Geeking Out in Red Bank

Not only am I sick now, but so is the entire rest of my family, so there won’t be too much cooking going on for a bit. So I guess I will continue to regale you with tales of my trip to New Jersey since that was, if not an exotic location, definitely a fun one.

At a friend’s suggestion, I drove out to Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash in Red Bank. For those not in the know, it’s a comic book store owned by Kevin Smith, who is the writer/director/actor of the View View Askewniverse movies (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, etc.) — among many other things. Honestly, it’s just a comic book store, which is something I am eminently familiar with back home; after all, I worked in one for a while back in high school. My main reason for visiting this particular store was a) the owner, and b) the movie ephemera from Smith’s movies that are displayed in glass cases on site. You see, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was the movie that my husband and I watched on our first date, so I kind of had to go check out the Secret Stash.

Of course, I had to get a selfie with Buddy Christ from Dogma. I don’t usually take selfies, but I made a special exception here.

On my way out of the shop, I discovered that it is also a Pokéstop in PokémonGo, to my complete and utter lack of surprise — most comic book stores and geek-related places are.

On my walk back to my car, I stumbled upon YESTERcades of Red Bank; with all of its windows open on that warm day, the sounds of the vintage video games drew me in. I discovered that instead of paying by the game, there you pay a flat hourly fee or buy a day pass, and you can play as many times as you want. At $8.75 per hour or $25 per day, that’s a lot less than I would have paid when I went to the arcade as a kid… What can I say, I like video games, but I die a lot. Honestly, if they had one of these in town, I know where I’d be taking my kids for their next birthdays!

They had a wall of pinball games, more modern games with flat screens and couches, as well as a party room in the back.

I’m pretty sure I recognized 95% of the games there and have played 75% of them at least once. My fave find was their TRON cabinet, since it’s definitely the most meta video game I know of.

Double Chocolate Triforce Cake

Thing 1’s birthday was over the weekend, which of course meant that we had to bake a cake. Since, in my experience, kids love baking cakes, Thing 1 and Thing 2 helped. I also believe that even if it doesn’t turn out perfectly, kids really do benefit from cooking with their parents.

Thing 1 requested a “chocolate Zelda cake with chocolate icing”. Since I am not known for my beautiful cakes (my 16th birthday cake being a great example of my skills), I decided to keep it as simple as possible. We used the tried-and-true Amelia Bedelia’s Sheet Cake recipe, which is found at the back of the story book Amelia Bedelia Bakes Off (Herman Parish, 2010). (You can also find the recipe via Desktop Cookbook.) This makes a very rich, moist, dark chocolate cake — which, as a bonus, is tree-nut and peanut free, and can be made vegan (which is great when you have to make cupcakes for school, FYI).


It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.

The kids had gone to bed by the time the cake was cool enough to ice, so it was my turn. I used the Chocolate Satin Frosting recipe from page 796 of the Joy of Cooking (Rombauer & Becker, 2006 edition). This recipe is ridiculously easy — since it’s mostly made in a blender or food processor, it’s only slightly more difficult than cracking open a can of pre-made frosting from the grocery store. It’s also a very dark chocolate icing, almost bitter, which is perfect for my little chocolate lover.

I made the Triforce design using a stencil. I went low-tech and drew the pattern with a pencil and ruler on a piece of card stock, then cut it out with scissors. Then I simply held the stencil very closely over the icing and sprinkled on the sugar. The result wasn’t completely perfect, but Thing 1 knew what it was supposed to be. As an added bonus, the coloured sugar added a lovely crunchy topping.

So happy birthday to my fabulous firstborn! I love you so much.

Ottawa Comicon 2018 Friday Pro Pics

As we do every year, we went to Richard Dufault‘s booth and had him take professional pictures of us in our costumes. As such, all the photos in this post are his work — and, as always, they are great!

Our Friday cosplay was from the video game Borderlands 2, which my husband and I play and, after Thing 1 watched us play for a while over our shoulders, we decided she could play along with us. Thing 2 is much too young for said game play (she’s really more on a Terraria level at this point), but she has watched over her big sister’s shoulder as she plays and had to get in on the fun.

My mother joined in on this cosplay even though she doesn’t play the game, and she went as a pretty darned good Scooter, and NPC who is the son of Mad Moxxi and Jimbo Hodunk, brother of Ellie. She made most of her costume, although my father made her armour and wrench out of foam.

I went as the player character Gaige the Mechromancer, although you might note if you look at the reference photos that there are some liberties taken with the costume. One of the great things about this game are the skins (alternate colour schemes) and heads (exactly what it sounds like) that you can earn throughout the game to customize your character. I chose the Grease Monkey head and Horrible Religion skin. As for the fact that I’m missing a few accessories… Well, I ran out of time. I was pretty proud of the fact that I made my first ever foam armour in the shape of a prosthetic metal arm, though. It’s not perfect, but not bad for a first go! And I am wearing a wrench on one ankle in a holster, and a hammer at my back in a belt pouch… But of course you can’t see that in these pictures, because I was trying to show off my “arm”.

Thing 1 went as the player character Maya, the Siren. The reason she’s holding her hand with the “tattoos” the way she is is that she’s supposed to be summoning kind of a lightning ball or a force bubble, which is a physical manifestation of her Siren power. (Trust me, it makes sense in the game.) That’ll have to be edited in at a later date. As with my costume, Thing 1 got to choose the skin and head, so she’s wearing the Professor of Pain head and the Light Urple skin. I chose to kind of de-sexify this costume a bit, i.e. remove the “boob window”, since Thing 1’s only a kid and I didn’t think it appropriate at her young age.

Last but not least, Thing 2 went as Tiny Tina. Yes, purists will notice that there are a few accessories missing, but I challenge you to keep a myriad of props attached to an excited six-year-old… I didn’t even try, and went with a simplified version. The only real impracticality of the costume she did end up with was the mask on the side of the head, which kept having to be readjusted. Thing 2 really liked being able to pose in silly ways and still stay in character, since Tiny Tina is actually a child in the game — and a demolitions expert. Trust me, it makes sense in context.

These were probably the most difficult and time-consuming costumes for the con, partially because I had to make three of them, partially because I had to work with stretch fabrics, and partially because the game puts so many tiny details into their character design! I do take comfort in the fact that we plan on wearing the costumes again for Halloween — provided that the girls don’t grow too much.

Ottawa Comicon 2018 Friday Pics

I kind of want to show the pictures of the costumes that I made after the pro photos come in, so that it’s possible to see what they’re supposed to look like before I get into the pictures where my kids aren’t goofing off. (Not that I mind the goofing off, but it does make it difficult to see what’s going on with the costumes.) But there were some other great costumes that we saw on Friday that my kids didn’t pose with.

My kids have no idea who this comic book version of The Wasp is, although I’m guessing many people these days at least have an inkling since the Ant Man and The Wasp trailers have hit. I was very impressed by the fact that although there had to be a lot of structure under the suit to secure the wings, her outfit was smooth and nearly seamless. This is a trick that’s difficult to pull off in real life.

This Gordon Freeman with a headcrab asking about the release of Half Life 3 made me laugh — especially since the headcrab has its own tiny coffee mug.

This tiny little Mega Man couldn’t have been more than four years old, and even so he had full-on armour and a blaster that lit up.

I believe that this was an original steampunk character. I was most impressed with her insanely complicated wig, and her gun that she’d made from scratch out of paper/cardboard!

This daring outfit is Ryuko Matoi’s battle costume from the anime Kill la Kill. Given how much skin is showing, it presents a lot of logistical challenges (and probably uses a lot of body glue).

This Harry Dresden from Jim Butcher’s novel series The Dresden Files was obviously based on the cover art, since he’s wearing a fedora (it’s an in-joke with fans that Harry never wears hats and actually rather dislikes them, but the publishers chose to add a fedora to the character on the covers as a kind of shorthand for a detective). I liked that his wizard’s staff and that Bob the Skull‘s eyes lit up.

And of course where would we be without a great Joker?

Getting There

I’m at the stage is pre-con costume creation where it feels like I’ve been working on these pieces forever, but they don’t seem to be getting any more complete. Part of the problem is that I’m onto the “finicky details” stage, which doesn’t have the big, visible milestones but is still incredibly necessary. Take Thing 1’s bodysuit, for example: it had lots of drawn-on detail to be done, which had me hunching over my desk for hours.

My biggest worry at this point is that I won’t complete my costume for Friday, which I have the materials for but haven’t started sewing. Wish me luck!