Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saturday Steam 11/3/12

"Whiskey Nick" Triton - the same steampunk artist who made two of the steampunk Jack-O-Lanterns I featured a few weeks ago - makes some of the most amazing steampunk accouterments. Check out this hat he's dubbed "The Divinci."

Or how about these "Nautical Goggles with Seahorses?"


Triton's work reminds me why I fell in love with steampunk in the first place. I love the character he gives each piece, and his finishing is just spectacular. Definitely go check out the rest of his creations for more inspirational beauties like these!

Next up, Emma sent in a different kind of Steampunk Insect:

These "Litter bugs" are made from vintage book bindings, clock parts, and miscellaneous hardware. So clever! See the whole collection here on Flickr.

And for your steampunk parlor, check out this awesome "Candle-By-The-Hour" Melissa sent over:

How cool is this?? I've seen a vertical version before, but never one on a rotating drum. I think I need one for our back room, which is slowly being assimilated by my steampunk dining room. (Resistance is futile...)  It's about $35 at the Cabela's website.

And here's the vertical version, in case you've never seen one:

There's a new Kickstarter out for a Twilight Zone-style steampunk series, and it sounds pretty darn cool. Watch this:
This has the potential to be seriously awesome. I can't wait to see!

Maranda B.'s husband Matt was a steampunk Ghostbuster for Halloween, and I am loving all the details on his proton pack:

See more (plus pics of Maranda as an adorable Harley Quinn) at their Flickr account.

And while we're talking steampunk costumes, I've seen a lot of great ones this Halloween, but Jennifer P. may have found the greatest:

This is Emily Green, who styled herself as a steampunk assassin - and she made everything herself, from the jewelry to the leather pieces to the dress! Go here for a few more pics and a detailed description of everything she did.

And finally, you've probably seen me rave about Datamancer and his steampunk keyboard and laptop mods before, but those are well and truly out of most of our price ranges AND skill levels. That's why I'm so gosh-darned impressed with this PC makeover by blogger AJL, who claims it only took him about a week to do and roughly $50 in materials:

Fifty bucks? THAT'S IT?!

He doesn't give any details, so I've been staring hard at his photos trying to figure out how he did it all. The wood trim pieces I've seen at Home Depot, and upon closer inspection I've decided he must have used a wood patterned contact paper to cover the faces of everything. It looks great, though, and really the only give-away is the slightest bubbling on the inside edge of the keyboard:

The keys you can see he painted silver and then glued on metal nuts, with printed key tops decoupaged over...screw heads? Maybe? I can't imagine the rounded keys are comfortable to type on, though - there's a reason keyboards and typewriters always have a concave surface - so I'd be tempted to fill the nut interiors with epoxy clay smoothed in a bit in the middle.

The PC case is mostly a mystery to me - although I do spy some nixie tubes - so I'm guessing those are mostly found objects decorating it.

The scrolled sides of the keyboard are more wooden trim pieces with dowels running the length of the front and back. Really, the whole design is genius, and AJL's setup looks like a million bucks.
Go see the rest of his photos here, and then tell me you're not tempted to head to the hardware store. (Although I don't think John would take too kindly to my covering my Mac with contact paper. Hee!)

Seen something steamy this week? DO TELL. Share your links in the comments or over on the Epbot FB page!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Happy Birthday, John!

Today is John's birthday, and since he hates having photos of himself posted online almost more than I do, it's time for a John photo slideshow!!

John as a toddler (he's the youngest):

John as a kid:

John as a high school graduate:
(Your birthday present is I skipped the gangly teenage years, Sweetie.)

John on our wedding day:

John doing what he does best:

(I kid, I kid...)

John napping with our new kittens:

John feeding the birds:
(Tuppence a bowl!)

John and my brother, Ben, in the photo that (along with the bird one) will always be proudly displayed next to my monitor:

(Best. Picture. EVER.)

John rockin' his first convention costume:

John being the best husband any girl could ask for:

Happy birthday, Sweetie! I love you!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Figment of My Imagination

I'm still coming down from the internet Halloween high of the last few days, but I didn't want you guys to think I'd forgotten my promise to post Figment pictures! So here goes...

About a week after we started on John's Dreamfinder costume he insisted that *I* go in costume, too. (Wha??) Since I knew I could never look exactly like the actual dragon himself, I decided to try to make a pretty, girly version of Figment. And in keeping with the character, I aimed for something more little-girl girly than sexy girly, since I'm not out to ruin anyone's childhood. ;) (Not to mention it takes industrial strength corsets for me to pull off anything even remotely "sexy." Ha!)

We hit a lot of pitfalls and challenges along the way, and I'd by lying if I said I really liked this cosplay, but here it is, for better or worse:

Everything you see here is handmade, with the exception of the boots. It turns out you can't find lavender clothing ANYWHERE, so after weeks of fruitless searching we finally bought this stretchy lavender fabric, and John made me a skirt out of it. Yes, a skirt. But he made it so long that I was able to pull it up and use it as a dress. (Me: "Hey, now I don't need a shirt! BOOYA!!") The pink cummerbund (which closes with Velcro) holds it all together - take it off and I have the world's largest muumuu. Heh. The sleeves are just two long tapered tubes that I pull on like arm-warmers. (The great thing about t-shirt fabric? NO HEMMING REQUIRED. Woohoo!)   

The yellow sweater started out as an enormous pull-over from GoodWill which we cut and snipped and darted until it was about half its original size. I used iron-on hem tape to attach the red sleeve cuffs, and John made a lovely red band for the collar as well, but sadly it doesn't show at ALL with my hair down. At the last minute I used the remaining strip of red fabric as a neck tie, just so you could see some red around my neck that way.

Figment has teeny tiny wings, but I made the conscious decision to make mine extra large so they would show up from the front. In my mind, if it's not going to show when people take your picture, there's no point in making it. (Yep, I'm lazy!) That's also why I don't have a tail, even though I really did want to make one - it just didn't seem worth the effort if no one would see it!

Since my sweater was open in the front I couldn't have "Figment' written across my chest - so I decided to make a large necklace of his name instead.

To make it, I held Figment's t-shirt up to a window with a piece of paper over it, using it as a poor-woman's lightbox, and traced out the letters onto the paper:

Then I cut out the letters and used them as templates on a thickly rolled-out piece of black clay, which I cut and shaped with a craft blade:

I arranged the letters in a curved shape on a piece of paper, and then sketched out a shape around them. John then cut a scrap of thin aluminum he had in the garage into that shape for me, sanding it to give it a neat swirly texture:

 I glued on the clay letters, and then blinged everything up with cheap nail gems:

The aluminum is so lightweight that the necklace weighs next to nothing!

Originally I planned to paint a masquerade mask on my face, but after a few tries I realized I just wasn't skilled enough to pull it off - and even if I were, it'd take forever to do, and I didn't want that kind of stress!

So, I made that mask up there.

 I took the shape I'd planned to paint on my face and modified it to fit this plain masquerade mask:

I cut the top portion from a lavender craft foam, and painted the mask itself a darker purple:

Then I painted thin lines of glue around the edges and added loose glitter:

I felt like I was back in grade school, doing this! And I warned John we'd have glitter everywhere for weeks, but dangit, IT WAS FUN.

I wanted to keep the mask simple, so I just added darker purple glitter on the eyes (so it looked like eye shadow), and a center line down the nose for sparkle:

Lastly I went back with a wet paint brush and cleaned off the chalk lines you can still see here.

My design is supposed to look like stylized horns, but I realize it also looks a lot like a crown - so I guess if any of you need a Barbie princess mask...

Well, I've already covered how I made the wings and horns, so I guess that's everything! Obviously I should have had lavender boots, but all I could find online were dark purple ones, and I wasn't up for spending an extra $40 on footwear. :/ (And I don't do heels.)

As long as you crop off my feet, though, it looks Ok:

I keep holding my skirt out because I wanted a big poofy skirt. If I ever wear this again, I'll have to get a nice ruffly petticoat for it.

So that was my Halloween costume! All in all, I'm still glad I didn't wear it with John's Dreamfinder, since I liked having the focus just be on him that night. Besides, my costume is more of a creative interpretation of Figment than a literal one, while John's is pretty darn exact.

Which reminds me: would you guys believe that the original Dreamfinder himself commented on John's costume?! BECAUSE HE DID! And he said amazingly nice things about it! I've been reading his blog the past few days, so that was a major, MAJOR Dizgeek moment for me. I'm still not over it; I get all fangirly and shrieky inside every time I think about it. (EEEE!)

And finally finally, a lot of you have mentioned that you've never seen the original Journey Into Imagination ride that our costumes are based on, which is a tragedy I feel compelled to correct, in at least a small way. So here's the best video of it I've found:

This starts with a pretty comprehensive look at the area around the ride and the building itself, so the ride portion doesn't start until the 3 minute mark. And it's a pretty long ride, so you'll need to continue on to part 2 here (sorry, the embedding is disabled). The beginning of part 2 is my favorite part of the ride, though, and certainly the most beautiful, so please don't miss it!

Thanks for being so patient, guys, and for providing me with endless entertainment/distractions the past few days with all of your Halloween costumes and pumpkins and crafts! My inbox is overflowing, so I may never get back to you all, but please know that I am LOVING all of it!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Haunted Disney Scare

Here's a fun scare for your Halloween night: Gather the family 'round (well, if your kids are old enough for scary stuff, of course) for a frightfully good time at the Haunted Mansion:

(Found via BoingBoing and Inside the Magic.)

This is an eleven minute, Blair-Witch-Style film shot almost entirely on Disney property, and it's incredibly well done. There are a couple of pretty decent scares in it, too, although I freely admit I'm the wussiest scaredy-cat out there. 

And for those who don't like it scary, here are some more adorkable little Epbot readers to wish you a happy Halloween! 

This is Eva. Eva's mom Amanda thinks she's the cutest little droid you'll see tonight - and I think she might be right!

Kitrina's two-year-old geekling announced that she was going to be "Princess Batman" for Halloween, leaving Kitrina to figure out the rest. I'd say she did a fantastic job!

Jennifer M.'s seven-year-old Emily is obsessed with dinosaurs, so last year she was a velicorapter, and this year she's a pteranodon:
Emily, you're going to have to teach me how to pronounce that, ok? And, mom? AMAZING.

And lest you think I'm leaving out the boys:

Shelley W. and her two sons definitely know the way to this geek girl's heart. :)

Happy Halloween, everyone!!

News Overload!!

There's been so much happening online the past few days, I feel like I'm on internet overload. Between Sandy and Disney-buying-Star Wars and all the Halloween goodies streaming in by the dozen, I've got about a billion tabs open and nearly as many things I want to share all at once.

I was up all night Monday watching the breaking news on Hurricane Sandy, and my heart is with all of the East Coasters currently without power or worse, and particularly with all the emergency workers. I just about lost it at the photo of a nurse evacuating a NICU baby, and the dramatic video of firefighters rushing into the building whose facade had just collapsed. So many heroes out there.

(On a personal note, the Cake Wrecks servers are in New York, and were supposed to go down Tuesday morning when the basement fuel tanks for their back-up generators flooded. Instead, the personnel there took turns hand-carrying fuel tanks up 17 flights of stairs all. Day. Long. The site never went down, and it's still up now. Talk about amazing dedication...)

And for one more inspiring story, have you seen the latest post on Katie, our own little Star Wars girl? Katie asked to be a Storm Trooper for Halloween this year, so the 501st community once again pulled together a Force-full minor miracle for her:

Grab a Kleenex and go read all about it. So, so amazing.

A few people have asked how I feel about the Star Wars news, but I don't think it will surprise any of you to know I'm cautiously optimistic about it all. Living in Orlando, I'm already used to seeing Star Wars at Walt Disney World, so this feels like a natural progression.

Sorry, Donald, but Katie wore it better.

And as for the new SW movie slated for 2015 - well, proponents point to Avenger's success as an example of what could happen. Opponents point to John Carter and the continued bludgeoning-into-the-ground of the Pirates franchise. I said, cautious optimism. Heh.

 I had a little fun with one of my pics from Star Wars Weekends. :)

Check back soon for my Halloween costume post, plus maybe some extra Halloween goodies. Like I said: SO MUCH STUFF TO SHARE!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Henry Franks: A Creepy Read for Halloween

Every now and then I have readers send me books they've written, since I will never turn down a book someone thinks I might like. I tell them up front that their work will probably never get on Epbot, though, so it's up to them to take the chance on sending me something I may never even read. And even if I do read it, I prefer writing reviews for books that really impacted me in some way. Most of the books I read are good, but I want to talk about the stuff that really catches my imagination, for better or worse.

Which bring me to Peter Salomon's book, Henry Franks.

 Spooky-looking, no?

In fact, this is a perfect Halloween read, so I only wish I'd written this review sooner. Like the cover itself, it's a bit dark, a bit creepy, and a lot unsettling.

Henry is a boy covered in scars from a horrific accident he doesn't remember. The story follows him trying to regain his memory while falling for the pretty girl next door, and while a series of mysterious murders ravage their small town.

In a nutshell, Henry Franks is a mystery, and one that is incredibly easy to spoil, so be careful if you go reading other reviews of it. Even the few I saw on Amazon contained references I'm glad I didn't know going into the story.

It's also a mystery that excels in keeping you guessing. At the halfway mark I had this lightning bolt moment where I suddenly KNEW - I knew! - what the story was all about, but then I was wrong. Salomon throws suspicion everywhere, and even turns Henry himself into an unreliable character, until by the end you could believe almost ANYONE was the bad guy.

The story made me uncomfortable at times, and I have some qualms with the ending and the girl's character, but I honestly couldn't put the book down. I read it in less than two days, and despite my gripes with it, I have to say it was still a pretty good ending. Salomon gives us a solid resolution with a lingering sense of dread that's just right for the tone of the book.

My only real irritant with Henry Franks is something that is going to seem a little silly, and that John said I shouldn't mention, because once I do I'm going to curse all of you to notice this thing, too - like telling you not to think of pink elephants. So this paragraph is your warning: if you don't want to think about the pink elephant of Henry Franks, skip the next paragraph.

No? You really want to know? Ok, it's the heat. Yes, the heat. Franks takes place in Georgia, and for the first half of the book I felt like every other paragraph included some reference to how hot it was, or how much someone was sweating, or how it was so muggy and hard to breathe, until I felt like I needed to turn the AC down myself. I'm sure that was intentional on Salomon's part, and to be fair, I DID read it all in almost one sitting, which no doubt made me notice it more, but I still yelled at the pages at one point, "I GET IT: IT'S HOT." Heh.

So, to sum up, if you're looking for something creepy - not scary, but creepy - and suspenseful to read, I'd say give Henry Franks a try. In fact, if you'd like my copy (Only read once! In mint condition!) just leave me a comment on this post. I'll pick a winner at random tomorrow, and announce it here. And then you guys can tell me if it's hot in there, or if it's just me. ;)

UPDATE: And the randomly selected winner IS....Devon Pavan! Please e-mail me your mailing address, Devon, and thanks to everyone else for entering!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Gettin' My Geek Card

I mentioned this on Facebook several weeks ago, but the other day I realized I'd somehow neglected to post about it here on the actual blog. WHOOPS. (I'm claiming temporary insanity/amnesia.)

So without further ado, allow me to present what is possibly the greatest honor I've ever been given:


Yep, my friend Len Peralta (the same artist who turned me into Mr. StayPuft for my birthday) added me to his prestigious Geek-a-Week project, which includes such geeky greats as Adam Savage, Wil Wheaton, Cory Doctorow, Felicia Day, and - in the same set as me - Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess.

Like I said, this is a staggering honor, and one which I actually attempted to refuse, because I am apparently a blithering idiot. ;) Fortunately Len persisted, though, and now - did I mention? - I HAVE MY OWN TRADING CARD. Plus Storm (of Paul & Storm) wrote this killer back for it:

So, for those of you missed this the first time, you can go here to listen to my interview with Len - but even better, you can browse through the dozens of other geeks he's interviewed, too, and listen to their podcasts. Everyone gets asked the same questions, and it's fascinating to hear the different personalities coming out in their answers.

Oh, and if you act really fast, you can still pre-order the set of cards I'm in for $12 here on Len's Kickstarter page. It ends tomorrow, though, so like I said: act fast if you want one! (The Kickstarter has ended, so just watch Len's store at the link below!)

And if you miss the pre-order, head over to Len's site for art prints and more Geek-a-Week card packs!

Geeky Halloween Treats by YOU!

My inbox is overflowing with geeky treats of the season, all courtesy of you readers. I can't keep up! It's fabulous! Here are a few choice morsels from just the past few days:

Annette E. sent over her truly terrifying pumpkin carve:


Nikki had a pumpkin contest at work, with the challenge being that they weren't allowed to carve it. So, she got out a little sculpey clay, some paint, paper, and cotton balls, and made this:
 It's mad. MAD, I tell you!!

And then there are the costumes. Ohhh yes, the costumes. I can't possibly post them all, but here are a few of my favorites:

The best Angry Birds costume I've ever seen, all handmade by reader Mags for her nephew. (Hit the link for process pics on her blog!)

Melinda's family always dresses up together, and their Peter Pan costumes from last year were amazing:

Sara R. and her husband have such mad geek cred that they even named their daughter Kaylie Eowyn, in honor of both Firefly and LoTR. (They would have used the Firefly spelling, she tells me, but that would have been too many "E"s in a row.) Happily, one of their shower gifts was this fantastic Kaylee jumpsuit:
So, naturally, her folks decided to go with the theme for Halloween and dress up as Zoe and Wash:

 PLUS, Sara also carved an appropriate pumpkin to match!

You're right, Sara; the logo really WAS meant to be a pumpkin carve!

You know, Elizabeth and little Piper, your Halloween costumes really remind me of someone. Who could it be...?

 Oh, that's right: THE BABE.

Stephanie H. tells me that when her little girl Charlee asked to be R2D2, she immediately thought of the cute R2 gal I photographed at Star Wars Celebration this year. So she made Charlee a very similar outfit:

I especially love the hat!

Oh, and Charlee also asked if they could dress up her baby brother Max as Yoda, so...they did:

"Irresistibly cute, find me you will."

And finally, Kim's two little girls Alex (age 4) and Maggie (age 2) are big Avengers fans, so when Alex decreed she was going to be the Hulk for Halloween, they all decided little Maggie should be Captain America. Kim put both costumes together with a mix of homemade and store-bought finds, and I think you'll agree she did an AMAZING job.

Cutest. Captain. EVER.

Kim made little Maggie's shirt herself, and found the boots at a thrift store. (And if the boots were in my size I would TOTALLY steal them.)

Here's four-year-old Alex with her mask off:

And here she is with it on, in what is possibly my favorite picture EVER:

This desperately needs a Hulk thought bubble, you guys. Something about being surrounded by princesses, methinks. ;)

 I hope you guys enjoyed the treats, and that you have a fantastic Halloween!