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A Mortal’s Guide to Glimmerdark

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glimmerdark

Gather, mortal children, and I will tell you of Glimmerdark, the faerie revel which, like all things fae, is filled with great wonder and beauty, but is dangerous to those who aren’t careful.  Listen closely.  If you heed these words, you just might make it out alive.

The revel takes place in Princeton, NJ, in the Hyatt Regency hotel, in the dead of winter.  Fae (and mortals) from all over the region gather at the hotel filling it with song and dance and food and mead.  The halls and common rooms fill with peddlers selling all manner of wondrous goods.

The most important thing to remember when dealing with the fae is not to take anything for free and not to enter into any bargains unless you are absolutely sure of the terms, lest you find yourself in their debt.  This is why you must not enter the hotel floor without a festival pass.  Nothing in fairie is free, not even lilting notes of music or the graceful sweep of a dancer’s hand caught out of the corner of your eye.  Your pass is your payment for these things, and your permission to enter.  If you attempt to enter the faeries’ temporary realm without permission, you may find yourself spending a year in faerieland for each night you stole.

The second thing you must do is assume that everyone you meet is fae.  Some will have obvious markers, like horns and hooves and pointed ears, but many will look just like you.  Do not be fooled.  There will be other mortals at the festival, surely, but fae glamour is strong and wiley, and most have centuries to perfect their human disguises.  The gap below the pointed ear, the band you see holding the antlers to the head, may just be illusions: clever, efficient little glamours designed to give the appearance of humanity with minimal effort.  Be careful, and don’t let down your guard.  Treat everyone as you would one of the sidhe: be courteous and respectful and don’t take anything for free.  Fae wizards have turned mortals into fish for decades for annoying them, so it’s best to take precautions.  Even the hotel staff could be fairies in disguise, so tip generously if you don’t want everything you eat to taste like toenails for seven years.

Pack carefully, so you don’t need to barter with the fairies for items you’ve forgotten.  Arrive by Friday evening.  Check in to your room and claim your badges.  There will be a table with pens and blank spaces on the badges, on which for you to supposedly write your name.  Do not do so: this is a trap.  Write a false name, a book character or gamer tag, or leave the card blank.  Revealing your true name to fairies gives them power over you and makes it easier for them to ensnare you with their contracts.  Do not give it out unless it is absolutely necessary.

When you are settled in your room, afix your false name-tag about your neck and descend to the lobby floor.  Walk under the cloud of mirrored diamonds suspended from the ceiling, past the pools of koi fish that may or may not have once been human, and make your way to the hotel bar.  There, you will find delectable food and ale and sweet honey mead.  These things aren’t free but, like much of Glimmerdark, they are worth the price.

When you’ve eaten and drunk your fill, wander the festival, seeking out the music and dancers tucked into the Hyatt Regency’s halls and conference rooms.  Browse the vendors, but be wary of trying anything on.  Clothes and jewels of faerie make are exquisite; if you try them on you may have difficulty taking them off again, and if you can’t take them off you will find yourself indebted to the peddlar.  I made the mistake of trying on a jeweled circlet topped with pheasant feathers. If you are willing to pay the price, you can make off with all sorts of beautiful artifacts.

Children are welcome at Glmmerdark and would no doubt be delighted by the sights and sounds.  Bring your children if you wish, but keep them within sight.  Nothing tempts the fae folk more than human children to steal.  To be safe, disguise your little ones as fae creatures to make them less tempting targets.

As with any festival, it is important to stay hydrated.  The wait-staff may offer you water with your meals, claiming it’s free.  Nothing in Faerie ever is, and, for the weekend, the Hyatt Regency Princeton is part of Faerie.  Be sure to offer something in return: a short song or poem or a bit of prestidigitation to delight your server.  You can avoid this entirely by bringing your own water or joining the ‘Endless Tea Party,’ which gives you access to unlimited hot tea.  This may seem too good for its price, but be reassured: the tea is mediocre and the water a bit too hot.  Fortunately, these things hardly matter at a festival in the depths of winter.  Besides, you can always supplement your tea with something from the cash bar.

If you are reading this, you must be fond of games.  You have this in common with the fae.  There is a game room off one of the corridors.  The walls are lined with games and models.  There are tubs and racks of shining dice.  And, of course, there are tables on which to play the games.  Play them with your companions, or with strangers if you dare, but wager at your own risk.

You may see signs for a ‘batfrog habitat.’  This is billed as an art installation but is, in fact, a portal to a tiny pocket of faerieland.  If chosen to enter the portal, make sure your companions know where you have gone.  Once on the other side, breathe in the sights and sounds, let them wash over and through you, but always remember who you are and where you come from.  Consider tying a rope around your waist before you enter so that your companions may pull you back, in case you do not return on your own.

A few words about fae hospitality: they take it very seriously.  As long as you are a guest of Glimmerdark or the Hyatt Regency, no harm will befall you and you may not harm your hosts or another guest.  Doing so will result in expulsion from the festival…or worse.  Bringing steel weapons to the festival is considered a breach of hospitality; it is well known that fae kind are vulnerable to iron.  The rules of hospitality protect you to a degree, but not completely.  The terms of fae bargains supercede hospitality, and, furthermore, faeries can have creative definitions of what constitutes ‘harm’ (the koi in the pond, for example, are perfectly healthy).

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Soliyra at Glimmerdark 2017

Finally, the highlight of Glimmerdark, the fairie circus, is not to be missed.  This is not because missing it will cause you to be cursed in any way.  It is simply a very, very good show.  There are acrobats, dancers, and even a singer.  Just try not to react when the dances poke fun at foolish mortals.  And, since the circus goes above and beyond the rest of the festival, make sure to tip the performers.

If you follow all these rules, you will return home at the end of the festival tired but happy.  Your wallet may be thinner but you will still have your freedom, your human shape, and your first born child.  A fair bargain indeed.

(Soliyra is a mortal human who enjoys normal, human activities while not writing.  She has never even contemplated stealing a human baby. 

Glimmerdark is a Faerie convention held in Princeton, NJ every February.)

Real Women of Gaming’s Nerdy Summer Activities

rwog nerdy activities summer

Summer is a great time to get stuff done, don’t you think? For those in school, you have summer break. For those whose school days are behind them, summer translates to outdoor barbecues and vacations to the beach.

For the Real Women of Gaming staff, summer means nerdy activities (just like the rest of the year). Read about them here!

“Since I am missing out on, what feels like, every convention ever, I am hoping to at least make the Ren Fair this year with Lily. There was a time in which I wouldn’t be caught dead not attending and now I find myself missing it too often. I adore it so and even have my own garb. They are amazing.” ~Crymson Pleasure~

“I don’t know that I do anything specific during summer months that I don’t do during other seasons. But, currently living in LA, I can say that it’s certainly easier to lay on the beach and read horror books to my heart’s content in summer. Other than that, it’s just video games and writing as per usual.” -Vanri the Rogue

“I, too, seem to be missing out on all the cons. I am also really looking forward to Renaissance Fairs. I love dressing up in my garb and just having a lot of fun for a day.
I also look forward to a Harry Potter program that I run every year for kids at the library I work at. Every year we have a new theme and it is one of the last programs we have for the Summer Reading Club. It is a bit stressful since, as the Gryffindor on staff, I keep trying to make it bigger every year. It is always worth it during the program when the kids are having so much fun!” -Thia the Bard

“Streaming is my summer activity. Working on my bot, schedule and networking. Other then that will be chilling with the family.” -KinkedNitemare-

“Already did Comic con, and a friend invited me to go to Gencon with him this year. Still deciding on that one, though it is soooo tempting.” -Fluffy the Necromancer

“Conventions. We have a local gaming convention I hit last weekend called Fog Con. This Saturday is ACE which is an artist and comic expo, and in August we have GenCon which is going to be incredible this year.” -Trever

“Otakon, and possibly Faerieworlds if finances line up. I…need to actually start working on costumes XD” -LaLuneVide

“My family and I had planned on attending the 2016 Cherry Springs Star Party, but had to cancel. Cherry Springs State park has virtually no light pollution due to its location. As such, during a new moon it is a prime stargazing spot. We may make another attempt during the next new moon.” -MaxUrso

“Nothing really until DragonCon to close out the summer on Labor Day Weekend. For financial and scheduling reasons we had to severely limit our convention schedule, but DragonCon is too amazing to miss so we’re making that our one big con for the year.” ~Rinshi

What’s your favorite summer nerdy activity? Let us know in the comments below!

Anti Bullying with Frags and Beer

VivianJames

Vivian James

With convention season in full swing, and our own visit to C2E2 coming up in a few weeks, I want to talk a little bit about bullying and harassment at conventions.  These events attract a lot of people.  In 2014, C2E2 alone boasted about 63,000 attendees.  It’s only natural that a few bad eggs will show up in a batch that large.  Just this year at MagFest, a cosplayer was harassed for dressing as Vivian James, a sort of mascot for The Fine Young Capitalists as well as the online consumer revolt against corrupt gaming journalists.  This is just the most recent case of problems at conventions around the world.  Taking this in perspective, conventions receive a great deal of scrutiny because they are supposed to be a place where people gather to share interests, fun, hobbies, and build a network.  In reality, it is like a small city descending on an area, sometimes no bigger than a city block, policed by staff who really aren’t police.  I’ve been going to conventions for years now, and despite the size, scope, and all the horror stories, they tend to be relatively safe, but that doesn’t mean we should take the atmosphere of a convention for granted.
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Catching up with Cosplayer Nation’s Joshua Adams

cosplayernationCrymson Pleasure: Great! Thanks for agreeing to chat with me. I’ve only done a few interviews, so we will get through this together. I’ve been following you and Cosplayer Nation for some time now and I can’t tell you how impressed I am with everything you’ve accomplished. So I’d love to know how Cosplayer Nation got started?

Joshua Adams: Well it all started in late October 2010. I just saw a Uke Li mockumentary called Transcended 4 and asked him if she would come on to my show to be interviewed on cyberstationusa.com. After that, over a bowl of clam chowder at Legal Sea Foods, I asked him if he would be interested in doing a documentary about cosplay. That was in November of 2010. We started filming December 10, 2010 at an ice skating event known as Cosplay Ice Skate in downtown Boston. That’s how it started. Now we’ve been at over 30 cons with plenty of footage of many different cosplayers from Maine to Seattle to Hawaii to Puerto Rico, all across the United States.

Crymson Pleasure: That’s incredible. I adore the documentary. I feel it’s not only an amazing change to take a positive look at cosplayers, but it shows off the true art form that cosplay is and all of the hard work you’ve put into it. What was your inspiration for the documentary?

Joshua Adams: It was because my mother had passed away from pancreatic cancer in April of 2010. She wasn’t a very clear woman and used to take me and my sister on trips to see many different places. My father would go, too, but both the day trips during the summer time we couldn’t go because of work. There’s an outgoing woman, so I wanted to do something for her memory as well as educate cosplayers and non-cosplayers about the history of the culture. It’s still and always will be a fascinating subject and we needed a documentary for it. There are always new of documentaries about the history of comic books and superheroes, but there was never any about cosplay until we started. Afterwards, I found out that there were three other people doing the same thing we were doing. But I wanted to show people all the hard work that we were putting into our documentary. So I let people see the interviews that we did.

Crymson Pleasure: I’m so sorry for your loss. It is truly amazing what our family can inspire us to do. What got you interested in cosplay?

Joshua Adams: All the time and effort that these people were putting into making these costumes. My father is an artist, so I grew up around art sculpture other things like that.

Crymson Pleasure: Have you ever cosplayed?

Joshua Adams: Yes, I’m dressed up as The Dude from The Big Lebowski. I put my own spin on The Dude. I grew my hair long and put on a Hawaiian shirt and flip flops with shorts, so it’s a Hawaiian version of The Dude. I grew up my mustache and had The Dude’s goatee.

Crymson Pleasure: I still have yet to watch that movie. I have to put it on my list. I have several friends very disappointed in me over that.

What do you think is the most pressing need of the cosplay community?

Joshua Adams: Well, that’s a hard question to truly have just one answer to. There are a lot of things that cosplayers and non cosplayer have to agree on. But for me it is trying to understand each other’s outlook on life

Crymson Pleasure: Do you see any trends growing in the cosplay community?

Joshua Adams: That also is a hard question to answer as well. It all depends on what people are watching or playing at the time

Crymson Pleasure: Fair point. I had no idea about Attack on Titan until I walked into Otakon and there were a ton of AoT Cosplayers.

Are there ever things that shouldn’t be cosplayed?

Joshua Adams: Not that I can think of. Just remember some cosplay can offend people. But as long as you enjoy it. I mean, just don’t dress up as a Nazi and walk around the Holocaust Museum. I believe in using common sense.

Crymson Pleasure:That has to be my favorite response ever.

How do you feel about current attitudes in the cosplay community toward gender, body type, or race affecting a person’s costume?

Joshua Adams: I really can’t say. As long as the costume fits you, not the other way around, or it motivates you to improve yourself. But you’ve got to remember this: just be yourself and have fun.

Crymson Pleasure: What are your opinions on Cosplay is Not Consent? Have you ever experienced harassment or bullying while filming or at a convention?

Joshua Adams: Not at all. All the cosplayers and non cosplayers that we have interviewed have always been polite and courteous to us.

Crymson Pleasure: So what is the next step for your documentary? Where will you be showing next?

Joshua Adams: Well, we’re trying to get into more cons to show it and film festivals. We’re going to Long Island Comic Con on June 13th through June 14th. Shown at Boston Comic Con and Shoot City Filmfest, as well as being in the Geeky Awards.

Crymson Pleasure: Will you be showing at Otakon this year?

Joshua Adams: I can’t answer that question right now.

Crymson Pleasure: Well let me know if you do because I’d love the chance to meet you face to face.

Do you have any comments or advice for our fans?

Joshua Adams: Just keep on doing what you love to do and never quit, no matter how hard it is.

Crymson Pleasure: Beautiful advice. Lastly, anything you want to throw out there?

Joshua Adams: Go to our like page on Facebook and like us as well as our Youtube page.

Crymson Pleasure: Awesome, Joshua! Thank you so much for hanging out with me tonight and if there is anything we can ever do to help, just let me know!

Joshua Adams: No problem and we will. You have a good night.