Halloween Starts Early with The 13 Dunny Series! They Glow in the Dark! (Full Case Unboxing)

Anyone who knows the Tobins knows that we LOVE Halloween and generally start thinking about it long before most people have even considered the possibility that summer might be waning. So of course we were super-excited when Entertainment Earth sent us a full case of “The 13” Dunny series blind boxes from Kid Robot!

This series was designed by toy-master Brandt Peters, who created a group of 13 crazy characters (and one chase) featuring ghosts, ghouls, and psychos of all types. They’re fun, creepy little figures that are perfect for any horror-and-Halloween lover, AND they ALL glow in the dark! How awesome is that?! Check out the vid for our unboxing, check the description box for a link to where you can order them for yourself, and be sure to leave a comment letting us know which ones are your favorites! Trust me, it’ll be difficult to pick just one!

Plans and Goals 2018: Week 33 Review


I’m going to start off this post by being completely honest about something: I am absolutely beyond scatterbrained today. I’m sitting here at nearly 9 pm, while Jason is downstairs editing a video that took us the better part of the day to actually get filmed, and I’m just staring at my computer screen thinking that I don’t even know what I’m going to say because my head feels like someone has flipped an “off” switch somewhere inside.

Seriously though, I felt awake and alert and raring to go first thing this morning, but as the day went on I got more and more worn down and more and more dopey in the brain, and now I feel much like I’m going to look at this post later and wonder who wrote it.

So with that in mind, let’s see if we can’t get through this together, hmm? Okay. Let’s go.

Plan #1: Focus more on Writing.
There are vitamins or supplements or something that help with focus, right? Someone throw me a bone here.

  • Goal #1: Write half a million words throughout the year. The good news is that my daily average didn’t go down this time around. The bad news is that it didn’t go up either, because I’ve started slipping again. I’m not even sure what happened at the very beginning of the week, as Monday and Tuesday’s spots on my day planner are completely empty, and I am rapidly regressing to the point where I can’t remember anything I haven’t written down. Wednesday is when I wrote last week’s post, as well as the Keto Update post for TraceysBasement.com. Thursday and Friday were two more days of “what the hell happened?” Saturday I wrote a TB post for a video we filmed, and then Sunday we were out all day so I didn’t write anything. I can’t tell you how much I’m disgusted by all that. Why am I not finding the time to write?
    In all seriousness, I can’t even find a reasonable scapegoat to blame anything on right now. I haven’t been playing phone games or video games. I haven’t been reading. I only watch TV at night when Jason and I are in bed… What the hell have I been doing that I’ve been completely and utterly unable to find time to sit the hell down and put words to paper?
    All frustration aside, I managed to write 4190 words last week, all of them blog post words. That brings the year’s total so far up to 135,261 and keeps my daily average steady at 585.
  • Goal #2: Sell more books. Anybody want to take any bets? Do I even need to go into it? Yeah, that’s right. It was another positively abysmal week. Let’s move along, shall we?
  • Goal #3: Complete and publish The Other World: Book Two. did manage to get a little bit done toward this goal in week 33, so that’s something. Mostly it was staring at a particular scene for ages, trying to work out exactly what was wrong with it, but at least it was something.

Plan #2: Focus more on YouTube.
Maybe what I really need is prescription medication. I know there’s plenty of options for that when it comes to focus.

  • Goal #1: Film more often.  We filmed a video last week! Emphasis on the word “a”. As in singular. Yeah, obviously it’s better than nothing, but obviously still a little depressing. The heat wave is finally over, thank goodness, but it’s proving difficult to get back into the swing of things now, especially with other, more pressing matters taking up a fair bit of our attention these days. We did actually film something earlier tonight, as I mentioned, so hopefully this week will be a better one than last week.
  • Goal #2: Put more focus into, and have more fun with, the social media aspect. I believe I mentioned that I’d been slacking off in this department. I think I’m starting to get back into it a bit, but I’m finding it surprisingly difficult to come up with ideas lately. It always amazes me that I can write stories with interesting characters, strange worlds, intense emotions…but I can’t seem to come up with a decent Tweet. It’s genuinely flabbergasting.
    That said, I posted about a million Instagram pictures across the two accounts yesterday, so that has to count for something.

#3: Focus more on myself.
Ritalin, right? That’s the one I need, right there.

  • Goal #1: Take time daily to read/watch/play.  No joke, I’m struggling to figure out what I’ve been doing with my time lately, because it hasn’t been writing, hasn’t been filming, and definitely hasn’t been taking time for myself. I haven’t read a thing, haven’t watched anything beyond what Jason and I watch in bed at night, and I may – MAY – have played an hour’s worth of phone games with missy over the course of the entire week.
  • Goal #2: Stay active, but don’t obsess. I did manage to get a little bit active in week 33, but not to a particularly impressive level. I went for a walk one day…played Just Dance with missy another day…and yesterday we were out shopping, which I count because of the massive amount of walking. Aaaaaand…that’s it.

And now that we’ve reached the end of the post I’ll say, with as much mental exertion as I can muster, that it was an awful, awful week. I think I’m going to hire someone to follow me around with a little camera and analyze my daily routine to figure out where the hell I’m losing all my time. Because, seriously, it feels like I’m constantly run-off-my-ass busy, and yet I’m getting nothing done, nothing to show for it. How that’s possible is beyond me, but it’s getting old. So wish me luck straightening my brain out and figuring out what the hell is going on.

How was your week? Were you able to accomplish anything? Do anything fun? Make any progress toward your own goals? Feel free to share!

TMNT Custom (CHALLENGE!) Nick’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Remote Control Michelangelo Custom Toy!

We’ve mentioned our buddy Nick before, because he’s an awesome artist who loves to take old, unwanted toys and transform them into something new and unique that looks amazing in someone’s collection. Lucky for us he’s donated several of these custom toys to The Basement in the past, and they have places of honor among all of our collectibles.

Recently Jason picked up a double of a toy Adrianna has, which he found in a local thrift shop, and gave it to Nick to see what he could come up with. What he did was far and beyond what I was imagining, and is absolutely awesome. Check out the vid, and then click the link in the description box to go to Nick’s Instagram account to see more of his custom awesomeness!

Plans and Goals 2018: Week 32 Review


Hey, is it-? Hold on a second…
*checks Fitbit*
Dammit, it’s Wednesday, isn’t it?

The weekend was more than a little busy and stressful for me, so I’m a little off-kilter as far as where the hell in the week/month/year I am at the moment. This post didn’t happen on Monday because I had to do a 4-hour round-trip drive to a 3-hour-long family birthday party, punctuated by spending the morning making sure Jason had Keto-friendly food to eat while I was gone. It didn’t happen again yesterday because after an exhausting weekend we all slept in late, spent some time Pokemon Go-ing as a family, and went back to bed fairly early after I’d spent a few hours trying to concoct more Keto-friendly food.

So now it’s Wednesday. That’ll have to be good enough! We all know that sometimes things just don’t happen when they’re supposed to, so let’s just move on, shall we? You guys know the drill!

Plan #1: Focus more on Writing.
In week 32 I continued my trend of writing as much as I could in the beginning of the week, and then just dropping off the face of the planet (my laptop?) for the second half of the week. This time I didn’t even realize it had happened. I could have sworn I wrote more than what I have recorded in my daily planner, but I couldn’t tell you what I wrote, so I guess I must be imagining things.

  • Goal #1: Write half a million words throughout the year. I did better again! Though, like I said above, I could have sworn I actually wrote more, what I did write is nothing to sneeze at. While I only wrote a paisley 376 fictional words, I also wrote 5378 words toward blog posts, both for this blog and for TraceysBasement.com. That’s a weekly total of 5754, which is my highest week since week 16! Not too shabby! That also brings my year’s total so far up to 131,071, and my daily average up a little bit more to 585. Here’s to continuing that trend!
  • Goal #2: Sell more books. I just….*sigh*….do I have to talk about this one? Let’s make it really simple: I didn’t sell anything last week. Zero book sales, of any kind. Moving on.
  • Goal #3: Complete and publish The Other World: Book Two. Unfortunately I didn’t get anything done toward this goal in week 32. With the amount of running around we’ve been doing for summer events and family get-togethers and the like, it’s been difficult to find the time to sit down and focus in a quiet environment, which is what I need in order to edit. I would still say that I’m in a decent spot with this one right now, but hopefully I actually manage to steal a few hours this week to put some more work into it.

Plan #2: Focus more on YouTube.
*watches the tumbleweeds roll on by*

  • Goal #1: Film more often.  There’s no getting past it. We went another full week without filming a single thing. While I obviously can’t 100% blame the weather, I di have to continue to point out that it’s just too goddamn hot to film. We did borrow an air conditioner from my parents, only to find out that it requires a special hose attachment that my mother insists my father threw out. And on top of that we can’t even buy a new one because this particular unit is so old that I can’t even find second-hand parts for it. So the basement continues to be barely comfortable, and becomes completely unlivable once we’re sitting in front of all the filming lights. Thus, zero filming.
    Something is definitely going to have to change this week, one way or the other, because our channel is going to die if we continue to put out zero content, but I’m just not sure what to try, short of literally covering ourselves in icepacks while we try to film.
  • Goal #2: Put more focus into, and have more fun with, the social media aspect. Again I have to admit that I’ve been slacking on this one, on the channel accounts, but even worse on the author accounts. Part of it is that my focus has been a little fractured recently. Part of it is also the fact that I’ve felt myself stretched for time what with all the traveling, family stuff, and getting used to spending more time cooking while dealing with Keto. Neither are particularly good excuses for not throwing out a Tweet every now and then, but you get my meaning. I intend to try harder in the coming weeks, if I can just get my head on straight and reorganize myself.

#3: Focus more on myself.
Focus on myself has been difficult lately. For one, we’ve got all that running around nonsense. For another, it seems like there’s always something to do lately, whether it’s cooking Keto food or trying to make sure the little one enjoys her last few weeks of summer. I just haven’t been finding a lot of time to dedicate toward myself.

  • Goal #1: Take time daily to read/watch/play.  I did manage to finally finish reading A Clockwork Orange recently, so yay for that! That’s probably the only major claim I can make though. I’ve watched whatever Jason put on the TV at night, and I’ve played a tiny bit of mobile games (I’m trying really hard to cut back since they’re an immense time suck), and that’s about it. I’ve been meaning to start reading Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, but I haven’t quite got around to it yet.
  • Goal #2: Stay active, but don’t obsess. Was I active in week 32? I’m honestly having a difficult time remembering, and since my FitBit band has been broken (replacement should be showing up today!) I can’t check my tracker for any info. Bluntly, I’m going to assume that I didn’t do much. Last week was a bad one for Keto (which I’ll be posting about on TraceysBasement.com shortly) so I was tired, cranky, and all-in-all not willing to do a lot of physical activity. I did get a little bit of swimming in at Jason’s aunt’s pool while we were visiting, but since I’m not exactly the strongest swimmer that wasn’t a hugely impressive bit of cardio, if you catch my meaning. All in all I just spent the week being fairly sedentary.

Looking back on the week after having written everything out like this…it looks like it was a pretty horrible one! The writing went okay, but everything else seemed to just completely fall apart on me! But you know what? Screw it. Week 32 is in the past, and today is another day. Let’s move forward, shall we? Yes. Yes we shall.

How was your week? Were you able to accomplish anything? Do anything fun? Make any progress toward your own goals? Feel free to share!

“A Clockwork Orange” – Spoiler-Free Book Review

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess


“What’s it going to be then, eh?”

Normally I start off these reviews with a digital photo of the book cover for cleanliness and clarity. But this particular copy of A Clockwork Orange was a gift given to me by my lovely friend River. Therefore I thought I’d instead use this shot I took of it on my shelf with the Alex DeLarge Funko Mystery Mini I got in a massive blind box haul!

A Clockwork Orange is one of those classic books that I’ve had on my list of “things I really should read” for years. I’ve long since seen the movie and was very curious about how it matched up to the book. Sadly I just never seemed to get around to picking up a copy. Cue River, who found this out and just couldn’t let the injustice stand! She had an extra copy and shipped it my way immediately. Thanks again, River!

“He looked a malenky bit poogly when he viddied the four of us like that…”

The first thing I have to mention about A Clockwork Orange is that some people may find it a little difficult to read, or at least to get into, because of the language. I don’t want to deter anybody; I just want to give a heads up. A large portion of the book is written in “nadsat slang” (teen-speak), which is, according to Burgess, a “Russified” version of English. This can be quite confusing, especially in the beginning chapters, because our humble Narrator rarely explains the strange words he’s using.

Eventually a few things begin to come clear. “Cutter”, “deng”, and “pretty polly” all refer to money. “Bezoomny” means mad or crazy. A “droog” is a friend, a “devotchka” is a young lady, and a “chelloveck” is a young man. But there are plenty more – see this Appendix for a list – and many only come up once or twice, leaving you no chance to discern their nature. It’s left up to the reader to try to figure it out, and if you’re anything like me you won’t have a clue. Unless, perhaps, you’re familiar with Russian.

But immersion is one of the best forms of learning tools.

As I said, the confusing slang shouldn’t be a deterrent, as it slowly becomes more like background noise. By the time I was halfway into the book I was finding myself hardly even noticing the slang. Some of it I’d naturally picked up as I went. Some I still didn’t get, but I found myself understanding the general context of what the sentence was saying anyway. All in all it didn’t both me enough to ruin my enjoyment of the book. In fact, it did enhance the feel of the story. Our Narrator is a teenager, after all, and who the hell understands teenagers?

Moving away from the language…

For anyone who has neither read the book nor seen the movie, the overarching story is about the violence of youth. Along with that comes the importance of free will. Eventually the disgusting nature of government and politics is mixed in as well (although I’m not certain Burgess intended to express it that way, or if it was just a side-effect).

Our Humble Narrator is Alex DeLarge, a teen who has two obsessions in life: classical music and ultra-violence. He and his “droogs” are the epitome of evil, and I don’t say that lightly. They aren’t just hoodlums. They aren’t just thieves. They’re sociopaths who do whatever (and whomever) they wish. To these ends, some might find A Clockwork Orange to be a difficult read. This is a far warning. There really is “ultra-violence” in this story. Burgess takes the idea of teenagers being impulsive, self-involved little bastards and takes it to the extreme. A night on the town for this group is bashing a few faces in and maybe breaking into someone’s home to have their way with the lady of the house.

But here’s the twist…

As brutal as our Narrator’s actions are, what makes A Clockwork Orange a particularly weird read is that we’re meant to empathize with him. When the state takes extreme measures in order to redeem Alex (not a spoiler! It’s on the back of the book!) we’re meant to sympathize with his plight. They’re attempting to “fix” him by literally taking away his ability to do the things he does. In this way, the book is a very interesting commentary on what freedom and free will are, and how important they are when compared to the safety and comfort of society.

Ultimately, for this reason, the story gave me a feeling of disjointed loss; I didn’t know what I wanted the outcome to be. On the one hand Alex was clearly a psycho who deserved to burn for the things he’d done. On the other hand, he had one redeeming quality that was inadvertently stolen from him along with his free will. I was – as I believe Burgess intended – able to feel bad for him. I wanted him to pay for his sins, but I also wanted those who’d destroyed his mind to pay for theirs.

Stop playing with my emotions, authors!

It’s a rare thing, I think, to be able to hate a character one moment, and root for them the next. Especially rare is when those two oxymoronic notions play leap frog in your head, bouncing from one to the other and back again. To my recollection I believe only one other author ever accomplished this particular feat with me, and that was George R.R. Martin of A Song of Ice and Fire fame. In his world people make evil decisions one moment, and moral ones the next, so that a villain may turn out to become your favorite hero. Then he’ll turn around and do something horrible that makes you feel psychotic for ever liking them for even a moment.

Burgess’s Alex DeLarge is the same way. He’s an evil, horrid little wretch who you want to suffer. But then does suffer, in a rather horrible way, so you can’t help rooting for him, at least a little bit. Yet at the same time you still think he’s horrid. It’s a very complex mental conundrum.

The 21st Chapter

My copy of the book also has the missing twenty-first chapter. When the book was first released in the US, this final chapter was dropped out with the vague explanation of “Americans won’t get it”. Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation  followed suit and ended with the second-to-last chapter, although this may have been for unrelated reasons owing to artistic expression. Having now read the final chapter – and having seen the film – I’m not entirely certain what they thought Americans wouldn’t “get”. It’s seems to be a perfectly straightforward concept to me, but then…no spoilers, so you’ll have to judge for yourself.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, I would personally say that Burgess got across the point he was trying to make with this story. It may have been done in an especially extreme way, making Alex out to be the worst possible example he could fathom. Regardless, by the end of that final chapter (the real final chapter) it definitely made sense as to where Burgess had been going with it all. He made his point about free will. He made his point about government and authority. And he made his point about youth, and the inevitability of youth passing into age.

A Clockwork Orange is definitely worth a read, especially if you’re a fan of the film, or if the film left a hundred questions in your head. Burgess was inside Alex’s mind, and was able to portray that mind in a frighteningly thorough fashion. Grab this one for your bookshelf now!

Want to check out A Clockwork Orange for yourself? Click right here to order!
Already read it? Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comment section below!