TWO Upcoming Conventions! So much hype!

Please excuse me while I freak out, but I have not ONE, but TWO conventions coming up, back to back weekends! TWO!!

So let me explain some things first: I live in Seattle, Washington, and we have a few big conventions for geeks every year: Emerald City Comicon (ECCC) for all things geeky, Sakura-con for anime/manga and some video games, and Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) for video games. While PAX is during labor day weekend, ECCC and Sakura-con are both in the spring time. This year, they are one weekend after another. Which is AWESOME because it’s like a non-stop geek fest. But awful because:

1.) I am an impulsive shopper at cons. Stuffed alpacas? BUY. Two t-shirts for a special deal? BUY. I also feel really guilty when I look at an artist’s work for a while and don’t buy anything from them. If a comic book artist tells me about their hard work on their story, I will buy it. I know, they’re totally milking me for my money, but it totally works on me. Which is horrible for me, but great for them. (OK, it’s not too horrible for me because I never actually bought a comic book from a con that I didn’t really enjoy.) But anyways, usually, there’s at least a week or two buffer between the cons, so I can get another paycheck before the next round of geek mayhem.

2.) I’m a college student living in a dorm. I go home to my suburban home on most weekends to do laundry, chill with the parents, eat a home-cooked meal, swap out clothes, etc. I’m currently on spring break (yay!), but once I leave home this Thursday for ECCC, I won’t be going back home until April 13. Luckily I have most of my cosplays at my dorm already, but I’m so paranoid that something will become damaged at or before con and I won’t have the necessary supplies for repairs! I can’t bring the sewing machine, but I’m bringing along my paints, thread and needle, and hot glue gun just in case. The security of not being in my own home with abundand supplies is a little nerve wracking, though. Plus once the weekends are over and I can finally go home, I’m going to have a ton of stuff to drag home…

3.) No time to rest. At all. Once ECCC ends, it’s back to school and my two jobs. Then after Sakura-con? Work and school again.

4.) Extreme Post Con Depression Disorder. I get REALLY sad after Sakura-con. See, usually ECCC is first by a few weeks, so I’m a little sad, but I at least have something to look forward to. But after Sakura-con? Quite a while. Sure, there’s PAX a few months later, but it’s a very different con. I have a lot of friends – even some from out of state – that attend Sakura-con. We talk about it and plan for months in advance, go to all the late-night rave dances, do all sorts of fun stuff. I literally cry my eyes out when it’s over because I spend so much time obsessing over the con, I forget how to live once it’s over. I’m not boasting – it’s probably unhealthy that I care so much. But I do.

So as you can probably guess, I’m a crazy con goer. This is only my third year for ECCC, but I’ve been going to Sakura-con since 2007. I’ve spent almost half my life in the con lifestyle. I spend weeks planning out the perfect personal schedule once the event times are officially posted. I coordinate cosplays with my friends. I make mountains of kandi to trade at the dances. I work as a volunteer for ECCC in the daytime and spend the rest of my time exploring the con…which is awesome, except I get very, very, very little sleep. Like 3 hours per night. Even though I don’t work at Sakura-con, it’s pretty much the same deal since I’m at the raves until 3am, and then it’s back to the con at around 9am. So between showering and getting ready, very little sleep is had. But because I’m a crazy con goer, I magically find energy. I wish I could find that energy on weekday mornings when I wake up for school.

This year will be pretty crazy because I’m doing 2-3 outfit changes per day, between cosplays and rave attire.  I’ve been working on my cosplays since summer. I’m really excited since I haven’t cosplayed since 2012. ECCC has quite a few cosplayers, but Sakura-con has a large and welcoming community. Gatherings are planned on facebook for cosplayers of the same series to meet up and take lots of fun photographs. Needless to say, I will be attending – and even hosting – a handful of gatherings during Sakura-con, and will also have private photo shoots with photographers. Now that I’m all done with my cosplay making, I need to figure out what poses to make! Speaking of cosplay making, I made most of my costumes this year by putting together clothes from a thrift store, altering ready-made clothes, and some I made parts completely from scratch. I also styled a few wigs. Overall, I got a lot better at sewing and crafting, so I’m really proud of my accomplishments for the spring con season! I’m already excited to strengthen my cosplay making skills with future projects.

But for now, here’s a sneak preview at some of my cosplays! Most of them are older selfies I took in the process of making them – can’t spoil the surprise! Stay tuned for updated photos in future posts about these cons, where I’ll also talk a little bit about the process of making the cosplays!

First, here is my lineup for ECCC:

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Ramona Flowers with my boyfriend as Scott Pilgrim:

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Yuna from Final Fantasy X-2

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Lineup for Sakura-con:

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Shiemi from Blue Exorcist:

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Sakura from Cardcaptor Sakura:

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Lucy from Fairy Tail:

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Misa from Death Note:

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For the rest, you will have to wait and see! 🙂

Have you ever been to a convention for anime, video games, and/or comics? Share your experiences and thoughts on conventions below!

Vampires: They’re Not Dead Yet

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people say, “Vampires are so overdone.”

As a writer – especially one who writes about bloodsucking creatures – that phrase always peeves me. Not because I take it as an insult, but because it rarely means exactly what people think they are saying.

Let’s back up a few steps. Vampires have been around for hundreds of years. Several European countries have told stories about vampires. The concept of vampirism has been around for centuries, included in Ancient Greek and Roman mythology.

Back then, vampires were creepy demonic monsters. The gothic romantic vampire we are most familiar with arose in 1819 in John William Polidori’s short fiction prose “The Vampyre,” and then strengthened in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel “Dracula.” These stories not only influenced later works about vampires, but brought about vampires as literary figures that are seen in non-vampire novels. For example, Count Dracula was not a scary monster. He was an older man who was able to manipulate people, especially young girls, for their blood. The novel used Dracula not as just a horror element, but to touch upon the theme of women’s roles in the Victorian era. Vampires being older men controlling younger women remain an important archetype in literature.

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If you think vampires are “so overdone” because they’ve been a hot topic for thousands of years, then yes, they have been overdone. But so has everything in literature. Greek mythology is full of love stories, war, monsters, and super beings. So if that’s your logic, then I wish you good luck on finding an original concept, but please don’t pick on just the vampires.

BUT…that’s generally not the complaint people have about vampires. Most people are just sick of seeing overly sexualized vampires on TV or reading about them in young adult novels. They’re tired of sparkling creatures that are more concerned about love than finding their next meal, and I’m honestly tired of it, too. But I’m not tired of vampires as a whole.

If you’re a vampire fan who is also tired of all the pretty-boys, you’re in luck: there are other vampire stories out there for you to check out. The great thing about vampires being “overdone” is that there are so many cool twists on them. There’s something for everyone out there.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a really good, scary movie about vampires made in recent years. However, I recently watched a couple great newer films that use vampires as interesting metaphors for two different concepts.

“Only Lovers Left Alive” directed and written by Jim Jarmusch is about two vampire lovers, Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton).  The story revolves around their struggles to hide their vampirism in the modern world. They are unable to simply drink blood straight from a human’s neck since their blood is tainted, they seek out the “good stuff” from local suppliers.

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If this reminds you of drug addiction, you’re spot on. The vampires are symbolic of drug addicts, searching for clean, safe blood to drink to stay alive. Adam find comfort in playing guitar and is often bothered by the local “rock and roll kids.” Eve’s sister is representative of a drug junkie who can’t control urges and gorges herself on Adam and Eve’s blood supply, which causes trouble for the vampire lovers. The story cleverly uses vampires to create a fresh commentary on the modern underground rock scene and the heavy drug usage that plagues the followers.

If drama-romance stories aren’t your thing, you might find “What We Do in the Shadows” to be more up your alley. Directed and written by Directed and written by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, the film is a mockumentary comedy about vampire roommates going about their daily lives.

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Though there are some brilliantly funny and graphic blood drinking scenes, the movie, for the most part, revolves around their surprisingly ordinary struggles. They argue over chores, have unresolved issues with past lovers, encounter enemy gangs (aka the werewolves), and face challenges with their new roommate. The film gives the viewers a realistic view on what it’s like to be a vampire. Sure, there are fun parties to attend and silly pranks to pull on humans, but it’s not easy getting dressed without a mirror, giving up your favorite foods you ate as a human, or entering bars without an invitation. As humorous as the movie is – and it is VERY humorous – it does an excellent job showing that although vampires may not be humans, we are more similar than we may think.

Vampires are here to stay, whether you enjoy them or not. I’m not sure how long the sparkly vamps will remain in the media, but as long as they stir up a fan base, keep an eye out for lesser-known films, as those are the ones that take a fresh spin on the age-old bloodsuckers – or at least as fresh as one can attempt to be on such an “overdone” topic.

Have you seen either of these two movies? What did you think? Are there any other vampire books/movies that you really enjoy? Let me know what you think below in the comments!

Video Game Review: Catherine

Don’t judge a book by its cover – in this case, video game. I remember when I first saw the video game Catherine. I was in my local GameStop with my boyfriend when he spotted the game and told me, “I own this game. It’s really cool!”

So when my boyfriend showed me the game cover, I was a bit turned off by the cover art…

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I totally thought it was a sex game. Who could blame me?

Well, I trusted my boyfriend’s taste in video games, so I played through Catherine. I am happy to say that it is NOT a sex game. Yes, it is definitely an adult themed game, but still not a sex game.

Created and published by Atlus, the masterminds behind the Persona series, Catherine is a puzzle-platformer adventure game for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Not a sex game.

You play as a 32 year old man named Vincent, who is honestly kind of a deadbeat and spends his evenings drinking the night away in a bar with his equally-deadbeat friends. He is carefree, enjoys living alocne, and has no ambitions as far as romance goes. This frustrates his girlfriend Katherine, who is his polar opposite. Stern, business oriented, and always planning for the future, Katherine is eager to marry Vincent and start a family.

I guess opposites attract, right?

Anyways, one night at the bar, Vincent meets a hot little blonde number named Catherine, gets really drunk, wakes up with her in his bed the next morning. After meeting her, Vincent can’t go a night without disturbing nightmares where he must climb a tower of crumbling blocks in a hellish dimension inhabited by sheep. These sheep are actually other people sharing Vincent’s nightmares, sentenced to climb to the top of the tower to atone for their sins.

That’s where the puzzle portion of the game kicks in. You must push and pull the blocks to reach the top of the tower. Your goal is to ultimately keep climbing so you can reach the cathedral and be saved from your sins – and all the climbing.

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The puzzles get progressively harder by adding in trick blocks that crumble, shoot spikes, explode, etc. Sheep will occasionally try to push you off the blocks. The boss fights become more terrifying, in which a disturbing  monster will chase you up the tower. Overall, just finding the right path becomes harder. Luckily, between stages, you are able to share climbing techniques with other sheep.

You get to choose your difficulty for the stages. I am honestly not that great at puzzles, so I set it to easy, but it was still actually really hard. Prepare to be frustrated.

And if you bought the game because you thought it’d be a sex game, you’ll be really, really, really frustrated.

If this game sounds really annoying to you, don’t worry – I haven’t even explained the best parts yet.

When you’re NOT having a disturbing nightmare, you are balancing between Katherine and Catherine. I’m generally not a huge romance fan, but the tension between Vincent and the two girls in the cut scenes is extremely engaging. As Vincent continues to cheat, things only become more intense. His relationship with Katherine progresses, yet Catherine continues to show up in his room.

My favorite thing about Catherine is it’s one of those games where your actions determine the outcome of the game. Will you choose the sexy, carefree Catherine? Will you start a family with Katherine? Maybe choose neither?

The interactive portion of the game mainly takes place in the bar. You are able to chat with your friends and the other customers, who will give you hints about the plot and pass time. Don’t forget to drink a ton – getting drunk increases your climbing speed in your nightmares.

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While at the bar, Catherine and Katherine will text you, generally about how you are doing or about something that happened earlier in the cut scenes. The game offers a selection of preset texts for you to choose from. However you respond will affect the outcome of the game. To see where you’re at in case you have a preferred option, a meter will appear at the bottom of the screen. If the arrow is pointing in the red, you are leaning towards Catherine. If it’s blue, you’re leaning towards Katherine.

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Before each stage, you are asked a moral question (ex: “Is it okay to lie?”) and are given two answers to pick from. Your choice will also affect the meter.

As annoying as the puzzles are, the nerve-wracking interactions between Vincent and the girls make it all worth it. It forces you to face some uncomfortable, tempting, and sadly realistic situations for those experiencing dishonesty in a relationship. The game brings a fresh outlook on relationship drama with a horror spin – if you cheat on your girlfriend, prepare to pay the consequences.

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Have you ever played Catherine? What did you think? Comment below!