A Hurricane Tonight

Bucket-list cosplay: Priss from Bubble Gum Crisis. I will have to commission the services of someone skilled in vacuforming or get really good with the craft foam. (Also invest in some good corsetry…)

Clearlight 23rd, 715 in the Forty-One Worlds

Hi. It’s me. I’m surprised to see that I last wrote something here¬†less than a month ago… it seems ages. But I just posted the eighth episode of the Managlitch City Underground podcast, and even if that isn’t a nice round number like fifty or twenty or even ten, it feels a bit anniversary-ish because I’m a computer geek.

I’m trying to finish another episode in a week because I want two of them out this month. That sure sounds easy when I type it, but it hasn’t been. Lesson: when hitting up busy friends for donated talent, figure on lots of lead time. Basically, I’m learning to write more scripts in advance.

Maya still supports my creative efforts wonderfully. Since I work full time, every hour I spend writing is an hour we aren’t talking or cuddling or something; but she gets me so incredibly well, and understands that I need to express myself creatively for my soul to work right. And that’s important to her. She’s amazing and I love her dearly and I wish every day for a long joyful partnership.

I’m adjusting to life in Raleigh nicely, though it will of course be months before I feel as comfortable as I did in Hampton Roads. Having my own place is making me pretty happy; I’ll be happier when I tame more of the stack of storage boxes.

This year I had to skip Anime Mid-Atlantic because of all the moving expenses, and I hate that. I’ve barely seen any of my friends for weeks, and I’m not happy to have missed this chance to dress up, socialize, and party. (Responsibly.) Plus it’s my last non-working con until November, so feh.

Frankly, I’ve got plenty of money worries now that I’ve decided to level up my adulting game, but I don’t know many folks who don’t, and they aren’t disastrous at this point, so they’re barely worth mentioning. Were it not for my anxieties, I might barely notice them.

So that’s where I stand right now. Hopefully by my next post I will have some very fun news to announce. In the meantime, try the podcast out if you haven’t? And positive reviews of it on iTunes are always most welcome!

Threads of a Dilemma

Yesterday, I saw a trailer for a Fox Network “comedy” in which a lady wore the Japanese schoolgirl outfit known as a fuku, or seifuku, and I was repulsed by the sight. I have friends who own seifuku costumes. Heck, I own one. Why was I so horrified?

I knew I liked looking at ladies in various unlikely outfits at least as early as my introduction to Dungeons and Dragons. If you look at how they dressed female characters back then, “practical for fighting monsters” is the last concept that would cross your mind. I could only assume that the chainmail bikinis had to include some kind of magical deflector shield to be usable armor. Back then, I found the idea silly, but this was just a game, and it didn’t bother me.

Once I discovered anime, the seeds of doubt took root. I still loved some of the even more-implausible outfits, but seeing the characters move and be voiced by humans changed my perspective. I felt somehow more obliged to believe that someone would really wear this, and that was a bit of a stretch. Japan isn’t the most sexism-progressive country, and I wondered how women felt about being depicted in these costumes designed only to draw in the male gaze.

At fan conventions, I began to find out – or at least to become further confused. There were ladies all over the place wearing these costumes – at least the ones which could physically be hung on a human being’s body. I wanted to look, but was it okay to look? Which emotions were acceptable while I looked? What expression should I maintain to not seem creepy? The whole thing confused the hell out of me. If the costumes were not sexist, then why were there no obvious male equivalents? Why did they seem designed solely to encourage sexual thoughts in the viewer? And if they were sexist, how could these women – many of whom I knew to be intelligent, capable, and unwilling to take crap from anyone – be wearing them, and having such fun doing so?

Now I have an answer. There may be other answers but this idea has cleared up a few things. I’ve been into costuming since I was little, but in recent years I’ve chosen to wear rather more flamboyant outfits, for reasons which could be several blog posts on their own. Now some would call these outfits degrading when worn by any gender, but I stumbled upon a secret: if I’m wearing a costume *because I want to*, it’s not degrading at all. Someone else can try to convince me it is, but that’s my decision to make; and if my costume choice makes me feel appealing, confident, and happy, then people’s negative opinions don’t matter much.

And that’s the answer to my dilemma. If anyone wears something that makes them happy to wear, then I’m free to enjoy it. The inverse also holds true: no matter what the garment, if someone’s wearing something they don’t feel good in, something they are forced to wear to cater to another person’s whims, it’s bad. And these can be the exact same outfit, because at the end of the day, it’s just clothing. It has no power besides what we allow.

That’s how a seifuku on Fox turned my stomach. The lady didn’t want to wear the outfit, it was forced on her by someone to make it clear they had no respect at all for her. Hell, the costume was more over-the-top sexualized than you’d ever see at a con – which on its own doesn’t have to be a problem, but here was meant to say, “You are not a person, you are an advertising prop.” Nauseating.

So I’ll go back to looking with a clear conscience; I only hope that the wearer is having ten times as much fun wearing it as I am looking, because that’s how it works for me when I’m dressed up. I still can’t recommend the chainmail bikini for actual monster fighting, though. Dramatic poses only!

30-Day Cosplay Challenge – Day 1: Your First Cosplay

I don’t have any trouble at all remembering my first costume. I can’t tell you exactly how old I was, though I know I’d have been at least five years old. I suspect I was closer to seven or eight at the time; there was a friend of mine who lived probably three or four blocks away – a long walk when I was that age – and he was just as crazy about Star Trek as I was. He insisted that I always be Mr. Spock in our little innocent role-playing, and eventually my mom agreed to make the costume for me.

I don’t think she made the blue shirt, though I might be wrong about that – she was certainly good enough to do it. I can’t remember clearly if she put the black collar on it – I originally thought not, but upon further reflection she might have done so after all. I do remember she found exactly the right gold braid for the sleeve rank, and made sure it matched the Commander’s pattern in my treasured Starfleet Technical Manual. (I still have that, by the way, almost four decades later.) I think she hand-embroidered the department arrowhead symbol on the front – she did so again later for a Scotty shirt. I appreciate that so much now looking back!

Of course, I outgrew it soon enough. I was active enough as a child that I’d have worn it out if I hadn’t outgrown it. There aren’t any pictures that I know of, which is a darn shame. But that shirt meant so much to me, and my lifelong love for costumes and cosplay began back then. Thanks again, Mom.

February: A Con Odyssey

Just did Farpoint in Baltimore, and MystiCon in Roanoke back to back. Both cons are five hours away from my home. Pro tip: don’t do this.

Farpoint was the second stop for Luna-C, so as usual I spent most of the weekend preparing for the performance in one way or another. Of course, I simultaneously love live performing from the depths of my soul and it triggers my anxieties as only a job interview can, so it’s both relief and regret when the show is done. Regret must win, though, since I’m always eager for the next show. We premiered my “Lonely Villain” skit which I think is quite funny; and I got to play Scotty again, which has been one of my lifelong dreams.

I also premiered the My Little Pony “Twilight Sparkle” costume at Farpoint, and I must say it was a pretty big hit. I’ve known since the fandom took off that I would need an MLP costume before long, so of course I had to do it in my own special fashion.

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Back from Shore Leave!

The new car behaved itself well! Much less general wear on a car = much better gas mileage, as I made Baltimore and back on only a tank and a half. Dwight and Dawn were excellent company: among other things, I got to hear a Duran Duran album I hadn't picked up yet. Huyndais handle differently with three people and a trunk of con luggage in them than they do with one, something I'm not yet completely used to.

The Hunt Valley no-longer-Marriott is an interesting hotel. Every year I manage to get lost in their hall layout at least two or three times, and combining that with the eye-searing carpet makes me suspect that it will be a rough place when the stars are right. Also, the room was too darn humid the whole time. Clothing in my still-packed bag felt a bit damp this morning.

The con itself was a lovely time. I picked up a nice Ron Weasley wand replica for the "Warehouse 9 3/4" skit and a replacement UFP patch for my Trek flight jacket. Didn't get to hit the vendor area much, which no doubt was good for my wallet; but I attended an interesting costuming panel and was a panelist on another, got many good costume photos of Kara that I must send her, and of course performed with Luna-C.

I glitched twice during my first skit, though I was assured it was unnoticeable from the audience. Phew! The other three went nice and smooth, and in fact I think the Holmes and Watson podcast skit got more laughs than ever. From a backstage perspective, the skits I wasn't in seemed to work very well, with good comic timing and plenty of laughs. I believe this was one of our strongest performances! (And we got to meet Kate Mulgrew very very briefly backstage beforehand, which I enjoyed!)

Afterwards, I got hit in the head with being 43 years old: I needed a nap. I wanted to watch the Masquerade but my body wasn't into it. We did head down to the Ten-Forward party at 11… the music mostly stank, but I finally got to put a name to Paulette Guillory-Gardner, a lovely lady with whom I've been crossing convention paths often. My Alice costume went over well, and I even got a picture or two with a White Rabbit before it was time to head back up to bed.

In the morning, we headed down for the Luna-C breakfast and wrap-up. Dana Stewart gave me exactly the Doctor Who costume idea I'd been looking for, complete with a bad pun to go with it – win-win. I grabbed a couple more click-base random starships, but I think from now on I might spend the extra couple of bucks and buy the specific ones I want from eBay. I don't like getting duplicates, when I don't have lots of folks interested in trading.

The drive home was too long, frankly. The company was still good, but I just wanted to be home. Still, made it in safe by 7:30, said my goodbyes to Dwight and Dawn, stuffed a sandwich in my mouth and was unconscious by 9:30. All in all: quite the good weekend.

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