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Everything You Could Possibly Want To Know About Star Wars -- Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland and Disney World....

I have briefly mentioned how I'm not going to Disney this year simply because I waited too long to make a reservation.  A few weeks ago, I could have scored a room at the Art Of Animation Resort (Little Mermaid wing, of course) for between $130 and $160 a night.  It's not the greatest accomodations, especially at that price.  But for a quickie dickie weekend or something like that, it's perfectly fine, especially if you know how to score the discount rate.

And then, Disney surprised everyone by announcing an open date for Star Wars Land, a.k.a. Galaxy's Edge, in Orlando.  They did this because they were underbooked, realized why, and decided to motivate people to reserve rooms.  The net result is that, for November and December, two of the slowest periods for Disney outside the actual holidays in those months, the rooms are now $220 to $260 a night.

Star Wars Land is now open in California.  The thing to keep in mind is the two parks, California and Florida, ARE GOING TO BE IDENTICAL.  No kidding -- there is a gap in the landscape towards the front in Orlando where there is nothing behind the fence, but it is there to keep the land exactly identical to Cali.  Disney's idea was so that the parks don't compete against each other -- people can go to whichever is closest to them and get the same experience.  So what we see in Anaheim is what we will get in Orlando.

And it doesn't look like it will be worth it.

And now, a tip of the hat to Fractal_Coffee on the coder channel.  Obviously, there's a lot of Star Wars nuts there.  And he and some buddies were able to score their way in.  They split up to get the lay of the land and reconvened to assemble what we need to know.  Many Bothans died to bring us this information....

Let's deal with the first part, how exactly you get in.  Star Wars Land is not like other Disney park areas where you can just wander in and out.  It requires a separate ticket to get in.  Passes are reserved for people staying at the resorts, but there are some passes available to the general public.  But you better reserve them in advance -- my understanding is that they are used up for the next ten months at least.

So, you get your ticket and you get to the gate for Star Wars Land.  Once there, you get a colored wrist band.  The band corresponds with when you have to leave -- you only get four hours at a crack in there.  Which means if you don't use your FastPass and the Millenium Falcon ride is three hours to wait for, well, that's your lot, now piss off.  So you need to know exactly what you are doing and where you are going once you get inside.

Because God knows wandering around Disney isn't exhausting enough as it is.

Next up?  Cosplay!  Anyone who's been to Harry Potter World (which this is clearly intended to compete against) knows that Universal encourages people to cosplay there.  If anyone ever goes to Harry Potter World, you better be wearing at least a robe.  There were only a handful of people there dressed normally, and everyone looked at them like they were freaks (the irony is absolutely delicious).  So what about Star Wars Land?

Disney's rules are simple -- no one over the age of 14 is allowed to cosplay in there.  I'm guessing it's so that people don't confuse the regular attendees with the actual park employees (you know how stupid people can act, you don't want them ruining your reputation).  But the upshot is, unless you're a kid, no dressing like Rey or Luke or anything like that.  (Actually, I suspect another reason, which I will get to anon.  But for now, we're rolling with this.) . I don't know about other cosplays -- I would love to go there in my Star-Lord jacket, put on some headphones, and bop my way through the land like the opening of the first Guardians Of The Galaxy, but I'm not sure if that's okay.

One of the rides is not open right now, the Rise Of The Resistance ride.  Apparently, they are having some problems with the trackless ride and they don't want to have the same problem the Gringott's ride had when it opened at Universal.  So the only ride is Smuggler's Run, the Millenium Falcon ride.  You sit in the cockpit of the Falcon and get to shoot at other spaceships while chasing a train stealing coaxium in the scene from Solo -- A Star Wars Story.  How well you do affects what you see on the way out, as far as battle damage to the Falcon.

You can also build a droid for $100 with sensors that react to you and any First Order or Kylo Rens roaming around the park, and building your own light saber for $200.  For $7,000, you can get a full set of actually sized to you Storm Trooper armor, and for $25,000, you can get a life-size R2D2, complete with aluminum body, sensor to interact with you, remote control, and so on.  Clearly, this is not for cheapskates like me.

So, what did his little group think of Star Wars Land?

They all thought it sucked.

Keep in mind, they are Star Wars fans, not general people who love all things Disney.  But their reports indicate that Star Wars Land is very underwhelming.

Let's start with the setting itself.  It apparently feels really small and cramped in there.  Other than the Falcon and the X-wing fighter replica, there is not a lot of Star Wars in Star Wars Land.  It is a planet called Batuu, which didn't exist until the Star Tours ride (no kidding, that is the first time it is ever mentioned).  It is only referred to in a couple of Star Wars books.  In other words, this isn't Tattooine or Hoth or even Endor.  It a place that even most Star Wars fans have never heard of.

This ties in with my suspected reason about blocking certain cosplays -- the reports indicate there is a lot of emphasis on the Disney Star Wars movies and attempts to avoid the original trilogy and the prequels as much as possible.  So you don't want people dressed as Darth Vader roaming around there.  Even the Millenium Falcon is the Disney version (you can tell by the rectangular radar dish instead of the circular ones from the original trilogy and there is a Porg nest inside there somewhere, although it does seem to break down like the Disco Yeti).  No matter how much you love Star Wars, the iconic movies that formed your fanboyism are pretty much swept under the run here.

The food blows dicks.  There is a "blue milk" that is supposed to be the signature drink like butterbeer is for Harry Potter world.  It's a mixture of soy and rice milk with some coloring (although there does seem to be a difference between the blue and the green), basically a vegan smoothie.  It won't spoil in the heat, but it apparently tastes like ass.  The food is intended to look alien, so more emphasis is placed on appearance than taste.  The wrap, the basic on-the-go food, was terrible.  You don't even get a Creature Cantina to go to.  Get out of the park and go someplace with real food.

Smuggler's Run isn't a lot of fun.  It's basically a video game.  Yeah, you get to walk through the Millenium Falcon, but it's still a shooting gallery reminiscent of Stitch's Alien Adventure.  There were some graphics glitches, and some of the positions, such as the gunner and the engineer, have a very poor view of the screen and makes targeting accurately a real struggle.  Oh, and you might want to bring disinfecting wipes and wipe everything down before you start playing with it.

Some of them got light sabers.  They didn't get droids because there wasn't enough time.  Remember how I said you get four hours in the park and then you gone?  Here's how they broke down their time for the light sabers --

1) Wait to pay for your light saber (40 minutes)
2) Wait to line up (30 minutes, 1 hour 10 minutes total so far)
3) Line up to wait (35 minutes, 1 hour 45 minutes total so far)
4) Waiting pen to build saber (25 minutes, 2 hours 10 minutes so far)
5) Get inside and actually build the saber (20 minutes, 2 hours 30 minutes total)

Two and a half hours.  For a light saber that those who cosplay said you could get better quality cheaper from sabersmiths (you can also choose from EU colors from sabersmiths, Disney gives you the standard red, blue, green, and purple only).  And, of course, you can buy Jedi robes and shit at the shops.

So if you love just being immerse in the Disney environments, you'll enjoy it.  But if you are either a Star Wars fan or if you are, like me, immune to the Disney immersion spell, you are going to get bored really quick.

Meanwhile, Universal just opened Hagrid's Motorbike Ride, a roller coaster that has a ride time of over three minutes.  There's a reason that ride has a 10 hour wait time, folks.

The Turn Of The Screw

Let's talk for a minute about being an empath.

Everybody wants to be something they are not.  Everybody wants to be better than they are.  For regular people, however, this is born of ambition.  They want to be more of what they already are.

Empaths are different.  Because they are a minor part of the human make-up, the natural instinct of, "I'm not like the majority of people, therefore there must be something wrong with me," kicks in.  The desire to be different is not to be more of what they are, but to be something else entirely.

Part of this is because there aren't as many empaths, so they figure their psychology is based on some glitch in the system.  The other part is that empaths figure it simply must be easier to not be an empath.  For example, watching someone experiencing humiliation, like watching an episode of Jackass, can manifest in actual physical pain for an empath.  And that's just watching it -- imagine what it is like for the empath to actually be the one being humiliated, like when certain family members visit just to feed on their self-esteem (at least, I think so.  It's not like I would know anything about that).  They see how people can operate in a world where things just happen and keep moving without a hitch and wonder why they can't do that themselves.

Like I said, they view themselves as somehow flawed instead of simply what they are.

People gravitate towards empaths for the same reason -- they understand.  They get it.

Because people need help.

And empaths are helpers.  They want to people to be at peace and be happy, not to suffer.

A long time ago, I heard a person divide people into two groups -- you are either a doctor or a patient.  And empaths, by their nature, tend to be doctors.

And it gets tiring.  Especially if you are also an introvert, so social situations don't energize you but wear you down faster.

The problem with this is you don't just get genuine people who need help, who are good people who just need a hand and will treat you with respect and keep you in good memory.  You also get people who seek to exploit you.  They see in you only what they can get out of you or use you to get.  While you can defend yourself from these people, keeping them from using you and destroying your sense of self, it's still like standing in a hurricane.  When it's gone, your entire world is upended, and you're just standing there going, "...what happened?"

It's these people that usually trigger the impulse in empaths to want to stop being empaths.  The idea that, if they could just shut down the emotional part of themselves, they would be bulletproof to an uncaring world.  They don't want to be jerks.  They just want the pain to stop.

I measure people based on the movie Good Will Hunting.  Anyone that watches the movie, shrugs, and says they don't get it, I avoid like the plague.  The movie is an emotional punch to the gut, and any empath who watches it will be hit hard.  Especially the "It's not your fault" scene -- anyone who has had to cope with abuse, whether physical, mental, or emotional, will find this one of the hardest scenes in movie history to watch.  No blood.  No humiliation.  No terrors from beyond the grave.  Just staring headlong into life itself and having to realize that, as much as you believe you can fix things and make things right,  it's not your fault that other people break themselves, and sometimes there's just no stopping it from happening.

Art informs and teaches, often without us knowing it.  This is the case with Ridley Scott.  Blade Runner is a brilliant movie, a genuine cinematic classic.  But part of the genius of it is that it turns on a simple psychological truth.  Unbeknownst to the world, Scott actually showed the world how to identify people with genuine mental disorders, people that are dangerous.  Psychotic.  Evil.

It happens early in the movie during the interview with the suspected replicant.  I think I was something like ten or other when I saw it (it had come on HBO, and I wanted to see it because it was sci-fi and it starred Han Solo).  I didn't watch all the movie, I got bored with it because, well, I was a kid and I just didn't get it -- I wanted to see spaceships and lasers and robots.  I loved Battle Beyond The Stars, and I lost interest in Blade Runner pretty quick.

But I did see the interview.

And that has stayed with me my entire life.

For those that don't know, the scene in question features a guy trying to determine if the individual in front of him is a replicant simply by asking questions.  Eventually, he begins telling a story about a tortoise in the desert.  The tortoise has somehow flipped onto his back.  He describes in detail the tortoise struggling.  The pain he is feeling as he slowly bakes to death.  And at no point, does he have the viewpoint, the person he is talking to, simply flip the tortoise back over and spare his life.  He just keeps describing it until one of two things will happen -- either the individual across from him will break down emotionally in pain and empathy, or they will react with violence for being forced to experience emotions they don't want to experience.

And as we all know, the individual reacts with rage and kills the interviewer.

Yeah, it turns out, this isn't bullshit.  This is known among people dealing with Cluster B disorders as "narcissistic rage," where the only thing that matters is to stop whatever is destroying the protective shell that sheilds them from emotional harm.  A normal person will be uncomfortable during the story, and while you don't have to be an empath, it magnifies the experience exponentially.  Decades before Cluster B became a thing, Scott had shown people exactly how to tell who was one and how they behave.

I saw the movie during my formative years.  And even as I dismissed the movie afterwards for not giving any BANG-ZOOM!, that story of the tortoise always stuck with me.  It would come up through the depths of my mind every few years, and I would quickly tamp it back down because I knew how it would affect me.  I would start to tear up.  I would feel cold.  I would feel horrible.

Only to find out later while I was learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder that my reaction was the 100% correct response.  When you start learning about narcs, you start to wonder if you may be one yourself because, let's face it, we all have days where we are assholes.  Or days where we think in the moment that we are just standing our ground and asserting ourselves but start wondering if things would have been better if we had just been more cooperative.  We start wondering if we are this monster.

And then I remember the tortoise story.  And I realize that, no, I'm no monster.  I'm completely normal.  I may have made mistakes, but I'm not the horror I imagine myself to be.  (For the record, my dad just watched the scene and moved through it, and hasn't bothered to watch Blade Runner more than once, and my mom just acted bored with the whole thing and left shortly after the scene.)

As Christian Slater said in Pump Up The Volume, "Having a screwed up reaction to a screwed up situation does NOT mean that you are screwed up."  When bad people come into your life, you go into survival mode, just trying to ride out the storm.  When they are gone, you start reflecting on everything and wondering if there was something you could have done differently.

Maybe you could have.  Maybe you couldn't.

But thinking that the answer is to change yourself is not the answer.  It's always annoyed me that my family expects me to be considerate of their thoughts and feelings -- don't make certain jokes, don't discuss certain subjects, don't talk back a certain way or about certain things because that's not nice -- but they don't have to make any concessions to me.  They were joking or they didn't mean it or I'm reading more into it than is there or I'm just looking to make trouble or whatever.  It's a one-way relationship where the house always wins.

And the biggest step to healing is when you reflect on things afterwards and instead of going, "I don't want to be me," you start going, "I don't want them to be them."

It's a very small change in mentality.

But it's bigger than the universe.

And leads to more such steps eventually.

Clothes Make The Man

In my experience, people have fun with cosplay.

Eventually.

I personally think that the reason most people worried about trying it is because of self-consciousness.  First, there's all these professional cosplayers who look exactly like the character or have outfits that clearly cost five figures or more to make and they have coslaves to work on things for them...and the whole thing intimidates them.  And the other is simply that, let's be honest, this is kind of a goofy hobby to be into.  People generally want to be looked at with some respect and dignity, and going around looking like a comic book character is kind of counter to that.

These people, if they decide to try cosplay, will start off with something mild.  Something they can cobble together easily and either ditch f their confidence wavers or any normies that see them won't think they are cosplaying and, thus, won't make fun of them.  And I don't blame them.  No one likes being belittled and laughed at.  It's a natural human reaction.  (Please note, this is separate from cosplay that is just lazy.  We're talking someone putting effort into it but conflicting with his or her self-image, not someone who crawls through their dirty laundry and says, "Done.")  It doesn't help seeing cosplayers who are wearing inappropriate or disasterous outfits, because it triggers worries that, "Oh, God, I don't look like that, do I?"

And it's an impulse that can come back when you least expect it.  Keep in mind, my first cosplay was a Spandex Asuka Unit 02 cosplay.  Yes, I squeezed my 300 lb ass into Spandex.  Everyone comments that I looked so chill and relaxed in it, and I was.  For the most part.  But when I first put it on that day, it took a lot of focus to calm my nerves and actually step out of the changing booth.  Last year's Wizard World Chicago, I saw three people in screen-accurate Doctor Strange cosplays and bailed on wearing mine because it didn't look half as good.  I wore my Rei Unit 00 to C2E2, wearing it for the drive up to the show.  And yes, I did dash from the house to my car as fast as I could so that the neighbors wouldn't see me in it.  But it didn't take long for me to get over it.  I liked my outfit, I got to flex a little since I'd made it, and I soon got used to my look.  I don't expect to freak out -- let's face it, I will wear the outfits for a day or two after I make them to make sure they are comfy, as some pictures of me in cosplay at one of my favorite restaraunts attests.  But no matter how much confidence you have, it does wobble once in a while.

But as I said, it eventually falls away.  And you're free to just look cool and have fun.  You won't win any competitions, but you'll have a good time, you get to meet fellow heads, and the interactions are wonderful.

It just takes getting over that hump to actually do it.  It gets easier with time, but you still have to take that first plunge.

We have a new supervisor on my shift, moved over from third.  And he's a comic book nut, and thrilled to see how many comic book geeks are on his new shift.  He's having lunch at a table with a handful of them, and, as you may have guessed, they are all talking about Avengers:  Endgame, coming out in just a few days.

One of the guys has bought himself a track suit that is styled in the motif of the Quantum Realm suits we've seen in the trailers and on some of the action figures.  They all agreed the Quantum Realm suits looked really really cool.  And the supe wanted to know where my coworker got his because he wanted one himself.

The supe noticed me making my tea for my lunch and said, "I'm surprised you don't have one, Peter."

One of the other guys, one who had commissioned me to make a Roslina for his daughter (Nintendo Princesses are blessedly easy to make), said, "He's probably making one."

I smirked and said, I'm waiting to see if I actually like the movie first.

Apparently, the supe didn't know that I make cosplays.  I'm guessing they filled him in, because I'm sitting there reading and enjoying my tea, and he comes up to me.  "Do you really make cosplays?"

I took out my phone and showed him pictures of the outfits I've made for myself and for others, so he saw more than just the flight suits I make for myself.

It took him a second to speak.  "What would it take to make a Quantum Realm suit for me?"

I did a quick check out of him.  Well, you have a slim build, so you could easily rock a bodysuit.  I'd make it out of a Spandex knit to shape to your form, you don't need a flight suit to disguise your contours like I do.  I did a little checking online, and gave him a ballpark figure for payment and timeframe.  I told him, But keep in mind, I'm not doing commissions again until late June or early July, and I already have two clients slotted, so you wouldn't get it in time, for, say, Wizard World Chicago in August.

"...but, if I commissioned it, would I have it in time for, say, Christmas?"

Oh, yeah, that's more than doable.

He nodded his head, said, "Just checking," and walked away.

Just checking, my ass.  He's trying to muster the courage to pull the trigger and join the rest of us goofballs having fun.

He was unusually shy as we talked and he walked away.  So he probably isn't going to try cosplaying.

Yet.

I can already tell, he's been bitten by the bug.  And that infection is going to get into his blood and spread.....

Things We're Still Thinking About

By the way, has anyone else noticed that Rarity's Carousel Boutique is a LOT bigger on the inside than the outside?

Here Comes Peter Rottentail

I have three yards of magenta in The Stash, not counting what is in the scrap bucket. I am unlikely to use all of it making the banding for the DVa costume.

I've decided that the best thing to do with the leftovers is to make a magenta plush bunny, since the bunny is her symbol (her mech is even stylized to sort of resemble one). And that should take care of one of the hardest to use colors in The Stash.



The Great Debate

"You're too big to make a cosplay for."

I was meeting my teacher for dinner and brought up what I had been told.

Backstory:  with the money I was making from cosplay commissions, I was saving up initially to get an Asuka Unit 02 cosplay, as I didn't feel I had enough skill to make one myself.  Then came January, a snow day from work, and a case of terminal boredom.  I didn't know if I had enough fabric in The Stash, but I gave it a shot, moving carefully as I went.  And in a couple of weeks, I had made my own Asuka Unit 02 cosplay.  Some things I would have done different (there's no pockets, and I should have put the black outlines on the legs to break up some of the negative space), but I couldn't argue with the results.  I loved it and wore it happily.

So I had all this extra cash to commission a cosplay, but no longer needed the one I originally wanted.  So I thought it over, trying to come up with an outfit that would be fun but way too complex for me to pull off myself, so that I know I was getting my money's worth.  At C2E2, there were a lot of people dressed as DVa from Overwatch.  Women.  A couple of men.  Girls (one of whom sat at a dealer's booth all day playing a 3DS.  I don't know if she didn't want to be there or if she had gone method).  And lots of merriment.  I thought, that could be fun.

A little navigating, and I found a guy who said he could make a DVa Classic cosplay for what I could spend ($300 plus shipping).  He was going to make it like a jumpsuit instead of a Spandex zentai suit, and was even going to use pleather so that it looked really slick.  I sent him my measurements and went on about my business.

Today, I got a notice of a refund through PayPal from him.  He sent me an email saying that he was all set to start making the suit, "but you're too big to make a cosplay for" (remember, I'm 6 feet tall and about 300 lbs.).  And he apologized and refunded my money.

I told my teacher this, who just sat there staring at me like a dog staring into a fan.  "...you're...too big...to make a cosplay for."

That's what he said.

"Does he realize you've been making cosplays for yourself for almost two years now?  And that you do it with basic stuff you find at Joann's?  No special widths or orders?"

That didn't come up.

"So, this guy is an experienced tailor, and you are too big for him to make an outfit for."

I know, sounds fishy to me, too.  Maybe he just uses a computer to precut the pieces or something, I don't know.

"So what are you going to do now?"

I don't know.  I hate Spandex zentai suits.  I hated them even when I wasn't fat.  And I'm pretty sure another commissioner, if they take me, will charge at least double what he did.

"Why don't you make one yourself?"

Because the design is too complicated.

She just looked at me.  "Isn't that what you said about the Asuka before you made yours?"

I brought up a picture on my tablet.  I said, The Asuka's a cakewalk compared to a Classic DVa.  Just look at the black side and back pieces.  They're topstitched, they aren't evenly spaced, some of them even end before all the others in there.  Besides, I've never worked with pleather before.

"So use cotton like you usually do.  Cotton is more comfortable for you anyway."

I looked at her levelly. I.  Can't.  Do.  It.

Without missing a beat, she said, "Yes.  You.  Can.  In less that two years, you went from never having sewn a single thing to making a couple of Evangelion plug suits."

I made some big mistakes and miscalculations on the green Mari.

"And I bet you learned a lot from that and won't do that again.  You haven't repeated the mistakes you made on the Masked Matterhorn costume, have you?"

I can't make it accurate.  I won't be able to get the sponsorship logos that go on the legs of the outfit.

"You'd be a DVa unsullied and uncompromised by corporate money."

And how would you suggest I approach this?

"What are you asking me for?  I don't know how to sew.  You do.  You'll figure it out."

I'm not trained.  I'm just winging it and learning as I go.

"Which just proves you'll figure it out.  You have so far."

Part of me wants to do it because it would be a fun outfit.  Part of me wants to do it because, well, it's a challenge for my mind and my skills.  And part of me wants to do it just to stick it to that asshole who says I'm too big to make a cosplay for.

And so far, every time there's a quiet moment in my brain, it begins engineering ideas on how to make the outfit.  I try to get it to stop, and it keeps working on it anyway.

God help me, I'm actually considering doing this....

PREVIOUSLY -- You may recall that I believe in reincarnation, that we keep going around until we get it right and get into Heaven.  I also get occasional flashes of what may be previous lives.  I don't always buy them, aware that it could just be imagination.  But there are some things that pass critical muster and I accept them as genuine glimpses of my past.  And among them is that, in my previous life, I was a military fighter pilot who flew in World War II.  No great hero or anything (and no, I wasn't Polish, I'm not that lucky), but I was a combat pilot who logged a lot of air time.

Tonight, I meet with my teacher for dinner and so we can catch up on how things are going for us.  At one point, she gets up to go to the bathroom.  When she comes back, I'm looking over images on Daisy, my 6th gen iPad.

"What are you looking at?"

Pictures of Buzz Lightyear.

"Ah.  Thinking of making a cosplay of him?"

Maybe.  Surprised that I'd go with something so Disney, especially given my dislike of the Toy Story movies?

"Nope.  It makes perfect sense when you remember your past."

All stop on main drive.  I look up at her and ask, What do you mean by that?

"You were a military pilot.  It makes sense that you'd be drawn to that stuff."

I think you're reading too much into this.

"Uh-huh.  What was the first cosplay you ever bought?"

An Asuka Unit 02 plugsuit.

"An outfit worn by a pilot from a military group trying to defend the world.  What was the first cosplay you made for yourself?"

Starfleet sciences officer, Next Gen.

"Part of a military group, and you were disappointed that it meant you couldn't captain a ship."

What about my seaQuest uniform?

"The seaQuest was from the military arm of the UEO.  Besides, those uniforms were just off the rack Army surplus flight suits.  I was there when you ordered one."

I tried to shoot her down, but she kept winning.  When I decided to attack the fabric stash, the first thing I made was an Asuka Unit 02 plugsuit styled like a flight suit.  Same with the Rei Ayanami Unit 00.  The failed attempt to make a Mark 09 was also a flight suit.  My Moon Knight was repurposed from the flight suit I originally made for my seaQuest cosplay.  When I made my (disappointing) Masked Matterhorn and my Blue Lantern cosplays, I used my flight suit pattern as a template -- it was the only thing I thought of, I didn't even consider anything else.  In fact, the only cosplays I have that are NOT flight suits are my Doctor Strange and my Koro Sensei (I don't count my Gryffindor robes, since that's just a robe to throw over anything.  It just seems too generic and casual to be a proper cosplay).

And now?  Buzz fuckin' Lightyear, Space Ranger with Star Command.

And I felt the base of the butt plug touch my cheeks as she smiled and said, "And correct me if I'm wrong, but don't you get a performance boost if you wear one of your flight suits while playing a game where you're some kind of pilot?"

I just glowered at her.

"Funny how little pieces of your past still find a way to emerge into your current life, isn't it?"

I growled, Eat you food, and stuffed my burger in my mouth.

And, In Conclusion -- Captain Marvel

So I just saw Captain Marvel, and it was half of a good movie and half of a boring one.

There's really not much more to say.  It's a Disney factory movie.  It isn't informed by art or expression, simply by a mandate to sell toys, spin-offs, and create a blue ocean market.  A lot of people complaining about the whole "feminist propaganda" thing overlook the fact that Disney spends enough money to feed Africa for a decade because they see the potential to make money.  This means that it doesn't matter how many or the size of your contingent, what matters is how much money your group spends.  You want fewer movies like Captain Marvel?  Start buying more Punisher merch.  Make it a billion dollar franchise, and I guarantee The Mouse will start affirming your biases as well.  Okay, rant over.

Like I said, this is a Disney factory movie, calculated within an inch of its life.  In these situations, the best you can hope for is just to be entertained and not feel like you wasted your money.  And in this regard, Captain Marvel does, in fact, succeed.

Eventually.

And not in the way it was calculated to.

Let me explain.

Disney has selected Plot-O-Matic Product 14.  Vers (Brie Larson) is an elite Kree warrior with no memory of her past.  Usually, when there is some sort of ambiguity to the noble organization the central character belongs to, you can bet your retirement fund and parlay it that the noble organization will turn out to be corrupt and cruel and the central character must rise up and fight them, including a battle to best the mentor and facing their past.  The movie is much more coy about this than most other films, with no little winks to the audience that say, "Oh, brother, is THIS asshole in for a surprise!", staying within its generic "run from the bad guys" parameters.  But at about the halfway point, it is indeed revealed.

Now, the first half of the movie is pretty dull.  There's really nothing here you haven't seen before.  They even have the kinds of bullshit moments that made Infinity War such a dumpster fire, but not enough to completely derail things.  Just before the halfway mark, Marvel and Fury attempt to escape from a top secret military base via the airplane hangar while the bad guys are stalking them.  They have been ordered to kill if necessary.  Sure enough, once they get eyes on the duo, the bad guys START FIRING LIVE ROUNDS IN AN ENVIRONMENT FULL OF BOMBS.  During the climax, apparently nobody thinks to re-engage the cloaking system (Sisko would shove his boot up their ass for that).  Early in the film, Marvel steals a motorcycle and heads for a desert bar she used to hang out at, but somehow Fury knows exactly which bar she's going to and gets there first (who needs lightspeed when you have the Vorhees Unreality Engine from the Friday The 13th movies?).  There was one moment I did like, and that was when Marvel takes a cheap shot at Fury for plastering the logo of the covert SHIELD organization on things like ballcaps that he just happens to keep in his car.  Some people may find that too cutesy, but I've made the same comment while watching Agents Of SHIELD, so I just raised my cup of tea to Marvel and said, "Cheers, mate."

Now, I did say the movie eventually becomes good, but in doing so, it also illustrates a fundamental problem with the character of Captain Marvel.  Up until the halfway point, the movie is pretty standard, with characters doing what they are supposed to to move the plot along.  Once the halfway point hits, however, Marvel is confronted by Talos, and the secrets of her past are revealed.  And at this moment, suddenly, most of the characters come alive.  Up until now, the only great character beats were between Marvel and Fury (seeing Sam Jackson start talking cute to a cat is especially hilarious, and can cause some cognetive dissonance if you mostly associate him with the whole "bad motherfucker" thing).  But at that moment, Fury settles into just rolling with things, Talos reveals himself to being a decent guy, and there's some great humor thrown around (Talos' frustration with "the science guy" just about reduced me to hysterics).  But weirdly enough, Marvel doesn't get such moments.  Like a lot of generic protagonists, she is kept carefully neutral.  This happens a lot because, the more powerful a character is, the less you want them to seem like a general threat so you don't lose the faith and trust of the audience.  This is how we got Hagrid saying Harry Potter's last line from the book at the end of The Sorceror's Stone movie instead of Harry -- oh, sure, he's powerful and can kill and destroy, but he'd NEVER do that, he's a good boy!  With Captain Marvel being positioned as the most powerful character in the MCU, she has to be blanded down for the sake of audience trust.

The result is a sort of empty space in scenes, as everyone moves and interacts around her and she waits for the course of action to be decided.  It's kind of like Paris Hilton's music CD -- the individual who is supposed to be the star and attraction to the project is pushed as far to the background as possible while everyone around her does the heavy lifting.  The result is a central character who isn't quite there.  You swap out any of the other characters with someone else, and things change, from the dynamics to the actions taken to the ultimate goal of the story (think the end of X-Men 2, where the final goal kept changing depending on who got to Xavier and influenced him).  But Marvel?  She is completely interchangable and has no real bearing on what happens other than being pointed in a direction and moving out.

Which is a shame.  There was so much potential to Marvel.  How many of you played the original Star Wars -- Rogue Squadron?  For those who didn't, you play as a character named Kasan Moor, an Imperial TIE fighter pilot from Alderan who sees her planet blown to shit and switches sides to the Rebel Alliance.  Her arc is incredible as she has to deal with her shifting sense of priorities, morals, and duties while also dealing with distrust from her new allies that she might actually be a spy.  So much about Moor's arc could be applied to Marvel and resulted in a much much better movie from a story perspective.  But it gets tossed in favor of a bog-standard conspiracy arc.

There is one other factor that will determine whether or not you enjoy the second half of the movie.  Here's the problem -- Captain Marvel is an empathic tale.  I have noticed that a lot of people reject movies when the conflict doesn't stem from if (!condition) then {take action}Ant Man, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2, Deadpool 2, all have stories that aren't driven by personal greed and desire, but by broken people and damaged emotions (especially Deadpool 2 -- how much you enjoy the movie depends on how interested you are in him trying to stop someone from becoming a villain instead of simply beating one).  And that's Captain Marvel.  The "big twist" revealing the truth about the Kree and the Skrulls is based entirely on empathy.  If you are bored or can't be bothered with that fundamental piece of the film's foundation, you're not going to be engaged and you're not going to enjoy the movie.

Ultimately, Captain Marvel tries to introduce us to a major player in Endgame but doesn't really give us enough.  Like I said, the second half is enjoyable and I was entertained and didn't feel like I wasted my money.  But I think it's safe to say I'm not going to really be bothering to watch it again.

Burning Questions

Can someone explain to me how Trump can't find $6 bil to provide universal health care for Americans, but he can find $8 bil for the border wall?

Grabbing It By The Tail

Story Of The Day --

This story comes from a high schooler who wishes to remain anonymous, so take that for what it's worth....

So, this takes place at a high school, upper middle class or higher. As you know, high schools are full of cliques. You have the jocks, the nerds, the preps, the stoners, the goths, the artsy types, and so on.

This particular school also had itself a group of furries. They called themselves "the Wolf Pack." They would wear tails attached to the backs of their jeans through belt loops every day. So like everyone else, they made sure it was obvious they were part of their own little group.

For the most part, the other students and cliques left them alone. After all, it was just another clique. Some cheap jokes made here and there, but for the most part, no one bothered them.
That changed one fateful day when one furry, who was a major asshole, strayed away from his group during lunch. A group of boys came up to him and ripped the tail off of his jeans and started playing Keep Away with it. Now, this didn't last long, as the teachers and lunch monitors managed to put an end to it. But the furry felt angry and humiliated and decided to do something about it.

So he told people that, the next day, he was going to shoot up the school.

The administration was now on high alert just in case this kid actually did it. The next day, as soon as he got through the doors, he was intercepted by staff and cops and searched. Surprise! He actually brought a gun to school. He was expelled and arrested on the spot.

That jerked the stopper. The kids realized that they were moments away from being killed by a psycho classmate. Fury united every other student in the hall against the Wolf Pack, with everyone lunging for the tails to rip them off. It was total war.

And now, the best part --

One of the Wolf Pack was a girl who apparently had gone full tilt. Her identity was completely wrapped up in being furry, to the point where she had no friends who weren't furries and shunned people who weren't. And it was obvious that her tail didn't hang from the belt loops on her jeans like the others. Instead, it appeared to be sewn directly to the back of her jeans, coming out through the seam up the middle. Her dedication to the cause made stealing her tail a primary target.

And one guy realized he had the opportunity to do so. He was right next to her. All he had to do was grab it and give it a good yank, and he had a huge prize. So grab and yank he did.

The tail gave way with a pop.

....wait, a "pop?"

Yes.

Turns out, it was just a hole in the jeans. The girl's tail was actually attached to a butt plug that she poked through the back of the jeans AND WORE EVERY DAY. It was the same tail, so clearly, she had all her jeans modified to enable this to happen. And this boy is standing there, holding the butt plug up in shock, and everyone can see it and deduce what is happening.

Obviously, nothing much was accomplished in classes for the next couple of days.....

Emergency Call For The Doctor

When I started making cosplay for people, my first hard and fast rule was, "No freebies."  There are only two people I would make free cosplay for -- my teacher and the Munchkin (she's 12 now, so maybe I should stop calling her "Munchkin."  I'll still think of her as my niece, though).  The Munchkin got one last year.  Her dad was taking her to Wizard World Chicago.  She asked me for a Snow White.  She loved it.

While I was at it, I asked my teacher if she wanted a cosplay.  After all, Halloween would be coming up before too long.  She said no, she didn't want to do cosplay, she was worried she'd feel silly.  I told her to let me know if she ever changed her mind.

Last weekend, I met up with her to talk and catch up.  We started talking about C2E2 and how I was working on a Batman cosplay to wear there.  She then asked me a question and I made the fatal mistake of answering it.

"So, are there any interesting people turning up for autographs?"

Knowing she is a die hard Doctor Who fan (she used to watch it with her mother when she was growing up, the two of them were Whovians and Trekkies), I casually mentioned, Well, they have David Tennant and Matt Smith, the 11th and 12th Doctors.

Her face popped in excitement, then she glared at me.  "The War Doctor doesn't count."

I just smiled at her.

The conversation kind of dried up at that point, as she was weighing things over in her head.  We didn't really get to celebrate Christmas this year, and her birthday is coming up.  I told her, look, there's really no one else there besides the Doctors worth getting for me, so I have a surplus of cash for the show.  If you want, you can come with me.  I'll buy you a Saturday admission and spring for one autograph from each of them and one picture, separate or together.  And we can go see the panel they'll host on Saturday together.

"The panel will be Saturday?"

It's the busiest day of the show, and anything Who-related has always been on a Saturday, so I'd go with that.

She accepted.

Cut to tonight.  I'm working on the Batman and my phone rings.  It's my teacher.   "...uh...Peter?....uh....are you almost done with your Batman?"

....what's up? I say with a smile in my voice.

She eventually gets around.  She's gone full tilt about meeting two Doctors.  To the point where...DRUM ROLL, PLEASE!...she wants to try to cosplay at the 11th Doctor.

I say, You mean, the 12th Doctor, right?

There's a brief pause as I can practially hear her glaring at the phone.  "The Matt Smith Doctor."

After everything we've been through together, I can't say no to her.  So I have put the Batman on hold for a little bit, and I will make her a Matt Smith Doctor cosplay.

For free.

She said she felt a bit guilty, because this is going to cost me a lot of coin.  I told her, after everything you've done to help me?  It's a drop in the well.  All you have to do is kiss my butt once in a while.

A long beat of deliberation, "...okay, it's a deal."

Man, the things I do for my clientelle.

I Should Have Worn My Brown Pants

You know what "relief" is? "Relief" is when you spend six hours doing applique on a cosplay then freak because you think you put EVERYTHING on the wrong side, but then you examine and realize, nope, you did it right all along. THAT is "relief."

Target Marketing, My Polish Ass

...okay...I don't know what the hell I did. But any place I look that has Google ads, even when watching YouTube videos, has links to sign Trump's petition to build the wall and combat those EEEEEEVIL lefties. I mean, even Facebook isn't this wrong about me, and I ACTIVELY feed it false information!

Confidential To....

When I went to the convention center, I would travel straight paths. Any time I made a turn, I would take a picture of the wall behind me with my phone (or, if I was traveling really far, periodic pictures behind me). To get back to my car, I brought up the pictures and played them in reverse order, showing me what I should see on the way back. Didn't get lost.

Well, That Idea's Been Shot To Hell

B Dalton. Ames. Chess King. County Seat. Crown Books. Montgomery Ward. Tower Records. KB Toys. Circuit City. Blockbuster. Borders. Family Christian. Radio Shack. HH Gregg. Toys R Us. Carson's/BonTon. And Sears.

People said they voted for Trump because "a businessman knows how to run things."


Spring Cleaning Comes Early

Just dropped another connection for being a homophobic conspiracy theorist. Who's next for the axe?

I'm A Polish Ham, I'm A Christmas Ham

Ah, life in a nearly exclusively Christian community....


Work gave us each a Christmas ham. We were to pick them up as we left for the day.

My supervisor, new to the facility, rather young, is handing them out and crossing our names off the list.

He gave me mine and said, "Merry Christmas!"

I said, This is discriminatory.

"...what?"

It's a Christmas ham. What about people who don't celebrate Christmas? Like Jewish people. Can't they get a ham?

I then walked away before he could say anything.


The superintendent is walking the floor to see how things are going and look for things that need to be straightened up for clients coming to visit the facility. He spots me on the floor, points at me, and yells, "PETER!"

I stop dead as he stalks up to me. He gets right in front of me, then barks, "QUIT SCREWING WITH YOUR SUPERVISOR!!!" And he stalks away.

Now I know why my supervisor was glaring at me through the morning meeting....

"OMG! THEY'RE GOING TO KILL POISON IVY!!!"

You are aware this is comic books, right? No one stays dead in comic books, right?

Over Hair, Over There

Confidential to....

She's eight years older than me and she's had three kids. There's NO WAY that's her natural hair color.


Important Life Lessons

Spilling your straight pins on the floor is like playing some weird hybrid of "The Floor Is Lava" and "Where's Waldo?", only Waldo stabs you if you don't find him.

Developing Confidence Just Causes Trouble

...I think the time has come....

....I think it's time for me to attempt to make a Batman cosplay.....


Confidential To....

Look, I remember my Star Wars. Twilight would NOT have a purple lightsaber. Purple lightsabers were for Jedi who used a mix of light and dark. Twilight would have a green lightsaber, which is what the Jedi Councilors (educators and diplomats) used. THAT is consistent with the character, goddammit!

Oh, and blue was for warrior class and yellow for stealth agents. Given the focus on studying the Force, Twilight MIGHT have a yellow lightsaber, but she'd more likely have green.

Charge Of The Trite Brigade

Yessir...there's nothing like trying to remove a swollen LithIon battery that's been in a friend's laptop that's sat unused for eight years to really test that manual dexterity....

A Stitch In Time Hurts Like Hell

...well...I just managed to drive the sewing needle on the machine into the tip of my left index finger.

Never thought sewing machines fought back, but here we are.

Although, interestingly, I didn't swear or anything. My first instinct was to get away so I didn't bleed on the fabric and ruin it.

I'll catch up tomorrow. Typing with this bandage is nearly impossible. And replacing the bent needle in the machine was just a bundle of kicks.

Jesus, Take The Wheel

So, a couple of months ago, my teacher asked me if I could make Batman and Batgirl costumes for her grandkids for Christmas (ages 6 and 8). Of course, I couldn't say no.

Scheduling conflicts abounded, but I finally made it to her daughter's place so I could get the kids' measurements.

At some point, she had told them what was coming. And they wanted different costumes. She said she would bring it up.

I mentioned to her, Remember, I don't do bad guys.

"I agree completely."

First up was the six year old girl. As I took her measurements, my teacher said, "Tell him what you want."

"I want Harley Quinn."

Well, that arched an eyebrow with me. Ostensibly, she's supposed to be one of the bad guys. But her depiction is notoriously variable. Even in her canonical debut series, Batman The Animated Series, she wasn't exactly evil so much as suggestible and she just hung out with the wrong crowd. Her solo series depicts her trying to navigate the values programmed into her and working her way out from those shadows. And DC's kids media tries to frame her as a fun heroine with a wacky streak instead of really mean.

I said, Borderline, but okay. I'll do it.

Next up, though, was the 8 year old boy. As I took his measurements, I asked what he wanted.

"It."

I stopped. You mean, Pennywise?

"Yes."

I looked at my teacher. No.

"How about the Joker?"

No.

"But you said anything I want."

New rule: no bad guys.

My teacher had a little talk with him. She said, "Well, if you want a clown, how about Bozo?"

"He's scary."

By now, I was simply leaning on the table with my face in my hand as they went over why Bozo was scary but Pennywise wasn't.

He then gets an idea. "How about Slenderman? He's cool! He kills people!"

I heard my teacher say, "Time for a talk."

I said, Time for a therapist.

It was then that the kid noticed the Deadpool watch I was wearing. "Oh! How about Deadpool?!?"

Okay. Deadpool, I can do.

"Can you make the unicorn, too?"

My teacher looked confused. I looked at her levelly and said, Remember the first movie?

"No! Just the costume!"

As I was leaving and my teacher was walking me to my car, I told her, You might want to ask your daughter how her 8 year old son knows about plot details from the Deadpool movie.

"Roger that."

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