Stephanie Watches True Blood Series Finale

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Spoilers (show & book) ahoy! And also lots of nonsensical rambling.

True Blood ended this past Sunday night and I actually feel kind of sad about it. It hasn’t been that great the past few years and sometimes even completely awful, but the first three seasons, while incredibly ridiculous and silly, were really fun to watch. So, even though I have spent much time feeling exasperated by the recent seasons and grateful that it’s ending, I actually enjoyed this past season (minus the first couple episodes).

This season, while not much action happened after the crazed vampires that took over Fangtasia were gone, had sort of serene vibe to it. There were a few crazy moments sprinkled in here or there, such as Violet kidnapping Andy’s fairy daughter and Holly’s son to torture them in her sex mansion, the Republican slaughterhouse. But you could tell they really wanted to give the major characters some closure.

Sam decided to leave Bon Temps to be with his pregnant girlfriend. (I’m still really bothered that Merlotte’s was changed to Bellefleur’s…) Andy and Holly are engaged. Arlene found herself a cute vampire boyfriend. Hoyt returned and although his memories didn’t, the same feelings for Jessica easily resurfaced and the two got married (mainly for Bill’s sake, but hey they were still together in that flash forward). Jason found himself a nice girl that he could settle down with and have kids. Eric and Pam are just as successful as ever, selling their cure for Hep V and holding Sarah Newlin hostage forever.

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And Sookie? With Bill dying of Hep V and refusing the cure (’cause he’s a big dumb dumb), she granted his request to kill him. He doesn’t want her to live a life in the darkness with him since he can’t give her children and such. (This very much reminded me of Angel breaking up with Buffy, but hey.) And instead of giving up who she is by using the last of her fairy magic, she stakes him. It’s not to save the world, but it was still pretty emotional. Not to mention gross. At least she wasn’t wearing white this time.

I’m not super pleased with this ending, mostly because I like the book ending so much better. Bill and Sookie are good buds and Sookie ends up with Sam instead of some faceless boyfriend/husband that knocked her up. That being, said, Sookie staking Bill was all still very emotional and gave me that season 1 vibe, which was all about Sookie and Bill’s relationship. (Sometimes I am a big weepy girly girl who enjoys sappy stuff like that, okay?)

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I will argue that the pilot episode is still the best episode and my favorite of the entire series because it captured the True Blood world from the novels so perfectly. I think this show is a perfect example of when not following the books can really screw you over (HINT HINT, GoT). Sure, there are many more books of Sookie Stackhouse stories than there could ever be TV seasons, but there’s a reason why season 1-3 are better–because they mainly followed the book plots! Weird! (I’m forever saddened that I will never see the vampire convention come to life , as that’s one of my favorite Sookie Stackhouse books.)

Otherwise season 4-6 were more or less hot messes. Season 4 was all right with the amnesia Eric storyline, but I hated the way they brought the witch plot into it. Season 5 was so bad that I can’t even talk about it. (Who thought Billith was good idea!?) I will pretend it doesn’t exist in the True Blood world. And season 6 I mainly enjoyed for Sarah Newlin’s craziness.

I’m relieved the show is over because it felt like more of an obligation to watch in recent years, but I will most definitely still enjoy watching those first three seasons over and over again. Whenever summer hit, my roommate Missy and I would pop in season 1 because it was hot outside, in the show, and in our apartment since we didn’t have AC. Season 1 was so focused on the Sookie and Bill story…and maybe some people don’t like that. But it gave me some nice Buffy/Angel vibes and like I said, I can be sappy and enjoy a good dramatic romance. Plus, I think having that focus made it a better show.

Obviously I loved the show since I named my cat Sookie. And I will forever say “Sookehhh is miiiine” to her. Maybe someday I’ll get her a friend named Bill, ha. And I still rock my Merlotte’s shirt every now and then.

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Halloween 2009

Stephanie Reads Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 Issue #6

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I Wish: Part 1

One of the reasons I love the Buffy series is that while dealing with supernatural entities and saving the world, there is always this other element of the mundanity of life. It’s present in every episode in some form or another. That’s one of the reasons the episode “The Body” is so powerful. Every scene is punctuated with something so simple and mundane: Buffy hearing wind chimes and children playing in the distance; Dawn in art class crying about a boy, Willow not knowing what shirt to wear; Xander getting a parking ticket. And then it’s all tied together with a vampire attack in the end. Augh, it’s so poignant.

And the mundanity that Buffy and co. are dealing with at the beginning of this story arc? Looking for an apartment in the city when they’re all pretty much broke.

Buffy’s roommate situation just became a little too fratty–keg stands included, so she needs to live somewhere where she can get some peace and quiet. Dawn feels awkward living with Xander since they’ve broken up, so she wants a new place. Willow might be SOL with her own apartment since she hadn’t shown up to work due to some magical mind walks and might be broke soon. And Spike is sick of sleeping on Andrew’s couch.

So, they hunt for an apartment and Buffy’s cop friend gets a lead on a “haunted” building, where several people have disappeared recently. The cranky old lady landlord says they can live there for a very low rent if they fix it up and solve the problem.

And as soon as they step inside, they are greeted by a zillion-eyed tentacle monster! Hooray! And once they get its goo on them, which is pretty much instantly, they are sucked into an alternate reality in their minds. I mentioned “The Body” above because Buffy sees what she so desperately wants but can never have: her mother, father, sister, and her living happily ever after in their home in Sunnydale. But she just has that nagging feeling that there’s something she’s supposed to be doing…

How can she and the others overcome their mental tricks?

Check out the issue at your local comic book store or buy it online!

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Stephanie Cosplays Selphie Tilmitt from Final Fantasy VIII

Selphie Tilmitt – Final Fantasy VIII

Cons: A zillion in the past

Status: Retired (for now)

Aside from my closet cosplay of Frida Bust-A-Groove for Halloween, this was my first actual “cosplay” that I put together when I was 14. (Good lord!) Final Fantasy VIII was the first Final Fantasy game that I successfully played and fell madly in love with.

I actually put Final Fantasy VII into my PSX first, but I got to the part in the very beginning when Cloud is blowing up the ShinRa tower and you have to get out before the clock runs out or else you blow up…Well, I got too scared and turned it off and put FFVIII in instead, ha!

I fell in love with Selphie’s hair, mainly. But her personality soon won me over. I loved her obsession with Laguna, her weird love of trains (I used to sing that damn train song…and now I ride a train almost everyday–fate?), her small pinch of insanity (“Let’s blow the place to smithereens! Tee-hee!”), and the fact that she has the most powerful attack in the game (“The End”). I also thought she would be Squall’s love interest (I forever hate Rinoa, sorry not sorry) because there is a lot of cuteness in the beginning if you choose certain responses and it seemed like Seifer/Rinoa would be a thing… But I was sorely disappointed.

  • Dress: Since this was one of my very first costumes, my grandma and I found a seamstress to make this dress. I picked out the fabric/pattern and some lady made this dress! And it somehow fit for almost 10 years.
  • Wig: My earliest version of this costume just involved my hair, but then I got a wig and spent 4 hours styling this bad boy into the crazy gravity-defying flip out style, thanks to got2B and a hairdryer. People always asked me if it was my real hair, so I take that as a job well done.
  • Boots: Just bought some brown boots from a store!
  • Nunchuks: One of my friends made these for me. Hooray!

This is probably one of my favorite costumes of all time. I miss it (and also did the Balamb Garden uniform). I hope someday my friends and I can put together a Final Fantasy VIII group again!

Now on to the photos!

Guest Starring: Walter as Zell

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Booyaka!

*Not sure who the photos are by. They are from so many cons ago. But thank you to whoeever took them!

Stephanie Goes to Geek Bar Chicago’s Game of Thrones Event

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Geek Bar Chicago is an upcoming bar and grill in the Lincoln Park area with a theme of–you guessed it–geekness! They’ve been generating a lot of buzz in the Chicago geek community and gathering their forces to make a big splash when they finally do open (hopefully September?).

To mass their geek forces, they’ve been hosting some really fun special events to meet their future customers and have peeople taste-test some food and drinks that may become part of the menu. The most recent gathering was a Game of Thrones theme event: A Prologue of Ice & Fire at Kinmont Restaurant.

I was lucky enough to be one of the attendees and one of the very few cosplayers–donning my Cersei (sans crazy updo wig) with my friend Brad as King Robert. You know, the usual.

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The drink menu tailored to all different cocktail palates from gin drinks for Sansa, a tequila-esque drink for Daenerys, a refreshing ginger drink for Arya, and even one drink that was served in a glass rinsed with pig’s blood to honor the late King Robert, who was skewered by a boar (spoilers?). I sampled them all; the only one I was not a fan of was Little Dove, the gin one, but that’s only because I am not a fan of gin. The others were delicious, especially Mother of Dragons. If you weren’t a fan of the cocktails, they had the Fire & Blood ale ready to serve as well thanks to partnering with Ommegang brewery.

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Periodically throughout the night, they would bring out a new and exciting dish.

  • Tyrion’s Tacos: Alligator tail with fiery blackening seasoning, creamy blue cheese and avocado relish with fresh lime and red onions wrapped in a masa tortilla.
  • The Unsullied (my personal favorite): Veggie chili smothered mac and cheese fritters deep fried with fresh herbs. (Oh man, please give me more!)
  • King Robert’s Revenge: Pork belly rubbed with a sweet and savory black pudding with bread crumbs and fresh herbs (and pig’s blood!), fresh corn smoked and pureed with charred brussel sprouts and red miso.
  • The Hound’s Chicken and Waffles: Deep fried chicken with pureed berry syrup over waffles. (Also, very yum!)
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Mac & Cheese Fritters—mmmm!

It was great to meet some fellow geeks and babble about Game of Thrones. Just as an innocent bystander, you can tell a lot of work went into planning this event, especially the food and drink menu. Yowza! The folks at Geek Bar Chicago take a ton of pride in their work and I can’t wait to see what they do once they are let loose in their own space.

Here’s to more fun events and the bar finally opening!

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The chef discussing his dishes.

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Punk Hound & Arya being badasses.

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The Hound’s Chicken & Waffles

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Glorious Bradford enjoying King Robert’s Revenge

Photos by: Jenna Braunstein

Stephanie Goes to CONvergence 2014

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I think a CONvergence recap is long overdue!

CONvergence is a small(ish) convention, at least in comparison to Wizard World cons and C2E2. It happens at the Double Tree in Minneapolis every year around the 4th of July. And the purpose of the con? To party! At least that’s the purpose for my friends and I. I’ve never been much of a panel person. I generally attend conventions for cosplay, photoshoots, celeb meeting, and general fun with friends.

CONvergence is a much more intimate convention. The layout of the main area is two floors of cabana rooms that, once it strikes 8PM, turn into themed party rooms ranging from the Star Wars Cantina, House of Toast (where you can get literally anything on a piece of toast), Supernatural, Portal, Ghostbusters, Star Trek, Harry Potter, and a ton more. Every room is decked out in honor of its theme and the best thing about CONvergence? All the drinks and food are completely FREE. (Tips are encouraged, of course!) Not to mention the epic Con Suite, which offers free snacks, rice, soup, and more all weekend!

Many people complain about the high price of conventions, but for all the free things you get for four days, there is no better deal than CONvergence.

I cosplayed Buffy on Friday, finally busting out my scythe for the first time. I need to do a legit photoshoot in this outfit! And on Saturday, I dressed as Helena from Orphan Black. I partied a little too hard on Friday night, so I looked appropriately cracked out, even without Dawn’s awesome make-up assistance. A few people asked me if I was going to cosplay that day while dressed as Helena–guys, I don’t really look that crazy normally!

The running joke for me at the convention is that a lot of people have told me for years that I look like Billie Piper aka Rose from Doctor Who. But it seems to happen constantly at CON. I definitely appreciate this compliment since Rose is super awesome and pretty. But I am asked if I’m cosplaying Rose, even while wearing a Buffy shirt and holding a stake/scythe, so it becomes sort of a hilarious game. And I most definitely got asked if I was Rose when cosplaying Helena. I cannot escape! Haha. I had intended to solve this problem by actually cosplaying Rose, but I didn’t have time to finish her 50th Anniversary outfit. Next year, hopefully.

All in all, the con was lots of fun. It was great to see my Minnesotan friends, drink with new friends, and just enjoy silly times. Apparently on Friday, I was just a crazy ball of energy, so I think I used way too much of that to handle Saturday. CON without drinking can be a little boring–though I still had fun. I’ve learned my lesson to pace myself a little better next year and especially for Dragon*Con. ;)

On to the photos!

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Dawn in her Westeros map dress!

GRRM with two of his deceased characters. Ha!

GRRM with two of his deceased characters. Ha!

Party hard, Bobby B!

Party hard, Bobby B!

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Stephanie Reads Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 Issue #5

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New Rules: Part 5

 

The fifth issue of season 10 concludes the five-part story of New Rules. When we last left Buffy and co., Dracula was turning into an Old One, the one Buffy actually fought in the Deeper Well in season 9 thanks to a bad rewrite of some rules in the Vampyr book.

Spoiler alert!

Dracula is disappearing into the Old One, which means his hold over Xander is also waning. Xander starts to see Ghost Anya (“don’t call me that!”) again, who snaps him back into action.

They end up stopping the Old One and saving Dracula through some pretty unorthadox means: giant Dawn, Willow flying in a priest to bless a giant stake-shaped building, and Dawn staking him.

Xander rewrites the rule book to save his pal Drac and himself from his influence:

“Dracula’s awesome willpower gave him the strength to fight off Maloker and give up the new powers he’d acquired….Everyone Dracula had power over also found themselves free.”

“Hmf.”

Drac and Xander bid farewell and they all return to Xander’s place. They all spend some time trying to figure out who should write the new rules of magic. Buffy obviously turns to teen!Giles, who remains my favorite ever:

“Were I my old self perhaps, but as I am experiencing physical withdrawal after a few hours away from Pimp Slap IV…I may not be the most mature choice.”

Ultimately, they decide to write the book as the Scooby Gang, together.

Xander and Dawn finally have a heart-to-heart. And Buffy and Spike have a really cute conversation that made me all teary. Buffy emotions, man! I can’t handle them!

All in all, this was a fun opening story arc for season 10. I’m looking forward to seeing what more havoc this book creates!

Pick up your copy of Issue 5 over at Dark Horse or at your local comic book shop!

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Stephanie Cooks: Cheeseball Recipe

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It’s been a rough few months for my family. I lost my granddad back in February and just last week, I lost my grandma. (Hence the lack of updates.)I’ve been going through a ton of memories with my mom and other family members, and one thing that stuck out was that every holiday, my grandparents would make this amazing cheeseball.

My granddad gave me the recipe when I wanted to make it for a Mad Men party I had a couple years ago. And I think it came out really well when I did. I remember I called him while grocery shopping to see if some things I found were acceptable substitutes since Chicago grocery stores didn’t have the exact same brands and I called him a few days later to report on my success.

Maybe I’ll start making it for all the family holidays. It’s super tasty and my favorite pre-holiday dinner snack, so why not!

The recipe is:

  • 12 oz. Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 10 oz. blue cheese spread
  • 2 tablespoons of minced onions
  • 1 tablespoon of Worchester sauce
  • Mix all the above ingredients together, then chill the mixture in the fridge
  • Once chilled, roll in a mixture of parsley flakes and walnut toppings
  • If you’re feeling fancy, add a cherry in the middle (my granddad always did!)
  • Dip a cracker in and enjoy!