Frizzled Wizard World

If you want to instantly connect with women ages 18 to 40 who are in some way involved in public education, dress up as Ms. Frizzle and walk around a nerd convention.

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This is from Halloween of last year, but the costume’s… somewhat the same. Mostly.

My friends and I went to Wizard World Philadelphia recently, and of the three of us I was the only one who dressed up, so the other two had to suffer while teacher after teacher pulled me aside to gush over how much they loved Ms. Frizzle, and take pictures with me.

Well, I enjoyed it.

There were people out there with far more impressive cosplays than me, mind you.

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After I took a photograph, as I walked away, I could hear them fluttering about how Ms. Frizzle had just asked for their picture.

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I saw this fellow standing off to the side and I stared at him for at least three seconds before I got it. It’s Milo! From Atlantis!

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Just look at that. That’s impressive. I honestly can’t tell how old the middle lady is, she could be eighty or twenty under all that makeup and wig. 

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Yondu Poppins. He said I wore a dress better than him, but I have to disagree.

Dressing up as Ms. Frizzle was fun just for the bug of nostalgia it infected people with. Vendors stood up in their booth and scrambled after me to get pictures. I heard people shouting (and whispering) “Ms. Frizzle!” to me and to each other all around the convention center. People gushed.

There weren’t many children around, but one little girl desperately wanted a picture with me and I let her hold Liz for it. When my feet started to give out in the yellow high heels and I was leaning against a wall to put on my emergency flats, a mother pushing her little daughter in a wheelchair did a double-take, stopped, and then made a beeline for me.

“Look!” she said to the girl, who didn’t seem able to talk, “See that? It’s Ms. Frizzle! See the Bus? See Liz?”

It took a second, and then the girl’s face lit up like a Christmas tree.

It really sticks with you, things like that. Especially when you’re just an idiot in a dress your sister made you, with one shoe off against the wall of a convention center.

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Also, Rose from Doctor Who was there. I took a picture from a distance so that I didn’t have to pay money or talk to people.

Comics, Cosplay, and Imperial Officers

Can’t afford to bring the kids to Disney? Try bringing them to your local comic convention. Sure, you’re going to run into some real weirdos, and you’ll have to shield their eyes when you walk by some of the raunchier booths, but you’ll also meet some real weirdos in incredible costumes. And some of these costumes will be Disney costumes, is what I’m getting at.

(I say weirdos affectionately. I am also one.)

This convention was the East Coast Comic Con, which was advertising the visiting of Dawn Wells (Mary-Ann from Gilligan’s Island), Ernie Hudson (Winston Zeddemore from Ghostbusters), and all the remaining cast of Lost in Space (the people who were under thirty when it filmed).

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Here’s a blurry photo I snapped real quick of everyone but Ernie Hudson. They’re in there, I swear. I think you can even see Dawn Wells there, to the left of the guy in the red shirt. I just didn’t want to pay for a photo or an autograph.

This comic convention was specifically comic-related with other geeky undertones (as opposed to a fantasy or sci-fi convention, which is more broad), so most of the booths were just rows and rows of new and old comic books. I, personally, have only ever read ElfQuest and a few random issues of The New Teen Titans, so I was mostly there for the other things.

Like the cosplayers.

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Look at that Two-Face. Look at it.

Cosplayers do some incredible things with their time and money. It also helps, of course, when you look a great deal like the character already, which is why I can get away with cosplaying Ms. Frizzle with minimal effort.

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On that note, I’m not completely convinced this guy wasn’t actually Tony Stark. All he had to do was show up with his suit and his neatly groomed beard and you could swear he was the real deal. He’s standing in front of the convention doors here because every time he tried to move forward, someone would stop him for a picture.

I have a great friend who’s a phenomenal cosplayer (hi Avery!), so you’d think I’d be used to it, but really these people continue to amaze me.

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While I was taking a break in the lobby, I saw a woman and her little daughter approach this Merida. “Can she take a picture with you?” the woman asked. “You’re the only one she’s not scared of.”

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This guy had the most ramshackle cardboard costume ever, but boy did he ever have the Wolverine swagger down.

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I didn’t actually know who this was at first (because, again, not really a comic person) until someone in the background yelled “Mr. Freeze!”, but I had to take a picture regardless. That’s dedication. He had to get help to take the bubble off when he wanted to eat.

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There’s cosplayers, and then there’s professional cosplayers like the fellow above. He spoke to me in that soft Obi-Wan voice the entire time after he let me take a picture, and then fished out a business card for me after- hence, he’s the only cosplayer I can name.

I also ran across the 501st Legion, the “bad guys doing good.” They’re a (apparently pretty large) volunteer charity group that I’d never heard of before, and it looks like they do some great things in great outfits.

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They had a booth and they brought a trash compactor with them. You could take pictures in it.

I participated in the “droid hunt” they had going on, wherein they gave you a badge:

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…And had you wear it around the convention. If the patrolling Imperials spotted you, you were “forced” to hand it over in exchange for a raffle ticket.

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It took me about half an hour to be spotted by the Imperials, during which time I found a 3D printer merrily chugging along. It was printing another copy of the little pink Yoda you see up top. The future is here, and soon I’ll be able to get my own Earl Grey out of a replicator.

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In the end, I was caught by this lot. I’m jealous of their hats.

I didn’t win the raffle, but that’s all right because there was a mother of approximately fifteen squirmy small things there who won twice, and I feel like she needed it more than I did.

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The 501st Legion lined up for a picture too, which was nice. They’re good people. I feel like what really makes them work is that they’ve got just the one Darth Vader, but a whole lot of underlings running around. Really adds to the authenticity.

James couldn’t go with me, which was a pity because the Mandalorian bounty hunters allowed you to put a bounty on anyone’s head for a mere five dollars, at which point they were drag the target in and put them in an actual cage for “a minimum of five minutes, but no more than twenty.” Classy.

All in all, if you have a comic convention happening near you, I highly recommend you attend. Just don’t do it like I did, go and get pictures with celebrities and listen to panels and whatnot. There’s more to be found than cosplayers.

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Just as I was leaving they were organizing the D.C. hero picture. All these guys would soon be on the steps. It was good I left when I did.

Valentine’s Day Cometh

If there’s one holiday I’ve never had much cause to think about before, it’s Valentine’s Day.

The reason for this is that my parents, the hopeless romantics that they are, preferred to save money instead of buying each other’s love, so Valentine’s Day was never celebrated at our house. When I took the nanny job and moved to the east coast, I was surprised to find that my employer’s celebrated every holiday, including Valentine’s Day, and gave gifts liberally to their nanny for each and every one.

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This is from last year. I spent a while just staring at it, as if it were one of those weird prehistoric-looking beetles wandering around my room.

But I’d never been in a relationship that coincided with Valentine’s Day, so it was never a holiday that stayed on my radar for long.

And then, weirdly enough, I started going out with James- have been for a month and a half, in fact- and Valentine’s Day became a looming possibility. I prepared my statement early.

“There are some girls out there,” I said to James a few weeks ago, “who say they don’t want anything for Valentine’s Day and then get upset when they aren’t given anything. I’m not like that. I genuinely don’t want anything for Valentine’s Day. Nothing. No, really.”

“Great,” said James cheerfully. “Got it. I’m going to get you something for Valentine’s Day anyway.”

“Ugh,” I said.

So for the first time in my life I’ve had to seriously consider getting something for somebody on Valentine’s Day. This should be easy when you haven’t been dating someone for long; you go into the store, you grab a mass-produced box of chocolate, and you’re done.

So when I was in Walmart the other day, the very subtle decorations reminded me that I should really be picking something romantic up.

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If I hadn’t walked past their eighteen red-lined aisles I might have completely forgotten.

The problem is that Valentine’s Day is meant for women and 2nd grade classrooms. Everything is cute and frilly and so terribly feminine. Oh sure, sometimes an effort is made to reduce the girliness factor of the product, but it’s usually unsuccessful.

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It’s… well… they tried.

So I spent a whole fifteen minutes of my life walking up and down aisle after blood-red aisle, wondering if they made a Valentine’s Day treat that looked cool for guys. (They don’t. They don’t make anything that looks cool for girls, either. Valentine’s Day is very uncool.) I was about to give up and buy a generic box of chocolates, when something on the next aisle over caught my eye:

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Nerd cups! Yeah!

James and I met playing D&D, so geeky things are the way to go. James is also a guy, living with a guy roommate, which means they have approximately three real plates and two wine glasses between them. It might have been kinder to buy him a whole dining set and some tasteful throw pillows, but a mug for his destitute kitchen was a stepping stone.

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There. Valentine’s Day is prepared for.

Now all I have to worry about it what my employers are giving me for Valentine’s Day. And Easter.