Featured

How The Lion King(2019) Helped Me When I Was Grieving

If you’ve been following me on social media you probably know my family recently experienced two deaths, that of my grandmother, the matriarch of our family, and her sister. Because of how close the deaths were, July ended up being a month where I attended a funeral or remembrance ceremony three consecutive weekends.

The third weekend, the weekend of July 20th, was also the release of the live action version of the Disney classic The Lion King. To be honest I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about the remake. I’ve never had a connection to a live action animal movie before and I was doubtful that was going to change. But Disney means a lot to me and my family so two of my cousins and I decided to buy tickets.

But this is not a movie review.

I could sit here and gush over the nostalgic songs, the beautiful visuals or the casting that just felt so right (Timon and Pumbaa…so damn good). But this movie meant a lot more to me.

Context: My grandma’s “Celebration of life” ceremony was Saturday July 21st. The morning after seeing this movie I was going to have to dress in black for the third weekend in a row and sit among flowers and photos of the woman who had partially raised me. People were going to be crying. I was going to be crying.

But for two hours…for two whole hours…for the only two hours since the first week of July, all I had to do was watch a screen. The insistent voice in my head chanting “My grandma’s dead” was drowned out by the soundtrack I knew by heart. Disney means something deeper.

I teared up in the first three minutes of the film. And I’m willing to bet most Disney fans did. The Lion King happens to have one of the most impactful film openings ever, and the collective gasps as the African sun rose on screen told me I wasn’t alone in my awe.

It’s probably been a solid 5-10 years since I’ve watched The Lion King in all its entirety. I’ve listened to the soundtrack, of course, but I mean actually sitting down to watch it. Somehow this experience was vastly different than when I was a child, but in a good way.

“It’s the circle of life.”

The theme of the movie has always been the same. But as someone freshly grieving this message hit me particularly hard. But what hit me harder was the message of hope beyond the grave.

I think it’s easy to feel some level of guilt when someone passes away. If only you had made one more visit, or phone call or somehow known the exact day and time of their death so you could hold their hand, so they would know they weren’t alone. There are a lot of if only’s.

When we’re handling grief, it can feel like closure to cut ourselves off emotionally. We might not run away in a physical sense, but it sounds so nice to step away emotionally.

Hakuna Matata.

I heard a podcast recently that said feeling grief in its entirety is important because when you close yourself off to one set of emotions it numbs you from other ones as well. It might seem like a solution to put as much distance between you and your grief as possible, but that also inhibits you from being able to love fully and to fully experience joy.

Snap.

Unsurprisingly, one of the most impactful moments of The Lion King is (still) when Rafiki takes Simba to the water’s edge.

‘I’m not the one who is confused, you’re the one who doesn’t even know who you are.’

Death feels like separation. In a way, the worst part of having someone you love die is the feeling that you will never know them again. But take another look, Rafiki challenges. Because they live in and through you in ways more powerful than you can imagine.

And although the only film shortcoming I could think of was not having the Broadway song “He lives in you” in the main storyline (it pops up in the credits), the message was loud and clear throughout the narrative.

I needed the reminder.

And perhaps that is the true power of this story. Perhaps we could all use the reminder, in an age where numbing ourselves seems second nature, that our true power lies in our connectivity. Thank you to the cast, crew and director for the reminder of hope.

I was a little unsure when I heard one of my favorite stories was being remade but it came in the perfect way, at the perfect time. Sometimes change is good. And as Rafiki reminds us, “Any story worth telling, is worth telling twice.”

Featured

Why Long Shot Is Pretty Damn On Target

We gambled. We had no idea what this movie was, and hadn’t seen any trailers or reviews…but by the end of it we agreed, with tears in our eyes, that it was one of the best movies of 2019.

I’ve always been a fan of Seth Rogan movies. It’s a fact that often surprises guys since apparently they’re “dude movies” that I’m not supposed to enjoy. But I was largely raised by my older brother and I think besides that fact that they’re just hilarious I’ve probably inherited my crude/rude sense of humor from him. Also just stop with the “girls should like this kind of movie” thing.

Anyway, it was Saturday night and we’d decided to go see a movie (which in today’s world takes reorganizing our budget, IRA accounts and 401K because of prices). Our options were pretty slim other than Detective Pikachu and Aladdin, both of which are getting sautéd by reviewers (I think one of the New York Times reviews for Aladdin bluntly stated “This is not what you wished for”. Harsh.). So we decided to gamble a bit on the Seth Rogan + Charlize Theron flick Long Shot.

Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) and Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) in FLARSKY.

No spoilers, but the movie starts off with Rogan hanging out with a bunch of white supremacists so we were a little unsure we’d made the right decision. But after a moment of realizing that shock factor is one of the spices Rogan cooks with on a regular basis, we decided to continue sitting in our chairs, even though our teeth were clenched a little more than is dentist approved.

But let me tell you…we’re happy we did.

There are so many things about this movie that make it wonderful, it’s hard to put them all into a post that doesn’t spoil the whole thing for readers (who I’m assuming haven’t seen the movie yet…if you have, please leave a comment and we can talk about the glory that it is. If you haven’t…don’t read the comments).

The premise of the movie is this:

Long Shot
 is a 2019 American romantic comedy film directed by Jonathan Levine and written by Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah. The plot follows a journalist (Seth Rogen) who reunites with his former babysitter (Charlize Theron), now the United States Secretary of State.

Actually now that I’m reading that synopsis…I’m kind of glad I didn’t know anything about this movie because that sounds so sappy. The good news is the writers work with this story beautifully and the character development that happens over the course of 125 minutes is refreshing. Especially after whole season of mediocre writing by the show that shall not be named (*cough* Game of Thrones *cough*).

I honestly think I forgot how satisfying good writing could be before seeing Long Shot. Not because I’ve never seen a well written movie, but because it’s just been so long since one has checked all the boxes for me. Because something magical happens when characters are given human emotions, motivations and have real consequences to their actions.

I felt that Long Shot brilliantly portrays the natural tug-o-war of being a woman in a successful (and in this case powerful) career, while being a person who wants to connect with that inner child we’re so often forced to forget. On the flip side Rogan does an amazing job or portraying a character who faces his own insecurities and flaws while realizing that sometimes being open minded is more powerful than being right.

200221_1337422.jpg.1500x1161_q95_crop-smart_upscale

I would honestly argue that this is one of the first times I’ve seen a romantic comedy work so well at developing both love interests while engaging the viewer in the storytelling. Not to mention having two leads that actually have amazing chemistry. There wasn’t any part of this movie when I felt bored or like the scene had been left just to fill screen time. And I think that’s a testament to writing in itself. Sometimes the most powerful writing is that which has been edited well.

In short, go to this movie and support it in theaters because while big box names are “killing records” and “smashing expectations of sales” we all need to remember why going to the movies is magical in the first place. It’s about more than special effects and billion dollar budgets. It’s about connecting with the soul of humanity and reminding us that we can be a little bit better, dream a little bit harder and fall in love with a little less inhibition.

Image result for long shot 2019

Featured

How I made Daenerys Targaryen’s coat for only $30

The crazy started the moment I decided to replicate a fur coat with a bath robe.

I’ve been known to thrift shop more than a few times a month and this month was no different. While I was on one of my weekly trips I stumbled across a bath robe and got struck with inspiration. A cosplay shoot had just been announced and the theme had already struck my heart: Winter is Coming. The shoot was going to be shot in the snow and I immediately knew the direction I would want to go for the shoot. The only problem? I had absolutely nothing from Game of Thrones to wear.

So I put on my big girl thinker hat and thought about how I could make something bad ass from Season 7 of Game of Thrones. It was a bit of a tie between Cersei and Daenerys to be perfectly honest. I only cosplay bad asses and those are the two characters I relate with the most in the show (yeah, yeah, don’t judge me for liking Cersei). Ultimately it was Daenerys’s winter coat that really struck me in the heart. The coat is something made for the gods and I knew I absolutely had to make it…or as close to it as I could get on a beer budget.

Champagne taste in cosplay is never a good thing when you’re struggling to buy cat food.

Anyway, when I saw the robe on the racks of Value Village I knew I had to turn it into something sumptuous. Something amazing. Something that was nothing like a robe. And thus, my project began:

Step 1: Interface the shit out of this thing

img_9763

Interface makes things stiff and can usually find in the collar and cuffs of shirts. Since my robe fabric was made to drape and I needed more structure (a LOT more structure) I grabbed some fusible fleece (fusible meaning iron-on) and started piecing it on the parts of the jacket I wanted to hold structure.

Step 2: Plan out the back of the coat

img_9766

One of the coolest parts of this jacket is the back, which is a completely different fabric and feel than the rest of the jacket. Knowing that the robe fabric wasn’t going to cut it, I went ahead and purchased an extra large coat that had the same animal feel. Then I killed it and pieced it together on the back. Brilliant.

Step 3: Kill a jacket to make the back look bad ass

Next up I cut up some $5 faux fur (white) that I had also found at Value Village (and which I had washed because it seriously smelled so bad when I got it). I was on a time crunch so this part of the back is actually hot glued down, rather than being sewn. I definitely plan on going back in and sewing it down in the future.

Step 4: Use a scarf to make the front look legit…and some faux fur

For the front of the jacket I took a knitted ribbed scarf and sewed it down so that there would be a piled texture to that part of the jacket. I also took the rest of the white fur and added in a side panel on the left side of the jacket which isn’t part of the original design…but I just like fur and wanted more on the jacket. Sue me.

Step 5: Paint lines until the wee hours of the morning

What then ensued happened at 11pm at night so there aren’t any pics, but the jacket was hand painted/markered to have the well known black and brown marks you can see in the original jacket. This whole process took 2-3 hours and was f-u-n (not really). I also sewed in grey panels to the sleeves which you can’t see in most of the pictures but were true to the original design so I wanted to make sure to add them. I also added a low cost wig because obviously I don’t have natural Targaryen hair, which you can find HERE. The chain was a necklace I found for three dollars at a thrift store as well, which I loved because the little gems are Targaryen red.

Step 6: Experience the glory of seeing your creation come to life

And THIS was the end result. For only having two weeks to make it (and under $50) I’m extremely happy with how it turned out. Sure I could sit and make a list of improvements I still want to make, but for now you can just call me the Mother of Dragons.

img_9988

Want to support more awesome cosplay projects? Check out my Patreon page!

All photo credit goes to Meghan Rush-Jones Photography 

Featured

Check out my NEW Patreon!

Oh my word I’m terrified and excited as I’m launching this but it’s up and it’s HAPPENING! My Patreon is currently launched and I can’t wait to share with you guys all of the amazing that will be happening over the 2019 year (and beyond). Cosplaying has never been just about me. It’s about bringing representation to characters and concepts that might otherwise not be seen in competitions and in the nerd world. It’s the same reason my handle has the word “our” in it. This is about US. Thank you for being a part of this community!

To support or just to see the awesome stuff you could be getting, click here: https://www.patreon.com/ourshieldmaiden/overview

What do I do? I am a cosplayer + writing addict from Seattle who curates buckets of geeky knowledge while building original cosplay designs based off of books, movies, and shows!

What happens with the money? The money I make from my Patreon goes ENTIRELY to funding my creative projects including cosplay materials, photo shoots, and boring business expenses (but hey, you gotta have em, right?). You will NOT be funding things like my rent or cat subscription boxes. You can support and unsubscribe at any time, and you can also pledge support without taking any of the perks, if you just want to help out. 🙂

What’s my cat’s name? Oh! And you’ll probably get to meet my cat Freya. She helps me out sometimes. Last week she ate super glue. She’s a very adventurous cat who may be showing off some of her own cosplay very soon, as well.

Patreon is such a fun way you can support my art as it grows to bigger and better cosplay. I’m also always open for cosplay suggestions, so if you have someone you think would be fun to see, don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know.

THANK YOU!
Featured

Where To Get Geek Chic Looks You Can W-O-R-K

If you could wear anything to work, what would it be? This is the question that has haunted nerds for generations. Although, if we’re honest, I can probably guess what you said: something comfortable, something that reflected your unique personality and something fun…or at least something you liked.

Me too.

Nobody wants to be walking around in clothes that clearly make them uncomfortable in whatever way. The good news is that the fashion industry is starting to notice, and we’re finally getting clothing that can be worn on a day to day basis that speaks to our individual nerdom. Great, right?

I’ve seen this movement pop up in a lot of different places but it wasn’t really until last weekend when I was part of a geeky fashion show that I realized how privileged I am to live in a city where these resources exist. Here’s a list of some of my favorite nerd brands so you can enjoy the sprouting geek chic industry as well.

Elhoffer Designs

img_7529

One of the first things you’ll notice about these designs is the hang. Lovingly nicknamed the “sisterhood of the traveling dress”, these dresses somehow look good on pretty much every body type. They’re also just incredibly beautiful.

My Fav: Queen of Dragons dress (which I’m wearing above)
Shop: https://elhofferdesign.com/ 

Svaha Apparel

Image result for svaha apparel

From constellations to molecules, Svaha is a beautiful compilation of clothing and accessories that speak to your inner nerd. I’m also super proud of this brand since they are Washington local!

My favs: The dresses!
Shop: https://svahausa.com/

Bombsheller leggings

Image result for bombsheller leggings

Another Seattle native, Bombsheller leggings are honestly the coolest thing I’ve seen on the runway for day to day wear. I’m definitely a leggings girl, and I love that these prints are bold and brilliant without sacrificing any ounce of quality.

Favorite: #Osmia leggings
Shop: https://shop.bombsheller.com/

Blackmilk

Image result for blackmilk hogwarts

This site should come with a warning because it’s straight-up nerd heaven. I pretty much want everything they carry, and that’s saying a lot since I’m a pretty picky shopper. But when you know, you just know.

Favorite: Everything Slytherin
Shop: https://blackmilkclothing.com/

The Quirk Shop

Image result for the nerdy black girl you dissed in high school

This is a line I was just introduced to when I went to Geek Girl Con and I’m absolutely in love. With everything from unicorns to Black Girl Magic, it’s a true nod to the girl geek and everything that comes with it.

Favorite: Unicorn Club crewneck
Shop: https://www.thequirkshop.com/

Castle Corsetry

I own more corsets than I probably should, but that still doesn’t keep me from looking at more. I’m a strong believer that every woman should own a couple that just make her feel like a total badass, and Castle corsetry is a great place to start if you’re nerdy. Oh, and they do custom designs!

Favorite: Custom
Shop: https://www.castlecorsetry.com/

 

Violet Phoenix Designs

Image result for Violet phoenix designs

Let’s hear it for the small businesses! This shop is not as large as the rest, but I still think the products are absolutely gorgeous, so I had to share. There are some accessories here…but what I absolutely adore are the aprons.

Favorite: 14th Doctor pinafore apron
Shop: https://www.violetphoenixdesigns.com/

The Colorful Geek

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing
I was really happy to find a shop that’s keeping up with what’s fresh and new in geek fashion and I definitely bought a few pieces from this shop just based off of the fact they existed.

Favorite: Dinosaur eats man camo hoodie
Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/colorfulgeekiness

What are your favorite nerdy places to shop? Share in the messages below!

Featured

Norsemen is ridiculous. Here’s why you should be watching:

How much can you laugh in 30 min? Because the cult-classique-esque Norsemen will have you smiling like an idiot while losing count. With a brilliantly written script, all Norwegian cast, and some of the best puns in Scandinavia this show is pretty much guaranteed to have you completely confused by how much you love it.

One of my favorite shows on TV is Vikings, and I was so pleasantly surprised to find Norsemen on Netflix while I waited for Nov 28th. I definitely have a darker sense of humor with a love of puns and clever writing (cue Galavant) so this show was such a brilliant surprise. If you’re a fan of Vikings you might will notice there are some pretty blatant similarities *cough* *cough*…

Image result for norsemen froya, vikings lagerthaImage result for norsemen froya, vikings lagertha

But after the first season the show really starts to prove that it can stand on its own. Perhaps the best part of this show are the memorable characters that are just brilliantly written. From the slave that chooses to stay enslaved to the diva villian Jarl Varg, you really can’t dispute the brilliance of this show. Unless you just don’t have a sense of humor.

MV5BZGM2YmY4ZTktMzE4My00ZWU0LWFhZTYtZTY0OTVkMjVjNzc4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjUxODA1OTg@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,888_AL_

Norsemen is set in Viking era Norway and tells the story of the people of Norheim who are ultimately just trying to survive their day-to-day with the usual issues of invasions, cultural upheaval, lack of theater, and some serious problems with leadership. All of this is served up with a healthy smathering of hilarious plots and completely ridiculous scenarios. Not to mention too real dialogue.

MV5BNzQ5Y2NhZTYtN2UyOS00NTVkLWEyMTQtYjMwZGQ2ZGRhYjczXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjQxMjI3MjI@._V1_

One of my favorite parts of this show is how attached you get to the characters. As I said, I really had no idea what this show was when I turned it on, but once I started watching I couldn’t stop. Right now there are two seasons on Netflix USA and I cannot wait for the next one *fingers crossed*.

MV5BNzRjMDUyMzktZGUwNS00MWU5LTg1OTQtMjcxZmQyYzY5NzU4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjQxMjI3MjI@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,895_AL_

In a world where there are more TV shows than any healthy human can feasibly watch, this show is a breath of fresh air with its honesty and simplicity. It’s a parody done right and a comedic masterpiece.

So next time you *bum-bum* into Netflix don’t spend three hours picking what you want to watch. Watch a show that will have you happily walking away from the TV thinking, “What the hell did I just watch?”

MV5BNmY0MGNiZjMtN2RkYy00MWUzLWE1MGItYmU0MDNhMzY0ZTBmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTI5NjYwNDQ@._V1_SY1000_SX1000_AL_

The Making Of A Cuddle Team Leader: PAX 2018

Procrastination is my Kryptonite and I don’t know that I’ll ever grow out of waiting until the last minute to do things. This year’s PAX cosplay was no exception with me getting the idea exactly five days before PAX. Yes, five. Since I’m a strong believer in not spending a whole lot on cosplaying (but still looking like a BAMF), I decided to test my paper mache skills and make a skin from one of the most popular games in the world. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

Yes, that’s right. I hopped on the Fortnite bandwagon. And if you haven’t heard of Fortnite…what are you even doing on this blog. Really? Despite Fortnite not being the game I play the most (even close) I’m absolutely in love with this skin because who doesn’t want to be a cute bear? And who doesn’t want to be wear all pink? And who doesn’t want to wear SPARKLES!? Okay, so I added the sparkles. Sue me.

img_5098-1

The actual construction process was five days total and included a trip to a craft store, thrift store, and me making a giant stink of a mess on my kitchen table. The great thing about paper mache, though, is that it’s pretty much free. I already had the water, flour and paints at home, and I paper mached over some foam forms for the eyes. I also bought some fuzzy fabric to cover the base…because PINK. Here are some pics from my initial process:

As you can see the whole thing looked very glamorous in the beginning. Honestly I had no idea if it was going to turn out to be a monster, but I pressed on and I was actually super happy with the end result.

While I was waiting for the paper mache to dry I also took some time to make a matching dress. To be honest, I originally thought I would just make the head and walk around with it, because like I said I came up with the whole idea five days before it was go-time. But like I said, you can’t sit and watch flour and water dry so I hopped to a thrift shop and found this glorious pink dress…in a size XL. I am not an XL. I had to do a little sewing to fix up the dress to actually fit and then of course I put the heart on the chest. In the end, I’m pretty happy with how the look came out: helmet, dress, boots (which I already owned haha) and socks. What do you think?

img_5107

Unboxing my ROG Asus Strix GT503 ❤️

I was so excited to get my gaming laptop and then life got in the way…so it’s been sitting in my bedroom in a box for a week. It was so worth the wait. I’m pretty pumped to get this baby up and running!

Geek’s Guide to Seattle during PAX West

So you’ve bought your passes, packed your suitcase, and you’re ready for PAX West! But while you’re in Seattle, what else are you gonna do?

One of the largest U.S. gaming events, PAX West is something you’ve probably looked forward to for months…if not years. Personally I’m pretty pumped for the event and I’m a Seattle native. I can’t imagine how much excitement there would be if you’re riding, flying, or driving into town for this event. The good is that the wait is almost over! And even better, you’re coming to one of the nerdiest cities this country has to offer. Even beyond PAX West there’s a whole ton to do here while in between events, or if you just want to get away from the crowds for a bit. Here are some of my favorites!

MoPop Museum

Right now the Marvel exhibit is being shown at the Museum of Pop Culture and it is absolutely to die for. Not only does it feature first edition comics and original costumes from all of your favorite Marvel movies, but it’s more extensive than you might think. Another feature of the MoPop is their Indie video games lab and sci-fi/fantasy exhibits. I’m actually a member of this museum I go so often. It really is the best.

Add-a-Ball Arcade

This gem can be found a block away from the Lenin statue and across the street from Theo Chocolate (which gives chocolate factory tours FYI). The spot is jam-packed with arcade games, pinball machines and all kinds of nerd goodness. It is a bar, so this is not a kid friendly establishment, but if you’re looking for one of those you can try out Full Tilt in Ballard.

Pink Gorilla

This retro game spot has drained quite a bit of my savings on their rad retro games and gaming systems. They have just about everything you could wish for with retro gaming and even some newer games/gaming systems. Word on the street is that they might have a booth at PAX West but, just in case, you can find them in the University District.

Pinball Museum

Still looking for some fun? Check out the Pinball Museum on on the south side of downtown with the Pinball Museum! With systems dating back to 1934, the Pinball museum is a great way to keep the nerdom alive in between events.

Archie McPhee

This is a joke…shop. This store is packed to the brim with practical joke merchandise, and is a fun spot to grab a souvenir more impactful than a magnet. You’ll find this haha spot in Wallingford.

Columbia Tower

While most may point you in the direction of the Space Needle, you can save your dough and get some pretty spectacular (weather permitting) views from the Columbia Tower. Hop in and take the elevator to the 73rd floor for the observation deck! You won’t regret it.

Outsider Comics and Boutique

This little shop is pretty awesome and you’ll find them at a lot of geek events around Seattle. You can find all of your fav comics and game pieces here as well as jewelry, clothing and events.

Food place

Since there a are quite a few food places that you could/should stop by in Seattle I’ve added some great ones here with links to their pages. Pick your poison.

Happy Con, everyone!