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Unstuck in Reality
The life and times of a constant dreamer
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scuse me
What's worse: a pit of snakes or a pit of spiders?

Depends. Is either pit full of poisonous creepy crawlies?

I hate, hate, HATE spiders. But I'd rather have a non-poisonous spider than a poisonous snake.
3rd-Oct-2011 03:43 pm - Giving Up My Baby
Default Hadoriel
Good news from last night? I am going to be the 2012 Events Head for Geek.Kon. Bad news from last night? That job with the Kon is going to keep me busy enough that I have to step back from running the Costuming Department and the Masquerade. It is in the fantastic hands of johinnabara now and I have zero qualms about the hand-over. But giving it up is affecting me a little more than I had expected.

The Geek.Kon Masquerade has been my special project for the last five years and the thing I got into the kon in order to nurture and shepherd along to amazingness. I'm still going to be involved with it, for certain, but it's not in my hands any more. I'm proud of where it is and what it has become in just five short years. Many other conventions labor for a decade and more to have such an amazing contest and we did it this fast. It amazes and astounds me and I am personally gratified to all the folks along the way who have helped me to bring it to where it is. You all know who you are and I stand in awe of each and every one of you. You've put up with my freak-outs and stress-induced fits and general ranting. It's been a lot to ask of anyone.

In 2007, after the very first Geek.Kon was finished, I went on-line and searched for reviews. I found one blog that mentioned how amazing it was that the winners of the contest actually deserved their Best In Show award. This was the bar for convention masquerades in Wisconsin at the time. No one came from outside Wisconsin for an annual costume contest. Now, in 2011, we had participants from the Twin Cities, St Louis, and Nebraska. Next year, we are poised to be a nexus of meeting for ICG chapters from Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, and Iowa, as well as the local chapter here in Wisconsin. Interested parties include people who have been Masters for as long as I have been alive. We have changed the face of costume competitions in Wisconsin, my friends, and I am simply astounded.

johinnabara, the ball is yours. I'll be around to help, but I pass the final word on this grand project to you. To all who have assisted me to this point, I ask that you assist her as you have me. There is still a lot to do to make improvements and to continue to maintain the level of quality we have achieved.

It's going to be hard to let go. But I'm certainly not worried about how things will go in the future.
23rd-Sep-2011 10:38 pm - Why Is This An Issue?
Gamer Chick
I made what I thought was a completely innocent post in the roleplayers community earlier today. I was trying to pick brains about the possibility of a faster XP path in D&D 4e. I made what I thought was a completely superfluous comment in it about how I'm in a mythical all-girls gaming group.

Another poster, a guy, made the joking comment about how he wanted pics or it didn't happen. I laughed and asked if the pic of Sailormoon figs on the battle mat counted. But, he was promptly jumped upon by two other posters, women, who decided that I was somehow being objectified and needed to be defended from him. The whole damn thing spiraled into some big debate about how this guy was obviously just acting as if women were some sort of alien and this was why there aren't more women gamers and OMG!!! Sexist!!!

Wait. What?

Excuse me, please. I actually like that the guys in my Saturday game remember that I'm female, as long as they don't treat me like I'm frail. I don't need to be defended from them or anything. I don't need to be treated special. In fact, I don't want to be defended or treated special. This is about me hanging out with my friends, not some big feminist agenda project.

Why does mention of a girl gamer or a group of girl gamers have to suddenly turn into this girls versus gamers issue. It's like comparing a dog to a dog who makes the rounds in shows. One is what they are, the other is what they do. Bottom line, there aren't girls and gamers. There are girl gamers and guy gamers.

The fact of the matter is that women are different from men. There are times when women just want women around and men just want men around. Both are going to act different if there are members of the other gender around. It has nothing to do with whether or not they're gamers.

Frankly, I'm not wild about the idea that men always have to be expected to treat women exactly the way they would treat another man. Because, guess what, this may come as a shock, but I'm not a guy! I don't want to be treated like a guy and I'm not about to expect that guys treat me like one. I'm also not going to expect that guys are going to be comfortable talking about stuff that tends to be the purview of women only. And I sure as hell don't want this debate when I'm trying to talk about the stuff I do for fun.

There are girl gamers and there are guy gamers. And that's okay. Until these two ladies can be comfortable with that idea, they're the ones separating girls from gamers, not the guy. I would like it known that they don't speak for me.
I feel the need to say something about the vendor room kerfuffle that happened at Geek.Kon last week. For those not in the know, I will attempt to outline what happened without mentioning names.

Last Wednesday, a day and a half before the convention, one of the vendors who had signed up (and signed a contract, I might add) to be in our vendor room called our Chairman. We’ll call this guy Vendor One. His complaint? Another vendor, we’ll call them Vendor Two, had a reputation for being vociferously anti-Walker. Vendor One demanded that we break our contract with Vendor Two and ban them from the convention as a hate group on the basis of their very public anti-Walker stance.

Vendor One has been a bit of a trouble-maker for us since the first time we had them in. In 2009 they demanded that we violate fire code and make paths in the vendor room impassible to people in wheelchairs so that he could have more space for his booth. In 2010, they demanded restitution for damages that could not be confirmed to have even happened at the convention and to which we never agreed to provide assurances against in the first place. All of this, in addition to having a reputation among other vendors as just plain being a jerk.

But we put up with all of this. Why? Because the fact that someone is a jerk isn’t enough to make us black-list them from our convention. Geek.Kon has a pretty open view of things, especially in regards to free speech. As stated in our Articles of Association, we are a non-partisan organization. As a part of that assertion, we neither support nor suppress free speech or political views at our convention. So when Vendor Two was revealed to have an anti-Walker stance, we took no action, as it should be. We would have done the same if Vendor Two had come to us with the reverse complaint about Vendor One.

So, you can imagine our surprise when Vendor One told us we were supporting a hate group. Apparently, Vendor One decided Vendor Two was a hate group because they didn’t agree with him.

So, Vendor One threatened to pull out of the convention and demanded a full refund on the cost of their booth. Since the vendor contract clearly states a cancelation deadline (which sure as hell is a lot sooner than the night before setup), we said no. Vendor One threatened never to come back again and we said “fine. Bye.”

We then proceeded to fill the space he vacated within six hours. Twenty-four hours to vendor setup time and we found other vendors that quickly. Long story short, we’re not hurting for interested vendors.

Geek.Kon’s stance is that free speech is free speech. If Vendor One had come to the convention and sold pro-Walker materials, we would have done nothing about it. Granted, most (not all) of the members of our staff are anti-Walker themselves, but the convention itself asserts neither stance. The end result of this is that Vendor One has likely just made life a lot harder for himself by breaking his contract with us. We now have actual grounds for black-listing him and so do other conventions. Not fulfilling your contract never looks good. We’re not going to run around and tell other conventions in the area, but we’re not going to lie if they ask us about it, either.

Condemning someone else as a hate group simply because they don’t agree with you is hypocrisy of the highest order. If you value the Constitution and the Bill of Rights so much, if you value free speech so much, you had better be ready to defend the free speech of someone whose opinion makes your blood boil.

Not that we expect this guy to try being a vendor with us again, but the fact of the matter is that we now have non-partisan grounds to deny him a vendor contract in the future. So I hope he doesn’t bother us any more.

Feel free to comment on this post, but please do not use either vendors’ names in the course of discussion, if you happen to know them. As much as we think that Vendor One took an unnecessarily extreme action in support of his opinions, he’s still entitled to his opinions and doesn’t deserve to be publicly blasted by a group that should remain and is remaining non-partisan just because he holds his opinion.

We at Geek.Kon only hope that he will eventually decide to agree with us on that point, at least.
6th-Aug-2011 08:46 pm - The Costuming Process: Day One
What Cosplayers
The first day of working on a costume is always the least satisfying. Why? Because it's the day that you spend figuring everything out and not actually doing anything that gets you a visible return.

I spent today doing just exactly that, working on my Romana 2 costume. Riding breeches, big coat, over-long scarf, all pink and red and white. Essentially, it's a girlie version of the fourth Doctor's outfit from the same adventure.

I have a pattern to work with on the riding breeches, however it is a period (1910s) pattern and needs some alteration. Not to mention, the pattern's instructions are... less than clear in places...

I'm starting with a late Victorian coat pattern in order to get the tailoring right. This I am doing only after spending a good three hours measuring and pinning and measuring and marking and pinning pattern fabric on myself to get the beginnings of a completely custom pattern. I really don't know what I was thinking.

This process, while unsatisfying and often frustrating, pretty much always pays off in the end. It gives one a better understanding of how the finished product will need to go together. And it ensures that it will fit right and look right.

Tomorrow, there will be a (hopefully) quick trip to the fabric store and then onward on the riding breeches and maybe the coat, if I'm lucky.
22nd-Jul-2011 01:31 pm - Writer's Block: FWB
Default Hadoriel
Sure, the pros are obvious—but what are the cons of having a friend with benefits?

Having to explain your "it's complicated" Facebook status.
29th-Jun-2011 01:30 pm - Minbari Ranger - Progress Post Six
So. Finished. Got everything done except pros aiding the bald cap and the ear prosthetics to the head bone. For that, I need some helping hands, so I'm going to enlist people for about ten minutes or so once we all get to con. I even managed to edit not one, but two different versions of the presentation soundtrack, one about ten seconds longer than the other. MACS members, be prepared to offer an opinion.

Documentation is mainly done. I suddenly realized this morning that, while I had included progress pics for the headbone, I didn't include references of all sides. I'll probably just print those off and tack them on to the end. My documentation is already nine pages long, though, so I'm worried that the whole thing may be overkill. A lot of that space is pictures and material samples, though, so I guess we'll see.

Now, all that's left is to be nervous until Saturday night.

I'm sort of waiting for the other shoe to drop and for something to go heinously, heinously wrong. Once again, I have yet to try the whole thing on at once, so the first time will be the contest itself. That is incredibly nerve-wracking, to say the least and I have to find a way to stop doing that, dammit!!!.

Anyhow, I get picked up tonight after work to head up there. Super excited!!!
17th-Jun-2011 02:11 pm - Minbari Ranger - Progress Post Five
What Cosplayers
Since I have so much left to do, I decided to just cave and find some reasonable boots at a store. A stop at Shopko last night yeilded nothing, so I stopped in to the Kohl's next door. The best I found were a pair of cheap canvas kicks. I think doctoring them is probably in order, unless I can find something at another store in time. Given that I need boots and not sandles, and this is clearly sandle season, I'm probably going to have to squeeze altering the ones I have into my schedule.

I de-molded one of the ear prosthetics last night and OMFG, it actually worked!!! I've got the first few coats on the other one and I think I'm going to try and fit in a spare to show the judges.

I also took a mold of the stone that needs to be resin case with the LED embedded in it. Getting it out of the hardened mold was interesting. I ended up having to cut open the side to get the stone back out. I'm fairly certain I can secure it shut enough to cast the new stone, though.

Tomorrow is going to be a big "get shit done" marathon. I plan to be up and sewing by 10.

In the meantime, I have officially lost sleep over worrying about getting everything done on time. I guess it wouldn't be a masquerade entry without that happening.

15th-Jun-2011 01:59 pm - Minbari Ranger - Progress Post 4
Oh, the times, they are a crunchin'!

I cast the pin last weekend, so that is most of the way done. I still have to leaf it, seal it, and put a pin back on, but that shouldn't be too hard.

The big things that I have left to do are to sew the tunic and finish the head-bone. Come hell or high water, the former is getting done on Saturday so that I can take it with me to the Geek.Kon meeting and do hand-work to get the trim on properly.

The head-bone...? That's my big freak-out at the moment. The last time I tried fitting it on my head, there were some pretty big gaps on the sides that will need to be filled in. But, I'm not sure if it happened because I didn't have my hair up properly or because of just total fail. I'll probably have to add some extra clay in to fill in the gaps. The bigger concern is the carving. While sanding it smooth, I found that an eensy, weensy portion of the plaster base is showing in one spot. The implication is that the area around it is too thin to be carved to the proper shape. Freak. Out. Go.

The ear prosthetics are coming along. I ended up having to layer the latex a bit at a time, but I'm pretty sure it's going to work out; so sure that I started in with a few layers on the one for the other side. I had hoped to be able to have one spare that I can hand to the judges to show, but I'm not holding my breath.

My prop is coming along and mostly consists of picky little stuff, though a lot of steps of it. One of them involves soldering electronics. We'll see...

OMG, documentation and presentation music! Haven't even touched it yet, except to find the clip of music that I want to use. Big freak-out here.

Not quite at the "OMG, can't get it done, gonna have to pull out" stage, but I foresee that coming this weekend.
14th-Jun-2011 02:02 pm - To History or Not To History
What Cosplayers
As happens so often, I had an interesting conversation with capsulecorp_tm during a short road trip up this weekend. We got to talking about contests, as we so often do, and the rumor that the ICG may be moving forward the date limit for entries in the Historical Masquerade at Costume Con. Currently, the cut-off date is 1969, but there is apparently a growing desire to start treating costumes from the ‘70s and the ‘80s in an historical fashion.

Leaving aside for the moment how old that makes me feel, I have one big reservation.

It centers on the line between the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Masquerade and the Historical Masquerade. Granted, this pretty much only comes up at Costume Con, so it’s really only a concern once a year. But the fact remains; we let the ‘70s and ‘80s in there and we have to allow Stormtroopers in the Historical Masquerade. And that sort of ridiculousness is something that should definitely be avoided. Leaving aside all other concerns, this is the big one. And really, we have the issue now, it’s just not as obvious. The current cut-off date allows for Star Trek uniforms, after all. Just because no one does it doesn’t mean that we won’t get someone who will try.

The solution seems obvious; it’s the documentation, silly.

The distinction between the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Masquerade and the Historical Masquerade is the amount of research you need to do. You need to document your sources, plain and simple. But there is something of a loophole to that and that is the “Historically Inspired” category. In that category, as long as you have reference for a starting place, anything goes, pretty much. Thus, suddenly we have the possibility of a Wookie Elvis in the Historical Masquerade because, hey, they’re both from before the cut-off date.

The question becomes, then, how do you keep those sorts of shenanigans from happening? It seems to me that there are four possibilities.

1. Do away with the Historically Inspired category. This is an awfully draconian measure that I’m really not in favor of. It would solve the dilemma, yes. But it would do so by punishing everyone who does play by the intention of the rules.

2. Disallow media recreations in the Historical Masquerade. I’m not in favor of this, either. First of all, this too is a draconian measure. Second, there are plenty of legitimate historical methods with which you can treat these costumes. Besides, what would you do about movies like His Girl Friday or Casablanca, movies with a definite historical time period, to the eyes of us contemporaries.

3. Do nothing and assume that people will always be as level-headed and reasonable as they have been up to now. This one makes me nervous because it turns the judgment of where such a costume belongs into a very subjective thing. And with the ICG and Costume Con more rigorously courting the Anime cosplaying crowd, I don’t think that we can always count on people being reasonable. Part of the reason I don’t like competing at Anime cons much any more is because the crowds are patently unreasonable. If nothing is done and the cut-off date is, in fact, moved up, we will either end up with someone abusing the system or someone who feels arbitrarily excluded. Either way, bad feelings spring up for perfectly avoidable reasons. And if people are skeptical that it will happen, I will point out that it came very close to happening already in 2010 when an entry was told that their documentation was not good enough and had to be given extra time to go find more or be disqualified.

4. Automatically place media recreation costumes in the Historical Recreation category. This seems to be the best solution all around. It doesn’t punish people who want to do something historically inspired, yet forces a more rigorous treatment of the research than the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Masquerade requires. Besides that, if you’re doing a media recreation, you’re attempting to recreate a particular outfit which is the definition of the Historical Recreation category anyway. This solution is pretty much just the natural extension of an existing rules structure.

Even if the cut-off date isn't moved up, I think this should be looked at, regardless. The Historical Masquerade is a whole different kind of animal than most convention-going costumers are used to participating in. Consequently, it is a much smaller competition without as many entries. There are those who might look upon it as an opportunity to gain master status without having to compete as rigorously. The possibility for shenanigans under these circumstances is pretty high.

Sadly, there are those out there who attempt to game the system and trash competitions for their own benefit. So far, Costume Con and the ICG have a good track record of not having to deal with that kind of BS. But, they should be prepared for it. Having a plan in place for a scenario such as this would be a good idea, in the opinion of this humble and admittedly relatively new member.
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