Monday, April 15, 2019

More Cosplaying on a Budget

Three years ago I did a post for cosplaying on a budget. This year, since my wife and I are saving our money for Disney World in June (#priorities), we don't have the money to spend on a new costume, so I've had to refresh my mind of how to make awesome cosplays with little/no money. And with FanX this week, I figured I'd share my thoughts.

Bright/Accurate Colors -- Getting the colors right is a big deal. I needed the right shade of red for my Mario costume (it had to match the hat) and the right color hat for Russell. This is especially true for bright colors. Dull colors like Wreck-It Ralph’s overalls weren’t a big deal for me, but having the wrong shade of red for Mario will affect whether people will recognize me or not.

Accessories/Props -- Props and accessories can make or break the costume. Even if the rest of my costume is pretty bland, if I have my Captain America shield, people can assume I’m some variation of Cap. Same thing with Perry the Platypus; even if I don’t have my hair dyed, if I have the right red shirt and Perry the Platypus, you can tell I’m supposed to be Phineas.

Use What You Have -- Some of my favorite cosplays have come straight out of my closet. My Wreck-It Ralph cosplay was 100% used materials. I had the overalls from my Mario costume and I had the shirts I needed in my closet. That costume took maybe 10 minutes prep time. Especially taking into account the above tips (colors and props) this can make cosplay nearly free.

Keep it Simple and Build Up -- Not every costume has to be elaborate. Start with what you have. A t-shirt from that outfit, a prop from Disney Store on sale, and an item from an old costume. Sometimes cosplays can start out a little bit bare-bones, but bringing them together over time can be just as rewarding as a fancy costume all put together

Any other tips you’d give for someone starting out with cosplay? What’s worked for you when you’ve been on a budget?

Monday, April 8, 2019

Unpopular Opinions: Harry Potter

Not to get political, but like most geeks I have some very strong opinions on some of my favorite fandoms. This problem would have never happened 30 years ago, but now with the internet and social media, it happens all the time. Everyone has an opinion nowadays and some of them are basically geek blasphemy.

Snape's Obsession with Lily
The first one I want to address is probably my biggest Harry Potter pet peeve. From “Always” to the doe patronus, I have issues with Snape’s obsession with Lily Evans Potter. I have no doubt that he loved her and that his childhood crush was beautiful. However, when he picked between the Death Eaters and the girl he liked. He made his choice. Later when she married James, he still carried a torch for her. Not going to assume it’d be easy for him to get over her, but he stayed in love with her for 20ish years after the fact. Sorry, but if I found out that a childhood friend of my wife was in love with her 20 years out of high school, I’d find it creepy.

Bonnie Wright wasn't a bad Ginny
I didn’t even know it until after the Harry Potter movie series was completed, but apparently there’s some hate on Bonnie Wright as Ginny. I had absolutely no problem with her as Ginny. If anything, I have problems with how she was written. I feel like Ginny had a much bigger role in the books. She was a side character in the first four books, but she was present and she had a purpose. And then with the DA in “Order of the Phoenix” and dating Harry in “Half-Blood Prince”, she was meant to have a bigger role. Instead she was shown as just another DA member until the attack on the Ministry and she was basically invisible to Harry until they started making out.

“The Cursed Child” is basically Fan Fiction
I know JK Rowling technically signed off on this play, but I take issue with it still. To be fair, I haven’t read it or seen it. To also be fair, nothing I’ve read makes me want to read or see it. Apart from the fact that it wasn’t actually done (or commissioned) by JK Rowling, the type of time travel it exhibits is in direct contradiction to what JK Rowling establishes with the Time Turner in “Prisoner of Azkaban”. That’s my big issue. Time travel (wibbly wobbly timey wimey)

Mixed-Houses are NOT a Thing
I don’t know where “Gryffinpuff” and “Slytherclaw” originated, but I have a strong distaste for them. I think they grew out of hatstalls like Harry and Hermione. However, even those difficult cases were still eventually sorted by the Sorting Hat. Let me be clear: Hogwarts has FOUR houses. A student may have traits that overlap with different houses, but the actual house they belong to is ONE SINGLE HOUSE: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin. There is no Divergent house in Hogwarts.

Time Turner COULD NOT Save the Dead
How many memes take a poke at the fact that the Time Turner was used to “save” Buckbeak and Sirius, but not Harry’s parents? They bug me to no end. If you pay attention to what’s going on in “The Prisoner of Azkaban”, you can see that they’re not changing history, they’re creating it. This goes back to my big problem with “The Cursed Child”. This is book canon, but it’s more explicitly shown in the movie. If Harry and Hermione were changing history by using the Time Turner, then no one would have cast the patronus the first time around. It’s a closed loop. End of story.

Any issues you have with the Harry Potter fandom/universe? Any unpopular confessions bursting to come out?

I’m also working on some more sorting posts. Any fandoms you want sorted?

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Sorting Power Rangers into Hogwarts Houses

(Guest Post by David B)

Power Rangers, probably among some of the most well known super heros of all time, have been around for near 30 years. I remember rushing home from school praying the bus would drive a little bit faster so I could run in and turn on the T.V. so I could see how the Rangers would once again thwart Rita Repulsa, Lord Zed, and all their monsters! With the release of the reboot just 2 years ago brought back memories I cherish! While watching with my children the other day, something Rita mentions got me to thinking: How would the Power Rangers be sorted into Hogwarts Houses? Please note that this sorting is pure opinion and that I am sorting the Rangers of the reboot.

Zack Taylor: Ravenclaw
Somewhat of the class clown of the Rangers team, Zack frequently has smart remarks and quick wit to relieve tense moments. He takes care of his mom as best as he knows how, leaning on what he's learned to get through each day.

Kimberly Hart: Slytherin
Kim shows us that she can be kiniving and underhanded, typical traits of many well known Slytherins, in her actions toward her former fellow cheerleader and also with Trini, if only briefly, before discovering the comand center. However, she learns to value friendship and humble herself in the end for the betterment of the team so that they can all meet their potential.

Billy Cranston: Hufflepuff
Fellow Hufflepuff Billy is actually sorted by Rita, herself! She comments on his loyalty while interrogating him on the location of the Zeo Crystal. Telling her does not show weakness, but rather his faith in his team. He proves his loyalty and saves their lives, even at the cost of his own, knowing that even if it makes things more difficult, they will overcome together what they can't do alone.

Trini Kwan: Ravenclaw
Sharing a house with Zack, Trini was slightly harder to sort. She doesn't say much but what she does say is thought out and profound. She shows wisdom beyond her years and sound intelligence in her developement.

Jason Scott: Gryffindor/Slytherin
Jason was the hardest to sort of all of them. He shows ambition through his rise to leadership. His bravery shines through as he takes necessary and calculated risks to do what is important. So, much like Harry Potter, I guess it will have to come down to where Jason asks the sorting hat to put him!

Do you agree with my sorting? What other traits do you see within each Ranger and where would you sort them?

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Heroes of Slytherin

A few months ago (after "Crimes of Grindewald") I did a post about the Heroes of Hufflepuff. As a proud Puff, we get disregarded by many fans (one of the reasons I love the "Fantastic Beasts" series). In that spirit of disproving stereotypes, I wanted to mention a few Slytherin heroes. Not all Slytherins are angry jerks or selfish villains. Selfishness isn't even a defining trait of Slytherin. Instead, their defining traits include ambition, resourcefulness, and cunning.

So here's to our cunning, resourceful snake friends.

Severus Snape
I have my opinions about Snape and the spotlight he gets among fans (I'll save that rant for later), but I would definitely consider him a hero. After losing the girl he loved, he secretly kept her son safe for almost 18 years. I can't exactly say that his motives for joining the Order or fighting against Voldemort were great, but he still made the choice to fight evil, even to the point of dying for it.

Regulus Black
We never actually saw Regulus in person, book or movie, but you could say he was instrumental in the downfall of Lord Voldemort. He found Slytherin's locket long before Dumbledore and Harry searched for it. Despite being a Death Eater, he tried to turn his life around and defeat Voldemort, dying in the attempt. I suppose Harry would have found the locket regardless of his efforts, but it doesn't make Regulus even less of a hero.

Horace Slughorn
He was hesitant to reveal his past with Tom Riddle, because of his shame. However, when it came down to it, he was loyal to Dumbledore and Hogwarts. Despite his pride and his Slug Club, what he cared about was his students. Unlike other Slytherins, he respected Muggle borns and Muggles. And after Voldemort attacked Hogwarts, he fought to defend the school from his former student.

Narcissa Malfoy
By no means is she a traditional hero, but in the end she put her family's safety above any other loyalties. While her family (including her husband, son, and sister) were close followers of Voldemort, her heart was with her family. When it came down to her sons safety or revealing Harry's survival, she chose to prioritize her motherhood and do what was needed to get into Hogwarts to rescue her son.

Leta Lestrange
She was the outcast among her peers, eventually leading her to relate to Newt Scamander and become his friend. Despite having many relatives that would follow Voldemort decades later, she sacrificed herself against another powerful evil wizard. Because of her sacrifice, Newt, Tina, and many others survived Grindewald's speech at the Lestrange Mausoleum. Perhaps she did it because of her inner pain and turmoil, but she still saved many lives by her sacrifice.

Any other Slytherin heroes that come to your mind? What stands out to you about these Slytherins?

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Spoiler-Free Captain Marvel Review

As always, I’ll try to keep my review spoiler-free. If you’re super sensitive to spoilers, hang up now and just go buy your ticket. And stick around for BOTH credits scenes.

Overall I loved Captain Marvel. To be fair, it takes a lot for me to hate their movies. And it takes even more for me to say they’re bad. For a stand-alone movie, it was good. Avid MCU fans with enjoy it even more.

I struggled with the opening scenes. I couldn’t tell if I was being thrown into the middle of things on purpose or if Marvel was expecting me to know more about the Kree from the comics. It’s one of those scenes that I’m sure I’ll enjoy more the second time around. If a similar scene had taken place on earth, I’d have been ok. But an alien world was kind of hard to adjust to.

I enjoyed the appearances of established MCU characters. After 5 seasons of Agents of SHIELD, I liked seeing Coulson back in the movie universe. I couldn’t get over his 90s hair. I wish he’d have been more prominent in the movie. But then again, this is the 90s. He’d probably barely joined SHIELD.

Speaking of SHIELD, I liked 1990s Fury. I kept waiting for them to explain how he lost his eye. Regardless of his eyesight, I liked this version of Fury. He was very different from how he’s appeared since his first appearance in Iron Man. Then again, that’s 10+ years of SHIELD stuff in between.

I’m excited to see how Captain Marvel plays into “Endgame”. I think I’ve heard she’s connected to the Quantum Realm in the comic. So maybe she’s connected to Ant-Man, since that’s where we last left him.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Dementors and Self-Doubt

“Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them... Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you.”
—Remus Lupin (“The Prisoner of Azkaban”)

Depression. Self-doubt. Self-hate. Dementors.

I don’t have a citation for it (if you know it, please put it in the comments), but it’s reported that JK Rowling based the dementors off her battle with depression. An apt comparison if nothing else.

I was talking with someone about self-esteem recently. He made the interesting point about self-esteem not being all-or-nothing. He talked about having self-esteem in some aspects and self-doubt in others.

What if I could focus my thoughts on the the self-esteem I have, instead of the self-doubt? When the dementors and self-doubt overwhelm my soul and cloud out the self-esteem, what if I could focus on the happy memories?

Very likely, my good memories and my self-esteem outnumber the world’s darkness, but what’s in my focus?

Focus on that Patronus memory. Your happiest memory. For me, it’s my wedding. My wife, my family, and my best friends. All that love surrounding me. How can the dementors get me if I’m surrounded by those memories?


Friday, December 14, 2018

5 Favorite Easter Eggs from Wreck-It Ralph 2

So I finally got around to seeing Wreck-It Ralph 2. I was a big fan of the original and I was not disappointed in the sequel. The characters' progression felt natural and the conflict wasn't what I expected (I expected Yesss to try to keep Ralph around for her own benefit). But this isn't a review. I just wanted to comment on some fun Easter Eggs that I liked.

Young Moana as "Mo"
In a "mid-credits" scene (because Marvel has conditioned me to not leave before credits are over), we get a familiar face driving home from the movie. If you're paying attention, her name is Mo and she looked exactly like young Moana. This one made me giggle.

Casual Disney Princesses
I mean, I could say a lot about the Disney Princesses appearing and their wardrobe and green room, but let's just appreciate for a moment on their casual outfits. I could go off on this, but just a few notes (just to keep it simple). Snow's shirt says "poison", Ariel's got a list of "thingamobobs", Elsa' shirt says to "just let it go", Moana has a #shiny and there are even more than I can't pull from memory.

Stan Lee Cameo
After the recent passing of Stan Lee, I don't think any of us were planning to see a cameo of him anytime soon, but we had a silent appearance as Vanelope and Ralph run through the web. His user ID character was seeing visiting "Oh My Disney". His appearance may have only been because of Marvel's deal with Disney, but I think it was fun, fitting addition to his legacy.

Merida, from the "other studio"
They actually did a pretty good job giving all the Disney Princesses decent talking time. One big exception is Merida. For the record, I tried really hard to understand what she said and I never had a problem understanding her when I watched Brave. They really amped up her Scottish accent this time and made the great joke about her being from the "other studio", since Merida is the only Pixar Princess in the franchise.

Internet Graveyard
When Ralph goes down to retrieve his cookie medal, there are a number of dead websites hidden down in the rubble. One I noticed was Geocities, a former Yahoo web hosting service. I remember making website with them when I was a kid, back when I was into website design. It was very primitive stuff, but to a 10-year-old it was great. So when I saw it in the background, I had to smile.

What other Easter Eggs did you see that you liked? Obviously too many to list them all. I'll have to watch it again to catch more.