Tag: listicle

I love listicles and they’re easy to post. Enjoy!

Right now here’s what I’m into:

HalfBaked Harvest  I have to admit, this website inspired me to start this weekly (lofty goal…weekly…we’ll see) post of “oh how I love thee’s” – but seriously y’all I adore this cooking site, so many luscious recipes to try. Next up for me is the Crockpot Creamy Cashew Chicken. Ummmmm.

Vieux Farka Toure Live Sometimes I can’t handle the overload of my giant itunes library, so I throw on the iHeartRADIO website. No ads, and plenty of free music. My favorite station right now is inspired by Ayub Ogada, a genius in his own right, but recently a track from Toure’s mindblowing live album got tossed into the mix and I am in love. Which reminds me…I love this song too by Baaba Maal.

River  Netflix, you just keep comin’ at me with some amazing original shows, and this is one of your finest. Yes, I love a British police procedural, but this is….well…River is phenomenal.

Bone Tomahawk  Richard Jenkins, that’s what I have to say. Richard Jenkins, people.

2 Poems by Maggie Woodward at The Fem  Woooosh – these knocked me sideways.

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown  Last week I got together with a bunch of friends for our semi-irregular Insane-in-the-Bourdain viewing nights, and we watched the Ethiopia episode. There is so much here to sink into deliciously, whether you’re new to the Bourdainverse or a veteran foodie. The foooood. Marcus Samuelsson, whose book Yes, Chef I’m now listening to on audiobook (Samuelsson himself reads it…so wonderful). And the music of Mahmoud Ahmed, perfect.

My Taxes  Okay so no, I’m not bananas about this at all; doing my taxes this year sure made me go nuts. High five if you’re on my wavelength.

Two banana recipes Well of course, this post is about going bananas. Cookies and cake, oh yeahhhh. I am always looking for recipes to deal with overripe brown-spotted oogey bananas that I refuse to peel-n-eat but won’t throw out. Here’s one for cookies and here’s one for double chocolate banana bread (let’s just say it, this is cake, not banana bread – no complaints).

Featured Photo By Matt Reinbold from Bismarck, ND, USA – Monkeys on a Banana, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11293688

grab bag

I know, a reading list about scary books in time for Halloween has nothing to do with quantum physics’ spooky action at a distance, but I couldn’t help using it for a post title. Indulge me.

I’m a cruelly picky reader, so putting together a list of recommended reads is always a difficult task for me – especially books with a theme. The following is a selection of novels that fulfilled my threefold hardcore criteria: 1) Couldn’t put it down (or hated pressing pause on the audiobook so I could do necessary self-maintenance like sleeping and showering); 2) Gave me major chills or laughs or both 3) I wanted to be friends with the heroines and heroes of the book.

The Quick There’s all this stupid whingeing scattered over the internets about the “twist” of this book – there’s no twist. It’s a book about vampires. I’m not ruining anything by telling you this. And I insist that it’s one of the best vampire books I’ve read. And you get two poignant love stories, two resourceful, sharpwitted female characters, and some seriously creepy monsters – human and otherwise.




Mayhem – Stephen Crossley’s narration is audiobook listening at its most sublime. He simply is Dr. Bond, and that’s that. A brief digression: Stephen King wrote a fantastic review of the audiobook version of James Ellroy’s novel Blood’s A Rover, telling how he listened to Craig Wasson’s narration while driving and it was soooo damn good it was a privilege to be in a car. That’s how I felt listening to Mayhem – I never wanted to hit the pause button and return to real life. There are plenty of books out there riffing on Jack the Ripper, but this is one of the best – for me, probably due to the supernatural element. A synopsis can’t do justice to the nuances of Mayhem‘s story and cast (yes! there’s a sequel with these wonderful characters). Read it.

London Falling  A cop caper with gritty, snarky dark magic on the streets of modern-day London. A quartet of constables gains some magic mojo enabling them to see ghosts and various other nasties, including an ancient witch obsessed with football (you know, soccer) and murder. Somehow it really rocks, and these coppers are great company.




Midnight Riot aka Rivers of London This is another urban fantasy (of the gore and ghosts and angry Old Gods variety, not fluffy unicorns and fairies) that has humor, horror and heart (most still beating) and a delightful protagonist, PC Peter Grant.  Apparently there’s some controversy about the American version of the book, which I wish I’d known before reading – grab the UK edition if you can. Heck, grab the UK edition of almost anything, as far as I’m concerned.




Murder as a Fine Art  I wasn’t sure about a book that twists history into fiction by using Thomas De Quincey (Confessions of an English Opium Eater) as a revamped fictional hero and would-be Sherlock, but this absolutely worked, and the character of De Quincey’s daugher and protegé Emily is worth the entire read. And say WHAT – the author is David Morrell, who wrote First Blood. Yes, Rambo.


Even more suggestions (some I can endorse, some I haven’t read yet) can be found on my goodreads Gaslight list – including the wonderful Lyndsay Faye, Barbara Hambly’s Benjamin January books, and Stephen Gallagher’s Sebastien Becker series.

I guess I can include spooky watching herein as well, since Hulu finally got Season 4 of Whitechapel, definitely the strangest and most ghosty of the series, and oh my wailing and lamenting that this show was cancelled. You might also enjoy Copper, Ripper Street, and Elementary. Also my guilty pleasure of late: Witches of East End.


“1790-church-gravestones-autumn-leaves – West Virginia – ForestWander” by http://www.ForestWander.com. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 us via Wikimedia Commons

book reviews

A while back, I stumbled across this AWESOME review column of spectacular television crime drama series. I know a lot of folks who are fans of CSI and NCIS and all those American acronym shows that I can’t really get into. As far as acronyms go, I’m a BBC girl. I like my police procedurals with Brit slang and a cuppa. And now, I find out, I like Danish, Aussie, and Belgian cop shows too! I’m impressed with myself that I’ve watched six of the shows reviewed by Al Lowe in her Wheel of Murder reviews. Or, I just need to get out of the house more often.

I started making my own list of superb shows. The ones that I binge-watched on Sundays during tax seasons long past. The ones that made me jump off the couch and holler when something unbelievable happened to a main character. Shows that shape my own work – writing better dialogue, developing characters with emotional depth, learning new slang, trying for actual plot in my novels.

Right, so – in no particular order, here’s my own hell-yes Rule Britannia list.

Luther  I dare you to find a more fascinating fictional relationship than our hero DCI John Luther and lovable sociopath Alice.

Foyle’s War Pack up your tea cozy and wool knickers, we’re off to the south coast during wartime to solve murders with the unflappable, respectable (and damn sexy) Michael Kitchen.

Line of Duty I stumbled across this on Hulu and I can’t believe more people aren’t talking about it. Excellent cast, some seriously intense scenes.

The Bletchley Circle I found this show because I’m a big fan of Anna Maxwell Martin and I’ll see anything she’s in. So far there’s only two series here, but I so hope there will be more – it’s a cracking good show about a group of brilliant women codebreakers post-WWII who solve mysteries in the face of danger and chauvinism.

Prime Suspect My list isn’t complete without Helen Mirren’s groundbreaking show. I’m bingewatching it on Hulu.

The Fall  Despite being one of those shows that focuses a lot of time on the personal life of a serial killer (eewwww), I was riveted, especially by Gillian Anderson’s steely, shrewd, take-no-shit DSI Stella Gibson. Can’t wait for Season 3.

Whitechapel  I am dying for Series 4 to be available in the US. Rupert Penry-Jones is devastating as uppercrusty, OCD, sweetnatured DI Joe Chandler, hunting Ripper-esque killers in modern-day London.

Life on Mars [Do not watch the American remake.] It doesn’t get much better than a time travel (or is it?) and Manchester detectives mash-up set to a David Bowie soundtrack. Gene Hunt is the only misogynist bastard I adore. Follow up with Ashes to Ashes, quite possibly even better than Life on Mars. Keeley Hawes makes everything sterling (see Line of Duty above).

Torchwood  I might have to confess here that despite being a longtime Doctor Who fan, I love this spinoff more. Because: John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness. And because despite being a sci fi show, it’s a police procedural at heart. With aliens.

Westminster fog – London – UK By George Tsiagalakis (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

get reel

I have a bit of an obsession with creating iTunes playlists. Currently I’ve got almost two hundred regular Playlists and probably a hundred Smart Playlists in my XXL iTunes library. I like to give my lists snarky (okay, embarrassing) names like Ham on Whole Wheat, Sunshine and Farts, and Rawk Yer Face Off. Who doesn’t do this? Wait – nobody does iTunes playlists anymore? What’s that? Get a life? You get a life.

I have a constantly evolving playlist that I keep onboard my iPod shuffle for running, mostly comprised of songs from the soundtracks to the novels I’m writing, or just plain buttkicking, step-it-up songs.

Every so often though, I need to make a new playlist whose sole purpose is to keep my spirits up. It’s random, dorky, fist-pumping shit that probably no one but me likes, but here is my latest. The best part is you can listen to it online at 8tracks! See below for my ramblings about the songs and a direct play-link (some tracks couldn’t be uploaded because of copyright issues, but you still get 21 songs and over an hour of free music!).

Songs For The Weary

  • Josh Ritter  “Lantern”   The song that started me writing this blog post. You can’t do much better for a lighters-high, hopeful tune.  That line about the book of jubilations just slays me every time.
  • Talking Heads  “Slippery People”   I have a newfound zesty amour for this song after seeing Twenty Feet From Stardom.
  • Lou Rawls  “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine”  Because you won’t. Lou Rawls is my personal god.
  • Gogol Bordello  “Mishto!”  There is no band on Earth like Gogol Bordello.
  • Joe Strummer & The Mescalaros  “Get Down Moses”  The day I discovered this band’s three albums (and never more, RIP Joe) was the day I died a little, and lived a lot.
  • Bob Marley  “Could You Be Loved”  How can I not have a Bob Marley song on this list? This is my hands-down favorite.
  • Mötley Crüe  “Kickstart My Heart”  Yeah, I got the double umlauts on there, baby. Oh, this song.  Yesssssss.
  • Swing Out Sister  “Am I the Same Girl”  Uh huh, following up Crüe with Swing Out Sister.  It’s my playlist, and this song is some sweet brassy sweetness.
  • Prince  “Baby I’m a Star”  Forget everything and just remember that you are a star.
  • Angélique Kidjo  “Lon Lon Vadjro”  I used to listen to Angélique literally nonstop in my twenties. Gotta get back to that because she is the boss.
  • Shovels & Rope  “Fish Assassin”  Ain’t nothin’ beats Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent fish-and-grits harmonies.
  • Robbie Robertson  “Shake This Town”  I love the Storyville album and Robertson’s self titled album so much I actually get a little choked up just thinking about listening to all the songs.
  • Timbaland (feat. Miley Cyrus)  “We Belong to the Music”  Yep, a Miley song.  I don’t answer to you.
  • AWOLNATION  “Knights of Shame”  I love a song that changes it up at least three times (see next bullet point); this one orchestrated my last road trip, all my recent running, and a poem I wrote about a tree.
  • Jenny Lewis  “The Next Messiah”  Another long-ass song that feels like a saga and rocks like a hurricane. Oddly (or not?) I used to treadmill-run exclusively to this song. Jenny rules.
  • Bruce Cockburn  “Tie Me At The Crossroads”  Some perky action from Bruce. Me love.
  • Wasis Diop  “Toxu”  As you may know, Wasis Diop is a genius.
  • Queen  “Rock It (Prime Jive)”  Every Queen song is my favorite, but this one is…prime jive.
  • The Spencer Davis Group  “Gimme Some Lovin'”  Yes, please do gimme some lovin’. I have a serious crush on Steve Winwood. No shame.
  • Suzanne Teng  “Lhasa Love”  I can’t even explain how much I geek out to this song. It’s pure exuberance for life.
  • Robyn  “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do”  Because DON’T.
  • Traveling Wilburys  “End of the Line”  Guaranteed to lift your spirits. Just think about ’em – Tom, Bob, Jeff, and George – jamming out on that train with Roy’s guitar in the rocking chair. Bittersweet. Love you guys.
  • Meat Loaf  “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through”  This song, plus Roger Waters’ double disc live album, got me through more than one tax season. This song. Nothing beats it. I mean, nothing MEATS it. Oh!
  • Billy Idol  “Dancing With Myself”  Title of my Autobiography.
  • Jackson Browne  “Here Come Those Tears Again”  I wish I could sing like Bonnie Raitt and Rosemary Butler and belt out that chorus. Okay sometimes when I’m on a long road trip alone and I’m listening to this song, I totally do. Badly.

Go to Songs for the Weary on 8tracks, courtesy of Superhermit (me). Or listen right here:

Photo from Unsplash


Oh, kids. I have been so busy balancing day-job, poem-writing, and summer-celebrating that I’ve neglected this blog for a couple weeks. In my spare moments, though, I have been doing a lot of sciencey essay and article reading, so I thought hhmmm…until I can finish some new deep, wacky, joyous blog posts for this month, I can share with you links to my favorite sites of late. They are collectively aesthetically beautiful, challenging, geeky websites with fascinating content, in my humble opinion. I recommend subscribing to all of them – most have a free weekly email of articles published.

This is dedicated to all the awesome female scientists who tweeted hilariously about being #distractinglysexy in response to Tim Hunt’s comments regarding the “trouble with girls” in science labs.


The Last Word on Nothing

Virginia Hughes



BBC future



Wired Science 

I Fucking Love Science      (because right???!!)


“NautilusCutawayLogarithmicSpiral” by Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

grab bag

I grew up watching both good (Alien) and bad (Mausoleum, anybody?) horror movies.  And reading horror novels – King, Koontz, McCammon, Barker – the big dawgs.  As I’ve matured (Ahem…I really have….matured.  I swear), I am still as picky as I was in my youth.  I can’t handle torture-porn slasher movies, but I do like to be scared shitless for weeks after seeing a well-done frightmare (Insidious I’m thanking you…but not your sequel).

Why do I watch horror movies?  They’re better than caffeine if you need to stay wide awake all night because you’re writing a novel or trying to finish some bookkeeping projects.

And also, because horror done right – whether it’s a gothic ghost story or a full-on terrorfest – sure is cathartic.  I like my horror best served with side dishes of humor, smart n’ feisty heroines, jump-scares and twisty plots.

Here’s a list of the top scary movies I’ve seen in the past year, all streaming on Netflix.  If you don’t have Netflix you can usually watch on Amazon Instant pretty cheap – just click the pics.

Housebound  The reason I wrote this blog post.  Never have I laughed out loud so hard and been so wigged out at the same time.   Best line:  “You can’t punch ectoplasm in the face!”  Thank you, New Zealand!





Tucker and Dale vs Evil   Outrageous.




Hellraiser  This one was a rewatch – because of course I saw it immediately when it came out in the 80’s.  Still great, still gross.




Pontypool  Here’s a prime example of indie budget horror that hits all the right crazy buttons – a virus that transforms people into imploding gibberish-talkers, and it’s transmitted by human speech.  Where else should a spectacle like that unfold, but at a small Canadian radio station in the dead of winter?



The Machine  I’m putting this in the horror bucket because even though it’s sci fi, the mood and tension had me bouncing off the walls.  Caity Lotz deserves more leading roles.




Banshee Chapter   I was totally surprised by how much I liked this X-Filesy extra-dimensional beings paranoia-fest.  And I was completely freaked out.  The washed-up guru character played by Ted Levine is worth the whole movie.




Oculus   Absolutely riveting ghost-busty first half, with smart, obsessive Karen Gillan getting ready to avenge her dead parents and defeat a malevolent mirror.  The second half descended into predictability, but watch it anyway.




Absentia   Another low budget indie horror film that deserves to be seen.  A pedestrian tunnel in a suburban neighborhood becomes a portal for doom.  Unsettling and almost too real for comfort; highly original.




Grabbers  As I said, I like a splash of humor in my horror.  What could be better than a bar full of drunk Irish fighting off tentacly sea monsters?  F’ing brilliant.  And Richard Coyle.  Yes, please.




The House at the End of Time  One of the best supernatural thrillers I’ve seen.  This Venezuelan ghost story does everything right, taking what seems like a conventional haunted house tale and recrafting it into a spooky mystery that’s also a poignant family drama with a twist ending and a tribute to motherhood.




The Innkeepers/The House of the Devil   People either love filmmaker Ti West or ignore him.  He’s never let me down.  Ti one on and enjoy a double feature.




The Returned  I’m referring here to the film, not the also-excellent French television series.  Here’s a classic example of how a “zombie” movie both utilizes and transcends tropes to come up with a suspenseful and meaningful story.  Also – it stars everyone’s favorite werewolf (or at least, mine) from Lost Girl, Kris Holden-Ried.  AND Shawn Doyle.  What!?  I know.  2 fer 1.




Spooky Trees Photo from Unsplash

get reel

Happy New Year’s Eve, people!  

It’s that time when every website on the internets is banging out a “Best Of” list and yammering at you to make resolutions.  So while I’m still trying to wrap up my 2014 To Do list and write something coherent about my recent trip to New Orleans, I thought I would share some of my own favorite fun bits of the past year.  Have a safe and happy night!

Noon Pacific’s Space Jams  By far my favorite weekly treat is the music playlist that Clark Dinnison publishes every Monday at – yep – noon Pacific Standard Time.  Here’s a compilation of his picks for 2014’s best spaced out jams.

Jay Sizemore  Absolutely my new favorite poet.  I discovered his work after Rattle published his poem ‘how to remove a hazmat suit.’   It blew my mind.  Just go read it.

io9  Great gobs of geekiness, I am so glad I found this website.  Always something interesting for me here, and frequent contributor Charlie Jane Anders is now one of my favorite bloggers.

The Leftovers  I admit I haven’t watched the final episodes because I don’t have cable TV, but this HBO series about life in a small town post-Rapture was freakin’ badass.  So many unexpected twists and turns, so much to ponder, and also Carrie Coon.  I can’t wait to watch the finale.  Don’t tell me what happens.

Luna Station Quarterly  So happy to be part of this wonderful women’s speculative fiction website.  My first audiobook review comes out January 6th!

Maplecroft  My one-night stand read of the year!  Couldn’t put down this Cherie Priest novel, so I didn’t!  Read it in one day.

Why do I study Physics?  I love this short animated documentary by Xiangjun Shi – I re-watch it constantly, like a daily affirmation.

book reviews get reel grab bag mixtapes

This week’s roundup of random links I learned from and enjoyed!



Studying the evolution of a virus can help find a cure.  This time, it’s of course Ebola.


Here’s a classic sci-fi short story, one of my favorites because it’s all dialogue.


Climate change is no lie, and it affects us all.  Climate change means we need to change.  I’m trying.


A little science about spiders, just in time for Halloween.


Here’s an excerpt from a new book I’m very keen to read.


Spider photograph courtesy of Pixabay.


grab bag

RANDOM   adjective  1. chosen without method or conscious decision    2. odd, unusual, or unexpected

origin:  Middle English  ‘impetuous headlong rush’: Old French randon – ‘great speed’ from Germanic root rand/randir – ‘gallop’

Here’s this week’s random collection of links from my Newsfeed:

io9   Why are many of today’s hottest authors writing post-apocalyptic books?

Read any of these best sellers?  I want to know your reactions.  What makes them literary?

New Scientist   Could this bee love?  Rekindling our affection for bees

Right now I’m reading everything I can about bees.  You don’t know what you got until it may bee gone.

BBC  DR Congo doctor Denis Mukwege wins Sakharov prize

This man is a hero, albeit for the saddest reasons.  Thank you, Dr. Mukwege.

Wired   A bold vision for the future of the postage stamp

I love ideas that reimagine outdated concepts and redevelop existing frameworks.

Mother Jones  I worked in a strip club in a North Dakota fracking boomtown

Field reports on controversial topics – always entertaining and informative.

grab bag

book reviews