Celebrating and reflecting on six years as Mr. Clever and how it all began

“Science is a way of talking about the universe in words that bind it to a common reality.

Magic is a method of talking to the universe in words that it cannot ignore.

The two are rarely compatible.”

―Neil Gaiman, The Books of Magic

 

May 11th is the anniversary of an episode of Doctor Who that among many fans of the show lives in infamy, but for me is a work of art that has changed my life. It has inspired me, caused me pain, physical and emotional, remade me, then broke me again. Nightmare in Silver has become such a integral part of who I am that some people equate me with the titular villain of the story – Mr. Clever. If that sounds arrogant or over the top its because my spouse typed it.

All I can say is that it has been a bumpy 6 years since I started cosplaying as this character. I have learned a lot, made friends and lost them again.

I wanted this to be a review of the episode. A critique from the perspective of Mr. Clever. But how do I separate the joy of the episode from how I used that joy to craft this whole new persona and just run with it? I guess I can’t. So instead I came at this in a rambling, disjointed diatribe that became a novella on how this episode changed my life. The moment my Doctor, Matt Smith, stepped off the TARDIS onto Hedgwick’s World.

Six years ago, my spouse and I were sitting in bed and continuing our watch of Matt’s run on Doctor Who. CJ had been a fan of David, and I had already fallen in love with 11. His goofiness combined with his dark side had already won me over.

I remember CJ leaning towards the screen saying “Wait. This one was ALSO written by Neil? There were TWO? How come no one told us?”

We’ve always been huge fans of Neil Gaiman. I remember when CJ and I first started dating, we would have nightly conversations about American Gods. Now, of course, I know why no one told us. As much as I love NiS, I am in the minority. Watching it, I thought that somehow people just must have missed this one. Because how could you not love it?

Dead amusement park. Written by Neil. Warwick Davis. Little silver bugs. Cybermen. Cool chess game. And the single greatest villain ever. I mean, come on.

Looking back, I recalled a friend telling me that I would love Neil’s episode, and of course I know NOW that she meant The Doctor’s Wife, but every time I see her in person I smirk as she shakes her head.

Someone asked me once if I knew how long Clever was on screen, like in total. I sat down and clocked it once. It comes in at roughly 9 minutes. As I sit here and listen to the tippety tap of my keyboard, I look around at all the Clever swag that I have gotten over the years, the gifts that people have given me, the fan art, all the little silver creatures scattered around my house. Its incredible to me to think back and try to remember what my life was like before this. BC? Before Clever? Before con life? Before cosplay? Nine minutes changed my life.

A path is built by placing one stone at a time. How does one single character manage to be that stone, to set in motion a series of little events that lead to life altering decisions for so many people. And it all had to line up so perfectly. If I had already known what cosplay WAS, I don’t think I would have tried this. If I had already known what photoshoots were, and meet ups and cons, and had fb pages, and had friends that were Whovians – I think I would have been too freaked out to try to cosplay. I know for sure that if had known that people would have taken my photo and put it on the internet, I would have never even tried this. If I wasn’t allergic to so many things, would I have even found the mixture of ingredients to make the perfect working Cyberplanner piece? Who knows. One stone at a time, and the path was laid.

And what a path it has been.

I have learned a lot, made friends and lost them again.

I used to watch Doctor Who when I was very young, though I don’t remember much. My grandmother loved Tom Baker. Used to say “Oh, that man looks great in a scarf”.

Fast forward to 2009, CJ and I were living in California, and we started watching the 9th Doctor on reruns. But Matt’s run had already started. At the time I only knew one other person who watched Doctor Who and she was telling me that she “hated the new Doctor. Bring back David”. That was all I remember except for a few whispers here and there about Matt until MISTI-Con in 2013.

MISTI was where I met most of the costumed people that I admired and aspired to become. They were so perfect. Especially a pair of cosplayers I am still friends with today – The Malfoys. I still didn’t know what cosplay meant. I heard it once or twice, but only in reference to Anime. My friends called themselves costumers, performers, actors. Not cosplayers. So that is what I thought was the norm.

We finally finished David’s run and CJ was pretty upset. And TBH, David’s last episode is still one of my favorite endings. I loved it then and still find it moving now. We didn’t start Matt right away, but I was already searching Pinterest and Tumblr for memes and gifs of the 11th Doctor and already fell in love with him without even seeing an episode.

I thought I would make CJ feel better about losing David by buying him a fez. Except I didn’t want to take it off. And it became mine. Which kind of started a whole wardrobe filled with 11’s items. And I mean a wardrobe. I have an antique wardrobe that was my grandmothers filled with items that 11 wore. Mind you I never wear them, unless it’s for Clever. But I have them.

I tried cosplaying as ‘Town Called Mercy‘ 11. I tried the ‘Let’s Kill Hitler‘ green coat. I tried the standard purple coat sans Cybernetics. Eh. Wasn’t for me. I didn’t like it. Like all the other costumes before, I just didn’t get the appeal. I couldn’t understand why “those people dressed up”. Try as I might, I couldn’t be a Malfoy.

Until I saw 11 get converted into Mr. Clever. I lost my damn mind. I really couldn’t tell you why. Still. SIX years later. I don’t know what clicked. I have tried to analyze it, I have tried to figure it out. I don’t know. But I HAD to be him. Watching his smirks, his flirty outbursts, how manipulative he was. Or maybe it was the line about being effected by gold and cleaning fluids (two things that I’m allergic to). I knew instantly that he was my cosplay, my character. Maybe its because I knew I couldn’t act, and to me, cosplay is about the performance, so I knew I had to pick someone close to my own personality, or at the very least something that I could pull off. Or maybe its cause I always loved cybernetically enhanced things. Who knows? But at that moment the first stone of my path was put into place.

But HOW to become him? HOW was I going to pull this off? Looking at myself – long blonde hair, not exactly young and thin like Matt was, and well, not cybernetically enhanced. I refused to wear a wig. So dying my hair was the first permanent thing I did. But for two years, I refused to cut it. I thought I was too fat for short hair, and I didn’t want to be that person that cut their hair to look like a celebrity. Which was dumb. I could have saved myself and my friend Kat MANY hours of braiding my damn hair if I had just chopped it all off to begin with. Eventually I did chop it off to look like Matt’s. Thank god for Ashley and later Sarai, for being the amazing stylists that they are. Instead of taking two and half hours to get into costume, it now only takes about hour and half.

Next I started the acquisition of all the screen accurate pieces I would need. I managed to find all the pieces except for a coat. Unfortunately, I’m allergic to wool – lucky me. Include that in with the hundreds of things that I’m allergic to, so my search was a difficult one. I got very lucky and found a purple coat at a thrift store that I used for about the first two years. Very far from screen accurate but no one seemed to notice. I was all over BBC sites and in DW magazine with this coat. Eventually I got a custom made one and then this past Christmas I took a HUGE chance and got the Abbyshot replica which has become my favorite coat, not only because it doesn’t make me itch, but because it looks and feels fabulous.

So: Hair. Check. Costume. Check. Accessories including cybermites and hand pulse. Check. Now what to do about my face? Again, at this time I didn’t know any other Whovian cosplayers when I put this costume together. I didn’t know there were resources: forums, pages, groups, etc. I knew what I wanted, and I was going to become that. I did know one person who worked with prosthetics, so I asked him if he had ideas.

“Yes, use latex”.

“Um, I’m deathly allergic to that.”

“Well, you’re shit outta luck.”

I did some research on what people used for movies. Mostly latex, silicones, rubbers and urethanes. All things that I can not touch. Someone told me to search youtube. But I have never learned anything that I know how to do except by trial and error. So I sat down, and I experimented. I tried various clays. Nope. That burned a cyberplanner shaped rash onto my face. I tried Eva foam. Ugly as hell, made me itch and didn’t stick anyway. I gave up on the “suggested materials” and made my own. Fragile. Lightweight. Breaks by looking at it, I swear. But it works. 22 days later and I had a working, blinking, wireless cyberplanner piece. It is the most incredible thing I have ever made and the one piece of art that I am the most proud of, and the only thing I have *ever* made for myself.

Photo by Vignette Lamont Portraits

As an artist, over the years, I’ve made many pieces; from remade Breyer model horses, to wands and jewelry but only if it was a commission. Only if people paid me. That was my job. I never made art for fun. For myself.

Until I sat down to make the cyberplanner piece. No clue what I was doing, but I knew it had to be done. I had never done anything like this before – or since. It was an act of magick, filled with passion and planning and pain.

Every time I hold it in my hands, it fills me with such a sense of pride, wonder, and excitement. Well, until I have to put it on. Or until I have to take it off. Or until it gives me migraines. Or until it pushes into my head all day and causes me actual pain. I guess it’s more accurate to say I have a love/hate relationship with this…I don’t know…horcrux?

It’s more than a costume piece. More than a cosplay. Its pure magick. Something that resonates on its own, but incomplete without its owner. I feel incomplete sometimes when I’m not wearing it or maybe just feel more complete when its on. And sometimes I feel like I’m not worthy. Like Mjolnir and Thor.

Now I was ready…

Arisia 2014. This was the catalyst. The start of con life and all things Cyberiad and Clever and friends. Rewind to my life before – BC. Going out, socializing. It was hard, it was almost non existent, and it was harrowing. Especially getting dressed. Ugh, even now I just hate dressing up. Clothes are the enemy. I’ve always had issues with my appearance. Hated myself, my looks. Always been the ugly one, the fat one. Going out in public was never easy for me. Deciding to throw on a costume and go to a convention was an odd, out of character choice for me. Certainly for CJ. But we grabbed a friend, and off we went.

Boston Whovians were having a photoshoot but I didn’t want to be a part of it. Photos? Oh hell no! We stood at the bottom of the escalator and watched the procession of Whovians go by. ‘I’m going to just stand in the shadows and hope no one sees me’

Our friend said, “You know your face blinks, right?” and suddenly I heard what I think was  “Mr. Clever you better get your ass to this photoshoot” from the best looking River Song cosplayer I’ve ever seen. (Cat Smith, and who turned out to be a good friend shortly after.) I remember looking around for advice and him saying “Someone who very well could BE River Song just screamed the word shoot. I would follow her if I were you.”

SIDE NOTE: River Song is my second favorite DW character, so it didn’t take much convincing.

I was very blown away with the amount of people at this meet up, and was not expecting so many people to come running up to me, posing me, asking for photos and calling me “delicious”. (Yes that happened) I posed for one particular photo for my friend Lynn Wine, and that is the pic that ended up going viral. Not long after Arisia, it ended up on Geek Universe, The Nerdist, a few other geek sites, and got retweeted by BBCA. That was shocking for me, and I was not 100% sure how I felt about seeing myself all over the place. But that is how it began.

It’s more than a costume piece. More than a cosplay. Its pure magick.

Of course, with all the good things, there is usually bad. This is also the time period where I first started getting hate for my choice of characters, how I presented the character, etc. I talk all about that in another post here – Haters Gonna Hate.  Even with all the hate and negativity, I would not trade this, nor do I have a single regret.

I can’t emphasize enough how much my whole life changed at that very moment; Arisia 2014 was truly the point of no return.

***

And as with all my more personal posts I need to include something Taylor Swift:

I promise that you’ll never find another like me

Taylor Swift, “ME!”

Winds of Winter Masquerade 2019

Another year, another wonderful masquerade at the Hawthorne hosted by Creative Collective. This year’s theme was Game of Thrones, which proved a little more challenging for me than previous years did. How am I going to work Mr. Clever into this theme? Especially given that I am very unfamiliar with the world. I came up with the idea of Clever of Dragons, and had a few ideas on how to make it work. Unfortunately most of my ideas looked great on paper, but just didn’t seem to pan out the way I wanted.

 

My initial idea was to make a dragon shaped Cyber piece. It looks greats, but did not agree to being worn.

 

I had started to make a dragon shaped cyberplanner, and as amazing as it came out, it just did not fit well on my face, nor did it want to actually stay on. So I scrapped that, and just wore my alt cyberplanner piece. My good friend Mandi, who also happened to win Best Mask, made a caplet for me, which did not end up draping over me as well as I had hoped. So I scrapped that as well. All that I really ended up with was my cyber dragon – Fernando. Which came out very well.

 

Mr. Clever and Fernando.

 

Here is how I made him.  CyberDragon Tutorial. 

 

The Iron Throne was a fun and interesting photo opportunity. Witch Pix, the folks who ran the photo booth this year were really on point and went out of their way to help attendees pose to get the perfect photo. There were acrobats and themed foods. The best decoration though, in my opinion, was the giant dragon that they had in the ballroom. It was not only gorgeous, but was brought in from a private home in Marblehead. Someone just made as a decoration for themselves, it was so nice to see because it just felt like such a great sense of community to have it there.

 

 

Hard to see, but this thing was HUGE!
The Photo Booth people did a really great job.

 

Charles, Mandi, in her award winning handmade mask, myself, and Paul, all dressed for the ball!

 

Myself, Delia and Steve. Such a great looking couple.

 

I did have a hard time interacting with the performers because I just did not know who they were supposed to be so I did my best and told all of them that I thought they were beautiful and I hoped they won the Throne. That seemed to please them.

 

 

 

 

 

It was a very fun night out with friends and as always a great party. Already looking forward to next year.

 

My new Mini Clever and Cybermite

Most of you may know that I tend to send a mini version of myself along to some cons when I can’t be there.  This mostly happens at Gally, which usually means that whatever I send has to not only endure the general craziness of my friends, but also being packed up and shipped. So far, every Clever I have sent has technically survived, but he usually comes back in pretty rough shape. Now is this because of the USPS or my friends, well, I guess a little of both.  ( I will be posting the #CleverdoesGally2019 album soon, and you can decide!)

My friend Holly of Hollys Making Stuff crafts the cutest creatures of all sorts so I asked her to make me a wee Mr. Clever.  I was not disappointed when she sent me some WIP photos. Not expecting to see a teeny tiny cybermite on his lapel, but that got me thinking, and I asked if she would also make me a cybermite too.

I am really happy with how these came out. I can’t wait to take pictures of them all around the town and at every con we go to.

 

May have already taken them to the MFA.

 

How I made my Cyber Dragon Staff for the 2019 Hawthorne Hotel Masquerade Ball – a #tutorial

When I first decided to do my Clever of Dragons Doctor Who/Game of Thrones mash-up for the Winds of Winter masquerade ball I figured since it was going to be pretty obscure I needed some sort of prop to make it fun and to have something to tie in to the theme. The concept of a Cyber-Dragon staff seemed interesting and fun! And totally something Mr. Clever would carry.

 

Obviously, it was going to be silver, and I knew I wanted its eyes to be blue to match the blue lights on my cyberplanner. I had never worked with props of this nature before and the process proved to be a little bit more challenging than I thought especially since my craft area is not very conducive to making anything larger than a cyberplanner.

 

I also don’t have space away from my cats. Which is a whole other challenge!

 

I started with a roll of wrapping paper and I decided to make the basic head shape of the dragon itself out of paper mache. Mind you, I have never worked with paper mache before, not even as a child. The reason for this is that newspaper is part of the long list of things I am allergic to. So I wasn’t able to do work with the paper mache as well and as long as I had first planned. I did the best I could with it, and ended up filling in the gaps with aluminum foil and tape.

 

Not really looking the part yet.

 

At first, the shape looked way off.

 

Slightly better with the eyes.

 

 

Each individual dragon scale was made out of thin craft foam. Initially, I wasn’t going to cover the cardboard tube completely but that just got a little bit away from me. I started cutting out a few scales here and there, sometimes in bed, sometimes at the hair salon, sometime while I was waiting for laundry to dry – wherever I could. So I figured, well, I have all these scales, might as well glue them on.

 

Much better

 

The plastic that I ended up using for the eyes and the chestplate actually came from a Quidditch set that CJ got me for Christmas. The set came in a box, with all the Quidditch balls, protected in this one piece of plastic. I got so excited because I realized that the plastic was the perfect shape and size for the eyes and chest. It was also the moment where I realized that I went full on cat, as I was more excited about the packaging that I was about the product.

 

 

I carved out a hole in the wrapping paper tube for the chest plate, then cut out the eye holes in the head, put the plastic in. Found blue LED lights and strung them through. I then cut out a hole in the back of the tube for the lights’ battery pack. After that I just used a glue gun to glue the rest of the scales around the remaining openings.

 

Scales and eyes.

 

Finished!

 

To finish the head, I covered it the best I could with the rest of the scales, aluminum foil spikes, and window insulation around the eyes. I covered the entire thing in silver spray paint…

… and off I went to the ball. Except I forgot to cover it in sealant and my hands were covered in silver paint the entire night of the ball. I fixed it later, sealed it, just in case I ever use Fernando again. Yes, we have decided that his name shall be Fernando.

 

Mr. Clever has the Iron Throne!

 

I hope you enjoyed my first attempt at a tutorial! Stay tuned for more on future projects! 

 

Recreating some Mr. Clever fan art

One thing that I really enjoy and admire is cosplayers that recreate fan art in their photoshoots. So down the rabbit hole I went into searching for Mr. Clever fan art! There still isn’t a lot out there, but recently I stumbled across a few lovely pieces that I was able to incorporate into a recent shoot.  Most of the ones I found had various companions in the piece- mostly Clara, obviously.  My wonderful friend Kelly agreed to fill in for Clara in those instances, and those pictures will be posted soon!

For now, here is one example of a solo shot that I was able to do.

 

This was based off of this fantastic drawing that I found here on Deviant Art.

 

 

This was something new for me and I really enjoyed doing it and look forward to doing more!

2018: The Year of conlife, Halloween and injuries

I hadn’t planned on doing a lengthy end-of-year recap. But there are so many stories to tell, and I am nothing if not a storyteller.

 

2018 was certainly a year of ups and downs. The biggest hurdle was my health. In early 2017, I was diagnosed with severe arthritis and bone spurs on my left hip from an old riding injury. Cortisone shots were then prescribed every two to three months. Even with the shots, I spent all of 2017, and most of 2018 in astronomical pain. There would be entire weeks that I couldn’t dress myself, or go up and down the stairs without assistance. Tying my shoes, and showering alone were things of the past.

 

The area that I was most affected was my riding and my inability to safely work around horses. I kept going, kept pushing through the pain to ride, to do the one thing that I had done for work and joy for decades. But it was soon clear that even grooming was too much, as I couldn’t even pick feet. All it took was a horse to rub up against me and they could knock me down. It was now unsafe for me to be around my wonderful animals anymore. This was the single most difficult thing to digest and sent me into months of depression.

 

My one solace was conlife. As hard as it was to get dressed, I somehow managed to put Clever on and miraculously get out the door. It was hard, it was excruciatingly painful, and I ended up relying heavily on the magic of my cosplay. I have often joked that if I can just get my costume on, it does the rest. And for about two years, this was most certainly the case. However there were times that even with the cosplay on, I could only last one day of a two day con.

 

The first con of 2018 brought about one such instance of debilitating pain. Arisia 2018 marked my 5 year anniversary of officially going to a con as Mr. Clever. This is one of our absolute favorite cons, and the one that we always have the most friends that go with us, and yet somehow always meet new people. This year was no different. With a bunch of wonderful crazy, costumed friends in tow, off we went for day one. As per usual we did the Running of the Doctors, tied a bunch of people up with my rope, attacked the vendor room with financial rage, and had our usual lunch at the bar. On Sunday, I broke out Darth Clever and ended up meeting two new amazing friends, still known to us as Missy and Clara. This was the highlight of the weekend and what con life is all about! This year I was supposed to be on a few panels, but the pain proved to be too much, and I had to opt out because by Sunday morning I couldn’t even walk. We spent most of Sunday hanging out in the lounge, until I couldn’t take it anymore and we left.

 

I was so lucky to have so much support. I stayed in this chair for most of the day because the pain was bad.

 

Not one to quit on having fun, the next weekend I judged the costume contest at the annual masquerade ball at the Hawthorne Hotel, hosted by The Creative Collective. This years theme was Through the Looking Glass. So of course, I HAD to do a mash-up of Mr. Clever and the Mad Hatter.

Teeny hat – but it fit well over the cyberplanner parts.

 

The ball is a lot more low key than a con, and the hotel has plenty of places to sit, so it was not as hard on my hip as Arisia was. It was an incredible night, and I am forever grateful for being a part of this event since its inception.

 

Most people that know me well, know that every February I try to throw CJ, my amazing, wonderful, perfect spouse a themed birthday party. CJ is like a child when it comes to his birthday. He will run around yelling “BIRTHDAY!” all day until someone pays attention to him. So far I have done Sherlock, IT Crowd, Avatar the Last Airbender, Rick and Morty and now Doctor Who. CJ’s fave Doctor is 12, Peter Capaldi. I decorated the entire house to look like the inside of the Tardis, complete with console, Pin the Eyebrows on Peter, and we even had a birthday cake shaped like a tank. As party favors, every person had black sunglasses with “attack eyebrows ” on them. (Remember those – they make another appearance soon). Everyone came dressed in cosplay, which wasn’t hard since most people we know are Whovians! It was so amazing to be able to bring so many smiles on so many faces – especially CJ’s.

 

12 on a tank, and a TARDIS console.

 

February was also an amazing month because I got to work with Sauvage Photo + Edit aka Vignette for the first time! Contrary to popular belief I still do not like my photo taken. I have gotten much better with it over the years, and cosplay has helped a ton. Many times I push myself to do it because I like the challenge and feel the more I do it, the more I will overcome my fears. Photoshoots used to be challenging for me, as there are only so many canon poses available but now I enjoy taking Clever out of the blue box and doing wild things with him. Vignette is an incredible photographer and a warm, funny, kind soul.

I enjoy taking Mr. Clever out of canon poses and doing different things with him.

 

We had already bought our tickets for Regeneration Who (ReGen) before they announced Peter Capaldi, but when they DID, CJ kinda lost his mind. I love, just love that he finally has “his” Doctor. And 12 really does suit him. In so many adorable and annoying ways. The “no hugs”. Omg. So we packed up the new car and drove to Baltimore. ReGen was hot or cold for me to say the least. The worst parts of ReGen were the assault, sexual harassment and physical pain from being jumped on. (Caused by other con goers – not staff members) I am still not ready to talk about these traumas yet. But someday I will write this all down and share my entire experience.

 

The best parts of Regen was seeing CJ get to meet Peter, get to meet his Doctor. Which of course, yes, I have a story. We have never cared about celebrities (outside of Jenna Coleman, I really don’t care about anyone except James Roday and Dule Hill) but we did the thing. We bought tickets for an autograph and our very first photo op. Ever.

 

CJ has social anxiety, so we had rehearsed what to say to Peter, how to say it, where to stand, etc. This is how CJ operates. He had cue cards, like the ones from Under The Lake, made by our friend Melissa, ready to read so he would know exactly what to say. He also had one cue card with BOTH sides written on it to finally hand to Peter. One side mentioned all the wonderful things he wanted to say about his Doctor, the other side was funnier and mentioned how CJ was thankful for having a Doctor that also didn’t like hugs. We walked up to his table, CJ handed him the cue card. Peter read the one side, said “Oh, how lovely” then proceeded to slowly get out of his chair and walk over to CJ. At this point I knew he was going to hug him and I lost it. I was cackling already. It was the most awkward hug ever. Poor CJ was torn between this is the greatest moment ever, and why is this person hugging me? Peter kinda then glanced over at me like “Who is this crazy cyberman?”, sat back down and I very dramatically flipped over the cue card, slammed it on the table and exclaimed “but wait, there’s more!” Peter looked down, read the “no hugs” part and went “OOOOOOOOOH”. I was laughing so damn hard, I thought I was going to fall over. He took the journal that CJ had wanted him to sign and autograph as “Who likes hugs? Not us!”

 

Achievement unlocked.

 

The next day was our photo op with Peter and Michelle Gomez, which CJ was also very nervous about. Our first op, we had no idea what to expect. Luckily, we had already been up to the photo area to get some cosplay photos, so he knew the lay out of the area, and that helped ease his nerves. Remember those party favors? Well I had decided to pack a few for the con. I made the suggestion to CJ that we ask Michele and Peter to wear them, and we do a sort of CSI: Gallifrey pose. We waited our turn and when we got up to them, I asked Michelle to wear them and she was downright giddy about it. I gave Peter his pair and he looked at me and said “ Do I NEED more eyebrows?” We got one of my favorite con photos ever in one take, and I couldn’t be happier for CJ. Watching him meet his Doctor, and the seeing how hilarious the interaction was made the trip worth it. Even with the trauma, I would not do it differently if it meant CJ didn’t get to meet Peter.

 

Squad Goals

 

Every May 11th, or as close to it, since 2014, most of my friends and I get together and celebrate the anniversary of when Nightmare in Silver aired. The first year was just supposed to be a viewing party. Except people brought me cake. Well, two cakes to be exact. That said Happy Birthday Mr. Clever. And had Hello Kitty on it. This has now become an annual thing. And has, no lie, outgrown my house. I am not joking when I say that we are renting a hall for 2019. This year, aside from the normal shenanigans, we also ventured to NY to visit the Pandorica Restaurant for the first time. It was a bittersweet visit. I had been planning this visit with my friend Rachel, but that wasn’t meant to be as Rachel passed away just a few months before. Shirley was a gracious host and we had a blast! I highly recommend going.

 

Shirley is such a great host! Wonderful place to visit!

 

The trip to the Pandorica was our last outing before my usual summer hibernation. This summer was extra painful due to my ever increasing pain and immobility. The cortisone shots had stopped working, and I had zero relief. One last ditch effort to seek help brought me back to my surgeon who told me that my hip had deteriorated so quickly that he couldn’t believe I have been walking on it all this time. The decision was made to replace my hip altogether. At the end of July, I finally went in to have my hip surgery. My recovery was quick, and in less than two days, I had no need for a walker, could already go up and down the stairs, didn’t need pain killers, and was driving in less than two weeks. I had very little PT, as they were shocked at how quickly my body accepted the new, um, upgrade. I am finally pain free for the first time since Dec 2016.

 

So what do you do when you are pain free? You get back on a horse. I am so lucky to have friends that have horses for me to ride, and I am so happy that I can ride pain free again! I spent most of September slowly getting back into shape, riding when I could, and preparing for October.

 

Ever since I started cosplaying as Mr. Clever I have been wanting to figure out a way to bring him to Salem in October. But he is too fragile and valuable to me to wear in the insane crowds. CJ and I thought, well what if I did a Zombie version of him, except with grease and oil and random cyber parts instead of flesh and blood. So I threw Zombie Clever together and brought him out for Super Megafest as a trial. Ripped pants, tattered vest, and an old cyberplanner that I had meant to throw away years ago that I found and added one light to. It was a lot to fun to wear! Was a blast as always, especially since it moved back to its original location in Framingham. Arriving home from Super Megafest was a different story.

 

For a few months, our old ginger cat, The Doctor, had been showing his age. Frail, thin, losing his appetite. But still purring, still happy. We had made the decision to put him down that week if we didn’t see a change, but he didn’t make it. When I walked through the door and saw him lying in his bed, I knew he had passed. He was so a grumpy old man, hated my other cats, but loved people. Always wanted to be pet, always up for a head boop. He will be missed by so many.

 

R.I.P Doctor. Until your next regeneration. You are missed by many.

 

Some actors from Twin Peaks were going to be at Rock and Shock the same weekend as Super Megafest, and since I was back to my normal conlife speed, we decided to do two cons in one weekend. Zombie Clever needed a picture in the Black Lodge. We were so blown away at the amount of art that we all saw and wanted. Not to mention the fun of chatting with Malcolm McDowell while he was shopping for t-shirts. We will be going back for sure.

 

I got so excited when I saw this set up. I have been a Peaks Freak for years!

 

The true test of Zombie Clever however was taking him out in Salem, in October, in the vast crowds. The beauty of this costume is that I DID get bumped into, had something spill on me, and had it broken (which is my fear with NiS Clever) but it doesn’t matter since it blends in with the costume. I did get bumped into a lot, which is normal. I even had some people recognize my character! The biggest accomplishment though was that I finally did it! I went out in Salem, in October in a costume that I loved and felt comfortable in.

 

Photo by the amazing John Andrews of Creative Collective MA

 

Halloween itself is not for the faint of heart, and even with a crowd safe costume, we all planned to get out of the main areas by nightfall if we could. This year wasn’t too bad, but even still, with road closures, massive mostly drunken crowds, and police everywhere, we did what any group of costumed people would do with a 12 year old along for the ride – we went trick or treating. At this point there were 11 of us. Ten adults taking a near-teeneager trick or treating. Except this is us. So of course there’s a story.

 

And that story is Boot Candy.

 

Have I told you about my good friend Richard, aka Tequila Mockingbird? No? Well, Richard is a drag queen. And when you are dressed in drag wearing some fabulous boots, your feet might hurt when you walk the mile from downtown Salem back to my house, plus with the added hours of walking to go trick or treating. So you do what anyone would do, you take them off and have your chivalrous bf hold them, which is what Donnie did. So when we came to a house with all of us, Donnie, who had the boots in his hands, would run up to the door and yell trick or treat! At first people were putting candy just in our friend’s kid’s bag. But when we got to about three houses down, some nice woman looked at Donnie, who hadn’t had time to put a costume on, and said “Oh would you like some candy for your boots?”

 

Now, what candy loving person is going to say NO? Not one of my friends!

 

“Yes?” So Donnie got the first of many pieces of boot candy that night.

 

Off we ran to the next house! Trick or treat!

 

Except this time Donnie shoved both of Richards boots in the peoples’ faces. And they just dropped candy into the boots. No lie. I thought we were going to wet our pants we were laughing so much. Walking up and down the streets of Salem, all night, laughing and yelling BOOT CANDY. By the time we got back to my house and everyone emptied their bags, Donnie had filled Richards boots to the brim with candy. It was one of the best nights ever.

 

“Trick or Treat, smell Richard’s feet.” For real, though.

 

The energy of Salem in October is like nothing else, and I truly come alive during this time. Even after being a tour guide for eleven years, I never tire of it. I always look forward to October. I could spend every waking minute downtown during October if I could. (I have already started a countdown until next October.) And now I know I can do it comfortably, in a great costume! And now we have boot candy and zombies, and new traditions, and more friends than ever to share it with.

 

Truly the BEST October ever.

 

November is usually spent recovering from October. And this year that was certainly the case. I hadn’t been that active in October in a long time and post October sadness set in quickly. It didn’t help that I was kinda bummed that Jenna Coleman canceled RICC. She is the only person that I want a photo with. Ah well. Someday. RICC was still a lot of fun, especially since we opted to go on Sunday to avoid the crowds.

 

The best part of November however was the soft opening of Kakawa Chocolate Shop here in Salem! You have no idea how long all of us have been walking past, staring into the space, longing for this place to open. About 12 of us were walking by one day and the manager, Jack Bauer, was working inside. Our resident chocoholic, Paul, went up to the glass and smooshed his face up against it. That got Jack’s attention all right. He came out and introduced himself, and so now myself, Chuck and Paul have been going almost every single weekend since. That isn’t an exaggeration. Kakawa has kind of become our home away from home.

 

December is usually pretty slow, event wise. This year there were two really fun events that I hope happen again in 2019. One was SqueeCon, that I had been excited about for awhile. Hansi Oppenheimer, the Creator/Director is not only a good friend but a badass filmmaker and proponent for equal rights and diversity in film and art. The con itself may have been held in a tinier venue than most but the venue itself was stunning – quaint historic playhouse nestled in downtown New Haven, CT. The programming that Squeecon offered was diverse, unique and unlike other cons. As excited as I was for this con, the fear settled in just as quickly. I already wrote some of my thoughts on how I felt before Squeecon here. But I put the costume on, and I faced MANY fears at this con. The fear of being shunned, the fear of being inferior, and the biggest fear – going on stage and doing a Q and A panel. When I was asked to be a panelist/guest, I thought it was going to be in the same capacity like any other con. Let’s discuss how to make a costume, or Cosplay is Not Consent, seated behind a table. But like anything else Hansi does, this was unique. Myself and some amazing cosplayers and artists were seated on this glorious stage and asked questions pertaining to ourselves as cosplayers and this was a first for me. As was being on a stage and allowing myself to be videotaped. It was terrifying, but there was something very welcoming and comforting about this crowd. Of course, I probably made a fool of myself. My rope had its own chair, and I did swear. A lot. “I fucking loved Nightmare in Silver!” But I had a bunch of friends with me at this con, actually most of them drove up with me, so it was a ton of fun.

 

All the Whovians! 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, Yaz, Jack and Mr. Clever! And these are just the people that went to the cat cafe with me. LOL

 

We also got to visit the Mew Haven Cat Cafe which was super fun too as the people there are Whovians. They were excited when 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, Jack Harkness, Yaz, a Tardis Ghostbuster and Mr. Clever walked in. I still can’t believe we paid money to go play with cats. Don’t anyone tell OUR cats this, ok?

 

The other event that was a ton of festive fun was Haunt The Halls. I threw on a festive version of Clever, met up with some friends and we all went to visit Paul at his art booth, and got photos with Krampus. We also did get called naughty by a rather mopey Santa.

 

The last social event that I had as Clever in 2018 was another photoshoot with Vignette. This time however, I had the gorgeous Kelly with me as NiS Clara. It was so nice to be able to recreate canon shots and some fanart. After lunch which consisted of pizza, things got, well, entertaining. CJ decided that we should recreate a rather famous type of scene. I’ll just let the photo speak for itself. This was by far the most fun, hilarious, off script shoot I have ever done, and I can’t thank Kelly enough for being the BEST sport. It was also a huge treat to not only get my new Abbyshot coat in time for this shot, but to have Abbyshot love Vignette’s photos from this shoot and use one of them. Truly a great time.

No words needed! LOL

 

We may have gone a little overboard this year for Christmas, and we may have invited more people over than my house can handle anymore. I need an actual Bigger on the Inside House. Which reminds me, did I mention CJ got me a life-sized Tardis for Christmas? Where am I supposed to put this?

 

I am typing the last paragraph of this blog on New Year’s eve. Hoping to wrap all this up in time for actual New Years Day. Sitting here reflecting on all this. Laughing, smiling, sometimes crying, messaging friends, “Do you remember the time we did…?” 2018 was filled with emotional and physical pain that I had never experienced before. But it was also filled with great new adventures and friends, fresh start and the promise of even better things to come.

 

My goals for 2019 are very simple. Ride more, adopt another cat, more Clever mash-ups, and enjoy my second chance at better health, because most people don’t get one.

 

This has been your Year in Review for the year ending 2018.  Cyberplanner out.

Happy New Year! 

 

11 Days until 2019!

 

Only eleven days until 2019! See what I did there? That means only 11 days until I can get my butt in gear and write a Year in Review, too. So many things have happened in 2018.

 

Also, who else is excited for the Doctor Who special? I am very curious to see what happens.