talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

Toward the end of the year, I finally got around to watching HBO’s Westworld. Many people had commented that it was just Jurassic Park, but with androids – an argument I found both ridiculous and reductive. Westworld, after all – the original 1973 film – was written and directed by Michael Chrichton. Almost two decades before Michael Chrichton himself wrote Jurassic Park. If anything is just something else, Jurassic Park is Westworld, but with dinosaurs.

One of the most compelling aspects of the original Westworld is that you have no insight into the androids – no reason is provided regarding why they begin killing guests, or whether there’s any reason inside their machinery at all. And while that storytelling aspect is intriguing in a short 1973 film, it wouldn’t have worked for a juicy television series in 2016.

So is HBO’s Westworld “just Jurassic Park, but with androids”? Hardly. It’s a reflective, chaotic, beautiful mess of a show, broaching and tackling a number of interesting topics: the development of sentience. The quality of a society that can embrace a theme park like Westworld. A jab at meta commentary on gaming culture. What makes an entity human. The power of storytelling, and the deconstruction of narrative.

Westworld is a tornado, and one of its best summaries is that oft-repeated bit of Shakespeare: “these violent delights have violent ends.” So I made y’all a thing:

 

Violence – against others, against yourself – is a tornado, sweeping everyone in its path up indiscriminately and depositing them somewhere new. In the Maze, to come to self-realization? In a paroxysm of emptiness, a fallen and depraved society? We’re not sure. All we know is that white hats are so hard to keep clean.

And we’re grateful to Shakespeare for this line from Romeo and Juliet: “these violent delights have violent ends.” Does anyone ever listen to Friar Laurence?

This design uses the font Musicals by Brain Eaters, and features hat clipart from Clker.com.

You can find this design in both my Zazzle shop, What Duck?, and my RedBubble shop on a diverse array of designs:

On magnets and mugs, buttons and keychains!

On shirts and prints, pillows and travel mugs, stickers and notebooks, and more!

If you’d like anything else, I take requests – so hit the comments.

P.S. If you were a member of my Patreon, you could have received a Limited Edition Postcard of this design as a perk!

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talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

I had several pieces published this very first week of the new year! And I won a giveaway, receiving an ARC of A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn courtesy of Penguin Random House! So expect thoughts on Veronica Speedwell’s latest adventure  at some point.

Things that I wrote: 

So Your Cat Has Worms…“, over at Front Page Meews.
New Year Style: Now Be You“, over at ISA Professional’s blog.
A review of Ghostbusters (2016), over at Nerdspan.

Things that I read:

Woman Facts” by Sandra Newman at McSweeney’s, being hilarious trufax about women.
A microstory about krakens and the sailors who hunt them, courtesy of Micro SF/F on Twitter.
Nine Duels: a Tremontaine Story” by Tessa Gratton, FREE, read it and SUBSCRIBE immediately.

Things that I made:

This week’s Whiteboard Weirdness pieces were all about out with the outstayed-its-welcome and in with the you-better-do-better.

Just over a year ago, I pronounced this the Year of the Goddamn Unicorn. Well, we apparently spent the year playing leapfrog with said unicorn. I guess no one ever said we were smart. Let’s do better in 2017. Thanks to KC Green for my Whiteboard Weirdness inspiration. Fat Unicorn inspired by unicorns by janno-arts on DeviantArt, and by Jen Seng.

Welcome to 2017, the Year of the Otter! Let’s be adorable and flexible, juggle rocks, be vicious when necessary (river wolves represent!), and hold on to each other so no one floats away. Whiteboard Weirdness art inspired by Kat’s cute doodle at katdoodles.com.

Things that I’m excited about:

 

 

 

 

 

Click the pics if you fancy purchasing any of the above! I get a modest kickback from Amazon if you do.

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talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

Blu-ray packaging for Ghostbusters (2016) Extended EditionGhostbusters. It’s not a title you’d expect controversy over, at least not among the living. Yet Paul Feig made an update of the 1984 classic with an all-women team of Ghostbusters, and the Internet lost its collective mind. Many people behaved badly. Trolls came out to play. Productive conversations concerning feminism happened, at least, even in a veritable sea of uninformed hate. Ghostbusters became a rallying point for feminist interrogation of pop culture.

Feminism deserves better, which Alyssa Rosenberg covers with acuity at The Washington Post.

Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters can be a fun movie, especially when combined with a ladies’ night in and a judicious number of drinks. (Ooo, and Twizzlers. …no? More for me!) The cast is fantastic, carried by sharply funny women with great comedic instincts. It’s just not a particularly good movie, afflicted with poor pacing and wasted potential.

[Let’s cover the good bits up front…]

Click the link to read the rest of my review over at Nerdspan!

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talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

Happy New Year, y’all!

Just over a year ago, I pronounced 2016 to be the Year of the Goddamn Unicorn. It was going to be fabulous if I had to throttle it into rainbow colors, you see. And there were some excellent things accomplished personally – I’ll get to those in a minute – but by and large 2016 came across as a bit of a dumpster fire. Or a cafe on fire. Instead of cavorting with the Goddamn Unicorn, we were apparently all playing leapfrog with it.

(Never play leapfrog with a unicorn.)

Moving on!

In 2016, I did quite a bit of reading and writing. The numbers look like this:

34 nonfiction pieces written.
26 nonfiction pieces published.

And you can see all of them over on my shiny new PUBLISHED STUFF page. (It’s in progress, so nonfiction published stuff only, so far.)

More numbers:

2 short stories written.
1 short story sold to Onyx Path Publishing for their Changeling: the Dreaming 20th Anniversary Anthology.

71 books read.
50 books read once you lump together each season of Tremontaine from Serial Box.

I always take the GoodReads Reading Challenge each year. You should join in and read along!

Even more numbers:

Dragon Age games played.
1 new video game world fallen in love with.

1 nephew born. ALL THE CONFETTI.

100% more tabletop RPGs played.
100% Star Wars.

Okay, that’s enough numbers for now. The point is that I wrote things – educational things, entertaining things, things to make you feel – and I enjoyed myself and joy came into the world and I played in imaginary ones. There are points of light, even in the dark.

So, goodbye, 2016. Farewell. Hello, 2017. And –

WELCOME TO THE YEAR OF THE OTTER!

Image of 7 otters at the Kabini River's edge by Puru150 at the Wikimedia Commons.

Let’s be adorable and flexible, juggle rocks, be vicious when necessary (river wolves represent!), and hold on to each other so no one floats away. 

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talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

Hatters’ Collectives are very secretive and magical things, indeed – they keep the best and brightest in hats, throw top-notch tea parties in Wonderland, and keep witches safe. Oh, yes – Miss Tick’s automatic pointed hat, the disguised wonder of the Discworld lowlands all covered in fake flowers? Hutmacherin von Hexen No. 13’s work. They provide fantastic millinery, safe routes, and correspondence services for nasty women everywhere.

This is actually November’s design, in honor of a nasty woman near you. Maybe even inside you. I’d apologize for it being so late, but I’m not nice. (I’m just right.) I can’t be bothered. It was created with the font “Stampede” by St Rachan, and a rubber stamp effect from Diego Sánchez.

My Redbubble and Zazzle shops have a range of wonderful items with this design on it – if you fancy picking one up:

Two-tone mug, or mason jar with handle (and without, for storing flowers or herbs).
Silver-plated locket.
Cream-colored stationery.
Single-sided acrylic keychain.
Purple round fridge magnet.
Hardcover journal for recipes, spells, and agendaing.
Spiral notebook for same.

That’s it, for now. If you’d like anything else, I take requests – so hit the comments.

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talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

To all those still shopping in the frenzied depths of holiday retail: hail and well-met! I salute you. I’m also working on some updated gift guides for you – at least for those of you of the discerning geek variety. I’m going to give you the low-down on the best books, toys, games, and more to score for your hardest-to-shop-for this year – and, while you wait, have a gander at these:

Those should help out until the new guides are up! Go forth and shop wisely and responsibly!

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talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

Now it can be told! My reverse selkie story, “Watercolors” will be published in the upcoming Changeling: the Dreaming 20th Anniversary Anthology, edited by Matthew McFarland. I can’t wait for you all to check it out; I’ll let you know as soon as I know the release date.

Things that I wrote: 

A Pinning Guide to Cat Safe Thanksgiving Centerpieces” over at Front Page Meews.
Our Favorite Fall Eyeshadow Trends” over at ISA Professional’s blog.
Winter Hair is Coming” over at ISA Professional’s blog, as well.

Things that I read:

Dr. Seuss was not even in the general vicinity of fucking around,” being an Imgur set of Seuss’s political cartoons.
#justfairythings: Fairy behavior is truly appalling,” being a set of fairy trufax.
The Photographer Representing her Non-Binary Friends as They’d Like to be Seen,” what it says on the tin.

Things that I made:

Catherynne M. Valente released a brand new Fairyland story this week, processing her response to the American 2016 election. “The Beasts Who Fought for Fairyland Until the Very End and Further Still” is free for everyone, and will be always. I formatted the ebooks for her, so you can download the story as PDF, EPUB, or MOBI as well.

ww-snorlax-thanksgivinggoals

A couple of weeks ago, I doodled up a quick Snorlax for the Thanksgiving-era fridge. After all, my #ThanksgivingGoals were to be fat and sleepy, which is pretty much Snorlax to a T. (I succeeded at this!)

ww-pusheenxmas

This week’s Whiteboard Weirdness heralds the coming of cookie season in my household! I drew one of Pusheen‘s adorable cartoons for the occasion.

Things that I’m excited about:

crimsonpeak-brdt-sblackmoorenoface-hirudolph

 

 

 

 

 

Click the pics if you fancy purchasing any of the above! I get a modest kickback from Amazon if you do.

 

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talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

#RPGCat is a great nuisance as well as a great joy: and, well, that’s cats all over. We love the furry little jerks entirely, and wouldn’t have it any other way. So it is with RPG Cat: even as my fellow roleplayers remove their character sheets from under Tiger Jack’s fluffy butt, they keep petting him at the same time.

rpgcat-ruleslawyer2b

Did you know that RPG Cat is a notorious rules lawyer? Oh, yes, he’ll cite you the rules and argue their finer points any old time.

rpgcat-gm

We let RPG Cat take a spin behind the GM screen one session, and the power rather went to his head. No one survived that day! Our characters were but prey between his mighty paws.

rpgcat-nat20c

RPG Cat doesn’t just make his JUMP check, he SPROINGS in a most amusing and amazing manner.

Yes, it rather seems like everything’s coming up Tiger Jack in the realm of RPG Cat. Everyone pays attention to him, he’s the most epic roleplayer, and — wait, what’s this?

rpgcat-silverchallengerappears2

 

To be continued…

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talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

It’s Election Night in America, and I know many of us would like to unplug from that right now. So here’s my contribution to your distraction: an interstitial art experience of photographs and words and hidden bits that have nothing to do with USA in 2016.

Click the image below to begin your Postcards from a Traveling Oracle experience:

postcards-bannersm

For some background on this interstitial project: 

On March 14th, 2009, Elise Matthesen posted a picture of her evocatively-titled pendant “Nine Things About Oracles.”

The next day, Jo Walton came along with a poem and ripped things wide open. A list by Alter S. Reiss slotted into place next, followed quickly by a snatch of verse by Novel deVice.

The rest, as they say, is explosive history: look at that link and you’ll see Nine Nines (plus more!) of word-art and image-art inspired by “Nine Things About Oracles.”

The collection is amazing. Breathtaking. Memery at its finest – a dizzying explosion of creativity and celebration.

You know I, especially with my interstitial heart, could not resist the lovely pendant’s evocative title or frenzy of community-promoted art. And so.

You’re welcome, America.

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talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

I’d like to preface this week’s round-up post with this: GET OUT THE VOTE, PEOPLE! Tuesday, Tuesday, Tuesday!

Things that I wrote:

Cat Can’t Breathe? Feline Asthma: What You Need to Know, at Front Page Meews.
Fall Into Lush, Colorful Lips: Best Fall Lip Colors and Care, at ISA Professional’s blog.

Things that I read:

The Rain Will Make a Door I: Introducing British Fairy Traditions” by Dr. Alexander  Cummins.
Meet Eight New Afrofuturism Artists Creating a Future of Color” by Shaenon K. Garrity at i09.
The Racist and Sexist History of Keeping Birth Control Side Effects Secret” by Bethy Squires at Broadly.

Thing that I made:

ww-blackphillip

This week’s Whiteboard Weirdness features Black Phillip preparing for Thanksgiving with lots of butter. So much butter in the creepy cornucopia of evil. Black Phillip based on Stuart Marcelo‘s wonderful character design that you can find on Behance.

Things that I am excited about:

st-beyondpos-jirelandv28-cathat

 

 

 

 

 

Click the pics if you fancy purchasing any of the above! I get a modest kickback from Amazon if you do.

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talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

Sometimes we find writing prompts in the weirdest places, like this piece of fastfic inspired by a subject line from an email in my spam folder. The subject line? “Dark Knight disapproved by Vaticans due to satanic links.” Enjoy:

darkknight

Accessing: Newscasts Outside of Time
Channel: Medieval Times
Available Titles: Newly Discovered Body Transformation Formula
Dark Knight Disapproved by Vaticans Due to Satanic Links
Remove Your Debt the Christian Way

Accessing: Dark Knight Disapproved by Vaticans Due to Satanic Links

Video missing. Audio and transcription only.

“It’s late August, 1359, and a demon infestation rages across Europe! The Vaticans, in a rare show of agreement, summoned a Dark Knight from the depths of Hell to combat the spreading demonic powers. Sitting twelve feet atop his destrier that crushes the innocent beneath iron hooves, I’ve never seen a savior look quite so imposing! Let’s talk to him now. … Sir! Sir, how are things going?”

The narrator moves toward the source of a disturbance, created or curbed by the Dark Knight himself. Screams, groans, and repetitive thudding sounds predominate. There is a blood-curdling whinny cut short as the reporter speaks.

“We had a quality scourge here: loads of flayed demons and forced exorcisms, it’s been really quite grand. I’m just disappointed that Popes Innocent, Griseus, and Sinistra have seen fit to forgo my payment.”

The Dark Knight sounds Irish, oddly enough, circa 20th century. He speaks with a laid back ease. The Popes he references are those of the Vatican Primus, the Vatican Vatican, and the Black Vatican respectively.

“And what was your payment, Sir– er, Dark Knight?”

“The standard complement of fifty virgins, Tom, with a retainer fee of three hundred newborns. You won’t get my quality for such a good price this side of Gomorrah.”

Cries of “Unclean!” break out in the distance, with hoofbeats to end worlds echoing more closely. What one can only presume to be the Dark Knight’s bellow, a fierce and harrowing sound, rips through the shouts. One can almost hear the blood rain down.

“We understand even the Black Vatican denies employing him in a bid to ‘fit in’ according to one Blood Acolyte. Let’s ask the Dark Knight what he thinks.”

The moans of destroyed flesh grow nearer, with our reporter shouting over the din. He reiterates the Blood Acolyte’s comment.

“I think that was a bit disingenuous of them, Tom. Just because you wash your hands of blood today, doesn’t make them clean. …of blood. … Er, tomorrow.”

“Quite right, Sir! Can you tell the folks out there what we can expect until the Vaticans settle up?”

A voice staggers closer, screaming relentlessly: “My God! Why have you forsak–?” We hear a ragged gasp, then a rather final-sounding thump.

“Where were we? Ah, yes. Scourging will continue on the general populace until fees are met.”

“Thank you! At this time, the Vaticans have offered no reply. You heard it here on Newscasts Outside of Time: Medieval Times first! This is Tom Lane, signi–”

Tom’s voice cuts off, followed by a soft thud. There is a breathless moment, then the sound of hooves and deadly metal: screams begin once more and the sound equipment hits the dirt, shorting out, dumb and dead.

 



(Click the hat to tip the author.)

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talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

What a week this has been, with much work and rather too much chronic pain! But here’s what I’ve got for you.

Thing that I wrote: 

Become Your Heroine this Halloween, over at ISA Professional’s blog.

Things that I read: 

11 of the Most Savage Burns in Literature” by Jessica Misener, being full of brilliant insults.
If Women Wrote Men the Way Men Write Women” by Meg Elison, being grimly hilarious.
‘Into the Wood’ series, 56: Death in Folk & Fairy Tales” by Terri Windling, being particulary apt this time of year.

Things that I made: 

ww-vampiregirl

This week’s Whiteboard Weirdness vants you to have a bloody good time! Quick and dirty sketch based on Victoria Kalinina’s adorable vampire girl vector art. (Her vectors are available on Dreamstime and Shutterstock.)

I also released a new line of merch! Check out Coffee of Cthulhu:

coffee-of-cthulhu-preview

Click the image above (or this link) to check out the design and find it on coffee mugs, travel mugs, fridge magnets, and more!

Things that I’m excited about: 

notldtldosaraven-scarf

 

 

 

 

 

Click the pics if you fancy purchasing any of the above! I get a modest kickback from Amazon if you do.

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talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

It’s that time of month, folks: when the shadows are lengthening, the year slowly dying, and madness creeping into your coffee cups. Especially if you live anywhere in the Northeastern United States, like, say, Innsmouth? Sorry, but that’s Deep Ones’ territory, and them’s the breaks.

Look, you’ve got Lovecraft to blame, not me. Actually, H.P. Lovecraft is to blame for a lot of things, like being a racist and problematic individual. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the Lovecraftian mythos; that just means we acknowledge his shit, and then make his world of mind-warping horror and indescribable monsters a much more inclusive and progressive realm of disturbance. Like Ruthanna Emrys has done with her forthcoming Winter Tide (such a good book, so snatch it up as soon as you can). Or we create whip-smart commentary on Lovecraft’s issues like Victor LaValle did in his smashingly reviewed novella The Ballad of Black Tom. (And then there’s Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. There is some great work being done here, y’all.)

In honor of this spooky season, and all those authors and fans who’ve made the Lovecraftian mythos into something truly awesome, I present October’s design: COFFEE OF CTHULHU!

coffee-of-cthulhu-preview

Lovecraftian horrors like Cthulhu need a little help getting up in the mornings too, so reach for the best when you’re R’lyeh fhtagn tired.

I created this design using vector art from Freepik, along with the fonts Kenyan Coffee by Raymond Larabie and Swift by Cheapskate Fonts (Dustin Norlander). Key inspiration provided by my husband, Andy.

So, where can you find this parodic and off-kilter Lovecraftian design?

whatduck-banner2

In my Zazzle shop! Oh, yes. You will find the Coffee of Cthulhu design on:

Coffee mugs, of various sizes and colors!
Stainless steel travel mugs, thermal tumbler, water bottles, and a thermos.
A really big fridge magnet!
A hip flask or two, so you can face non-euclidean horrors with a little liquid courage!

That’s it for now, though we do have a special variant mug in the works. If you’d like anything else, I take requests – so hit the comments.

And remember: the best part of waking up is madness in your cup!

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talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

It’s almost Halloween, and that means you need to settle your cocktail plans now. Luckily, I’m here to help with that, whether you’re planning an intimate get-together or a full-on All Hallows’ Eve Shindig. (Just let me slip my alchemist’s labcoat on.) Let’s take a bat’s eye view of a Halloween Hootenanny in progress… and spy on what drinks they have on tap!

halloween-vintage1

The ragdoll bombshell lurks in the corner, but not out of any shy avoidance. She’s just biding her time, letting her boneyard eyes appraise the room under eyelids fringed with black wire. One elegant, seam-bisected hand cradles a small pumpkin, all textured orange glass and alluring roundness. A dead woman’s lips, blue and glistening, close over a black straw and she sips her cocktail: a smooth and potent Ragdoll’s Delight.

Ragdoll’s Delight:
2 oz Stoli Vanil vodka
1.5 oz Bailey’s Pumpkin Spice

Shake with crushed ice in a cocktail shaker; strain into martini glass. (Unless you do actually have a pumpkin-shaped cocktail glass, then use that ALL THE TIME FOREVER). Splash in milk to taste, and optionally garnish with cinnamon and nutmeg.

bat-dividerbar

Lizardman Echols is his name and the game is “Get everyone drunk enough for nuuuuude conga timesss!” He’s played it at more parties than he’s ever been invited to, and only been successful once. At least he thinks there was a once: he can’t have been the only one with his pants off at that Rusalka shindig over Dead Man’s Bayou way. His eyelids close toward each other, flat black eyes misty with memory. With his long tongue flickering out, he begins to make the rounds bearing a platter of Nanny’s Trick or Treats.

Nanny’s Trick or Treats:
Let’s be clear about this one: it’s more an experience and not really a cocktail at all.
Here’s what you do: Make a batch of Apple Pie moonshine.
Then be sure to serve it in small servings. Preferably in plastic cups.
Serve with whipped cream on top or a cinnamon rock candy stick if you wanna get fancy.

bat-dividerbar

What’s a party without at least a trio of witches? Certainly not one she’d ever want to be invited to, sniffed the oldest woman of that respected group. She hunched her back most dramatically, throwing out one crow-like arm so that her trailing shawl hid the squat cauldron and its glowing brew from the other party-goers. Come to think of it, she scowled, she couldn’t really remember the last party they’d been invited to. She just always assumed they’d been invited and showed up with the other witches arriving by broom or chicken-footed hut or mortar and pestle. Because of course they had. For what’s a party without the nastiest of women and their patented witch’s brew? No party worth going to, that’s for certain. She’s pretty sure there’s a circle in that. But isn’t there always?

Witch’s BrewHaHa:
1.5 liters of vodka
750 ml of Midori
2 liters of Sprite
24 oz frozen lemonade

Throw it all in a punch bowl; preferably one shaped like a cauldron. Add sufficient ice; stir. (If you want to incorporate dry ice for the full Halloween effect, read up on that here.)

bat-dividerbar

They’d been pounding through their party for hours now, moaned the zombie. He didn’t even notice when he lost his ear again, clambering angrily as he was up through his crypt. The whole catacombs had been thrumming with that pervasive technobeat sound, which all music at monster mashes seemed to turn into these days after the alcohol got into full flow and the nude conga-line into full swing. Or was it dubstep now? A chill in the autumn air stiffened his joints right up as he staggered toward the house and his grumbling soared up into a full moan. He felt he was in perfect form to bring some good old zombie vengeance and geared up to bellow the requisite “BRRAIIINNSS!!!” Instead, he was swept inside by a good-natured Cannibal who flashed him the “Peace! No dead meat for me!” hand-wave and shoved a mug into his rotting hand. The cup read “The Dead Are Up! Now what?” in bright, cheery letters. The zombie shambled away from the conga line, grumbling, and decided to have the drink. 

The Dead Are Up! Now What?
3 oz fresh-brewed coffee
1.5 oz Patron XO Cafe Dark Cocoa
1 oz Patron Reposado

Combine, and add milk or cream to taste. Add whipped cream on top with a dusting of cinnamon and crushed red pepper. This one can be served chilled or warm, but plan which one ahead of time unless you like iced coffee.

bat-dividerbar

We’ll close the window on that Halloween Hootenanny now. Once the dead have awoken, it doesn’t pay to tarry outdoors. Hopefully you’ve gotten a few delicious plans for your Halloween weekend; hop back here if you make them, and share your thoughts and cocktail pics! Cheers!

geekdame-alchemy

(Remember, you can get merch featuring the Geek Dame’s Alchemical Delights logo at RedBubble and my Zazzle shop.)

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talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

Welcome to the Weekly Round-Up! You got one publication this week, with many to come. Let’s jump right in:

Thing that I wrote: 

Why Black Cat Myths Are So Bogus, over at Front Page Meews.

Things that I read: 

Nasty women have much work to do,” by Alexandra Petri and published at The Washington Post. YES.
Tremontaine, Season 2, Episode 1: “Convocation” by Ellen Kushner, published by Serial Box. So good!
So You Want to Make a Deal with the Devil” by Matt Staggs over at Unbound Worlds. Ha!

Thing that looks like me: 

I didn’t draw a new Whiteboard Weirdness this week because I love looking at last week’s Headless Cat and other reasons. So! Have a great illustration drawn by Paige Halsey Warren of me and my husband in the fashion of Star Wars:

debandysw-phwarren

Things I’m excited about:

znation-2ahsokanbc-sallycostume

 

 

 

 

 

Click the pics if you fancy purchasing any of the above! I get a modest kickback from Amazon if you do.

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talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

I haven’t been to too many haunted houses in my time, which is a shame: the thrills of a ridiculous and macabre haunted attraction are great fun. And stress-relieving! You can scream and it’s expected, considered better than applause. There just aren’t many haunts of quality around my hometown: I went to the “Judgement House” once in high school, but that was a dreadful experience full of religious admonishment. While I was in Japan, I unfortunately missed out on the Haunted Hospital (which is actually housed in a creepy old hospital). At least I’ve managed to get to NetherWorld in Atlanta (good fun, amazingly elaborate, but a bit busy).

I do have ONE great haunted house story to my name.

About ten years ago, the Zombie Hunter in the Desert and I got to go to an excellent little Vegas joint: Hotel Fear. It was one of those ubiquitous haunted houses that pop up all over the place around Halloween. The atmosphere Hotel Fear managed to put together was impressive, with a disfigured doorman riddled with nails and bolts at the entrance, to an exit passage echoing with chainsaws and screams. Laughing and screaming guests surged out at intervals.

hotelfear1

(Note: I don’t remember it looking like this when we went in 2005.)

Jamelle and I arrived around seven, after it was dark, and secured tickets from a very serious woman who admonished “No refunds!” with every sale. We joined the sizable line snaking through the parking lot, watching the screamers who ran out of the attraction. Hotel Fear paced their groups, as any good haunted attraction should: they let in groups of about six people, allowed them to get part way through, then let loose the next party. The six-person group was a requirement, which meant smaller groups – like the duo of Jamelle and me – would be combined with some other guests. We realized this with some “oh hell no” trepidation while standing in line, sandwiched between two groups of four. Behind us stood a family of four, father reeking of alcohol and children squalling. The most offensive crap kept coming out of that dude’s mouth. His son copied him loudly, braying he bet the supposed chainsaws we heard were just leaf blowers. (Spoiler: they weren’t.) When it came time to choose, Jamelle and I leapt at the chance to go with the four trash-talking ten-year-old boys in front of us.

Yeah, these four little boys talked big. One of them had toured Hotel Fear earlier in the afternoon, so he was confident he knew where all the tricks were. (Apparently one of his dad’s friends worked on the crew or something.) They were raucous and bold and joking about how stupid the whole thing was. But it only took walking up to the door for cracks to show in their bravado. Before we even went in, the boys kept turning to us, saying we could go in front and that they were thankful we’d ended up in their group. Ten-year-olds, y’all.

The doorman, leering with his leech and bolt-covered face down at the kids, unceremoniously ushered us inside and slammed the door behind us. We stood in a dimly-lit and small reception area, where they’d managed to encourage pooling shadows in all the corners. A reception desk stood at the brightest point of light. No one was behind it. A stack of luggage rattled immediately next to us, and a well-dressed if macabre concierge crawled and undulated across the floor to the desk. Or maybe he was a bellhop. Either way. As he went, he harangued us in a high-pitched and otherworldly screech; he moved and sounded EXACTLY like Bengé from Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. Once behind the desk, the figure drew himself up straight, and demanded, “WHY HAVE YOU COME TO HOTEL FEEEAR?!”

vhd-bl-benge

The boys had immediately quailed into me and Jamelle, nearly clinging to our waists. It wasn’t even a moment before one boy yelled back in a shaky voice. “Because we paid! The lady said no refunds!”

I almost died with laughter. It was classic. Mirth danced in the concierge-hop’s eyes, but he managed to keep a sinister face on, urging us on into the hotel’s many bizarre and disturbing rooms.

And then it was a breathless and exciting trip through Hotel Fear, alternating creeping with dashing through the haunted house. At first Jamelle and I were behind the boys, but the kids’ general response to the monsters and surprises was to freeze and not move anywhere. Let me tell you, it’s hard as hell to shove against four ten-year-olds rooted with fear. And get them moving again? Please. It’s easier to drag a mule.

hotelfear2One kid kept trying to stay behind us all and, like an idiot, I told him that it “was worse to be the last.” Next thing I knew, I was shoved to the front and forced to lead the way into every pitch-black or strobe-lit room. The kids were a tight-packed conga line behind me, with Jamelle at the rear. At every door, I had to remind myself to be the adult, and STILL found myself saying crap like “Two of us should go together!” Hotel Fear was proper scary, okay? But Jamelle gave me one of those “seriously, what the fuck” looks by merely saying my name, and I straightened up quick. The boys’ bravado was utterly gone.

Apparently, my reaction to jump scares in-the-room-right-now is to turn into a crab. (And press A.) I duck and cover my head with my arms, then scuttle sideways and forward. It’s a valid choice, even if not proper conga line etiquette. And that’s how we proceeded, albeit with a few hiccups – like in the pitch black hallway with sudden turns, when I got crushed into a wall by a four ten-year-old pile-up. I had to explain my movements out loud to get the quivering kids to follow me through, as otherwise they dragged me back.

The final gamut was a crowd of terrifying characters, from broken doll women to mad scientists in high heels to scarecrow folks and unhinged surgeons, before an unevenly lit corridor haunted by chainsaw-wielding maniacs. I refused to run out, though the kids broke cover and hightailed it. I walked briskly after, my pulse beating a terror staccato. Jamelle jogged on in high spirits (she’s always been one hell of a horror fan).

Hotel Fear was legit. That’s all I can say.

(And it’s still around! Be sure to visit if you’re in Las Vegas during the Halloween season.)

Now: Come one, come all! Step up and don’t be shy! Let’s hear about your best and worst haunted house experiences!

Mirrored from geekdame.com. Please comment there.

talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

Yep, it was another week of writing behind the scenes on projects yet to be published! This happens often to the working writer. However, I should have some publications to share soon, and I’m putting together a special Halloween freebie to drop in the last weekend of October. You can make sure you don’t miss it by signing up for my biweekly newsletter: look to your right. The sign-up form is in my sidebar.

Things that I read: 

A Tale of Two Rulers, being a web comic by my friend Lorraine Schleter. It is by turns funny, dark, and touching – and altogether a great read for any fans of The Legend of Zelda.
You Really Have No Idea Who the Villain of Frozen Is,” being a hilariously convoluted theory by Steve Wetherell at Cracked.
This Storify of “Seanan McGuire on #NationalComingOutDay,” being full of important words.

Thing that I made: 

ww-headlesscat

This week’s Whiteboard Weirdness features a pune, or play on words! The adorably macabre reference illustration is “Headless Cat” by Siamés Escalante, who is doing #30scarycats on Instagram.

Things that I’m excited about:

ghostbusters-brlitanyofearthrrh-californiacostumes

 

 

 

 

 

Click the pics if you fancy purchasing any of the above! I get a modest kickback from Amazon if you do.

Mirrored from geekdame.com. Please comment there.

talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

My mom is one of those creative DIY types that’s super great at Halloween. My brothers and I basically never had a store-bought costume, and pretty much never wanted one – except for that time I lobbied hard for a pair of cat ears attached to a headband to have one just like my best friend. Honestly, though, if we weren’t wearing something homemade, we were wearing something inherited – just ask me about the one Halloween I was alienated by my peers for being a mothball-smelling bunny, or the time my middle brother went as a perfect miniature matador.

There were so many glorious Halloweens of trick-or-treating in detailed and creative costumes! One year, I insisted on going as the Childlike Empress from The NeverEnding Story – and my mom pulled it off with a bunch of spare silk, bobby pins, and costume jewelry. Another (much earlier) year, she turned me into a bag of M&Ms with a transparent trash bag and a bunch of balloons. (Which she filled with helium. When I was TINY. I think she just wanted to see me float.) On yet another, she made me a mermaid costume that involved sewing me into the tail on Halloween night. It was so sparkly! But hard to walk in.

Then there’s this gem from the mid-90’s:

14690903_10157627091805607_2796087927879123656_n

My costume wasn’t elaborate that year, and no one knew what I was anyway. I dressed up as a Wolfwalker from Tara K. Harper’s book of the same name, so mostly I ran around chaperoning my brothers in a cape with a sword and a hopefully inscrutable expression. Sans wolf, sadly. My brothers, though! They were big fans of Biker Mice from Mars that year, and mom came up with their costumes on the fly while dealing with 4 kids AND working nights as an ER nurse. Those helmets are styrofoam and plastic wrap, and they’ve even got the gloves (with one pseudo-metal arm on bro #2). The only thing missing was an eye-patch. My brothers were so chuffed; hell, I’m still impressed decades later.

My mom is among the best at Halloween, is what I’m saying.

Now that I have a wee nephew about the place, I’m looking forward to seeing what all of us can collaborate on for his future Halloweens. I’m sure whatever costumes may come, they’re going to be amazing.

Hit the comments to share your impressive costumes of Halloween past!

Mirrored from geekdame.com. Please comment there.

talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

It’s October 11th! Which means we’re 11 nights in to my month of #HalloweenWatches, where I pick a seasonally-appropriate film each night and watch it. Often on Twitter, with GIFs and quotes and commentary galore. It’s been a bit hit or miss this year, but no longer! I’ll probably put Dracula’s Horror Bordello on tonight, and you’re all invited – plus I’m sharing 9 of my other favorite vampire films below.

I used to hate scary movies. In fact, I still pretty much hate scary movies – the ones with jump scares, anyway. I’m not fond of slasher flicks, dolls coming to life give me the heebie-jeebies, and ghost stories put my imagination on overdrive and freak me the fuck out.

(Seriously. Here’s an anecdote: I bought The Grudge on a vacation home in America because I was trying to overcome my fear of ghost movies and it had Sarah Michelle Gellar in it– I was in a phase. Anyway, I wouldn’t watch the movie until I was back in Japan because, by obscure logic, I assumed it took place in America – being an American remake of the Japanese horror film. I thought being in a foreign area would make it less scary. HAH! THE FILM IS SET IN TOKYO! And not only is it set in Tokyo, but it was filmed near some of my favorite places, so I recognized tons of landmarks. GOOD TIMES. I didn’t sleep for two days.)

However, for some reason, creature flicks have never fallen under the same personal ruling as general scary movies. That means that I hunger after vampire movies and werewolf movies and mummy movies (some mummy movies, anyway) and etc. Creature features are my fave.

Let’s get this bloodsucking film fest started! Here are 10 of my favorite vampire flicks*:

vampire-tlb1. The Lost Boys

I formed an attachment to this film as a kid. To the point where I begged for a Siberian Husky stuffed animal just so I could name it Nanook. The whole gang of misunderstood youth plus being tempted to the dark side plus oddball humor plus family togetherness with a Siberian Husky as the family dog plus hot vampires really appealed to me. Also, this was my bestie’s and my jam. I’m not sure how many times we watched this together on the phone.

 

vampire-iwtv2. Interview with the Vampire

I also saw this film (the theatre scene, anyway) at a tender age. The sensuality and danger of the vampirism on that screen sank deep hooks into my psyche, which probably worried my mother. Add to that the fact that I got into the books, completely loved Lestat, and built an amusing past-time out of arguing with J over the relative merits and flaws of her beloved (Louis) and mine makes Interview with the Vampire a shoo-in for the favorites list.

3. Love at First Bite
vampire-lafb

Now, my mama actually raised me on this film. I don’t remember how young I was when I first saw Love at First Bite, but I do know that I cut my teeth on the humor and story conventions of films from the 70’s such as this. Obviously, the female lead in this film choosing to leave her known (and empty) life to run off with the vampire has skewed me in some very fundamental ways. These days, when given a choice in a narrative, I almost always choose the monster** too.


vampire-vhd4. Vampire Hunter D

This film was one of my first introductions to anime – and it was a hell of an introduction at that! I remember coming in half-way through the broadcast of this on Sci-Fi Channel one Saturday morning. I was completely enthralled. Super dark, the vampires were actually terrifying, and young me found the main character enthralling. (I know it’s not widely favored, but I love Bloodlust too. Especially since it’s inspired a bit by Carmilla.)

vampire-btvs5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

My Buffy fandom runs deep, and I’ve got a lot of feelings about the show. I’ve also got a lot of love for the film from 1992 starring Kristy Swanson. My mom and I would watch this one together whenever it was on, laughing with all the snark and camp. So Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s on this list out of complete appreciation for what it is, in addition to its role as progenitor to Buffy the series.


vampire-fn6. Fright Night

Y’all knew this one was going to be on here. (The original, that is.) It’s one of the best #HalloweenWatches, featuring a disturbingly attractive Chris Sarandon, a hilarious and affirming Roddy McDowall, and the best parts of the vampire genre – strange neighbors, unconventional research, seduction and surrender, pop culture appraisal, and boy who cried wolf situations. It’s dated, but it’s still great fun.

vampire-mbfiav7. My Best Friend Is a Vampire

It always cracks me up to see Robert Sean Leonard (Neil Perry? Claudio? Dr. James Wilson, is that you?) as a teenage vampire. I probably shouldn’t enjoy this film as much as I do, but it’s one of my guilty pleasures. It’s got that nostalgia factor – I can remember staying up late to watch it by myself when I was 10 or so. I always thought it was brilliant that some vampires were just people trying to get by, picking up pig’s blood on special from the local butcher.

vampire-bsd8. Dracula’s Horror Bordello

Okay, so this is not technically the title of the film. Technically, the title of the film is Bram Stoker’s Dracula, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. See, I have this habit of renaming movies that do not match their source material. For example, I, Robot‘s real title is Will Smith – Action Robot Movie, or WS-ARM for short. Queen of the Damned is actually Queen of the Darned. And Bram Stoker’s Dracula is actually Dracula’s Horror Bordello. The film is GREAT. I love it, but it’s just not Bram Stoker’s novel. It’s actually the closest we’ve come to getting in film, but the romance plot sets it firmly apart. Regardless, I will watch this movie every October – the atmosphere is masterful, the Victorian setting wonderful, and almost all the acting is superb. Gary Oldman is my favorite Dracula, hand’s down.

vampire-wwdits9. What We Do In the Shadows

I tend to really enjoy mockumentaries, and this one about vampires was no exception. It’s eminently GIFable, too. The film pretty much perfectly captures the main stereotypes of vampires, while still communicating the horror of vampire existence. It’s funny and awful and disturbing by turns, which is exactly what is called for. Plus, you know, werewolves not swearwolves.


vampire-bii10. Blade II

And you thought we’d get through this list without a Guillermo del Toro film. Blade was fun. Blade II was better. Wesley Snipes continues to be a bad-ass as the Daywalker. Ron Pearlman gets to rock my world as a cocky, snarky son of a bitch. There’s a kick-ass vampire princess. And one of the vampires’ own schemes gone awry fucks up one of their old vampiric dynasties. Amidst an international backdrop. Really, it just does my little heart good.

Alright, it’s your turn. Hit the comments and tell me your favorite vampire flicks – maybe we can even schedule a Twitter livetweet of the most popular!

 

* This list is not in any particular order.

** For certain values of “monster,” anyway.

Note: if you make a purchase through any of my Amazon links above, I get a modest kickback.

Mirrored from geekdame.com. Please comment there.

talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

Welcome to the End of the Week! Grab a cocktail, and inspect this here rundown of what I wrote (that is published), watched, created, and got all excited about.

Thing that I wrote:

A review of Star Trek Beyond, over at Buzzy Mag.

Things that I watched:

The Toothless Couch inspired by How To Train Your Dragon is a pretty impressive build from AWE me.
A 13th century Icelandic hymn – “Heyr himna smiður” – sung by Árstíðir in a train station. They’re on tour now!
An amazing fairy and dandelion wire wind sculpture by FantasyWire. BRB, conjuring money for a commission.

Things that I made:

ww-pumpkinking

This week’s Whiteboard Weirdness quickly led to the discovery that my markers are too chunky to do His Royal Gauntness properly – but I persevered and did his portrait anyway. With absurdly happy bats flitting about. (No detail available, but they have inverted v eyes.) I used Sarah-Jane’s cute illustration for my reference.

I also created a whole new line of products for Mama Reynard’s Tricks and Treats, that unexpected and mischievous coffee shop you may find yourself stumbling into this autumn. You can find Mama Reynard’s logo on all sorts of things at my Redbubble shopfront and my Zazzle shop, What Duck?. Here are some of my favorites:

mr-tote-rb2mr-zippo-zazzlemr-magnet-zazzle

 

 

 

 

Things that I’m excited about:

ashvsevildead-s1goldenhand-nixdisguise-maleficentdeluxe

 

 

 

 

 

Click the pics if you fancy purchasing any of the above! I get a modest kickback from Amazon if you do.

Mirrored from geekdame.com. Please comment there.

January 2017

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Reading Challenges



2/4 Novels Read
37/58 Short Stories Read
1/41 Television Episodes Watched

Deadline:
December 31st, 2011
Art by Ivan Griscenko.



0/3 Novels Read

Deadline:
December 31st, 2011
Original post at the McKillip community.

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