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!


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?


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

Coffee mugs, of various sizes and colors!
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!


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.


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.


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.)


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.


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!


(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:


Things 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)

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.


(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?!”


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!

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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: 


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:







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)

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:


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!

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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

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.

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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:


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:






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)


I took this photograph at Tokyo Disney on my first visit there in December of 2005. The park was amazing, and one of my favorite places in Japan – not top ten, but definitely up there. If this sounds awful to you, it’s possible amusement parks are not your thing – or that you’ve never been to a Disney park. Truly, they are magical places for guests. Even when there’s a scandal in the papers about the park contracting with a cleaning service found to be a money laundering front for the local mob. …or so my Japanese students told me.

Anyway, that season, they’d decorated the Haunted Mansion ride up in full The Nightmare Before Christmas theme. It seems that Jack Skellington had escaped Halloweentown once more, and gone on a right redecorating frenzy: they had the above fabulous Pumpkin Tree in front of the Mansion, and I’ve been mad to have one of my own ever since. Other changes included the floating candelabra at the end of the Endless Hallway being replaced with Zero, and the Graveyard was covered all in snow with jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin angels and more. It was wonderful. It was spooky. I rode twice.

Or more. Probably more. CONFOUND IT ALL, I LOVE IT THOUGH!


Although they’ve been doing the Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare since 2001, I had no idea when I arrived at Tokyo Disney that day. I’m glad – wandering by the Haunted Mansion and seeing it transformed turned me into a little kid again. I was starry-eyed with delight, and crowed about it for days after. Or, well, years after since I’m still talking about it!

What are your favorite Disney parks surprises? And who else has been through the Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare?

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

With autumn materializes the most curious little coffee shop and bakery. On quiet city streets, busy village thoroughfares, tucked just beyond the last shelf in that dark secondhand bookshop: Mama Reynard’s Tricks & Treats is everywhere and nowhere. It is a secret space for the wicked and the lost, especially those who do not want to be found. No one ever announces “mischief managed” here, because there’s always more mischief to be done.  Mama Reynard’s also serves jam-slathered scones you’d trip a preacher for, and that’s no lie.


To steal a slogan from the goblins, “Come buy! Come buy!” 

I’ve created this design in winking honor of Reynard, that trickster fox of French and German fables and more. It’s a fine design for these autumnal months, fetchingly pared with a great orange shade for most products. (You get to choose which color you’d like it on for any shirt purchases.) I created this coffee shop logo using vector graphics from GFX9, the fonts Variane by Boy Moch Tomi and Humblle Rought by Hendra Dirtyline, and fox clipart from

You can find this design on Redbubble, on the following products: shirts, prints and other wall art, throw pillows, mugs, travel mugs, tote bags, drawstring bags, and journals both spiralbound and hardbacked.

You can also find it at my Zazzle store, What Duck?, on the following products: refrigerator magnets, coasters, buttons, and a mouse pad.

I’m always open to requests, so let me know if there’s something you want that I haven’t set up.

And remember, if you’ve stumbled upon Mama Reynard’s Tricks & Treats, today’s your lucky day! Or not. But probably.




(Party fox by fulifuli. Click to make him dance!)

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

Wow. How did it get to be Sunday? I spent the entirety of Friday writing a new story, and am pleased as punch to say the wordcount for the day stands at 9,221 words. That’s a personal best. It also explains why the last two days passed in a haze of pain and recovery. (Chronic illness does not forgive marathon writing sessions, just FYI.)

Things that I wrote:

Neil Gaiman’s “Troll Bridge,” illustrated by Colleen Doran, over at Nerdspan.

Things that I read:

These 100-Year-Old Colour Portraits of New York Immigrants Reveal Incredible Outfits,” by Matthew Tucker over at BuzzFeed, contains some insightful photographs and great cultural clothing information.
Photographers Upset by ‘Ask First’ Stickers at BDSM Folsom Street Fair” by DL Cade at PetaPixel, in which photographers behave badly and are rightly advised to rethink their jerkery.
What Nobody Tells You About Self-Care“, by Mawiyah Patten over at The Mighty, being full of some good points (mostly about self-care in the face of depression and anxiety, but some points also work for people with chronic illness).

Things that look like me:

I didn’t do a new drawing for Whiteboard Weirdness this week because I’m enjoying having Deadpool on my fridge way too much. Instead, I’m celebrating the advent of October with the return of the Other Deborah over at Twitter. This portrait of the Other Me was done by the excellent Alexa Bosy!


Also, check out the GeekDame banner above! It’s been tricked out for the season by the always delightful Lorraine Schleter!

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)

The time has come for all good women and men to become wicked creatures of sensual scent and the mythic dark. Persephone is sashaying back to her crown and her love, scattering dried petals and dying leaves behind her with every deliberate step. Hades has opened up his door, and soon it’ll close behind her.

Nothing to fear awaits you in these dark passages, so long as you’re a friend to Furies.


If any of that resonated with you – and you like perfume oils – you’re a BPAL fan. You just might not know it yet. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab are great people with a great company, and they’ve been helping us smell amazing for more than a decade. They revel in the beautifully macabre, and also partner up to feed our geeky hearts with perfume oils inspired by Neil Gaiman‘s words and worlds, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak, Lovecraftian lore, fairy tales, and so much more.

This year, they decided to start a series of contests inspired by the Seven Deadly Sins. “Seduce us in 7!” they cried, and threw open their email box and social media accounts to receive stories of seven words inspired by the designated sin. Their very first sin was LUST, and I had the honor of being the very first winner – that’s my micro story above, beautifully rendered by the BPAL folks. As I put it when I found out:


It’s been over 6 months, but still? I’M SO EXCITED.

You should also all read the honorable mentions and check out the hashtag on Twitter (though you’d have to scroll back a fair bit for the Lust edition entries). There is some truly beautiful and evocative work there.

And now? I want to tell you about the perfume oil they created.

bpal-sws-lust3As a winner, I received a bottle of the final scent. In the bottle, the pomegranate is strong and lush – to my nose, it almost trips over into cherry. The end of the inhale pulls the smoke into play. On my skin, wet: the smoke emerges first, tickling my nose until the pomegranate rose up behind it. And, at last, on my skin, dry: the two distinct notes I picked out at first fully merge into a complicated and heady interplay that draws the nose closer. A perfect match for my sentence! BPAL’s artistry is stunning, and I’m delighted all over again that my story inspired them.

Since the Lust edition of the contest, they’ve also hosted one for Sloth and then Wrath. There are four more sins to go – make sure you’re following BPAL on Twitter (or Facebook!) so you can participate in the next ones. Even if you’re just reading, you’re in for a real treat.

And don’t forget to enjoy the Autumnal equinox – the Seven Word Story: Lust perfume oil would be a perfect complement to your dying year festivities.

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

So many things to share this week, and I’m excited about all of them! Let’s jump right in.

Things that I wrote:

A review of Roses and Rot by Kat Howard, featured over at the SurLaLune Fairy Tales blog.
A review of the Stranger Things soundtrack, over at Nerdspan.
Great Cats of History, Part 2, over at Front Page Meews.

Things that I read:

Salvador Dali and Walt Disney: A Forgotten Collaboration That Will Leave You Breathless,” being exactly what it says on the tin.
Delightful Ways We Refer to Groups of Animals in English,” being full of great collective nouns.
In Defense of Villainesses” by Sarah Gailey at will make you cackle with understanding.

Things that I made:

This be a preview of the banner.

This deliciously creepy wallpaper can be YOURS when you back the Kickstarter for Wine, which I told you about yesterday! Let me know when you’re a backer, and I’ll send you a download link for this wallpaper in a variety of sizes (including those perfect for Twitter and Facebook banners).


This week’s Whiteboard Weirdness is in honor of Seanan McGuire‘s October Daye urban fantasy series! The 10th book just came out last week, so a rose goblin seemed appropriate. This drawing is inspired by kadharonon’s cute illustration on DeviantArt.

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.

And, of course, I’m terribly excited about the Wine Kickstarter! Back it here: 


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

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have heard me mention a new venture once or twice – Poppy Games, a vibrant and idea-rich game company launched by my brother, Joseph Brannon. He and his creative partners have been developing games collectively for a decade, and are at last ready to share them with the world. He’s got five beautiful and fun card and board games in the pipeline, and he’s just launched a Kickstarter for the first of them: the micro card game Wine.

wine-logoWine is an elegantly simple game, easy to learn, and takes minutes to play. All you have to do is avoid the chalice with the palace… I mean the flagon with the dragon… wait… ahem. Just avoid the glass with the poison in it! Of course, to do that, you have to outwit your friends.

Wine is also a visual treat, with lush art created by Sabrina Abrego. Poppy Games is committed to visual and tactile delight as well as good games. The basic game comes in a linen drawstring bag, and the collector’s edition in a handmade bag with a nice box.

So, what are you waiting for? Do you like games? Go back it! The basic game is only $10 – and, if you back it, come back and let me know. (Or just tweet me @geekdame.) I’ll give you a download link for a deliciously creepy wallpaper I made in honor of the game! You’ll get it in a range of wallpaper sizes, as well as sizes perfect for Facebook or Twitter banners:

This be a preview of the banner.

And don’t forget to share the Kickstarter with your friends! Poppy Games is rich in potential, and y’all can help them realize that.

Full disclosure: I already identified that my brother founded Poppy Games; I am also serving as their Media Relations Consultant.

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


Some years back, I discovered a little book called Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner. I immediately drowned in that novel, and wouldn’t have noticed a life preserver if one was thrown at me. The irascible scholar Alec, the graceful swordsman Richard St. Vier, their difficult romance, the deadly and colorful Riverside and the cutthroat yet elegant politics of the greater city completely ensnared my attention. Not to mention the swordplay! Honestly, I was intoxicated. I tasted blood and wanted more.

More, more, more.

Fast forward to last autumn, when I discovered my well-loved Riverside had exploded into serial fiction. With Serial Box, an exciting and clever new publisher, Kushner and a host of other excellent authors – Alaya Dawn Johnson, Malinda Lo, Joel Derfner, and more – had created a 13-story “season” of a new series set in Riverside and the nameless city surrounding it. I was hooked from the word Tremontaine, but I don’t know how anyone could resist once Serial Box executed their coup de grâce: a furious and playful commercial.

Season 1 of Tremontaine lived up to every expectation I had – and exceeded them. The world grew, and Riverside’s diversity with it. Most of the major players are women, including women of color. We met Micah, one of the best characters in the series, who is on the autism spectrum – something that is acknowledged, but NOT presented as a handicap. We have bisexual recognition, queer relationships of many stripes, and villains who pluck our heartstrings as much as do our heroes. Gender and cultural politics are interrogated. Power dynamics constantly shift, political as well as deadly intrigue abound, and swordplay is – of course – represented with heart-pounding vigor. Tremontaine is a feast for the senses and the mind; it’ll also make you crave chocolate like anything.

No, seriously, most of my Tremontaine nights were spent with a steaming cup of cocoa to hand. Pro tip: lay in a supply of hot chocolate.

This year, in anticipation of Season 2, I’m a delighted member of #TemonTEAM – bringing you the good word, as it were, of Our Series of Swords and Sin. Sometimes, this means I get sneak peeks and Serial Box outdid themselves with this week’s. Because. Y’all.


I GOT TO READ THE FIRST EPISODE! Even if you were in the room with me right now, you would not be able to hear me say how excited I am, mostly because your eardrums would be recovering from the high-pitched noises of delight I am helpless to restrain.

Ellen Kushner introduces us once more to the intrigues of Tremontaine with “Convocation,” inviting us into post-summer languor giving way to a new season of sensual deviltry and political jockeying. Duchess Tremontaine, Kaab, and Rafe Fenton are all there – as are new players, complicating the playing board and the world in ever more beautiful and delicious ways. Cleverness is your best friend in this world, and the wisdom to wield it – while the best lover is power and the will to resist (just enough) its many charms. I can’t wait for you all to read this episode; I can’t wait to talk about it in more detail. (WHERE ARE MY VIRAGO GRISELDA FANS AT?!) For now, though, I’ve made you a little something – a visual taste of our Grande Dame of Desperation and Ambition’s Season 2 debut:


The Duchess Tremontaine’s back! We’re all gonna be in trouble.

(The image above features an altered close-up of a portrait of Empress Maria Feodorovna, painted by Konstantin Makovsky. Words are by Ellen Kushner, from “Convocation,” the first episode of Tremontaine Season 2. I altered the image in Pixlr.)

P.S. I didn’t even mention the GORGEOUS paper-cutout art for each episode created by Kathleen Jennings! That’s on me because, seriously, the art is a remarkable distillation of each episode and a core part of the story that is Tremontaine.

P.P.S. I feel bad for not mentioning the other authors of Season 1 on account of fine-tuned sentence flow. So, here we go: the other excellent authors of Tremontaine Season 1 were Racheline Maltese, Patty Bryant, and Paul Witcover. Oh, and Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett who snuck in a cat-and-burglar-filled freebie with “Willie Be Nimble.

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

Welcome to the weekly round-up! Mind your tongues and elbows, Ps and Qs, and whatever other things that might stick out or get you in trouble. Oh yeah, and enjoy all these things what I assembled for you.

Things that I wrote:

Pro Tips for the Great Hairstylist Quest, at ISA Professional’s blog.
Great Cats of History, Part 1, at Front Page Meews.

Things that I read:

Tove Jansson’s Rare Vintage Illustrations for Alice in Wonderland” over at Brain Pickings is full of marvels to behold.
Get in the Ring: Vintage Images of Female Bodybuilders and ‘Strong Women’ Showing Off,” being full of lady badasses to admire.
This GREAT post at Over the Effing Rainbow in honor of #TremonTEAM: “Everyone Loves Turnips!: A Micah Heslop Appreciation Post.”

Things that I made:


I finally achieved a day off this week and spent it catching up on Dragon Age: Inquisition, which made drawing a chibi Varric snuggling with Bianca a natural choice for this week’s Whiteboard Weirdness. For some definitions of natural, anyway. My reference illustration was the adorable “Varric Chibi” by RedPawDesigns at DeviantArt.

Things that I’m excited about: 








Click the pics to purchase if you’re likewise excited about any of the featured items 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)

sandtroutsurprise-debsIt’s been a minute since we’ve had a sci-fi geek recipe around here! So, when I asked my mom what she’d like me to bake for her birthday – and she hit the CINNAMON ROLLS button – I knew what I had to do. It was time to break out Sandtrout Surprise, my very decadent and dramatically spiced special cinnamon rolls. Oh yes, my friends. Put down your Dune novels, pick up your aprons, and let’s get messy. It’s time to bake!

geekdame-alchemyPresents! Sandtrout Surprise
(Cinnamon Rolls)
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup butter
3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 package instant yeast (.25 oz)
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
1 extra large egg

1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter (softened)

Heat the milk in a small saucepan. When it just starts foaming or bubbling, remove it from the heat and add 1/4 cup butter. Stir until the butter has melted, and then allow the mixture to sit until it’s lukewarm.

Meanwhile, combine 2 1/4 cup flour with the yeast, white sugar, and salt. Whisk so it’s well-mixed. Add the water, egg, and buttery milk mixture. Beat well – I used my Kitchenaid hand mixer until it was mostly a sticky mass with flour around the edges of the bowl. At this point, I hand-stirred in the rest of the flour, adding 1/2 cup at a time. Once the dough has pulled together (add flour if you need to in tablespoon increments), turn it out onto a floured board and knead it about 5 minutes. I kept adding flour to my hands of the board as needed to make the dough less sticky and leave it smooth.

Put the dough in a bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Spend your time contemplating the Litany Against Fear or arguing the ethical merits of Leto II’s reign.

Or you can put the filling together! Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of softened butter in a separate bowl. You can just mash it all together with a fork until you’ve got a chunky, dark, fragrant mixture.


Once 10 minutes have passed, roll out your dough with a rolling pin. I rolled mine into a roughly 12×9 inches oval shape. Dump the cinnamon and sugar mixture on top of the rolled-out dough, and spread it out as evenly as possible to cover most of the dough. Then roll the dough up into a tube and pinch the ends shut.

Now you’ve got a fat sandtrout of delicious spice.

Slice the roll into equal parts. You can get 8 enormous cinnamon rolls out of this, or go for a more modest 12. I recommend using the dental floss method to divide it up as knifework on raw dough can get a bit tricky.


Place the sliced rolls into a greased pan – I generally use a 13×9 inch casserole dish. Cover them with a cloth and let them sit for 35 minutes while they rise. The dough should increase in size, but probably won’t double. That’s okay.


(Top picture: before rising. Bottom picture: after rising 35 minutes.)

The last few minutes of this period is the best time to preheat your oven to 375 F. Then slide your cinnamon rolls into the oven for 25 minutes. Check them and, if they’re golden brown, take them out! If not, keep a close eye on them until they turn golden.

sandtroutsurprise-doneThe cinnamon-sugar mixture should be bubbling and frothing, and the rolls should be enormous. Let them sit for at least 5 minutes, then transfer them to another container or a serving dish. Or transfer them directly to your mouth. Spice is good for you, and there’s no judging here.

These cinnamon rolls microwave well. You can slather them with any glaze or frosting of your choice. (I like mine plain.) They should last a few days on the counter, or up to a week in the refrigerator – as if you’ll ever have to worry about that. (Seriously, you won’t. THESE ARE ARRAKEEN DELICIOUS.)


(“Arrakeen delicious” means “addictingly delicious” because spice.)

Nutritional info: LOL.

Now that you have a geek treat in hand, allow me to introduce some more treats! Mainly, Geek Dame’s Alchemical Delights stuff for you and your home. That’s right! I’ve put my Alchemical Delights logo (pictured above and designed by the brilliant Lorraine Schleter) onto a few made-to-order products over at my Zazzle shop and my RedBubble shop. Check out the list below – I’m especially excited by the spiral-bound notebook, which would be great for writing down recipes!

On Zazzle:

Refrigerator Magnet.
Small button.

On Redbubble:

Spiral Notebook.
Travel mug.
Tote bag.

I take requests – if there’s something you’d like but don’t see, just drop me a note and I’ll see what I can do.

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

I was, perhaps, raised on a very strange comedy diet – for a child of the 80’s, anyway. (Thanks, mom!) As a kid under 12, my comedic friends were Jerry Lewis, Danny Kaye, George Burns, the Marx Brothers, Peter Sellers, Peter Cook – and, of course, Mel Brooks with his whole band of merry friends: Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman, Gene Wilder.

Gene Wilder. Gene Wilder is dead.

Gene-WilderHis name encompassed his mad whimsy, y’know? Gene Wilder. I spent sick afternoons with him and Richard Pryor thwarting wiles while blind and deaf. I played with Gene a thousand times in his chocolate factory, with his deceptive limp, terrifying about-faces, spooky whimsy, and whimsical danger – and his warmth, generosity, and enchanting genius. I hung out playing chess with him and Cleavon Little at the town jail rather more often than a child should, but I turned out alright. And I cackled with mad glee right alongside him as he succumbed to his heritage and his genius in a Transylvanian castle.

I loved Gene Wilder the way a child loves their heroes. I’ve lived with him all my life. His films have been boon companions, always there to get me through – whether I needed to laugh just because or to creep back from some edge. I know his movies’ shapes, and how they fit inside me – and the space they fit into is labeled delight.

He lived a long and fruitful life, well-loved and well-celebrated. I’ll miss him – I know I didn’t know him as a person, but I knew him in the present tense.

Though I cannot begrudge him leaving us, I absolutely can mourn the disease that shadowed his last years. The same disease that robbed the world of Terry Pratchett much too soon. Gene Wilder died from complications due to Alzheimer’s. Can no one rid us of this troublesome disease? There have been some breakthroughs – and I encourage everyone who wishes to make a donation in Wilder’s memory, to do so to a charity targeting Alzheimer’s research, e.g. Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. Let’s science Alzheimer’s to death.

And let’s remember Gene Wilder as a man about whom his family could sincerely say: “He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world.” Well. He doesn’t have to worry about that. He’ll always help so many of us smile.

Thank you, Gene.

Note: Photo above by Steve Wood.

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

This week, my nephew came into the world! Also, I wrote stuff that’s not due to be published for a little while. That means no links to other sites featuring my work today, but there’s still a few things to share.

Things that I read: 

Thing that I made: 


This week’s Whiteboard Weirdness celebrates my aforementioned nephew! He’s been here four days now, and came into the world both screaming and a Leo – which makes the mighty lion a fitting welcome beast indeed. The cuddly lion reference came from a Google Image search.

Things that I’m excited about: 








Click the pics if you fancy purchasing any of the above! I get a modest kick-back from Amazon, if you do.

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

Just like virtually everyone else I know, Andy and I fell into the Stranger Things hole a few weeks ago. It was sorta like visiting the Upside Down, but with much better food and not having to worry about what the hell I was breathing. So nothing like the Upside Down then, but we did live day-to-day in a creeping mist of questions and concern and admiration for Eleven and her bevy of adventurers, not to mention the hapless adults stumbling into national security black ops. And by day-to-day, I mean like the three days it took us to watch.

Ever since, I’ve been lurking for a good time to watch it again (my brother hasn’t seen it yet, LET ME CHANGE THAT), making my own Christmas lights message, and getting way too excited about Funko’s prototype rendering of an Eleven Pop!. (MAKE IT SO, FUNKO; TAKE MY MONEY.) And now I’ve decided to lob a 10 Things list at YOU, dear reader, so here we go!

(This is not a Top Ten list, and not in any particular order.)


1) 80’s Nostalgic, But Not Derivative!

It seems like Hollywood is constantly trying to package 80’s nostalgia and sell it to us these days – except they’re doing it by shitty remakes of everything from Transformers to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (No, I will not apologize for both of those examples being Baystrosities.) Of course, they tend to get everything wrong – these franchises were products of their time (and our youth), and they’re being remade by people who arguably never cared about them – so they end up being neither genuine nor revolutionary.

Stranger Things doesn’t do that. Stranger Things is set in a very specific place – smalltown, heartland America in 1983. It is a science fiction story and a coming-of-age story and a mystery and a thriller. It loves Stephen King and Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter and so much more – but it does not want to be them. It wants to remind you of that intense wonder with an edge of fear in which you met E.T. or quailed from Carrie or cheered for the Goonies.

Stranger Things wraps you in atmosphere, and you breathe nostalgia in. And it is something special.

2) Hard Science Fiction of Unintended Consequences!

One of the best aspects of the mad science storyline in Stranger Things is that it’s so rooted in history – the USSR was actually investigating telepathy and more during the Cold War. As were we: the US did indeed have their own answering research team. So we have the set-up of a secret facility fostering ESP in an attempt to undermine the State’s enemies. But then everything goes wrong – instead of tapping only into info we wanted, we stumble sideways into an adjoining plane of existence… and the things there are hungry. It’s a simple skeleton to hang a story on, but supports oh such juicy meat being layered atop it. Er. I am not actually an untold horror from the Upside Down typing this, promise. I am human. So human. Now…come closer.

3) Eleven.

Eleven grew up in a lab as a science experiment, with a cold scientist who wore fatherhood like a labcoat – thin and easily discarded if it gets too messy. She can kill things with her brain. She still managed to retain a core of humanity and vulnerability that left her open to friendship and soft things. She knew that killing was wrong, and protection something she could offer her best and only friends. Eleven was a goddamn delight, and deserves ALL the Eggo Waffles. ALL OF THEM, BOB, YOU LEGGO ELEVEN’S EGGO RIGHT THIS INSTANT.


(See Ms Manatee’s post on Binge Whale for more boss Eleven moments.)

4) Joyce Byers.

I read Joyce has gotten some shit because she just acted crazy and screamed about her missing boy all season. That she is NOT FEMINIST. To which I ask: do you have a heart? Is it an empty hole? Is your last name Grinch?

Yeah, Joyce spends most of the season focused on her son Will Byers. He is TWELVE and GOES MISSING, so most people would understand why Joyce found herself so absorbed with her son. But far from turning into a helpless wreck of a person, she turns into a PROACTIVE wreck of a person. (There is nothing bad or weak about being a wreck of a person when a child you love and who depends on you goes missing over night. Just FYI.)  She seeks allies. She follows every lead. She does it alone when required. Joyce Byers is a woman who understands the truth is out there, and she’s going to find it come hell or high water, Upside Downs or a POS shaped like an ex-husband. Joyce Byers should be celebrated, and I say that as a feminist. The end.


5) Nancy Wheeler.

Nancy is our third female protagonist in Stranger Things, if you’ve been keeping count. THIRD. And she’s a teenage girl, which is prime territory for her just being THE WORST because 80’s nostalgia and sexism. Except she’s not THE WORST. She’s a complicated, real person who gets to make her own decisions and also make mistakes. She reconnects with her little brother, sees to the heart of many things, and doesn’t shrink from fighting in the dark for her lost best friend. She’s tough, dedicated, and smart – and she has one of the best lines in the entire series.

“What you kids doin’ with all this?” asks the hardware fella.


“Monster hunting.” Nancy tells it like it is.

(Check Jen Juneau’s post over on Yahoo! on “Why Nancy Wheeler from ‘Stranger Things’ isn’t getting the credit she deserves.” I don’t agree with parts of her argument, but she makes some good points.)

6) It Eats Teenage Stereotypes for Breakfast.

So there’s Cool Guy Steve, and he’s just a Grade A Jerk with no redeeming qualities and not worth dating, right? Except he stands up to his crappy friends, apologizes and atones for his mistakes, and, yeah, runs away from the Terrifying Horror from Beyond  – but then comes back to fight next to the girl he cares about.

And then there’s Tortured Soul Jonathan, who’s just misunderstood at school because he’s poor and likes to listen to The Clash or whatever, right? Well, no – he is awkward around people, but he also can be a creeper and sometimes takes pictures of topless women without their consent. That’s not okay – the show doesn’t say it is, nor does it use Nancy as a Reward for either boy in a sexist value system.

Stranger Things also doesn’t portray teenage sexuality as a bad thing in itself. Barb is taken by the Demogorgon while sadly sitting outside after Nancy decides to stay the night with her boyfriend – but sex is not the bad thing. That sex is not what threatens Nancy’s relationship with Steve, nor does it horribly impact her life afterward. She’s not pregnant, socially outcast, or spurned. Teenage sex is treated as a natural progression in a human’s life, and that’s notable in 80’s nostalgia fiction.

7) The Acting.

Okay, the acting is really top notch in this series. Wynona Ryder is amazing – at first, I kept pushing back against it, exclaiming all aghast that “Wynona is someone’s mom!” Which I know makes no sense, except she’s always first Lydia Deetz in my mind. But I soon forgot to see Wynona and just saw Joyce. The other adult actors are all really great as well, but I have to focus on the children now: I don’t even understand how Millie Bobby Brown was able to portray Eleven as she did. What dark intensity is this child mining to be so terrifying and deep? Then there’s the delightful Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin), fierce Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas), earnest Finn Wolfhard (Mike), and fragile Noah Schnapp (Will)… what talent Stranger Things‘ casting director found! This calls for a group hug.


8) Complete Story with Room to Grow!

Stranger Things had the good grace and the good sense to tell a complete story in their first season. They didn’t bank on getting more time, and end with some absurd cliffhanger. They also didn’t act without confidence and sew up every little thread. They told a well-balanced story – with a beginning, middle, and end – and told it in just enough episodes to keep it taut while still allowing it room to build. They satisfied the viewer, and did it while still scattering a few disturbing seeds that can blossom into strange and terrifying new tales in the next season.

Luckily, there’s going to be another season. And I can’t wait. No, seriously, guys, I can’t wait. START FILMING NOW, I WILL PAY YOU IN EGGOS AND ADMIRATION.

9) Dustin Henderson.

Y’all know I love Eleven. Lucas is the fierce warrior who won’t sacrifice common sense, and he’s amazing too. Mike’s the voice of the group, and Will is their Dude in Distress. But, y’all, Dustin – Dustin is the real MVP of their party. Any dude who shows up for the quest with the food – sugar AND protein – is the guy you don’t want to lose. He knows an army marches on its stomach, and he’s ready. He’s also their heart: he brokers peace, calls everyone on their shit, stands up for himself, but also knows when it’s time to cut and run.


Every party needs a Dustin Henderson. Don’t RP (or real life adventure) without one.

10) The Demogorgon.

Stranger Things dipped into their Lovecraftian Gigeresque nightmares for the Demogorgon and came up aces. Terrifying, spine-shuddering aces with slimy bits and a penchant for fresh blood. Not giving it a face was an inspired choice, and letting it be both the monster in the walls and the monster from beyond was another. The Demogorgon was so effective, in fact, that it terrified the youngest members of the cast (the two actresses who jointly played little Holly Wheeler) and the crew had to liken it to Sully from Monsters, Inc. to help calm them. (Thanks for the trivia, Movie Pilot!) A+ monster, y’all! Now I’m going back to NOT thinking about it for a while. All the shudders.


(For more GIFs of the show’s creepiest moments, check out Ms Manatee’s round-up on Binge Whale.)

And I’m gonna stop with 10, even though there is so much more to talk about.

Honorable mentions go to:
Barb, and there are plenty of great posts out there about her already.
The Christmas Lights Wall, and the great fanart it’s inspired (like Paul Tinker’s GIF).
The titles, which are so excellent they’ve inspired multiple articles (check out the A.V. Club’s breakdown).
And the perfectly atmospheric music, which I’ll be talking about on Nerdspan soon.

You also should all check out this round-up of brilliant Stranger Things fanart on Vox. Then drop into the comments and tell me what YOU love about Stranger Things!

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October 2016

23 456 78
910 111213 1415
1617 1819202122
2324 2526 272829

Other Social Platforms

Reading Challenges

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

December 31st, 2011
Art by Ivan Griscenko.

0/3 Novels Read

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


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