Favorite Things 2011

Last December I wrote an article called “The Favorite Things Post” that highlighted a few things I liked. In honor of Oprah’s normal broadcast television show ending I called it that. Now I know Oprah has her own freakin’ network, and at least one magazine, and I’m certain she’s out there floggin’ her favorite things this year like every year, but I’m going to offer a list and call it my favorite things, and I shall fear no Oprah and here is why….

What is up with Oprah being so damn popular? I never got it. And women who like her would tell me, she’s so accessible, she’s like me. What the heck do you mean, she’s like me, I would ask. After a long, thoughtful pause I would be told she struggles with her weight. That’s it? That’s all it takes? Gather round your monitors people…..I struggle with my weight, I struggle with gray hair, and I’m in my mid-thirties and still struggling with acne! So using my rudimentary math skills I calculate that I am THREE TIMES more accessible than Oprah, and thus should be three times more popular. Oprah, you’ve had a good run, why not get some rest and leave the favoriting of things to me?

Let’s get to it, shall we? There was A LOT of great stuff in 2011 but somehow I managed to whittle it down to only 10 things.

Below is a list of My Favorite Things 2011. I tried to provide websites where you can learn more and/or make purchases. Nearly everything I talk about is available on Amazon.com. Heck, most of it is on the Amazon.com widget on the right hand side of the screen here! That said, when possible you should try to support your local businesses. I’m sure now that they know what the all mighty Rebecca has proclaimed “favorite” they are all scrambling to full their shelves with these awesome wares!

Voices of Gnosticism
Miguel Conner has this radio show called Aeon Byte where he interviews authors and scholars about Christianity, Gnosticism, and other subjects. Bardic Press had this great idea to transcribe some of the interviews into a book they called “Voices of Gnosticism”. What a great way to learn about Gnosticism! The conversational tone makes the sometimes tricky subject matter much easier to digest. If you’re looking to learn about Gnosticism, this is a great place to start!

Voices of Gnosticism by Miguel Conner: http://www.voicesofgnosticism.com/ (Right on the front page of the site is a convenient list of links of places to order the book from!)

Defense Against the Dark
There are a lot of books out there about protecting yourself from demons, curses, dark magics, etc. But this year saw the release of my new favorite in the field, “Defense Against the Dark” by Emily Carlin. Carlin is the Dean of Dark Arts for the Grey School of Wizardy but her book is accessible to magical practitioner and average joe. It leaves no stone unturned, no question unanswered. I’ve been recommending it to anyone who will listen, and now that includes you.

Defense Against the Dark: A Field Guide to Protecting Yourself from Predatory Spirits, Energy Vampires, and Malevolent Magick by Emily Carlin: http://www.e-carlin.com/index.html (The “Book” tab on her site provides a link directly to Amazon.com for her book.)

This year saw the release of “Wandlore”. What’s so freakin’ sweet about Alferian’s book is that it’s about more than just wands, it’s about the components of magic itself! If you’re interested in magic at all, you’ll get something out of this book. However be warned, it’s impossible to read “Wandlore” and not get the intense urge to start crafting or purchasing wands for yourself. I don’t practice magic and I found myself feeling like I really, really, needed a wand, or two, or three.

Wandlore: The Art of Crafting the Ultimate Magical Tool by Alferian Gwydion MacLir: http://www.bardwood.com/ (Right on his home page is an Amazon.com button.)

The Hole Behind Midnight
I don’t have a lot of time to read fiction these days, and honestly, I don’t really notice that it’s not in my life. But not too long ago I got the opportunity to read a copy of “The Hole Behind Midnight” by Clinton J. Boomer and I couldn’t resist. To my mind Boomer is the hometown kid made good: bartender, writer for the roleplaying game industry, and self published author, he accomplishes more in a day than I do in a month and seems to enjoy it all a lot more than I do. I had high expectations for “The Hole Behind Midnight” and I was not disappointed. This book has it all: religion, mythology, magic, violence, pop culture touchstones, classic bull in china shop detective work, and a protagonist who might be the most unlikable son of a bitch you’ll ever find yourself whole heartedly rooting for. If you’re looking for something to cut through the saccharin syrup of the holiday season, get yourself a copy of “The Hold Behind Midnight”.

The Hole Behind Midnight: A Story of the 25th Hour by Clinton J. Boomer: http://www.clintonjboomer.com/ (You can get the book in paperback or ebook from Lulu.com and for the Kindle from Amazon.com)

Phantom Armies of the Night
What can I say about this next thing besides I can’t pronounce the author’s name?! I love this GUY! I loved “The Secret History of Vampires: Their Multiple Forms and Hidden Purposes“. I REALLY loved “The Return of the Dead: Ghosts, Ancestors, and the Transparent Veil of the Pagan Mind“. And this year saw the release of “Phantom Armies of the Night” which may very well be my favorite of the bunch. It is hard to choose, a bit like asking Mom to pick a favorite. But with the themes of punishment and redemption, existence beyond death, and of course seeing the influence of Christianity over Pagan belief, “Phantom Armies of the Night” is one of the most fascinating books I read this year!

Phantom Armies of the Night: The Wild Hunt and the Ghostly Processions of the Undead by Claude Lecouteux: As far as I’m aware he doesn’t have a website. (His books can be found easily enough on Amazon.com.)

The New Orleans Voodoo Handbook
As long as we’re doing names I can’t pronounce, is it Kenaz? Keenaz? Filan? Feelan? However you pronounce the name, the author’s book “The New Orleans Voodoo Handbook” can be declared definitely excellent. I expected this book to be a relatively straight forward, kind of point a to b, perhaps vaguely how to-ish guide to New Orleans Voodoo. What it turned out to be was SO much better than that! The amazing diversity of influences that went into the creation of the New Orleans Voodoo tradition are well presented. You learn about New Orleans history, music, food, religions besides Voodoo, Voodoo, and more! I frequently tell people that anyone planning a trip to New Orleans should read it as they would any other travel guide. That you could in fact do the Kenaz? Keenaz? New Orleans Voodoo Handbook tour! Pick up this book and fall in love with New Orleans.

The New Orleans Voodoo Handbook by Kenaz Filan: http://www.kenazfilan.com/ (Like most, this book can be found at Amazon.com.)

Glen & Tyler’s Honeymoon Adventure
Last in the realm of books is another oddity because it’s fiction. Since apparently he’s declined every opportunity to pimp it out on the site I suppose it’s up to me. Did you know that JB Sanders, the guy who regularly provides Buffet readers with the fun Geek Month in Review articles, has a book? Yep, it’s true. “Glen & Tyler’s Honeymoon Adventure”. It’s a fun bit of escapism that I highly recommend. I don’t want to give too much away, but life long friends Glen and Tyler, get married, realize they’re in love, (it makes sense if you read the book), become stupidly, ridiculously, secretly control the world level of rich, and then things get really fun! Pirates, mobsters, family politics, and the quest for a decent honeymoon that doesn’t involve pirates, mobsters, or family politics are to be found! Looking to curl up and disappear into a world of wealth, intrigue, fun, and heart? “Glen & Tyler’s Honeymoon Adventure” will fit the bill perfectly.

Glen & Tyler’s Honeymoon Adventure by JB Sanders: http://glenandtyler.blogspot.com/ (“Glen & Tyler” is available in paperback and hardcover on Amazon.com, hardcover and for the Nook on BN.com, and in paperback, hardcover, and ebook on Lulu.com)

The Mystic Pyramid
Still have some people you need a gift for this holiday season? Problem solved. It’s called the Mystic Pyramid and it is made of awesome.

It’s just a lot of fun. I love it. My friends love it. It’s just great.

The Mystic Pyramid: http://www.usgamesinc.com/product.php?productid=1127 (Can also be found on Amazon.com.)

Deborah Blake’s Hocus Pocus
Magical Buffet readers know that I have whatever the female equivalent of a bromance is with Witchcraft author Deborah Blake. Womance? Sismance? Anyway. I talk about her so much as a writer that I tend to forget that she is a talented artist who crafts jewelry. This is particularly ironic considering she made one of my favorite necklaces. Until recently if you wanted to see her jewelry you had to travel to The Artisan’s Guild in Oneonta, NY, but recently she opened up an online Esty store called Hocus Pocus. Now anyone with access to the internet can see a small selection of her work and of course, if so inclined, buy. Blake’s jewelry is so beautiful and I’m thrilled that it’s now online for everyone to see!

My Deborah Blake Necklace. Beautiful, right?

Hocus Pocus by Deborah Blake: http://www.etsy.com/shop/deborahblake (If you aren’t getting it there, you’re driving to The Artisans’ Guild in Oneonta, NY!)

Looking for Group
Last, during this time of year when it seems everything involves dropping some cash, here’s a favorite thing that is totally free if you have access to the internet, Looking for Group. Looking for Group is a fantasy webcomic that publishes on Monday and Thursday. It follows the adventures of a slightly too good elf and a way too evil necromancer as they form into a group, have zany adventures, learn about compromise, rickrolling, and recently, taking a stand by occupying hat. The comic is archived so you can easily start at the beginning, like I decided to do this year, and if you like what you read, you can purchase the comics collected into physical books or buy prints of individual pages. If you enjoy the fantasy genre and laughing, you should give this a try.

Looking for Group: http://www.lfgcomic.com/ (You can buy LFG merchandise on the website, and physical books of the collected comics on their site, Amazon.com, and often times at comic book/game stores.)

And there you have it folks, I came, I saw, I favorited all over the place. I hope you enjoyed it. More importantly, while I have this moment to sort of talk to you directly, I want to tell each and every one of you how much your support means to me. The Magical Buffet still doesn’t do any sort of paid marketing but our readership continues to slowly grow and that’s thanks to you guys sharing our articles on social networks, telling your friends about us, and supporting me and the site when we go to events. Thank you guys, I seriously couldn’t do this without you. Also, in the spirit of the season I want to say one last thing, Oprah, don’t sue me, I don’t have any money. For reals yo.

Special Bonus! Where did Rebecca do 85% of her holiday shopping?

Celebrate Samhain: http://www.celebratesamhain.com/

From What Vendors Did She Shop?

Cucina Aurora: http://www.cucinaaurora.com/
FairySpa.com: http://www.fairyspa.com/
The Haunted Wood: http://hauntedwoodonline.com/
Featherscale: http://www.featherscale.com/