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Phoenix Geekiness + Cosplay Panels #PHXCC

Posted by on Apr 20, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

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Have you already started planning your schedule for Phoenix Comicon? It’s coming to the Phoenix Convention Center May 25-28 and ticket prices increase May 1.

We thought we’d share our panel picks early this year, along with a heads up on some geeky goings-on across the Valley of the Sun to tide you over.

Superhero art

Geek Events (April/May)

Caped Crusaders + Everyday Heroes

Now – May 28
i.d.e.a. Museum, Mesa
Hero-themed works by more than 15 national and international artists (like the print above that we spotted in artist Jason Ratliff’s homebase of Indianapolis). Included with museum admission.

Spoiler Alert! Book Club: Handmaid’s Tale

Apr 22, 1pm
Tempe Public Library Lower Level

Discussion of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian sci-fi classic The Handmaid’s Tale (1985). Ages 16+. Free.

Create It: Drop-in Sewing Nights

Apr 26 + May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31
5pm
Tempe Public Library Lower Level

Bring your sewing project and machine or use theirs. Ages 14+. Free.

Free Comic Book Day on Main Street

May 6, 10am
Gotham City Comics and Coffee and Downtown Mesa
Businesses throughout Downtown Mesa will have over 500 comic books to give away. There will also be live music, a cosplay contest, a scavenger hunt, and the chance to meet national and local comic book artists. Maps of participating businesses will be available at Gotham City Comics and Coffee. Free.

Drawn to Comics Free Comic Book Day Festival

May 6, 9am
Drawn to Comics + American Legion Hall, Glendale
With booths and appearances by comic book artists and booths from groups like Arizona Autobots and Comicare.

  • Festival at American Legion Hall 9am-2pm.
  • In-store event 9am-8pm.

City Lights Movie Nights

May 12, 6:30pm
Patriots Park at CityScape, Phoenix
Outdoor screening of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Viewers are invited to bring their picnic blankets, chairs, and lightsabers!

Cactus Brick LEGO

Phoenix Comicon: Contests + Events

Con on Adams: food trucks, beer garden, photobooth, and entertainment outdoors on Adams Street. No Phoenix Comicon admission required.
Schedule TBA
West 106ABC

Lego Build Off: LEGO competition.
Friday May 26, 2017 – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Sunday May 28, 2017 – 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm
West 102ABC

Masquerade Costume Contest: cosplay contest and lightsaber dueling performance. Registration is currently open.
Saturday May 27, 2017 8:00 pm to 11:30 pm
West 301BCD
star-wars-cosplay

Maker Panel Picks

Beginner-friendly panels on making costumes, props, etc. grouped by topic, so you can browse by what interests you.

Phxff cosplay

Intro to Cosplay

Body-Positive Cosplay: tips for making costume designs work for your body type, loving your body in cosplay, and dealing with haters.
Thursday May 25, 2017 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
North 225AB

Prop-Making for Beginners: safety, tools, and strategies for materials including basic paper mache, thermoplastics, resin casting etc.
Thursday May 25, 2017 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm
North 228AB

Cosplay 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Cosplay
Thursday May 25, 2017 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm
North 224AB

Budget Cosplay
Friday May 26, 2017 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 228AB

Costuming From Concept to Custom: the steps to make your cosplay idea a reality.
Friday May 26, 2017 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
North 224AB

Costume Wing-Making 101: Design and Construction Basics
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 225AB

Steampunk on a Budget
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 224AB

 

fan-fest-prop

Foam and Plastics

Foam Costuming: The Bare Bones
Friday May 26, 2017 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 224AB

The Art of EVA Foamcraft: Making Weapons + Props
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 231A

Intro to Foam Armor
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
North 228AB

Video Game Cosplay: Movement, Weaponry and Makeup
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
North 228AB

Cosplay PHXCC

The Art of Mold Making + Casting Props: steps to creating custom molds for prop making.
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
North 225AB

Molding + Casting for Costume Parts 2: Casting: how to cast plastic in a silicone mold.
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm
North 228AB

Don’t have it? Make it! Custom Toys! learn how to customize off-the-shelf toys.
Sunday May 28, 2017 – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
North 231A

Making Costumes out of EVA Foam: how to make a pattern and build a complete EVA foam costume.
Sunday May 28, 2017 – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
North 225AB

Phxff cosplay

Painting, Illustration, and Make-Up

Maskmaking 101 For All Ages: how to take a basic mask with materials provided. Limited to 100 attendees.
Thursday May 25, 2017 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
West 101ABC Event Area

Dirt-Cheap Makeup: safe, budget makeup options.
Friday May 26, 2017 – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
North 225AB

Getting Into Comics: where to start with comicbooks.
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 127B

Special Effects Makeup: Comic Book Girl: create a classic comic book look.
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm
North 131B

Acrylic Academy for Props and Costumes: learn how to modify acrylic paints for cosplay projects.
Sunday May 28, 2017 – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
North 224AB

Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC

Sewing

Cosplay for All Sizes: how to alter patterns and clothing to fit your unique shape and be confident in your costumes.
Friday May 26, 2017 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 225AB

Sewing 101: The Basics: needles, material, patterns, manual and machine sewing.
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm
North 225AB

Sewing: Pattern Markings: how to read patterns.
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm
North 225AB

Sewing: There’s a Foot for That: Sewing machine feet and how to use them.
Sunday May 28, 2017 – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
North 225AB

Phxff steampunk cosplay

3D + LED

Cosplay LEDs for the Absolute Beginner: how to modify existing LED products and assemble simple LED circuits to light up your costume.
Thursday May 25, 2017 – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
North 228AB

3D for Cosplay: 3D printing and design of costumes, accessories, and props.
Friday May 26, 2017 – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
North 228AB

3D Printing Props and Costumes
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm
North 228AB

fan-fest-makers-1

Exhibitors

When you visit the exhibit hall, check out these artists and makers!

PHXCC




Thank you to Phoenix Comicon for providing media passes for the upcoming Con!

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Nests

Posted by on Apr 17, 2017 in Travel | 10 comments

BTA nest

I love it when I’m walking and spot a nest in a tree.

catalina-nest

It feels like a small discovery, like finding an Easter egg (no pun intended) or a secret door.

Yuma

From the time I was a little kid, my dad taught me how to look for signs of what’s going on in the natural world, pointing out the high waterline above a dry riverbed, animal tracks in the dirt, cottonwood trees where there’s water, and all kinds of habitats – burrows and holes and nests.

Arboretum nest

At the Arboretum recently, we saw a man was pointing out a nest in a tree for his grandson.

“You guys should check this one out, too.” I showed them a large nest right in the middle of a cholla cactus that would’ve been hidden from their viewpoint.

I can’t think of a safer place for a home – or a trickier place to build it.

Cholla nest BTA

 




 

 

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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The Force of Memories

Posted by on Apr 13, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

In honor of the Star Wars Celebration Orlando convention currently happening, here is a post Phillip wrote with thoughts inspired by Star Wars Celebration Anaheim in 2015.  –S


Star Wars Celebration - SWCA

“Chewie, weʼre home.”

With those lines, from the world premiere of the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer at the Star Wars Celebration Anaheim convention, grown men around me were in tears.

I might have gotten a little emotional too. It had been 30 long years since we last saw the Millennium Falcon on the big screen and our two favorite pilots at the helm.

SWCA

Almost that long ago, in the mid-eighties, I remember being a seven-year-old kid, driving through the streets of Phoenix with my Uncle David. I grilled him about the future of the Star Wars and hung on to every morsel of news he passed on to me.

What makes these movies particularly powerful is the shared memories they create, especially across generations.

SWCA

Iʼm not exactly sure when it was when I saw Star Wars (A New Hope) for the first time. I always remember it being a part of my life.

SWCA

“Through the force, things you will see.
Other places. The future… the past.
Old friends long gone.”

–Yoda from The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars disc

For me, getting together at my grandparents’ house along with my aunts, uncles, and cousins meant a chance to watch Star Wars on Uncle David’s Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED) player! I look back on those times now with fond memories.

SWCA

Both of my grandparents have been gone for decades now. Yet when I watch any of the original trilogy movies, the memory of my family and my grandparentsʼ home is forever intertwined in the story of “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.”

Star Wars LEGO

As I got older, I carried on the tradition with my oldest nephew, introducing him to LEGO Star Wars. Cameron and I sat around putting together spaceships for hours. While he is older now, I still cherish the memories of his youthful enthusiasm when I showed him a new set.

SWCA

As we watched the trailer for The Force Awakens at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, everyone there had their own memories to bring to that moment. Memories of how Star Wars connected them to people and events in their own lives. For two minutes, the sights and sounds of a galaxy far, far away brought us a little closer to our own memories of long ago.

They also reminded us to be mindful of the present: the good times are not just in the past.

SWCA

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Make a Mt. Lemmon Day Trip

Posted by on Apr 7, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

Mount Lemmon wildlowers

You start in the Tucson heat surrounded by saguaros. An hour (or so) and a few thousand feet in elevation later, you can be sitting among spruce trees in air cool enough to not melt the chocolate chips of the oversized cookie in front of you.

Summerhaven tables

Welcome to Mount Lemmon, a 9000-foot peak in the Santa Catalina Mountain Range.

Mount Lemmon view

Drive the Sky Island Scenic Byway (also called the Mt. Lemmon Highway, the Catalina Highway, and – officially – the General Hitchcock Highway) through beautiful landscape and six (6!) different climate zones.

Mt. Lemmon

Mt Lemmon

Then you can hike or picnic or ride the year-round ski lift. (Yes, it gets cold and snowy enough in the winter for skiing up there!)

Mt Lemmon trail

When Phillip and I and my parents went, we stopped at a picnic area (Box Elder, I think-?) before driving to the parking lot at end of the road and taking a little hike from there.

Mt. Lemmon

Along the way is the town of Summerhaven, a one-and-a half mile high city that caters to visitors seeking shelter from sweltering Tucson summers.

Cookie Cabin

It’s also home to the giant cookies of Cookie Cabin. Four of us split one sampler cookie. There was literally a line out the door but plenty of nice outdoor seating.

Mount Lemmon cookie

I taught my dad how to use the Hyperlapse app, so we could take timelapse videos of the drive up. You can see the dramatic changes of scenery compressed into two minutes.


Mount lemmon

– More Mt. Lemmon info –

  • Be prepared to pack out your own trash.
  • Ski lift – The “sky ride” to the summit lasts about half an hour. Off-season (summer) adult tickets are $12/ride. Winter lift tickets are $45/day. Details at skithelemmon.com.
  • Keep the high altitude in mind when you’re planning hiking or other activities.
  • We were there in mid-August, right at the end of the summer wildflower season.

image

Scenic Drive:

Mt. Lemmon - Ski Valley

Fees:

  • Many places you can park on Mount Lemmon require a pass, including the visitor center, picnic areas, etc.
  • You can purchase a Coronado Recreation Pass on the mountain at the Palisades Visitor Center or buy one before you go.
  • Passes are available at several locations, including the Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office at 300 W. Congress near Downtown Tucson.
  • Day passes are $5 per vehicle. ($10 for a weekly pass.)
  • Instead of worrying about which specific places require it, consider just getting a day pass in town before you make the drive. It’s only 5 bucks and helps to support the forest.

Mount Lemmon

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Banh Mi

Posted by on Apr 3, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 6 comments

When we moved, we found ourselves near a place with great banh mi, which are Vietnamese sandwiches on French bread with these marinated vegetables and thinly sliced meats. It’s a beautiful blending of cultures.

Banh mi vietnamese sandwich

My brother Ian says the many banh mi places in Seattle all seem to charge exactly $3.98 for a sandwich. As with many things, they’re even cheaper here in Phoenix. It’s a lotta deliciousness for your buck.

Have you tried banh mi? Do you have a favorite spot near you?




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Good Times at Monticello (part 2)

Posted by on Mar 30, 2017 in Travel | 2 comments

Monticello

Let’s say you read last week’s post on Monticello, and now you’re ready to plan a trip.

On the positive side, there’s so much good info on their site. On the challenging side, there’s so. much. info.

So here’s the breakdown on admission and tour options and when to be where – the stuff that confused me when I was first planning to visit Monticello.

Monticello visitor center display

Getting In: How Much Is Admission?

Unlike a museum with optional tours, there’s not a general admission that lets you just wander around Monticello. Instead, you purchase a timed tour ticket that also acts as your day pass.

Tours vary based on what they cover and cost. The most basic, most popular one is the Monticello Day Pass and House Tour ($20-28, see below).

 

Monticello house model

Which Tour to Choose?

All Monticello Day Passes/Tour Tickets include:

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You’ll want to find a tour that fits your interests, schedule, mobility, and the time of year you’re visiting, so here are summaries to help you sort it all out.

Tours Offered Year-round:

Monticello Day Pass and House Tour – This is the main tour, and it takes you through the first (ground) floor of Monticello.

  • 30-40 minutes
  • Wheelchair accessible. (Small strollers are also allowed.)
  • Adults: $20-28, Children (ages 5-11): $9

Behind the Scenes House Tour and Day Pass – Tour of the first, second and third floors, including the Dome Room.

  • The upper floors are not wheelchair accessible.
  • Not recommended for children under 7.
  • $48-60.

Monticello Neighborhood Pass – Combination ticket that includes Monticello Day Pass and House Tour, Ash-Lawn Highland admission and tour (home of fifth U.S. President James Monroe), and the Michie Tavern ca. 1784 Tour.

  • Save up to $6 on adult passes, if you visit all 3 sites.
  • If you only plan to visit 2 of the sites, buying tickets individually is a better deal.
  • I was not able to confirm whether you have to visit all 3 sites in one day.
  • Adults: $34-43, Children (ages 5-11): $19

Touch Tours for blind / seeing impaired individuals or groups are available by advance appointment.

Monticello Private Guide – Tour for 1-8 people, which includes the Dome Room and the gardens and grounds or museum galleries. Tailored to your interests.

  • Call (434) 984-9884 at least two weeks before your visit to schedule your tour. Subject to availability.
  • 3 hours
  • 1-4 people: $600, 5-8 people: $750-1200

Monticello garden sprouts

Tours Offered Seasonally or on Select 2017 Dates:

Hemings Family Tour – Interactive tour of the House and Mulberry Row that centers around stories of seven members of the Hemings Family.

  • February – November, Friday through Sunday
  • 1 hour, 45 minutes
  • Not wheelchair accessible.
  • Not recommended for children under 12.
  • $27-30

Family Friendly Tour – House Tour with hands-on activities geared toward children ages 5-11.

  • April 3 – 23, June 10 – September 4, October 7 – 9, December 26 – 30
  • 40 minutes
  • Wheelchair accessible.
  • Adults: $20-28, Children (ages 5-11): $9

Walk-Through Tours – Alternative to Monticello House Tour with guides stationed in each room.

  • April 14 – 15, May 27 – 28, June 3 – 4, July 1 – 2, September 9, October 7 – 8, November 26
  • Wheelchair accessible.
  • Adults: $20-25, Children (ages 5-11): $9
  • Add 30-minute Upper Floors Tour on these dates: +$25

Hamilton Tour Takeover – Interactive House tour that contrasts the ideas of Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, followed by a moderated discussion.

  • April 7, 28-29; May 6, 12 – 13, 19; September 15 – 16, 22 – 23, 29 – 30
  • 1 hour
  • $40

Jefferson

How to buy passes?

  • In-person at the Dominion Welcome Pavilion, subject to availability. Plan to wait in line.
  • Online and print out yourself – This gives you more choices of tour times, plus you can skip the lines when you arrive. Under delivery options, select “print at home” at checkout. As far as I know, only paper tickets are accepted.
  • Online and pick them up at Will Call – If you don’t have access to a printer or don’t want to worry about losing/forgetting tickets, you can select “Will Call” under delivery options at checkout. You may have a small wait for Will Call, but otherwise you get the same benefits as above.

Regardless of whether you print or pick up, purchasing online saves you about 10% on adult passes. You can buy tickets online from maybe 3 months in advance up until midnight the day before you visit.

Monticello

Other Event Tickets:

Tickets for other events at Monticello may not include a House Tour/Day Pass. To attend a Harvest Tasting Tour (offered weekends May – October), for example, you’d need to purchase one of the Day Passes above plus a ticket for the tasting tour itself ($15). There are also a la carte workshops (which we sometimes feature on our Happenings List) like Get to Know Your Trails on April 1 ($18) or Toddler Time, the third Saturday of each month ($10).

Monticello

When Should I Arrive?

Even if you’ve already purchased and printed your pass, you can’t just roll up to the parking lot at tour time. It takes time to get up to the House. Here’s the “Last-Minute Monticello” list of the minimum time Monticello recommends you allow each step of the way.

Last-minute Monticello:

  • Arrival – At least 30 minutes before tour time (1 hour if you plan to watch the introductory film)
  • Shuttle – Board at least 15 minutes before tour time. (Shuttles arrive every 5-10 minutes.)
  • In front of the House (East Walk) – 5 minutes before tour time.

Allow additional time during peak travel times (weekends, holidays, etc.).

If you are pressed for time, you can check out the visitor center exhibits after your tour.  (This is what we did, because we were really tight on time.) However, arriving at least an hour before your tour allows you to get some context before going up to the House.

The Monticello Mellow itinerary is my suggestion for a less rushed way to take it all in.

 

Monticello

 


Monticello Mellow

A mid-morning tour time would allow you to explore the visitor center and get up to the mountaintop before the most crowded part of the day (11am – 3pm).

  • Arrival – 1-2 hours before tour time. Park, pick up tickets (if needed), see the introductory film, and visit exhibits.
  • Shuttle/walk – 30-40 minutes before tour time be at the shuttle stop or walk (.5 mile) up to the mountaintop.
  • If you get to the mountaintop with time to spare before your tour, check out the dependencies, cellar, fish pond, or hang out on the West Lawn. You may want to set an alarm so you dont get so engrossed that you miss your tour!
  • At the East Walk of the House – 5-10 minutes before your tour, find your way to the staging area for your ticket group. Check with a guide to make sure you’re at the right spot.
  • House Tour lasts approximately 30 minutes.
  • Afterwards, explore the rooms below the House and Mulberry Row.
  • From April to October, there are additional tours offered that are included with admission, no reservation required. If time allows, check out the Garden and Grounds and/or Slavery Tours.
  • When you’re ready to head back down the mountain, you can check out the Monticello graveyard (the shuttle stops there on the way back) and/or any exhibits you missed at the visitor center.
  • Have lunch at the cafe, drive over to Michie Tavern, or pack a picnic.

Monticello fog

You could probably spend most/all of the day at Monticello if you wanted to. Or, spend a few hours there then take a hike, tour another historic site (both Ash-Lawn Highland and the tour at Michie Tavern are included in the Monticello Neighborhood Pass), visit at vineyard, or just chill in Charlottesville.


We were guests of Monticello.

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