Drumroll for my Ottawa ComicCon 2015 pics!

Always remember to ask permission before taking a picture. Cosplay does not equate consent!

Artisans and Small Business: why they’re awesome

I am in the process of uploading my photos to a media gallery. They’ll probably take overnight to complete.

In the meantime, I want to mention again how amazing it is to meet artisans, writers, and artists who are dedicated to making a success of their business (no matter what their definition of “success” may be). Take for example this lovely steampunk necklace that I bought at Ottawa ComicCon:

Steampunk Necklace by Chibi Seimei

Steampunk Necklace by Chibi Seimei

There were a plethora of necklaces from which to choose, many mass-produced but still hard to find in my neck of the woods. I was looking for something unique and handmade, and it was the lovely manner of this artisan’s representative (her proud father) who made me stop and take a closer look. I was really pulled by the beauty of her work and the kindness of the gentleman, who took his time to show me the variety of her stock and explain how she made her pieces from old watches, including one that had belonged to her grandmother.

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I was torn between this piece and one with a butterfly, but in the end, I’m not sure I’m a butterfly person, in the wearable sense. The airplane makes me think of (and appreciate) travel, so that’s the one I picked. But I’m glad I have her card for future purchases, because it’s this kind of personal treatment that makes spending money on something worthwhile and memorable.

Next door to this vendor was a lady who makes corsets, and I tried on a long-waisted style. Again, I really enjoyed the experience not only for the uniqueness of the product, but also for knowing I was valued as a customer.

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While I didn’t have enough to buy the garment I tried on, I have plans for a future purchase — maybe even something custom — because if I’m going to spend money on an expensive piece of clothing, I want it to go to someone who cares about what they’re doing in a clear way. No eyes glazed over or robotic responses.

Now here’s a confession: I’ll be damned if I can’t find their business card in my stuff, and I cannot find the website in my history for the life of me. But I’ll keep searching. Because I’d much rather buy from an awesome artisan / small businessperson who treats me nicely than a faceless big box store or mass-production company.

It’s late, this post is late, and I know there’s more to say on this topic, but I think I’m done for the night. Comment away!

UPDATE: I found them! A quick change of spelling based on the logo I can partly see in the pic, and voilà! It’s Apollonie, and they’re fabulous. Now I can sleep without feeling guilty…

Fandoms and Artists and Writers, oh my!

A couple of shout-outs to some awesome people I’ve recently met through my love for fandoms:

  • A number of weeks ago, I bought earrings from Nerdy But Still Girly, and when my purchases came, I was bowled over by the thoughtfulness of the packaging itself — personalized box, tasty bunny sucker candy, and each set of handmade earrings individually packaged in sweet little bags. I wore the custom-ordered Outlander earrings she made for me on Sunday at ComicCon. Definitely ordering more awesome earrings from her in the future!
  • Montreal Wolverine and his team of X-Men cosplayers were fantastic at Ottawa ComicCon, raising money for Breast Cancer Research (Claws for Bras!). I was so impressed not only by his dedication to the cause and the part he was playing, but also his creativity with improvising tableaux. He’s on Facebook — check him out! (And my face on the bike, ha ha…)DSC_0653
  • Victoria Dunne and her crew behind the book                                Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies — I got my face zombified on a pin at their booth, bought a signed and personalized copy of the book from them, and got to take home a handmade crocheted 1st Doctor. Plus, we chatted about writing and publishers, and they gave me a great tip on who to approach with my snowmobiling novel for reluctant readers!

And these are just a few of the fantastic people I met. If I get time tomorrow, I’ll post a pic of the lovely steampunk necklace I bought, and information about the artisan, along with highlights from ComicCon. I firmly believe that kindness and generosity and being genuine are essential parts of the successful small business or fundraising enterprise, and these individuals are all excellent examples of how to accomplish those things. When you love your fans and appreciate them — we know it.

Reflections on a Successful Field Trip

Despite the long LONG drive yesterday, the late night and early morning, I surprised myself by staying fairly alert throughout the day. I had a few moments where I completely forgot what I was doing or where I was going, but aside from minor mental lapses and occasional clumsiness . . . well, anyway, I didn’t keel over or curl up under my desk to sleep. Lots of coffee and then a nap after work in which I kept getting interrupted by this or that. I hate that sudden lurching hot surprised feeling from being shocked out of a sound sleep.

Working on the photos from ComicCon, deleting some and tweaking others. I do enjoy digital editing, cropping and enhancing colour, etc. And going through them reminds me of some of the awesome things we saw and experienced.

There was a guy dressed as Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, and he had all the physical mannerisms and vocal patterns down to a “T” — one of my students thought he really was Jim Carrey for a minute! And it was astounding how he never once broke character throughout the weekend. Every time I saw him in the crowd, he was Ace Ventura. Fantastic! There were a couple of other absolutely dedicated cosplayers, such as the lady playing Effie Trinket (she’d hand-made both her costume and her friend’s, and they were gorgeous). I really admire that. ComicCon and FanExpo are basically fantasy-playgrounds for the highly imaginative. I’d love to be able to do that one day — come up with a really kick-ass costume and sink into the role for an entire weekend.

Watching my students’ reactions to the cosplayers, the vendors, the artists, the panelists, the celebrities and listening to their discussions afterward was entirely worth it, though. I heard them critically analyze the value of being an artist in this day and age, assess the effectiveness of workshops, rate the convention as a whole, and reflect on how well they did or didn’t budget their money. Whenever one of them scoffed (happily) at the idea that this trip was (air-quotes) educational, I reminded them that it really was, for all of those reasons. Maybe it connects to the concept of learning through playing, or maybe it’s being given small responsibilities within a framework. But they all concluded that it had been a valuable as well as highly entertaining (and even life-changing) experience.

I think, too, that if I organize another ComicCon trip next year (as many students are urging me to do), I’ll put together some kind of interactive game for them to challenge while they’re walking around. One or two were already doing that on their own — 17-year-old J decided he needed to take four photos with the 4th Doctor (different cosplayers) throughout the weekend, and he did it. 19-year-old B wanted to photo bomb as much as possible, but shied away after a while, even though it was fun (he has an absolutely perfect “soon” face). It would be neat to create a ComicCon / FanExpo scavenger hunt, or a BINGO card, asking the cosplayers or vendors to sign off on them as proof of completion. And I could provide a prize for the winner, like an event t-shirt. Just a little something extra, especially for the few individuals who were underwhelmed by the number of things to do that didn’t involve line-ups or vendors on the first day. Those few had expected more hands-on activities, I suppose. 18-year-old D thought it was more of a nerd-based merchant / trade show than anything else, and there is something to that. I was glad to see him attending many of the workshops and panels, instead of just sitting around. Anytime a student told me that they were going to an event, I told them how awesome that was, because it’s true.

But now it’s over, I’m compiling the photos and making copies available for some (especially our group shots around the DeLorean Time Machine and the TARDIS, and the groups who went with me to get photos with Paul Wesley and Billy Boyd), and I haven’t unpacked yet. I’m terrible at unpacking. It will honestly take me until the weekend. I have marking to catch up from last week, final numbers to submit and the bus bill to pay, plus keeping up with the lessons for this week. I’m contemplating booking a personal day next week, just to be able to get a day of quiet and rest after all this hustle. That’s something else — my proof copy of Crystal and Wand arrived, so I have to get moving on checking through both the pdf and the paperback. There just isn’t enough time for all of the things. Not at all.

If you’ve been following my journey of taking students to ComicCon in Ottawa, be patient — I’ll try to get a few  more pictures loaded tomorrow.

School trip, Day 2

Footsore and weary but feeling pretty good about my students’ experience here at Ottawa ComicCon. A few were completely bowled over today and had a ball, start to finish, while a few communicated some disappointment in the limited variety of non-shopping things to do. However, everyone has agreed that it’s been a good time. And everyone is wiped out. 

I do wish I’d had the energy through the day to document all the amazing things we saw, that kids did or said. It’s all a blur at the moment. Our photos will help to tell the tale, though.

Early(ish) to bed tonight for a not-as-early start in the morning, plus loading the bus for a quick getaway at the stroke of five. This time tomorrow night, we will be on the road again. I wish I had more pics to share today but I won’t be able to get them off my camera until Monday at the earliest. Until then, enjoy this shot of me in my costume, with my daughter’s Adipose.

  

YESSSSS!!!! Cosplay is happening for MEEEEEEE!!!

I’m so pumped! I had the skirt after all, my mom just gave me some new blouses and one of them TOTALLY works, and I found the wig I was going to use for something else but never did so it’s PERFECT!!!! I can be Miss Foster from “Partners in Crime”!!!!

I’m so stoked. It’s not just the caffeine. I’ve got a ticket for a photo op with Paul Wesley — going to see if I can buy a small red devil for him to autograph as well, and try to get three of my students in the pic with me. Heck, i’ll even give them the ticket if four of them want in on the action. If I can get the autograph, I’ll ask him if I can raffle it off as a fundraiser for the school. AND I’M COSPLAYING!!!

Got my maps printed for a leisurely walking tour through the main points of interest in Ottawa. Bag full of snacks for the bus and the Con. Battery for the camera is charged. Laundry is clean. Mustn’t forget the tights for my COSPLAYING!!!

Chargers, makeup, deodourant, my knitting — must remember all of these. And the iPad. My phone. I have to make a harness for my Adipose, too, for my COSPLAYING!!!

I need to sleep. But I know it’s not likely tonight. I’m practically vibrating.

The thing is, in all seriousness, I hate packing. I hate worrying about forgetting something, even with lists, because it has happened in the past. I like picking up what I need along the way, which is not convenient or financially prudent, but sometimes, there’s no choice. Happily, I think I’m pretty much there. I’ve got extra clothes in case of food mishaps or other shenanigans. And it’s so nice out now, I can be lighter with the sweaters and forgo a heavy coat.

(Note to self: find the earbuds and put in purse)

Okay, off I go to finish up and try to sleep. On the bus at 8 am!!!! To Ottawa ComicCon!!!!

Stress levels rising . . . so I putter with happy-making things.

The field trip to Ottawa ComicCon is right around the corner. One more day. I have to pack tomorrow night, meet up with my mother halfway between our respective houses so she and my dad can look after the 9 year old for the weekend, make sure to remind all of the students to bring snacks, pillows, and chargers on the bus, and on the very quick, get information from the place where we’re staying so that the secretary of our school can cut the cheque before we go.

Yeah. Had a SNAFU with the accommodations. It’s almost cleared up now, but I was close to panicking, thinking we were going to end up bedding down in a former student’s apartment instead of where we are actually going. Wasn’t for lack of trying on my part — I didn’t want to call every day and make them not want to help me out, so I was contacting them once a week for the last month, and we just got the contract for the rooms TODAY.

Stress stress stress stress . . .

No movement on my cosplay plan, although I still have time to put something together. I’m likely going to be Miss Foster from “Partners in Crime”, but for that, I’ll need to bleach my hair blonde again. Not sure I want to spend the money on that, even if I can find the time after school (and IF a hairdresser has time for me. Takes a good two hours to get the dark brown out of my locks!) between getting my Bridget ready for Grandma and Poppa’s house and making sure Jack gets to karate, plus, I still have to pick up crickets for Elizabeth.

Meanwhile, I’m getting peppered with questions, too, about current events regarding teachers in the news. In a small town, when you regularly go to the same shops and Tim Hortons and the staff knows you, they feel comfortable in asking what’s going on. Even if I knew, I wouldn’t be able to say anything, but I don’t, and I can’t. Frustrating.

Stress stress stress stress . . .

So in the middle of all of this, I finished my Daredevil fan video after school. I’m not 100% satisfied with it, but for a first go, it’s not bad, IMHO. And it pleases me that there is now a video online that pairs up Matt Murdock with Corey Hart’s epic 80s song, “Sunglasses at Night”, because whenever I watch an episode, that’s one of the pop culture references I keep thinking over. I went hunting for a video that combined the two, but finding none, I made my own.

Good way to kill some hours and try to lower the stress levels.

I’ve noticed, too, that off and on, over the last six weeks or so, whenever my resolve on this trip has wavered or I’ve made a decision to stay positive about it, a song comes on the radio that bolsters my spirits. So I’ve downloaded it on iTunes, for when I need the boost. It suits the mood of taking kids to Ottawa ComicCon completely. I’ve also had kids ask me if I’m going to do it again next year, because if I am, they’re very interested.

Something else has been helping a little bit, too. I chose Danny Wallace’s book Yes Man for my grade 11 College English novel study this semester, and it’s such a positive read about taking chances and pursuing opportunity, it really is infectious to think over an option and say, “Why not?” (Soooo tempted to just plunge back into being blonde tomorrow after school!!!) Helps to keep things in perspective. Like the prospect of being in charge of 17 young adults on a three day trip to our national capital.

Breathe, breathe, breathe . . . I’ve done this before. It’s not that bad. The students are responsible, even the youngest (who’s partnered up with my own child, who will be in contact with me). They’ll be in a contained environment (except for our afternoon / evening walk in downtown Ottawa — eek!). Breathe, breathe, breathe . . . and I’m not going alone, I’ve got a male chaperone and his wife coming with, sharing the head-counting, etc.

You know what gets me through the pressure of this the most? It’s the positive attitudes and gratitude and enthusiasm of the kids. Last year, when I took a group (almost all the same students!) to see Night of the Living Dead Live! in Toronto, a few of them thanked me profoundly, over and over, for bringing them to the city for the show. One or two of them I hadn’t expected that from at all, not from any flaw in their individual characters, just — it wasn’t expected, and it was really very nice.

Still, whenever I do a trip like this, I don’t sleep well for the last few nights beforehand, or during the event. I’ll crash off and on during the week afterward, though.

Let’s go, indeed. I almost wish I could hit fast-forward on tomorrow, so I wouldn’t have to experience all this last-minute stuff, and just find myself happily on the bus, halfway to Ottawa. I need a montage! Where’s my flash of scenes pushing me through?

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A moment of sadness, too, that it turns out Billie Piper isn’t going to be there on the Saturday and Sunday when we are there. So I am a little disappointed I won’t get a chance to meet her, get the autograph, maybe a photo, and so is my boy, for the same reasons. But there are so many other awesome things to do, see, and try, and so many other incredible people to meet as well — breathe breathe breathe . . . stress stress stress . . .