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Zenkaikon 2018: An Asexual Walks into a Burlesque Show…

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As a person who identifies as asexual, I had never really put a lot of thought into ever going to a burlesque act. I knew that burlesque is an art form, but I was still a bit uncomfortable with the sexual aspects of it, particularly the people who might be sitting around me.

Growing up ace and not knowing what I was, I have always felt like I was…off. Like everyone else understood something that I did not. Almost like when people are telling a joke that you just don’t get but every other person around you thinks it’s hysterical. That joke just keeps being told around you, over and over again, so you just start laughing, too, even though you don’t find it funny.

That’s how I’ve felt about anything sexual. Everyone else was in on this amazing joke that I just couldn’t find interesting, let alone funny, no matter how hard I tried. And I have tried. I’ve had relationships in the past and have tried to be like everyone else. One of those ended very badly for me.

I have tried to talk like everyone else, joining my friends in conversations while pretending that I felt what they felt. I remember having conversations with my mom about my relationships and her asking me why I wasn’t being more sexual so long as I was “safe” about it. I didn’t know how to tell her, or others, that I really didn’t want to.

I didn’t hear the term “asexual” in reference to a person until I was in my late twenties. I saw it. I researched it. I had my “AHA!” moment. I then felt such relief. While I do not believe that a person needs to label themselves, it was wonderful to find out there were more people like me; people who had never gotten the joke either.

So, when we were trying to decide panels and my friends were most assuredly going to Cosplay Burlesque, I was torn. I have sexualization thrown at me everywhere. The television I watch, the ads, the music I listen to, the way other people react to what I wear. I didn’t want to go to yet another thing where I failed to understand why everyone else was having fun.

Thankfully, we went to the Cosplay Burlesque booth prior to the panel. Crymson, who had interviewed the cast last year,  introduced Vanri and myself to them. Oliver Swisskey walked over to give hugs and talk to us. The moment he found out about my sexuality and that I was thinking of perhaps going to a different panel, he began to talk to me. Oliver assured me that it was totally cool with him if I went to a different panel and then also told me about his act, what his music was, and the story he was going to tell.

 me dddI started to get excited. I had never thought about focusing on the technical aspects of the show: how they made their costumes; the music they choose and how it would further the story within the act. So, I made the decision to go with my friends that night.

I am so glad that I did. It was honestly beautiful. There was so much thought put into every aspect of each performance. The lighting was always different. The costumes were amazing. It also helped that everything was, well, nerdy. That made me feel very included when a performance was one of my fandoms.

There was a lot of humor in every act. I sat there, happily clapping and dissecting the sheer amount of work that went into everything. They also have a diverse cast full of body positivism!

I am so glad that my first burlesque show was Cosplay Burlesque. The cast is so hard working and friendly. I was also lucky enough to be there for our interview with them. They are truly some awesome nerds. They were very warm and funny during and after the interview. Oliver was also so nice to me every time he saw me at con after talking to him that first night.

In short, this asexual walked into a burlesque show… and walked out a fan. I went to the right show, with the right cast, at the right place, with the right friends. I went out of my comfort zone and gained a new appreciation for an art form.  

If you have the opportunity to see Cosplay Burlesque go see them! You will have a wonderful time.

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Always keep sparkling!

 

Zenkaikon 2018: Bullying in Fandom Panel

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The Knights of Fandom are a Tumblr-based group that fights bullying in fandom groups online. It was started by Lady Norbert, who found that a lot of her Tumblr community was experiencing bullying. Naturally, she got mad about it and decided to do something about it.

I discovered The Knights of Fandom at Zenkaikon 2018. They gave a panel on Bullying in Fandom that I just had to attend, given our own work in anti-bullying. The panel outlined what cyberbullying looks like in fandom groups, the difference between bullying and constructive criticism, and what we as fandom members can do to prevent bullying, stop bullying, and show support to the person being bullied.

It was a short panel, but full of insightful information. Lady Norbert was funny and entertaining, touching and knowledgeable. She wanted nothing more than to unite the various fandoms of Tumblr against bullying. Her tips included:

  • Spread kindness. Reach out to those who are bullied and show them love.
  • If you’re going to criticize, make sure it’s constructive and not destructive.
  • Defend others, speak up – stick together!
  • Remove yourself from toxic online situations.
  • Make friends with other members in your fandom, especially those who are bullied.

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You can find the Knights of Fandom valiantly protecting the Tumblr fandoms here. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Zenkaikon 2018: Empathy

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I had the absolute pleasure of attending Zenkaikon 2018 this year. I will gush about all the fun that was had for hours. However, I want to talk about a very specific moment.

As press, I go there to work. I love going to conventions, but I love them more when I’m working them. I love watching other people have fun, asking guests questions and talking to people. It fills me with absolute delight.

So, as I prepared to interview one of the many amazing guests at Zenkaikon, the unthinkable happened. I was bumped into and our camcorder went flying from my hand. Even the guest attempted to dive for it as it hit the carpet and broke. The flood of emotions that filled me in those seconds is hard to describe. I picked it up and my heart sank, there was nothing I could do, it was broken and the whole weekend of interviews was flying out of my hands.

A couple of things happened all at once. As I breathed through the desire to cry and seeming apathy of the person who bumped me, I heard a couple of voices.

__yhqNo5_400x400Mae & Kyle of Fandom Spotlight jumped up and offered to record it using their camera.

I could have cried. I used their mic (a mic I was NOT used to using, so here is hoping all went well) because it had their name on it and I wanted everyone to know who these amazing people are. They even offered to sync it up and send it to me.

We couldn’t ask to make better friends at a convention. I honestly didn’t expect so much help, but they offered more, even taking the time to give us tips on things we can do differently, things we can do better as beginners. Kyle said that something similar happened to him at another convention: he dropped his camera and it broke. Another press stepped up and helped him out. A little bit of pay-it-forward but mostly, “Hey I’ve been there and it sucks.”

I’m sure you are wondering about the camcorder. Anthony, a member of the Zenkaikon staff in the press department asked to look at the camcorder while we were interviewing. I had already asked if they wouldn’t mind being amazing and allowing us to use their equipment for the rest of the day since we were in all the same interviews; however, during my interview Anthony was able to fix the camcorder. In about 10 minutes, he put everything back together.

We did lose some footage and we are attributing it to the camcorder dropping but Kyle, Mae and Anthony are our superheroes, MVPs, angels for the day. Not only did they save my sanity and our interviews but they also rolled out with that empathy, that desire to help so quickly. I was stunned. I was stunned and my heart was full.

Thank you friends for being so amazing and helping us in our time of need.

Zenkaikon 2018: An Overview

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My mind is still a buzz from our weekend at Zenkaikon, a convention I will never get tired of talking about, that I absolutely adore, and that I look forward to every year.

This is only my second year at Zenkaikon and it did not disappoint.

I want to point out something extremely important: whilst the panels, guests, vendors, anime, games, etc are all of the utmost importance for a convention, there are two things I look forward to the most:

  1. The Staff
  2. Lancaster, PA

Of all the conventions I have been to, the staff here has never been rude to me or anyone else that I’ve seen. I also walk through those doors with an understanding that these people are not getting paid, they are volunteering. They are doing this for the love of it, for the fun, for the Zenkaikon community. They are trying to tame a convention of people. Every different type of person under the sun and, honestly, I think it would be easier to tame a rave of drunk squirrels then to keep a convention under control.

IMG_2845I also don’t mistake urgency for rudeness. I’ve seen them get loud. I’ve seen hurry people. I’ve seen them say ‘no’ more times than I can count. I’ve never seen them get angry. They have to be loud so you can actually hear them over the general convention noise. They have to hurry you along because you are one of over 5,000 people they have to make sure is safe. I love the Zenkaikon staff.

Lancaster, PA, is also AMAZING. Having grown up in the area, I knew Lancaster for two things: the Amish and the farms. I had no idea there was an actual downtown area until we drove into it last year. Now, thanks to an amazing Zenkaikon guide (MrEvilena1), not only was I able to figure out the convention and have so many questions answered, but he also pointed out delicious food. Granted, this year was a bit crazy, but the food never disappoints. It just get’s better and Vanri is so excited to tell you all about it.

On top of all of that,  I got to meet The Triforce Quartet, Sarah Wiedenheft, Jessica Calvello, Quinton Flynn, Jad SaxtonJonathan Maberry, Corgi Cosplay and the always wonderful Cosplay Burlesque. Of course, every year I am terrified of the guests and every year I realize that they are just a bunch of people. They’re mostly just nerds who love talking to people and being at cons. That makes my heart soar.

If you’ve never been to Zenkaikon, I urge you to go. You don’t know what you’re missing!

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Inuyasha: An Anime Review

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Inuyasha is an anime that ran from 2000 to 2004. That means that it was airing perfectly in time with my tenure in High School. It was also a magical time where Cartoon Network ran anime everyday after school. Inuyasha helped cement my lifelong love of anime.

When highschool student Kagome accidentally falls down the ancient well that sits on her family’s shrine she is transported back in time to a parallel timeline in feudal Japan. Kagome stumbles upon a figure trapped to a tree by an arrow. When she frees him it seems like a terrible mistake. It is the half-demon Inuyasha who was trapped to prevent him from stealing a powerful jewel. Through a series of crazy events Inuyasha and Kagome find themselves bound and on a mission to find shards of the jewel.

This mission will lead them both on a series of dangerous adventures. During which they will encounter other demons and threats. Together they have to fight off the forces of evil. They collect allies as well as shards along the way. However both Kagome and Inuyasha have other problems though. Kagome keeps returning home to try to balance her new mission with her school life. Inuyasha has to face his own demons so that he can protect Kagome long enough to get his hands on the jewel.

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Inuyasha is a slightly older anime but the art is still lovely. I particularly love the different colors used to differentiate between scenes set in feudal and modern Japan. The soundtrack also does a wonderful job of adding to the story. Whether it be humorous or ominous the score is so well written. I love the characters and all the work that has gone into their designs. They are all so layered and complex. The relationship between Kagome and Inuyasha is one of my favorites in anime.

 

One thing about Inuyasha that I am very grateful for is how the lore of ancient Japan is mixed with rest of the story. That is to say that by splitting the settings of the story Inuyasha is able to create a world were demons exist. This was the first way that I learned about some of my dearest myths to this day.

I would most certainly recommend Inuyasha. It’s blend of humor myth and darker themes make it a wonderful anime for anyone to watch but particularly someone new to anime.

Always keep sparkling!

 

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: An Anime Review

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You honestly just cannot beat Mobile Suit: Gundam Wing. It is anime with a great Manga to continue the story. Mobile Suit: Gundam Wing has it all: character development, complex plotlines and characters, political intrigue, cool war machines. Best of all is that is the cool war machines are piloted by teenagers who are struggling to do what they think is right in a universe full of corruption.

The characters, particularly the five pilots, are some of my favorite anime characters. They are five teenagers from different colonies. They come from various families. Some are orphans. Some have grown up wealthy while the others haven’t. None of them know each other before the series begins. All of the pilots do have one thing in common: they have been chosen and trained to take down the corrupt organization that is oppressing the peoples of space.

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The rest of the cast of characters, of which there are many for a one season show, are also fairly amazing. The villains are complex albeit more than slightly odd at times. They further the storyline with many twists. The pilots also have allies in unexpected places. One of whom is Relena Dorlan.

I am going to take a few seconds to highlight Relena. She is the first character the audience really gets to know. Gundam Wing is seen through her eyes in turn with the pilots. Relena is also a teenager living a privileged life on Earth when the series starts. Without giving too much away, I can tell you that her journey is amazing through the show.

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She is the “everyman” character that shows us the world of Gundam Wing. Relena is yet another female character that gets a lot of flack for being young, kind and sticking to her principals. I have always liked Relena. I think some of the problem viewers have with her, particularly the English speaking ones, is that something of her gets lost in translation. People want her to be perfect but not so annoying as well as many other contradictions. In reality, she is just a kid trying to make the best of the insane situation the war has put her in, just like the Gundam pilots. 

Gundam Wing is beautiful to watch. The settings of both Earth and Space are well animated. The soundtrack is one more that was part of the soundtrack of my teen years while Gundam Wing ran on reruns. I know it is an older anime but a lot of the themes are more then prevalent for today’s audience. There is also a sequel in the form of a movie called Endless Waltz. If you like your anime full of intrigue and science fiction, then this is for you.

Always keep sparkling!

Kon or Die Trying

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No RWOG adventure seems to go off smoothly, and Zenkaikon was no exception. Don’t get me wrong, we actually started off on time, which itself should have been an indication that things would not go well.

The parking structure attached to the hotel was full, so we grabbed a spot on the street and paid the fee at the parking kiosk. Press were offered parking vouchers, so we were not concerned. As we circled the block, we saw other people with Crayola colored hair and we new were heading in the right direction.

Entering the air-conditioned Vine street entrance was a much needed relief. I don’t do heat. Stepping up to pre-registration we found out that Vanri and Thia were still on the list as Crymson’s press associates, but it was no problem for them to switch in Aiks and myself. First obstacle conquered.

It was here we also learned that the people with the vouchers would be back later, and that vouchers did not cover street parking. “Sorry…” I quickly asked Aiks to look into finding a parking structure that would get us reimbursed, but Crymson had already marched off into the crowd.

As we stood to the side of the crowd to test our equipment, we found the shotgun microphone for our camera was dead. Thus began, after much frustration, the quest for a mic that worked. Back into the heat of early afternoon Lancaster we went. As we left the area we spotted an open parking structure and all of us made a mental note to come back to that one.

Best Buy was our first stop. A helpful associate riding a mobility device with a Nintendo flag lead us to an empty display peg. Unfortunately, they were sold out. Cursing her luck, Crymson thanked the clerk for her help and we rushed out to the car to try another location.

Wal-Mart. My hopes were not high, and as we left empty handed again, I took in the sight our regal leader: red dress, black corset, blue hair, and gold crown festooned with gems. Crymson was a people-of-Wal-mart. I suppressed a chuckle as Aiks drove us to one last store.

Radio Shack is going out of business, and with most everything still in stock bearing an 80% off sticker…we were desperate. Sadly no shotgun mics were to be had. Dejected, we headed back to the convention.

Our fearless leader swallowed her frustration and mustered on, working with what we had. The interview with Ellen McClain and her spouse John Patrick Lowrie was incredible, and did boost the morale of our trio. Crymson was ecstatic and took to the tasks ahead of us with a renewed vigor.

Zenkaikon had begun.