G is for Granny Weatherwax

Esmerelda “Esme” Weatherwax, most commonly known as Granny, is one of the most compelling characters in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.

More than that, she’s one of my favorite characters in all of fiction*.

While there are a multitude of witches in Discworld, Granny is known to be the best, the most powerful, the one everyone else looks to. Not that she’d lay such a claim.

“Mistress Weatherwax is the head witch, then, is she?’
‘Oh no!’ said Miss Level, looking shocked. ‘Witches are all equal. We don’t have things like head witches. That’s quite against the spirit of witchcraft.’
‘Oh, I see,’ said Tiffany.
‘Besides,’ Miss Level added, ‘Mistress Weatherwax would never allow that sort of thing.” 

She’s strong and forthright and comfortable in her heavy, hobnailed boots.

“She strode across the moors as if distance was a personal insult.” 

In a religious debate, she cuts to the heart of it.

“Sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.” 

True witchcraft isn’t power, flashy displays, feats of wonder. It’s looking after a neighbor who has no one else. It’s speaking up for those who can’t do so for themselves. It’s making sure the soup pot is full and the table is cleaned up and ready for tea. It’s doing the messy work. It’s choosing good and right when it’s not easy, when you’re not beloved and might well be scorned or feared.

“For a witch stands on the very edge of everything, between the light and the dark, between life and death, making choices, making decisions so that others may pretend no decisions have even been needed. Sometimes they need to help some poor soul through the final hours, help them to find the door, not to get lost in the dark.” 

Without question, she possesses true magical prowess. It’s just never been her first recourse. She relies on headology, stubbornness, and kindness masked by practicality.

“We look to the edges,’ said Mistress Weatherwax. ‘There’s a lot of edges, more than people know. Between life and death, this world and the next, night and day, right and wrong … an’ they need watchin’. We watch ’em, we guard the sum of things. And we never ask for any reward. That’s important.”

She has an unshakable empathy and selflessness I try to emulate.

“I don’t know about the world, not much; but in my part of the world I could make little miracles for ordinary people,” Granny replied sharply. “And I never wanted the world—just a part of it, a small part that I could keep safe, that I could keep away from storms. Not the ones of the sky, you understand: there are other kinds.” 

And when I worry about what others think, when I fear I’m not enough, I recall Granny’s strength and certainty.

“Esme Weatherwax hadn’t done nice. She’d done what was needed.”

Ta, Granny. Mind how you go.



*so much so I named my feisty, smart, adorable one-eyed kitty after her

F is for Fives


SPOILERS for The Clone Wars animated series, SPOILERS for the fact that I feel the Clone Troopers were incredibly ill-served, SPOILERS for my hatred for Palpatine. Long story short: my clone boyos deserved so much better.

So. CT-5555, aka ‘Fives’. Clone cadet assigned to Domino Squadron, so designated because they fell and toppled one another when confronted with adversity. While expected to fail in their final test, they found their mutual strength and were graduated to the GAR.

Domino Squad’s first assignment was a listening outpost on Rishi Station. When it fell to a separatist atack. CT-5555, aka ‘Fives’, was one of the few survivors.

He went on to assist in the attack on the Citadel and rescue of Jedi Master Even Piell.

Was a soldier of Umbara (willing to flail through using foreign tech to gain the day).

Was a victim of Umbara, of a traitorous General and a broken Republic.

A champion for his brothers.

One who questioned blind orders.

One who caught a glimpse of the fate that beheld all of his brothers.


Leave my clone boyos alone, DARTH JERKIUS.

One who paid the price.


Oh, great. More infinite sadness for Rex.

I can’t leave you on that heartbreaking note. Here. Have some more second-handsomest clone*.





Also, this bit of delight.

*yes, they’re clones. they all look mostly alike. But Rex is still first-handsomest, Fives is second, and everyone else falls in after that.



E is for Embo

The GFFA is rife with bounty hunters. They serve the story in any number of ways: take down the hero, separate lovers, infiltrate the Jedi temple to steal a holocron that has the names of Force sensitive younglings, chase a Truman Capote-esque Hutt while wearing rocket boots. Y’know. The usual.

We meet Embo in a reasonably noble endeavor: protecting the peaceful farmers and their crop* against vile Space Pirates**.


Let us not forget, though, that he is a bounty hunter: a hunter, assassin, and all around badass for hire. He pops up in the Clone Wars doing various jobs, including breathtaking intrigue in banking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

[side note: I’ve come to a much greater appreciation of the prequel trilogy, trade negotiations, senate minutiae, floating pears, awkward ‘milady’s & all. That being said? Holy cats, y’all. The Rush Clovis/banking arc of TCW is rough going]

He’s well armed. #bowcastersarecool


He’s got a badass hat Cad Bane should envy. It’s a weapon…

… but it’s also a snowboard.
embo ski

Best of all, Embo has a partner.

Marrok, the faithful, fierce, and super-cute anooba who always has his back.

And side.

And detonators.


Best space doggo. 10/10 would hire for assassination support team.

And finally, because Dave Filoni is the gift that keeps on giving:

* an homage to Seven Samurai
** Hondo, I love you, but you know what you did

D is for Depa Billaba

There’s a lot more to Depa Billaba – adhering to current Canon alone – than I can possibly cover in a single, attempting-to-be-brief blog post. To that end, I’ll stick to a bit of her story in the Star Wars: Kanan comics.

The Clone Wars are raging. Servants of the Republic, the Jedi have been put to service as military leaders, in charge of troops from Kamino. In a battle against Separatist General Grievous, Master Depa Billaba lost nearly all of her Clone troops and was desperately injured.

Comatose, she’s placed to heal in a bacta tank. And then a youngling named Caleb Dume wanders by, and the Force perks up.

Upon waking, Depa has to prove herself ready to resume her Jedi responsibilities.


Enter a caption



Obi Wan Kenobi: incapable of NOT flirting since forever. Also: glib? Not an attractive quality? Wonder if that lesson will stick.


Worth noting: as she goes through her trials, she chants an adapted version of the Jedi Code.

She spends a bit of time continuing to heal, connecting with young Caleb Dume*, and being undeniably badass.

She’s drawn to a youngling who questions everything, a padawan who will be both challenge and joy.


Her padawan is eager, and desperate to assure his new Master that he’s ready to be the perfect Jedi. But she isn’t quite so strict, so stringent. She isn’t sure that this war is just, that the path the Jedi tread is true.


Elsewhere in the GFFA, Windu and Yoda are applying bacta to that sick burn.

She takes to heart every loss, every life.
But she takes on every battle, every enemy, with all of her considerable might.
She inspires fierce loyalty in her men, despite what she feels she deserves.

In a perfect world, this Master and Padawan would have grown into a brilliant pair. In this world, Order 66 happens. The Clones who were their fiercest defenders, their loyal soldiers, turned. And Depa did what she was born to do, what in her soul she was made to do: she saved lives. She told Caleb to run.

And in the aftermath, in the dark and fear and chaos and the struggle to simply survive, Caleb (who became Kanan) still carried his Master’s teachings.

He buried them as he hid his true self from the galaxy for many years, and let them slowly emerge once again years later: when he met a rebel pilot with the voice and spirit of an angel, when he met a street rat with a heart of kyber.

It was there that Depa was truly with him again, so very proud of her padawan.

Of her brave, curious, bold, selfless Jedi Knight.

*because gossip is a thing everywhere, word in the temple is that Depa is Damaged Goods. Wee Caleb Dume, curious, goes to the source and asks the newly awakened Master. She’s quite frank about the battle, the heartbreak, and how she feels about the Jedi presence in the Wars. It’s a lovely and refreshing bit of storytelling, and cements the relationship between the two characters.

C is for Chopper

SPOILERS for all of Star Wars Rebels.

Most Star Wars stories include at least one Droid With Personality. The OT/PT gave us uptight, rules-obsessed* protocol droid C-3P0 and the loyal, somewhat snarky astromech R2-D2. The ST introduced us to the sweet, round, exceedingly skillful BB-8. Rebels gifted us with Chopper.

The grumpiest of cats in droid form, C1-10P is an established member of the Ghost crew. He joins a long line of Droids Who Haven’t Had Their Memory Wiped, which is especially telling here. His pilot’s Y-Wing suffered a fatal crash on Ryloth during the Clone Wars. By all rights, Chopper should have perished as well. Young Hera Syndulla, daughter of freedom fighter Cham, pulled the astromech from the wreckage. She rebuilt and repaired him. When she later left to pursue her own path, Chopper was by her side**.

He speaks Basic by way of Binary: his vocalizations are whump-whumps and grumbles, but the intention is always clear. He’s fierce, opinionated, and always ready for a fight. Rival droids are not to be tolerated.


Organics aren’t exempt, even if you’re a crewmate. He’ll apply a shockprod or roll over your hands as you’re hanging off of a(n OF COURSE HANDRAIL FREE) suspended walkway.

But, like so many of the droids in the GFFA, he’s inherently adorable. The sight of him waving – proudly, merrily – never fails to make me smile.
Using his pincers to cover his sight-sensors? So cute.
Smacking the crap out an Imperial asshat? I am here for this.

And he does, after all, very much care for his Spectres. When Kanan is captured by the Grand Inquisitor, he endangers himself to try to find some trace of the Jedi’s whereabouts. When Sabine is dealing with an emotionally wrenching decision, he offers the comfort any good kitty would.
And as for Hera? Their connection is one of the most important, unsung elements of Rebels. Chopper would do anything for his Captain.
When she’s captured in a failed assault on Lothal, he can do nothing but call out in his garbled binary; it’s utterly heartbreaking. When she loses the love of her life, his response is gentle, respectful, loving.
He is her friend. He is her family.

The crankiest, most weatherbeaten, and aggressive of droids is, after all, the one with the greatest heart.

*so torn on Threepio. I mean, I get it. Rules are the best. And yet, he’s my least favorite droid.
**I love the idea that Hera desperately wanted – NEEDED – to fly and Chopper, who had already lost one pilot, was determined to keep this one safe.

B is for Baymax

‘Bad Comic Book Nerd alert: I’ve never read the Big Hero Six books. I am aware of them, but my love of the franchise stems entirely from the 2014 animated movie.

With that out of the way, let’s talk (movie) Baymax. He’s the last link between Hiro and his brother, Tadashi, who sacrificed himself trying to save others from a fire*.

He’s adorable.

He is not fast.


Me, every single time I go for a ‘run.’

His low-battery level = a little bit drunk.

He is concerned with your care.


I seriously regret not buying the mug with this pain scale. Orlando people, I call upon your aid!

He is part Toothless, part Iron Giant, fully wonderful.

He is the best sidekick.


Ba la la la la!

He will always be there for you.

His hugs?


Me, hugging Baymax and happy-crying.



*Big Hero Six came out about seven months after I very suddenly lost my mom. I’m a crier in the sunniest of situations; this movie absolutely gutted me. 



A is for Ahsoka Tano


Welcome to round two of Blogging From A to Z: Fictional Characters. Apologies in advance: while I have every intention of drawing from the full array of fandoms and pop culture properties I enjoy, there’s a significant chance that this is going to be a whole lot of Star Wars. NOTE: there will be spoilers for all of the movies as well as the animated series, including the recently concluded Star Wars Rebels. SO MANY SPOILERS.

So, buckle in. Prepare for light-speed. Here. We. Go.

I have Issues with the Prequel Trilogy*, not the least of which is we never really got to explore just how Anakin Skywalker made the transition from adorable, tow-headed moppet to Samurai Robot/Force Choking Champion Darth Vader. Enter the surprisingly** brilliant animated series The Clone Wars***.

It launched with a theatrical release (really, three episodes of the television series stitched together) that gave – wait for it – A PADAWAN LEARNER to Anakin Skywalker. And suddenly, over the course of five seasons, I came to care about him. I understood him. He was still a glorious human disaster, but I got to see how he changed, how he feared, how he loved. And it all started with Ahsoka Tano. Sent as a fourteen year old (!!!) in a questionable costume to the battlefield of Christophsis, Ahsoka was the padwawn Anankin neither requested nor wanted.


Yoda figured giving The Chosen One a student would be a great way to teach him about releasing attachments. Nice job, short stuff! I’m sure that’s going to work out just fine. Anakin and Ahsoka butted heads, they snarked, and they ultimately found a way to work together. Though the fandom bristled (she’s annoying!) and nitpicked (but she isn’t in the movies!), George Lucas had spoken. Skyguy and Snips were born.

While quite capable, Ahsoka was overconfident (but also: 14. Years. Old. And given the rank and responsibility of Commander. WTF, Jedi Council? Yeah, sure: shadow of the Dark Side, machinations of Sidious. Still seriously uncool). She made big mistakes. On her first command, she ignored orders and lost most of her squadron. She snuck onto missions. She complained. She chose poorly.

And yet… she grew. She learned. She was good for Anakin – he learned to take a breath, to think of his student, to rein in his wildest impulses. He was good for her – she learned to balance order and instinct, to use her emotion wisely, to look to others even as she looked to take down those arrayed against her. She got a better costume. She was drawn to jar’kai. He encouraged her.


She learned from Jocasta Nu, from Padme Amidala, from Plo Koon, from Chewie, from Hondo Freakin’ Ohnaka. Let us not forget that this is the girl who went from ‘bound and on her knees’ to ‘decapitating four Death Watch Mandalorians in an single stroke’.


Enjoy this moment from a kids’ show for kids. Also, I love her SO FREAKING MUCH.

But when she was betrayed by the Order itself, it was Anakin (and Obi Wan, because Ahsoka most certainly had two dads) who had readied her.


She made the most difficult, heartbreaking decision. She walked away.


Click through for the full scene, and composer Kevin Kiner’s BRILLIANT Ahsoka Theme (starts about 1:25).

In the real world, Disney bought Star Wars. The Clone Wars never got its finale. But Ahsoka, once an annoyance and now a rightful fan favorite, lived on.

She slogged along, heartbroken, after Order 66. Living every single day ‘cause that’s what you do, even though every single light in the Force had been extinguished. She found purpose in helping Bail Organa build the Rebellion. She created Fulcrum. She forged new, pure white lightsabers. She continued to rail against the darkness, even as she found moments of light.
She came to realize, heartbreakingly, what Anakin had become. She fought him, reached out to him, sacrificed herself when it came clear he was too far gone (until much later, when his son was able to connect him to the Light once more).


And then, she was drawn back. There was more to do. Her final stories are yet to be told.

From the awkward fourteen year old, thrust into war and cheekily nicknaming everyone to the cheerful badass to the kyber-bright heart of the Rebellion, there is no character in all of Star Wars that speaks more to me than Ahsoka Tano. May the Force be with you, always.


* I’ve come around in the past few years, but still… not the greatest.
** so speaketh the disillusioned Kelly of years past

*** You know what? I’m going to stop here. My thoughts about the series as a whole need their own blog posts. Maybe a podcast. Maybe a puppet show. I HAVE FEELINGS is what I’m saying.

Swords, Flash, and Glamour

Many of y’all know I’m a performer at the New York Renaissance Faire. In addition to directing, singing, dancing, and acting as part of the Robin Hood scenario, I’m also a stage combatant.


*photo credit: Richard Jones*

Straight up: it’s beyond cool. Tiny Kelly grew up on fantasy novels, stories where swords were wielded in the name of justice/moving the plot along. Tiny Kelly dreamt* of learning to swing steel, all the while realizing that chances of actually learning to do so were very, VERY slim**. Then Ren Faire came into my life, and I met people who were exceedingly adept in stage combat, and I lucked into the chance to actually live my childhood dreams. The full story is rather more nuanced than that, but we’ll save that for another day.

Fast forward to now, my fifteenth (non-consecutive) year of performing. In addition to performing, I’m now a director and head of our Fighters Guild. I work with incredibly gifted and driven Fight Choreographers and Captains. Their hard work, along with that of our combatants, makes what we do look easy.

It’s not. It’s a slog. It’s frustrating. This is a stunt show. This is physical storytelling. Safety is paramount, but there are injuries. Story is supremely important, but there are blocks. Our stages are swathes of lawn or sand, without shelter or shade. Rain or shine, we are there, doing our damnedest. We put in extra rehearsal weekends: 8+ hours of full fight days. We show up among the earliest to the costume shop to change, grab weapons, run fights. We are the last to leave after a full performance day: weapons have to be transported back from the grounds, and then sanded, oiled, stowed away.


But damn if our folks don’t make it look amazing, even on those hot and humid and soul-sapping days. Damn if they don’t inspire others to want to be a part of it. And exhausting though it may be, I am honored beyond all measure that I get to be a part of it myself.

Tiny Kelly would expect no less.

*literally: I had recurring dreams of entering a sword dancer’s circle (ta, Jennifer Roberson!), and of riding my magical white horse while brandishing a gorgeous blade (credit: Mercedes Lackey)

**tiny Wisconsin town, followed by tiny Connecticut town, offered zero opportunity


Ren Faire rehearsals make for long days. I was on site at the extra-early hour of 8am (aborted ukulele lesson; I used the time to practice my own music and stretch) and didn’t leave until 6pm*. Spent the day in fight choreography, blocking, running scenes, running fights. Because my role is active, and because I need to be mindful of footwear, my pre-‘fully costumed attire’ is as practical as I can make it: workout leggings, boots, long tank top.

I mention all of this because, well…

Stopped at the store on my way home**.  A cashier commented on my ensemble. “Love the boots. Cool look!” And then… and then… “Ugly wallet, though. Totally ruins the entire look.”

First of all, it’s my Loungefly R2D2 wallet.


Look at that prettiness! LOOK!

Secondly, what?

“It’s so nerdy.”

I smiled, but only because I wasn’t sure what else to do. It’s my default. I am not a badass. “You know why I’m dressed this way? Because I just spent ten hours at the Renaissance Faire. I swing swords and pretend to be part of the Robin Hood Band.” Pause. “There is nothing about me that is not nerdy.”

“Oh,” the cashier said after a moment. “I thought you were a biker.”

And nothing against bikers, because I’m certain you’re lovely/imposing/whatever it is that makes you feel amazing, but really? I’m perfectly happy to be with my tribe of improvisational beasts, of singers, of dancers, of acrobats, of archers, of crafters and poets and Shakespearean scholars and swordsmen.

Yeah, we’re nerdy. And we make it look damned good.


*hours for performance days are even longer. super glamorous, y’all!
**my actors work hard; they deserve cookies, and I most certainly wasn’t going to have time to bake tonight.

Sleep brings no joy…

Yes, I get it, Emily Bronte. Sleep should bring respite, offer the chance to recharge. It’s haven. It’s a refuge.

Unless you’re me.

In what might come as a surprise to absolutely no one, I’m not the most confident and self assured person. I carry considerable worry, concern, and fear that at any given moment I’m letting a whole lot of people down. Fortunately, my sub-conscious is there for me. It rakes in all of the angst and self-doubt and packages it neatly into gut-wrenching, exhausting Stress Dreams. So far, these dreams have slotted themselves into three very tidy categories.

1. Packing/clutter. These dreams involve packing up and moving from a hotel room, a dorm room, an apartment, a house. Whatever I manage to pack is continually dwarfed by what still remains to be sorted. This dream is defined by frustration and a whole lot of tears.

2. Unattainable destination. These dreams find me on a journey that will never be finished. There may be epic derailment (“so sorry, have to go fight a manticore”) or something more mundane (“This ticket is only good for a Sunday that lands on an even number. You’re going to have to wait.”). I may be sent on a path that finds the stones eroding beneath my feet, where I fall into fathomless waters to literally find myself out of my depth*. This dream is defined by deeming myself to be less important than everyone else, and to the destruction of foundations.

3. Claustrophobic entryways. These dreams deny me entry into places of security/creativity/comfort due to tiny portals, points of entry though which I would have to squeeze and squirm and hold my breath. Just typing this sentence made me uneasy. This dream is generally defined by inability to move, make a decision, or breathe without hyperventilating.

There are variations on a theme. Sometimes the unattainable destination involves getting to a rehearsal or performance on time/with matching boots. Claustrophobic scenarios might place pets in peril**. Clutter might find my dearest love disgusted with my inability to Get Things Done, and deciding to leave me***. Haven’t even touched on the zombie invasion theme.  I’m down with the idea that dreams are a way to sift through the crap your mind accumulates on any given day. I own that I’m sensitive, that I shoulder more worry than I ought.

But then again, every so often, there’s a night where I make lifelong friends with a unicorn. Where I hang out and watch Downton Abbey with my mom, holding my breath because I don’t dare to mention that she can’t be here, but so grateful that she is. Where Ewan McGregor asks me out, but even in Dreamland I can’t accept because my real life sweetie is just that great. A night where I’ve kicked off the blankets and am cold and hovering on the edge of wakefulness. And then, my brain gives me Poe Dameron (real life: pulling up the sheet over my shoulders) curled up around me and  BB-8 (real life: my one-eyed kitty Esme) snuggled up in the crook of my knees

Sleep may bring you respite or joy,challenge or gift. Make of it what you will.


*honestly, brain. you could try a bit harder.
**this went horrifically dark
***took me days (in the waking world) to realize we were good, that he wasn’t going anywhere