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Monday, March 28

Nerd News | Unicorns were real!

Monday, March 28

Regardless of the fact that it actually looked more like a giant rhino than a horse, this is terrific news:

For decades, scientists have estimated that the Siberian unicorn—a long-extinct species of mammal that looked more like a rhino than a horse—died out some 350,000 years ago, but a beautifully preserved skull found in Kazakhstan has completely overturned that assumption. Turns out, these incredible creatures were still around as recently as 29,000 years ago.

Before we talk about the latest discovery, yes, there was a very real 'unicorn' that roamed Earth tens of thousands of years ago, but it was nothing like the one found in your favourite children’s book. (Sorry—it’s a bummer for us, too.) The real unicorn, Elasmotherium sibiricum, was shaggy and huge and looked just like a modern rhino, only it carried the most almighty horn on its forehead.
According to early descriptions, the Siberian unicorn stood at roughly 2 metres tall, was 4.5 metres long, and weighed about 4 tonnes. That’s closer to woolly mammoth-sized than horse-sized. Despite its very impressive stature, the unicorn probably was a grazer that ate mostly grass. So, if you want a correct image in your head, think of a fuzzy rhinoceros with one long, slender horn protruding from its face instead of a short, stubby one like today’s rhinos.

The newly found skull, which was remarkably well-preserved, was found in the Pavlodar region of Kazakhstan. Researchers from Tomsk State University were able to date it to around 29,000 years ago via radiocarbon dating techniques. Based on the size and condition of the skull, it was likely a very old male, they suggest, but how it actually died remains unknown. (via)1
How great is this? (You know, aside from the fact that they went extinct ...)

To all the unicorn haters 2 out there:

Also of note:

1Thanks, Jennie!
2I don't really believe that these people exist.
3Thanks, Colt!

Wednesday, March 23

Happy birthday, Mister!

Wednesday, March 23

Today is a very special day. This guy—

—is turning 32 today. 32's not a typically "big" birthday, but in our case, it means that we've been in love for half our lives. I couldn't imagine the past 16 years without knowing him, and with each passing year I've only grown to love him more, to be more thankful that two silly kids in love decided to take a chance on forever.

So I'm wishing a very happy birthday to my best friend, the man who never fails to make me smile, even when I really don't want to, and who makes my life amazing in every possible way.

To the ends of the universe, my love!

P.S.—If you'd like to read more about "our story," you can do so here!

Friday, March 18

5 Fandom Friday | Five Geeky Tattoos I Have Or Want

Friday, March 18

I was really excited to see this prompt on the list of upcoming posts. I love geeky tattoos, and I'm excited to see what people share, and I have geeky tattoos that I love to share.

Some of these are not exactly geeky, but I put them in order from least geeky to most.

Five (Mostly) Geeky Tattoos I Have Or Want

5 | My first tattoo

I got my first tattoo not long after Colt and I moved in together. We went out for dinner, and had a super uncomfortable time (not with each other, with the atmosphere in the restaurant). When we left, we decided to make the night better by getting tattoos. (I'm really not sure why this is where our thought processes led.)

We chose a nearby tattoo shop that got decent reviews online, and walked right in. When I told the artist I wanted a star, he pulled out a stencil, but I stopped him. When I doodle, I draw stars, so I wanted to draw this one for myself.

I tend to forget that I even have this one, so the next few I got in places that I could actually see. (Also, this photo shows me how much I really need to re-dye my hair!)

4 | My little reminders

These were my second and third tattoos. I wanted to give myself some permanent positive reinforcement. These phrases are snippets of quotes that I love, from two extraordinary women:

"Do one thing each day that scares you."—Eleanor Roosevelt

"It's never too late to be what you might have been."–George Eliot

I used a favorite font for the one on the right wrist, but the left is my mom's handwriting—yet another extraordinary woman. Sadly, I'll likely have to cover these up at some point in the future. When I got them, I didn't really think about the fact that tattoo ink spreads, nor that it spreads more when in a location that moves around a lot.

3 | My Avengers mashup

I wrote about this tattoo, which is my latest, back in October. The Avengers made a big impact on my (pop culture) life, and I wanted something to memorialize my love of the movie. It took me a while to figure out how to fit all of these iconic images/logos together into a cohesive whole, but when I finally worked this design out, I knew it was "the one."

This was my third time working with Megan at Bijou Studio here in Austin—the first two being the tattoo in No. 2—and I'm so very glad I found her! She does amazing work.

Click the image below for a larger look at the full piece.

2 | My three-quarter scifi sleeve

My three-quarter sleeve is certainly my largest and most colorful piece, and I think it's amusing that I went from a small star and tiny wrist tattoos to, well, this beast.

I actually got this piece done in two halves—what's above the elbow came two years prior to the bottom part. My idea with the top half was that I was sharing three very important parts of my nerddom from different points in my life: The U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D is from Star Trek: The Next Generation, which I watched when I was pretty young. The Millennium Falcon is from Star Wars, which I really started to love in high school. And the TARDIS is from Doctor Who, which I didn't start watching until I was in my 20s.

I soon found myself wanting to add more spaceships from other fandoms, however, and a Vincent Van Gogh quote that I'd wanted to somehow fit into a tattoo for ages. So I went back to my amazing tattoo artist and asked her to extend it. I added the Stargate, from Stargate; Firefly from Firefly and Serenity; the Normandy from Mass Effect; and Moya from Farscape. The quote reads:

"I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream."

I thought it was quite fitting for this fantastical space piece.

Click the image below for a larger look at the full piece. And apologies for the awkward photos—it's really hard to get good shots of an entire arm.

1 | Future ink

Since I started getting tattoos, I've gotten a new one or expanded an old one about every two years. I just got my latest one last year, so I still have a bit of time before the itch again needs to be scratched. And I'm not sure what I want to add to my collection next; I actually have no ideas at this moment. But I'm sure inspiration will strike soon!

Learn more about 5 Fandom Friday and check out the prompts for March.

Friday, March 11

Nerd News | Captain America: Civil War (trailer 2)

Friday, March 11

I typically try not to watch more than one or two trailers for movies these days, as I want to actually enjoy the movie while I'm watching it in the theater, rather than seeing everything beforehand.

So, when I saw the link to this trailer, I wavered on if I wanted to watch it ... but the Internet pretty much decided for me when it spoiled the end of it loudly and often.

I'm not really mad, though, because Tony calling him Underoos—I'm being vague in case you've somehow avoided the reveal and plan to continue doing so—is one of my new favorite things.

That said, THIS MOVIE. I really, really won't ever be ready.

Also of note:

1Thanks, Amanda!

Wednesday, March 9

Fancies & Fascinations | "Love Yourself"

Wednesday, March 9

I had another post written up for today, but it seems to have gone missing. While I work on redoing that post (#grumblesigh), have a confession of a new guilty pleasure that was scheduled for later this week.

Full disclosure: I dislike Justin Bieber. I find him creepy to look at (maybe it's the Miley Cyrus twin thing?), and I have never been a fan of his music (which is somewhat surprising, considering how much I love boy band music). Typically, when a song of his comes on the radio, I'll turn it to another station tout suite.

Recently, however, I found myself actually enjoying one of his songs. And then I started singing along. AND THEN I listened to his entire album—the deluxe version—and enjoyed more than one song. (I also might have listened to it more than once. I might even be listening to certain songs right now.)

I don't even know myself any more.

I posted this shameful confession on Twitter last week, and was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who responded "YOU TOO?!" Apparently, there's something magic about his new music. Also: I have awesome friends.

Thankfully, the song that started this whole thing—"Love Yourself"—has been turned into a pretty awesome video sans The Beibs' mug.

I also recommend "What Do You Mean"—


—and "The Feeling."

And FYI—PURPOSE: The Movement is a series of short dance "films" set to the songs from the new album. Color me impressed. (And appreciative. I just can't with your face, Justin!)

Tuesday, March 8

Recently Read | January/February 2016

Tuesday, March 8

I read a lot of books, but I don't often share—on this blog at least—what I've been reading until the end of the year. (I post pretty much all of it over on Forever Young Adult and Goodreads.) But, considering that reading is such a big part of my life, it should have a place here, too.

To that end, I've decided to breathe some life into the Recently Read series. Starting ... now!

Top Read

Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery,” a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Truthwitch was The Book of BEA 2015, which mean that there was a lot of hype surrounding the title. I'm glad to report that the book lived up to it, however.

The start of an exciting new fantasy series, Truthwitch tells the story of two women with supernatural gifts—gifts that puts targets on their heads. Although they use their gifts to make their lives better, all they really want to do is live free.

As with most books in the YA genre, there's definitely some romantic undertones to the story, but the best relationship is actually the one between the two main characters. Theirs is a strong, fulfilling, enviable friendship, and it makes this compelling read all the more entertaining.

Honorable mentions

The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass novellas) by Sarah J. Maas

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan's most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin's Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. 

In these action-packed novellas—together in one edition for the first time—Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn's orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free?

I'm a big fan of the Throne of Glass series, and the series' amazingly badass main character, Celaena. Through the main books in the series, we learn some about Celaena's background, but in these five prequel novellas, we get to read more about what led her to become Ardarlan's Assassin and the crimes that led to her imprisonment in the salt mines of Endovier.

Although the stories within are prequels, I think I'd recommend reading at least the first book in the series—Throne of Glass—before reading this one. There are some minor plot points that could be considered spoilers, and it's better to meet the "present day" Celaena first, then go back to what she was like before.

Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown

Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society's mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.

Finally, the time has come.

The Red Rising trilogy is one of those series that walks the line between the YA genre and the adult one: though the main character starts out as a young man, the themes in the novels and many of the action scenes are pretty brutal (particularly in the first book, Red Rising). But that's not to say it's not a great read—because it certainly is; the series mixes resonating political issues and class warfare with space battles and vicious hand to hand combat. It's both dystopian and science fiction, with hints of mythology strewn in.

Morning Star is the final book in the trilogy, and wraps up the series really well.

Stars Above (Lunar Chronicles short stories) by Marissa Meyer

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite series. The main books—Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter—are quasi-retellings of classic fairy tales, including those of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White. But they're not simply updated versions of those stories, in fact, they're far from it; Meyer has created a whole universe in which the princesses from the stories have unique and intriguing lives, talents, and adventures.

Stars Above is a collection of short stories from the Lunar Chronicles universe, most of which are prequel snippets into the lives of the characters in the series before they all became intertwined. My favorite, however, is the epilogue story—I couldn't wipe the grin off my face as I read it.

Other reads


A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes#1) by Brittany Cavallaro |The Impostor Queen (The Impostor Queen #1) by Sarah Fine | These Vicious Masks (These Vicious Masks #1) by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas | Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee


Front Lines (Soldier Girl #1) by Michael Grant | The Girl From Everywhere (The Girl From Everywhere #1) by Heidi Heilig | The Shadow Queen (Ravenspire #1) by C.J. Redwine |  Stray (Four Sisters #1) and Burn (Four Sisters #2) by Elissa Sussman


The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos

I'd love to hear if you've read any of these titles, and what you thought about them. Also, have you read anything lately that you'd recommend?

Sunday, March 6

6 on 6 | March

Sunday, March 6

Learn more about the 6 on 6 project.

Friday, March 4

5 Fandom Friday | Five Comfort Films

Friday, March 4

Today's 5FF prompt was actually to pick any of the previous ones that you didn't do, and wanted to. Scrolling through the list of past prompts, I immediately took a shine to this one.

I think about comfort movies in two ways:  There are some movies that I will watch when I see that they're on TV, regardless of the fact that I've seen them already—possibly a ridiculous amount of times—or that I actually own physical copies of them. They're like old friends, we just pick up where we left off the last time, and carry on like no time has passed. On the other hand, there are movies that I watch on occasion because they make me smile.

(I'm cheating a little by lumping some sequels/franchises together below. #shrug)

Five Comfort Films

5 | The Proposal

Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds are two amazing actors, particularly when it comes to comedy. Sometimes, putting two big presences such as them together in one movie can backfire, but, thankfully, their crazy chemistry trumped all in this movie. It both makes me laugh and makes me swoon, which is exactly what I want from a rom-com.

4 | Any of the Underworld movies

There are currently four movies in this series, with another slated to release later this year. I remember seeing the first one in theaters, but the rest kind of came and went without much fanfare. But they're on Syfy often, and I watch them every time. I love the relationship between Selene and Michael, and the ridiculousness of the politics between vampires, werewolves and humans.

3 | The Avengers

This should come as no surprise. I will watch the crap out of this movie until the end of time.

2 | Lara Craft: Tomb Raider and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life

I love Angelina the Action Star, and the mix of reality and fantasy in these movies. I slightly prefer the second of the two films, if only because of the seriously sexy chemistry between Lara and Terry. But either one will do in a pinch. (Side note: My love for these movies also made me want to play the new Lara Croft video games, which are two of my faves.)

1 | National Treasure and National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Nicolas Cage + conspiracy theories and faux history (+ adorable Justin Bartha). What's not to love about these movies? Not a darn thing. I've seen both of the movies in this franchise at least 10 times each, and various parts of both that probably add up to a couple more watches. I really, really hope they make the third one they've been teasing for years now so I can have another one to add to the rotation.

Learn more about 5 Fandom Friday and check out the prompts for February.

Thursday, March 3

Nerd News | Ghostbusters trailer

Thursday, March 3

There's been a lot of back and forth about this movie—from backlash about the genderswapping of the main characters and the "unnecessary" reboot of the franchise to  excitement for the all-female team (and Nerdy Secretary!Chris Hemsworth) and being able to revisit a beloved movie 'verse—but I think this new Ghostbusters has a whole lot of promise.

I have such a mad crush on all of these ladies already. I can't wait.

Also of note:

1Thanks, Rebecca!

Wednesday, March 2

Teen OTP Madness | Forever Young Adult

Wednesday, March 2

You don't have to be a college basketball fan to take part in Forever Young Adult's version of March Madness—this year, the theme is OTPs, and the best of the best of pop culture's teen couples are battling it out to become Teen OTP Madness champions.

Check out the announcement post, and then vote for the wildcard—Dave and Lane from Gilmore Girls vs. Jess and Joe from Bend it Like Beckham—in this post by the end of the day tomorrow.

Full bracket voting starts Monday!

Tuesday, March 1

Hello, March

Tuesday, March 1

The 2016 Man Calendar:

Mr. March: Jensen Ackles
Mr. February: Tom Hiddleston
Mr. January: Lee Pace

Download this page of the 2016 Man Calendar for personal use by clicking on the image; it will open in a new window. Right/control click to save it. Then print the page on letter-size cardstock, and trim it to 6"x9".

Desktop version:

Download full-size version here.