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30th of April, 2011


11:42 pm - Steampunk Military part deux
In preparation for Steampump next weekend I've finished one of the additions I'm making to my steampunk soldier costume.

Since reproduction military stars of the Order of the Bath are practically non-existent and when they are, are hideously expensive I decided to create a fictional one.

Thus: the Order of the White Lion

White Lion Star

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18th of April, 2011


01:22 am - Things you miss when you're looking


I don't know how many times I've watched Raiders of the Lost Ark. I know I've lost count, but it's a lot. Several of them have even been on the big screen. But up until this week I'd missed something.

Look at the picture above. It's a screen capture from the film, not a toy or reproduction. Look at the eyes. Notice anything?

Have another lookCollapse )


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21st of March, 2011


07:11 am - Steampunk Military
Dear Livejournal, Happy New Year!

Yeah it's been a while.

Recently I've been following some discussions about the wearing of medals as part of your steampunk attire. Some people (mostly ex-service Americans) say no medals no how no way. Some have said, "you're wearing a costume. What's you're problem?" Still others have said just don't wear the current stuff.

I tend to fall into the latter group. As some of you have seen I've got a nice scarlet tunic of the British soldier as the base for my steampunk costume. It *IS* a costume (the pattern is a McCalls) but I've tried to use real rank insignia and helmet trimmings where I can get hold of them.
It currently has one medal. That medal is a reproduction of one awarded to British troops who fought during the Moari Wars in New Zealand in the 1860s. I doubt many people would recognise what it is, much less believe that I was claiming to have earned such a medal myself.

Still, I plan on adding a few more and have been looking over what medals would be appropriate for the time period, my age, and the geography. I've got a Canadian General Service medal to go on next from the 1870 Riel Rebellion. That they weren't actually issued until 1900 I'm going to ignore and go from there. Probably and Afghanistan and a Kabul/Egyptian addition would be next. I draw the line at a Victoria Cross, but I'm going to add a Distinguished Service Order. Not going to rack up the bling like Sir Garnet Wolseley but a bit of decoration looks nice.

One thing I've been looking for is a fictional medal to round out the set. My artistic skills are no where near up to sculpting an original and casting it, so I've been looking at reproduction medals that might be able to be modified. Since I'm basing it off a Space 1889 setting I thought something for a fictional Martian war might be good. Obviously anything after 1900 with the Monarch's head on it is out (which cuts it down a fair amount). The various WWII stars look rather bland. So far I'm leaning towards something Belgian, though I stumbled across a Vietnamese medal that could give an interesting contrast. Both could be tinkered with using some enamel paint and a scalpel. I've tried looking at some Masonic medals for conversion but most of them are already highly elaborate and don't fit well with the existing 19th century military feel I'm running.

So what do you think? Should even real medals from long distant wars be a no no?

Also, if you're OK with it, what suggestions might you have for a Martian war medal?
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

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18th of November, 2010


06:00 pm - Updateryness
Well it's been a while since I've posted anything here. Not that I've had vast amounts to say anyway. Uni has finished for the year, so now begins the catch up of things-that-have-been-put-off. The lawn being the worst. Mum has offered to come down and attack the hedge which hasn't been touched in about a year.

In other news I've been catching up on some TV and film viewing. While on a panel about Fantasy and Hollywood at Worldcon, someone mentioned that Jim Butcher's Dresden Files had been made into a TV series. This had completely passed me by. I've now watched 10 of the 12 episodes. It's a pity it got cancelled as I'm quite enjoying it.

My hunt for the Dresden Files also lead me to New Amsterdam. I liked the premise. The exploration of immortality without the usual attachments of fangs and bats. I can see why it was cancelled though. When the cure for your immortality is finding your true love, doesn't leave a lot for the steamy sexual tension that inhabits most TV series at the moment.

I also found a two hour documentary on Jonny Quest. It covers everything from the music to the character origins and the later censorship, to working in the Hanna Barbera studio and how animators of things like Yogi Bear and the Flintstones found the more realistic style of JQ very difficult.

And I've finally got around to watching the *new* series of Battlestar Galactica. Yeah yeah I know, nothing like being up to date right? I'd watched the Mini series when it first aired and had been a little disappointed but I think I missed the airing of the series proper and it became one of those things I needed to watch. Well I've finally got around to it and am quite enjoying the new version. Obviously the "terrorists look just like us" metaphor is writ large but the dynamics are quite interesting and the acting is top notch. That and I want to smack Gaius Baltar into next week. I've watched 10 episodes so far. I'm hoping they will all be good!

I've got a list of things I want to do on my Steampunk Soldier before the Euchronia Ball for New Years, the most ambitious of which will be a new version of the mechanical hand. I'd been hoping to buy one of the C-3PO costume pieces that are being sold by various internet suppliers but none of them seem to want to reply to repeated requests for information. I've never done much in the way of mold making so it will be a learning exercise.


Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

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8th of September, 2010


02:32 pm - Aussiecon 4 - WorldCon review
Ah Worldcon, that mystical experience of fandom Congoing that I've only experienced once before and that was back in my naive youth. Being a student barely covering my costs of living Worldcon was something I wanted to do but hadn't really saved much for. So I deferred bills, spent rent money, borrowed and begged to get in. Since Worldcons seem to get to Melbourne only once every 10-15 years I would be 50 by the time the next one got here. Though considering the ages of some of the fans that would hardly be "old". I met one congoer from California who was 93!

Thankfully I'd managed to get my step-Dad to drop me into the city. That saved me at least another $100 on parking. It's also got me thinking that I need to update my luggage to something with wheels rather than the 1970s era green leather suitcase I currently have. At least then Public Transport becomes an option. Checked into the hotel and on the way down already bumped into a couple of girls from Brisbane that I'd met at Continuum. Fans were around.

This was Aussiecon 4, the 68th World Science Fiction Convention. My last Worldcon had been 1985. I think that was also only my second or third SF Con so I was still very wet-behind the ears. Of course some of the people I'd met those 25 years ago are still in fandom: Rob Jan and Lewis Morley. I admit to being still somewhat in awe of Lewis, but don't tell him that. :-)

I wasn't going to Aussiecon for the Guests. Kim Stanley Robinson is an author I've tried to read. His Mars trilogy I has to push to get through and The Years of Rice and Salt I've tried three times but can't get into. Maybe he and China Mieville write in a similar style. That said, "Stan" is a lovely bloke. Very entertaining and not afraid to make jokes at his own expense.

Thursday afternoon I got down to the Con. While only a short walk, it was far enough away to not be able to just duck back to the hotel if I forgot something. It also reminded me how low my fitness levels have dropped. Really need to get into some regular walking exercise. Headed for the dealers room and finally met up with Phil and Kaja Foglio. SQUEEEE! They were already low on the books they'd brought with them so I grabbed a copy of Girl Genius volume 9 and had them sign it. According to Phil later they sold out of theirs, plus any other dealer's copies, in less than 2 hours. He was kicking himself. While I was getting signatures and chap came up and spoke to Phil about printing requirements. Girl Genius Radio Theatre! I asked if they'd cast anyone, and Phil said drop by the table tomorrow for casting. W00t!

Friday was good. Got myself up and out of bed and down to the Con without any drama. First panel up was one we'd all spoken with each other via email before. I seem to have struck a rapport with Lara Morgan: we were joking around for the rest of the Con. May even have to read some of her books :-) Also made a new friend with Iain Triffitt at the Lovecraft panel. Returned to the Foglio table for an audition. Phil thought perhaps Othar. Then after my audition he said, "your body says Othar, your voice says Krosp." Which I'm more than happy with.

I missed out on a ticket to the Australian Horror Writers' Ball. Tickets sold out before the Con and I'd been hoping to snag one at the door. Oh well. Instead I went off to the various future Worldcon Bid Parties. Chicago was up for 2012 (which they won at the voting later that weekend), Texas (note they're using the State not a City) is bidding for 2013 and London is trying for 2014. All parties were held in the Crowne Plaza hotel and all had free booze. It seems bid parties are far more serious than I thought. New Zealand has also put its hand up for its first ever Worldcon bid for 2020. 10 years might even be long enough for me to save up. Also had signs up for Continuum 8's proposed Natcon bid for 2011. Stumbled into bed about 2am.

Saturday morning I was down at venue a little after 10 and watched the Rebel Empire Workshops' presentation. Nice to see more media fandom involved in SF conventions again. More socialising. Introduced myself to a chap who had been wandering the Con in steampunk attire. New-found friend Ged Maybury discussed various things about his costume. Later chatted with Lewis and Marion about their steampunked travel cases, which lead to me mentioning I wanted to redo the hand for my steampunk soldier and Lewis offering to assist with engraving some plastic should I wish it. That awe? Still there :-) Girl Genius Radio Theatre went overtime buy a little but was great fun. Phil complimented me on my Krosp. "Meow". Dash back to the hotel snarfing down a 7-11 sandwich for dinner, before shower and change into uniform. Arrive at Masquerade just before it starts and listen to Danny and Nick's patter as they reminisce/introduce the event. Supposedly there was going to be something doing with hall costumes though this did not materialise. I was a little disappointed with the number of entrants in the Masquerade. Though I suppose had I got-my-shit-together I would have been IN it instead of just watching it. The quality of entrants was good though nothing really earth shattering. Very few had any music and a couple tried dialogue but, with no microphone (and usually their faces covered, it was only heard as a mumble. I am however glad that the various grades of Novice, Journeyman and Master were kept, despite Australian fandom's adoption of a more casual approach to costume awards in recent years. Post-masquerade was more bidpartying with a second night of WorldCon bid parties and more drinks. Stumbled into bed about 3.

Sunday was a sleep-in with me crawling out of bed around 11:30 despite wanting to attend a panel at 10am. Discussed/heckled the vampires in Hollywood panel and saw Norman Cates' presentation of his 10 years working for WETA in NZ. This is also the man who is heading the WorldCon bid for 2020. Their AV will be top notch I reckon :-) Also attended my first ever Hugo Awards night. Cheryl Morgan gets the award for most annoying presenter by reading out loud all of the punctuation marks, especially in the title of Jack Vance's This is Me, Jack Vance! (Or, More Properly, This is “I”). But was very chuffed when Girl Genius got the gong for the Hugo. Beating Neil Gaiman is possible :-)

There seemed to be a running joke through the Con with ribbon attachments. At the base of your Membership Badge there are often attached various ribbons denoting whether someone is a Committee Member, a Panel Participant, Hugo Award Winner, Fan Fund Member, and various other things. There were a number of unofficial ones going around with variations such as Hugo Award Loser, Hugo Award Whiner, Not Dave (in reference to the ChiCon chair) and I Can Haz Rybin? (which brought up the topic of American accent pronunciation on a couple of occasions). There was even one that was just a piece of fur. Very silly.

I also managed to score a set of the Vampire Academy novels after mentioning to the lovely lady at the Penguin desk that I would love something to cure my niece of her Twilight addiction.

WorldCons are an expensive luxury but I think they should definitely be enjoyed more than just once every 25 years!

Things learnt at WorldCon:
Mary Poppins was indeed a novel before it was a film. It's author was also Australian.
A LotR fan film called The Hunt for Gollum is well worth watching.
See about some sort of pre-paid Wifi access if attending future Cons.
I need to track down a copy of the Dresden Files.
The closer the food options the more expensive it will be.

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26th of July, 2010


09:37 am - Jane Austen's Fight Club
The Jane Austen revamp takes yet another turn.


Current Mood: amusedamused

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2nd of June, 2010


09:40 am - Teh Stupid! It Burns!
After Googling walking directions for a trip in Park City, Utah, Lauren Rosenberg claims she was led onto a busy highway, where she was struck by a vehicle. She's now suing Google for damages.

The case, Rosenberg v. Harwood, was filed in Utah, in the US District Court's Central Division (Gary Price of ResourceShelf tipped us to it today). Harwood is Patrick Harwood, the person who actually hit Rosenberg, according to the suit. Both Harwood and Google are being sued in the same case, for damages "in excess of $100,000."


More details:
http://searchengineland.com/woman-follows-google-maps-walking-directions-gets-hit-sues-43212
Current Mood: cynicalcynical

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13th of April, 2010


02:17 am - Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec
Finally there's an English website for the Luc Besson film.

http://www.adeleblancsec-lefilm.com/_en/index.html

Very much looking forward to this

The trailer is here if you haven't already been exposed to this wonder


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2nd of March, 2010


04:37 am - Surprises at Uni
First day back at Uni today held some surprises. Apart from the building works that closed one of the car parks, and the dozens of computer terminals in the library that had out of order signs on them, the rest of the day was good.

Monday is going to be Ancient Egypt Day. Most people are aware of the whole Egyptian thing. Tutankhamen, the Pyramids, mummies, and all that stuff. I was even aware of the influence of Egyptian revival in the 19th century, one that had started with Napoleon and continued on with the deciphering of the Rosetta Stone.

But one of the images I was shown today brought me up short.



Now I admit my understanding of the Jewish psyche is minimal at best. Sure I have Jewish friends, but the things that make them "Jewish" I have very limited understanding of. Up until now I had thought that the Egyptians in Jewish tradition were akin to some sort of bogey-man. The whole thing with the nasty Egyptians keeping them in slavery and having Moses lead the people into exodus with the Pharaoh's army in hot pursuit.

So I was surprised to see a Synagogue built in Egyptian Revival style. Not only that but it's the Hobart Synagogue, said to be Australia's oldest Synagogue. Obviously my understanding of the bogey-man aspect is wrong (or at least out of proportion) but I still find it amazing that a Synagogue would be built in a style emulating their former Overlords.

Educational indeed.
Current Mood: curiouscurious

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1st of January, 2010


02:50 pm - Happy New Year to all
Here's to hoping that 2010, being the last year of the decade, will be an improvement over 2009.
Current Mood: listlesslistless

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15th of December, 2009


08:15 pm - Conroy is a Cretin.
The Australian Government has announced it intends to introduce legislation that will make ISP-level filtering mandatory for all refused classification material hosted overseas.

The Government intends to amend the Broadcasting Services Act in August 2010 to enforce the filter, and expects the filter to be operational within a further twelve months.

ISP-level filtering will be mandatory on all RC (refused classification) content hosted overseas, with grants also being made available to those Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that wish to offer further filtering of X18+ sites.


The results of the Government Filtering Trial have also been released.

"In addition to the blacklist, filtering a wider range and volume of material to provide some level of protection to children using the internet [was tested].

Content on the inappropriate for children test list included:
Gambling
Adult
Lingerie/Swimsuit
Drug-advocacy
Nudism
Gross-content
Profanity
Racism/Hate
Sex
Terrorism/Crime"

Swimsuits!?!

Let's just hope the Senate send this one back to the bin where it belongs.
Current Mood: pissed offpissed off

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15th of November, 2009


04:39 am - My regular conspiracy theorist.
Working for a local petrol station these last couple of years has brought me into contact with some diverse people. From former school friends, to a.c.g. alumni to tradies and taxi drivers.

I don't remember how the conversations started but for about the last 6-12 months I've been briefly chatting each night with a delivery driver who I've come to think of as our local Conspiracy Theorist.

Most of the stuff he goes on about I look at with a grain of salt, though I admit to an interest in cryptids and some of our discussions over the existence of a race of giants have been interesting.

He's a bible literalist and is often annoyed when I point out things like there being no archaeological evidence for King Solomon or that if you hold that the Old Testament teachings against homosexuality as true then why is it ok to wear a polycotton shirt?

He's an avowed 9/11 sceptic. Not saying that there weren't planes flown into the buildings, but that there was far more of a conspiracy behind what brought down the buildings than the public has been told. For the most part I just nod and say nothing.

He was also the person who told me about Chemtrails.

This week he dropped off some copies of a few movies for me to watch: Fall of the Republic, The Obama Deception, The Fluoride Deception and Expelled - No Intelligence Allowed. It was this last one that got us into one of our most animated discussions yet. Normally I'll just nod and offer an occasional opinion, like with the giants - mainly because I don't know enough about what he's on about. But this time he found one of my pet annoyances - Intelligent Design Theory. Having followed the debacle of having Intelligent Design proffered as some sort of science and an alternative to Evolution I knew quite a bit of the usual guff trotted out and I think he was surprised at me asking for far more evidence and shooting down what he did provide than normal. IDT is an opinion and there is no means to either prove or disprove this opinion, rendering it a joke science at best. Von Daniken has more science than this stuff. Further discussions will prove interesting.

The last note on this list of fruitcakes is he has apparently applied to run for a Senate seat with the Christian Democrats. At the time I'd forgotten that that was the name of Fred Nile's party. I know he won't be getting a vote from me if he stands.
Current Mood: awakeawake

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31st of October, 2009


10:31 am - The Bible and its liberal bias
The Conservapedia people, who I stumbled across a couple of months ago, are continuing their fight against all things lefty and liberal. Especially stuff about that long haired, hippy socialist Jesus.

The Conservative Bible Project lists 10 guidelines to help bring the bible into a conservative translation including:

1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias

7. Express Free Market Parables: explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning

8. Exclude Later-Inserted Inauthentic Passages: excluding the interpolated passages that liberals commonly put their own spin on, such as the adulteress story [for the viewers at home that's the "he who is without sin may cast the first stone" story].

I'm going to stop here as it's making my head hurt.
Current Mood: numbnumb

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30th of October, 2009


04:07 am - The history of Chap-hop


Brilliant!
Current Mood: amusedamused

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15th of October, 2009


12:29 pm - Something for my author friends
Ever wondered about how your publisher is going to promote your new book?

This little article from the New Yorker helps you know what's coming.
Current Mood: amusedamused

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9th of September, 2009


11:32 am - Dragon*Con attempts world record "Thriller"
http://blogs.ajc.com/inside-access/2009/09/08/dragoncon-thriller-dancers-might-break-world-record/

Warms my nerdy little heart.
Current Mood: amusedamused

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24th of August, 2009


12:40 am - The stupid! It hurts so much!
I've been an occasional editor of Wikipedia for a few years now and I've seen some comments in its discussion forums that make usenet seem intelligent.

But none of that prepared me for the Conservapedia.

The stupid is so bad it burns.
Current Mood: shockedbrain implode

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19th of August, 2009


10:55 pm - Changes to inner Melbourne
I love Melbourne. I've lived here all my life and since I was very young I would venture into the city and explore the laneways and alleys that litter the otherwise gridlike CBD.

On Sunday night I went for a wander around the old GPO. The vast construction that is going on with both Myer and David Jones in Little Bourke Street is intriguing. The open walls from the street show the plaster ceilings have been kept in place. I remember from working at DJs in the 90s that the upper floors of the Little Bourke Street side of the former Buckly & Nunn shop were blocked off and vacant. Popular belief was that this was due to asbestos in the building but I don't know if that's true. It does look like the DJs and Myer buildings may be working together, though that seems unlikely.

I was also disappointed to discover one of Melbourne's oldest bibliophile institutions had closed down. McGill's Bookshop, the only place I ever knew that stocked international newspapers, magazines of just about every variety, and a decent reference selection of books, had closed just shy of its 150th anniversary.

Makes me feel that a little piece of Melbourne's culture has been lost.
Current Mood: sadsad

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31st of July, 2009


11:19 am - Energy drinks now directly marketed to Gamers
For years Gamers and nerdery type people have been high consumers of caffeinated beverages and in more recent years energy drinks like Red Bull, V, etc. Marketing of late with names like "Bad Boy", "Rock Star", and "Mother" (done in a heavy metal band style label) seemed to be aimed more towards the party crowd.

A US company has now decided that the market is big enough that they can market directly to gamers. So what did they call their drink?

Mana Potions



For Warcrack players the world over.
Current Mood: amusedamused

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29th of July, 2009


01:23 am - Continuum-Edition tour of Old Melbourne Gaol
A private Continuum-Edition tour has been arranged of the award winning Old Melbourne Gaol, led by con-goer and sometime Victorian-era Executioner Extraordinaire, Heath Miller.

This is a unique opportunity to explore the imposing interior of the Old Melbourne Gaol at night, when it would normally be left to the restless souls inside. The performance is a creative blend of theatre and historical storytelling, bringing the forbidden secrets of the Gaol to life by candlelight.

Duration: 90 minutes
When: Thursday 13th August, 8.00pm sharp (Otherwise known as The Night Before the Convention)
Where: Russell Street, between Victoria and La Trobe Streets.
Cost: $20 per person (not recommended for under-12s)
To reserve your spot on the tour please email gaoltour@continuum.org.au
Places on this tour are strictly limited. First in best-haunted.

More information on the Old Melbourne Gaol
.
Current Mood: nervousnervous

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21st of July, 2009


10:43 pm - Daleks get a makeover for new Doctor Who
I think the new look will be a hit with the male demographic at least.

:-)
Current Mood: amusedamused

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11th of July, 2009


01:31 am - Happy birthday Nikola Tesla

Current Mood: impressedimpressed
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23rd of June, 2009


10:12 pm - The changing face of online journalism
A friend of mine sent me this image. It's sad because it's true.


Current Mood: cynicalcynical

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31st of May, 2009


12:18 am - Decking and costuming.
This last week I've spent a few days helping my step-father put down a deck. I've discovered just how unfit I've become (not that I was Charles Atlas to begin with). My lower back still twinges and I should get myself off the to the doctor. Probably need to see a physio.

Thursday I began the fabric part of my costume. I laid out and cut the red fabric. The helmet is done all bar the chin chain, which I need to pick up. I have a belt buckle, though I need to find a place that sells white belt leather. I remember there used to be a place in Richmond that sold it (and rather cheaper that Lefflers). I can't even recall the name of the place. Buttons I have, rank pips I have for stars though I'm still hunting for crowns. Got one watching on Ebay but the bugger went onto "Holiday hold" so I can't buy them until he gets back. My not-so-inner pedant says the crowns need to be Queens Crowns not Kings Crowns (which seem to be easier to find unsurprisingly).

The mechanical hand is moving from nebulous to actual. I've acquired a wetsuit glove for the hand and intend to build onto it. This should still give me enough movement of the actual hand yet still make the joins look like they're connected via an India Rubber seal or something. We've done some small experiments for finger joints using plastic tubing but I need to make a trip to Clarke Rubber and have a chat with someone there about what might be available.

Lots of things in early stages but getting there.
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished

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6th of May, 2009


04:22 am - Getting back on the costume horse
Having been inspired to pick up a needle and thread again after several years of neglecting all but the replacing of buttons, I thought I's start a post here and hopefully over the next few months I will add assorted pictures of the progress of the costume.

For those who may be unaware Continuum this year is themed "Galaxies by Gaslight" so I'm wanting to try something along those lines.

After a long and protracted percolation on what sort of outfit I could wear that would be of interest to me but also fit my build and still be practical I eventually decided on the concept of steampunk Major General Stanley (of Pirates of Penzance fame).

At this stage the idea is starting out with these pieces:

McCall's Costume patter M4745 as the base for the outfit.

Thankfully our Beloved Prime Minister's stimulous package allowed me to have a splurge at Spotlight and buy some red wool. It's not as heavy as I'd like but then wool bought from retailers in Australia rarely is. I'm planning on lining it in wool and the too layers plus interfacing should get it to sit quite nicely.

I had picked up a collection fo General Service buttons via Ebay last eyar which also included to belt hooks for the tunic.

I bought myself a white pith helmet from Mitchell's Adventure in the city. I'd been looking at similar one's online last year before the dollar plummited but I didn't want to spend the money on something I had no guarentee would fit. Being of the fuller brain than many (my story and I'm sticking to it) buying hats can often be a pain. I've acquired a spike and a helmet plate via Ebay and have a chap in Oakleigh who is making me the chin chain. It still needs the hooks for the chain and I may send off an order to Thinredline and get a couple of metal pieces needed. Still debating the puggaree. We'll see.

Shoes I can use my own and trousers will be made. The only other thing is a white belt.

The steampunk aspect of it, since so far it sounds like cobbled together pseudo-Victoriana, will be the intention of making an artificial looking left hand. Currently I'm thinking of a base of a plain black wetsuit glove and then thin plastic tubing create the finger sections and paint them appropriate metallic finish. Some sort of plate for the back of the hand. If I get time I will try and extend the hand to a forearm and hand but I'll see how time goes.

I can at least start on the jacket now.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

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27th of April, 2009


11:09 pm - Real pirates
Dear ARIA,

These guys are pirates. Script kiddies who download your music are bootleggers.

Maybe you'll also stop with the fucking annoying ads comparing downloading to purse snatching. Though I'd love to see something in court where the claims of vast amounts of sums lost to downloaders are dismissed your own marketing compares it to petty theft.

Cheers

Me.
Current Mood: cynicalcynical

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16th of April, 2009


07:27 pm - Claiming your text books claimable on Tax?
I know I'll be looking at this one carefully.

A Victorian student has successfully claimed education-related expenses as a tax deduction, after a court decision that could open the door for thousands of student-assistance recipients nationwide.

Full story here.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
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14th of April, 2009


06:25 pm - Long overdue update
It's been some two months since I wrote anything here so I thought I should let you know I'm still alive.

Uni has settled into classes and courses. The text book issue was resolved. It turns out that both lists were incorrect and the class had no texts assigned as the Bookshop person had said. Our lecturer thought it would be cheaper for us if she just uploaded the various extracts online for us to view. After some discussion in the first couple of tutorials the overwhelming preference was to pay the copyright fee for printing and get them collated into a student reader. I know I vastly prefer having printed reading material than reading it online. Apart from being more practical it doesn't make your screen go funny when you write on it with a highlighter.

I've renewed some acquaintances from last year though most of the people I was friends with from last year are not doing the same classes as me this semester. Have to organise to catch up with Sarah for lunch at some point. The horrible cow went to Italy over the summer and did a course on Italian art. So very jealous.

The classes themselves are interesting. Though the Nazi Germany one is certainly more of a brain struggle. Mainly because there's a lot more being added to it than the usual tropes of "here's what the Nazis did and they were bad M'Kay". And so far its mostly been the origins. I know bits of this but the actually history is far more complex than I've given it credit for.

cold_echo will be pleased to know that the glass cabinet has finally been given a home in the hallway and it is now out of the lounge.

I discovered a tobacconist in Frankston, Cignall Specialist Tobacconist who must be one of the few remaining places in Melbourne that deal with pipe smokers. For those who may be unaware I have had the occasional smoke on the clay pipe I acquired for re-enacting. I then moved on to using a long stemmed Ropp Cherrywood that I believe used to belong to my uncle. I might only smoke once a month or so but I do find it rather relaxing. Anyway the vulcanite stem on the Ropp broke and the clay one had snapped both during the house move. Since finding pipe suppliers is harder than finding stems I gave them a ring to see if they could help. I headed down a few days later and came away with a replacement stem for the Ropp that I was able to fit in with a little bit of sanding, two types of tobacco and a pipe lighter. I'm not going to be paying off any of his kids school fees with what I will buy but I had possibly one of the best customer service experiences I've had in years.

Uncle Kev's incentivasation payment arrived and I've had a little splurge on Ebay, though mostly replacing VHS with DVDs, paid some bills and put some aside to get the windscreen replaced. But after today I'm glad I had the money in the bank. My watch is an old Seiko given to me as my 13th birthday present. It's a damn good watch but it was in dire need of a service. I took it into the service centre today and they said they'd need to send it off to Seiko, but it was going to cost me $120. I just about died. Yes I know it's a good quality watch and as such parts might cost a little bit more but for a clean and re-oil I wouldn't have thought it would be even half that. Ouch!

I'm also hoping to use Kev's cheque to pay for some wool fabric for the costume I want to make for Continuum. If anyone knows of any good suppliers for jacket wool in red please point me their direction. I am so out of touch with costuming suppliers it's not funny.
Current Mood: busybusy

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24th of January, 2009


01:19 am - Gung Haggis Fat Choy


Now THIS is multiculturalism.

Todd Wong is 5th Generation Canadian, but people still ask him if he's Chinese. As a teenager he started introducing Chinese New Year celebrations to friends. When at university in the 90's he was asked to help with the organisation of the annual Robbie Burns night (which falls on the 25th of January each year). Realising that Chinese New Year was only 2 days after it that year he combined the two and thus was born Gung Haggis Fat Choy and Toddish McWong.

Do you think if we make it "Gung Haggis Fat Choy, mate" we could combine Australia Day into it? I mean the tradition meat pie has about as much actual meat as your average haggis.

Love the outfit though :-)
Current Mood: impressedimpressed

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16th of January, 2009


04:04 am - Dear gods noooooooo!
I'd been hearing about a proposed "prequel" for Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I the current rumour is that the director, McG, wants Will Smith for the role of Nemo.

To me Smith was one of the reasons Wild Wild West sucked so bad. He had to jiggy up the West. That and the complete lack of chemistry between him and Kline.

The man CAN act - Enemy of the State I think is one of his best films. But his Fresh Prince thing just annoys the crap out of me.

I can see the rapping mermaids for the music video already. Probably played by the Pussycat Dolls.

*cries*
Current Mood: crushedcrushed

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10th of January, 2009


01:04 pm - Windows 7
I read in the paper (yes actual dead tree edition) last night that Windows 7 was due to be released. Though it seems Microsoft has underestimated the interest in ripping to shreds reviewing the newest operating system for Windoze.

[Disclaimer. I use a PC. I've never been much of a one for religious cults so I haven't joined the born-again Mac users]

The thing I'm trying to puzzle out is the name.

I remember 3.1

After that came Windows 95. Then 98, 2000, ME (the bastard child no-one talks about), XP and now Vista.

So which of these were 4,5 and 6?

Although it's probably closer to random-marketing-wank in picking the number I'm curious
Current Mood: curiouscurious
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30th of December, 2008


05:16 pm - Periodic Table of Awesoments
Not all things are made of winCollapse )
Current Mood: amusedamused
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22nd of December, 2008


12:08 am - Pundit Kitchen can be educational
LOLcats, Failblog, Engrishfunny and a few others are sites which post pictures with captions.

Occasionally you learn something. Like the Ukranian Army doesn't allow women to serve in the active military. So their reservist women usually end up in support roles.

Though it's possible they're Belarus Police women.

Interesting uniforms though.
Current Mood: tiredtired

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21st of December, 2008


12:51 pm - Garden Blitz
This morning my Mother, Brother and Step-Dad came over and together we attacked the garden. Two lawn mowers, two petrol line trimmers and a hedge trimmer means everything except the tops of the hedge have been done. Just needed a higher ladder to get to the top of the hedge and trim the top off it.

The many hands make light work adage is true.
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished

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19th of December, 2008


01:31 pm - Valé Majel Barrett-Roddenberry
Back in my youth I was a big Trek fan. Joined Austrek, turned up to movie premiers in uniform, ran a Star Trek convention. Then I moved on to other things. I still liked Trek, it just wasn't my focus any more.

So it's a sad day today. There have been quite a few losses this week for me. Several online friends have died and though I only ever met Majel once, she was another who I knew a little something about.

After a long fight with leukaemia, she has passed away.

The one link between all of the various Star Trek franchises. You will be missed.
Current Mood: sadsad
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17th of December, 2008


01:49 am - Microwave Christmas

Current Mood: amusedamused

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12th of December, 2008


03:39 pm - Valé Bettie Paige
The epitome of the pin up girl, Bettie Paige, has died, aged 85.
Current Mood: sadsad

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25th of November, 2008


03:48 pm - Christmas meme
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Paper

2. Real tree or Artificial?
Real if possible, though I still own an artificial one

3. When do you put up the tree?
Nothing goes up before December 4th. There shall be no Christmas before birthday.

4. When do you take the tree down?
I usually wait the traditional 12 days.

5. Do you like eggnog?
This is where I make comments about bears in woods

6. Favourite gift received as a child?
I remember when I was given one of the Shogun Warrior robot toys. I still have it :-)

7. Hardest person to buy for?
Dad

8. Easiest person to buy for?
Ellyn

9. Do you have a nativity scene?
No

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
I am full of good intentions (among being just full of it) but I haven't sent out Christmas cards for a few years. Maybe this year is time to change.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Old fashioned alarm clock from a work Kris Kringle. Still I got $15 for it on eBay :-)

12. Favourite Christmas Movie?
Die Hard

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
I'm usually a last minute shopper. I have in past years braved the 3am Chadstone consumer frenzy.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Very rarely

15. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas?
Plum pudding with brandy butter. Mmmmmmmm.

16. Lights on the tree?
Yes. If I could afford a working set of vintage lights with the bulbs in various shapes like santas or grapes or snow houses, I'd get them. Mainly for childhood reminisces.

17. Favourite xmas song?
Carol of the Bells. Being in a minor key it has that odd quality which goes nicely against the Christmas saccharin.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Visit Mum's. Though it's not like she's in another state or anything.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
Yep.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
Russian glass spire

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Christmas morning. Well usually lunchtime-ish, there not being anyone here to open them with.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
Seeing the Xmas decorations go up in fricken September. And the forests of junkmail.

23. Favourite ornament theme or colour?
I do love the green and red. As for ornaments I'm very fond of glass ornaments.

24. Favourite memory of Christmas?
I miss being able to go to Grandma's and swim in the pool on Christmas Day. I still have a vivid memory of sneaking into the lounge room very late one night (or early one morning). I must have been about 7 or so. The Christmas tree lights were still on, it was dark outside and the pillow cases had been filled. It was torture to have to go back to bed and wait for sunrise.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
Plane ticket to Canada?
Current Mood: nostalgicnostalgic
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02:33 pm - RIAA may finally face someone bigger than them
There's a variety of opinions on the ethics of music file sharing. Some are in Teh Intarwebz should B free category. Others are in the "user pays" block. I'm more inclined to go with the free-sample-and-if-I-like-it-I'll-buy-it-group. From my understanding a musician makes more money from concerts and merchandise (t-shirts and things) than actual album sales. I'm aware that this differs depending on the genre but as a generalisation I believe it's fair.

But the over-arching bodies like ARIA and RIAA in the US use tactics that are high on the bully boy scale. ARIA has managed to get Music Industry Piracy Investigations some sort of pseudo police status in having it rather than the police carry out warrants and seizures.

In the US RIAA is noted for suing those who are easy targets; like grandmothers or 12 year old kids. There was a lot of curiosity as to why RIAA left the known file sharers of Harvard University alone. Seems the University's outspoken professors of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society might have something to do with it.

Professor Charles Nesson of the Centre decided he'd waited long enough for RIAA to come knocking on Harvard's Door and went out to see if he could find a case to become involved in. He has.

He makes the argument that the Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999 is very much unconstitutional, in that its hefty fines for copyright infringement (misleadingly called "theft" in the title of the bill) show that the bill is effectively a criminal statute, yet for a civil crime. That's because it really focuses on punitive damages, rather than making private parties whole again. Even worse, it puts the act of enforcing the criminal statute in the hands of a private body (the RIAA) who uses it for profit motive in being able to get hefty fines:
Imagine a statute which, in the name of deterrence, provides for a $750 fine for each mile-per-hour that a driver exceeds the speed limit, with the fine escalating to $150,000 per mile over the limit if the driver knew he or she was speeding. Imagine that the fines are not publicized, and most drivers do not know they exist. Imagine that enforcement of the fines is put in the hands of a private, self-interested police force, that has no political accountability, that can pursue any defendant it chooses at its own whim, that can accept or reject payoffs in exchange for not prosecuting the tickets, and that pockets for itself all payoffs and fines. Imagine that a significant percentage of these fines were never contested, regardless of whether they had merit, because the individuals being fined have limited financial resources and little idea of whether they can prevail in front of an objective judicial body. Looks like there may finally be some interesting viewing going on with copyright laws in the US.

Hat tip to Copyfight.
Current Mood: curiouscurious

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20th of November, 2008


06:35 pm - Steampunk props
Having not done any actual costuming for close to two years now I think I've decided to dust off the accoutrements and make something for Continuum next year.

I'm contemplating a quasi-military soldier.

Partly inspired by this:


this:


And thchap to the right of this photo:


My own physique is probably not the most suitable for a military person (or at least not one of the 19th century) but I could possibly tend something toward the Professor Challenger idea.

Still combining ideas.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

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