A long time ago…

I hadn’t even been thought of 37 years ago today; not even a twinkle in my parents’ eyes.  In fact, my parents had just recently met through friends of friends; in three months, my father would propose to my mother.  But they would go see Star Wars eventually and were (in hindsight, with much chagrin) Luke & Leia for Halloween that year (I found photographic evidence of this when I was a kid in Indiana – I am still hunting down that picture).

I would be born at the very end of 1980, after Empire came out.

In 1983, when Jedi premiered, I would be two and my sister would be one.  We would not have been interested even if we had been to see the third installment of the trilogy.

It would take me (personally) 31 more years to discover the universe that so many were enchanted with before I was even born.  Of course, I was exposed to and enjoyed the original trilogy on VHS and saw the prequels when they came out – I was a passing fan because who in all the annals of nerddom was not, when it came to Star Wars?  I was that child when young; I loved the Ewoks and the droids because they were cute and funny and I could relate.  I always liked Star Wars.  Passion came later.

It came in 2011.  Engaged and teaching my first elementary class of my professional career, my husband-to-be asked if I wanted to play Star Wars: The Old Republic with him.  I’d refused World of Warcraft on several occasions before because I didn’t care for the art style, but something in the cinematic previews of SWTOR caught my fancy.  So we played, together.  We played and played.  And I asked to see the original trilogy again (pre-special edition).  And then I asked to watch through all the prequels.  Now we watch every Christmas; it’s our tradition.

And I started reading.  I devoured the Old Republic books, limited as they were.  I moved on to the post-trilogy EU and read and read and read and read – I’m still reading.  I’m still playing.

In 2012, fiance and I got married.  Han and Leia were our wedding cake toppers.  Nick gifted his groomsmen with Star Wars themed cuff links.   And in lieu of a garter, I sported a blue temporary tattoo of the Jedi Order symbol on my upper thigh.

IMG_0529In 2013, I made a costume based on my Jedi Consular from SWTOR and wore it to Costume Con were I met Dragon Dronet, the Darth Malgus.

In 2014, husband and I watched all of the Clone Wars series.  I celebrated May the 4th with all the gusto I could at Starfest, where I got to hear the words of tie-in authors John Jackson Miller and Kevin J. Anderson.  I shook hands with Billy Dee Williams.  I stalk the internet daily for news of Episode VII.

I also got my first (and probably only) real tattoo – the Jedi Order symbol, of course – on my shoulder in 2014.

I am still new to a longstanding fandom.  I imagine I must feel every day the way the children and teens and 20-somethings of the 70s & 80s felt when Star Wars was new.  I bring my passion for Star Wars into my classroom.  I bring my love for it into my home in subtle yet literal ways.  I celebrate, because it is something to be celebrated.

I’m new, but welcomed into the community with open arms.  I’m welcomed as a female presence in a genre still hungry for women’s influence.  I’m welcomed as new blood.

So as late to this party as I am, I’ve still been welcomed, a welcome 37 years in the making – and still being made for this and future generations.

Welcome to a long time ago, a galaxy far, far away.

Super happy nerdy Star Wars May the 4th Be With You Starfest Weekend!

I had an absolutely stunning time at Starfest last weekend.  I’m still reeling over how wonderful it all was.  I had the privilege of listening to some amazing authors speak about their experiences not only as writers but as fans.  I had a lovely time in the costume contest, wearing my delightful Watchful Dress – I wonder if anyone recognized it?

I come back inspired as a costumer, writer, and even as a teacher.  I want to bring these experiences with me into a classroom, because I feel so inspired by them.

I’ve got a lot of things going, and every one of them is exciting.

Juxtapose: A Cosplay Story has its cosplayers!

In addition to my own crafting and cosplay, I’m currently producing a documentary focused on three Denver-area cosplayers.  I wanted to do this because there’s just SO much talent and passion in the mountain region that tends to get skipped over just because of the inconvenient location – despite the fact that we have one of the biggest comic cons in the country happening in June!

The cosplay contest – aka the Shindig – at Denver Comic Con will be the terminus of our project as we follow three cosplayers on their journey there.  From concept to competition, I wanted to capture what the creation process is like in our unique and wonderful community.

 Juxtapose: A Cosplay Story

The cosplayers who are participating have just been announced at the Juxtapose Facebook page, and you can keep up with the action there, at the website, or on Twitter.

Havin’ some feels and things, because reasons.

I’ve been feeling a little discouraged (okay, a lot discouraged) by some of the attitudes brought out by Heroes of Cosplay, etc. First, criticisms from folks who haven’t seen it. That doesn’t seem fair to me. We say in elementary school that it’s only fair to refuse something after you’ve had a "no, thank you" portion. IOW, you gotta TRY it at least.

And then, from the folks who have seen it who are so negative about it. Maybe I’m just trying to stick to the old "if you don’t have anything nice to say" adage, but I also didn’t see it as negative. I saw it as real. It’s one of the most realistic reality TV shows I’ve seen in a long time.

I was SO in every one of those positions and perspectives at some point in my cosplay ‘career.’ Now, they’re not all healthy, but they’re part of the reality. I don’t understand hiding what it can really be like. People are saying that it is or is going to give cosplay a bad name, but I don’t understand that. To me, it wouldn’t be right to say it’s all rainbows and unicorns (besides the MLP cosplayers, hurhur ^.~) all the time – that would be a lie, and a great disservice to those who aren’t familiar with cosplay.

It’s like anything else. It’s beautiful and ugly at the same time. There’s conflict. There are amazing moments of synergy and cooperation. There’s anxiety and triumph. There’s disappointment. The show displayed some great positivity; it also showed some of the most negative reactions.

Yes, it was majorly about competitions. That’s going to carry a lot of dramatic weight and make for exciting television. Some people love to compete. I love to compete because I love to be on stage – I have a background in music and it shows. That’s MY perspective, but I would never expect everyone else’s perspective to be the same. The feeling of winning is gratifying. And I have had those moments where I was upset because I felt someone won who didn’t deserve it (I like to think that’s in my past, but who knows what the future will bring?). I’m so impressed that some of the participants in the show had the balls to come out and admit that! It’s an ugly feeling (for me at least), but it’s also real.

And the time and cast is limited. They can’t cover the hundreds of thousands of cosplayers out there. They have six (six? Did I count right?) [Edit: Nine.  I read the synopsis, durhur]. They have to be on coasts because that’s where TV happens. Maybe if this is successful, there will be more and better coverage. There are a lot of things that are the way they are because that’s how TV is made (I’ll tell you what, I wish there were more home decorating & landscaping shows in the US interior, I could sure use some help!). They can’t speak for everyone. But they took a good sample. Hopefully there will be more.

[Edit: It was identified that the cast is mostly white females, which of course doesn’t make for an appropriate cross-section.  I was referring to the sample of perspectives, attitude, and areas of expertise.   Food for thought.]

And at the last, some semantics. Those cosplayers ARE heroes. Each one of them, for their own reasons. But EVERY cosplayer is a hero. It takes guts to put on a costume. It takes heart to put yourself out there. And any one of those people who were on the show would tell you that every cosplayer – every level, every perspective – is a hero.

Maybe it’s me. I’m an optimist. I see the good in things, most of the time. It’s a perspective that works for me. But I’m also a realist, and that can still jive with the optimistic perspective. I can go back 15 years and see from that perspective, and see these important folks having to make the same difficult choices as I did, I can watch them feel anxious and triumphant and appreciated and afraid, just like I did – and do. That made it very positive for me, to know that all those feelings I had and still have are out there in other people’s brains. To know that my perspective was always valid. That makes the show itself valid. They did a great job.

[Again compiled from FB posts, etc.]

Review: Heroes of Cosplay, Episode One

(As compiled from several Facebook posts and subsequently edited to make more sense and follow some kind of grammatical logic.  Hurhur.)

I love it. I love the vast variation of skills and experience and perceptions and behaviors. All the feelings, all the experiences, all the perceptions, it was all so VALID. It honestly reminded me of my earlier days in cosplay, when competing was a priority for me.

No, it wasn’t all pretty. Anyone who’s cosplayed for any amount of time KNOWS it’s not always pretty. No, I wouldn’t have made the choices that others would have made, but that’s why it’s so awesome – it’s another perspective! And each one of them is valid. The joy of success. The tragedy of disappointment. Priorities and perspective are totally different for each person.  That’s real.  Some of it was hard to watch because I KNOW THOSE FEELS.

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My first costume, Super Sailormoon from Sailormoon, made in 1998 (Photo from NDK 1999).  I had on two wigs. For realies.

I swear I’ve been every one of the competitors shown over the last 15 years that I have been cosplaying. I felt like I got gypped, I felt like a performer, I felt successful, I felt like I swept, I felt like I had a rockin’ good time and that was all I cared about. All of those things. All of them.

And I’ve been the bitch. And I’ve been the one hurt by the bitch (or bastard, as it were). I’ve been the grown-up princess with the little girl who loved me for who SHE thought I was. I’VE been the little girl meeting a princess I love. I’ve been incomplete, overdrawn, stressed, blissful, grateful, exhilarated. I think HoC portrayed that perfectly, honestly.

And on top of that, there were any numbers of really amazing tips and tricks – costuming at a professional level!  Automotive paint, head moulds, embroidery machines.  So much to learn and try.

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Rosa of Final Fantasy IV (DS) done in 2008 for Dragon*Con.

It was inspiring. I want to go up to my studio and work. I want the back yard to be done so I can convert the garage into a shop. I want to compete again. I want to be on stage. Yaya Han & company, you should be proud. I am.  I am proud to be a part of this beautiful, fun, dysfunctional, nutty and nerdy community.  I love it.  All of it.

Also love DJ Spider’s take, and I can’t agree more.  Read it here!

Watch the show Mondays on SyFy.

Refia, finally!

A quick (and hilarious) shot from Animeland Wasabi of my Refia costume.

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I love tea from Starbucks.  I need a slightly different wig, as this one was a bit light and definitely too short.  But otherwise it was a great, comfy, fun costume!  Love it!

Additionally, I plan on participating in the For Japan With Love Bloggers Day of Silence on Friday.  Bloggers will keep a day of silence for the people of Japan, as well as direct donations toward shelter boxes.  Don’t forget that you can also donate by text to Red Cross, or donate via your PayPal account, like I did this morning. =)

Weekend of Fun!

I was busy on Friday checking in people at the cosplay contest at Animeland Wasabi here in Denver, hence my lack of post!  I will resume regularly posting this week, but here’s a quick shot of where I was!

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Not the greatest shot, taken from my phone, but it was a wonderful time and a very successful contest!

Also want to mention, of course, to please pray for and send support to Japan in any way you can.  We wouldn’t have cosplay as we know it without the Japanese culture that influenced it, so please show your appreciation!  You can text 90999 to REDCROSS to make an instant $10 donation or visit the Red Cross’ website for more information.

thing-a-day twenty: Refia’s boot cuffs

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Into the twenties we go!  Just eight days left!  I believe I will be able to finish Refia’s costume in this last week; that’ll be my goal for the end of this experience!

I purchased these great boots and only needed to add a white cuff to them to create the effect in the images of the character.  A bit of the main dress fabric lined with some leftover white satin and done!  They’re even removable, set in temporarily with washable hem tape so I can wear the boots without them in the future.

I’ll be wearing this to Animeland Wasabi next month if you’ll be there, so keep an eye out for me (but look fast ‘cause I’ll be gone in another second, organizing the cosplay contest again!).  See you there!

Cosplay Friday!

I REALIZE that I need to put a little more focus on costuming because, hello, that’s a thing I do.  Crafts are so distracting, augh!  So on Fridays I will try to focus on some aspect of cosplay or costuming.  I am sewing, after all!  I didn’t buy that awesome new machine for nothing!

imageToday I want to focus on one of my favorite cosplay places on the internet: the AC Paradise Network!  With places for every kind of cosplayer, from the ladies, to the gentlemen, to the photographers who capture them all, ACP has organized and carved out a space for every cosplayer on the internet.

One of the neat things about this website is the cross-referencing features that can help you find photos of your costumes.  By searching by tags of your name, the convention you attended, the character or series your costume is from, or any combination thereof, there’s a good chance you’ll find a photo you haven’t seen yet.  I love to use this to reminisce about fun cons of years gone past, like in this photo from Anime Central 2007 with some of my favorite peoples!  “What’s that over there?!”  Ha!

There are also several levels of membership that you can purchase for yourself or others can choose as gifts.  Really love someone’s stuff and want to encourage them more?  Pick up a Celestial Membership for them!  Believe me, it’ll really make their day!

ACP has grown and evolved alongside the cosplay community since their creation in 2000, making good on their motto of “A Site for Cosplayers, by Cosplayers."  With them as a supporter of the community, the last decade of cosplay has proven to be a great one for everyone!  Thanks for all the great memories, Wayne and Genjitsu!  We love ya!