26 September, 2010

Dreamworld Continuity

Have you ever noticed that sometimes there's a dreamworld continuity that exists only in your dreaming state, that's separate from waking life, like as if it were a separate reality - lived by a different person, such that your waking life knows nothing about it? That is, until some random trigger during your waking day unlocks those memories and the dreamworld continuity lays itself bare to your waking consciousness?

I was reading Cherie's memoir (which is fantastic and highly recommended, by the way), and it got to a point after the end of the Runaways first tour, their first time back home after making it as a band. And there's a part where Cherie talks about going back to her school for a day to stick it to her teacher who always said she'd never amount to anything, and maybe to stay and sit in on some classes, just for the hell of it, knowing that she's a rock star and doesn't need to go to school anymore if she doesn't want to. And that reminded me of a long series of dreams I've had since graduating college and thereby finishing up my schooling years.

I don't remember much in the way of specific details, nor statistics like how many dreams I had or when I had them. All I have is this sensation, and some vague recollections, of multiple dreams that I'd had since graduating college, in which I'd be going back to high school to attend class. And in the dreams, there would be like this faint understanding that I had finished school and didn't need to go anymore, yet at the same time, there was an uncertainty about me being supposed to be there. So I felt like I was going back, when I didn't have to, and there was some anxiety about being too old, or whether I was actually finished, or if I belonged there, or if somebody else would say, on the one hand, I shouldn't be there, or if I left, that I should. And it seemed that with every passing dream school year, I wondered, is that it? Is that the last one? Am I finally done for good now? Or do I have to go back again for another year?

And it seems like all of this, all these thoughts, previously existed on a different plane than my conscious reality. I could be wrong, but I don't remember being consciously aware of having these recurring dreams about going back to high school, yet now that I face them, they seem so very familiar to me, like I am certain that they were there all along. Bizarre.

22 September, 2010

Slumber Party Massacre

This is one of those movies that, before seeing it, I thought for sure that it would be too good to be true. I was convinced that it would be some tacky low-budget cash-in on the slasher craze that erupted after the popularity of John Carpenter's Halloween in 1978. But I was wrong, it actually turned out to be a serious slasher with that vintage 80s movie feel. Perhaps not free of cliches (I just shook my head at the cat-in-the-closet gag), but I give it the benefit of the doubt considering that it was made in 1982 - before even the first A Nightmare On Elm Street. Nevertheless, it was an entertaining movie, that builds to an exciting climax (if a rather abrupt ending), and I recommend it to fans of the classic slasher genre. And the fact that the girls are played as eighteen is made up for by the actual inclusion of nudity (in addition to the not infrequent innuendo) - something I was afraid the movie would shy away from.

"Yuck!" "Oh, faker, you were beating off boys in the fifth grade."

04 September, 2010

Cosplaying Chii from Chobits

If everything goes as planned - and I hope it does - I'll be cosplaying Chii at the next Tekkoshocon. Now, I know what most of you are thinking, and I sympathize. My love of girly things has not blinded me to my own limitations. However, I have some kind of complex where I have to assimilate everything I love, much like Zeiram, the immortal space monster in Iria.

And I love Chii. Chii is, to me, the epitome of beautiful and girly. For those of you who don't know her, she is an innocent and adorable persocom (personal computer) from Chobits. Who wouldn't want a technologically-advantaged android companion designed to look like a pretty girl? I know I sure do.

It just so happens that I knew a girl once who would have made a perfect Chii in cosplay, but she wasn't interested in indulging my (and the rest of the world's, I am sure) otaku fantasies. As a result, the torch has been passed to me. So unless you're a pretty girl, and willing to don the outfit, I don't want to hear any complaints from you.

There are two types of cosplay: cosplay for fun, and serious business. Each has its merits. Cosplay for fun is simply that - fun. Serious business results in some really beautiful - and photogenic - costumes. As a visual aesthete, and a generally serious guy, my focus tends toward the serious business type of cosplay. I am quite concerned about costumes that look good, and that's what I'll be talking about today (as an admirer, not as a creator). Nevertheless, I understand the point of cosplay, so if I criticize a costume, it's from an aesthetic perspective, and it doesn't mean I don't think that costume should ever be worn. If you're having a good time, it honestly doesn't matter how you look. It'd be even better if you had a good time and looked great - I'm not gonna lie - but we can't all look like supermodels all the time; nor should we have to.

Opinions will vary, but mine is that to make a truly successful costume, it shouldn't look like a costume. Your clothing should look like something that would actually be worn (I don't mean you should eliminate fantasy elements, but that you should use fabrics and outfits that don't look "fake" and "costumey"). The goal isn't to copy the character's look point for point, as it appears in the fictional 2D realm, but to adapt that look to the real, 3D world. Otherwise, the logical conclusion to your cosplay philosophy is some kind of cosplay horror like this:

And honestly, you don't want that, do you? This is not "Chii in 3D". This is an abomination. This is what you would get if you put a human and an illustration of Chii into one of Professor Brundle's Telepods. And that is a place you do not want to go.

On the other hand, very few people have the hair (not to mention the legs) to match Chii. So while wearing a wig (unless it's a really high quality wig) is bound to scream "costume!", you have to balance that against the potential drawback of not having the right hair - and her hair is one of Chii's defining characteristics. Still, I give bonus points to anyone who can pull off an effective Chii without using a wig.

Another one of Chii's defining characteristics is her distinct earpieces (which are actually USB ports). I've seen a lot of tutorials online about how to make your own persocom ears (from paper? felt?), and fewer good, solid constructions up for sale. It seems to me that those ears should be hard and plasticy, not fragile and cheap. These look promising, although I couldn't access their store on account of not having the latest version of flash installed. :( But you've gotta have convincing ears - seriously. Lest you end up with something like this:

What are those, pillows? Ear muffs? Yikes. Compare:


And now I will proceed to show you some of my favorite Chii cosplays that I've come across on the net. I like this one because it looks more natural and less costumey than most:

Notice the real hair!

This Chii/Freya set (Freya is Chii's evil protective sister) effectively capitalizes on the duet's sex appeal - notice the emphasis on the legs! Bare legs may not always be practical, but hosiery designed to simulate bare legs is (in my opinion) unforgivable!

Enjoy these other pretty persocoms:

Photo by MiNe (sfmine79)

I love this next shot because it really brings the scene to life. Even Hideki is there!

And speaking of scenes, here's another (rather humorous) scene brought to life:

And in the alternate costume department, here's a super sexy variation - Chii in bandages (as she is first discovered in the series)!

And continuing in that vein, here's super secret project Chobit:

So, as you can see, there are plenty of attractive Chiis out there. I may not be able to compete with the best of them, but I think I can at least do a little better than this: