Monday, July 8, 2013

Supanova and the return of Texas

So. Let's see how I go typing up a blog post with a bruised hand. Reverse snap is never kind to play, and more so if you happen to be a fine artist and you're playing aggressively against eight other people.

First, I want to apologise to everyone who's been regularly tuning in. I should have gotten this done earlier. The middle two weeks of June were the definition of madness for me, and I needed some time off to recover and rest. I may talk about a couple of those things later on, but that's really a blog post for another time.

Also, I tried typing up a post for Nova earlier, and it quickly turned into a play-by-play. Which is not incredibly interesting for everyone. I'll try my best not to dilly-dally.


I'd never been to a Supanova before. I'd done Main Animania twice before though, and basically assumed it would be the same, but a bit bigger and encapsulate a wider range of fandoms.

Now, let me tell you about what was right in that statement and what was insanely underestimated about that statement.

Have you been to Paddy's Markets before?

If you have, imagine what it would look like if you went to Paddy's and gave every fourth person a costume, and every second person a camera.

If you haven't been to Paddy's before, a music festival or any kind of crowd that after half an hour you feel over will suffice in the above situation.

Supanova had many many people. Too many people.

I guess that that part of my thinking considering that the first day I was at Nova, I was in the armour and therefore took up more physical space that a lot of other people didn't seem to think existed. Wait. That's a little confusing...

Brooke, how did the armour go in the long-awaited competition? Did you win?


The short answer is 'no'. The long answer goes something along the lines of 'I slept in and arrived after the prejudging check-in time closed'. Which goes to show that you should not try functioning on three hours of sleep and then expect that the next night you can get away with anything less than twelve hours sleep.

This was a little disappointing. I had planned everything for Supanova with the intent of entering Tex in the competition, and arrived late, dripping black ink everywhere and with my shoes already leaking.

That's something I didn't mention earlier. It rained pretty much all weekend at 'Nova, and I had to walk a kilometre from the place I was staying to the train station in the rain both ways.

And the ink I used to paint the armour, which I believe had 'waterproof' printed on the bottle, was not waterproof by any stretch of the imagination. I left little black puddles wherever I stopped on my way there and back.

But there were photos asked for. The first two were on the train, and those kind of mean a little more than photos taken at the convention. I mean, there's a much larger amount of people that go to conventions with their cameras, but the people on the train or wherever have no idea as per the occasion. They're just minding their own business, and you've popped into their world, oddly dressed and acting normal. They might not understand what you're doing, but they get to appreciate it nevertheless.

And let's not forget the rat-tailed 10-year-olds who waved to me and called me 'Master Chief' on the train. I waved back, because that's what you do when kids who understand at least part of what you're trying to be talk to you. I didn't have my helmet on, so there was no need to do the character business.

And thusly we arrived, soggy and putting black ink on everything, with one of my shoes already broken, at supanova. Don't assemble shoes with hot glue - you need stuff that bends.

The costume was well-received by everyone else, and I had a lot of people ask for photos. About 80% of those people kept calling me 'Master Chief' though. There was a great level of temptation to at one stage do the "My name is TEXAS" yell (Think that line from The Matrix) but, you know, my voice was kind of muffled by the helm, so there wouldn't have been much of a point. Would have fogged up the visor, and that would have been about it.

It was kind of cool that I had to actually tell people that I'd made the armour. There was black ink rubbing off here and there, so you could start to see green foam showing, but it was still rather cool that it was of high-enough workmanship to be mistaken at times for a store-bought Spartan.

There was a store-bought spartan there though - I saw a woman dressed in mjiolnir armour complete with battle damage and the correct shade of green. It was interesting seeing it up close, as I got to have a gander at the look and the feel of the licensed product. I didn't encounter her on the Saturday though, so we didn't get photos together.

Oh yeah, the photo business...

Let's go out on a limb here and I'll tell you what it means when you have a complete stranger ask you for your photo.

It means that your outfit impacted them enough to break the social convention of talking to a stranger, enough to ask to take a photographic record of your effort, alongside themselves, or taking a pose.

It is often a confirmation of the 'breaking down the fourth wall' business that I spent the last semester yabbering about, more so if they interact with you in a manner appropriate for your character.

I was only asked for one photo of me 'killing' someone else though. I put the lad in a headlock and then all was well again. But yeah. I got asked for a lot of photos. I'd be in the middle of having a conversation with someone, and someone else would tentatively approach me for a photo. I'd chuck on the helmet, pose, and get hit by five other requests. And then get about ten minutes to take the helm off for fresh air before the next photo.

So this was part of my Saturday. Something else that does happen with the photos is that social media lets a bunch of strangers put up photos that they've taken in a place where everyone else can see said photos too. So if your outfit's good enough, you might not need a camera for a convention - you just trawl facebook for the week after the convention and the photos that everyone else took of you show up.

I've done this before and been met with limited success. Considering that 1) I didn't have any pockets and 2) my point and shoot camera has vanished off the face of the planet, I was kind of relying on con photos for documentation of the suit and general reception.

Let me now post up the entirity of the photos I've found of Tex that were taken by other people.

Yep. That's all of them.

Oh, wait. I saved the best feedback for last.

Remember how I said 80% of people thought I was Master Chief?

This was kind of the highlight in terms of feedback I got from other people on Tex.

This tweet was sent by one of the guys manning the stall at 'Nova that sold Roosterteeth merch. Keep in mind that it's RT that created the Red vs Blue series. The guy at the stall recognised the character, and tweeted the photo he took to Kathleen Zuelch, the woman who voices Tex.

And the image was re-tweeted by the lady who voices Tex.

While there wasn't verbal feedback, getting a shout out from the voice actor of the character is about the coolest kind of feedback you can get.

The guy couldn't remember my Twitter handle, but it wasn't hard to find later on.

The rest of my day was spent taping the bits of armour back on, and being incredibly thankful for the hydration pack that I'd been able to borrow before heading out. I don't know how immediately obvious it is to the average joe, but a wetsuit gets pretty hot pretty quickly. Hydrate or get real dizzy real quickly. And yes, that happened.

What else would be worth mentioning about the day? There were many people, and many people I was trying to find that I now know because of conventions. I didn't find all of them, but also got pretty peopled out pretty quickly.

Oh. I bought a grifball!

It's a plushie tank mine.

The costumes were pretty incredible at Supanova, but I also think it was to a degree a wider range of the spectrum that I see at every other convention - there are always brilliant ones, and midrange ones, and ones that will get better in time. There were like fifty million Eleventh Doctors though.

Lots of TARDIS dresses, lots of Doctors. I get it, it's a cool outfit, and it's okay for you to love the series. But the only outfit I saw more than Matt Smith's Tweed-and-Fez was the Pikachu Onesie.

So many Pikachu onesies.

There should not be that many at a convention. My goodness gracious.

*shakes head, tries to not bump bruised finger*
I really hope this isn't broken. Silly paranoia.


I stayed for the cosplay comp on Saturday, to see what the competition would have looked like.

It was pretty varied. Some were absolutely incredible. I would have been hard-pressed to match the best stuff, but not by much.
Next year, I guess. Animania is for anime; I can't enter Tex in the prejudging. Next year, with a gun and armour that doesn't fall apart or have ink pouring off it because of the ruddy weather. Or I'll just take the next planned thing.

It's probably my biggest problem with cosplay in general. I have this neverending list of things that I should be making at any given point in time. And the point in time when this list gets longer is usually when I'm in the middle to end stages of another costume.

So next year's big costume is probably going to have a shotgun that folds out into a scythe/sniper rifle combo.

Glutton for punishment.

Back to nova:
Sunday was a little more laid back. I took some edo-period clothing in and got to browse the stalls a little better. And remembered an umbrella. They make a big difference when you've got to walk a kilometre in the kind of rain that says 'I am not letting up, no matter how much you wish it'.

There was a stall for Weta workshop, which is better explained as the SFX group that made the costumes and paraphernalia for the Lord of the Rings movies, the Narnia movies, the Hobbit trilogy, King Kong, Avatar, District 9, and half a bajillion other things.

And when it was noticed that they had a panel that you could attend to see what they did and what they  were up to, I was like 'yes.'

And then I was like 'what does it take to get a job as a costume designer with Weta?'

And the guy at the stall was like 'send us a portfolio'

I think it would be equal parts exciting and freaky to get to work with Weta. On the one hand, it's a dream job for someone like me. On the other hand, they're based in NZ and I still get homesick if I don't go home at least once a term at the moment.

Mad industries that I want to work with, why you all outside of Australia?

Keep going, keep looking. Keep making.

So I guess that with looking at Supanova as a whole, I was a bit underwhelmed. Although I can kind of put those down to several factors:
The company I kept had me on edge the entire time
I'd not been ready for the kind of crowd
I took a huge cosplay while not being ready for the kind of crowd
Said cosplay had some major failures and I wasn't able to enter it in a competition I'd been winding up for the entire month prior
My shoes leaked on the Saturday and Sunday
I was overtired from finishing uni

Not sure if I'll go next year. I mean, I'm not ruling it out. I just wasn't prepared for what was going to be there.

Never underestimate how miserable wet feet can make you.

I guess these kind of feel like a little bit of a downer. There were some positives I guess. The tweet from Kathleen was one of those. Seeing an incredible amount of costumes was another. Weta was a third.

I had a lot of people ask about the armour, which was great. And I got to tell a few people about the blog too. Next time I should try for contact cards or something.

So yeah.

Next thing?

The Return of Texas

As mentioned earlier, the ink ran on the armour in the rain, which was a bit disappointing.
I also had some structural failures occur as well, some of which can be fixed, others of which I will just Improve so they don't break in the same way again.

Yesterday I took the armour out on the front lawn of my parents place and hosed as much of the ink that would come off as I could. And then wiped the helm down with a chux instead because it has batteries and lights inside it.

The idea at the moment with fixing the armour is to repair the foam that failed structurally, repaint the armour so it's uniform and won't get black everywhere when it gets wet, sew the velcro onto the wetsuit properly and fix up the vent holes and pretty much redo the entire shoe, because those suckers fell apart disappointingly fast.

And a gun. I want a gun. Although that is probably something I'll work on when I get back to Newie, since all said foam is in Newcastle and I'm not buying more unless I absolutely have to. There's three and a half full sheets in Newie. Enough to make half of the armour over again. At the moment I'm tossing up between building the assault rifle or the sniper rifle.

I think there's more things I can write on, but at the moment my decrease in typing speed is sufficiently getting to me. I'll leave you with the link for Weta's project list so you can see how cool they are,

a picture of Nathan Fillion holding a sniper rifle for no explainable reason

and the first trailer of the RWBY series, because it has my next planned big cosplayable character in it. It's a bit violent though, so do consider yourself warned.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Another note on dreaming

Okay, consider this the unrefined ramblings of someone with a thought and an argument. The post is not about speculation-dreams, but rather, that thing your brain does to pass time when you log off for a bit.

I don't remember my dreams very often, but when I do they're rarely everyday things. The last two NaNo novels I've written were based off dreams I'd had - for whatever reason being in the middle of some really weird scene, and then waking up and going

"what the actual heck"

Usually they're insanely vivid, and I can remember every detail. Or enough to write about them.

Last year's novel was about a character who gets inflicted with a virus, and nearly kills someone else because of it, and is only able to save them by giving them the virus as well.

Man that sounds weird when you phrase it like that. But that's the summary of that dream, and that scene was the fastest 2000 words I've ever written.

Come back to the present.

This morning was pleasant. It was just nice, and nice for a few different reasons. And then I woke up and had to deal with a reality where none of the things that made that scenario nice were present. It really just meant I had an odd taste in my mouth for the duration of the day, as well as one particular Anchor & Braille song stuck in my head.

It provoked thought. Would we be more satisfied with life if we didn't dream? I mean, my biggest problem with dreams is trying to deal with these two completely different worlds and how they're supposed to relate when I know one of them is just my brain having a spack so it's not real but it felt real at the time.

I guess that this is what happens when you spend too much of your waking hours reading and writing fiction. You start to live it, and get disappointed when it doesn't turn out that way.

Or whatever. I can deal with it not being real in the same way that I can deal with Aes Sedai, Shinigami and birdkids not being real. Draw the heck out of it and start making costumes.

It's the part where you have to master the two worlds and not act like the way you relate to that person or this person is different in any way from what it was like before the dream. I can deal with waking up and not being able to walk through walls - I do that all the time.

It's the people thing that gets me. Do I behave differently because of this spack-attack my brain had? Because the other party is going to get mighty confused if so. They've missed out on a whole chapter of 'what's going on at the moment' because my brain decided to fill that bit in.

Stupid brain.

Oh hey, let me tell you how else my brain is stupid.

Let's talk about memory.

My memory is weird. It's amazing at remembering things like the difference between Iceland and Greenland, why it is you shouldn't be selling lye water commercially, the extra language in the Wheel of Time series, and which Grammy awards ceremony the Gorillaz performed at.

2006. And oh-my-goodness-gracious-Murdoc-and-Madonna, you can stop watching halfway through.

And yet somehow I still manage to forget people's names. I'm useful for winning trivia nights, but pretty useless for everything else. My head records everything useless about my day, and stores it all.

Which is why I had difficulty particularly the last week, trying to remember crucial details about an event when I've had shock pretty much obliterate said details. Not being able to remember is my problem.

Although, that ends up being a paradox sometimes, since I've of late been desperately trying to remember the important things, and trying to cash in my useless memory ability. There's things that happen, and I get trapped inside my own head, trying to figure them out, when it feels like it'd be easier to forget everything and move on. Forget the useless details and remember the ones that matter.

Yeah, good luck.

So, sometimes when something is uuber important for me to remember, I'll write it down. But it's rare that I'll record everything. I hate recording everything. You tell me to write a journal and I'll immediately have my hackles up, because it''s...

Imagine this scene.

A library, vast and extensive, and a desk in the middle of it. The desk is completely covered in paper, stacked high in great piles. Paper stacks crowd around the desk, each like a small child wanting to be picked up by their mother next. There's no-one at the desk.
You begin to search the shelves, tentatively, for the person you seek. They're not at the desk. Your eye catches onto an odd sight nearby - a clerk's desk sitting next to the end of a shelf. There's a pen standing upright on an open, blank book. It's scribbling furiously in a script that is halfway between a cursive and a print, its writer absent. You read what it's scrawling out, and catch words like 'cold' and 'grey'.
"Odd place for you to be,"
You hear a voice, and caught off guard, spin around.
There's a girl. She's shorter than you, but it doesn't seem to register. Her hair, the colour of sunlight, hangs loose, long and wild. Her boots are scuffed but cared for, poking from the turnups of her faded blue jeans. Her top has some print on it, but you don't register the joke it's making because she's speaking again.
"Can I help you?"
You shiver and straighten your grey coat, suddenly registering what the book had been recording when you began observing the pen. You swallow, then stand up straight. You are here to offer Advice. It will be Beneficial and bring Order to this library which is in dire need of such help.
"Can I interest you in-"
The girl has already snatched the sheet of paper from your hand. She gives it a cursory glance, before turning and placing it carefully on the tallest pile of the desk in the centre of the room. She tilts her head, shakes it and returns to where you stand.
"Why do I need to provide an inventory of my library?" she asks, frowning.
You feel taken aback. This wasn't the answer you were expecting.
"Because...because it will help you stay organised?" you manage.
The girl turns, takes in the library in its entirity - the two-storey-high shelves, complete with sliding ladders. The stacks of loose books as tall as a man and four times that height in width.
The ink-stains, frayed rugs and overwhelming smell of old paper.
And then the girl turns back to you. You didn't see how or when it happened, but her attire has changed. Her hair is now bound back, and she is wearing a faded blue bomber jacket. Something in her face has changed too - more reserved, and a little sad.
"What makes you think my library needs organising? The book piles? The paper? The absence of any prior-installed regiment?"
You think carefully about what to say, but she begins to speak again.
"Have you tried to pin down memories before?"
You nod, hoping to inform the girl of the usefulness of said pinning.
"I don't like to do it more than I have to," she says quietly, "it's like taking a camera everywhere."
You stop nodding, puzzled.
"The problem with taking a camera everywhere," says the girl, "is that you can very quickly become obsessed with documenting the moment instead of just enjoying it. It becomes more important to have some tangible proof of your experience than to have that experience in the first place. And that's kind of sad.
My books, they all decay. Some do it faster than others, but the ink bleeds sometimes, or the paper gets crumpled. They're alive, see, and they all have a limited lifespan. I could try and inventory them, but that wouldn't make them any better or worse. The time I'd spend writing down the information on the outside of the book is time I could be spending inside the book, or I'd be so focused on documenting the book that I'd forget to spend time with it and it'd fall apart in my hands. My library might look disheveled, sir, but let me assure you, I know it. It is my library. Very little happens in it that I do not know of."
Behind her, you notice the paper piled on top of the desk. It is moving of its own accord, floating towards the girl. There is a rustling sound as the paper rearranges itself, although you can't discern what the rearrangement is until two great angel wings unfold from behind the girl.
"This is my world," the girl says again, "I know it well enough."
And then the floor of the library ceases to exist and you fall into the sky.




Okay. I got carried away with that last part. But anyway. You get creative writing out of me as well.

I got stuff to do.

*paper rustles*

Brooke out.