My Favorite Things: Stranger Things, SyFy Makeup Artists, and Geek-Chic Fragrances

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 a nostalgia driven trailer for season two of one of our favorite Netflix projects, a reality competition show focused around makeup and effects artists, and a website that sells ingredients for your own potions (kind of). Read on for more!

Carey’s Favorite Thing is…. the Season Two Trailer for Stranger Things!

My favorite thing this month is, of course, the Stranger Things Season 2 preview that ran as a Super Bowl ad. From the classic “Leggo my eggo” commercial opening (a nod to Eleven’s predisposition to microwaved waffles) to showing off the main characters dressed as Ghostbusters, so far the ad has hit all the right nostalgic notes — nostalgia being a big part of what made Season 1 so very awesome. And it looks like The Upside Down is invading our world, with a scene almost straight out of Stephen King & Frank Darabont’s The Mist. The upside down end titles are a nice visual bookend. All of it is followed up by that synthesized music that oddly reminds me of both John Carpenter horror films and that 1980s Cloak and Dagger kid/spy movie starring Henry Thomas.

Even if it is more of a teaser trailer than an actual preview, what’s not to like? I do have some reservations — please tell me the creators learned their lesson from the “What About Barb?” backlash, and that we’ll find out more about Barb and the social ramifications of her disappearance in the next season. I want Barb to be more than just a plot device. I also look forward to more great acting by Winona Ryder, who doesn’t get much airtime in this preview, but whose acting was of the best things about Season 1. I really want to like Season 2 as much as I did Season 1.

But still — Halloween can’t get here fast enough. Until then, more coffee, and more contemplation.


Sherry’s Favorite Thing is FaceOff!

One of my favorite shows is SyFy’s FaceOff. It’s a competition/elimination show where make-up and effects artists compete in challenges to create monsters and aliens and all kinds of creatures that could be used in movies and television. The winners often go on to having careers in the movie effects industry. I find the creative process of the artists intriguing. It amazes me how they are able to go from prompt to concept to creation in very little time. More than that, I love to see how they work, how they make the prosthetics, and put the entire package together. I could do without the routine whining of “oh, I couldn’t get the mould to open right away so I’m probably going home this week,” but I get that it’s there for dramatic effect. And the critique from the judges is detailed and professional. I learn so much about how the creativity and technique of the artists affects the judges’ decisions. The judges have a phenomenal pedigree. Ve Neill has won Oscars for her work on Ed Wood, Beetlejuice and Mrs. Doubtfire. Most recently she’s been the make-up department head for The Hunger Games and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises. Neville Page is a creature designer probably best known for his work on Terra Nova and Star Trek: Into Darkness. Glen Hetrick has done the special effects make-up for CSI: NY, the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery, and more. Never mind that the mentor to the contestants is Michael Westmore, make-up effects guru for all things Star Trek and more. Mostly I find the hard-work and the creativity of the contestants to be inspiring, and it helps me get back to my own writing.


Lane’s Favorite Thing is… Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab!

When I was a child, I was obsessed with “potions” — no doubt from reading way too many witchy-type books.  I made godawful messes by mixing all sorts of vile things together in a little clay pot.  Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab — BPAL — is the grown up and much better smelling version of this.

You could say that BPAL is only tangentially related to speculative fiction, since they’re an online store specializing in perfume oils.  I’d argue that there’s an undeniable fantasy/SF element.  Not only does the site feed my desire for good smells in my life, the website is weirdly lush. Though they’ve moved away from the Aubrey Beardsley-inspired art on the front pages, the site is still chock full of evocative scent descriptions, art, and quotations from fantasy writers as far apart as Lewis Carroll and Clive Barker.  And the scents themselves are often derived from fantasy sources.  You want to smell like a character from American Gods?  Or Coraline’s Other Mother’s Right Hand?  Or a slew of movies like Labyrinth or Crimson Peak?  Or evoke various devils in your perfume?  The whole site just makes the little girl in me squeak in delight, remembering all those failed potions I brewed.

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

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