The Great Skirt Drama

As I’ve mentioned, I have a convention coming up this weekend, which means all my last minute preparations are exploding across the house, and online purchases are arriving at the door.

Well, one of those online purchases didn’t turn out as I expected. The item in question is a sort of tassel skirt, which I intend to use as one of my steampunk accessories. Online, the ‘orange’ skirt appeared more saffron, and I chose that color over the blinding canary yellow. The item arrived. It was a neon safety orange. So I thought, “No big deal, we can mod this puppy. You would’ve wanted to rough it up before wearing it out, anyway.”

And so we begin our cautionary tale of costuming.

Attempt 1 – I left the skirt to soak for six hours in a mild bleach solution. No dice. However, sometimes mild bleach solutions don’t work on bright colors.

Attempt 2 – After the failure of the bleach, I left the skirt to stew in a strong batch of tea. This doesn’t usually work with synthetic materials, but sometimes it can darken brights just a little. It did nothing at all.

Attempt 3 – Once again, I turned to bleach, leaving the traitorous garb to rot in an exceptionally strong bleach solution. The safety orange mocked me, unfaded.

Attempt 4 – I decided it was time to go old school. Tomato sauce, if left to set, will stain nearly anything. I thought, for sure, it would blunt the worst of the skirt’s neon glow. So I literally cooked my skirt in a large pot of spaghetti sauce, boiling in the stains. Only – there were no stains. The sauce slid right off, leaving no trace of culinary damages.

Attempt 5 – The time had come for drastic measures. After hand and machine washing the skirt to get out the worst of the food smells, I took the damp cloth and put it to the fire. Literally. I took a candle and proceeded to burn and singe the ribbon-like tails. The orange is still there, to an extent, but it’s not so blinding, and I figured if I had to wear safety orange, I could at least look like I’d walked through a fire.

*Fire safety – Burning is an extreme way to modify costumes, but it looks awesome. Please proceed with caution. If you can’t adult, find an older person who can. Then choose your location carefully. Do not burn in a carpeted room and make sure you have water handy. Sinks are okay, but hoses work, too. Burning on a concrete porch or in an unfinished laundry room with a large wash basin are good places to work. Also, make sure your hair and clothes won’t get in the flames. There’s no point protecting the house if you’ve already set yourself on fire, right? Also remember that you can’t undo fire damage to clothes, so go slowly and carefully. Working with damp cloth is ideal.

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Dawn of Justice – A Suspiciously Shiny Trailer

This trailer just dropped yesterday, confirming that DC films will continue down a dark path. Fairly literally, because you know how the lighting is in a Batman film.

Here are my thoughts: I question whether or not they are playing off of Marvel. While I personally enjoy Marvel’s stories and characters in general more than DC’s, the Nolan Batman films were exceptionally well done, and they told a story Marvel – which tends to be sassier, snarkier, and softens its darker sides with humor – simply couldn’t have pulled off. That said, Marvel has already started laying ground work for Civil War, which is effectively about Iron Man and Captain America landing on opposite sides of an extremely controversial law (in the comics, at least). The soul of the story rises from conflict between friends, the pain of convictions vs. connections. Any country with a two-party political system knows a mild version of this struggle. There are some friends you don’t introduce to other friends because, although they are both good people – and probably have a lot in common – they come from opposite sides of the political spectrum, and people get scary when their moral codes are called into question.

Now, DC is basing this story on actual DC comics (and I confess to knowing a lot less about them), and I didn’t make the connection between Dawn of Justice and Civil War until I saw this latest trailer. It seems suspicious that now, of all times, they suddenly upgrade Batman’s suit to be more mech than be-cowled ninja – complete with glowing eyes. A rich playboy with slightly questionable morals facing off against the human incarnation of truth, justice, blah-blah… you get it.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

What DC doesn’t seem to understand is that we don’t (just) love Iron Man for his suit. We love him because we’ve gone on so many adventures with him already. We’ll find his arguments persuasive in Civil War, and we’ll be able to forgive him because he’s an old friend now. We’ve known him longer than Captain America has. And we’ve known Captain America longer than Iron Man has. The film characters took their time to build chemistry with the audience before the writers knew they’d developed far enough to go head-to-head.

This is a suspiciously shiny new Batman. I’m still not convinced I agree with the casting, but I’m eager to be proven wrong.

We’ve had one film with Superman, and that film rocked the boat pretty hard when it broke one of Superman’s most important rules – no killing.

So we have these two heroes we aren’t even sure we like yet, but the studio has staged them in this epic showdown, whether we’re ready or not.

I’m hoping Dawn of Justice goes for a different angle. It can’t just be about moral divisions and mistrust. There has to be a different angle, or it will come off like a B-film rip off of a movie that won’t even begin filming for over a year.

With some imagination and creative choices, this could be a really great film. Trying to coast along on former glories and spiffy new gear won’t make the grade.

I don’t know. What are your thoughts?

Stormy Weather

I love this area, particularly in spring. Storms roll in, bringing hourly changes to the sky. One minute, cotton balls float on a field of blue, brighter than any cartoon. Or the sunset dyes the horizon pink, purple, and gold.

And sometimes, the sky is just grey,

Those silver skies, I think, are my favorite. Especially as the trees bloom, and the first green appears like fire on the outer branches.

Apologies. Projects are Happening

DSCF4346I have lots of excuses, but none of them are particularly good. One you might, perhaps, be interested in, is the fact that the International Steampunk Symposium is coming up next week, so I’ve been dedicating a lot of time to costuming, planning, and general prep.

There’s also another – entirely unrelated – secret project in the works. You should see the first bit of that in the coming week.

Meanwhile, enjoy the above glimpse of my Symposium preparations.

*My desk is covered in aluminum scraps… thankful for my tetanus shot.