Tea: Therapy Of A Different Kind

Today is International Tea Day, and while I could argue that every day should be International Tea Day, perhaps it’s best us tea enthusiasts don’t drown the common folk in our favorite blends and water boiling gadgets every day of the year. I’d happy go on about my favorite teas to you all, but there’s something I wanted and felt compelled to write about today. Tea is actually very important to me. And I’m not kidding. It was what saved me more than once. And I want to share that story.

I had my first cup of tea, real tea, when I went to London for study abroad in my junior year of undergrad. An internet friend and her family picked me up from the airport and brought me, a jet lagged and terrified nineteen-year-old who had never left the US, to their lovely home in Tea1Essex. The first thing offered, other than to bring my massive bags into the house, was a cup of tea. I had been warned that I would be offered a controversial amount of tea, but I was excited. I quickly learned that a cuppa was an intrinsic part of being English. And while there were many types of tea, when it came down to it, good old traditional black tea was still KingQueen. I was instructed on the proper way to make a cuppa during my time there and quickly became an enthusiast… even if not an expert. It also started a love affair, not only with the country itself, but with the drink that would become increasingly important to me.

It would also give me caffeine poisoning. Because it turns out if you drink too much caffeine (and if you leave green tea bags in your cup for longer than twenty minutes the potency doubles) it poisons your blood stream. Oops. SO if you have the shakes for like… a week. You probably have caffeine poisoning. Just an FYI.


This infatuation would only grow as I moseyed about the world, moving to Japan after I graduated. Ironically, I would move to Shizuoka Prefecture, famed for its green tea fields that rolled into the distance. Shizuoka tea would flood my cabinets and was the tea of choice at the high school where I taught. I would learn what matcha was most of all. A decadent frothy version of green tea that’s whisked, matcha is popular in Kyoto, the cultural epicenter of Japan, and very popular with yours truly. It’s a rare treat indeed, mostly because I have been spoiled by having matcha in its home, made by people who know what they’re doing. There are a few things that give me total comfort andmatcha is one of those. If you ever have the opportunity, please try it. It has a bitter, but silky taste that’s very powerful and is meant to be enjoyed with great respect. There’s ceremonies devoted to its preparation after all.

I remember this day perfectly, because it was probably my best day ever at the school. I didn’t teach a lot because I only taught oral communication and my high school being a high level one, they were more concentrated on writing and reading for university exams. But on this day I had three classes, got to see some of my students perform in a recital, and was invited to sado, a tea ceremony demonstration and session. I was on a high all day and it was great. Some months later the teacher who had invited me gave my a CD from the day and I still think of it fondly. It was the first time I really connected with the culture in a practical way. Sadly I wouldn’t get another chance, and a lot of this probably had to do with the feeling of sadness that overwhelmed me for much of my time in 日本.

While I was living in Japan I was diagnosed with panic disorder with depression and insomnia. I was a desk warmer at my school and felt horribly useless. I would wake up in the middle of the night gasping for breath and it got so bad I made the long distance phone call to my mother, crying that I couldn’t breathe. This continued and eventually I had to go to my supervisor and try and explain to her that I was having trouble breathing, that my chest hurt. While she spoke fantastic English, this wasn’t something easy to convey. After a few doctors visits and health scares and such later, it turned out I had Panic Disorder and Depression with Insomnia (as my very frank Japanese doctor put it… you have psychosis and depression). It made a painful amount of sense and explained the outbursts and fear I felt for a lot of my teenage years. I knew where it had all stemmed from — a toxic and horrible relationship with a thankfully now defunct and divorce step-father — but it had grown into a many headed beast in the years it took me to finally realize I wasn’t supposed to feel this way. I was put on all sorts of medications in Japan, some of which I would later find are actually illegal here in the USA of all places, but they helped. I was able to finish my year without much more issue, but with a pain in my heart and a frustration that had I figured it out and asked for help easier I could have enjoyed myself more.

One way that I would calm myself and take comfort would be with cups of tea. Every morning after the morning meeting in the staff room I tea7would wander back to the little rest area and get myself a cup of green tea and hold it to my chest. The warmth of the tea would comfort me like nothing else and it would ground me.It’s okay. Tea would become solace, relaxation, and strength for me. The photo to the left was taken and edited in Japan and at the time the difference in colors was just me trying to be artsy, but looking at it now, it means so much more. Tea was what I had to really keep me alive. And even as I write this, gazing at a younger me (with alarmingly large hair), I’m getting a little weepy. I want to go back to her and hug her and tell her she’ll make it through the rest of that year and the harsh two years that’d follow. And I want to give her more tea, because she probably should have drank a bit more.

To this day I still hold tea cups to my chest. It’s instinctive now. Sometimes it’s because I am feeling low, but other times it’s because I like the feeling of it or it’s just written into my muscle memory. I’m not on meds any more. After failing at my first MA and having to jump back and forth across the pond (I ended up returning to London multiple times) I went back on them for a period of time before working myself off them. Meds work for people and they work for me, and I will never disparage anyone seeking out medication for their brain. Brains are awful and sometimes they need help to be less awful. I decided I wanted to try without meds and it’s worked for me, but it doesn’t work for everyone. So to anyone reading this, never feel inferior for having to use medication to help you stay you. Never.

The last time I moved to London it was to do my MA in Radio, which I finished and graduated from this past February. It was a very different experience from my first MA wherein I was isolated and a horrible mess. I had moved from Japan to England almost immediately and it was not a smart decision. I had no time to adjust, reverse culture shock destroying my will power, and my inability to connect with anyone in my course made it a truly miserable experience. I found companionship and a reason to wake up in the morning by the creation of The Baker Street Babes, but in the end I had to head back to the states.  But this time it was different. I had friends, I had a purpose, I had an amazing course and colleagues, and I had tea.


Tea and various tea companies have brought me endless happiness. FromAdagio and they’re amazing contributions to all The BSB has done with SherlockeDCC and beyond to David’s Tea cold remedies staving off the cold from hell that plagued me for three months, these damn tea leaves have done a ridiculous amount for me. I also started collecting tea pots and now have these vessels of happiness from Japan, Korea, Cambodia, England, and the US.

Leaving London last year was one of the most difficult things I had to do. I had a life there, a life that was growing and one I really wanted. But visas expiring and the inability to find a place who would sponsor me to stay and work ended with me having to say goodbye. Tea3The place I had called home for the better part of three years was letting me go. It was the place that gave me my passion, inspired by travel, and gave me tea. The final thing I did in the airport as I flew out was order a pot of tea with my breakfast. I had to. I needed to. It was my farewell in its purest form. And it was a thank you. Thank you for introducing me to a simple but vital thing that would get me through so much. Thank you for sharing a part of your culture that fostered friendships and companionship. Thank you for giving me the joy of making tea for hardworking friends and colleagues as we collaborated. Thank you for the warmth, for the caffeine, and for that special feeling in my chest when you grounded me.

There are many types of therapy in the world. For me, tea is the best of all.

Happy International Tea Day. And thank you.

The Creepiest Christmas Carols You’ll Hear This Holiday Season

For those who celebrate Christmas, and those subject to its mass commercialization, carols flood the airwaves on every radio station and in every store. Back in the day when I use to work at Barnes & Noble, I would dread the day after Thanksgiving. Yes, it was the hell hole known as Black Friday, but it was also the start of constant Christmas carols being played overhead. They’d repeat so much that it would eventually turn into white noise… until a new CD was put into the system, and then the torture would begin all over again. And this isn’t to say I don’t like Christmas carols, I do. But please save me from hearing them everywhere.

However, as I was cruising the interwebs this morning, I came across some carols with a minor twist. Chase Holfeder is a singer on YouTube who in addition to his own work, offers covers of various songs, and most interestingly, minor covers of major key songs. I actually first heard his minor key Star Spangled Banner just after he started his channel and was immediately entranced. I played the clarinet in middle and high school… very badly, and i never had any interest (or talent) in music theory, so I had no idea that changing the key of a song would have such an effect. But boy does it, especially when applied to normally cheery Christmas songs.

Collaborating with fellow YouTuber Kurt Hugo Schneider, Chase has given us a creepy All I Want From Christmas Is You that is equal parts melancholy as it is rocking.

Last year he covered Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas in an equally creeptastic fashion, and it’s just begging to be used for a horror Christmas film. Those things exist, yeah?

You can check out more of Chase’s work on his YouTube Channel .

5 Fandom Friday: My Very Nerdy Christmas Wishlist!


Ironically, the last time I did one of these 5 Fandom Friday posts (created by my friend Megan at The Nerdy Girlie) was around this exact time last year. And it’s pretty much on the same topic. One day I’ll do these weekly. But for now tis the holiday season, and as such, here is another nerdy wishlist from yours truly!


  1. こたつ! Kotatsu! I’m cheating a little because I know I’m getting one (that you Mommy!!!), but this traditional heated Japanese table is the number one thing on my wishlist for the past six years… basically ever since I had to leave mine behind in Japan. It’s a table with a heater under it, and you put a blanket between the heater and the table top and then you find nirvana. It’s the coziest and happiest place on earth, and when you live in a basement apartment like yours truly, it’s a must in the winter. If you’d like more of an explanation and history of the こたつ you can check out this adorable video.


2. I can’t drink wine. I’m either allergic or very intolerant to tannins in addition to having an alcohol intolerance to most of the world’s adult beverages (it’s a sad and very long story), but I love this glass. I spied it on Your Joyologist and just fell in love. I try to challenge myself daily, to do the scary or the crazy thing. So this mantra is something I both live by and need to hear ever so often when I get cold feet. Plus it’s classy as fuck.


3. Gudetama!!!!! The lazy egg from Sanrio is the cutest and weirdest thing. When I was in Japan in September I discovered him with help to one of my former students. It was love at first sight and I now own quite an array of Gudetama merchandise. I don’t know what it is about him, but he gives me life. I only have a few Pop!  and Funko figurines, but he needs to join them. He had a series of shorts thanks to Sanrio on YouTube. They’re all delightfully odd.



4. Nug Plush! If you’ve spent any time here, especially on my twitter, you know I’m obsessed with Dragon Age. Nugs are the cure little wrinkly rabbit-like things that parade all over the place. I seem to have a thing for odd yet cute things… hmmm. I can’t have a real Nug of my own, but I can get myself a fuzzy plushy one from the BioWare store.



5. Canon EOS Rebel T3i DSLR (Canon) A repeat from last year because one day I’ll be able to afford a nice camera again, and when I do, it’ll be from the Canon Rebel line… because they’re the best. Fight me.


What’s on your nerdy Christmas list??

Scrumptious Saturday: Daiya Vegan Greek Yogurt

So I’ve been a veganish person for the past six years. I say veganish because I do eat eggs, I started again around a year ago. I also eat honey. But being very lactose intolerant, it’s usually easier to tell people I’m vegan than a lactose intolerant vegetarian… because then I’ll have to explain what that is. But I digress, being veganish has introduced me into the world of food alternatives for better or for worse. For the first few years I never ate any “fake meat” or “fake cheese” because the idea freaked me out, but then I found myself have texture cravings that I just wasn’t getting from my veggies. I wanted something meaty or creamy and it was driving me mad. So I experimented and satiated those cravings like crazy and haven’t really turned back. However, there is a lot of alternatives out there and a lot of them are awful, especially texture wise. But one brand that I can wholeheartedly praise and recommend is Daiya. They make plant based dairy alternative cheese products, and their cheese actually melts. I know that will sound horrifying to you normal cheese eating people, but for us veggies who can’t stomach the true and blue stuff, this is a major issue. Lots of vegan cheese just kind of gets warm and goopy, but won’t actually melt. Daiya melts into a gooey and rich mess of amazing.

A week ago I heard of something amazing. Daiya, my favorite non-dairy brand of deliciousness, had come out with yogurt. And not just yogurt, but Greek yogurt. It’s the holy grail of yogurt. Thick and creamy and packing a punch with plant based protein, I cannot tell you how excited I was. And of course, I couldn’t find it anywhere. It was new, of course it wouldn’t be in my little satellite city! But low and behold, I found it. I may have screamed.


Most vegan yogurt leaves a lot to be desired: it’s watery, it’s basically just empty carbs and calories, and it’s kind of gross. I’ve tried a lot of vegan yogurt, desperately trying to find something for my morning that had the protein I wanted and needed but also the taste. Coconut and almond yogurt were tasty, but thin, and had no protein really to speak of. Soy yogurt, specifically Silk, was my go to for the past year because it actually had protein… but there was also the issue of it being soy. There’s a lot out there on the mighty plant that is in practically everything, and not a lot of it is positive. It’s a filler for so much of our food and, like most things, too much of it is not good for you, especially us ladies. Yes, I will acknowledge that fermented soy is good for you, and that’s not what I’m talking about. I love miso soup like a fiend and I do eat tofu every now and then, but just take a look at the ingredients in a lot of the stuf fin your pantry. You’ll be shocked at how much soy and soy derivatives are in it. And don’t even get me started on Monsanto. There’s a lot of debate about it, and I won’t get into that here.

My sister use to be deathly allergic to soybean, like anaphylactic shock level allergic. So I spent most of my time growing up obsessively reading ingredients to make sure no soy was in anything that came into our house. It was probably a good thing I was’t veggie back then. She’s not allergic anymore (fun fact, our body chemistry kinda changes every 7ish years, so you can grow out of allergies even as an adult… you can also magically get allergies as an adult, it’s annoying), but she still avoids it understandably. So I try to as much as I can because I feel guilty and also I want to keep my diet balanced and not so reliant on it.

12291896_786887429792_4091808047952721919_oSo when I found the Daiya yogurt at my local Mom’s Organic Market, I grabbed one of each available flavor (they didn’t have the peach), and headed home. At $1.65 a pop, they’re pretty much the same price as all the other non dairy yogurts, so that was nice, and honestly, I wouldn’t mind paying more for it. I love Daiya that much.

And with good reason. Their products are ACE. This yogurt is delicious. It’s thick, creamy, and loaded with flavor and fruity bits! It definitely fills that Greek yogurt craving and it has a killer 8g of protein in each cup! I’m just plain delighted.

I know many of you are asking, what is IN this stuff if it’s not actual yogurt?! You can find the full ingredients on Daiya’s website, but the short version is that there’s coconut cream, creamed coconut, pectin, and pea protein. Also potato protein… which I did not know was a thing.

Also, the irony of there being Silk chocolate soy milk in my fridge is not lost on me.

If you want to learn more about Daiya’s products, they have all the info you need on their website, complete with full ingredient lists and nutritional facts… because it’s nice to know what you’re putting in your body.

Alston Stephanus: Indonesian Fashion Icon. Cosplayer. Costume Designer.

Swarovski crystals. French lace. And more feathers than the fanciest of birds.

These are just some of the defining features of Jakarta born Alston Stephanus’ fashion designs. In 2005 this creative young man created his own accessories company, redefining what Indonesian fashion was through mixing Victorian glamour with traditional Javanese Keraton. It’s nature and wildlife with elegance and a touch of whimsy, and it’s 100% Alston.

And what’s particularly amazing is that he never attended any sort of fashion school, his training all done on his own out of sheer determination. And a great deal of skill.

So how did Alston Stephanus Accessories get started? Alston says he “…was first drawn to fashion from [his] family, which gradually progressed into dressing up [his] friends for their special events like prom.” His hobby continued to grow and grow until he realized he needed to take the next step, so he created his “own accessories company based on what [he] loved to do. Connecting the animation world to reality by using unusually different materials to make accessories has always been a source of inspiration…”


With ten years of success behind him now, it’s hard to choose just one thing to be proud of. However, when it comes down to it, what he’s taken away from the previous decade is both humbling and powerful.

“I am proudest of the fact that I can present a fantasy interpretation of my motherland culture, Indonesia, for the world to see.”

On a world stage that is so dominated by high end European fashion, the fact Alston can, in some way, highlight the rich culture and creativity of Indonesia is wonderful. It’s an exploration of an aesthetic not as well known, and his pioneering is to be commended. One of his muses is Dewi Sri, the Indonesian Rice Goddess. Her elaborate headpieces and representation of the harvest and nature is clearly seen throughout a lot of his work, and the fact Alston can and does use traditional Indonesian lore and is being celebrated for it is quite significant in the fashion world.

Miss Earth Indonesia, Nita Sofiani

And on the flip side of all that, Alston Stephanus is “…also very proud that [he] can break out of the norm from the Indonesian fashion industry.” And this stems from his involvement in the world of burlesque, cabaret, cosplay, and the circus… which is a pretty far cry from the pageant stage. Though perhaps it’s not so great a leap, given his passion for the sublime and playful. “My projects within these interests have been the most satisfying.” And it’s not hard to see why.His work in Indonesia is lauded, especially as he’s the official designer of the magnificent crowns and accessories for the Miss Tourism Indonesia pageant as well as Miss Earth Indonesia, whose outfit was inspired by Ibu Pertiwi, the national personification of Indonesia. The latter came about because of his collaboration with high-end haute couture designer Rusly Tjohnardi Atelier to create the best National costume in Asia for the Miss Earth 2013 pageant, as worn by Indonesia’s Nita Sofiani.

Alston’s Keraton inspired Queen Amidala costume was 1 of 15 selected to compete in the “Best of Star Wars” category at the Disney D23 Expo Costume Competition. In addition he designed a high fashion Darth Vader for The Masterpiece Strikes Back: A Fashion Exploration last year. But I’ll have more on that when the force strikes back in December ;).



His cosplay portfolio is one to be admired, not only for the amazing pieces he’s created, but for the vision and re-creation, especially with his Maleficent and R2D2/Megaman. It’s good to know that nerds are everywhere. You can find more of his cosplay photos on his instagram.

From heroic myths to fantastical fairy tales, Alston’s inspiration is drawn from anything and everything whimsical; be it from nature, science fiction, anime, comics, or fantasy.

So what is his ultimate goal? “My vision for the Alston Stephanus Accessories brand would be to design accessories for something along the lines of the Star Wars films, or American Horror Story, Grim, Once Upon A Time, Game of Thrones, and The Librarians. Anything with a sense of fantasy and fairytale.” And he’s well on his way to doing that.

Luc Besson’s upcoming sci-fi project Valerian and The City of A Thousand Planets is holding a costume design contest and Alston is hard at work creating the perfect entry for this sci-fi odyssey. So what’s the challenge?

“Designers are asked to create a piece that could be worn by a human, alien, humanoid or any other intergalactic creature you can think of. The scene for which you are designing will take place at a political cocktail party inside a space station called Alpha and the year is 2580. Designers are encouraged to get inspired by the video to the right and read more about the costume specifications and film below.” [Source]

Twenty designers will be chosen by Filmmaker Luc Besson, Editor in Chief of Yahoo Style Joe Zee and Valerian Costume Designer Olivier Bériot. Those twenty will receive a $1,000 prize and might just have their design created and worn by actors in the film.

Least to say, Alston is more than excited about the contest that could put him one step closer to his dream of designing for film. He says that it would, of course, be amazing to win, but there’s also many possibilities that could come from his design. He’s just happy to be creating. And so are we, because we have exclusive illustrations and photos of his contest entry!


“My design is inspired from a Javanese knight.” In keeping with his roots, Javanese culture has been a hallmark of Alston’s work since the beginning. And it’s that same muse, Dewi Sri, that has inspired his design. From the headpiece that is inspired by grass and rice fields (Dewi Sri is the Goddess of Rice) to the body of the design that represents “Ray of Light” (she protects against hunger, hence sun to make the harvest grow), it’s frankly, rather stunning. And more importantly, rich in culture.


“I’m making a female version of the traditional armor and bringing in a sense of nature as well.” This costume is his version of royalty at war and will include full metal works in the skirt. The shoulder piece is even based off traditional Wayang armor. It’s appropriate for Valerian because it is definitely out of this world.

In the end, this might of fashion ingenuity wants to “make Alston Stephanus Accessories not just a brand, but also a lifestyle.” From wearable pieces of art to ingenious cosplay to movie worthy design, I daresay he’ll make it.

You can find out more about Alston Stephanus Accessories online at alstonstephanus.com, also on facebook, twitter, and instagram.

A Very Sherlockian PJ Party


I have the distinct pleasure of having helped raise $16,000 for wounded and disabled veterans the past three years thanks to The Baker Street Babes Daintiest Charity Ball. Amazing and generous people donate arts, crafts, and collectibles to us and we auction them off during the annual BSI Weekend. BSI Weekend is basically a week in Manhattan where Sherlock Holmes fans all congregate together form all over the world and geek out by attending various swanky parties and getting really drunk. It’s an amazing time and I make sure never to miss it (especially since I co-host the charity ball and all, but I digress).


This year we’re back at it and to add a flair of whimsy, we’re having a PJ party! Yes, so come in your tails and ballgowns or in dressing gowns and bunny slippers.

The Daintiest Thing in a Dressing Gown Pyjama Party

Hosted by William Gillette. The Baker Street Babes present a charity ball to benefit the Disabled American Veterans Trust.

Thursday, January 14th at 8:00 p.m.  The Player’s Club at 16 Gramercy Park South, NY 10003

Cost: $45.00 – $65.00

Open to all Sherlockians and their friends. There will be a buffet dinner, cash bar, live music, prizes, toasts, and entertainment.

Tickets went on sale today, so if you’ll be in or can get into the NYC area on January 14th, we’d love to have you! You can find a bit more information at the BSB website and buy tickets by clicking the banner above or at this handy dandy link.

Hope to see you there!

Review: One World Symphony’s Hannibal Opera

Last summer I wrote about the Game of Thrones opera that was premiering in New York City to much delight. Of course there needed to be a Khaleesi opera in the world, why hadn’t someone done this sooner? The sheer idea of it delighted me beyond explanation, and when I saw there was a Hannibal teaser released as well, I knew the word had to be spread. There are a great many Hannibal fans amongst my friends, and it’s not hard to understand why. So when I received a lovely invitation to see the Hannibal opera in NYC, I knew it was a chance to spread the fantastic and creative event One Symphony was putting on with more people. Sadly, I couldn’t go, but I knew someone who could. This is a guest post by Chelsea Moquin

If you had simply asked me what kind of adaptation I would’ve liked to see created from one of my favorite shows, an opera would certainly be the last item on my list. Not necessarily for distaste of the form, but with general ignorance toward its many splendours. Yet Sung Jin Hong of One World Symphony had me convinced within a few moments of his Hannibal opera that it fit the exquisite television series perfectly.

The event on Sunday night at the Church of the Holy Apostles in New York City began with four introductory pieces, all classical in form and bearing some close resemblance or connection to Hannibal. I considered them something like warm-ups, preparing our ears (and eyes, in some cases) for the journey we were soon to undertake. Each piece worked to lull me into the contemplative attitude I often adopt when actively trying to pay attention to music. They were haunting, beautiful, and at times, quite loud and jarring; each worked to build suspense on almost an unconscious level – much like the show.

Composer-conductor Sung Jin Hong interacting with his guests from the sold-out world premiere of “Hannibal.”

Sung Jin Hong, the composer and director of the Hannibal opera, stood to introduce himself to the crowd once the first four pieces were complete. He asked a few questions, including one to the affect of how many of us were first timers. I raised my hands immediately, noting I was among maybe ten or twenty others. He then asked who among us were Fannibals, and I was delighted to see more than half of the crowd raise their hands. As he went on to play selected sections of his opera and explain their composition, I realize I felt more comfortable from the acknowledgement alone than I had the entire night. Much less like a fish out of water, and more like a welcomed fan in a new fandom.

The main event consisted of three parts and essentially five scenes. I was delighted to find that the characters of Hannibal, Will, Abigail, and Mischa (Hannibal’s sister) were all present and even resembled their characters from the show. The opera followed the events of season one, delving into the depths of Hannibal’s mind and taking Will, as well as the audience, along with him. Part one focused on what exactly turned Hannibal into a cannibal. Mischa stood in the pulpit of the church, calling Hannibal’s name while the woodwinds in the orchestra, a tribute to Hannibal’s victims, cried out in what seemed to be despair and sadness. Hannibal drifted through the crowd (and I bounced excitedly in my seat) as the music continued, carrying us through his nightmares.

Countertenor Nicholas Tamagna performing the title role of Hannibal.
Countertenor Nicholas Tamagna performing the title role of Hannibal.

Part two found Will and Hannibal together, Will studying the murder scene and using his empathy to drift further into Hannibal’s mind. Luckily, that night I was accompanied by my friend Finn, who not only understands and appreciates music, but appreciates an undying passion and strange enthusiasm for television shows. She explained to me after the show that Hannibal, played by Nicholas Tamagna, was a countertenor, while Will Graham, played by Ransom G. Bruce, was a tenor. To a simple peasant like myself, it sounded like Hannibal had a higher voice, while Will’s was lower. Finn (after a hearty chuckle) granted that this was… mostly correct. She mentioned that the instruments accompanying each singer complimented the tenor of their voices, and during the Empathy scene, blended quite nicely. That fact alone fit with the show’s premise perfectly: in the show, Will’s mind is manipulated by Hannibal to the point where, by the end of season one, his actions and decisions are nearly completely under Hannibal’s influence. For the second scene, Abigail joins Will, and together they express what they have undergone together. Abigail has lost her father, but gained two more; Will has lost his innocence, but gained both Hannibal and Abigail. They created a family together, but as the darkness of the music portrays they are “deeply entrenched in [Hannibal’s] escapable force.”

A chorus of voices joined at the end of the scene to whisper an accompanying poem that Sung Jin Hong included. The voices felt vindictive and accusatory, as though they were watching the deep trap Abigail and Will were falling into with judgemental glares. Yet we know, whether fans of the show or not, that they will continue to remain at Hannibal’s mercy. Scene three showed Abigail’s distress over confessing her transgressions to Will, expressing her worry and despair to Hannibal. This section included a highly anticipated moment for me, in which the “symphonic image of Hannibal’s Ravenstag” would appear. Alas, my ears were not equipped to pick up such nuance, and I was upset that I missed the allusion. From my seat at the side of the church, I could not see the display on the screen, so much of the words and dialogue were beyond me as well. Thankfully, these are the only problems I had with the production as a whole.

Debut of its 16-member vocal ensemble, One World Concertus, Chorusmaster Sung Jin Hong, performing Faure’s Requiem and as a Greek chorus in “Hannibal
Debut of its 16-member vocal ensemble, One World Concertus, Chorusmaster Sung Jin Hong, performing Faure’s Requiem and as a Greek chorus in “Hannibal”

Part three found all of the characters in the main space to interact for the final scene. The music comes to a crashing conclusion and the story reaches its climax, depicted excellently through what I learned were “piano clusters” (props again to the brilliant program). Will rushes to Hannibal’s house and finds Abigail alive, and is barely able to overcome his surprise before Hannibal stabs him dramatically in the stomach. He asks for Will’s forgiveness as he slashes Abigail’s throat and she dies before them. It may seem like a strange, ridiculous scene to an outsider – but as a Hannibal fan, I was ecstatic. Each of the singers fully committed to portraying the interaction perfectly, miming the violent acts as well as the tender gazes between each character. My favorite part of the night was Sung Jin Hong capturing the essence of Will and Hannibal’s relationship and true connection: Hannibal, the perfectly crafted and composed killer, allows Will Graham to truly “see” him. A piano solo drifts through as Hannibal speaks these words, and I was completely entranced. I realized in that moment that not only did I want to see the rest of the show enacted in this exact fashion, but I missed the show terribly. I was incredibly sad, but for the best reason.

Sung Jin Hong expresses his gratitude towards One World Symphony and its concertmaster Michael Mandrin
Sung Jin Hong expresses his gratitude towards One World Symphony and its concertmaster Michael Mandrin

Throughout the evening, I found what the program described as the “dichotomy of traits” of humans illustrated perfectly. The music followed what seems to be the contradicting nature of Hannibal: his supreme elegance, high-brow character, and devotion to the profound. Everything about his character is calculated and presented carefully, from his pristine suits to his perfectly arranged meals. The music played for us displayed the kind of beauty that can often accompany supreme and even violent madness. It led us through Will’s descent into Hannibal’s mind, through the depths and darkness as it captured Abigail, and back to the surface once more. From a removed perspective of a viewer (or in this case, a listener), the workings of Hannibal’s twisted mind is an amazing thing to witness, and Sung Jin Hong’s Hannibal Opera made it an incredible thing to experience in musical form, as well.

More information on One World Symphony can be found on their website. Many thanks to One World Symphony for the photographs of the event taken by Jaka Vinsek.

chelseaChelsea Moquin is an aspiring screen and television writer living in Brooklyn. During the weekdays, she works at a production company in Manhattan, though in her off-hours she is a full-time fangirl and fanfiction enthusiast. She is a member of the Three Patch Podcast and devotes the rest of her free time and energy to all things Sherlock Holmes and/or Benedict Cumberbatch related. You can reach her on twitter, tumblr, or explore her website at chelseamoquin.com.

If you would like to guest post for Very Nerdy Curly, please get in touch!

Boo! On Ghosts, Spirits, & Tom Hiddleston’s Ass

Tomorrow is Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, the day where our world and whatever notion of the afterlife/Veil/Fade you believe or don’t believe in are the closest.

I’m spending Halloween in Gettysburg with a friend and fellow history buff. We’ll picnic on the battlegrounds, roam about the adorable and historically significant town, and then we’re going on a ghost hunt (followed by a midnight showing of Crimson Peak). A ghost hunt you say? Yup. We’ll be given paranormal equipment and everything apparently. When she first asked me my immediate reaction was “oh god I’m such a chicken.”

ghosthugI don’t do horror. The Shining has scarred me for over a decade. I scream at anything that jumps out at me. My sister use to have long hair and would stand outside my bedroom door as Samara from The Ring patiently until I opened it. Multiple times. I always fell for it. She’s probably still laughing at me. I scare easily. I made the mistake of watching the first season of Supernatural in the dark (it was freaking SCARY in the early days). I’ve watched ghost hunting shows… well parts of them, before having to change channels (either from being freaked out or laughing at the ridiculousness of it). The radio series I’m writing actually deals with ghost hunters, and I’m some sort of masochist because this involves a lot of me researching horrible hauntings and things, which just freak me out. Despite all this, the world of the “beyond” still intrigues me.

After having a rather enlightening discussion with this same friend about spirits, ghosts, and what we believed or didn’t, it got me thinking about what I actually thought about what happens to people (and animals) after passing on.

So I asked twitter and facebook if they believed in ghosts.

Screenshot 2015-10-30 16.20.18

As expected, the answers were pretty evenly split. Just as much people think the idea of the existence of ghosts is rubbish as many claimed to have had their own experiences with the supernatural.

Screenshot 2015-10-30 16.25.09

As for me? I’m one of those obnoxious people who isn’t quite sure. On one hand, I only believe in hard facts, things that science can prove. On the other hand, I’ve had more than one occasion where I’ve been unsure, that my gut is telling me something vastly different from my brain. I don’t know if I necessarily believe in spirits waltzing around with unfinished business, but I do think there can be remnants of someone left behind, especially in traumatic death. I’ve been places where suddenly everything would feel… different. The energy would change. I’m empathetic by nature, so I’m already sensitive to other people, so perhaps i’m sensitive to this sort of thing too. I don’t know, I can’t explain it, but I would feel something odd and just need to leave. And I know I’m not alone in this.

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I’m easily spooked. Just a few weeks ago I was puppy sitting and the two were going absolutely ape-shit barking at this one spot in this one room. They would not stop. They wouldn’t go in there either. The house made a lot of weird noises that night and I was so convinced there was something that I slept upstairs instead of in my bedroom down below. Was my mind playing tricks on me? Probably most definitely. Was I still weary of the fact something was roaming about the house? Yup. My overactive imagination has trumped my rationale on more than one occasion and my general cynical nature had beat myself up about it even more.

I’m also a very superstitious person. While a lot of this I believe stems from my panic and anxiety disorders (I will seriously fret over the most innocuous and ridiculous of things), I can’t deny that there is something more to it as well. I have rituals I go through every night to ask for protection of those I love. I don’t even know who I’m asking or what, but I can’t imagine not doing the ritual because then something horrible will happen. It just will. In this same vein, I’m a big believer in charms (called omamori): all of which I’ve gotten at Shinto shrines in Japan. Shintoism is big on ritual, and even all Shintoists don’t necessarily believe in the spirits/gods (kami), but believe in the power of ritual (offerings, prayer to wish good luck and get rid of bad luck) and “energy.” The same energy that many people spoke of possible believing in or understanding that certain places can have that weird energy left over after death.  I don’t claim to ascribe to Shintoism in any vein, but I find comfort in the rituals of scarring bad spirits away to make wishes, of fortunes, and of the charms they sell to believers and non-believers alike. I keep a charm warding against evil in my wallet and gave happiness charms to my mom and sister. My sister still has a safe driving charm she got five years ago and claims it’s helped her on more than one occasion. We all believe they work and really, as I suppose with any faith or superstition (or what-have-you), the personal belief is all that really matters.

Omamori for sale.

So if you believe in ghosts, whether you have had your own experiences or not, that’s cool. If you think this and everything I’ve just said is batshit, cool beans. You’re allowed to think that.

So we’ll see what this ghost hunt brings. Perhaps it will be super hokey and we’ll spend the whole time laughing and shouting out into the dark if some poor Civil War soldier has anything to say. Or perhaps or ghostometer thingie will start beeping and I’ll run away screaming. The movie will probably scare me out of my mind because well, creepy ghost things. But at least, at the end of the night, I’ll get to see Tom Hiddleston’s ass, so that’s something.


How about you? Do you believe in ghosts?

Dress Like The Fade With The Dragon Age Fall Collection

Cole: Your clothes look like the Fade, Dorian.
Dorian: The stuff of dreams? An explosion of color and sensation wrapped in an enigma?
Cole: It’s shiny.

If you follow me on twitter or tumblr, then you know I am epically obsessed with Dragon Age. It’s BioWare’s fantasy baby and was a HUGE part of my life last year when I didn’t really have anything. I dove in without knowing anything about the series and fell, as my friend Ardy put it, “heart first.”

Me & my Cullen tank <3

And I really did. I’ve clocked an alarming amount of hours on Dragon Age: Inquisition between my current FIVE playthroughs and I’ve beaten the first two in the series multiple times as well. The lore is rich, the characters well developed and interesting and complex, and everything is pretty with lots of magic. I like magic. It was instrumental in getting me back into gaming and has broaden my horizons considerably in terms of the media I enjoy. Long had I thought my love of fantasy was dead when the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy ended, but I’m back to being fantasy loving trash. And I mean that in the most sincere way possible. It’s a great genre and is endless in its possibilities. So thanks for that.

One of the first things I do when I fall in love with something is scour the internet to buy things to show how much I love it. So finding official and fan made Dragon Age merchandise was my number one goal for a good few weeks. I initially got my hands on the Cullen tank and Tevinter hoodie and more stickers of the characters than I care to admit, and that was fabulous. And then rumors started spreading that BioWare and ThinkGeek were creating some new items. Eventually these were revealed at a fashion show at PAX Prime to much delight and squeals and much of the internet opening their wallets. Everything looked amazing, and better yet, it looked unique. These weren’t just the run-of-the-mill t-shirts with the logo on them, no, these pieces were actually conceptualized and reflected the characters. And they were interesting pieces in terms of their construction as well. I was immediately impressed and the more I learned about what BioWare and ThinkGeek were working on, the more jazzed I got.

Dorian Hoodie! Look at those buckles and drool along with me.

The Dragon Age Fall Collection dropped today at the Bio Ware store and immediately my timeline exploded. And it’s not had to see why. The stuff looks stellar. These were all created in conjunction with ThinkGeek Solutions, and it’s a partnership I never want to see die.

Let’s also take a moment to really commend Bio Ware for catering to us ladies. Women are the majority of gamers, despite what G4merG4te wackos preach, and it’s nice to see that recognized in terms of merchandise.

But what’s even more important it supporting this, because the more merch women gamers buy, the more that will be generated. It’s a win-win for us really because we get more stuff and thus they will continue to make more for us. Bio Ware is really great at listening to its fan base, especially in comparison to other studios. Players have always had the option of playing as a man or woman and they’ve been including more homosexual, bisexual, and transgender characters, story lines, and romances in recent games.

Templar bae Cullen hoodie. Look at that adorable flared out waist!
Templar bae Cullen hoodie. Look at that adorable flared out waist!

And these characters have become very popular; case and point with Dorian Pavus getting his own hoodie! That sort of representation in terms of merchandise is still very rare today, so it’s great to see. Not to mention, I know the vast majority of my timeline is gunning for that hoodie because of their love of Dorian. That’s telling.

It’s important to support studios who do this, so make your voices heard and wear cute things as well!

You can pre-order the fall collection goodies at the BioWare store.

Scrumptious Saturday: Moriarty Mulled Cider

“You must drop it, Mr. Holmes, you really must, you know.”

– Professor James Moriarty, The Final Problem

Whoops! This was supposed to go up yesterday, but the kitchen was a bit busy and so here’s a special Sunday edition of Scrumptious Saturday! I was trying to think of something that would be a good follow up to my TARDIS cupcakes, which were quite popular (the official Doctor Who tumblr reblogged them!), but was falling a bit short. That’s when I remembered that I have a few Sherlock Holmes cookbooks and grabbed a random one off the shelf and went to work.


I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now, but just in case you haven’t, I’m a huge Sherlockian. Like, it can be a little alarming. I run a Sherlock Holmes podcast, host huge events in honor of the detective, am a member of the invite only Baker Street Irregulars, and have a growing collection of Great Mouse Detective memorabilia (mostly thanks to people who know how much I love the movie and thus send me finds they come across, I am not worthy). Anywho, I like Sherlock Holmes.  So of course I have multiple Sherlock Holmes cookbooks. The one I grabbed was called The Sherlock Holmes Cookbook by John Farrell, though the recipe I ended up being inspired by was actually by Sean Wright in the Baker Street Meals & Menus section. The book itself is kinda meh. I wasn’t overly impressed and found a lot of the recipes a bit mundane, but it did offer inspiration in an unlikely way.


I came across this mulled cider recipe and laughed. Moriarty? Mulled cider? These two things do not match. I mean, yes, Moriarty is an Irish surname and Irish cider is a thing, but if anything I would have made it Moriarty’s Mulled Wine. As my friend Sora pointed out, Moriarty’s drinks should be red, because the man is a villain, etc etc. But it’s October and the idea of warm cider was too good to pass up. But this recipe was boring. I needed to jazz it up a bit. Not to mention that the Victorian trailer for the new Sherlock special was just released and thus I was feeling extra inspired. Here, have a watch and get excited with me:

Now that we’re all on the same page and screaming with joy. Let’s make ourselves a worthy mulled cider, shall we?


  • 1/2 gallon of apple cider
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 shot brandy (or more if you want to booze it up)
  • A few squeezes of honey
  • A pinch of salt
  • Optional: Add mulling spices or a combination of whole cloves and allspice for added spice



  1. Combine everything, yes, everything. Wait, not the 4th cinnamon stick, save that.
  2. Bring to a slow boil and then let simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Strain to get all the bits and bobs out of it. Strain again just to be sure.
  4. Put into a mug, plop the extra cinnamon stick in there, and enjoy! For an extra boozy treat, add another shot of brandy.

ciderIf you want to make it red, you can always crush some cranberries in there or even throw in food coloring. I’m not a food coloring addict, I promise. It’s just fun. I’m apparently also a child and just love eating and drinking things that are ridiculous colors. I kept mine it’s regular color, though now I’m tempted. Top this with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon for an extra indulgent treat, and even freeze it for mulled cider pops, because why not?!

Nothing about mulled cider is really Moriartyish, let’s be real. Even pulling the Irish cider card. I accept that. I’m not sure why the authors of this cookbook felt to attach the professor’s name to this delicious warm beverage, but it gave me a chance to ramble about Sherlock Holmes again. Not to mention that it’s still tasty and a perfect treat on a chilly autumn evening.