Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Steps in the Dark

It's Halloween! I'm probably neck deep in hot glue and creative bat-themed curse words, but I have time for one present for everyone. Steps in the dark is a short story about a mother trying to protect her children from an invader.

Darkness is eternal, endless, accustomed, secure. It is the safety of the womb, the calm of the grave, the pre-dawn, the post-finality, and my home. The darkness shall not be sundered, not while I live.

Many beats of the ragged heart passed since last someone dared to rouse me from my vigilant slumber. My legs are stiff and unwieldy, crackling from age and abandonment as I raise my head to the vibrations pulsing across my floor. A visitor has come. They always drop in just as I am about to lose faith in the inevitable and succumb to time's endless strokes.
My home is not much to view in the light, but within the dark it is an ethereal harmony to behold. Her beauty calls so many visitors to her, to see for themselves what the half legends and vague tales speak of. Ancient blood, bubbling when far deadlier things than I strode the lands, rouses from its slumber wakening my limbs, my eyes, and my thirst. Though, perhaps thirst is not the correct term. Language returns slowest of all in the eternal night. Oh well, I shall think of a better one later; we have guests.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Wars - The Finale

You've made it! Okay, so we're half crab creatures, we lost Dennis to the fudge pits, and Tabitha had to go and touch the forbidden gem of foreboding forbiddeness didn't she? But we're still here. And we all know that it's two people who survive through to the end of every horror movie, right?
Sod this! *shoves you into a vat of sugar acid and runs*


So here we are, the finale, the grand tuna, the one for all the markers.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Problem with the Bechdel Test

 As appears to be my particular idiom anymore, I got myself entrenched in a fight on twitter. Because if you're going to row with someone it should be in 140 characters or less.

It began with me inserting a moment of clarity in between the constant fart jokes:

If your female character doesn't exist outside of the prism of your male character's existence, you do not have a "strong woman."

Quite a few male writers had to rush to my somnolent twitter feed to inform me I was wrong (of course I am, I'm just a girl), that all of their characters are strong females because they hit things. Sometimes they hit things really hard. Maybe one's like a B cup, a large B cup of course. And then they drop the bomb, well it passed the Bechdel Test so they're all capable characters, can't accuse me of sexism.

Let us break down the Bechdel test for those who have yet to hear of it.

In order to pass all you need are
  • Two named women
  • Together in a scene (only one scene necessary)
  • Talking about something other than men
That is bloody it. Yet the point of it was how rarely movies passed, that so much of media falls upon the 25:75 ratio. One Sue Storm to the three other fantastics (soulless scientists not withstanding). It was to show how rare it was for women to exist outside, to have a point, beyond the main male characters purpose.

The test was supposed to draw attention to the dearth of female characters, instead so many men found it a convenient excuse to prove they can't be accused of sexism.

Throw in a character named Candy talking to another named Mandy about how awesome shoes are then back to the guys actually saving the world. Boom, Bechdel Test passed, this is a totally feminist work with three dimensional women.

I'm not a big fan of playing the reverse game, but imagine the utter shit fits thrown if all you needed to prove you have a fully fleshed out three dimensional male character is that you have
  • Two named men
  • Together in one scene
  • Talking about something that has nothing to do with women
This Brochdel Test is passed by, oh, just about every movie in existence. Men can have pasts, they can have motivations, desires, needs, wants outside of sex.

Women have that one scene where the love interest gossips with her best friend, who will probably never be seen again.

I came to realize recently that I despise the always tacked on female character in action movies because she's there for one reason, to polish the main character's penis. Once that's done she's nothing more than an animated set piece, occasionally transformed into a breathing Macguffin. Oh sure, maybe she throws a punch or two, taps a stick lightly against a rat of unusual size, but if you removed the male character she would cease to exist. All her motivation comes down to is making the male protagonist happy (ifyaknowwhatImean nudge nudge); without him around she'd stand blank like a Stepford robot in the kitchen making sad beeping noises waiting for someone to switch her off.

No, passing the Bechdel test does not mean you have a fully culpable, capable, or even somewhat realistic female character. If you're uncertain and concerned you could try asking another woman and, this is the really important part, listening to her. Don't ignore the words flowing out of her mouth and mentally fill in her criticism with diamonds/babies/yogurt/chocolate/pumpkin spice latte and change nothing. We've been doing this woman thing a hell of a lot longer than you. We may just know what the hell we're talking about.

So I say we need to have a second level of the Bechdel test; if you are basing the idea that you cannot be accused of sexism upon this test then you need to pass the second level.
  • Have a named female character
  • Whose life does not revolve around a male character
  • Done. Maybe have some pancakes to celebrate?
I'm guessing, much like the original Bechdel test, most media will fail.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fairy Tale Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

Back at the start of September I submitted a fairy tale I wrote years and years ago and was shocked to learn it won a monthly contest.

It's about a garden of bickering flowers trying to determine who's the prettiest that learn who really wins when playing the beauty game.

Head on over to Fairytale Magazine if you'd like to read it.
If you'd rather sit here and play ping pong I'll get the paddles.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Our trip to Kansas City was rife with random interstate construction in the early weekend evening (when it's practically a ghost town on the roads and all), endless rains, sucking mud and mazes. But one of the bright spots came in the form of a Louisiana rice dish.

About the closest we come to New Orleans cooking is a Popeyes so it was with some glee we tried a bayou restaurant. Most of it was fancy sandwiches stuffed with alligator or shrimp, but the jambalaya appetizer caught my eye.

Like a tomato risotto with sausage and spice thrown in for good measure.

Despite knowing I'd be up getting to intimately know my hotel room thanks to heart burn we gobbled the whole thing up and set off to make it at home.

I swiped most of it from All Recipes but made a few tweaks the next go around. I never add file powder, as we don't have any, and it still sets up a beaut.
2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
10 ounces andouille sausage, sliced into
1 pound boneless skinless chicken
breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can crushed
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
3 cups chicken broth

You'll be chopping forever. Onions diced, garlic smashed, celery diced like you're trying to sell a knife, then the chicken cubed and the sausage diced.

I've actually used Johnsonville sausage for the Andouille, perhaps not fancy but it did the job.

Add the tablespoon of peanut oil to a big ol stew pot and brown the sausage for a minute or two.

Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon, which is when I dug through my drawers for said holy spoon of antioch. I thought about grabbing my dremel, a wooden spoon, and making my own but a typical unslotted spoon worked okay as well.

Dredge the chicken with the cajun spice and then brown it in much the same way and set aside.

Into the pot go the onions, the garlic, the celery (and if you're following the original recipe the pure evil green peppers that should be wiped from the earth). Saute them all together until the onions no longer tug at your tear ducts.
 Dump in the tomatoes, the red pepper flakes, the old boring pepper, salt, hot pepper sauce (I admit it, I used Franks. I regret nothing!) and worcestershire sauce. Dump in your meat and let it all marry in a mass tomato wedding for ten minutes.
Dump in the rice and the chicken stock, then raise the temperature up to boiling. Okay, that was fun, now take it way down to barely on and cover the pot for 20-25 minutes. I check on the pot constantly, rice and I are not good friends, and the rice will eat up all that liquid like a ghost kirby.
After the 25 or so minutes you should have something like jambalaya or a portal to the negative dimension. I should really scrub my pots more often.

And enough leftovers to keep you dreaming of the tomatoey gooeniess for weeks to come.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Your Very Own Portal Gun

The Halloween dance our Halloween club throws every near Halloween (HALLOWEEN!) was this past weekend.

My husband went as a splicer from Bioshock. This was mostly due to the amazingly disturbing bunny mask we found which I painted up and covered in blood.
The latex appliances (that's Haunter talk for stuff you glue to your face to make it look creepy) I actually made the day of. Some tissue, some latex, a heat gun and then paint. Pretty damn easy really.

But we're here to talk about my Chell costume. I already had an Aperture Science tank top, so all I needed were some orange pants. Rather than get a "cheap" orange jumpsuit I scored a pair of white scrub pants for $5 and dyed them. The outfit part was easy, the gun however...
I also added bruises because I had the injury stack out and figured why the hell not.

I could have dropped someone from $100-$400 and purchased a realistic looking portal gun but I decided to try one on my own. Some of it turned out great. Others...
 Let's start with the basics, the aperture part of the gun. I printed off a picture of said portal gun and whisked off to Menards where I then lost a morning wandering around the PVC section jamming plumbing parts together until suddenly I had a camera head. All it needed was a coat or twelve of black spray paint.

The clear tube in the middle was a moment of perfection courtesy of the Dollar Tree. They had a whole bunch of bubble tubes that were nearly the perfect size to fit inside my PVC bits.

I tried hot glue at first, but she doesn't stick to PVC pipe, so I switched to a heavier craft glue. One of the ones laying around from my Tardis snow globe. 

I also wanted to anchor the back a bit more, thanks to the build up of PVC joints, it was incredibly front heavy. So I picked up a few more of the excess pieces and attached them to the end just for weight.

Now comes the part I put off for months. I had no idea how to fake the casing proper. In fact I put it off so much I gave myself about two weeks to finish before the dance. Big mistake.

From a craft store I got a foam ball, one of those you're supposed to stick flowers in or something, and using the hot wire I shaped it into both the back and front pieces of the casing. They are by no means perfect, somewhere in the passable range, but it was all I had time for.
In retrospect, since I went the foam way, if I'd had enough joint compound, I would have coated both the foam pieces in it to give a less porous surface. C'est la vie. 

Once the foam is carved, coat it with latex paint. Don't try to spray paint it, or glue it, or anything with a spray acrylic. That shit will eat right through the foam. It is a menace really.

After the thick layers of latex are dry, you can finally take the white spray paint to it.

For the final touches of paint, I printed off the aperture logo and cut out the bits to make a stencil.
The final touches were the spikes, or triple pokey bits on the end. I made those out of balsa wood, shaping it with a dremel and stinking of burnt wood.

It took four pieces; the first arm, the second was of two -- one piece half the size and sanded down to pinch together the first arm, the last the pokey bit to stab GLaDOS upon.

For the wires, I got some garden wire that I at first painted black with spray paint. When that refused to dry after a day or so I tried my acrylics and low and behold she worked.

The final pieces were just gluing it all together.
To make it light up I found the perfect answer at Target in their $1 section. Some glow stick foam. They even had Blue and Orange, until the night of I go to break the glow stick and learn their idea of blue is really green, and orange more of a red.
But with the foam in place, I can insert proper blue glow sticks the next time I feel the need to break out the Portal gun.

And that's how I did it. There's a lot I need to fix, better secure, and scream at for a while, but that's the curse of letting time get away from me.

But for a costume dance prop where most people had no idea what I was, I think it turned out pretty good.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Halloween Wars - Week 3

*chews through ropes, dribbles acidic blood across chains, stops for a sandwich*

Finally! After all these years of recaps, of struggling against the torture, I can see it. The flickering light of freedom.

Damn it!

Much like the protagonist in a horror movie whose contract is extended, you honestly thought you'd get out of here alive? Ha ha ha ha!

And to accompany us on your boat ride to Hades, complete with souvenir photo of Charon, is this lovely old lady.

Apparently she wrote the Sookie Sackhouse/True Blood books which all the contestants gave a shoulder shrug about.  Since she'd finished them off months ago, I assume Food Network offered her a free slice of buttermilk pie and then refused to let her leave.
From now on, every time Alexander Skarsgard gets naked you'll picture this face behind it all. Mwhahahaha!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Persian Beef Stew

I don't like stew.

It's chunks of parboiled beef floating in a flotsam of grains and lightly flavored water. Occasionally an old vegetable tries to claw its way out.

It's a hate/hate relationship.

So I'm coming to this Persian (if that makes you feel better) Stew recipe from a completely different angle. If like me, you're not wild about stew or want to try something different give this sucker a try.

The cool thing is that assuming you do a bit of baking and/or occasional Indian cooking you'll already have all the spices. Nothing's outside what you'd find in a regular grocery store but the combinations are deliciously exotic.

I found the recipe here.
 It calls to mix together the cumin, pepper, coriander, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon and to only use 1 tablespoon in the pot. I wasn't certain if I was going to like this at all so rather than waste spices I cut everything down by an eighth.

Saute the onions and garlic in the oil until they're nice and fragrant and the onions do that onion thing.

Add the beef and brown it on all sides. This'll take around 5-7 minutes.

Dump in the tomatoes (I didn't bother draining the can because it's stew), cilantro (I also didn't add cilantro. I am neither for nor against the stuff, I just didn't have any), mushrooms, the spice mixture (1 tablespoon if you made the mix, a tiny amount of each if you didn't), and a bit of salt.

Mix all that together for about a minute.

Add the broth, bring to a boil and then let simmer for an hour and a half.

Add the green beans and then let it go another half hour.

Now you have Persian Beef Stew. I served it over rice which was a nice way to cut some of the spicy and also soak up the stewey goodness.

You may have noticed that your kitchen is rather fragrant as all the spices combined into one giant super spice (like Voltron). It will also make your hair smell delicious.

It isn't easy to explain just what this stew tastes like in English. We confuse spicy with hot. This isn't a throbbing drum beat to the tongue like peppers are. It's more like a cacophony, an orchestral hit to the tongue as all the spices fight together to be heard over the horde.

And that's what I love about it. It takes a little while to train the tongue to get used to the noise but once you do...oh Mamma!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Halloween Wars - Week 2

Welcome back to the part of the horror movie where the camera crew throws cats at us until one mutates into a rampaging hell beast and gouges out someone's eyes. (probably the funny sidekick)

That's right, you're back into:
Our guest judge this week was the candyman, who didn't actually bring any candy or sing about what he can do. Total let down.
You've shed your innocent blood all over the couch.

Since Food Network locked itself into these small challenges, they've got no choice but to keep flogging that decaying horse until candy or maggots fall out. This week's little challenge proves just how far down the "I don't give a fuck" hole they've fallen.

Something out of Greek Mythology, in 45 minutes. Go!
*cue 20 minute raspberry*

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Before Midnight

Ella Cinder is a trained thief who's broken her agency's explicit orders to not attend the ball where she comes under the feigned thrall of her Prince Charming.

Part two of my Bloody Fairy Tales. The first is Red.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Halloween Wars - Week 1

We shot, dismembered, set aflame, tossed into a sausage grinder, fed to genetically engineered bear sharks, and rocketed it at the sun; yet like every horror franchise drilled into the ground and dug up for another go the monster of our worst nightmares is back and coming at us through the television set!

Don't go thinking they got a new opening title sequence. I just prefer this wipe screen.

Friday, October 4, 2013


Red is a short story idea I had to take Little Red Riding Hood and turn her into an assassin sent to take care of the Big Bad Wolf.
Before Midnight is the next link and trails behind Cinderella, a thief sent to the ball for a single purpose.