Anime Blues Con 9 Cosplay

Rooster from Juuni Taisen

Whenever someone asks me what I love about Memphis, TN, I always say it’s the great geek scene. I try to make it to as many as the fandom conventions as I can every year. I attended my third Anime Blues Con (ABC) after being away for the last two summers. It is one of my favorites out of the Memphis area’s convention scene.

What is your favorite part of your costume?

@Ghostycraftercosplay as Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon 3 said “Definitely the leg. I got to learn how to do forge work from my dad. It’s a skill that’s been in my family for generations. So, it was cool to learn it and put my own spin on it.”

Not pictured: The prosthetic is an illusion. The cosplayer has her foot kicked behind the prosthetic!

Steam Rocket Cosplay as Ur Stone from Dark Crystal

Steam Rocket Cosplay put 600 hours into her costume which took best in show at A-Kon in 2010. She said her favorite part of her costume is “The reactions it receives and the smiles on kids’ faces.”

What was an interesting challenge you faced with your cosplay?
@lasercut_cosplay as Big Boss from Metal Gear Solid Five

@Jade_sneed2016 as Shalltear from Overlord

Some cosplayers from the gallery above:

Unicorn and Rainbows Birthday Party (with free printable)

When I was a child, my birthday was the best holiday of the year. I loved having something to plan for, especially when I got to do all the choosing. I loved my birthday so much, that I talked at my mom about it for most of the year. After my birthday was over in September, my mom had about five months of peace until Valentines Day. As soon as Valentines Day was over (I liked planning our Valentines Day party), my birthday was “coming up” in September and I was “almost” nine.

I mostly grew out of my birthday obsession habit. I am an adult now and I have more important things to focus on during the year than my next birthday party. I grew up so much that I only get excited about my birthday ONE MONTH in advance! I don’t think I can get any better than that.

On Pinterest, I found a recipe for unicorn poop. Looking up unicorns on Pinterest, you will be accosted with all forms of unicorn bodily functions. The internet is filled with unicorn poo, farts, and barf… But, do not fear, only good things can come from a unicorn. This is why unicorns fart rainbows and poop cookies.

Continue reading Unicorn and Rainbows Birthday Party (with free printable)

A Critical Look at Cosplay of Plant, Animal, and Mineral

Have you ever played twenty questions? When you are ‘it’, before you begin answering questions, you must choose a category which you secret word belongs in: plant, animal, or mineral. I will use this language to explain abstract cosplay.

In biology class, a plant in any living thing that has square shaped plant cells. It is any living thing that is not an animal, like a tree or a salad. An animal is any living thing that has round animal cells. Animals include bacteria, bears, and humans. A mineral is not a living thing. In the game twenty questions, mineral is the word for everything else like the moon or a tea pot.

Now that we have that out of the way, I feel the need to get something else out of the way. This article is full of my opinions on cosplay as strong and weak art. I am going to critique and criticize things that a lot of people like to do. But, I am not some meanie who has a problem with people doing things that I consider aesthetically weak. Cosplay is for fun and cosplay is for everyone, who approach things differently from each other. The conceptual artist in me, though, has a lot of opinions about cosplay as an art form.

According to an expressive drawing class I took, abstraction is when something is changed from its original form to look new. Things become larger, smaller, more left, right, and blue than they originally were. Cosplay becomes abstracted when the artist expresses a character who is shaped profoundly different from the his or her body. This usually happens when an artist cosplays a mineral, plant, or non-humanoid animal. For now on, I am using the word ‘animal’ to describe something not humanoid, and including imaginary creatures like Pokémon.

When cosplaying something non-humanoid, abstractions have to happen in order to make the costume wearable. Togepi is an egg-shaped Pokemon who is shaped very differently from the human form.

The cosplayer has to make choices when designing their costume. The artist can dress in a way that concretely represents what they see infront of them, or may adjust the form of the costume to fit their body.

I like when some form of abstraction happened because it shows how the artist thought out of the box when designing a costume.

Alison Rushing

At most literal, you can wear a mascot costume of your Pokemon. It is an impressive feat and brings the character to life, but Togepi is not five feet tall in the show, so how about making a puppet and dressing as a Pokemon trainer?

Cubone and his trainer impressed me on several different levels when I first saw this picture. I love the concept and everything is made so well!

Then, there is the blend between the human form and form of the animal or mineral. For the sake of example, here are some different levels of abstraction with a Togepi cosplay:

Things get funny when you add inanimate objects to the mix.

In conclusion, I love the design work of abstract cosplay as much as I love character accuracy. Although I prefer abstraction when it comes to animals and minerals, cosplay is fun and a lot of people have fun playing character accurate animals and minerals. Have fun cosplaying!

My thoughts and experiences playing Magic: the Gathering on Saturday at the Prerelease: Core Set 2020

I came back from an approximately two year hiatus from playing Magic: The Gathering this week at the Greater Memphis Magic Arena, in Memphis Tennessee, when I competed in the pre-release for the core set of 2020 this weekend on July 6, 2019. I won two packs of cards!

In case you are unfamiliar with Magic: a pre-release is a card playing tournament for a set of collectible cards. The game I played is called Magic: The Gathering. Every couple of months, Wizards of the Coast (the company who produces Magic) releases new cards and they become tournament legal as older cards go out of fashion. To learn about the new cards, competitors play a tournament by building a deck with packs of randomly assorted cards (this style is called “Sealed draft”) on the weekend the product is released. It is like an exclusive sneak peek at the cards before the Standard (pre-built decks) tournaments commence.

The “Arena” is Lee’s and my go-to place for our gaming outside of church (That will be another post; we go to a church by gamers for gamers.) We play Magic and our role playing game, Deadlands, here. The Arena has a great community and really cool staff. Lee worked at this tournament behind the counter selling snacks and sorting cards while I played. This job is the kind of thing you just have to be lucky enough to be asked to do by the store owners. There is no application.

Opening and sorting cards for store inventory. Dan left, Lee right

I hadn’t played Magic at a trading card shop in about two years aside from the occasional match here and there. Last week, I opened an account with Magic: The Gathering Arena, an online PC version of the game where you can play against other people or a computer. (The namesake for this edition of the game is coincidently similar to the Greater Memphis Magic Arena.) Like my opponent Devin, from my second match, said, the online game is better for walking a you through all the triggers whilst the analog card game requires one to keep up with all the triggers (events that get triggered as you make other moves, such as “gain a life point if…”). You lose the effects of your triggers if you forget.

I love playing Magic for a lot of reasons. Winning isn’t one of them. Although it feels good to win, it seldom happens to me. So, I lose a lot. But, I get something out of seeing how my and my opponent’s cards work against each other. I celebrate small victories such as a deck working smoothly even though I ran four colors, or getting my favorite card on the battlefield and doing something cool with it.

My absolute favorite thing about playing Magic is the social scene it provides. Because I am used to losing, as the tournament progresses I fall back into the more laid back side of things and get matched with players closer to my skill level, or advanced players who are out of luck. I have met some really cool people through Magic and a lot of the players are pleasant and supportive. I find a lot of people are helpful and give advice after matches. (Some advice is unsolicited, and some appreciated. Take the experience with a grain of salt.)

My first match was against Miguel. He works as a bartender. I was impressed with myself because I got out enough land in every color. I played red, green, blue and black, so that is quite a rainbow of card types tp support. I didn’t do much for half of the game though because my mana was coming slow, but the game picked up and I had enough. My deck felt cohesive and I even had a minor life gain and loss combo with Epicure of Blood and other cards with lifelink. I lost in two games, but had a thoroughly good time.

My faves.

My second match was against Devin. He is a store manager at an oil change place. He recently started playing Magic at the Arena after learning the game through the Xbox. I had some mana problems where I needed just more black to get certain creatures out from my hand. My battlefield didn’t build much leverage because I kept letting my creatures die when I blocked Devin’s attacks. He won in two games.

For the third match I got “the Bye.” This means there was an odd number of players, so someone had to be matched with no one. I won on a technicality. It was a nice break to rest my mind and bother Lee and Dan.

My fourth and final match of the night was with Mary. I was really happy to be matched with her because I don’t get to play with women nearly as often as I do with men. Mary is a psychology student whose goal is to earn a PhD.

This time, I won in two! I won two packs of cards between this match and the Bye.

Some cards I particularly enjoyed playing are:

My deck list looks like this:

One Word Inspiration: Choice

This is a choose your own adventure story. What happens next is your choice.

Alison has a recurring dream of driving in unsafe situations. In the dreaming, Alison does not know how to use a blinker; she reaches for the wheel and pedals while her bum sits in the passenger seat. Alison wakes up feeling like she has no choice but to never drive.

One Word Inspiration: Choice

You have a choice:

Alison reads the driver manual. Scroll to paragraph (a).

Alison rationalizes that because she is disabled she must never drive. Scroll to paragraph (b).

(a) Alison looks up the Tennessee State driver manual online and studies for the next week. Alison now deems herself ready for the written test in order to earn her learner’s permit. Scroll to paragraph (c).

(b) Alison is diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. As an effect of Asperger’s syndrome, Alison has trouble processing large amounts of sensory information in a short amount of time. Alison does not notice half of the things her husband, Lee, sees while he drives and she is the passenger. This is why Alison has little faith in her ability to make well informed decisions on the road.

Alison’s lack of faith in her ability to drive safely is upsetting to her. She believes that because she has Asperger’s, she truly is disabled from driving a car. But, Alison has places to go; she is a full time student and a part time retail employee.

It is Friday morning and Alison has to go to work. Lee is working and Alison has to get to the mall by herself. You have a decision to make:
Alison takes the city bus to work. Scroll to paragraph (d).
Alison takes Uber to work. Scroll to paragraph (e).

(c) Alison takes and passes the written portion of the driving test. Now she has a learner’s permit. It is time for her to learn to drive.
On a day off, Alison takes the wheel with her husband and now teacher in the passenger seat. They a parked in an empty parking lot to what once was a thriving mall.

“You should be able to handle this much better than Susie,” said Lee. Susie the Subaru had been their SUV. Now they had a smaller sedan type car. “You just press the button to turn it on. You don’t even have to put the keys in the ignition.”

Alison pressed the button and watched many lights turn on the dash and radio area. Lee showed Alison how to operate the windshield wipers, defroster, and blinker. Lee may have shown Alison other important details, but this story is written by a woman who does not know how to drive. So, please suspend disbelief and operate on the notion that Lee is a fine driving instructor and Alison learned many things.

“Put the gear in drive. See, it is the one with the D” Lee instructed Alison. Alison clicked the gear shift until it lined up with the D. “Now, put your foot on the gas pedal and drive forward. With unused parking spaces lined up on either side of them, a runway of parking lot stretched out safely in front of Alison. No traffic threatened her or Lee’s lives. Alison slowly pushed on the gas pedal with her foot. The car hummed. Alison increased the force of her foot ever so slightly. They inched forward. She pressed a little more. One mile per hour read the odometer. Two miles per hour, three four five miles per hour. Alison and Lee rolled forward along the parking lot.

“You can go faster.” said Lee.

You are God. You get to decide how this goes. If Alison drives forward, scroll to paragraph (f). If Alison wigs out, scroll to paragraph (h).

(d) Alison works at her local mall on the other side of town. Usually her husband drives her to work, but when he is working Alison is on her own. Alison has a direct bus route to the mall near her home and she can walk to the bus stop easily.

But, taking the bus is challenging. Public transportation involves a lot of walking and waiting outside. This becomes exhausting, especially when Alison misses a bus or feels compelled to leave too early in order to not miss her bus.

Being bound to public transportation limits Alison’s freedom. The bus routes are limited and some don’t run on the weekend, causing Alison to spend more money than she would like taking Uber to work on Saturdays. Traveling across town can take several hours. What does Alison do?
Continue taking the bus to work. Scroll to paragraph (g)
Expand her freedom and learn to drive.

(e) Alison called an Uber to pick her up for work. It is peak time for Ubers on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. Alison’s closing shift starts at 1:00 p.m. Alison already feels like she is running late one hour before her shift; that’s just her personality. The popularity in Uber caused the price to spike to $20 for a one-way trip to work. That is a lot of money for Alison. She books the ride anyway with little choice left.

Fifteen minutes later, with forty five minutes to her shift, a red SUV rolls up matching the description and license number. Sherri is her driver. Sherri looks like the woman in Uber’s profile. Sherri and Alison have a pleasant conversation about how nice the weather is in San Diego compared to Memphis (they don’t even salt their roads!). Fifteen minutes later, Alison arrives at the mall. She is not at her store yet. Alison has thirty minutes to get a coffee, to her store, and sip on her coffee while it is still hot. Alison is peculiar and likes to arrive to her place of work an hour early to sip coffee and get her head in the right space. Now she only has thirty minutes. She would have had forty five if she could hop in her own car and drive herself. Alison is cantankerous and $20 poorer. She really shouldn’t be buying coffee at this point either. Now Alison is stressed. What does she do?

Choose wisely.

Alison learns how to drive. Scroll up to paragraph (c).

Alison continues to take Uber to work. This is very expensive.

(f) Alison is nervous, but functioning. Lee teaches her how to make a left hand turn. Eventually she is driving on roads and merging into different lanes and even driving on the freeway. Alison has independence. She can do things for Lee, like pick up groceries without making him go too. Alison can go to work and now worry about buying gas instead of taxi fares. Unfortunately, I can’t go into great detail about how this happened because it hasn’t really happened yet. But, the big idea is that it will.
Like this? Go to paragraph (i).

(g) The bus can be challenging. For instance, there are weird people on the bus, like the gothic dude in a long black trench coat whose therapist told him he needed to make more friends, so he tried to introduce himself shake Alison’s hand and find out what they had in common. Alison gets that people have problems and some are unique, but making friends on the city bus with no context was too much for her and she played it off like she was a germaphobe (totally not) and would not shake the weird man’s hand. There was also the time a man asked to buy her while she waited alone at a bus stop. Graphic much? Thematic? All true, but it really happened.
Alison has to make the decision to keep riding the bus (bounce back to g in an infinite loop until you decide to go to paragraph (c)) or learn to drive at paragraph (c).

(h) Alison is driving five miles per hour and feels like she is speeding. She can barely move left or right, unless she compensate and make a sharp turn. So she speeds forward at all of five miles an hour toward a brick wall at the side of the parking lot. Alison is totally wigging out now stop-going between the brakes and the pedal. It is not going well for Alison and she feels like she will never get past this level of driving.

Go to paragraph (j) if Alison persists and enrolls in driving lessons for adults with anxiety.

Alison gives up, scroll up to paragraph (b)

(i) Alison is driving along side Shelby Farms one day. There is a lot of traffic and people are pulling all the way up, just to merge at the last minute. This is creating a traffic jam and slowing everyone down in the long run. A car tries to pull in front of Alison. Alison is not having it and doesn’t let the lady in front of her. The lady ends up right behind Alison, and is giving her angry gestures with her fingers. Alison feels intimidated. Alison drives through the intersection and turns left toward Shelby farms. There is a long stretch of road ahead of Alison. The woman is on her tail no matter how fast she goes to get away from the crazy lady. They are both speeding down the road. Finally Alison realizes she has to slow down to turn safely at the end of the road. This is dangerous. Alison has an angry stranger following her and she is alone. The minute she slows down she feels a hard smack. Alison’s head hits the back of her chair. She wants to get out of the car and inspect the damage, but then she would have to deal with the intimidating angry lady. Alison calls the police from inside her car. She explains what happened and where they are. After waiting for what felt like an hour, the police come.

After the whole experience and being lectured by the police for speeding, Alison is completely rattled. Lee and his mom came to the scene and Lee drives Alison home. Alison wonders, what if the lady who chased her was any crazier than she already was? What if that bitch pulled a gun on Alison? Would this be the end of the story?

(j) First, Alison reads the Tennessee state driver manual. Then, Alison takes the written portion of the driving test and earns a learner’s permit. It is time for Alison to enroll in driving school. She opts to not have a family member or friend teach her to drive because this is a sensitive operation and she needs the best of instructors: one who can help adults with anxiety. It feels miraculous when Alison comes out of the ordeal with a license to drive. This has never happened before and I can’t really write what I don’t know. Let’s just say Alison can achieve a lot more in life. We don’t know if she likes driving or if she drives well.