Jupiter Ascending: The Good, The Bad, and The Beautiful

jupter 1

(Spoilers)

Responses to Jupiter Ascending have spanned the reaches between awful and amazing. Critics abhorred it while Tumblr users deemed it bad, but somehow good. Some people even went as far to say they worship it. One friend was overheard to have said, “It was bad and I just didn’t care.”

I was going to see the movie regardless of the reviews. Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum starring in a Sci-Fi movie? There was never any doubt I would see it. So when I finally sat down to watch this one, in a nearly empty theater, I was hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. I remained conflicted for the entirety of the movie. In awe, but conflicted. I kept leaning forward, nudging to the edge of my seat, to be as close to the movie as possible. In the end, I sat while the credits rolled in absolute silence before turning to my friend, tears threatening to escape my eyes, and said, “That was amazing. It was terrible, but it was amazing.”

Thinking it through, I realized the movie succeeded in almost every way. The cast, costumes, cinematography where all amazing. Where it failed was in its story-telling. My reasoning is as follows.

What the movie did right:

Visually Stunning

 This movie reached Avatar levels of beauty and other have compared it to the style of The Fifth Elements. Every new scene, new world, blew my mind away. The $176 million that went into this production was well worth it. My eyes flitted from corner to corner of the screen trying to take everything in. From the costumes and make-up to the worlds themselves, everything was gorgeous. There was a house filled inside and out with bees and honeycombs, an earth-like planet whose surface looked red from space because of all the flowers growing there, the center of Jupiter’s storm, it goes on and on. And there was an amazing contract between everything mundane and earth and everything space. Even Mila Kunis transforms from a drab, skinny house cleaner to a goddess.

jupiter visual 1

jupiter visual 3

jupiter visual 2

jupiter visual 4

 

Cast and Acting 

Upon first glance you may think the names Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, and Eddie Redmayne do not belong in a Science Fiction film. The darling of That 70s Show, Nicholas Spark’s favorite actor, and the guy from Les Mis? It sounds like a bad joke. Only Sean Bean rounding off the cast made any sense. But then you watch it and you wonder why you ever doubted them. Tatum’s awkward delivery and fierce protectiveness were spot on, Kunis perfected the confused-earth girl look and had some stinging one-liners, and Redmayne’s performance was all-consuming. I think he may have stolen the show playing the physically weak, soft-spoken, but powerful and quick to anger royal. His voice rarely raised above a whisper and somehow this eerie sickliness captured the character perfectly. And then you throw in the raw sexual chemistry between Tatum and Kunis and you couldn’t ask for a better cast.

channing and mila

eddie

 

Non-Human CG1

The producers used their budget wisely to have some stunning CGI creations. From the cyborgs with humanoid faces to the half-dragon/half-Godzilla warriors, these characters were done excellently. There is really no excuse for bad CGI these days, but yet we still see it all the time. (The werewolf in HP3 still makes me shudder.) I didn’t question the existence or reality of these creatures for even a minute, rather I wanted to know more about their backgrounds, their planets and lives.

jupiter creature 1

JUPITER ASCENDING

jupiter creature 3

 

Fight Scenes

I am guilty of being a fight-scene ignorer. I often zone out when watching them in the theaters (The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies was basically a nap) and if I’m watching them alone I pull out my phone and play 2048 or check Facebook until it’s done. I just have never really enjoyed fight scenes and the exceptions are few and far between. But I enjoyed every fight scene in this movie. I don’t know if it was Cain’s (Tatum) holographic, colorful shield or the fact that he wore Jupiter (Kunis) as an “adorable backpack” for a good portion of them. These, along with the rest of the movie, where stunning and also imaginative. We get to see Jupiter evolving in these scenes, from the beginning where she is clinging to Cain like a baby gorilla to the end where she fights Balem Abrasax (Redmayne) alone. We get to see the character’s use space technology to their advantage – In one scene Cain uses a device meant to open a portal between floors to hang his assailant when he removes the device with perfect timing and the floor closes around the pursuer’s throat. I could watch these scenes over and over again and not get bored as I discover more and more happening in them.

jupiter fight 3

jupiter fight 1

 

Costumes: Let’s all say it together… 1, 2, 3 … COSTUME PORN. Every single outfit was stunning and intricate, all the way down to Cain’s tattoo. But, of course, the real winners here were Jupiter’s gowns, make-up, and hair style. I actually said, “Oh my god, wow,” when she walked out in the black number and couldn’t take my eyes off her in the red and white wedding dress. And can we talk about the flawless makeup? Kunis’ lips are only second to Taylor Swift.

jupiter red costume

jupiter black dress

costumes caine

Costumes-01

One Liners: I will admit that this movie was funnier than it was probably intended to be. I don’t think the writers meant some of these lines to breed hilarity in the audience. Balem at one point screams, “I CREATE LIFE! And I destroy it.” I almost fell out of my chair. Clearly it was supposed to show the insanity behind Balem’s actions but really it was just hilarious. And Jupiter’s awkward forwardness awarded even more humor, the best of them being, “I love dogs. I’ve always loved dogs,” when Cain explains that he is closer in status to a dog than to royalty.

jupiter and titus

What the movie did wrong:

Concept: This is not the first piece of science fiction to wrangle with the concept that earth is simple a seed planet for another race. It may be one of the worst, however. In this story, humans are being farmed and turned into an elixir than will keep the rich young forever. 100 humans to each bottle of elixir means a lot of seed planets. And the three royals all inherited a large number of planets and have large stock in their elixirs. Earth is one of the most populate planets, owned by Balem and worth all his brother’s planets combined. Basically, everyone wants earth because an earth harvest will yield a whopping ton of elixir.

Along comes Jupiter, your average immigrant earth girl, cleaning homes and living with no less than 10 people. Only for it to be discovered that her genes are an exact replica of the three royal’s mother, she is a “reoccurance.” And it turns out their mother put an addendum in her will, just in case a reoccurance surfaced, that this person would become a royal and inherit earth. See the problem here?  So suddenly everyone wants her, either out of the way or dead, so that they can claim earth in her name. Balem is the most zealous of the three because he already holds earth, until Jupiter accepts her position.

All in all, a very weak, very odd concept. Why would you leave anything in your will for some nobody just because she has the same gene sequence as you? It is not as if she has your soul or anything special or different about her. In fact, one of the refreshing parts of the film was how very normal Jupiter was. She did not have special powers or abilities, she had to be a good person and makes friends to get by (Including the hunk sent to kidnap her, Cain Wise), she was awkward but good. The three royals however were very one-dimensional. The brothers wanted the same thing, to inherit earth. It is unclear what exactly the sister wanted which leads me to the next point…

concept

Plot Holes: Kalique Abrasax, played by Tuppence Middleton, played a very small and odd role in this movie. She helps Jupiter get off earth, half-heartedly explains what’s going on, and then sends her on her way. Nothing about this scene was clear. Why did she help Jupiter? Did she want Kunis to succeed because it would screw over her brothers? Did she want Jupiter to succeed for her own reasons? Did she want to help deliver Jupiter to the murderous hands of her brothers? And why did she tell Jupiter only half the story? And if the elixir made her young, how long had she refrained from partaking to look old enough for the dramatic affect of her transformation? What the hell was Kalique Abrasax’s role in all this? Cain could have found a way to get her off earth if his original intention was to deliver her to Titus Abrasax. And Titus later explains everything that Kalique does not, making her roll somewhat ambiguous and unnecessary.  Part of me suspects they needed another female face to round out the cast while her role was not entirely defined.

But what happens to Titus Abrasax is still not all clear. He wants to marry Jupiter and then kill her to get earth, but what of Balem? How does he intend to hold earth when Balem is as likely to kill him as anyone else. And what happens to him after Cain arrives with the space police and rescues Jupiter? The police leave with Cain and Jupiter, so who remains to make sure Titus doesn’t cause more trouble? And if no one is left behind, why doesn’t Titus follow Jupiter to … well, Jupiter?

And why did Jupiter’s father have to die? I mean, it adds depth to her character that her widowed mother needed to illegally immigrate to America from Russia and then live a life of virtual poverty but… once Jupiter was conceived, what was done was done. Her father dying, her mother immigrating, none of this has anything to do with Jupiter’s genetic pattern. She would have been a reoccurance regardless if she’d had two parents instead of one. The only thing having one parent gives her is the freedom to move about a bit more freely. Some may argue that his death leads Jupiter to become passionate about space and her namesake, which makes her want to buy a telescope, which makes her go to fertility clinic where her genes are put on file and she is discovered. And while it is true, I find it generally weak. It is a forced motivation.

And do the royals have any obligation to the people who don’t live on the seed planets, who are actually part of their population? Their only concern seems to be who inherits earth. And after the movie when Jupiter returns to earth to protect it… she is a royal now. Does she have any responsibilities to the court that will force her to return to space? It is not as if her royalty is unknown, she is officially registered as an “entitled” and I want to know more about what that means.

plot hole 1

A Mile Long and An Inch Deep: This was my biggest sadness when it comes to this movie. So much information is scratched but so little is elaborated on. What else do these people do except try to make more money, to buy more elixir, to stay young forever? What goes on in the city they visit to get Jupiter officially registered? What of the humans and non-humans that inhabit that place? Where do the dragon/godzilla creatures come from? Where do the Keepers come from? Where do the weird cyborgs with human heads come from? Who is running the government if not the royal family? Why is Cain’s friend Stinger (Sean Bean) living in a house covered with honeycombs? We are literally dragged all over the map from earth, to a random harvested planet, to Stinger’s house, to Kalique’s planet, to the space police ship, to the planet where Jupiter becomes an official “entitled,” to Titus’s ship, to The Great Red Spot on Jupiter. And at none of these places do we take a moment to stop and rest. We never get a chance to feel attached to these places or these characters. While I cared if Jupiter or Cain died, I had little regard for the rest of them. There is so much more content and context that could have been given to make the characters more relatable and the story richer.

jupiter city

What I want to come from this:

I want Josh Whedon and James Cameron to immediately stop everything they are doing and collaborate to make a Jupiter Ascending TV Show brain child. That is what I would like to see. In the end, I really liked this movie, I will watch it again, I will probably buy it on dvd. While so much of it wasn’t good, so much of it was and I choose to align myself to those parts.

What I think will actually come of this:

Fan art. Fan art galore. And not just paintings and doodles, but fan fictions and comic books, otps, cosplays, clothing, thinkgeek.com accessories, and everything that cult fans do. Already some of this has been surfacing, and only more is yet to come, like this piece by Deviant Art user Darey-Dawn:

jupiter_ascending_by_darey_dawn-d8grf9n

Ice Bucket Challenge & Water.Org

780 Million… the number of people world-wide who do not have access to clean water

3.5 Million… the number of people who die each year because of this lack

20 Seconds… the amount of time between each water-related death of a child

180 Gallons… the average amount of water an American uses per day

5 Gallons… the average amount of water an African uses per day

 

We have a problem. Around the world humans are dying because they don’t have access to clean water. Children are dying. Not only do these families not have access to clean drinking water, but the hospitals don’t have access to clean water to perform medical treatments effectively. Clothing and bodies are washed in muddy rivers because the little clean water they have cannot be spared.

Last month I was nominated for the Ice Bucket Challenge. Like anyone who uses social media, I was aware of the challenge and its widespread effects. I knew that the challenge was worsening the drought in California. I knew that some people thought the challenge a waste of clean water when so many people around the world have no access to clean water. I had been developing a plan to donate to a water charity as well as to ALS when I saw Matt Damon’s challenge.

Matt Damon uses toilet water for his challenge to really hit home a point – the toilet water in the US is cleaner than the water in most of the developing world. So my sisters and I decided just donating to a water charity was not enough, we needed to try to make a bigger impact, so we started our own fundraiser on Water.Org.

Water Equality is our hope to help people who don’t have all that we have. Out goal is to reach $750 and we only have 65 days left to do it. Celebrity fundraisers always reach phenomenal heights, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars. I’m hoping that enough people care enough to donate or to share this with their friends, we can make that goal and help a whole lot of people.

A donation of only $25 can give a person access to clean water for life. That’s two nice meals, a few books, half a concert ticket… it’s not a lot of money in the scheme of things. So please, donate what you can and share this post with your friends and family, on your own blogs, twitters, tumblrs, and try to get the message out.

If we reach our goal of $750, 30 people will have access to clean water and that will be 30 more than do today.

Please help and share.

Dresser Upcycle

It is the Pinterest era, a Do-It-Yourself world and I’ve decided to jump right in. I love the idea of DIY projects but have always been a little too shy and lacking in confidence do it, until now. I am moving in less than a month and don’t want to bring anything with me that won’t fit into my brightly-colored nerd-chic decor. My brown, worn, falling apart dresser with the “Where The Heck is Walldrug?” bumpersticker slapped across a drawer just wasn’t going to cut it.

So I decided to delve into Pinterest, do a little research on painting wood, and get at it.

 

Materials I used: 

3 medium grain sanding blocks ($8)

1 can Rust-Oleum Pure Gold Spray Paint ($7)

2.5 cans Rust-Oleum Satin Lagoon General Purpose Spray Paint (3.50 each)

1 Roll .94 inch Painters Tape ($3)

1 Roll 1.41 inch Painters Tape ($4)

8 bronze flower knobs ($1.30 each)

Total Project Cost: $43

Approximate Project Time: I spent about a week on this project, to allow for drying times. I did coats of two separate colors and there is a minimum of 48 hours between colors, so this could be accomplished in a long weekend.

 

Here is what I started with:

Dresser Foundationdresser drawers

I didn’t realize I was going to write a blog post about this project until after I had hauled the drawers to the basement and removed the aforementioned bumper sticker. But this still gives you an idea of what I was dealing with. There are dark edges on the drawers and on the top corners of the dressers. The edges of the dressers surfaces where also like this. They were coated in some sort of bubbly substance. I think the person who owned this before me tried to refinish it and used the wrong materials or applied the coating wrong.

 

Step One: Remove The Hardware

This step should be easy. After removing the drawers from the dresser, take a screwdriver and remove the handles. If you plan on reusing your hardware (or painting them too!) put them in a baggie with the screws and set aside.

You can see in my picture that one of my drawer handles is broken off. I decided to replace the hardware with some fun flower shaped knobs I picked up at Home Depot for about $1.30 each.

 

Step Two: Sand

In my opinion, this is the most labor intensive step, especially if you are going for a completely smooth finish. My dresser is really old and has a lot of cracks and distress line. I decided to sand it just enough that it would be smooth to the touch. This did cause some bubbling and unevenness to the paint later on, but I knew that would happen and had made peace with it.

Sanded Drawers

I didn’t take a picture of the sanded dresser, but it looked very similar to these drawers. You can see that the edges are still quite a bit darker than the rest, but the whole thing is lighter overall. I got the first layer of finish removed and all of the weird bubbly texture.

Something to remember when sanding, is that it’s not about might. Part of the reason I use the sanding blocks is they are very easy to use. Put on a glove, place the block on the surface, apply comfortable pressure, and move the block back and forth over the surface. You may have to apply more pressure to tricky areas or where there is water damage or some sort of build up. But generally this should not be a tiring task. Sanding the drawers and the dresser took me about 2 hours.

 

Step 3: Wipe Down Furniture

Step 3 A: Wipe down all surfaces with a dry clothe to remove sanding dust

Step 3 B: Before painting, wipe down surfaces with a slightly damp clothe to remove any excess dust or debris. I also run my hand across the surface to make sure I don’t feel any dirt.

 

Step 4: Prepare Work Area

Because my drawers are going to need to dry for 48 hours and I live in a humid and wet environment, I decided to paint in the garage instead of on the grass. I simply laid down a large old sheet to use to protect the garage floor. I also didn’t sweep the garage, which ended up being a lifesaver. The paint that did land outside of my sheet’s range fell on the dust leaves and not on the concrete. I was simply able to sweep away those areas, voila, no stained floor.

 

Step 5: Paint The Drawers!

I did a lot of research on how to spray paint wood and the general consensus was that spray painting wood looks blotchy unless to start spraying off the surface, move the can over the surface while maintaining pressure, and then not stopping until you are over the other edge. This was part of the reason the sheet was of vital importance, because I started and ended every stroke with the paint pointed at the floor. You want to make sure each new line slightly overlaps the line before it. I went back and forth, left to right to left. I didn’t count hope many times I sprayed but it was many. You want to do lots of lighter coats in layers instead of one thick coat, for optimal coverage.

gold drawers

The gold came out pretty even. There is a little bit of splotchiness but I think for my first ever spray painting job, it came out pretty well.

A word of warning: If you look at the bottom of the bottom drawer, you can see some darker drip marks. My spray can was dripping and I didn’t notice it. I fixed the problem and sprayed over it several times, but the marks wouldn’t go away. Make sure you’re shaking your can for a solid minute prior to painting and frequently shake while working. If you will be holding the can sideways and spraying from above like I did, wrap the can in an old work towel to catch any drips.

 

Step 5: Let It Dry (Let it drrrry! I am one with the wind and skyyyyy!)

Rust-Oleum paint suggests that the paint is dry to the touch in 30 minutes, the item is manageable in a hour, the paint is fully dry in 24 hours, but you shouldn’t paint again for 48. So I had to day to wait before I could finish the drawers. In the meantime I painted the dresser.

 

Step 6: Paint The Dresser 

I am a bad blogger and I didn’t take a picture of the dresser completed without the drawers finished.

In the time I had to wait for the drawers to dry, I painted the dresser with my Satin Lagoon (dark teal) color. I decided to be lazy and do this in one go, spraying the sides, top, and legs of dresser all at once. This was a mistep and I suggest against it. What you should do is lay the dresser on its side and spray paint from the top as a described above, let it dry for one hour, and then turn it over and do the next side, etc.

What happened is lots of dripping. I was able to wad up most of the drips and then lightly spray over it to make the paint smooth, but on one side of the dresser I missed a huge dripping area near the bottom. Those drips are now dried there and the only way to fix it would be to chip them off and paint again. No es bueno.

While the dresser is drying and once the drawers are dry, move on to the next step.

 

Step 7: Tape The Drawers To Create Desired Pattern 

taped drawers

I used the cheapest painters tape I could find at Home Depot, and it worked beautifully, so don’t worry about shelling out a fortune on tape.

So for my little drawers I wanted an outline around the edge and I used the .94 inch tape for that.

For the larger drawers I used the 1.41 inch tape. At first I was also only going to outline them but I decided that wouldn’t be enough of the gold color and decided to go with this crisscross idea I was on Pinterest. (A link to the article here.) But here’s the kicker… I didn’t measure. I just kind of winged it on all three of the bigger drawers, trying to make it line up as much as possible. A more mathematically skilled person, or a perfectionist, would probably measure. I think it turned out all right.

Some tips on taping: If you are going to crisscrossing tape in any way, make sure you press down the edges where they meet really well. I learned the lesson on the small drawers. I didn’t take extra care to press down the corners where the tapes met and the second coat of paint bled through in these areas.

Also, when you’re putting tape around the edges, make sure none of the edge is visible. In a few spots on the above picture you can see I added extra tape around the edges to assure I didn’t get the new paint on the visible edges.

 

Step 8: Paint The Drawers Again

Using the same technique as before, repaint the drawers. As long as your tape is secure, you should be able to go over it without it leaking into the first color.

My drawers covered in the 2nd color:

blue drawers

 

You can see that the entire thing is covered because I use the same method of starting to spray on the left side of the drawer and then not releasing pressure until I was over the right edge.

 

Step 9: Let It Dry & Remove The Tape

Let the drawers dry until they are at the “manageable” step, about 1 hour, and then pull off the tape. You don’t want to do this too early because the paint could spread into the first color. You don’t want to do this too late so the tape doesn’t try to pull up the new color. Start from one end and pull up and back, keeping the painted tape away from the drawer’s surface. Discard and enjoy your pretty pattern.

almost finished drawers

 

Step 10: Let The Drawers Finish Drying And Add Hardware

Let the drawers dry another 24 hours and then either reattach the hardware you’ve put aside or attach your new hardware.

added hardware

In the picture above, you can see on the smaller drawer where the paint leaked at the corners.

 

Step 11: Replace Drawers and Presto! 

Once everything is dry, put your drawers back in and there you have it, a completely redesigned dresser!

finished

My camera kept distorting the actual color of the dresser (teal/gold instead of blue/gold) so I added an instagram filter to get it as close to the actual coloring as I could.

I’m really proud of what I was able to do, especially since it’s my first ever upcycle and my first time painting wood. Despite the minor flaws, I am really happy with the outcome.

 

Before and After

before and after

Response to a Man telling a Woman She Should Carry a Gun

A few days ago someone told a friend of mine, in a discussion about sexism and ‪#‎yesallwomen‬ (not all men *eyeroll*) that she should be carrying a gun.

I raged. I raged a lot. And here’s an article explaining why.

But for those who don’t want to read the article (and will try to argue with me without reading the article), I leave you with this:

“Women with access to firearms become homicide victims at significantly higher rates than men. It has long been recognized that higher rates of gun availability correlate with higher rates of female homicide. Women in the United States account for 84 percent of all female firearm victims in the developed world, even though they make up only a third of the developed world’s female population.”

Paraphrased: In a case study, 71.4% of women who live with a gun in the home have had that gun used against them by an intimate partner. Only 7% of the women were able to successfully use the gun for self defense.

“Not a single study to date has shown that the risk of any crime including burglary, robbery, home invasion, or spousal abuse against a female is decreased through gun ownership.”

Now, yes, I understand that this article and data deals specifically with intimate home violence, but the statistics carry over to home invasions and street violence. Women with guns are overcome and then their guns are used against them. So telling a woman that she should assuage her fears by carrying a gun is callous and uninformed.

 

The article: 

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/02/having-a-gun-in-the-house-doesnt-make-a-woman-safer/284022/

How to Have Fun at Any Convention

It’s time for me to start writing my blog again, and with convention season well under way, and CONvergence (Minnesota’s ultimate 4 day science fiction and fantasy convention) right around the corner, I thought I’d share some insights about how I’ve learned to have a great time at any convention.

 

1. Bring Enough Money

I cannot stress this enough. You might think you won’t spend a dime, and maybe you won’t, but more likely you will. More likely you’ll spend a thousand dimes. My first convention I brought $100 in cash. I ended up spending nearly $300. And it’s not just the food and booze you will consume, it’s the stuff.

For me it’s the Artist’s Alley. You know, the handmade stuff, the anime drawings, the Benedict Cumberbatch paintings, the knit Pokemon plushies, the Supernatural mugs, the Hitalia buttons, the LoTR coasters, the Harry Potter scarves and hats and gloves, the Star Trek stickers, etc. Nerd artists have no limits and the amount of awesome one of a kind stuff you can buy is amazing.

Puppet

Want this guy’s awesome puppet?

2014-06-15 13.38.52

Yeah, I own that.

And then there’s the vendor room. Oh sweet nerd heaven the vendor room. Prints, mugs, wallets, cell phone cases, steam punk paraphernalia, Furry clothing, bathroom rigs, wall hangs, dvds, card games, board games, figurines, wigs. And, at anime conventions especially, the delicacies you can’t find in the US. At my favorite local anime convention, Anime Detour, the Melon Bread is sold out after the first morning. The first morning. There’s pocky galore, orange kit kats, ramune, etc.

And I know from experience there is nothing worse than standing in the dealer’s room having found that one item you just absolutely need to have and having no money to buy it with. For me this happens at the steampunk booth every year as I stare longingly at the leather bandoleers.

So budget to bring a little more cash than you think you’ll need, you may not spend it, but at least you won’t leave disappointed.

 

2. Dress Up!

Conventions are inherently a place where you can be whoever you want to be. So be that person! If this means wearing that My Little Pony shirt you’re afraid to wear in public or getting into a full Fur suit, do it! There is nothing better than feeling free at a convention. On the first day of a con I like to be comfortable wearing this tshirt:

hello kitty

And my black and purple, button enhanced furry hat and wrist cuffs. Even though I don’t identify as a furry at all. Because I love it and I think it’s fun.

But it’s even more fun to dress up as the characters we love, or ones of our own invention. This coming CONvergence will be my first time ever cosplaying. I am extremely nervous for it but equally excited. And dressing up this way is a great way to get into conversations with people, about the shows and characters you love, or even about how your costume was made.

I have seen the simplest, cleverest costumes:

2012-07-14-cosplay_sims-1024x678

And much more complicated affairs. One of my dear friends, Ashley Walton, is a costumer of great feats:

ashley umbridge

A truly terrifying Dolores Umbridge

ashley rupunzel

Flynn & Rapunzel

Follow Ashley’s costuming adventures here.

So no matter how you go about it, get involved in the convention world by dressing the part!

 

3. Talk to People

Us nerds tend to be loners and introverts and conventions are really just the socially awkward come together to be socially awkward together. I am one of these shy people who wants to be connected to my friends at the hip and has trouble talking to anyone I don’t know… especially if they’re in a group.

I even have trouble asking people if I can take their picture, which is something that costumers love being asked!

But I have to tell you that your con experience will be greatly improved if you can chat with people. And really, cons are a very non-threatening place to do it. These people are your kindred spirits, they love the same things you do, or maybe they hate Harry Potter and have a ludicrous reason and you end up yelling at them in the middle of the cosplay competition… but at least you were engaging.

I find the easiest way to do this is to find people who are dressed up and wandering alone. Even better if they’re dressed up as something you know. Bonus points if it’s something you like. Ask them about it. Did they make it? Did someone make them for them? Why did they choose this costume? And  you may never talk you this person again but at least you won’t have spent the whole weekend silently roaming.

Another way to do this is to go to room parties. At the goods ones, there are a lot of people jammed into not very much space, all drinking and laughing and having a good time. There is often loud German techo music or in lieu of that, J-Pop. Squish in and start chatting up your neighbor. You’ll have a blast, I promise.

 

4. Go to the Panels

speed dating

A speed Dating Panel I helped Create and Run

This advice falls into the same grain as the last. It’s all about being a joiner. I’ve gone to panels where I’ve wanted to gouge my eyes out but I’ve also ended up at panels I loved. I may not have cared for the One Piece panel where we didn’t really talk about One Piece very much but I will always remember the guy who kept standing up to ask questions about Gundam Wing (seriously, this dude had seen every single version of Gundam ever made) or the guy who insisted on pronouncing anime “ahhhnimay.”

And sometimes the panels are actually games. Ever played Mafia with someone dressed up as Jesus dating someone dressed up as Little Bo Peep? I’m guessing no. But it’s awesome.

There are panels on shows and comics, panels for singles, panels on knitting, on fur suiting, panels on breaking into voice acting. And they’re fun. And if they’re not fun everyone will judge you when you get up and leave. I’m kidding. (No, I’m not.)

 

5. Get a Hotel Room

I have done conventions both ways and I will always be in favor of the hotel room. My reasons are many.

It’s extremely fun: To be able to afford a hotel room for 2-3 nights at a nice hotel, we usually have to stuff those rooms full. I have stayed in hotel room with anywhere from 5-8 people. The one year we had eight it was 4 people in beds, one person on an air mattress between the beds, two people on an air mattress by the bathroom, and a person in a sleepy bag on the window ledge. And crowded quarters leads to awesomeness. The food sharing, the tv watching, the late night chatting, the pranking of the rooms next door, shining laser pointers at people walking in the parking lot below.

One year we put a poster on our door that said “Free Buttsex” and then crossed out Buttsex and wrote Candy. But whenever someone knocked we yelled out BUTTSEX???

One year we had sleeping bag races down the hallway.

Never has sharing a hotel room packed with my closest friends not been fun.

Storage: You’ve just bought a giant poster, a glass blown figurine of Pinkie Pie, and 3 dozen boxes of pocky. The panel you’ve been waiting to go to starts in 10 minutes and there’s a line. The person who drove you is at lunch, with their car. If you try to stand in line like that you will be uncomfortable and everyone else will stare at you. Unless you have a room this is the fate that awaits you. If you have a room you can bolt up the stairs, store your stuff, and be back in time to get a good seat, all while unencumbered.

Rest & Sleep: If you get tired in the middle of the day and have a few hours to kill, a hotel room gives you a place to go rest. Rooms also come in handy if you get a headache or just need  some space from the hordes of people you don’t know. For me, hotel rooms have been a lifesaver when I needed a break in the middle of the day at a con. Or a shower. But best yet, is that you have a place to sleep. You can stay up at the dance or playing cards in the common areas or drinking in the bar and then you can go to sleep. You don’t have to drive home at 2 am knowing you’ll have to get up at 8 drive back. Or worse yet, you won’t have to find a lobby couch or comfy corner to sleep in.

sleeping couple

They look cozy, no?

There is one pretty large downsize to getting a hotel room and that is the ability to hide. Remember earlier when I told you to go talk to people? Don’t use your hotel room as an escape from socializing in between the panels and events you want to go to. Use it for rest and sleep, use it to bond with your friends, but don’t use it to avoid other people.

 

6. Eat Enough

And eat decently. One of my early years of con going I got really, really sick. I was faint, had cold sweats, had a headache, and was nauseous. I had been eating nothing but crap for 2 days. Fast food, candy, and soda. The only thing I wanted was Apple Juice and so I ended up having a very odd conversation with a bar tender.

So here’s my advice:

– Make sure you get at least one full meal a day

– Drink lots of water

– If you have a hotel room bring healthy snacks, sandwich makings, and other food stuffs

– Don’t drink on an empty stomach

food

That rice cooker is full of rice and chicken. No one was malnourished this year!

 

 7. Shower

Okay, you got me. This is actually advice on how to help other people have fun at a convention. Unless you are wearing a painted body suit for all three days, for god’s sake shower. Shower in your room, go home and shower, pat yourself down with moist  towelettes, I don’t care. Clean yourself. Smell like you didn’t bathe in a vat of the Hulk’s sweat. And don’t try to mask the scent by marinating in Axe Body Spray. You’re fooling no one. Do this for your fellow con-goer, we will thank you for it.

 

So there you have it, my pretty basic steps for having a badass con.