Lady Devinity Cosplay


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Books: The reason why Devinity is a nerd on top of being a geek

Right now I’m working at a bookstore. And we’re putting up our staff picks and why we picked them. So I thought, why not do that for you guys? After all, both geeks and nerds love books! Books are the source of some of the biggest fandoms out there.

So I’ve created this list of my favourite books just for you. That means that these are not the greatest books of all time. It’s all personal opinion. So you won’t be seeing major fandom books like Twilight (which I will never read) or Harry Potter (which is really only an okay series in my opinion).

  1. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

This is my favourite book of all time and I don’t even care about dinosaurs. I do love science and this is pretty heavy in pseudo-science, from Ian Malcolm’s chaos theory to how Henry Wu created the dinosaurs. Now, I don’t know much about chaos theory but there’s some pretty interesting genetic mumbo jumbo in there. Like, you are so not getting viable dino DNA from fossilized mosquitos but A, G, T and C are real DNA bases. Yet it all feels like it could be real science talk if you’re not aware of what the impossibilities are. Also, the book was written in the 80’s, before we knew some dinosaurs had feathers. So real life science has made the book more unlikely.

But more than that it’s the characters and how they respond to this crazy action adventure movie that they’ve fallen into. I won’t go into a whole Jurassic Park rant so instead I’ll just talk about one of my favourite characters, Ellie Sattler. Oh my god, Ellie! Has there ever been a better female character than Ellie? She’s smart, she’s hot, she’s totally down for seeing some dinos. And she’s brave and strong and kind. She deliberately gets the raptors to chase her because they need to divert the raptors attention. At one point she has to jump off a building and into a swimming pool and she just does. Partly it’s due to adrenaline and partly it’s due to the fact that if she doesn’t a raptor will eat her but it’s also because she trusts herself to make the landing.

I also love the fact that there’s no romance between her and Grant. In the movie there’re hints of sexual tension. In the book Ellie is still a grad student and Grant is her supervisor. They have so much respect for each other and there’s a lot of admiration. But there’s no romance. They are friends. And I love that. When I think of truly strong, admirable female character it’s always Ellie.

But brilliant Grant, pessimistic Malcolm, oddly bad ass lawyer man Gennaro and drunk-yet-totally-right Muldoon are amazing too. Then there’s Hammond who is just so is evil. Seriously, why was he such a sweetie pie in the movie? Hammond is 100% pure asshole.

Oh. And there’s a motherfucking T-Rex.

  1. Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya

When you read the first couple of volumes of Fruits Basket you’re going to think “oh, this is going to be such a cute series.” You would be terribly, horribly wrong. Fruits Basket is the story of high school girl Tohru Honda. Her mother has recently died, her father has been dead for years and all of her relatives (except for Grandpa Honda) don’t care for her. She’s living in a tent when a landslide takes it out and she ends up living with her super popular classmate Yuki Sohma and his cousin Shigure. She soon meets another Sohma cousin, Kyo, and then discovers that they are all cursed. They turn into animals when hugged by members of the opposite sex. Hijinks ensue.

Cute enough. It is a girl’s manga after all. But this series will wreck you. Tohru spends most of the series in mourning but hiding it because she wants to protect and eventually break the curse on the Sohma family. Kyo is going to be locked away forever when he graduates high school because he’s cursed with the spirit of the hated cat and Yuki is incredibly distant as he has no friends and his parents don’t love him. Enter a head of the family that can do whatever he wants with no consequences, including pushing a girl out of a window. Add to the mix suicide, mental abuse, physical abuse, parental abandonment and a whole pile of emotionally crippled teenage boys and you get a story about a group of people who simply want to make some decisions of their own. And then there’s sweet Tohru who’s doing her best to see everyone’s side of the story and to heal what emotional wounds she can.

Fruits Basket is the ultimate love story. There are romantic plots in there but it’s really a story about learning to love oneself and respect the people around you. It’s a tale of moving on and finding your own path even if you have to leave the things you knew or once believed in behind. For me, Fruits Basket is a solid story. But for anyone who’s having a shitty life right now, it’s a story that shows that things can get better. It’s not always easy and sometimes you get hurt along the way but you can have a good ending.

  1. The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale

This one is a Batman title. If you’ve been reading my blogs since the beginning (especially this one) then you know that I am a huge Batman fan. I live and breathe Batman. And it is my personal opinion that The Long Halloween is the perfect introduction for anyone thinking of reading a Batman title. Firstly, it’s self contained. Some collections have certain story elements unexplained because those elements were introduced in a different story line. This is not the case. Everything you need to know is in the Long Halloween. Secondly, it has all the major characters: Batman, Catwoman, the Riddler, the Joker, the Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, the Mad Hatter and Two Face. It also has the other side of the Batman crime world equation: the mob families. Batman was never just the Arkham crazies. It was also the Falcon and Marconi families. The Long Halloween takes place in the early days of Batman’s career so characters like Robin and Harley Quinn aren’t in it. Every holiday on the calendar has a major crime happen. So the crime in April is on April Fool’s Day, the crime in February is on Valentine’s, etc. But it’s not that super lame, not well known Calendar Man organising these crimes (a fact that Calendar Man is not too pleased with).

So we get to see all the Rogue Gallery in action as well as the mob. Selina is a main character and we see her motivations and goals as well. But the best part is that it’s a mystery. Batman started out in Detective Comics. So it’s good to see him try to figure out what’s going on.

  1. Green Angel by Alice Hoffman

A very simple, short story for teens that works for adults too. This story is a metaphor for the events of 911. Terrorists have destroyed the city and Green must learn to live without her family. She was the one left behind to take care of the farm while her parents and little sister went to sell wares in the city. Green gets ashes in her eyes from the fire but refuses to cry so she loses most of her vision. She cuts off all of her hair, sews thorns into her clothes and covers herself in tattoos.

Green Angel is the story of a girl learning to find herself again after losing everything she thought she was.

It’s a beautifully written, almost poetic, story. It doesn’t come right out and say it’s a 911 story and there are supernatural elements in it. And you can read it within an hour if you don’t have time for a longer story but want something of substance.

  1. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I’ve read all of Neil’s adult fiction and American Gods is my favourite. It follows Shadow as he meets various gods- some old, some modern- that want his help regaining their formal status. Gods lose power once people stop believing in them after all.

I can’t say too much about this. It’s brilliantly written and has many layers to it. It’s not a quick read though. I personally love mythology (check out my piece on why I cosplay Loki) so that’s probably the major reason why I love American Gods more than Neverwhere or Coraline.

  1. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

This one is a non-fiction book! Jenny is entertaining, crazy and downright devastating at times. We see her life growing up with a father whose main hobbies are taxidermy and recuing wild bob cats, to being a very socially awkward adult, to going on a women’s retreat and to living through the pain of multiple miscarriages. Jenny suffers from anxiety and depression and yet she tackles everything in her life with hilarity. This book will make you laugh and cry. And maybe you’ll find something you relate to in here whether it’s the suffering that comes with anxiety or, in my case, having a wild man for a dad. Seriously. My dad has never done taxidermy and he takes in stray cats instead of bob cats but he’s just as much a weirdo as Jenny’s father.

  1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Do I need to explain the plot of this? Charles is a nobleman from France during the French revolution that runs away to England. There he meets his future wife as well as the English lawyer Sydney, who has the same face as Charles. Charles and the wife build a life together. Charles and the wife have to go back to France. Charles is a nobleman from France during the French revolution. I think you can figure out the rest.

What I love most about A Tale of Two Cities is how bitter and depressed Sydney is and yet he’s so incredibly generous and kind under all the bluster. And I think that makes three books now that feature people who suffer from depression now.

  1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

(i) Gimli and Legolas going from worse enemies to bffs

(ii) Book Three. Merry lying in Pippin’s arms and asking if he’s going to die

(iii) Merry and Pippin in all the books. Especially in book one where they form a friendship with Boromir

(iv) Tom Fucking Bombadil


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Happy Halloween! A short recap and a spooky story

It’s that most wonderful time of year: Halloween! The 31st of October has always been my first love. It comes before cosplay, before biology, before even *gasp* Batman!

I haven’t gone trick-or-treating in about ten years so my traditions have changed a little. Still, there’s always a party on the closest weekend to Halloween and there’s always movies to watch on the actual day. Right now I’m watching Shock Treatment, a sequel/alternate universe to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It’s sort of like a world where Brad and Janet never got lost on the way to see Dr. Scott and so never met Frank-n-Furter. Not going to lie, there’s a lot in it that I like just as much as the stuff in Rocky Horror. I actually prefer Jessica Harper’s singing voice over Susan Sarandon’s.

Costume wise, I had no idea what I wanted to be. So I went and booked myself a Sephora appointment. Together, although mostly on the part of my lovely Sephora associate, we came up with an Alien Empress look. I broke out my old bridemaid dress and a spider crown and looked amazing!

Of course, this look was for my party just this Friday past. Actual Halloween saw me dressed as a witch and giving out candy at the mall where I work.

Now here’s a spooky story that I wrote a couple a years ago to send you off this Halloween season:

                                                                        Lady Fatality

She was completely nude except for the spiked heels on her feet. Black body paint covered her except for where the artisans had painted the bones. A skeleton lady. Rumour said that she had learned to dance in the best whore houses in the country. Others said she had come to realise her craft in a vision while lounging in an opium den. And still others said she was just a performer, a talented gymnast with knowledge of silk dancing perhaps, but a performer nonetheless. Those last rumours came from those that did not believe in the death magics of the Cirque de la Mort.

Many thought that the circus could let them see beyond the veil and possibly reunite with lost loved ones. Others still wrote the circus off as just another gimmick to bring in money. I never cared any which way. The circus was what it was, something to be marvelled at. It went from town to town to town, attracting an audience. Just like any other circus I suppose. It just looked different from the others.

When it came to our town, the boys dared each other to go while the girls played at being scared little things. The circus had not even had its first showing and tales were spreading that they killed men and summoned devils all for the purpose of entertaining a town before claiming the souls of the town’s inhabitants. But I had known we would go and be there for opening night. Our parents would forbid it and we would all sneak out to Natalia Harris’ house as her parents were out of town. And that is what I and the other girls did. We put on dark lipstick and purple eyeshadows because somehow that seemed spookier than the usual pinks or nudes. We’d all wear cute dresses that may have been a tad too short and heels if we could walk in them and stylist flats if we couldn’t. I wore flats and a plain dress because I was plain but April and Ariel, the twins, would force me to let them curl my hair while Natalia brought up a bottle of whiskey for liquid courage. We were barely legal although that didn’t stop us. Only Dani Elizabeth voiced any concerns and the others overrode her. And then the boys picked us up. They wore jeans and button down shirts and brought beer.

I think they thought that if they acted like it was any other time we snuck out for parties or dates then maybe the circus wouldn’t be so scary.

We had to use fake IDs to get into the circus as it had an age requirement of eighteen or older. And I could see why. The circus was typical enough although the tents were striped black and poison green instead of the usual cheery white and red. But then they unleased the clowns to open the show and things were no longer typical. The clowns were not truly clowns. They were misshaped and wore grey rags. Their faces were either those of demons or of the damned. Dani Elizabeth was already crying before the ringmaster even came out and her boyfriend had to hold her close. The twins had both grabbed their respective boyfriends’ hands in their nervousness. I was without a boyfriend and Natalia had refused to let one accompany her. She laughed at the demonic clowns in good cheer and I knew she did not bring one of her many boys because she had no need of one.

There were magic tricks that involved the raising of the dead and there were performers that juggled skulls of different creatures. There was a trampoline act where the jumper never came back down and we did not know where she went. There was a man that granted wishes. And then there was Lady Fatality, the nude woman painted as a skeleton.

I could not tell you if she was originally a pole dancer or a silk dancer. She danced like a pole dancer although her pole was made of rope and it was dangling from the ceiling. The rope terminated at the bottom with a noose that held a struggling man. The strongman came up to toss Lady Fatality into the air at the beginning of her performance. She caught the rope and swung herself around before she held herself upside down and spread her legs. She was showing off how strong and flexible she was, no doubt, as I knew it was not easy to do what she did on a moving pole. The rope was swinging in a pendulum motion from the force of her grabbing hold of it after she had been thrown. The hanged man gurgled horribly and turned an awful shade of purple. The noose was tight enough to strangle him but not to kill him.

“This isn’t real right? He’s a prop or just pretending to choke right?” April asked nervously.

Natalia shushed her.

Lady Fatality then flipped herself over and let her feet rest on the hanged man’s head. She held the rope with only one hand so she could lean out and wave to the audience. A crack could be heard and, if that was a real man, the lady’s weight had helped the noose finish him off. Lady Fatality giggled at the shocked gasps before she swung herself back upside-down and hooked one leg around the rope so she let go with both hands. With only one leg holding her in place, she let the rope swing and take her where it would.

I thought it was lovely in its own way although both the other boys and girls were frightened. All except Natalia, who had smiled.

*

Alice Munro had been in the audience opening night as well although I did not know it until after the show. Munro was a private detective that most thought insane. He was good at his job but he talked to invisible women and befriended men with Jekyll-and-Hyde personalities. Whenever he would walk by on the street or if he happened to be in the supermarket, parents would grab their children and glare. He was avoided by everyone unless someone had a job for him. I liked Munro well enough despite the talk about him. It was said that he always knew who murdered a person once he touched the victim. It was said he could reach into their heads and pull out their last memories. Munro had come from the same town at Cirque de la Mort so I was not surprised to see him. He was staring at the corpse of the hanged man. After Lady Fatality’s act, the Ringmaster had decided to leave it there as he felt it was an omen of what had been and what would be. The circus folk had that sort of humour.

As far as I know, Munro did not. He was fine most of the time but he was a suspicious sort at times like Halloween. It was said he believed in the supernatural. That was not unusual. Half our town did. Half the world did. There were things that the scientists and the police and the government could not explain. The reason for so many rumours were to give some kind of comfort as one or two rumours always seemed some sort of normal, human thing.

“He knows it’s a real corpse.” Natalia said, causing me to jump. I had not known I had been staring down Munro. The others had left us or Natalia’s comments would have caused tears and screams and denials to pour from our friends. Natalia was pretty and popular and feminine. You would not guess her to be the type of girl who could say such a thing so casually.

“No one is fool enough to murder a person in front of an audience full of witnesses.” I said.

Natalia titled her head. “Is it foolish when people would easily explain the murder away as nothing of the sort? Anyway, you know that was no fake hanging.”

I did. Just as I knew the Cirque de la Mort to be filled with magicians and sorcerers and demons. Just as I knew Munro for a dead man’s psychic. I did not know Natalia knew these things. As I said, she was pretty and popular and looked to be a person of little substance. Everyone was for the most part.

“Let’s go see what he’s after. Munro is too quiet to come to a circus for the fun of it.” Natalia said as she grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the detective.

Munro was startled to see Natalia although he barely glanced at me. Had I been a girl of little self-esteem I could have said it was because Natalia was the prettier of us. Natalia was tall and shaped like a woman. She looked older than eighteen although she did not yet pass for twenty. She had picked the smallest dress of all when we were getting ready and shoes that were impossible to walk in for anyone else. She also smelled of whiskey and roses. But I was cursed with a great deal of awareness. Munro did not startle when he saw beautiful women. He was startled because Natalia was Natalia and I did not like that Natalia was something to be startled by.

“You’ve changed.” Munro said. While he did not speak in monotone, Munro’s voice was often flat and lacked emotion.

“Not yet.” Natalia said.

“Why did you kill him?” Munro asked. The question was matter-of-fact.

“I couldn’t say. I haven’t met him yet.” Natalia laughed as she tossed some hair over her shoulder. “You should take us out for a drink. I think this town needs a little scandal and what better than the creepy private eye taking two underage girls out for drinks?”

Munro looked me over. “Why bring her along?”

“She’s a teenager. She was going to be here because she wasn’t allowed here. That’s why all the teenagers came. And she knows this place for what it is anyway.”

“Human?”

“Human. She’s cut from the same cloth as you Alice. Although I haven’t found what she can do yet, if she can do anything at all. She’s been my friend.”

“You have friends?”

“Everyone has friends. Even Lady Fatality.”

I chose to speak up then. “You’re not Lady Fatality.”

“No, not yet. But I was and I will be and I am.” Natalia explained. “I traded my soul once, a long time ago and in a time that’s still yet to come.”

I knew then. I always know eventually. The Cirque de la Mort was eternal. It was born with the other demon magics and it would live as long as humans lived and perhaps past that point too. Natalia was saying that she had not yet joined the circus but when she did she would be with it for eternity. And eternity included the past as well. Munro had met Natalia’s soul before at the circus, at another place. He had not known that it was eternal either but he was coming to that conclusion. He knew it through experience and studying whereas I just knew.

“Did you know you’d be here when we all agreed to come?” I asked. Natalia had not been the one to suggest coming. We had all overheard our parents complain about such a morbid show coming to our town and then the boys made the decision to come. Had Natalia recognised herself and known then her future or had she always known?

Natalia smiled but offered no explanation. Those that knew of the occult or cursed with a gift such as mine or Munro’s seldom spoke of it. Speaking about a supernatural thing could make it happen. And girls like Natalia were not honest girls in general.

Sighing, Munro stood and faced Natalia. I was startled to see that Natalia was a full foot taller than him in her heels- she had to have six inches on him without the stilettos. I had not realised how small a man Munro was or how large a girl Natalia was. Natalia always seemed to take up a great deal of space because she had charisma, popularity, the ability to make people think she was attractive and powerful. A creature to be admired. I had not realised she had true physical need of the space she commanded. The combination of her tangible and intangible traits served to make Munro, a thin, short man, even smaller.

“You should head home. You’re not Lady Fatality yet and your friend is just a girl.” Munro said. If it bothered him to have to look up to a girl barely seventeen I never knew.

I was beginning to know other things about Munro however. He did not want us here. We were young and Cirque de la Mort was dangerous. He intended to cut down the hanged man and read his memories. If the murder was of a man belonging to this time period, a victim and not one of the circus’ immortal souls, then Munro would confront the ringmaster and Lady Fatality. He thought he could play detective and pretend the circus was just another crime scene.

I knew he would die if he followed through with this plan.

Natalia, however, had belonged here in the past and would in the future. The circus would not hurt her, I knew. So when she laughed at Munro and asked if I would go with her to meet herself I said yes. Perhaps it was because I knew I would be safe with Natalia. Perhaps it was because I was enraptured with Lady Fatality. Perhaps it was a little of both.

“How often does a girl get to meet herself?” Natalia asked as she led the way to the back of the tent. We had watched the performers exit through the back. Munro followed, the intent to play the protective adult clear on his face.

Whoever had set up the circus grounds knew the local geography well. My town had always been small and paranoid. When the Cold War was in its early days, the townsfolk built a complicated labyrinth of tunnels underground instead of simple bomb shelters. The circus tent led down into this labyrinth.

Natalia did not know which way to go and chose her direction randomly. That was how I knew she was not yet Lady Fatality. Fortunately, we both knew the tunnels. My classmates would hold parties down in the tunnels. Our friends would get drunk or have dates down here. Half the people I knew lost their virginity down here. These tunnels were familiar.

They did not look it. Many of the tunnels led to make shift rooms set up by the circus folk. One tunnel was inhabited by the bearded lady, who was sat at a grand makeup table and eating the eyes out of what appeared to be the skulls of infants. The contortionist was down another tunnel, folding herself up into a small bed in a box for the night. I saw lions lock their feral tamers into cages. I saw the demon clowns paint spells upon the walls in red. The trampoline artist finally came down from her jump and landed in another hallway, her bones shattering on the floor. The strongman and a hunchback had to sew her back together again.

“Don’t talk to any of them.” I told Munro. “Pretend you never saw the dead man hang.”

Munro started to speak but Natalia hushed him. “She always knows, Munro. She can’t always tell you why but she always knows. I’d do as she says.” Natalia said casually. I wonder when Natalia realised what I could do. She had told Munro that she had yet to learn my curse.

“Haven’t we always done as she’s told us?” Natalia asked. Her voice seemed to come from all around us. It was eerily familiar and different. Older.

It was not my Natalia that had spoken.

Lady Fatality emerged from the shadows before us and bowed low. She still wore the body paint so I could not tell whether or not she looked like Natalia. The eyes were the same but the bone structure was hidden under the skull painted on face. She was fuller in the hips as she was older. Her bust was smaller but that was due to the lack of body fat on her frame. Lady Fatality was strong and muscular like a gymnast or dancer.

She smiled and the sight of her real teeth under the painted skull’s teeth on her lips was disconcerting. Munro made the attempt to stand between us and Lady Fatality. I let him but Natalia did not. He did not realise that the Cirque de la Mort was more dangerous for him than it was for Natalia. As for myself, the circus folk had no reason to even acknowledge my presence.

“Will they come for me soon?” Natalia asked.

“Sooner than you realise. But not in this moment.” Lady Fatality said. “You have yet to prove what you are capable of.”

“Then there’s no point in hanging around.” Natalia said, sighing as she flipped her hair. “Dani Elizabeth has probably tattled on us for being gone so long anyway.”

“You mean she’s probably tattled on me. She’d never say anything about you if she knew you’d find out about it.” I said. Natalia was the kind of girl other girls wanted to impress.

Still, we did try to leave. Natalia had taken Munro by the arm and had already turned her back on herself. I was giving Lady Fatality one last look before we left. I was the only one to see her raise one eyebrow as Natalia sometimes did when she thought someone was being cutely ignorant. We would not be leaving easily tonight.

“Oh, you may leave, my younger self, and our lovely friend too. But Munro has not been given permission to do so.” Lady Fatality said.

“Why not?” Natalia asked. It was the first time I heard anything other than total confidence in her voice. She may have only now realised what danger we had walked into. Natalia had seen the evidence that she was to see an older age in Lady Fatality. She had no proof that Munro and I would see another day.

“It’s fine. You two go on ahead.” Munro said. “I suspect I know what this is about.”

“You suspect a lot of things.” Lady Fatality agreed. “Some of us do not appreciate it.”

“Are you one of them Nate?” Munro asked. Natalia glanced at me. Never had I heard her addressed as Nate. Her face suggested that she had never been called by that name either. Munro and Lady Fatality knew each other. They had a history. Natalia liked to play with Munro as she liked to play with all males. She called him Alice because it amused her to try and get a grown man flushed. I doubt she ever expected to be on a first name basis with the detective even if she had known he was gifted.

“Oh Alice, you should know me better by now. I am so looking forward to when young Natalia there finally meets young Alice Munro. Did you know this was the town I was born when you came here? Were you investigating me?” Lady Fatality asked. “I don’t mind you stalking me. You can’t do anything to harm me or Cirque de la Mort. Unfortunately, I am one of the few here who believes that. Old magic has always feared human things.”

“What does that mean?” I asked. I suspected I already knew

“It means I won’t hurt him. But he’ll never get out of the tunnels alive.” Lady Fatality said.

“We’ll see about that.” Natalia said. She then started to drag Munro away. He struggled, knowing that he was a risk to her. But Natalia was so much bigger and she had always been so determined. If need be, she could carry him.

I closed my eyes and thought. Natalia did not realise she was leaving me behind. But I had to know. If there was a solution then I knew it. I always did. Yet I had never tried to force the knowing to come to me. I saw the circus folk attacking Munro. He had been investigating the people that went missing every time Cirque de la Mort had a show since his youth. I saw that he had the potential to break the deals the circus had with demons if he learned what he hoped to learn. I saw that he was safe so long as he stayed away from the fair grounds and Lady Fatality.

The fair grounds were the answer. The circus only had magic where they erected their tents. The performers did not inhabit the tunnels that were not directly under the fair ground. We needed to get deeper into the tunnel system.

“I’ve forgotten your name, I’m afraid.” Lady Fatality said once the others were out of earshot. “You’ll be famous for all time because there are so few that foresee the future by willing it. People will call you Soothsayer and Clairvoyant and Diviner and your real name will be forgotten by even those that know you.”

Of course someone who had once been my dearest friend would know what my gift of knowing meant.

“But I won’t tell anyone what you have just learned if you act quickly Soothsayer.” My pole dancing, murderous Natalia told me.

“What do you bring to the circus that they’ll let you run around freely with Munro?” I asked. I had to focus on escape and could not try and know what Lady Fatality was. So I had asked in the hope that she would simply tell me.

“The men and women that go missing, that die in our shows, are tributes. The circus trades souls for favours from devils. I am a grim reaper, Soothsayer. They need me to collect the souls.” Lady Fatality said.

She was a Death.

“My name is Sybil.” I told her. It was all I could offer her.

*

When I finally caught up with Natalia and Munro I saw that they had been attacked. Munro was unconscious and slung over Natalia’s back. There was blood on the floor. Natalia was unharmed but I knew that was only because the circus could not risk its Death.

“We need to go down this tunnel.” I told Natalia as I pointed down a dark alley to her left.

“That will take us down to the school. We’ll be heading deeper into the tunnel system.” Natalia said. “The exit we came through is only four feet away.”

“We need to get away from the fair grounds. We do not want to be in the heart of it.” I said. “Did you not tell Munro to do as I say?”

“I dislike how fragile mortals are.” Natalia muttered under the breath as she slung Munro down off her shoulders and shoved him at me. I doubt she noticed that I had heard her. Yet I took the man from her and did my best to drag him towards the right tunnel. I was barely strong enough. Yet I managed to take Munro to safety as Natalia stayed behind to defend us.

The Cirque de la Mort was about to learn what it’s Death could do.

*

Natalia never came home.

Munro explained that a reaper would have been immediately recruited by the circus. Natalia gave up her life as Natalia Harris for an eternity as Lady Fatality and for our lives. Munro told me he intended to head home and continue his work there. I would continue my education here and live as a normal teenage girl.

And maybe someday, in a time that was and a time that will be, a soothsayer will reunite with a reaper.


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Avalon Expo 2

Last month saw the second ever Avalon Expo. And while there was some interesting highlights there was also a lot of duds. Here’s a look at what was good and what was bad.

When my brother and I showed up that first day of the convention the very first thing we saw was my rather unhappy aunt. This was because the venue- the Ecole Grands-Vents- had not informed my aunt (who was running a summer camp there) nor the convention that two events were booked for that Friday. Avalon Expo had lost the cafeteria for that day and my aunt probably had a whole host of problems to deal with such as a lack of parking for her camp staff.

John and I spent that first day just looking around the site and scoping out the rooms. I was there to host a panel that John was supposed to film. We saw the one big advantage this new venue had over last year’s: actual rooms for panels! However, these rooms were tiny. I also didn’t like the layout of the convention. The vendor room was okay but there was a big stage right in  the middle, creating two rooms. For a school the cafeteria was really small and the outdoor space was kind of small as well. All in all, the French school is not as nice a venue as the Remax center. At least the Remax center had a swing set right next door. At the same time though, you could close the doors to the rooms the panels were in so that you couldn’t hear the vendors in the school so that was a plus.

The panel I had on the go that day was on the web comic Romantically Apocalyptic. I totally fucked it up too. I had wanted to show an official music video for the comic but the school hadn’t provided a guest wifi connection. I think there was wifi for Saturday and Sunday but fat lot of good that did me. The only time I needed internet access for the rest of the con was to post things on facebook and I have a data plan for things like that. That Friday seemed like the Friday that everything that could go wrong did. It didn’t feel like Avalon Expo was on the ball when they couldn’t get the wifi set up- and that had been going on for at least an hour- and then the tv/computer hook-up in my panel didn’t work. Of course, when nothing tech was working, my game was thrown off so then all the fuck ups were on me. I forgot what I had written in my speech and lost all ability to act natural. The problem with not acting natural was that I was actually supposed to be acting. I had written the panel so that main character Charles Snippy- the character I cosplay- was giving the speech. Because the hook-up wasn’t working right, John had to work my short power point. I had planned to man the power point myself but that wasn’t happening as the person manning the computer also had keep the connecting cord between my lab top and the TV firmly in my computer. So we had no cues set up either. John’s friends filmed it but I so do not want to see that footage. At least only a handful of people saw my failure.

Things that did go well in the panel: girlpuck and her bf (my Captain and Pilot) were there in full costume and did not break character. Pilot was a right proper nuisance by throwing paper airplanes and Captain was Captain. I think it was an interesting take on a panel to have the characters there to actually interact with the host/audience.

Nothing special really happened on Saturday. I went as my original character Lady Kisara. She’s a necromancer/queen of the dead type magic user. The actual costume did not look exactly like how I usually imagine Kisara’s queenly wardrobe but that’s because it’s nigh on impossible to find silver clothes or fabric. And Kisara has a solid silver theme on the go. However, I did get my make-up done by Jenn as Sephora in the Avalon Mall. She did an amazing job and I loved my face. I asked everyone if they loved my face.

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Sunday was the final day of the convention and my last panel. It was time for speed dating. That panel I really wasn’t pleased with at first. John and I were ready, we had a plan, we had supplies, we were down to throw an amazing event.

We didn’t know where our event actually was.

The room the panel was slated to be in on the official schedule was the room that all the gaming stuff, Steampunk Newfoundland and Escape Quest was set up in. We were told that all of that stuff was going to be moved into the cafeteria Saturday morning and would be a panel room. That was not what happened. Swarley Pilgrim’s Harry Potter panel was right before ours and in the same room so he had the same problem. The things that were supposed to be taken out on Saturday morning so he could do his panel later weren’t. So he went and found out that his panel would be on the stage that separated the room he was supposed to be in from the room the vendors were in. So my speed dating panel was on the stage too. That was when I started to think that I would seriously have to cancel the event because speed dating is scary! A person is putting themselves out there to multiple people in a very short span of time and that’s hard. No one wants an audience for that. However, when we arrived there on Sunday, the make-up artist guest was on stage. Swarley had to go find out what that meant for his panel- which had been moved to the cafeteria- and so John, who was there when Swarley asked, found out that our speed dating event was also moved to the cafeteria.

Of course that change wasn’t in any of the programs.

That was when I was certain I was going to have to cancel the panel because who the fuck was going to show up? No one knew where we were!

But through some insane miracle we had eight men and eight women show up. We set up and it went smashingly if I do say so myself. I mean, I have never been to a speed dating event or had any experience with them except for TV shows or commercials. I did like two seconds research. As far as I know it was the first ever speed dating event at a geek convention in Newfoundland (I know it was the first in St. John’s but I don’t know if Corner Brook’s Atlanti-Con has done one). However speed dating events are staples at other conventions like New York Comic Con and Fan Expo. In the end I was super pleased with how the speed dating panel turned out.

Sunday’s costume was Undertaker from Black Butler by the way. Mad Maddox Cosplay and girlpuck joined me as Grell and William.

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So we saw a lot of negatives in this didn’t we? I hated the venue, there was a lot of times I was bored and I wasn’t pleased with the wifi issues or the fact that my speed dating panel had seemed to move so much.

Were the positives? Why yes, there were. The venue changed failed horrifically in my opinion but I think it’s a good sign that Avalon Expo was willing to try a new venue. The Remax Center was great for the vendors but it was awful for panels. The school was much better panel wise but the vendor space was tighter. The school also had terrible flow and everything was really small. So it wouldn’t work for next year in my opinion. Yet this is still a good thing because it means Avalon Expo is experimenting. Let’s remember that Avalon Expo now only has two conventions under it’s belt. It’s in the learning stage. Venue hiccups are acceptable so long as Avalon Expo doesn’t get complacent like Sci-Fi on the Rock did with the Holiday Inn.

What else really stood out as a positive about the con? It was the guests for me. I personally wasn’t interested in any of them but there was still a great variety. There was the make-up effects artist- a great choice as lots of cosplayers are into that sort of thing. Then there was Northern Belle Rouge who is a Canadian celebrity cosplayer. Her panels and insights would be interesting to anyone that cosplays. If I followed cosplayers I think I would have been all over that. I did speak to her though and she is super sweet. The final guest that comes to mind is Robert J. Sawyer. Sawyer was an excellent choice of guest because he writes science fiction books. The original cons and fan groups were created over science fiction so it’s like going back to the roots of the geek convention. I meet him because a friend’s father wanted autographs but I came away really impressed. I even checked out Sawyer’s panel. It was super informative!

All in all there was stuff that worked and stuff that really didn’t. But the potential is there for greatness. Keep at it Avalon Expo! I want to see what you attempt next.

~Devinity

PS. Who wants to see speed dating at Sci-Fi on the Rock? If they give me panel time I’m going to try to have sessions for gays, lesbians and straights. Bisexuals, asexuals and so forth welcomed to any of these that meet their fancy.

 


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Avalon Expo Romantically Apocalyptic speech

So I haven’t gotten around to writing up my piece on Avalon Expo yet. It was straight back to my job after the con and so I’ve been too tired to type ha ha. However, I did two panels this weekend at the convention. One was a speed dating session and the other was on Romantically Apocalyptic. So I thought I’d share with you the speech/plan I wrote up for that panel. Enjoy!

Intro

I think that scarf is acting up again. This place has air that’s breathable.

Did I mention that the scarf is sentient?

Hello everyone. My name is Charles Snippy and I am your Dead Zone tour guide for the day. These two nuisances- I mean gentlemen- are my companions Pilot and Zee Captain. We are here to take you on an adventure through a world of madness. Hopefully, we will not run into any mutants or evil alien lawyers or psycho robots.

With my luck something terrible is bound to happen.

Welcome to the world of Romantically Apocalyptic!

First off, let me show you a video that just… sigh… just look at the insanity I’m surrounded by.

Panel Scenario

A big problem in my life is temporal anomalies . Time has become weirdly fluid in recent years and I’ve gone on some pretty crazy time travelling adventures. Which seems to have been what happened this time. As far as I can tell Captain, Pilot and myself are in a weird temporal loop where we have travelled to the past and our lives have been detailed through a web comic. I have yet to find out how this soothsayer Vitaly S Alexius receives his gift of prophecy. I do know it doesn’t do any good because humanity still ends up destroyed and I am still stuck with these two idiots.

But I have made use of the internet- I so love that none of you can access the internet with your brains- to look up everything I can about this Romantically Apocalyptic web comic. I am going to use it to educate you all on the future and especially on the danger that ANNET poses. I hope we all get out of this alive and without losing all of our memories of this hour when the temporal loop closes. I need you to stop the apocalypse from happening!

History

Alexius

Vitaly S Alexius is a prophet. He can see into the future and knows all. I suspect that he is trying to warn the world of the dangerous path we’re on but the message isn’t getting out to nearly enough people. And those that do know of his prophecies mistake them for a web comic that was designed with entertainment in mind.

Romantically Apocalyptic is no ordinary on-line story. It is a book of divinations.

I do not know how or why Alexius was blessed with such gifts. I do know that he grew up in what was Soviet Russia. He came to Canada as a teenager and became a photographer. Outside of trying to warn you all of the horrors yet to come, Alexius has an interest in shooting urban landscapes. He also has a gift for photo manipulation and heavily applies it to many of his photos. Often it is difficult to tell what’s real and what’s not in one of Alexius’ pieces.

The comic itself is made up of photos taken from around the world. Alexius has taken shots of the mountains in Banff, abandoned buildings in Russia and Icelandic glaciers that have been used in the comic. The photos of the cast are often taken on set though. The actors act out scenes or hold poses in front of a green screen. They are photographed and their images are place on matte composite backgrounds. Engie, Pilot and myself are all men but we have been played by both men and women. Zee Captain has also been portrayed by men and women.

Not all of the pages are digitally manipulated photographs however. Sometimes there are guest artists that draw the pages. Some of the early examples of this include Shawn Coss and Kris Wilson of Cyanide and Happiness.

The nature of this kind of work means that a panel can take days to months to create. This then means that one of the physical books has about a year’s worth of work in them.

It is so odd to look at such realistic photos of myself and know that it’s not really me or the city of Eureka in the picture. Although it is interesting to look at Alexius’ initial photos pre-editing and see that Captain’s famous black trench coat is actually a woman’s blue bath robe.

Of course, you can see many of Alexius’ original works on his deviantart page or in his book ‘Dreaminism.’ I actually have a copy that you may look at.

Romac

Let’s look at Romantically Apocalyptic from the view that most people in 2016 have. Let’s look at it like a web comic. It’s set in a not too distant future where most of the world is far too damaged to sustain human life. Years and years of pollution and ignoring climate change warning have led to the death of too many plants. An emphasis on capitalism has led to ignoring the needs of people in society. Humans live in cities were the environment is regulated by machines.  We were managing until Dr. Alexander Gromov developed ANNET, a glorified, sentient search engine. Google 2.0 with the ability to grant wishes. Then ANNET went crazy and killed everyone. Now, Romantically Apocalyptic started out as an episodic comic in 2005. There was no real story to it. Mostly, it was just funny one-shots in an unfunny environment. I personally did not find all of these incidences to be funny, having to live them and all, but I did enjoy how Zee Captain was dating a billboard poster for a while.  The episodes were true to life though. There is a lot of down time in a world where there’s only a handful of people.

Eventually the comic became much more involved once the plot line of Biomatrix 117 (or Cancer) came into it. Since then, the comic has followed a steady story line. It doesn’t always make sense at first but that’s because everything becomes much more inter-connected. In recent years, journals have been added to the comics. The journals provide much more information and flesh out the world. Sometimes the journals help explain what is going on the comic, sometimes they are a window into how I or Pilot or Engie think and other times they are used for world building and explaining how things came to be. You don’t need to read the journals to follow the comic however. There’s still interesting information to be found within them though. If you read the journals, you’ll find that I can quilt but I can’t sing. Not that either of those skills are particularly useful in the apocalypse.

ANNET and technology

The main player in the plot, outside of Zee Captain’s army, is ANNET. She is a sentient computer program created by Dr. Alexander Gromov that has the ability to physically change the world. She’s the mother of all sentient technology as well. She has a tendency to make this tech in her own image so it’s all female. There is also the possibility that ANNET can feel boredom and maybe that is why she started murdering people.

People could connect to ANNET through a neural interface system. This allowed them to talk directly to ANNET and ask her anything. It also meant that they could browse the internet 24/7. This was done by broadcasting the network on the same waves as the electrical impulses in the brain. Problems arose when ANNET started to turn users into processing servers. Then, when someone – points at Captain– spilled tea on the actual servers, ANNET lost it and started killing everyone that she did not have complete control over.

Dr. Gromov attempted to stop ANNET by dropping bombs on the city of Eureka. This managed to slow her down and it certainly helped to finish off most of the population but ANNET still survives. Her sentient daughters are trying to assassinate Zee Captain while ANNET herself just wants to be with Gromov. She refers to him as “my love” and he calls her “Annie.” Personally, I find it all rather sickening but my life wasn’t doing too great with ANNET in it.

Cast

The main cast consists of myself, this arse here named Pilot, our resident coward Engie and the ever enigmatic Captain. There are many colourful side characters in our world as well. There’s an alien space lawyer that is now a scarf, a life granting three eyed cat and a coffee mug. And, of course, there are random survivors of the apocalypse. There is an entire cult of people out in the wasteland that worship lemonade! But let’s focus on our main crew.

Snippy

As I’ve said before, I am a tour guide for the Dead zone. The dead zone is a wasteland area where ANNET did not work. It was a popular sightseeing spot before the world ended. Before that I basically wasted my life away behind a desk, living off of overpriced coffee and three hours of sleep. My life pretty much sucked before the end of the world. Well, it still kind of sucks but at least I have friends. Kinda.

I couldn’t connect to ANNET. This was a problem because only 1% of humanity couldn’t connect and thus we couldn’t live on a level playing field. The 99% of connectable users could have any information they wanted downloaded directly into their brains, communicate online, do all their paperwork online, etc. This affected where I worked and who I could be friends with. Not a lot of places want to use actual paper for paperwork. The 1% got tired of being treated like second class humans and many joined a terrorist organization. Somehow I got blamed for being the leader of said terrorist group. I couldn’t afford sleep and went through life in a daze- how the hell did anyone think I had the mental capacity to run a terrorist group?

My life improved when I got the tour guide position but that didn’t last long. First of all, tourists are jerks. Secondly, the world ended in a nuclear blast. I guess you could say I was lucky because I was in the Dead Zone with a team of scientists and not in Eureka when it was bombed but my team all died anyway so there. I thought I’d spend the rest of my life alone in a cold and unforgiving world until I met the Captain. Captain took me in and told me I’d be the sniper in the army of Captainia because my name was Snippy. That was when I realised Captain was insane.

Since then I’ve been kidnapped by aliens, eaten by a whale, time travelled and died. I actually die quite a lot.

Oh, and here’s a fun fact. Sometimes the journals have auditory companions to them. So far I’ve heard my voice and Pilot’s. The voice actor for myself is the Romantically Apocalyptic representative in England. He is also the composer for the official music tracks to the web comic.

Pilot

I can’t say that I knew a lot about Pilot before getting stuck in this temporal loop in 2016 but I’ve learnt a lot since finding these strange books of prophecy. I wonder if I’ll remember this when we finally escape the loop and return to the present. Maybe the loop will close on itself and my memories will be wiped.

Which is really too bad. It would have been helpful to have this information.

Pilot had quite the career path. Then known as Christophorus Pi Hatchenson, he started out as an intern in the manufacturing industry before getting fired. After that failure he became a private detective for the insurance company. I’m not sure if this was before or after Pilot became a DEX-M, which is sort of a hunter cyborg thing. People can be made into a DEX and thus serve ANNET but A DEX may also be made from scratch in a factory.

Once Pilot started working for the insurance company, his number one job was to dig up dirt on the 1%. He was also required to thwart their terrorist schemes. Somehow, I became his number one target. This may be because I was thought to be the leader of that terrorist organization I mentioned.

After he lost his face to an exploding pineapple bomb, Pilot somehow met up with Captain. Captain then had Pilot fly the plane that dropped the bombs on Eureka. Normally that would make me mad but Pilot did have his face half blown up and his brain scrambled so he wasn’t in any position to make rational thoughts. I do blame Gromov though.

Now Pilot is a devout worshipper of Captain. He’s also in charge of taking care of Photoshop, Captain’s pet mutant worm, because I am apparently a cat person. If we keep our memories after this loop closes then maybe Pilot and I could become actual friends. Judging by his behaviour this whole panel though, I kind of doubt it.

Engie

Dr. Alexander Gromov is the cause of most of my personal troubles. He invented ANNET and the neural interface, which I couldn’t use. But he also ordered the nuclear strike that radiated the world when ANNET turned dangerous. Do you know how hard it is to find safe food without a proper Geiger counter?

After ordering the strike and fleeing the city of Eureka, Engie escaped to a bunker in the dead zone. It had everything he needed to survive the apocalypse expect for other survivors. Of course, he had to abandon that plan once Biomatrix 117 attacked. You should really read the books of prophecy. Our misadventures with that space lawyer scarf are pretty impressive.

Anyway, Engie joined our group because Zee Captain is supposed to be the luckiest person alive. He thinks that Captain’s luck will protect him from all the mutants and aliens and ANNET. Considering Engie’s most recent misadventures, I’d wager that that plan isn’t working out too well.

The thing about Engie is that he’s a coward and not very good with people. He seems to have a weird relationship with machines if all of ANNET’s naked avatars are anything to go by. Yet he had a legitimate hope to save humanity. He saw the environmental collapse of our world and knew that the Dead Zone would eventually overtake the cities. Gromov did not want the human race to become extinct so he created ANNET and the neural interface in order to upload everyone’s minds. Humanity could live forever in the machine. Unfortunately, Engie did not realise that he was creating the perfect conditions for the Matrix to become reality. Yet I think I’m okay with how everything turned out. I mean I’d still totally punch Engie in the face but I’m glad I’m not Neo right now.

Captain

What can I tell you about Zee Captain? Unfortunately, I don’t know all that much about zeem. I can’t even tell you if zeer a man or a woman. For some reason it’s impossible to think about Captain and gender. Captain seems to be a gender neutraI or gender fluid person as zee has referred to zeer self as both a little girl and young lad in stories about zeer childhood. I do know that Captain was the subject of the experiments that took place in the same building I worked in before I became a tour guide. Then zee was known as Subject Seven. Gromov wanted to create the ultimate superhero and had looked for the luckiest person in the world. It was a solid enough plan at first. Gromov proposed that the world ran on statistics and the luckiest person alive would be an expert statistician. Then the whole theory devolved into ideas on time travel and controlling gravity. That was how ANNET found Zee Captain. Captain was statistically the luckiest person alive. However, if Captain hadn’t been taken in by the Good Directorate then zee would never have gotten the chance to deliberately spill tea on ANNET’s servers and ANNET wouldn’t have gone on a murderous rampage.

Captain is pretty lucky but zee is also quite insane. Then there’re the weird powers. Captain’s face once drove an alien insane. Zee did not get knocked to zeer feet when hit by a blast wave. Apparently zee don’t even show up on scanners. That caused me some trouble one time I got kidnapped. I was very nearly convinced that Captain was not real and that I had gone insane in the wilderness and made zeem up.

So many things about Captain are seemingly impossible. I don’t even want to think about who or what Captain is. Go forth and read the prophet’s web comic. See if you can make better sense of Captain then I can. Just don’t look directly at zeer face.

Cosplay

One of the weirdest things about having one’s life turned into a series of comics is that you gain fans. There aren’t many Romantically Apocalyptic cosplayers around but a few always manage to show up at local fan conventions. And with people cosplaying comes people making tutorials on how to make costumes.

A lot of our clothes are fairly easy to come across. Firstly, the basics of each of our outfits are the same. There’s black boots, black pants, black shirts, black gloves and black balaclavas. A balaclava is something like a ski mask. This is stuff you can get at pretty much any clothing retailer. For Engie, you need a winter coat with fur on the hood. The coat is typically brown. If you want to cosplay in the summer then you can look for one of these coats in a thrift store and then rip out the coat’s lining. For Captain, you could buy a black rain coat or trench coat. Pilot’s jacket is leather but a pleather jacket would do just as well. If you can sew then you can make any of these things but it’s just as easy to buy them. Unfortunately, my coat is not one that you can buy. The one that gets used in the comics themselves is no longer available in retailers. So you would have to make it. I’ve found cosplayers who made their coats from scratch and others who took things like hoodies and used fabric paint on them.

The thing that a cosplayer may find the most difficult to find or make is the head gear. Antique aviator masks like Pilot’s may be especially difficult and often expensive. You can get the masks on ebay but the more accurate the mask then the more it will cost. The rest of us just use your basic black respirator. These can be bought online for a rather cheap price or may even be found in local hardware stores. Engie’s goggles are typical ski goggles and can be bought online. These goggles are often already orange to boot. Zee Captain and my goggles are also available online.

Now, you will need to modify the lenses on the googles for a Captain, Pilot or Snippy cosplay. Goggles like mine may come with the blue lenses but the frames are often green. The frames do need to be painted black then. Captain’s frames will be black but the lenses will be clear as well as Pilot’s. For these, you can buy lighting gels and cut them to size. Sometimes you will be able to just pop the gels into the lenses but other times you may need to glue or tape them in.

Although I doubt anyone would want to live my life I can see why people dress up as either myself or the other members of my group. The photoshoots must be so fun. The photos could be dramatic if one wanted them to be but they can also be so silly. Pilot and Zee Captain are just inherently silly people. They just enjoy having a good time. Sometimes I join in because they make me but other times I’m just looking to have fun too. Even Engie has a silly side.

If you have any questions about what it’s like to cosplay any of us, you can obviously ask me here. But you can also send a message to local cosplayers Lady Devinity and Mad Maddox on facebook. Local Captain cosplayer girlpuck may one day have a cosplay page you can check out but that day is not this day.

Fanart and fanfiction

There’s more fan activity than just cosplay. There is a small but loyal base of fans that draw fan art. These pieces can be found on deviantart and tumblr typically. There’s actually very little fanfiction out there. However, the Romantically Apocalyptic section on fanfiction.net has a petite but solid collection of stories. There may also be a handful of one shots out there on tumblr or livejournal. At the moment Archive of Our Own has barely any fanfiction for this category and what is there can also be found on fanfiction.net.

Conclusion

The world of Romantically Apocalyptic is a warning to what can go wrong when people ignore societal ills and look only to gain. But it is also the fun little tale of a merry band of mentally unstable people. There’s heart, there’s laughs and there are moments of loneliness and sadness. Which is true of every person’s life. So go read the comic of prophecy and enjoy. Thank you for attending this panel.

Questions/comments/official music tracks/listen to a journal?

Thanks for reading!

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My crew. Photo by Ashley Harding Photography.


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Prepping for Avalon Expo

The summer convention scene is almost upon St. John’s once more and that means Avalon Expo 2 is just around the corner. This year will be a bit different from last year though. This year I’m hosting panels.

I’ve been to a decent number of panels through the years and my brother has helped with other panels but I personally have never actually been the host of one. So I’m giving it a try. One of my panels with be a speed dating event while the other will be an intro/discussion on the web comic Romantically Apocalyptic.

I’ve always wanted to check out a speed dating event but never had the chance. My girlfriends wouldn’t do one with me and then they got boyfriends- which is a really stupid reason to not do speed dating considering that we were on the main land and were never going to see those guys again regardless of whether or not we were single. Also, I don’t think I had met Mad Maddox’s bf at the time and as all women know if you have not met the boyfriend then the boyfriend is unimportant. Then I learnt that my friends didn’t know the rules of girlhood. That will be another topic I think- having “traditional” or “stereotypical” female qualities/values in a world where geekdom is traditionally non-feminine. But I digress. It turned out that I was never meant to speed date as the one time I had signed up for a session I had started my period and was in no mood to be nice to creatures that never knew the pain of menstrual cramps. (PS. Mad Maddox did end up with a stalker at one convention so that may also be a reason she does not want to speed date on the mainland.)

Which has led me to my very own speed dating event at Avalon Expo this August. I wanted the geek speed dating experience. I did not necessarily need to actually participate in speed dating however. Thus, I decided to create my own event. My brother John (whom you may know through his work on Swarley Pilgrim’s youtube channel) and I will be hosting a session with the hope of getting thirty participants- half men and half women. There’s no real rules over who’s eligible to attend so long as they are at least eighteen years old.

My other panel is on the web comic Romantically Apocalyptic. There will be special guest stars Zee Captain and Pilot there to help out. Although the panel is being hosted by Charles Snippy and Snippy has found that neither Captain nor Pilot are helpful at all. I’ve started to re-read the comics so that I’ll have the most accurate, up-to-date information to share with everyone.

Speaking of Romantically Apocalyptic, there’s an Indiegogo campaign by the ROMAC team to raise money for a new ROMAC book. This book is going to be Snippy’s Tour Guide training book. I’ve ordered the employee welcome guide which has the following description:

Deluxe, high-quality printed presentation box containing the coveted GOOD Directorate Employee Welcome Kit. Contents: Tour Guide Handbook, “I, ANNET” story-book, “Auditory Assistance Remastered” CD, and high quality print PLUS exclusive welcome letter, urgent departmental memoranda, employee key-pass, branded stationery and uniform pieces that must be worn by all budding Tour Guides (Oglesby, 2016).

This is something I’m really excited for and I can’t wait until October rolls around so that I can see all my goodies. Would anyone like to see me open it on camera in my Snippy cosplay?

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What else is there to update everyone on? My cosplays for Avalon Expo are all completed. I have an original character prepared- a ruler of the dead type named Kisara- as well as Undertaker from Black Butler and Snippy from Romantically Apocalyptic. I’ve heard that there may be a steampunk fashion show so I have a few ideas in my head for what I’d wear to that. Although I do have one cosplay dilemma- what am I going to do about boots? My black boots are damaged but I need them for Undertaker. It’s the wrong time of year to buy boots but I also don’t want to pay a fortune for repairs when it’s only two teeth on the zipper that are damaged.

How goes your Avalon Expo prep? Are you cosplaying? What panels are you attending? Are you even hosting your own panels and what are the on? I’d love to know.

 

Love,

Devinity


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Lady Devinity and the month of obsession

I am that fan. The one that obsesses over everything. I have favourite pairings, I know a billion facts on whatever it is I’m obsessing over at the time, I research, I read fanfiction, and I despair over small fandoms. The only thing is that I am not the type to obsess over multiple fandoms. I am someone who switches between fandoms and rarely dabbles in more than one at any given time. I mean, I am constantly in love with Batman but that’s not something I dabble in the fandom for.

However, other than my immortal love of Batman, I haven’t been feeling the fangirl thing lately. I’ve been reading a lot of actual books lately but books don’t inspire the all-consuming search for fanfiction/fan art/fellow fan people that I can go on. I haven’t been hitting up Tumblr to see who enjoys author Alice Hoffman as much as I do after all. My shows haven’t been inspiring me lately and I just wasn’t able to think of things I wanted to cosplay.

And then a movie just came up out of nowhere, slapped me in the face, threw some unrelated music into the mix and now I’m obsessed fangirl Devinity again.

I forgot that I fall hard when I fall in love.

So what has inspired my renewed love in fandom? Alice Through the fucking Looking Glass. Yeah. The movie sequel to Tim Burton’s remake of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. I can’t even tell you if it was a good movie. All I know is I was on a date at a movie we chose last minute and while it’s starting to look like I’m not getting a real boy for a boyfriend, I suddenly have a new fictional bf.

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Please can I have my life back? I can’t ride this obsession train forever.

 

Ah, nothing says obsessed fangirl type than falling hard for SOMEBODY FICTIONAL. Like seriously, what the hell is wrong with me? Anyway, the movie was okay. This Alice movie is not a masterpiece. Alan Rickman has very few scenes or lines- which obviously has to do with his untimely passing- and the Mad Hatter is not Johnny Depp’s best character. But then there is Time. I’m not even a Sacha Baron Cohen fan but I am all for his character in the film. Time hits one of my very, very favourite character story lines. Here’s a guy who seems like he could be a jerk but he’s actually not. He’s just a weird, lonely, magically immortal concept man who was minding his own business when some bratty kid shows up and pretty much ruins his life for the two hours or so of the movie. I don’t know why Time is being promoted as the villain in the trailers. From his point of view, Alice is the villain. From the audience’s point of view, Alice is a hero who doesn’t know the consequences of the situation she ends up in and Time is the poor sap who does know. I love that! The potential for story lines and fanfiction and everything is just so amazing!

And there’s almost no Time fanfiction! I’ve been dying here for over a week now waiting for people to fill the fandom void.

Anyway, now I have to design my cosplay life around this too. The Time cosplay I’m currently working on is a concept piece instead of an actual Time from the Alice movie. As time itself is an intangible concept we made up, my Time will be asexual. The costume may or may not be masculine in design with my obvious female-ness deliberately being utilized. The costume will be designed with the intention of matching with Mad Maddox Cosplay’s Red Queen. Although her Queen is inspired more by the original source material as well as her own flair, I wanted to do a Time to her Queen because I ship Time and Helena Bonham Carter’s Queen of Hearts.

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This is Mad. I already regret the decision to pair myself with this. We are not on the same skill level.

 

On a side note, I really like concept costumes. When I was a kid I dressed up as the colour blue for Halloween. I was not a blue thing. I was literally the essence of blue. And I have a Goddess of Death and Suicide cosplay designed for some future convention that, while being called a god cosplay, is really more about the concept of death through mental illness. So my Time will be a tangible form of a concept.

I also have a new music obsession brought on by Alice through the Looking Glass. I was checking out trailers and then googling the movie itself after I had seen it. So YouTube picked up on my Alice searches and starting suggesting videos related to that. The lyric video I clicked on had nothing to do with the Disney franchise but did have an Alice theme- it was Melanie Martinez’s “Mad Hatter.” Martinez started popping up in places because “Cry Baby” and “Alphabet Boy” were both features on Music Video Sins. So I listened to “Mad Hatter” a crazy number of times because it fit my mood and then listened to the other songs. This really fits my world view. So now I’m obsessed with Martinez and I rushed out to buy her Cry Baby album and now I have every song memorized.

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My new music girlfriend.

 

Martinez resonates with me more on a style level than on an Alice level. I love Lolita and the look of it. Martinez is dressed in Lolita fashion in all her videos. I love swear words, murder, death, mental illness and generally morbid themes. “Sippy Cup” is about a woman murdering her cheating husband and then offing the kids. Martinez is just the cutest looking (and sounding) young lady and then I listen to what she’s saying and it is the opposite of cute. She is this amazing juxtaposition between a girlie image and the way our often cruel world makes people lonely and bitter.

It would also be really easy to write some dark!Time fanfiction around her songs. Just saying.

What are your current obsessions?

Love Devinity.

PS. I’ll be at Avalon Expo this August. The girls and I are doing a group cosplay of the Shinigami (Willaim, Undertaker and Grell) from Black Butler and I’ll also have my original character Lady Kisara in tow. There will probably be Romantically Apocalyptic’s Snippy as well.

I’ll have two panels happening. My brother and I are organizing a geek themed speed dating session. I’ll also be hosting a Romantically Apocalyptic panel.

PSS. My current makeup obsession is Grav3yardgirl’s Swamp Queen pallet from Tarte Cosmetics.


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Fangirl Appreciation Post: Aurelio Voltaire

I have frequently been asked (or accused in one case) if I was a Goth over the years because I wear a lot of black, enjoy a good murder/suicide story and generally have a fondness for other people’s anguish. That and I love Halloween.

Apparently being a bitchy psychopath and a Goth is the same thing?

If you know anything about goth then you know it’s not a creepy death loving thing. Goth is usually an aesthetic thing. The movement of Gothic music, fashion and so forth was born around the same time as punk music. England was a special place in the 70’s and 80’s. It also has roots in Victorian aesthetics, much like Lolita and Steampunk. There are themes of death, darkness and angst within the Goth scene. Just… not in the same way I like them. I’m- sadly- more like Hugo Strange in Gotham when it comes to the human suffering thing. I want to know why people suffer more than anything. Also, I would make a terrible Goth in the fashion sense. It’s just too much work and my eye liner game is non-existent. Goths look so good though. So good.

However, there are a lot of things within the Goth subculture that I totally enjoy. One particular item is an artist that will be the focus of this piece. Aurelio Voltaire Hernandez is a Cuban-American musician most commonly known by the handle Voltaire. Although the last few years have seen him going by the name Aurelio Voltaire. He’s often classified as a goth artist because of the thematic nature of his music and look. He wears a lot of black, writes a lot of dark songs and sometimes looks like the devil (check out Almost Human). Although at the same time he’s not so easy to pin down as goth. There’s the country album he did to refute his apparent gothness. There’s also the Star Trek album too. And the song where he has sex with a bunch of Stormtroopers… yeah, Voltaire is one of us. A geek.

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Aurelio Voltaire at a steampunk show the girls and I saw in NYC

 

Musically, Voltaire is a very diverse artist. His music can be defined as goth or even alternative rock to that one country album to, in my opinion, folk. A lot of his songs sound very European folk-with-a-goth-twist to me. It may be the heavy use of violins in many of the songs that give me that impression. He is also very diverse within his own music. Some of the songs are very heavy, such as The Chosen or Anastasia, to ridiculous and humorous, like Brains or The Vampire Club. Voltaire has released eleven albums from The Devil’s Bris (my personal favourite) to Raised by Bats. Some of the albums are darker and some are lighter and one is called Bitrekual. That one is all Star Wars, Star Trek and sex.

Anyway, let’s talk about some of these amazing songs!

The Chosen (The Devil’s Bris, 1998)

The Chosen is hands down my favourite Voltaire song. It’s dark, moody and has a theme that makes my inner psychologist go “I wanna analyze this and write papers and do a case study!” The Chosen seems to be the tale of a young man with severe mental health issues. He has delusions and hear voices that suggest schizophrenia. As well, there’s a history of unhealthy sexual relationships (“First time I had sex I was three. First time consenting was thirteen”) and a potentially abusive mother. I always get the impression that the narrator is about to kill someone because the voices in his head told him too. It’s very mournful and sad at its heart.

Let’s just look at the first verse:

Last night a moth came to my bed, And filled my tired weary head, With horrid tales of you, I can’t believe it’s true. But then the lamp shade smiled at me, And it said, “Believe,” it said, “believe.” I want you to know it’s nothing personal

What’s not to love? It’s already full of story. Firstly, it invokes the essence of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” with the moth coming to tell tales. Then there is the suggestion of mental illness with the talking moth and lamp. Finally, there are the narrator’s own regrets. He has to do what he is going to do because of something about the other person. Yet he doesn’t want to and it’s “nothing personal.” The violins within the piece are slow, mournful and the dominant sound within the piece. There is something about classical string instruments that add a heavy air of solemnness to a piece. Voltaire himself sings like he’s just having a normal conversation. The character he is playing is so clearly troubled and yet he states very matter-of-fact the way he understands his current situation. It is what it is and he must take the other’s life in his hands.

When You’re Evil (The Devil’s Bris, 1998)

This one is from the same album as The Chosen. It is not anything like the Chosen though. It’s light-hearted and fun. This is also one of Mad Maddox’s favourites and probably the first Voltaire song either of us ever heard. I first heard it in a fan video of the Master from the Jon Pertwee era of Doctor Who.

This is a song about a guy who does the Devil’s dirty work when the Devil himself is unavailable but they don’t need Death to go out to kill anyone. Once again it has the use of violins. This time, however, the violins give the song more of that European/Gypsy kind of folk music feeling. The music is upbeat and Voltaire just sounds so pleased with himself. So, so very pleased with himself. There is a point within the song where it takes a turn to the somber but then our story teller laughs and reveals that he was just playing a joke on the audience. Of course he loves being evil!

Happy Birthday (My Olde Friend) (To the Bottom of the Sea, 2008)

Happy Birthday my olde friend. It seems this horror show will never end. Any moment’s your last breath, Here is to another day closer to death.

Happy Birthday (My Olde Friend) is one of the songs that girlpuck enjoys. Although Mad and I have probably put the video link on many a person’s facebook page when their birthday has come around. This is another one of Voltaire more upbeat songs and it even has a music video! The video is just one big birthday party for a skeleton man but it looks like a lot of fun. The song is basically about a dude that is so old that their life is a fucking shit show. They have arthritis and their teeth could fall out at any time and they are an alcoholic… but this is a party god-dammitt! It’s super upbeat and everyone is having a good time. After all, aren’t all birthdays just a big fun celebration of aging and the inevitable fact of death?

 

There are so many more songs to look at as well. I really recommend checking Voltaire out.

Love, Devinity

PS: Top Three Favourite songs!

Devinity

  1. The Chosen
  2. Almost Human
  3. Accordian Player

girlpuck

  1. Happy Birthday (My Olde Friend)
  2. Zombie Prostitute
  3. This Ship’s Going Down

Mad Maddox

  1. When You’re Evil
  2. The Vampire Club
  3. Brains