Monday, July 30, 2012

On Being a Geek and Being a Girl

Honestly, I don’t even know how to begin this post, because I rarely think of myself as a “geeky girl”. I’m a geek. My gender doesn’t really come into it very often. On occasion I’ve become outraged by the depictions and messages sent to geeky girls through different mediums (the ridiculous costumes in comics, pesky coming of age stories that are critically entwined with romance, and so many other things), but I’ve never felt like I’ve been treated different because I’m a girl by my peers.

I’ve made friends at cons of all types: male, female, gay, straight, cosplayers, comic geeks, movie geeks, book geeks, and so many others. And they treat me like a person and a human being. Heck, they treat me better than most people do outside of cons.

Being female has never been an issue, yet recently articles would have me believe it is. Apparently ladies are held to a higher standard than men or something. And apparently, men hate us or something, and some ladies are even hating on themselves. Case in point: booth babes.

The term “booth babe” apparently stands for a girl who does nothing but look pretty and hand out pamphlets, advertising for different things. I don’t understand why people are harping on them. Don’t people do the same thing in every TV commercial ever made by man? Beautiful people have always been used to sell stuff to other people. So I don’t get the hate. And sometimes, they may be geeks. As someone who as an Atlanta resident for six years, I know a ton of people who volunteered or gave small presentations at Dragon*Con so they could go for free. I’m sure the same is true for some booth babes. Hand out pamphlets for a while and then free to explore the con. And I’m sure there are some there who don’t care and it’s just another job. But the same is probably true at football games and other events. There are people at concerts who don’t care about the band. They’re just working. And that’s ok.

Now there also seems to be a lot of hate out there for beautiful girls in skimpy outfits. Now, I’m generally not a fan of wearing skimpy outfits myself. I don’t have the body type for it and I’m not comfortable showing that much skin. I rarely show my legs below my knees. (Part of that is because I’m cold natured. I often wear gloves indoors even in the middle of the summer). However, a lot of the girls who dress in the skimpy costumes have the bodies for it…and I don’t see the problem with it. Most of the time it’s not any worse than what you see at the beach. I’m not attracted to ladies (I love me some men), but when I see a girl in a spot-on cosplay and she has the same body type as the character, I appreciate it. I appreciate the work that goes into making the outfit and how awesome it is that she loves that character so much she wants to dress up as her. Are there some girls who purposefully look for the most skimpy outfits to dress in? Probably. But if they do it well, who cares? It’s still a good costume. They still cared enough about that character to look it up online and find the outfit. Most ladies know a good deal about the character they dress up as, even when it is skimpy.

And let me tell you, if I had the figure to pull off a Catwoman or Wasp or Wonder Woman outfit, I would probably wear it. Those outfits don’t all show a lot of skin, but they’re skin tight. I wouldn’t do it to be sexy or to appeal to men or anything, I would do it because I love those characters. Just like I love Loki.

So why is there all the hate? I have no idea. Maybe because geekdom was such a boys club for so long. Maybe because people hate newbies and “posers”. Maybe because people can’t believe that beautiful women would actually care about geeky thing. To me that last one shows a lack of confidence in the thing you love. I love Star Wars so much I believe everyone would love it, not just the socially inadequate. But it seems some people don’t have that sort of confidence, and don’t think that beautiful, socially adjusted people could possibly care for the things they do. And that’s weird. And a bummer.

Once geeks lived in a warzone. But geeks have won the war. And it seems to me that some people long for the days of war.

But the war has been won. Put down your sabres, blasters, and ninja stars. We won. Enjoy peace. Enjoy the spoils. And enjoy the things you love.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Apparently Geek Girls are a Controversial Thing

This summer's hot topic issue among geekdom seems to be girls. Rather not just girls at large, but girls in geekdom. Whether we ladies are qualified enough to be geeks. Don't know what I'm talking about? Read this article, Scalzi's response, Peacock's response to Scalzi's response, and then another CNN writer's response to the article. See what I'm saying? Controversial. (Let's not even get into the Felicia Day twitter explosion that happened a while back). Edit: has also added their own post delving into this business that you might want to read.

As a twenty-five year old female who self identifies as a geek, I'm frankly shocked. This was never an issue to me. I never grew up feeling too different from boys. Sure there are obvious differences, both biological and in societal expectations. But as a kid I never felt disrespected by boys or adults or anything because I was girl. I was an intelligent, clever kid and people treated me accordingly. 

In college, women my moms age tried to tell me all my male colleagues secretly looked down on me or something for being female. That might have been true in their day and age, but my experience was starkly the opposite. Boys expected us ladies in engineering to be smarter than the average boy. Not because girls are inherently smarter, but because the guys recognized that ladies rarely go into engineering because of societal or parental pressure. We're usually there because we want to be there, because engineering is truly our passion. And the same can't be said for all the men in engineering who feel pressured by society or parents to go into the field. (This is certainly not the case for all men).

As a geek I've never been treated weird for being a female by my male counterparts. And suddenly it's like this huge deal.

So next week I'm going to deviate from my normal schedule. We're not going to have our regularly scheduled countdown to Dragon*Con post, because in a way this all relates to Dragon*Con. Also instead of posting on Tuesday and Thursday, I'm going to post on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, because I have a lot to say on this subject and I don't want to drag it out longer than a week. So next week these are our topics:

Monday: On Being a Geek and Being A Girl
Wednesday: Geeks and Posers
Friday: Labels 

See you on Monday!

The Empire Strikes Back is better. And that's OK.

I firmly believe that The Empire Strikes Back (ESB) is the best movie ever made by mankind. It's everything a movie should be: thrilling, amazing, shocking, tragic, funny, and beautiful. Even if everyone doesn't agree that ESB is the greatest ever, it's almost universally acknowledged to be the best movie of the original trilogy (and by default the best Star Wars movie ever, since the new trilogy can't compare). And if ESB is the best of the trilogy that means that Return of the Jedi (ROTJ) isn't.

You will rarely ever here someone complain about that. ROTJ is a good movie. It's just not ESB. It can't be. ESB is a cinematic masterpiece, something that's generally agreed by critics. ROTJ is a fantastic end to the Star Wars Trilogy and a good movie in it's own right. But it's not as good as ESB. And that's ok.

Somehow in our recent world, I think we've lost sight of that. Each successive movie in a series doesn't have to better than the last. It needs to be good, but it's ok if its not better. 

I hear people complain about how The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR) isn't as good as The Dark Knight (TDK). Now if you have legitimate complains about TDKR, about it's pacing, storytelling, characters, or other parts of movie making, that's fine. But I've heard several people say "It's just not as good as TDK" and that's their only complaint. And they say it like it's a make or break it thing. They couldn't appreciate or enjoy TDKR because it's not as good as TDK.

And I call foul.

It's ok that TDKR isn't TDK. It can't be. TDK has many similarities to ESB, similarities that work because they're a middle movie. In both of the them, the good guys suffer extreme set backs, to the point where we can say the good guys lost. The Rebel base at Hoth was destroyed. Luke abandoned his Jedi training, lost a hand, and discovered a horrifying truth. Han was put in carbonite, possibly to be never heard from again. The only good thing was that Lando joined the Rebel cause, but at the price of Cloud City coming under complete Imperial control. That's depressing. That's dark. And you can only end it like that because it's a middle movie, it's setting us for the Rebels to come back in the third movie and set everything right. 

And that triumph in the third movie only works if we're shown that our good guys, the Rebels, have suffered and lost. It's all the more poignant for the fact that we know they're mortal. ESB shows us just how ragtag a band the Rebels are, and just how insanely more powerful the Empire is. And it makes ROTJ all the more epic because of it.

The same can be said for TDK. In case you didn't notice, Batman really loses at the end of that movie. Sure the Joker went to jail, but the Joker is a man without a plan. His goal isn't to take over the world or even to destroy Gotham City. His goal is to foil Batman, to show him the world is chaos, to show him there is nothing he can do. To break him.

And the Joker succeeds. He breaks Harvey Dent, the man Bruce Wayne had pinned all his hopes and dreams on. Joker kills the love of Bruce's life. And due to the plans the Joker enacted, Batman becomes a criminal. In fact the Joker broke Bruce so badly, that at the beginning of TDKR (mild spoiler) we discover Batman has gone into hiding for like seven or eight years.

And that's part of the epicness of TDK. Batman comes up against his ultimate foe, and though he puts him in jail, he actually loses. 

You just can't end a final movie like that. You need to end a trilogy with the Rebels celebrating in the Ewok village, the Death Star in pieces over their heads. You can't end it with the Rebels all dead. You can't end it with Luke defeated by the Empire. 

So if you're only complaint about TDKR is that it's not as good as TDK, just remember Star Wars. The Empire Strikes Back is better than The Return of the Jedi.

And that's ok.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Countdown to Dragon*Con: Making Throwing Knives

It's hard to notice, unless you're paying fanatically close attention, but before Loki is King of Asgard in Thor and before he got his staff from Thanos in Avengers, his weapon of choice was throwing knives. He even uses a throwing knife or two in the Avengers. But most people don't realize that because they're not obsessed like some of us. 

So for my Loki cosplay, I want to make some throwing knives. I would just buy some throwing knives (they're not that expensive) if (a) I could ever get them through airport security and (b) I wouldn't get in trouble at dragon*con for having an open blade that's not peace bonded. If I want to pose with throwing knives in my hand they're going to need to be fake and made of something that's not likely to injure someone. 

Loki's throwing knives look like this:
When that picture came up on google my first thought was "oh no, I'm not that crafty." Because I'm not crafty. At all. Give me some variables and an equation and I'll calculate until the cows come home. Give me a laptop or a pen and paper and I'll write you whatever you want. But glue guns and paint? Nope. I'm hopeless. And Loki's throwing knives are a tad bit complicated and crazy looking.
My next step was to find real throwing knives to see what they look like in reality, and not just in Asgard. I found a website called knife-depot and they showed me the knives you see to the left and right of this paragraph. These definitely looked more feasible to make but still a little crazy. What's a non-crafty girl to do when she's trying to make some weapons for her cosplay? Well, I don't know what everyone else does, but I went to Hobby Lobby. I try not to go to Hobby Lobby if I don't have to, because I feel like every time I go there I end up dropping scads of money on fairly useless stuff. But this time I went in with a mission. I had no idea how to make throwing knives but I knew that walking around the store would give me inspiration and it did.

I ended up buying paintbrushes, wood glue, and metallic silver wood paint.

You may be scratching your head and wondering how that could possibly help me. What will I be painting with all those paintbrushes and paint. What's the wood glue for? Well, let me show you! Presented here is my step by step guide on "How To Make Throwing Knives When You Have No Crafting Skillz." (That's right, skillz. With a 'z'.)

So first step! Take two ordinary paint wooden paint brushes.
Remove the metal holding the brush part onto the wood. Now this was a little harder than it sounds. It involved a square blade knife that I could shove between the metal and wood and then use to pry the metal away. The metal wasn't held on very tightly. It was just jammed in at certain spots that you needed to loosen. And the metal was very bendy. It took me like fifteen minutes to figure out how to do one and then one minute to do the rest.

Anyway, you end up with two wooden handles, like so. 
Next I took the end of the handles that used to have the brush on them and glued them together using the wood glue, so they became one long continuous piece. Like below:
Then the last step was to paint it with the silver metallic paint. I ended up doing four coats of paint. One coat is definitely not enough, it still leaves a lot of the wood color and after two it still didn't have the sheen I wanted. But with four coats it looked good. I did all of this twice to make two throwing knives, which gave me the following:

Not too shabby if I do say so myself. Looking at them alone you may not know what they are, but I think when I'm holding them and wielding them menacingly for photos, people will get the idea. And they look really shiny and silver in real life. The photo didn't capture that so well.

They don't look much like Loki's knives but I think they sort of have the flavor of throwing knives, where both sides are metal and balance each other. Hopefully they'll look good with the full costume!

Thursday, July 19, 2012


I apologize for posting late today and then only posting what is going to be a short post. But you see I'm at the Batman trilogy marathon....sort of.

Well I've been there for the past four hours but just came home to take my dogs out and make a post. The marathon hasn't actually started yet, we've just been waiting in line to get good seats. But it starts at six and it's three movies, so I won't get out until three in the morning, so I had to come back and take care of my dogs.

For the next nine hours I will be watching the Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy, and it's going to be awesome. :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Six Weeks (ish) to Dragon*Con!

Ok, so it's really like five and a half weeks, since Dragon*Con is six weeks from last Friday. And I apologize for those of you who don't care about geeky things like conventions that this is my second post in a row about a science fiction/fantasy convention. But after an entire weekend of reading every article posted by the people at ComicCon and watching videos of Robert Downey Jr hang out with little kids dressed as Iron Man, the Firefly 10 year reunion, and Zachary Levi make out with every hot person in the room, I'm just really in the mood for it to be time for Dragon*Con now.

Five and a half weeks until Dragon*Con, it's time to get serious about preparing for it. Prepare, you ask? Why yes, prepare. There is a lot of thought processes that go into attending a Con. Of course there is the obvious preparations like scouring the panel list to figure out your entire schedule for the weekend. And then there are the cosplay preparations (cosplay being a fancy word for costume). 

Last year I wore two costumes, which I will re-wear this year with some minor modifications. I will be breaking out my steampunk costume. Since I never posted photos last year, below is a photo of my friend Michael and me all steampunk-ified. It's great.

Basically my outfit is a Victorian suit, an oculus (that thing on my glasses), and a pocket watch (but worn as a necklace). This year, I would like to add a cool hat, that I'm planning on making. It would be a hat that is essentially a clock. But I'm not going to reveal any grand plans yet because I don't know if I'll be able to pull it off. But I will post pictures here if I do manage it. 

My other outfit last year was a Harry Potter Ravenclaw student outfit. It was great, but oh my lord was it hot. Sooooo hot. That's what happens when you're wearing a wool sweater in Atlanta at the beginning of September. Over a shirt that buttons up all the way to your neck so you can wear a tie. And the Hogwarts students wear cloaks over this business? (Which I didn't). No wonder Hogwarts has to be in Scotland. Anyway, my outfit was great, but the shirt I bought was pretty big. Like long. Like hung down to my knees so I always had to wear it tucked in. And it looked really awkward when I had to take my sweater off. So this year I would like to find a more fitted, appropriate length shirt, so that when I have to take my sweater off I don't look completely ridiculous. 

So both of those outfits will be seen again. But this year I will be debuting a new outfit. One I'm really excited about. What outfit, you ask? Come on guess. What other character have I written six blogposts about? Yes! You guessed right. Loki!

What's that you say? I'm a short, light haired girl, and not a tall, broad shouldered, beautiful man.......
Focus! Yes anyway, back to the question. How am I going to pull this off? Well, I'll never be Tom Hiddleston, but I'd be far from the first girl (or guy for that matter) to cross dress for a character they truly love who has an awesome outfit. And let's be honest, Loki has some awesome outfits. Seriously, all the heroes on the Avengers change clothes maybe twice. Loki has a ridiculous number of different outfits and they're all awesome. 

I'm going for the outfit in the picture to the right, what I like to call "Loki's lounging outfit" because he only wears it when he's just hanging around Asgard. It's one of his simpler outfits that doesn't involve a good deal of armor. And doesn't involve his helmet, which I'd rather not wear for twelve hours. Basically it's easier to create.

And create is what has to happen here. In the past I've been able to buy ready made pieces online, but all the Loki outfits available online pretty much suck. So I've contacted a local designer who does cosplay outfits and we're working together to make this outfit happen, to make it fit me, and to look awesome. (I wish I could say I'm making from scratch all by myself but seriously, I can't sew to save my life. There is like one item I might have to sew. It's pretty simple and I still might manage to mess that up).

But putting this together is going to take a lot. I'm going to have to do something to turn my light brown hair black (temporarily) and manage to slick back my crazy curly hair. In this outfit Loki doesn't have any staff, but Loki can't be without a weapon, so I'm making throwing knives, which is Loki's battle weapon of choice in the movies (outside of his staffs). I'll need to make some sort of sheath for these throwing knives, which I'm probably going to make so that they slide into the boots I bought for this outfit. It's going to be crazy. And it's going to be awesome.

Basically there is a lot to get done. And every Tuesday from now until Dragon*Con we're going to talk about my Dragon*Con prep. I'll show you how I make my throwing knives and steampunk hat. We'll talk about the different temporary hair dyes I'm going to try that hopefully don't do weird things to my hair. And when they release the schedule we'll talk about the different panels I'm excited about. 

So Tuesdays are now Dragon*Con days! Wooooo! Be excited. And tune in on Thursdays for non-Dragon*Con related programming.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Not at ComicCon

I love conventions. They're so much fun. I've written a number of posts on my wonderful experiences at Dragon*Con. And I recently went to a very small con here in Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Comic Expo. It was ridiculously tiny compared to Dragon*Con. There were only three panel rooms and only one vendor room. There were entire hours when I had no idea what to do with myself. But I also got to sent in the very front row at the Adam Baldwin panel, so that was awesome.

Anyway, this post isn't about my con experience. It's about the con experience I've never had, except vicariously through other bloggers: ComicCon.

ComicCon is often called nerd prom, though recently many in the geek crowd have decried ComicCon as becoming too mainstream. I'm not really sure what the truth of the matter is since I've never been. Either way, I will spend this week doing what I always do: reading every blogpost made by people at ComicCon and wishing desperately I was there. 

I will probably spend a good portion of this week dreaming of August and the multiple cons I'll have (including legit work conventions). I'll probably spend this week making sure all my costumes are planned. If I can't be at ComicCon, I can at least make sure I'm ready for the cons I'm going to.

Anyone out there reading this from ComicCon? Anyone else reading the blogs, tweets, and updates of people who are there with some intense jealousy? 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cautiously Optimistic

(One day I'll get better about this posting on schedule thing. One day. That day is not today, but I promise, it will happen.)

So I've had a really hard time finding a church here in Albuquerque.  The last time I posted about this here was over a year ago, and I still haven't found a church that fits me. I thought I had. During the craziness of my travel last spring, on the Sundays that I was in town, I went to this one small Baptist Church. It seemed like a good fit. The people were nice. The music was traditional. There were people in the young adult class (though mostly college age people). But as time went on, I just realized that it wasn't for me. It wasn't just that I disagreed with some of the things that were said (which I did). It's that I felt if I revealed my truly geeky, crazy, encyclopedia self, I would be judged and not accepted. So not a good fit.

So I started trying churches again, and it's amazing how quickly I can get discouraged. Visiting a new church is always a struggle for me, because I have a somewhat introverted nature and I'm very aware of how weird and socially awkward I am. I never know how people will take it when I say stuff or if it's appropriate for me to speak up at all in the situation and I have no flipping clue what my place is in the group dynamics, so I spend a lot of the Sunday School hour contorting the bulletin in my hands while not making eye contact with people. Yeah....socially awkward.

Anyway, this past weekend I went to a church that I'm cautiously optimistic about. The service was wonderfully traditional. I knew all the hymns. At one point, the powerpoint guy in the back forgot to flip the slide to the next song, and it didn't matter. Because everyone (including me) knew the words. So we all sang from memory. 

The sermon was actually good. I say "actually" not because I was expecting a terrible preacher, but because when I opened the bulletin I saw that the preacher was going to be talking about the prodigal son. I kid you not. We all know how I feel about the prodigal son story and my recent revelation concerning it (and well Loki). So I was very wary, because I tend to get offended during prodigal son stories. But I didn't. And I learned something I didn't know before. (Namely, that by demanding his inheritance early, the son only got two-thirds of his inheritance, so he was essentially settling for less, which is--I think--something we've all done at one point or another...that is, demanding something too soon and settling for less). Of course, he only covered the "prodigal son" not the other one. He's doing that next week, so I guess the real test will be how I handle that. Hence the "cautiously optimistic".

Sunday School was also really good. The young adults class was actually a young adults class. Not a college class. Not a forty-somethings class. A class of twenty and thirty-somethings. There were two married couples and several single people. Finally! People my age! You have no idea how hard that has been to find. And the group does dinner every they do stuff outside of class. How cool! I'm looking for friends, I need friends, and this seems like the kind of group people make friends in. (Sadly, I can't go to the dinner this week because I already have plans, but such is life. I suppose it's better, so I remain "cautious" instead of throwing myself in before I know what I'm dealing with as I did with the church I went to in the spring).

So yeah. Cautiously Optimistic. I've got my fingers crossed that this is the right church for me. I will be going back next Sunday and I guess I'll just take it one Sunday at a time.