Cosplaying Shenanigans

I’ve been shuffling my social media cards a bit recently, which has taken up more time than I anticipated. It will also have a knock-on effect here in the form (eventually) of changes to pages and possibly layouts.

Essentially I have created a separate Facebook page and identity as Tango Mike Cosplay so that my poor family and friends can have a break from all the photos and geekery should they choose.

It also allows me a little distance so that people who may be interested can see the public stuff without being brought into the closer Friends privacy circle. It makes sense in my head.

Now I’ve been at great pains to keep my name associated clearly with my online presence, as much for my own personal accountability and brand, so why the new brand for the cosplay, and why that name?

Tango Mike Cosplay Photograph by Toneagraphy

Tango Mike is of course my initials, keeping the strong link to my name, and the semiotics of a callsign-style identity such as may be used in military, police, or emergency services comms is also deliberate as it ties in to a major project on the cosplay front next year.

I’ve been in conversation with a Halo cosplay group called Fireteam Ascension about creating a cosplay mashup of my gender-bent Harley Quinn with a Spartan Mjolnir suit. The heavy lifting on the design of that still needs to happen, but it will draw on the classic black and red and white livery of the character rather than the cinematic interpretation.

So that should keep me out of trouble

Posted in cosplay, Site News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

And I’m back in the room

The beginning of November is always simultaneously busy and fraught for a number of reasons – but fortunately this year there has been more on the busy side than the latter.

I try these days to make Lady M’s birthday celebrations a bit of an extended occasion – with presents on the days leading up to it and at least one surprise. This year the festivities technically started while we were at MCM London Comiccon, and I took advantage of the shopping while we were there to load up on suitably geeky presents.

We were also both off work for the full week following the event, and so could spend time quietly reconnecting, and just relaxing in each other’s company. We’d heard of post-Con blues before, but had never truly appreciated how exhausting the come down from a weekend of adrenaline can be. Gaming and late morning’s dominated the week until the Friday evening where we picked things up and went to see the Wessex Pistols at our usual pub haunt. It was a great night out, with a Happy Birthday rendition by the band, and a number of drunken and slightly deafened conversations with various band members afterwards to sweep us into the weekend.

And that’s where the surprise came in: Lady M knew we were going to visit the Charleesi – ostensibly to deliver a television to her room now she had sorted out a license – and that we would stay over as I had told her to pack an overnight bag.

What Lady M didn’t know was that I had been colluding with the Charleesi and the former Lady M to engineer a weekend of activities.

Our guest house was across the road from the Charleesi’s halls of residence, so once I’d booked us in we hauled the television over and called her to come down and let us in. We’d got there late morning, partly to meet check-in times at the guest house and so that the Charleesi could evict other students from her floor from the night before.

We wandered in, admired the way Charleesi had set her room up, and then the former Lady M appeared from the bathroom and nearly made Lady M jump out of the window in surprise.

Our itinerary was full – so with giggling and shuffling onto local buses we dragged the Birthday Girl in to Oxford for lunch, and then to a walking tour that covered history and filming locations alike (such as the tree under which a certain Malfoy was transformed into a ferret). Cream tea followed, and then on to a huge fireworks and bonfire display.

Lady M thought we were stopping then, but the Charleesi had other ideas, and so we went through a number of back alleys, guided by mobile phones to an undecorated side door in an unlit building. Lady M was prompted to pressed to ring the bell.

A voice from the speaker challenged her to tell her what had many keys but opened no locks. After a moment’s fluster she answered: a piano, and we were admitted to The Mad Hatter – an Alice in Wonderland-themed speakeasy that was also running a 1920s evening for fireworks night.

We had a great evening. Gin was served in teapots, and other inventive cocktails followed later, including alcoholic milkshakes and blue cheese martinis. We staggered off happily back to the halls after that, with the two Lady Ms having a loudly giggly time as we made our way back.

Oh, and to finish the evening in true student style, the Charleesi and I got some pizzas in while we played card games.

The morning saw us take in the Oxford University Botanical Gardens and explore the new Westfield shopping centre before grabbing some food from the Lebanese grill.

So that was our quiet week off – no wonder it’s taken me a while to get the energy back to start functioning again!

Posted in birthday, celebrations, family | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Favourite Costume

One of the questions I’ve been asked by a couple of people since the weekend has been about which of the costumes I wore was my favourite.

MCM Comiccon was a long weekend that seems to have both passed in a blur and to have been never-ending. On a quick count on fingers it worked out as being a five day extravaganza if you count travel: we travelled up after work on Thursday and meandered home in a daze on Monday.

Of the three costumes – Karnak, the deatheater, and the gender-bent Harley Quinn – I had the most fun with the unmasked ones.

Karnak was great for martial arts styled photos, and especially in using my Body Balance experience to strike yoga positions. The problem is that the character tends to be quite serious, so my tendency to grin for the camera didn’t always jive with the look. The green greasepaint design was fun though, and I soon learned that I was the only Inhumans cosplayer at the event – much to the delight of one photographer.

The Harley costume therefore fit my sense of silliness and fun – and also gave me more license to mess about with people. I was the only male Harley who wasn’t cross-playing, choosing my own interpretation instead – and the impression I got was that most of those trying cross-play were aiming for sultry expressions rather than bright and fun.

As a consequence I had more fun, and more poses requested with people with the Harley costume than any of the others – so that one gets my fond nod for having been my favourite.

It was simple, didn’t involve a lot of preparation – and no greasepaint to rub off on anyone (sorry Tom), or worry about smudges. I’ll be revisiting the mask as it rode up every time I smiled, and possibly reworking the baseball bat, though the smaller size did make it easier to transport and stick in bags when not in use.

The deatheater? Well I learned that thick masks are intimidating and too hot for extended use, and while it was a fun concept, it just didn’t quite work for me. Lessons learned, and all that.

Harley will definitely return.

Posted in cosplay | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

MCM Comiccon

We’re back now from MCM London Comiccon, and aside from the exhaustion of being in our feet for most of the last 96 hours or so we’re still buzzing.

The last few times we’ve been there, we didn’t really know many people; so on our single day excursions we tended to run around like mad things.

There are usually four main areas covering merchandise, films, computer games, and comics – and a lively cosplay community. As our introduction to MCM came through Lady P, we’ve usually gone in costume but never really felt a huge part of the community.

This year we got Priority Weekend Passes so we didn’t feel the need to rush. More importantly, we’d been engaging online with a number of groups on social media who we knew would be arranging meets during the weekend.

The UK Cosplay Community group, Squad UK, and Marvel and DC United all looked positive and proved fun and engaging. Lady M led the charge, and as we got nearer to the day, I joined them.

They each had mass photoshoots arranged for each day, which was the initial draw. Then, as if we weren’t already going to be busy, Lady M started booking individual sessions with photographers to give us a more structured day. I have to admit that I did grumble that it was starting to feel more like a working weekend than a holiday.

We posted elements of our designs and pictures of the costumes as works in progress, and as we got to know people we felt more comfortable anticipating the weekend.

We were not disappointed. We soon ran into names and faces we recognised, and were very pleasantly surprised to find that the people behind the Facebook identities were even warmer and more supportive in person.

Cosplayers and photographers alike actively sought out Lady M under her persona as Mothermafiacosplay – based on those prototypes – and the boost to both our confidence just can’t be understated. Big grins were soon fixed on our faces.

Even better, we very quickly realised that no one was doing characters or interpretations of characters quite like us. Lady M’s roster included an elegant Victorian Poison Ivy, Baby Groot, and Mrs Potts – the animated teapot from Beauty and the Beast. Mine included a dark wizard escaped from Azkaban, a gender-bent Harley Quinn, and the philosopher/martial artist Inhuman known as Karnak.

In between photo shoots, we wandered the exhibits and bought souvenirs, but we kept being drawn back to mingle with this welcoming, positive and supportive group of people who never failed to make us smile – either by words, actions, or just general humour and shenanigans.

Whether general members, or personable group administrators, we were treated like old friends rather than strangers known only online. Each group has a strong anti-bullying ethos, battling poor behaviour and snobbery at every opportunity. It was a large part of what had drawn us to them.

People of all ages, whole families even, were united in having fun and displaying their love of pop culture heroes and villains. No matter how popular or obscure the characters – how complex or simple the costumes and props were – people were admiring each other’s work and passion.

It was, and is, truly inspiring.

The weekend passed in a blur, punctuated with quiet moments back at the Sunborn Hotel – the yacht parked next to the Excel Centre – where we enjoyed convivial gins while younger and more boisterous convention-goers ran riot. Well, relatively boisterous – as far as I know, the police were only called once to The Fox – the local hub of after-hours debauchery.

Even better, the proximity of the yacht meant that we didn’t get overloaded with bags of loot, and so we could stay focused on socialising and playing.

Monday came, and we made our way home. Exhausted, foot-sore, slightly muddle-headed, and above all wanting to get on with preparing for the next one.

That said, I’m really very pleased that we both have this week off to recover.

Posted in cosplay, hobbies, household | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How Lucky Am I?

I suppose we’ve all done it at some point: laid alongside a partner at night, not yet sleepy while they’re dead to the world, and looked at them to just feel a sense of amazement and happiness that they’re there.

I know I have, at least, with each partner at some point – and I think it is equal parts joy, comfort, and sheer disbelief on each occasion – the latter stemming from my own insecurities. And that’s how I know that these moments are universal.

There’s a sermon my father often gives at weddings where he talks about how each of us looks at our partners and thinks they see the worst parts that we know about ourselves in our halves, which is part of why we feel so lucky when someone wants to spend their time with us.

It rings true with everyone there, I’ve seen people of all ages nodding along as he tells us to hold on to that wonder and awe about our partners. And by extension it’s how I know that as much as I can’t believe that I’m lucky enough to fall asleep with Lady M, that when she says the same that it is also true, and coming from the same place.

It is something I treasure, and feel renewed by every time I notice it.

Posted in household, idle musings, poly, relationships | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

MCM Preparations

We’re now in the final week before MCM Comiccon at the Excel Centre. Our hotel was booked some time ago, our costumes are… mostly ready, and we’ve been chatting online with and getting to know people in the UK Cosplay Community so we don’t feel complete numpties while we’re there.

Lady M has been focusing on making costume elements in between crippling migraines, and I’ve assembled and painted a number of props for us both. What, as the saying goes, is the worst that could happen?

We will of course be exercising self care to manage our respective anxieties and conditions – and we’re determined to be as social as we can. So, if you happen to be there and spot Karnak and Baby Groot, a Steampunk Poison Ivy and gender-bent Harley Quinn, or Mrs Potts the teapot and a Deatheater on the run from Azkaban then come on over and say hi!

Be warned: Lady M may giggle a lot – this may in fact be an incentive for some of you.

Posted in cosplay, hobbies, household | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Short Fiction: The Briefing

Larellon looked up when the shadow of the new arrival crossed the threshold of his bivouac. He completed the pass of the whetstone along the edge of his hunting blade before speaking however.

“Rest a while if you please, or pass along if you will. I am Larellon of the Windsigh Rovers.”

“Hi!” Came the cheery response. The Moon Elf sighed and put his tools down.

“Good morning Cathedrin, what are you after?” Larellon disguised his irritation with the Summer Elf and reached for a bottle of spirits in the open pack beside him.

“Morning Larellon! I’m off to see Blind Betty up in the caves; I’m already late and the heavies she sent said she was threatening to cut bits of me off if I didn’t go right now, so I was wandering along and got distracted by a tentacle beast in the pond out the back of that old log shaped like a crocodile – and fun though that was for a while I did think I’d rather not lose anything I might miss later -”

“Do you ever breathe, Cathedrin?” He interrupted her characteristic babbling. Like many of her type, Cathedrin was flighty in mind, mannerism, and concentration. Some found it endearing, at least until she’d relieved them of their wallet, possessions, or will to live.

“Hmm? Oh yes.” She grinned. “Anyway I was just wondering – I’ve never met her before, and I know you’re through here on patrol quite often, which -” she stopped as Larellon raised an eyebrow. “Right, yes, anyway – what’s she like?”

Larellon considered the question a moment and chose his words carefully.

“She’s okay, for a human, not someone who likes being kept waiting, probably not someone you want to annoy.”

“Oh, okay! Thanks then! See you in a bit, though don’t think I haven’t seen that bottle of – no, okay, on the way back then, my that’s a shiny knife!”

Larellon refrained from rolling his eyes, and instead went back to preparing his blades for use. His own briefing with Blind Betty had been productive.

After some time, he heard the whisper-scuffle of Cathedrin’s hurried return.

“I thought you said she was human!”

“She is.”

“No she isn’t, she’s got at least six arms and I think she had fangs! She threw a knife at me!”

“Hmm. I thought she was human. She’s not an elf anyway. Did she give you a job?”

“Yes! And you knew about it already! I’m to come with you and steal something called a Star Tear. She threatened to cut my ear tips off!”

“Well she did ask for you a year ago. So, are you ready? I’ve got your bag ready, and some spare candy.”

“Yay! This is going to be the best!”

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, short story | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment