#T5W: Fictional New Year’s Eve Party

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This week’s topic is characters I’d invite to my New Year’s Eve party. To be totally transparent, I’m not a party kind of girl. I’m pretty introverted. So this list is going to be comprised not of answer that are cute or popular so much as answers that suit me. Characters I would really want to hang out with that would make me get over my social anxiety for an evening.

5. Nicodemus from Shakespeare’s Planet by Clifford D. Simak. The first thing my party will obviously need is a sassy android. It’s been a while since I’ve read this one, but I remember Nicodemus being my favorite character, and I also remember him being a sass-master. That’ll make for some fun. Also, his physical needs will be minimal, so I won’t have to stress as much about food and drink for him. I’m nothing if not practical.

4. Tyrion Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. I imagine he’s going to show up on a lot of lists, and there’s good reason for that. He’d be good company, good conversation, and he’d be sure to enjoy himself. He’s a reader, so we’d probably have a lot to talk about. I might have to worry about him getting drunk, but I also wouldn’t have a problem with him crashing on my couch.

3. Death from The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. I know on some level that must sound godawful, but if you’ve ever read this series, you know Death is actually a very chill lady. She’s kind and funny and would be very cool to spend time with. Also, man, I have a ton of questions. I’d probably drive her nuts with all my existential crap.

2.Tammy Lauper from Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker. The first time I read this book, I was struck by how much I felt I had in common with Tammy. Which makes inviting her to my party a no-brainer. We’d get along swimmingly. There’d be no end to the things we’d find in common. And after everything she endured throughout the course of her story, I think she could use a party, good company, and a stiff drink.

1. Smiley Bone from Bone by Jeff Smith. Definitely would be the life of the party. In fact, he’d probably take over the party, cooking and handing out refreshments and being a great host. Which means I could relax and actually enjoy everyone’s company instead of obsessing over everything be perfect. Also, he’s just hilarious. I like funny people, and if you want funny, he’s at the top of the list.

Thanks for reading, and as always, happy geeking!

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Happy Holidays!

I’m taking Christmas off, so there’s no post today except to say happy holidays! Whatever you celebrate or even if you don’t do anything at all, I hope you have a great day. I will be back on Wednesday with a new article. Enjoy your meals, your family, your downtime, and I’ll see you then.

#T5W: Fictional Items I’d Give As Gifts

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A very interesting topic with Christmas so close. I do sort of wish I could reach into a book and pull out gifts, as I think it would’ve made the whole process easier in general. Here are the top five I’d choose were that possible.

5. One of Edgar’s paintings from Duma Key by Stephen King. My friends and I are always talking about how when paintings are described in works of fiction, we’d love to see them. More than any other book that has done this, I’d love to see Edgar Freemantle’s paintings. His work was described as very surreal and based heavily on Salvador Dali, one of my favorite artists of all time. He also happens to be a favorite of a close friend of mine, and if I were able to give her a painting straight out of this book, I know it would blow her mind.

4. Any of the keys from Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. My favorite of all the keys is the Head Key. You can unlock your head and take anything out or put anything in. I think that’s incredibly handy, but all the keys in this series are amazing and work wonders. Of course, I’d have to be careful which keys I gifted and to who. Huge responsibility, that.

3. A robot from The Silver Metal Lover by Tanith Lee. In this universe, there exist romantic robots that have all sorts of talents and are very awesome. Yes, I would give all of my friends one apiece if I had the power. Especially because they apparently have the ability to suddenly become sentient and actually fall in love with you. This is a very female answer for this top five, but let’s not even pretend, it would be amazing if this were real. But hopefully I could make it work without that ending. That would sort of ruin the gift.

2. A billy-bumbler from The Dark Tower by Stephen King. Maybe this doesn’t technically count as an ‘item’, or about as much as a robot does. But people give pets for Christmas! It’s that same idea, only a fantastical pet that can sort of talk to you and is super smart and secretly a tiny gunslinger. I would die to have one of these little guys, and I know all my pet obsessed friends and family would, too.

1. The wardrobe from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis. The ability to actually travel into a magical world full of mythical creatures. While there, you might even become their king or queen, saving their entire kingdom. And you come home in time to have some lunch, as if no time has passed. Screw getting a Playstation for Christmas. I want this! Er. Ahem. I want to give this. Of course.

Thanks for reading, and as always, happy geeking!

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My Favorite Season of MST3K

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I’ve been a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 since the film, wherein they riff This Island Earth, came out. I didn’t have Comedy Central when the show was airing there, but I did have Sci-Fi Channel (remember when it was called that?) when it switched stations. Maybe that makes it obvious when I say season eight is my favorite of the show’s entire run. That season was the beginning of my love affair with the show, and there’s a lot of nostalgia for me there.

Still I find when I watch episodes now, which I do often, season eight is still my favorite. I seem to laugh the most at those riffs, have the most fondness for those particular terrible films. Let’s talk about a few of the episodes that I feel made this season shine.

I Was A Teenage Werewolf. This isn’t just a classic for MST fans. It’s a classic horror film in general with an actually decent performance from Michael Landon. But it was also full of tropes from the time and a random sock hop scene that completely diverted from the movie’s tone and story. I love werewolves, so anytime they get to make fun of that genre, it’s bound to be a favorite of mine.

The Giant Spider Invasion. I know I’ve watched this one a million times. Overly moist rednecks in Wisconsin fight a felt-covered Volkswagen. The Skipper from Gilligan’s Island is the town sheriff. Barbara Hale gets rolled on. The stunning downward spiral that is this movie has to be seen to be believed, and the MST writers mocked it for all it was worth.

Jack Frost. A Russo-Finnish fairy tale about a mushroom-hatted guy, Prince Valiant turning into a bear, and a love interest so cute it’s actually haunting. It’s frankly mind-boggling to watch this as someone mostly unfamiliar with the cultural folk lore. Oh, and some Baba Yaga action is had, with the house with chicken legs and everything. If you’re a fantasy fan, you’ll be ROFLing.

Riding With Death. The inexplicable seventies trucker genre meets science fiction. In a made-for-TV movie. Are you wincing yet? This was clearly meant to be a pilot for a TV show, and what we receive are two episodes crammed together with some questionable weaving together of plots. With lines such as “you’re as elusive as Robert Denby!” before we’ve even met the man. It has to be experienced to be believed.

Agent for H.A.R.M. The very, very poor man’s James Bond. With a lot of smirks and smarm from our “hero”. There’s a vague SF plot, but mostly it’s a total lack of action and intrigue that results in the most boring spy movie ever. Punctuated by drawn out scenes (probably meant to pad out the running time) featuring one of our riffers belting out the Bond theme in full irony mode. Delicious.

Space Mutiny. I’ve watched this episode to the point that I can never watch it again because I have it memorized. It’s my all-time favorite. In an attempt to duplicate Star Wars, we end up with a heavily muscled space pilot and a middle-aged teenage princess fighting a villain whose chief weapon is his ability to overact. If you’ve not heard of this, you’ve at least heard Ryder’s many nicknames as coined by the MST writers, my favorite being Big McLargeHuge.

I could go on. Which is why it’s easier to just say check out season eight for yourself. I’ll let you in on a little secret. You can watch these episodes pretty much anywhere. Give them a google. You won’t be disappointed. As always, happy geeking!

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Books to Read in Pairs Tag

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This book tag was created by Jen Campbell. The idea is to pick out books that you think could benefit from being read close together. So let’s talk about my choices for this tag.

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice & The Summoning by Bentley Little. These are both vampire stories, but they’re very different. Anne Rice was the first author to really focus in on the idea of the romantic vampire. For better or worse, the idea of the vampire as a seducer or lover became popular because of her. Meanwhile, The Summoning is about a very nasty, gross, deadly vampire with no sex appeal whatsoever. The reason I feel these work in tandem is because Rice’s vision is beautiful and still a great book to this day, but Little goes out of his way to have the characters wonder how sexy vampires ever became a thing, when their vampire is the absolute worst. I think that’s both amusing and thought provoking.

Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco & The Shining by Stephen King. This is a case of the book that came first (Burnt Offerings) and the book that followed in its footsteps (The Shining). Anything like this makes for an interesting experiment. Their stories are very similar. The former is a slimmer volume but maybe not as entertaining. The latter is more long-winded but probably more well-done overall. I wonder what similarities and contrasts could be mined by reading these close together. Or if you’d just end up totally burnt (heh) out on haunted houses and broken homes.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson & If You Could See Me Now by Peter Straub. These books are different stories, to be sure. Jackson is writing about a pair of sister haunted by their past and their own, strange minds. Straub is writing about a man returning to a place from his childhood and discovering old ghosts. But they share a tone. They also share some narrators that are so unreliable, you don’t know if you should trust anything they say. I think it’s clear that Straub was inspired by Jackson’s style of eerie storytelling, and if read closely together, that would become more apparent.

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter & Red as Blood by Tanith Lee. Both of these are more adult, feminist retellings of fairy tales. Carter takes more of a hard line regarding the feminist angle, and Lee seemed more interested in the whimsy and darkness of making these tales adult in nature, but there’s a lot to compare. Lee’s romanticism versus Carter’s academia, while they’re both achieving this poetic level of prose, at the height of their powers. Also, I just love fairy tales. Read all the fairy tales at once!

Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis & The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Two stories of rich people being terribly naughty. Each of them set in the most decadent decades known in modern America: the 1980s and the 1920s respectively. I believe that Fitzgerald, with his message of American dreams dashed to pieces, wealth having sadly more worth than the human heart, and debauched party-goers with no limits, was transgressive before it was cool. I don’t think Ellis and his first book could’ve had the proper gateway into literature without Gatsby. The disaffected youth and hopelessness of Less Than Zero is understandably darker, but comparisons could certainly be made.

Thank you for reading. I hope this gave you some ideas about future reading projects. As always, happy geeking!

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#TFW: Books I Finally Want To Read In 2017

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5. The Martian by Andy Weir. I am probably the last person on planet earth who hasn’t read this. The hype monster has me wary of it by this point. When it was first getting attention, that would’ve been the time to tackle it. Now that it’s everyone’s favorite thing in the history of ever, I have a feeling it won’t live up to all that. Still I can’t help being intrigued. A space-faring story that’s meant to be steeped in realism. I can’t resist it. Just remind me to keep my expectations realistic, too.

4. The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie. The world of The First Law Series is easily one of my favorites, and while I blasted my way through the initial trilogy, I haven’t kept the same momentum since. Mainly because the first standalone, Best Served Cold, left me feeling, well, cold. I wasn’t wowed by it. I thought it was all right but not great. I’m hopeful The Heroes will be a better installment, and I’d like to see it reinvigorate my love for these books. It’s high time I at least tried.

3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. It’s time to stop worrying about possibly disappointing a lot of people with my hypothetical opinion and actually form a real opinion. The hype machine strikes again, and it has me genuinely frightened of this book. I’m just stubborn enough to hate something everyone’s told me I’ll love, but the truth is I have to read it. Because of its reputation among my family and friends. Because I’ve been told I’ll love it. Because it seems like a book worth talking about again and again.

2. The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman. This was one I bought at the height of my Richard III obsession. It’s a historical novel that takes a more realistic view of the man and his short reign, and considering most people have been swallowing the propagandist version of events for some time now, I’m deeply intrigued. It’s also the kind of book that might cause you real, severe injury if it were hurled at you. I’m talking murder weapon levels of heft. That’s always slightly intimidating, but hopefully 2017 will be the year.

1. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. And I call myself a horror fan. I know I have sinned here. How have I let this one get away? Well, it’s huge. And much of the formatting is wacky. There are footnotes and appendices galore, enough to make David Foster Wallace rise from the dead. Slightly daunting. That’s actually a theme among this top five. Books I’ve put off for a reason, but I should get over myself. Also, it’s one of those books that I have a feeling I’ll find brilliant and wonderful, and I think we all have a tendency to put those off. “Save that for a special day.” Which is slightly silly. Books we know we’ll love should be read soon. Now! Or at least before 2017 is over.

Thank you for reading. As always, happy geeking!

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Discussion: Reading Slumps

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There’s no wrap-up for November, because the only thing I read was a short story. I worked on some other books, but I didn’t finish any. I barely read at all. Anyone who reads and shares their reading, whether it be on booktube, on a blog, or even Goodreads, feels the strain when they’re “not reading enough”. We all look at our space where we put reviews and share our love of books, watch a tumbleweed roll by, and wince.

That’s when it becomes pertinent to discuss the idea of the slump. Is that what it is? Is that a bad word? I might be slumping in books, but I’m active in other areas. I’m researching a project for the new year that involves a whole new hobby of mine. I’m getting ready for Christmas, and high-five me if it’s been a time-consuming trial, because I feel you. I’m writing. I’m doing housework and running errands. I redecorated a minor bit. I’m doing things all over the place. I’m just not reading. The word “slump” implies that I should be reading all the time, and the fact is, I shouldn’t feel pressured. I should read when the mood strikes, not because I have to meet some quota.

On top of everything, not to get overly personal, but this time in 2013 was when my father was very, very sick. On December 21st of that year, he passed away. He’d been diagnosed with cancer, and while I was aware that it was bad, we were gearing up to fight it when he suddenly died. It’s easy to see how that would affect my mood, especially when I’m trying to get in the holiday spirit, which is hard for me since then. Sometimes books are my haven. They’re where I go to escape. But sometimes I don’t have the level of concentration that requires, so I don’t try. I slip into the easier things, like watching shows I love (lots of Mystery Science Theater 3000) or funny YouTube videos, rather than strain myself.

In a case like that, it also makes me not want to call it a “slump”. That feels like undue pressure. I don’t need to view it as this thing I have to break out of or else. Because the truth is the urge to read always comes back to me. I’m never without it for long. This is a temporary feeling, and forcing it will only make it worse as well as making me feel worse about it.

What else contributed to this state I’m in? You’ve heard the usual suspects. I read a bunch of crummy books that I’m stuck in the middle of, and the desire to read started to bleed away. Also, I hit my yearly goal very early. The usual drive those goals make you feel to read more, to succeed, is no longer there. I could’ve upped my goal and kept going, but I’m glad I didn’t, simply because I don’t think it would’ve helped me. It probably would’ve only served to make me feel worse about taking the time off from books.

I don’t know if others are like this, but I tend to work in cycles. Sometimes I’m reading non-stop. Sometimes I only want to watch movies. Other times I spend days writing, totally dedicated to my own stories. I’m used to these cycles, and I don’t ever say that I’m in a movie slump or a writing slump, so I don’t consider myself in a reading slump either. I follow my enjoyment wherever it takes me, and I’m content with that.

What’s your opinion on slumps? Is it a word you dread hearing? Do you not sweat it at all? Lemme know! And as always, happy geeking!

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