28
Feb

Remembering Author Aaron Allston

   Posted by: Tom   in Nerd Writing

Wraith Squadron lost their commander today. He’s gone over the horizon beyond where we can follow.

Author Aaron Allston passed away on February 27th. Allston, 53, was a prolific author, game designer, and speaker; frequently a guest and high point of any con related to science fiction, gaming, or Star Wars. And though it seems rude to merely harp on a single piece of his career; the galaxy far far away is where I met and knew him.

I never had the pleasure of actually meeting Allston, however, in my time working as an intern in the Star Wars books offices, and in meeting other authors, I heard enough to know the greatness of the man. And that whatever skill and aptitude he had as an author, it was far outweighed by who he was as a person. The tributes that have flooded the Internet since his passing only further confirm and enhance those anecdotes.

But, as an author, Allston was known to millions of people, and Star Wars fans in particular, through the books that he wrote. He authored thirteen books in the Star Wars universe, though judging by the comments of his fellow Expanded Universe (EU) authors, his reach and influence on Star Wars went well beyond simply the words that he penned. Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s the holiday season, the time of year when families come together, for better or worse, to celebrate the bounties that we as a people are generally afforded, promote the well appointed perception about our love for food and commercialism and to begrudgingly give thanks for one another. I say begrudgingly because for every heartfelt Reddit post about a miracle connection or the hidden kindness of a sympathetic TSA agent there’s a BuzzFeed list on just surviving the holiday. For example:

Holiday Survival 

Liz Lemon’s Guide to Surviving Thanksgiving

While sitting next to your strange aunt or uppity cousin who not so subtlety reminds you how much better he’s doing in life is excruciating so too is having to consume tired casseroles or soggy overcooked vegetables between courses of decadent desserts and awesome slow cooked meats. Would you believe then, that holiday salvation can be found in the form of the most maligned vegetable in the garden.

Yes Virginia, I’m talking about the Brussels sprout. The unassuming and oft neglected little cabbage can teach us everything we need to know about rounding out a holiday meal and dealing with those odd house guests we call relatives. Read the rest of this entry »

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9
Dec

Library Review: Picture Cook: See. Make. Eat

   Posted by: Tom   in Reviews

I like quirky cookbooks. Sure, having a copy of the Joy of Cooking or Mastering the Art of French Cooking is nice, but otherwise I need the book to be a hyper-specific cuisine study or a unique approach to cooking for me to really care about recipes I could probably otherwise Google. So finding a cookbook that eschews text in favor of nearly entirely relying on pictures as a way to teach people to cook certainly grabbed my attention.

Picture Cook: See. Make. Eat is a minimalist cookbook from author Katie Shelley, who approaches cooking as a free form expression of individuality. In fact, she includes a brief forward to that effect informing readers that what follows are not “precise culinary blueprints” but are meant to inspire “experimentation, improvisation and play in the kitchen.” Read the rest of this entry »

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I’m a big fan of  games that take the dungeon delving pleasures of D&D and distill it down into a simple form that lets me get that RPG fix when I only have a few free minutes. All the better when I’m on the go.

There are plenty of mobile games that scratch that itch, but not many tabletop games, as most of them have long setup, game times or require many players. So when Dungeon Roll popped up on Kickstarter, with promises of fast dungeon delving game play, a solitaire component, and a fantastic price point; I couldn’t resist becoming a backer.

Suggested ages: 8 and up
Number of players: 1 – 4 players
Playing time: 10 – 30 minutes
Contents: Core Game 7 white party dice, 7 black dungeon dice, 1 10-sided level die, 36 treasure tokens, 24 experience tokens, 8 hero cards, 4 player aid cards, 1 rulebook and 1 book of heroes. Kickstarter Bonuses included: Dragon’s Lair card, Graveyard card, Expansion pack 1 – with 8 additional heroes, kickstarter exclusive character – Guild Leader, 1 additional white party die (for Guild Leader), 2 additional black dungeon dice, and a mimic box variant container.
Retail price: $19.95 – available on Amazon. Read the rest of this entry »

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8
Nov

Portals of the Week

   Posted by: Colin   in Links

1
Nov

Portals of the Week

   Posted by: Tom   in Links

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23
Oct

Kickstarter Roundup: October 22 – 26

   Posted by: Colin   in Kickstarter

Kickstarter is quickly becoming a favorite place for us here at Castles and Cooks to mine for our next great game or piece of cooking equipment. While the risks are well established, the chance to discover something truly unique is one of the things that keeps us coming back for more. From time to time we’ll aggregate our favorite Kickstarters here and tell you why they are worth supporting.

Methodology: We do not actually back every project listed in this round-up (though we do specifically indicate those projects we have helped fund). The projects that we choose are based on several factors, but we tend to gravitate toward projects that have low risk, great value, and where there is excellent communication about the economics. It also helps for the product to just be awesome, something that we would want to play or use. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cookies are great. Comics, also pretty fantastic. After encountering Einhorn’s Epic Cookies, a new New York based cookie company that includes a comic with every package, I wonder why no one else thought to combine them before. Luckily, Einhorn’s Epic Cookies has rectified that oversight and we no longer live in a world where cookies and comics must be purchased separately.  As Heather Einhorn explained to us, the origin story for this epic pairing can be found in the snacks and treats of yesteryear, while the cookies themselves are decidedly a family affair.

Each pack of cookies comes with a comic about  the Royal Einhorn Force. A group of unicorns made up of Houston, Broxburn, Cadiz and Romsey. Each unicorn corresponds to a different cookie:

  • Chocolate, raisin and oatmeal for Broxburn
  • Marshmallow, crisped rice and rainbow sprinkles for Cadiz
  • Chocolate chips and potato chips for Houston
  • Peanut butter, maple syrup and bacon for Romsey. (Yes, BACON!)

While the story for each pack of cookies is the same, the ending differs slightly and is customized for each horse as they battle the evil Lord Farragut. The story continues on the Einhorn Epic Cookies website, and the company promises weekly updates.

As the company was in the process of completely selling out at Comic Con, Heather sat down to explain the origins of the cookies, plans for expansion, which cookie tastes the best raw, the perfect flavor for an arch villain, and why the company decided to make a bacon cookie, with fake bacon (Don’t worry, it still tastes delicious). Read the rest of this entry »

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18
Oct

Portals of the Week

   Posted by: Jesse   in Links

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When you’re able to rise above the glut of cat photos, crazy stories about Nicholas Cage, and every meme possible to reach the top of Reddit, you’ve accomplished something. Such is the honor bestowed upon Tyler Capps, perhaps better known to the Internet as “the 2am chili guy.” From that humble Reddit beginning Tyler moved on to creating a website that he updates frequently with more comic strip recipes.

Most recently he was able to parlay this amazing recipe style into a book deal and the result is Cooking Comically: Recipes so Easy You’ll Actually Make Them, the cookbook. I met Tyler at NYCC, where he was selling his book along with a bunch of other stuff all branded with the now infamous Angus Cook, the stick figure who provides the excellent commentary on all of the recipes. This was Tyler’s first time at the show and we talked everything from what it was like to “win” Reddit, where this crazy awesome idea came from, and of course, Tyler’s desired superpower. Read the rest of this entry »

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