Finncon – Saturday

Yesterday was very busy. I ended up eating lunch at 3:00pm while I was updating the Translation Awards website, and didn’t get back to my apartment until after midnight. I’ll write a proper report later, but for now I’d like to mention the masquerade. The entry we picked as the winner had a Mr. Tumnus costume, including proper faun legs. I thought he had probably bought them from WETA, but afterwards I discovered he had made them himself. I am seriously impressed.

Loadsa Photos

One of the jobs I have been working through this weekend is processing the photos that Kevin took while he was over here at Eastercon. My apologies for him for having taken so long. Hopefully his mom, sister and nephew can get to see them now.

We have a selection of photo albums taken in London:

And couple taken at the convention:

The Admiralty Ball ones, of course, include pictures of us in costume.

Finally I have posted my own photos from Alt.Fiction. These are actually taken in and around Derby, in particular the magnificent exhibition of Rolls Royce engines in the Old Silk Mill.


I have done panels, had meetings, supported Nalo and Richard, and MC’d the masquerade. I am still alive. This is a miracle.

My feet beg to disagree about the “alive” thing.

Huge thanks are due to Richard for taking over running the masquerade judging while I made a fool of myself on stage. Thanks also to some great contestants.

Sleep now.

The Hordes Arrive

This morning I did the meeting with the literary agency and discovered that the main staircase at this hotel is drunk. If you want to know what that’s like, imagine taking a corner in a car when the road has adverse camber. Now imagine walking up a staircase that does a similar thing. It is very disconcerting, especially when you are half awake.

The papers this morning covered a range of topics from the writing of Nalo Hopkinson and Octavia Butler; to Donald Duck comics; to myth creation in Middle Earth. At one point we ended up having a conversation about Tolkien-based religions. My new friend Sophie, who studies comparative religion and did her PhD in “Messiah figures in science fiction”, says there is a guy in Denmark doing his doctorate on the Jedi movement and a couple of Tolkien-based religions. I want to meet this chap.

Lunch was in a very nice Indian restaurant. A “hot” vindaloo in Finland is pleasantly flavorsome to an English palette, but it was only 8 Euro including a salad starter, rice, dahl, naan and a tea or coffee. Good value.

By the time we got back the convention was in full swing. There were people in anime costumes everywhere. Toni Jerrman reports that a local Japanese restaurant had to close because they ran out of food, being deluged with a crowd of people obsessed with everything Japanese. Cat ears are few and far between this year, as are “free hugs” signs, but I have seen some very impressive wolf heads.

The Turku committee is a bit young and green, and has managed some of the con-running equivalent of, “hey, let’s re-invent the wheel, I bet none of those old fogies thought of making one square before!” There are, ahem, some very strange scheduling choices, and the program book has the panels listed in alphabetical order. However, everything appears to be running with the customary efficiency and I’m looking forward to it getting into high gear tomorrow. I’m doing three things: a panel on selling translated fiction; a panel on this year’s Hugo nominees (which I expect we’ll scrap as it is scheduled against Richard’s GoH speech and one of the few Swedish language items); and MCing the masquerade.

Fashion Technology

Jennifer Ouellette has yet another wonderful post up. This one starts from the basic idea of trying to persuade Lady Gaga to write a physics-inspired rock opera and goes from there on a lovely romp through the fashion and music industries. A lot of time gets spent on fashion designer Hussein Chalayan and his ideas about self-modifying clothing. There are also digressions into such fun bands as ArcAttack and OK Go.

I’m all in favor of interesting clothing. If it can modify itself in useful or entertaining ways, so much the better. But I can’t help thinking that fannish costumers have been doing this for a long time.

Jen, if you are reading this, these pictures come from the Best in Show entry at the 1995 Worldcon in Glasgow. I know some of the folks involved.

The Tanu group

Single Tanu lit up

(As I recall, Maggie Percival was the prime mover for the project.)

Weta Has Legs

Well of course a weta has legs – six of them in all. But I’m talking about those clever design people in Wellington. They now have legs, and you can have them too (at a price).

Obviously there must be something special about these legs, and there is. They are, to be technical about it, digitigrade stilts. That is to say, they are leg extensions that give the impression that you are one of those animals that walks on its toes rather than on its heels like we do. Like, say, a faun, or a werewolf. The idea, of course, is that these things can act as a skeleton over which all manner of interesting costumes can be built. Movie effects people do this sort of thing a lot. But the Weta Legs (as they call them) are not specialist items for stunt men, they are a commercial product available to anyone.

At NZ$1320.00 a pop they are still only for the serious costumer, but they have been designed to be strong and comfortable enough for extended wear, and to allow the user to run and even dance in them. I remember all too well Dave Wake breaking a leg falling off home-made digitigrade stilts at an Eastercon masquerade. These things are expensive, but they could have saved him a lot of pain.

The Legs have been designed by an American sculptor and inventor called Kim Graham, and if that name sounds familiar that’s because Kim has also been responsible for some magnificent sculptures at convention art shows, such as this dragon head that I reported on years ago.

The Legs have been undergoing trials over the past year so serious costumers probably already know about them. As for the rest of us, we can look forward to seeing some spectacular creations at future masquerades. As I’ll be at the New Zealand NatCon in Wellington this year, I hope to get some video of the Legs in use. They may well turn up at Worldcon in Melbourne as well.

Here’s a photo of Kim wearing a set. For a much better view, watch the promo video.

Weta Legs

Linkage in Progress

Today has been another busy one. The Day Jobbe has taken up much of my time, but I did get to look at a small, fully furnished cottage that just might be exactly what I need. I’ll be putting in an application tomorrow. Meanwhile I have a few links for you.

– Issue #3 of Yipe!, the costuming fanzine, is now available.

– Science in My Fiction discusses how to cook pasta on Mars.

– The Florida Family Policy Council of Orlando proves that no lie is too outrageous when it comes to hating gay people.

– And finally, over at SFWA, Nnedi Okorafor tries to decide what it means to be African. Some of what she says is remarkably reminiscent of ridiculous turf wars over who is a “proper” trans person, and indeed who is a “proper” science fiction fan. Identity politics can be dangerous stuff.

Costuming Linkage

Issue #2 of Yipe, the costuming fanzine, is now online. It includes reports from various events, articles by my friends Espana Sherrif and Jean Martin, some extreme mockery of Chris Garcia (because everything involving Chris has to be extreme in some way) and another photo of the Sparkly Goths from the St. George’s distillery visit. That one isn’t as good as this for Kevin and myself, but it does show Kevin Roche and Spring very nicely.

And for the benefit of those people who still maintain that costuming has no place in the science fiction community, here’s the Secretary of SFWA in an outfit she wears for her day job.

Out and About

The last 24 hours have been fairly busy for Kevin and myself. We’ve managed no less than four separate events in that time.

Last night we attended the Transgender Day of Remembrance service in San Francisco. It was extremely well attended — not just standing room only but packed solid. The event went very smoothly, and included messages of support from Mayor Newson and the State Senate (the latter delivered personally by Mark Leno). It is always depressing to attend such events and hear about how many people have been killed (often very brutally killed), but at the same time it is good to see more and more people expressing sorrow over the murders, and more politicians prepared to stick their necks out by doing so themselves.

Having finished there we headed off to FyDySyFy, a Friday night fannish meet-up that takes place in the bar of the Hyatt Regency down by Embarcadero. It is a fairly small event — there were only six of us there — but the hotel is truly spectacular inside and the hot buttered rum they were serving as a winter warmer went down very well indeed. Many thanks to Espana Sheriff for inviting us along.

This morning we had a board meeting of SFSFC, much of which was given over to a post-mortem on the World Fantasy Convention that we ran. Thankfully most people seem to be very happy with us, though the art show was well below par and the World Fantasy Board appears to never be happy with the performance of its operating committees. Most importantly, we did not lose money, though the people who are continuing to spread rumors of rapacious profiteering on our part will need to be very creative with our accounts in order to justify their claims.

Finally this afternoon a group of us headed up to Alameda for an open day at St.George’s Distillery, our local vendor of superb flavored falling-over-water. The theme of event was “prom night” and there were many fine outfits in evidence, but we decided to go as the school’s goth kids. Kevin Roche and Andy Trembley were superbly attired as ever, and my outfit went down sufficiently well for one young lady to ask me if she could have her picture taken with me.

As well as various spirits, fruit liqueurs and so on, the event features numerous quality food vendors, including another local favorite: Recchuiuti Chocolates. There was also a band called Farewell Typewriter who played mostly cover songs but were very good.

So I’m totally rocked out on absinthe and 80’s pop numbers. Thankfully Kevin makes a wonderful designated driver. I’m now off to drink lots of water and orange juice. I’ll leave you with a photo of us in the old aircraft hanger that the distillery calls home.

Cheryl & Kevin in Hanger One

Introducing YIPE!

Here’s a new fanzine for you all to read. YIPE! is a fanzine for costumers, and it is co-edited by my good friend Kevin Roche. Issues 0 and 1 are available online here (in both low-res-easy-download and high-res-full-photo-awesomeness versions). I am looking forward to seeing the complaints from Corpse Fandom when it gets a Hugo nomination.

Masquerade Good and Bad

As I have noted over on my live masquerade coverage was torpedoed by decisions made elsewhere. I am slowly calming down from wanting to drop the person responsible from the highest building in Montreal, into a deep pit that leads directly to a pool of molten lava.

Thankfully the show itself was very good. We had 26 entries totaling around 40 people. Most of them appeared to be very competent. My den required almost no looking after. Amongst my den, particular congratulations are due to Midna the Imp, who walked off with the Best in Class Workmanship prize for novices. The half time show was a bit of a flop, but I enjoyed myself anyway showing Irene Gallo and Don Dos Santos around backstage.

I’ll write a lot more in my con report, but right now I am falling asleep at the keyboard so I should go to bed.

AussieCon 4 Masquerade

One of the things announced at yesterday’s Closing Ceremonies was that the convention-s co-Fan GoH, Catherine Scholz, has accepted the post of Masquerade Director at AussieCon 4. Catherine and her husband, Steve, have not traveled much, so they are unlikely to be well known to costumers outside Australia, but having seen them in action here I can assure people that they are very fine costumers. The announcement also means that the masquerade is going to be staged by members of the Australian Costumers’ Guild, which is excellent news.

By way of a statement of credentials, here’s a photo of Catherine I took this weekend (with apologies for not giving her time to steampunk the cellphone).

Catherine Scholz

Catherine and Steve can’t afford to go to Montreal, but two of their friends from Adelaide, who have also been good friends of mine for many years, Medge & Bean, will be there. Hopefully they can answer any questions that costumers have about the A4 Masquerade.

Medge and Bean

D3 Masquerade Video – The Bear

Given that I’m into doing video at the moment, I have finally got around to finishing the final piece that I shot in Denver last year. I’d been putting this one off because I had it in my head that YouTube would only allow up to 5 minutes, and this one raw was longer than that. However, doing the Neil & Amanda stuff I saw that the actual limit was 10 minutes, and anyway after editing this one was actually 4:59.

So now it is online, and I’d really like you to watch this because I’m very pleased with it. Stephen Clark’s bear is one of the most impressive costumes I have ever seen, and the video tells you a lot that won’t have been at all obvious if you only saw it on stage.

There are also several stills of the bear, including one of me having a bear hug, in my D3 masquerade photo album.