Class Debate  

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For the last several weeks, my church group has been having some very raucous discussions Sunday mornings. Our teachers have started bluntly stating what the bible says, calling people out on contrary beliefs, and allowing discussion over their teachings. Whether the discussion is over evolution vs. creationism, or how to reconcile, if at all, biblical teaching with worldly teaching, or whether wives should submit to their husbands (1 Peter 3), we are no longer allowed to ignore the differences between the Word of God and the teachings of man.

The resulting arguments have destroyed the typical tranquility of Sunday mornings.

I don't wish to get into the arguments themselves. I'm sure they'll be beaten to death in the comments anyways. Instead, I want to look at the effect even asking the question has had on the Christians in the class. The question, generally stated, is: if the bible says this, and the world says something else, which do you believe? Since we are in a church, and everyone claims to be a Christian, everyone wants to answer: the bible. But then caveats and exceptions and accommodations are thrown in, and someone says those aren't in the bible and now you sound like the world, and so the argument goes.

The reactions to having an argument in church have been most interesting to me. The men have generally been enjoying themselves. We like having the debate. it has been far more entertaining than the typical lecture, we are learning new things, and we are being called to be actual Christians rather than just churchgoers.

However, many of the women, and a few of the men, have not been pleased with the new class. The peace and unity of a normal church class have been shattered by the back and forth nature of the debate and by the passion with which people hold their beliefs. Everyone feeling happy and getting along is important to them, and that people have gotten upset over the various subjects makes them upset.

And of course some people don't like being told they aren't following the bible. They want to think they are basically good people, but it's hard to rationalize that when you know you are doing wrong. So they argue that they are doing right and that the bible doesn't really disagree with them.

This highlights several problems withe the church, both the general church within America and my own church that I attend on a regular basis. The first problem I see is that many people are using the church as feel-good therapy. It's fluffy bunny Jesus. It's a touch, feely, group hug session. But if one wants everyone to get along or feel good about themselves, what does one do about Christians who still sin? What does one do when the bible calls for him to do something hard, or challenges his existing beliefs?

Saying that it's OK because your sins are forgiven is true, and it is a great comfort for we can never eliminate sin from our lives. But if you stop there rather than also calling for a new behavior, you have failed. What I am seeing is that in the church's effort to alleviate guilt, it has also eliminated conviction. If I do not feel bad about the bad things I have done, why should I stop doing them? Guilt is uncomfortable, but that discomfort drives me, or at least should drive me, to change myself so that I am no longer actually guilty.

But that's the hard way to eliminate guilt. It is much easier to say that one's sins don't matter because Jesus loves you no matter what and that you shouldn't feel bad just because you messed up. And now the church tolerates sin, for to tell a person to change is to imply that he is wrong, that he is guilty of something. To live in harmony and avoid conflict, we tolerate each other's bad behavior rather than calling each other out and risking a confrontation.

In the same manner, the church lets slide certain commands that challenge deeply held worldly beliefs. Most of the women in my class do not want to submit to their future husbands (we're a singles class). And half the men aren't going to ask it of them. Considering our feminist culture, I'm not surprised that Christians do not want to follow this particular biblical command. The church doesn't bring it up much, since it offends so many women. But a biblical command it remains, and when it does come up people go through serious mental gymnastics to rationalize why it doesn't apply anymore, or only applies in specific case, or otherwise try to get out of following it while still being able to claim that they are following God's commands.

I hope our class continues facing these controversial issues. The church weakens itself when it concedes it's teachings to the world or doesn't call Christians to actually behave like Christ.

It has helped me greatly to have these issues pointed out to me. Studying God's word, knowing what it actually says, synthesizing it into a cohesive, Christian philosophy, learning the opposing philosophies and views, learning apologetics, these have all helped me to realize where I had unconsciously absorbed the world rather than God. But while the whole 'learn everything' approach works well for highly logical, independent minded people, I suspect that the emotional and consensus based people need a strong leader or mentor to keep them straight.

That is really where the church has failed. It needs to stand for something rather than appease the masses.

Cyberpunk Pistol Post Mortem  

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Well, the cyberpunk pistol did not survive Dragon*Con. I had two basic flaws in the construction. The first is that the superglue I used wasn't strong enough. Bumping through all the crowds, a couple of bits and panels were pulled off. Also, the magnets I used to clip the gun to my hip were considerably stronger than the glue, so part of the gun stayed magnetized to me when I pulled it off. Oops. I think a two-part epoxy would have held together much better.

The second problem was paint chipping. Again, the seething mass of humanity that makes up Dragon*Con was quite rough on the props, and a fair bit of paint around the edges was rubbed or chipped off. The gun largely being silver underneath, the effect looked like chipped paint, rather than something like weathered steel. I'll need to look into matte lacquers or something to protect props in the future.

While I liked the look of the gun, the packed crowds at conventions means the props and accessories need to be quite durable, much more so than a stage prop. My cyberpunk pistol didn't survive the test. I am unsure at this point if it would be easier to pull the gun apart and re-glue it with epoxy, or to simply make a new one.

Oh well. Important things to learn for next year.

Putting it All Together  

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I have finally finished putting together my cyberpunk costume for Dragon*Con. Here is the finished result.

As I am not making any particular character from a movie or anime, I had a lot of leeway in what the costume looked like. As such, most of it is bought from various internet stores, rather than being self-made. The t-shirt and blue glowy thing are from Think Geek. The pants are from BDU.COM. The mask, belt, and shoes are from Cryoflesh. The goggles are from Jaded Minx. And of course the gun I made myself.

Now, while the costume is finally convention ready, there are still several things I want to do to it. I want to make some accessories for the pistol to hang under the barrel. I also want to make some accessories for the goggles, make them look more like a sensor suite. Complete with LEDs, which will require I teach myself basic circuitry and soldering. And I want to make some cyber-tools to hang off my belt. These will all have to wait for next year's conventions, but it's something creative to work on.

But the big thing that would be really cool to add to the costume is some cybernetic prosthetics. A cyborg arm would be awesome. I have no idea how I would go about making one, but I think that should be my goal for next year.

Making a Cyberpunk Pistol: Part 4  

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It is finally time to paint my cyberpunk pistol. I started by spray painting the whole thing black. I am using a matte black primer, but any sort of direct-to-metal paint will work. A couple thin coats, making sure to fill in all the nooks and crannies, and this is the result:

That's... actually pretty good. To be honest, up until now, I wasn't sure if this thing would turn out alright. Between the only half thought out plan, the complete inexperience on my part, and the shoddy craftsmanship, I was worried that I would have to scrap this project and find some other way to make a costume gun. But now that it's painted the right color, I'm really liking the results.

The next step is to weather the gun. I do this by layering a very light dry brushing of gun-metal gray paint over the whole gun. I keep the streaks running lengthwise down the gun, and add a little bit of emphasis to the edges of the various parts on the pistol's surface. The idea is to make the gun look worn from years of use and abuse. I tried the make the effect just noticeable. I'm not sure it will even show up in the convention photos, but even just a little bit of aging makes the gun more believable. I did paint the barrel, ejection port, and trigger gun-metal gray. It's a very heavy dry brushing. I thought the two-tone look would be more visually appealing than all black.

Next I painted some detailing onto the gun. First, some light gray dots on the sights to make 3-dot sights. Then some dots for the fire mode selector: a gray dot for safe, a red dot for semi-automatic, and three red dots for three round burst. Because I believe in excessive firepower. And lastly, I painted a logo onto the slide. I chose Ares, one of the megacorporations from the Shadowrun universe, because in-game, they are known for weapons manufacturing. The logo is copied from the Shadowrun source book. I finished by coating the whole thing in a matte varnish, to keep the paint from rubbing off or smearing from handling the gun.

The last thing I did to the gun was to wrap the grip. I had originally intended to wrap it in black electrical tape, but I couldn't find any that was thick enough to give a textured grip. So I used some suede leather cord instead. I think I like this better than the black tape. The slight contrast the dark brown gives is more interesting that black on black, and the way the cord looks gives the pistol an aftermarket, custom look that makes sense for a cyberpunk weapon.

There are two things left to do before the cyberpunk pistol is completely finished. First, I need a way to carry it around the convention all day without tying my hands up. I'm thinking either some magnets so I can just clip it straight to my hip, or some kind of lanyard, shoulder rig type thing. That will be the last thing I do before Dragon*Con. The other thing I want to do is make some accessories I can attach to the front of the gun. Lasers, scanners, things with lights, that sort of thing, but I'm short on time at this point, so that will have to wait for other conventions. But at this point, it's convention worthy.

Updated: A quick note on paints. I am using Citadel Paints from Games Workshop. I paint Warhammer miniatures, so I had the paints on hand. I've liked them and they haven't given me any trouble, but any modeling paints would work for this kind of project.

Making a Cyberpunk Pistol: Part 3  

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I did not particularly care for the tin-foil look of the gun. Even painted, the foil tape would be too crinkly to look realistic. So I bought some thin copper sheeting and plated the gun with that. I think this looks a lot better than the foil. The surface is smooth, but the edges are still rough. It gives it a kind of industrial look that is suitable for cyberpunk. The copper also works for steampunk, but I'll be painting that later.

I've also added a trigger to the gun. It's made from a picture hanger, dremeled down to the right size.

The next thing I did was make a hand guard. I figured this would be easier than making a trigger guard. The pieces came from a toy ninja set, that I then cut down and super-glued to the gun. That gave the pistol a very different look. I like the unique profile it has from real pistols. It gives it a more futuristic feel. The construction is a little sloppy, so I may exaggerate that to make the gun look like it's been repaired a few times.

It's still a very plain looking gun, so I went to Skycraft and bought some random bits of hardware and began gluing them to the gun. I was mostly just going for texture, something to break up the large flat surfaces that make up most of the pistol. This is also where I added things like sights and safeties. This pretty much concludes the construction portion of my cyberpunk pistol. What remains is to paint the gun, including weathering and distressing, and wrapping the grip. That will be covered in Part 4.

Making a Cyberpunk Pistol: Part 2  

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I have not forgotten the project. I knew when I started this I would only be working on it a bit at at time. I filled in the corrugated part of the cardboard with PVA glue. This has helped reinforce the edges, and will help prevent them from collapsing from being handled.

The next step was to install the barrel. I'm using a half inch PVC pipe to make the barrel. This makes it a .50 caliber handgun, just the thing for dealing with those pesky cyborgs. I drilled a hole in the front of the gun large enough for the pipe, then glued a short section of pipe down inside. You want the pipe deep enough for the insides to disappear in darkness. The barrel sticks out a bit more than on real pistols, but that's OK.

After that, sanded off the corners of the grip. Not a lot, just enough to make the edges feel round when I hold it. A Dremel tool makes this go real quick.

The last thing I've done is cover the entire thing in foil tape. This will give the gun the right texture. I was careful on the large sections to use single pieces, without lots of overlapping and criss-crossing, because those lines will show up once it's all done. I left a seam between the slide and the frame, like on real semi-auto pistols. I'm not overly concerned with the mess I made on the grip, as I will eventually be wrapping that.

The next step will be to add the trigger and bits of detailing, like sights, a fire mode selector, and random bits of texture so the gun doesn't appear so plain. I am considering creating a hand guard instead of a trigger guard. I think that will give the gun a unique profile. After that, it's time to paint and weather the gun. Accessories can be made after the pistol is finished and glued on later. Part 3 will be up once I have enough done to make a decent post.

Adventure Begins Here  

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I have been decorating my home off and on, as time and money permits, since I moved in three years ago. But I began thinking about how I wanted to decorate when I moved back to Orlando after college. I never intended to do much with my apartment, but I didn't want to live in a college bachelor's pad forever, so I started thinking about what I did want for the time when I had my own home.

I have always wanted something fantastic; something beyond the ordinary world. I remember one of my first thoughts being of some of the decor in Disney Quest. There were dark blue carpets with arcane mathematical symbols drawn out in gold. The decorations were made of bronze and had a retro space look (think of the way the 60's thought the future would look). The ceiling was dark and had fiber optic lights embedded in it so it looked like a star field. It was a whole other world.

Another major influence was the Lord of the Rings movies. I love the look of Bag End and Rivendell. That realistic fantasy look Peter Jackson got in the Lord of the Rings movies summed up how I wanted my house to look.

Later, I thought of Islands of Adventure. Specifically of the Lost Continent and Port of Entry portions. The Port of Entry had the feel of an Arabian bazaar, the kind of place Sinbad or Aladdin would be found. The Lost Continent was a mix of mythical Greece and Arthurian legend.

The last bit of inspiration for decorating came from the video game Morrowind. The architecture was fantasy without being the standard medieval fantasy style, something I appreciated in the game.

Now, my house doesn't look like any of these. It would be quite difficult to weave all these disparate styles into one cohesive whole that looked good without being over the top or garish. I don't think I have the artistic vision to manage such a thing, much less the skill to implement it. But despite the different looks of these games and movies and theme parks, there was a common thread: they were all representations of far off, exotic, fantastic lands. These are the places where the stories happen. These are the locales through which heroes and villains move. These are where adventure takes place.

My home has more Asian influence, from my own real life adventures in the far off land of Thailand, and not near as much of the fantastic element as is found in my sources of inspiration. Still, I am pleased with the direction my home is going. My goal has always been to create a home that feels like it is from the stories. The kind of home where it wouldn't look out of place for a knight to hang up his sword, or an archaeologist his whip, or for a party of dwarves to stop by on their quest for long forgotten gold. The kind of home where you start your adventures, and keep the relics and treasures you acquired on your past ones.

I have always had trouble articulating my vision. Part of that was simply that early on, I only had a vague notion of what I wanted. I saw many things and thought, "that looks neat, I want my home to look like that." But with such a mish mash of styles that didn't give anything coherent to work with. And as my ideas solidified, I realized that I wanted something a little stranger than merely adding accents from a far off culture or ancient civilization. Decorating in a Mediterranean or Oriental style, or with faux relics of ancient Egypt, is not that unusual. Indeed, this is largely the approach I have taken. But I have always wanted something beyond this world; something beyond the edge of reality and into fantasy. That's just too weird for most people. I am a geek, and am familiar with people's reactions and rejections when you show interest or excitement in something that's not normal. So I tend to keep my mouth shut about my hobbies and ideas. This has made describing what I'm trying to do difficult. It has also made implementing my idea problematic, since what I want doesn't actually exist in the real world.

Still, I like how it's turning out. The base furniture and architecture isn't fantastic, and at the moment, I am adding pictures and souvenirs from my travels. I like the exotic, traveled look it gives. But I still need to find more stuff that has that fantastic element to it. Many of the items I've decorated with can be found if you travel the world (or order off the internet), but I want a few things from places you can only travel to in your imagination.

Update on the Home Front  

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Let's leave cyberpunk behind for a moment, and go back to home decorating. When I started the blog back up, I had said that I had done a few things to the house during my silence. One of the things I had done, last September, was add a Chinese dragon to the foyer. I found it at a flea market in Panama City Beach during a family reunion.

This gets me closer to finishing the foyer. I need a shoe rack or bench to go along the dividing wall, and I want to replace the light with something less 'middle America suburbia' and more 'far-off, exotic lands.' That will pretty much complete my foyer.

I've also replaced my dining room set with a set my dad gave me when he replaced his dining room. The table fits perfectly with the old world occident-meets-orient look I'm going for. The chairs are definitely a more retro-modern style, but the with the color and pattern, actually seem to fit in well. It doesn't quite match my living room chair, but it doesn't really clash either.

The last thing I got for my living room is an Italian Map Globe bar. It was a Christmas gift from my parents. It looks good there next to the armor. I ought to hang the sword on the wall, but propped in the corner like that, gives it more of a used look instead of display, like I just got back from adventuring and haven't put my gear away. Which is more or less how it got there, after a Renaissance faire.

The globe opens up. The crystal was another Christmas present, this time from grandma. There are wine glasses, highball, and double old fashioned glasses in there.

Those are the big changes in the last year or so. I've printed out photos from some of my trips to hang on the wall, along with some souvenirs, but I haven't gotten around to hanging them yet. Or even finding suitable picture frames. That will probably be the next thing I do, but I will have to make sure it's in keeping with the old world style.

Pizza in 30 Minutes or Less, Guaranteed  

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I was perusing ThinkGeek today trying to find a suitable T-shirt for my cyberpunk costume. I want something similar to what Jayne wore on Firefly. ThinkGeek has some of Jayne's shirts, but I'm making a cyberpunk character, not a Firefly character.

But I want something in that style; a logo or brand from a fake universe. I found some good ones, but for the most part, the brand is from some recognizable property in geek culture. This Hyrule shirt is a great example of the style I want, but with a recognizably non-cyberpunk logo. So unless I want to be a gamer cosplaying as a cyberpunk criminal, Zelda fanboy, it's just not gonna work. And if I'm going to be that silly, I should just make a steampunk Link...

Wait, that sounds awesome. If I don't get to it this year, that will definitely be next year's costume.

At any rate, I eventually found this: a Cosa Nostra deliverator shirt. If that means something to you, then you know why this is the perfect shirt for a cyberpunk outfit. Everybody else, Cosa Nostra is a pizza delivery chain run by the mafia in Neal Stephenson's cyberpunk novel, Snow Crash. I hadn't intended my cyberpunk character to be from any particular universe. In fact, I was generally thinking Shadowrun most of the time. But an actual cyberpunk T-shirt for my cyberpunk costume? Perfect. Combined with some urban camo pants, and I think the costume is shaping up nicely.

Also, if you are a science fiction fan, I enjoyed Snow Crass and recommend you go read it.

As for the gun, I'm reinforcing the cardboard with extra glue so it doesn't peel. It's a slow process, waiting for the glue to dry, so I don't have enough done to do a whole post on it yet.

Making a Cyberpunk Pistol: Part 1  

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While my enthusiasm for the project is still high, I've started making a cyberpunk gun. I've decided to make a semi-automatic pistol. Cyberpunk is generally not so far into the future that everybody has lasers and other exotic weaponry, so a pistol feels about right.

A little digging around the interwebs and I found a couple articles at Instructables, one for a cyberpunk shotgun and another for a steampunk rifle, both by the same guy. They are both good references and will be influencing my construction.

The first step is to design the basic gun. I want an over sized and blocky gun, that would fit in a high-tech but dystopian future.

This is my basic layout. A pretty straightforward, pistol shape. The block under the barrel is for mounting sensors, stabilizers, or anything else I think of before I get around to making them. I've not yet designed anything, but I'm envisioning several tubular items down there.

I cut it out of corrugated cardboard. Then I used that piece to trace out three more pieces.

Then I glued the four pieces together using PVA glue. It's taped together right now until the glue dries. I also changed the shape of the outer pieces a little. I did that to break up the shape and give the gun some overall texture. Otherwise it would be too blocky.

The next step will be to fill in cardboard with glue to help really hold it all together. I'll also need to trim and smooth the edges, and cover everything with a thin card stock or metal tape (an idea used in the shotgun above).

I also need to add a trigger and trigger guard, stiffen the beaver tail, and round out the grip some. I will eventually wrap the grip in leather or electrical tape. I'll need to make the under barrel attachments, and add various odds and ends to the gun to give it some texture, so that it's not just flat. And then paint it all.

I will not be able to work on the gun everyday, and some days will be spent scrounging for parts for the next step. Stay tuned for Part 2.

Cyberpunk Gear  

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Now I need to think about what gear my character would carry around with him. This is where the Shadowrun rule books would come in handy, because they have tables and tables of weapons, equipment, cybernetics, and the like that I can look through for ideas on what to make for the costume.

Since I'm making a shooter, one these items needs to be a gun. A handgun in a holster would be the easiest thing to carry around, but a carbine or an assault rifle would also be suitable for a cyberpunk gun bunny. I think I will make the handgun first, and if time permits, or maybe for next year's Dragon*Con, make a big gun.

I think headset or goggles with some sort of targeting array would also go well with the fire support character. In fact, I could turn it into a fancy sensor suite with radar, sonar, lasers, and cameras in it.

For the infiltrator side of things, a utility belt full of goodies sounds about right. Some of those electronic key cards, and a device suitable for picking electronic locks would make for a good start. Other interesting devices that would be worth making would be a grappling hook gun, a sensor jammer, additional sensors that don't fit on the headset, a roll-up computer screen, and even simple things like a flashlight, respirator, and tools. I could probably just take a bunch of the tools I'm going to have to buy to make all this and hang them on a belt.

I actually have no idea yet how I'm going to make all this. I would like everything to look well used, distressed, or heavily repaired or modified, to keep with the punk aspect of the genre. Some Google searches on making props or cyberpunk accessories ought to get me started.

As I actually make this stuff, I'll be adding all the how-to and what-I-did, including pictures, to the blog.

Cyberpunk Cosplay  

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I want to think some more about the cyberpunk costume. One of the things that was said at a steampunk costuming panel at Dragon*Con last year was that when making a costume, you should design your character first. An airship mechanic suggests different ideas and accessories than a gentleman adventurer. This strikes me as good advice. Since I am designing my costume from scratch instead of cosplaying as an existing character, coming up with a character concept gives me a framework to build on. It will allow me to decide what kind of clothes the character would wear, what gear and accessories he would carry with him.

So the first thing I need to do is come up with a character. There are several archetypes in cyberpunk. The ones I am interested in are the street samurai, fire support, infiltrator, and the street mage (Shadowrun adds magic to the cyberpunk genre). Hacker is another major archetype in cyberpunk, but that’s too close to my normal life to be interesting to me. Actually, I think I will go ahead and drop the street mage too. Magic is an unusual addition to cyberpunk, and I think without a whole runner team going with me, people might not recognize a street mage for what he is.

That leaves me with two combat based archetypes, and a sneaky bastard. I do so love playing sneaky bastards in paper and pencil RPGs. You can get into (and sometimes out of) so much more interesting trouble than the beat sticks, and I love surviving by skill and wit rather than brawn. The combat archetypes would be more recognizable at a convention, though. But I ought to be able to combine multiple archetypes. The standard bad ass hero has a whole host of skills and abilities, so an infiltrator/fire support character would fit in just fine. And now I’ve talked myself into making the same character I’m playing in Shadowrun right now.

So the concept now is a character who shoots stuff and has a bag of tricks for getting into and out of trouble. That is much more concrete than a generic cyberpunk costume.

Now that I have a concept to work with, it’s time to start thinking about what it will look like. There are a few things to keep in mind when designing any kind of costume for a convention. First, you are going to be wearing it all day. So make sure it’s comfortable to wear and walk around in, without heavy pieces you’re going to have to lug around all day. Second, cons are crowded. Moving through a crowd with large, delicate wings or a giant Sephiroth sword is difficult. Plan accordingly. Thirdly, include pockets, pouches, or some other method of carrying around your assorted keys, wallets, and other goodies you acquire when wandering around the con.

With that in mind, I want to think about the base costume for a bit. By that I mean the general outfit, as separate from the accessories, such as guns and headsets. I don’t want to look like a soldier, so lots of body armor and full BDUs are out. And while I’ve been calling the archetype ‘infiltrator,’ I am envisioning more of a likeable scoundrel with a bunch of tricks up his cybernetic sleeves rather than a stealthy, covert-ops type character. So the outfit doesn’t need to be subtle or commando-ish. One of the ideas that I had when I first thought of the doing a cyberpunk costume was to have a sleeveless long coat. Dusters and trench coats have been a hallmark of the adventurous since the Hollywood western, and the Matrix used them to good effect. And sleeveless because it’s punk. I think this will have a very good chance of being in the final costume.

The question is what to wear underneath it. My first idea was to wear a jumpsuit under the coat. The plain utility of a jumpsuit seems suited to a cyberpunk outfit. Another idea is to wear BDU pants with a T-shirt with a cyberpunk type logo on it, like the Laughing Man icon or a Shadowrun corporate logo. I think either will work. If I can find urban camo pants or a good digital camo I will choose the BDUs over the jumpsuit. I'll need to look around and see what I can find.

Footwear will be the standard heavy black boots.

That will make up the core of my costume. The next step is to think about what gear and accessories I want for the costume. I'll tackle that in a later post.

Of Costumes and Cons  

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Well, it’s less than five months until Dragon*Con and past time for me to be thinking about what costume I want to make for this year. I have made a Final Fantasy XI black mage costume in the past, and have used my medieval warrior costume I built for the Renaissance Fairs, but I think it’s time for a new costume.

I’ve a few ideas bouncing around in my head right now. The first is to make a steampunk costume. I’ve been intrigued by steampunk since I saw the costumes at Dragon*Con a couple years ago. I like the Victorian style dress, particularly the rougher, adventurous style of the old American West. I also like the virtues and ideals of the period. The Art of Manliness goes into both aspects in some detail. But we’re talking steampunk, not straight Victorian fashion and behavior. Steampunk has always put me in mind of the 19th century’s vision of the future, along the lines of Jules Verne and HG Wells. The anachronistic imagining of 20th century inventions using 19th century technology has wonderful visual appeal. I could have a lot of fun making a swashbuckling adventurer.

But I have two problems with steampunk. The first is that I actually know very little about the genre. The only steampunk work I am familiar with is Girl Genius, which is pretty light on the punk aspect. Almost all of my visual references would be costumes from Dragon*Con. Still, imagining a steampunk version of something is pretty easy, even if building it is not. The second problem is that steampunk is very popular at Dragon*Con right now, so my costume wouldn’t stand out. I would have to come up with a unique and detailed implementation to distinguish myself from the crowds. Still, I’m a fan and would enjoy a steampunk costume.

Option two is to make a cyberpunk costume. Steampunk’s futuristic cousin, I love the cyberpunk genre. I am currently playing Shadowrun, and Ghost in the Shell is one of my favorite anime series. I have a lot more to draw on than I do with steampunk. It’s also not near as popular at Dragon*Con, so a good cyberpunk costume would really stand out. The problem will be with making a good cyberpunk costume. Cyberpunk tends to be much heavier on the punk aspect of the genre than steampunk is. In making a generic cyberpunk costume, as opposed to cosplaying an actual, recognizable character, I’d have to be careful to not look like a normal goth or punk. Those are quite common at Dragon*Con, so an all black punk outfit with a gun is almost indistinguishable from a plain punk and not recognizable as cyberpunk. I’ve also seen people who look like random paramilitary dudes, something that is likewise not recognizable as cyberpunk, even if it was a copy of the outfits from Ghost in the Shell. I’d love to make a cyberpunk costume, but I’m just not sure how to approach it so that the cyber part of it stands out.

The third idea is to make a Link costume, from Legend of Zelda. Ocarina of Time was one of my favorite N64 games, and Link is an iconic character. As straight cosplay, it would be easier to make a Link costume than inventing my own steampunk or cyberpunk outfit. And while there are always a few Link’s running around Dragon*Con, he is not so common that I would blend in. Plus it would be fun to make some of Link’s equipment. Unfortunately, I have not played a Zelda game since the N64, so I would have to go buy a Wii and every Zelda game out there and play through them.

What? It’s important to do your research.

The final option I am considering is making a Jedi costume. I’ve been a Star Wars fan since I was old enough to watch movies, and I’ve always wanted to be a space wizard samurai. I would definitely want to build it to the level of quality seen in the Rebel Legion, so I would look into joining their community for costuming help. It wouldn’t be a bad place to start, since they are a costuming group and could give me help and advice.

Those are the ideas I'm considering right now. Since it takes a while to design and make these costumes to an acceptable level of quality, I need to decide soon which one I'm going to make. I'll post further updates as I work things out.

More Home Improvement  

Posted by RogueDash1 in

It's been a long while since I've bothered with the blog. Since it's spring, we'll start off with some garden updates. All the plants I put on the patio last spring are still growing. Most of the ones on the front walk died.

I added a new plant stand to the patio today. I got it at the Winter Garden plant festival, from a place called Nature on the Rocks. Today I planted some azaleas, snapdragons, and some tropical plant whose name I've already forgotten. There is still a lot of room on the stand, but I don't think I'll manage to fill it this year. I want to see what the azaleas do, since they can get quite large.

Last summer, I added a couple of wind chimes to the patio. One is bamboo, from Black Market Mineral, and the other is stained glass, that I got from the Tampa Renaissance Festival. Unfortunately, there is very little breeze down here, so most of the time they hang silent.

I also replaced the plants on the front walk. Most had died when I forgot to get someone to water them while I was out of town. Weeds had since started growing in some of the pots. We'll see how well these do.

There's a few other things I've done to the downstairs, so hopefully I'll remember to update the blog a little more frequently than every nine months.

The Statist Game  

Posted by RogueDash1 in ,

I found an interesting article over on the Anchoress' blog. It's a piece from 1941 about the character of different types of Americans and whether or not they'd join the Nazis. It's definitely worth the read. But you can apply the same principle today. But instead of asking whether a person is a Nazi, ask whether a person is a statist. Play a game the next time you're in a group and see if you can determine who believes the State should tell them what to do, who would join the State just because it's the most powerful, who would oppose the State; ask how people would react to the State controlling everything. And more importantly, ask why. What is it about the person, his character, that would make him act the way he does?

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