My Favorite Things: Stealth Spec-Fic, Badass Women of Television, Nerdy Christmas Trees, and Ghostbusters

They might not be raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens, but that doesn’t mean that we love them any less. Welcome back to My Favorite Things, a weekly column where we gab about the greatest in geek. This week we’re all about creative ways to sneak in nerdy elements to our every day lives. This can be through cool art prints that pay homage to great women in geek, books that contain just a dash of the speculative, and ways to nerd-up your Christmas tree. That and the new Ghostbusters movie that we still can’t get enough of.

Read on for more!

Lane’s Favorite Thing is… Stealth Spec-fic!


One of my favorite things is a genre I think of as “stealth spec-fic”, exemplified by Kelley Armstrong’s Cainsville series, Carsten Stroud’s Niceville series, John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series, the Agent Pendergast series by Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston.  Maybe even Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series.  Often they’re shelved in fiction or mystery, making stumbling over them a happy surprise.  What they all have in common is that their fantastic element is somehow sub rosa or takes a back seat — even when it’s the guiding force.

Stroud’s Niceville series reads more like a crime thriller than a fantasy/horror novel.  Armstrong’s Cainsville series reads like mystery-romance even though the through line is a war between fairy factions.  John Connolly’s Charlie Parker is a man haunted by ghosts, perhaps literally.  Agent Pendergast is a modern Sherlock Holmes if Moriarty and Mycroft were the same man, and if the supernatural elements in Holmes’ mysteries were as supernatural as they appeared to be.  Tana French is almost pure mystery — but there’s always that one inexplicable element.  In the Woods’s ending relies on an Irish myth being true.  In The Likeness, the detective’s ability to take a dead woman’s place is impossible to explain in any way but magical.

This type of story fascinates me.  It’s an acknowledgement of our reality, but at the same time, it’s peeling back the veil and saying, hey, there’s more to the world and it’s more peculiar than you can imagine.  Sometimes that feels far more fantastic than any cabal of vampires, witches, or werewolves.


Carey’s favorite thing is… “Our Ladies Of…”


The print shows off nine badass television women — seven from science fiction shows: my all-time favorites Dana Scully and Captain Janeway; Zoe Washburne, Kara Thrace, Buffy Summers, Ellen Ripley, and Xena, plus two women from mainstream shows — geek-is-cool Liz Lemon and devoted go-getter Leslie Knope. I’m not sure what to call these — pendants? icons? shields? — but they are irreverent and worshipful all at the same time, perfectly capturing each character’s personality and exhibiting (or eliciting) empathy and hilarity. That’s got to be a difficult trick to pull off.

I first saw a few of the images on Pinterest and immediately fell in love, so I went looking for the source. And I couldn’t find it. But lo and behold, one of my fellow nerdy friends posted a link to the print on Facebook. I was delighted to discover there were more than six women on it! The artwork was created by Spencer Salberg, known as heymonster on Tumblr (whose account is full of artwork and lots of other stuff). I was prepared to pay beau coup bucks for a print, but it turned out to be a mere fifteen very affordable dollars (plus shipping).

If Spencer ever decides to create more “Our Lady Of…” I can think of some candidates. Jaime Summers, aka Bionic Woman (I am old enough to have watched the reruns, okay?), Kaylee Frye from Firefly/Serenity, Princess/General Leia, Kiera Cameron from Continuum, and, well, however many characters Tatiana Maslany is currently playing on Orphan Black, which would be a whole poster in itself.

But I will be okay with whomever Mr. Salberg decides to draw next. In the meantime, I’ve hung the print in my office for writing and life inspiration.


Sherry’s Favorite Thing is… Ghostbusters!


I finally got around to watching the new Ghostbusters. All of the ladies were fantastic, but Kate McKinnon was my absolute favorite. There were great nods to the original Ghostbusters movies to have the requisite nostalgia necessary. No spoilers, I promise. Over the last few years, every book I’ve read and every movie I’ve watched, I’ve studied the male leads and asked myself why they were male? Why weren’t they female? And in my eyes, there was no reason the roles couldn’t be played by either gender. The new Ghostbusters is proof of that. The role of a Ghostbuster can be played by either male or female. I will argue, however, that I think the ladies in the new Ghostbusters were far funnier.


Whitney’s Favorite Thing is… geeky Christmas decorations!


I know for most people there is a buffer between Halloween and Christmas, and violating that buffer is cause for a dramatic sigh and a withering eye roll. Not for me. Christmas is one of my all-time favorite things. And since my Real Life Romance Option and I are celebrating our first true Christmas together, we sought out tools that would make our first Christmas tree the nerdiest high-tech tree in the land. We’re downright gleeful over what we found: Phillips Illuminate Christmas lights. These expensive but SO COOL and SO WORTH IT lights are fully programmable and app controlled, which means my smartphone wields the power of Christmas Joy. We can program our tree lights to do awesome things like display a Mass Effect style Paragon/Renegade blue and red glow or dance in sync with the Imperial March. Instead of crowning this gloriously geeky tree with a traditional star, because what fun is there in that, ThinkGeek’s Darth Vader Christmas tree topper will hold the Christmas hopes and dreams of the naughty and nice in the clutches of the dark side. Now if only I could find a way to make my Hallmark Shuttlecraft Galileo ornament compatible with these fancy new lights, I could have a Mass Effect color scheme watched over by Darth Vader while Spock wishes everyone Happy Holidays and I might die of happiness.

Any thoughts on the selections above? Let us know in the comments!



  • Shara White November 21, 2016 at 7:21 am

    Whitney: If I had a Christmas tree, it would totally be nerdy. And fully of cats. Both ornaments and real ones, because the reason we DON’T have a tree is because I don’t trust my rather festively plump cat not to destroy it!

    Lane: I adore Tana French’s work. I’ve only read the first two, and I really need to keep going. But every time I do pick up one of her books, I just want to savor them!

    • davidbrawley November 21, 2016 at 8:39 am

      Shara – I’ve found bells on the bottom of the tree helps keep it from being harassed by the local wildlife.

      I also hate how hard it is to plug my Star Trek ships into light strands… Though I’ve been told you can swap out the plugs to match whatever strand you’ve got.

    • Nancy O'Toole Meservier November 21, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      Every year is a battle. My Christmas tree v. the cats. I’ve been strategizing quite a bit this year, and plan on emerging victorious.

  • Lane Robins November 21, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    One of the things I loved about Ghostbusters was how deadpan some of the humor was. I expected a lot of slapstick (which I got), but I also got scenes like the docent at the Aldridge House giving his tour. I also loved Patty like crazy–she’s curious, she’s got a problem, she shows up, and decides hey, these people are interesting and I have something to contribute so here I am.

    Shara: I’m forever behind on the Tana French series, but every so often I grab one and catch up a bit. They’re all so immersive, you can’t help but get sucked in. Also, I hear you on the tree. I bought a fake tree (the cats like the real tree a little too much) and it came prestrung with lights–that Sammy promptly bit through. Then he ate the fake needles and vomited everywhere. Freaking cats. Now I just string lights on my fake palm tree and pretend.

    • Carey Ballard November 24, 2016 at 1:01 am

      You’ve got to watch the Kate McKinnon outtakes if you haven’t seen them already (but hey, worth watching again whenever you’re feeling down). Unfortunately I can’t get Youtube to cooperate with me (sad face).


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