Archive for August, 2008

CostumeCon 28 (2010) – Potential Disaster

August 25th, 2008 No comments

Turns out the gentleman who is making my wings may not be making my wings.  He's working on a business of his own and of course that's far more important than my project.  No, there really is no sarcasm there.

So if there's no wings then there's no point in the rest of the costume.

Saves me a lot of work if that's truly the case.  But c'mon.  Wings!

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CostumeCon 28 (2010) – The Beginning

August 24th, 2008 No comments

Here's the deal.  I've been making costumes for a lot of years.  I've always loved historical costumes so those are what I made.  Not always completely historically accurate but I'll sacrifice some accuracy to make it look good unless circumstances don't allow for it.

Back at CostumeCon 21 (2003) I attended because:

  • It was close
  • My friend was on the scheduling board and decided I needed to teach some workshops
  • I was still making costumes

More than most conventions people wear costumes a lot.  Kind of goes with the theme, if you understand.  So for one evening I made a pseudo-17th century dress out of cheap pink fabric.  Bought a cheap white poly wig in the basic style and wore it happily.  I ended the evening chatting with a lovely bunch of ladies.  But an idea was born.

For whatever reason we decided to do a group presentation next year of "Marilyn Monroe Through The Ages" where we would all make pink dresses in the style of the time and end with Marilyn from "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" – the iconic dress.  I think there were six of us at the time.  Everyone chose a time period.

Since I live near Vogue Fabrics – a fabric store that takes up a quarter of a city block I was tasked with finding enough pink fabric for all the costumes.  Some of these dresses take a LOT of fabric.  I found what we needed even though it wasn't perfect.  Everyone got their fabric and we had our basic instructions:

  1. Pink
  2. Silver trim
  3. Blonde wig/hair
  4. Cleavage
  5. Rhinestones

Not necessarily in that order.

Away we went.  The name of the project morphed into "Think Pink" and we had one person who had to drop out due to time constraints but she was able to participate as moral support, makeup and generally all-around fun.

CostumeCon is sanctioned by the International Costumer's Guild so any competition there has to follow the ICG rules.  One of our participants had achieved Master rank so the rules state you have to compete at the highest level in the group.  Most of us had never competed before.  Now we're being judged at the Master level.  Great.


We all get our costumes done.  We spend the time before the masquerade (contest) getting ready.  Imagine six women hyped up on adrenaline, caffeine and sugar and then cinched into corsets.  It boggles the mind.

We compete, folks like us.  We win not only a contest award but an award from the local guild because we looked like we had so much fun.

OK – you've waited long enough.  Here was my entry:

My winning entry

Keep clicking on 'next' and you'll see the other ladies.  We asked them to photograph us in chronological order so that's how we went on stage for the presentation.

And in a very long post, that's how I achieved my Masters ICG ranking for Historical costuming.

But wait..

There's a Sci-fi/Fantasy category too.

I really haven't made any fantasy costumes.  Historical has enough quirks it has kept me amused.  But then I saw this costume take an award and be praised for the wings.  Pole-and-socket wings.  An idea formed…

Wings need to be impressive.  So I wanted mechanical wings that would open and close.  I won't give away trade secrets here but through my network of connections I had a set made.  Just the framework as I need to make the membrane and attach the feathers.  But they work.

At that time my interest in costuming waned.  I didn't have any reason to make the historical ones and no place to wear any of them.  So the costume idea languished.

Enter CostumeCon 28, being held just north of me in 2010.  The idea has new life.

Now I'm working on armor designs, since the overall costume is a jeweled warrior.  The feathers will be mylar to really pop under the stage lights.  Add on some armor and jewels and I'll be all kinds of visible.  Not exactly what you want in combat but just fine for presentation armor.

I'll post more about the actual design and construction as it happens.  But something occurred to me as I was rolling the armor designs around in my head.  Most combat takes place in two dimensions, so you can reasonably expect gravity and physics to help out with protecting some bits.  But once you take that combat into three dimensions it takes on a whole new set of problems.  Kind of defeats the purpose of armor if you raise your arm and there's an open spot the size of a softball in your armpit.  Ditto with behind the knees.  But I still need to be able to, oh, walk.

I'm debating about having sliding plates for at least one area.  Example – I raise my arm and a section of armor slides around to cover the now-exposed area under my arm.  Not that it is going to make this any more difficult or anything.  Oh yeah, and do I need a weapon or three?

Oh, and since this is bird-like I wanted the feathered crest on the helmet to be mechanical as well.  So now there's going to be a second component where the crest will rise up and then lay back down.

It's going to be interesting.  I'll say that.  And there's a very good chance that if I can make this all work I'll get my Masters ranking * and be done with competing all together **.

* Since I have a Masters in Historical I have to compete at the Journeyman level in Sci-fi/Fantasy.  Novice is the lowest level but they figure that skills transfer over so if you have a Masters in one you have to compete at Journeyman or Masters in the other.  I agree.  You can always compete at a higher level tho.  That's why I'm going to enter in Masters.

** At one delirious point I thought about trying to sweep the awards.  Best in Show for both categories as well as Workmanship awards in both.  But then I realized that I didn't want to put in that much work and that BiS is such a subjective thing that I'll never be certain that I can take it.  So I went back to whatever I was doing and put that idea right out of my head.

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Don’t fear the sushi

August 24th, 2008 No comments

A friend of mine had a gift certificate to the only sushi place in town.  Actually it was given to her father who had no use for it so he gave it to her.  She's never had sushi.  So she asked me to join her and introduce her to the world of raw fish.

I looked over the menu and decided that a combo platter of sushi, sashimi and nigiri would probably be our best starting option since it had a little of everything but not a lot of anything.

Miso soup probably rated about a 6 for her.  The flavor wasn't what she was expecting.

The standard salad with ginger-style dressing was acceptable.

The pickled seaweed salad was found to be surprisingly tasty.

Then the platter of various fishy items showed up.  Beautifully presented, as always.

I explained how to layer the flavors of wasabi, soy and pickled ginger.  We started with the always-safe California roll.  Then we moved on to the various sashimi and nigiri.  She wasn't expecting the texture of the fish since she's used to the firmness of cooked fish.

She didn't dislike it and tried a bit of everything.  I kept having her up the wasabi until she was at sniffle stage.  Then she was pleased.  But you have to work up to it since it's pretty hot stuff and getting a mouthful of that can turn you off of pretty much any food in that general vicinity.

The final decision was that she did enjoy sushi but preferred the rolls.  That's fine and probably next time we'll go there and split a roll or three.

A very nice dinner.  I haven't had sushi in a while so it was a pleasant change.

Oh, and if you haven't tried sushi you kind of need to be careful.  Truck stop sushi = bad.  Find someplace where they have the sushi bar and you can watch them make it up if you like.  Helps to understand what's in there.  And don't have anything with tentacles on your first couple of trips.  They're kind of hard to get past.

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What are they afraid of?

August 20th, 2008 1 comment

I'm sorry to delve into political diatribe again but things just bug me.

There's a book set for release that is supposed to be the story of one of Mohammad's wives.  His favorite wife, in fact.  From what I've gathered this is a decently researched book that would probably give some interesting insight into the life of the Prophet of Islam.

Well, publishers are pulling the book from the shelves because of 'fear of a backlash from the Islamic community'.  Shame on you publishers.  And shame on any [insert ethnic/religious/common interest group name here] so-called community that feels they have the right to prevent anyone else from writing and/or reading about events that may be close to their beliefs.

Instead of saying "If this offends you, don't read it." or "If this offends you, discuss why." or "Write your own book with your viewpoint." the publishers are bending over to avoid potential conflict.  Potential!

Does anyone remember when "Banned in Boston" was a badge of pride?  When publishers were proud to put out books that invited discussion and controversy?  Are those days behind us in the name of political correctness?

I never had any intention of reading this book.  I still don't.  Personally the subject doesn't interest me.  But I'd like the option if it did catch my fancy for any reason.


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I’m tired of coding

August 13th, 2008 2 comments

I'm a coder by profession so overall I like writing code.  Good thing or I would be in the wrong job.

I'm also putting together a small gaming convention.  So of course that needs a website and all the stuff that goes along with it.



I only put the linkie in because I'm talking about it.

Well, now that I'm getting more sponsors I need to display more logos.  So I went from a simple list to a random display.  Then I wanted to change that to a two column list.  More code.  I didn't do it alone – Andy from TerraGenesis offered to help and I grabbed onto that offer with both hands.

That left forms.  All two of them.  One of which is done.  Which I could use as a template to make the second one.  But that second one was really big!

I tend to hand-code my stuff so I didn't have any of these fancy tools to close tags and things.  I had to do this all on my own.  If you don't write HTML then you don't know the joys of open and close tags.  Feel pleased.

But I seem to have gotten things working as they should.  My events guy asked that people fill out an Excel sheet but personally I find it more work to download the sheet, fill it in, and figure out where to send it than to just fill out a form.  This way they fill out the online form and hit Submit.  Steve can copy-paste the results into his sheet and keep things just as tidy as he wants.

So that killed last night – making and testing the form.  Now I should have some time to sit back and relax while Sue is at GenCon running their paint events.  I'm not pestering any vendors during the week before or after GenCon because that's just rude in my opinion.  They've got enough to worry about and I wouldn't get an answer anyway.

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Olympic confusion

August 6th, 2008 2 comments

I don't generally pay much attention to the Olympics.  I'm not a sports fan and I don't have time to watch much TV anyway.  So they're kind of a non-entity for me.

But here's my confusion.  So many countries don't agree with China's policies but aren't boycotting the games like they have several times in the past.  If we can boycott over a little thing like the invasion of Afghanistan (*coughcough*) then we won't boycott over what our country has stated are egregious human rights violations?

Where's the outrage?  Why are we still participating?  Why are the athletes and journalists allowing themselves to be subjected to the arbitrary rules being pushed down on the event?

Seems to be a bit of a lack of moral fibre these days.  It used to be that when we didn't agree with a host country's policies we packed it up and didn't play in their playground.  I know it seems unfair to the athletes who work so hard to be in their peak condition for the event but these games are never about the athletes, really.  They're about the countries involved.

I'd say, right now, any country that truly disagrees with how China runs itself pick up and go home.  Don't whine, don't offer platitudes about respecting other culture's diversity.  Just say "We don't like what you're doing" and leave.

But that's not going to happen since the games were given to China as a way of making them part of the big happy international community.  Which, in my opinion, they're not ready to join.  Nor do they really want to join.  They want all the benefits but don't want any of the accountability and transparency that's supposed to be included.

Oh well.  That's my one and only post on the Olympics.

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RastlCon – an intro

August 4th, 2008 1 comment

So at some point I got it into my head that I wanted to put on a gaming convention.  Actually, it didn't start that way.  I wanted to host a Hirst Arts Gathering (local-ish people getting together for gaming, share molds that others don't have, and generally socialize in person instead of online).  But the area I'm in has a dearth of gaming conventions since GenCon moved away.  So the idea of hosting a full-on gaming convention started coming into shape.

Anyhoo.  This was all just hot air.  It's easy to talk about doing something.  It's much more difficult to actually do it.  This is not one of those things they teach you in school.  You learn it on your own, generally in fairly painful lessons.

Finally I decided it was 'put up or shut up' time.  I had just set up a website for a completely unrelated reason and decided to register my convention domain.  Having a real domain makes you seem more legitimate than one with a funky URL.  It just does.

Having the domain meant putting up some kind of placeholder page.  You can see how this all started to build on itself.

I floated the idea of a convention on a few of the larger forums.  At that point I picked up staff – people interested in coordinating and running various parts of the convention.  So there you go.  That's how conventions get started.

I hand-coded up a website (RastlCon) and worked on finding a date that would work with other, much more established regional conventions.  Note I said regional.  There are gaming conventions around here but nothing truly in this area.

A location was secured, my staff were available, and now the fun begins.

At this time I've got e-mails out begging various vendors to contribute stuff for the convention.  You see, that's how these things work.  Vendors give us stuff, we use and/or give stuff away.  Miniature companies donate minis (and hopefully prizes) for the painting events and other vendors contribute for the door prize/raffle items.

I learned something.  After about the fifth e-mail asking for free stuff you lose all sense of shame in it.  The first few are hard – you're kind of begging.  But after you get through a few then it's easier.  And when you get some answers back with companies willing to help out then it gets all kinds of better.

So.  Right now I've got my gaming events guy working with people who have already expressed an interest in running games.  I've got my paint event person working on balancing the speed paint (judged) events and the paint-and-take (freebie) events.  I have nowhere near the amount of minis I need to do all of the paint events.  Yet.  And we're still light on the gaming.

I've been holding off on making the fliers for local stores until I hear back from a few more of the big name vendors so I can use their name on the fliers.  Names draw attendees.  But I'm thinking by the end of this week I'll have to make something up so they can get out there in time.

Oh, I forgot to mention it here.  The convention is for one day and one day only – Saturday November 22, 2008.  One day is plenty for a first convention.  The hall is booked and now I'm committed.  Or I should be committed.  I'm not quite sure which at this point.

Funny side note.  My university had a wargamers club when I was there.  I started attending not long after GenCon moved to Milwaukee but the wargamers club still received a stipend from GenCon for some contractual reason.  And they volunteered, I think.  I checked today and there's still a wargamers club on campus.  So I'm going to try to contact them to see if they want to attend/volunteer.  I think it would complete the circle nicely.  Actually, having the convention on campus, in the exact place GenCon was, would have completed the circle but they never called me back about renting the facility.

I'll post things here just so you know what goes into planning and running one of these things.  Just in case you thought it might be something you wanted to do.  The official website is rather sterile, as it should be.  Here I can be a little more open.  I hope.

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