20 Years of Cosplay Trends at Dragon Con

A graph showing the popularity of costuming groups at Dragon Con from 1997 to 2017

While writing my post What Happened to Klingon Cosplay? I went off on a bit of a tangent on the rise and fall of various cosplay groups as seen at Dragon Con. I decided that this attempt at recording our collective nerd history was so interesting that it deserved its own post.

Star Trek peaked in the 80s and 90s and had entered into its decline by the early 2000s, with Star Wars easily shouldering past to take the lead by the time the new films began to hit. The Lord of the Rings trilogy gave quite a chase and was wildly (wildly) popular, but the much younger Harry Potter series blew past them both to Continue reading 20 Years of Cosplay Trends at Dragon Con

Be Careful Using LED Replacement Lights in Enclosed Fixtures

1960s-era lightbulb enclosure

I’ve recently been helping my parents embrace the joy of replacing their beloved incandescent bulbs with LED equivalents. My biggest ally in this campaign has been the summer weather, as highs in the Southeastern United States have been consistently pushing above 90ºF (32ºC) for the past two months and show no signs of letting up any time soon. In an older, less well-insulated home it’s important to use every trick available to keep room temperatures low, and LEDs run so much cooler than incandescent lights that you can actually reach out and Continue reading Be Careful Using LED Replacement Lights in Enclosed Fixtures

Sarah was all of us

sarahjones

Dolly grip Tripp Pair has been handing out little stickers that say “Stop and Care” for several years now, and he’s been so very earnest about it. He has meant it with every fiber of his being and I saw him sharing #stopandcare on Facebook again this morning and was moved to write about something that’s been on my mind.

This past Thursday a young woman named Sarah Jones, a member of our local film community, died on the set of a movie shooting in south Georgia. She was hit by a train. We all hold the strong suspicion that she died due to some very bad decisions made by the people producing the film, but that suspicion has not been confirmed by criminal investigators (not yet, anyway). While the final assignment of blame is still under investigation, Atlanta crews have been mourning the loss of their friend and of a bright young woman whose lifetime of cinematic adventure ended far too soon.

So many people have written about Sarah and shared stories and photos and clippings about her. I appreciated the Continue reading Sarah was all of us

Is Dragon*Con Broken?

Is Dragon*Con Broken?

Updated Sept 5th, 2010 at 7:02pm – thanks to all of you who have contributed to the discussion!

It’s the Sunday morning of Dragon*Con 2010 and I’m spending my morning recuperating from having walked 5 or 6 miles around the East Coast’s fan-driven answer to Comic-Con yesterday. I woke up thinking about how much my beloved nerdfest has changed over the past five years and thought that I’d jot down some notes for later discussions with my friends who are also attending this year.

Truth is, I suppose the old girl has been changing ever since I first started going in the late 1980s, but lately it’s becoming hard to see what first made me fall in love with Dragon*Con. During a stopover at Trader Vic’s I participated in an impromptu panel called “Dragon*Con Might Just Suck” regarding how this year’s convention has been particularly lackluster. My fellow panelists Carl, Joseph and Timmy made some very good points and I’m distilling that conversation into the following five points:

  • Invasion by Non-Fans
  • Economy & Events
  • Social Networks
  • Scale
  • Age

Before I elaborate on what the ‘con has become, let me Continue reading Is Dragon*Con Broken?

Scars from The Cancer Grenade

My Robotic Surgery
I made the accompanying USA Today style illustration to show the location of my scars without grossing anyone out, and to tell the story of how I decided to let a surgeon and his robot use tiny little surgical tools inside of my body.

In the fall of 2008 I went to my new primary care doctor for a physical. My PSA levels were high so we ran a round of antibiotics to see if it was an infection of some sort. After two weeks we re-tested and the levels were just as high so I went to see a urologist, who suggested that everything pointed toward the need for a biopsy. I opted to wait until after the holidays.

On January 27th of 2009 I went into the hospital for a surgical biopsy. Three days later the doctor was on the phone telling me that I had prostate cancer. Somehow I knew that I was going to get that call, but it still shocked me to my core. On the way home that night I called an old friend to tell him the news, still trying to make sense of it myself. Later, I wrote a letter to a friend living out of state as I didn’t want to Continue reading Scars from The Cancer Grenade

Fresh Asphalt

Six Flags Map from the Seventies
I’ve been delving into files on my old computer lately and have been finding a few things I wanted to post to the website, this one is from the July of 2002… About a week or so ago I turned my attention to a bookcase that houses all of my most important reference books, mostly science fiction & architecture. Mixed in amongst that stuff were some unexpected treasures….like a pristine fold-out map of Six Flags Over Georgia from 1981. [Want to see a bigger version? Check out the 12MB rough photo composite I’ve uploaded to my Flickr account!]

Six Flags Map from the Seventies

What a flood of memories this thing has unleashed!

Like the smell of fresh asphalt.

If you’re ever with me when the smell of fresh asphalt is hanging in the air you should move quickly to get a glimpse of my face….my eyes will be slightly out of focus and I may be grinning. You see, when I was a kid, the smell of Fresh Asphalt meant Continue reading Fresh Asphalt

Ringbox

Handmade Wooden Tolkien Ringbox
I’m occasionally asked “Are you an artist?”, to which I reply “Please double-hutch the renfro Billy, tuppence for the Lady”, which is my way of saying “yes, but a mildly eccentric one”. I have a natural distrust of artists because I know how easy it is to bullshit your way past the defensives of art-impaired civilians though it’s mostly been architects, actors and film directors I’ve ever seen pulling that stunt. So what’s this thing in the picture you’re wondering. THAT my friends, is a wooden box that I made to hold Sauron’s One Ring of Power, back in the early-1990’s before the films were a glimmer in the studios’ budgets. Did I mention that my ringbox is mechanized?
Continue reading Ringbox

Build Your Own Bubble Fort

Build a Bubblefort! Boy oh boy are we ever spoiled these days. When the temperature outside soars we just crank up the air. Air-conditioning has become so ubiquitous that you can go from home to work and back again without ever breaking a sweat. As the cost of fuel and electricity continue to escalate, we’re eventually going to find ourselves forced to cut back on how we cool our homes and places of business and I think that I know the answer: The Bubble Fort.
Continue reading Build Your Own Bubble Fort