Friday, August 22, 2014

Field Report: #DWWorldTour New York City Premiere & Fan Event

Last Thursday was the Doctor Who Series 8 US premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City. As part of the Doctor Who World Tour (#DWWorldTour), tickets for the event were ridiculously difficult to come by, especially given that the theater only holds around 1100 people. Fans from all around the country were willing to fly in to see the event, so when the website appeared to sell out in under six minutes, I resigned myself to the perfectly acceptable alternative of watching it on TV, curled up on the sofa. However, thanks to a friend's combined good and bad luck, a ticket freed up and I found myself suddenly able to attend!

According to the Doctor Who on BBC America Twitter, even with tickets, fans had been lining up since nearly 1am.

Dedicated Whovian though I may be, I realized that such a long wait would probably kill me. I decided to take my chances in going after work and waiting the far more sensible (?) four hours.

"Is this how time normally passes? Really slowly. And in the right order?"

Unsurprisingly, by the time I got there, a lengthy queue had formed, winding next to the red carpet (which was actually TARDIS blue for obvious reasons). There was also a second line for fans hoping for leftover tickets.

The Fandom That Waited found plenty of ways to amuse itself. At one point, the front of the line collectively and spontaneously started to tap out the Master's four-beat rhythm from The Sound of Drums, raising eyebrows and momentary concern from event security. A few fans took to doing chalk drawings and scrawling "Bad Wolf" along the pavement:

Cosplay was also a great source of entertainment and conversation while waiting. I saw a fantastic Idris and weeping angel (sadly, neither of which I was able to get a photo of) and an enthusiastic teen in the 6th Doctor's outfit who kept walking up and down the line, talking to everyone. He was quite the presence and even made it onto the BBC America event gallery. He and I chatted for a few minutes, comparing notes on our coats (I was decked out in my Series 7 11th Doctor outfit with the purple frock coat) and he offered to show me how to access the "secret sounds" on my sonic screwdriver.

Event staff also kept the crowd enthused, interviewing people on the line for various promo segments, prompting screaming waves of "wooo!" (or, perhaps, "Who!") and throwing/handing out little giveaways like tour wristbands and (later) autographed postcards. 

A Cyberman patrolled the line, stopping to confuse nearby traffic, take pictures while strangling fans, and charge at obnoxious press. 

After several fake-outs by passing limousines, a vintage yellow cab pulled up to the carpet. My place near the end of the line put me, incredibly, in a perfect spot to see Steven Moffat, Peter Capaldi, and Jenna Coleman as they approached the venue.

The woman next to me shouted so loudly that Capaldi came by and took a selfie with her. It took a long time for the trio to make their way into the theater, especially as Capaldi came bounding back down the carpet a second time to wave at the fans who had amassed across the street. 

The crowd slowly found their seats in the theater. A friend texted me to say that she was following the event online and was excited to hear that Neil Gaiman was in attendance. As I responded that I hadn't seen him and wasn't really expecting to, someone pointed out that he was actually sitting across the aisle! I may have bothered him for a picture... He was immensely gracious and generous, patiently waiting as I tried to figure out my camera, and made sure the picture came out clearly.

And then the episode played.

Naturally, everyone who attended the event was given explicit instructions not to tweet, blog, text, post, or generally spoil anything in the episode, under threat of Cyberman deletion.


So, until the episode airs tomorrow, as River Song would say, "Spoilers!"

What I can say in advance is that the new title sequence is exciting and gorgeous, and that the title of the episode, "Deep Breath," is very appropriate on a number of levels. Capaldi's Doctor is certainly darker as promised, but also far funnier than expected. He very much puts the audience and Clara on edge. We also get to see some new sides to Clara. The tone and pace of the show feels entirely different from past years, but (in both good and less-good ways) Moffat's fingerprints are still clearly visible. This episode is sure to draw out lots of strong and varied feelings and opinions. I look forward to seeing where the show goes from here.

After the screening, Chris Hardwick hosted a Q&A with Capaldi, Coleman, and Moffat.

The content of the Q&A has been covered on a number of sites including the Nerdist and The Mary Sue. A video of highlights from the Q&A is also available from the official site.

Perhaps most striking in the Q&A was just how excited Capaldi is to be the Doctor. He spoke extensively about selecting his costume, talked about pushing the show on his daughter, and joked about his enthusiasm to have been part of it at all in The Fires of Pompeii, quoting his agent, "maybe you should read [the script] first, to be a bit professional?" He shared in the audience's collective cringe when his character in Fires, Caecilius, was misidentified as Julius Caesar. His appreciation for the show was clearly apparent and was very much appreciated by the audience in turn.

After such a hugely hyped introduction, it will be very interesting to see how the rest of the series unfolds and how fans respond.



Kidneys? Into Darkness!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Team Stripey Socks Cosplay Compendium

Cosplay snuck up on us. Seeing the amazing work at Cons and on the internet, we somehow made that fateful leap from "that's so cool" to "we should try that." Like everything else, we didn't do it halfway.

Last year's trip to NYC Comic Con featured a different cosplay every day. Here's a rundown of what we've done and what is in the works for the future.



Kae's List

11th Doctor (Doctor Who, Series 5)
It all started with the jacket. While shopping for work clothes, I stumbled upon a blazer that was so perfectly the Doctor's - the tweed, the buttons, the pockets, the elbow patches... I'd never thought about doing cosplay before, but the fit and the price were right and, to quote the Doctor, "my whole brain just went 'what the hell!'"


11th Doctor (Doctor Who, Series 7)
By happy coincidence, the Doctor's new outfit in Series 7 included a gray vest very much like one already hanging in my closet...

Watson (Sherlock)
This was prompted by an appropriately Sherlockian message from Kitty: "I have an awesome terrible idea..." (Perhaps it didn't have quite the same ring as "Come at once if convenient," but it amounted to more or less the same!) We both love Sherlock and it was a ripe opportunity to play off our respective heights - of course I was in! It helped, too, that Watson's sensible wardrobe fit with my personal tastes and offered lots of potential for wear in other contexts.

Jack Harkness (Torchwood)
As I was putting together the 11th Doctor's outfit, I noticed that, coat aside, Jack's was very similar - blue button-down shirt, burgundy suspenders, black pants... Plus, I even had a leather cuff bracelet that looked a lot like a vortex manipulator. Upon hearing that John Barrowman and Gareth David-Lloyd were going to be at NYCC, this just had to happen.

Hogwarts Student, Ravenclaw (Harry Potter)
Harry Potter was one of my earlier fandoms and I'd wanted a set of wizarding robes for forever. I had little interest in dressing as any of the main cast but wanted very much to be part of their world. On the recommendation of a friend who worked at the Harry Potter Exhibition, I was able to do so with the help of a robe and uniform from Whimsic Alley. The hardest part was picking the house!

Kitty's List

9th Doctor (Doctor Who, Series 1)
Once I saw Kae's 11, I knew 9 needed some love. The whole look is pretty close to every day clothes for me, solid-color sweater, dark jeans and boots, and a ponytail. The perfect leather jacket became a bit of a quest, but the result is recognizable, and totally worth it.

Elizabeth Comstock (BioShock: Infinite)
I pretty much played the game because I love the look of it. It turned out I love the play and the story of it too. Most of my sewing last year went into the Elizabeth costume, but the jacket never got made. The BioShock cosplay community is amazing, so I'd love a reason to trot this out again (though I'll have to get my butt in gear to make that jacket...)

Femme!Sherlock (Sherlock)
I wore heels for fifteen hours, walking the show floor for this look. I also spent an hour curling my hair and protecting it from any influence that might uncurl it. The purple shirt was a Goodwill win, as were a pair of shiny black-patent brogues. Thankfully, Kae found me a blue scarf, and the whole thing was a winner. I think I spent the day being meaner ("in character") to Kae than usual. Finally a good reason to snark at everyone who speaks to you. As if I needed one. Obviously.

The Team with The Original Thom a.k.a. The Other Doctor

Hogwarts Student, Gryffindor (Harry Potter)
Kae got a set of robes, so obviously I needed one. Picking a house was impossible. Even Pottermore gave up, and told me to pick for myself. I was soundly on the Hufflepuff/Gryffindor line, and to be fair, I look very poorly in yellow. Thanks to the CyberMonday sale, I have a full uniform, and most of it has been worn to work at one point or another.


Kae's List

Osgood (Doctor Who, Day of the Doctor)
In discussing the 50th Anniversary special, several friends noted that they'd thought of me when Osgood the U.N.I.T. scientist appeared. (Thanks?) I took that as a cue to make sure that my lab coat and inhaler were readily accessible, and I had been looking for a reason to knit a more wearable 4th Doctor scarf...

Arya Stark (Game of Thrones)
Game of Thrones is not a show I ever thought I'd do a costume from, especially given how rarely the women are fully clothed. However, Arya is easily one of my favorite characters in the series and one I've felt I could pull off reasonably well - she's dressed, she's short, and we even have similar hair! The sword and training armor only sweeten the prospect.

Jayne Cobb (Firefly)
Possibly the least probable choice of costume for me ever. This is all because of the cunning hat.

Kitty's List

Delsin Rowe (InFamous: Second Son)
I love the series. I couldn't pull off either of the females in the first two games (Kuo would have been okay, but much like Sherlock last year, it would have begged the "Cosplay or Office worker" question). I seriously considered Fetch, but I can't live with a wig, and pink highlights are as far as I'll go. 
I like Delsin's look, loved his character, and I knew I could recreate it. When I got the collector's edition of the game, complete with beanie and pins, I knew it was game on.

Belle (Disney's Beauty and the Beast)
After seeing a few Hipster Ariels and good Snow Whites, I have been kicking this idea around for a few years. I like Belle, she's smart, loves books, and always knew Gaston's only true love was himself.
Sew a blue dress and an apron, carry a basket with a book... how hard can it be? (I'll tell you the answer when I'm crying and sewing at 3am in October...)

Femme!Booker DeWitt (BioShock: Infinite)
I loved the BioShock community last year when I showed up as Elizabeth. I was tempted to do it again, but the too-big corset from last year still made for a giant question mark. I didn't want to buy another white corset, and I haven't played Burial at Sea yet.
The internet got me thinking about doing a female Booker costume, so did this Ask Lutece post
I found a nice pair of slacks as Goodwill, and most of the costume could be off-the-rack. We'll see how this goes. Burial at Sea is coming up, so this might be backburnered for BaS Elizabeth. Who knows.


Kae's List

Cecil Palmer (Welcome to Night Vale)
I'd heard a lot of buzz about Night Vale leading up to NYCC but became even more intrigued when I saw the cosplayers wandering around. It continues to fascinate me that the fandom of a radio series has seemingly come to a collective agreement as to what the main character looks like, even though he's never actually described! I fell in love with the show and with Cecil, and already have a vest and microphone available...

Vanellope Von Schweetz (Wreck-it Ralph)
While it's not a top priority in choosing my costumes, I enjoy when I find a character whose body type vaguely corresponds with mine. Vanellope is a pretty easy fit: she's little, slightly pudgy, and has a black ponytail. Even better, her sugar-fueled personality offers a perfect character-appropriate outlet for all the energy I have when we go to Cons.

Hobbit (The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings)
A recurring comment in my house while watching the shire scenes in The Hobbit is that hobbit clothes look really comfy. Costume-wise, comfy is a huge selling point. And being hobbit-sized anyway, this was inevitable.

Kitty's List

Brienne of Tarth (Game of Thrones)
All the talking we've been doing about Kae's Ayra costume and all of my friends diving deeply into Season 4 of GoT got me thinking. Brienne is pretty much my favorite character, making the costume would allow me my first chance at making body armor, and it's a great way to play up my size/not worry about needing to be pretty.
The more I think on it, the more fun it is, but this one is going to take some time.

Gandalf (The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings)
Do I really want to be Gandalf? No, not really. Do I like missing an opportunity to be a punchline for Kae's jokes? Never! It seems like it'd be good fun, and a pretty decent outfit. 

Burial At Sea Elizabeth (BioShock: Infinite DLC)
I love a retro look. Love it so much I taught myself pincurls and belong to retro-fashion message boards. A chance to combine that styling with BioShock? Yes please. Problem is, it requires a lot of sewing, and a lot of styling, and if it's not done right, it can look a mess. Like a Brienne costume, this one just can't be rushed.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

On Doctors and Dissertations

Ways that writing a dissertation is like knitting a Tom Baker scarf:

- It usually starts out of a misguided sense of enthusiasm.

- You really have no idea just how huge a project it is until you start...and then it can be staggeringly overwhelming.

- There are so, so, SO many parts.

- The process of putting it together takes forever and can often be incredibly tedious (not to mention shockingly expensive).

- You get a lot of blank stares when you try to explain what you're doing.

- You spend a lot of time hoping no one will notice all the little mistakes that happened midway which would be too problematic and incredibly involved to go back and fix.

- You wind up with an overly long and mostly impractical final product that no one but you and a select few will ever care about.

...and, of course, there's something about pretending to be a Doctor.