Thursday, August 17, 2017


by Jaime Heller

Among the cream of the crop
with fancy, squished top
comes the fairest fungi around:
the mushroom by the pound.

You said you needed help
and so I gave out a yelp.
Oh, dear Mr. Frodo of Bag End
I will always come to aid a friend.

As we strode through Maggot’s crop,
we tripped and stumbled upon the top
of a hidden mushroom patch.
Pippin and I, the perfect match.

Sam grumbled. Frodo stared.
Neither of us much cared.
The joy of finding  a shortcut to mushrooms
did not warn us of our impending dooms.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

If 'Halo' Characters Were Pizza Toppings

As a professional philosophy degree-haver, I like to sit down every now and then and really think about the things that matter. Things like ethics and politics and even just plain old numbers and what makes a number a number. But then I sometimes like to go into a hyperbolic state of introspective comatose, peer into the greater workings of the mythoverse, and claw my way through eons of questions and answers until, at last, I am born again with those gems of human wisdom that can only be got with the utmost courage to challenge everything one knows embedded on mine own heart.

This is one such moment.

So let’s get to it. The Halo characters you’ve come to know and love/tolerate as pizza toppings.

Master Chief - Pepperoni

Master Chief and pepperoni. Both are totally classic. You can get other pizza toppings, but you’ll never beat the ol’ pepperoni punch. And both pepperoni and Master Chief are accessible. A man of few words, he isn’t exactly complicated or sophisticated, but he gets the job done. Every single time. And like pepperoni, it’s probably best if you don’t know the details of what made Master Chief Master Chief. One other similarity: they’re both flat, but neither of them are square, and fortunately, the flatness is starting to go away (at least for the Chief it is).

Cortana - Extra cheese

Ah, Cortana. Pepperoni is the go-to topping for everyone, but there’s something to be said for those who favor extra cheese. Cortana, while she is important in her own right, really enhances Master Chief’s abilities and performance. She’s the best sidekick a one-track-minded killing machine could ask for, and nothing goes with pepperoni better than cheese and more cheese. But there is the risk of too much cheese. Spoilers ahoy! We last see Cortana, at least in the games, as a villain, nearly kidnapping Master Chief and his team before blasting off to continue her diabolical plan of ruling the galaxy. And in similar fashion, cheese, our first true love in pizza, can become a ruler of all, smothering the masses of other toppings until nothing is safe in that cheesy cacophony of cheese. Add to this the cheesiness of the line “Don’t make a girl a promise you can’t keep,” and all such awkward sexual tensions between Cortana and Master Chief (and the player), and you’ve got yourself a cheesy situation. I’ll only say cheese one more time: cheese.

I lied. Cheese.

Guilty Spark - Sausage

You know, the name is a real dead giveaway because (more spoilers!) if you’ve at least played the first game, you know that Guilty Spark, who at first was so loyal and helpful, eventually betrays Master Chief and humanity, advocating for total destruction of the galaxy before letting the Flood take over. In a similar way, sausage, the hearty meat topping, promises good texture and flavor, but heavy hangs the stomach of those who eat sausage. It’s just so filling and oily! This, combined with the heartburn that it will eventually give you, makes for a somewhat mournful, albeit interesting, dinner.

The Arbiter - Banana peppers
Not enough praise is given to banana peppers. They’re hot, but not too hot. They’re complementary, but they pack a punch. They are sort of odd by themselves, but hey, live a little. The Arbiter, like the quaint yet proud banana pepper, provides an excellent tension to the whole scheme of what’s going on. He’s got some bite, but it’s a pleasant bite. People will likely pick a pepperoni pizza over just a banana pepper pizza, but you’ll have more respect for yourself if you try just a banana pepper pizza. It’s a shame an Arbiter-only game doesn’t exist. Yet.

The Gravemind - Mushrooms

Damn mushrooms and their damn mushroomness. Fie upon’t! The Gravemind, like mushrooms, is a type of parasitic monster that thrives off of the dead bodies of those it mercilessly kills. It unleashes spores to spread its evil (like mushrooms), looks like the rotted flesh of a month-old cadaver (like mushrooms), and one bad Gravemind can ruin a planet in record time, just like how a few mushrooms ruin a good pizza.

Dr. Halsey - All veggies, no cheese

Dr. Halsey is the abusive mother of the Halo universe. Uncaring, uncompassionate, and ice-cold, Halsey does technically have your best interests in mind. She wants humans to live and thrive, but her means of promoting this are both neglectful and abusive. Her love is a harsh one, devoid of warmth, just like an all-veggie pizza without cheese is devoid of what you really want, which is cheese. An all-veggie, no-cheese pizza is just a clever disguise parents use to make you eat your vegetables. Or a way for people to convince themselves that what they’re eating is healthy.

The Didact - Jalapeños

You want to be cool, punk? Then you order your pizza with jalapeños on it! That way everyone from here to ONI will know not to mess with your BAMF self. Same goes for the Didact. The Didact, one of the last of the Forerunners, has taken it upon himself to reclaim the Mantle of Responsibility that humans were to have. Him versus humanity, and humanity almost lost. But (there’s a SPOILER coming just down yonder!) The Didact faced an untimely death, at least in my opinion, at the hands of Cortana. He, like the Flood, could have been a cool villain for 343 Industries’ Halo Trilogy, not just the fourth game. And in similar fashion, jalapeños are badass ... but their death also comes with a sting, one that foretells the doom-poop you’ll be ekeing out half a day later.

Thomas Lasky - Bacon

Bacon has never ruined a pizza. I work at a pizza shop, and I can’t even think of a pizza it couldn’t go on. Even the non-pizza items are improved by bacon. Cheesy bread? Sure. Salad? Why not? Cheesy fries? Hell yeah. And Thomas Lasky manages to bring that kind of energy to the table. He’s never not a cool character. I mean, damn, just look at the guy!

Jameson Locke - Ham

Locke tries. He really does. And if you’re the kind of person who prefers that a series open up its character base, then he’s a perfect fit for the job. When we got to play as the Arbiter, no one complained, so why should they complain about Locke? He’s cool, he’s collected, and he isn’t a pushover ... but he’s not the Master Chief. He’s competition for the Master Chief, just like how ham is competition for pepperoni. Ham tastes great on things. There are whole sandwiches dedicated to ham. But on a pizza, pepperoni reigns supreme, and all ham can do is try to be more like pepperoni. Still, good effort.

The Warden Eternal - Tomato

Tomato on a pizza, especially if it’s the only topping, is just sort of weird. I mean, you already have the tomato-based pizza sauce. Why would you need more tomato? Sure it’s in a different shape and has a different texture, but I mean, c’mon. It’s pointless! You need an ingredient that complements the tomato sauce, not one that loses itself trying to one-up the sauce. The Warden has the same issue going on. In Halo 5, we already have an A.I. character that’s screwing things up, i.e. Cortana. (Yes, I’m aware that she was the cheese earlier, but she’s going to be the sauce in this analogy now. I’m the author, and I can do what I want.) We don’t really need the Warden to be a badass A.I., so he ends up coming off as extra. The wrong kind of extra. We should have had the Didact, but, you know, whatever.

Del Rio - Battery Acid

Need I say more?

So there's the list. And now you too have embedded upon your heart those gems of wisdom that only come to those willing to seek through the dark night of popular nerd culture to obtain them.

But let's ask:

1. What characters from your favorite fandom would you compare to what pizza toppings?

2. Take your favorite pizza topping and your favorite character. Is there a relation? And if there is, does that reveal anything to you? (You might surprise yourself with the revelation!)

Oh look, a


Edward Buck - Pineapple

Who doesn’t love Nathan Fillion? He’s like the Thomas Lasky of TV. He’s just good anywhere ... except maybe in Halo? I’m not saying he is, though. Not to me. I like his character. He’s charming, he’s the comedic relief, and he can fit into a number of roles and plots. So he’s like pineapple. Pineapple is good. No one really contests that. However, they do contest what pineapple is good for, and some DO NOT like it on pizza. I’m fine with pineapple on pizza. There are some cases where it wouldn’t work, but there are times it really shines--*cough cough* barbecue *cough*--and so I can appreciate it as a pizza topping. But not everyone, certainly. So Fillion, who plays Buck, maybe ought to go back to appearing in other sci-fi universes, or perhaps one in particular. And I bet you can guess which one....


Monday, August 14, 2017

Star Genetics

by Gabrielle Gold 

They say a trait your children lack
May not be its cessation,
Sometimes the empire strikes back
And skips a generation.

They named their son for Obi-Wan,
Who’s also known as Ben,
The child who was Jedi spawn
Turned into Kylo Ren.

With balance Kylo’s unconcerned,
He gave up rules and mores,
He took the path that Vader learned,
What is this, the Clone Wars?

Weak Skywalker Y chromosomes
Have been a tired trope,
But shippers writing Reylo tomes
Give Star Wars a new hope.

Star Wars logo property of Lucas Film.

Fandom Friday: Bad Poetry Week

Welcome to Fandom Friday, a weekly blog meme hosted by yours truly. I know, I know, today isn't a Friday, but this week is special. It's Bad Poetry Week!

Bad Poetry Day is August 18, and to celebrate, the Fangirl Initiative is going to be publishing a fandom-themed bad poem or two each day leading up to it. Since we missed last week, this Fandom Friday is going to last for two weeks and... drumroll, please... we'll be featuring YOUR bad poems! Yay! Anyone who links up between now and August 18 will have a chance to have their bad poems featured not only on the site, but on all of our social media platforms as well!

What is Fandom Friday?

Fandom Friday is where you, our awesome readers, get involved with The Fangirl Initiative community! Every Friday, we'll post a question or topic that spans all fandoms—books, movies, music, anything—because we want to see what you love!

How do I join?

Easy! Head on over to your blog, answer the question however you want to, and then add your link. Once you've done that, check out some of the other links, maybe leave a comment or two, and enjoy the camaraderie that comes with being a part of a fandom.

Make sure to give us a link back, whether through a traditional link or this nifty button:

As we mentioned earlier, this week's Fandom Friday is dedicated to fandom-themed bad poetry. What is a bad poem? Anything you want it to be! A lazy limerick, a horrible haiku, an alliterative paragraph that just involved you hitting enter a bunch of times... anything. To provide inspiration, we'll be posting a few bad poems each day on the site and on social media.

Follow us! On Twitter. On Facebook. On Instagram. On Tumblr.

Remember, if you link up between now and Friday, August 18, there's a chance your bad poems will be featured! (DM us or leave a comment if you'd like us to tag you on social media, and provide us with your links.) Here are a few questions to get you started:

What fandom(s) do you know the most about?
What can you write a poem about? A character? A plot point?
What do you love most about it?
What do you absolutely want in your poem?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

'Calamity' Read-Along Chapters 35-39

Welcome, welcome.

Chapter 35
This was what we'd lost. I struggled to hold back my emotions as the video ended. The coming of Calamity had broken this world in more ways than one. Prof should have still been there, teaching those children.
1) Prof sounds like a fantastic teacher, and 2) GEEZ MY HEART. Don't mind me while I pick up the pieces. Carry on.
"You, you are very smart."
"Was that...sarcasm?"
"Smart again," Abraham said.
Wow. New depths to Abraham!

Chapter 36
Now I recognized a hole inside me. For a short time in that drowned city, I'd known true freedom, powered by twin jets of water.
Why is this just hitting me now? Of course David liked the flying aspect of the spyril, not the water aspect. He is another version of Steelheart! Turning stuff to metal, flying... yeah. I don't know why I thought that his powers would have something to do with water—it makes way more sense this way.
"Hmm? Oh. One could force you to speak in rhyme. The other could speak in any made-up language anyone anywhere had imagined."
Quenyarin? Klingon? Dude, I want this power! (I promise I'm not turning evil. But the idea of being able to speak in any made-up language I want, right off the top of my head? Sounds fabulous.)

Chapter 37
"I don't know," I said. "Could be nothing. There were a lot of powers being flung around that room—maybe there was a leftover forcefield, or... or maybe some pocket of another reality..."
Duuuuude. You're an Epic. Just accept it and be awesome!

"The powers are mine," she whispered. "I claim them. My burden, my task, my self. I don't know why that mattered, but it did."
Chapter 38
I sidled up to Abraham. "The two of them are talking," I said.
"You expected maybe clucking?"
"Well, shouting. Or strangulation."
He may be brilliant when it comes to Epics, but David is remarkably clueless when it comes to how normal people work.
Could Tia have been wrong? I'd decided that she wasn't, but now—confronted with one last shot at stopping Prof—I wavered. Some thing about Prof and his powers didn't add up.
What was it Prof feared?
And we're back to that bit. Prof's weakness is certainly less easy than most of the other Epics they've faced.
"That was foolhardy," I called to him. "Stop trying to put me out of a job!"
Great. Now even Abraham, Mr. Sensible, is becoming Mr. Epic.
Gah. That makes me giddy with excitement. This is going to be the coolest throwdown ever.

Chapter 39
"You sure you don't want to pilot it, lad?"
I shook my head. "You have more experience with the tensors, Cody."
Not to mention that if they don't work for you any more, the rest of the team is going to get suspicious.
"Broke my jaw," Cody said with a laugh. "Don't poke, kid. That's what I learned." He seemed not to care much, though a broken jaw sounded like a pretty big offense to me.
But then, who hadn't wanted to punch Cody on occasion?
So we have Cody the Crazy Scot who's going to run around in the tensor suit... does that make anyone else nervous? Just me? Okay.
"Silly?" Larcener asked. "You think it isn't obvious? A man does not study, learn, obsess as you have because of hatred. No, these are the signs of lust. You have sought a father amoing the Epics, a lover among them." He stepped toward me. "Admit it. You want nothing more than to be one of us."
Gah, I wish Abraham would punch this guy in the jaw.

We're almost to the Epic showdown of the century! What are you guys hoping to see when the team finally faces Prof? (And who else really, really hopes Larcener bites it?)