Thursday, April 17, 2014

HRM Steampunk Symposium Part IV

For those who missed them, here are Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3

The last day of conventions are always the saddest day for me, because that means we're one step closer to having to pack up and go home to the daily grid. Though in a way it's a double edged sword, because it also means that get to go home and see my kids who I haven't seen for 4 days.

Lather, rinse, repeat with the early morning wake up time (again). At least this time I had something t keep me occupied, Cindy had forwarded me a copy of her recap of the Run for Your Lives Zombie 5K that we did back in October 2013. One good thing about being the first to wake up is that you get to enjoy some peace and quiet, the bad thing is trying to be quiet or keep from shaking your bed mate out of the bed from laughing so hard remembering the hilarity of the events that took place during the run. For those of you who want to share in the hilarity, you can read the recap here.

After enough giggling and the alarm clock finally going off, we all get up and started the morning dance of packing up our belongings and taking them down to the car since we had to be checked out of the room by noon and well, we'd all be in the vendor room for any final sales that would be happening.

Most of the day was uneventful though come 1pm there was much commotion when a group of bandits burst into the room and robbed a few of the vendors, us included. We gave up a good fight but were overcome when they ganged up on us. They rushed out the side door when the constabulary rush in to try and make an arrest. Incidentally most of the bandits were caught, and the day was saved. The few that escaped and made it back to their hide out ended up with quite the surprise. See, the tricky lasses that we are, decided to replace the cash with Hershey's kisses.

If you haven't guessed by now, the above robbery was staged as part of the weekends events. Our friend Phineas asked if we would be willing participants to be robbed by the League of Supremely Evil Revolutionaries (L.O.S.E.R). Though I think they were a bit surprised when not only did we fight back, we ended up with their "cash"


After the afternoons excitement died down, we visited with friends and customer and then said by to Andee who had to leave for the bus station to make her way back to Tucson. Before Cindy and I knew it, the vending day was over and we started breaking down and packing up. Mike and Bre stopped by and said their good-bye and apologies for not staying to help as Mike was coming down with the plague.

Cindy and I had the booth broke down and packed up in an hour, something that used to take us at least twice that in the past. Of course it took us longer to get off the boat and loaded into the truck since there was a line of vendors all waiting to use the same elevator to get off the boat. Now most vendors are pretty patient people and all tend to laugh and joke when waiting for things to progress, but there is always one that causes some sort of hate and discontent and this event was no exception.

Incidentally not only were Cindy and I the subject of this guys rudeness of cutting in line, he happened to be the same guy that commented on Cindy's Lovecraft shirt a few events back, saying that it was a great shirt, and then proceeded to ask her if she even knew who Lovecraft was. . I'm sure you can imagine the ranting that ensued from both of us at that point. 

Once we finally got ourselves down to the parking area, we got the truck loaded up and hit the road making our usual stop at Dairy Queen for dinner before making it back to San Diego to unload the truck and then go home to pass out.

HRM Steampunk Symposium gets better every year and it was an awesome way to start off 2014. We can't wait to be back on the Queen Mary for another round of fun and shenanigans.

























Why am I doing this? otherwise known as Run For Your Lives: Zombie 5K

Written by Cindy of Original Cin Art:

Autumn once again brings that time. That time where I break out the running shoes and sweats. That time where the undead rise to block my running path. That time were I end up with more mud in my sports bra then I ever care to admit. For another Run For Your Lives, zombie 5k had come.  For those of you who missed last years antics, I ran a 5k that involved being chased by zombies. By zombies I mean average Joes that enjoy dressing up like the undead and grabbing and innocent runners, like myself.  It was a physically challenging event for me considering it was my first 5k but memorable and extremely rewarding when I crossed the finish line. So I decided to go back this year and to it all again. 

The new year brought me a new partner in crime by the name of Colleen. Colleen has been a close gal pal of mine for many years. Her dry sense of humor and take no crap attitude made us instant friends when we first met. She was the one who originally pointed  out the Run For Your Lives 5k to me. Unfortunately, due to an ankle injury, she had to bow out of the race last year. This year she told me she was running with me come Hell or high water. And she did.

The track was moved a good two hours from us this year, now located at the Glenn Helen Raceway, an epic dirt bike race trail. So Colleen and I headed out at Oh-My-God ‘O Clock in the morning to get registered on time. My husband had to bow out of coming with us to take photos due to his old ankle injury acting up. After he gave me a sleepy kiss good bye followed by a groggy “Don’t let them get your brains, honey.” I left him in bed snoring.

After a long drive we made it to Glenn Helen and began the process of registration.  I had to admit, this year the process of getting registered and on site was far more organized than last year. Last year I spent a good hour in line . But we zipped through registration, picking up our numbers and flag belts.  The belts are part of the game. Each runner wears  three velcro flags on a belt, much like what you’d see in flag football. A flag represents a “life’ which the zombies have to grab from you. When you’re out of flags, you’re out of lives and you cross the finish line “infected.”  This year, runners were given an opportunity buy more lives to keep you in the game longer. The proceeds went to a children’s charity. Colleen was generous enough to pick up a purple extra life flag for both of us.  

As we waited for our run time to come, we watched a local DJ play a round of musical chairs and trivia games with other runners. I watched, muttering the answer to every trivia question under my breath before the contestants could say them. Colleen tried to push me onto the stage saying “Come on! You know more about zombie movies than half these yahoos here!” but I was feeling bizarrely shy that morning. That, and the coffee had yet to kick in.  
Eventually when the countdown to race time began and we were herded into a narrow cement tunnel. I remember last year being rather nervous and shaky at this time, not sure what was in store for me. Now, after one race under my belt, I seasoned veteran.  I had this coolness about me. A coolness that said “this is going to be scary, but I totally got this,” Oh yeah. I’m a bad mama jama. Last year I finished the race with no flags. This year I was determined to finish as a survivor.  Beside us were a small team of men in fatigues, bandanas tied around their heads a ‘la Rambo. On the back of their vests the words “Zombie Annihilation Squad” were stenciled in black.   When the starting horn blew, the squad leader threw his hands up and shouted. “No one lives forever, boys!” and ran, the rest of his team hooting and hollering loudly as they followed after him. I loved them all almost instantly.

Colleen and I took off into a raging cloud of dust that the runners before us kicked up. We coughed and sputtered up all sorts of lovely chunk but  powered through it, dodged a few zombies that were hiding in the dust (Thank GOD for sunglasses!) and approached our first obstacle. One large hurdle sat between us and the rest of the path to victory. Colleen is tall, strong, and wiry. She slipped right over the hurdle with the grace of a dolphin. I  am not so much. Being curvy has its benefits but getting over hurdles with ease is not one of them. I slung one leg over, an almost victory cut short by my other leg deciding it was perfectly happy staying right where it was. So there I was, one leg over a hurdle, the other planted firmly in the dirt, with other much more svelte, athletic runners vaulting over like  gazelles. I was the misplaced Walrus on the Serengeti. It took me a moment, but I did notice the handrail above my head. I snagged a hold of it and hauled my other leg over, and promptly did a header into the dirt. But I did make it over the hurdle! The rest would be a cakewalk! Well, that’s what I told myself as I barreled down the dirt path to keep up with the crowd. But the reality of this years race was the obstacles were going to kick my butt far harder than the zombies. Luckily, there were no more hurdles at least.

As we walked, Colleen and I I talked about how different the terrain was from last year. We joked with other runners and make funny comments. A blonde young woman caught part of our conversation and laughed joining in on comparing this track to last years. Turned out she was not only a runner last year but also played a zombie on an alternate race day as well. Her name was Danni and was running the race alone do to her partner not feeling well. So we decided to team up. Viola! Instant allies!  Another race, another new friend. See? zombies do bring people together.

The run continued. The track this year was far more hilly than the year before, full of steep hills, very low valleys, and tons of rocky terrain that made me wish I wore knee and elbow pads. We approached the steep decline of a dusty hill. One runner dashed past us and tumbled butt over tea kettle down it, landing on his face. Luckily we was not injured and he jumped back to his feet and walked the rest of the length. Colleen and I exchanged skeptical looks after witnessing that.

“Butts,” We both said in unison.

The three of us sat down on our behinds and crab walked out way slowly down the hill. Crab walking is a dang good upper arm workout. I found this out from the insane burn I was feeling in my biceps. Unfortunately, Crab walking is also not something I would recommend doing down a steep hill. I found this out when my left hand slipped out from under me. After that it was Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride! I skidded down the hill on my bottom at break neck speed before a handsome gentleman broke my fall but simply being in my way. He was also crab walking his way down the hill. Well, he was until I slammed into him. My legs were now wrapped around his butt and the two of us careened down together, screaming, until landing in a pile of arms and legs at the bottom of the hill.  Part of me thinks that story should end with the phrase “And that’s how I met your father, kids,”. Luckily my bobsled partner was polite and amused enough to laugh. We dusted each other off and he went on his merry way. From that point on, Colleen referred to that as The Lap Dance Incident of 2013. 

We barreled through quite a few obstacles; mud puddles, tall hills, and of course, many other undead that jumped on our path. I was quick to dodge but my speed wasn’t nearly as great as last year and I ended up losing two of my four closely guarded flags.  I still had two lives left though and I was going to keep them! We also ended up with quite a few tunnels to crawl through. Nothing too horrible, until we came to the amazing shrinking tunnel. It looked innocent enough. I was able to walk through with just my head slightly bent. Then I had to crouch, then bend at the waist, then get on my hands and knees. Before I knew it, I was belly crawling through. I’m not a claustrophobic person. Sometimes I enjoy curling up in tight spaces. But I had a line of people crawling in front of me, and a line of people crawling behind me while the tunnel walls started to shrink. That is when I decided I will never go spelunking, ever. To keep myself from panicking I started to sing show tunes and discuss the lovely shape of Colleen’s hinder. Then we came to an abrupt stop. Apparently, the girl in front of Colleen had a panic attack and decided to stop moving. All I heard in my head was “Don’t Panic Don’t Panic... Wait, we stopped. PANIC!”  I took a deep breath and said in my best fake chipper voice:

“What’s the hold up?”

“She stopped.” Colleen called to me over her shoulder.
 
“Just stopped?”

“Yup.”

I sighed then called to the girl in front of Colleen. “Hon. There are a whole line of people back here who want to get out as bad as you do. Just keep crawling. We’re almost there.”

The line moved again a bit more but as soon as I saw the light ahead it stopped again.  After a letting loose a long string of curse words, I muttered to Colleen, “She stopped again, didn’t she?”

“Yeah.” Colleen sighed. We waited, as the air grew stale and the walls started to close in tighter. I started to sweat. Then with a grunt Colleen said “Sorry lady. No time for this.” And pushed the girl out on her belly into the sunlight. we all fell out of the end of the tunnel like toothpaste being squeezed from a tube. As soon as we hit the dirt, Collen and I  jumped to our feet, and kept moving.  From behind us I heard the girl Colleen pushed give a shaky yet happy “Thank you!” shout to us.

We then hit zombie territory, vast empty spaces full of the lumbering undead. The track was dusty and that dust was getting deep into my lungs. My long lost asthma condition reared its ugly head after years of laying dormant and I found myself running out of breath more that usual as I dodged and ducked. Luckily for me, the zombies this year were far less aggressive. When they saw a runner struggling, they politely backed off of them, chasing after the quicker more able bodied runners. Pretty much the complete opposite of what would happen in any horror film ever written. So while I lost a  another flag, I managed to stumble through with my purple extra life flag intact. I still had a chance to survive.

The closer we grew to the end of the race, the bigger the obstacles became. First there was the barbed wire. You had to step over this wire through mud to continue the track. Colleen, Danni, and I waded through the wet, knee deep sludge, striding over the twisted wire and cackling the entire time, perhaps out of amusement, perhaps out of delirium. I tend to lean towards both.  The capris I wore soon became long pants due to the weight of the muddy water soaking the cotton fabric. In fact, I almost ended up dropping trow right there as they slipped down my hips. This only made me laugh harder and I ended up losing my balance, tangling my pant leg up in the last row of barbed wire. Before I could even shout for help to my two partners I heard a masculine voice say “Woman in distress!”. I turned to see the fatigued dressed squad leader from the beginning of the race come barreling at me, leaping over the wire. He stopped beside me, untangled my pant leg, then with a salute when running off into the dust after his zombie squad. Did I mention I loved those guys?

    Next came the pile of large tires to hike over. By now, the tired were streaked over with slick mud from the previous runners and people were sliding and slipping all over the place. Colleen hopped up onto the first tire then started to slide. On reflex I threw my hands out and caught her by the...butt. Then with a firm heave, I pushed her back into place. She turned, looked at me, and we both burst into hysterical laughter. The rest of our conversations continued in this vein:

“Dang Colleen. For a Mother of two, you have a fantastic butt!”

“You oughta know. You got two heaping handfuls of it!”

“Seriously girl! Do you work out?”

“Chasing after two children builds muscle tone!”

We did a lot of belly crawling after that. Belly crawling under faux electrical wire, belly crawling through mud slicks, I spent more time on my belly than I do while sleeping.  And every time I had to belly crawl, I ended up behind the same guy. I thank my lucky stars I decided to wear pants that day and not something like micro shorts. If I did, that poor guy would have been subjected to a view that only my gynecologist is privileged to.  

The final leg of zombies were what I like to call the Motivational Zombies. Trust me. Its exactly what it sounds like. These group of undead were an interesting combo. We had the ones that were cheering us on, wanting high fives from the runners, and even wanting hugs (though that one did steal flags if you went in for a hug, I noticed.). They were closely grouped to the zombies that were willing to chase you down for one of your precious flags, moaning and grabbing at you as you dashed by. We rapidly ran through the hoards approaching what could be best described as a dumpster full of water. It really wasn’t a dumpster but it looked like one and we had to swim across the length of it to make it to freedom. The three of us shimmied up the makeshift ladder and dove in. Thank God I didn’t give myself time to remember how tired I was by then. If I thought about it, I probably would have sank to the bottom.


When we fished ourselves out, we were close to the finish line. I was just about to throw up my hands and give a victory hoot when I looked down to my mud spattered belt. I did not see any flags. The cry withered in my throat and I sighed, rather disappointed I didn’t make it across the line as a survivor. But I still pressed on. The finish line was crossed by, you guessed it, belly crawling under a chain linked fence. By now I was exhausted, wet, and my hip was throbbing from falling off that first hurdle at the beginning of the race. But I made it this far. I was crossing that finish line. I crouched down on my belly and wiggled my butt under the fence. For a moment there, I was stuck.  I felt my behind catch on the chain link and my arms were so tired, I could barely pull myself another inch. Colleen came to my rescue. She snagged both of my forearms and with a hard yank, she pulled me across the line into safety.  We made it. We made it through that track in 45 minutes even!

I looked up, spitting out chunks of dirt that somehow wedged itself between my teeth. The volunteers from the run waited there, medals in hand. Half said survivor, the other said infected.

“Did you survive?” A volunteer asked Colleen with a smile.

She held up her two flags triumphantly and said ‘Hell yeah!”  as they handed her a medal.

“Did YOU survive?” another volunteer asked me. I let out a sigh as I started to stand up.

“I don’t think…” I started. As soon as I straightened up,I felt something flutter out from under my shirt. There, across my shoe, was my purple extra life flag.  Apparently during the previous belly crawl, it had snuck up under my shirt and stuck to my wet, muddy, belly.   A flag never looked so beautiful to me.

“Why yes! Yes, I DID survive!” I said with a grin. They handed me a medal with the word survivor emblazoned across it in bright red letters. I wore it all day.

I did it.

I Survived the zombie Apocalypse.

...Sorta.

After taking some photos with our friend Danni and her amazing tricked out zombie trick (complete with severed head chained to the back). We hosed ourselves off headed back home.Colleen was sold on the entire experience. Our entire conversation was nothing but chatter about how awesome the race was.  I gazed at my medal the entire time home, giddy with the accomplishment.

This was my second year participating in Run For Your Lives. So far, every time I’ve ran in this 5k, I walked or in this case, limped away with a serious feelings of accomplishment.  Last year people told me I was crazy. That I couldn’t run such an intense 5k due to my asthma, my being somewhat overweight, out of shape, and so on. But I did. I crossed that finish line. This year those same people told me they couldn’t believe I was going to do it again and how hard it was to keep a flag. But I did. I did it faster, better, and walked away as a survivor. Now when I start getting down on myself I remember back to these 5ks and tell myself. “Girl, you can do anything. After all, you outran zombies.”

Friday, February 28, 2014

HRM Steampunk Symposium (Recap - Part III)

Here are Part I and Part II  for those of you who are just joining us.

The second day of conventions always tend to be the least stressful, mostly because everything is set up already and all we have to do when we get to the vendor room is uncover the booth and reset a few items that we laid down so they don't get knocked over and broken, like our Absinthe glasses.

That and by then my body has decided that I get to sleep in, or maybe it's because I've whacked out my sleep schedule because we'd stay up until 1 or 2 am the night before laughing and giggling about whatever our sleep deprived brains decide is funny. Of course, the biggest problem with this is we end up being loud and not know it until the adjoining wall gets pounded on by the occupants we've woken up or by getting a phone call from the front desk. Thankfully none of that happened this year.

Again, my brain decided that I needed to be the first one awake as soon as the sun came up, though I did actually get to sleep in until 7:30 am, trust me this is a milestone, just ask any parent with kids under the age of 7. Grabbing my phone, I read email and checked Facebook while I waited for the rest of the crew to wake up, or in this case, I ended up waking them up as everyone was enjoying their slumber, this was of course after walking the obstacle course of bodies on the floor to and from the bathroom.

On to making coffee and ironing the yards of red fabric for my dress, which had been balled up in a pile since the last time it was worn, which I think was back in July 2013, all the while the 5 of us were doing the hotel room dance around each other, trying to get in and out of the bathroom and around the room to get dressed and our make up on. Despite no real choreography, no one tripped, died or fried themselves on the hot iron.

Once we were all corseted up, we grabbed our things and headed upstairs to uncover the booth and get ready for the days customers. Cindy and Andee ventured off to the coffee cart to obtain some more caffeine and some much needed food and we were ready for the day! Bring on the sales!

Saturday was as busy as Friday and we could tell when then panels and other events let out as we were graced by a wave of customers each time. Cindy was cranking out the commission sketches between customers and friends stopping by and Andee was working on some creative quilled items, while I sat and finished sewing the string ties and ascots that I hadn't finished before leaving San Diego, if you can't tell, this is a reoccurring thing for me, of course it also gives me something to do during the slow times in the booth.

Come the end of the vending day we were more than ready to go change, grab dinner and then come back to get ready for the ball.

Dinner was once again at The Auld Dubliner, though it was just the three of us this round and we lacked the fun bus ride of Thursday night, but we did remember to get off the bus at the stop closer to the Pub! (See we can be taught!) After a round of Irish Coffees, a lovely glass of Oban Scotch and some really good food, we made our way back to the Queen Mary and donned our finery for the Saturday night ball.

We made it to the ball just in time for Abney Park to start their second set for the evening. Being a big fan of their music I was very excited to see them live, though I wished that the kids could have been there, because they would have had a blast as well. Once the set was over the came out and did a couple more songs as an encore and then threw out the sets lists from the second set. I was standing there talking to Cindy when I felt something bounce off my chest, lo and behold, it was one of the set lists.

After the crowd dispersed a bit we went over to get in line and get autographs. I also picked up a copy of Abney Park's book Wrath of Fate and had that and the set lists autographed by the band. I even managed to get photos with the guitarist and the lead singer, Robert. I told him how my kids love to sit in the back seat of the truck and sing along with Airship Pirates. He also noticed Cindy's stuffed ferret, Senor Squeaky Pants and asked if it was a weasel, when she said no, he asked if it could be a weasel (if only for a moment). Seems  the guitarist has a thing for weasels. She laughed and said he could be a weasel if they wanted him to be. Robert then pointed our Senor Squeaky Pants to the guitarist and he dug out his phone and asked Robert to take a photo with the comment "I think this the first time I've ever asked to have a photo with a fan."

We chatted for a few more minutes and then made our way to the midnight buffet line and since we were not only full from dinner a few hours earlier, we lived by the ideal that "Life is uncertain, eat dessert first" mantra and went straight for the tasty dessert morsels.

After our fill of sugary goodness we made our way back to the hotel room, chatted for a bit and then passed out.

The 4th and final part is here













Monday, January 27, 2014

HRM Steampunk Symposium (Recap - Part II)

For those of you who missed Part I

Now events are a bit a of a vacation for me, not that I don't love my kids or husband, but there are just times that you need to get away for a few days to recharge and regain any semblance of sanity you might be able to pull kicking and screaming back from the void, they're also a time for me to sleep in. Well, you would think that would at least be the case, so you imagine my irritation when my body decided that I needed to be wide awake at 6:30 am on Friday morning.


Since we unplugged the alarm clock that was in the room, because it was the only outlet that the phone charger wouldn't fall out of. Upon waking I grabbed my phone thinking it was arounf 7:30 or 8 in the morning to see the bright numbers telling me it was 6:30 am. Grumbling I put my phone back on the headboard and slunk back down into the bed trying to get myself to fall back asleep. After tossing and turning for about 45 minutes, I gave up, grabbed my phone and began to peruse Facebook and check my email, all the while glaring and grumbling at Cindy and Andee who were still fast asleep.

Around 8, I detected movement from the other two and we started getting ready for the days events. First order of business, coffee. Learning from the first year on the Queen Mary, where we discovered no coffee pots in the room, we have since been bringing an electric tea kettle, a french press, coffee and tea, so getting started in the morning is much easier, as opposed to getting dressed and then wandering around in a haze trying to find coffee and not growl at anyone in the process.

New poster going up.
After correcting the blood to caffeine levels in our bodies, we headed up to the vendor hall to finish set up of the booth, where like parking is always something that ends up being re-engineered by yours truly. The awesome guys at the booth behind us (Crimson Chain Leather) told us that we could push our grid wall so it butted up against their storage containers, which gave us another 4 feet of booth space! After some shuffling and sliding of grid wall and tables, we had the booth layout completed. I ended up pulling the two pieces of grid wall off the left side of the booth and lending it to Lyssa from LastWear Clothing as they really didn't have much to set things up on since they flew down from Seattle.

From there we starting putting out merchandise and while I tinkered around Cindy and Andee went off in search of coffee and something to eat for breakfast. Low blood sugar is bad, mkay?, so are low caffeine levels too.

Come 11:45 we're still putting out merchandise, when Kat, our lovely and awesome vendor coordinator comes by to tell us there was a scheduling mix-up on the website with the vending time,  it seems they posted that the hall didn't open until 1pm, which gave us an extra hour of set up time. Rock on, though we were mostly set up, it was nice to have the extra time to rearrange and refine the set up.

We took turns running down to the room to change from our jeans and t-shirts to our Steampunk attire and were then ready to take over the worl....ahem I mean, ready to vend!

The booth setup essentially remains the same, though we do move things around periodically to make things more aesthetic looking and so it flows better. I think having 2-3 artisans in the booth really helps things comes together in a cohesive look. We're gotten many compliments of the setup and layout of our booth, which are very much appreciated and makes us feel all warm and squishy.



Vending started off slow, but picked up at some point in the afternoon and before we knew it, it was 6pm and the vendor hall was closing for the evening and once things were locked down, we met up with Phineas from League of Supremely Evil Revolutionaries (LOSER) and his lovely girlfriend Bre (who were also crashing in the room), made a quick stop at the room to change and then headed off to dinner at The Auld Dubliner (can you tell we like this place?).

Sadly we didn't have the party shuttle driver for either trip on the shuttle, but we did realize on the last trip that if we waited two most stops, the shuttle would drop us right across the street from the Pub.

Dinner ended up being one of their delicious boxty plates with a Guinness and a lovely glass of Laphroigh scotch along with a side of their crisps (potato chips for you not in the know) with truffle oil and goat cheese. Good stuff right there.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel and spent the rest of the evening in with a bottle of wine and some great company.


Part III coming soon.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

2014 Schedule thus far

Here's a list of shows that we've got on the calendar for 2014, we've marked the shows we're confirmed for thus far.


March 7-9 Wild Wild West Con 3 - Tucson, AZ (Confirmed)
March 21-23 Condor Con - San Diego, CA
April 11-13 Wild West Fest 2 - Calico Ghost Town - Yermo, Ca
April 25-27 Kingdom Con - San Diego, Ca
May 2-4 Gaslight Gathering - San Diego, Ca (Confirmed)
May 17 North Park Festival of the Arts- San Diego, Ca
May 31-June 1 Long Beach Comic Con - Long Beach, Ca
July 4-6 GearCon - Portland, OR
August 1-3 Salt City SteamCon - Salt Lake City, UT
August 8-10 WinkieCon (Wizard of Oz) - San Diego, Ca
September 27-28 Long Beach Horror & Comic Con - Long Beach, Ca
October 17-19 SD Comic Fest - San Diego, Ca
November 7-9 BentCon - Burbank, Ca

More to come as the we get word back on shows we've applied to and anything else that might hit our inbox in the coming months.


Please note unconfirmed shows are subject to change depending on acceptance of our application and availability.

Her Royal Majesties Steampunk Symposium the Third (Recap - part I)

I have to say that Her Royal Majesties Steampunk Symposium has come along way in the three years it's been happening. Every year seems to get better, though there is always something new that surprises us, sometimes good, other times not so good, but the organizers still put on a good event and we have fun.

The event ran from January 10th through January 12th on the Queen Mary, though this year, my partner in crime Cindy (from Original Cin) decided that since neither of us are really morning people, we should head up on Thursday afternoon instead of at O'dark thirty Friday morning. Let's just say that is the new standard for this event. I took the day off from my full time job and headed to the shop to try to finish up some custom work and pack up all the merchandise for the weekend. I had grand ideas of being able to finish a custom vest and then pack everything, which went right out the window when I stopped back at home after dropping my daughter off at school.

I made some much needed coffee and then packed up my clothes for the weekend, the intent was to get my clothes packed and hope that while I was doing so, Fedex would show up with the box of shirts that were due to arrive from Sigh Co. Graphics. Sadly I didn't get that lucky and after I was all packed up I sat down and visited with my roommate until about 9:30 am, when we both decided that if we were going to get what we needed done for the day we needed to get our butts in motion.

After loading up the truck with everything from the house that I needed, except the box of shirts that were still in transit, I swung by where my husband was working and picked up the floor dolly from the trunk of his car. From there I  headed over to the shop and started digging out the merchandise containers which were mostly packed up from the last show we did back in November.  While I packed, I fired up the laptop and started doing the sign printing I needed for the weekend. (yay multitasking!)

My husband swung by after he was done at work to help me load and spent at least an hour sitting there watching me. His comment: "I remember why I don't help you pack, I just end up sitting here", and he's right, I have such a system of packing that it usually ends up being a nightmare if anyone besides Cindy helps me (just ask Tawmis & Andee), though I am getting a bit better about giving direction, somewhat.

Now, we moved the shop back in June from Casa de Oro, Ca to Lemon Grove, Ca, which is about 6 miles west of where we were. The space is almost twice as big and is much more secure. The drawback, we're on the 4th floor and the elevator is tiny as well as temperamental at times. This means multiple elevator trips to get everything downstairs. Getting things to the truck is another adventure since there is a breezeway you drive through to get to the back of the building to the slope hill of a parking lot. The breezeway is mostly flat and is wide enough for two cars, but the security guard gets a bit cantankerous if you are parked there too long. The only other option is to pull into one of the two handicap parking spots, which has it's own ramifications (expensive ones too!).

Queue to the loading. When you do something multiple times you eventually get it down to a science and I have certainly got that done with loading in and out of the shop. We stage everything out into the hall and one person takes a load down in the elevator, sends the elevator back up and lather, rinse repeat until everything is down in the lobby.

Then it's time to get the truck and park it in the fire lane, much to the irritation  of the security guard, of course he's can't really complain about it too much, since 1. there is no loading zone and 2. we are parked there *maybe* 15-20 minutes max. This is how it goes:

Truck loaded and ready to go
1. 12 pieces of grid wall into the bed of the truck, trying carefully to not smash the Hell out of ones fingers. Trust me, grid wall is evil, but it's one of the best ways to display our stuff (at least at this juncture)

2. Load the large black storage containers of which there are 5. This becomes a game of Tetris, mostly because I forget how they get put in from show to show, you'd think I'd remember after 18 shows with the damn things.

3. Then fit in any additional (smaller) tubs, boxes, suitcases and then the dollies to move everything around and then strap it all down with tie downs. Shake the items to make sure they're not going anywhere and then....

4. Stuff all the loose stuff (usually the sewing machine, purse, handing clothes, etc.) into the back seat of the truck.

5. Profit! well...not yet at least.

From there is was off to the gas station and then swinging by to pick up Cindy, who was just getting home from work and then time to hit the open highway for Long Beach.

2 miles down the road, the realization hits, the sewing machine is still at the shop. Off the freeway we go to the shop to grab the sewing machine, (the foot pedal was already packed) and then a quick stop at Taco Bell because I hadn't eaten yet. Trust me with no food is a bad for a lot of people's health, almost as hazardous as me without coffee.

Sewing machine - check
Food - check
Full tank of gas - check

Alright take two on the road to Long Beach, with a couple side stops. First stop, the printers to get the posters I had made with the new logo, then CVS to get a binder, batteries and some Airborne, and the last stop being my place of employment to stop by and pick up the last piece of my Christmas gift from Tawmis. Which was pretty damn amazing! (Photos later)

Then onto the open road known as Interstate 5 North. After all the stops, it was about 3:30 pm before we were actually headed out of San Diego where we began to have little feelings of dread. Why you ask? Well for anyone who lives in Southern California, you know that people start leaving work around 4pm, which would drop us into Los Angeles about 5 pm, (see where I'm heading with this?) right into rush hour traffic.

With a quick bathroom break (too much ice tea!) at the rest stop just before Camp Pendelton, we fired up the first episode the Comic Relief Podcast, done by my dear friends Tawmis & Maico. Then we switched over to Welcome to Night Vale. Surprisingly traffic only slowed down and never really came to a complete stop. We sailed into Long Beach at about 5:45pm, parked the truck and checked into our room on the Queen Mary.

We still had about an hour to kill before we could unload everything for the event though. While Cindy and I were plotting a plan of attack for the unload as we walked to our suite, Andee (Twylite Creations) texted me asking to let her know when we arrived to which I responded with "We just got here." to which she frantically responded with.."I'll be there shortly."

Upon entering our suite, Cindy and I plopped down our suitcases and turned to look at the room. First words out of Cindy's mouth, "Where is the bathroom?" The first door she went to was the one to the adjoining room which was locked and then she opened the closet and well discovered it was a closet and not the bathroom.

Confused, we both looked at each other and she asked "Did you get us a room without a bathroom?!?"

"Uh, it's a suite it better have a @$()@*)(@ bathroom." I replied.
It wouldn't be setup without one of these photos.

She went to the adjoining door again and stood there puzzled as I went to close the hotel room door and upon that, discovered the door to the bathroom. Laughing we breathed a sigh of relief , as Cindy says "It's going to be one of those Cons isn't it?"

"Isn't it always?" was my reply.

After getting our stuff settled in, we headed upstairs to see if we might be able to get into the vendor room a bit early. Sadly the doors were still locked and the staff was still marking off spaces. Just as we got back down to the lobby, we see Andee walk through the doors with her suitcases, so we walked her and her stuff to the room AND told her where the bathroom was. By this time it was 6:45, so we decided to go unload the truck figuring that we'd be upstairs about the time the vendor room was open for load-in.
Booth setup as interpretive dance performed by Cindy

We arrived at the Queen's Lounge at 7:01 pm and true to form for any Con, they were still laying out booth spaces. We only had to wait about 15 minutes before our space was done (same space as last year) and then we began to plot. As always we set up the grid wall in a U shape and then did the same with the tables. After much shifting we had everything ready to go, of course I extended the grid wall set up and there were two extra panels on one side, which made Andee's OCD want to run to a corner and rock in it repeatedly.

By the time we were done it was about 8:15. Since my last meal was about 2:30 pm, we decided that we'd finish setting up in the morning since we had 4 hours before the vendor hall opened.

After a quick stop at the hotel room to drop off things like the cash box, we headed off to the shuttle. The shuttle has to be by far one of my favorite things about this event. It's free and it takes us right into downtown Long Beach where all the restaurants are. True to form, we took the opportunity to dine at The Auld Dubliner. I mean really, who can pass up good food and whiskey as well as great customer service.

After dinner we made our way back to the shuttle stop to return to the hotel. Now for those of you who haven't been to downtown Long Beach or the Queen Mary, there are two shuttles, on that drops off from the Queen Mary and one that picks up. Like any bus service, I'm sure they switch their signs halfway through the route. The first shuttle up was the one coming from the Queen Mary and if any of you remember the first year we did this show, we took the wrong shuttle and got to enjoy(hah!) the scenic route back to the hotel. Of course it only took us once to learn the error of our ways.

So when this particular shuttle showed up and was mostly full, we asked, just to double check that it was going back to the hotel and the bus driver replied with "Eventually, but I'm going the long way." and then continued by saying that we should take his bus otherwise we'd be riding "Grumpy's" bus. We  chuckled and said that we would wait, when suddenly the crowd on the bus began chanting for us to get on. The three of us looked at each other, chuckled, shrugged and joined the crowd on the bus. Much cheering was had as we boarded, of course my comment was "They really don't know what they're getting themselves into, do they?"
To which Cindy laughed and shook her head.

I'm sure Cindy and Andee would agree, best bus ride ever! The bus driver joked and socialized with everyone on the bus, and then banter that went back between us, him and the group of business men was priceless. The driver even circled the roundabouts multiple times and flickered the bus lights on and off. We ended up dubbing it the party bus. Sadly the group of businessmen that convinced us to ride the bus with them, departed 3 stops later, but that didn't stop the friendly banter with the bus driver. At one stop, he even came back and talked to us for a few minutes.

Upon our return to the boat, he got on the loud speaker and said good-bye to us as we crossed the parking lot.

Returning to our room we all  decided to turn in for the night so we'd be ready for the final set up and first day of vending.

Part II

2014 here we come....

~Brushes the cobwebs from the corners and clears the dust from the keyboard~

As you can probably tell, the blog here fell a bit off the radar and I just unearthed it from the piles of fabric and buttons in the corner.

2013 was a crazy, busy year. We ended up doing 18 shows last year, this explains why come Thanksgiving all I wanted to do was crawl into a cave and hibernate through the winter. Well if you can call the weather we've been having here in San Diego, Ca, winter. Of course for me, I'm happy as can be because I really don't do well in cold weather, but I digress.

So, yeah, 18 shows last year and 2014 looks to be just  as busy. Right now there are 14 shows that I have on the list to attend, well 13 now as the first show of the year happened the weekend of January 9, 2014 up in Long Beach on the Queen Mary.

We're currently working on the update for that show and are going to do our best to actually do updates for more than the first six months of the year.

So Happy New Year, I hope you all have a productive and wonderful 2014!!!!!