Monday, August 27, 2007

Cos' playing's what we do best...

(Left: Me n' Gavin Blair, creator of Reboot.)

I've just come off a weekend of pure, unadulterated nerdosity. This year's FanExpo was probably the biggest one I've ever attended, with vendors, freaks, and geeks galore.

Aside from the fantastic displays, panels, and features, including guests like Adam West, Tricia Helfer, Malcolm McDowell and Jonathan Frakes, one of the main draws of the show has become the amazing cosplayers who come out in full gear to these packed shows to strut their stuff. It is perhaps one of the only times and places outside of Halloween that I feel stupid for not wearing a costume.

This was the first time I've ever purchased a deluxe all-weekend pass that let me into some of the exclusive panels, along with the popular Masquerade, a showcase/competition of costumes.

Now, I have nothing against cosplayers. I think they're brave and courageous and talented people who are showing their fanatical support for their fandoms. I respect their fandoms and I completely understand the desire to don silly hats and full-out gear and be seen for the freak I am.

But OMIGOD, the Masquerade made me cringe so many times, I think my face and stomach are in permanent twist-tie mode. There were 68 entries, and I could only remember a handful of them because my brain decided not to deal with storing memories of the others.

Why, you ask, was it so bad? Well, there's a formula to gaining audience popularity that I think many entrants failed to understand. I thought a lot about it while hiding my face in embarrassment for the tenth guy or so to receive the "WTF?" response from the audience.

The formula--or checklist--should be as follows:

1) Recognizability: is your fandom recognized by the geek public at large? Sure, you may know all the lines from episode 26 of Fruits Basket and understand the characters inside out....but WHAT THE HELL IS FRUITS BASKET?

This may be the group of peers that would understand you best, but because there are so many damned shows and movies, especially in the anime genre, not everyone will know who you are.

Star Wars, Harry Potter, Star Trek, Sailor Moon, InuYasha, Full Metal Alchemist, Dragon Ball, Naruto, a few video game characters...think TV spoofs and you have an idea of what's popular and instantly recognizable by nerds at large.

Obscure anime and manga titles...okay, hooray for fandom love, but please, do the rest of us a favor and don't compete, especially if you're going to throw in some really lame inside joke. Which brings me to my next point....

2) Performance: this is a tough one. A lot of people understand the basic "do a little dance and get a laugh out of the horrible coordination" routine. But there's a point when it stops being funny. It's about 10 to 15 seconds into the show.

Please, for the love of god, keep it short. And stop the show at ONE laugh. If you wring even one laugh out of the audience, you've done your job. Get off the stage, for god's sake. Don't drag it out.

The acoustics in these increasingly bigger auditoriums is terrible. Prerecord your performance for the techies to play, or else learn to project and enunciate. Like this guy.

Most importantly, practice! Showmanship and stage presence is just as important as whatever it is you're trying to get across. That's why the Klingon dude in the link above was in the Master division and not the Novice one. (Really, you should watch it.)

3) Costume: you'd think this would be a no-brainer. But there were good costumes, and there were GOOD costumes. Craftsmanship counts, even if you're only being viewed from far, far away. Details like accessories and weapons add all that much more.

Pick the division that you're suited's why they exist.

On another note, it helps if you look like the character you're trying to portray. I've seen fat guys in red tights pretending to be Spider-Man. Not pretty. Please, if you're going to compete, pick a costume appropriate to your physique. Or at least allow your dignity the ability to make fun of the fact that you're completely ill-suited to play whoever it is you're portraying.

Muscle suits on tiny guys are always funny. Explaining that you're Wonder Woman after forty years of beer drinking=also funny. But man boobs/three spare tires + spandex + serious demeanor=not funny.

I'd hate to say it, but as my companion pointed out, you're going to be judged when you get up on stage. Such is the nature of a large crowd of anonymous nerds. It's like being in a chatroom full of WoW geeks booing the noob. Only it's live. And so very harsh.

4) Impact: Let's face it, groups are easier to remember, more impressive, and generally put forth a more united front. Like this awesome Reboot group.

But don't group miscellaneous characters together and mash together some kind of performance (see obscure inside jokes above.) Yeah, it's funny to you, but you're almost certain to get the "WTF?" rating on your performance.

I know, I know, "what happened to picking a costume appropriate to your physique? I can't do that and be with my friends, they don't watch the show blah blah blah..." Chances are, your fandom will have a meet-up at the con. Get online, find them, and hook up. Make new friends. If you're going to compete, make it the best performance you can.

5) Have fun: kinda hard if you follow all these rules, ain't it?

Which is why the smart people seem to know not to compete. I saw a bazillion fantastic costumes that did not appear on stage, but got lots of attention and kudos for their efforts.

What, then, is the point of having a Masquerade?

Who knows? It was 2 1/2 hours of near-torture, made bearable by the tongue-in-cheek MC and the occasional entrant who made the time I spent waiting in line outside worthwhile.

The point is, we could drastically cut down the number of blah entries and increase the number of "Wow!" contestants if people just thought about it a moment. I love a good show, but I love a GOOD show, not a hide-behind-my-hands-in-embarrassment shindig.

Would I go to the Masquerade again?

The answer: yes. Simply for the fact that I can watch other people make fools of themselves, thus reminding myself that I am fortunate to be (I hope) one of the smarter people who will never compete.

Still, I wish I had the cojones to be one of them....

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What I do during my spare time when I'm not writing smut...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


I went for an annual eye exam at my optometrist's today--my first in three years. Turns out my prescription has gone a factor of 100 in each eye.

So now I'm a myopic 450/575 or so. (Actually, since I couldn't quite see the numbers, I'm only assuming that's what the prescription said.) Meanwhile, I am sitting here at my computer, squinting like my parents at the fuzziness of everything. They used those damn eyedrops to dilate your pupils until they're the size of tokens so they can check on the health of your retina. It's liquid speculum for your iris!

Check out my freaky EVIL eyes:

And no, I do not have jaundice. I played with the contrast and brightness so you could see my ENORMOUS PUPILS.

If you look carefully, the reflection of my hands looks like it's is holding it.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Off, off and away!

So, I've sent my manuscript for my first romance novel, All in the Details, off to Harlequin Silhouette.

Yay me!

Yes, I'm relieved and kinda excited, but I'm not putting all my hopes and dreams in that ginormous envelope that cost me $13.63 to send off. I'm working on more books, and even if I don't ever get published, I know I'll have at least tried.

Wait, though, this is the age of the Internets....GASP!! I CAN SELF-PUBLISH!!

And so I did. Because some of you are asking yourselves, "Vicki writes smut? I gotta see this!"

Chapter 1 is right here. Critical reviews (and praise) are welcome! Even if you hate it (and I don't expect you to love it), let me know!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Foisting off life's shit

Lately, I've been cleaning out my possessions from my parents' place and sorting them out into three and a half piles: Keep, Give away, Sell at the Sci-Fi/Anime flea market, and Garage Sale.

I've come across a few realizations as I root through all my worldly possessions:
1) I own too much shit.
2) The world produces too much shit.
3) Sentimental keepsakes make no sense when I can't remember why I'm keeping this shit.
4) Maslow's hierarchy of needs apparently includes shit.

Alas, the Star Wars memorabilia I once coveted has been rendered useless and inconsequential, considering the sheer tidal wave of crap that's come out since Episode 1 through 3 were released. So, I'm getting rid of just about all of it; that, and a lot of very hard-to-find Ranma 1/2 stuff we accumulated over time.

I'm not sure at what point things cross from treasure to trash: probably at the point when you realize, holy hell, I have to MOVE this stuff?

Sadly, by getting rid of my worldly possessions, I may be losing a few iotas of cool factor. Cuz, let's face it, how many girls do you know who own a Darth Vader life-size standie? (On sale for the low, low price of....well, we'll figure that out when you start drooling over it....)