Fun Collections

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When I am not at a convention, or reviewing horror movies, I work at a university library.  I mostly work in a quality control capacity nowadays, but I’ve done my fair share of cataloging projects over the years.

I get a group email announcing the completion of a cataloging project involving VHS tapes. They focus on horror movies from the 1970s and 1980s.

I wish I could have been involved with that, despite my lack of VCR. One of my favorite things to do as a kid and teenager was to tape horror movies from TV. Halloween was all but a one stop shop. It will be interesting to visit this collection.

 

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It Came From The Best Video Gen X Film Series: Repo Man (1984)

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More than a few movies that I reviewed on this blog came from Best Video in Hamden, CT. Over the years, the video rental that housed, “Forever Evil” on VHS as well as many gems from criterion collections, foreign film and finds obscure enough to put a feather tat on the snobbiest and most discerning hipsters, opened a coffee bar and its doors to live performers and film screenings.

One screening that caught my eye right away was called Gen X Film Series, and the first on the list was Alex Cox’s “Repo Man.”

Like others in the punk and/or goth subculture, I’ve seen “Sid and Nancy.” I have only caught bits and pieces of “Repo Man” and only when it was shown on channel 11, back when it had marathons of franchise horror movies that I would tape, not always cutting off the commercials we would fast forward. Needless to say, on cable television, there was a lot of editing for language.

Nevertheless, I was aware of the soundtrack before I even heard of Circle Jerks, or learned that the band’s bassist, Zander Schloss, played the nerdy yet clueless friend to our story’s hero.

The story is set in 1980’s Los Angeles. This isn’t a glitzy and moneyed Hollywood version of L.A. Rather, this is a trash filled dirty and grim setting where we first meet punk Otto (Emilio Estevez) scowling through his shift at a generic grocery store stocking generic brand food, named ‘Food’ and ‘Beer.’ His mood could have been attributed to his shitty job in a shitty neighborhood, but I can’t imagine his coworker, Kevin (Schloss) singing a generic soda jingle over and over again helped. Otto punches Kevin, leading to further altercation with his boss and the goofy looking security guard. Nevertheless, Otto shows up at a party hosted at Kevin’s house where he runs into his friend, Duke, fresh out of juvenile hall. It seems that juvie got to Duke because it isn’t long before Otto catches him with his girlfriend.

The dirt sprinkle on the shit sundae that was Otto’s day took the form of his aging hippie parents toking up and turning his college money over to a televangelist.  While he had no intention of college, that money would have helped him leave town. On a walk in an especially bad neighborhood, he happens onto a repo man named Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) who feeds him a story about how his pregnant wife needs to get her car out of a bad neighborhood and would he drive it for him for twenty-five dollars? Soon, the real owners of the car see what’s going on and it becomes apparent that Otto is not just doing a stranger a favor. After some back and forth, Otto embraces the high flying life of automobile repossession and the work methods of it’s various characters.

As Otto is settling into his new line of work, a scientist is carting around something glowy, green and making him sick enough to swerve on the highway as it disintegrates anyone foolhardy enough to open the trunk, including a friend of Otto’s that hooked up with Duke and his former girlfriend to form the kind of crime ring that declares that they will order sushi and not pay. As the mystery trunk makes it’s way to L.A., Otto is subject to random crime, conspiracy theorists, government agents and the glowing green prize is in the trunk of a 1964 Chevy Malibu and guess who gets caught in the middle?

“Repo Man” kicked off the Gen X Film series and what a kick it was. Against the backdrop of a grimier L.A. that Hollywood would gloss over, it gives way to a realism that even the glaring generic quality of the store brand food that became one of many running symbols and subplots can’t deny. It has a few stories merging into one glowing trunk full of something unknown and dangerous, not unlike the cold war and Reaganomics of the period. I was a kid through a lot of this, and seeing the parallels with our current economic climate made this movie scary and by some turns, plausible.

I’m glad that my first time seeing “Repo Man” all the way through was on a large screen and followed by a brief discussion in such a great venue. I don’t visit Best Video nearly enough, but it’s a warm and cozy space surrounded by any movie you can think of and so many more you need to see. I only hope that I can make it to see the next installment in this series.

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The Shining (1980)

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After a crazy con season, it is back to movie reviewing.  I got to see Stanley Kubrick’s classic, “The Shining” on the big screen. My local bow tie cinema is showing a series of Turner Classic Movies, and with Halloween looming, a few friends and I met up.

Why there were so few people in the theater, I will never know. Either way, I was armed with the blanket I started knitting at B-Fest and ready to see one of Kubrick’s shorter films, and one of my favorites.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about movie adaptations of books. Movie adaptations of Stephen King books in particular tend to disappoint. I liked the 1994 TV miniseries adaptation of “The Stand” a great deal. I think that the miniseries format allowed for more details from the books that would be left out of a film adaptation. I understand that not every little nuance can or should reach the silver screen, but holy shitsnacks, Pet Semetary, both a favorite novel and Ramones song, made for a horrific movie I have yet to brace myself enough to review.

While I found the novel version of “The Shining” compelling, it did get a little drawn out, both when I read it at 14 and for the second time years later. Stanley Kubrick films tended to run long as well, to a point where the succinct quality of the film became a post movie joke among us. Think about it-it really is one of the short ones.

This is interesting in light of how long the book was to me.

The story takes place at the Overlook Hotel, a high end and isolated manse of an inn built many years ago on an Indian burial ground. A former schoolteacher and aspiring novelist, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) takes a caretaker position for the time that the inn would be closed, the nastiest part of the winter when guests and other staff would be sent out. Torrance agrees to the position for the peace and quiet needed to work on a novel, but is warned of the isolation and how the last caretaker went mad and violently murdered his wife and children before committing suicide.

Torrance, with a smile I would see later in his Joker performance in Tim Burton’s “Batman,” states that his wife would get a kick out of the story as she is a “horror addict.”

One doesn’t get that impression as the demure Wendy Torrance (Shelley Duval) moves in with their son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), who experiences psychic episodes and speaks to imaginary friend, Tony. If anything, Wendy is defending Jack’s drunken episodes, abusiveness and up until the climax walking on eggshells with Jack, all the while taking care of Danny and his episodes alongside her own isolation and visions once the viewer realizes what’s really going on with the hotel….

One could contend that the film shows  the eventual breakdown of Jack’s mental state down to the iconic scene where he breaks down a door with the ax yelling, “Heeeere’s Johnny” stemmed from being alone in a giant hotel that screamed the decades called and they want their brightly patterned carpets and gold ballrooms back. The viewer could also contend that while Jack claimed he wasn’t drinking since an incident where he became irritated with his son and dislocated his shoulder, he probably snuck a drink here and there when the family wasn’t looking, only to break when faced with a hotel where the manager took away the booze for safety insurance reasons. The point of the story was that the hotel itself, built on an Indian burial ground, possessed inhabitants in the worst way, but some critics felt that the viewer didn’t really see that, and it was just a case of abusive Jack becoming insane from isolation, writer’s block and delirium tremens. I wonder about that. There were shots where I could have sworn the expansive, and brightly gaudy hotel seemed to move. I thought the carpet patterns were going to jump out at me along with the kool aid blood that gushed from the elevators.

All in all, this is a fantastic film with chilling performances from the cast and a nasty reminder of how we shouldn’t be too isolated for too long, even in a storm. I remember when a nasty snowstorm hit a few years back. The city was shut down for days. The university where I work called me to tell me that it was closed, a rare occurrence. As the snow piled in front of my front door higher and higher and I ran out of coffee, I got a little stir crazy, happy when the roads cleared up just enough for me to take a walk downtown. If I were caught in a “Shining” storm, I’d have knitted who only knows what in my cabin fever.

As mentioned before, I took some knitting with me. I didn’t do a lot of work with the B-Fest blanket since B-Fest, but to recap:

 

By the time “The Shining” was over……

 

Now, with more stripes!

I wonder what the pastel monstrosity will be by B-Fest 2017.

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Rose City Comic Con: Cats on a Plane

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This September, I completed both a personal and professional goal. I got to see Portland, Oregon for the first time, and I took Happy Kitty Studio to the West Coast, my first convention that required air travel.

For the most part, I traveled by car. One year at Otakon, I traveled by bus, taking a suitcase of display materials with a duffel bag of plushes shrunk down by a space bag. This allowed me to also pack clothes. Down to two bags and some knitting for the trip, I had yet to find out how useful this was when I got sick to my stomach on 7-11 donuts the last day of the show. At the time, I was gloating over the discount I received for booking early. I was hoping that the same didn’t happen when we boarded a plane bound for the west coast and back.

Also, how was I going to get as much merch into as few bags as possible? 

Swiss army brand bag don’t fail me now…

Putting the labor in Labor Day

I had from August 28-September 8 to get everything together. While I didn’t expect to do as well as I did at CT Horror fest, it happened and I had to restock on a sizeable scale on top of my day job. That week, I drew and cut patterns most evenings. I looked forward to an ace in the hole that was a long weekend.

Saturday and Sunday, I completed 24 cats. One day was dedicated to the sewing machine construction and the second to stuffing and putting them together. While I have my system to expedite the process, it is repetitive and time consuming. There is also so much a person can binge watch. Monday was the day to construct 12 Harley Quinn cats. Out of all the villain cats, I think she’s my favorite. Like her knitted doll counterpart, while a little more challenging, the end result is a joy.

What’s not to love?

Monday was the sewing day, meaning the fabric bodies and head were cut up and stitched back together in the harlequin four quarter pattern before I stitched a white mask, put together ears and tail and by 11:00 that night, I had twelve plushes to stuff and attach.

In hindsight, I should have taken Tuesday off, but, there were tasks I needed to take care of. By 2:43, I was on the phone brainstorming with a colleague as to how to run a script to add online handles in a batch because I was out in 45 minutes not to return until next Thursday. We do it, and I manage to ensure that two other batch loads went through correctly. Feeling rushed, I walked home hell bent to complete those cats.

I was seven cats in when I felt burnt out. By the ninth cat completed, I couldn’t do any more. Camped out with the Hulu criterion collection film, Fear, it hit me that it wasn’t yet 9:30. I was grateful that I took the next day off. I sleep until 10:00,  eat apples and cereal with my pumpkin spice coffee (I love you, fall foods and weather despite it being a few weeks from being official) and hammered out a few travel plans with Stefanie while finishing the last three cats.

Pile on the plush

Space bags make it easier

It was time to head out….

I picked up Stefanie and headed to casa de Peli, which thankfully is near the airport. We have amazing takeout Indian food with her family. Her dad picks ghost peppers from his garden.

They were wonderful, but I got drooly at one point. Pro tip: never eat the seedy half in one bite!

After a few episodes of Archer, we got some needed sleep and headed to the airport. We got a little turned around, but we made the flight with time to spare.

Part of me was very tempted to head to baggage claim, and while searching for my suitcase, which contained cats on top of the carry on, yell out that I wanted those motherfucking cats of this motherfucking plane now. But, there were no luggage issues and I doubt you could do that even in Portland, Oregon.

Then again, we had fifteen minutes to get from the plane to our connecting flight when we touched down in Chicago. Thanks, elliptical machine.

We get to Portland in pretty good time. I was a little worried that I had to check my bags with the toys. I was a little worried they would get lost in baggage claim. It took forever for our bags to come out of the carousel, but everything was present and accounted for.

Thankfully, my friend, Desiree was waiting to grab us for food, coffee and  merch dropoff at the convention center. Portland, and the west coast as a whole, it seems, is very aware of dietary needs and restrictions from various food allergies and lifestyle choices. People want to work with you accordingly. Living in the northeastern section of the country, there are times when I feel the odd one out for being vegetarian. This can be a little disheartening for group events, and I feel like the sole complainer. Not in Portland. You can even find lavender ice cream in the local shop, which of course, we all had to stop at!

Rose City Comic Con was a bit of a bust for me, plus I was a little disheartened to be stuck behind a table when in Portland for the first time. Well, Desiree, her husband Jason and I more than made up for it when exploring the city proper as seen below:


One thing that I noticed was a lack of yarn shops. I’ve seen galleries, bakeries, eateries of all types, and Powell’s books, the largest independent bookstore I have ever had the good fortune to enter. There was punk rock pizza, but no yarn stores. Either I have to explore this further, something I need to do anyway as I want to take a proper non convention vacation, or I need to explore this and set up shop……

It’s not the craziest idea I ever had.

 

Connecticut Horror Fest: A long drive and fear of a brush with fame

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I make cats. I knit character dolls. I actually do get time to review horror movies….or watch them….or put Supernatural on when I’m working.

Either way, it was high time that I took my wares to the horror convention circuit. How hard could it be after years of anime and comic conventions?

As it turned out, not very hard, but I wasn’t looking forward to CT Horror Fest on the day. A good part of this was due to Boston Comic Con and the ensuing craziness. I had set a few cats aside, cats that resembled Jason Vorhees, but I sold out of a lot of cats, and could stand to have dolls that went with the theme of the show. I made eleven cats and knitted a Freddy Krueger, who is popular at comic shows. He would be joined by fellow horror dolls, Jason, Pinhead, and Frankenstein’s monster, or hipster really. He had a craft beer vibe to him.

Also, my first horror convention was Scare-A-Con New England this past June. I met some fantastic people, and got a great reminder of why I love what I do in the form of another artist coming to my table to tell me that the Jason Kitty she received as a gift made a rough evening a lot better. However, sales wise the show was a bust and poorly run by overcharging for attendee tickets at a venue that was too big to fill. There were exhibitors that left early or didn’t show. I ended up getting moved to an empty booth Sunday. Other than helping to make the evening of a sister artist, I preferred to spend the weekend with Merrilee, the kitties and Murder in the First on Hulu.

So, when I woke up for CT Horror Fest, I wasn’t expecting much. Come to think of it, I signed up for it thinking that I was going to linger on the wait list for Boston Comic Con. Little did I know indeed…

The show was located in Danbury, CT which is roughly 40 minutes from me. This route did not involve much time on a highway, but a long stretch of Rt.34 that took me through Naugatuck Valley. Other than a bridge and a few dead man’s curve turns, it was a pleasant drive in the warmer seasons. I wouldn’t touch it in the snow if I could help it.

I ran a little late. One thing that impressed me was that staff had signs and venue staff to direct misplaced people like myself. I was directed to my table where I set up while chatting with a convention friend.

scary setup

I ended up selling more than I thought I would. I was especially surprised to sell dolls. I was a little discouraged by the lack of attention they got at previous shows. Better still, more friends showed up. Even though I got a little overloaded by 6:00, I was happy with the way it turned out.

My friend,  Jaala, seemed a bit giddy when she came by to chat a little early into the show. It turned out that my booth was behind celebrity guest, James Marshall of Twin Peaks fame. I am not one to get autographs or gush, nor was I very talkative to begin with. While it didn’t happen, I was a little fearful that I would drop something only to have it roll behind into his booth, mortifying me.

There was my brush with fame at conventions, that and Final Fantasy voice actress Rachel Robinson purchasing a knitted kitty hat from me at Connecticon five years previous. Good grief, was I happy that I was not dropping stuff as I often do….

That said, it was coffee time. By that, I meant Deadly Grounds brand coffee. Talk about a national treasure! Tasty, flavorful and chock full of precious caffeine, they also offer a three bag for thirty dollar deal. I wasn’t sure how a chocolate and pumpkin flavor combination would work, but I was pretty impressed by the sample.

Picking up the essentials

All in all I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe I can hack it in horror convention land…provided I don’t wind up in a booth behind Evan Peters at an American Horror Story-centric convention. Forget dropping stuff, I’d likely faint, but that’s another tale of unprofessional con carnying…

Boston Comic Con 2016: Cats, Cosplay and other Cautionary Tales

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I had meant for this blog to be exclusive to the review of horror movies. However, exhibiting at comic book and anime conventions tend to take up my spare time. Also, including my spokes bunnies, Dexter and Ichabod in my web comic, Project Poppet further links my creative endeavors.

Besides, the following documents a roller coaster weekend. Let’s get to it.

Convention Prep: Pre-Party like a [plush making] Rock Star

As much as I joke about being a plush mogul, I put a lot of time and energy into my cats and dolls. I have a system, and my patterns. All the same, it gets time consuming, especially if I deviate from my patterns in any way. Boston Comic Con is a high sale show for me, and sometimes, I use that to experiment with new ideas and items.

For example, last year’s BCC was the debut of my whale cat hybrid. This was based on Merrilee’s, my friend and webmaster’s cat. Toby is Happy Kitty Studio’s head of Human Resources and a big and beautiful orange tom that likes to crash out in the apartment.

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Toby leading Happy Kitty Studio staff in trust building exercises.

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Whale cats

 

This year, I created BatCat.

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I am the terror that meows in the night….

 

Cute little guy, no? He’s a little bigger than my kitten sized plushes, and making the cape got to be a little tricky and a bit more time consuming.

Also debuting were character sharks. I had leftover fleece from other projects sitting in my fabric drawer after I had switched to a more plush fabric. I modified a pattern with a pocket mouth and knitted a small doll of a rival hero. Photographed below is Sharkpool eating a mini Cable. As I later told BCC attendees, I couldn’t bring myself to knit Ajax.

 

On top of my day job, which can get pretty busy on a normal day, let alone when special projects take me to other libraries, I found myself subject to solitary working evenings and weekends. Boston Comic Con 2016 was on August 12-14. I started marathon plush making the second week of July. I gave myself enough of a break after MASSive Comic con at the end of June to visit family in North Carolina, return to Connecticut, and get my apartment convention BnB ready for friends to come by for Connecticon, where I assisted for the weekend.

After Connecticon, I found myself going to work as per usual, walking home, eating a little before 4:00 while watching the Daily Show on Hulu, and afterward getting to work drawing and cutting patterns, sewing parts in batches based on the type of cat, putting it all together, and stuffing, the process broken up when I need to pick up fabric and other supplies. Again, it got pretty isolated. I saw friends sporadically and if you looked at my time with Netflix, it bordered on unhealthy. I work with background noise. Go insane? Don’t mind if I do. Top it off, there is little time for the gym. Hitting the treadmill and elliptical machine while watching Law and Order not only keeps me in shape, but keeps me on a even keel.

It hits me more and more that only some understand what I do, what I put into it and why. I could go on about dating, time constraints with the expectation some have of pulling geek cred out of my ass while looking cosplay model perfect (a little hard to do when gym time is cut short), but that’s another blog or online post.

As mentioned before, this is a high sale show, and my expenses piled up. I had to sew up a large stock of cats, 15 or more for some types to break even and profit sales wise. In a month’s time, I made close to fifty cats, knitted a few dolls, two sharks as well as two larger catpool pillows.

The expenses piled up, especially with the hotel, but thankfully, a few artist friends, Aradia, Stefanie, and her friend, Peli needed hotel space as well. We messaged back and forth to make arrangements. I contacted the hotel to let them know that my plans had changed and needed to add more people to my booking. While I was told that they would try to place us in a room with more beds, we kept our air mattresses handy.

The Long Hard Road out of Hell-or the Mass Pike.

Turned out, the hotel charges for parking. To save money among other reasons (including the amazing company), we figured that we would try to cram as much as we could into one car. Due to storage capacity in the trunk, Stefanie’s car was tasked. She and I compared it to my Honda Civic a few days prior to the show. While the engine on a Civic could possibly survive the apocalypse, it had crap for trunk depth. One thing I was worried about was my grid wall display. No way could my four pieces fit into a trunk, and it was questionable that it would fit in the backseat along with a suitcase of shelves and other display items, and not one, but two bags of a merchandise (a big duffel bag and a garment bag). I had my grid cube set on standby if it got to be cumbersome. I knew that I would be using it for Rose City Comic Con in Portland, OR the following month. To give an example of what was coming with me…..

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This was only a fraction on my stock. At this point, I hadn’t even touched the Harley Quinn Cats.

 

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I tried to compress everything down with space bags. It didn’t work out so well.

All the same, my stuff and my person somehow fit into the backseat. I had to compress the garment bag of pillows down to ensure Stefanie’s field of vision, but it worked. Plus, I planned to come home with significantly less.

Peli came up to Connecticut Thursday. I went to the day job, got home a little before 5:00, time enough for them to come over and stuff the backseat with my gear . Their gear and prints were in the trunk. Aradia, who was based out of Massachusetts, went on to Boston earlier to set up.

Onward!

We managed to make decent time getting to the Mass Pike. There was some lightning, but no major storms, and there was plenty of playlist goodness from Stefanie. However, the Mass Pike can get a little backed up especially getting to Boston. We opted to go to the convention center to set up first. After a few stops for snacks, and coffee, we made it to the loading dock and were directed by con staff to a parking spot. We had a little more than a half hour on the clock. Basically, we could pick up our badges, find our tables and the swag bag from Deviant Art given to artists which included a sketchbook, set up the bare bones of display and drop our things before staff announced that we had to leave at 8:00. Rushed, we had to find the hotel, where Aradia had already settled. I needed to leave a credit card for incidentals, but there were two beds. With everyone checked in, it was high time to go to the hotel bar for a cocktail and the Olympics before we started a crazy weekend.

Boston Comic Con: Friday

First thing was to navigate ourselves from the hotel to the convention center. Usually, I book hotels outside of the con to avoid both extra expense and loud attendees. This time around, I found what turned out to be a pretty awesome hotel. Without the clutter of gear and merch, we were able to stop at a nearby Dunkin Donuts for goodies and much needed caffeine for the day ahead.

We get there early and part ways to set up.

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Let me note that there is an overflowing duffel bag of cats under the table plus another garment bag cat pillow.

 

Friday is a shopping day, but often since it is the first day, it’s more of a window shopping type of day. Sometimes, I’ll make back the cost of my table space that day, and sometimes, I will fall short of that amount. However, I saw friends both as artists and attendees. My friend, Scott came by smiling, joked that he was with marvel and asked about my copyright credentials before checking out both the Deadpool and Loki sharks. He told me that I was coming up with really good ideas and that meant a lot coming both from him and his girlfriend, Merrilee (aforementioned webmaster and cat owned by whale cat inspiration Toby). They are two highly talented people, and know good stuff when they see it. Another friend, also a Scott, came by and after chatting told me that due to the Harley Quinn tank dress I wore I had a Harley Quinn lineup print waiting for me. When I got some time off, I picked it up afraid I would crush it under my stuff. Other friends, Pixie and her husband Shadow said hello and we talked about her cosplay and caught up-some of which involved cat pictures. It was a kitten sale day overall. At the end of the day, we were a little tired and it was time for food.

The Drink and Draw was just across the way……..

While a little convoluted in location, we make it in due time and despite crowd, we manage to get a table, meet new people, and get a little drawing done. Peli drew a wonderful cat boy and I did a few sketches in the Deviant Art sketchbook as we grabbed a little food and grog-hotel bar fare to be sure, but okay.

Boston Comic Con: Saturday

Saturday is the sales day. Due to high volume, I figured why not stand out? Now, some cosplays can get pretty elaborate, and all are a work of art in of themselves. I was keeping count of movie Harley Quinns and Jokers as opposed to the more classic version. With the release of the Suicide Squad movie, there were a ton of the movie version dotted with other members of the Justice League, Deadpool as well as Marvel and Disney characters.

I opt for Final Fantasy VII. I should pay as much attention to curling my hair on a normal day, but I get to wear slippers.

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Aeris cosplay day. There are still overflowing bags under the table. Materia provided by LL at Creative Girl Studio. I made my ring at one of her classes. Photo taken by my awesome table neighbors at Kat Cuseo Art. At the time, I did not yet know the full extent of the awesome.

 

Profit was an understatement. I sold out of the (classic) Harley Quinn kittens (though how I could cat-i-fy the movie version is beyond me) and came very close to selling out of the twenty two Catpools I had. Not getting so much as a break due to attendee volume, I was happy about that, as well as the Loki shark eating a knitted Thor being my first sale of the day. Other than that, the knitted dolls didn’t get as much attention. On the other hand, I did get a commission from my friend Margaret in the form of a fox!

The duffel bag ended up in the suitcase by the end of the day. I was kind of amazed and was hoping that the giant pillows would sell and give more room by show’s end.

Afterward, I learned of the magic that was Chuck Tingle and his entertainingly bad titles thanks to Aradia, our friend, McKenzie, and the terrible vampire/viking/angel romance novel her job pawned off on her. She felt the need to share the love and Aradia shared in turn.

I’m in the wrong line of work.

Boston Comic Con: Sunday

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Filling out the table with pillow number two by Sunday.

 

Down to my last few kittens, a shark and the giant pillows that filled out my display, I had a slower Sunday. I chatted with my neighbors and enjoyed wearing jeans instead of dresses and my Slytherin shirt. The show was winding down but the crazy part happened after we packed up…

Holy Aftermath, Batman……

Packing up, helping others and saying goodbye was uneventful enough. We waited for Stefanie to pull into the loading dock. It took time for everyone, and we pack and pile into the car, stopping for gas in Waltham. I was looking forward to a coffee.

Only, I learn then that my bag with cash, wallet and essentials was left at my table. I call friends nearby, friends on staff and convention security to see about retrieval. No one had seen it. I was freaking the hell out. I call my landlord to report a lockout and explain the situation. He left me spares to borrow until I can make copies or if the keys return. I knew that it was all I could do for the time being, but I was pretty upset. I’m grateful to Stefanie and Peli for helping me cart my crap up the stairs. When they leave, I cancel my cards, and stop worrying about what else could happen, and what was I going to do long enough to get some sleep.

Monday, I post about it online. Margaret shares the post asking other convention friends to let us know if they saw the bag. My friend Dave, who was on staff emailed other staff to see if anything was turned into them. Overall, there was an outpouring of support that really humbled me.

I’m losing my mind waiting for convention security to call. I have to admit, I assumed the worst knowing that there was cash in the bag. I check my Happy Kitty Studio email to see about any information for my next show later in the afternoon and I get a message from my neighbors informing me that someone gave them my bag thinking it was theirs and about to be forgotten. They take a look, find the sweater I wore all weekend (and part of the week at work….it needed washing, shall we say) as well as knitting supplies and knew it was mine. One went to college in West Haven, and I was on the way to her dorm. They stated that everything was there when I tore open the bag and thanked them profusely, but the first words out of my mouth were something to the effect of how the sweater stank to high hell, but it was home.

I really hope it wasn’t too ripe on the ride back….

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Con Bag returned! Hopefully, the sweater didn’t stink up the car.

 

I could not put my cash in the bank fast enough.Those two are getting some free Catpools!

Again, this humbled me more than I can write. I know that stress made me careless, and I am going to be more mindful in the future…and the con season is not over yet.

 

B-Fest 2016: Not Just a Knitting Marathon.

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And now, it is time for the main event, I thought to myself, my mind still on wrestling even as my belly filled with Ethiopian food.

Scott piled the lot of us into his caravan and we found our way to Northwestern University and a parking space. We grabbed the essentials, be it pillows, change of clothes, coolers of snacks and drinks, and in my case, knitting.

To give a little context, since B-Fest 2007, there was something I at least brought to the fest to knit. Believe it or not, I can knit and watch a movie at the same time. Come to think of it, at either the 2007 or 2008 B-Fest, I was making a sweater.

This time around, I took pastel scrap yarn for a purely garter stitch blanket. I needed the never ending project, a use for yarn that once belong to a friend of a friend’s coworker…well, yarn just ends up in my apartment and I can’t spin yarn into gold, but I can do blankets. I was also greeted by Natasha, who had both a red velvet cake loaf as well as a green notebook. While this blog is over seven months old, I swear, I took notes during the movies. I didn’t add composite drawings as I did my undergraduate Art History course notes (mind you, this was well before the days of iPads-think closer to zip disks), but I jotted enough down to jog my memory of basics and quips.

Notebook and the start of the blanket

 

Let me note that the following are the movies that I stayed awake for. Some were just too cheesy from the title and synopsis to be anything other than an excuse to nap. Let this be a lesson, never judge by title or synopsis. Entertainingly bad can be just bad. I say this as an owner of “The Thirst” on DVD. On to the movies!

“Adventures of Hercules” 6:00-7:35pm

I have few words beyond cue the Hulk jokes. Lou Ferrigno plays the title role and I’ll give it this-he does look like a Hercules. I had a feeling that the Twelve Labors of myth were going to be fudged if not omitted….and I was right.

In this version, Herc starts adventuring and battling. Notably, he did so with amazons, and an Amazon Queen. In the myth, he ends up marrying her, but in the movie he kills her along with Medusa at one point. I am pretty certain the warrior, Perseus did that, but what do I know? I also don’t remember so many robots, especially in a universe where science was deemed chaotic. However, the highlight was the cheese-tacular laser light effects. It was needed as the acting was awful.

It didn’t quite go into Pink Floyd-esque light show madness at this point…..

Well, that derailed quickly…..

 

“Caltiki: The Immortal Monster” 7:35-9:00pm

Caltiki is a blobish terry cloth monster. This particular film opus is “loosely based”on a Mexican legend. I’m wondering how loose this is, probably the caliber of a cheap towel. A group of archaeologists stumble on the monster while exploring a cave. One man is killed, and his colleague driven insane and disfigured. I’m curious if the creator of Two-Face combed this movie for inspiration. A sample of the monster is taken from the cave and that sample later regenerates into another blob monster. Hilarity ensues.

I love older sci fi movies, and I like the creativity employed in lieu of the CGI effects that came later, but all the same I don’t really want to see this movie rebooted for the modern era.

“Americathon 1998” 9:00-10:30pm

This is a contender for my fest favorite. John Ritter stars as the philandering president of the United States, more or less reprising his character on “Three’s Company” only a lot less of a lovable doofus due to power, which played a part in America going completely broke to a point where people are living in cars that no longer run. The adviser plots against him with foreign powers and there is an evil corporation run by India to contend with. How do you save the country? With a telethon hosted by a washed up actor with performances from outrageously bad rockers to plucky kids that biked to get there all the while keeping reporters, mistresses and the American public happy as the money collects. Ritter, as I mentioned before, was reprising “Three’s Company” to a slightly darker level, but all in all, it was good political satire, even if it’s a possible future given our present election.

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At least it wasn’t sponsored by Trump University

 

“Calling Dr. Death” 10:30-11:45pm

Good grief, I needed that energy drink….

Time for some film noir starring Lon Cheney and arguably one of the most beautiful film stars of the 1930s and beyond, Patricia Morison. I was looking forward to this film and had a feeling that I was going to have to make a tough choice between this and Americathon 1998 as my fest favorite. Little did I know…..

Lon Cheney stars as a doctor who has a very pretty wife who cheats on him and a much better looking assistant, Stella, played by Morison. Now, if it were me, I’d serve the wife with divorce papers and run off with Stella. However, there wouldn’t be much of a movie if logic were present.

Logic was not at all present. When the wife’s cheating ways land her in the morgue, the worst drug fueled investigation follows.

When 11:45 rolled around, I figured that it was time to channel my disappointment into a nap. I’d seen “The Wizard of Speed and Time” as well as “Plan 9 from Outer Space” more than a few times, and I had tossed my share of paper plates. I also skipped “The Human Tornado” and the “Garbage Pail Kids Movie.” I owned Cabbage Patch Kids as a child, repudiated the Garbage Pail Kids proudly, state as such at the risk of my goth card and walk in on the tail end in time for “Blood Mania” thankful that I did not walk in on the tail end of an awful scene in “Street Trash” as I did in 2007. That still gives me the creeps every now and then.

“Blood Mania” 5:05-6:40am

I walked in on another bad noir, and this time, I didn’t have the benefit of looking at Patricia Morison. Thank you again Natasha for the red velvet cake loaf. It was a help as  I was babbling in my notebook at this point. Blood Mania is about two sisters that want their rich father’s estate and while one is sweet and innocent, the other schemes and blackmails a doctor to drug everyone using sex and drugs. The movie itself was a bad drug trip, one that shouldn’t have been filmed. The only discovery more horrifying than the many plot holes and shitty twists was the realization that I own a copy of this movie thanks to my buying a number of random European horror compilation DVDs for cheap. You get what you pay for sometimes.

“Moon Zero Two” 6:40-8:25 am.

When I think of Hammer Films, I think of melodramatic Gothic horror, decrepit castles and stories very loosely based on classic literature. At some point, Hammer decided to branch into sci-fi. Well, they certainly kept up with the risque smut featured in the horror movies, but I wasn’t 100% on board with this stowaway space odyssey. I ended up napping through part of it.

“Low Blow” 8:25-10:05am

Oh, cheesy action movies, I love you so. This movie centers around Joe Wong, a former cop that now works as a bounty hunter with a long suffering big haired secretary in the nastiest dump of an office. The only thing junkier is the car he keeps crashing in minor bumps. This loveable scrapper specializes in stopping purse snatchers and petty crooks until a rich man approaches him to discreetly rescue his daughter from a cult. A series of misadventure and fight scenes follow. I really enjoyed this, and after Calling Dr. Death, Americathon 1998 had competition for the fest favorite. It had some cheesy running gags, including the messy office, Wong’s love of circus peanuts and bad parking. The best part was a scene involving rotweiler puppies. Puppies tend to cure everything, and this movie needed it at times.

“The Fifth Musketeer” 10:30am-12:30pm

I smelled the handlebar mustache ride cracks a mile away….I might have made one at some point, but I was a little sleep deprived. Overall, it was a fun swashbuckling adventure with a little costume porn and a pretty good performance by Alan Hale. If you need fodder for your Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, the dungeon escapes and sword fighting is pretty to fun. Be mindful of too many jokes involving how you critically fumbled your attack rolls, however.

“Roar” 1:05-2:55pm

A man creates an animal sanctuary in his jungle house….his large jungle house. He needs a sizable house as many cats live there. Lions, tigers and panthers roll, frolick and act like giant adorable kitties.

I spent a good chunk of this movie squeeing over the kitties on the big screen. Now, the man’s family came to the sanctuary not knowing all of the residents. Hilarity and kitty action ensue.

Let me note that giant cats are still cats and they love to play. They also hunt and eat. Kitty will eat you.

For those of you that are reading this and didn’t hear my squealing over kitty cuteness, I am going to declare Roar the fest favorite.

 

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I was unable to find this movie on Amazon as it sold out after the fest.

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KITTIES!!!!!!!!

 

“Kansas City Bomber” 2:55-4:40pm

A roller derby movie starring Raquel Welch as a skater trying to make it on the professional roller derby circuit while trying to be a mom to a young daughter raised by her grandmother that believes she should marry a nice man instead. Welch opts to have an affair with a team owner that skeezes on her and her drunk rival skater.

I couldn’t help bur notice that there was limited padding for a roller derby team engaging in wrestling moves. I have half a mind to screen this to friends in derby to find any further errors.

“The Super Inframan” 4:40-6:00pm

Toho, you are the greatest. No kaiju this year, but we have super science, aliens and a hero that gains super powers in time to save the day from an evil alien queen in an outlandish getup that I swear that I will cosplay!

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More lasers!

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So many awesome monsters!

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My fantasy cosplay

 

The fest wrapped up at 6:00 and laughing, tired and sore, we cleaned up our trash and other belongings and make our way to the cars and to Portobellos for dinner. We also stop at a grocery store and for the first time I try green river soda.

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A Chicago treasure with real sugar

 

I should have bought more for the trip home. As it turned out, weather precluded my flight from taking off Sunday. After many delays and hours in O’Hare, I book a nearby hotel and squeeze my way into a Monday afternoon flight, which got delayed a few minutes. I get to New York to find that my airport shuttle was delayed due to bad weather, but I make it to Grand Central and a late train back to New Haven. It was almost one in the morning when I get back home.

I cannot wait until B-Fest 2017. I only hope the weather holds up and I can acquire more Green River.