Goth up your tea game!

The area between “sort of edgy” and “likes old-fashioned things” is usually the realm of hipsters.

But what if “hipster” doesn’t feel right? You don’t have enough of a beard, or you don’t love beer, or you just want to wear black all the time?

Have you considered becoming a tea goth?

Whether you love coffee, tea, or gothy things, here are five Etsy (buy handmade!) finds for you:

1. This skull mug ($42). Skulls are in everybody’s head. But for some reason not everyone celebrates them. This is a body-positivity fail. Enjoy your body, and its underpinnings, while you wake up.

2. This spiky mug with a purple interior ($35). The spikes say “I’m tough!” but the fact that you’re a Goth in the first place says “I have a lot of tender feelings in here.”

3. A teaspoon that says “poison” ($11.42). How funny would it be if you actually poisoned someone with this? (I mean, don’t. This is a hypothetical thought exercise.)

4. A skull mug enamel pin ($7). In case you can’t afford the real skull mug, or want to add to the bounty of pins on your black denim jacket.

5. Nightmare Before Christmas teapot ($125). I want this despite my beef with Tim Burton, and the fact that I prefer a gravity steeper. It’d look so good in my house.

Any other suggestions for this list?

Recommendation: Try Maria Bamford’s new show “Lady Dynamite” on Netflix

Lots of stuff isn’t usually “funny.” Dead pets, passive-aggressive friends, African war-children, compromising one’s ideals for work, breakups — oh, and getting committed to an asylum.

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Maria Bamford has to deal with all that shit in “Lady Dynamite” (Netflix streaming). This somewhat-autobiographical show had me laughing, cringing, and nodding in equal measure. It’s uncomfortable to watch sometimes. It takes a few episodes to get rolling. But once it’s on its way, it’s addictive.

It’s not quite like anything I’ve ever seen before, which is hard to say.

Plus, the dogs talk.

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The dogs’ plots are central to the main plot.

I respect that.

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My Top 5 Summer Reads!

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I’ve read precisely 20 books this summer, which feels so good, you guys. It’s an accomplishment, but more importantly, it’s a round number.

It’s like petting a puppy. Or taking off your bra at the end of the day. The world is right and you are doing okay.

Of those 20, I’ve picked my top 5 for you to try. 5 is a nice, attractive digit. It has a sharp part and a curve.

Of the twenty, it is “one-quarter,” a phrase that sounds British somehow.

Without further dithering, I present my summer reads, which are, I suppose, going to have to be your fall reads.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel. A bunch of giant, ancient, metallic body parts turn up all over the world. Where did they come from? What happens when they assemble? Is humanity ready?

This book is mostly interview transcripts and journal entries, and the postmodern jumble works here.

I found out in my research for this post that there’s a sequel, which I hadn’t been expecting. The book works well on its own. You can read it without feeling compelled to get sucked into a series.

The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu. What happens you blend Asian mythology, science fiction, magical realism, and oodles of heart-rending emotion? Something much tastier than that paltry protein shake you’re drinking at home, that’s for sure.

This collection of short stories has a ridiculously good percentage of winners. I describe most short story collections as “hit and miss,” but this one was “hit, and hit, and hit, and hit, and I guess that one was just okay. Now back to more hits.”

All The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. An awkward young teenage witch befriends and falls out with an awkward teenage genius. Years later, they find themselves on the opposite end of a war of magic vs technology in a quest to determine, you know, the fate of the Earth.

Usually books about the fate of the Earth reach too high and, like Icarus, become violently re-acquainted with the ground. Not so here. The ending is satisfying.

But What If We’re Wrong by Chuck Klosterman. This book features a section in which the author gets in a tiff with Neil deGrasse Tyson over whether another scientific revolution is possible. Their interaction alone is worth a read.

But the rest of the book is interesting too. It talks about how most of history is distilled down to simple ideas or representative figureheads for movements. And it’s not always the thing that’s popular at the time.

The writing of history is written, of course, after it happens. We’ll never know how we’re going to be remembered. We can guess, but we’d be wrong.

Klosterman’s points often get muddled by digressions, but I like that. You don’t go in there for answers. You go in there to plod through his head. You’re flipping up rugs. Sitting on the couch in the frontal lobes. Checking out the refrigerator behind the limbic system.

Grunt by Mary Roach. I’ve loved Mary Roach since Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. She looks into the science that’s less popular, and typically considered “icky,” if not outright offensive.

Her approach to the science of soldiers isn’t about guns, nukes, formations, etc. It’s about the off-kilter, unsung science you don’t consider about war. Reducing insects. Controlling diarrhea. Replacing injured penises.

Sure, you thought about prosthetic legs. But have you considered prosthetic schlongs? What about transplanted ding-a-lings from corpses?

You haven’t. Until now. You’re welcome.

This book is compulsively readable. You will also enjoy reading it aloud to the people around you. If you have to know about these things, so does everyone else.

It occurs to me that I’ve given you these recommendations as school is starting. Think of them as your anti-syllabus to complete while you’re avoiding your actual duties.

10 Lesser-Known Horror Movies To Enjoy Before Halloween

I used to be terrified of the dark. I had a night-light until I was 18. I held my pee until I was in agony because I didn’t want to leave the safety of my bed. I made my brother — my younger brother — sleep on the basement couches with me on the weekends.

Now I can’t get enough horror.

I don’t even mind the shitty stuff — but today I’m going to talk about some really great movies. I’ve divided ten lesser-known horror flicks into three groups: funny, ill-thunk, and classic. There’s something for everyone!

Everyone except my childhood self, that is.

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1. Final Girls. Contemporary teens get trapped in an 80s slasher flick they know by heart. Can they prevent the deaths of the characters — and themselves?

2. Housebound. In lieu of jail, police ground a fully-grown woman to her parents’ home. (Does this really happen in New Zealand?) The protagonist uses this time to investigate the mysteries of her probably-haunted house.

3. Creep. A man films a shady subject — and his creepy wolf mask.

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4. The Shrine. A cult kills anyone who sees the statue they’re guarding. Filmmakers wisely decide to check the statue out for themselves.

5. Absentia. This public service announcement warns about the dangers of running — and of attempting to negotiate with an unknown tunnel-monster.

6. Splice. Rogue scientists decide it’d be swell to mix human DNA into the creatures they’re creating.

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7. Six Souls. A man’s multiple personalities turn out to be murder victims. Research into the murders reveals a daisy chain of disaster and creepiness that may be impossible to stop.

8. Red Lights. A professional debunker goes head-to-head with a psychic who might be the real thing.

9. Frailty. A father raises his sons in a religious tradition that involves murdering people in their shed. Then it gets even more messed up.

10. Session 9. An asbestos cleaning crew starts playing recordings they find in a dilapidated asylum. (Maybe, in retrospect, this should go under the “really bad ideas” category, but I’ve already drawn up the graphics.)

If you have any recommendations for horror movies, please let me know. I would love to talk terror with you.

3 Movies You Should See: Jurassic World, What We Do In The Shadows, Inside Out

Movies rock. They’re perfect: short, emotional, funny, and pretty. When they suck, they’re only 2 hours; when they’re awesome, you can see them again and again.

Here are a few films I wouldn’t mind seeing again:

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Jurassic World (5/5 stars, theaters): In this movie, Jurassic World (a successful Jurassic Park) has flagging numbers because people are getting bored of the dinosaurs on offer. They decide to boost park attendance by creating a new dinosaur with oodles of new cross-bred features.

Except, whoops, they made it too smart. Dammit.

So it tears the park a new a-hole. Chris Pratt and his sort-of-domesticated Velociraptor Motorcycle Squad have to handle it.

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This actually happens. ^

Tons of stuff explodes. People die. People get attacked by Pterodactyls. The T-Rex from the first movie makes an appearance. Jimmy Buffett makes a cameo in which he runs from dinosaurs holding 2 margaritas.

I’ve been told by many people that he film is stupid and riddled with plot holes. (Like no Jeff Goldblum, and the fact that Chris Pratt keeps his shirt on the entire time.)

Well, obviously. The entire franchise is dumb. But come on. Live a little. 5/5 stars anyway.

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What We Do In The Shadows (5/5 Stars, Amazon Prime): Welcome to the anti-Twilight. This mockumentary is schlumpy, unattractive middle-aged New Zealander vampires. Despite their ability to fly and murder people, they are wonderfully banal. They argue over who does the dishes. They have trouble finding victims and deciding what to wear.

This movie’s shot like The Office. It’s awkward. There are long silences. People look at the camera. Characters say really stupid things.

I personally adore the mockumentary genre. I loved Best In Show, Borat, and Parks & Rec. This is a great addition to the cannon, if you like that sort of thing.