Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Expo Experience

Last April, Dani and I had a chance to go down to Calgary for the Calgary Expo. Being the first time for either of us, it was a phenomenal experience! We got a chance to meet the likes of Carrie Fisher, John Rhys Davies and Craig Parker. We sat in on panels provided by comic great Stan Lee, Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey from Game of Thrones, and Richard Dean Anderson and Michael Shanks talking about Stargate SG-1, not to mention the panels provided by Carrie Fisher and John Rhys Davies.
And then there was the cosplay. A great atmosphere with great costumes wandering around the Stampede Grounds. So much fun and entertainment! In fact, Dani decided that she'd try her hand at Cosplay and started working on a costume about a month before we went down. She cut and sewed, snipped and glued, and eventually Garnet from Final Fantasy IX was born.
For a first cosplay I think it is superb!! Not near the professional cosplayers such as Yaya Han or Jessica Nigri, but for a first time at anything near related to cosplaying I think it is hard to top. I, unfortunately, did not cosplay. Just went in the usual comic book related t-shirts I always wear.

Then at home in September we went to the Edmonton Expo. Many of the vendors were the same, but there were some new ones. Genesis Custom Sabers was a nice addition. I had done business with Rob before when I purchased my lightsaber and it was great to see him with a booth showing off his amazing work and craftsmanship and getting a chance to see some of the new creations he's come up with.
The media guests that they brought in for Edmonton were different than those brought in for Calgary and even though we didn't go for any autographs or panels with any celebrities it is nice to know that the Edmonton Expo isn't just a carbon copy of the Calgary Expo.
Two of our favourite cosplayers, Jessica Merizan and Holly Conrad, were brought in by Bioware. Jessica actually works for Bioware and she hosted the panel that was temptingly titled "How to get a job with Bioware" in which no one really listened to the advice given out and all asked the same questions that had already been answered. Both Jessica and Holly were cosplaying from one of Bioware's flagship games, Dragon Age.
Jessica Nigri was there as well with Cherry Sauce Clothing and dressed in her Princess Mononoke cosplay. In fact, the photo shoot of that cosplay are taken in the beautiful Edmonton River Valley!
A new Expo meant a new costume for Dani and a first for me. While Dani scoured for pictures and inspiration for a Final Fantasy X-2 Yuna, I started planning for a Jedi. That meant I had to learn how to sew. Thank you, YouTube! Admittedly, I did take the easy way out because I did have most of what I needed. I just had to sew together some belt pouches, the obi (the wide cloth belt that sits under the regular belt) and the shoulder tabards. Dani, on the other hand, pretty much made everything from scratch. Including the shirt. Two copies of the shirt in fact.

And so, that has been the two previous Expo's we've attended. We have our tickets purchased and hostel room booked for the Calgary Expo coming up in April and have started to plan costumes. I'm think a Sith is in order for me, which could possibly lead to another lightsaber purchase (in fact I have my eyes on one). Dani, on the other hand, hasn't made any concrete plans on her cosplay (that I know of, at least) but I do know that it will be 100 times better than anything I can put together!

Links to the places I mentioned in this post can be found here:

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Martial Art of Peace

Last week I briefly mentioned that I practice a martial art by the name of Aikido. This week I was hoping to touch upon some of what aikido is.

Aikido is what would be known as a 'gendai budo' which essentially means 'modern martial way'. Why is it a modern art? Well aikido was developed mainly during the 1920s and 1930s by Morihei Ueshiba (O sensei) and went through a couple of iterations before becoming the aikido that is mainly practiced today. In the early days aikido was a bit more physical, but after WWII aikido became gentler and more philosophical. That isn't saying that aikido lost all physicality. It is a martial art, but how we practice (at least in my dojo) is more principle based. Unfortunately I'm not going to get into the principles of aikido here (a little research if interested is beneficial).

I have always been interested in martial arts and finally decided one fateful day (almost 4 years ago now) that I was going to finally practice an art. But which one to take? I looked up a myriad of martial arts, taking into account location (there was no point in looking for an art that was only based in, say, Quebec and me living in Alberta) and trying to find one that resonated with me and fit my personality. Aikido is the one that fit the bill and so I went to watch a class, then tried a couple of classes and I was hooked. I signed up for classes and haven't looked back!

I have one regular at work that really does seem interested in martial arts, but I think his big interest is in watching UFC fights and wanting to "kick someone's ass" (exact quote) and I find that a tad bit disturbing. To me, that is not what a martial art is for. It isn't the main purpose of a martial art, but I think movies and the popularity of MMA shows and, let's be honest, western culture as a whole has misconstrued the meaning of a martial art.

I apologize if this post seems a bit preachy. That isn't my intent at all, but I hope you found it interesting. I'm going to leave with a link to an article that I wrote for one of my assignments and was posted up on the Abundant Peace website for the benefit of others in my aikido community. You can find the article here.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Worth working for

One of the most difficult things to do is remain motivated and consistent in doing something. Especially in things that you don't really want to do. Or for something that you really want, but don't want to do the work for. But everything worth doing is worth working for.

That's where I'm at right now. It's a new year. It's as cold as a night on Hoth outside (it is Canada after all). And while I'm here inside I would love to be making healthier food options to eat. Unfortunately it seems like I just don't want to do the work. To be fair, it's not the cooking that bothers me. I've spent many years in a commercial kitchen. I know my way around some food. For me it is the dreaded clean up that causes the loss of will. And it is so much easier to dig through the cupboard to find a pack of ramen.

My general well being hasn't been what I would like it to be since August really. I had to postpone aikido due to a wrist injury and when that was all good fate conspired against me to create more problems to keep my from the dojo, though I have been continuing on with yoga once a week through my aikido absence. And even though my job as a bartender keeps me on my feet all shift long, I've been feeling that I need more from myself to keep me healthy and fit. It's time for a return to aikido.

But I think I'm going to make an effort to eat better and cook at home. I'm going to see if I can save some money and make some better choices for myself. It just takes some motivation and consistency. And I think I'm going to try.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Distracted Jedi

My lovely girlfriend, Dani, has had a blog for quite some time now and I figured I'd give it a try.

Why give it a try, you might ask? Well, to be honest, for no real reason in particular. I guess I could use it as a way to siphon off some creative energy that I have. Or I may be able to generate awe inspiring ideas from writing about them every now and then. Or I could just use it to randomly write about whatever comes to mind or what interests me. I suppose that would be how I came up with the 'Distracted' bit in the blog title.

And why 'The Distracted Jedi'? Well, if there is anything I'm known for it is my love for Star Wars and superheroes and other dorkish interests. And really, when you boil it down Star Wars is what remains. And as much as I would love to say that Han Solo is the Star Wars character that I most resemble personality wise, in all actuality Obi Wan Kenobi would be my Star Wars alter-ego. And so the 'Distracted Jedi' was born.

But Star Wars won't be all that's found here. Oh no, sir/ma'am. This will be a haven for all things dork related that strikes my fancy. Again, hence the 'Distracted' bit.

But enough about me! Feel free to leave a comment below about yourself. I'm curious about the people reading and what interests you have!

Until then,

May the Force be with you!!