Thursday, May 23, 2013

24-Hour Disney Day Meetup

John and I have heard from quite a few of you going to the 24-hour Disney day tomorrow, so I'd love to get you all together for a little Epbot pow-wow, if you're up for it! I'm thinking we can meet up at the Sunshine Tree Terrace (aka the little counter-service spot next to the Flying Carpets, across from the Jungle Cruise) at midnight:

We can all get Citrus Swirls, sit for a while, shoot the breeze, quote Princess Bride at each other, you know - the works.

Now, I know a lot of you are exactly like me, meaning you're kind of shy about going up to total strangers and introducing yourself, but I don't expect there will be more than 10 or 20 of us, tops, so please come out if you can! I'll even bring Epbot and Vader-riding-a-pony buttons for ya, because I am SO not above bribery. :)

You can also keep track of me that night on Twitter, in case you're not able to make the meetup but still want to find us to say hi.

See some of you there - and for the rest of you, stay tuned for a photo post! I'm hoping to get more crowd-free shots ala last year's.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Can A Corset Cure Cramps?

I've debated writing this post for a little while now, but at this point I figure I've discussed everything from my OB-GYN visits to my bra size with you guys, so hey, why not?

[Note: Gentlemen, there is nothing in this post that speaks to your interests, unless of course your interests include a lady friend who suffers from menstrual cramps. You have been warned.]

So here's the deal: back when I last cosplayed as Lady Vadore, I was unfortunately right smack in the midst of my womanly miseries*. I've always struggled with severe cramps and PMS and all the joys that go with them, so you can imagine how I felt that morning when I crawled out of bed and contemplated the Dreaded Corset.

[*If you read that fast it looks like "womanly miniseries." Ha!]

I was already in pain, but I gritted my teeth, swallowed two Tylenol, and had John lace me in. (OOPH.) I did have him loosen it quite a bit, though.

Within minutes I was feeling much better, but of course I attributed that to the pain pills. 

"I feeeel happyyyy!"

That day I went about seven hours in costume, and I felt fantastic - no pain at all, even long after the Tylenol should have worn off. I was too distracted to think much of it, though, until we were packing up at the car to go home that evening. Since it's mighty uncomfortable to sit in a car that long laced in a tight corset, I swapped it out for a loose overshirt. 

Within approximately three minutes of removing the corset - perhaps sooner - it felt like a sledgehammer hit me right in the gut. I've never had such a sudden onset of menstrual pain in my life, as I literally went from feeling on top of the world to curling into a ball and sobbing in agony. 

Needless to say, this raised a few questions. Namely, does a corset stop cramps, and if so, how or why?

My internet research turned up lots of anecdotal evidence: plenty of ladies claiming corsets *do* stop or help cramps, but nothing more "official" or offering a medical explanation as to why. I also found a lot of links to scammy looking sites pimping something called a "premium beautiful corset" (yes, really) for menstrual pain. There was also a slightly less scammy-looking site selling a compression belt contraption for the same purpose, which seemed to support all the anecdotal evidence.

As to WHY a corset would relieve cramps, all I found were some dire-sounding warnings about corsets stopping menstrual bleeding all together, usually listed in articles bashing corsets as dangerous and unhealthy. On the other hand, there are just as many (if not more) sites defending regular corset-wear as perfectly healthy - assuming you wear them correctly, of course.

So, does compressing your uterus trigger it to stop shedding its lining, or does it alleviate the cramping for some other reason - maybe by just supporting the muscles/organs? Beats me. All I know is that it definitely works. 

How do I know? Well, for the last couple months I've been wearing a tight compression band on the days I start to cramp - and it really, really works, you guys. Happily you don't have to wear a corset, though, or even anything all that tight. All you need is one of these babies:

Those are underbust shapewear camisoles you can find almost anywhere - assuming you don't already have one in your closet - or you can order one off of Ebay for less than $7 with shipping. (I think I found mine at Ross for ten or twelve bucks.)

The one I had kept cutting into my underarms with those straps, so one day I got out the scissors and hacked 'em off. Now it's just a stretchy tube for my abdomen, and I tuck the top edge under my bra band to keep it in place. They also sell "slim belts," though, which are essentially the same thing:

This one is $9 with shipping on ebay. (Note: I know nothing about these sellers, so of course do your own comparison shopping.)

These shapewear pieces are snug but extremely stretchy, so odds are you'll forget you're even wearing them. And even though the very LAST thing you want to do when you're cramping is put on tight-fitting clothing, believe me when I say this will absolutely alleviate some or all of the pain*.
[*Someone just pointed out I sound a little snake-oil huckster-y here; sorry! I should say I *believe* it will help you, but of course everyone is different and there are no guarantees.]

In fact, I've cut down drastically on the amount of pain pills I need each month - last month I think I even skipped them entirely, if you can believe it - thanks to this compression thingy and one other trick I stumbled across online: Magnesium supplements. I take one 200 mg tablet of magnesium citrate the second I start to feel the pain coming on, and then another with each meal and when/if I take any Tylenol, and I could swear it actually prevents the cramps from getting worse. (It looks like there's plenty of evidence to support this, too; here's one from the University of Maryland, for example, or just google "magnesium menstrual cramps" for more.)

You guys might recall that the last time I mentioned my uterus I was gunning for a hysterectomy - solely due to the pain each month -  so believe me when I say this is a HUGE improvement. Fingers crossed it lasts.

Oh, and the only negative side effect to magnesium is that it can be a diuretic/laxative if you take too much of it - but that's actually kind of a good thing for a lot of us around that time, am I right? JUST SAYIN'. (I'm so glad we can have these chats, you guys.) Magnesium is cheap, too, so if nothing else you've got very little to lose by giving it a try!

As with everything concerning your health, though, always do your own research and/or talk to your doctor if you have questions. I can only tell you what's worked for me, and while I don't think either of these suggestions can harm you, again, please do your own research.

Speaking of which, I know there are (at least) several doctors who read Epbot, so if any of you would care to weigh in on this in the comments, I'd love to hear from you! Ditto for any of you regular corset-wearers out there. Let us glory in all our glorious womanhood, my lady friends, and freak out the men-folk with our talk of chocolate-cravings and heavy flows! WOOT WOOT!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Disney's Star Wars Weekends, 2013!

Star Wars Weekends just started out at Disney Hollywood Studios, so yesterday John and I braved the heat and crowds to go check it out!

Before we even got to the front gate I was chasing down these two sisters to get a photo:

(That's their parents smiling in the background.) I love that you're just as likely to see a girl toting a play sword or blaster as a tiara these days at the parks - or even all three together. ;)

And check out these girls' fabulous fascinators!

They even dressed to match!

We hung out in the gift shops for a while while we waited to meet up with Martha, a long-time reader from Canada. If you follow me on Twitter, then there's your explanation for all my wacky merchandise tweets:

Here's one I didn't post, though:

I actually love these Angry Birds foam balls, but they were like $15 each. YEESH. Ah, Disney pricing...

Once we met up with Martha, we moved on to the day's big attraction:


This momma and her babies were pacing back and forth on a raised planter:

She kept jumping down from the planter and looking up at the ducklings expectantly, but they were all, "What, you crazy?" Then the momma duck looked at ME, but I was too busy taking videos of her with my phone. Eventually a lady walked up, scooped the ducklings up, set them down by the mom, and herded them all across the path to the lake side. I was both mildly horrified and horribly jealous.

What's that? I'm supposed to be looking at Star Wars stuff? Oh. Ok. Here, have a Chipmunk Ewok:

The lines for photos with the characters were pretty crazy, as were the crowds jostling around, so I couldn't get the characters by themselves. Instead, enjoy these photos of random children alongside them. :D

This Darth Maul is the same guy every year, I believe, and he is incredibly intense - spot on perfect, whipping around into different poses like he can't even feel the 90 degree heat. So that girl's finger point and grin cracked. me. up.

(Did I mention it was like surface-of-the-sun hot? Why can't they host these things in February?)

Not long into the day I spotted a tweet from another reader named Jennifer at the park, and convinced her to come say hi. We ended up hanging out with her family and Martha for the next few hours, which was super fun.

Jennifer's daughter Emily was sporting a Jedi robe her dad Jeff had made (go, Dad!) and she was a real (storm?) trooper when it came to facing down the dreaded Tusken Raider photo op:

Whatever you do, don't look beside you.

This backlot area is where the characters definitely have the most fun, playing with the crowds and doing their best to freak people out.

Here's a shot of Emily's dad Jeff playing a game of mirror, mirror with the same Raider, who took it upon himself to stalk our group for a little ways:

Next he went after Jennifer, poor thing, while John looked on:

Such a Casanova.

I'm pretty sure these walk-around characters have been told to get in your face at every opportunity, because that seems to be their go-to tactic. It's either funny or terrifying, depending on your disposition, and I found having a camera in front of my face was both a shield and a target.

Here's Aurra Sing closing in on me:

She locked eyes on the camera and then slowly stalked off to the side:

Next I spotted my perennial favorite, Zam Wessel, walking by:

I caught her mid-stride giving me some serious side-eye.

I chased her down and asked for a photo of just her, which of course is like volunteering to be messed with. She let me snap one quick photo:

And then started closing in:

She got closer, and closer, until:


This photo isn't cropped, and I didn't use a zoom. In fact, her nose was practically touching my lens, something I didn't realize until I went to move and stumbled into her - and then realized everyone around was laughing. No complaints, though; these shots were my favorite to play with in Photoshop.

We wrapped things up at the Darth Mall, aka a Star Wars fan's shopping heaven. New this year is a 3D printing service that puts your head on a Storm Trooper's body:

It's about a hundred dollars plus shipping, and they ship it to you about two months later.

They also had Roxy the Rancor there for photos, which some of you may remember from MegaCon and Star Wars Celebration:

I guess the fans who created Roxy agreed to lend her to Disney for the event. Nice of them!

Donald seemed to be the stand-out character this year in merchandising, which was great for me; after classic Mickey, Donald is my favorite of the Fab Five:

Talk about the perfect set: Donald's butt frozen in Carbonite, and Donald as Boba Fett!

The art area is filled with fantastic original Star Wars and mash-up art:

The registers are overseen by Darth Donald:

And some fun Jawa set ups:

I managed to resist the siren call of most of the goodies, but I did cave on this deck of 3-D/lenticular playing cards:
Every card has a lenticular face - not just the face cards - and it comes in a metal tin. Not bad for $12! (And how appropriate that Jar Jar is the Joker...)

Here's a close-up of Vader's card:

We ended the day with the Hyperspace Hoopla, which is always a toe-tapping spectacle of goofy fun. People get in place for the show two to three hours ahead of time, though, so unless you're willing to wait that long you're not getting a great spot. I caught glimpses of it through a forest of trees and kids-on-shoulders, but I saw enough to still enjoy it. The show seems to be getting longer each year, too, since this one clocked in at over 35 minutes.

Here's a snippet from Inside the Magic that includes one of my favorite bits:

They used to play Robot Rock at our local skating rink when I was a kid, and I've loved it ever since - so that was a fun surprise. (And I love the controller DJ. Ha!) The only other bit that really made me hoot and holler, though, was the surprise finale - because I am just that much of a Dizgeek. :)

Head over to Inside the Magic to watch the entire show, or Ricky's also got it separated into clips if you just want to watch bits and pieces.

If you're in the area, definitely come check out the Weekends if you can! They run for the next three weeks, and there are plenty of shows and events (like the parade!) that we didn't catch this time.

Oh, and this coming Friday is also the 24-hour Disney Day at the Magic Kingdom, so if you're going to that and want to meet up, let me know! I've heard from two or three people already, so it might be fun to have a little Epbot party - maybe we can all grab a Citrus Swirl together!