Category Archives: SciFi and Fantasy

Star Trek Discovery: Interesting In Its Own Right

Now six episodes in and coming away from pretty much every one of them in emotional turmoil, I think I get Star Trek: Discovery. This is not the Star Trek I had hoped for. This is not the Star Trek I’m used to. This is interesting in its own right.

 

I think that prequels are generally a bad idea, especially when what follows is very, very well known and beloved by fans. It make every little violation of the timeline stand out and hurt like a thorn in an open wound. It’s annoying to see warp capable shuttle craft, site to site transport, and holodecks in an era that is not supposed to have these things. And don’t get me started about the spore drive! But now I understand.

Star Trek: Discovery is yet another re-imagining of Star Trek, plain and simple. It is in the vein of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica more than anything else. It’s not the Prime universe of the Original Series, nor is it the J.J. Abrams universe, aka Kelvin Timeline of the new movies. Discovery is its own thing, and interesting in its own right. Discovery needs to own this and embrace it.

MIchael Burnham reminds me so much of my youngest daughter and my own struggles with emotion, logic, and my place in the world when I was younger. I cannot help but want to see how her story unfolds! And Lorca, I don’t really like him all that much but his story is starting to unfold as well. Discovery has a lot of space to explore and doesn’t care what gets rewritten a bit on its way. So show me, show me this new Star Trek. Show me what you’ve got!

Dragon Con 2016 Ends And Dragon Con 2017 Begins

This year’s 30th installment of Dragon Con ended about a month ago. Yesterday I reserved a room for Dragon Con 2017, and this morning the room block for the Marriott opened and, of course, quickly filled up. In some sense, it’s like Dragon Con never even ended!

Thursday Night Velma Selfie

This year was great! I was going alone to my 5th Dragon Con and this year I was going to do some things that I either didn’t do very often, or had not really done at all. For one thing, I was going to do my best to be more intentionally social. I got things off to a good start with a Velma cosplay after the long drive from Chicago on Thursday night! (Click here for Dragon Con 2016 cosplay pics)

It feels like I was wildly successful all around! I marched in the parade again, having a great time with my Trek Track friends and this year we exchanged contact info, yay! I went to the Black Geeks of Dragon Con photo shoot, meeting a ton of awesome Black cosplayers before hopping over to the Star Trek photo shoot. That was followed by what can only be described as an away mission to get chili dogs lead, for the second year, by my friend Rashida. Imagine, a small group of Star Trek cosplayers boarding a subway train to get chili dogs at Varsity in Atlanta. After that, I rushed to the Dragon Con Loner Group meetup, consisting of people who came to the con solo.

Mixed in with all of this was a lot of dancing, at a ton of parties, including the Spectrum Party, my first LGBT party! There was also Klingon Karaoke and lots of cosplay picture taking. The picture taking included a fair number of selfies both with and without other people. The only real let down was when the Miss Star Trek Universe Pageant was cut short due to room scheduling issues.

It turned out that staying at a non-host hotel (my first time doing that) was not only great, but I just booked a room for next year at the same hotel. The location near Peach Tree Street turned out to be perfect, so I didn’t even bother to try for a Marriott room in today’s “lottery”!

So Dragon Con continues!

I’ll Tumblr For Ya

After the announcement of Yahoo’s purchase of Tumblr, I decided to give the popular micro blogging site another look. When I first heard of Tumblr a few years back, I was intrigued by the fact that the site was very mobile friendly at a time when that was not the norm. But I was getting into Twitter and had little interest in adding another blog.

tumblr_for_yaSince that time, a lot has changed. So I decided to create my own Tumblr and check out the scene. Now, many many hours, and weeks later, I’m totally hooked. I think that Tumblr combines the best of the Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress in an easy to use package.

It’s easy to find people to follow and subjects of interest. You can post as much, or as little as you want. And simply “liking” something is a breeze. As a bonus, spam bots don’t appear to be as rampant as they are on Twitter.

I’d heard that Tumblr had a younger demographic than Facebook, and it definitely shows. I think that the anonymity and multimedia friendly platform more readily fosters vibrant, interest driven communities. My favorite hobbies, Sci-Fi, Anime, and Cosplay, are well represented there!

While I have no intention to abandon what I’ll call, long form blogging, I’m definitely going to be spending more time on Tumblr. You can find me at is this thing on?

C2E2 Begins!

Marshall_Lee_Day_TimeC2E2 begins today and I’m really excited! It’s been a way too long winter here in Chicago and much much too long since my last major con, Youmacon in Detroit last November. So I’m pretty excited about the guests (JMS! JMS! JMS!), panels, and, of course, cosplay! And I’m hoping to meet a cosplay friend or two in person for the first time. Yay @ButterflySamurai!

I don’t have any new costumes for the con this year. I’m just going be rocking the uniforms of my home fandom, Star Trek. Friday starts out casual with my “faux” Sisko from DS9. Then on Saturday my Uhura from Star Trek, the original series. I might do my Marshall Lee, Adventure Time, styled outfit on Sunday or bring on the Applejack if I’m really feeling inspired.

Generally, I try not to cross the streams of real life and cosplay, but I’ve got a growing number of friends and coworkers who I may just run into at C2E2. So things could get more interesting than usual. No worries, what will be, will be.

C2E2 just gets better and better, bigger and bigger, every year. No pressure though, no pressure. We’re all friends here, LOL.

Genesis Of The Borg?

As I left work on Friday, I was thinking about all of the people who I see constantly talking on their mobile phones, or texting while walking. It seems that most people just cannot stand being alone, even for a few seconds. Having watched this for years now, I wondered about what would happen when people get their mobile phones implanted into their bodies and tied directly to their brains.

locutus of borg
We only seek to raise quality of life for all.

My first thought was that things would be a lot quieter when I was out for a walk. But then it occurred to me that the technology would probably allow one to carry on multiple conversations in a way that an external phone cannot. Then add social media like Facebook to the mix, and a person could be calmly walking down the street with a multitude of voices in their heads. How many voices do you need in your head before they become indistinguishable from your own thoughts?

This is probably how the Borg got started. It was all innocent enough at the beginning. No one needed to be alone anymore. It raised the level of life for all. But we all know what kind of ugliness can arise from internet connected mobs. With so many dark voices, speaking loudly, it’s no wonder the Borg went off the deep end. Perhaps they were searching for more virtuous voices to drown out the darkness. Who knows, but we do seem to be on a path to the Collective.

Coincidentally, I’ve just discovered a great discussion of this on the Trekcast Episode 85, a cool Star Trek podcast.

Join Me Luke And Together We Will Fix This Computer As Father And Son!

With the proliferation of Darth Vader memes across the web, I think the Dark Lord of the Sith is becoming something of an icon of fatherhood. I mean really, who hasn’t thought of their dad as the evil Darth Vader at one point or another. And I say that now that such a role has come upon my shoulders from time to time as a parent myself. But Darth was not always evil of course, and the guy was a very smart and capable Jedi back in the day. Naturally this is usually forgotten, not at all helped by a series of not so great prequels.

darth_vader_fatherhood_icon
Darth Vader, Icon of Fatherhood

It’s not all bad though. Tonight I had the pleasure of displaying my prowess as Lord of the Sith by helping my son extract a stripped screw from his laptop. He was in the process of upgrading the memory and somehow stripped the head of the screw to the access panel. All hope seemed lost as I tried various tools to get the stubbornly tight screw to turn.

In the end I called upon the Dark Side of the Force, abandoning finesse for some well placed torsional mayhem. I found a sharp pointed Philips head screw driver tip that I was able to fit into my power screw driver. I then pressed the sharp tip into the damaged screw and let her rip! I hoped that the pressure and vibration would loosen the screw and turn it.

It took a couple of attempts, but in the end that screw was no match for the power of the Dark Side. Luke, I AM YOUR FATHER!

Childhood’s End

ChildhoodsEndNexus7
Childhood’s End was a great read on my Nexus 7!

I just finished reading the Science Fiction classic, Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke and right now I am overflowing with emotion. I’ve always been a Science Fiction fan and I suppose should have read this many years ago. But now, being older, and being a parent, this story has touched me on a far deeper and more primal level. Clarke maintains a growing sense of foreboding mixed with only the slightest wisps of hope throughout the story.

My own children have just started to leave home, so Clarke’s tale of human evolution and transformation resonates quite strongly with me. They are moving into a future I will be unable to enter. I’ve seen and read a lot of SF in my time and no one has told this kind of story better than Clarke. I’m sure I would not have appreciated its nuances as a teenager. With that in mind, I think it may be time to start rereading many of the books in my collection!

Dragon Con Mission to Mars Setback

While Curiosity’s Mars mission continues right on track, my own has suffered yet another delay. Cosplay projects always take more time than one expects. Sailor Mars is the most ambitious costume I’ve attempted, challenging in both materials and crossplay technique. On the plus side, the test fittings are good and the shoes I got are awesome! But it just needs more time than I have left right now to finish.

Sailor MarsI’m still going to Dragon Con, bringing my Uhura to the parade. But Sailor Mars will have to wait until Youmacon for her debut!

Die Has Been Cast For Dragon*Con!

The die has been cast, I just registered for Dragon*Con 2012! I reserved a room a few weeks ago, so I figured it was time to pay for a badge before the cost goes up on the 15th.

I’ve wanted to go to Dragon*Con for some time and had originally planned to go this year. But I got laid off around this time last year and had to put those plans on hold. Fortunately, I’m working again, so it’s back on! Yay! I’m hoping to take my Uhura to the parade and will probably have one or two new cosplays by that time. Not sure what yet, but I always find yet another costume that must be made!

Home for Halloween!

It has been a number of years since I’ve actually been at home for Halloween. Since I started going in 2005, I’ve been at Youmacon during Halloween. This year, Youmacon is the following weekend, so last night I donned my Uhura cosplay and went to the Pew Pew Halloween costume bash in Chicago with my wife.

The artwork and the shop were interesting and we would hang out there for little over an hour before heading back home. I kinda wished we’d done some bar hopping, but she was getting tired and isn’t a big fan of bars. She joked later, that it took me more time to get ready than we spent out. But it was still fun, and my costume got a good reception. My friend Ron got a shot of us together. LOL, as usual, I’ve got the derp face goin on!

Have Some Free SciFi For iPad or iPhone!

Rolled Up Dimensionality CoverEveryone likes free stuff! Yeah, don’t deny it, ya do. From now until the end of the year, you can get a free copy of Rolled Up Dimensionality: Short stories from a forgotten life from the Apple iBookstore readable on the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch!

This eBook is also available on the Kindle and Nook, but I can’t set the price to free there unless enough readers tell Amazon and Barnes & Noble that the eBook is now free on the iPad. So if you want it free on Kindle and Nook, please let them know!

Enjoy!

Beaming Down To The Official Star Trek Convention

Star Trek 45th LogoStar Trek is my home fandom, but it’s been many years since I attended my last Star Trek convention. When I started attending cons, they were all fan organized. This meant all kinds of fun and sometimes quirky panels and events in addition to guests appearances and dealers.

Somewhere along the way, a company called Creation started doing Star Trek conventions and while they got really great guests, they were somewhat lighter on the quirky stuff that probably tended to violate somebody’s licensing rights. After a break of a few years I heard about anime cons and started going to those where the for fans, by fans vibe is still very strong and vibrant.

That said, I had not initially planned to go to next weekend’s Official Star Trek Convention in Chicago, but actually Rosemont. We were hosting a potluck that weekend, and I didn’t want to be a jerk and duck out on it for a con. I didn’t even mention that there was a con.

My noble silence was rewarded when the potluck had to be pushed back, and so the mission has been approved! Right now I’m only planning to go on Saturday to show off my Uhura cosplay and hopefully see Leonard Nimoy and Nichelle Nichols. If I could show it to her, that would be totally awesome!

In any case, I was feeling happy today from some good news and decided to order an original series style tricorder, phaser, and communicator to round out my cosplay. Hopefully they’ll get here in time. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing what may be Leonard Nimoy’s last con appearance!

Otakon 2011 Aftermath

It’s been quite a summer of travel for me this year. Right after Otakon, it was off on a road trip to Toronto for nearly a week. Then back to work, followed by this year’s installment of Wizard World Chicago Comic Con.

Otakon was fun and full of interesting feelings for me this year. I’ve been doing contract work most of this year, so for a while, I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to attend. But things worked out and I hit the road for my 7th consecutive Otakon. I had three cosplays planned, Miho Tohya, Stocking, and Uhura. The Uhura costume was fun, challenging, and a lot of work to make. But I finished in time for the convention.

I wore Miho on Friday and as I had expected, there wasn’t a lot of recognition of the cosplay. Miho is a character from MegaTokyo, a web comic and OEL graphic novel series. Still I had fun with the cosplay and enjoyed singing and dancing in it. One extra level of difficulty came from staying at the Sheraton, which is a couple of blocks from the convention center. That meant navigating the public streets in costume, something that would prove interesting as well as enlightening over the weekend.

Madoka and Kyubey

Saturday it was Stocking cosplay day. I had worked up the courage to go to the Panty and Stocking photoshoot, unfortunately I was late and basically missed it. It’s okay though. I was late because I just had to squeeze in some karaoke first. Karaoke trumps everything, LOL! Made it to the Masquerade, which was okay for the most part.

Normally Sunday is not a big cosplay day for me, but with a new costume to show off, this Sunday was different. I had no idea just how different it would prove to be. The heat had been a problem all weekend and even the convention center was hot in places due to AC failures. So I was bit concerned about makeup with a new cosplay. As I stepped out into the heat, my main thought was to get to the BCC quickly.

No sooner had I crossed the street than a woman with children stopped me for a photograph. She was excited telling me how much she liked my costume. Soon I realized that she had no idea I was a guy, so I just nodded and smiled to maintain the illusion. Pic requests are part of the fuel that make cosplayers go, so I was pretty happy when I reached the BCC where I was immediately stopped for a picture by a man with a professional looking camera. Again, no idea I was a guy.

I got a lot of compliments and picture requests for my Uhura cosplay throughout the day. It even lead to a very enjoyable conversation with a fellow Star Trek fan. In the dealers room, I noticed a couple of thing immediately. One, a lot of pic requests came from black people. Two, a lot of these were black guys! This is really the first time I cosplayed a character who was black like me, but I wasn’t really expecting it to be so popular.

At the end of the con, while walking back to my hotel, I’d learn that my Uhura might be just a little bit too popular. About a block from the hotel a black man on the street asked if he could take my picture. I agreed and struck a pose. He took the picture and then asked me, “Can I walk with you?” I’m not sure if I was alarmed, shocked or what. I just silently shook my head. He got the message and we parted company.

In retrospect, I realized that it was a good thing that I did not reveal my true gender. There’s no telling how he would have reacted given that he’d just tried to pick me up. This was when I had my epiphany. I’d been worried all weekend about my cosplays and whether I looked good in them, and as a crossplayer whether I was passing. Turns out I was passing pretty damn good!

On the way to the con I had random guys apparently trying to talk to me. At the con, when I was getting food, some of the staff clearly didn’t know I was a guy. I enjoyed some of the ruckus that caused as I left. On Friday night on my way into the dance, a guy stopped me for picture. That was the only pic request my Miho got, which actually looks kinda like rave wear. And on Saturday night on my way back to the hotel after the Masquerade in my Stocking cosplay, while waiting on the corner next to another random guy, I noticed him totally checking me out. Hello! I’m standing right here! Nevertheless, he was running his eyes up and down my body. If he knew I was male like him, I doubt he’d have done that.

The only logical conclusion to draw from all of this was that despite some misgivings, my crossplays were pretty good. And, I was especially attractive to black guys. Or at least they were the most likely to make their interest known in a visible manner. So as I left Baltimore, I had my usual post con glow but on this occasion it was mixed with an extra portion of pride for a job well done!

Spinning Up for Otakon 2011

Over the last week or so, I’ve had no less than two convention related dreams. So there’s no doubt my subconscious is pretty excited about going to Otakon as I am when I’m awake! A few months ago, I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to go, but it appears that the Lord has blessed me with that much, and more this year.

I always seem to have a few more dream cosplays to do and again thankfully, it looks like one of those is going to debut at Otakon in a few days. My Star Trek: Original Series Uhura is going very well! I was really worried last night after making a number of mistakes and things just not looking right. But this is usually the case because I intentionally make my costumes slightly too big first and then refit them after trying them on.

Uhura Cosplay Progress PicFinally, around 2am or so this morning, I put everything on after the refit and got that “OMFG this is cute!” moment that comes when the costume has really come together. It was quite a relief after having so many doubts and flubs. But it all works! I just have some wig work to do and makeup related things I hope to improve on, but I think I’m going to love this!

After making this costume, I have new respect and awe for Bill Theiss, the costume designer for Star Trek. On standard definition TV, Uhura’s minidress uniform, beyond being sexy, is not all that interesting visually. But when you put it together from the official pattern found in the Star Trek Technical Manual, you can see the fine details that make it a work of art. The front and back of the dress are formed from 3 segments whose seams converge on the insignia. It’s truly a work of futuristic beauty that I’m honored to have the opportunity to wear!

Hailing Frequencies Still Open

With Otakon little over a month away, I’ve kicked off one of my dream cosplay projects. After every cosplay project I wonder if it’s going to be the last one. Is it time to retire from cosplay? Is it time to “grow up”? Well one advantage I had, having started cosplay in earnest at a later age, is that I’m already grown up. Grown up plenty! So to paraphrase one of my lolita friends, as long as my body and looks hold up, I’ll likely keep doing cosplay!

This hobby is just too much fun to me right now and all of the angst and drama that younger people have to contend with is mostly behind me now. It’s kind of funny that so many parents encourage various hobbies and pursuits for their kids as they are growing up, but then seemingly want them to abandon them once they pass some arbitrary age.

Nichelle Nichols as UhuraOkay, enough of that! The new cosplay project in question is Uhura from Star Trek: The Original Series, which to me is just plain ol’ Star Trek. While stuck in bad traffic and rain, I decided to detour to a JoAnn’s on route and when I came out I had most of what I’d need for Uhura’s red minidress uniform. They even had the perfect ribbon for the gold braid!

Today I ordered gogo boots and a uniform insignia. I know you can buy this costume, but it’s more fun for me to make my own. I’m going to use the pattern in my old Star Trek Technical Manual. I’m thinking of making a tricorder prop that I can combine with my iPhone and a custom app I can write to complete the image. I still need to buy a wig and earrings and the right makeup too.

I’m not really planning for this to be done in time for Otakon, but if it is I’ll take it. I’d really like to take this cosplay to Dragon*Con. But it’s not likely I can do that this year, who knows? In any case, Star Trek was my first fandom and oddly enough, Uhura will be the first character I’ve cosplayed where my skin tone actually matched! Not that that is a concern of mine, but it does mark an interesting milestone for me. So cosplay continues. Hailing frequencies are still open sugah!

Nyota Uhura