DCC Spotlight: Natural 20 Panel (Full)

Natural 20This year at Denver Comic Con we had the honor of presenting a panel for the first time. Together with our friends Christian and Shayla, Dungeon Masters for ATK, Inc and all around amazing humans, we led a discussion on the role that tabletop RPGs play in making the world a more awesome and accepting place, as well as how to get involved in your own tabletop RPG and find the perfect adventuring party! We had a blast, met some incredible gamers of all ages and we already can’t wait to come next year! Check it out, and make sure to give us your feedback. Thank you Denver Comic Con and Pop Culture Classroom for the opportunity to be a part of this year’s programming. See you in 2018!

Denver Comic Con is an education program of Pop Culture Classroom with more than 600 hours of educational programming and 9,000 sq. ft. of convention floor dedicated to the Pop Culture Laboratory, an area designed to engage kids in S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) educational activities, and spotlight the PCC program and its students and graduates. Further, it provides educational, youth-based programming and fun activities for our younger attendees and their families, and allows young creators to work directly with professionals from the comic book and animation industries as well as other creative professions.

PCC Mission: Pop Culture Classroom ignites a love of learning, increases literacy, celebrates diversity and builds community through the tools of popular culture and the power of self-expression.

PCC Vision: Pop Culture Classroom envisions individuals transformed by the educational power of popular culture who create diverse, inclusive and engaged communities.

PCC Values:

  • Quality service to kids and communities
  • Respect, inclusiveness and diversity
  • Equality of opportunity
  • Alternative approaches to education
  • Recognizing each person’s intrinsic dignity and importance
  • Open communication, responsibility and honesty

For more information about Pop Culture Classroom’s role in the community, please visit http://popcultureclassroom.org/ 

Carolyn Reacts: Game of Thrones Grows Up (Season 7, episode 1)

The man who watches the show should write the post.

The man who watches the show should write the post.

In case you didn’t get it from the title and the picture, there are SO MANY SPOILERS in this post. You have been warned.

Oh good, you’re still here. Let’s do this thing! Just the “Previously On….” was enough to get me cheering and bouncing in my chair. Things are moving so fast now, and as much as I don’t want it to end, I am desperate to know how it ends. I’ve wanted to see the culmination of this story since 1999, and we are so close!

Oldtown has a model in the credits! Library hype! Even after 7 years, this opening sequence still makes my little nerd heart so happy.

Oldtown-credits

Libraries are so hot.

Right from the opening moments of the first scene, I had chills. Arya, so cold, so ruthless, so comfortable in Walder Frey’s skin. I’m terrified for her, the path she has chosen is dark and pitiless. As much I cheered to see our lost wolf avenge her mother and brother, I’m worried that she may become lost to the darkness forever. But that speech? That was perfection, and the first hint that Game of Thrones has stepped it up several notches already this season. Full of calm fury and naked contempt, the writing was truly next level. Not to mention the fact that David Bradley just absolutely knocked the delivery out of the park, and onto the street, and maybe right on over into the next town.

Y'all motherf*&%ckers need the Many Faced God.

Y’all motherf*&%ckers need the Many Faced God.

Cool kings of the undead don’t look at explosions. Or whatever it is that is behind them. I love how epic their slow march to the Wall feels. There’s no rush, just calm persistence and absolute belief in their inevitable victory. The Night’s King has been alive forever, he’s got all the time in the world to get where he is going.

And Hell followed with him.

And Hell followed with him.

Lyanna Mormont doesn’t knit. Because knitting is stupid. Knitting doesn’t win wars you idiotic, bleating fools. Any hand that can hold a sword needs to swing one now. I mean, did you see the zombie giants? There are zombie giants coming, your rules about who can and cannot fight are no longer even remotely relevant.

Yeah, I don't knit. Or crochet. Or not stab zombies in the face.

Yeah, I don’t knit. Or crochet. Or not stab zombies in the face.

Sansa is not interested in your nonsense [insert name of person speaking at her here]. Also? She looks FABULOUS.

Do you see this? This is my unimpressed face.

Do you see this? This is my unimpressed face. #TeamSansa

I’m loving this new, mature dynamic between her and Jon. Our little bird is a wolf after all. I think she and Jon are the perfect foils for each other now. Sansa ruthless, driven, focused. Jon forgiving, desperate, still idealistic after all these years. They need each other, and I can only hope they continue to listen to each other. They make one hell of a team, tempering each other’s more destructive tendencies and buffering each other’s formidable strengths.

Fire and Ice. Or is it Ice and Fire? Whatever.

Fire and Ice. Or is it Ice and Fire? Whatever.

Cersei looks fabulous. Crazy, but fabulous. I can’t decide if she’s moved beyond her grief into straight up ruthless queen mode, or if she’s just hiding her despair behind that amazing dress and impassive face. Either way, she’s gone round the bend and I don’t think she’s ever coming back. Whatever loose grip she once had on sanity is long gone, and all she has left is her belief that she either wins, or she dies.

Poor Jaime tries logic on his twin. Surprising precisely no one, logic fails. Gods bless him, he tried, but she’s Mad King Aerys come again and I already feel bad for him. One day soon, he’s going to have to do what he has to do and end this before she burns more than the sept to the ground.

I think she's been taking sartorial lessons from Claire Underwood.

I think she’s been taking sartorial lessons from Claire Underwood.

I could write a whole thing on Euron Greyjoy, but here’s the tl;dr: Game of Thrones: Now with 1000% more snark, guyliner and smirking. There’s no gift in the world that he could bring her to win her heart, except for maybe Tyrion’s head on a platter, but we all know that’s not happening. So good luck to you Euron.

Sam Goes to Monastery was hands down one of my favorite sequences the show has ever done. It justified the large time skip, it was hilarious and it showed Sam’s growing frustration and impatience with being unable to access the information he knows they need to win this war. Combine that with Professor Slughorn dropping some serious philosophy on him, and the delightful Harry Potter homage was complete. Also, as mentioned on Twitter, I need a video of that sequence cut with Pink Floyd’s Money playing underneath it, so if the internet could get on that for me, that would be great. EDIT: Oh look, someone did! Thanks @mpirnat, you win One Internet.

Sam is such a total Hermione.

Sam is such a total Hermione.

Petyr: If you’re lucky, Sansa will murder you in your sleep, with great mercy and no pain. You made a fatal mistake choosing her as your piece in the game. Because she learns, she adapts, and she will soon surpass even your skills. If she hasn’t already. Sansa wants to do more than play the game of thrones, she wants to change it. While I don’t think a crown is what she really wants, if Sansa keeps on like this, she could be the last one standing in the end. With the love she learned from her family, the skills Petyr gave her and just enough of Cersei’s laser focus, Sansa would be an excellent Queen. Assuming, of course, that the zombie giants don’t eat her.

Petyr: She'll love me one day. Sansa: I wonder what the inside of his skull looks like.

Petyr: She’ll love me one day. Sansa: I wonder what the inside of his skull looks like.

I haven’t done an exhaustive study, but I feel like Daenerys gets to button the episodes a lot. It doesn’t always work for me, but this time it really did. I loved seeing her so small, and so alone against the massive fortress of Dragonstone, putting her feet on the sand of her homeland for the very first time in her living memory. It was a powerfully understated scene, especially in comparison to some her other more overwrought moments.

And I didn’t even get into The Hound and how much I love his new arc, and, well, just everything about him. That’ll be a post for another day I suppose. But I’m looking forward to more of him in Season 7, and I especially hope he meets up with Arya again someday. Imagine what words they would have for each other. Over chicken.

And so it begins, the final chapters of this epic tale. If the tone, the text and the delivery shown in this episode continues, we are in for an amazing treat. Welcome to the new Game of Thrones, now with more nuance, depth and zombie giants.

I'm including this photo only because I adore it. Because look at them. They are delightful.

I’m including this photo only because I adore it. Because look at them. They are delightful.

Want to be part of our Game of Thrones experience? Follow us on Twitter, where we live tweet the episodes, share hilarious memes and are otherwise giant dorks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do Gargoyles Eat Eclairs? An Interview With Amalie Howard

Amalie Howard HeaderAnother Denver Comic Con is in the books, and once again we had the pleasure of sitting down with one of our favorite Colorado authors, the award-winning Amalie Howard. We chatted about all sorts of things, including her new romance series, diversity in YA literature and, well, pastry. Trust me, it all makes sense if you just stay with me! The following interview has been edited lightly for clarity, grammar and continuity. As always, we are grateful to Amalie for taking the time on such a busy convention weekend. We spoke between signings at her booth.

Carolyn: So, how is the new romance series coming along? When does the third book come out?

Amalie: It’s going great! The third book is out on July 25th, in a few weeks. It’s been really fun to write, and of course getting to write steamy sex scenes is great. The third one is called My Hellion, My Heart, which is just great.

My Hellion, My Heart Cover

I’ll be in my bunk.

Carolyn: OMG, it really is! I drool over the new cover art. I don’t read a lot of traditional romance, but when I do, I like to read it in the bathtub with bubbles and a nice glass of wine.

Amalie: Obviously. That’s the best place to read romance.

We go on a full on tangent about custom bathtub caddies that sadly my recorder did not capture. But rest assured, it was epic. The point is, we like to drink fancy wine. While reading. If you don’t do this, you should.

bathtub caddy with wine

Amalie and Carolyn approve this bath setup.

Carolyn: Besides making for great bathtub reading, what’s different about writing romance versus YA, which is your usual wheelhouse?

Amalie: Well, there’s a lot more…freedom in the romance market. YA has a very specific set of expectations, of what they are looking for. Romance is more varied. And of course, again, writing steamy sex scenes is really fun. But YA will always be my home. I love writing for that audience.

At this point, a young woman and her mom stop at Amalie’s booth. Watching Amalie talk with her is just lovely. She’s engaged and funny, talks directly to the girl, asking questions, and giving honest answers. She doesn’t talk down to her, or over her head and encourages this fan to expand her reading horizons without pressuring her. It’s great to see. She signs a copy of The Almost Girl for her and poses for a picture. I am suffering from full on Con Exhaustion at this point and try very hard not to get all weepy about seeing young girls who love reading. Fortunately for me, Amalie makes a hilarious comment about the potentially awkward photo angle and my emotional moment passes.

Carolyn: So, your process for writing the Lords of Essex series is a bit different because you’re working with a writing partner. How does that work, and what were the challenges?

Amalie: When you are collaborating with someone the key is planning and communication. We had a very thorough outlining process. I’m talking long, dense outlines. 15-20 pages single spaced. You have to map out all the story beats because if one of you changes something on your own, everything can break down. It actually changed my process for writing my own stuff, I didn’t use to outline at all, and now I do. Much less complicated, just a couple of pages of bullet points, but yeah, writing with a partner has helped me evolve my own process too.

Carolyn: Your writing partner, Angie, also writes historical work, right? I don’t know anything about her.

Amalie: Oh she’s awesome. She writes about Paris and gargoyles. In the Gothic style. It’s awesome, and also YA. You should check it out.

Carolyn: I wonder if gargoyles eat eclairs.

Amalie: What?

Carolyn: Gargoyles. Do you think they eat eclairs? I mean, Paris has the best eclairs. If I was in Paris, I’d be eating eclairs.

I wonder if there are any eclairs down there?

I wonder if there are any eclairs down there?

Amalie: You ask the best questions.

Carolyn: Important questions. Deep, philosophical questions. Not but seriously, those sound really fun and I’ll definitely have to check them out.

I think about eclairs and the gargoyles who love them for several minutes while Amalie engages with fans and talks to some other Con guests who stop by her table. While not pondering Parisian pastries, I think again about how much I adore this event. I love the accessibility both every day fans and small media outlets like Sisters in Geek have here. the camaraderie of the guests, how they help each other and support each other. I try to remember the name of the author who helped me find Amalie’s table when I was hopelessly turned around and running late. I fail because I’m thinking about eclairs.

Eclairs

These eclairs have fruit on them. They are totally health food!

Carolyn: What’s it like writing both YA and this new historical fiction series at the same time? How do you switch between the two styles? It sounds like such a different mindset.

Amalie: My secret weapon is playlists.

Carolyn: Really? Tell me more! I am obsessed with playlists.

Amalie: Yeah, so I have different playlists for each thing that I might be working on. For the Lords of Essex books it’s all classical, it just gets me in the right head space for the time period and the vibe. When I’m working on the Alpha Goddess series, it’s a lot of trance and then Nine Inch Nails. And then for Almost Girl it’s dubstep.

Carolyn: Wait, Nine Inch Nails? That’s unexpected. I wouldn’t immediately associate NIN with Alpha Goddess.

Amalie: Really? It’s so perfect for me. The energy of it, and of course…

Carolyn: Identity, NIN is all about identity and the discovery of the self, yeah. Absolutely, can’t believe I didn’t think of that! I would love to listen to those playlists, I love playlists. I use them all the time in my D&D campaigns for my characters.

To her everlasting credit, Amalie does not give me a hard time for making this conversation about me and lets me ramble about D&D, the panel we presented this weekend and other nonsense for at least 3 minutes. She also keeps feeding me chocolate.

Carolyn: I’m going to have to message you for those playlists, I’d really like to listen to them.

Amalie: Oh! They’re on my site, you can listen to them anytime you want.

Carolyn: Excellent! That’s awesome. Well, I think I’ve taken up enough of your time. Any last thoughts, upcoming releases or ideas you’d like to end on?

Amalie: Well, My Hellion My Heart is out on July 25th, the next sequel in Alpha Goddess is out next year. Read more books, and remember that healthy sex is important and women need to be able to ask for it! That’s what I learned from writing Regency Romance.

I collapse into helpless giggling.

Carolyn: Well, that’s the perfect way to button up this interview. Thank you as always Amalie!

Carolyn and Amalie

No, but seriously, what do gargoyles eat?

AMALIE HOWARD is the award-winning author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, School Library Journal, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Spring 2014 Kid’s INDIE NEXT title. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was a #1 Amazon bestseller, and the sequel, Bloodcraft, was a national IPPY silver medalist and Children’s Moonbeam Award winner. She is also the co-author of My Rogue, My Ruin in the historical romance series, the Lords of Essex. She currently resides in Colorado with her husband and three children. She is very active on social media and we highly recommend following her for shenanigans and adventure.

Denver Comic Con is an education program of Pop Culture Classroom with more than 600 hours of educational programming and 9,000 sq. ft. of convention floor dedicated to the Pop Culture Laboratory, an area designed to engage kids in S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) educational activities, and spotlight the PCC program and its students and graduates. Further, it provides educational, youth-based programming and fun activities for our younger attendees and their families, and allows young creators to work directly with professionals from the comic book and animation industries as well as other creative professions.

Pop Culture Classroom Logo

PCC Mission: Pop Culture Classroom ignites a love of learning, increases literacy, celebrates diversity and builds community through the tools of popular culture and the power of self-expression.

PCC Vision: Pop Culture Classroom envisions individuals transformed by the educational power of popular culture who create diverse, inclusive and engaged communities.

PCC Values:

  • Quality service to kids and communities
  • Respect, inclusiveness and diversity
  • Equality of opportunity
  • Alternative approaches to education
  • Recognizing each person’s intrinsic dignity and importance
  • Open communication, responsibility and honesty

For more information about Pop Culture Classroom’s role in the community, please visit http://popcultureclassroom.org/ 

Ermergerd It’s Almost Time for Denver Comic Con

DCC is only a few days away, and we can barely contain our excitement here at SiG headquarters. I want to see everyone and everything and talk to everyone and buy all the art, but I am an adult gods damn it, and I know there are limits in life. Of time, of energy and of money. I’ve got to prioritize. So, I made a list. 

Top Ten Things I am the Super Most Ever Ever Excited About for Denver Comic Con. 

1. Clare Kramer moderating on the main stage again. Clare is a genius host and really elevates the main panels at DCC to the highest levels. She’s witty, open, gracious and generous. She gets great stories and epic laughs. I hope she is having as much fun as she is giving the audience. This year, I am specifically excited for the Buffy Villains Reunion and the Art of the Voice panel.

2. Felicia Day. Felicia is one of my heroes, and the absolute hands down number one reason I am brave enough to have started this site with my friends, among many other things. Her honesty is refreshing, her comedic timing is absurd and her talent blows me away. I can’t wait to hear her speak. It’s gonna be amazing.

3. Art. Artists. So much creative goodness. I’ve already covered the many returning guests we can’t wait to see, but the best part is discovering new artists!

4. The cosplay. DCC is stepping up their game this year with a ton of focus on cosplay. Panels, special photo ops and more await this year’s talented cosplayers!

5. Meeting the #critters. Despite the lack of Critical Role cast members attending, I believe that the critters will be out in force! Look for me in my MegMcMuffins original Life Needs Things to Live shirt and let’s hang out and spread some Team Hooman love. #lessthanthree

6. Nathan Fillion’s solo panel. He is hilarious, he is generous and it seems to me he always brings his A game to Con panels. I hope to hear about what’s next for our favorite captain! 

7. I AM BREWT! Theme beers are fun, Groot is adorable and after a long day of talking, walking and squeeing, a girl needs an ice cold beverage. 

8. Meeting…well….everyone. We have made some great connections at DCC over the years. Being amongst your fellow nerds, while exhausting, is also incredibly fulfilling. The geek community is amazing, and this weekend I am super excited to make more new friends.

9. Hovering somewhere between excited and terrified about #9. This year, we are hosting our first panel at DCC! I will be talking about tabletop RPGs and how they are making the world a better place! We hope to see you there! Even if you’re not a D&D player, just stand in the back and give a thumbs up, would you? I need the moral support. 

10. Just being with my fellow Sisters in Geek and seeing their face splitting grins. The memories are worth every aching joint.

What are you most excited for at Denver Comic Con? See you there! Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram all weekend for live panel coverage, photos and more!

DCC 2017 Preview: Artists

Because it's all about the art.

Because it’s all about the art.

It’s almost time for Denver Comic Con fellow geeks! You know what that means, it’s almost time to spend all your money on amazing art to adorn your walls. Don’t worry, we’re here to help! Many of our favorite artists are returning to DCC this year, and we can’t wait to see what they’re bringing. And of course, we know that new artists await us on the Con floor, and we’ll tell you all about them too, don’t worry.

But for now, here’s our list of artists whose tables you absolutely MUST visit during DCC.

Credit: Atomic Pixies

Credit: Atomic Pixies

Atomic Pixies – Booth C07

We are so happy that Atomic Pixies will be back at Con this year. If you think I’m not picking up some awesome Stars Wars pieces this year, you’re insane.

 

Credit: Ben Byrd

Credit: Ben Byrd

Ben Byrd – Booth M17

We buy all the Ben Byrd every year. Because every year he has more adorable, wonderful and whimsical art. I, personally, don’t have all of the dragon pieces yet, so I’m excited to finish out my collection.

 

Credit: Elisa Wikey

Credit: Elisa Wikey

Elisa Wikey – Booth M04

I love Elisa’s stuff so much that I want to hug it! Witty, adorable and perfect, this year I’m hoping to stock up on stickers and pins.

 

Credit: Jeannine Schafer

Credit: Jeannine Schafer

Jeannine Schafer – Booth 659

Hands down the best creator of ridiculous cat art on the planet. She does other animals too, but her cats are the best. Plus, she also has t-shirts that are so soft you will weep.

 

Credit: Jenny Parks

Credit: Jenny Parks

Jenny Parks – Booth Q07

OK, OK, maybe Jenny Parks has the best ridiculous cat art on the planet. Don’t make us choose! It’s impossible. I for one am definitely picking up her Wonder Woman cat this year.

 

Credit: Karen Hallion

Credit: Karen Hallion

Karen Hallion – Booth G19

If loving Karen Hallion is wrong, we don’t wanna be right. Her art is beautiful, powerful and awesome. Be sure to take one of her pieces home, won’t you?

 

Credit: Katy L Wood

Credit: Katy L Wood

Katy L Wood – Booth E17

Katy’s work is sometimes dark and gorgeous, and sometimes whimsical and bright. It’s always lovely. For bonus points, Katy hails from Colorado, so show some support for our homegrown talent!

 

Credit: Meg Kirkpatrick

Credit: Meg Kirkpatrick

Megmcmuffins – Booth F05

Meg is the absolute best, and I’m not just saying that because she brought my halfling Bard Portia to life. Her art honors a lot of fandoms, from Critical Role to Supernatural to Hamilton. She’s also hysterically funny and has Blucifer pins available! ALL HAIL BLUCIFER, Lord of the Airport.

 

Credit: Monkey Minion Press

Credit: Monkey Minion Press

Monkey Minion Press – Booth E13

Books! Prints! Magnets and posters! Amazing, beautiful work from the ridiculously talented hands of Dane and Ashlie, Monkey Minion is a can’t miss stop at any Con. Plus, they like space! Space is awesome.

 

Credit: Ryan Cain

Credit: Ryan Cain

Ryan Cain – Booth O23

We love Ryan’s clean style and top notch attention to detail. Also, he’s for sure a gamer nerd, which grants bonus points!

 

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all our DCC coverage! We’ll be posting live from the Con floor, sharing favorite moments, panel highlights and chance encounters. And of course the best cosplay. Don’t miss a moment! Find us for free stickers and other Con fun!

10 Things We Loved About the New Beauty & the Beast

Header for B&BWe here at Sisters in Geek are unabashed in our fandoms and we lean in to our joy of all things nerdy. This weekend that included seeing the new live-action Beauty and the Beast, and we are here to say: we fracking adored it. For your reading enjoyment, here are our top 10 reasons why.

1. Dan Stevens is the sexiest, most fully realized Beast ever. I mean. Damn. We just had to get that out of the way off the top. OK, we can get to the serious commentary now.

What...um....what were we talking about again?

What…um….what were we talking about again?

2. The revelation that was Luke Evans’ performance. He can sing! He’s got killer comedic timing! He insisted on Gaston being an unrepentant, raging asshole! All at the same time, which is really no easy feat. He had, quite literally, no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and yet we loved every moment of his time on-screen.

Did I mention the part where I am the Literal Worst? I'm sure I mentioned it. I'm all I ever talk about!

Did I mention the part where I am the Literal Worst? I’m sure I mentioned it. I’m all I ever talk about!

3. Giving the servants more to do besides sing, dance and cajole was necessary, and so well executed. The profoundly sad scene where Lumiere and Plumette dance in that dark and funereal ballroom, terrified of dying before they can be together again? Pure poetry.

The layers. The detail. The apron pockets!

The layers. The detail. The apron pockets!

Gods, the embroidery. I need it.

Gods, the embroidery. I need it.

4. Costume porn and cosplay inspiration for days everyone. Days. And not just The Dress either, gorgeous though it was. The little touches on Belle’s workaday dress with its pantaloons and pockets had me making Denver Comic Con costuming plans, and her beautiful flowered number at the end made us all swoon.

5. The dancing! The dancing, the dancing, the dancing. The choreography was flawless, the period choices perfection, and the fact that Emma Watson and Dan Stevens clearly have good skills (or at least excellent teachers) didn’t hurt either. I could dedicate a whole post to this, honestly, because that’s what happens when you are a history nerd who majored in Dance.

6. Beast gets a lonely romantic solo (Evermore) and it is so right. It flipped the standard romantic narrative on its head by laying his isolation and loss of agency over top of Belle’s frantic flight into the snow to take action to save her father. It also showed off Stevens’ outstanding vocal chops and furthered the story without overshadowing anyone or anything. Oh, and it probably guaranteed Disney an Oscar next year. (You heard it here first, folks!)

7. Belle is still the hero of her own story. She owns her difference, is fierce in her love and loyalty to her father, fearless even when she’s actually afraid and above all, she refuses to hide her intelligence. She also falls in love with a man because of his library, which is a sentiment we can get behind. Beast and Belle fell in love because they are both bookworms with a burning passion for medieval romances, not because of Fate, or Destiny. And that’s awesome.

Look at the sexy brain on Beast!

Look at the sexy brain on Beast!

8. The music is still epic and gorgeous and ripe for sing-a-longs. The additions of both the new stuff and the Broadway stuff (hello Kevin Kline’s singing voice! Where have you been all my life?) fit in seamlessly, and the cast all met the challenges with grace. It’s not easy taking on such iconic roles and making them your own.

9. The more complex and, dare we say, grown up darkness of the enchantress’ curse. The way the village forgot the castle and their lord, the helplessness of Mrs. Potts as she soldiers on in raising a son all alone, her husband unaware that either exist. We like a little dark underpinning in our happily ever afters, and we got it.

10. Last, but most certainly not least, it made us cry freely and often. Because it’s awesome, and because it’s sad and because it takes us back to great moments and places in time. Because Belle is a badass bookworm, and so are we. And because when the last petal fell the footstool puppy fell onto his back and if that doesn’t break your heart, I really can’t help you. The experience pulled on our heart strings, and for that we are grateful.

#Goals

#Goals

What about you, dear readers? What were your favorite moments, what made you laugh, or cheer, or cry? Tell us in the comments, and if you need us we’ll be off somewhere pretending we have giant libraries with ladders and rare first editions.

All images credit by Disney.

A Geek’s Place Is In The Revolution: Stories To Help You Fight

Come and Claim ThemIt’s dark times, fellow geeks. You know it, I know it, let’s face it, we all know it. There are lots of different, and valid, ways to manage this darkness. Maybe you volunteer, or donate to causes that you care about. You can play a game, ride your bike, pet kittens. Drink heavily, and eat all the cake. The point is, you have options. Me? I like to lean in to the darkness. It helps me find the light. The following is my list of books and movies that I turn to, the stories that inspire and guide me. They are stories of perseverance, stories of war and revolution. You know, your classic tales of ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances. And don’t worry, if fluffy escapism, or riotous laughter is more your thing, we have plenty of suggestions for that route too.

The Handmaid’s Tale

Handmaid's Tale CoverAnyone who has known me for any amount of time knows that Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is my hands down favorite book of all time. To explain why would likely be a huge post all on its own, so here’s the short version. While a lot of people find this book to be unendingly bleak, Offred’s story of stubborn survival never fails to uplift me. I often say “The Handmaid’s Tale is not an instruction manual.”, but as we move forward into uncertain, scary times, I think it can be. For us. Offred may look like a woman keeping her head down and just trying to get through, but she does more than that. She remembers who she is, and survives to tell her story. Sometimes, that’s enough.

The Hunger Games Trilogy

Hunger Games CoverSuzanne Collins’ absolutely brilliant dystopian nightmare is something I reread (and rewatch) all the time for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes, I just need a good, full on, ugly cry. Sometimes, I want to watch Katniss Everdeen kick some fascist ass. Sometimes, I just want to experience all over again Collins’ absolutely scathing commentary on the intersection of entertainment and war. It depends on the day. The Hunger Games doesn’t pull any punches and once you’re done reading it (maybe for the millionth time), you’ll be ready to volunteer as tribute.

World War Z

World War ZI love this book so much. The documentary journalism style. The super creepy zombies. The cross-section of survivors with stories to tell. The humor. Hell, I even geek out over the footnotes. Humanity, for all its horrific flaws and poor decisions, will find a way to survive even a never-ending horde of mindless, hungry undead. Did I mention the super nerdy footnotes?

 

 

Lord of the Rings

LOTR CoverThe original, epic fantasy saving the world with magic swords and the power of friendship story. Profound and inspiring, with glorious speeches, epic battles, plus hobbits! Hobbits are great. Hobbits with pints and a ridiculous commitment to hope, even in the face of horrific enemies and truly terrible odds. I have a particular fondness for the movies myself, but you can’t go wrong either way.

Harry Potter

Harry Potter CoversThe whole series is obviously always worth reading or watching again, at any time. Let’s just be clear about that. But, in particular, books 5-7 make up one of the best primers for geeky revolutionaries of all ages. Harry, Hermione, Ron and their friends are just kids, but they don’t let that get in the way of waging a war against the Death Eaters.

 

 

Les Miserables

Les MiserablesDo I even really need to explain this? If Do You Hear the People Sing doesn’t make you feel all the emotions, I really just don’t know what to say. Vive La Resistance!

V for Vendetta

V for VendettaV is for when you really want to embrace the darkness. Beautifully paranoid and bleak, V is also an incredible elegy to humanity’s unwillingness to wither and die in the face of fascism and nuclear holocaust. Incidentally, the film adaptation also allowed me to forgive Natalie Portman for the travesty that is Attack of the Clones. But, let’s not get into that. This is a time for geeks to band together!

 

What’s your fuel for fighting the good fight, fellow geeks? Share in the comments, and we’ll see you in the trenches.

 

 

 

 

 

Memory and Mercy: A Critical Role Story

Critical Role is one my very favorite things on the internet. I wear the badge of being a #critter with pride, but I usually keep my fandom contained within compliments, retweets and buying beautiful art made by other people. But something unusual happened this week. I felt inspired to write a story. To give you some context, I haven’t written fiction since I was in high school, and I have never even put my toes in the waters of fanfic. But I had to get this story out. This piece is made with more love than talent.

To give some brief context, this is set a few centuries in the future of the world of Vox Machina, the intrepid adventurers of Critical Role. I hope this story is the beginning of turning the adventures of Vox Machina into a series of folk tales, as they would have become in the decades after their real story ended. We’ll see how much inspiration I can come by.

Please be advised that the rest of this post contains spoilers up through Episode 68 of Critical Role.

Enjoy!

Memory and Mercy

New Emon, circa 250 years Post Conclave

The children filed into the teaching hall in as orderly a procession the young and excited are capable of, finding their seats and chittering to each other. The hall was beautiful, lush green grass for a carpet, high windows streaming in the light. The students’ benches glowing warm wood, made that much more beautiful and inviting with Druidcraft carvings and living flowers climbing the legs. At the front of the space, their teacher waited with the patience only a long life can bestow. She had promised to start their day with a story, truly a history lesson hidden within a tale, another chapter in the famous adventures of Vox Machina, heroes of Tal’Dorei.

“Good morning, good morning students, let’s take our seats. It’s time to begin our lessons.”

“Mistress, Mistress, you promised us a story!” the students cried as they found their benches and chairs.

“Tell us ‘Grog and the Pony’!” she heard Callisto Brightheart shout out. “I want to hear about how the pony saved Grog and Scanlan from the evil dwarves! Please Mistress, it’s my favorite.”

It hadn’t really been that way, but these tales grow with the telling and the years gone by. Better to let the children believe a magic pony had rescued Grog and the Gnomish bard from certain death than the rather messy truth. Certainly Callisto was not ready for the real tale, she rode her pony every day and was becoming very attached to him.

“No, no, I want to hear ‘Vax’s Wings’!” piped the voice of Fen. “Tell us how he traded his favorite blade so he could fly and how he became best friends with the Queen of the Ravens, who saved Vox Machina again and again.”

Well, that last part was mostly right. Vox Machina’s bacon had been pulled from the fire by the grace of the Raven Queen more than once, but it was never a blade Vax had traded for her favor. Someday, the children would learn that the blessing of a god does not come in exchange for steel and leather.

She opened her mouth to speak, to tell the students what today’s tale would be and found herself cut short by another request.

“Mistress,” said the small voice of Quince, “please, I would like to hear ‘Trinket, Trinket, Little Bear’. Everyone knows that talking bears are the best! Tell us about all the times he saved Vex, oh please Mistress.”

She smiled. Trinket didn’t talk, not really. But it was true that he saved Vex many, many times. Saved her life, saved her soul and her sanity. She thought for a moment about perhaps giving in to Quince, and telling the children all about how when Trinket was just a cub, Vex found him and made him her family. But no, she had made a promise.

“Those are all most wonderful tales, my children. But you have heard them all already. I have a new story for you today.”

“Is it ‘Keyleth and the Sparkstone’?” called Hylas. “Or ‘Attack of the Dragons’? My sister says that one’s scary! I want to hear a scary story.” Sweet Hylas, for whom the dragons were never real.

“No Hylas. This is the story of Percival, who rose and fell, then rose again through the blessing of Sarenrae and the love of his family, Vox Machina. Listen well, children and heed my words. The pull of vengeance may be strong in this life, but the power of love is greater by far.”

The children finally quieted, as if by a spell. This story was definitely new. She looked over her students bright and beautiful, settled her shoulders and began.

“His name was Percival Fredrickstein Von Musel Klossowski de Rolo III, which is a mouthful, isn’t it children?” She paused, steadying her breathing. “But we called him Percy.”

The Mesmerizing Beauty of No Man’s Sky

no-mans-sky-logo

No Man’s Sky, the ambitious and massive offering from Hello Games has been out for just about two weeks now. I’m nowhere near the center of the universe yet, I still have no idea what the endgame looks like, and I’ll tell you what: I’m not in the mood to really rush towards either. The methodical exploration, language discovery and resource gathering experience of No Man’s Sky is so soothing and pleasurable that I keep forgetting I actually have a goal. And let me be clear, I think this is a good thing! There are so many video games that are easy to rush through, and it’s incredibly nice to have a game where I, as the player, am dictating the pace and depth of my playing without experiencing any negative consequences or boredom.

no-mans-sky-dino

This is my friend Dino Fish. He finds treasure.

I really appreciate that most, if not all, of the features of No Man’s Sky are optional. Not feeling inspired to rename your new planetary system? No problem, just leave it as the randomly generated one. Don’t want to kill the sentinels? Just get in your ship and fly away, or find a good place to hide and wait for them to go away. Aside from generally guiding me towards the center of the universe by way of regular reminders, No Man’s Sky seems completely content to allow me to wander a planet or a system to my heart’s content, racking up credits for discovering bizarre looking creatures, cataloguing rocks and gathering resources.

no-mans-sky-friend

Shhh….he’s napping.

My proudest moment in the game so far has been learning enough words in Vy’keen to understand a complete sentence. And no, not the one that’s just “death” over and over again. That doesn’t count! Now I’m trucking along in a new system, trying to learn enough words of Gek to experience the same thing again. It’s immensely satisfying to be rewarded for what essentially amounts to studying, because at the end of the day I am still a Hermione. Blowing up bad guys is fun and everything, but the sense of joy and accomplishment that comes from understanding the world of the game I’m playing cannot be beat.

It's so fluffy! And also spiky.

It’s so fluffy! And also spiky.

As a well established crafting addict and resource hoarder, I am really enjoying the storage space challenges that No Man’s Sky is presenting to me. No matter how consistently I curse the game for the fact that I’m always out of space, I secretly appreciate it forcing me to make choices about what stays, and what goes. How much plutonium can I realistically store? Which rare purple elements should I sell, and which should I try to hang on to? Making choices is good, and it’s important, because it keeps me moving forward in the game!

If it weren’t for my desire to enlarge my exosuit or buy a bigger ship, I’d probably still be on good old Juno, exploring and wandering and collecting. An ability to collect, craft and sell indefinitely is a significant factor in why I have utterly failed to finish the main storyline of Fallout 4. When I can build entire cities around my obsession with collecting and crafting ALL THE THINGS, it’s easy to never go back to main plot. Having exploration, materials gathering and crafting be the plot is such a gift for a player like me, who enjoys lingering over what a lot of games consider side quests. I really appreciate No Man’s Sky for that.

lumpy gazelle

Some names are better than others, OK?

I have run into some interesting conundrums though. Such as, why can I name a planet A Frigid Hell, but I can’t name one The Basement for profanity reasons? Why do the creepy spiders always attack me? (Wait, I think I know the answer to that one.) Will I ever discover another player along the way, and if I do, will they appreciate my obscure Big Lebowski references and willingness to name planets after the various cats in my life?

Overall, No Man’s Sky is gorgeous, and inspiring. It’s well constructed, the UI design is clean and the game itself has moments of challenge (space battles! massive environmental hazards!) that keep it fresh. It’s fun and relaxing to play, while still being deeply engaging. I really want to know more of the stories and mythologies of the three races, I want to keep discovering crazy creatures and unique environments. I think I might name my next system after spells from Dungeons & Dragons, you know, for reasons. I’d say I’d see you out there in the universe, but frankly, it seems terribly unlikely. Happy flying, fellow explorers, and may all your sentinels be relaxed.

Can you name all the nerdy nonsense in this shot?

Can you name all the nerdy nonsense in this shot?

The Best of SDCC 2016: Panels and Trailers and Nerds, Oh My!

SDCC-Banner-2016So, San Diego Comic Con was last week, and while once again we couldn’t be there in person, we watched and tweeted and laughed as amazing things from Con appeared on the internet in all their nerdy glory. Here are some of our top highlights from San Diego!

NerdHQ

NerdHQ killed it again in 2016, bringing top-notch talent to their offsite stage, with panels, one on one conversations and laughs. Oh, and by the way did we mention they made an absolute ton of money for Operation Smile? We suggest you go to the archives and watch them all, but if you can only pick a few, make sure you check out the Badass Women panel, Nathan Fillion’s solo panel and Stephen Amell and Friends.

Critical Role

Critical Role hit critical mass in San Diego this year, having not one, but two panels. One onsite at SDCC and then a second, Dating Game themed panel over at Conival, a joint collaboration between Nerdist and Geeky and Sundry. And boy howdy, did they deliver. All while managing to be more or less spoiler free for those viewers out there that may not be completely caught up. The cast was hysterical and irreverent as usual, and showed in both panels their love and respect for the nerd community. They’re not only putting dynamic and amazing entertainment out into the world every Thursday, they’re putting out a ton of love and joy. Which, just between us, the world sorely needs right now. Also, Travis sang C is for Cookie as Grog, so really, what more do you want?

All Things Wonder Woman

First off, let’s talk about that trailer. Oh, you haven’t seen it? Go, watch, we’ll wait. Are you back? Wasn’t it amazing? Yeah. There was also a short, but awesome panel with Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot, Connie Nielsen and Chris Pine that we wished was 2 hours longer. Oh, and they did a Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Retrospective panel too. Everyone keeps asking “Who won Comic Con?”. Our answer: Wonder Woman. Hands down. The first female superhero is finally, finally, finally getting her moment in the sun and it is glorious. Let’s watch the trailer again.

The Game of Thrones Panel

Game of Thrones always delivers at SDCC, and 2016 was no exception. They were funny, they were pithy and Sophie Turner got to shut down a fan who really, really, really wanted JonSan to happen. (Spoiler Alert: that’s not happening). Having the panel hosted by Rob McElhenney (Mac from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) continued one of my favorite SDCC trends as well; having famous fans host panels for things they nerd out over. It’s delightful, endearing and offers a unique view into how celebrities really are geeks just like the rest of us. We also got to cry over Hodor again and hear the cast predictions for who will sit the Iron Throne in the end. Good stuff.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Panel

It had showmanship. It had Chris Pratt generally being adorable. And Michael Rooker in full costume haranguing James Gunn in front of all of Hall H. What more do you want out of life? While it was short on scoop on the new movie, it was long on awesome. And also long on there being more awesome and ass-kicking ladies in Volume 2. And really, that’s what matters. The Guardians films are an important reminder that movies can, and should, be fun, silly and heartfelt. And that comic book movies area for everyone.

John Barrowman’s Cosplay

Holy nerdgasm, John Barrowman’s SDCC cosplay was next level. He did Harley Quinn, Squirrel Girl and Zapp Brannigan! Not to mention all that time he spent running about Con in heels just because he felt like it. John Barrowman is an international treasure who puts more positive, zany love out into the world every day than most of us can hope to in a lifetime. If you’re not following him on social media, you should be.

 

We know that the list of amazing, epic things that happened at SDCC 2016 is way longer than this. There was a ton of incredible cosplay and the annual Adam Incognito game. There were comics artists and authors and artists galore. There were pop-up parties and dance marathons. So tell us readers, what was your favorite moment from San Diego Comic Con? Tell us in the comments!

 

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