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The Nerd Machine & Nerd Awareness Month

OMG the summer holidays are here!! Two full months before I have to get back to uni. I cannot quite comprehend this yet because it's been, what, 8 years? since I had a vacation this long. I belonged to the working class and their 2-3 week holidays from 2005 onwards, and while I was still in college the summer of 2004, I did have a summer job for 3 or 4 weeks back then, so still "only" a 5 week holiday. So yeah, the last time I had a full 9-week summer vacay was all the way back in 2003, 8 years ago. :O I've decided to not take on any summer jobs and just enjoy it to the fullest while it lasts... it might not be the smartest thing financially, but, well, I guess I'll just work a little harder in the years to come. ;)

Aaanyway. The point of this blog was not to make you all jealous of my long vacation, so let's get on with it.

The point of this post was mainly to shamelessly plug The Nerd Machine. 'Cause they're awesome. They have really neat t-shirts and tanks (uh, that's tops, not, you know, the big vehicles...) a cool place to hang out whether you're a tech-, comic-, or TV-nerd, gamer, or just nerdy about anything else, really, and they're doing a Nerd HQ in San Diego during but not at ComicCon, so that even if you didn't manage to get passes you still have an awesome event to go to.

The second point of this post is that one of the TNM members decided to rename July Nerd Awareness Month.

"Nerd Awareness Month is exactly what it sounds like. It is an entire month devoted to celebrating and sharing all the things that deem you worthy of the title of Nerd. It started out as a random idea to wear a nerdy or pop culture related t-shirt everyday for the month of July of this year in celebration of my first trip to San Diego Comic Con, and of my introduction into an amazing nerd community. Then my friend suggested I spread this idea and it was her who first dropped the term "Nerd Awareness Month" on me. All at once I realized it had to be done. And so it will be."

As you can see, it was originally just a simple challenge to wear a nerd/pop-culture shirt each day in July, but there's now a different theme for each day of the month, with the idea of having events to celebrate those things. As far as I'm aware there aren't yet any events in the Netherlands, though, so I'm thinking about mayyyybe just coming up with one of my own. Though I'm not really much of an event planner. Suggestions? ;) One thing I can easily join in on is the t-shirt thing, so without further ado:

My July 1 tee. This is secretly an older photo (no, I wasn't wearing hotpants in 17°C weather) because I totally forgot to take one yesterday, but I really was wearing that t-shirt, I promise. It says "procrastinate" and it's funny because it has a procrastinating Dalek and they're normally all aggressive and yell exterminate instead and inside jokes aren't funny if you (badly) try to explain them are they so I'll just hold it right there. I got it at Qwertee, which has a new t-shirt every three days, so short of browsing eBay for used ones, there's basically no way for you to get this now. Sorry 'bout that. :P

Today's tee. It has an 8-bit style FireFlower with the caption "this is why I'm hot" and it's funny because, well, fireballs are hot but you're also wearing a nerdy t-shirt and obviously nerds are hot and dammit I thought we weren't going to do the whole explainy thing whoops. I got this from Snorgtees something like three years ago, but apparently they actually still sell it! It's even on sale from $19.95 to $15.96, although I'm fairly sure I only paid $15.00 to begin with, three years ago. Huh.


Cosplay: Rapunzel

Tangled. Just in case you somehow have no idea what I'm talking about, it's the 50th Disney Classic. Classic refers both to the fact that it's a non-Pixar Disney Animation Studios movie, and that it's a "classic" fairytale adaptation with a bunch of musical-style songs. Because of all this, I had somehow convinced myself that I'd outgrown such movies by now, and never went to see Tangled when it hit the movie theatres (Fall 2010).

Then, one bored (and probably procrastinating-on-study filled) evening in January, I figured I'd finally go give it a try. And promptly transformed back into a little kid. I loved it, I cried at it in all the right places, I saw it nearly a dozen times in the months to come, I knew all the songs by heart within a week, and I wanted to be Rapunzel. Initially, this was just a random, non-serious thought after seeing it for the second or third time. But then I thought, well, it would make an awesome costume for the Elf Fantasy Fair...

I've been to the EFF every year for the past five years now, and for the first three, I did nothing at all costume-wise. Just jeans and a t-shirt, and a pair of elven ears stuck onto my own for the heck of it. Last year, I decided I wanted something more, and my mum and I put together a very quick (I think we literally worked on it for one afternoon) costume: a simple tunic, a pair of leggings and a large cape, and I carried my bow & arrow around the EFF all day and pretended to be an elven hunter. But I'd never actually cosplayed before, and suddenly it seemed like so much fun and I started sketching rightaway.

This is the sketch I made that evening after I had my "crazy idea", working out the components of Rapunzel's dress. I figured I needed two skirts, a fitted bodice, and a whole bunch of sewing skills that I didn't have, to put it all together. So, I enlisted my mum's help once again, and amazingly, she didn't even think I was ridiculous for wanting to play a Disney princess at age 24. ;)

Next, it was time to hunt for materials. Rather than making the underskirt ourselves, my mom happened to find a white lacey dress in a thrift store that was exactly the right type. We cut off the skirt part to use as our underskirt. We also recycled the top: the lace trim at the hemline came in handy for the lace trim around the neckline of Rapunzel's bodice, and we used the lacey white sleeves instead of Rapunzel's light pink sleeves (the ones coming out from underneath the puffy parts).

At a fabric store, we found a nice cotton fabric in almost the exact shade of Rapunzel's bodice, and pink lace to lace up the bodice in the front. We also picked up a sheet of pink satiny fabric from another thrift store (I think it was actually supposed to be a tablecloth...) and cut it into strips to sew onto the puffy sleeves. The cloth had a frilly trim, that we used for the bodice's bottom hemline.

With the bodice all done, we still needed materials for the overskirt. Rapunzel wears a skirt that seems to consist of two layers: the main part is plain, and only embroidered along the edges, and in the front there's an inverted-V shaped panel, made of embroidered fabric. To save on money (and a whole lot of embroidery/fabric painting along those edges), we decided to flip this around: use the same plain purple fabric we already had for the bodice, for the V-shaped panel, and find a nice, preferably embroidered fabric for the rest of the skirt. We actually ended up finding what we were looking for in the curtain department of a home accessories store. No, I'm not kidding: I was technically wearing a curtain. It was made of a nice, smooth, purple fabric, with subtle embroidery all over, and a single $7.99 curtain was large enough to make one full, flowing skirt.

I thought I had more pictures of the work in progress, but I can't seem to find them. So, here's the skirt fully completed (including underskirt) and the bodice nearly done (only the sleeves and trim missing).

Rapunzel walks around barefoot for pretty much the entire movie, but somehow walking around barefoot at a con all day didn't seem like the smartest idea. I already had a pair of simple black ballet flats that I'd never really used, so I used those to complete the outfit.

Please ignore my extremely dorky expression and makeup-less face in this photo. Also, the colours are a bit off (less blue in real life), as you can tell by comparing it to the photos up above. Of course, one rather key piece is still missing in this photo... Rapunzel's long blonde hair! This way, I was still looking like a random medieval towngirl rather than a Disney princess. Cue a mail-ordered Godiva wig:

I was standing with my back against the wall here, and I still couldn't fit the whole wig into one shot. That baby is a full five feet long. I'm only 5'7", for the record, so in this loose state, it was almost ankle length. Now, as you can tell, it is fairly thin, and besides, Rapunzel has 20' long hair, not just 5'. Except for when it's all braided up, and only comes down to about mid-thigh. So, my next mission was to untangle the wig (I know it doesn't look particularly tangled in that photo, but wait till you try running your fingers through it) and then braid the whole thing. About four hours and nearly an entire can of detangling spray later, this was the result.

After very carefully combing all the tangles out, I separated the hair into three pieces; about 1/6th of the hair on either side, and the other 2/3 loose in the back. I braided the side parts as neatly and tightly as possible, and then braided the large part at the back a little more loosely. Finally, I wrapped the thin side braids around the large one in the back.

Then it was time for some finishing touches: a bunch of fake flowers in the hair, a leather satchel to carry my things around the fair (my mum had an old one left over), and so on. Once it all came together, the end result was pretty awesome, for a first cosplay at least. I may have had a headache all evening after wearing several pounds of wig all afternoon, but it was totally worth it :D

(photo credit: John van Mourik)


(photo credit: Jan-jaap Sandee)

Best part: I hadn't even really arrived yet (I was walking from the parking lot to the fair entrance) and I heard a little girl behind me go "Oh my gosh, mommy, look! It's Rapunzel! Wow! Is her hair really that long?" Totally made my day :D



Disclaimer: there may not be any actual kittens in this post. The title was just there to get your attention. I mean, who doesn't like cute fluffy kittens? :3

Basically, I'm procrastinating on studying for my Social Psychology exam, so I thought that might be a good time to update you on various odds and ends. Where to start? Well, speaking of exams, did I ever actually mention that I passed all my courses for the first semester in one go? 'Cause I did, so, yay. :) Scores: Nutrition I, 85%; General Chemistry, 80%; Organic Chemistry, 80%; Nutrition II, 65%; Cell Biology, 80%; Human Physiology, 65%. (Listed here in percentages for easier conversion to whatever grading system you're familiar with; we actually get graded on a scale from 1 to 10.)

I've also made a fair bit of progress with the whole TV series catchup thing. I've now seen the fifth season of Dr. Who plus Christmas special, and am all caught up on Castle and Fringe as well. I've also more or less decided not to bother watching every single episode of The Simpsons and South Park that I've missed; they're pretty funny, but they're not my favourite shows ever or anything, and they're completely non-sequential anyway. Also, unlike the other shows on my favourites list, I just starting following these at some random point, never bothering to watch 10+ back seasons to start from episode 1x01 onwards as I did with my other shows. So I'm not really seeing the point of taking the time to watch the 30+ episodes of each that I've missed, rather than just picking up from where the shows are now, just like I did a couple of years ago. If you can recall any specific Simpsons or South Park episodes from the last 1.5 years or so that were really awesome and it would be a shame if I never saw them, let me know which ones and then I'll just watch those, I guess.

So, that just leaves five shows: 24, CSI, Grey's, Heroes, and Lost. That's something that I wasn't really expecting a month ago. ;) I've been keeping up with Chuck and Castle on a weekly basis for a little while now, and will also start doing the same for Fringe (just got caught up a couple of days ago on that one). Chuck has somehow managed to become my #1 favourite show since I started watching again -- it used to be "just one of those shows I watch that's kinda fun" a couple of years ago, with me loving Dollhouse and Dr. Who and even Heroes much more back then. I'm not entirely sure why, because if I try to look at it objectively, I actually think the writing in season 1 and 2 was possibly better than in seasons 3 and 4, but yeah... I may just be a teeny tiny bit obsessed with that show right now. Well, according to some, anyway, who claim that staying up until 2am so I can catch Chuck live as it first airs on NBC (at 8pm US time) is obsessive. Pshah, I say. Which I realise is not a very intelligible argument and I should probably think of something better. Hrm.

Let's talk Oscar dresses! I actually somehow managed to completely avoid all the pre-Oscars buzz, and so I had no idea that the Academy Awards show was going to be on that night and went to bed early, missing it entirely. Fortunately, a dozen or so people on my Twitter timeline faithfully reported everything that happened throughout the night, and there's pretty dress pictures everywhere. I'm sure you've seen them by now, so I'm not reposting them here. But which dress was your favourite? I thought Halle Berry's was really gorgeous, although it did remind me a little of a wedding dress instead of just a generic fancy dress. A very pretty wedding dress, though. I also loved Anne Hathaway's and Natalie Portman's dresses, and Natalie really had a pregnancy glow going on there, didn't she? If we're talking overall look, and not just the dress, I thought she was probably the most beautiful.

I didn't really like Scarlett Johansson's dress -- well, that is to say, I actually kinda liked the dress in and of itself, but to me it said "fancy dinner party" or possibly "wedding guest (not in the wedding party)" rather than "Academy Awards gala OMG". And never mind the dress, really -- what the hell was her make-up artist thinking? Bright orange eye shadow, seriously? Okay, I get that it was supposed to be bronze, but it just looked orange in most of the photos, and even so -- bright bronze eye shadow with a purple/burgundy/whatever dress? Yeah, no, still not doing it for me. Though I liked Scarlet's overall look least, I actually thought Mila Kunis's dress was worse than hers. I think I may be going against public opinion here, because quite a few people really seem to like it... but what with the pale colour, flimsy fabric and super low-cut "bra"-showing neckline, I just felt like she was in a night gown or lingerie set or something. Yes, I know it wasn't really showing her bra, just another part of the dress, but if that part looks like a bra, is in the same place and performs the same function, then for all intents and purposes, it basically is a bra, isn't it?

In other news, crackle nail polish is hot these days. You pretty much can't go on a single beauty blog without seeing it. I initially didn't really like it, but it's starting to grow on me, though I still don't like it that much in any colour other than black. I don't own any yet, because I'm still kinda on the fence about it. The other day, I was watching some Fringe and meanwhile, playing with a black eyeliner that I had lying around my desk. Suddenly I thought, hey, maybe you can use this nice, precise brush to do striping nail art effects much better than with a nail polish brush! Well, as it turns out, you can't, because on the smooth surface of polished nails as opposed to the rough texture of your skin, the eyeliner will sort of "bubble up" oddly and leave empty patches. ...wait, what? Isn't that pretty much what crackle polish is supposed to do? Of course, this merited further investigation. I applied some of the eyeliner onto all of my nails, deliberately unevenly, let it dry, and then applied a coat of clear polish on top to hopefully make it waterproof and wear-resistant. This was the result:

Okay, so it doesn't exactly look like real crackle polish, but it's good enough to fool you from a distance. Also, after washing my hands a couple of times and even taking two showers, there's still only very minor smudging and wear, despite the black stuff being non-waterproof eyeliner, so the clear polish does the job well. Pretty neat for something you can accomplish with stuff you already own.

Another recent discovery is the existence of coconut bread. Well, no, it's existed for ages and I actually knew this, but I'd never tasted it until yesterday, when I brought home a package to try. Despite the "bread" in its name, it's actually supposed to go on your bread, as if it were a slice of cheese or something, rather than be eaten as-is. And as it turns out, it's really quite good. It's like having a Bounty candy bar as a bread topping, minus the chocolate. I guess it's not all that healthy, though; coconut is good for you, sure, but the coconut in this (only 28%) is pretty much held together by a load of sugar/syrup. I guess I should probably find some coconut butter to spread on my toast, instead.

Well, I think I've run out of wildly varying subjects to talk about. I guess that means it's back to my social psych book. :P


The House of Madness

My THoM T-shirt came in today! If you have no idea what I'm talking about, clearly you're not reading The House of Madness. In which case you should start doing so, because it's really quite funny. I discovered it fairly recently, and pretty much read through the entire archives in one day. There's also a ton of references to other stuff in it which is always a plus in my book -- Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Monty Python and like a dozen other things I can't think of off the top of my head. Speaking of thinking of things... it's really hot and humid here and my brain is melting. So I'll just leave it at that, and leave you to check out THoM -- and the T-shirt pics, of course!

(JJ -- feel free to use any of these, and if you need the full size versions, let me know)

Filed under: Comics, Fashion 4 Comments