Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday Confessions

I confess...I've been skipping Monday Confessions in favor of writing Game of Thrones episode reviews here on my blog...but I wrote my review for last night over at The Geekiary instead (and am anxiously waiting for an editor to look it over so that it can be posted).

I confess...I was in Asheville over the weekend. I went to Moogfest. I wore a fedora and [ironic?] Ray-Bans and drank PBR. And generally I just had a total blast ;)

I confess...(and this is on a serious note) being an adult is hard Ish sometimes. I'm not talking about working or paying bills or any of that regular every day stuff. I'm talking about the fact that I had to bury a cat yesterday, one that Steve and I found in such bad condition that despite a week's worth of trying, we couldn't save her. And we dug a grave for her yesterday, and doing so was therapeutic and difficult at the same time, and part of me was glad that I had to do it, while another part of me wished I had someone who could have done it for me. And I realized that my dad had to bury several pets while my sisters and I were growing up, and I don't know how he did it. I was so worked up about losing this cat that I barely know, and burying her, that I can't even imagine how much harder it would have been if it had been any of my pets :(

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Book Review: Children of Fire by Drew Karpyshyn


NOTE: I received an advance copy of this novel through Amazon Vine. The method of receiving it did not affect my opinion in any way. Additionally, I'm hoping that the final product has maps and character lists that weren't included with the advance copy, because they are necessary - it's impossible to figure out the lay of the land and difficult to remember who's who and where they are without any sort of maps or character lists to reference.

And now, on to my review...

While at first it seemed that this wasn't going to be one of those MAGIC IN YOUR FACE! fantasy novels, sadly as the book progressed it became one of them anyway, reading more like a video game quest or Dungeons & Dragons encounter, which isn't my cup of tea. The fact that there are rules for the magic helps a bit, but the lofty prose Karpyshyn uses when writing about these rules is grating at best.

In terms of characters, it seems that the few well-written ones don't have enough page time, while a lot of time is of course spent on the four 'children of fire', none of whom is particularly memorable.

Children of Fire is the first in a series, and that's part of the issue - it could have been a bit longer and more concise and told the entire story, perhaps; or it could have been a lot shorter and more concise and done a better job of building up to the next installment(s). As it is, while this novel was in itself interesting at times, I simply wasn't left wanting to read more. 2.5/5 stars. Pin It

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Throwback Thursday: My First Cosplays

Despite the fact that I'm *slightly* embarrassed by two out of three of these, I decided that I should share what I suppose are some of my first 'cosplays'. I didn't call them that at the time, and they certainly weren't the only costumes I wore over the years...just the only ones that I cobbled together to try to match something that I saw on screen ;)

I believe that the first time I did this was back in 2006, when I decided that I wanted to be the movie version of Jean Grey/Phoenix from X-Men. This outfit was a combination of things I owned along with pieces I picked up on ebay and at a thrift store...and yes, I know it's nowhere near screen accurate. And no, no one at the Halloween party I went to knew who I was. But hey, I enjoyed myself!

In 2010 I attended my first actual convention (which honestly makes me such a noob compared to most of the friends I've met through going to cons the past couple of years). Just a few weeks before I made my way to Orlando for Star Wars Celebration V, I decided that I needed to wear a costume...and to put together Juno Eclipse from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed I searched the Internet high and low...and ended up buying the vast majority of this outfit from Forever 21, of all places ;) Oh, and don't mind the orange blaster...I picked that up at Disney just a day or two before I went to Celebration, and obviously didn't have anything with which to paint it while I was on vacation 600-ish miles from home...

Last but not least, in the summer of 2011 - almost a year before my foray into more 'serious' cosplaying - I once again tore apart my closet and then took to the internet to piece together a Luna Lovegood costume for the premiere of the final Harry Potter movie. Sadly I didn't get any decent full-length pictures of it, and I never did get a chance to wear it a second time, but considering the only money I had to spend was on the spectrespecs, the supplies for the cork cap necklace, and the skirt (which cost like $12 at Old Navy), I was pretty happy with it :)

Of course, I've come a long way in terms of putting costumes together...but I don't know, I'm still kind of lazy about it sometimes - and that's okay. I'd rather have it be fun than stressful; after all, it's just a hobby! Pin It

Monday, April 21, 2014

Breaker of Chains, Filler of Plot Lines

After the excitement of the first two episodes this season, last night's Breaker of Chains was, just as I thought it would be, a filler episode. What I'm happy to say is that for the most part it was a much better filler episode than those they've had in the past. Sadly...that's still not really saying much.

I can't lie, though - one thing I liked about Breaker of Chains stems from my love for Sansa, because the first (and lengthy) scene was of her finally escaping from King's Landing. Though the show ignoring the vast majority of the Sansa/Dontos story line could have caused issues, it ended up being handled pretty darn well. And yes, I loved Dontos' line, "You'll be fine. You're stronger than you know."

Soon enough Sansa was in Littlefinger's arms, and I swear, his voice gets worse every season! He sounded threatening in last night's episode, and while I know that he's not the book version of Petyr Baelish, he seems like nothing more or less than a creeper just now. Seriously, I feel twice as strong about how bad it is for Sansa to be with him now as I did when reading the books.

When I saw the previews for this week's episode, I was a bit confused about the Olenna and Margaery scene, as it sounded like Olenna was taking credit for Joffrey's death while Margaery knew nothing. It seems to me that some of that may be true, but at least it's not as obvious as I worried it would be. Margaery was either doing a great acting job or telling the truth when she expressed her frustration over Joffrey's death, and Olenna's response - "You may not have enjoyed watching him die, but you enjoyed it more than you would have enjoyed being married to him...the next one should be easier" - was pure gold.

I've heard some complaints about Tywin's conversation with Tommen, which they had over Joffrey's dead body with a mourning Cersei listening, a horrified expression on her face. I actually liked what the writers did here, though - we saw more of how Tywin treats his family, even beyond his own children. For instance, despite the fact that he at least knows that Tommen thinks Robert is his father, Tywin states coldly, "Robert...a man who thinks that winning and ruling are the same thing." Ouch, Tywin! Tommen is only...wait, how old is he supposed to be in the show?

Thankfully they lightened the conversation up a bit, with Tywin talking to Tommen about, well, the birds and the bees. Next up on Tywin Lannister's list of children's books: Everyone Poops!

I'm not going to go into much detail regarding what happened next - I already wrote quite a bit about it in my Geekiary article, "We need to talk about Jaime Lannister: Why rape isn't a suitable plot device". I will say that at first it seemed as if they would forgo the scene entirely - at least to me - but unfortunately that only lasted a moment. (And as you can probably tell by the title of the aforementioned article, I'm of the opinion that it would have been better if they hadn't shown Jaime and Cersei's sexual sept scene. Say that five times fast.)

Needless to say, I was more than ready for some amusing Arya/Sandor action, and at first we got just that. I even had a moment where I thought this would be the point where they settle down for a while on their way to the Vale...but no! The show has spent all this time toning Sandor Clegane down, and now all of a sudden he's doing the exact opposite of what Sandor did in Storm of Swords? That is, not actually doing honest work for honest pay, but instead bashing some single father over the head and stealing his money. I get this scene was likely being used as a way to show Arya learning another difficult lesson, but the whole thing was over the top.

The Sam and Gilly stuff also seemed wrong, but for different reasons. Game of Thrones was obviously using these characters to introduce Mole's Town, but these two scenes probably could have been reduced to one to make for a more concise portrayal.

Meanwhile, news of last week's Purple Wedding is spreading all over the kingdom, resulting in an argument between Stannis and Davos. While the Stannis in the novels is stubborn and often honest to the point of rudeness, in the show we see him as simply angry...almost all of the time. Thankfully, the scene immediately following was another sweet Davos/Shireen conversation, though the end of said conversation is wandering into the unbelievable front. Sure, Davos has his amusing moment when he says that Stannis "lacks an appreciation of the finer points of bad behavior" - but then he has a grand idea about the Iron Bank, and enlists a little girl to write the letter for him, in her father the king's name?

Thankfully, the more I see of Oberyn and Ellaria, the more I love them. The Martells are my favorite family in ASOIAF, and I was seriously concerned about the show doing them justice...yet they are! I just hope I'm not speaking too soon. Or jinxing it.

In fact, at first I wasn't quite sure if I liked last night's conversation between Tywin and Oberyn, but by the time it was over I realized that I kind of loved it. It was an awesome portrayal of how Oberyn ends up as a judge at Tyrion's trial, and a great insight into both Tywin and Oberyn's characters for those who haven't read the books.

It looks like we won't be seeing Kevan Lannister for a while (if at all?), as Podrick seems to have taken his place for the time being. I'm a huge Pod fan, so I really have no complaints about this, and it was nice to hear Podrick say that he knew Tyrion didn't kill Joffrey. Though at first I wasn't fond of Tyrion insisting that Pod flee King's Landing - because in the books this is more Podrick's decision and is another notch in his Awesomeness Belt - in the end they set it up for a smooth transition.

How, you ask? Because before telling Podrick to run away, Tyrion asks him to visit Jaime. As next week's episode is titled "Oathkeeper", we can assume that Jaime will be giving Brienne the sword by the same name. And what better way to get Podrick out of the city but keep him on almost the same plot line as he travels in the books? Why, to have him show up to talk to Jaime while Brienne is there as well, of course!

(I'm actually not being sarcastic at all, there. The more I think about the way they handled this, the more I love it.)

Unfortunately, up in the North things didn't go smoothly at all. As far as we know, Gilly was in Mole's Town when the wildlings attacked it in Breaker of Chains - yet we don't catch a single glimpse of her. And honestly, I already understood that Ygritte is on a rampage and the Thenns are awful, but of course this is Game of Thrones, which spent the better part of last season showing Theon being tortured. So they had to pound Ygritte's rage and the Thenns' cannibalism into our heads just a wee bit more.

And although the writers wasted no time on the boy from Mole's Town getting to Castle Black, the entire debate about what the Night's Watch should do confused me - or at least the part about them going to Craster's made no sense. Is Jon Snow going to go by himself? It's such an insanely ridiculous idea that it might very well come to pass; after all, this could be how Jon ends up north of The Wall and in Mance's clutches when Stannis arrives...

...and then finally, finally, we come to the single character and scene that gave Breaker of Chains its episode name. Daenerys has finally reached Meereen, and because the show didn't bother with Strong Belwas, Waario Daario has to be her champion. But what bothered me the most is that the 'fight' between the two champions could have been far more interesting. Who fought for Dany was really less important than the fight itself, but last night it was over far too which point the trebuchets rolled out.

Um...can someone please explain when they started building a bunch of trebuchets?! Was Dany supposed to have always had them, or did I miss some massive trebuchet assembly line popping up along the road to Meereen?

I was honestly so caught up in wondering about the damn trebuchets that I suppose the finer points of Dany bombarding the Meereenese with buckets full of slave collars were lost to me.

And so, while not on the very bottom rung of that Game of Thrones Chaos Ladder, I'm happy to leave Breaker of Chains behind us...and I've got my fingers crossed that next week's Oathkeeper puts at least some things back on track. Pin It

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Greenville Craft Beer Week: A great local celebration

Earlier this month, all us local beer lovers in Greenville got to celebrate the city's very first Craft Beer Week. I was able to make it out to several of the activities, including one of Thomas Creek's infamous keg tap nights, Quest's first Thursday Night Concert Series of the season, and The Community Tap Craft Beer Fest. In fact, both Thomas Creek and Quest had special beers that they released during the week, which made their events all the more exciting...but of course the Beer Fest was the crown jewel of it all.

Quest Brewing's Thursday Night Concert Series

I was lucky enough to meet Vance and Brook at the festival, and after speaking with them for a bit I asked if I could email them some questions about why and how they organized the week's activities. They were nice enough to oblige, and here are their answers!

Greenville Craft Beer Week Organizers

1) How and why did you decide to put together Greenville Craft Beer Week?

Vance: Brook and I started thinking about it while sharing a few beers sometime this past fall. We started putting down a few ideas just for fun because we honestly didn't think it would happen this soon. We'd talk about it here and there, but nothing serious. One Saturday in January, Andrew Watts from Quest Brewing Co. asked several of us on Facebook if we thought sometime in 2014 might be too early for a Greenville Craft Beer Week...there was so much support and excitement for the idea that we started thinking, "Hey, we might actually be able to do this." As to the "why", we really wanted a week that celebrated our local beer scene to actually come from the locals who are passionate about it. There is a huge focus on all things local in Greenville, so it just made sense.

Brook: Like many things, the conversation started over a beer. [Originally] the conversation was in regards to other cities' craft beer weeks, and eventually it turned into a discussion about how Greenville is in the evolution of its beer culture. Vance and I decided that we thought Greenville was probably ready, but we didn’t want to rush anything...we wanted to make sure that it was done right, with a local focus.

2) When did you first start planning it?

B: Believe it or not, although Vance and I discussed ideas last year, we started in January. The original plan was for a craft beer week in 2015...but then it turned into a “why not now?” type of thing, and everything came together seamlessly. 

V: Yeah, sometime around last fall we were talking about a few ideas for a possible craft beer week, but it wasn't until that week around mid-January where we started serious planning. We knew we wanted to tie it to The Community Tap Beer Fest, so we knew we had to work fast. It all came together pretty well though.

3) What was the most challenging thing about organizing it?

B: The most challenging thing about doing something that hasn’t been done before is knowing that it hasn’t been done before.  With no precedent to work off of, you’re constantly questioning whether something will work or not. Yes, we have the benefit of studying events and beer weeks in other cities, but what works in one place might not translate.

V: Agreed. That was always hanging over our heads. We wanted all of the events to be a success, but you just never know how it's going to work out. The time constraints were also an issue.. We had to try to put everything together in about 2 months. Luckily, everyone was on board and willing to do whatever it took make sure this week happened. It was still a bit of a whirlwind, though.

4) What was your favorite thing about organizing it/what did you feel was the most fun thing about doing so?

V: For me, the most fun part of all of this was seeing the events actually go well. With this being the first time any of us had done something like this, we didn't really know what to expect. We thought we had put together a pretty good week, but you never know until it's actually happening. It's just good to know that everyone enjoyed the week and that it went so smoothly.

B: It has to be the satisfaction of knowing that people were attending and enjoying the events.  I had plenty of people come up to me to say things like, "Thank you for helping grow the beer culture in Greenville".  That made it all worth it.

5) Will it be happening again next year? Will there be anything different or exciting for next year?

V: We're planning on it! We're going to try to sit down soon to discuss issues from this year and start looking towards next year. It's a little too early to know for sure about next year, but there were some ideas that couldn't work this year that we hope to add next year. We really wanted to do some sort of charity event as well as an outdoor activity (like a hike or bike event on the Swamp Rabbit Trail), so hopefully that will work out for next year. There are a couple of other things we've been thinking about, but I don't want to give away too much yet!

B: We just finished with craft beer week, so we haven't done any evaluation yet. There will most certainly be things that change. However, my expectation is that it will definitely be back next year, and better than ever.

6) Do you have any plans for similar activities throughout the year?

V: We honestly haven't thought that far ahead yet. We were so focused on just getting through this week that we haven't had time to think about anything else. If we do decide to do anything though, you'll probably hear about it first on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

B: It’s possible. I think once we turn the page from this year’s craft beer week, we can discuss that. I think that the week showed craft beer enthusiasts in this area that anyone can help grow our beer culture. I'm sure you'll see many events pop up whether Vance and I are working on them or not.

Anderson Valley pouring samples at The Community Tap Beer Fest. I just loved their weird tap!

I highly suggest liking/following the Greenville Craft Beer Week Facebook and Twitter pages. Keep an eye on them, because there are sure to be future events that you won't want to miss!
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Monday, April 14, 2014

The Lion and the Rose: One hell of a royal wedding

As I wrote in my article for The Geekiary, last week's episode was a great season premiere for Game of Thrones...but tonight was the one we've all been waiting for, really.

Of course, first we had to catch up on a few old friends...or in Ramsay Snow's case, enemies. I'm glad they seem to be done with the gratuitous Theon torture, but I for one am not going to be 'enjoying' Ramsay and/or Theon scenes any time soon. And who the heck is this 'Myranda' girl, anyway?

Every time they switched back to King's Landing, I swear my heart started pounding. Though I'm not quite sure how I feel about a lot of the changes that have been made from the books to the show, it was nice seeing Tyrion and Jaime interact, and the decision to have Bronn be involved in Jaime's training was interesting to say the least.

As for the Dreadfort, well, meh. I loved seeing Fat Walda, of course, but surprise surprise she wasn't wearing pink. That, and there was no snarky Ramsay/Walda banter, but hopefully I can tack a 'yet' onto the end of that observation in hopes that we'll get that soon ;)

Thankfully the wedding breakfast scene was nearly perfect. It was a lot shorter than the way it's described in the book, of course, but the way it was written and portrayed for the screen was really better than I could have hoped. One thing that really caught my attention was Cersei tattling on Tyrion and Shae, and Tywin ordering that Shae be brought to the Tower of the Hand. Even though Tyrion argued with/yelled at Shae in an attempt to get her to leave King's Landing, and even though Bronn insisted that she got on the ship to Pentos, I'm fairly certain that we'll see her again this season...and not in a posh ship's cabin or a comfortable home across the Narrow Sea.

The additions of some Dragonstone and north-of-the-wall action between Joffrey's breakfast and the Purple Wedding was probably necessary - I mean, we didn't see Stannis and Co. or Bran's little travel group at all in the season premiere - but again, I just kept waiting for the show to cut back to King's Landing. It probably didn't help that the Dragonstone bits consisted of burning people alive, an awkward family dinner, and Shireen putting Melisandre in her place...followed by show!Bran being way too old to act the way his character does in the books. I mean no offense to Isaac Hempstead-Wright - it's just that, in aging Bran up a lot of what he does and says in the show becomes far more annoying than it seems in the books.

Considering all the royal wedding hype, I was surprised that the actual ceremony was so short on screen. Not that I mind, per se...but for all Natalie Dormer's talk about this being the best on-screen wedding she's ever had, I guess I expected a bit more from the ceremony itself ;)

(p.s. most awkward kiss ever)

Of course, what we didn't get from the ceremony we got during the 'reception'. Some great Tywin/Olenna interaction, a bit of Loras vs. Jaime snark, and Cersei awkwardly calling out Brienne on her love for Jaime...not to mention a sort of mini Oberyn/Tywin confrontation.

A lot of that seemed at first glance to be filler, but at least it was interesting/amusing filler, I suppose...all leading up to, not two jousting dwarves, but five of them...the War of the Five Kings, in fact, and I'm still not sure how I feel about that. It's as if the writers weren't certain they'd really drilled it into us that Joffrey is an insane[ly awful] jerk, so they had to show him insulting not just Tyrion, but Margaery, Loras, and Sansa as well. It was nonsensical on several levels, including Loras' reaction considering just minutes before he'd been making eyes at Oberyn Martell.

That, and I just hate seeing my baby Sansa having to deal with things like this.

Side note: Tommen grew up just a little bit, didn't he? At first I didn't even understand who the blond kid next to Cersei was, and then it hit me about as hard as puberty apparently hit him.

Back on track, though. I'm not fond of Sansa helping Tyrion pick up Joffrey's cup; I suppose I can't help but feel as if they were trying to build on that relationship, but perhaps I'm just being paranoid - her handing Tyrion the cup is also a good way for them to implicate her in Joffrey's murder, after all.

Speaking of that murder not-so-foul, even knowing that it was going to happen didn't make waiting for it much easier. Seriously, the wedding reception seemed to drag on forever...and I was torn between being on the edge of my seat waiting for The Big Moment and groaning over how long they were taking to get there, and reminding myself that better this than having reason to complain about all the things they changed or left out ;)

And in the end, no matter how awful Joffrey was, it was still rough watching him die. I guess part of that was how great of a job Jack Gleeson did, but the creepy makeup job really put it over the top. Seeing not just Cersei, but Jaime and Cersei running to Joffrey's aid was heart-wrenching as well...though creepy dying Joffrey pointing at Tyrion - and Cersei insisting on his arrest - somehow didn't move me the way it did when I read it from Tyrion's point of view.

I'm not a wedding person, myself, but if I lived in Westeros I'd be wary as hell of them right now, that's for sure!

While I certainly enjoyed this episode (and it was far superior to the second installments in previous seasons), surprisingly it didn't quite draw me in as much as Two Swords did...and it leaves me wondering whether next week's Breaker of Chains has any chance of living up to the great pacing we've so far enjoyed in season four. Pin It

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Book Review: Mage's Blood by David Hair


First things first: I have to admit part of my reasoning for not being overly fond of this book is actually my own fault. I am a *huge* fan of George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice & Fire series, so when I saw Mage's Blood compared to that, I jumped on it without reading the rest of the blurb. Generally I prefer science fiction and historical literature to outright fantasy, and this is above all a fantasy novel - with a much heavier leaning on the story of a magical society than that in Martin's ASOIAF novels.

However, I'm still torn about rating it. Both the characters and the general writing style are exemplary - so much so, in fact, that if it weren't for several other major issues I would have been more inclined to give it a much higher rating. Those major issues are as follows:
  • If I wasn't the type of person who needs to finish any book I start reading, I would have given up on this one after a few hundred pages at most, because *nothing* - outside of descriptions of a ridiculous 'fantasy' world and character posturing - happens. For a very long time.
  • The 'rules' behind the magic in this book are some combination of confusing, maddening, and nonexistent. Things that the reader is told can't happen, later do. There needs to be this bridge that only appears every twelve years to connect the two continents, because the sea between them is impassable, yet after this is explained we find out that people are crossing that same sea on 'windships' left and right. If these were things that Hair planned on developing, he should have done a better job of explaining them.
  • And now my biggest gripe: While most fantasy novels take things from real life (sometimes outright and sometimes making them their own), the world of Mage's Blood is almost entirely derived from specific geographic locations and cultures that actually exist. Not only that, but most (if not all) of the badly (or barely) disguised races are pictured in extremely stereotypical manners. For an author to go through the hard work of plotting a series like this, and peopling it with some great main characters - only to throw all of that away by putting next to no effort into the fantasy world as a whole - is just sad.
Overall, I've settled on 2.5/5 stars for Mage's Blood. If you are into this style of fantasy - I'd compare it more to Steven Erickson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series than to ASOIAF - you may like it more than I did, but I definitely don't think it's all that impressive regardless.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Game of Thrones Season 4 Premiere: Part 3

As I mentioned in part 2 of my season 4 premiere posts, this day was almost all about food...and even though I was a bit lazy in regards to some of the offerings, one thing I took my time with was...


“She still remembered the innkeep, a fat woman named Masha Heddle who chewed sourleaf night and day and seemed to have an endless supply of smiles and sweet cakes for the children. The sweet cakes had been soaked with honey, rich and heavy on the tongue…” - A Game of Thrones

The recipe that I chose from Inn at the Crossroads is technically an Elizabethan Honeycake recipe. To be honest...the recipe itself wasn't one of their better-written one, and these are really more like biscuits or buns than cakes - they aren't overly sweet and the honey only does so much. Not terrible by any means - a good breakfast item perhaps - but I'm not sure if I'd make them again. Still, the recipe is worth a try, especially if you're one to play with recipes and try to make them better ;)

3 1/2 cups flour
3 Tbs. honey
2 tsp. sugar
3 Tbs. ground almonds
1 packet yeast (2 1/4 tsp minimum)
One 12 oz bottle beer (I used RJ Rocker's Son of a Peach - a wheat beer - and it gave the buns a bit of peach flavor, which was awesome)
pinch of salt
Honey for soaking, probably at least 1/2 cup

~ Dissolve the yeast in the warmed ale, and leave to froth up.  Grind the almonds and sugar in a food processor, then combine with the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a small well in the mixture, and pour in the yeasty ale. Adding the flour a bit at a time, work everything all together until it is a nice smooth, pliable consistency  leave in a warm place until it has doubled in size.

~ After it has risen, knock it down and knead it for a few minutes before shaping it into around 10 small buns. *Note that you will likely need to flour a cutting board or whatever you use to knead it - my dough was EXTREMELY sticky and it took a lot of flour to keep it 'intact'.*
~ Allow the buns to rise again for at least 15 minutes, then bake in a preheated oven for 15-18 minutes at 375 degrees F. The buns should be just slightly golden.

~ Using a small paring knife, cut a small hole (about 1/2″) in the tops of the buns, poking well down into the cake, but taking care to not poke all the way through. Take a small spoon and carefully fill each hole with honey. You will need to do this several times as the honey soaks into the cake. Put at least one tablespoon of honey in each cake (I'm fairly certain I put in more than that).

Because of the time it took to get the dough right, the honeycakes ended up being dessert rather than a 'tea time' option like I'd planned...but they worked well with our main dinner course, which was...

Lamb with Lemon, Honey, & Fiery Peppers

 “The kid had been roasted with lemon and honey.  With it were grape leaves stuffed with a melange of raisins, onions, mushrooms, and fiery dragon peppers.  ’I am not hungry,’ Arianne said…After a while, hunger weakened her resolve, so she sat and ate.” - A Dance with Dragons

As you can probably see from the picture, we just stuck with the lamb (no pilav or stuffed grape leaves) because we'd eaten so. much. food. already that day ;) But I was VERY pleasantly surprised at how good the marinade was and how well the lamb turned out, period :)

Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, or more to taste
2 Tbs. honey, plus extra to drizzle
1/2-3/4 lb. lamb, cut into 1″ chunks

~ Combine the first five ingredients in a bowl, making sure to mix thoroughly. Add the lamb, and allow to marinate for at least 4 hours. Preheat the oven to 400F, and place the lamb on skewers, leaving just the slightest bit of space between each piece. Cook for around 8 minutes, flipping once halfway through to ensure the meat cooks evenly.

~ When done, remove from heat and drizzle with honey, then stick the skewers under the broiler for 2 minutes to slightly caramelize the honey. Be careful not to overcook the lamb! These are best served on a bed of pilav.

Dinner was a late affair, and not long after it was done I finished up my last 'Red Wedding' and cracked open one of Ommegang's new Game of Thrones beers - rightfully dubbed 'Fire and Blood'.

Honestly I wasn't overly fond of this one - it's a bit too Belgian for my taste. I still think that the first Ommegang GoT beer (Iron Throne) has been the best, though I liked the Take the Black stout as well :) Regardless, Fire and Blood isn't a *bad* beer by any means, and if you like Belgians, you'll probably love it. And hey, it was - at the very least - the perfect thing to be drinking during episode one of season four!

I actually wrote a full review of this episode - which was called Two Swords - for The Geekiary, so check it out! I was actually extremely happy with it - in fact, I think it's probably one of the best season premieres of this show, ever. If not the best.

And yeah, I'm already thinking about my season finale marathon/party, which as always will be complete with themed food and drink ;)
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Game of Thrones Season 4 Premiere: Part 2

Despite eating several hard-boiled eggs and way too much cantaloupe for breakfast, I was actually really hungry by mid-afternoon of GoT premiere day...even with all that lovely season three blood and gore. So instead of saving my Dornish side items for dinner, I pulled them out for a late lunch :)

Flatbread & Chickpea Paste
(a.k.a. Pita Bread & Hummus)

When the sun set the air grew cool and the children went inside in search of supper, still the prince remained beneath his orange trees, looking out over the still pools and the sea beyond. A serving man brought him a bowl of purple olives with flatbread, cheese, and chickpea paste. He ate a bit of it, and drank a cup of the sweet, heavy strongwine that he loved. - A Feast for Crows

I swear that I've *actually* made the pita bread and hummus recipes that you can find on Inn at the Crossroads, but considering the fact that I was already planning several recipes for my premiere day, I went the lazy store-bought route with these snacks this time around. But at least I can say that the recipes on the website are good, right? Haha.

And hey, Matt and I even got some Ice & Fire Con work done while we hung out and watched hours upon hours of Game of Thrones! We had plenty to eat while doing so, too, because even though we'd had our mid-afternoon Dornish snack, Steve decided we also needed to try a more show-themed dish...lunch at the Dreadfort, that is!

Matt attempting to recreate Ramsay Bolton's manic face

I swear, it's just a pork sausage! (Or rather, a bratwurst.) :D

And yes, eventually I did decide that it was time to suck it up and have a drink...or two...and of course they were at least *sort of* themed...

It may look like just another Bloody Mary, but hey, I was calling it a 'Red Wedding' - and I even cut my celery stick into the shape of a sword!

Really though, despite all of the fabulous themed meals I've cooked for past marathons, this day ended up being way more about the food than about drinking (for once). Part of that was my not feeling well, though I'm sure the icky gray weather we had for premiere day didn't help either ;) And on top of all that, I knew that I had to write the season 4 premiere review for The Geekiary, and I thought it was best that I be [at least mostly] sober for that.

Stay tuned for a couple more recipes, my first taste of Ommegang's new Game of Thrones beer, and of course, some of my thoughts on the episode!
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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Game of Thrones Season 4 Premiere: Part 1

It was a given this year that for the third year in a row I would be hosting a Game of Thrones season premiere day - complete with themed food and a season three marathon, of course!

Unfortunately, as I mentioned in yesterday's Monday Confessions...I was feeling a bit rough on Season 4 Premiere Day this year ;) Still, that didn't stop me from whipping up a quick Daenerys-themed was her turn, after all, considering last year I tried "Breakfast at the Wall", and the year before it was "Breakfast at Winterfell".

Melon & Hard-Cooked Eggs

“But the only sound was the wind in the fruit trees, and the only creatures in the gardens were a few pale moths. Missandei returned with a melon and a bowl of hard-cooked eggs, but Dany found she had no appetite.” A Dance with Dragons

The 'hard-cooked' eggs recipe can be found in the wonderful Feast of Ice & Fire cookbook (which is why I won't include the full recipe here on my blog) - they were a very interesting take on hard-boiled eggs, though to be honest I would have boiled the eggs with the spices they call for rather than following the recipe exactly ;) As for the melon, though, they used a 'Roman Melon' recipe, which I edited a bit because I couldn't find one ingredient, and another I simply don't care for ;)

1 cantaloupe, cubed
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 tsp paprika

~ Combine all your ingredients together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then allow to simmer for around 5 minutes. Pour over the melons or serve as a dipping sauce on the side.

I settled in with my yummy (and fairly healthy, really!) breakfast and a cat in my lap and began my season three re-watch right at 11 AM...still in my PJs, mind you ;)

I even had several people who stopped by to watch this year's marathon with me - or at least parts of it ;) Steve was there, of course, and our friend and roommate Toby hung out and let us try to teach him the gist of the show as well. Soon enough Matt - my fellow Ice & Fire Con organizer - was there as well. The guys even enjoyed mimosas, though I decided to let my breakfast (and admittedly, lunch) settle before I imbibed ;) And speaking of 'lunch', well...I'll share that little adventure in my next premiere day update!
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Monday, April 7, 2014

Monday Confessions

I confess...the beer festival I attended on Saturday almost ruined me for my Game of Thrones marathon/viewing party yesterday...*almost*. I didn't have enough time to cook everything I wanted to cook, but overall it was a success and I can't wait to post about it (probably tomorrow or the next day).

I really irks me when people don't think I can take care of myself. (Monetarily etc.) I'm an adult and I've been doing it for many years now, thankyouverymuch.

I confess...there's almost nothing worse than a chilly Monday morning on which it's also pouring down rain :-/

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Friday, April 4, 2014

MegaCon 2014 Recap: Day 3

On the last day of MegaCon I was hoping for less crowds and some sales in the dealer room. While there were definitely far less people than Saturday, it was still pretty busy, and sadly waiting until Sunday to buy certain things turned out to be a bad idea because a lot of booths had run out of things entirely, or run out of most sizes in clothing items (at least in terms of what I was looking for). That said, though, it was definitely one of the better last days of a convention that I've experienced recently...still a lot of great cosplay, for one!

I mean come on, Clementine from the TWD game!

I cut it a bit close, but I did make it to the convention center in time to do a photo op with Walking Dead's David Morrissey (The Governor) and Danai my season three Andrea costume, of course. I have yet to get my scanner working and upload the picture, but this was the first 'official' photo op I've ever done and it went very smooth. I was able to buy it that day, get right in line, and about 30 minutes later I had my ten seconds with those two beautiful actors. Danai complimented my Andrea costume and David said he had a dentist chair for me, so I'll call it a win all around ;)

After the photo op, I even made it to a panel - Kickstarter 101. It was held in the same tiny room as the other two panels I attended that weekend, but it wasn't nearly as crowded as those ones were - and a good thing too, because the projector apparently wasn't working...and the panelist was calling in via Skype or something :-/ There was some good information to be had, though it was more focused on Kickstarting a film and so some of it didn't apply to me and what I was hoping to learn. It definitely would have been better to have some in-person panelists (and more than one of them, at that), but I applaud them for offering a panel like this at all. I definitely hope to find more like this in the future, at other cons and maybe at MegaCon next year as well.

Back out on the convention floor, I met with this wonderful fellow...

Yes, that's right, I got my picture with "Dr. Hammond"! Definitely one of my favorite cosplays of the weekend, by far...and I love that he's making the same excited face as I am!

I wrapped up my weekend at MegaCon with one more lap around the dealer room, and ended up buying the latest Walking Dead volume...sort of a tradition, because I bought the first compendium when I was at MegaCon last year ;)

And last but not least, as I was about to leave I found a JEM cosplayer! Another awesome sighting and yes, another of my favorites for the weekend.

Because it was Sunday and my hotel didn't have AMC (seriously, WTF?) I headed over to my buddy John's apartment, cuddled with my friend Mike's awesome dog Tedders, and got to watch the penultimate episode of the fourth season of Walking Dead...complete with good pizza, good beer, and good friends.

Oh, and my Ricktatorship shirt, of course.

All in all, despite the setbacks MegaCon was a successful weekend. For me, great conventions are often about a combination of so many things - fun times with friends, informative and interesting panels, seeing tons of great costumes, and maybe having some crazy encounters. While I do believe that there are plenty of improvements to be made to MegaCon, I can at least say that the people I spent my weekend with really made it an enjoyable experience overall...and yeah, I'll probably go back next year :) Pin It

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

MegaCon 2014 Recap: Day 2, Part 3

Though I'm definitely still more than a little annoyed that I missed the Walking Dead panel at MegaCon, I suppose that the biggest frustration was how much of my day I wasted waiting in that line when I could have been doing other things. Like attending other panels, eating (I was starving), or seeing more awesome costumes. Thankfully I at least got to do the latter two :)

Go go Power Rangers!
A bit of a blurry picture, but this girl was a great Bilbo!
Bastila Shan! :D :D :D

By the time the convention hall activities were winding down, I was more than ready to change into something a bit more comfortable and sit down to a proper meal. Once again a group of us were meeting for dinner at The Pub, which as usual took longer than I'd like but was enjoyable enough thanks to the people who were there :)

Another somewhat unfortunate thing about MegaCon is the lack of nightlife. Sure, there are tons of bars and restaurants in the area, but the only *sort of* official activity going on Saturday night was Moshi's party at the Backstage Club. Now, this was right next to our hotel, and normally I would be up for trying it out - except that I've heard that if you don't get there by 10, it's almost impossible to get in without waiting in line forever. And to be honest I'd already had enough of that - and the crowds that also supposedly grace this party - for the day. Instead, we hung out with some of our friends and tried to get to the Hyatt pool...only to arrive and find out they'd closed it because it was too crowded and/or people were being too loud. Strike two, I suppose.

In the end it was still a good night...I mean hey, we got to hang out and drink decent beer (that was much cheaper than any we would have purchased at a bar/party) with good people...can't beat that :) And I still stayed up way later than I should have...which led to some complications the next morning when I didn't want to get out of bed. But that's another story for another part of this be continued soon! Pin It

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

MegaCon 2014 Recap: Day 2, Part 2

Okay, so, my last recap left off early Saturday afternoon of MegaCon, when I got in line for the Walking Dead panel. An hour and forty-five minutes in advance, mind you. So I'm just going to jump right in, tell this tale, and get it off my chest...

My friend and I had asked a few people what the line was for as we walked down it to find the end, and every single one of them said that it was for Walking Dead. Within the first twenty minutes or so of getting in line, someone from the convention center came by to count people. We were within the first 500 people, in line for a room that seats 1300 or so. Yes! We were in! Right?

Look at me! I'm in line! I'm going to get into the panel! I'm so happy!

Wrong. A few minutes after three, the line started moving. It started and stopped a bit at first, but once it got going it seemed pretty smooth...minus the obnoxious Homestuck cosplayers who'd been playing spin the bottle (not kidding) right near where I'd been waiting in line and then decided to have a freaking Homestuck parade right through the giant line of people trying to get into the Walking Dead panel.

Suddenly, though, the line stopped. We were maybe thirty feet from the doors to the room, and in front of us was just a mass of people. No more organized line. Soon enough it became clear that they weren't letting people in, and not long after that word was passed back that the room was full.

Yeah. It's been over a week now and I'm still beyond frustrated. Not just because I didn't get into the panel - shit happens and all that. Because I waited an hour and forty five minutes, and didn't get in. Because I was within the first 500 people in line, and again, somehow didn't get in. Because I could have gone to other panels and done other things that didn't involve sitting in line, and not been upset about missing the panel at all, had I known I wouldn't get in and not bothered waiting in line for it at all (or at least not past someone counting those waiting and telling me I wouldn't).

Obviously, I could go on and on about this, but I'm going to try to wrap this up as quickly as possible.

I've heard several stories regarding what happened.
  • They didn't clear the room after the Torchwood panel - the one that took place right before the Walking Dead panel - was over, and people camped in their seats.
  • They cleared the room from the Torchwood panel, but people who were kicked out pretty much turned back around and busted in with those at the front of the Walking Dead line, and no one stopped them or even attempted to control it.
  • The end of the line for Walking Dead had wrapped back around to the where the line started, and all the people at the end just wormed their way in with those in the front.
  • Convention center employees and/or MegaCon volunteers were working at cross purposes and somehow there were three lines created for the panel, and when they realized this they just gave up trying to control anything at all.
Who knows which of the above are true. I'm guessing it's a combination of at least two of them, but regardless, it was an awful mess and seriously one of the worst experiences I've ever had at a convention. Say what you want about Dragon Con volunteers, but at least they've done a good job at keeping situations like this from happening (at least in my experience, in more recent years).

Thankfully it appears that MegaCon actually worked to keep anything similar from happening as soon as the next day - when the line for the Wil Wheaton panel on Sunday started looking a bit lengthy, they handed out tickets to those who had been waiting so that they would know who to let in, and who not to let in.

But it still leaves the question: for a convention that has been around this long, and been fairly sizable for the past several years, how did MegaCon let things get so very messy for a panel that they had to have known would be the most popular one all weekend? I have yet to figure or find out, and I can only cross my fingers that next year they'll continue this ticketing system to keep something so ridiculous from happening again.

And I promise, the next part of my recap will be at least somewhat more positive :) Pin It