August 31, 2010

Hero Initiative, BPAL, & Dragon*Con

A while ago, I posted about how Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab partnered with the Hero Initiative to raise funds for the charity.  The Hero Initiative is the first federally recognized not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping comic book creators, writers and artists in need. It was founded in 2000 by several comic book and trade publishers. The charity provides a net for those creators that need support – emergency medical aid, financial aid, etc.

Just in time for Dragon*Con, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has created new limited editions based on the comic series Dawn by Joseph Michael Linsner (image above).  The four scents are:

Tea roses, honeysuckle, heliotrope, olive blossom, milk, and honey.

Red roses, saffron, honey, and frankincense.

Damascus rose, jasmine, myrrh, opoponax, white sage, and patchouli.

Terebinth pine, basil, green sandalwood, fig leaf, armoise, lemon balm, cypress, myrrh, black cedar, and juniper.

When your purchase these limited editions, know that proceeds from every bottle are going to the Hero Initiative.  You can buy them from these booths at Dragon*Con: Hero Initiative booth, BT-20, and the Linsner booth, BT-18 and 19 in the Grand Hall East of the Hyatt Regency.  They will also be available on BPAL's website Tuesday, Sep. 7.

Smell good and support an awesome charity that in turn supports creators.  Pretty perfect deal.  If you are lucky enough to attend Dragon*Con, stop by and buy a million of them!

August 30, 2010

Exploring conventions - Wandering Geek's Con Journal

I attend a fair amount of conventions.  Some people think that's what I do every weekend.  They ask, "Why do you go to so many conventions?  Aren't they all the same?"

Mind you, this usually comes from non-geeks. 

One of the reasons I've tried to attend more cons in the past few years is to find out for myself how they are different and to be able to communicate that to people.  Though they may have a similar set-up or purpose, I feel like each one has had a voice that is unique in one way or another.  Giganta-con, small and cozy, fandom centric, or gaming focused - each convention has its own special things.  Celebration V was the best con ever because of the attendees, Phoenix Comicon was small and cozy and my perfect comic con fit, San Diego Comic-Con is dazzling and immense, Anaheim Comic Con turned out to be a mega celebrity fest that doesn't bear a repeat visit...  you get the idea. 

But how can a person possibly know the ins and outs of each con without attending?  Sure, you can get some recommendations from friends (this is why I'll be attending GenCon next year) but it's not like there is a Trip Advisor type website for conventions.  And there should be.  I don't know if you've noticed, but we are an opinion sharing sort of group. 

Luckily, someone enterprising realized this need and decided to something about it.  Lorenzo, aka @Prof Mordarm, has come up with the Wandering Geek's Con journal.  People will write their accounts, impressions of cons in individual journals and they will be compiled into a tome of sorts that geeks can consult until the end of time.  People can write or draw any kind of experience about  the convention they are attending in the journal.  A set of practical rules accompany each journal - you should make daily entries during the convention, you have to mail the journal to another convention goer or back to TWG headquarters within 30 days, etc.  It's a traveling book.  As a person who loves mail and writes in a paper journal regularly, I would be thrilled to get something like this in my mailbox.  It would be a blast go back and read what other geeks have been doing.  And because it's in handwriting - I think it's more special. 

I think it's a great way to help spread the word about local cons, small cons, or even hidden treasures that can be found at gigantic cons.  You can help make these jounals a reality at the Kickstarter page for this project.  The initial funds will help buy a pile of journals, get them out to backers, and get this database of convention knowledge started.

August 28, 2010

Links of the week!

Ninjabread men cookie cutters - These stealthy gingerbread men could garrote the normal kind in less than 2 seconds.  Oh - and they're also kinda cute.

Furry monster bags - These bags from Steamcrow are sure to go right off your cute meter.  Different colors, expressions, and no more of them until next summer.  You know you need one!

Does Your Favorite Sci-fi Movie Do Right by Its Female Characters? - John Scalzi applies the Bechdel test to several sci-fi movies.  Not many of them make women look as fabulous as they could.

Butterbeer recipe - The folks at Castles & Cooks have examined the butterbeer from Harry Potter's Wizarding World and come up with this. I've known two people that have tried it and they approve. A lot.

Vader's new girlfriend - So wrong, but yet so right and hilarious.

Sci Fi Eye Test - this Sci-fi Eye Test features 36 letters pulled from the logos of games, comics and movie titles.  Go try to guess them all!

Tomorrow - Read Comics in Public Day

If you didn't catch word, tomorrow, August 28, is the 1st annual Read Comics in Public Day.  Now for many people, this is an everyday or at least a regular occurrence.  I don't need anyone to make a special day for me to pull out a comic during my lunch break at Starbucks.  But apparently some, even those in the comics industry, are a bit ashamed to pull out the latest issue of Artifacts in a similar place. 

The day started as a joke between Brian Heater and Sarah Morean of The Daily Crosshatch (an independent comics blog).
The concept is fairly simple: we’re asking that everyone take an hour or two out of their day on August 28th… to read a comic book in a public setting—a park bench, a beach, a bus, the front steps of your local library (we do ask, however, that you be mindful of local loitering laws). Let strangers see you reading a piece of sequential art.

Take to the streets. Be proud. If someone asks what you’re reading, say, “a comic book” (the phrase “graphic novel is also acceptable, but let’s face it, it sort of defeats the whole purpose). Heck, lend them a book, if you’ve got an extra—what better way to make a new friend and convert a new reader?

I've seen a lot of buzz about it so far, NPR even picked up the story.  I like the purpose - awareness and not hiding.  If you are someone that hides their comic book inside a magazine or takes a novel for the subway ride, embrace this.  Do not care what people think, read with pride.  Just like Free Comic Book Day encourages mundanes to get comics and embrace them, this day will show the world that our numbers are large and that they are large because comics are awesome.  Maybe, just maybe, a kid whose parents don't read comic books will be drawn to you.  Maybe he or she will ask questions, and maybe you'll have an extra comic to share or you can tell the kid and his family about your favorite local comic book shop.

According to the Read Comics in Public site, a few comic book shops are even having special deals or giveaways.  Comic book readers are organizing meet-ups.  I bet this will make a splash this year and only get bigger.  We are Thor.  Feel our mighty hammer.

If you are a lady reading comics in public tomorrow, even better.  Have a friend or a stranger take a photo of you and submit it to Women Read Comics in Public.

Now, repeat this superhero vow that was definitely not influenced by a certain children's author after me:
I will read comics on the train.
I will use an umbrella to protect my comics if it rains.
I will read comics in the coffee shop.
I will read comics at the bus stop.
I will read comics while walking down the street.
I will share my love of comics with everyone I meet.
I will tell all about this day with a Tweet.

Remember, when you Tweet about tomorrow, use the official #readcomicsinpublic hashtag.

August 26, 2010

Steampunk Thursday #5 - Steampunk Conventions

It's probably not surprising that as the popularity of steampunk has grown, conventions have spung up around the theme.  Some have been around for a while, but more and more new ones are popping up.  Besides conventions entirely centered around the steampunk culture and Victoriana, big conventions like Dragon*Con feature extensive steampunk tracks.  I've also noticed more and more steampunk costumes showing up at places like San Diego Comic-Con and local renaissance and pirate faires.  There was even an offsite steampunk gala during SDCC this year.

What can you expect from a steampunk convention?  As I've not been to one (yet), I'm going by the word of the internet.  I hear that things on the internet are occasionally true.  Look for guests of honor that include authors, artists, and costume and prop makers.  Cherie Priest will be at the Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition, and the gentleman in the below image - Nick Baumann - will be at the Gaslight Gathering.  You will find musicians like Abney Park and entertainment including stage shows and street artists.  I also found that every convention has extensive paneling on costuming and props.  You will find more than just one panel titled "not just about gears," and from my experience meeting steampunk bedecked folks, they will be more than happy to share their knowledge and provide how-tos.  Other panels I browsed were focused on literature, making calling cards, and character creation.  TeslaCon even has dueling and fencing classes.

You know that every convention will have a vendor's hall too.  You will be surrounded by more top hats, bustles, and curiosities than you can count.  The venues for the cons range from hotels to places like the Old Tucson studios where movies like Tombstone were filmed (Wild Wild West Con). 

The best part of attending a convention like this though?  If you enjoy Victorian  culture and costumes, you will be surrounded by hundreds or thousands of people who think the same way.  Imagine the conversations you'll have at 2am over glasses of absinthe!

List of Upcoming Steampunk Conventions in the US
Tesla Con
November 5-7, 2010
Madison, Wisconsin

Steamcon II
November 19-21, 2010
Seattle, Washington

Wild Wild West Con
March 4-6, 2011
Tucson, Arizona

Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition
March 25-27, 2011
Santa Clara, California

Gaslight Gathering
May 6-8, 2011
San Diego, California

Steampunk World's Fair
May 20-22, 2011
Somerset, New Jersey

World Steam Expo
May 27-30, 2011
Dearborn, Michigan

I'm going to try to make it to Wild Wild West Con.  Have any of you been to a steampunk convention before?

For more steampunk Thursday posts, just click here for posts by me and here for posts by Mary.

August 25, 2010

Pink Raygun Post: Throwing a Pirate Party

Sometimes as an adult, you need to throw a rocking theme party.  I love going pirate.  You can go from campy to semi-realistic or you can emulate something like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. 

I give my recommendations, prop how-tos, and pictures from my last pirate party in my new post at Pink Raygun.

August 24, 2010

Behind the Renfaire Scene, Interview with a Performer

It’s been a while since my last post in the behind the renaissance faire scene series! But I’ve got a great interview to start back in. Lys has been a performer at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival, and if you like attending renfaires, you’ll love reading her answers. I enjoy peeking into this world.

Lys as Lady Gertrude Courtenay - Photo by Photography on the Run

Here’s a little background from Lys
I guess that I should start with a little background first. I started attending renaissance faires when I was about 16 years old and living outside of Rochester , NY . I would get tickets to Sterling Renaissance Festival at least twice a year at the beginning, and later bought a season pass, joining the ranks of the playtrons (festival-goers who tend to wear costuming and create a persona to play, but not employed by the faire). I remained a playtron until my husband and I moved to Texas . We were too late to audition for Scarborough that year, so we attended the Spring of 2001 season as patrons and then auditioned and were accepted into SAPA ( Scarborough Academy of the Performing Arts) for the 2002 performance season. We've been a part of the festival as performers and occasionally as instructors ever since. My husband still performs, though I am currently on a hiatus for a bit.

Tell me what it was like to play a historically based character.
Playing a historically based character is a challenge and a joy at the same time. I actually was quite lucky in that my character, Lady Gertrude Courtenay, Marchioness of Exeter, is not a very well-known personage. This gave me a bit more leeway than someone playing royalty or a more well documented person might have.

The challenge comes in the fact that people can go back and research the person that you are portraying and pick apart what you are doing. So it is important to know your dates, names, and places. You have to be aware of how the person fit into history as well as how they will fit into the dynamics of your own festival. I enjoyed the challenge, though. Trudy wasn't really well represented in historical documentation of the time, so I had to fill in a lot of how she would think and act from what I've learned about women in the 16th century. It is always interesting to step out of the 21st century mindset and to think and react in a way that is period-appropriate. Apparently I did a decent job of it, because after I'd been playing her for two years, I read a biography of the Exeters that had more information than most, and it appears that I nailed her personality rather dead on the mark, which was fun to know!

How do you get various parts (like the gentry or the court character)? Is it strictly audition based or if you play a character one year, do you automatically get to reprise it the next year?
This really does vary from faire to faire. At Scarborough we have a pretty open character development process. You have to present your ideas to the Character Staff and they approve it or suggest changes. SAPA instructors try to encourage performers to create characters who would live in the Village first and foremost, but there are always going to be Court characters as well. You just don't want the Court to overshadow the Village, as the Faire isn't set at Hampton Court and the Royals and their entourage are just visiting. So it really does depend on having a good character outline and what the existing balance is between the various elements.

Once you've played a character for a year it is generally assumed that you will continue that character until you request to change. It is preferred that you give any character at least two years. Your first year with a new character is always a bit harder, and most characters tend to gain more depth and comfort between actor and character in that second year. There are some folks who like to change characters on a fairly regular basis, and others who have played the same character for their entire time on performing company. Personally, I like to play my characters for a minimum of three years but not much longer than that. I enjoy creating someone new every once in a while and I enjoy taking the time over that three years to get to know them and grow comfortable in their skin.

August 23, 2010

Giveaway - Star Wars Stuff!

What better time than a week after Celebration V to giveaway some awesome Star Wars goodies?  And no, it's definitely not because I just finished unpacking.  In my smuggler's hold (read - my closet) I also found some other gems that need loving homes.

Yes, you actually get everything shown in this photo.  Allow me to list them for you in clockwise order, starting with the top left:
- Star Wars temporary tattoos from Party City, 12 total
- Pencil that has Yoda on it and says, "A Jedi You Will Become, Read More You Must"
- Obi-Wan Kenobi Pez dispenser
- Celebration V Exclusive Anakin Skywalker Foil Proof Card 
- Galactic Heroes Luke Skywalker
- Disney Star Wars pin - Donald Duck as Darth Maul
- And a SUPER cool, limited edition Jabba's Palace Grill poster from Tom Hodges

I know, you're thinking I should be keeping all this loot.  I either have duplicates (the poster, the card, the Pez) or though I love them, I don't collect them or have a place for them (Disney pin, Galactic Heroes).  Win for you guys!  Since I feel like this giveway is extra special, you guys have to work a little for it.

How to Win
Step 1: Comment on this entry
Step 2: Tell me who your favorite Jedi Master is and why
Step 3: Tell me which planet in the Star Wars universe you'd most like to spend a 5 day vacation visiting and why.

I will pick a winner at 9pm PST on Thursday.  I'm going to pull out the best ten answers and use a list randomizer to pick the winner from that group.  I'll need your address fast too; I want to ship your package before I'm out of the country for two weeks!

US residents only.  If you win, I will need your physical address as I ship via UPS.  If you're not comfortable with that, don't enter.  :)

The winner is C. Robert Dimitri!  Contact me with your address by Monday morning (8/30) to claim your prize.

August 22, 2010

Linkity Links

Comic Book University - Comic book characters just hanging out at college, funny stuff!

Clone Trooper and Stormtrooper lollipops how to  - I could make so many jokes about Clone Trooper Pops, but since I'm classy, I'll spare you.  ;)  Check out this how to on making suckers that look like our favorite bad... or good guys.

Doctor Who inspired fashion by Tara Reich - You know you want a dress that looks like a Tardis!  This designer melds vintage and sci-fi in a beautiful way!

Han Solo on the TomTom - The best scoundrel of them all will tell you just how many parsecs you have until you get to the office.  Well, I don't know if it actually does that, but still.  Be sure to listen to the voice samples for a laugh.

Star Wars Cupcakes - This blog page has collected the best of the Star Wars cookies and cupcakes out there.  I'm really impressed by the details on the Padme Amidala cupcakes!

Katie Cook's F**k you box! - Katie Cook has written a little comic about a foul mouthed cat.  I grabbed mine at San Diego Comic-Con; it his hilarious and adorable.  It will only be available on her site until tonight, so order now!  Just $5 + shipping!

Boba the Soap - from the lovely lady that brought the world Han Solo in carbonite soap, check out this awesome Boba Fett design!  And look, Daniel Logan approves.  :D

August 21, 2010

Pink Raygun Posts: Star Wars Celebration V Wrap-Up

My two days at Star Wars Celebration V went by way too fast.  I saw and experienced so much in those two days though - I almost can't imagine adding more to it.  I've been wrapping up posts and going through photos for most of the week.  Here are my last couple of posts at Pink Raygun about the event!

Star Wars & Social Media - coverage of the Fandom in 140 Words or Less panel, quotes from Bonnie Burton, Kyle Newman, and more!

Top 5 of Star Wars Celebration V - My favorite five things at Celebration V.

August 20, 2010

Top 5 Drinks in Space

The future as on screen science fiction tells it has plenty of alcohol.  And not just beer!  In the 'verse, you can find everything from fruity drinks to moonshine equivalents.  If you're lucky, you'll have a fully stocked bar on your ship and drinks will be poured by a bartender so wise, you'll constantly think that she should replace the captain.  If shipboard booze isn't an option, you can visit the closest dive bar to the docks.  Follow this rule of thumb though - don't take drinks from an alien species you don't recognize.

Samarian Sunset
A sunset in a glass.  The drink is clear and just the right tap to the rim makes it erupt in green, then orange hues.  Even if the taste is worse than the Klingon supper you just ate, wouldn't you have to order it just for the presentation?  I'm betting it was popular with the ladies.  Data understood this; he made one for Troi after he lost a game of 3D chess to her (TNG: Conundrum).  The flashy beverage also makes an appearance in DS9.

Mudder's Milk
The inhabitants of Canton were a resourceful sorts of people.  They worked hard, wrote ballads,* and created drinks that really do fit the definition of liquid bread.  It's true, Mudder's Milk is more nutritious than your bottle of Guinness.  It has "all the protein, vitamins and carbs of your grandma's best turkey dinner, plus 15 percent alcohol."  The alcohol eventually makes the horrible taste fade away.  At least, that's my guess.

*You get extra points if you can sing all of The Ballad of Jayne.

Blue Milk (aka Bantha Milk
Okay, maybe the blue milk that comes from your friendly neighborhood bantha isn't alcoholic, but look at that color!  It's supposed to be very refreshing and nutritious, which is just what a young chap needs after whining his way to Tosche Station and back in the blazing Tatooine heat.  Just like cow milk, bantha milk is used for ice cream and cheeses.  You can visit a gourmet bantha ice cream shop on your next visit to Mos Eisley.

Though I'm sure it's not as potent as the stuff coming from the Galactica distillery, it might taste a little better.  Ambrosia's not easy to find after the attack on the Twelve Colonies.  Cloud Nine had it available on Colonial Day, and Ellen Tigh gave some to her husband upon their reunion (well done, Ellen, you and Saul both need more alcohol.)  The liquid gold, or green as it happens, was made by the Stanford Distillery, probably with prison labor.

Romulan Ale
You'll notice by now that space beverages come in an array of vivid colors.  Once your eyes get past the shocking blue of Romulan Ale, go ahead and throw some back as fast as you can.  The Federation was probably just exaggerating when they made it illegal for it's potency.  It didn't stop Bones from giving a bottle to Admiral Kirk for his birthday.  Though at some point they did realize that maybe this kind of drink wasn't the best thing to serve at diplomatic functions.  They should have stuck with Earl Grey, Hot.

Remember, don't navigate and drink at the same time.  Or use the holodeck.  Despite what they say, what happens on the holodeck does not stay there.

August 19, 2010

Shiny Webcomic Thursday - Why do you read webcomics?

Every other Thursday, I typically feature a webcomic that I enjoy in the hopes that someone else will like it too. So far this has been successful. I’ve brought at least a couple of people to new comics, and I’ve been lead to some great ones too.

This week, rather than share a webcomic, I want to discuss what grabs my interest in a webcomic and what keeps me going back to read more. I recently asked on my Facebook page what about a webcomic got someone to click and check it out. I received around ten answers, and I was surprised that not one of them was the art. I figured that I would match up with at least one person about it, but no.

For me to follow a webcomic, I need four things:
  • good art
  • story
  • great characters
  • consistent updates

Most of these requirements transfer right over from paper comics. I like a pretty picture, and I like to follow storylines more than gag-a-day type comics. Though I will occasionally click through and laugh my ass off at xkcd, I follow webcomics like Girl Genius, The Bean, and Monster Commute regularly. I know that some people don’t like the pressure of having a story to follow. But even if I don’t read every time they update or even if I miss a couple of weeks, it takes no time to sit down and catch up. I almost prefer doing that so that I can get more of the story at once.
Characters.  I want to like them, I want to despise them - I want to be vested in them in one way or another.  I have a hard time doing this when the characters are stick figures.  I feel like I could totally go adventuring with Agatha Heterodyne, and that I would offer Gronk a place to stay.  They spark feelings and attachment.  How could I not read a comic when I care about the players so much?

The consistent updates bit might seem like I’m being anal, but I’m going to steal words from someone who has said it better than I – if you don’t care enough about your project to keep it going, how can you expect the reader to? That’s not to stay if updates stop I go right to my RSS feed and remove someone, but I’m not as likely to recommend it to others.

What about you? What do you look for in a webcomic? What makes you add it to your RSS feed or tell a friend about it?

Steampunk Thursday #4 - Then and Now: Steampunk in Popular Culture

It's Thursday, and that means steampunk! Mary is taking another post this week because she is awesome. Check out her post at Three Years of Roses about Then and Now: Steampunk in Pop Culture.

August 18, 2010

Lord of the Rings - Wisdom for Life

When I’m feeling low about one thing or another or just looking for the right words to share with a friend, two sources always come to mind - Lord of the Rings or Dune. I call on the litany against fear a lot, but I especially turn to Lord of the Rings (and The Hobbit). More than just lovely quotes, they offer wisdom and encouragement, sympathy and proverbs, hope and love. And for anyone that has read the books a hundred times or watched the movies, hearing Tolkien’s words brings images, times, and places to mind. When I hear, “Not all those who wander are lost,” I think back to almost ten years ago when I first experienced Middle Earth. I go back to where I was at that point in my life… and where I have gone since. I think of Aragorn and Arwen; of immortality, love, and amazing storytelling.

I’ll take it over Hallmark any day.

Friends who are also members of the Lord of the Rings fellowship give me knowing and appreciative looks and emoticons when I apply quotes to their situations. Friends who have no idea about the source still take the words to heart and even pass them on to others. I believe that it speaks to the complete world that Tolkien created. Middle Earth is rich with history and tales, and the lines between our reality and that fantasy can be blurred with just a slight touch.

Here are some of the quotes that come to mind – feel free to share yours.

For travel:
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door," he used to say. "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Little by little, one travels far.

For a bad day or sympathy:
May it be a light for you in dark places, when all other lights go out.

I will not say, Do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.

We are not bound forever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory.

You can only come to the morning through the shadows.

Wisdom for life:
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.

The wise speak only of what they know.

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.

It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him

For I was talking aloud to myself. A habit of the old: they choose the wisest person present to speak to; the long explanations needed by the young are wearying

All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost…

Why I Loved SWCV

I waited until practically the last minute to arrange my trip to Celebration V this year.  I debated about the distance (I'm in LA), the money, and all those practicalities.  Then at some point I just said, screw it.  Celebrations don't happen every year, and what if it goes international next time?  I had to go. 

I won't hesitate again.

I have only been to one other fan-centric convention.  It was a Firefly convention at a local Marriott.  I went for one day, and though it was okay, it wasn't my cup of tea.  And we all know that I love me some Firefly.  It was just... small.  Some vendors in a hotel lobby and a few stars there to talk and give autographs and photo ops.  Star Wars Celebration V was the opposite.

I was dazzled.  And it wasn't the Florida humidity (which should be illegal) or the Force.

I only made a dent in all the things to see and do in the two days I was at CV.  I don't think anyone could be bored at this convention.  Between a sparkly vendor hall with not just exhibitors but laser tag, an autograph area, live tattooing, massive chalk art, fan built dioramas, more Legos than you have ever seen, a commitment chapel, and a Jedi Training Academy.  Oh, and did I mention the life size AT-AT and tie fighter?  G4 sponsored the coolest (ha, pun!) bar around, the Echo Base Ice Bar.  Wampas and humans alike downed Tatooine Sunburns and Sithadillas.  The kids had it good too, besides a Clone Wars screening room, they had a craft room.  Plus there were plenty of Stormtroopers, Vaders, and Chewbaccas for them to pose with.  My heart melted and my ovaries ached (momentarily) when I saw a girl hugging a custom R2 unit from the R2D2 Builders Club.

I'm not finished either.  Panels ran continuously on all topics from costuming to collecting to interviews with stars to social media and how it relates to fandom.  One entire room was a gorgeous nostalgia-inducing display of the art of Ralph McQuarrie.  The reverance in that room was palpable.  The 501st had a room of props and memorabilia, as well as a display of all the helmets from the TK project.  You could also just sit and watch the endless parade of costumes outside the main exhibit hall all day.

I think one of the keys to making this event so enjoyable is that fans get to contribute.  A lot.  Lucasfilm deserves props for not only listening to their fans, but including them.  It creates a certain kind of environment and fellowship that I've not quite felt at other conventions.  The solidarity of Star Wars is strong.  I am aware of how corny that sounds, but it's true.

My highlights of the convention include:
- The Art of Ralph McQuarrie gallery
-  Seeing that the Her Universe booth was surrounded by people every time I walked past.
- Watching the kids fight Darth Vader on the Jedi Training Stage. They were excited and amazed, but not one of them I saw was frightened.
- Meeting awesome artists and folks I know from the internet like Grant Gould and Mandy from
- Hanging out with so many awesome fans that understand why things like the scale of Han's bloodstripes matter
- Buying. cool. things.  I had to play serious luggage tetris on the way home.

If you love Star Wars and you are able, go to the next Celebration.  I promise you won't regret it.

August 16, 2010

Favorite Costumes from Star Wars Celebration V

I will not miss another Celebration if I can help it. I got to attend for just two very short days this year, and being in the presence of thousands of other Star Wars fans... well, it was epic. I will have plenty of wrap up posts this week, but for now, here are my favorite costumes from the event. I saw evey incarnation of Padme, more Slave Leias than I can remember, a lot of Mara Jades, and several other characters from the EU.

Star Wars Celebration V

Beautiful embroidery on this Bespin Leia costume.  I believe she and her mother did it by hand.

Star Wars Celebration V

Shaak Ti - those head pieces looked incredibly uncomfortable.

Star Wars Celebration V

Steampunk Boba Fett, how could I not love it?

Star Wars Celebration V

The construction of this was pretty brilliant.  The little R2 in the back of course made noises.  It didn't look it was too heavy, but I still admire this girl for wearing such a cumbersome costume.

Star Wars Celebration V

Cutest Ahsoka costume ever.  I liked this Chewbacca too; he had Threepio on his back and obliged the audience (Star Wars paparazzi, really) with lots of Wookiee growls.

Star Wars Celebration V

Bossk the bounty hunter.  I've never seen anyone do this costume before, and this person looked awesome.
You can see the rest of my photos from SWCV here.

August 14, 2010

Links of the week

Geek Girl Con - Geek girls ruled at San Diego Comic-Con this year.  There are a lot of us geek girls and awesome geek boys who get it.  Go visit the site for the brand new, lots to figure out but it will be awesome Geek Girl Con, and get involved!  (And don't even tell me about the comma misuse in that sentence).

Wheel of Time heavy metal theme - It sounds painful.  And it is maybe a little.  But the Wheel of Time was my first fantasy series; like my first love, I can't ever fully let it go.  So I clicked, and if you ever wished you had Aes Sedai powers, you should too.

Death ray sex toys - no, really.  Not so much safe for work.  Or kids. 

How to make ice planets - I'm planning a Serenity movie night, and many people suggested ice planets.  This website has a great tutorial.  I'll let you know how it goes when I make mine!

Formidable female protagonists in sci-fi - fantastic list of strong women in sci-fi novels and series; they also have links for female leads in sci-fi TV and movies.

Acrylic geek silhouette pendants - This seller on Etsy has silhouette pendants of not only the Enterprise, but other geeky symbols from Star Wars, science, and more.  I like the simple designs.

August 13, 2010

Pink Raygun Post: 7 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Accessories to Love

Accessories in on screen sci-fi and fantasy aren't always spectacular.  But when they're done right, they're pretty awesome.  Check out my list of 7 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Accessories to love at my new post at Pink Raygun.

I'll be doing another one in the future featuring guys too, so don't get your knickers in a twist!

August 12, 2010

Links to Celebration V updates & news

I know that I am lucky to be going to Celebration V, period. But it’s started already, and I wanna be there! I’m especially bummed about missing out on a couple of exclusives that will probably go today. But… I’ll probably survive. Key word is probably.

To help me get through, I’ve compiled a list of sites, photos, and Twitter users that seem to be providing lots of (read: frequent updates) on SWCV.

@hodgesart - If you are CV, stalk this one for info on print giveaways

TheForce.Net -
Rebelscum -
ForceCast -

Of course, don’t forget to stalk the hash tag #swcv.

I’ve compiled most of these droids into a list you can follow.

Offical Star Wars blog photo stream
photos from Rebel Scum

Happy hunting!

Take a Nerdy Picture

This spoof of Taio Cruz and Ke$ha’s song Dirty Picture is much better in IMO and definitely much more fun. This video is brought to you by the Screen Team Show.  You probably saw the Comic-Con Girls video they released a few weeks ago. 

August 11, 2010

Fanboy Scouts - Get Your Geek Merit Badge!

Sometimes - or more than sometimes - I think that I deserve merit badges for things like: making five dozen cookies that look like Yoda, having an EE Lord of the Rings marathon, or reading all of Girl Genius in a single sitting.  Until now, tangible recognition for these things wasn't an option for me.  Sure, I'd get pats on the back from the internet but when everyone forgets about my impressive feats the morning after, what then?

Well lucky for all of us, a company called Fanboy Scouts is here to validate you with embroidered badges.  I wasn't in the Girl Scouts, but I've seen merit badges and I was jealous.  Now I can get my very own scout patches, and in my opinion, they are infinitely cooler.  In their words:

"Simply put, a Geek Merit Badge is an embroidered patch that represents your ability to achieve specific skills, goals and adventures from fictional universes of literature, movies, t.v. video games and more. Like the Boy Scouts of America, we offer high-quality, 100% embroidered patches with unique designs that show the world what you have been a part of."

Check out their site to view the first collection they have available, and you can make suggestions - as many as you want.  If they choose your design, you'll get 10 free merit badges!  They'll consider custom orders too.  You know you want badges for your gaming group or especially for your next gaming tournament.  I plan to get several to give as gifts to my fellow geeks.

Listen to Brian of Fanboy Scouts chat about how the idea came about and more on the Power Geeks podcast from last week.

August 10, 2010

Costume: Padme's Black Corset Gown

Padme's dinner gown from Attack of the Clones is very symbolic.  I think during this meal she crosses a line that she is unable to turn back from.  That's all lovely, but I have to admit that to me this is mostly just a gorgeous costume that I wanted to recreate.

First, I put in research time.  The Padawan's Guide is an excellent source to start for any Star Wars costume.  You can get reference photos and several links to other tutorials or resources.  The Rebel Legion costume requirements and forums are also good resources.  After I looked through what felt like a hundred photos, descriptions, and how-tos, I started my list.  I would need:

- Two silver headbands
- Black beaded scarf/necklace
- Black corset, ideally pleather with no laces
- Black fingerless gauntlets
- Silver mermaid style skirt with a geometric black lace overlay

For a Padme costume, not bad.  I think it is possibly one of the most simple of her costumes, yet to me, the most elegant.  I knew that two things I did not want to compromise reasonable accuracy on were the gauntlets and the skirt.  Those two things were beyond my ability.  The corset was too, but I had a black one that would suffice.  For the skirt and gauntlets/gloves, I contacted MiaLa - the seamstress behind my Number Six red dress.  They do fantastic and speedy custom work.  Also - she makes Slave Leia and Wonder Woman costumes, so geeky is right up her alley.  I provided reference photos and some of the resource links I had found.  We went back and forth over lace (the seamstress was kind enough to send me photos of multiple swatches of lace and presented all kinds of options to me), and after both of us spent way too much time trying to track down the exact pattern of lace in the costume, we decided that a floral black lace would be just fine.

I left my black corset as it was, so I only had the headbands and necklace to figure out.  For the headbands I picked up aluminum stripping and a yard of silver-dyed pleather that was the perfect width.  I ran out of time to flatten and shape the aluminum stripping, so I used the pleather.  I secured the pieces with bobby pins, and I think it was passable.  The necklace was a lot easier than I thought it would be.  This is probably because I sacrified accuracy and just wanted to make something passable.  To build it, I gathered:

- masonite
- black craft foam
- black sequined ribbon
- 1 yard of black velvet
- black glass or plastic beads, seed beads and larger 4mm - 6mm facet cut beads
- cheap strings of bridal party beads
- black Krylon (glossy finish)
- black velcro
- lots of hot glue
- lots of staples

I cut a 3" x 3" circle from masonite.  I covered it with black velvet and attached it with hot glue.  I cut a 2.5" wide strip of black craft foam and covered it with black velvet, again attached with lots of hot glue.  After it dried, I put a strip of black sequined ribbon on the middle of the collar with hot glue.  I then strung two rows of 4mm black beads on black embroidery thread and put them on both the top and bottom of the collar.  I went back to the circle centerpiece and added sequined ribbon on two sides and a mix of black 6mm and seed beads to the middle.  I centered up the circle on the collar and glued it down.

For the dangling strands, I totally cheated.  Rather than stringing countless beads, I found already strung plastic beads in the bridal area of the local Michael's.  They were hot pink Mardi-Gras type necklaces that were for bridal showers.  I strung them up between two stakes and spray painted them black.  I saved money and time doing it this way.  I then cut 41" strips of black velvet.  The fabric tended to curl naturally to look like velvet tubing, and mixed with the beads, I was happy with the result.  I cut a 4" long piece of black foam to attach them to.  I lined them up and stapled the tops each piece down.  Then I drowned them in hot glue.  Hot glue is your friend, even if you over use it.  I attached the strands to the back of the collar and made sure to shape it as if it were already around my neck, so it could dry in the proper shape.  After it fully dried, I attached black velcro to the back of the collar.  It held up with no problems through transportation to and from the convention and at least five hours of being worn.

Future improvements: pleather corset, headbands shaped from metal, more details on scarf.

Star Wars Celebration V

I'm headed to Star Wars Celebration V for a very short 36 hour period this weekend. I'll be there Saturday-Sunday til about 3:30pm. I don't know what my schedule will be yet. I wanted to try to go the George Lucas and Jon Stewart interview, but I need to get my press badge on site and therefore can't get in line at 6am. Darn!

I will be live tweeting the whole weekend. Let's hope AT&T plays nicer than it did at San Diego Comic-Con. Follow me on Twitter for lots of updates - @amy_geek. I'll be uploading photos from the convention Saturday night and hopefully Sunday afternoon at my Facebook fan page. In general on Twitter, check out the search tag #swcv for all kinds of fan reports.

If anyone wants to have breakfast Saturday morning or meet up anytime during the con, email me or DM me on Twitter!

August 9, 2010


Confession: in real life, I am pretty shy, introverted, and have hermit-like tendencies. I do get out of the house for work and lots of fun things, but on any given evening, for the most part, I am happier at home with a book or the internet than out in the world interacting with people, even friends. So, when I say I didn't have a ton of friends in high school, don't be shocked.

I hung out mostly with one group. On Friday nights, we would meet at the closest coffee shop... the only one in 60 miles actually and hang out. We'd talk about the various things that are important to teenagers. Well, quiet-type nerdy sort of teenagers. When was the next Robert Jordan book going to be out? What's up with that Rand anyways? Did you hear about the new dice that are in at the gaming store? We observed some rituals - one of my friends would order Earl Grey hot, and we'd rib him. Sometimes we would go to the close-ish park and fight with practice swords (wood katanas if I remember right). We'd dodge behind picnic tables and trees if the police cruised through.

Before getting caffeine, just me or my group of pals would visit the local bookstore. Part of the reason was to check out new releases and general proximity of the bookstore to the coffee shop. Most of the reason was because I had a crush on a guy that worked there. He seemed to like that I bought a new book in the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind every other week. He might have let me use his employee discount once or twice. Eventually, he hung out with us a few times, but I think the fact that I was technically jail bait was a deterrent.

I looked forward to Friday nights. It was the one night of the week when I knew I wouldn't be judged by classmates for talking about sci-fi. My mom would leave me alone too because I was actually being social. Sadly, time passed. Some friends graduated or moved away, and we all lost touch. We were all guilty for letting Friday nights go. I still remember them though as some of my best high school times.

So, here's a toast to my geeky friends, old and new.  You all rock.

August 8, 2010

Links to check out!

Fold your own paper Tardis & Daleks - I am sadly not a watcher of Dr. Who - yet.  I have a few seasons to watch sometime.  But I have it from Dr. Who fans that these are pretty awesome.  (via @bonniegrrl)

Superhero Cupcake topper how-to -  These fondant cupcake toppers are really nice touches for any cupcakes.  And of course, you can apply this method to things other than superhero logos if you must.  While you're at the site, check out all the other recipes and hop over to Just Jenn Designs to admire her stationery and button designs.  (pic from the Just Jenn Recipes website)

Star Wars Lightsaber ignition and retraction - every time a lightsaber is turned on and off across all the movies.  Guaranteed to have you making lightsaber sound effects in less than 12 parsecs.

Dr. Grordbort's - I'd never heard of Dr. Grordbort until I went to Comic-Con a few years ago.   Rayguns from WETA.  Just click on it and at least enjoy the lovely site design.

August 6, 2010

Geeky Pasties

Today, I bring you super high brow information.  I have scoured the internet to bring you geek themed pasties.  Yes, I typed pasties.  You never know when you might want to put on a burlesque show (public or private), or it could just be fun to wear these under everyday clothes. 

I have to confess that I am pasties virgin; I may have to change that for some of these finds.

Golden Snitch pasties found on Craftster.  The creator hand sewed on strips of sequins and added applique wings.

Ms. Pacman pasties from this Etsy seller, bright colors and cute designs.

1-Up Mushroom pasties from Lady Tornade - Hey, I couldn't sew on that many sequins without getting cranky.  I like the design, and the same site also has sequined Pac-man designs.

Batgirl pasties from Gothfox Designs.

Also from Gothfox Designs, raygun pasties!  I'm curious to know what the accompanying outfit looked like.

Skull & crossbone pasties in a few different color schemes from this Etsy seller

Librarian themed pasties from Craftster - I love the miniature book tassels!

You might notice a glaring absence of some obvious (in my book) - no Rebel Alliance logos, no Browncoat anything, no light up LED patterns, and what about Starbuck's mandala?  If you're feeling inspired, you can learn how to make pasties right here (that link is NSFW).

August 5, 2010

Shiny Webcomic Thursday - Cleopatra in Space!

I got to meet lots of nice creators at Comic-Con, more than one of them had a webcomic.  One that really stood out for me is Cleopatra in Space! by Mike Maihack.

Since the title has the word space, you would correctly guess that it is a science fiction themed comic, sci-fi adventure if you want to be specific.  The protagonist of the tale is teenage Cleopatra, and she kicks ass while being cute.  I aspire to this.

Cleopatra VII is on the side of P.Y.R.A.M.I.D. (Pharaoh Yasiro’s Research And Military Initiative of Defense) in a centuries' long war.  Word is that she is prophesized to save the galaxy.  She does this with gadgety weapons, clever zingers, and a cat that is more than just a pet.  We are still learning about the 'verse that the story is set in.  I sense a lot of adventure and character development ahead.

The art really pulled me in.  The image above is the cover of the first printed collection, and it caught my eye on the table.  The comic was black and white until recently, and now it's especially shiny and colored.  Colors aren't a must for me by any means, but they don't hurt.  I understand that putting out a webcomic on any kind of regular basis is enough work, let alone a colored one.  I love that the colors are subtle too and do not steal the scene from the story.  I also really enjoy the designs.  Maihack has come up with some unique weapons and assets.  The sphinx bike/spaceship needs to be made in real life.  Keep your eyes searching the backgrounds too, lots of fun details to see.

Check out the first strip of the comic from almost one year ago here.

Cleopatra in Space!
Updates every Monday

Want your webcomic to be featured here or know of one you think I would love?
The requirements to be featured are few, but both are very important to me. The webcomic has to be shiny and updated on a consistent basis. It is not as easy as you would think to find a webcomic that's updated when the creators intend it to be. It can be newer webcomics or ones that have been around for months or years. Email me the info.
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