Archive | December, 2011

May all your Christmasses be glittery

25 Dec

When I was in middle school and high school, we went to a church that put on an outdoor Live Nativity pageant every year. It was a big damn deal. Probably a third of the church members were involved, whether performing or making costumes or narrating or wrangling the five dozen kids and sheep and donkeys. The costumes, props, and set pieces took up the entire attic of the enormous Victorian house that was the parsonage once upon a time. The pageant ran two or three days, multiple shows of about an hour and a half, and afterwards there was an enormous party at the TGI Fridays one of the members owned. For a kid who loved theatre, Christmas, and TGI Fridays, it was the single most awesome way to get into the Christmas Spirit.

It also involved an ass-ton of glitter, which is why I liked it.

I spent the vast majority of my years in the Live Nativity as an angel in the Heavenly Host that announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds watching their flocks by night. The angel group, mostly made up of little girls, was led/choreographed/rehearsed/wrangled by the Head Angel, widely considered (by me, which is the only opinion I am concerned with) to be the Archangel Gabriel. It was also one of the choicest of all the roles for teenage girls, right up there with Mary and a dancing girl in Herod’s court. As Mary was usually played, for reasons unknown, by a much tinier girl than me (I’m 6′ tall and broad of both chest and shoulder), and did not get to wear any glitter at all, and the dancing girls also wore no glitter, and also were only in one brief scene, I felt my choice to stick it out until I got to be the Head Angel was the correct one.

Not only did the Head Angel get to be the star of the announcement scene, which was easily the most spectacular bit of the entire spectacular extravaganza, but she also got to stand on top of the stable (or behind the baby Jesus if she so wished, but I usually sent the little angels down to do that because it was just so fucking precious) for the entire end, looking fantastically pretty and covered head-to-toe in sparkles while the narrator joyfully intoned from Isaiah over the loudspeakers and everyone gazed reverently at Baby Jesus, by which I mean they gazed reverently at the Head Angel, because for fuck’s sake, how could they not? Her costume was made of lamé and tinsel, and had elastic fucking sequin trim. And the glitter. I must have used a pound of that shit at every performance.

I tell this story for two reasons. One, it’s Christmas Day, the gifts are all opened, the kitties are asleep, and I’ve got nothing to do but watch Die Hard and try to decide if I have the energy to get up for more cookies. Second, I want to provide some context for what you’re about to see.

The Radically Tacky Christmas Wreath of Comfort and JoyTM is a work in progress. I’ve had it for a couple of years now. It was pretty horrible to begin with, a red and green concoction of cheap shiny plastic that I got at God knows where, but then I started adding shit to it. Gold tinsel. Plastic icicles. A hideous and slightly stinky faux-velvet ribbon. And this year, candy-cane colored straws and a sleigh-shaped ornament, because that’s what I had to hand. Next year I’m thinking googly eyes and a nativity scene made of Legos.

So in the spirit of Christmas, which for me will always mean as much tacky, sparkly, glittery shit as I can squeeze into my house and onto my person, I present this creation, which may be the masterpiece I spend most of my life perfecting, a la The Lord of the Rings or Once Upon a Time In America or perhaps even Monet’s Water Lilies.

I hope your day is full of sparkles and joy.

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Do ALL the steps?

21 Dec

My sewing problems have been identified via that great communications method of the Internet Generation, the IM.

J: So I was just checking out your blog (specifically, the Elizabeth I profile). I so need a year’s worth of sewing lessons…and more patience. I swear, half of the things I get wrong on a costume are functions of the “I don’t need all of those steps, right?” theory of sewing.

Me: it’s like baking. I have to remind myself that EVERY little step is 100% necessary.
J: Yeah, I always think that maybe I don’t really need this part, right? I mean it’s not like I’m following a pattern anyway, 90% of the time.
Me: truth.
Me: P.S. I am blogging this conversation
J: lol
What about you? What’s YOUR biggest sewing problem?

Female characters and the RIDICULOUS shit they wear

18 Dec

Female warriors in unreasonable armor is a big pet peeve of mine. You may have noticed the link to Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor over there on the left (it is the left, right? Right, it’s the left); if you haven’t checked it out, you should. I  get really irritated by the state of armor in a lot of fantasy/sci-fi art, video/tabletop/card games, movies, etc, etc, etc. More often than not, a female fighter’s “armor,” if you can even call it that, will afford about as much protection as a bathing suit. Sometimes it IS a bathing suit, just made of metal. Or leather. Or leaves or magic or unobtainium.

As an example from my most recent life, I’ve just finished playing Arkham City, and while I really enjoyed a lot of it (most notably Mark Hamil’s Joker–I never thought I could love him more than I already did, but he proved me wrong), the…well.

To give you a little background, the characters are all in a superprison called Arkham City (natch), which takes up a good portion of Gotham. All the supervillians are there, including Mr. Freeze, and it is generally agreed by every single character who speaks that it is 1) winter, 2) snowing, and 3) fucking freezing.  Catwoman spends the whole game dressed in a catsuit–which, OK, she’s Catwoman, I can dig that. Her style is very fluid and graceful, right? She’s a cat burglar. Catlike, if you will. Except. The suit zips up the front, from her neck all the way to her crotch, which can’t be comfortable. And she wears it unzipped to the bottom of her breasts, which are, naturally, all out of proportion to the height and weight given in her profile.

Other things Catwoman wears do not include a bra, apparently

So to reiterate, it’s freezing, Catwoman is fighting a bunch of enormous, bulky prisoners, mostly by doing flips and gymnastics and hanging upside down and shit, and she’s got her enormous tits hanging out. Well of course she does! She’s a lady, and ladies are there for fanservice. Because all geeks are men, amirite? Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy (who wears a button-down shirt and panties and that’s all, I am not making this up) are just as bad, if not worse, but since Harley’s entire existence is about making Mr. J love her and Poison Ivy primarily works by chemically seducing men (which, what), I’ll let it slide. Catwoman, though. I grew up on Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman, who was sexy, but also fully clothed. I loved the shit out of that character. I was her for Halloween at least once. This bullshit costuming in Arkham City (not to mention the fact that when Catwoman gets hit, she makes a sound like she’s having sex) really hampered my enjoyment of a game I’d been looking forward to for a long time.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way about the ridiculous clothing women fighters are put in by their creators. For a long time I couldn’t really articulate why it bothered me, or even what about it bothered me, only that it did. I grew up loving Willow, which, whatever its faults, dressed its female lead, Sorsha, for battle in the picture to the right.The picture quality is terrible, but the point is: there’s some curve here, but nothing’s going to come flying out in the middle of combat (and also, she’s going to fuck you up. Because she is awesome). 

Not pictured: the most awesomely ridiculous sword ever

I even see it at cons. There amidst the Star Wars costumers will be some chick who’s wearing a Stormtrooper uniform that, for some reason, bares her midriff, or her midriff and her legs, and…whatever floats your boat, but I don’t get it.

All I want is for female characters’ clothing to make as much sense as male characters’ clothing. Especially if the characters are in uniform, or going into a situation where people will be trying to kill them. Feeling sexy is great, and I am in favor of it, but when facing an army of the undead, storming the Fortress of Doom, or flying around Metropolis saving people, there should be more important things on your characters’ minds. Ultimately, I want to feel like female characters are valuable for something other than T&A. I know. Shocking.

A lot of sources do not do this well. The art in the D&D handbooks, almost uniformly, does not. Zillions of games don’t do this well, most notably, in my experience, eastern-style RPGs. But a lot of things do! The Halo games I’ve played (to wit: Halo Wars, Halo: Reach, and bits of Halo 3: ODST) do this well. So does Willow. So do the Elder Scrolls*, and Fable, sort of. So did the most recent Alice in Wonderland, minus the hair thing. So do Robin McKinley and a lot of my favorite authors. So do a lot of artists and filmmakers and game creators and even comic books, in point of fact; you just have to find them. That’s not always easy, and it can be enormously frustrating. Since this is my 30th post, I thought about doing a long, well-reasoned, heavily researched post about why this bothers me, and what fans and artists can do to make it better, but then I thought, well, why start working hard now? So instead, I present a collection of links on the subject!

Fantasy Armor and Lady Bits – an armorer weighs in on the subjects of female armor and “”boobplate.” From the article: “This is just a plea for reasonable armor. So if you need to have a female warrior with exposed flesh, could you let her be in a state of undress rather than depict her default state as being mostly undressed?”

Female Armor Sucks – the folks at College Humor sometimes make my eyebrows do strange things, but they really nailed this issue.

Wizards of the Coast D&D Forum Thread: What Art Gets It Right? (Pt 2) – a thread on, well, art that gets it right! Not Since this is a D&D forum, it’s mostly fantasy art. Similar to Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor, but since it’s a forum thread, expect less in the way of quality control.

Chicks in Chain Mail – first book in a series of anthologies about this subject. I haven’t read it in quite some time, but when I was in high school, my best friend (also a giant geek) and I passed this series around like it was the only hypodermic needle we had left.

And finally, I leave you with Joan of Arc, a badass of the highest order, who had more bravery, smarts, and chutzpah in her little finger than the rest of us puny humans have put together. If I had a patron saint of my very own, she would be it.

I triple-dog-dare you to try and put this girl in a chainmail bikini.

*Skyrim is my Christmas present from mr. biscuit, and IF YOU SPOIL IT FOR ME I WILL END YOU.

Movie costumes: Bella’s Wedding; A Study in Pictures

15 Dec

So I went to see Breaking Dawn.

I know. I KNOW, ok? I was looking to laugh at something that wasn’t the price of coutil, and I was curious about the vampire c-section, and… I don’t have an excuse.

This is my shame face

ANYWAY. I saw this movie. It was a thing, and it happened. And I was a little disappointed in…well, the…and…well, I can’t really say I was disappointed, per se, because “disappointed” implies a level of expectancy that I just didn’t have going in. Better to say I was…well, I made this face a lot:

I went with friends, laughed a lot, got shushed two different times by two different people, and ate so much popcorn I was disgustingly ill, so it wasn’t a total loss. That being said, I was disappointed in two things: 1) the light grey v-neck t-shirt someone had Robert Pattinson wear, which fit poorly and completely washed him out; and 2) Bella’s wedding dress. I couldn’t find pictures of the former, but I honestly didn’t look very hard, because it was just really unfortunate. You can put me in the camp of people who find RPattz wildly attractive, and it pains me when wildly attractive men make unfortunate t-shirt choices.

Anyway, though, Bella’s wedding dress. Carolina Herrera designed it. I didn’t know who the fuck that was until I Googled her, but my hunch was correct, and she is, in fact, a fashion designer. A famous one. As such, and given that this is probably the most anticipated wedding dress since that event last April, one might think that she would come up with something reasonably fabulous, right?

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Dressing the Character Profile: Queen Elizabeth I!

12 Dec
And now, for something completely different but still royal! I’m super excited about this profile, and I think once you look at a couple of pictures you will be too. I’ve never seen actor Kimberly D. Stockton portraying Queen Elizabeth I, but boy have I seen pictures, and doesn’t she just look spectacular? She was nice enough to fill out this profile and then wait around for weeks and weeks and weeks while I had crises and went on vacation and, I don’t know, stared at the walls and neglected to post it, so kindly turn your full attention to her answers (provided you can stop looking at pictures, which I’m having trouble with myself).

Bow before your Queen, peasants! And everyone else!

Kimberly D. Stockon [Blogger’s Note: she says to tell you her website is in the process of being rebuilt] portrays the legendary Queen Elizabeth I through various years of her life, 1550s-1570s, at the Tennessee, Louisiana, and Santa Fe Renaissance Festivals.

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