Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Knights Who Say Ni - Free Helmet Templates!

Ever have a project you thought would be a breeze, and then it ends up taking 8-10 months? 


Well, it turns out, the Knights Who Say Ni really DID demand a sacrifice: all our time and patience.

We're on the home stretch now, though, so let's get to it!

Oops. Sorry, guys. I'll try not to say that word again.

Without further ado, our completed helmet:

We've made seven total, though only 6 are show-worthy. They're made entirely of EVA and thin craft foam, and the horns attach with magnets:

This makes storage & transport much, MUCH easier.

I lost count of how many tries it took us to get the helmet shape right, but here's just some of the reject pile:

Once we nailed the shape the rest was relatively easy, though, so if you want to make your own, rest assured we've done the hardest part for you. (And if you're so overwhelmed with gratitude you want to help feed our cats and/or shop through our Amazon affiliate link, then hey, I won't stop you.)

The helmet is just four pieces of EVA foam (which you can buy in rolls at Harbour Freight, Walmart, and/or many hardware stores), while the horns and trim are the thinner "fun foam" from the craft store. You'll also need contact cement to assemble everything.

This will not be a full step-by-step tutorial - there is too much. Instead I'm going to give you our templates and some quick pointers and explanations. If you get stuck feel free to ask questions in the comments, though!

First, the templates John very sweetly labeled and arranged so you can print them on standard paper at home:

Thursday, July 28, 2016

STAND BACK, I'm About To Say Something *Nice* About Facebook

This pains me, you guys. PAINS ME.

After all, we all know Facebook is the devil. It censors our posts' reach to nothing, hides all our friends' updates, and yet still manages to barf up all our crazy relatives' political memes.


Recently something beautiful has happened... on Facebook. Something that's changed my interactions and overall happiness possibly even more than my Facebook Fix from a year ago. And it's going to seem blatantly self-serving when I say this, which is a bit embarrassing and why I hesitate to mention it, but it's the truth - and not why you'd think.

The Fans of Epbot page is my new happy place.

Again, but not why you'd think.

You know how I do meetups a few times a month with you readers? (No? Um. I do meetups a few times a month with you readers.) The reason I do them - even as an agoraphobic, introverted, hermit blogger - is because I already KNOW I'm going to like you. If you like the things I like enough to follow Epbot, then we're already friends. We just haven't met yet.

But something's been missing, and Fans of Epbot has shown me what it was: you guys didn't get the chance to be friends with each other. When you post your photos and questions and links on the regular Epbot FB page, I'm pretty much the only one who can see them. But on Fans of Epbot, you get a whole community commenting and liking and saying "me, too!" and it is just the best, BEST thing happening online right now.

I'm so grateful to Julie for starting this page, and for being gracious enough to get the ball rolling and then stand back and let the rest of you have at it. And I'm TRYING to follow suit, I am, but I'll admit to being a constant lurker and frequent commenter. Because dangit, you guys are way too interesting.

Seriously. I'm having a hard time getting work done. I keep seeing something new pop up in my feed, and now I have to go see that costume or project or geeky collection photo, and before I can even answer a craft question 6 other people have shared solutions way better than mine, and folks are swapping book recommendations and pet photos and introducing themselves and commiserating over anxiety struggles and geeking out over toys and I know I'm rambling, but I'm just so happy I could pop.

Here's what it is in a nutshell - though I don't have the screencap since it's from a few weeks ago: early on a reader introduced herself on the page and mentioned she felt a little lonely, because she lives all the way over in France. The next 3 or 4 comments were in French. And I sat here in my office and bawled, you guys. This is the community you've built. This is the love and welcome I've been spoiled with for years, and now I get to see my friends becoming friends with each other - some even meeting in real life! - and I just want to have a giant slumber party with you all where we watch superhero movies and paint our toenails green and put on My Little Pony fashion shows, but 'til then, this is a pretty darn good substitute.

THIS. This times a million. Thank you. I love you. Let's go make some friends.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Amazing Mom Gives Her Son The Princess Party He Wants, I Cheer, Maybe Cry A Little

It doesn't always feel like it, peeps, but we ARE lucky to be alive right now. Here's proof:

Stephanie V. writes:

I have a 5 year-old son who loves hockey, soccer, The Ninja Turtles, Star Wars, and Ariel. Yes, Ariel – The Little Mermaid. Like, LOVES her. I have bought him Ariel socks, an Ariel doll, and for his birthday this month, an Ariel blanket for his bed. He drags it all over the house and it’s his new lovey. I’ve let him pick out Disney Princess toothpaste at the grocery store as that’s what he wanted.

  When I asked Brodie a few months ago what he wanted his birthday party theme to be, he said “Ariel!” And he wanted Ariel to come to his party.  For a little bit, I pondered all that and thought I could do an “Under the Sea” type theme with a little bit of Ariel mixed in, so it’s not quite so obvious.  

Fast-forward to more party planning and I’ve decided we’re not going to scrimp on the Ariel decorations. He LOVES her and this is what he wants! So we are sending out invitations with pictures of Ariel, Flounder, Sebastian, and King Triton on them, and we are having an Ariel party for my 5 year-old son. Ariel will deliver his cake to him personally toward the end of the party. And he will be the HAPPIEST little boy on the planet on that day. To me, that’s what counts.

By the time I replied to Stephanie's e-mail the party had already happened, so of COURSE I begged for pics. Then, after a little more begging,  I got permission to share them with all of you. 

 First, here's Brodie with his older brother in their Little Mermaid t-shirts:

Here's Ariel leading the kids in a little dance party:

(Look at Brodie's face. LOOK AT IT. That is all. [sniffle])

Story time:

 And my favorite: Brodie's one-on-one with his favorite princess:


Thank you, Stephanie, for being one of the good ones. Thank you for reminding us it's not only OK to love what you love, it's OK for everyone else to, too. Thank you for spreading hope and joy and love and pixie dust, just when some of us need it most.

And Brodie, I think I speak for everyone here when I say HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY, little man! Please don't ever stop being you!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Stranger Things Happened... And Now I'm In Love

I'm not sure I've EVER enjoyed a TV series more than Stranger Things, so prepare for a rave, my friends. Only with less glow sticks and more of this awesome fan art action:

The official promo art gives a better idea of the series' overall feel, though:
 Doesn't this look like the cover of every paperback you read in middle school? Love it.

WHO SHOULD WATCH: Anyone who grew up in the 80s, and/or anyone who loves 80s ensemble kid-hero movies like Goonies, E.T., and Explorers.

WHO SHOULD NOT WATCH: Anyone who thinks X-files was too creepy. There are definitely some Supernatural level scares, but thankfully not much Supernatural level gore. If you can make it through the first 2 episodes, you'll be fine; that's about as bad as it gets. (Parents, I'd pre-screen.)


1) Stranger Things is compelling, heartwarming, nostalgic, and scary - in that order. There's a reason everyone seems to be binge-watching it; the story sucks you in almost immediately, and won't let go.

2) The characters are refreshingly REAL in a very Freaks & Geeks way. You can relate to them. You believe them. You believe the reasons they do what they do. And you're going to love more of them than you'd expect.

They're not all Highschool Musical heartthrobs, either, which makes me happy. (Anyone else tired of Hollywood passing off twenty-something cover models as high schoolers, and trying to convince us plastic perfection is the norm during childhood? Then watch this.)

3) Mega Girl Power.  I won't say more because spoilers, but ermergersh YES to more badass females.

4) Perfect pacing and character development. There are no lulls, and some of the characters will surprise you, often in fantastic ways. (I especially love Hop's story arc.)

5) It ends as well as it begins. (Which is really, REALLY well.)

How many shows start strong and then limp to the end with some nonsensical finale? (Lookin' at you, LOST.) Not this one. I CHEERED as the last credits rolled, you guys. CHEERED. Just enough resolution, while still hinting at a next season. Perfection.

Go. Watch.

Oh, but before you do, lemme announce this month's art winners!

The winner of the Mario print is: Kari Selph
The winner of the Maleficent print is: Jessy Southard Strohmeyer
And my wild card winner is: Amy from Williamsburg

Congrats, you three, and please e-mail me your mailing addresses!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Craftin' Makes Me Feel Good: DIY Holtzmann Necklace From Ghostbusters

If you're as smitten with Holtzmann from Ghostbusters as I am, then odds are you've thought about getting your paws on that rockin' necklace of hers:

Quick Confession: I must admit, once I (finally) realized her necklace wasn't a nerdy Uranium reference, but rather a literal "screw U," I was a little sad. I'm not really a fan of insults as fashion statements. Never have been. 


Then the Leslie Jones Twitter thing happened. 

And you guys, I got pretty mad.

And I realized: Holtzmann's necklace is directed at the haters. At every racist troll, at every patronizing fanboy gatekeeper. By wearing this necklace, we're not only supporting badass women, we're standing up for our fandom. Think we're fake geek girls? Think women can't be funny? Think allowing a new generation into the fandom is ruining your childhood? Then, hey, dude: READ THE NECKLACE.

So, yeah, that's when I made this:

It's not screen accurate by any means, but I kind of love the idea of putting your own spin on it. 

In fact, I made a second version that's slightly smaller - and even less screen-accurate - but I like it even better:
And this smaller version is the easier one to make!

So let's make some necklaces.

First, head to the hardware store and pick these up:

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

July Art Roundup: Dinosaur Swings, "Wicked" Witches, & Little Pony Hugs!

Time for my favorite geeky art finds of the month!

Joey Quintin first caught my eye with his portrait of one of my favorite characters in Disney's Festival of Fantasy parade:

He even made her look like a Disney cartoon!

Here's a parade reference, so you can compare:

(You can see all my parade pics here, btw, if you missed them way back when.)

 Joey's sketch cards are also soooo good, though:

Then he's got this fabulous Wicked/Harry Potter mashup:

(Hey, they ARE witches, right? Now I want this to be canon.)

Right now Joey is only selling buttons of his artwork in his online shop, but they're only $3, and the Harley one is pretty fab. Fingers crossed he adds prints soon, too! 'Til then, follow him on FB or Instagram for his appearance schedule.

Sara Olson won me over with her warrior Crystal Gems, "The Rose Knights":

Especially Pearl! 

Looks like Sara only sells at conventions, not online, but hit that link up there to check her appearance schedule.

Bryan Fyffe has vivid, gritty designs with a huge graphic punch:

Friday, July 15, 2016

The "I Only Hate It Because It's A Reboot" Argument Gets BUSTED

I didn't want a reboot, you guys.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say I *hated* the fact that the new Ghostbusters was going to be a reboot. I wanted a continuation, a legacy, a sequel to the original's brilliance, not some modern replacement.

I held out hope, though, because an all-female 'bustin team made me happy to be alive. Good or bad, I told the perpetual naysayers, this movie will show little girls they, too, can be ghostbusters - so that's already a win.

But I was still scared. Please, I thought, Paul Feig, don't prove the patronizing fanboy jerkfaces right.

The first trailer did little to assuage my fears. I was still hopeful, and I put on a brave face, but inside I have to admit a small part of me was squeaking "ohhhh noooooooo."  Gross body humor? Literal gun licking? A possessed 'buster? "Nooooooooo!"

The second trailer was better, though, and I started to actually look forward to opening day. I kinda liked the new theme song, even when it seemed the entire internet haaaaaated it. At conventions I found proton-packing purists - women AND men - who were so excited they were already making the new props and costumes. They helped remind me how FUN this is - how it's supposed to be fun! - and that the haters did not speak for all hardcore fans.

So now... let's talk about the movie.

I just saw it a few hours ago, so this will be fresh and jumbled, but I promise to keep it spoiler-free.

Given that I sat down expecting the quality of that first trailer, I will tell you I was BLOWN AWAY by the first 30-40 minutes. As in, I spent that entire time with my jaw either hanging open or in the biggest, goofiest grin. It was just SO GOOD, you guys. The opening sequence is genuinely scary, beautifully shot, and could not be a more perfect prologue.

The character intros are equally pitch-perfect, as we get just the right amount of back story before being thrown back into the ghostly action.

But best of all, it feels completely new. This is not a re-hashing of the original, regurgitated scene-for-scene like I dreaded. This is not an attempt at a replacement. This is a new direction, with a different approach. Almost nothing feels familiar, and that's a good thing. It lets you get lost in the story, and when the rare homage pops up - like the original logo, or a snippet of piano - it's actually a bit startling!

I don't think it will surprise you that, of the four leads, Kate McKinnon is the standout. Quirky, brilliant, and with a "let-it-all-burn" gleam in her eye that keeps you guessing, her Holtzman is definitely going to be the fan favorite.

Prepare to love this woman.

What may surprise you is that Kristin Wiig and Leslie Jones absolutely kill it, too, with Leslie edging out Kate with some phenomenal one-liners I wish I could share, but won't, because spoilers.

I consider myself a Melissa McCarthy fan, so it pains me to say my namesake character, Abby Yates, was kinda "meh." I found myself wishing Holtzman had more screen time/lines, and Yates, less. McCarthy's lines just weren't as funny, and since she seems to be scolding or complaining much of the time, she comes off less likeable than the other three.

Which reminds me: all those things most of us didn't like in the first trailer? Leslie's histrionics, Kristin's slime jokes, Kate's gun-licking? Those things go by in the blink of an eye in the actual film, and in context, totally work. They're also one-offs, and are not at all what the whole movie is like. It's weird to me that those were the moments the studio chose to highlight, when there are so many better ones! (Oh, and the hated theme song? Plays for about 10 seconds during a "rah rah go get 'em" kind of scene. Which rocks.)

Getting back to the film's flow, I've heard a lot of raving about the Ghostbuster's "third act," but it does take a while after the draggy midsections to recapture the film's spirit - pun totally intended. That said, there's at least one dramatic slo-mo action sequence in there that had me this close to standing up and cheering, so it definitely comes back around.

The Big Bad at the end doesn't compare to Staypuft for me, but to be fair, I'm not sure anything could. I will say the effects are great; just the right mix of silly and scary, and again, they didn't even try to mirror the original's finale, which I appreciate. (We saw it in 3D, btw, which was cool for the finale especially, but overall I don't think it's necessary.)

More pluses:

- The explanation for WHY ghosts are suddenly popping up all over NYC is better than the original film. That's right, BETTER. (And if memory serves, even ties in a little from the video game.)

- The original cast cameos are mercifully brief and lovingly done. (Stay 'til the very, VERY end of the credits.) In fact, keep your eyes peeled during the first 10 minutes for a sweet Harold Ramis tribute.

- A little side-tracky, but Holtzman's necklace -which I couldn't stop staring at the whole movie, but didn't "get" until an hour later in the car ride home - was a definite highlight for me. Let's see if you can tell what it is from this photo:


(OK, because John's insisting - probably because this made him laugh really, really hard - here's the actual dialogue the moment I "got" her necklace: 

"Yeah, I loved it, but I still don't understand the U. At first I thought it was a science thing, like for Uranium? 'Cuz her name doesn't have a U in it. Plus there was a screw behind it, which seems really...OH MY GOSH OH MY GOSH SCREW YOU IT MEANS 'SCREW YOU' I'M AN IDIOT.")

As for negatives: Ghostbusters feels a little too long, some (though not as much as you'd expect) of the humor falls flat, and the finale, while good, doesn't have that epic, toe-tapping, feel-good vibe of the original. You could chalk that up to waiting through 10 minutes of credits for all the extra scenes, though. (Which you should still do.)

So, TL; DR?

It's less a reboot and more a completely new story with a few original GB homages thrown in. It won't ruin your childhood, I promise. 



Thursday, July 14, 2016

'Cuz I'm Feeling Chatty: Post-Con Con Post Thoughts

Eons ago, back when I was first discovering there was an internet beyond Cute Overload, I stumbled across a site (long gone now) where a guy posted pics of a local convention he'd just been to, along with snippets of conversation he had with the cosplayers & fun observations.
I was enthralled
I'd been to conventions before, and even seen some costumes, but this was something new. Something more experiential. Something that shone a spotlight on details and people I'd otherwise miss, in a world where other humans actually liked the same stuff I liked. 

And instead of a silent, impersonal slideshow, there was this running commentary that felt like a friend taking me on a tour of all the cool stuff.
So to this day, every time I write another insanely long costume post, I think about how much I love it, how far I've come since then, and how I hope it gives you guys the same feelings of fun and appreciation and wistful longing to BE there that a much younger geek Jen had, all these eons ago.

And if it doesn't, well heck, I'm still having a blast.  ;)


PS - If you missed it, Part 2 of my SuperCon favs is up now!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Best Cosplay of Florida Supercon 2016, Pt 2!

[Here's Part 1, in case you missed it!]

Let's dive back in to Supercon's best cosplay with this adorable switcheroo:

 Elsa is wearing Jack Frost's costume, and Jack's wearing hers! Hee!

 And more cuteness: steampunk Legend of Zelda kids!

That's Link, Midna, & Zelda.

Quick reference, since some of you may not know Midna:

Not sure on this character, but look how pretty:

Update: Aha! She's a Naga based on this illustration by artist Sakizo:

And joining her in the costume contest was this excellent Beauty and the Beast group!

Especially love that Lumier.

It made me SO HAPPY to see this young genderswapped Harley, you guys:

Saturday, July 9, 2016


Last week I got some new lab results in, and my doctor informed me I have the testosterone levels of a severely testosterone-deficient (or possibly dead) 85-year-old woman.


A few things.

1) There are so many joke potentials here I may actually explode. But apparently in a demure, non-manly, let's-talk-this-out-like-sensible-adults sort of way? I'm a little fuzzy on the details.

2) Speaking of fuzzy, it turns out severely testosterone-deficient (or possibly dead) 85-year-old women still get chin hairs.

3) Which just goes to show there is no justice in the world. I mean, if I have near-zero manliness juju, then why's I still gots to pluck so much, universe? WHY?

(Sorry, guess I have some deep-seated, chin-hair related issues lurking beneath the surface. Really, I'm as surprised as you are. I guess these things just work their way out sometimes. Like chin hairs. Like DAMN FILTHY CHIN HAIRS.)


So now I have to start taking prescription testosterone supplements, which I can only imagine will help SOOO MUCH with my chin-hair-anger issues, not to mention with my sarcasm issues.

On the plus side, I'm told eventually the drugs will make it so I'm not drooling-on-the-couch exhausted for 3 days after every con, and that I'll recover faster and last longer in my meager attempts at exercise. Plus there's some sexy-time benefits, so kids, be sure to ask your folks about those next time there's a lull at the grocery store.

All in all I'm feeling pretty positive, since the labs also revealed some slightly less entertaining - but potentially more beneficial - things we'll be working on, too. It's all part of the plodding, tedious, rarely-rewarding journey toward better health, but every tiny improvement does make it a little easier to take the next step. Which is why you - yes, you right there! - should go see your doctor about that test for that thing this week. Go. Do it. Make the appointment. Take a step.

After all, look at me: I did it, and now in another 6 months or so I could TOTALLY arm-wrestle your 85-year-old grandma. I think. Maybe. That's how this works, right?

Tell you what, let's put a pin in that, while I go pluck this chin hair.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Best Cosplay of Florida SuperCon 2016!

Last weekend John and I trekked down to Miami for SuperCon, and I was again pleasantly surprised by how easily we were able to park and actually get to the convention center, given how intimidating Miami can be. There are several parking garages around, and the badge lines were even relatively painless -  amazing for a con with over 50K attendees. Props to a great crew of staff and volunteers, as even with added security, mandatory bag checks, AND a sold-out crowd on Saturday, we were still through and onto the main floor in a matter of minutes.

Quick shout-out to the Disability Services folks at SuperCon, too, who were easy to spot, friendly, and knowledgeable. It warms my geeky little cockles to see these services expanding every year at cons, and I highly encourage my fellow anxiety peeps to give them a visit, as anxiety falls under their purview, and they can help.

Ok, enough intro. Let's talk about these Daleks:


(You read that in Dalek, right? Exxxcellent.)

I would like to point out that they wouldn't stop waving their arms for the photo. And that this was was my very first shot of the weekend. And that I'm still laughing.

Moving on...

A steampunk Queen of Hearts with an adorable little Belle:

And a lovely Leia:

R2 got into the spirit by cosplaying as Boba Fett:

Slightly blurry shot of a very energetic Ace Ventura:

Oh! Here's a first for me: Annie Wilkes from Misery:

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Awesome Crafts & A New Place To Meet Fellow Epbot Readers!

Time to show off some of my favorites from the Epbot Facebook page! 

I do this A) because you guys make awesome stuff, and B) to remind you guys to SHOW ME your awesome stuff.  Because I need crafty/geeky inspiration, too, peeps. DON'T LEAVE ME OUT.

Ahem. So.


Every newborn needs this outfit. Knitters, could you get on that?

So gorgeous, I want to try to make my own! You could paint your House crest on the front doors, line it with velvet... ah, the possibilities!

YEEES. Did you guys know I love paper craft? I have a whole board of it on Pinterest, and sometimes I go through and bust out a few in a week. It's very soothing, in a tedious, paper-cutty kind of way.

Of course I'm always chuffed to see what you guys do with my craft tutorials, and I've already had a couple foam bracer pics come in!

Love that Galaxy paint job!

(John just walked in behind me and went supersonic. "OH MY GOSH ARE THOSE FROM YOUR TUTORIAL?!" It was almost as cute as little warrior Elsa here. Almost.)

Oh, that reminds me!

Marie-Elodie says she had a little fun with Photoshop:

WOOT WOOT! Bwahahaha! I like my firey pink aura. :D

A STUNNING version of my Dollar Store Raygun:

Another thing that makes me so happy I could bust? Stories of you readers going to cons. Even better, stories of your FIRST cons. I get these a lot, and they're like my personal power-up potions. LOVE 'EM.

Technically not a con, but let's be honest: totes close enough. Rock on, Pam!

Which brings me to the awesome thing that's happening on Facebook right now, inspired by my Adult Playdates post. You know how you guys asked for a way to find each other and maybe even connect IRL? Well, Julie S. took that idea and ran with it, and Fans of Epbot was born.

Julie suggests you list your city/state when you introduce yourself on the page, and already I see some IRL meetups brewing, along with a lot of new online friendships. (Yes, I'm totally lurking. WHAT.) Be smart about it, of course, and remember you don't HAVE to meet anyone offline, but this is a great way to chat with fellow geeks, show off projects, recommend books/shows, and generally hang with folks you already have at least one thing in common with: you both have IMPECCABLE taste in blogs.


Just don't stop sharing your pics over on the real Epbot FB page, k? 'Cuz I get lonely. SO LONELY. [big kitten eyes]