Classical Geeky

My local orchestra, The Albany Symphony, has a concert series aimed at families with young children. This season they are total geeks. Harry Sonata and The Baton of Power, Star Warriors: The Opera, and The Superhero Show. Here’s a write up for the first one:

“Young Harry Sonata doesn’t want to be an ordinary wizard; he wants to become a musical wizard. But to do that, he’ll have to do battle with the evil Lord Moldywart and learn to wield the “Baton of Power.” He’ll need your help learning all about the art of conducting so he can vanquish the forces of evil and make the orchestra SING! Great music by: Tchaikovsky, Sousa, Strauss, Beethoven, and others.”

Continue reading Classical Geeky

Denver Comic Con: Family Cosplay at its Finest

Our ‘Big Hero 6’-inspired family cosplay was much less outrageous than our 2012 experience, which wasn’t altogether a bad thing. We are posing with a replica Back to the Future DeLorean for a TeamFox fundraiser. Photo: Terry Holler, used with permission.

The amazing Denver Comic Con weekend is over, and I’m now overflowing with so much to write about! Our family’s whole weekend was such fun! Let’s talk about it!

About Denver Comic Con

Denver Comic Con is an education program of the Pop Culture Classroom, a non-profit that serves the Denver area with programming that centers on pop culture.

During DCC itself, the Pop Culture Classroom was ready to go with nearly 400 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 STEAM educational activities, youth-based programming, and fun activities for our younger attendees and their families. Younger guests were able to work directly with professionals from the comic book and animation industries as well as other creative professions.

Family Focused…No, Really!

Denver Comic Con prides itself on being family-friendly, and they mean it. You see evidence in this with the low prices for children to attend ($5 for one day, $10 for the entire weekend—the same costs as taking your kids to a movie!), as well as the plainly published rules for cosplay and conduct during panels.

As mentioned in the previous section, one of DCC’s most celebrated features is the Pop Culture Laboratory (which is pronounced “La-BOHR-a-tory,” as explained on signs around the con). Located in the dead center of the upper convention center floor, this area is meant expressly for younger guests; the kids have priority for all programming, however, parents and kids-at-heart can take part if space is available. In fact, at some point during the con, some makeshift signs appeared reminding guests that the laboratory area is alcohol-free. Who wouldn’t want to take part in comic art classes, a forensics lab mystery, or hearing Patrick Warburton read Green Eggs and Ham?

Family Cosplay: The Rule, Not the Exception

Children are everywhere at Denver Comic Con. While I was pleased that my sons are old enough to keep up with my crazed roaming all over the Colorado Convention Center, I was constantly making googly faces at the adorable younger children dressed as everything from Steven Universe (easy peasy: jeans, flip flops, and a red t-shirt with a yellow star painted on) to Harley Quinn to Princess Peach to one of Daenerys Targaryen’s baby dragons.

When our family was at Dragon*Con in 2012, we were stopped constantly because family cosplay, by which I mean the family is dressing together with a common theme, isn’t as popular there. In fact, there simply aren’t many kids at all. But if are looking for all the fun of an affordable, large—and by large I mean over 100,000 guests!—con with a focus on youth and doesn’t sell out in two minutes, come to Denver!

Enjoy photos of some of the family cosplay from this past weekend.

Several of our neighborhood families were part of the Denver Comic Con fun and dressed together. Can you guess who these kids are? Hint: the two in the middle are twins. Photo: Janet Baratti, used with permission.
Several of our own neighborhood’s families were part of the Denver Comic Con fun and dressed up together. Can you guess who these kids are cosplaying as? Hint: two of the kids in the middle are twins. Photo: Janet Baratti, used with permission.
Is this couple cute or what? I tried so hard to get the baby dragon to smile but she was just too tired. This was late in the day on Saturday and mom said she was wiped out. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
Is this couple cute or what? I tried so hard to get the baby dragon to smile but she was just too tired. This was late in the day on Saturday and mom said she was wiped out. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
Okay, not a family, but I couldn’t ignore a set of Ghostbusters complete with realistic (and HEAVY!) proton packs now, could I? Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
Last, but not least, with one of the weekend’s big-ticket events being a reunion of the Animaniacs voice actors, this family’s costumes were a huge win! I’ll be writing more about these folks in another DCC post. I’m very grateful this family was willing to step out of line to pose for me. Little Wakko was very tired but still smiled. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

GeekMom received family media passes to Denver Comic Con for review purposes.

Rape as a Plot Device: The Difference Between ‘Spartacus’ and ‘Game of Thrones’

Spartacus, Starz, War of the Damned, Roman Gladiators
Would you believe the majority of people in this photo are rape victims? image via Starz

Spartacus and Game of Thrones have many similarities. Both are historicals, though Game of Thrones world is in a fantasy medieval setting while Spartacus is set in ancient Rome but both societies are patriarchal.

Both have a sprawling cast, romantic subplots, nudity, and violence, including many instances of rape. Both are set in a brutal world where human lives are cheap.

Both are shows in which beloved characters suffer shocking deaths and, yes, women are fridged to create conflict and drama.

Why, then, do I unreservedly love Spartacus while watching Game of Thrones lately often fills me with disgust?

I could go the easy route and say that Spartacus is better written, at least better written than this season of Game of Thrones, but that’s too easy, though it’s true.

From Jamie’s ridiculous plan to invade Dorne with only Bronn as back-up to the silliness of them actually being able to get close to Myrcella, and to Cersei’s absurd reasoning that put her former lover who helped commit regicide in charge of fanatics who have power over the crown, the logic on this season of GoT is lacking.

(Note: Steven S. DeKnight, executive producer of the excellent Daredevil series, also was an executive producer on Spartacus, which gives you an indication of his ability to create masterful shows.)

No, the real explanation is more complicated. For one, the women aren’t singled out for special rape treatment or showcased nude just for boobies. Men are also raped on Spartacus, sometimes repeatedly, to the point where when I looked up an episode summary once, it mentioned a shocking assault, and I had no idea if it would be against a man or a woman. (Spoiler: Julius Caesar was the victim.)

You deserved better plotting, Sansa. Image via HBO
You deserved better plotting, Sansa. Image via HBO

Men are also nude quite often in Spartacus. You like Manu Bennett as Slade Wilson? Let me introduce you to Crixus, the champion of Capua. Not to mention all those gladiator training sessions or the gladiator bathing sequences. Or the orgies.

Secondly, and most important, rape has consequences for the victims that are explored extensively in Spartacus. In one case, a character spends an entire season regaining their agency and, oh, it’s a glorious scene when she finally confronts her tormentor and wins. In the case of Crixus, who is being used as a sex toy and stud by his mistress, his lack of consent is made clear, as is his frustration at his failure to prevent what’s happening, though he, of course, has no way to fight back because he’s a slave.

He, too, is damaged, and he, too, is allowed to confront and triumph over his tormentor.

Spartacus isn’t a show that uses rape to shock viewers. It’s a show interested in the abuse of power, how that abuse destroys the psyche of those who suffer under it, and how the victims take back their power or sometimes crumble underneath it. It also explores the mistakes people make as a result of being damaged. Good people do bad things and sometimes bad people do something good.

These are complex characters.

Game of Thrones seems to be only showing abuse of women (and one man) to prove that, yes, it’s a violent and scary world and people die at any time. It’s not at all interested in showing us recovery from abuse, save in one case (Dany), so much as using women’s nude bodies to horrify or titillate viewers. This is the show that created a character, Ros, whose sole purpose was to be naked, be used for sex, and then tortured to death to prove how evil Joffrey was even though we already knew that. Heck, Ros even died off-screen. We’ve no idea how she felt.

In Spartacus, we know how all the victims feel. Some of them die and never get any resolution. Some of them are broken and commit suicide. Some of them fight back and lose. Most of them lose, really, given what happens to Spartacus’ army.

The story is about them and their struggles and the struggles of those who want to defeat them. As with Daredevil, the villains are complex.  Spartacus isn’t interested in simply proving how evil the Roman General who enslaved Spartacus is so much as showing how he got that way and what motivates him.

Spartacus shows us Katrina Law (Nyssa on Arrow) nude not because it’s cable and hey, boobies, but because the main character’s refusal to use her is important to both of them.

Spartacus knows where it’s going with its characters and never forgets that. You know the point of view, the hopes and dreams, of the victims of abuse and power in Spartacus.

In Game of Thrones, you know them as the women gang-raped in the background at Castor’s keep, or as naked now dead Ros, or any of Ramsey’s faceless victims.

And even when we know them, the producers sometimes insist it’s not rape, like Dany’s original wedding night or Cersei’s rape last season, which the producers claimed, hey, it really wasn’t, even though she said ‘no’ at the end. In any case, neither Cersei nor Jamie seemed bothered by it. So why did we even have that scene? What purpose did it serve?

I have no idea.

What purpose did the rape of Sansa serve?

I suspect it’s to show Theon’s change from Reek back to Sansa’s ally. How nice that Sansa’s rape is about the man pain and not her own. How horrible that we never saw her at least attempt to gain a little sense of herself  in a situation where she appeared powerless or even watched her put together a plan (however futile) that might have made this story a little bit about her and not about evil Ramsey. Plus, we’ve already seen Sansa terrorized and beaten. She’s in a tough situation. We know. We get it. Now show us something new.

For those who say ‘well, what did you expect from that scene, given the situation?” I say:

Something interesting. 

Something that showed me a different part of her personality. Something that isn’t used every other episode on Game of Thrones just to prove men are evil bastards.

Something far better written.

Something of the quality of Spartacus.

Daleks on Sesame Street? ENUMERATE!

Sesame Street Season 45
ENUMERATE © Sesame Workshop

I thought nothing could top the geekiness of last season on Sesame Street, but the show, which starts its 45th season in September, isn’t stopping there. Did you ever think you’d see the TARDIS materialize on Sesame Street?

With spoofs of Game of Thrones, Star Wars, The Avengers, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and more planned for this season, I might be getting a bigger kick out of Sesame Street than my daughter this year.

If you don’t believe PBS is reaching out to geek families, Sesame Street even had a remarkable presence at San Diego Comic-Con in July. And Elmo, Murray, and the rest are no strangers to conventions. It’s Numeric Con that’s one of the biggest events of the year for the Street’s residents, who get just as excited as SDCC’s most hardcore comic book fans—but about numbers.

Sir Ian McKellen, Emily Blunt, Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Zachary Quinto, and many more celebrities are also making an appearance this season, along with First Lady Michelle Obama.

I bet right now you’re still wondering just how in Westeros toddlers and preschoolers are going to watch anything related to Game of Thrones. PBS describes “Game of Chairs” a spoof where “Grover competes to be king or queen by playing a suspenseful game of musical chairs.”

In the Game of Chairs, you win or you cry!

The 45th season of Sesame Street begins on September 15, 2014.

Connecticon Cosplay!

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I attended ConnectiCon all last weekend and I’ll have several full reports later but, in the meantime, enjoy some of the wonderful cosplayers from the con.

I missed a few coplayers that I wanted, especially Bill Nye the Science Guy, Captain Marvel, the Dragonball Z team, and the grown-up Power Puff Girls. There were some tremendous manga/anime and video game cosplayers who were wonderful but stumped me as to the source material.

I love that this con is about 30 percent cosplayers.

George R. R. Martin Talks About Wild Cards

George R. R. Martin at ConCarolinas. Photo CC-BY-SA Ruth Suehle

ConCarolinas in Charlotte, NC was sold out this past weekend. Though a great event in its own right, this was likely thanks largely to its guest of honor, George R. R. Martin. At times you could have easily thought you were at a Game of Thrones convention rather than a general science/speculative/fantasy fiction convention, given the army of Khaleesis and Melisandres and GoT-inspired t-shirts walking around! But in his first talk, Martin talked not about the A Song of Ice and Fire books or the related HBO show, but instead about his older and continuing Wild Cards series.

Wild Cards is a shared world story, which means the universe is common to multiple authors who each create characters and stories within it. This world features an alien-created retrovirus that was released over New York City in 1946 and kills (in horrible ways) 90% of those who are infected. The other 10% who contract the virus, known as “jokers,” are changed, generally by being deformed in unfortunate and hideous ways. But one percent of the infected become “aces,” who maintain their human forms but also get superpowers.

Martin has been editing and writing Wild Cards since 1985, far longer than the A Song of Ice and Fire series, which he started in 1991. It grew from Martin’s gaming group in New Mexico. They began playing Call of Cthulhu, among other games (though, he noted, not Dungeons & Dragons). Then for his birthday, Vic Milan gave Martin a copy of Superworld. “It became completely addictive, and the biggest addict was me,” Martin said. “For two years I was running Superworld–I think it cost me at least a novel. Instead of writing, I was rolling up villains every day.” When the Albuquerque group was regularly gaming until 3 a.m. and having postmortem discussion until 5, he started a weeknight group nearer his home in Santa Fe.

“It was a great role-playing group–we really got into the role-playing part,” he said. “Many nights went by where we didn’t roll the dice; [it was] more like improv theater. Then I said the famous words, ‘There’s got to be a way to make some money out of this stuff,’ and the answer was shared worlds.”

Martin initially called the concept “mosaic novels,” though shared world anthologies were already popular, starting with Robert Aspirin and Lynn Abbey’s Thieves’ World, which Martin says started as an argument in a convention bar over whether Conan the Barbarian could beat Elric in a fight. Its success prompted other writers and editors to do similar projects such as Heroes in Hell and Greystone Bay. None ever quite equaled Thieves’ World‘s success, though.

“And no one had done a superhero shared world,” Martin said. “We wanted to take the form to the next level.” He talked to Abbey and Aspirin about their successes and problems and was able to avoid some of the pitfalls they had encountered as a result.

The Wild Cards authors came from the experience of reading comics during the Silver Age of comic books and a feeling that those worlds were flawed, a notion that also spawned stories like The Watchmen and The Dark Knight around the same time.

“As much as we love the superhero stories, they don’t hold up in a superhero sense,” Martin said. “They’re a hodgepodge of origins. This guy’s a god, and this one it’s a radioactive spider, and this guy finds a stick in a cave… this makes no sense. It’s partly fantasy.” His solution to a superhero fiction more rooted in science was to create a single cause for superhero powers, which became the Wild Cards virus. Initially he intended for the powers to be comparatively weaker but more realistic given the known laws of science. “But that broke down quickly,” he said, as the writers wanted to create colorful characters. He joked, “I didn’t have the heart to say no. We found you can mumble ‘psionics’ or ‘quantum theory’ and justify anything you want.” (The Takisian aliens that created the Wild Cards virus use it to improve their psionic powers.)

The next step was to ask the critical question: What happens to the world if superpowers are real? What do those people actually do? It seems unlikely that they’d spend their time going after bank robbers when existing law enforcement has that sort of thing already handled. And what about the “power” part of “superpower”? When superpowers are acquired at random, some people aren’t going to use those powers for good.

“It’s interesting to compare our solution to something like Watchmen,” Martin said. “I think Alan Moore was thinking the same thing, that the way traditional comic books were doing it wasn’t quite right. He kept the costumes but mostly did away with the powers. We kept the powers but threw out the identities and costumes.”

Wild Cards is entering its 23rd volume and has had 40 other writers participate over the years. Lowball, the 22nd novel in the series, is due out later this year, followed by High Stakes. They’ve long since stopped officially numbering the novels, though, as that makes it more intimidating for new readers to jump in. Martin noted that every few volumes, there’s a new entry point so that you don’t have to read all of the previous volumes to start.

The first three books in the series, Wild Cards, Aces High, and Jokers Wild work together as a trilogy and are intended to be read as one. The next three books, however, became four. “As happens seemingly with anything I’m connected with, one of the volumes got extremely long,” Martin joked. Then the writers who had been working on these anthologies wanted to write novel-length stories, so they contracted for two novels. If you’re not ready to commit to an entire series, the best entry points (that aren’t the beginning) are Aces Abroad (4), One-Eyed Jacks (8), Card Sharks (13), Deuces Down (16), Inside Straight (18, which is when the series moved to being published by Tor), and Fort Freak (21).

As to hopes of seeing Wild Cards on screen, Martin had no new news. The rights to the film were the first acquisition for SyFy Films, a partnership between SyFy Channel and Universal, back in 2011. Melinda Snodgrass, a writer in the series, has written a draft of the film, which they’re still hoping to see made.

Your Favorite TV Shows: Canceled or Renewed?

The Arrow team in “Streets of Fire.” Photo: Jack Rowand /The CW — © 2014 The CW Network, LLC.

The 2013-2014 TV season is wrapping up, leaving us with a few summer runs to look forward to, tears to shed over canceled shows, and cliffhangers to shake our fists at for the next few months. In case you’ve been chasing kids instead of TV schedules, here’s a roundup of statuses on your favorite shows, in alphabetical order.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Renewed, along with a bonus new show, Agent Carter.

Almost Human: Canceled. (Insert your own “almost good enough” joke here.)

Arrow: Renewed. Good thing, given their penchant for cliffhanger endings. We’ll also have the spinoff The Flash.

Beauty and the Beast: Renewed. It’s also getting a “summer season” starting June 2, but this is really just the last of the season 2 episodes.

The Big Bang Theory: Renewed for three more years, which will take it to at least 10 seasons.

Bones: Renewed. This 10th season has been rumored to be the last, but that’s not official.

Castle: Renewed.

Community: Canceled, resulting in much sadness on the internet. If that sounds crazy, compare how it was doing to other canceled NBC shows, with 3.8 million viewers and a 1.5 rating. Revolution had 7.3 million viewers and a 2.3 rating. Even Dracula was doing better, with 5 million and a 1.8. In fact, Community was the longest-running of the canceled NBC shows, but at least recently, the worst-performing.

CSI: Renewed.

Dracula: Canceled.

Elementary: Renewed.

Game of Thrones: Renewed for two more seasons. This season’s premiere at the beginning of April was HBO’s most-watched episode since the finale of The Sopranos seven years ago, so it’s understandable that they want to hang on to this hit, even as the storyline passes what’s available on the page. That just means the battle of Spoilers vs. You Should Have Read The Book will soon come to an end.

Glee: Renewed previously through next year, its sixth and final season. The final season won’t be based in New York and will be set further in the future.

The Goldbergs: Renewed for another season reliving your childhood.

Grimm: Renewed.

Hannibal: Renewed. 

Intelligence: Canceled.

NCIS: Renewed, as well as NCIS: Los Angeles.

Once Upon A Time: Renewed.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: Canceled.

Revolution: Canceled.

Sleepy Hollow: Renewed.

Super Fun Night: Canceled. No more super fun for Rebel Wilson fans. (Although, she was just cast in a Private Benjamin reboot.)

Supernatural: Renewed. Another for the 10-season club.

The Tomorrow People: Canceled. (Now they’re the Yesterday People. Sorry, that was too easy.)

The Vampire Diaries: Renewed.

GeekMom Game of Thrones Recap is Back!


It took a bit, but the GeekMom Game of Thrones Recap is back. This week we talk about Episode 3, “Breaker of Chains” — and it’s a doozy.

Don’t forget to tune in right after the show, 10PM EST for our future episodes!

5 Geeky Paper-and-String Easter Egg Ideas

5 geeky eggs
Geeky decoupage and string art egg ideas include (clockwise from top left) a Game of Thrones dragon egg, a Spider-Man web, a Sherlock wall, a Fourth Doctor scarf, and a classic geeky fandom collage. All images by Lisa Kay Tate.

Each spring, we try to make one Easter egg that stands out from the others using simple decoupage methods with little more than paper or string.

This often includes a look at whatever geeky passion is prominent in the pop culture world, and choosing five of our favorites from this and past years. With exception of the Spider-Man egg, each of these eggs took less than an hour to complete, and kids of all ages can make or help make them.

To use a real egg, gently poke a small hole at both ends, poke a toothpick into one end and mix up the yoke a bit, then hold the egg over a sink and slowly blow into one hole. The contents should easily ooze out the other end, leaving a lightweight, hollow shell. If working with younger kids, a plastic egg will work fine for most of these ideas.

The first three eggs use a basic decoupage method. Paint the egg with a layer of decoupage glue (like Mod Podge) or use one part water and one part school glue. Then, paste the images on the egg. Paint another layer over the top to seal the image. It will dry clear.

GoT and Sherlock eggs
Game of Thrones and Sherlock eggs.

The Classic Geek. The simplest by far, this egg is a scrapbook-style collage of all things geeky. Find small images from old comic books or magazines and layer them over the egg scrapbook-style. This lets you celebrate as many fandoms as you want on one egg. This also works well as a Christmas or holiday ornament.

BBC Sherlock’s Wall. The floral, black and white, and much-abused Sherlock wallpaper is a quickly recognizable pattern among BBC fans, and free downloadable wallpaper patterns can be found on several fan and design sites. Print this pattern out on lightweight paper and cut it to fit around the egg. Keep in mind that the pattern will overlap itself a little on both ends of the egg, but it won’t be too noticeable. Once dry, use a toothpick and yellow craft paint to draw on Sherlock’s “happy face,” then gently bore five “bullet holes” near the face using a small screwdriver or drill bit.

Game of Thrones “Paper Bag” Egg. This is a craft I did when I first started writing for my old blog, as well as for a site that was at the time called IHOGeek. I’m proud to say that thanks to a tweet or two from famous Game of Thrones fans like actors Aziz Ansari and (so I’ve been told) Nathan Fillion, this egg idea went viral…and there really is nothing to it!

Cut some round or tear-shaped “dragon scales,” about a half-inch wide, from a brown paper bag. Overlap them in scale pattern until covered. Run the side of a black crayon over the scales to antique them before adding the final layer of decoupage.

No, I don’t let my kids don’t watch Game of Thrones (obviously), but they do love dragons. This egg could just as easily hatch a Norbert, Toothless, Saphira, or Smaug.

string art eggs
Fourth Doctor scarf and Spider-Man web string art eggs.

The Fourth Doctor’s Scarf. This is a straightforward string art pattern to make, as it involves just coiling different colored stripes (green, red, yellow, blue, beige, etc.) around the egg to resemble the striped pattern of the Tom Baker-era Doctor Who scarf. To be more precise, alternate the widths of each color. If you’re really a perfectionist, check out these Fourth Doctor scarf patterns designs.

Not into Doctor Who? This same idea can be put in place to make some Hogwarts house scarves.

Spider-Man’s Web.  This egg is a little more time-consuming. It also includes three more materials in addition to the floss: a balloon, about 20 seed beads, and a spider (either the small plastic novelty-like ones that accumulate around Halloween or a little craft store jewelry charm). You can also cut a small Spider-Man symbol out of paper (about a half-inch wide), if you can’t find these other items. The end result should look like a little spider’s web with a “radioactive spider” dangling in the middle.

Spider-Man's egg
A closer look at the little spider hidden in the web. Don’t get bit.

First, pour a little decoupage mix into a small dish. Cut three or four two-foot strands of light blue, beige, or white yarn, and string a few red or blue seed beads randomly on each. Dip each strand in the mix, careful not to get them tangled, and drag your thumb and forefinger down the strand to wipe off the excess mix.

Blow up the balloon a small ways, so it is fairly egg-shaped. Lay each strand over the balloon in a web-like pattern. Use as many strands as you want, but leave a gap big enough to fit your spider through on one end. Let the egg dry overnight until the strings are stiff, and pop the balloon to leave the outer string art shell.

Finally, hang the spider image or charm on an additional piece of floss and place it through a gap big enough in the shell to accommodate the spider. Position the egg upright and position the spider so it is dangling in the center of the egg. Tie it off on one end. This egg looks best hanging, so leave a little floss at the end to hang it.

Note: I have done this craft with a real egg shell. It looks good, but it takes a little extra effort to crumble the shell and clean it out of the string egg. If working with kids, balloons are the easiest option.

Hang onto each of these eggs and keep an ever-growing basket display of geeky and creative happiness. Who knows where the bunny trail will lead you this year?

How to Make Game of Thrones Weirwood Tree Cauliflower Steaks

Photo by Cindy White

Some time ago, I came across an intriguing recipe for cauliflower steaks. They’re easy to make and quite elegant, resembling lovely white trees on a plate. Of course, being a Game of Thrones fan, I couldn’t help but see a white tree and think “weirwood,” so I immediately started coming up with ways I could adapt the recipe to make it fit the description in the books. Now that the show is just about to return for a fourth season, I thought it would be a good time to share this slightly altered version of the innovative dish.

In Game of Thrones, weirwood trees are considered sacred by the people in the northern region of Westeros. The trees are distinguished by their pale white bark and blood-red leaves. Many of them also have eerie faces carved into their trunks. It is believed that the gods dwell in them and can see the past, present, and future through their eyes. In the first episode of the HBO series, Catelyn and Ned Stark meet beneath Winterfell’s heart tree, a grand weirwood that sits at the center of the castle’s godswood.

Image credit: HBO

Here’s what you’ll need to make Weirwood Tree Cauliflower Steaks:

  • One head of cauliflower (yields two to four steaks per head)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

Begin by trimming the leaves and stem from the head of cauliflower until the bottom is neat. Then, cut the head into 1/2-inch cross sections, straight through the top. You’ll end up with a few steaks and a lot of florets (save these to roast later or make into a delicious soup).

Photo by Cindy White

Using a paring knife, carve the faces into the trunks of your trees. You can make any kind of expression you want: angry, sad, laughing, whatever. It almost always ends up creepy, no matter what you do.

At this point, you can sear the steaks in a skillet with the olive oil (about 3 minutes on each side). However, that will make them golden brown and for our purposes, we want to keep them as white as possible, so straight into the oven they go. Coat them on both sides with the oil using a pastry brush or your hand, sprinkle with salt, and place them on a baking sheet.

Photo by Cindy White

Cook for 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the edges start browning. To make the faces stand out more, I used a little kitchen torch around the edges to darken them.


For the final touch, sprinkle the branches with paprika and red pepper flakes to get the red leaf effect.

Photo by Cindy White

And that’s all there is to it. Here’s the finished product:


These are great as a main course or a side dish, depending on the preferences of your guests and your other menu options. They’d also make a perfect addition to an entire Game of Thrones-themed meal. After all, the books are full of lengthy descriptions of elaborate dishes that’ll make your mouth water and your stomach rumble. For more culinary inspiration from George R.R. Martin’s world, be sure to check out the ridiculously comprehensive collection of recipes at Inn at the Crossroads, the official Game of Thrones food blog.

Game of Thrones returns to HBO for its fourth season on Sunday, April 6 at 9:00 p.m. ET.

Em-Con Recap

Em-Con © Lee Wallis
Em-Con © Lee Wallis

Last weekend I attended the first Em-Con at the Albert Hall in Nottingham, England. The convention was the first of its kind in the region. I enjoyed myself immensely.

However for many attendees, the day was beset by difficulties in even getting inside the con.

For a small convention in its first year, Em-Con certainly attracted a good amount of talent through its doors. Stars from Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Red Dwarf, and Star Wars were among those who came along to meet fans and sign autographs. A number of comic book artists including Andrew Wildman and Lee Sullivan were present, each working on commissions and signing prints, and a nice variety of stalls were on offer so everyone could afford to take something home no matter their budget.

One of my favorite things about any convention is watching the artists work and chatting with stall holders; everyone at Em-Con was welcoming and happy to chat to the point where I found myself running late for panels.

Doctor Who Panel © Sophie Brown
Doctor Who Panel © Sophie Brown

Throughout the day a number of talks were given in the main hall. Unlike at many conventions, these were included in the cost of entry allowing guests to fill their day without emptying their wallets. The Doctor Who/Torchwood talk featured cast from both shows including Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper), Caitlin Blackwood (Young Amy Pond), and Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), all of whom appeared in high spirits. We learned that the Torchwood cast are eager to reprise their roles for a fifth season and that both Caitlin and Eve would love to play a female Doctor.

The Game of Thrones panel was attended by Kristian Nairn (Hodor), Ian McElhinney (Barristan Selmy), and Gethin Anthony (Renly Baratheon) who dropped a few minor spoilers about the upcoming fourth season.The panel was disrupted slightly when a wandering Cylon distracted Gethin during one of his anecdotes much to everyone’s amusement.

The Red Dwarf panel was also subject to disruption by Cylon—one of the issues of having green room access at the rear of the main hall—and was thoroughly enjoyable even to someone like myself who has only seen a handful of episodes. The panel gathered together the entire core cast including Craig Charles (Dave Lister), Danny John-Jules (The Cat), Chris Barrie (Arnold Rimmer), and Robert Llewellyn (Kryten). Everyone had stories to tell about their time on the show, but a particular favorite was Robert’s recollection of standing in a Chicago elevator with a Klingon who told him how much he appreciated his work—through his interpreter.

Cops and Monsters © Fraser Coull
Cops and Monsters © Fraser Coull

The first panel of the day was given over to Cops and Monsters, a new Indiegogo-funded webseries set in Scotland. The show is along the lines of Torchwood and Being Human. Set five years in the future, it follows the Paranormal Investigation Team Scotland, a new branch of UK government tasked with keeping the peace among humans, zombies, vampires, and werewolves now that supernatural creatures have come out of their proverbial closets.

We were shown the eight minute minisode that has so far been funded, and heard from the large number of cast and crew who had come along to promote the show. We were even treated to an impromptu rap in the style of Batman’s Bane courtesy of series star Mark Harvey. The minisode has just been released to the public and you can watch it on the Cops and Monsters website.

Everything going on inside the venue was great. The building was filled with families; everywhere I looked were parents and grandparents with children of every age from babies to teenagers. It was possibly the most family-filled show I have ever attended and it was wonderful for that. I overheard a seven year old nitpicking with one of the comic book artists about his portrayal of Cybermen and saw a pair of young brothers in Torchwood Institute tees who were so excited to spot Eve Myles entering the panel that they could barely sit still.

Members of the 501st UK Garrison, Rebel Legion UK and Reel Icons entertain the queue © Sophie Brown
Members of the 501st UK Garrison, Rebel Legion UK and Reel Icons entertain the queue © Sophie Brown

However it was outside that the problems were mostly to be found. Queues stretched around the building for hours and hundreds of ticket holders were eventually forced to give up and leave before they even got inside.

Following the event’s hashtag on Twitter, I saw dozens of individuals talking about waits of four or five hours to get inside, meaning of course that they missed out on most of the event if they ever made it through the doors.

Those queuing with children were often unable to wait that long. Reading up afterwards, the core of the problem appeared to be that almost three times the venue’s capacity had been sold in pre-booked tickets, and more were being sold on the door before these people had even been allowed in.

Wandering around on the convention floor felt dangerous at times due to crowding and the police arrived by lunchtime querying understandable health and safety concerns. The organizers have issued a formal apology and have promised refunds but sadly the damage to their reputation has already been done. Not a great start for a brand new event on an already busy circuit.

Next year Em-Con is upgrading, moving from the small Albert Hall to the much larger Capital FM Arena. Hopefully this will go some way towards alleviating the issues seen this year but only if lessons are learned by all involved. For those of us inside the venue (and who don’t suffer from claustrophobia), this was a great convention and a lot has to be said for finally having an event of this sort in this so-far forgotten region.

But for those stuck outside in the cold with miserable children after having paid to get in, it will take an awful lot for them to risk it again next year. I can’t say I blame them.

Entry to Em-Con was provided by the organizers for this review.

Ben From Parks And Recreation Loses It When He Gets An Iron Throne

Image: Parks and Recreation
Image: Parks and Recreation

There are things out there for every fandom that are just so cool, that so perfectly capture that fandom, that they can make any fan go a little nuts.

Lightsabers and blasters with the right lights and sound effects top the list for Star Wars fans. Communicators that you can put on your shirt and tap to hear that little beep sound are up there for Star Trek nerds. And for Game of Thrones fans, it would have to be the Iron Throne.

I am by no means a hardcore fan of the series and I’ve only read the first book because it was 700 pages of description that made my eyes bleed, but I do like the show and I can not wait for its return. Last year, at SXSW, they had a replica of the Iron Throne and you better believe I waited my turn in line to sit and have my picture taken pretending I ruled Westeros.

It was ridiculously fun and people were all giddy and smiley like a bunch of kids, but no one’s reaction tops this one from a deleted scene in Parks and Recreation. It’s from the episode titled Anniversaries in which Leslie gifts Ben with his very own Iron Throne.

His reaction is somewhat over-the-top. No, in reality, it’s exactly what every fan of every fandom does when presented with something this amazing to call their own. We may not do it out loud, but in our heads, this is exactly, precisely the scene that plays out.

While we might be saying, “Hey, cool, you got me an Iron Throne. Thanks,” in our heads we’re saying “Oh. My. God. You got me an Iron Throne! An Iron Throne! Mine! Mine! Mine!” only with many more exclamation points.

Enjoy this slice of Game of Thrones fandom and you’ll wish it was you in your office. Or maybe it’d look better as the centerpiece of your living room?

(via Nerd Approved)

Dueling Game of Thrones Figures Will Pit Dark Horse Against Funko

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It’s about to get bloody.

We’ve seen different companies do different action figures before. However, both Dark Horse and Funko just announced new Game of Thrones figurines within the same 24 hours. The timing isn’t all that curious, given that the Game of Thrones: The Complete Third Season DVD is just days away.

Both of the sets have been given HBO Global Licensing’s blessing and both have some incarnation of a few of the same characters.

Funko already has a slew of Game of Thrones dolls—the kind that I could definitely build a nursery around. Now, the company is getting ready to release its first Legacy Collection, a set of action figures with at least 20 points of articulation and plenty of removable accessories for each.

At launch, the lineup will include Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, Tyrion Lannister, Ned Stark, and White Walker. The Legacy Collection will be a Barnes & Noble exclusive starting February 18, with the set getting a wider release on March 4. Additional figures will then follow sometime this fall.

If you’re willing to wait, you may want to mark your calendar for Dark Horse’s latest GOT release. This line is non-articulated, with each figure measuring about 7.5 inches tall.

The company had previously released figures for Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, with Tyrion Lannister, Khal Drogo, and Ned Stark all coming in time for Season 4’s April premiere. The newest announcement is that Cersei Baratheon, Arya Stark, Robb Stark, Jaime Lannister, and White Walker will join the collection in July, with five more coming sometime in November 2014. That lineup has yet to be announced.

Dark Horse has already made some figures that any GOT fan would be proud to put on display. However, I’m partial to moving parts and add-ons. Choose your favorite weapon (and character), but know that Funko has priced the Legacy Collection at $19.95 each, with Dark Horse coming in at $24.99.

Shouldst Thou Gets to a Theatre for Knights of Badassdom?


Once, long ago (circa the year two thousand and ten), in a faraway land known as “Hollywood,” a film calleth Knights of Badassdom was born unto us all. But nay, dost thou wit what vile knave durst keepeth this greatness from yon public til now?

Well, it’s complicated. At San Diego Comic-Con 2011, screaming fans-to-be got to see a glimpse of KoB. And then hardly a word about it was heard until last year when there was a buyers’ screening in March. Fast forward to July when Entertainment One acquired its distribution rights, and fans started hearing that there would finally be a release. And that is about the shortest synopsis possible of a lot of mostly uninteresting drama.

Fast forward again to last month when Entertainment One announced there wouldn’t be a regular release, but instead a limited release through

Tugg works by being the middleman between anyone at all and local theaters. When the opportunity was announced, I filled out Tugg’s brief request form, asking for a screening of Knights of Badassdom in my area. A week later, they contacted me having also made contact with a theater willing to host the screening. At that point, Tugg posts an event page where people can buy tickets. If a minimum threshold is met (set by the theater), the screening is a go.

Our local screening, like many others, sold out easily. Though many of the screenings were held Tuesday, others have not yet happened and tickets are still available.

It’s not the director’s cut, but it’s the movie, and sometimes you take what you get.

Is it worth it?

If you already knew all that and haven’t yet bought a ticket, then you probably are wondering whether those 85 minutes are worth your cash. I can answer that with a single-question quiz:

a) have you, or someone you love, ever played in a LARP?
b) have you ever played an RPG?
c) were you tortured by the Ye Olde Butchered Englishe in the first paragraph of this post?

If you answered a and—and this is critical—have a sense of humor about your beloved activity, then yes, you should absolutely see this movie. If you answered b, you are likely to enjoy it as well. If you answered c, it’s going to be a long 85 minutes. And if you’re not familiar with RPGs, much less the world of LARPing, you’re going to get a little fun out of Peter Dinklage and his swords, and then you’re going to spend the rest of it wondering if people actually do this and WTF is going on on that screen.

Is this going to be the greatest piece of cinema of the year, nominated for eight Academy Awards and inspiring children everywhere to stop bullying and love the LARP? Nope, not even a little bit. What you are getting is precisely what you expect from the trailer, so let me summarize:

Imagine Tyrion Lannister and Steve Zahn get Jason Stackhouse to pass out from a wicked bong/bourbon combo, drag him unwillingly into a LARP, and then accidentally summon an actual succubus, which they fight with River Tam and a Viking who doesn’t know how to break character. Throw in a George R. R. Martin body count, the fake blood budget of The Cabin in the Woods, a rubber monster suit similar to the effects quality of the Golgothan in Dogma, and a shiny glaze of metal (both weapons and music), and there you are.

If that’s not the funniest thing you’ve heard all day, then you should absolutely not see this movie. And we probably shouldn’t hang out.

Further, if you don’t have a sense of humor about your nerddom (and I fully expect to see some blog post somewhere to this effect), you’re going to rant about how it’s actually a movie about two people who didn’t want to be in the LARP, that they’re really making fun of LARPers, and that the pretty girl with “+3 ass of perfection” (Summer Glau) is only there because she came with a guy (who is her cousin, not her boyfriend), and something something stereotype something. Lighten up and go see something from a foreign film festival. This one’s not for you.

The alternate nerd rage option is something about how they’re just pandering to nerddom. To which I say, pander away! Amuse me in ways I like to be entertained! Those of you who object can go watch another generic movie about a handsome guy with a gun that you won’t be able to distinguish from all the other handsome-guy-with-gun movies in six months.


If you love the game Munchkin because of what it was designed as—playful humor about that one person in your game group who’s taking it all a little too seriously… If you’ve been in a LARP with that guy who seriously just refuses to break character even in the face of actual danger… If you want to see Peter Dinklage on shrooms swinging a pair of swords… Then. This. Movie. Is. Yours.

Yea, verily, get thee to a screening. And further, let’s hope that someday we might get a director’s cut.

Four Speculative-Fiction and Fantasy Foodie Blogs

Food Through The Pages
Food Through The Pages

Looking to bring a little fiction to the dinner table? These four blogs have you covered:

Food Through The Pages

Chelsea Monroe-Cassel cooked her way through Game of Thrones, not to mention books by Scott Lynch (Lies of Locke Lamora), Steven Brust (the Vlad Taltos series), and Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games). Her gorgeous photos and progress notes make it possible to reproduce Neil Gaiman’s Button Cookies (Coraline) and Laura Moon’s Chili (American Gods), and many more dishes.

The Inn at the Crossroads

Dedicated to food from George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer have recreated meals from all across Westeros. Their recipe book, A Feast of Ice and Fire, comes with an introduction by GRRM himself.

Bryton Taylor’s Food and Literature Blog

Offerings include fairy tales (like Snow White), food from The Hobbit, and Willie Wonka meals, both homemade and professionally prepared.

Rollings Reliable

Olivia Youngers has been posting great SciFriday recipes, including food related to Fringe, Seanan McGuire’s Deadline, and Futurama.


GeekMom reviewed A Feast of Ice and Fire in May 2012.

The Cliffs of Insanity: Game of Thrones And Summer Stuff

Indira Varma, Niobe of HBO's Rome, now cast as Ellaria Sand on Game of Thrones. Still copyright HBO.
Indira Varma, Niobe of HBO’s Rome, now cast as Ellaria Sand on Game of Thrones. Still copyright HBO.

This weeks’s adventures climbing the cliffs of insanity include my obsession with Game of Thrones, as I found some cool tidbits on the web, and the continued controversy over a Wonder Woman movie being “tricky.”

But, first, a quick personal writing note.

If you’re interested in my romance writing self, I’m running a contest to win ecopies of all three books of my superhero hero series, the Phoenix Institute, over at the All Romance Cafe, along with the story of how I ended up writing my the Gotham City-inspired story, Luminous.

And back to television viewing.

I couldn’t do it.

I couldn’t completely cut my cable cord. I looked around at the alternatives, found Direct TV no cheaper than what my current company, Cox, was offering, and didn’t have the cuts to simply go total Netflix and Hulu Plus.

One of the big reasons? Game of Thrones on HBO. I have to see it as it airs. Apparently, that’s worth an extra $15 a month to me.

And one of the reasons I have to watch the next season? The casting. So far it’s been nearly perfect, and that streak seems to be continuing with the news leaking out about the casting of the Martells. For those who haven’t read the books, the Dorne crew has some of the most fun, charming, and cunning characters in the entire series. King’s Landing is going to be the place to be, with the Lannisters, Tyrells, and Martells all plotting against each other.

Earlier this month, Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper, one of the most popular characters in the series, was cast; Chilean actor Pedro Pascal fills the role. And just yesterday, Indira Varma of HBO’s Rome was cast as Ellaria Sand, Oberyn’s lover and confident.

I’m not familiar with Pascal but I know Varma. She was terrific in Rome as the alluring, haunted, and long-suffering wife of Kevin McKidd’s Lucius Vorenus. Varma seems perfect to me as the alluring, smart, and sneaky head of the Sand Snakes from Dorne. (Just how many Sand Snakes we’ll get remains an open question but given HBO’s propensity for gratuitous female nudity on this show, we might get the full contingent.)

Geeks may know Varma better as Suzie Costello of Torchwood, one of the former members of the team who went in the wrong direction. And I found this great race-bending tumblr which re-cast her as the villain from Star Trek: Into Darkness.

Yet more fun from Game of Thrones:

College Humor has this handy map of the United States re-imagined as Westernos. Texas as the land of the Dothraki makes so much sense.

And some Hall H residents at Comic Con International were lucky enough to see this deleted Game of Thrones scene from last season featuring Tywin and Pycelle. I adore Charles Dance in this role and while I’m bummed to know this was cut, it’s great to see it now.

And now from one “tricky” adaptation with complicated backstory to another….

Hey Warner Bros.–Shut Up and Take My Money!

The same week Wired’s Underwire blog was saying we didn’t need a Wonder Woman because, you know, bondage or something, Forbes broke down the financials for a Wonder Woman movie and countered this whole “tricky” business with numbers and facts.

My favorite quote: Which means we need to understand that merely asking young teenage and college-age male comic book fans is NOT the right way to accurately gauge Wonder Woman’s potential cinematic success.

Will Warner Bros. listen? Your magic eight-ball is as good as mine, which reads “try again later.”


Geeking Out Over the Emmy Nominations

Major excitement in the Supporting Actress category. Photos from PBS, HBO

Today’s the big day! It’s Emmy nomination day. Emmy brought with her much good news for TV-loving geeks. Let’s have a look at some of the interesting categories.

Outstanding Drama Series
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Mad Men

Among the GeekMoms, there are avid fans of all of those shows. Of them all, I think Game of Thrones had the best season. I came late to the GoT party, but I’ll be wrecked about that Red Wedding for a while. I’m secretly hoping for House of Cards to win, though. Netflix has really stuck its neck out to change the landscape of television and deserves to be rewarded for it. Hopefully, it means more quality shows headed our way.

My money’s also on Kevin Spacey to win for House of Cards, though there were points in the series where his character Francis Underwood sank so low I almost stopped watching. Game of Thrones was woefully not represented in the Lead Actor in a Drama category, unfortunately. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau had a great season as Jaime Lannister.

Outstanding Comedy Series
30 Rock
Modern Family
The Big Bang Theory

30 Rock is a favorite here, celebrating one of my favorite geeky women, Liz Lemon. It’s hard not to love some of those other choices, too (Louie!), though I’m the lonely geek that doesn’t love The Big Bang Theory. What’s sorely missing on this list, though is Parks and Recreation, with my favorite geek couple on television, Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt. Did you see the episode where Ben’s eBay username was Tyrion Lannister as he tried to by Leslie a waffle iron? Adorable. Better yet, see how Amy Poehler would recast Game of Thrones with Parks and Recreation characters. I’ll take comfort in the fact that Amy Poehler is nominated for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Emmy also snubbed Nick Offerman. His Ron Swanson is one of the best characters on television. Speaking of best characters (and Tyrion Lannister), I’m rooting for Peter Dinklage to win Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. (Sorry, Mr. Carson.)

The category I’m most looking forward to, though, is this:

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Anna Gunn as Skyler White, Breaking Bad
Maggie Smith as Dowager Countess of Grantham, Downton Abbey
Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Game of Thrones
Morena Baccarin as Jessica Brody, Homeland
Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris, Mad Men
Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart, The Good Wife

That’s right, people, the Dowager Countess is up against the Mother of Dragons.

What could be better? Of course, I love all of those other women, too, though Christina Hendricks was woefully underused last season. (You hear me, Matthew Weiner? Need. More. Joan.)

You can see all of the Emmy nominations on the Emmy website, and wait with me until September 22 when we’ll find out who wins.

Who are you rooting for?

They Were In What? Seventeen Actors Whose Other Roles You Forgot

Binge-watching older shows and digging up movies on Netflix inevitably leads to the same question. Who is that guy? Sometimes they’re easy—The Outsiders might as well be re-released as “Everybody Before They Were Famous.” But more often than not, I’m left running for IMDB. Here are a few of my favorites.

  • What’s Channing Tatum not in lately? (Speaking of which, you should absolutely see This Is The End.) Back in 2000, before stripping, Jump Street, or G.I. Joe, he was in Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs” video. I don’t blame you if you didn’t watch it in 2000 and don’t want to watch it now. I took that bullet and grabbed a screenshot of his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role for you. No, it won’t be any clearer if you go watch it yourself. Here he is:

    Screenshot from 2013-07-16 21:01:09
    Screencap, “She Bangs” video
  • Oh, sequels. Why quit when you’re still making money, right? Or when you can give us one of Jack Black’s first roles, which he had in The Neverending Story III as leader of The Nasties:
  • This one will win you the bonus round at trivia night someday. Mary Badham, who was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, also stars in the final episode of the original Twilight Zone.
  • We all know about Luke Perry and Pee-Wee Herman being in the 1992 Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie. But that’s not all. A spry Ben Affleck was a basketball player (#10 if you go looking for him). Ricki Lake was in there too, and Seth Green was a vampire (not a werewolf!) in a scene that got cut.
  • I have fond memories of Ryan Reynolds’ days on Two Guys and a Girl, long before he was… well, Ryan Reynolds. But even before that, when the Sabrina the Teenage Witch TV show was piloted as a TV movie, he was there as cute high school boy Seth with some very Zack-Morris hair. Lucky Melissa Joan Hart!
  • While we’re in the 90s, think back to 1995’s A Kid in King Arthur’s Court. Do you remember Master Kane? Or should I say, “Kane, Master Kane,” since that was Daniel Craig? And of course, there was also Kate Winslet as Princess Sarah, two years before Titanic.
  • Remember Corky, the brother with Down syndrome on Life Goes On? Chris Burke, who played him, was one of the zombies in the “Thriller” video.
  • Rick Springfield—you know, as in, “I wish that I had Jessie’s girl”?—was also a soap star, playing Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital in the early 80s and periodically thereafter. But what younger geeks might not know is that he played Zac in Saga of a Star World, which became the original 1978 Battlestar Galactica.
  • Before he was snotty Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones, Jack Gleeson was rescued by Batman in Batman Begins:
  • Dennis Christopher is one of those Guys You Keep Seeing, so I won’t even suggest which it is you recognize him from. Most recently he was Calvin Candie’s lawyer Leonide Moguy in Django Unchained. His list also includes Cyrus Vail in Angel, one Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, one of Enterprise, and Eddie in It.
  • Speaking of It—another one of those movies that has quite a cast, especially in retrospect—I never could stop seeing Clark’s mom on Smallville as anything but Beverly from It. Seth Green played the younger version of Harry Anderson’s character. Sneezy/Mr. Clark from Once Upon a Time (Gabe Khouth) was in it, and he was voices in Dragonball Z, InuYasha the Movie, and He-Man and Masters of the Universe. Olivia Hussey, whom you recall not from It, but as Juliet from that 1968 Romeo and Juliet you watched in high school, is also the voice of Talia Al Ghul in Batman Beyond.
  • Marc Vann, whom you may know as Conrad Ecklie from CSI, started his career with a few episodes of Early Edition in 1996. On Angel, he was the surgeon who resurrected Illyria, and on Lost, the doctor on the supply freighter owned by Charles Widmore. More recently we saw him in two episodes of Torchwood: Miracle Day.
  • Sophie Aldred, known to geeks as Ace, companion to Sylvester McCoy as the seventh Doctor, was also the voice of Muck in the American version of Bob the Builder for a while. She told the Derby Telegraph in 2010 that this British children’s show was re-recorded for the US market to have a more familiar accent and to change words like “football” to “soccer.” “I don’t say ‘let’s get mucky,'” she gave as a more humorous example. “I say ‘let’s get muddy’ because apparently ‘mucky’ has connotations over there.”

Finally, a bonus, non-human “played two roles”: In Super Mario, the clouds and the bushes are identical, but one’s white and one’s green.

5 Geeky Beverages Inspired by Your Favorite Shows

Sherlock Holmes © BBC

When a show or movie reaches out and grabs its fans, they can be inspired to create amazing things. Geek fandom is known for crafting exquisite costumes, food, jewelry, and more, all for the love of a show. I recently discovered some geek-inspired beverages—officially licensed and not—that are perfect for grabbing a cup and settling in to re-watch your favorite episodes.

Sherlock Tea from Adagio Teas

Adagio Teas makes a wide variety of blends based on many different tastes and fandoms. At Adagio you’ll find tea blends inspired by movies like Harry Potter and the rebooted Star Trek, and shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender and True Blood, all packaged in tins with striking fan art.

Moriartea by Adagio Teas © Adagio Teas

The Sherlock-inspired teas caught my eye immediately. Some of the most memorable scenes in BBC’s Sherlock happen when a character has a cuppa in his hand. There are 31 blends created by Cara McGee, so fans of both the show and the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will find something to suit their tastes. Fans who dream about a particular relationship on the BBC show will even find something that’s just their cup of tea.

I’m dying to try the MORIARTEA, described as a “spicy chai backed by more ginger. Guaranteed to burn the heart out of you. Because that’s what people BREW.”

TARDIS Mug © ThinkGeek / BBC

Doctor Who Tea from Adagio Teas

Cara McGee of Adagio also created twelve tea blends inspired by Doctor Who. One of Adagio’s highest ranked fandom blends is the TARDIS tea, which sounds absolutely lovely: “Ethereal earl grey and enchanting black berry with notes of vanilla.”

You’ll also find blends created with the ninth, tenth, and eleventh Doctors in mind, and brews imbued with the essences of Captain Jack Harkness and companions Amy Pond, Rose Tyler, and Martha Jones. Cara McGee seems to be a true Whovian. Her ode to River Song in the form of a tea blend says simply for its delightful description, “I could describe this tea, but that would be spoilers.”

And if you find yourself in need of a good cup of a tea—I hear it’s just the thing for heating the synapses—you can pick up a TARDIS mug from ThinkGeek to complete the experience.

Take the Black Stout © Ommegang / HBO

Game of Thrones Beer from Brewery Ommegang

If you’re looking for something a little stronger than tea, look no further than the officially licensed Game of Thrones beer crafted by Brewery Ommegang.

The brewmasters kicked off their beer series with a blonde ale that embodies the Lannisters. “Iron Throne is certainly fair in color and soft in appearance, yet it still possesses a complexity and bite to be on guard for,” said brewmaster Phil Leinhart on the ale’s official web site.

The Iron Throne Ale sold out quickly, but luckily the brewery promises that their next beer in the series will be available in larger quantities to satisfy the throngs of Game of Thrones fans. The Black Stout, inspired by the Night’s Watch, is a brew described by Ommegang’s Mike McManus as “a hearty and robust beer to fortify those heroically standing watch at the Wall. Like their lives, the beer is dark, complex and bold.”

Star Trek Wines from Vinport

Vinport is offering several wines based on fan-favorite episodes of the original Star Trek series. Produced by the Viansa Winery in Sonoma, California, these red wines are a limited edition that are currently on pre-sale.

Star Trek Wines © Vinport / CBS

The labels, created by artist Juan Ortiz, use a minimalist look to capture “The Trouble With Tribbles,” “Mirror Mirror,” and “The City on the Edge of Forever.”

Downton Abbey Wine from Wines That Rock

If you prefer a wine inspired by the past rather than the future, you’ll be happy to hear that a licensed Downton Abbey wine is coming soon from Wines That Rock. Although little is known about the wine, Wines That Rock assures fans that the Bordeaux clarets and whites will be authentic, thanks to a team-up with a vineyard with “over 130 years of experience in creating the world’s best wines so these are wines the Crawley family would have been proud to serve at Downton.”

The wine should be released in time for the premiere of the fourth season of the show on PBS.

True Blood Tea Party!

True Blood is not quite as deep or layered as our last Tea Party show, Game of Thrones, but it did offer some fun moments last night, including Sookie finally taking action, Jason making dumb choices again, Team Vampire being awesome, and Arliss Howard looking very promising as the season’s villain.

Plus, more Billith. Not that anyone was really looking forward to that.

Join GeekMoms Natania Barron, Brigid Ashwood, Jackie Reeve and Corrina Lawson for a lively discussion. And check our tea party of the last episode of Game of Thrones too.

The GeekMom Game of Thrones Tea Party: Season 3, Episode 9: “The Rains of Castamere”

Yes, this one was a heartbreaker, on all levels. Natania, Andrea and Corrina talk about the events that sent viewers spinning, even more so that Ned Stark’s fate in Season One.


The Cliffs of Insanity: “Let’s Instagram the Gorn!”

Kansas  City, Union Station, GeekMom, GeekDad
The science display at the Kansas City Union Station gift shop includes GeekMom and GeekDad! /photo by Corrina Lawson

This week’s adventures climbing the cliffs of insanity include a report on the Science Fiction/Fantasy panel at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention that included John Scalzi among the group (that’s his quote in the headline),  a mind-blowing experiment in gender-flipping covers of books (you must see this), and a discussion with my son about the death of Jason Todd spurred on by the commentary track on Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker.

The panel at RT was called “SF/F: Seduced by the Unknown: How SF Challenges Your Mind and Heart.” Scalzi, who detailed his experiences at RT on his whatever blog, was one panelist among a group of funny and fascinating SF/F authors: Linnea Sinclair, Stacey KadeJanet Miller (aka Cricket Starr), Beth Revis, P.J. Schnyder, and Sarah Zettel.

After the panelists kidded that Scalzi’s RT Award would make a great murder weapon, Sinclair, who  moderated the panel, starting it off with a lightning round of questions such as “Star Trek or Firefly?” The question was answered so fast that I confess I don’t know who answered what. The next question, “evil overlord” or “galactic prince or princess,” was even more fun but the answers were skewed by the fact the naming widget Sinclair used inevitably spit out better names for evil overlords.

But the authors got down to business when they started answering the question “Why are we fascinated by aliens?” Continue reading The Cliffs of Insanity: “Let’s Instagram the Gorn!”

GeekMom Game of Thrones Season 3 Tea Party Recap — Episode 4: “And Now His Watch Is Ended”

Watch the GeekMoms streaming live, right now! It’s all about the Game of Thrones third season, and the fourth episode: “And Now His Watch Is Ended.” We streamed live, but you can still check us out in the following video. Beware: we try to keep it spoiler-free, but there’s always a chance we let something slip!

Sadly, Andrea was sick this week, but we look forward to her joining us again next Sunday night!

Check out the full post for the video and highlights from this episode.

Continue reading GeekMom Game of Thrones Season 3 Tea Party Recap — Episode 4: “And Now His Watch Is Ended”

Make Me Laugh!

School of Thrones produced by Whitney Milam.

I’ve been taking many breaks during the day to watch silly videos. This is because it’s early Spring in NorthEast America. What does that have to do with anything? Let me try to explain:

Early Spring is like Mother Nature’s mother saying little brother Benny had to have a season too, even though Benny can’t even get his underwear on correctly, let alone figure out the weather. Continue reading Make Me Laugh!

GeekMom Game of Thrones Season 3 Recap Tea Party: Episode 3 “Walk of Punishment”

Back to Westeros! And beyond! It’s the second installment of our Season Three Game of Thrones Recap Tea Party, with Episode 3, “Walk of Punishment.”

This week Andrea and I were joined by fellow GeekMom Corrina, as we dish on all the goodies for this very charged episode. Emotions! Adventure! Snarky dialogue! (Minor spoiler warning for those who haven’t read the books). Continue reading GeekMom Game of Thrones Season 3 Recap Tea Party: Episode 3 “Walk of Punishment”

GeekMom Game of Thrones Recap Tea Party: Episodes 1 and 2

Last night GeekMoms Andrea and Natania returned to Westeros and beyond and talked a bit about the first two episodes of the new season of Game of Thrones. We covered a variety of topics, and spent some time discussing character and plotting motivations, as well as some of the embellishments the television adaptation has made. By the end of it we start waxing philosophic about the future of the television and movie mediums, and there’s a bit of silliness as well. As you do.

A few highlights (minor spoilers if you haven’t read/watched):

  • Andrea talks house Tyrell, matriarchs, and the pre-emptive lemon cakes (and Sansa “ugh”)
  • Natania squees over a certain Greyjoy
  • We wonder where the Mother of Dragons is this episode, especially after the big reveal of the first episode
  • We express general glee over the Jaime/Brienne scenes
  • Tiaras. We’re both wearing tiaras.
  • Yes, there was wine (on my end)–in a dragon goblet!

Join us next week as we delve again into the mysteries, politics, and adventures that keep us coming back again and again!

If you have any questions or topics you’d like to hear us discover at next week’s Game of Thrones Tea Party Recap, leave us a comment!

What were your “wow” moments from this week’s episode?

Television’s Geekiest. Weekend. Ever.

Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Doctor Whoe

Early Sunday afternoon, I was desperately checking my DVR for airing times of Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The Mentalist and Vikings. My service only allows taping two shows at a time, so I had to stagger the tapings throughout the night.

The season finale of Walking Dead was my husband and eldest son’s priority. Game of Thrones was mine, while the other two reflect my love of Sherlock Holmes-style detectives and interest in Viking history.

Add in BBC America’s Saturday airing of the new Doctor Who episode that formally placed Clara Oswin Oswald into the pantheon of companions, the premiere of Orphan Black, The Nerdist plus a marathon of all things Doctor Who on BBC America Sunday, and last weekend may well by television’s Geekiest Weekend Ever.

How did it all stack up?


In my order, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, Vikings, Walking Dead, Orphan Black and The Mentalist. (The  Mentalist came in last because it turned out to be a rerun. Bah!)

I hear Dead fans yelling already about its ranking. But, unfortunately, zombies give me intense nightmares. The show is interesting on occasion but I can’t watch a zombie without waking up terrified in the middle of the night. This is even though watching the show doesn’t scare me. Alas, I’ve also missed out on Shaun of the Dead because of this. My husband and son pronounced themselves quite satisfied with the show’s finale, though I’m told the fate of a certain character everyone kept calling “too stupid to live” all season was gruesome. And that Carl is promising to be a pint-size serial killer of sorts.

Game of Thrones wins because it featured the reappearance of a favorite character from season one, Barristan Selmy, and because it seems like Dani’s story will finally be moving instead of being stuck like last season. Also because Tyrion/Cersei and Tyrion/Tywin had the best conversations and Jorah Mormont said “Khaleesi” in that lovely voice of Iain Glen’s. (Yes, I am shallow on this point.) And Bronn continues to be far more fun than his book counterpart.

However, Doctor Who may have been the most enjoyable overall, if only because we all watched the show together. I loved the visual of the Doctor riding a motorcycle up a building, that Clara Oswin Oswald is now firmly a companion, and the little call-out to Amy and Rory by the presence of a book by Amelia Williams. A satisfactory kick-off to the second half of the season, though the Doctor may have been a bit too manic. (And I didn’t think that was possible.) I’ve been informed the Great Intelligence is an old-school Who villain, from the second Doctor and now I’m hoping for the appearance of yetis. And finding out exactly who gave Clara the Doctor’s phone number.

Vikings continues to be fascinating in all sorts of odd ways. I started watching because I’ve written an alternate history series with Vikings having settled in North America and I wanted to see how television approached ancient Viking society. The answer has been that it deals with it very well. I love how it presents the community structure, including voting on those accused of a crime, mixed in with an ordinary human lust for power. I wasn’t expecting much from the story and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I’m worried about Ragnar’s fate. Gabriel Byrne has been nicely menacing as the show’s central villain. Mix that in with the captured Catholic priest and the odd scientific discovery, such as a primitive compass, and I’ll be sorry to see this series end.

Orphan Black had promise but was a bit confusing. I understand it’s a show about cloning with a clearly desperate lead character but where was it set? It seemed like it was supposed to be New York City but it looked like London, which was distracting. Some shows I bond to right away. Not this one, not yet, but I’ll give it a second look next Saturday.

So what did you watch this weekend?