Hide a Gaming Room behind a Swinging Bookcase

Lisa Natcharian at The Storyteller’s Cottage transformed a long, narrow room into two smaller ones, namely a library and a gaming room with entry through a swinging bookcase.

The house is Victorian, built circa 1891, and located in Simsbury, Connecticut. Before the covid pandemic, Natcharian and her crew organized various book-themed events: author talks, writing classes, poetry slams, summer camps, book clubs, D&D game nights, tea or cocktail parties, live murder mysteries, even escape rooms.

Lisa Natcharian Secret Castle Room

The door into the gaming den opens when you pull a candle sconce attached to the bookcase:

Lisa Natcharian Secret Castle Room Door

The new secret room is papered with stone-block-look wallpaper and equipped with various furnishings that nod towards medieval castles: a round table with ornate wood chairs, a small suit of armor in the corner, and wall textiles, for example.

I’m flabbergasted that she was able to source so much of the furnishings second hand. I mean, who has a miniature suit of armor just lying around until you decide to sell it off on Craigslist?

Lisa Natcharian Secret Castle Room Decor

The results are well worth the effort, and surely will be enjoyed by all event visitors. For more images, visit her site, or, should you prefer to watch a video about the build process instead, you can see it on YouTube.

Images by Lisa Natcharian at The Storyteller’s Cottage

In Making Stuff occasional feature, we share fun arts and crafts done by us and our fellow geeks and nerds.

Second Trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

The release date for the next movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is approaching. Here is the second official trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness:

Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness | Official Trailer by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

To me, the creepiest thing in the trailer is the mention of a repeating dream Strange says he’s having. Brr, merely the thought is hair-raising. (Not to mention that I can’t even think of the kinds of nightmares you might have if your reality had shifted to a multiverse of possibilities. Anyway.) Apparently MoM is the first MCU film to be released under the horror genre, so that sounds appropriate.

The trailer looks as astounding as all of the MCU movies do; indeed, technical accomplishments have never been Marvel’s weakness. Where it might fall is the story. I don’t recognize the writing team for MoM at all: Michael Waldron (who’s apparently written the Loki series) and Jade Halley Bartlett (with a total of four credits to her name in IMDB).

Another aspect I’m completely ignorant of is superhero America Chavez, played in MoM by Xochitl Gomez, who will be introduced in this film. I’ve sometimes wondered whether I’d be enjoying the MCU more had I read Marvel’s superhero comics as a kid instead of the mutant ones, but it hasn’t been a big deal so far. In phase four, however, as the stories are moving further away from the biggest names and most popular heroes, it might make a difference.

I’m also ambivalent towards the director Sam Raimi. His Spider-Man trilogy certainly faded from my memory soon enough. MoM is also Raimi’s first film in nine years. I have to wonder whether directing is like riding a bicycle—will he be able to handle the reins of a massive production again?

Apparently the events will also tie in with the series Loki and WandaVision. As I haven’t seen either, I hope any links will be clear enough anyway. I guess we will see. It’ll surely be nice to see more of Wong (Benedict Wong) and Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams).

The release day for MoM is still listed as May 06, 2022.

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

Ukraine Is at War, and I’m Not Okay

Russia has attacked Ukraine, and I’m not okay.

Russia’s unprovoked attack is not okay. The Russian president’s mumbo jumbo about annexation of historical areas is exactly that. Neither the Russian Empire nor Soviet Union exist anymore. If we go down that path, we might as well cry out for the restoration of the Roman Empire, other empires, or basically any polities for “historical” “reasons”.

Arienne King World History Encyclopedia Map of the Mongol Empire

As a Finn, I am not intellectually okay with this.

Twitter Jon Copper Map of Not Russia

Nor do I feel okay.

My age group has grown up in peace, but we have grandparents who lived through our two modern wars with Russia, and you can bet your pants some of our parents carry some inherited wounds. I have a friend, in fact, who grew up in the east near the Russian border. People there had a habit of saying “When the Russians come, [blah blah blah]”. Not ifwhen.

We remember.

The responsibility for this heinous act lies with Russia, and Russia alone.

Ukraine may be a lot bigger than Finland, but I wish them every ounce of dedication, not to mention willfulness and obstinancy I can muster.

I’m not okay. But I will be better. In the meanwhile, I’ve made donations, and I’m following the situation.

Images: Map of the Mongol empire by Arienne King via World History Encyclopedia (CC BY-NC -SA 4.0). Map of not Russia via Jon Cooper on Twitter.

Announcements from your hosts.

Living Vicariously Through Social Media: Tree-lined Road Abloom

I’ve been reading more fantasy lately than is typical for me. One of the novels paid more attention to everyday colors than Anglo-American fantasy writing tends to do, which turned my brain onto thinking about colors in our environments.

This photo of a tree-lined road with masses of flowers in Parkview, Johannesburg, South Africa, certainly grabbed my attention:

Tumblr Isle of Skye Tree-lined Road in Parkview Johannesburg S Africa

It’s not that I haven’t seen purple or fuchsia flowers on trees or bushes, or tree-lined roads, or tall trees. I just haven’t seen tall trees with purple flowers lining roads before. Fantastic!

Image by traveltrotters_za, found via Isle of Skye on Tumblr

The Visual Inspiration occasional feature pulls the unusual from our world to inspire design, story-telling, and worldbuilding. If stuff like this already exists, what else could we imagine?

Fine Art as a Three-in-One Quilt

Check out this mind-blowing quilt simultaneously copying three fine arts pieces, namely Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, and Edvard Munch’s The Scream:

Tumblr Good Stuff Flora Joy Quilt1
Tumblr Good Stuff Flora Joy Quilt2
Tumblr Good Stuff Flora Joy Quilt3

Even the intricate gold frame is sewn!

This astounding piece is called “Sleep, Play, Scream” and it was made by Flora Joy. She was deservedly awarded for her innovative trispective technique.

Any time I come across someone, typically an older white man (seriously, dudes, you’ve got to do better), sneering at sewing or other textile work, I can’t but shake my head. Poor twits, showing what they emphatically don’t know jack shit about.

Images via Good Stuff Happened Today on Tumblr

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Nerdy Achievement: One Million Gold Pieces Total

For quite some time, I’ve been planning to buy a stack of game time tokens, which of course means gold farming and saving. So, I was very pleased when I hit the mythical sum of one million earlier this month.

WoW One Million Gold Pieces

I bought a stack of tokens a few years ago, too, but as the going rate was much lower, I never came near a million then.

Of course it’s all imaginary, and of course it’s all gone again, but it was neat for a while to be a millionaire—even in a computer game. 🙂

Of Dice and Dragons is an occasional feature about games and gaming.

First Trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Marvel Cinematic Universe’s next installment, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, has its first trailer out.

Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness | Official Teaser by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

Due to pandemic restrictions and some bad luck, we still haven’t seen Spider-Man: No Way Home, so I don’t yet know what relevance, if any, Peter Parker and Doctor Strange’s shenanigans in that movie might have to Strange’s second solo adventure.

(Come to think of it, I completely missed posting the trailers for No Way Home. For my information, here are links to the first official NWH trailer and the second official NWH trailer.)

Strange has never been one of my favorite characters, and so far this trailer doesn’t remedy that. We do see a number of repeat performances by supporting characters (Wong, Mordo, Dr. Christine Palmer; Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin) and a few tantalizing glimpses of entirely new acquaintances. The inclusion of Wanda Maximoff was a pleasant surprise; I hope we’ll see as much of her as possible.

At this writing, MoM is set to release on May 06, 2022.

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

Winter’s Greetings!

It’s been a tough two years, and even now no-one can say with certainty that we’ve seen the end of the pandemic. I do hope it’s close, though.

Erik and I have settled into our new home. However, as we are still wrangling some fairly laborious paperwork, we’re scaling back our writing here at Co-Geeking after the new year. (We’ll see how many braincells are going to lose their will to live after dealing with international taxes, urgh…)

WoW Legion Frost Mage Winter Greetings

In the meanwhile: Merry Everything! We hope your end-of-the-year celebrations bring you joy, whichever shape it may take. See you again in 2022!

Announcements from your hosts.

Solar Foods is an International NASA Space Foods Winner

Solar Foods, a Finnish food tech company from Lappeenranta, Finland, has been selected as one of the international winners of the Phase 1 of NASA’s Deep Space Food Challenge.

Solein Foods Selection Image 08

Solein is a protein made from electricity, air, and carbon dioxide, plus added nutrients. The process involves fermentation, and produces a nutrient-rich powder whose macronutrient composition is very similar to that of dried soy or algae.

Ten teams were honored in the international and 18 in the U.S. section of the challenge.

Congrats!

Image: Solein foods by Solar Foods.

Swedish Riksdaler Plate Money Could Seriously Weigh You Down

Did you know that Sweden used to be a major power in northern Europe? A major power as in having land holdings pretty much all around the Baltic Sea and even beyond? If I hadn’t learned that at school, I probably wouldn’t know; it’s really not talked about much these days.

Anyway. One fascinating detail from my classes that has stayed with me is the large riksdaler plate money (Swedish: plåtmynt). They were circulated in the 17th to 18th centuries to reduce the costs of minting coins and ease the transportation of money.

The riksdaler could be quite large. For example, according to my old history book, the 1644 coin measured 20 x 70 cm (approximately 8″ x 27″) and weighed 19,7 kg (approx. 43-44 lbs). The one pictured below is from 1744 and obviously not nearly as big as that.

Swedish Platmynt 1 Daler

What if in your secondary fantasy world, instead of chests of thousands of coins, your intrepid adventurers had to deal with large metal sheet money, a dozen or so to a chest? Wouldn’t that be an interesting worldbuilding detail?

Image: Anja Laurila et al. Historia kurssi III. Porvoo: WSOY, 1990, p. 73.

History for Writers is a weekly feature which looks at how history can be a fiction writer’s most useful tool. From worldbuilding to dialogue, history helps you write.