Oct 262013
 

After a through scouring of my room, the apartment, Yamiko’s car and all of our luggage (three times each), I finally have to admit defeat. I lost the camera somewhere between the Pandoracon parking lot Sunday afternoon and getting home. My best theory is that it got left at Buffalo Wild Wings (our traditional post-con lunch before we get on the road to return home).  Obviously, this not only puts me in the doghouse for loosing Yamiko’s camera, it means we I don’t have any photos to put up of the Con. Yeah, pretty stellar move there on my part. My apologies to everyone, mostly Yamiko and Firedrake. I’m thinking I should try to get into the habit of saving photos to my netbook every night during a con and actually using the camera bag Yamiko got the week before this Con.

 Posted by at 10:53 am
Oct 252013
 

Last Weekend  October 11-13, we were at Pandoracon! Unfortunately, due to poor planning, we couldn’t charge the camera, so we only got a few pictures (coming later from Kae). The theme was Labyrinth, as in the movie with David Bowie, so the decor was awesome and inventive.

Friday, due to traffic and work schedules, we didn’t arrive until almost 11pm, so we didn’t get to partake of much. Which sucks, because it means we missed the opening ceremonies we were aiming for AND the Hemingway Happy Hour afterward, so we ended up just going to bed.

Saturday was my Nettie debut~! I wore the first costume, which I ended up liking better than the second one thanks to the lack of corseting issues. I had trouble over the weekend with how my under-corset sat on my torso, I think I need to revisit how I lace it, but other than that I didn’t have too much trouble until I tried to get into the car. Protip: the flexible hoop in the hoop skirt means I can fit into the car if I don’t mind squishing the skirt in unusual and almost indecent ways. It all sorted out when I got out again, but it was kind of annoying on the drives to and from the con.

When we arrived, after I dropped my books off in the Author Program bookstore, we ended up playing some Pathfinder (more about that on Radiant Gaming soon). I dropped out to go to a book signing, then we broke for lunch. Honestly, there just wasn’t much going on in the way of panels we wanted to attend. Sure, there were Doctor Who panels practically every hour, but since we haven’t been able to stream the second half of the latest season, we didn’t want to necessarily go to every single one. I would have liked to see Makeup for the Steampunk Lady, but that’s when my book signing time was. We did go to the Costume Crafts panel, where I learned some about hatmaking I’ll probably put to use in the coming months. I did an author reading at the 10pm session, then we went to bed.

Sunday was even scarcer for things to do. We browsed the dealer’s room for a bit, then settled in and played the new Star Wars tabletop game until the end of the day, when we went home.

The dealer’s room was pretty nice though. We ended up buying a few more prints from Kiniska’s Circus (Chaos seeks her out at every con we go to), and Kae bought a few books while I got some pretty makeup. We also picked up some costume pieces for Laika, Isaac, and Bob, which we’ll surely be talking about in the next few weeks. All in all, it was a pretty quiet, laid-back end to the convention season. I’m told we’d have had more to do if we really got into the House rivalry aspect, as there were various games and so forth to win points for your house, but since it was our first Pandoracon, we didn’t partake.

Sep 022013
 

Sometime PW (pre-wedding) the three of us went to a local Renaissance Fair during their ‘Time Traveler Weekend’  which basically meant you could come dressed up as anything, not just medieval costumes. It wasn’t a terribly large Fair or anything, but it was a good size for a simple afternoon day trip (reasonably priced as well) so it was time well spent.

 

I really enjoyed watching the blacksmiths they had making various craft pieces for sale- such as the regular or over-sized d6 dice make from cast iron.  Nothing like causing the entire table to shudder when you roll your damage… and possibly chipping the surface. So yeah. Yami’s pick was the archery lesson/range booth they had set up, if for no other reason than she got Chaos and I to also try it. And we were all equally hopeless, though I managed to sting my forearm red with the string. Chaos… well,  I would have thought seeing the siege weapons at work would have been his high point but he was very excited about his giant smoked turkey leg…

 

Anyway, enjoy a handful of photos!

 Posted by at 5:56 pm
Jul 112013
 

This is stupidly late, but things got a little heavy for a while.  I’ve finally gone through all the Con photos, plus chased down the ones the others took (to be fair, Yami sent me the one she took less than two days after the Con. Chaos… today).  The Con itself was pretty good, though the schedulers were tricksy folk- they scattered the really interesting panels over the entire long weekend. Which is great for people that weren’t us, as we could only make the one day. Regardless, a well run and very fun Con.

 

[Note: Some of the captions at the end got lost somewhere, I’ve had to just tag the names of the characters. –Yami]

 Posted by at 8:08 pm
May 182013
 

As Ken pointed out, I had a video file that I took during the Steampunk Symposium that I didn’t put in my Con report. The reasons for this are many and varied (forgot, had to find it, forgot, sent the wrong one to Yami the first time and no-one reminded me, err, wait, nevermind), but nevertheless, I have it here!

 

 

The fellow closer to the camera is Maestro Barbeau of the Ring of Steel and the other duelist is his student/assistant. This routine was more or less what they were teaching us, just much, much faster than we were able to pull off after only an hour of study.

Maestro Barbeau can be found at http://ringofsteel.org/about/maestro/

 

 Posted by at 2:55 pm
May 152013
 

Over a week late, but, uh, here we are (between finals and losing the almost completed blog due to a glitch… yeah, sorry). This year’s Steampunk Symposium was pretty awesome I have to say. The venue this year was head and shoulders above last year, the panels were just as good, the costumes perhaps better and the people fantastic. Being on-site is pretty nifty, even if our room was hidden behind the Hall of Debauchery- the room’s sound proofing was plenty fine, not that we’d have heard it over Chaos’ cave bear impression.  Anyway. We got there Friday night, a bit later than we’d hoped but in time to get enough sleep to be up in time for the opening of reg.

 

This just kind of happened on the way back from Reg.

This just kind of happened on the way back from Reg.

Con started out a little slow, honestly- we split up at first, with me going to a Steampunk Art panel and them heading to Electronics Seminar & Workshop 1. They got to make doodads that lite up, my panel was… okay. It was more ‘Steampunk Art I’ve done, please buy it in the dealer’s room.’ Mind you, the art was pretty good, I was just hoping for more of a generalized view of the world, so to speak.  After that, we hit the Dealer’s room- besides some really awesome handmade  chocolate and hardcandy (www.WarPonyForge.com)- we each ended up getting at least one thing. I got a nice leather wristband with some (empty) bullet casings woven into it, Chaos got a really nice looking silver pocketwatch and a gear/clockwork mantis drawling, Ken got a leather backed compass on a leather thong and Yami rounded things out with a leather pouch she could hang off her toolbelt big enough to hold her smartphone. Very handy.

 

And then the best thing ever happened- cane-fighting workshop. With highly durable, illuminated lightsabers. The Man (also known as Maestro Barbeau)  actually apologized for not having the rods he normally uses for this workshop, for making us use the lightsabers. Fairly certain no-one minded.

There's a little boy in Ken that's just grinning madly. Wait, never mind, the outside is doing that too.

There’s a little boy in Ken that’s just grinning madly. Wait, never mind, the outside is doing that too.

 

This was by far the best part of the entire Con in my book (though the others contest the Airship Crashing, err, Race, was pretty good too). We got an hour’s worth of cane-fighting lessons that covered not only some pretty fun blocks and counters, but gave the (very) basic ground rules for stage-fighting in general.  Clearly, an hour’s time isn’t going to be enough to get us ready for Hollywood, but we still had a great time and learned a few very handy safety rules. The most important one? Don’t be close enough to actually hit the other person. Simple, but highly effective. That’s why theaters have all those tape lines on the ground- it is often used to help the fight-actors measure distance from each other. This allows you to swing as hard or wildly as you want (though still not recommended) because you just plain can’t reach the other person to hurt them. He had a few other rules but even just using that one vastly decreases the chance of hurting someone in a mock duel.

Ken and I paired up for the cane-fighting lesson, taking turns being 'the hero' or in other words, taking turns being the one that got to smack the other guy.

Ken and I paired up for the cane-fighting lesson, taking turns being ‘the hero.’ Or in other words, taking turns being the one that got to smack the other guy.

Right after the cane-fighting workshop, Maestro Barbeau taught a stage-fighting with swords class that we stayed for- duh. Turns out this guy was one of the main choreographers for the movie Hook.  He had real metal swords (blunted, of course, but still very dangerous if you’re careless) that we used for this workshop. Yami and Chaos decided to partake in this one, so there wasn’t anyone to take photos but to be honest, it was so much fun I can’t blame them in the slightest. I also decided that Owens fights with his left hand when in melee so his dominant right hand is free for gun-work. This is counter to most schools of thought on duel-wielding melee and range, given that most would have you use your dominant hand for melee as it’s more strength and control intensive but Owens loves his guns too much to stint on them. This may have come up at least in part due to Ken being left-handed, which messed up all of the routines we were learning. By me going lefty, we could just reverse the entire thing instead of doing this weird half-inverted inside-out timey-wimey thing.

 

After learning the way of the cane and sword, we hit a few ‘advice for costuming and props’ type panels- picked up a few tips that might come in handy. For one, avoid vinyl and polyester like the plague. They melt, they stain and they’re hot. I wouldn’t have really thought about my clothes melting myself, but evidently it’s a danger. Another good tip, this time for props, was to use steelwool with a wood-colored finish to simulate wood-grain. To be honest, this is more Yami and Chaos than me, so while it was interesting, I think they’d already learned most of what they discussed. Still, the workshops could be great for beginners or even for intermediates moving in a new direction so I highly recommend Steampunkers to hit at least one or two panels of this sort during every Con. Never know what you might pick up.

That was pretty much the end of the day for me- I forgot to keep hydrated and ended up going back to the room with a headache while the others watched the Airship Race and learned about Electronics. The next day, we swung by the dealer’s room again to blow the rest of our Con budget on more candy (don’t judge), then looked over the Curiosities Room, which was kind of a mock-up museum for things people have built as props that are too big, fragile or out-of-character to carry around all day.

 

Not a clue what's it's for, exactly, but who cares? For SCIENCE!

Not a clue what’s it’s for, exactly, but who cares? For SCIENCE!

A little Steampunk from out of England or America.

A little Steampunk from out of England or America.

Chaos insisted.

Chaos insisted.

 

 

As we were on our way out, we heard someone crying out about a ‘penny farthing race’  or some such thing. Not really being in a rush, Yami convinced us to check it out.  Turns out, it was a last minute game, or rather a beta-test for a game for next year’s Con. It basically involves the tiniest member of your Airship crew getting on a children’s pedal bike who is then pushed along by a larger member. And yes, it was just as silly as it sounds after a moment’s thought.

Next year, you should be getting a photo of me pushing Ken along on one of those things. Gods help us.

Next year, you should be getting a photo of me pushing Ken along on one of those things. Gods help us.

 

So yeah. Another good Steampunk Symposium- and this time, the hotel didn’t try to give us a room with only one (twin-sized) bed! So better and better.  Again, sorry about the delay in posting this, but I leave you with this final thought:

Guy really fit his choice of costume. And great taste in outwear. Just saying...

Guy really fit his choice of costume. And great taste in outwear. Just saying…

 Posted by at 5:39 pm
May 022013
 

Sorry about taking so long to get the post-Con report, but my Uni was rather inconsiderate in scheduling finals next week so yeah. Anyway, I finished weeding through the photos and gathered them up for everyone so at least you can take a look at those while I work on my post and studying.

 

 Posted by at 2:12 am
Apr 192013
 

As promised:

 

By the way, does anyone have a suggestion for a method of making giant camera-sized photos into internet friendly sizes besides using GIMP to load and import each one individually? Something that I could just point at a folder and smile would be very, very useful, particularly once I start coming back with more than a dozen or so usable photos.

 

And finally, Ken’s hit a bit of music block and won’t be posting this week so… listen to this instead:

 

You’ll note that Mal wears a dustier. Just saying.

 Posted by at 12:16 am
Apr 142013
 

First things, first- we had fun. When it comes down to it, that’s the biggest factor in deciding if the going was worth it so I’m glad we went to Shinboku 7. It was clearly a small, local Con, but it had all the good parts of being that as well as bad parts. Sure, there were only two panels in addition to the gaming and dealer rooms. But the lines were reasonable, the people friendly and the creepy-Shining/Bates-esque hotel aside, the environment was pretty good. Seriously though, when we got turned around and had to wander through the dorm area of the hotel, the place was creepy. All uneven walls and floors, patchwork wall colors and just dim enough to be strange. And the possessed elevator didn’t help either. Thing just cycled between floors two and three for about five minutes without opening the doors.  Anyway. The Con.

 

The other attendees were stand-up. We might have been lucky, but we didn’t run into a single rude (or unwashed) person. I would say just less than half the con-goers were dressed up and a lot of them were in really good costumes- aside from Yami’s back-up cat-girl outfit, we weren’t dressed up, I must admit. The highlight of the Con was the Cos-Play Parade- unfortunately, it opened late so the cos-players were kind of rushed through. This lead to a lack of posing, which in turn lead to… well, it’s a new camera, see, and I don’t keep know all the tricks of using and… the auto-focus is cursed, I swear.

Yeah, that's a bit blurry. Sorry. It's supposed to be Akita Neru.

Yeah, that’s a bit blurry. Sorry. It’s supposed to be Akita Neru.

But by the end of things, I’d figured out how to work the camera. More or less.

Got a Nyan Cat Anthro, a phenomenal GLaDOS anthro, Lightning and Hope from FF, and an old school White Mage.

Got a Nyan Cat Anthro, a phenomenal GLaDOS anthro, Lightning and Hope from FF, and an old school White Mage.

Poor Kendandra was absolutely torn between two of his favorites thanks to the GLaDOS and a lovely Rule64 Doctor-

They even have great props- sonic screwdriver, pocket watches, cake and lackeys.

They even have great props- sonic screwdriver, pocket watches, cake and lackeys.

Amusingly enough, Portal and Doctor Who were involved in the two best ‘Con-Moments’ as well. While wandering about the gaming demo room while waiting for a panel, we noticed that someone had a Portal gun and an inflated turret that you could pose with for pictures if you wanted. Yami and I instantly informed Kendandra he would be posing for pictures. Before I could get the camera turned back on, a little kid wandered up to Kendandra and politely asked what the gun was. Well. Ken, as we knew and none of you likely did, is a bit of a Portal fan. He’s also a fairly good mimic and has a head for quotes. Without missing a beat, Ken slips in the GLaDOS voice and gives the in-game explanation and instructions for using the Portal Gun, then solemnly offers it to the now even more confused child.

Underneath the privacy shield, the child looks very perplexed. Trust me.

Underneath the privacy shield, the child looks very perplexed. Trust me.

The Doctor Who related one was started by the Rule63 Tenth Doctor into an unlikely cross-over: a Pokemon theme song sing-a-long. Yeah, it was a bit strange. Awesome, but strange. I, alas, was mostly just staring and fumbling for my camera because I can barely remember the words to ‘Happy Birthday’ but still awesome.

 

 

All in all, the biggest problem with Shinboku Con is a lack of participants. The attendees were great, but few in number- particularly in regards to the various contests. There was only one group in the skit contest and Chaos was bemoaning the fact that he hadn’t found out about the various video game contests in time to enlist. According to him, he was pretty confident in his ability to have at least placed, if not won outright, given what he saw about the contestants.

 

So yeah. A good, solid Con that’s only real flaw was one that you can fix simply by attending and participating.  Best indication of how we liked it? We’ll be going back next year. I just hope the weather is cool enough to wear my duster that time too…

 

PS- a few more photos will be finding their way to a photo album on the website at some point.

 

 

 

 Posted by at 6:52 pm
Apr 112013
 

It’s not a steampunk Con but we figured we’d let you all know we’d be heading to Ramada of Elyria, Ohio, for Shinboku Con 7.  It’s billed as an Anime and Role-Playing convention, hosted by the Lorain County Community College Role Players Association and Anime Society, the Shinboku Con Committee and the Lorain County Community College Role Players Association. It’s a smaller Con but it’s also less than an hour away and only ten bucks for a day-pass so we figured why not? If nothing else, it’ll give me a chance to try and figure out how I want to do this whole ‘reporting’ thing.  Hoping to get a cheap digital camera before we go, otherwise I’ll be, ahem, borrowing Yami and Chaos’ smartphones to take some pictures. Hmmm. Not much else to say, other than to thank a certain local Jo-Anne’s employee for the tip on Shinboku in the first place. Oh, and here’s a link to their website for those in the area that might be bored on April 12 – 14 2013.

 

http://www.shinbokucon.com/index.html

 

Everyone enjoy your weekend, whatever you find yourself doing. And get a duster. They’re awesome.

 Posted by at 5:46 pm