Category Archives: Uncategorized

LAUNCH DAY! More Cosplay Disasters

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Yes! It’s finally launch day for my new e-book, “More Cosplay Disasters”!

In this follow-up volume to “My Cosplay Disasters”, I lay out the method I failed to develop properly to build another four helmets. This time I ruined:

A Captain Rex Clone Trooper Mod

A First Order Stormtrooper Helmet from “The Force Awakens”

Handles the Cyberman Head from Doctor Who

A Deathtrooper helmet from “Rogue One”

Each disaster is neatly laid out (which is more than can be said for my workshop) with accompanying photographs and a detailed account of where I went wrong (often, simply starting the project.)

There are many authors and makers out there who are keen to tell you how to do things right, but I’m pretty much the only person showing you how I do things wrong, thus proving that YOU could do a better job than me if you put your mind to it. Also, that I should have a different hobby.

The e-book is available exclusively on Amazon:

In the US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XCF665N

In the UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XCF665N

In Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B06XCF665N

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And anyone else, check your local Amazon variant!

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“More Cosplay Disasters” being launched soon!

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It’s been a quiet start to the year, with no new plays to announce, and while there are performances of many TLC scripts ongoing around the world, there haven’t been any local to me, or any that supplied pictures for me to publish.

However, this week sees the completion of my new e-book, the sequel to the extraordinarily successful* “My Cosplay Disasters”. This new book, brilliantly titled “More Cosplay Disasters”, will take unlucky readers through the process of construction used for the latest four helmets I built. As always, it skates merrily by the reason for building helmets at all, because who has time for psychological analysis?

Anyway, the e-book will hit Amazon stores in your region around the 1st of March, for the very reasonable price of $2.99 Canadian. If you don’t want a copy (which is understandable) then it makes a great gift, particularly for people you don’t like, or who have expressed a desire to make cheap cosplay helmets.

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If you don’t fancy the idea of this book, check out my Amazon page for my other boks, which are worse.

 

*Sold more than one copy.

A country is not a business

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Wandering around Twitter of late, it’s interesting to see who ISN’T supposed to have a political opinion: Actors, artists, singers, authors – they’re all castigated at one time or another for saying what they think about the state of politics in the world.

That argument doesn’t make a lot of sense. I may not agree with my favourite authors when it comes to politics, but I don’t see why they can’t voice their opinion on it. I mean, when something happens, reporters actually go out into the streets and ask regular people what they think – there’s no checking for credentials first. As for the argument that someone who’s famous might influence others, well, so what? My experience of “discussing” politics online is that you can’t change people’s minds about what they think, and I don’t think it’s different if you’re JK Rowling or Sting. If I heard JK was in favour of firing kittens into space from a giant catapult, it would change my opinion of her, not of the act of kitten-flinging.*

So, I think Mr Trump is a bad choice as US President. I’m no expert on politics, but then again, neither is he. I’d make a bad president too, precisely because I’m no expert in politics. Politics is part of the job – hence the title “politician”. Some people said he’d be good because he’s a good businessman. Again, perhaps that might be the case, but I hear he’s NOT such a good businessman. Nobody drinks Trump Vodka, or eats Trump steaks, because those parts of his business failed. His mortgage company folded. He has gone bankrupt several times, and let’s not forget that he had to settle that fraud case over the Trump University thing.

But let’s say he WAS a good businessman. Would that make him a good president? Here’s the point: I don’t think a country is like a business. Some people think it is, but those people are mostly concerned with making money. They think the country ought to have a booming economy above all else, because that’s likely to help their business be a success. In other words, my country is doing well if it’s making me rich.

A company takes seed money, and it produces something, or provides a service. But that’s not what we measure the success by. We measure success of a company by profitability. Imagine you’re running a company making Flimbarts. Someone says “How’s your company doing?” and you say “We made and sold two million Flimbarts last year!” That person will be impressed and likely say “Wow, you must be raking in the cash, huh?”

If you reply “Nope, we’re just breaking even.” they will be less impressed. You’re making lots of Flimbarts, and selling all of them, but you’re not successful, because you’re not turning a big profit.

A country is not a system for producing money. What a country really produces, is citizens. Through their work and taxes, they contribute to the financial stability of the country, but I would argue that it’s the condition of the population that is the measure of the country’s success, not the size of the economy. Look at it this way – if a country wants to attract foreign investment, it could offer cheap labour. The best way to ensure cheap labour is to remove safety restrictions, labour unions and age laws on working. Pay people peanuts to work in factories that aren’t hemmed in with costly safety measures, and it’ll cost foreign firms less to get their products made. More firms will use your country and your country will have a robust economy. But you’ll have miserable citizens, and unless you restrict their education and communication with the outside world, you’ll have rebellion and worker organization and riots.

If you provide education and healthcare and solid infrastructure, you have happy citizens. Healthy citizens. Bright citizens. You get innovations, industry, development. You get education tourism, where people flock to your schools because you’ve invested in them. You are at the forefront of new technologies because your educated citizens are at the forefront of the sciences that develop them. Their energies are focused on the future, not the misery of the present.

An acquaintance of mine on G+ has been patiently explaining to me that Trump is not a bad person. That his policies and executive orders are both legal and sensible. That most of them were Obama’s ideas anyway, or are overturning illegal ideas of Obama’s. He hasn’t answered my question about Bannon being appointed to the National Security Council, or the provable lies that Trump and his administration have been trotting out since…well, since the beginning of his campaign, but still… I feel it’s important to know that there are people who don’t view Trump as the insane choice. There are people out there who go beyond “Let’s give him a chance” and actually TRUST him.

All this American politics is relevant because I heard a conversation the other day at work. Someone was advocating Kevin O’Leary’s bid for the premiership on the grounds that “If America has Trump, we need someone who can deal with him.” From my point of view, that’s a Kindergarten teacher. Someone who can handle tantrums and outrageous fibs should have no trouble getting Donald under control. What we don’t need is another person viewing a country as a money-machine. I never understood what the American Dream was, but I think I see what Canada is – it’s not a place, but a collection of people from many, many different cultures, living and working together for each other and for the next generation.

*As far as I know, JK Rowling has NEVER advocated the flinging of kittens anywhere, by catapult or any other means. And even if she had, how would that change whether or not her writing is any good? I don’t agree with Orson Card’s views on marriage, but I still like “Ender’s Game”. Confusing the writer with the work is a mistake, I feel.

10 reasons why I’m not a REAL writer

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  1. I don’t write every day
  2. I don’t have “protected” writing time.
  3. Household tasks often get prioritized over writing.
  4. I don’t like literary fiction. I keep trying it, and I still find it pretentious.
  5. If asked, I’m more likely to say I work part-time in the library than I am to say “I’m a writer”.
  6. It’s unlikely you’ve read, bought or even seen anything I’ve written.
  7. I don’t write consistently within a single genre.
  8. I don’t have an agent or an editor.
  9. I don’t have elevator pitches for any of my work. Even the one I’m writing now.
  10. I struggle to publicise my own work without being self-deprecating or self-sabotaging.

Escaping to Fan Expo Vancouver

There’s little doubt that 2016 has been a grim year. We’ve lost folk heroes, rock stars, and a little bit of belief in the fundamental goodness of regular folks. But yesterday we set aside our fears and doubts, and dressed up as someone else for a day. We went to Fan Expo Vancouver 2016.

If you’ve read this blog at all, you’ll know we try to go every year. I always intend to dress up, and I never do. Time and again, the Weasels have outshone me with their brilliant outfits, and been photographed over and over.

This year, I was ready. Having spent only a short period of time building s Doctor Strange outfit for Halloween, I had spruced up the Shakespearean Vader suit that I built so long ago. I shortened the cloak so I didn’t trip on it. I added extra bling. I was ready.

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We didn’t rush in this year – there would be no queuing! Eldest Weasel had booked a photo shoot with her personal Doctor Who idol, Alex Kingston, and that wasn’t until mid-afternoon, so we had a leisurely drive in to downtown, and then we gathered outside the convention centre while Mrs Dim figured out how to exchange our tickets for the wristbands that would get us inside.

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Eldest Weasel’s friend came along as Kaylee from Firefly, while Eldest herself had really gone to town on improving her Time Lord Headdress.

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Middle Weasel was Quicksilver (somewhat ironic, given her tendency to avoid moving whenever possible) and Tiny Weasel was Frisk from Undertale. You know, Undertale? the Game? No, me neither.

Attending Fan Expo in costume was wildly different from going in regular clothes. For one thing, I was stopped quite often so people could take photos of or with me. For another, I couldn’t actually see very much. My breath fogged up the eyepieces after about four minutes, and Mrs Dim had to guide me through the halls. I was glad she’d chosen a white jacket for the day, as it was easy to follow the white blur. Only once did it turn out to be the WRONG white blur….

From an atmosphere of fear and hate (through the internet news and the reactions of friends and family) we found ourselves in a place of acceptance and encouragement. Fans can be sticklers for details, vocally critical of the film industry when details are altered for a movie, or when a beloved character is treated badly for plot purposes. But I heard no criticisms of any of the costumed characters at the Expo. There was open admiration, compliments, applause, and , of course, photographs. Prominently displayed in the convention centre and the nearby hotel were signboards with the “Cosplay is not consent” policy clearly laid out. Some female characters wear skimpy outfits, and those that chose to dress as those characters could have no fear that they would risk assault for that choice.

Respect. Inclusion. Honest fun. Pursuit of interests for the joy they bring, not the financial gain.

It was a delight to step into this world, and imagine the one we live in coming back to these values one day.

Remembrance

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My grandfather was Frank Trasler. He fought in World War 1. Amazingly, he went to war with his brothers and they all came home safely – two even met by chance on a battlefield in France. Too old to fight in World War 2, Frank became an Air Raid Warden in London. I have the cap badge he wore for that duty.

My brother and my wife both served in the RAF. Both have lost friends and colleagues in their time. When I wear a poppy I do so to remember the cost of war. It’s not a glorification. It’s not a call to justify the horrors, it’s a reminder of what happens when greedy, ambitious or idealogically suspect people make flawed decisions. It’s never these people who pay for their choices.

The War Poets rarely ask us to remember war as a glorious struggle. They ask us to remember that real people fight and suffer and die in wars.

Wear a poppy and remember.

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An allegory (not about the election)

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Once upon a time, in a small village, there was a shop that sold pots. There were pots of all kinds, in different sizes and shapes. Some were squat and earthy, some were tall and elegant, some were useful, some were purely art pieces.

Each had only one handle.

One day, a new potter came into the shop. She was holding a pot with two handles. The proprietor looked over his glasses at her.

“Two handles?” he said, not quite sneering. “How…Unusual.”

The woman swallowed, but stood tall.

“This is how I make pots. With two handles.”

The man smiled in a patronly fashion.

“And that’s very admirable, but as you can see, all the pots in this shop have ONE handle. I simply can’t sell a two handled pot. No one would buy it.”

The woman frowned.

“Excuse me, but how do you know that?”

The man waved once more at the stock in his window.

“Because I’ve been selling pots for over thirty years, young woman, and I have never yet sold a two-handled pot. It can’t be done.”

The woman arched an eyebrow at him.

“Have you ever HAD a two-handled pot to sell?”

The man had no answer to this, and in his moment of confusion, the woman carefully placed her pot in his hands. Both hands instinctively closed around the handles, holding the pot firm. It felt right in his grip, comfortable, safe and secure. There was no arguing that it wasn’t different from every pot he’d held before. He liked the pot, but his pride prevented him from saying aloud how he felt. He cleared his throat.

“Well, look, I can see you’ve worked hard on this. I think we should be charitable and give a chance to new…odd, things. I’ll put it in the window, for now. We’ll give you a week, how about that?”

But less than a week had passed before the woman heard from the shop owner. Her pot had sold, and word had got round, and could she bring him more pots, more two-handled pots please. As many as ten? By tomorrow?

Along with the modest flow of people buying the new pots (new to the shop, but perhaps an old design, to be sure) came an angry potter. He was, he explained, there to represent the views of several potters who had concerns.

“These new pots of yours, ” he said, “They’re not right. Not proper.”

The shopkeeper frowned at that.

“I don’t see how that’s the case. They are pots. Whether artistic or practical, they do what needs to be done.”

The potter shuffled his feet, as if physically adjusting his mental stance.

“Look,” he said (and the strain of keeping a level tone was nonetheless evident in his voice) “I can see there’s a bit of a fad for this new style. Well, fine. If you want two handles on pots, I can supply pots with two handles.”

“Why?” asked a softer voice.

Both men turned to see the woman who had made the two handled pots. She had clearly heard the exchange.

“I beg your pardon?” grated the potter.

“Why would you suddenly start making two handled pots? I make them that way because that’s how I was taught to make them. It’s the way my family have always made pots.”

“I’ve never seen them before.” asserted the potter, as if that were a closing statement.

“Little wonder about that, since they’ve never had space in the shop before.” replied the woman.

“Well, now they are taking up space. Space that other potters have earned. Potters that have more experience, that have sold pots for longer than you…”

“Not hard to do, since I haven’t sold any pots before this week.” admitted the woman.

“Exactly!”

“But then again, that doesn’t make them better. It certainly doesn’t make them better at making two handled pots.”

The potter stared at her, then glanced at the shopkeeper who shrugged, unwilling to intervene. The woman continued in a level and understanding tone.

“You see, I know you are a good potter. I see your pots right there in the window and they are beautifully made. Some are useful, and some are too lovely to use. You are clearly a master potter.”

He stammered a vague thank you, trying to see why she should compliment him.

“And yet… All your pots have one handle. They only need one handle. That’s how they were made, how you have always made your pots. You COULD make pots with two handles, and they would be good pots, but you know what? You’d be making them because people are buying two handled pots. Not because you want to MAKE two handled pots. And before you could sell them, you would have to go away and learn about the design, probably from someone like me, who has spent her life making pots like these.”

The potter opened his mouth and the woman held up one finger. Not imperiously, not commandingly, just to indicate a moment’s pause was needed.

“You should make the pots you have always made. They will still be beautiful or useful. People will still buy them and love them. And yes, you may sell fewer pots because the shop shares the space with different pots. But you’ll be making the pots that you make best. The pots you understand. The pots you dream of. And so will I.”

So, this is the internet, where you have to point out when you’re writing a satire. This is not a satire, it’s an allegory, and it’s not about the American election, even though it seems like EVERYTHING is about the American election right now. This is about a discussion in the publishing industry that rose and fell recently. It’s how I feel about that argument.