Costumes and More From ConCarolinas 2015

Arrow costumes. Photo by Debadeep Sen.
I found fellow Arrow fans to photograph with my Nyssa al Ghul costume! Photo by Debadeep Sen.

This past weekend, ConCarolinas returned to Charlotte, NC, for the 14th year. It’s a great con that I always enjoy, and this year was no different.

It was, however, quite different from last year’s event in two significant ways. Last year’s guest of honor was George R. R. Martin, which was amazing, but it gave the con a significant slant in attendance to Game of Thrones fans. This year was back to a broader audience with far fewer Khaleesi costumes.

The con also moved to an Embassy Suites with a convention center space in nearby Concord from its previous location at the University Hilton. Opinions from long-time con-goers varied on the change. Some felt the new space was a bit too large (and perhaps would have been more useful for last year’s roving bands of Khaleesis). Indeed, some panels that would have felt full in a more size-appropriate space seemed sparsely attended in the expansive rooms available in the new hotel. On the other hand, the layout on a square was quite convenient (keep walking; you’ll find what you’re looking for!). And with the amenities of an Embassy Suites (read: massive, cooked-to-order breakfast and evening drinks both included), not to mention the spacious hotel rooms for con-goers who like to pile in, I found it to be a great space for a con.

Despite a Kids Track, there didn’t seem to be particularly many children in attendance. (This apparently shortage may also be because I left my own children with their grandmother!) The schedule also featured several panels for parents that I attended, including “Getting Your Kids Into Gaming” and “Raising Scientifically Minded Children.” The latter spurred an interesting debate amongst some of the panelists over whether and to what extent we should be pushing all children into science.

Jim Craig, the panel moderator and Planetarium Director at The Schiele Museum of Natural History, commented that science doesn’t have the same cool and exciting portrayal in pop culture that it did in the 1950s and 1960s. He also noted that today, we tend to blame problems on scientists instead of politicians. After the other panelists suggested ways we can change this, such as through encouraging children with competitions and games, author James Maxey said, “The whole concept of how you make it cool is the wrong way to go. Coolness isn’t the problem—science doesn’t have a marketing problem.” He went on to say that a century ago and even more when so many great discoveries were being made, it wasn’t 50 percent of the population who understood science. It wasn’t even 5 percent. “We never needed a majority of people to understand a science in order for it to advance,” Maxey said. “So I don’t know that trying to get everybody engaged is the wisest route.”

Science guest of honor Catherine Asaro rebutted that we’re in a scientific time unmatched in history, where we all take technology for granted. She argued that to keep up with that pace, the population in general needs to be more scientifically aware. Craig replied that that’s why the smart people work to make the technology more idiot-proof, explaining that while he has a broad understanding of his phone, he doesn’t have any idea what makes the earphones work or what the science of the glass in the screen is. “I could devote years of studying to understand it, but would that enhance my life?” he asked.

“We don’t all need to be specialists,” Asaro said. “We just need the awareness that you just demonstrated.”

In far less serious hours of the con, there was a lot to take in. Doctor Who fans gathered with Fourth Doctor scarves, which they laid end-to-end in a Guinness World Record attempt. (No word yet on the outcome.) One of my favorite geek entertainers, Mikey Mason, gave several concerts. Nerd-Vana Burlesque made their ConCarolinas debut, although my favorite part of that show was not the burlesque, but emcee Rich Sigfrit’s readings of 50 Shades of Grey as characters like Ron Swanson and Pinky and the Brain. (You can see a few other of his “50 Shades of Wrong” characters on Nerd-Vana’s YouTube channel.)

If you find yourself looking for a great Southeast con to add to your schedule, you can register for 2016 now for only $30. Next year’s event will be held June 3-5, 2016. Check out the photo gallery below for some of the con’s highlights, including the great costumes.

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Conquer the Convention With the Con*Quest Journal

First page of my Con*Quest Journal. \ Image: Dakster Sullivan
First page of my Con*Quest journal. \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

The Con*Quest journal comes with a sharpie marker and 30 pages for autographs, artist sketches, cosplay photos, panel notes and quotes, favorite vendors, stickers, and comic book style pages to note down all there is a standard convention. In the back of the binder, there’s a spot for business cards, a zipper pouch to hold ticket stubs and other paper swag, and four sleeves for holding comics, art, and photo-ops.

I carried my journal with me on the first and last days of the MegaCon. It was helpful in keeping the business cards for vendors in one place and storing my autograph from Michael Rooker. For the most part though, I put it together at home.

I found that with my comic book shopping, I didn’t necessarily want to take my journal into the convention each day. If I had it to do over, I would have taken just the autograph pages into the convention with me and filled in the rest in my hotel room. I also would have taken my Polaroid camera to print out my pictures and label them while it was all fresh in my brain.

Looking at my finished MegaCon journal, I can see where I have plenty of space to put in another set of pages for another convention. Of course, if I took this to a convention like DragonCon or SDCC, I might have needed two journals.

At the moment, Con*Quest does not sell refill pages, but hopefully that will be an option in the future. If you need more standard blank pages though, you can grab a four pack for $5.

A standard Con*Quest journal costs $40 + shipping. For $5 more, you can get a tote that is perfect for carrying it in. I recommend this because it’s annoying to have to go into your backpack every time you need to pull it out.

If you want to have a little social interaction at the convention, pick up a pack of Con-pliment cards ($3 for a pack of ten). I gave these mostly to children because their faces lit up when someone appreciated their costume.

For those who want something a bit smaller than the regular Con*Quest journal, check out the Con*Panion mini journal. It has some of the same design pages, but in a smaller format.

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GeekMom received a sample of this product for review purposes. 

Star Wars and the Power of Costume Kicks Off 12-City Tour in Seattle

Photo: Kelly Knox
The famous metal bikini. Photo: Kelly Knox.

Say what you will about the Star Wars prequels, but you can’t deny that Queen Amidala’s gowns are breathtaking. In fact, from Princess Leia’s white gown to a Jedi’s robes, the costumes of Star Wars are now ingrained in pop culture. They are instantly recognizable and unquestionably memorable. Star Wars and the Power of Costume, an exhibit presented by the Smithsonian, Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, and Lucasfilm, celebrates the amazing costume achievements of the Star Wars trilogies with almost 60 original, handcrafted costumes from every film.

This exhibit is making its way to 12 cities across the U.S., starting at the extraordinary EMP Museum in Seattle on January 31. This incredible exhibit cements the EMP’s status as a geek mecca. Star Wars and the Power of Costume covers two floors of the museum, with a few costumes displayed elsewhere in the museum.

Photo: Kelly Knox
Photo: Kelly Knox.

The moment you enter the exhibit and hear the familiar music play, it’s not hard to imagine you’ve just stepped into Star Wars. (I’m pretty sure my mouth was hanging open the entire time.) Each costume has been meticulously cared for and in practically perfect condition. It’s always amusing to see just how your favorite characters actually size up, from the small waist of Natalie Portman or how much Chewbacca would tower over you, but the exhibit goes into much, much more interesting detail about each piece.

Every costume has a story. Many are inspired by multiple cultures throughout history, like the headdresses of Mongolian royalty for Queen Amidala’s wide red headpiece and the samurai helmet resting on Darth Vader’s shoulders. Lucas drew from fascist regimes for the look of the Empire, the swagger of a gunslinger for Han Solo, and the humble simplicity of monk robes for Jedi. Each part of the exhibit includes fascinating details about the inspiration and creation of the piece, each a work of art in their own right.

Star Wars and the Power of Costume
The evolution of an emperor. Photo: Kelly Knox.

Costumes inspired the actors and vice-versa; both Ewan McGregor and Samuel Jackson were giddy at the prospect of wearing Jedi robes, while Harrison Ford insisted his shirt look a certain way. Be sure to spend some time listening to the interviews with the actors, designers, and concept artists peppered throughout the exhibit for a truly inside look behind Star Wars.

Young kids may not get much out of Star Wars and the Power of Costume, although seeing Darth Vader, Jedi, Chewbacca, and the droids “in person” should hold their interests. This is a rare opportunity to see the incredible detail of Amidala’s lavish gowns, the worn robes of Obi-Wan Kenobi, or the famous metal bikini from Return of the Jedi. In short, if you’re a Star Wars fan, you need to see this exhibit, with or without the kids in tow.

Luminara Undili and Mace Windu take on the Emperor. Photo: Kelly Knox
I was certain the Emperor was going to move. Photo: Kelly Knox.

Star Wars and the Power of Costume is at the EMP Museum in Seattle from January 31 to October 4, 2015. Tickets are timed for entry, so plan ahead by choosing the best time for you and your family online. Tickets to Star Wars and the Power of Costume include access to all other EMP Museum galleries. (General admission gives access to all of the galleries except Star Wars, so double-check that you’re buying the correct one.) Don’t miss Icons of Science Fiction on the bottom floor!

GeekMom attended a promotional press preview.

Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy

Image: Chronicle Books
Image: Chronicle Books.

When I first saw Star Wars and the other movies of the original trilogy, I was a young kid. We saw them in the theaters when they were first run. Considering what the actors were wearing in the movies was the least of my thoughts. I was too caught up in the stories, and, yes, fawning over the cute Ewoks. I took the characters as they were, completely lost in the movie, suspending all disbelief, in the way that only children really can. And even though I know quite a lot about clothing construction now, having sewn a great deal, my mind still doesn’t consider movie costumes the way you might think.

Enter Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy. This heavy, coffee table-style book is filled with every wonder from those three movies, at least in terms of what people were wearing. We begin with Leia’s drape-y, white, iconic outfit from A New Hope on the cover, and then forewords from three of the design team start the book off. The rest of the book consists of visiting each of the three movies, one by one. Concept art, behind the scenes photos, prototypes, and plenty of text and quotations explaining what you’re seeing fill this definitive book. We learn about the evolution of the major costumes through the series with plenty of explanation for costumes of all ranks of importance, from Vader’s dark robes and Obi-Wan’s worn rags to Catina costumes and what the AT-ST driver wore. Fold-out pages show more detail on several costumes (yes, including Slave Leia). And up close, a lot of the props look like someone made them in their basement. But we never seem to notice that in the movies themselves.

The Star Wars website shares more information and a trailer for the book:

This book is a cosplayer’s delight. If you or your kids have any interest at all in dressing up like a character from the original Star Wars trilogy, the photos, images, and information in this book will help guide your creations extremely well.

Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy retails for $60, but is currently $37.95 on Amazon. It is a perfect gift for Star Wars fans, cosplayers, and those interested in costume and design; this book is the ultimate resource.

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

How to Make a Dancing Baby Groot Costume With Only a Few Failed Attempts

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Chef, Honey-Where-Are-My-Pants Guy, Dancing Baby Groot, and Rocket Raccoon.

When my husband and I got married, we were warned that we would fight about money or sex. Not us. We fight about the direction a costume is taking during construction. It has happened every time we have made costumes. After the second design failure on Groot, we just let it go (great, now that song is stuck in my head). Neither of our ideas were working, and we weren’t doing so well.

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What you will need for your Dancing Baby Groot costume. Image: Cathe Post

For this Dancing Baby Groot tutorial you will need:

A Flower Pot (Ours was about 14″ in diameter, choose your accordingly)

Leggings (Brown)

Sweatshirt (Brown)

Close-cell foam 1″ thick

Gorilla Glue

Cheap Sunglasses

Cheap Plastic Foliage

Brown Painter’s Paper  Brown Paint

Green Painter’s Paper Green Paint

Brown Gloves?

Cardboard

Moss

Old Tennis Shoes

More Gorilla Glue

Patience

A sense of humor

Instead of a tutorial, I plan to drink wine. Acceptable? While drinking, I will share what my husband did for the other three members of our household.

Let it be known that gender roles do not apply in my house. Not only does my husband cook, he also busted his butt to sew and paint our costumes in time for GeekGirlCon in mid-October. He is the most awesome guy in the world.

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First we tried gluing, then we tried sewing, finally we said a few choice curse words and painted the grain on. All images: Cathe Post

We first tried twisting and crumpling painter’s paper and using Gorilla Glue to adhere it to the sweatshirt. This worked, but was a big mess and hard to keep positioned while the glue dried. There were many colorful metaphors uttered…

Next, the twisted pieces of paper were hand-sewn onto the sweatshirt. This made our daughter look like a brown box instead of a long treeling. Plus the paper was stiff and LOUD. More cursing ensued.

Groot’s pot was constructed by cutting a flower pot in half, adding cardboard, and using copious amounts of Gorilla Glue to attach old sneakers to the bottoms. For grip, a collectible card game playing mat (basically a giant mousepad) was cut and adhered. There was no cursing involved in the making of the flower pot. Now, wearing the flower pot did cause my daughter to utter a few choice phrases (to be fair, that thing had to be a pain in the arse to walk in).

As a finishing touch, I loaded I Want You Back onto my phone and connected the iFrogz Tadpole speaker GeekMom Jenny previously talked about to the inside of the flower pot. When we get around a bunch of people, my daughter could dance like Baby Groot.

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Rocket Raccoon and Groot

The Rocket costume went much more smoothly, though my costume had the most materials and items to purchase of our three costumes. Thankfully, with the announcement of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 being a definite, I know I will get future use out of my costume—and have time to make a sweet gun!

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“Honey, where are my paaaaaants?”

My son’s costume (only to be worn for our Halloween commitments) went the smoothest of the three costumes, was the cheapest, and took the least amount of time to make. My son, quite specifically, asked to be the guy from “Honey, Were Are My Pants?,” the silly fictional sitcom from The Lego Movie. Honestly, when you are four, isn’t that the best part of the movie? Thanks to having a cardboard supply that multiplies like tribbles, having yellow rain pants (needed in the Pacific Northwest), and a pajama top the same color as the guy’s shirt, we only had to purchase blue spray paint and World Market Cheesy Snowballs (because the container looks like a Lego mini-figure head with a bit of modification). We had a selection of acrylic craft paints and a few different spray paints, so we didn’t even have to purchase those either. My son, needless to say, thinks that the costume is awesome—because, “Everything is awesome!”

Great. Now I have that song stuck in my head…

Thankfully, we got most of our arguing and Vulcan-Death-Match fighting out of the way on Groot’s costume. By the time the Lego guy’s costume was finished, we didn’t care where our pants were.

If you want to tell my husband that he did a geek-tastic job on our costumes, tag @timsmartini on Twitter. After making costumes for everyone else, he was too tired to make one for himself, so we dug out an old chef’s jacket and hat we’d ordered from a uniform supply. Instant costume!

Happy Halloween from Rocket, Groot, Honey-Where-Are-My-Pants guy, and Chef!

ConnectiCon: A Much Needed Break From Reality

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Image By Lilianna Angel Maxwell

What a bunch of weirdos.

I can’t say I was in a good frame of mind when I went to ConnectiCon last weekend, but I certainly came home in one.

My family and I travel to Connecticut each year to this multi-genre convention of fandom and fun.  I was dragged there by a friend and enjoyed myself so much that I started dragging my own people with me. In the past ten years, I’ve only missed one. This year I took my two teenagers, plus one of my daughter’s friends. We stayed at the family of a friend’s house, camping in their backyard. (I utilized all the tips I suggested in a previous post to go to a con on the cheap.) At this point, the kids and I meet up with over a dozen people each year we attend—and always meet new friends, too.

So why the negative start? I had just spent a stressful week in the “real” world, and had a lot of work to catch up on. Going away for the weekend seemed like just one more item on my to-do list, and I wasn’t in the mood to cosplay, interview celebrities, or participate in discussions. When I walked into the con, I looked around and had a very negative attitude.

Then I realized that I go to these things all the time. I’m a weirdo!

For a split second I was dismayed. Did other people judge me that way? And then the atmosphere of ConnectiCon started seeping in: the relief of expressing something you love, the joy at seeing friends, the happiness at being yourself in an accepting little universe even if only for the weekend, and the fun of sharing it all with my kids. Who the hell cares if people judge me for being a geek! And I certainly will not start doing it to others. After that, the weekend was a blast. So what did my family and I do at ConnectCon? Lots!

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Image By Rebecca Angel

The best part is seeing our fellow geeky friends. I had thought one of my best friends in the world (the same person who brought me that first year) couldn’t make it, but then he did! We watched the FMV Contest (Fan Made Videos) together. I try to pick the ones that really match the music with what’s going on. There was a superb one that used a Bjork song…and I didn’t write it down… and I can’t find a list on the website…

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Image By Rebecca Angel

My son played Magic for most of the weekend. Although he had a great time, he felt like he had been at a party and only talked with one person. Next year, he said, he’d try to branch out in his activities more.

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Image By Rebecca Angel
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Image By Rebecca Angel

My daughter and her friend cosplayed on Saturday: Effie Trinket from The Hunger Games, and Chihiro Ogino from Spirited Away.  

We danced, danced on Friday, but I let my daughter and her friend dance on their own Saturday (my feet hurt by the evening—old lady is me.) They said it was lots of fun. They wanted to go to Tea Time, but were unable to get in. It’s a popular panel! Yay for tea!

Several of us went to see the 18+ Art Fight. This is where two teams of cartoonists are given random words/phrases from a spinning wheel and have to draw on a huge board. The artists (and words) change every five minutes, while a host chats with the audience, and makes comments and jokes about the art being made. Although the format is well-done, the 18+ excuse only led to frat-house humor. One of my group said he had seen their regular show, and with more random words/phrases, there was more creativity and less penis jokes. After fifteen minutes of the extreme sex humor, we got bored and left…

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Image By Rebecca Angel

…to find a spot to see the fireworks! ConnectiCon coincided with the River Festival in Hartford, and Saturday night had a great show (complete with a beautiful full moon.) We decided to go outside the con to see them, but quickly returned after the fireworks were over. We missed the happy vibe of geeks, even for just an hour.

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Image By Rebecca Angel

I enjoyed walking around the Artist’s Alley, bought some new comics, and chatted with artists, including this young girl and her proud mom:

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Image By Rebecca Angel
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Image By Rebecca Angel
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Image By Rebecca Angel

I met other geeky families attending:

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Image By Rebecca Angel

My daughter bought me an adorable Loki t-shirt. Yay! And I played LOTS of games (I’ll make a separate post about my favorites.) We saw the panel with Janet Varney, the voice actress for Legend of Korra. She was very entertaining, and even got some calls from other actors from the series to answer fan questions.

Oh, and the cosplay, the cosplay, the cosplay. I had been debating about this, but the She-Ra costume stayed home—maybe next time. Instead of my lame photos, check out this video by Beat Down Boogie of some of the fantastic work people do on their costumes.

This weirdo can’t wait till ConnectiCon 2015!

Cosplay, Conformity, and Funky Tights

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Rebecca Angel and nieces with their tights! Image by Rebecca Angel

I recently attended a local con and thought about cosplaying, but ultimately rejected the idea because the attendees were mostly college-age, and I felt…awkward. I’m stepping towards forty. Maybe if my daughter had joined me, but she wasn’t feeling it (despite having an adorable hand-made Totoro costume.)

When I first got into the fandom scene, I was a young mom excited to find a group of people just as geeky as I was, and my kids were happy to go along for the ride. My first time cosplaying was with a Yoruichi outfit my own mother helped me create. I had such a good time posing for pictures and hugging other Bleach characters I met. I was proud of the outfit, I looked good, and was part of something bigger than ordinary life. Even if just for the day.

Something changed as we all got older, and I’m still trying to figure it out. When my kids became teenagers, I tried to balance not embarrassing them with modeling the behavior to always be yourself. Is there an age when cosplay is not appropriate? Or just not visually appealing? Does this have to do with being conscious about getting older in a young fan scene, or about my body not looking like a magazine cover?

I admire the women who couldn’t care less, and let it all hang out, but I’m not one of them. But do I want to be? What cosplay would I feel comfortable with? And what does my “normal” clothing say about me?

Several years ago, a friend of mine got me an interview at her work. She bluntly stated what kind of clothes I should wear, instead of the usual jeans and anime t-shirt. Although I had been planning on dressing “nicer,” I was annoyed that I had to pretend to be someone I wasn’t. Another geek friend advised me to think of it as a costume for a role. That made it more fun. And I got the job.

All of us dress in costume to fit in, or stand out, depending on what role we are playing. Looking at billboards, watching TV, and reading magazines tells us what costume is expected. That’s why I find it ridiculous when regular folks laugh or put down cosplayers. When I really think about it, I’ve always been cosplaying.

Before my late teens, I wore what my mom bought for me because it fit and was usually clean. She liked the “Upper Middle Class Child” look. Then senior year in high school I realized that I didn’t have much time left to exercise my “get out of normal free” card that society gives teenagers. I went somewhat goth since that was the mode of dress at the dance clubs I frequented in the early ’90s. Showing a lot of skin was also acceptable. It wasn’t so much rebellion as conforming to a different group.

Suddenly I was a teen mom, and tried to fit in with other moms by looking like them: mono-tone nursing shirts, flower dresses, sensible shoes. Yet another costume. Amusingly, it was my mom that visited and dragged me shopping to buy a couple of pairs of pants that were form fitting, stating that I was young and pretty and should show it off! I wore them when I started performing at open mics. The “Sexy Musician” role.

A few years after that I attended my first con and felt so BORING. I realized I had some more interesting clothing I could wear, and still be on the tamer side of this crowd. The next con I had fun with weird outfits. The following year was my Yoruichi cosplay. Then a steampunk year. Always something different from my everyday.

Except recently. Maybe I’m having an identity crisis, and if I don’t know what role I’m playing, how do I know what costume to wear? I’m talking about both at cons and in everyday life. For the first time, I want to express who I really am, not dress up just to fit in. But what does that mean?

Looking back over the years of costumes, the only common thread is tights: My favorite part of being goth was the fishnets and lacy stockings I found to wear with skirts and ripped jeans. I fell in love with Hanna Andersson‘s bright striped wool tights while doing the “mom” role (they don’t sell adult tights anymore—darn). I have purchased a dozen or so funky tights from a shop in Penn Station, NYC, that I wear at cons, on stage as a musician, and on happy days. :)

This past Halloween, my older sister decided she wanted to be She-Ra Princess of Power, and our mother created a fantastic costume for her. I am toying with the idea of borrowing it to wear at ConnectiCon over the summer. Am I just conforming again? Only older people who grew up with ’80s cartoons will even recognize me. I like that thought. I’m not trying to fit in with the younger crowd; I’m having fun with childhood memories. Both my kids told me they really don’t care either way. (And my daughter said she might break out her Totoro…)

Or maybe I’ll just wear my favorite funky tights.

Win a Free Costume Up To $75 From Costume Super Center!

Image: CostumeSuperCenter.com
Image: CostumeSuperCenter.com

Con season is upon us, so it’s time to decide what you’re going to wear, cosplayers! Although some of you may spend countless hours crafting just the right costume, for those of us not so creative, the folks at CostumeSuperCenter.com have got you covered.

They’ve even created some fantastic guides, like this Guide to Star Trek Uniforms, and they have something for every Trekkie (or Trekker, your call) no matter which show or movie is your favorite. You can be a redshirt from The Next Generation, or maybe you’d rather be in command with this Star Trek movie gold shirt.

Image: CostumeSuperCenter.com
Image: CostumeSuperCenter.com

The choice is yours, and now you have the chance to win the costume of your choice up to $75 value from CostumeSuperCenter! Simply head on over to my TotalFanGirl to enter. Good luck!

Downton Abbey Costumes Coming to Delaware’s Winterthur Museum

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The “Costumes of Downton Abbey” will open at Winterthur on March 1, 2014. Image: Nick Briggs, Carnival Film, and Television Limited 2012.

Chances are you never had “go to Delaware” on your bucket list. You may want to bump that up to the top of your places to visit for the New Year. Winterthur Museum, located in the city of Wilmington, is planning to open “Costumes of Downton Abbey this March.

The exhibit will display 40 costumes and accessories that were actually worn in the popular period drama. Each piece is on loan from Cosprop, a costumier out of London.

“The first time I looked at the costumes up close, I was amazed at the incredible detail,” says Maggie Lidz, one of the three co-curators of the exhibition. “They are surprisingly ornate. This is going to be one of the most beautiful exhibitions ever held at Winterthur.”

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Image: Nick Briggs, Carnival Film and Television Limited 2010.

Lidz went to London back in July to choose the pieces that will be on display. The idea behind the exhibit isn’t just to look at the pretty costumes, but also compare the fictional British world of Downton Abbey to the real-life American counterpart Winterthur in the first half of the 20th century. In other words, you can expect to see Lady Sybil’s harem pants, Lady Mary’s engagement dress, and Lady Edith’s wedding dress right next to H. F. du Pont’s Saville Row evening jacket and the du Pont family’s 1874 Tiffany silver tea service.

The exhibit will be organized chronologically, allowing visitors to move through the times of day, both upstairs and downstairs. Winterthur will also host a series of companion lectures, workshops, and events.

If you’ve never been the museum, this is the perfect excuse. Located in my hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, I can honestly say that Winterthur is a pretty gorgeous place to visit any time of year. Tickets for the museum are priced at $18 for adults, $16 for students and seniors, and $5 for ages 2–11. Besides the Downtown Abbey exhibit, that ticket will also get you access to the 175-room house as well as the Winterthur Garden and Galleries, special exhibitions, a narrated tram tour (weather permitting), the Campbell Collection of Soup Tureens, and the Enchanted Woods children’s garden.

If you’re planning to make a special trip, know that “Costumes of Downton Abbey” will open at Winterthur on March 1, 2014, and run through January 4, 2015.

How to Geek a 5K

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X-wing pilot and Skywalker-in-Training! Cathy and Steve Greskovic found great 5K costumes. Photo by Fran Wilde

Last weekend, I ran my second 5K. The first time, three years ago, I ran by myself. This time I ran it with one of my best friends, which made the race even better. Know what will make it superb next year? Costumes.

The race I run takes place during Rehoboth Beach’s annual Sea Witch Festival… which may be one of the geekiest beach-Halloween festivals on the East Coast. Seriously: A pitch-perfect handmade Jawa and Gonk droid team (droid made of Rubbermaid bins, no less) won the parade and perhaps the universe, plus many more DIY costumes.

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DIY Gonk Droid and Jawa in the parade. The Sea Witch Festival features many DIY costumes, but this little one walked the whole parade route on gonk feet. And looked utterly amazing. photo by Fran Wilde

The race, sponsored by the awesome Seashore Striders, is similarly outfitted, with several of my favorite costumes from this year below. There were pirates too, and skeletons, Vulcans, two great Teenage Mutant Ninjas with DIY shells (turkey roasting pans), superheroes galore, and a Bo Peep from Toy Story who ran in full dress. Batman and Batgirl sprinted past, on their way to victory while we were still headed for the turnaround, which was totally okay.

Here’s hoping next year I get it together to make my own costume, taking major inspiration from the folks below. In the meantime: Woo, we made it to the finish line!

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Group costume: DIY Octopus legs! Heather Bevan, Lindsey Gibson, Gwen Rash, Wendi Potter, Becky Brown, Carol Middleton, and Charlene Pagan found their costume inspiration on Pinterest. photo by Fran Wilde
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Powerpuff Girls Knee-highs and Tutus! Lyandra Emmanuel, Trish Ingram, Candice Savoy, and Nicole Nicholson. photo by Fran Wilde.

 

Science Pin-Ups!

Rebecca Angel. Photo taken by First Impressions Pinup Makeovers
Rebecca Angel. Photo taken by First Impressions Pinup Makeovers

So…I, um…got dolled up. I rarely wear make-up, and if clothing styles range from potato to sex kitten, then my closet is on the spud side. But, my friend is getting married and her bachelorette party involved doing vintage pin-up makeovers. We all had a blast, but now I have dozens of photos and what to do with them? How many calendars does my husband really need?

I thought I’d share them with this community, but with a geeky twist. To cover up some skin, I put thought bubbles of science that you know I was thinking while the shots were taken. Right?

Rebecca Angel. Photo taken by First Impressions Pinup Makeovers
Rebecca Angel. Photo taken by First Impressions Pinup Makeovers

Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2013

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Back in May, there was some brief concern that the 2013 Coney Island Mermaid Parade, the largest art parade in the United States, would have to be cancelled. Hurricane Sandy had destroyed the performance space that funds the parade’s incidentals—its security, port-a-potties, permits, etc. With the immediate neighborhood cash-strapped in the wake of the disaster, the parade organizers started a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise funds to cover a $100,000 budget shortfall.

Well, the Kickstarter campaign was a resounding success, raising more than $117,000, and the 31st Mermaid Parade took place as scheduled last weekend under gorgeous, blue skies. If you were there, leave a link to your pics in the comments section!

(Please note: Mermaid Parade pics live at the cross-section of bodypaint and burlesque and may be considered by unenlightened, seashell-pastie-hating employers as NSFW.)

Indiegogo Campaign: TinySuperheroes

 

I have to thank my mom for pointing this one out to me. Last summer Robyn Rosenberger made a cape for her two-year-old nephew’s birthday. She was also following the story of a little girl named Brenna, who was fighting a serious skin disease. The idea of the cape met the reality of children battling incredible obstacles, and her organization TinySuperheroes was born.

Since making their first cape in January of 2013, they have made 500 capes for sick and disabled children. This Indiegogo campaign (which ends on June 18th!) will help raise money to make and distribute 1,500 more capes in the next year. Their motto is “Empowering Extraordinary Kids – One Cape at a Time!”

Marvelous.

My Daughter the Mermaid

Photo illustration by Marziah Karch
Photo illustration by Marziah Karch

As my kids get older, they just tend to get more interesting. And every once in a while, they prove that they’re total geniuses. The trick is to catch them being good and encourage them to be even better.

Last summer, my then ten-year-old daughter made a mermaid tail. She’s got a bit of an obsession with mermaids. She loved the series H2O Just Add Water (which is surprisingly good for a fantasy kids’ show) and she’d been doing a lot of research on mermaid tails.

She discovered that there’s such a thing as a swimmable mermaid tail, and she really wanted to make one. She not only presented me with instructions, but she’d also researched prices. That’s some serious project initiative for an almost 5th grader. I did set one limitation. She could not make a swimmable mermaid tail. She could only make a costume. I don’t think one-piece swimmable tails are safe for young swimmers (or necessarily that safe for experienced swimmers, for that matter).

Was it the easiest thing to sew? No. I think we all learned to hate Lycra swim fabric a little with this project, but the results were nice. It was a super fun summer project.

If you want to try this yourself, we had her make her pattern on poster board by tracing an outline of the outside of her legs. It’s okay to round down on the measurements instead of up if you’re using Lycra. It stretches. We then had make a pattern for the fin shape. She sewed the fin separately from the body of the tail and attached them afterward.  The fin is stiffened with feather boning and heavyweight sew-in stabilizer, since we were mean parents and wouldn’t let her use a monofin. The stabilizer was inserted after the fin was turned, as was the feather boning, and then the fin was top-stitched to hold it together and emphasize the fin shape.

mermadbaribeThe great thing about projects like this? Not only did she learn sewing skills, she has a launching point for more creative learning. Once she’d made the big tail with parental help, she made her Barbie a tail with no help at all. In fact, she showed us the final product after it was done. (We had a talk about cutting fabric out of the edge of the yardage and not the middle next time.)

She’s also decided that she’s going to make a series of videos about her adventures as a mermaid. I’m skeptical that she’ll get this done, but bring it on. I figure this is her chance to learn about storyboarding, editing, and creative writing. Perhaps even spelling. (She started with “Epsod 1” until I had her sound out the word.)

I loved 5th grade. Time to see what 6th will bring for her. It may involve Minecraft videos. I hope it still involves costumes.

A version of this article originally appeared on GeekMom in the summer of 2012. 

This Week With the GeekMoms

GeekMom News

This week, the GeekMoms are relaxing before a Star Wars weekend, buying new cars, stage managing, and back from vacation!

Dakster Sullivan will be enjoying her last Saturday free before the Star Wars Weekends season. This means resting up, drinking lots of water, and making sure all of her costumes are good to go. She hopes to debut a new costume this year, so stay tuned to see what she has planned.

Rachel Cericola just got herself a new car. Continue reading This Week With the GeekMoms

1000 Incredible Costume & Cosplay Ideas

1000 Costume and Cosplay Ideas © Quarry
1000 Costume and Cosplay Ideas © Quarry

Many of us GeekMoms are cosplayers. From my casually thrown together thrift store costumes through Mandy’s hand-sewn Kaylee Shindig dress right up to Dakster – our very own 501st Legion member. Although the level to which we each take our cosplay depends on our individual free time, available finances and confidence, we all love sharing photos of amazing cosplays created by others, so when I heard about 1000 Incredible Costume & Cosplay Ideas – a book part compiled by professional cosplayer Yaya Han— I was excited to have a read.

First of all, the book was not what I was expecting. I had been hoping for a book with detailed looks at some of the costumes, perhaps construction photos or information form the creators about how they put the outfits together with sources and advice on materials. Continue reading 1000 Incredible Costume & Cosplay Ideas

SuperMe Kids Bags Uncover the Hero Within

SuperME kids backpack complete with mask to keep their secret identities safe.
SuperME kids backpack complete with mask to keep their secret identities safe. Image: SuperME used with permission.

Just in time for National Superhero Day on April 28, SuperMe backpacks and messenger bags are here! It might seem like a really simple idea to put a cape on a backpack, and to make a functional bag with the entire superhero package and make a quality product for a reasonable price is a lot to ask, but SuperMe has done it. Continue reading SuperMe Kids Bags Uncover the Hero Within

Wonder Woman Day: Wonder-ful Crafts

Wonder Woman Crafts © Bake at 350/Pixel Power Designs/Being Geek Chic
Wonder Woman Crafts © Bake at 350/Pixel Power Designs/Being Geek Chic

If all today’s Wonder Woman posts are inspiring you to add a bit more Wonder Woman into your life then maybe a craft project is just what you need. Whether you’re looking for something you could create in an afternoon or a more long-term project there should be something for everyone here.

One of my hobbies is baking cookies and after spotting this spectacular Wonder Woman design over at Bake at 350 (which you should NOT visit if you are on a diet) I might just have to invest in some new cutters and have a go myself. The shape of the cookies was created by using two different cutters (a bikini top and a baby’s onesie) and some ingenuity to stick them together as one. Some bold and bright food dyes later and I’m feeling hungry… Continue reading Wonder Woman Day: Wonder-ful Crafts

The Weekly, Geekly Rewind – October 23, 2012

Image by: NASA, public domain

Science & Fun:

We’ve written before about the fantabulous joys of oobleck, but look what happens when one curious videographer puts the non-Newtonian liquid into a speaker (see video below):

Astronomers have found that Alpha Centauri, our nearest star system neighbor, has a planet! Bad Astronomer does a great job explaining how they found the planet and why this discovery is important.

Tomorrow is the last day to buy the Humble eBook Bundle. It contains 13 eBooks by big names in the geek scene, at name-your-own-price for charity.

Helene put together this absolutely adorable Timmy for her husband’s trip to Antarctica (no, seriously!). Couldn’t be cuter. Ah, geek love!

Image: Helene McLaughlin

Halloween:

Dak shares easy costumes with… t-shirts!

Kris takes a look at the spooky new interactive book Horrible Hauntings.

Marziah gives us 10 things to read instead of Twilight.

Kelly shares a plethora of pumpkin patterns (and some awesome alliteration).

Sarah lists 13 very important safety tips for Halloween. Bookmark this one and refer to it annually!

USA Today reports that Big Bird costumes are flying off the shelves this year. Why not make your own? The duck costume on our 10 Last-Minute Halloween Costumes from a Paper Bag post can easily become Big Bird with a yellow bill instead of an orange one.

NYCC:

Did you miss the GeekMoms at NYCC? Worry not! We’ve got a bunch of link love to share.

First, check our panel, “Raising Young Padawans” — We share all the apps, movies, comics, and games you’ve asked for.

Corrina shared her adventures: NYCC with the Minions — Day One, Day Two

Rebecca was simply inspired by NYCC.

The Geek Mom Book:

Our four editors’ book, Geek Mom: Projects, Tips, and Adventures for Moms and Their 21st Century Families is coming out just before Halloween. We’ve been sharing some of the scoops behind the book, among other things.

Parade.com interviews me (Natania) about the book.

Jenny talks about one of our mutual heroines, Ada Lovelace.

 

The GeekMoms Podcast #31: Is Cosplay Normal?

October is a month of cosplay and costumes with kids and adults having fun pretending to be their favorite characters. But what about adults who like to dress up and cosplay for more than just Halloween? Clinical Psychologist Andrea Letamendi joins GeekMom Nicole Wakelin to talk about cosplay. Is it healthy? Is it okay for adults to become so immersed in pretending to be someone else? Andrea also speaks to the negative stereotypes associated with the hobby from her point of view as both a Clinical Psychologist and an avid cosplayer.

Subscribe in iTunes, via RSS or direct download
Music: Rebecca Angel

The Renaissance Faire Turned My Kids Into Cosplayers

King Richard’s Faire, Image: Nicole Wakelin

The first time I took the kids to King Richard’s Faire in Carver, Massachusetts, they were completely overwhelmed. It may have had something to do with the first cosplayer they saw being a huge guy covered in animal pelts with a giant horned hat on his head. He even scared me. We waited a few years, took them back, and this time they had so much fun that they are already making plans for next year.

I tried getting them to dress-up before we left, but they thought I was crazy. At eight and ten they were convinced that wearing a costume would make them stand out rather than fit in with the crowd. Once we arrived, that idea lasted about thirty seconds. As the first performers began speaking to a very costumed audience outside the gates, my girls had a change of heart and wanted costumes more than life itself.

Continue reading The Renaissance Faire Turned My Kids Into Cosplayers

Where's Dakster? at Star Wars Celebration VI

Image: Dave Liew
Image: Dave Liew

Star Wars Celebration VI, the biggest Star Wars party in the galaxy, will be in Orlando, Florida this week and I’ve been planning and scheming for it since it was announced last year. The 501st Legion has been hard at work getting everything ready for this event and we can’t wait to show you all what we’ve done. To add to the fun, I have a special surprise for those attending…

Anyone who can find me and says “GeekMom rocks!” will receive a special GeekMom emblem patch! The patches were made specifically for Celebration VI, so you won’t find them anywhere else right now.

I’m really excited about everything happening at Celebration VI. From panels to parties, to red carpet premieres, you never know where I’ll show up next. One thing’s for sure, I’ll be there all four days and geeking out at all the Star Wars celebrities, collectibles and costumes. Did I mention that ThinkGeek has a booth this year? I’ve only ever seen them online, so you know I’ll be hitting them up like a Twi’lek at a dance off!

The patches are limited to 100 so if you want one, you better keep an eye out for me. Bonus points if you can find me in one of my 501st Legion or Rebel Legion costumes. To make it a little easier for you, I’ll be tweeting some hints on where you can find me. Make sure to follow me on Twitter (@Dak903) to stay updated.

So, if you see me and you want a patch, make sure you come up and say hi!

Travel Week: Five Places To Visit For Your Costuming Needs

Photo by Chris Bulle

We’re getting to the heat of con season, which means your costumes are probably well under way. Or you’re like me and, as usual, have way too much left to do. Either way, if you’re a costumer, you know the joy of a new fabric or craft store.

I travel pretty regularly for work, which means I don’t have a lot of down time while I’m in a city. I can see the highlights faster than a speeding bullet between a conference’s closing ceremonies and a flight back home. But I do like to look for interesting places to buy sewing supplies, and I have a few favorite, less-famous stops that I visit every time I’m in their cities. Continue reading Travel Week: Five Places To Visit For Your Costuming Needs

Awesome Geeky Costumes From Mothering.com

My daughter in her Halloween costume

I love costumes, both looking at costumes and wearing them. With Halloween just behind us, there are lots of cute kids in costumes all over the internet. But some of the best and geekiest can be found on Mothering.com.

Mothering.com is running a costume contest where you can post a picture of your kids in their Halloween finery. You can win different prizes if your picture gets enough votes. Apparently there are some geeky moms and kids on Mothering.com from the looks of some of the costumes that have been entered into the contest.

My favorite is the two little Ewoks walking around what looked to be Endor. But there are other geeky costumes like baby Princess Leia, Lego figures, Supergirl and more.

You can go to Mothering.com to check out the costumes and even enter the contest, which goes until November 7th.

Teh Interwebs Invades Halloween and My Home!

My 13 year old, Michael, poses for his profile picture in the Facebook costume I made for him to wear to school.

Internet memes and social media websites have become so popular that people take to dressing up like them for Halloween. Having a teenager and an almost-teenager in my household, it probably comes as no surprise that my oldest son dressed up as Facebook for school yesterday, and my youngest dressed up as Nyan Cat. When I told a friend of mine that I was making their costumes from scratch, she thought it was clever and original, so I offered to make a Twitter costume for her thirteen-year-old son, who attends the same middle school as my boys.

Jack loved his Twitter costume! Image courtesy of Jinny Henson, his mom.

I thought I would just find some graphics on the internet and print them out, then glue them to foam board. Then I remembered that I am a graphic artist and a very nit-picky perfectionist one at that. I opened up a few new high-resolution files in Photoshop and got to work. One Friday evening in particular, my husband and sons were away for a Boy Scout camp out, and I was determined to finish the Facebook and Twitter costumes, so that I could find a place locally that would print poster-size images of them to be mounted on foam board. I stayed up until about 3 am, squinty-eyed and weary with exhaustion, but I was successful! The local Fed Ex/Kinkos store printed them both at 18 x 24 poster size, with twenty-four hour turn around time. I was ecstatic! It was time to get to work on old Nyan Cat.

Sammy as Nyan Cat. He is a pretty brave sixth grade boy, but I heard lots of kids exclaiming that this was the "best costume ever!"

 

 

 

 

I had some white cardboard lying around that I had saved from buying posters, to be framed later. Always one to upcycle, I cut one to size and hand-painted a pink PopTart, with glittery sprinkles. I copied an actual rainbow from Nyan Cat’s booty off of Google Images, enlarged it in Photoshop, and printed it out. I don’t think we ever regretted buying a laminator a few years ago; it came in handy in making Nyan Cat’s rainbow booty look extra shiny! Next was the annoying, looping music that plays in the popular YouTube video of the rainbow-y, PopTart-loving feline. Sammy’s old mp3 player came in handy, along with a cheap speaker from the dollar store. I easily found the music file for free online and added it to the player. With some duct tape and a little ingenuity, the pink PopTart plays the original theme at Sammy’s will. The finishing touch was kitty ears. I could only find black ears, and since Nyan Cat is grey, a spray paint can of primer fixed them up pretty easily.

I got a short video of Sammy, after I picked him up from school, doing his own impression of Nyan Cat. I put it to the silly music and couldn’t resist uploading it to YouTube for all to witness.

I had a lot of fun designing, crafting, and piecing together these internet-themed middle school disguises. They were definitely the only kids at their school with these costumes. I heard that one other student came to school with a book on his face and Facebook logos stuck all over it, but I don’t think there was any similarity at all. Michael told me that several of his teachers got a big kick out me personalizing his Facebook wall the way that I did, especially having him in a relationship with Betty White! I also “Photoshopped” him into a picture, fighting Chuck Norris, and implied that they were best friends, Chuck having learned all of his awesome skills from my son. Michael and his friend Jack did ask for specific personalities on their walls, but I don’t think they realized that I would have as much fun with them that I did; Jack wanted Rainn Wilson to be one of his Twitter followers, but I also had Dwight Schrute following him as well.

I could say that I did it for the kiddos, but really, I still get excited for Halloween. I have two costumes that I plan on wearing this year myself: Wonder Woman, my childhood heroine, and Flo, from the Progressive commercials. I just have to decide which one I am going to wear to which Halloween function. Decisions, decisions…

Costume Ideas From the Smithsonian

Maybe my daughter would have been less grumpy if we had dressed her in one of the Smithsonian inspired costumes for her first Halloween (Image: Mandy Horetski)

Even though I’m not dressing up this year for Halloween, I don’t usually lack from costume ideas. I have a closet full of costumes including my Kaylee Layer Cake dress, a TOS Star Trek shirt and even a Ren Faire dress. But some people might not be as lucky as I am to have a great number of costumes already in their homes.

In anticipation of Halloween, Smithsonian Magazine has put out a list of costumes you could choose based on some of the most famous exhibits that have been on display at the Smithsonian Institution. You could pick to be an early human, Annie Oakley or even Dracula!

So if you are still searching for a great costume idea to wow at Halloween parties or even while you take your kids out trick or treating, you can view the whole list at the Smithsonian Magazine website.

The GeekMoms Podcast #7: Halloween, Comics and Kids, GeekMom Book

This time Nicole is joined by Corrina Lawson, GeekMom editor, and Amy Kraft, GeekMom core contributor, to talk about the fun of making unique Halloween costumes and our personal strategies for snagging the best treats.  They also discuss the DC reboot and how the portrayal of superheroes is important for our kids.  Lastly, big book announcements for the site and for Corrina. Questions? Thoughts? Suggestions? Email us podcast@geekmom.com

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Nicole Wakelin: TotalFanGirl and Twitter
Corrina Lawson: Website and Twitter, Phoenix Rising for Kindleor Other Formats
Amy Kraft: MediaMacaroni and Twitter
Theme Music: Rebecca Angel

Costumed Out

My little witch with her daddy (Image: Mandy Horetski)

I love costumes and usually I take any excuse that I can to wear a costume, including Halloween. But as this Halloween approaches, I’m finding myself reluctant to don a costume. I’m going to be taking my daughter trick-or-treating with my best friend and her daughter this year. When my best friend said she wasn’t going to wear a costume, I decided that I wasn’t going to either for the first time in years.

I think I’m costumed out because I’ve worn the same costume for every convention I went to this year, except one. That one was a Star Trek convention and the Kaylee Layer Cake dress from Firefly wouldn’t have fit at all. I love wearing the Layer Cake dress but it’s starting to wear out and fall apart.

I hand-sewed the dress and I honestly made some mistakes with it. So, now I’m faced with having to re-make it and that just seems really daunting to me. Plus my husband volunteered me to make our toddler a Layer Cake dress too, so she can march in the Dragon*Con parade with me next year. I think a mini-me dress is going to be even harder than the one I made for me. Either way, I probably won’t start either until next year.

So, I still love costumes but I’m a bit relieved to just be a regular mom taking her child out trick-or-treating this Halloween. My daughter is going to be a witch and she is really looking forward to Halloween. For now, I’ll be taking a break from cosplaying until next year’s convention season starts up.

Zombie Race for Charity & Lots of Laughs!

 

Chef Zombie, me as Homecoming Queen Zombie, Doug & daughter Maddie as a zombie family.

A few days ago, I had the distinct privilege of competing in the only race I have ever been in, not counting elementary school field days. Every year, my town of Shreveport, Louisiana has two different charity events: Run with the Nuns, a motorcycle rally that benefits children’s health programs in our community, and the Shreveport Zombie Walk, which benefits our local food bank, and I also coordinate.

While working on planning the zombie walk, Liz Swaine, the head of the Shreveport Downtown Development Authority, was immensely helpful. She is the reason our zombie walk was downtown this year instead of at a local mall, and it was much more successful, as I wrote in a previous post for GeekMom. Liz had a wonderful idea; she wanted to have a zombie race at opening night of Run with the Nuns. Spectators would bet on which zombie they hoped would make it to the finish line first, and all of the proceeds go to charity. Liz just needed me to help round up some zombies. How could I resist?

Parcel Peggy takes a break before the race, so she will be in tip-top shape.

Several of my dedicated volunteers at the annual zombie walk stepped up. One couldn’t make it due to illness, so she sent her daughter and friend in her place. Another gentleman, Doug, who is always a wonderful costume judge at the walk, brought his young daughter, to be a family zombie team for charity. My most helpful volunteer at the walk this year, Peggy, donned her scariest make-up and black contacts and showed up as a very creative “Parcel Peggy.” Super dedicated and generous zombie fan Buzz came as the original block head, “Charlie Brown Zombie.” My good friend Keith, box office manager of our downtown indie theater, the Robinson Film Center, took a break from work and stepped out onto the closed-off street in his Shreveport Zombie Walk-iconic “Zombie Chef” costume to join in the fun. I went as “Homecoming Queen Zombie,” knowing that a zombified version is the only way I would ever be crowned as such.

Charlie bit Snoopy, then Snoopy ate Woodstock. What a blockhead!

We wandered the crowd, talked with Liz, and drew straws to decide who would actually win the race. We acted out in clever ways to make the crowd laugh; from stretching our aching, decomposing bones at the start line, to walking around aimlessly, trying to nibble on each other. Spectators started placing bets. Chef Zombie was the most popular; in my opinion, Keith must have a “fast” look to him, because when the race started, he was great at going the wrong way and those who bet on him were going crazy!

Liz announced all of us zombies; we all came with a back story as to how we died and became zombified. The crowd listened and placed more bets. The prize for picking the winning zombie? A $100 gift card to a grocery store, good mostly for the butcher department, Liz told the crowd. The finish line was established. Our goal was a nun, Sister Sharon, who was standing at the end. The first zombie to make it to her would get some tasty nun flesh as a reward. I find it immensely refreshing that the Sisters were so fun; they loved our make-up and chatted with us before the race. I will say it here, and I have said it before: Creative, fun & different ways to raise money or goods for charity are the way to go. This zombie race was a wonderful idea.

Zombies were told to make the race last; drag it out, make it funny and engaging, make the finish be a nail-biter. We took the challenge and I think we all did wonderful! We had a blast and the crowd seemed to love it. One of the teen zombie’s dad was nice enough to use my camera to get video of the entire race for me. Here it is, in it’s fake blood-filled hilarity. This may be the funniest five minutes you will watch today. (Note: it is dark at the beginning of the video, but it does lighten up.)

Take Back Halloween: Your Costume Name Doesn’t Have To Feature The Word “Sexy”

Last week I was browsing one of those pop-up Halloween stores in what was probably an abandoned Borders with a friend who apparently hasn’t tried to purchase a Halloween costume in some time. Our conversation mirrored the scene in a Duane Reade in the Sex and the City movie:

Miranda: The only two choices for women: witch and sexy kitten.
Carrie : You just said a mouthful there, sister.

It gets worse every year, and the sizes of the Sexy Fill-In-The-Blank costumes are drifting down into the sizes for girls of an age that should never be described as sexy. Although I always make my kids’ costumes, we do like to wander the Halloween stores for inspiration. My son was faced with massive walls of choices: gobs of superhoes, movie heroes and villains, cartoon characters, and more. All my daughter wanted was to see what they offered in Star Wars costumes for girls. The answer? Not one. And not due to lack of selection. Here’s a portion of the wall of Star Wars costumes:

Wall of Star Wars costumes. Not one girl. Photo credit: Ruth Suehle

If you’re an adult woman, it’s worse. In the aforementioned trip with a friend to a different Halloween store, I had a hard time finding any costume for a woman that wasn’t a sexed-up version of the character. If you actually want to look like a character, you can forget it.

But there are two solutions. One, if sexy kitten/policewoman/fairy is your thing, then go right ahead. I decided to be She-Ra this year for our 80s-themed party. She-Ra happens to wear a strapless white dress and knee-high gold boots. Of course, it turns out that even She-Ra can be sexed up–when searching for images to base my pattern on, I kept coming across one that mainly consisted of fishnets, a garter belt, and a bustier.

Plan B: Take Back Halloween. The site’s mission:

We love Halloween. We really love Halloween. We think it’s cool that there’s one day a year when people can dress up as anything they want. What we don’t think is cool is that increasingly women are only supposed to dress up as one thing: “Sexy _____” (fill in the blank).

And their advice:

  • Celebrate your heritage. North America is full of people from every single part of the world. But no matter where we’re from, we all have amazing queens, heroines, and goddesses in our cultural backgrounds.
  • Channel the goddess. It’s a great way to explore the female divine—or just wear an awesome costume. (Use care if you’re stepping outside your own heritage.)
  • Be Queen for a Day. To heck with princesses. Be a queen.
  • Honor your personal heroine. Who inspires you? Who fascinates you?
  • Try on some red carpet glamour. Dressing to the nines is fun. When else do you get to wear elbow length gloves and feather boas? Unless you’re a movie star in real life, Halloween is your chance.

My plan for She-Ra was to have a Dragon*Con costume already ready next year that didn’t involve underwear from another century and ten layers of fabric in the Atlanta heat. But I love the idea of choosing historic figures–particularly a gigantic queen gown. And who doesn’t love a good feather boa?

My kids, for what it’s worth, teamed up and chose Mario and Princess Peach. Regular Princess Peach, in a gown so puffy, it took five yards of fabric to make in the four-year-old size.