love pets.  They are cuddly and adorable and the actual best.  Pet ownership has been scientifically proven* to make your life better.  Taking care of a creature other than yourself not only imparts responsibility and makes you a less narcissistic crazypants, but it is also the essential ingredient for a perfect meet-cute.  Basically what I'm trying to say is that you should have a pet.  Because if you don't have a pet, you will get pregnant.  And die.

Nevermind that, though!  Let's look at pictures of the various and sundry pets of Kards Unlimited!


Speck is so amazing and majestic.


Ate and Ursula! Cuddling kittens of DOOM!

Baby Ursula was the best Ursula.


Oh Watson. You goofball.


Ha, Sipper. Too cute. Look at her little crossed eyes.

This is Rick. She clearly takes after her owner Dale

And this is Clover! I love her so much and I haven't even met her yet!

*I don't really think that science has proven anything of the kind, but it sounds reasonable.  Pets are the best.  Just trust me.
By    No Comments
19 Feb

Son of a Bat: The Story of Damian Wayne

Not every superhero is lucky enough to have a family. In fact, it's often the lack of loved ones that propels a "Mask" into the battle, as it were, and what pushes them to keep searching for justice.

We know Bruce Wayne lost his parents at a very young age due to violence, and Batman has never been one to show much emotion. He's reserved and quiet when it comes to his feelings on...feelings. However, every now and again we get a peek into the softer side of the Bat. Especially when it comes to his son, Damian.

There's a father-son bond between these two that isn't often seen in the many worlds of comics. Bruce was unaware of his son's existence; Damien was brought up by Talia al Ghul and trained by the League of Assassins to be able to destroy Batman. The plans went awry and Damian ended up being adopted by Bruce and trained as his next Robin. Bruce worries about his son in the way only a man who has lost his whole family can, and vice versa. They keep each other in line. It can be quite dramatic and even adorable to see their interactions together.

But where Bruce is very strict and straight-laced, Damian is easy-going and loves to laugh. Damian's sassy attitude is quite amusing and his rule-breaking can often get him into trouble with Bruce and the other members of the Bat-family. There was always a conflict within Damian that had him, on one hand, looking to Batman as his father and mentor, but on the other hand, looking to his grandfather Ra's al Ghul (the Demon's head) as an influence. It's all too easy to kill your enemies and walk away. Damian struggles with his inner demons on a daily basis.

Because Damian has chosen to stay with Bruce and chosen the path of not killing, Talia and Ra's want revenge. They feel that he has betrayed the family and all of their teachings, so they set out to assassinate him and to hurt Bruce in one terrible moment.

The assassination plot a success, Damien is killed, but as long as the Multiverse flourishes and the Lazares Pits boil, all is not lost...



18 Feb

A [Star]Fleet of Fun on Flirting Day

Why thank you Neil deGrasse Tyson, you are out of this world, too.

Why thank you Neil deGrasse Tyson, you are out of this world, too.

Here at KU, the staff isn't shy of flirting. We flirt with customers, with each other, and even with ourselves (OK, I can't speak to the rest of the staff on that last one, but all I'm saying is that if you've never looked yourself in the mirror and said aloud 'my, my, someone's looking adorably nerdy/damn sexy/pleasurably pleasant today,' then you're missing out. Makes the soul feel good.) So Flirting Day on February 18 should probably be one of Kards' official holidays, behind May the Fourth Be With You Day, Pierogi and Taco Days, and, you know, actual holidays.

Flirting Day, or, alternatively, Flirting Week if one needs more time for the flirtage, takes place each year in the third week of February as part of a post-Valentine's week dedicated to celebrating singlehood. Other days include Singles Awareness Day and Perfume Day. There's not a whole lot of background for this holiday, but it's pretty self-explanatory. Find a person and have a good-natured, friendly, and most importantly, not creepy flirt session.

Don't know how to flirt? It's cool, me neither. (Have I brought up the fact that I'm a crazy cat lady way too many times while trying to woo a stranger? Yes. Yes, I have. And I will again and again and again because, well, you can't teach an old cat new tricks.) However, thanks to the interweb, I have compiled a list of some of the best nerdy pickup lines to help you get your foot in the door. Once wooing is initiated with these flawless lines,* you are free to flirt on, my friends.


For the science nerd:

Are you made of copper and tellurium? Because you are CuTe.

Do you like science? Because I've got my ion you.

Do you have 11 protons? Because you are Sodium fine!

For the music nerd:

I bet you and I could get into some serious treble together.

You must be a choir director, because you make my heart sing.

You had me at cello.

 For the literary nerd:

Charles Dickens may have given you Great Expectations, but I can meet them.

I believe in The Importance of Being Earnest, so I'm just going to say it: I'm Wilde about you.

I like books, you like books, why don't we start writing the story of us?

If it was 1984, and I was Big Brother, I'd only watch you.

For the computer nerd:

You must be wi-fi, because I feel a connection here.

Is your name Google? 'Cause you're everything I've been searching for.

Roses are #ff0000, violets are #0000ff, all my base are belong to you.

For the video game nerd:

Are you wearing Pegasus Boots? Because you've been running through my mind all day. (Zelda)

Are you a pikachu? Because you are shockingly beautiful. (Pokemon)

I think something is wrong with my auto-aim. I can't take my eyes off you. (Halo)

Will you be my Final Fantasy? (Not explaining this one. If you don't get it, you probably shouldn't use it.)

For the fandom nerd:

I've fallen harder for you than Bran Stark. (Game of Thrones)

You're the Obi-Wan for me. (Star Wars)

The fires of Mount Doom aren't nearly as hot as you. (Lord of the Rings)

Your phaser's on kill, but you're stunning me. (Star Trek)

You must play Quidditch. I know a Keeper when I see one. (Harry Potter)

You must be an angel because your beauty is blinding. (Supernatural)

Are you a weeping angel? Because I can't take my eyes off you. (Dr. Who)


All right, you are ready to head out on your flirting adventure. Happy Flirting Day!

*Pickup lines have not been personally tested on humans, only my cat, who seemed to appreciate them. Or maybe she was purring at the bowl of food in my hand. Either way, results not guaranteed.

15 Feb

(Puff Puff) Pass the Bill


February is National Marijuana Awareness Month, though I'm sure if you're reading this blog, you're probably very aware of that, or you forgot, and that's cool too, because like, not every one is perfect, man. This funky smelling, seed bearing plant has its roots planted deep in American history, culture, and has sprouted in the medical field in recent years.

With all these "alternative facts" getting passed around like a joint at a Snoop Dogg concert, it's hard to filter out the the primo stuff from the schwag. The history of Marijuana is long and well documented, and if you'd like to learn about that, you can here, but we're focusing on modern times.

imageEveryone knows about marijuana, I don't think it needs an introduction. What I think it needs is a re-branding. Marijuana isn't just a plant that makes you sit at stop signs waiting for them to turn green. While I'm not one to claim pot is the end all, be all savior we need (but do deserve), there is no denying that marijuana has plenty of uses that we're not utilizing simply because of outdated laws, for-profit prisons, and legislators in bed with pharmaceutical companies.

This country cannot move forward with changing the laws regarding the plant if the people are not properly informed. The laws do not represent the public opinion. Sixty percent of Americans are in favor of legalization.

Currently, marijuana is classified as a Schedule One drug, defining it as "a drug that currently has no accepted medical use." Other Schedule One drugs include heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and peyote. There is an argument for each of those having some medical use. Hell, heroin was the name Bayer used to sell their morphine concoction under. But one of these things is not like the others. Marijuana has no confirmed overdose deaths in the history of humans, marijuana is not chemically addictive, and, most important, marijuana is the only schedule one drug currently legal for recreational use in nine states and medical use in twenty eight states.


We all know about the stereotypical stoner: Forgetful, long hair, red eyes, constantly hungry...so Shaggy from Scooby Doo?  Come to think of it, the smoke was always coming from the back windows and not the muffler... but I digress. Marijuana use among adults has risen in the past few years from seven percent in 2013 to thirteen percent in 2016, that's one in eight American adults. Look around the office you work in, there are most likely a few smokers working hard just like everyone else. And if you work in the food industry, all your co-workers are stoned. Your TPS reports still get done, and your pizza is still delicious, though it would taste even better high.

Not everyone who uses marijuana is a recreational user either, there are over 1.2 million medical marijuana users in America, averaging about 8.6 per 1,000 residents. My mother was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, she has been through radiation, chemo, morphine pumps, and hospice care. Nothing has been able to curb her spirit, but most of these medications do curb her appetite. She was never a heavy pot smoker, the occasional joint with friends was about as much as she could take. One night, I got tired of her saying she wasn't hungry, so I asked if she'd smoke. She agreed and, it only took a few puffs for her to look at me with the goofiest expression I've ever seen, and cackle, "I want some fucking Wendy's."image

Dave Chappelle, star of the cult hit "Half Baked" and legendary stand up comedian has a famous bit that goes along the lines of, and I"m paraphrasing here, "When white people get high, all they do is sit around and talk about other times they got high." As true as that may be, if we want change, we need to act like adults and support the causes, talk to legislators, get the right information out there. The Pittsburgh chapter of NORML is a great website to get started. They organize functions, raise awareness, and you can register to vote on their site. Medical Marijuana and decriminalization have both been passed in our Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, though the struggle for full legalization rages. Now, I'm not saying to start making signs and chanting, that isn't going to help anything. Use your brain, don't let let marijuana define who you are.

10 Feb

Get Lit This Valentine’s: 10 Literary Gifts For Your Book Nerd!

It's almost Valentine's Day and flowers would be a great gift if your Valentine didn't prefer the smell of a new book over a fresh rose. This Valentine's Day, make an evening of the things your favorite book nerd loves most with a literary-themed night in. Here are some of the romantic, funny, and fun bookish gifts available at Kards Unlimited to help you plan the night!

1. Out of Print T-Shirts

Set the tone for the evening with literary shirts from Out of Print! Throw on matching Where the Wild Things Are tees before showing off your wild sides (ahem). The Alice in Wonderland design (pictured) will lead the way down the rabbit hole of love (ahem). Comfortable enough for sleepwear, trendy enough for daywear, your Valentine won't be able to get enough of their shirt.

2. Bookish Jewelry

Gift the one you love (or really really like) book-themed accessories to finish the look. Voz cuffs and pendants are perfect for a Valentine-on-a-budget. Designed for pop culture and literary buffs, designs range from the bold ("Books are sexy") to the romantic ("You have bewitched me body and soul").

Kathy Bransfield Necklaces are hand-stamped necklaces will sweep your sweet off her feet. Made of sterling silver with gold-plated brass overlays, romantic themes include Tennyson's iconic quote, "If I had a flower for every time I thought of you I could walk through my garden forever." Cue the swoon. Here are some others, including for your bestie; don't forget Galentine's Day is the Monday before Valentine's Day!

3. Get Cookin'

Once you're both dressed for the occasion, warm things up in the kitchen with dinner from a lit-inspired cookbook. From the playful 50 Shades of Chicken to cookbooks inspired by the Outlander and True Blood series, we've got plenty of cheeky, sexy, and delicious options to choose from. Make the meal solo or turn it into a team adventure; sometimes two cooks are more fun than one!

4. Harry Potter Games

Ron and Hermione. Harry and Ginny. Always. Anyone who says the Harry Potter series isn't romantic is a dirty filthy liar. While the 32nd shade of chicken is in the oven, have some lighthearted game time with Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit, Hogwarts Battle, or Harry Potter Clue. I'm sure there are ways to make it sexy, if that's your kind of thing. Remember, Gryffindors, this is Valentine's Day, you don't have to win.

5. Temporary Tattoos

Now that you're all romantic over HP, you've probably realized you're soulmates. But before you go get matching Always tattoos on your first Valentine's together, try something a little less permanent. Go the sensible, romantic route with a set of Jane Austen tattoos, or the dark but just as fun Edgar Allen Poe set. "The Tell-Tale Heart" is kind of Valentines-y, right? I mean, it's got a heart.

6. Coloring Books

All right, the Ravenclaw won Trivial Pursuit in five minutes flat and temporary tattoos are now plastered over arms, legs, faces, and the dog, but there are still fifteen minutes before dinner is ready. What to do? Let your love relax and color pictures from their favorite books while you set the table. Whether coloring sizzling scenes from Outlander and Game of Thrones, or re-living childhood with The Little Prince, Little House on the Prairie, or Harry Potter, coloring books are all the rage right now for a reason.

7. Poetry

What's sweeter than dessert? Poetry. All right, don't skip dessert. That would be a bad choice on Valentine's, but certainly add to the sweetness with some poetry recitation. Not a poet? We have you covered. Love poems are always a great choice, but if you’re looking for something for year-round, we also offer themed books of poetry covering just about everything, including pets and animals, music and the blues, marriage, parenthood, solitude, and even a book of erotic poems. Take your pick, it's hard to go wrong.

8. North Ave Candles

Time to get cozy before the evening's main event: reading! (What's better?) Pull out the plushest blankets and add some ambiance with a North Ave Candle. Heat things up with a Fahrenheit 451 inspired candle, which smells of smoked pine and parchment, or play some jazz and light a gin, juniper, and daisy Great Gatsby candle. Offering more than a dozen book-inspired scents, North Ave Candles are made right in Pittsburgh!


9. Tea

Almost ready to cuddle and read, but don't forget the best friend of book nerds: tea! Tea Forte's heart-shaped gift sets will warm your Valentine's heart, but any of the samplers are strong choices. Chocolate tea will satiate the sweet tooth, while teas for the heart will show you care. The Tea Forte Noir flavors are especially fun for after dark. Don’t know where to start? Our staff happens to love tea, and we love to talk, so feel free to askfor recommendations.

10. Books

Now the best part of the evening, it’s time to read! We may be called Kards Unlimited, but we also have a pretty awesome selection of books. Better yet, we've compiled a special section with our favorite love and romance books to make shopping for your Valentine even easier. From Pride and Prejudice to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and tear-jerker Me Before You to Aziz Ansari’s comedic Modern Romance, there’s something for every taste and romance level.

Come on in to Kards Unlimited for more great ideas to make your Valentine's Day one for the history books. And don't forget your Valentine's Day card while you're here!

6 Feb

Learn to steal like Neil Gaiman!

I read a book a while ago called Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon.  The book isn't really about stealing, of course, but about how to go about capitalizing on inspiration and understanding the differences between emulating a style because you appreciate it and straight up copying someone else's work.

When I heard Neil Gaiman was going to publish a book of Norse mythology (inventively entitled, Norse Mythology), I immediately thought of Steal Like an Artist because one of the things Kleon talks about in the book is getting to know the influences of your influences.  If you want to paint like Van Gogh, find out not only all you can about him, find out all you can about the painters that he admired and that influenced him.

Gaiman's appreciation for Norse myth is very obvious when you read his novel American Gods, since several characters directly from Norse mythology are transformed into main characters of the novel.  However, I'm excited to read the Norse myths retold by Gaiman himself, since they are such a significant influence on his writing.

Norse mythology is not nearly as well known in America as its Southern European counterparts.  Indeed, the word mythology in and of itself generally gets people thinking of Olympus and Hercules and the rest of the Greek pantheon.  Norse mythology is quite different.  The gods are more heroic and human, their enemies are much more diverse and, frankly, weird, and the nine worlds that make up the Norse universe provide a multitude of paths a departed soul can take from life instead of a simple trip across a river to the Underworld of the Greeks and Romans.

Anyone who has asked for book recommendations at Kards Unlimited has undoubtedly been pointed in the direction of Neil Gaiman.  All of his books have been picked as favorites of at least a few of the staff and the KU Book Club has read three of his novels over the course of our meetings.  I'm certainly not alone in being excited for Gaiman's newest book, and I think you will be too.  Come pick up a signed copy, on sale tomorrow, 2/7/17!

By    No Comments