blk: (Default)
This year at Arisia I prioritized dancing, costuming, and seeing the guest of honor, to great success.


Last year at Arisia I re-realized that dancing is awesome, so I decided to try to do a lot of that this year, even bringing along pharmaceutical assistance (in the form of dimenhydrinate) to help with the less good side effects that I mostly blame for why I've kept away from it for long. I made it to most of the swing dance, the fusion dance lesson, all three late night dances, and even did one contra song. I missed the waltz (sad!) because it overlapped a GOH panel, and most of the contra because spinning1 messes up my head.

Mostly it was all excellent2 and re-reminded me that dancing is hella fun and I want to do more of it. My follow skills for partner dances felt super rusty and sloppy, but I think there was some improvement just over the course of the weekend, and I'm positive with actual lessons I could do a whole lot more pretty quickly. The club dancing was good at energy burn and flow, and there's something nice about being in a roomful of other geeks that makes me a little less self-conscious about all the possible ways I can look stupid whilst flailing around the dance floor. Also having a hotel room available just a few floors away that I could floomp into when I started fading.

So now I'm looking around locally for dancing I can make time for. Primarily partner dancing, although getting out to a club every now and again would be fun too. I could do CMUBDC, but I wonder if I'll feel old there. Swing city looks to be still operating, and is convenient. I see a lot of conflicting information about various regular ballroom classes/dances, so that will take some more research. [profile] marmal8, I may be stalking you for events for a bit.

1 Yes, I know that it's possible to contra without swinging super fast, but it's really not possible to contra without swinging at all, because every dance has like 2 or 3 of them, plus other spins, AND the dances are usually around ~10 minutes long instead of 3-4 mins for regular partner dances AND contra really isn't much my style anyways. I really like having to be precise and exact and well-matched with a partner.

2 Except for a brief moment where I had a teeny little private meltdown in the bathroom from an internal struggle with really wanting to participate in the last contra of the night/weekend vs needing to sit out because head was a little spinny. But that passed and I went on to dance other things.


Cosplay is fun! I found out about Carrie Fisher's death on the way home from cabining with [profile] xuth, and a couple days later decided that I wanted to be her once again. Not the Princess Leia that I was last year, but the older, more mature, General Leia. The one who had lived through a rebellious teen, a rocky marriage, and had thrown herself back into her work, fighting for good. Best Leia.

Unfortunately, this left me less than two weeks to get my costume together. And I knew that there would be guaranteed several other Leias at the con because of current events, so mine had to be Right. I managed to find beige clothing that worked well, but no vests I was happy with, when Xuth suggested I make my own. A simple vest shouldn't be that hard, right? Of course not, and it shouldn't take long, assured Xuth, who is very capable and comfortable with power tools and knows his way around the sewing machine much better than I do. Well, after a great deal of trial and error sewing and ripping and sewing and ripping and maybe a tantrum or two, I finally managed to create a decent looking dark purple vest, with liner and pockets and a belt from plastic, aluminum tape and elastic, all about a day before leaving.

The costume turned out as something I was pretty happy with. I also figured out, after quite a few failed attempts, how to pile my hair on my head to effectively mimic her twists, at least from the front, which none of the other General Leias at the con (I saw at least three) had done. At one point, Xuth commented on how much hairstyle figures into my cosplay, and I was like, duh, have you met met?

I got a lot of compliments and had fun schmoozing with the various other Leias who were also there and the rest of the people who made it to the Star Wars photoshoot. I wore this one Friday and Saturday, but noticed that although there were General Leias and New Hope Leias and Endor Leias, there were no Hoth Leias, so I changed into that (costume from previous year) for Sunday.

My final costume was a simple Star Trek Uhura outfit, one copied from Into Darkness (new old) and thrown together for Halloween. Initially I'd acquired a cheap package costume, then found a much better quality real outfit on eBay. Then there were the boots. I thought that after running for years, outgrowing pants and socks, and having trouble fitting into anything "skinny" anymore, that my calves could finally qualify as being "normal-sized" calves. But noooooo, apparently 15" is still so wide they swim. I found a slightly smaller calved boot from Keen that works reasonable well, but argh. I guess I still have stupid skilly legs.

The fun of cosplay has motivated me to start learning sewing for real, and I took my first ever sewing class just before the con. We sewed a cute little pillowcase, which was fairly straightforward, but OMG, it turned out perfectly without any tears! Or any tearing out stiches over and over! Which further indicates that heeeey maybe I should try to learn these skills incrementally instead of in gigantic crash sessions. I'm looking forward to more lessons.


I finally figured out the last couple years that Arisia's taste in Writer GOHs is pretty good, and I should pay attention to them. 2015 had N.K. Jemisin, who I didn't sadly attend panels of but ended up loving her books later that year. 2016 had Scalzi, and while I don't love his books quite as thoroughly, I do like his writing a lot and enjoyed the panels he was on. And 2017 was [profile] ursulav who I haven't read much of yet, but I know she has a really lovely way with words.3 Her sessions were quite enjoyable. The panel which was basically "ursulav answers audience questions" was funny, and prompted me to go look up gems such as Hellhound Rescue, The Hidden Almanac, and her Alarming New Skill. So now I am motivated to read much more of her work, and possibly gift a certain set of niblings with some of her children's work.

3 If you haven't read anything by Ursula Vernon, I recommend a short fiction: Jackalope Wives to get a taste for her style of writing. Then consider that a lot of her work is in the form of graphic novels and retold fairy tales.

The only really negative part of the weekend is somewhere about 6 hours out of Boston I realized I hadn't packed up the two copies of the Halcyon Fairy Book that I'd purchased and gotten autographed while standing around trying not to fangirl too hard at the author, and Xuth didn't remember packing them either, and when he called the hotel, they didn't report having found them. I'm reeeeeeeally bummed about that. They were last seen in the hotel room on the desk, so I guess I just keep hoping that we get a call back soon. :(


The other big interesting thing about this year's con is that for the first time, I brought along the jboys. Justin was on winter break from RIT and David decided he wanted to tag along as well. So we put them up in The Boy's hotel room a few blocks away, and lo and behold, they managed to survive the weekend. I'm not sure either of them spent more than an hour outside the video game room, but hey, it's a thing, and they had fun.

I also got a chance to visit with some lovely local people, many of whom I basically see once a year around this time, although not nearly as many or with as much quality time as I wish I could have. I think that specific socializing needs to be more formally planned next year.

For the drive back, we went home by way of Rochester, because as it turns out, Boston to Rochester to Pittsburgh is only about 100 miles more than Boston to Pittsburgh is, and we could drop off Justin at his dorm. The final three of us finally got home Tuesday.

Whew. Excellent weekend. Let's do it again next year.
blk: (polychrome)
It turns out this was my 11th Arisia. Wow, time flies. I've enjoyed the costuming thing so much in the past that I did two this year.

"Now THAT's a chemical reaction!" (Honey Lemon - Big Hero 6)

Honey Lemon vs me
My first costume started off as a pair of cheap plastic, pink sunglasses that [ profile] xuth found by the side of the road last summer. They sat around the house for a few weeks, and then I had the utterly brilliant idea to pop out the lenses and use them as cycling-friendly eyepatches for a pirate bike ride. Then we saw Big Hero 6, and I decided to use the frames as a basis for Honey Lemon, because hey, I've got the glasses and the hair, that's like, 90% of the costume, right? Everything else was acquired by some careful eBay hunting, including some completely ridiculous shoes that were pretty much perfect for the costume although somewhat less than perfect for actual walking. Let's just say I didn't go very far or very fast, although I am getting surprisingly good at walking in them. I went for the lab coat instead of a mustard yellow sweater because man, it's hard to find a good looking mustard yellow sweater, particularly one that I'm willing to wear. Lab coats are much more useful.

I spent some time both days walking around and got lots of recognition from anybody who had seen the movie and lots of blank stares from everybody who hadn't. But the best part was on Saturday I found Tadashi! We jumped up and down enthusiastically together and he asked me in character about my research grant and it was awesome. Oh, and this random bad guy who also happened to be walking by. *grin* Sadly I don't have a great picture of the three of us. But it was a lot of fun.

"I am not a committee" (Princess Leia - Star Wars V)

Leia on Hoth vs me
My next costume ended up being kind of last minute. After seeing the new Star Wars, of course I wanted to do something from there, but I learned from past events that there would be a billion other Reys (and there were), so instead I went to the past. Again I chose the costume based on the hairstyle I could do most easily, then got the clothing from a thrift store and eBay. My sole bit of craftiness went into making the rank badge, from wood shapes that Xuth cut for me. I looked around a lot for the right boots, but didn't find anything close enough, so I just went ahead with my existing pair of snow boots.

Leia from IV, V, and VII
While walking around, I ran into three other Leias, and of course got pictures with them. Then Sunday evening was a rockin' Star Wars themed room party with music and tasty drinks and tons of people, and I got a ton of compliments before the tons of people made the party way too hot for even a thin costume fake snowsuit and I went and changed into less clothing. But I did get a picture with a Han and a Kylo Ren to complete the family shot (if a little temporally confused).

Got the family together

The rest of the con

The rest of my con involved seeing lots of people, dancing, getting tossed around, going to a few actual con events, flirting heavily, trying to find things I wanted to spend money on (and failing), getting costume ideas for next year, and having a lot of fun. Amusingly, I didn't see ANY supergirls this year. I guess I should have brought that costume back with me. I got enough sleep and have successfully avoided getting sick. I think next year I am going to prioritize the evening and late night dances because they were really a ton of fun and I want to be awake for them.

Now back to real life.
blk: (crystal ball)
Once more, into the con review.

After enjoying myself last year not braiding (and Arisia not having a Dealer's Row anymore), I again went into the weekend with primary goals of showing off a costume, socializing, and relaxing. I succeeded pretty well at all of them.


I didn't have any new costumes made, and I didn't want to reprise my Elsa costume (since I don't have the hair and I am definitely not going half-Elsa to a con this big), but I did have my Supergirl costume from last spring's half-marathon that I wanted to get more mileage1 out of. Well, apparently everybody was taking their cues from me without me realizing it, as the two most common costumes I saw the entire weekend were Elsa2 and Supergirl3. I lost count when I got to six each! And many of them were quite well done. I privately thought my SG costume was the mostest awesomest, but really all the ones I saw were quality. I made sure to get in a few photos at least.

Jim didn't bring a costume, per se, but he did bring his LED coat4 and stilts, as well as his lumberjack5 outfit, all of which were quite eye-catching. Much more eye-catching than any of my outfits, in fact. To the point where I started joking that I couldn't go anywhere with him, because everybody would stop him for pictures and questions while I (in my costume!) would be ignored6. Maybe next year I'll actually figure out some semi-matching costumes so I can be a little more included. :)

Hall costumes are a lot of fun, although I realized after the plethora of lookalikes that it is a bit challenging to find a costume that 1) is within my realm of crafty ability, 2) is common enough that it will be recognizeable to a lot of people including me, and 3) a ton of other people won't also be doing it at the same con. I'm rethinking some of my previous ideas. Or maybe not, because they'd still be fun to pull off.


While exploring my newfound costume geekery and getting recognized for it is fun, a very large part of my Arisia experience is seeing friends who I don't get to spend enough time with. In such a confined space, it's usually possible to find a lot of people I know just by wandering around. So I did a lot of wandering around as well as some planning ahead and had some very nice time with people. Never for as much as I'd like; a weekend just doesn't work for that. But a nice start.

The downside to trying to see everybody in a weekend is that I and people I want to spend time with often have different social needs. Quiet intimate social time, loud chatty social time, room parties, dances, hallway wanderings, etc. And seeing people all at once doesn't work. I almost managed to go to some hotel parties one evening, but a very brief but unsettling dizzy spell made me have a disappointingly quiet late night in instead. Sunday I even escaped the hotel briefly, then came back for room socializing.

I wonder if it would work to try throwing a hotel room party next year. Not really a party party, but a verysmall hangout space that's quiet and private where people we like can come by and be snuggly. Will ponder this.


Bereft of children and school schedules to work around, we were able to take a more leisurely drive in both directions, which meant we could drive mostly in day time when the roads were not awful, not get caught in traffic, not have either our arrival or our departure be rushed, and not have driving interfere with any sleeping. Definitely a win on all angles.

The hotel bed agrees with me really nicely, and I didn't have any silly business obligations that made me get out of bed any earlier than I wanted to, so I slept well. I went to a chainmail thingy where a small number of us artists basically walked around and schmoozed about 'mail stuff, and I got to show off some unique pieces. On a whim I went to the Buffy Once More With Feeling shadowcast showing and got the songs stuck in my head for the next couple weeks. I bought some awesomepants in the dealer's room, enjoyed art in the art show, ate properly, got a bunch of fun pictures taken of me, did a fancy braid or two, got enough hugs, and didn't get sick afterwards.

That was good, let's do it again.

1 ba-dum
2 I was Elsa before she was, er, cool.
3 That's if you don't count the number of people in total dressed as A Doctor
4 radioactive yeti
5 and he's O.K.
6 the best part was when I was "explaining" this phenomenon to a friend and Jim protested that it wasn't as extreme as I described, and JUST THEN some random person walked up and did EXACTLY what I was complaining about.
blk: (sandwich)
What a week. Tuesday we drove all day to return home from Arisia (which I still intend to post about), the rest of the week was prep for the weekend (while still keeping to usual social/active things), and the weekend was more party prep and parties. Today is the first day of real downtime in a long time and it's wonderful. I'm also getting a whole lot accomplished because I'm procrastinating the chores that actually need to get done (like cleaning off the game shelf to allow access one of the windows that is getting replaced tomorrow). Thus, LJ.

But first, successes for the week: Friday I went to another clothing swap, and I successfully gave away more clothes than I came home with. Plus I acquired a pair of jeans that fits me PERFECTLY. It's amazing. Just the cut that I like, looks good on me, AND it stays up without a belt. I haven't checked to see if the line is discontinued yet (that's usually the case when this happens to me) but I still have hopes.

Then Saturday I got to be Supergirl again briefly for a little girl's superhero party. She and were both dressed similarly, and I have to say, her surprised happy face when I revealed my outfit that matched hers was possibly the most adorable thing I've seen from her ever.

The party was brief because overlapping that party was my Soup Swap party. I planned ahead semi-poorly and didn't actually get my soup started until after noon on party day. Jim helped out by chopping ALL THE THINGS (while I peeled) and then I roasted and sauteed and stirred and simmered (while also cleaning stuff from the first floor to make party space) and got 6 quarts packed up just as the first guests were knocking on the door.

Souping was super fun (even though I had changed out of my costume) and lots of tasty things were there. We didn't get anything as surprisingly awesome as the dill pickle soup from last year but there was a particularly nice creamy garlic one. My soups once again got claimed out first, which is a nice ego boost. I guess I make good soup.

Soups represented )

While making soup yesterday I discovered I have a surfeit of onions. On top of that, I just read about making caramelized onions in the crockpot, and now I REALLY want to do a big batch of French Onion Soup. I might need to figure out another social event to do this for.
blk: (running)
My nitty gritty race report (part 2) of the Pittsburgh Half Marathon from Sunday, which I ran while dressed as Supergirl.

Running can be boring. Running with friends is kinda fun. Running races is pretty fun. Running races among thousands of other runners, with thousands of spectators, all cheering you on, is a lot of fun. Running races with thousands of other people around while dressed in fun ways to stand out, look interesting, and be entertaining in some way is just awesome. In past races I've just worn bright stripey socks and put in colorful braids. This time I decided to go as a costumed character.

In picking out who I wanted to dress up as, I pondered a lot of possibilities. I wanted a (preferably female) character whose basic costume 1) was easily recognizeable at a glance to the average spectator, 2) was suitable for running and sweating in (no skimpy lingerie, no leather, no facemask or headgear, no big dresses or accessories), and 3) was one that I, with my meager and beginner sewing skills, could re-create reasonably authentically on my own (if I'm gonna do something, I'm gonna do it as right as possible).

With those requirements, the list of reasonable possibilities that I came up with was rather depressingly small. Supergirl hit everything pretty well (specifically, the 1984 Helen Slater movie version), so I went with that.

the making of

Materials (cost is rough estimate):
- bright blue long-sleeved compression shirt ($10, target)
- red circle mini skirt ($5, ebay)
- red running mini shorts ($5, ebay)
- plain red knee-high athletic socks ($10, amazon)
- red and yellow tech "performance" fabric and matching thread ($20, jo-ann)
- white bracelet watch ($1, ebay)

- google everything to death, figure out what to buy and what to create
- attach yellow belt/border to red skirt
- attach shaped yellow border (with red fabric to even it out) to socks1
- create front 'S' shield from yellow and red fabrics and glue
- attach shield to shirt
- cut and shape cape (I made a small one, so it wouldn't get in the way of running, and also made it detachable, in case of jet engines)
- cut and sew yellow 'S' shield to cape
- attach cape to shirt

I used a basic google image search for the general look, and got some inspiration from this tutorial. I did all the sewing, with Xuth playing the very important role of Expert Advisor and taught me a lot of things. I tried to do test versions of almost all the parts, and still ended up spending seemingly just as many hours with a seam ripper undoing mistakes and things that didn't work. But I learned a lot more, and the finished product was something I was pretty happy with.

the running of

proof of questionable legality

The practicality of the outfit was fantastic. I was perfectly comfortable for the entire race - The socks and shorts wicked well, the shirt was not too warm or too cold, and I barely even noticed the cape or the skirt while running. I had attached the cape to the shirt with stick-on velcro in case of jet engines or if it ended up interfering with running, but neither were a problem. In the future I may just go ahead and sew it directly on. The tech fabric made all the parts that touched me similarly comfortable. Of course, by race end I had sweated through everything fairly well, so it was also important to be all machine-washable. We'll see how it holds up after that happens. The "Kryptonian bracelet" aka cheap white silicone watch was a silly addition that was lightweight and not annoying and helped me greatly in letting me keep approximate track of my race time.

The reaction from other people was awesome. Other runners were very positive and polite, with several "I like your costume!" comments and one mid-race fist bump. The spectators, however, mostly went wild. For the first half I ran near the side and occasionally would hold up my hand offering high fives, and got about a zillion of them. I got so many "Go Supergirl!"s2 I lost count. I also got several even more enthusiastic reactions, like "OMG IT'S SUPERGIRL!!!!" and one "Supergirl, you just made my day!" Amusingly, most of my best reactions were from adults rather than from kids.

One memorable moment happened on the short Alexander St downhill just after mile 7, turning left onto Main St, where the majority of the runners were hugging the inside corner, but all the spectators were on the right side, with a wide space between. Right at the corner I saw a group of teens who were clearly performing something, but at the moment were all just standing at the sideline, so instead of curving in with the rest of the pack, I charged straight down towards them and stretched out my hand at the bottom. About halfway down the hill a nearby announcer interrupted his chattering and yelled "It's Supergirl!" and the teens all started jumping and cheering and about 50 hands reached out for my highest density of high-fives in the entire race.

By midway through the race I was pretty tired3, and the last several miles I was really pushing myself hard, which left no more energy for enthusiastic high-fiving and posing and such, which was sad. At some point it would definitely be fun to race without a new PR goal, ideally with other costumed people. I spotted a variety of other runners in fun attire, but sadly nobody else in full costume (I know some existed; I suspect many were behind me). And I unfortunately was feeling worn out enough at the finish line that I didn't think to stop and intentionally get some pictures of me. And despite the dozens of cameras I'm sure I saw pointed at me, I haven't been able to find any other public photo evidence. Fortunately, the costume is totally re-wearable so I'm sure I will have other opportunities.

other pictures )

1 I actually fully expected to be able to buy approximately lookalike socks, but amazingly, these didn't seem to exist at all (costume-marketed socks all had 'S' shield, and most with little capes). Mine aren't perfect (especially since I was optimizing for running) but they turned out decent. They were also by far the most fiddly part of the thing, and took me a couple days of trial and error before getting something that worked.

2 also several "Superwoman!" calls (fine), a couple "Wonder Woman!"s (not exactly) and a few "Superman!"s (well, I suppose just because -I've- never seen him in a miniskirt doesn't make it impossible).

3 That left picture is me breathing really hard, not making ducklips, I swear.
blk: (icicles)
So there was this con a couple weeks ago. In past years I've been to this con as a Spicy Braider (or as reg staff), but this year that wasn't to be. Since I suddenly had a bunch of free time and energy, I decided to try A Project.

The Costume )

The Con )


blk: (Default)

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