Travelcraft Journal

Navigation Menu

Star Wars vs. Star Trek at Phoenix Symphony

Posted by on Nov 17, 2016 in Travel | 0 comments

Anyone can like Star Wars, especially in this particular moment in pop culture.

But being a Star Trek fan? Thatʼs different. Thatʼs real science fiction. Thatʼs dangerous. Itʼs more likely to get you beat up on the playground.

Nerds

I can’t remember NOT being a Star Wars fan. Star Trek films started to appeal to me later, in high school. Now I like both Star Wars and Star Trek; this includes the music.

So when the opportunity came up to hear the Phoenix Symphony play music from two of my favorite franchises during Phoenix Comicon (PHXCC) earlier this year, you’d better believe I jumped at the chance! They billed the event as “Star Wars vs. Star Trek,” to play up the (supposed) rivalry between the two camps.

Phoenix convention center and symphony hall

Phoenix Symphony Hall is next door to the Phoenix Convention Center, where PHXCC is held. It is literally steps away, making it the perfect location for a sci-fi driven concert.

However, I had made my way there from work and a rushed dinner, so I didn’t benefit from the close proximity – arriving grumpy and frazzled. Fortunately, my grumpy mood began to dissolve as I spoke to a couple of people and found that there were others around me that had a love for both franchises. I was among friends!

Phxcc symphony

15 minutes before the concert started, the concert hall was already mostly full and abuzz with excitement. You could tell by the t-shirts that Star Wars fans were there in force. I also saw quiet a few Starfleet uniforms in various shades of pastels and primary colors.

As much as I love the Wars, that night I wanted to side with the Trek underdog. Also, having heard the music of Star Wars many, many, many times before, I was looking forward even more to hearing Trek music. I had never heard any of it in a live symphonic concert.

Before the music started, the emcee announced that members of the audience could vote for their favorite franchise between the two, which would determine the evening’s encore number. I felt like I couldnʼt lose either way!

On to the music!

Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC

Star Trek

Did you know that composer James Horner, who wrote the music for Titanic, Braveheart, and Avatar, also wrote the film score for two Star Trek movies (ST II: The Wrath of Khan, and ST III: The Search for Spock)?!

The evening’s selections included the stirring “Epilogue/End Title” from The Wrath of Khan. According to Phoenix Symphony conductor Tito Muñoz, it was Hornerʼs score for this 1982 film that brought him to the wider attention of Hollywood.

Phxcc symphony

I was kind of bummed to see only about a third of the program devoted to Trek, and I would’ve liked to hear more music from the original movies – for example, “Iliaʼs Theme” by Jerry Goldsmith or Cliff Eidelmanʼs exhilarating music to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

Music from the more recent movies, including the score by Michael Giacchino for 2009ʼs Star Trek, seemed weaker than earlier Star Trek pieces. It didnʼt have the thematic drive and majesty that Horner or Goldsmithʼs scores had or the funky ’60s originality of Alexander Courageʼs theme to the original series.

For me, the real Trek showstopper of the night was the Star Trek Medley, which included themes from the various eras of the franchise. I loved the Original Series theme, replete with the original jazzy/worldbeat percussion arrangement. The medley also included the main theme to the Star Trek Voyager TV show. I had forgotten how majestic this theme was, and it was enough to make me want to go out and buy that music.
Symphony Program

Star Wars

I was excited by most of the selections for Wars. Of course, there were the concert mainstays such as the “Main Title” and the “Imperial March.” Even people who have never seen Star Wars have heard these themes.

What got me really excited was seeing “Princess Leiaʼs Theme” and some pieces from the newest Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, on the program, including “Reyʼs Theme,” “The March of the Resistance,” and – my personal favorite from the new movie – “Jedi Steps.”

A photo posted by Brian Poole (@shirejedi) on

  I already own “Princess Leiaʼs Theme,” and Iʼve heard it a million times. However, seeing it played live was transcendent. The music itself is gorgeous. Of all the pieces that night, it was probably the most fun to see, because of the various solos. Although the French horn played in a rhythm that either betrayed that he wasnʼt familiar with the original or was trying too hard at his own artistic interpretation, the other soloists – on flute, oboe, and violin – were able to shine. Between these solo performances, the full orchestra waxes and wanes dramatically before ending softly. The violinist finished with a note that soared as high as the summer temperatures outside but with the quiet confidence of the eponymous princess of the song. It was amazing and perfect. By the time the song ended, the otherwise rowdy audience was so captivated you could hear a pin drop. This is the power of live music; to have seventy-some highly trained musicians bend their collective skills toward a unified effort is the pinnacle of ephemeral and transcendent craft. What a phenomenal way to connect the Phoenix Symphony to a wider public! Phxcc

Encore

Are you wondering who won at the end of the night? You could probably have guessed: Tito Muñoz took the stage for the final encore carrying a red lightsaber. The Wars had won, and he conducted a triumphant encore performance of the “Imperial March” – using the lightsaber in place of his conducting baton! The Force may have been with Star Wars that evening but may the music of both live long and prosper.

A photo posted by Chris Jorich (@cjphx86) on

– More info –

  • Did you see the video we took just after the concert? See what other Star Trek and Star Wars fans thought of the performance.
  • The Phoenix Symphony will be presenting Star Wars: The Music on January 13.
  • Where to eat and what to see near Phoenix Symphony Hall and the Phoenix Convention Center.


Images:

1) made with WeKnowMemes.

3) taken by a concert attendee.

All others by Phillip and Stephanie Liebold.


We were guests of the Phoenix Symphony.

Read More

The Next Phoenix Fan Fest

Posted by on Oct 13, 2016 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

Phxcc

Whether it’s your favorite lunch spot or a local festival, when something you enjoy goes from niche to well-known, you may feel you miss the “good old days” before the crowds. Of course, those crowds help keep corner cafes in business and sustain community events.

PHXCC

It’s true of Phoenix Comicon. I’ve heard plenty of long-time attendees wax nostalgic about the earlier events with their shorter lines and sense of community, while, of course, enjoying the bigger name guests and programming made possible by the larger numbers.

Enter Phoenix Fan Fest.

phxff

Why Fan Fest?

Meant to evoke the feel of the early days of Phoenix Comicon, Fan Fest is a smaller, more intimate show by design. There are fewer tracks with the focus on artists/comics, costumes, and kid-friendly events.

fan-fest-lego

It’s also more interactive. As one organizer put it, think of Fan Fest as “come and do things” instead of just “come and see things.” You can learn to play Quidditch (adapted for muggles, of course), compete in MS Paint Pictionary, make something with Lego, and even compete in a build-off!

fan-fest-quidditch

At the first Fan Fest, artists, attendees, and the community collaborated to create a crowdsourced comic character, Blaze. Last year, they invented a nemesis for Blaze. This year, you can be a part of brainstorming action sequences for the two, while artists sketch and bring crowdsourced ideas to life!

Blaze phxff

New Time and Place

While the first two Fan Fests were held in Glendale in December, this year Fan Fest is happening earlier (October 23 and 24) and moving to the Phoenix Convention Center.

phxcc-4

According to organizers, the time change is due, in part, to feedback from attendees that it’s difficult to get time off to go to an event in the middle of the holidays. People may also be tight on cash that time of year.

fan-fest-stadium

Attendees had complained about the University of Phoenix Stadium’s location in the West Valley. The Phoenix Convention Center is much more centrally located.

The Convention Center is also built to allow for bigger guest panels, more programming content, and more variety. The stadium only had three rooms for panels (and they were down this weird, dark hallway).

fan-fest-uofp-stadium

One downside is that there won’t be any more free parking. However, there are more transit options, including light rail stops right at the Covention Center, so you won’t necessarily have to drive. Phxcc

Organizers said exhibitors were fans of the changes, and they’re hoping you will be too!


– Fan Fest info –


We’ve received media passes to past events from Phoenix Comicon.

Read More

DIY Costume Hacks from Phoenix Comicon

Posted by on Sep 22, 2016 in Craft | 0 comments

DIY Costume Hacks

There are lots of reasons to wear a costume coming up: this weekend is Keen Halloween (more on that in the last section), then there’s Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest, followed closely by actual Halloween. Plus, all the various October costume parties and fall festivals and whatnot.

If there’s such thing as a costume-wearing season, this would be it. And, if you were thinking of making your own costume, then costuming panelists from Phoenix Comicon 2016 have some tips to help you out.

DIY Costume Hacks from Phoenix Comicon - duct tape panel

1. Duct tape

You can make an entire costume from duct tape. In fact, one speaker, Huntington Keith, won a scholarship contest by making Firefly cosplay/prom outfits for himself and his date. It took about 40 hours of work for him to construct her shindig-worthy dress with its layers and layers of ruffles. He also made himself a tux.

He shared lessons he learned through trial and error that could help with your next duct tape creation.

DIY Costume Hacks from Phoenix Comicon

Duct tape dos:

  • Use a flat surface to construct your costume.
  • Stretch it as taut as possible.
  • Use scissors or an X-Acto knife to cut.
  • Covering a t-shirt or other piece of fabric will help the costume breathe better.
  • Create texture by putting things such as twine between the layers of tape.
  • Buy in bulk. 30 yards will typically cost $5-6, but you may be able to find better prices online.
  • Use the color/s you want or find a type of paint that adheres to polyurethane (most don’t).

Duct tape don’ts:

  • Because the adhesive starts to melt at about 175 degrees, you can’t mold it like thermoplastics. A residue will form and the top starts to shrivel off.
  • It will break a regular sewing machine.
  • Permanent marker doesn’t stay.
  • Paint usually flakes off.

DIY Costume Hacks from Phoenix Comicon
Making a closure for your costume:

  • The ideal closure is actually a piece of duct tape.
  • You can handstitch a zipper on, but it would need to be lateral because stress is a problem.
  • Hook-and-loop tape may not work when it gets hot.

 Phoenix Comicon knits

2. Knitting and Crochet

Shirley Will‏ (a.k.a. @BooMeringue) had a funny and informative panel about knitting and crochet for cosplay. I don’t actually know how to do either of those things, and I was still entertained.

She brought up the fact that knitting and crocheting can look intricate – but there are only so many kinds of stitches.

Knitting for cosplay

Iconic knit costumes for nerds:

Since she felt the stripe was too large in most patterns for Jayne’s hat, she created her own. She started by measuring a screenshot from Firefly of Adam Baldwin as Jayne. After estimating the width of the stripe was about the length of his nose, she texted several male friends to ask for their nose measurements(!) and based her pattern on the average. The result is a much more proportionate pattern for a hat that, for legal reasons, she calls the Not-Jayne hat.

DIY Costume Hacks from Phoenix Comicon
More ideas:

  • Crocheted cogs for steampunk.
  • Make a wide brim on a beanie and fold it up to make a tri-corner or pirate hat.
  • Hood with Ewok ears.

DIY Costume Hacks from Phoenix Comicon
Tips:

  • There are tons of craft tutorials online. If the first one doesn’t work for you, keep looking!
  • Make gauge swatches. She says, “People hate making gauge swatches, but it’ll save your life! You can use any yarn with any pattern if the gauge is right.”
  • Have a backup “comfy” cosplay, in case you need a break from your costume or something doesn’t work.

Shirley sells knitting patterns (as well as finished products) in her Etsy shop. There are some free patterns on her site and on gutenberg.org. I also came across Harry Potter knitting patterns on Ravelry and knittingfornerds.com.
Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC No-Sew Cosplay

3. Other No-Sew Techniques

I ducked in to the tail end of a No-Sew Cosplay panel hosted by artist and cosplayer KatDensetsu.

I was just in time for a discussion of cross-play and binding techniques for women who want to make themselves appear less busty when portraying male characters. (Think Éponine disguising herself in Les Misérables.)

As far as making costumes without sewing, certain materials don’t require sewing and can just be cut to size. There’s also a lot you can do using fabric glue, thrift store finds, paint, and/or iron-on transfers.

DIY Costume Hacks from Phoenix Comicon - No-sew cosplay

Learn more about costume-making and cosplay!

This weekend (9/24-25) is Keen Halloween, which has several craft and costuming panels on the schedule.

Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest is October 22-23 (earlier than in past years) and will feature cosplay meetups and panels on topics like costuming mashups.

Read More

5 Telltale Signs You Went to Phoenix Comicon 2016

Posted by on Jul 7, 2016 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC

Did you or someone you know go to Phoenix Comicon 2016?

Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC

You may notice some or all of these symptoms:

1. Persistent laughter over PUGS-related incidents. Chuckling resulting from things said during the Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown may continue for days.

This is a tournament of geeks to see who can most passionately debate absurd topics like “Ant-Man vs. Aunt Mae: Who was the better A(u)nt?” As bizarre as the questions were, this year’s contestants took some even more bizarre – and hilarious – approaches to arguing their respective sides.

Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC
Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC

2. Outbreak of photos of dogs in superhero costumes.

Superdog, Wonder Dog, Batdog, and a four-legged Ewok were among the cosplaying pooches that gathered on the patio of the Herberger Theater ahead of the Comi-PAWn Pet Parade.

PHXCC

3. Thermoqueuephobia – fear of waiting in line in the heat.

About the time it topped 110 degrees on Friday, a “perfect storm” of crowds and computer glitches resulted in a registration line that spilled out onto the sidewalk and stretched about a block-and-a-half. Organizers apologized for the hours-long wait and worked to rectify the situation so lines would be inside the rest of the weekend.

Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC

4. Claims of spotting Jedi weapons in unusual places, such as on Phoenix streets and in place of a symphony conductor’s baton.  

Outside programming included pairs from Syndicate Saber demonstrating their surprisingly elegant lightsaber combat and choreography. This was followed by a lightsaber walk, where anyone with a lightsaber could light it up and march around downtown Phoenix.

While that was going on, Phillip and I were at the Phoenix Symphony’s Star Wars vs. Star Trek performance. The audience could vote via text for which franchise’s music they preferred. To announce the winner, Conductor Tito Muñoz emerged with a red lightsaber, which he began using to conduct the “Imperial March!” (We were not allowed to take photos during the performance, but I found one on Instagram!)

PHXCC

PHXCC

PHXCC

5. Sudden increase in geeky and/or pop culture related skills, such as learning in a matter of days how to make a duct tape prom dress, a music video, and a tabletop game.

Yep, as usual there were a plethora of diverse panels, including…

  • Huntington Keith’s panel on making costumes from duct tape. In high school, he used duct tape to make a tux and a Kaylee-from-firefly-inspired prom dress.
  • While the protracted music video’s post-apocalyptic theme may have felt contrived, the cast and crew were able to accomplish a lot on a budget. The song itself, “They Pretend,” is a catchy, reggae/Afro-pop melody by K-Bass & Farafina Musiki, who are worth a listen.
  • The Making the Game panel, where Father-and-son team Eric and Gavin Torres spoke about their experience in making and distributing their indie board game.

 

Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC

If you missed out, check out Phoenix Fan Fest this October. (Passes are on sale now.)

We received media passes from Phoenix Comicon and the Phoenix Symphony.

Read More