GenCon ’15 and the end of an era

Hi all! It’s time for a major update and hopefully a return (beginning) to blogging more regularly.

First, I submitted my dissertation for final approval on Friday, and yesterday morning I received my “This person has completed all the requirements for the PhD” certificate, so I am OFFICIALLY DONE! Yaaaaaaaaaaaay! I won’t get the actual diploma till at least December and probably more like Jan-Feb (although my Masters should be coming sometime this fall), but until then the certificate is hanging on the fridge. πŸ˜€

Backtrack to the first weekend of August, when I submitted my finished dissertation to my committee from Bee Coffee Roasters in downtown Indianapolis, right in the middle of GenCon. Cue almost instant panic–what if I forgot something? What if they hate it and rip it apart? What if etc. etc. etc.

A month-ish later I had my defense, and fortunately they did not hate it. I was, however, attacked by a kamikaze bumblebee on the way in, and since I haven’t been stung by a bee in about 20 years… you guessed it: cue instant panic. What if I die?? What if I go into anaphylactic shock and have to go to the hospital and miss my defense? Fortunately neither of those things happened, but I did defend barefoot because my shoe strap sat exactly overtop the bee sting and the two bandaids I put on it. So…. yeah. Dissertation defenses. Good times.

Anyhow, back to GenCon! Other than mild dissertation-submission panic it was great! I pretty much spent all my time at the Writer’s Symposium, where I was lucky enough to meet Scott Lynch and Michael J. Sullivan, two authors I’ve been reading recently. You may recall me gushing about reading Sullivan’s Riyria Revelations in a previous post, so I was especially excited to meet him.

Cosplay-wise it was a very Star Wars-y weekend. I’ve almost finished my “generic Jedi” for the Rebel Legion and it was done enough to wear (just needs props on the belt), so I did Jocasta twice, generic Jedi, and then an obscure Sunday cosplay:


Anyone recognize me? 16 people at GenCon did, which was 15 more than I expected. πŸ˜€ I’m really happy with how the helmet came out given all the straight lines I had to do and my ongoing inability to spraypaint things properly. It shouldn’t be that hard, right? You spray it on, it dries, you do a happy dance, repeat. AND YET!

My friend Karmada debuted her Halo armor as Agent Texas from Red vs. Blue. It is super awesome and makes her look big and imposing and all space-marine-y. We managed to get a few photos together but got a bit confused partway through:

“Wait, what do I do with this?”

So good times had by all. I marched in the costume parade with a whole bunch of other SW folks, met a Wookie from Australia, and spilled chicken tikka masala all down the front of Jocasta (but it came out! THANK GOODNESS!). Many tasty Bee Coffee lattes were drunk, many out-of-town friends were visited, and the passive voice was used with reckless abandon.

Next up: staffing Anime World Expos in Chicago!

P.s. If you don’t recognize me, I’m Commander Keen from the 1990s video/computer came of the same name. Still hunting for a lightweight pogo stick.


A wild defense date appears!

Yeaaaah, so I’ve got no excuse for this particular prolonged absence from blogging except that the story I mentioned in the last post now has about 120,000 words. And STILL no plot. It has the beginnings of a plot. It has a problem the characters have to deal with. But still no overarching plot. But never fear, I will get there eventually! And in the meantime I’m writing the heck out of my pair’s backstory. And drawing pictures of them. Etc.


It’s in mid-August, and I’m going to be working like a crazy person until then to get my dissertation into proper shape. Unfortunately, this means no cons until after I turn it in to my committee in July, so ACEN’s out (again! GRAR!), but I’m still hoping to make it to GenCon. A recent defend-ee in my program told me the best thing I could do during that month-long period between turning it in and actually defending is take a vacation, so I say, TO THE FOOD TRUCKS!

In cosplay news, I’m pretty much where I was in January (see above dissertation crazyness), but with a bit more progress on Pikachu and a new Jedi outfit in the works that won’t require 2+ hours of hair and makeup every time I want to wear it! I wore Jocasta to ShutoCon in March and didn’t even bother making myself look old–too much effort! πŸ˜›

Here’s a shot of Pikachu; aside from adding poofs to the shoes, the bottom half is done!

IMG_1901 (533x800)

Shoes could use another layer of paint, too, but I may just leave them. Yesterday I tested paint on a feather for the headdress thing. It worked…all right? Not spectacular, but will work if I can’t come up with anything else. Unfortunately my base feathers are pheasant, so I can’t just dye a white feather yellow.

Built a lightsaber:

Saber (640x347)

$20 of random hardware store parts and for-plastic spray paint later, and that’s what I had! It doesn’t have built-in LED or anything and can’t be attached to a blade, but it works as an on-the-belt prop and makes me look like a proper Jedi. πŸ˜€ And Errant Knight Photography, who took my photo at Shuto, was awesome enough to photoshop me a blade and a snazzy background!


Now I just need to learn to pose properly. πŸ˜› One-handed saber w/two-handed pose, not so much. πŸ˜›

And on that note, I have the afternoon off, so I’m going to make tabards and an obi for Jedi 2.0. Cheers!

That other big project

Aside from Jocasta and (I hope) a Pikachu gijinka for ACEN, I have one other big project I’m working on right now: the dissertation!! (Cue dramatic music!)

Remember that? It’s the thing I generally don’t post about because I figure no one really wants to hear me ramble about smell, although I will happily do so! Anyway, I’m applying for a fellowship for the upcoming academic year and one of the requirements is a dissertation abstract, aka “What is your dissertation about in 150 words or less?” So, for those curious, here is what my dissertation is about in 127 words, title and all!

“Malo quam bene olere nil olere”: Odor in Roman Thought and Literature

This dissertation explores the role of odor in Roman thought and literature from approximately 200 BC to 200 AD. It aims first to understand smell from a specifically Roman perspective, arguing that the Romans considered odor a source of information which could reveal aspects of a person’s identity and character; a potentially polluting force against which there was no defense; and a means of deception employed to conceal flaws and frustrate attempts to determine identity. Secondly, it demonstrates the importance of references to odor in Latin literature beyond the merely aesthetic. It reveals how Roman authors exploited or overturned cultural assumptions about smell in order to create literary, moral, and social effect within their texts.

And now you know. Wish me luck!

P.S. The Latin in the title says, “I’d rather smell like nothing than smell good” and is from Martial’s Epigrams 6.55, where he suspects that someone who smells strongly of perfumes is actually trying to hide something.


I couldn’t remember how long it’d been since I’d posted here, and when I arrived the first thing I saw was “Happy Halloween”, so….that answers that question. Whoops. And so, an update on what I’ve been doing lately!

-I started giving sewing lessons to a professor’s 7-year-old son at the beginning of November. I don’t know what exactly inspired him to want to learn to sew, but he was extremely excited to begin learning, which is awesome. The list of challenges thus far has been topped by “straight lines”, which is understandable given that he sews about a million miles an hour — hey, it’s got a gas pedal, what can I say? We made a pillow case and have moved on to Angry Birds flannel pants, which would have been almost finished during our last lesson had I not been utterly defeated by the pattern pieces and directed him to sew them together backwards…or sideways, or something. In my defense, the last pair of pants I sewed was for Jun back in 2011. On the bright side, teachable moment: seam ripping!

-I’ve got all the fabric for Jocasta and have started working on the skirt. I decided to do it wrap-skirt style, so it’s a 5-yard circle-and-a-half of linen that weighs a ton. However, once it’s hemmed properly it will be all sorts of swirly, and then I can spin in circles and strike cool battle poses. Old lady Jedi librarians still strike cool battle poses, right?

-I survived my semester as a grader for a class I knew very little about: Food in the Ancient World. I was fine with both halves of that title, but it turned out the class started with the various scientific methods archaeologists use to assess remains (phytolith analysis, anyone?) and progressed to neanderthals and early homo sapiens (nice guys, if a bit dull), then on to the Neolithic Revolution (like any other revolution, but with more agriculture and fewer battle cries). And here I am, waiting for all those ancient people to start writing stuff down so I can actually be qualified to be in the room. Bring on the Greek historians!

-I’m applying for a fellowship for next academic year which would allow me to work solely on my dissertation rather than having to teach as well. Which would be AWESOME. Prayers, please!

-Last and best, I got a serger for Christmas!!!


Here he is next to Gandalf the White, my faithful sewing machine. I’m trying to come up with a name that plays on ‘Brother’, the serger brand, but all I’ve got so far is “Little Brother”, the dog from Mulan. Alternately, of course: Big Brother. I could put some of those googly eyes on it and see if anyone got the joke. My mom suggested Sergei, which would be pretty hilarious, too. So we’ll see. Suggestions?

Meanwhile, I serged Jocasta’s skirt after going out and buying $14 worth of black serger thread. Takeaway lesson: shop the sales.


And now it’s off to a dentist appointment where the hygienist will undoubtedly ask me, as she always does, whether I have a boyfriend yet or not. Perhaps I’ll tell her, yes, his name is Sergei.