Happy Alien Day!

Greetings to you from LV-426!

If you were to sit down and talk with me about my favorite films, Ridley Scott’s original Alien would make my top five. Heck, it might even be my number one. This list is constantly in flux for me, but that one stays in my top 5 consistently. There are lots of things about this film that keep it in or near the top for me. Here are a few.

  • I am continually amazed by how much horror is conveyed while the Xenomorph stays in shadow and is never fully revealed until the end.
  • Ripley is a heroine that is not only strong and powerful with a will to live like no other, she is also compassionate towards her crew. She’s such an interesting character and was quite different from the way most females were portrayed at the time. (I could write you a whole other post about the influence of Star Wars and Princess Leia on this film and Ripley, but I’ll save that for another day).
  • Alien is rooted firmly in the science fiction and horror genres, bringing forth the best elements of both.
  • The cinematography is gorgeous. I was fortunate enough to see both Alien and Aliens on the big screen in 2016. If you ever get the opportunity to see it on the big screen, do it. It’s totally worth any effort you make to do so.
  • The film has influenced other films and television shows I love, notably Stranger Things.

I could go on and on about all the things I love about Alien and the other films of the franchise, but I’ll be saving that for another day. Which day you ask? How about next Thursday, May 3 from 8:30 – 10:30 PM ET with Kat Sas & Curtis Weyant from Kat & Curt’s TV Re-View and Dominic Nardi of NardiViews?

I’ll be joining these fine folks for a discussion on Alien for the next Mythgard Movie Club. Register here to get a reminder e-mail and link about the discussion. Looking forward to seeing you all there!

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I’m Back!

Flying the Falcon

For those of you who’ve been wondering what I’ve been doing the past year, it can be summed up in just a few words.

FINISHING. MY. MASTER’S. DEGREE!

I finished in September and my life got really full after that. After a bananas end to 2017 and a high-flying start to 2018, I’m back, and hopefully more consistently.

Things you can expect from me this year?

  • Movie Reviews – I’m the proud owner of a Movie Pass card and have gotten the opportunity to see several great films this year. I’m planning to write about what I’ve seen thus far this year, highlighting my favorites.
  • Cosplay – One of the things I started doing consistently around the middle of August last year was exercising. Partly to take better care of myself (self-care is not my forte), but honestly, my main motivating factor was to be able to cosplay as Brienne of Tarth from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s Game of Thrones. Brienne is my favorite character in all of fiction (for reasons that will take me an entire post or two to fill) and I absolutely adore Gwendoline Christie as both an actress and a human. I plan to eventually cosplay all of Gwen’s characters. I will never be as tall as Gwen, as she’s literally a foot taller than me, but I could be buff, and so my journey to better health has begun. I’ve lost around 30 lbs. and built more muscle than I thought I could have. I feel myself getting stronger every day and I’m very happy about that. I’ve already started cosplaying Gwen’s characters, dressing as Miranda Hilmarson

    Miranda Hilmarson–this one also got liked by the Top of the Lake Official Account

    from Top of the Lake: China Girl for Halloween (which was Gwen Approved–she liked my tweet with my costume pics) and having jokingly described myself as “Modern AU Brienne of Tarth” as I carried around my replica of Oathkeeper at the Renaissance Festival and to Geek Girl Brunch. BOLO for more descriptions of my adventures in cosplay this year.

  • Book Reviews – I have been a very, very naughty writer and am horrifically behind on reviewing author friends’ works. I am lucky to have very forgiving friends. I’ll be catching up on those this year too.
  • Speaking Engagements/Podcasts/Interviews – Now that I am done with my M. A., I want to talk to you about all the cool things I learned getting there–I already have had the privilege of speaking about Harry Potter to larger audiences. I also now specialize in a lot of other things, namely Stranger Things, adaptation, and geek culture as it was the topic of my M. A. thesis. Basically, if you want to hear me geek out about just about anything, I’m your gal. If you’d like me to come speak to your group, on your podcast, or guest post/be interviewed for your blog, please hit me up on the contact form.

Thanks for sticking with me. See you around!

Modern AU Brienne of Tarth

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Stranger Things Season 2 Trailer Analysis

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST SEASON OF STRANGER THINGS! IF YOU’VE NOT WATCHED, DO THE RIGHT THING AND GET THEE TO NETFLIX!

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If you follow me anywhere on social media, you know that I’ve been freaking out about Stranger Things since July. It was definitely my favorite show from 2016. I am a somewhat passive football fan, so the highlight for me during the Super Bowl was the Stranger Things trailer. I’ve been waiting with bated breath for any news of the next season, particularly a release date. I got my wish! If you’ve not seen it yourself, here’s the trailer.

Here are my initial thoughts and breakdown of the trailer.

  1. Eleven is back! I think we all knew she would be. The first time I watched the show, I thought she had snuffed it, but was then skeptical at Hopper’s visit to the woods in the final episode. On a recent rewatch, I happened to notice that a hole started opening up in the demogorgon as she was sending him back to the Upside Down. I had initially thought she blew him up and went along with him. I’m quite happy to be wrong about that. 
  2. It takes place during Halloween week 1984. The teaser image of the boys, minus Will in Ghostbusters garb signals that this is post-June 1984. Also, if you look closely, you can spot the date on the surveillance TVs. Are they at Hawkins lab? I’m certain that’s Will on the table. In addition, I can’t imagine a scenario other than Halloween as an accepted reason to wear Ghostbusters get-up to school. will-season-2
  3. Will the Wise can see things. One of the more disturbing images in the trailer is the juxtaposition of the monster drawing and Will crying. I believe the drawing to be by Will because of all the other artwork he drew in the first season.
    someone-has-seen-this-gigantic-demogorgon-and-drew-it-with-charcoalThis makes me think that Will has definitely not left the Upside Down unscathed. At first, I was unsure if the boy crying was Mike or Will, but juxtaposing the image with the drawing inclines me to believe it’s Will.
    will-cryingOf course, we knew that he was still burping up slugs and getting flashes of the Upside Down, but it looks to me like he may be deeply psychologically connected to that realm as well. I’ve thought for a while that Will may have powers, since he’s the only one to survive the Upside Down. My personal theory is that he and Eleven are the two metaphorical heads of an actual D&D demogorgon, which is not the Tuliphead monster we see in the first season.
    demogorgonstrangerthingsWill is the deception head; Eleven is destruction. Will is good at hiding, after all. I think he’s slowly starting to realize that while he’s no longer physically in the Upside Down, he is not out of danger yet.
  4. Thessalhydra, Demogorgon, or Demogorgonzilla? The final shot we get in the trailer is of some huge monstrous nightmare fuel that is about to lay waste to Hawkins.
    16463736_1278038022261801_8567196687396578393_oThis of course is the very same monster in the drawing I mentioned previously. My initial thought was that the Demogorgon (or Alien) nest in the Upside Down has hatched and created an IT inspired monster, inviting Hawkins to look into its obscenely over-sized deadlights. My second thought was, “No! This is DEMOGORGONZILLA!” I also just enjoy saying Demogorgonzilla. After conversations with a friend on facebook and reading this article, I’m now leaning that this might be a thessalhydra. If you’ll recall, in the final episode of season 1, the boys are fighting a thessalhydra in their D&D game.
    thessalhydra_cover.jpgWikipedia describes a thessalhydra as, “It resembles a hydra for the most part, with a few differences. Instead of its eight heads emerging straight from the reptilian body, they form a ring around a large, circular mouth rimmed with jagged teeth. The tail ends in a set of pincers that can grab an opponent and force it into the large mouth. The main mouth can spit out a gob of acidic saliva once every day.” That sounds an awful lot like the monster we see standing over Hawkins. It’s also important to note that Mike says Lucas only cut off 7 heads. Thessalhydras have eight. This realization terrifies me. I’m so eager and fearful to see what will happen!
  5. “The Lost Brother.” A few months back, we got episode titles for season 2. I wasn’t sure what to make of any of them then, though I was certainly intrigued. The final episode is entitled, “The Lost Brother.” Now with my knowledge of the 2 headed demogorgon, and the new trailer, I can’t help but think of Halloween 2. Is Will the lost brother? Does he have a lost brother? Is he Eleven’s lost brother? I feel like I’m shooting in the dark with this, but this image really makes me think that we’ll see more John Carpenter in the coming season.
    halloween

I have a lot more thoughts about Stranger Things. If you want to talk with me about them, leave a comment! There’s also a great discussion about the trailer and season 2 going on in the facebook group, Retroist Clubhouse. The speculation period is almost as fun for me as the actual act of watching the show. What do you think will happen? What are you most looking forward to in Season 2?

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A (Belated) Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, friends!

2016 is in the books and with 2017 in full swing, I feel like I’ve had little time to sit still. I happy-new-yearhope your new year has started off with a bang. This is my annual post where I take a moment to examine my 2016 Nerd Goals and take stock of what I want to accomplish in 2017. Let’s see how I stacked up against last year’s goals and set goals for the new year.

2016 Nerd Goals Assessment and 2017 Goals

  1. Read 50 books. SUCCESS! I successfully managed to read 66/50 books, so I exceeded my goal by 16 books. This included work for class, audio books, pleasure reading, graphic novels, and 1 reread (Ready Player One).
    1. 2017 Goal: Read 50 books and this year’s issues of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Since I’ve now officially started my thesis(!), I will be doing a lot of reading for my thesis work, particularly this spring. I also found it beneficial to do some pleasure reading to help my brain decompress and relax last year, so I’ll be doing that again. Additionally, my in-laws gifted me a subscription to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction for Christmas this year, so I’m looking forward to diving into that. I’ve made myself a daily schedule, which includes time for thesis and pleasure reading. If you’re on GoodReads, you can still connect with me there to see what I’m reading.
  2. Write consistently. MEH. I did not meet my goal of blogging weekly, largely due to an extremely difficult course load, but I did hit somewhere near monthly. I missed 4 months of writing on this blog, but I also completed 3 posts on other my favorite blog, The Retroist. That puts me just shy of monthly blogging. That’s much lower than what I’d ultimately like to do, but considering my heavy course load, I think monthly is a much more doable goal.  BTW, I still pay the bills largely by helping others manage their social media and blogging. Let me know how I can help you with that.
    1. 2017 Goal: Write on my blog and The Retroist monthly. I love writing my blog, as well as for The Retroist, so writing 1 post for each site monthly is a good baseline for me. I want to write more if I am able. Do you have a site you’d like me to write for? If so, please drop me a note at the contact link. By the way, you can keep track of everything I write for The Retroist site by following this link. You also have permission to bug me about the lack of content here. I don’t mind encouragement!
  3. Retro gaming. MEH. I only completed one game last year, The Legend of the Dragoon, for PS1. I have acquired a few more games and have enjoyed playing some classics. I’ve had fun playing Spider-man: Maximum Carnage on my Sega Genesis this year. I enjoy side-scrolling beat-em ups because they take me back to my youth, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Spidey. That makes the game fun for me. 
    1. 2017 Goal: Play video games/board games weekly. I recently traded several old toys and collectibles in at a neat store in my hometown called Retro Artifacts for an Atari 7800. I still haven’t gotten to set it up yet, but I’m looking forward to giving my copies of Joust! and Robotron: 2084 a go. My husband and I love tabletop gaming as well, so playing games together is always a good choice.
  4. Fill in the gaps in my film/television “Nerd Knowledge.” SUCCESS! While I don’t know that I’ll ever “finish” the gaps in my nerd knowledge, 2016 was indeed a banner year for geeking out. I fell in love with Stranger Things this year, not only because it’s such a wonderful story, but because it is a representation of so many things I love and has struck a chord with a broader audience outside of geek/nerd culture. I have hopes and plans for cosplaying as Eleven at a con or two this year. I also got to see a lot of retro horror films this year, which really helped to round out my gap there, particularly with John Carpenter’s work. I also got caught up on all the latest Marvel series and films, so I’m very happy about that. Additionally, I finished The X-Files in time for the 10th season (which I enjoyed and am hopeful for another).
    1. 2017 Goal: Stay caught up on fandoms I love. With 3 new Marvel series to look forward to this year, another season of Stranger Things, Star Trek: Discovery, and more, I’m not sure I’ll have much time to add a whole lot of new shows/films to my plate. I’m already about halfway through Westworld and there’s another season of Game of Thrones coming up. I also plan to submit an abstract for a book of essays on Orphan Black this summer, so I’ll need to do a rewatch and catch the final season this spring. That’s a lot of TV on top of my thesis work, but considering my focus is on geek culture studies, perhaps some of this can be considered, “homework”?
  5. Make time for myself. MEH. As I suspected, this goal proved the most challenging for me. I did a little better about making time for myself, but saying no is still difficult, especially as many of my friends are introverted. When an introvert invites you out, you should always say yes! I am carving out a little time each day to do fun and relaxing things for myself, like reading and gaming for fun. I don’t have a specific night of the week carved out for myself as “me time,” but I will be working on that soon.
    1. 2017 Goal: Self-care night and exercise daily. In addition to having one night a week as a “self-care” night, I want to be fitter. I watch all these superhero films/shows and I see my heroes doing cool feats of physical prowess, and not necessarily of the supernatural kind either! Being able to do flips, run and fight in strength, swing a sword, etc.–those are all things I can’t do right now in my health and physical condition. In typically nerd fashion, I am exceptionally athletically challenged, so just about all my experiences with exercise are associated with shame. As an adult, finding time to be active is difficult, especially with work and school keeping me behind a computer, but I’ve decided that my weekday mornings will be filled with 45-60 minutes of exercise. My computer is in “lock-out” mode (think Wade in Ready Player One) until I do so. My pal Hope has been my workout buddy for a couple mornings a week each week, so that’s helped a lot. I’m planning to do at least 30 minutes of cardio and then 15-30 of some weight training/body weight exercises. I’ve been invited to be in a wedding, so that’s another good motivating factor for me too. I’d love recommendations on fitness things that have worked for you.

There you have it–my 2016 goal update and my 2017 goals. What do you plan to do this year? How do you plan to make it happen?

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Happy Halloween and Happy Reformation Day!

I’ve got a confession to make.

I’m a Christian that loves Halloween. martin-luther

Unabashedly. Unashamedly.

I look for excuses to wear costumes, but Halloween seems to be one of the only times that it’s socially acceptable to walk around in costume all day. My childhood Halloween memories were always positive, trick-or-treating with my sister and occasionally my cousins. My teenage and college years were filled with fun parties, good-natured laughter, my favorite Halloween specials, and the occasional horror flick. I love seeing the creativity and imagination that goes into thinking up a costume and pulling it off. I love candy, pumpkin beer, and I’ve recently acquired a taste for horror films, though mostly of the mystery-thriller sort.

As a believer, particularly of the reformed variety, I also am grateful for the courage of Martin Luther. His 95 theses have shaped my faith, as well as those of many before me. I think this quote from him that C. S. Lewis opens with in The Screwtape Letters has a particular poignancy for me, especially on this day.

“The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.”

The devil doesn’t own this day. He doesn’t own anything. He’s defeated in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I spend the evening laughing and celebrating my freedom and liberty in Christ. So if you celebrate Halloween in good conscience, dress up. Hand out candy. Laugh with your friends. Love your neighbor. Watch your favorite Halloween specials and films. Rejoice in your freedom in Christ. Trounce the devil with your laughter.

“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

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4 Reasons to Geek Out About The River Fox by Jonny Jimison

My buddy, Jonny Jimison, is one of the most clever and gifted cartoonists I’ve ever met. Jonny’s first graphic novel, Martin and Marco: The Dragon Lord Saga, has been described as “The Lord of the Rings meets Calvin and Hobbes.” Personally, I can’t think of a more accurate descriptor for Jonny’s work and sense of humor. The sequel to Martin and MarcoThe River Fox, is being kickstarted right now. I asked Jonny to tell you, my readers, why you should support his efforts. Here are a few reasons to geek out about The River Fox.

a

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If you’d like to support Jonny’s efforts to fund The River Fox, please go to his kickstarter and give generously. Share the kickstarter with your friends and family and send Martin on an epic quest! Hurry though, the kickstarter only has a week left!

Special thanks to Jonny Jimison for drawing up these special cartoons specifically for my blog. If you have other artistic needs, Jonny’s your man. I can personally attest to the awesomeness of his business card art and prompt turnaround time. Check out his other work at his site: http://jonny-jimison.squarespace.com/.

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Book Review: The Week the World Ended by Thomas A. Farmer

Between my spring and summer classes, I got the opportunity to read The Week the World Ended by my friend and college classmate, Thomas A. Farmer. This was a really fun read and the perfect way to relax and escape after an emotionally tough and academically challenging semester of grad school. Tom combines his passion for and knowledge of fencing, science fiction, and a touch of southern charm for his first novel. I had an absolute blast with this book. Here’s my long overdue review of The Week the World Ended.

The Week the World Ended is quite different from any other apocalyptic science fiction that I’ve ever read. For starters, Tom creates an apocalyptic story nestled in the foothills of East Tennessee. Besides my amusement that the setting is my homeland, I was quite ecstatic to read an apocalyptic story that DOESN’T take place in New York City or somewhere on the west coast. Don’t these SF writers realize that if the world is ending, it’s ending in other places too?! The rolling hills and mountains of East Tennessee make for an winding back drop, perfect for hiding out from the Korovega.

Speaking of the Korovega, when they, the alien beings hellbent on destroying the Earth and its inhabitants, attack, all bets are off and doomsday preppers become the most popular people in town. All the planning and prepwork was fun for me to read about. I’m not anywhere near a doomsday prepper, but I am always grateful for a full pantry and I take great pleasure in not letting anything go to waste and planning ahead in any situation. That particular aspect was enjoyable to me, seeing how others might handle an end-of-the-world scenario. Each of the characters handles it differently too. Tom brings to life a large cast of characters that are interesting and invoke a bit of mystery, like we’re not getting the full details on any of them. One of the things that impressed me the most with this novel was Tom’s ability to handle multiple characters. It can be difficult to do that well, and he handled it with finesse. Each character brings something to the planning table; everybody is of use and importance to the survival of the human race and the defeat of the Korovega.

I’ve heard it said before that if you’re a writer, you should write what you know. Writing from your roots is the best way to get a solid story. As I’ve written before, Tom is an assistant coach at The Knoxville Academy of the Blade. His love and knowledge of the sport bleeds through onto the page. I felt like I got a crash course in fencing equipment, moves, armor, and the art behind the sport. This adds a unique element to the story, instead of the usual fare of guns, ammo, and atomic bombs.

The door is open for much more in this series. I can’t wait for Tom to finish the sequel and I look forward to reading his other work in the meantime. This is a solid first offering and based on this book, it holds a promising future for a new science fiction writer. You can support Tom by picking up his book on Amazon. Click the image below to see what it’s all about.

This post contains sponsored links. Please see my disclosure policy for more details.

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