Sunday, May 31, 2009

That's just how i roll....

Pencil and paper games are probably the biggest stereotype when it comes to nerds. Granted it's one of our major basic food groups (we need the fiber, even if paper is hard to digest), a lot can be understood from a person's choice of game. And since I'm no analyst, I'm just going to overview some of the most popular games I like for the sake of amusement.

Keep in mind two major things before I begin. The first is; my bias opinions are so amazingly bias, you'll be amazed. I have favorites like everyone else, so please forgive me when I forget to touch on the most important topic of a specific game. I'm only human. Unless you hand me a character sheet of anything besides Hunter, then I am human...ish. The second thing is that I'm not going to be getting to all of the games. Dear gods, White Wolf has more options that sticks under the sun, and they aren't the only game producers out there. Again, I'm sorry if I don't hit on your personal favorite, but I'd love to hear about new games to force my roommates to play in. (Insert Evil Laugh Here)

First on my list, probably because I've been in so many campaigns lately, is Scion. Oh mother of pearl, this one is fun. As the child of a god and a mortal. Now the fun part starts right from there- wanted or unwanted, mommies and daddies in whatever order, loved, hated, noticed or accidental, everything else is now up to you. Sure; you start out as a newbie with above average qualities, and you often have to think around all your fights and problems. But the beauty of Scion is the amount of lee-way every ability gives you. You would think with a set list of deities and moves the lists of possibilities would leave something to be desired, but with god powers, it seems that the imagination you use when activating these powers is what changes each encounter.

While this could be said of just about any game, only in the most boring games will you find your stereotypical “ranger elf orphaned at young age by orcs, seeking to avenge family with longbow heirloom” situation. In fact, creativity is so encouraged, extra dice are given for making actions interesting and well thought out. ANYWHERE.

Plus, who DOESN'T want to see the son of Aphrodite get the shit kicked out of him by the daughter of Odin, or even Izanami?

Second is Mage/Werewolf/Vampire the Masquerade. I place these together purely to save space, because While Wolf made them all, and they can in some ways but combined (or at least in know some talented Gms who can). They are all kinda simple- Mage is a game about bending the rules of reality without getting the consequences of it, but it's fun, exciting, and often humorous when things go wrong.

Werewolf is about werewolves and the dynamic struggle of the pack to balance nature, the spirit world, and the human's world. Vampire is about the vamporic struggle to do what they want, keep the human population alive, and not be killed or caught. They rely more on a fantastic GM to weave a plot so vivid the people's character end up growing as a side effect.

The last one I poke is DnD 3rd edition.

I LOVE a good old game of DnD with a GM who's invented a world to play in. I had a GM once who invented who societies of people, complete with stats, leaders, social customs, area maps, quirks, basic foods that would be common, housing styles, and physical appearances. He created something never before seen by the players, so we all had to work as we played. It was the most fun I'd had in a while. In that circumstance no player can be dull, to survive their characters must grow too.

I'm still not sure what to do with 4th ed. yet. My brother has the theory that you have to play it as a whole different game, and I guess I agree...

And so I feel that the imagination is the trump card of the P&P world. Starving for creativity is the worst thing for any game to be, but here it matters most because of how much can be offered and how many limits can be removed at the wave of a hand. And don't forget the best thing- anything can be turned into a P&P game with some effort. The same DnD GM was building a Bleach game, although personally that's above my ability.

Signing out (and signing into WOW...)

~Dancing Shadow

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jayne is not dead. In fact, she thinks she'll go for a walk.

Despite evidence to the contrary, I am not, in fact, dead nor have I stumbled through a rip in space and time and ended up in a place with no Internet access. I've moved into my new apartment, am almost unpacked, have started a summer class, and am now desperately trying to find the laundry room in my building (that actually may have fallen through a rip in space and time).

The point of that list was not only to bore you to death with things not geek-related but to point out that I'll probably won't be popping up with bitter tirades during the next couple of weeks. I will try to abuse the scanner at the writing lab to bring you some comic goodness at some point, and expect to see some rambly post about a video game at least three years old because that's just how I roll.

I thought I would take this opportunity to stop working on one story that is slowly pushing me to view defenestration as a good idea, and instead talk a little about a book I recently read. The book is Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages by Ammon Shea.

Yes, I am reading a book about a man reading the Oxford English Dictionary. Look, I am a contributor to a blog called The Geekiest Girls You Know. This cannot be a surprise to any of you.

Reading the OED is light and fun, especially if you love the English language, which I do (see above for defenestration). The book is broken into chapters that follow the individual letters of the alphabet, and it's nice framing device. Each chapter doesn't deal explicitly with the OED, but more of Shea's experiences reading it. Shea takes a lot of tangents to explain his love of dictionaries, talking about optometrist he's been seeing since he was child, some history on dictionaries themselves, and boils down to a lot of free association. The result is charming and sweet, if perhaps lacking focus.

What really makes the book, though, is that at the end of each chapter is a list of words Shea has discovered while reading the OED. He lists his favorite words with his simplified definition, and buying this book alone is worth it for the words he finds.

I love words and languages, and especially English because English is the kind of language that accosts other languages in a dark alley and rifles through its pockets for spare adverbs. I mean, English actually has a word that means to throw yourself out a window (defenestration, and MST3K made a joke about refenestration, proving they are all giant dorks and I love them).

How can you not love a book that finds words that mean the approach of evening (advesperate), the point on the back on a animal that lies between the shoulders and the lower back, which cannot be reached to scratch (acenstious), or being equal to another in stupidity (uasinous)? You can't is my point.

As an aside, English also has a word that means the action of frizzling (hair). That word is frizilation and is relevant to my life because that's all my hair does when it senses even the smallest amount of moisture, which causes it to expand to thrice it's normal size. I now have a word to put to the sensation of my hair frizzing in every direction: it is frizalting. Also, I stumbled across it because I was bored one day and looking up random words in the OED online. Why, what do you do when you're bored?

One of the other words Shea defines is wonderclout (n): a thing that is showy but worthless. This is one of the words that makes me wonder how I ever got along without it. You know that move in any video game that is always really awesome looking but doesn't serve a purpose? It's a wonderclout. Any geek's encyclopedic knowledge of comic books and tendency to obsess over continuity to the point of distraction is a wonderclout. My ability to keep a running list of the Absolutely, Non-Slanderous, Completely True Facts about Alan Moore is a wonderclout. This entire post talking about language and words is a wonderclout. Damn, that word is useful.

But my new absolute favorite word, edging out frizilation and defenestration and wonderclout is unbepissed.

Unbepissed (adj.): not having been urinated on; unwet with urine.

That's right, there was apparently a time in human history that being peed on or covered with urine was so rampant you needed a special word to mean you were urine-free. This is also my new favorite response to the question "how was your day?" because if your day was so gut wrenching awful the only thing you can say about it in response is that no one peed on you, well, that really sums up the suck of your day in one short, awesome word.

Goddamn, I love English.

Oh, in unpacking I found my copy of Ed Wood's Death of Transvestite, so expect a wonderclout recap of that book.

In conclusion, I hope that your day, dear reader, has remained unbepissed.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dream Team to Fight Off a Zombie Invasion of America

First off I'd like to apologize for the vast absence of posts lately. Darci and I FINALLY got internet at our apt. so we can actually begin uploading again. We're hopefully going to try to put up a few posts to make up for the long absence. Anyways, on to the post...

So facebook and I have been having a love-hate relationship as of late. People always try to send me a million application invites and for the most part I scroll through them hitting "ignore" and hoping they will stop showing up every day. Another popular response to this phenomenon is to just ignore them for a long time and pretend like those invites don't even exist...

Well I finally succumbed to adding the "Living Social" app. because I saw everyone filling out those damn surveys and some of them actually had neat titles so I thought to myself...I suppose one app. can't kill me?

Little did I know I would spend the next two hours addicted to facebook worse than ever before... filling out surveys about ridiculous things that are totally inconsequential to live, the universe, and everything, but then I got to a really geeky one and I had to laugh.

Pick 5 people to be your "Dream Team to Fight Off a Zombie Invasion of America."
OOO! I am intrigued!

So I though to myself: If I was going to pick five people who would not only work well together, but also make a fairly entertaining story about zombie killing, then who would I pick? The following was my hilarious and entertaining solution.

One: Bruce Willis (plus all his in-movie badass skills). Think about it this way; Bruce Willis' characters have saved the world like a bajillion times and done it with intellect and all around bad-assery. On top of that, he's saved us from meteors, an alien bent on destroying earth, biological warfare, terrorists, and (though briefly) he appeared to attempt to stop some beefed up super-bio-experiment-zombies! He not only does his job well, he also does it with witty lines and manages to land himself a pretty sweet lady in nearly every instance. He is a great person to start off the roster.

Two: Green Arrow. Sure, he's an obvious choice for ranged combat with his archery skills, and his ability to produce all different kinds of artillery for his bow, but another great quality the Arrow possesses is his ability to use cunning intellect to figure out the problem at hand. As a socially concerned super hero, he would put the greater good of humanity above his personal concerns and would probably try to weed out any conspiracies that could be associated with the mass appearance of zombies.

Three: Batman. This one seems pretty obvious but allow me to explain anyways. Batman possesses the resources to amass one hell of a resistance armory. In truth, Batman would have probably known about the zomibes BEFORE they even arrived, and then he would also know their weakness and how to wipe out as many as possible in the shortest amount of time imaginable. Since they're undead, he doesn't have to worry about his whole not being able to kill people-thing and he can smite guilt-free.

Four: The Terminator. Mostly I picked the terminator for the sheer fact that he would stop at nothing to complete a mission and his accurate firepower would be an obvious plus to any zombie resistance. OF COURSE we'd have to program it to want to stop the zombies, but after that little obstacle we've got a killing machine on our hands.

Five: Han Solo. He may not be super-strong, or have any super powers for that matter, but Han Solo possesses a little thing called Luck +20. He makes it out of impossible situations and he thinks fast on his feet. If something seems like a bad idea, he'll be the first to say so and he'll explain why everyone would be crazy to go through with it. In short, he's a great balance to round out the team.

The problems with this team: Who exactly is going to lead? Bruce Willis seems like an obvious choice but Batman doesn't take orders from anyone and he's not much of a group person in the first place. Even in the Justice League he's only a part-time member and only shows up when he's really, truly needed. Han Solo is a great balance and his luck is fantastic, but how good would he be in a super-stressful situation with a ton of zombies running after him? If he has the Millenium Falcon then we can assume the tables are turned and the zombies are going down a whole lot faster, but the same goes for if Batman has his awesome Jet. Green Arrow is probably going to fight logistics from time to time, and honestly if Bruce Willis can't emerge as leader then they're more like five individuals who are working sort-of together rather than a "team."

The pros of this team: Well seriously? It would be fricken hilarious to watch this team in action. Green Arrow, Han Solo, and Bruce Willis would be crazy competetition for any leading lady that ends up in the story for romantic-interest purposes. Batman would disappear all the time, terrifying the team and making them think he's been turned, only to return with more bad ass gadgets and the like. Personally, I think zombies would terrify the crap out of Han Solo and he'd have a really hard time coping with them being around unless he had the falcon. Oh, and dialogue? You want some of the wittiest, most on-the-fly dialogue you've ever heard and you put these five together against a zombie apocalypse. I can just see it now and to be honest if it ever really happened I'd die of laughter. (If someone can conceive writing a web-comic about this PLEASE let me know).

So, what do you think you'd pick for your top five?

Signing out,
Lady Lara Jones

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

You all know I wouldn't be able to resist this

If there is one thing that is able to draw me from my crazy eyed, packing/cross country move nightmare it is epically bad movies. This one is so awesomely awful that we need a new word for it. Awesomeful? Awfulsome? Or perhaps we should just say Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. No. Seriously.

I have watched the trailer about eleven times and there are still so many unanswered questions.

How desperate were Lorenzo Lamas and Deborah Gibson for money that they decided to "star" in this movie? Surely there are less humiliating ways to earn money. Like selling your kidneys on the black market.

When is the exact moment in this movie that you can actually see the actors die on the inside? How much LSD did you have to take to come up with this concept?

How is a shark, albeit even a mega one, able to leap thousands of miles into the air to chow down on an commercial airplane? Why would the shark even want to do that? Was it bored? Was it a dare from his other mega shark friends? I suppose even mega sharks suffer from peer pressure.

You are aware that if something living is frozen it does not place the organism in a state of suspended animation but kills it dead, right, movie? Also, if you want to go for the mega fauna angle, you are way off with your math. Way off.

How drunk do you think that Australian guy was in order to say the line "I've looked into its eyes" without laughing and/or losing all respect for himself?

Thrilla in Manilla, Deborah Gibson? Really? You just managed to get five shades whiter saying that line. Also, I will pay you to never, ever utter that inane line again.

Are the writers aware that octopuses, even giant ones, are not natural enemies of sharks, even mega ones?

What the fuck? No, seriously, what the fucking fuck, Asylum? It was like this movie was specifically made to fuck with my head.

I think we all know that I am going to buy the hell out of this movie and recap it for you because Giant Octopus vs. Mega Shark, people! I am only so strong.

Monday, May 04, 2009

No Internet, Stan Lee: Dr. Samurai-Evil-Genius, and Wolverine

Today’s post is a smattering of things I haven’t been able to post because I am currently without internet at home. Yes, I have discovered that not having internet is a debilitating, crippling problem to me. I once used to say that I could go several months without the internet and now I find myself incapable of going a few hours without checking up on IMDB, Square,, various web comics, You-Tube, CNN, the BBC, various independent news networks and non-profit sites, e-mail, or the ever-addictive Facebook…How sad is that? Well, if you are thinking it is sad, I dare you to spend a week without the internet. If you can do it then you are far less addicted to fancy click-of-a-button media than I am.

Moving on…Saturday was FREE COMIC BOOK DAY, and I hope you all got out to your local comic book shop to support them and pick up some of the new previews. I wanted to cover one in particular because I feel it is both silly and well….extremely necessary in some strange, demented way.

Stan Lee has produced a Manga. Yes, you have read correctly. The great Stan Lee has jumped on the Japan-trendy bandwagon and produced a Manga of his own. The work is titled, “Karakuridoji ULTIMO” and presented with Hiroyuki Takei (of Shaman King). It will be released in both Japan and America as a part of the weekly Shonen Jump (Jump SQ. II in Japan). Stan Lee thought the idea of “having a good robot fight the bad ones” would be a great concept for both countries, and I tend to agree. Takei is an AMAZING artist and I really like the art I got to see in Issue Zero.

Without giving any spoiler-tastic details I will tell you that Mechanical Boy Ultimo is “perfect good” and his counterpart is “perfect evil.” The robots were made by a samurai who looks…a lot like Stan Lee. In fact, if this samurai isn’t meant to look like Stan Lee then this was one hell of an accident. The first thing I said when I saw the comic book cover was, “SAMURAI STAN LEE! I MUST HAVE THIS!” The comic book store clerk probably thought I was crazy or some kind of nutty comic girl that had been in her basement too long (and hey, I didn’t live there for THAT long). I even got a cool poster insert with Stan Lee as his epic samurai-self (this samurai is actually an evil-genius-doctor named Dr. Dunstan...and someone please tell me why a samurai has the name Dunstan and I'll give you an insanity cookie).

Unfortunately…the first three panels show us that he’s not going to be sticking around for the series…but I got to see Stan Lee drawn as a samurai and quite frankly that made my day so it’s all good.

The dialogue is very true to manga-style and I have to say I think Stan Lee is pretty decent at writing a shonen manga. The intended audience is obviously slightly younger and male (like with Shamen King and other shonen manga) but I think this will actually be a pretty decent read. I plan on picking up a copy in July when it premiers here in America’s Shonen Jump Magazine (yes, I read Shonen Jump even though I’m female…it’s really not so bad. I promise. Honestly I prefer that sort of story to the ones in Shojou Beat because I’m just not very into that whole sappy romance manga trend).

So yeah, check it out. If you didn’t get a preview for Free Comic Book Day then shame on your for not going out on Saturday and make sure you start surfing the web to find all the cool shiny bits you missed this weekend.

In other news…I saw “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” this weekend, and I have to say it was pretty decent. I have heard many people complain that the action was too intense and that Deadpool didn’t get enough speech-time on screen, but I really don’t think these complaints are all that well founded. Since I don’t want to give any spoilers to anyone that didn’t see it opening weekend I won’t go into it too far…but just keep in mind that there’s cool stuff after the credits and they are making a Deadpool movie after all, so don’t throw yourselves all into a panic. Personally, I thought they made Gambit a total badass in this film and WAY more believable power-wise than in both the comics and the TV show, and Wolverine’s origin story was portrayed with some pretty good canon (though there are creative interpretations that deter from the canon so just keep an open mind). All in all I think it was decent and I rank it above X3, at par with X1, but still below X2 (because X2 rocked some serious awesome-sauce).

Stay tuned this week because I’m going to see the new Star Trek film in IMAX on opening night and that is going to be absolutely amazing. I have a feeling I’m not going to be disappointed (and I hope to the great Space Buddha I’m NOT going to be disappointed because there will be angry posts for sure).

Go check out free previews from Free Comic Book Day! What are you waiting for!?
Lady Jones

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Wait, you mean I actually like something? Shocking!

I know I haven't been around for awhile, what with finals coming up and trying to find a place to live and trying to get a teaching position, but I want to assure you, dear readers, that I have not abandoned you in the midst of my crazy eyed flail.
And by crazy eyes I mean I look like this:

Only with about a thousand times more flail and fail.

Anyway, it's come to my attention that my last four posts have been of the bitter, spiteful, strangly hands variety, and seems to give the impression that I find no joy in the world. Now to be fair, I do have a bitter, spiteful happy place (but the pizza there is delicious), but occasionally I do find something that makes my little geek girl heart swell in joy and happiness and love that has only slightly been be-bittered. Today I shall discuss one of those things. And since Alan My Bead Knows Every Secret You've Never Acknowledged Yes Even That One Moore hasn't done another bitter and crazy interview, I shall fall to my standby of books.

I love books. Genre, literary, good, bad, books are awesome. With any luck (and by "luck" I mean "Oh god I'm going to eat ramen noodles for the next three months") I'll be unemployed and bored this summer and start recapping some of the more awful books I come across (and by awful, I mean one is written by Ed Wood Jr. and another is this blindingly stupid romance. In space), but that is not this post. This post is about happy making things, and so I won't be talking about Ed Wood Jr. and his transvestite killer for hire (no, seriously).

Instead, this is about Kelly Link and two of her short story collections: Stranger Things Happen and Magic for Beginners.

Kelly Link isn't well known, not yet anyway, but she is strange and wonderful. Every story of hers has a strange fantasy twist in it. Most of them have an undertone of creepy. Some will make you shiver. All of them will make you want more.

Stranger Things Happen was published in 2001, so let's start with that one. Unlike Magic for Beginners, STH plays very heavily with fairytale themes and tropes. I don't mean that as a bad thing at all. I love fairy tales, especially the old, dark versions, and Link's twist on these old tales are fantastic.

The stories themselves aren't explicitly linked together, featuring different locations and different characters, but you can see that they all take place within the same world.

I'm not going to go through the collection story by story, not because Link's work doesn't merit because it does, but because there are eleven stories and I would enthusiastically babble about all of them on about the same theme and that's not entertaining for anyone and would also be approximately elevenity hundred pages long. So I'm going to comment on a couple of my favorites.

Link has a deceptively stark and simple style. I say "deceptively" because I have tried to write in this style and struggled with it. This allows Link to make ample use of all the spaces her words leave, and also means that the style is light on description but really rich in provocative phrases that make you shiver.

One of my favorite stories is "Survivor's Ball, or the Donner Party" because it is downright creepy and dripping with tension. Throughout the entire story you keep expecting awful to happen and yet nothing really does, and the entire affect is unsettling and frightening.

It follows Serena and Jasper as they drive through New Zealand and accidentally but not really get invited to the Survivor's Ball. Jasper has a cracked tooth, and this story features my favorite line that makes me seethe with jealousy because I didn't think of it first: "His tooth whined like a dog." This is the perfect Link sentence: short, simple, but goddamn if you don't get what she's talking about.

Like all of her stories, "Survivor's Ball, or the Donner Party" ends in a way that has you going, "Huh. I really want more," but in a good way.

"Flying Lessons" is about young love and tragic death and Greek gods and an Orpheus like journey, only with a twist. The story is broken up into small segments, and dispersed throughout are instructions for going to hell. These instructions open and close the story and add a strong framework for a story that might otherwise have been too formless. And like all things Link writes, there are lots of tiny, weird details, like death by peacock, and odd moments of humor that makes sense within the frame of the story.

"Shoe and Marriage" is perhaps the most experimental story of the entire collection. It is composed of four vignettes, and each of them is only connected by, you guessed it, shoes and marriage. The first is concerned with the prince charming from Cinderella, but not in the way you think and, oh, how I love it even though I'm not entirely sure what's going on in the story.

The next one, "Miss Kansas on Judgement Day" is even more surreal and bewildered, but again, oh god I love it. The third is "The Dictator's Wife," and it's heartbreaking and bleak and sad and so engaging. The last vignette is "Happy ending," and I can't tell you if it actually is a happy ending because my copy of the book, instead of the last page of "Shoe and Marriage," has a reprinting of a page from an earlier story. Thanks, Small Beer Press. Now I will never know if it is a happy ending. I shake my fist at thee!

Finally, "The Girl Detective" is the closing story, and Link weaves together another fairy tale, the twelve dancing princesses, and the idea of Nancy Drew and the girl detective motif, all told from a strange, outsider narrative. Like the stories in this collection, what's really going on beneath the surface isn't entirely clear, but it's such a delightful journey that I'm not sure if it really matters if Link is trying to do anything other than tell a good story. And it is an excellent story.

Magic for Beginners was published in 2005, and unlike STH, the stories in this don't appear to take place in the same universe. While STH drew strongly on fairy tales and myths, MfB, with the exception of one story, seems to have shed that fairy tale feel and is grounded in the real world. Or the real world seen through Link's eyes.

Like I did with STH, I'm picking out a couple of stories to talk about here, but all of them are worth a read. And by "worth," I mean "go pick up her books right now, seriously."

I'm going to start with the exception to my above statement. "Catskin" is very much a fairy tale in its characters and themes and narrative. I don't mean a fairy tale like the white washed Disney versions now, but the old ones that are about blood and gore and scaring you shitless.

Goddamn this story is creepy. Brilliant, but so, so creepy. It follows the story of Small, a witch's son who goes to avenge the witch's death with the witch's cat, who makes him a suit of cat skin from murdered cats. It's hard to describe this story without me just typing the entire thing into the post. Look, if you like the old versions of fairy tales and sitting in an empty room feeling like someone is watching you then you will love this story. This creepy, creepy story.

"The Hortlak" involves zombies, but not the traditional, brain eating zombies. These zombies come into a 24 hour convenience store, but not for brains. This story follows girl Charley, Batu, and Eric. It's a story about young love and loss trying to figure out what the hell you want. It also has another amazing line: "Eric worked in retail since he was sixteen. He knew how hateful people could be." Word, Kelly Link, WORD.

"The Cannon," is my least favorite story. It's told as an question and answer session, and it's not clear who is speaking. There's a lot of really great details and interesting world building going on in such a short piece, but it never quite gels for me.

"Stone Animals" is a haunted house story, only REALLY FUCKING CREEPY BY A LOT. It appeared in Best American Short Stories of, um, 2006, I think. A family moves into a house with stone rabbits out front, and things in the house become haunted, including one of the children. Nothing happens in the traditional haunted house sense, but it's more subtly creepier than The Grudge could ever hope to be.

Quickly, in passing, "The Great Divorce," features one of my favorite narrative structure kinks: stories within stories. In this story a character tells another story, and in that story another character tells a story which features characters from the first story. Follow? It's okay if you don't. The fun lies in unpacking it all.

"Magic for Beginners," the titular story, is by far the longest. It follows Jeremy and his friends and family and a show called "The Library," which may or may not be the adventures of real people. What Link does really well in this is that confusing tangle of emotions when you're fifteen and hopped up on so many hormones you can barely think and you like two different girls at once and trying to navigate your way through it all while your parents are going through a rough patch and you have to move to another town. Wow, that last sentence is a mess, but you get my point.

What I don't like about this story is that everyone in it, the teenagers, the parents, Jeremy himself, are presented as these quirky people who you know would never exist in real life yet pop up all the time in books and movies. To be honest, I think why it bothers me is because I find myself doing the same thing in my own stories, making my characters all quirky and precious. In clumsy hands that can be irriating, and Link is treading a very fine line.

In all, Kelly Link creates stories in a world that is far more mysterious and magical and downright creepy than our own. She has a new collection out that I haven't been able to pick up yet, but I deeply want it.

If you're still unconvinced to give Kelly Link a try, Neil Gaiman has this to say: Kelly Link is probably the best short story writer currently out there, in any genre or none. She puts one word after another and makes real magic with them--funny, moving, tender, brave and dangerous. She is unique, and should be declared a national treasure, and possibly surrounded at all times by a cordon of armed marines.

And we all know you don't argue with Neil Gaiman, so go pick up her books right now.

And don't worry, soon I shall be back to my bitter, spiteful self.