Friday, September 7, 2012
At one point this elegantly dressed older lady stood up and thanked Tembe for setting such a wonderful example for other women, and women of color at that, by playing such a strong, intelligent character. Tia then immediately started talking about Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) and what an inspiration *she* had been. It was a beautiful moment, and I know I wasn't the only one choked up by it.
I think from now on we're swearing off the parade, unless we stand at the very tail end by the Marriott - we've had luck there in years past.
This group was there showing off their awesome Avengers steampunkery:
Also there were the Apparition Abolishers, a steampunk Ghostbusters group kind of similar to The League of Steam. And as luck would have it, I got a photo of the lady Abolisher who would go on to win Best In Show in the big D*C Masquerade costume contest:
Here they are in action:
Sunday night was the big night: the Mechanical Masquerade, and time for me to step out once again as Lady Vadore.
I was so nervous I had John loosen my corset twice, and even then I had to pace around the room a bit and take half a Xanax before I could don the mask and goggles. Once we left the room we discovered another problem, though: the dreaded elevator wait.
Elevators are another thing that trigger my anxiety; every time the doors close I have to suppress a moment of panic that we'll be trapped. When we checked in we initially were assigned the 40th floor, but after one shaky elevator trip up I made John get us a lower room. We ended up on the 16th floor, which was a vast improvement, but that meant getting down to the lobby could be a challenge: every elevator going down was already full. (There were 72 floors total.) So...we waited. And I paced. And we waited some more.
As soon as people saw us and started asking for pictures, my nerves evaporated. Like most things, it's the waiting that's the hardest part. I think my parents were surprised by how many people wanted all of our photos, not just mine, but I was delighted each time to wave them over beside me. (John wore a cap, vest, and goggles, but still managed to duck out of most pictures.)
The Masquerade was getting a late start, though, so rather than stand around at the Westin we decided to trek down to the Marriott - you know, that pace where you have to trade places with people to move? - and wander around a bit.
If ever there was a test for crowd anxiety, this was it. It was the most crowded night at the most crowded hotel, and I quickly discovered that the lack of movement (due to both the crowd & photo requests) caused my goggles to fog up. When I walk the cooler air gets in on the sides, so I hadn't noticed this problem before. My already limited vision got worse the longer we stood in one place, until I had to cling to John's sleeve to lead me through the thickest areas.
I'm sure this sounds like some people's worst nightmare, but somehow the crowds at D*C don't really bother me. (Well, there was one point when we got caught right outside the main ballroom just as the Masquerade let out, and we literally couldn't move for about three solid minutes. That made me a bit antsy - but eventually we shuffled along to a slightly clearer spot, and all was well.) There's just so much to see, and overall you do keep moving. If I didn't have John, though, I could see it getting too much too fast.
And, surprise surprise, a LOT of readers found me in costume! Some were too shy to stop me, instead choosing to yell to the person next to them, "THAT'S JEN. FROM CAKE WRECKS!" Most stopped to grab a photo or chat (or attempt to chat, at least) for a few minutes, though.
Here's my favorite photo from that night:
After an hour or so we made our way back to the Westin, where we met a bunch more readers, including Little Girl Spock (aka Bryden)'s mom, Rachel! Check out how snazzy she and her guy Wade looked, too:
The Mechanical Masquerade itself was nice, but held in a giant dark room that made photos almost impossible:
Plus the music combined with my mask made conversation extra impossible. So after making the circuit through the room once or twice to make sure we met all the readers who were looking for us, we headed back to the Marriott.
In the end we stayed out 'til 2AM in costume - a new record! - and John and I were both nearly crippled from all the walking. Ha! Not to mention the gouges on my face from the mask & goggles took nearly two days to fade completely.
BUT IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT.
I'm going to ration out my D*C coverage into two or three posts, so as to not completely overwhelm you guys. This one will be more about my personal experiences at the con, and the next one or two will be all costumes. So get comfortable, and let's get to it!
John and I drove up to Atlanta on Wednesday, a full day early, figuring we'd beat the crowds and get a nice leisurely start to the weekend. It worked like a charm, and I *highly* recommend it if you're able. By Thursday afternoon all the host hotels were backed up as thousands upon thousands of geeks attempted to all check in at once. Parking garages were shut down, lines were long, traffic was awful, and we smugly breezed by it all to go grab our passes feeling nice and refreshed. ;)
Thursday night is when we first met Renee (who made that amazing Epbot plushie) and her posse from DCTV. For those who've been to Dragon*Con, this is the group that makes those hilarious bumper videos playing before each panel. They lured us to a room party with promises of fruity drinks and celebrities, and while Colin Ferguson never showed (we love you anyway, Colin!) they still didn't disappoint:
Renee's husband Alex and his best friend Stephen (aka "the bald guy" on DCTV) have a podcast called Disasterpiece Theatre, and somehow they managed to get me and John tipsy enough with fruity drinks to agree to be on it, right then and there, in the hotel room, with about 20 people crammed in the one room listening to us. o.0 Like all recordings of myself, I will never listen to it, but I'm pretty sure I said nothing even remotely interesting. But the guys are awesome, so you should go listen to the show they did with Colin, 'cuz that one is hysterical.
To give you an idea, this happened during Colin's show last year:
Also on Thursday I got to play photographer for my friend Christie, who was swimming in the Marriott pool in her brand new mermaid tail. Definitely one of those "only at Dragon*Con" kind of things: there was a mermaid in the pool!
And these were taken with my 7D:
Shoots like this make me daydream about being a professional portrait photographer. I'm not saying I have the skill for it, but I just love it SO DARN MUCH. I could take pictures of people and play with them in Photoshop all day, every day. Besides, it's fun ordering pretty people around. "Now give me 'playfully mischievous.' Thaaat's it. [click click click] Now growl. You're a tiger. YOU'RE A JUNGLE TIGER."
Ok, back to Dragon*Con.
My parents arrived on Thursday as well, and my mom came prepared with a different steampunky outfit for each day of the con. Of course, my mom's version of steampunk is anything but drab:
The fact that my parents come with us to Dragon*Con is one of the great joys in my life, and the fact that they enjoy it as much as they do never ceases to amaze me. They go off to panels and events on their own, and then tell us all about them at dinner. Plus every time I think the crowds and mayhem MUST be making them miserable, I turn to see Dad beaming at the people around us and remarking how wonderful it is that everyone there is so nice and polite, and how beautiful all the costumes are. The crowds did start to get to Mom a little this year, but she's a trooper, and she loves posing for pictures and excitedly pointing out that I'm her daughter every time we meet a fan. (Um, thanks, Mom....)
This year I decided to cut down drastically on the amount of panels we'd see to give myself more time to relax and wander. It worked, but I think I may have cut down TOO much, since John mentioned he'd have liked to see more. Maybe next year I'll hit the right balance. Anyway, the panels I most wanted to see were The Guild and Eureka, and for The Guild we discovered one of our Press pass perks was that John and I were allowed to stand in the back of the massive auditorium, as opposed to sitting with the crowd.
This was perfect for my anxiety (middle seats make me crazy), and also perfect for us to test the HUGE zoom lens my Dad had rented for the con. Seriously, this thing was a monster. It had to be a foot long, easy. And the room seated, what, three thousand people? But I managed to get shots like this from so far away that the people on stage were nothing but tiny blurs:
The panel itself was quite good. It's always tough with that many people on stage, and I don't think Robin said more than three words, but there were still plenty of great moments. Like when Amy innocently asked, "Wait. What's a 'taint'?"
And here's where someone's phone rang, and Sandeep made her bring it to the stage so he could answer it:
Thursday, September 6, 2012
I mentioned a while back how much I've been digging Fiona's leather hip bag on Burn Notice:
Since then I've seen one or two crafty bloggers convert a regular purse into a similar style bag, and I've been itching to give it a try. Essentially it's just a regular purse with the strap attached to the sides of the bag instead of the top, so really the hardest part is finding a purse style that will work best on your hip.
As luck would have it, I had this small cross-body bag from Beya (which cost a whopping $10) already tucked away in my closet:
Technically you could take a bag like this and just slide the strap over your waist, but I wanted something a bit better.
First I ripped open the seams on the side buckle straps:
Next I cut two three-inch pieces off the purse strap and (messily) hand-stitched them in place on the back of the bag to form belt loops:
If you make these loops between 2.5 and 3 inches long, then you'll have the option of wearing your bag on your own belts, in addition to using the existing bag strap.
Another lucky break: I was able to put the the two square metal side pieces together to make one D-ring clasp/buckle for the bag strap:
So now I have a hip bag I can wear two ways: with the canvas strap over things like skirts or dresses, or on my own leather belts when I wear jeans.
The only issue with wearing the bag on your own belt is that it's then fairly high up on your waist, and if you tend to wear longer t-shirts it will make them ride up:
If you make the hanging straps into two big loops, then you can use your own belts *and* have the bag hang much lower on your hip.
So many fun possibilities!
Well, I hope this helps get some of your creative juices flowing! And if any of you end up modding your own hip bags, please, send me a picture - you know I wanna see!
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
John and I got home in the wee hours this morning from Dragon*Con, and I can now say for sure that two huge conventions in two successive weekends is not the best idea. I'm exhausted and a bit sick (curse you, Con Crud!), but absolutely ecstatic over the fabulous weekend we had.
I've already been at my photos, sorting and tweaking and dancing in my seat with excitement over all the goodies I have to show you guys, but you'll have to bear with me while I catch up with my day job (the one with cakes) and try to rest up a bit. I may also space out my Dragon*Con coverage with some regular posts, if you don't mind, since I don't like overwhelming Epbot with all con photos for weeks at a time.
In the meantime, though, a few highlights:
I finally got that photo with Steampunk Boba Fett I wanted:
This was my first Dragon*Con using my new 7D camera and 17-50 lens, which we purchased with D*C specifically in mind. (We needed a high ISO and a fairly wide angle for up-close, low-light conditions.) Overall I'm really pleased with how the pics turned out. I thought this Daft Punk cosplay shot was especially nice:
I'll never admit to purposely stalking Felicia Day (AND YOU CAN'T PROVE IT), but I will say that I found myself within five feet of her on several occasions throughout the con, and never ONCE worked up the courage to say hello.
The absolute best part of the con was all the readers I got to meet, though. Every year more of you find me, and every year I'm astounded by how many of you do. I thought I over-packed pins, but we kept running out! I like to joke that I only started the "find Jen" game on Twitter because I was lonely and wanted people to talk to me, but really, Dragon*Con wouldn't be *nearly* as fun without being stopped every hour or two with a random, "Jen? Are you Jen?"
I also love that so many of you are willing to hang out and chat for a bit - or in some cases, hang out for several nights in a row while fixing me & John ridiculous fruity drinks with umbrellas and gifting me with the most amazing plush EVAH:
I'm going to wrap up this "super short check-in post" (riiiight) with what turned out to be the best unintentional photo bomb ever.
First, let me say that I've seen a ton of Jessica Rabbit cosplay in the past, but never one that truly approached her ridiculously cartoony proportions until this:
Anyway, it wasn't until I was going through my pics last night that I realized I'd accidentally captured the most perfect photo bomb:
I hope you all had equally fantastic holiday weekends! Stay tuned for another book review, a quick hip bag tutorial, and of course TONS more cosplay shots from Dragon*Con!
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