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

Y’all know I miss The Clone Wars. I make absolutely no bones or Force ghosts about it. Rebels is showing promise, sure, and I’m starved for episodes on this hiatus, but The Clone Wars was where I lived.

Happily for me, an eight-part arc of The Clone Wars – scripted, but never produced – was considered ripe for novelization. Christie Golden took those scripts, and she forged them into one hell of an adventure. Check out my thoughts, fully published at BuzzyMAG:


The story follows Asajj Ventress and fan-favorite Quinlan Vos as they work together to achieve a necessary, yet deplorable goal: the assassination of Count Dooku. The Jedi Council sends Vos on this path, valuing his ability to adapt to deep cover and thus court Ventress’ assistance without her knowing he’s a Jedi. Of course, anyone who spent more than a few minutes considering this plan would realize that even the most serene Jedi might have a little trouble hiding their Force affinity in front of a Nightsister of Dathomir and former Sith acolyte. (Someone as swashbuckling as Quinlan Vos, ever skating along the edges of strict Jedi practice, had no chance.) Also, there’s the little problem that you probably need at least two Force-users working together to take on a Sith Lord of Count Dooku’s caliber.

Honestly. The Jedi Council is often very, very dumb.

(Yeah, yeah, Anakin was but one man. THE CHOSEN ONE, MAN.)

[Click here for the full review at BuzzyMAG!]

Mirrored from Please comment there.

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

You want it, don’t you? My review of Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp? Well, you can have it! It’s up at BuzzyMAG. To prepare yourselves, though, you need to pay homage to Sith Girl.

Take a load off, grab a cup of blue milk or whatever, and give this video a watch:

Ah, good times, kickin' it and deciding to swear allegiance to the Dark Lord. And now you're ready to read my review. Read it now.

Lords of the Sith promised me a rollicking, bloody adventure best thought of as the PALPATINE AND VADER MURDERBUDDIES ROADSHOW. (In my mind. It’s a twisted place.) This is the sort of gleeful, anticipatory state in which I sat down to read the novel.

And, well, I wasn’t given what I expected. It wasn’t the MURDERBUDDIES ROADSHOW of my dreams. In fact, it’s honestly a testament to how well the book worked that I’m not horribly disappointed.

While the novel opens with a brief stint in Vader’s head, all crippled pain and cybernetics and the Dark Side of the Force, the narrative perspective soon shifts to the actual focus of the story: Twi’lek Cham Syndulla and his freedom fighters, smuggling weapons and plotting for the realization of a free Ryloth.

Click here to find the full review at BuzzyMAG.

Mirrored from Please comment there.

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

Look, people, never question how much affection I hold for you. I read Heir to the Jedi. I read the whole damn thing, and I DID IT FOR US.

Don’t you walk away from me! Don’t you leave this thing we have together. If I’m bitter now, you only have yourselves to blame! Yourselves, and Kevin Hearne.

Seriously, though, I did read Kevin Hearne’s Heir to the Jedi, and it was not a very good novel. It’s unfortunate that this was my introduction to Hearne’s work, as many of you have told me of the excellence to be found in his The Iron Druid Chronicles. I promise you I will give them a try, because no one should be judged based on this recent Star Wars novel that reads like nothing so much as a defeated author’s scribblings after being henpecked by a boardroom-based canon council.

Y’all should probably just read the review I wrote for you now, kindly published over at BuzzyMAG:


Heir to the Jedi, by Kevin Hearne, is one of our latest forays into a galaxy far, far away. It promises us mystery revealed, seems poised to take us into the daily life of a certain young Skywalker as he grows from the whiny punk of Star Wars into the more sober, experienced man of The Empire Strikes Back. The foreword promises as much from an evidently keen fan of the franchise. And yet, Heir to the Jedi is the worst of the new canon novels.

From its early pages of reported events to Luke’s frankly crappy reasoning skills, this novel commits the cardinal sin of being boring…

Click this link to read the rest over at BuzzyMAG!

Mirrored from Please comment there.

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As a child of the 80's, my interest in video games began with the first NES on the block. It wasn't even in my house; my family boasted a laserdisc player, but we hadn't made the jump to home computing or gaming yet.

(And my mom was in the computer sales business! When Stickybear and The Black Cauldron were a thing! I don't understand it either.)


No, the first Nintendo on the block belonged to my frenemy John. (I thought he was just my friend John, but then he kicked my legs out from under me while we were racing this one time. And climbed a fence to mock me. So I learned the secrets of vengeance, tripped him back, and saw his mom naked. Good times.)

But, yes, the NES! Nintendo! We all went over to John's place to play it, and by "we all," I mean the other girl on the block and my first little brother when he could keep up with us. We spent many a raucous afternoon flattening gumbas, divesting koopa troopas of their shells, and gleefully slaughtering scores of ducks. (Seriously, y'all, how did the Duck Hunt gun even work?) (I'm kidding, I Googled that ages ago. But educate yourselves, if you need to.)

Drunk on the delicious pixelated goodness of Super Mario Bros.... [Click to read the rest of this entry at my website!]
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If you need me, me an' Clara'll be hanging out with the Time Lord.

(If I earwormed you, you're welcome. If you have no idea, just move along.)

Doctor Who has returned, and it's nothing like what we expected. And, yes, this post was meant to have been up last week but then some generous people thought I might enjoy their summer cold. They were wrong. I did not enjoy their summer cold. I move that the assembly strike "generous" from the previous description and substitute "inconsiderate" instead. Everyone in favor? Since my vote's the only one that matters, motion carried.

NOW THEN: the Doctor has regenerated and helpfully brings a T-Rex to Victorian London in his regenerative confusion, where a beleaguered Clara is immediately supported by everyone's favorite Paternoster Gang. They manage to produce a widget that corrals the Queen of Dinosaurs into a limited part of London, mainly right next to Big Ben so we always have a handy size reference. Then they whisk the Doctor away and someone manages to get him into a nightgown, and wondering who managed that - as the Doctor ranted and railed in frightened disorientation - added some levity to an otherwise heartbreaking scene. Eleven was still very much inside Twelve, fouling up all his wires, leaving HIM operating with a fault... a phrase he waved at his companions, which he got from his last interactions with Handles, the disembodied Cyberman head. A Time Traveler's Winston. It's no surprise that Eleven would be with us essentially all the way through this first episode with Peter Capaldi - the Doctor lived as Eleven for centuries, and in a warzone as well. That'll give anyone a nasty case of PTLD. (Work it out.)

[Read the rest at my website!]
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I have been anticipating Intruders since BBC America first started airing those WTF commercials showing nothing but Mira Sorvino with a thousand yard stare saying, "We will be alright. Because in the beginning there was death."

BBCA showed this ad about a million times over; unlike the Orphan Black ad's repetition of Sarah-as-Beth's "damn right!", I never got tired of it.

(There was this one time, in the middle of the night, when my husband decided to stand next to my side of the bed, swaying and staring until I asked him if he was okay. And then he said, "We'll be alright; because in the beginning there was death." I threw a stuffed Stitch at him. So I may have been on about Intruders a bit much.)

Then they started showing the teaser ad with this little girl, Madison, and a bloodied corpse in a bathtub. "I can even make this [body] work," she declares.

Dear readers, I was sold. I've always been interested in tales dealing with death, and the personification or subversion thereof. Throw in JAMES FRAIN, Mira Sorvino, John Simm, a creepy little girl, mysterious - possibly arcane - triggers, a little Latin, and conspiracy theories? I AM SO THERE. So there they might as well put a little engraved nameplate on my chair.

BBC America gave me the opportunity last night to watch the premiere early, so I grabbed my headphones and dove right in. How was it?

[Read the rest at my website.]
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
Did you know that Intruders starts on BBC America this Saturday night? After the AHHHHH DOCTOR WHO PREMIERE AHHHH Capaldi?! (You probably do, if you watch BBCA with any regularity - they have been showing a trillion commercials a day.) Well, I am super-excited for both. With that excitement in mind for stories starring awesome people and being about people who don't properly die but continue on in weird science-- I thought I'd reprint this short story of mine. Hope you enjoy!

by Deborah J. Brannon

The men were brilliant, marvels and masters of modern science. All the papers would say so, would hail them as the conquerors of death and enhancers of life. Or would have done, if they’d ever heard of Dr. Henry Sexton and Dr. Adam Valincourt. The papers never would hear a whisper, though, and death would continue unchecked, blithely harvesting each life in its time.

Each life, that is, except for two.

Thanks to selling off some less advanced technology, Sexton and Valincourt had extensive financial holdings, a fully automated scientific facility, and a highly paid, tightly controlled security force. They returned to this facility every 60 years (a most sensibly-devised half life, given the times), downloading themselves into carefully engineered 25-year-old bodies which aged but slowly and bore faces of fictional descendants.

Each 60 years, their ritual was the same:

Once they finished with the less flattering conventions of their regular resurrections– coughing up fluid, staggering about, eventually attending to hygiene and dress– they met in a small, blue-painted room featuring a single mahogany table and two wing-backed chairs. On the table waited a tray bearing a decanter of aged brandy and two crystal glasses, carefully prepared by a discreet servant with financially-controlled muteness.

They greeted each other, sat, and talked about life.

At first, the previously sedentary scientists indulged themselves in wildly adventurous lives, throwing themselves into rare game hunting, extreme sports, and the fine art of womanizing. Sometimes, two lives might go by in such blazes of glory, or they might alternate with a more staid existence, focusing on mastering a musical instrument or building a family.

Henry was the first to degenerate: [click here to keep reading the story at my website!]
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
One of the first things my mama did was teach me how to laugh. She raised me on comedic genius, filtering my movie education through Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, the Marx Brothers, Mel Brooks, Jerry Lewis, George Burns, Monty Python, so many more... and, of course, Robin Williams.

I mean, she told us stories about Robin Williams. The shit he got up to on the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson  (shut up, we didn't have YouTube in those days), or the oft-repeated scenario of how he proposed to his wife. We didn't know the guy personally, but we grew up knowing he was funnier than a roomful of ferrets trippin' balls.

Robin Williams made the world a funnier place.

So many of his movies were not funny.

[Click here to keep reading on my blog.]
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
It's Monday morning. Fight it with cookies. DARK SIDE COOKIES.

Recipe at the link.
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
Or, What To Get the Pirate Queen Who Has Everything.

You might not know this, but my best friend is a kraken's daughter. Yep. If this were Westeros, she'd be rocking her own longboat under the Greyjoy banner. If this were an alt-early 19th century Caribbean, she'd be tossing hogtied passenger treats to her best kraken brother. Aquaman wrings his hands next to his mailbox awaiting her soirée invitations, and King Triton's daughters always call her up for fashion advice.

An Instagram photo of Jamelle with a knit octopus on her head.
Your argument is invalid.

When it's her birthday, you kinda have to step up. And as I am a kraken's bestie, you bet that's what I did. With flair and flourish, and maybe a boarding party or two.

I made a pirate's chest.  BEHOLD!

[You'll actually have to click here to BEHOLD! Sorry about that. Through the link for Geek DIY!]
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)

So, this happened. Read all about how I wrecked Andy's Darth Vader cake:
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
The GeekDame loves it when a plan comes together.

It's Cherno Alpha cocktail time! If you're not already earwormed, I want you to go ahead and do this: go watch this Youtube video. I'll wait. Cool, done? Okay, now start singing "It's Cherno Alpha cocktail time!" to yourself. Do a shimmy up to your bar that's only embarrassing if you're not home alone or your guests aren't already drunk. (If you're alone, it ain't no thing; if your guests are drunk, it's hilarious.)

I hope your bar's well stocked, particularly with vodka and various red liquids. You're gonna need them to honor one of the baddest jaegers protecting the collective human ass from massive city-chompin' kaiju.

So, you've all seen Pacific Rim, right? If you haven't, I don't even know why I'm talking to you right now. You need to take yourself to a theatre, educate yourself, and stop by the liquor store on the way back home. Pacific Rim is the giant mechs vs. giant monsters film you've been looking for, if you ever loved Godzilla, Gamera, Transformers, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gundam, etc. This film is homage and love letter to them all. It's also Guillermo del Toro's warped and beautiful brain on film: I want to squeeze it and call it Squishy (for it will be mine and it will be my Squishy).

That didn't get weird at all.

On top of all of that? Pacific Rim is a celebration of the human spirit, and the fact that collaboration and friendship among humanity is what makes us great. If that doesn't call for a drink with a few friends, I don't know what does.

[Click here for the cocktails!]
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

This happens more often than you might think.

Look, there was a centipede, okay? On the ceiling. So my husband does what any problem-solving adult with the tools at hand would do: he decides to rifle butt the sucker with a P53 Enfield rifle-musket. A black powder muzzle-loading rifle-musket used by the British empire around the mid-1800s and later widely used by both the North and South in the American Civil War. Which we just happen to have lying around. As you do.

Sadly, the corpse could not be retrieved to preserve and properly mount above our nonexistent mantelpiece. But let the victory be reflected, and his fierce battle never be forgot!

What? So, I’m an enabler. This is how Casa Quixote rolls.

[Action shots just a click away!]

Mirrored from Please comment there.
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Iron Man lives again! And so does this podcast!

Welcome back, my faithful friends! When last we met, Andy and I promised you that a podcast crowing about The Avengers would be up "in a few days." Oops. In our defense, Loki destroyed that recording: the file was corrupted and, believe me, that was DEVASTATING. It was such a good time! Loki, you're such an asshole (love you anyway!).

Other things happened too. But we're back, and with at least one of the Avengers to boot! Behold, our episode on Iron Man 3:

[You'll have to listen at the post proper, as my audio player doesn't work here.]

Download is available. Runtime is 41:11. It should be up on iTunes at any moment.

Things you should know: THIS PODCAST IS FULL OF SPOILERS. No, seriously. Don't listen until you've seen Iron Man 3, unless you like listening to people ramble in random detail about unfamiliar franchises. If that's your thing, go on with your bad self. Also, we have cats AND THEY TOTALLY CRASHED THIS PODCAST. Because cats, much like Loki, are assholes.

Right, I think that's it. Enjoy!

(And review! And tweet! And chat with us about the podcast! We're garrulous geeks, as you may have noticed.)

Note: Thanks, as always, are owed to Jonathan Coulton, whose generous adherence to Creative Commons allowed us to use the first few seconds of his “Sucker Punch” as interlude music. If you’d like to hear and purchase the rest of the song, check it out at over at his site.
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Let's start with the positive, because GoD only knows there isn't much of it. The actors on this show are damned fabulous. Generally, they're given crap to work with and they still act their asses off-- particularly Robert Carlyle and, lately, Barbara Hershey and Rose McGowan. Then there's Jane Espenson, fantastic writer. Between her and the actors, they manage to spin shit into sterling silver. (Let's face it, guys. They're not Rumplestiltskin, and their base material isn't even straw.)

There are also moments on Once Upon a Time that are so heartrendingly perfect, though, that every misstep in plotting, characterization, and pacing is thrown into ever more glaring relief.

Here's one: Regina shoved her mother's heart back inside her chest and Cora gave her daughter one brilliant, heart-felt smile of love and adoration. The next moment, she falls dying into Regina's arms. There's just enough life left in her to cry, "This would have been enough. You would have been enough."

No one mourns the wicked: most misleading Broadway song ever.

And another: Rumplestiltskin, earlier in the episode, believes that he may actually die. Belle is still mindwiped and in the hospital, but he wants to reach out to her one last time -- just to thank her, to try to give her some beauty to hold on to. He calls her up and says, "I know that you're confused about who you are, so I'm going to tell you. You are a hero who helped your people. You are a beautiful woman who loved an ugly man. Really, really loved me. You find goodness in others and when it's not there you create it. You make me want to go back, back to the best version of me. And that's never happened before. So when you look in the mirror and you don't know who you are, that's who you are."

This is followed by a heart-wrenching and laugh!sob-inducing moment between Rumplestiltskin and his estranged son Baelfire. It is absolutely no surprise that all of these scenes occurred during Espenson's latest episode, "The Miller's Daughter."

And then there's the rest of it. Let's get started with the grossest offenders, shall we? Each of these points come courtesy of nonsense in 2.13-16, or "Tiny," "Manhattan," "The Queen is Dead," and "The Miller's Daughter."

[Magic beans? Rumplestiltskin don't need no magic beans! And four other idiocies.]
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A couple of weeks ago, I read Midnight Blue-Light Special by Seanan McGuire.

This is a book in which some speciest assholes with a vendetta against an awesome-pants family and a whole world’s worth of innocent-and-not cryptids decide to come to NYC and throw down on a ballroom-dancin’, ball-bustin’, arsenal-carryin’ honey. (Who is the local rep of said awesome-pants family.) If you foresee bad things happening to the speciest assholes, I would generally be all “Here! Have a cookie!” Except I’m sorry to tell you that these are militant, sorcery-packin’, zealous speciests who are indoctrinated, not dumb. So the book is a bit of a nail-biter along with a hoot-out-louder. It also comes complete with dragon princesses, cuckoo-induced terror, a sometimes-wolfbear Lolita, and talking religious mice. Honestly, though, that’s not even the half of it.

Right about now, you should have already ordered this book from your favorite book purveyor. If you haven’t, you might be asking yourself: “Self, why should I read Midnight Blue-Light Special?”

[Well, here are 5 excellent reasons! With bonus pictures, and cursing.]
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Virtuously, I rolled out of bed at quarter to noon yesterday morning and set about making guacamole.

...what? Sunday's my day off, okay. Besides, I was reading Keturah and Lord Death, and I was very much invested in reaching through the pages, shaking Keturah's shoulders, and making her realize she was in love with a certain anthropomorphic personification.

Right, so, I made guacamole. It was delicious. My plans for the day featured watching the Superbowl commercials and ignoring the game-- you know, standard operating procedure. However! In an absolutely shocking reversal, the Superbowl game actually turned out to be more interesting than the commercials. I mean, the commercials this year overall were hardly interesting, and certainly infantile, and often racist. (Really, Volkswagen? I can't even.)

Still, I got some amusement out of it:

1. Star Trek Into Darkness.

Since 2009's Star Trek, I've been primed for this one. I don't need some big mystery to keep me hooked, and I've been irritated by Abrams refusal to reveal the villain. It wasn't a big deal at first, but now it's all anyone's talking about: who is Benedict Cumberbatch? This trailer left me all "THANK YOU! FOR FUCK'S SAKE, JJ. WAS THAT SO HARD?!" with a sense of relief. It seems pretty clear to me now that Star Trek Into Darkness is all about Khan.

[Read the rest of my Superbowl ad commentary after the jump!]
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (Default)
Recently, I was watching an episode of Once Upon a Time, which meant I was doing a good impression of a potentially disturbed person by cursing at my television, pausing the DVR to hold my head in my hands, and striding around angrily at opportune moments when the characters were particularly stupid. There may even have been wild gesticulations.

What? Don't tell me you don't do this too. You don't? Oh. Well. Just me and maybe SRB then.

In the middle of the episode, ABC did a short preview of Beautiful Creatures, coming soon to a Valentine's Day near you. I perked up a bit as some (questionable) Southern accents rolled off the screen, along with pretty clothes and enthralling golden eyes. What was this? A film based on a contemporary urban fantasy set in the South? With witches? Score!

I seized my Kindle (Lucien II), downloaded Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, and began reading with all haste!

Okay, that's an over-dramatization. I finished the OUAT episode first, and spent some time angrily munching buttered salt and cracked pepper popcorn while bitching about Cora. Then I'm pretty sure there were errands, writing, and cooking a ridiculously delicious chicken marsala. But by bedtime, I was reading Beautiful Creatures!

Unfortunately, it insulted its Southern setting on the very first page. (The setting I was so excited about!) I had hopes it would improve.

It didn't.

There are a couple of things you should know about this novel...

Mirrored from Please comment there.

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Let me tell you about Sock Dreams. Based out of Portland, Oregon, they are basically the preeminent online destination for anyone who wants something soft, fuzzy, and/or stylish to put on their feet. (And arms, and legs...) They have a storefront, and sometimes let you wander through the warehouse. People have gotten to do this. Such people as Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman. I am absurdly jealous.

Each year, I order a pair of New Zealand bed socks for myself and Andy. These things are like mini-toasters for your feet, if toasters were crazysoft creatures that gently wrapped themselves around your tootsies. And weren't powered by electricity. This year was no different in the bed sock-acquiring department, except I ordered them a bit later in the year than I usually do. I also decided to make them stocking stuffers.

In my capacity as Deputized Stocking Stuffer, I chose to work within a theme this Christmas. That theme, although it most certainly doesn't give a shit, was the honey badger. To that end, I decided to put a note in the Special Instructions to Sock Dreams and asked them if they'd put a honey badger on the packing slip to amuse my husband.

And just how much did the Sock Dreams crew come through for me? This much.
talkstowolves: I speak with wolves and other wicked creatures. (talks to wolves)

I should probably mention that I’m writing for a great site called Nerdspan, relatively new and full of intelligent geekery on proud display. I have several reviews and articles in the works for them, and there’s a large stable of other nerds providing the same. Bookmark the site and follow the updates on Twitte @Nerdspan.

My first review went live today, and covers 2012′s Looper, directed by Rian Johnson and starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (along with Emily Blunt and Pierce Gagnon):

“The premise of Looper is easy to understand. Ready? Time travel is invented in the future. Time travel is immediately outlawed. The mob seizes control of time travel. The mob sends its hits to the past to be killed. (The future is a bad place for getting rid of bodies.) The people who kill for the mob are called Loopers. Loopers must one day kill their future selves and close the loop.” [Click here to read the rest of the review at Nerdspan!]

The review is short and sweet, so check it out even if you haven’t seen Looper yet. For those of you who have already seen the film (or just don’t give a shit), this post is for you!

People of the Internet: Looper makes it hurt!

Makes what hurt? Well, let’s see. Its clumsy dealings with time travel make your head hurt. (Here’s some aspirin.) Its brutal moments of emotional honesty make your heart hurt. (I got nothing for that.) Its casting of Pierce Gagnon as Cid the Creepy Kid makes you ache for the Ender’s Game hat could have been. (I’ve got nothing for that either.)

What I do have is a post twisting the knife and rubbing salt in those hurts! You’re welcome.  Here are 5 moments that had me diving for the pause button and kvetching at or gesticulating wildly with my husband before we hit play again. (Only 5, because let’s not kid ourselves: there were a lot more moments that called for pausing and swearing than I talk about here.)

[Here's a spoiler-filled look at 5 Moments that Hurt.]

Mirrored from Please comment there.

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