XP – Geeking out with Box Entertainment and Mockingbird

XP

 

Non-geeks, you can skip this one and come back for the next one. I’ve been geeking out to an extra level today. My new home, Mockingbird, played host to the fabulous Box Entertainment, for the launch of new monthly event, XP.

XP is a day to geek out, with board games, consoles, geeky quizzes and movies. This month’s was the launch day, with later events planned to run on a theme. Not being much of a gamer, I parked myself at the bar for some anime watching and some classic geek arguing. Who would win in a fight? Superman or the Hulk…any votes guys? I’m undecided.

The absolute highlight for me was the speed quizzing. Speed Quizzing is a smart phone based quiz, so no cheating! You download an app, and answer a mix of multiple choice and fastest finger first questions. When you quiz with geeks, it’s going to get competitive. Things soon got heated, with rounds on superhero aliases, movie soundtracks and general geek knowledge. I honestly cannot remember the last time I laughed as hard as I did during that quiz. So competitive, but so, so fun. It helps, of course, that my team, Angel or Spike (with Love Shack as our buzzer) came out champions. M performed the best victory dance I have ever seen in my life. My favourite moment though? A certain team member of mine yelling across the bar, “IF YOU’VE GOT A PROBLEM WITH FLASHDANCE, YOU’VE GOT A PROBLEM WITH ME!”

The whole day has had a great vibe. People came in little groups, or alone, but by the end, we were all one big group of mates, yelling and laughing and shouting. It’s been bloody awesome.

Now, obviously I’m biased, as Mockingbird is M’s place, but if you’re of the geek leaning at all, you need to get yourself to the next XP. Box Entertainment are god-damn heroes. Thanks for the best day ever guys.

XP will be held at Mockingbird on the last Sunday of the month, with the next one being on Sunday 22 February. See you there!

Friday Round Up

Links, loves and lomograms from the past week.

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  1. Rogue suit arrived!
  2. All the Tapas ever.
  3. Views of the city from M’s balcony.
  4. Brilliant, quirky artwork at the launch of 112 Space.

I’ve accidentally had a gin-soaked week again, with a lot of evenings in Mockingbird. There’s plenty of other nice stuff though. Last Friday, six of us went for tapas, in a restaurant I can only describe as being like someone’s living room. It was like going home for big family events, when your mum gets out the emergency chairs. The food was delicious though; all beautifully cooked. The night descended into chaos from there, but lots of fun was had, lots of wine was drunk, and hangovers were nursed in the morning.

Last night, I went with a couple of friends to the launch of a new events space in Digbeth, 112 Space. It’s been set up by a group of mates with the idea to run it as a ‘DIY space where creative projects can come to life.’ What they’re trying to do is immensely cool, and the venue looks great. The art on show was fantastic, and I cannot wait to see what they do next. Big love for the invite guys, you’re awesome.

This week’s links:
An Absolutely Fabulous movie might be coming this year.
7 of the best WordPress plug ins.
West Wing cast reunite for Big Block of Cheese Day.
24 thoughts you definitely had during 2014.
35 things I wish somebody had warned me about adulthood.

Friday Round Up

Links, loves and lomograms from the last (few) weeks.

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  1. Museum of Gallifrey – The Dr Who Experience
  2. Cybermen!
  3. Gin 0’clock
  4. And gin cocktails o’clock
  5. I need this necklace
  6. Trying on a sample sale bargain from ASOS. Beautiful collar!

There seems to be a distinct gin theme to this weeks round-up. I promise I’ve done things other than drink…

We had a second Christmas at my Dad’s last week. More presents, lots of food, lots of fun. We went to check out the Dr Who Experience, as I’ve not been since they’d redone it all. The actual exhibition space has loads more from the original series now, which was really interesting to see. The ‘adventure’ part has been redone too, and updated with Capaldi’s doctor. I won’t give anything away, I don’t want to spoil it, but I was really impressed. The adventure is much more interactive now, and we all had a blast. Those daleks don’t stand a chance against us…

This week has been a good one (an awesome one, actually). Starting on Sunday with a trip with M to the Ikon Gallery, I’ve had a few adventures. The Ikon’s current main exhibition is by Imran Qureshi, a Pakistani artist, with a specialism in miniatures. The beautiful, delicate work is flecked with blood-red paint, reflecting the violence in current affairs in Pakistan. With tiny flowers painted into the ‘blood’, it makes for striking, unsettling, yet beautiful work. After all that culture, M and I felt we needed to do something to counteract it. Gin based cocktails occurred, and we ended up befriending a couple of guys, one of whom was a location manager who’d worked on some of my very favourite TV shows and films. Interesting stuff!

The rest of this week has been a blur of G&Ts at The Mockingbird, giant plates of delicious Polish food at The Karczma, chats about retro cinema, and rewatching Sherlock (or rather, a rewatch for me and a first time viewing for M). Tonight’s adventure is testing out another Digbeth eaterie for Tapas, with M and some friends. I’ll report back!

This week’s links:
Sign up for my new mailing list.
What my dead partner’s surly cat taught me about healing.
The truth about Birmingham – #foxnewsfacts.
Digbeth pops up in The Prodigy’s new video for Nasty.
Against Domesticity.
How to create scrumptious food photos.
How to build an engaged mailing list.

Five Favourite Podcasts

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Commuting is dull. Really dull. Since moving, I’ve reduced mine by about half, but there’s still plenty of time staring blankly out of the bus window, or walking through town to get to work. I need some company for the journey. Enter podcasts. I’m obsessed. I listen to a huge number, covering everything from writing and marketing, to comics and fitness. Here’s five of my current favourites.

The High Tea Cast
Sam and Lea, the babes behind The High Tea Cast, have turned their podcast into an equally brilliant website, but for me the podcast will always be the heart of their brand. Monthly episodes feel very much like sitting down for a chat with your mates – the girls cover everything…food, music, sex, style, technology…the lot. And they do it damn well too. They’re funny, intelligent, a bit naughty and they eat a lot of cake. What more could you want?

Go Bayside
‘Fess up, who was a big Saved By The Bell fan? In Go Bayside, comedian April Richardson and a special guest watch and dissect an episode of Saved By The Bell. Sounds simple, but it’s hilarious. If you were a fan of the show, you will love this. April clearly has a lot of love for the show, while creating funny, clever and often bizarre podcast episodes. Go Bayside asks a lot of life’s big questions, like, why can Zack Morris stop time? Why does anybody ever tell Screech anything? And where the hell did Tori come from?

Nerdist
Part of Nerdist industries, the podcast sees host Chris Hardwick sit down with celebrities for relaxed chat. Regardless of who the guest is, I always really enjoy Nerdist. The interviews are very informal and conversational, which means you get more interesting answers than the standard PR rubbish, and they’re often really funny. And when it’s a guest I love? Even better!

This American Life
This American Life is the most popular podcast in America, with around one million people downloading every episode. As a Brit, I stayed away from it for a while, assuming it wouldn’t offer me much. How wrong was I? Each episode has a different theme, and explores a range of stories around that theme. Stories tend to be true, and taken from ordinary Americans. Whatever the topic, the episodes are always fascinating, and you’ll find yourself eagerly listening to stories about things you never knew you cared about.

Answer Me This
Helen and Olly answer questions submitted by listeners, from the serious to the downright silly. Results are unfailingly hilarious, often surreal, and will probably cause you to fall slightly in love with Martin the sound man. Just go and listen.

Anyone else a podcast fan? What are your favourites?

 

Why I Cosplay

Poison Ivy and Riddler Cosplay

 

Who had a dressing up box as a kid? Most kids love an excuse for fancy dress, be it birthday parties, Halloween or just whatever takes their fancy to get out that Princess dress or Spiderman outfit. Somewhere, as we get older, it stops being ok to dress up whenever you feel like it, and the dressing up box gets relegated to occasional costumes on socially acceptable occasions, which can be few and far between.

Unless of course, you’re a cosplayer…

Cosplay, or ‘costume play’, is often defined as performance art, rather than straight up fancy dress. The costumes, designed to represent a specific character, and interaction between cosplayers, have created a huge sub-culture, now largely associated with fan conventions across sci-fi and fantasy films and television, manga, comics, games and anime.

But why do it all? From the outside, cosplay can seem like a weird thing to spend your time doing. Cosplayers can often spend months sourcing and crafting costumes, all for a couple of days walking around a convention hall.

For me, there’s something very special about cosplay. Stepping into another persona for a day, or a weekend, is a powerful feeling that lets you leave behind the real world. I started dabbling in cosplay a little while ago, with a group of friends, but 2014 was the year it became something really important in my life. I added Poison Ivy to my cosplay repertoire and something just clicked. It was different to anything I’d cosplayed before and I suddenly understood why people spend the time and the money they do to be a part of this community.

After a rough few months, spending a few days at a convention feeling like the best super-villain that ever was, everything felt…easier. A little bit of Poison Ivy stayed with me. Back in reality, the stresses and worries of the last months were easier to carry. I could tap into that strength and confidence I’d put on in my Ivy persona. And that was amazing.

The community is the most important part of it for me. Since starting to cosplay Poison Ivy, I’ve met some amazing people. I always enjoy chatting to people at conventions, but since getting involved with the gang of misfits known as Gotham Cosplayers, I’ve been part of mad photo-shoots, made new ‘real-life’ friends, and found myself sitting in Pizza Express with several Jokers, Harleys and the Riddler. And who doesn’t want that?

Goals

Goals

Image from Death To The Stock Photo

It’s that time of year where most people start reflecting on the year before and the changes they’d like to make for the one ahead. New Year’s resolutions are made. Work harder, eat healthier, exercise more, drink less, learn a language, spend less, travel more. Birthdays and New Year prompt us into trying to change things or set ourselves targets. And they never seem to turn out quite in the way we expect.

I started 2014 in a very optimistic state of mind. I’d just started a new job, moved in with my then boyfriend, and was living in a new town. I was fairly sure I knew exactly how 2014 was going to go. Wow, was I wrong. What’s that old saying? Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.

By the end of 2014, the new job wasn’t so new (but still awesome), the then boyfriend was gone and the new town had been swapped out for a new flat in a new city. 2014 was hard. But it was also kind of amazing. Towards the end of the year, something clicked. The new flat I’d chosen in a panic began to feel like home. People kept telling me how me it is. I fell hard for Birmingham, too, which I didn’t expect. I’ve lived in a few different towns now, but Birmingham is the first one in a while that I’ve considered to be ‘home’.

But most importantly, I started saying yes. It’s easy to wedge yourself into your comfort zone and not do anything new, but it’s not good for your well-being. I am queen of the comfort zone, given half a chance. The bonus of the bottom dropping out of your whole world is that a lot of those things seem less scary. After all, what’s the worst that can happen, when everything you dreaded has already happened? I starting accepting more invitations, and doing things that were scary to me before. I said yes to meeting new people, yes to more cosplay, yes to conventions without the safety net of my friends, yes to one more drink when I should probably be home in bed.

And it’s been great. Thanks to that, I’ve met some bloody fantastic people and had some brilliant adventures. And it got me thinking. Specific goals are restrictive sometimes. I looked again at my 25 before 25 list and realised how few of them mattered to me now. I’ve already changed the list once, but this time I decided to throw it out all together. I don’t need targets to visit certain numbers of places or drink new things or eat certain foods. So the list has gone. I’ll still be trying to read the whole BBC Top 100 list, so that’s staying (no without the time limit of my next birthday), as that goal is still challenging me and making me happy.

I’m not making resolutions this year. Instead, 2015 is going to be the year of MORE. I’m going to keep saying yes, and see where it takes me. I’m excited.

What have you said yes to lately that’s surprised you? What are your goals for 2015? Made any resolutions?

(Not) Friday Round Up

Links, loves and lomograms from the last few weeks.

Friday Round Up

 

  1. Festive Arcade pops up at work
  2. EPIC hot chocolate
  3. Hipster coffee shop times at 6/8 Kafe.
  4. Birmingham Library from below
  5. New boots! Vintage score there
  6. Poison Ivy has a new cloak
  7. REINDEER
  8. Edible glitter in wine. Christmassy!
  9. Joker and Black Mask pick up coffee
  10. Even Ivy drinks Caramel Lattes
  11. Harley tucks in
  12. Millennium Quay in the sun

It’s been a busy few weeks! Christmas took up most of my time, with visits to family, big events at work, friends to stay and of course, the hilarious Christmas in Gotham shoot (pictures to come when they’re all up). I’m glad of the rest now things have returned to normal! It’s nice to be busy, but I was getting pretty tired out for a moment there.

So far, January is already treating me well. I came into 2014 in the midst of some big life changes, and feeling excited and happy to start somewhere new. Things may not have gone as I planned, and 2014 has undeniably been a hard year, but honestly? I’ve rounded it off and started the new one in a pretty good way. Right now, I don’t have any real expectations for what 2015 will bring, but I’m starting out happier, calmer and more excited than I thought I would be. And that’s a win right there. Bring on 2015. Let’s see what you’ve got.

Links from the last few weeks:
The best of 2014 in Birmingham.
Blogging tips from the experts – branding.
Things you learn growing up in a small town.
How to improve your outfit photos.

Poison Ivy – Robert John Parker Shoot

While at MCM Birmingham, I joined the incredible Gotham Cosplayers UK for a little meet-up and photo shoot. There’s usually a big gang of Gothamites at the bigger conventions, and it’s always fun to get together, check out everyone’s costumes and get some great shots of us all together.

Gotham Cosplayers UK

As part of the meet, lovely and super talented photographer Robert John Parker took some wonderful solo shots of my Poison Ivy cosplay, and some shots of myself and fellow Ivys, Miss Ivy Cosplay and Devil’s Little Sister Cosplay, and us with GCUK founder, our very own Riddler. His pictures were gorgeous, so I really wanted to share a few of my favourites with you. Get ready for the scrolling!

Poison Ivy and Riddler Cosplay

Poison Ivy cosplay

 

Poison Ivy cosplay

 

Poison Ivy Cosplay

 

Poison Ivy Gotham cosplay

 

Huge love to Rob for these pictures; I’ve never been part of a shoot like this before, but he was a pleasure to work with and made us Ivys feel very comfortable (despite the fact we were all freezing to death…) and we got some fantastic pictures from him. Make sure you check out the rest of his work. He has some amazing shots from MCM weekend.

I’ve got a couple of shoots already lined up with this cosplay, which I’m super excited about, as well as some slight tweaks to the costume. Watch this space!

Friday Round Up

Links, loves and lomograms from the last week.

Friday Round Up

 

  1. The bull goes gingerbread
  2. Gin from Secret Santa!
  3. Locating ourselves in Queen’s Wood
  4. The Coca-Cola truck is in town!

Thank God it’s Friday. Despite a short week at work, I’m ready for the weekend. We’re busy bees at work at the moment, with much Christmas planning. So much so, that I haven’t actually planned my own Christmas yet. I’ve bought exactly two presents so far, and while I have written Christmas cards, they’re currently in a pile on my coffee table and not actually posted. I’m doing so well…

Is anyone actually organised and ready? Everyone I know seems to be a vague Christmas panic. Still, festive plans are underway. Rats as Big as Cats and I are hitting the German Markets tomorrow, and I might even manage to not hate the crowds if I hit the mulled wine quick enough…

This week’s links:
Suicide Squad casting announced.
17 home truths all short ladies will understand.

MCM Birmingham Winter 2014

Better late than never, right? Let’s pretend this was nearer to the actual event, yeah?

Anyway, last month, Poison Ivy got a second outing at MCM Birmingham. It’s the first time I’ve been to the Birmingham convention, and I was thoroughly impressed! The NEC is always a good venue, and it didn’t fail this time. The convention was the perfect balance between being large with plenty to see, while still being manageable. It was busy, but not so crowded you couldn’t walk around and get at the stalls.

But let’s get to the important bit. The cosplay!

Lego Power Rangers cosplay

Power Rangers and Emmett (Lego Movie)

Batman Lego cosplay

Batman and Emmett

Disney cosplay

Aladdin and Jafar

Star Lord cosplay

Star Lords

Star Wars cosplay

Storm Troopers – 501st Legion

Iron Man cosplay

Iron Man and the best police officers EVER

Frozen cosplay

Gender bent Elsa

Wonder Woman cosplay

Wonder Woman

There was so much amazing cosplay. I can’t even begin to pick a favourite. The quality was so high, and everybody was incredibly friendly. I took so many pictures, so I just picked a few for here. If you’d like to see the rest, you can check out the album here.

The convention was well run, with no god-awful queuing, and some great stalls. Impressed, Birmingham, really impressed. I miraculously didn’t spend a small fortune on all things Firefly or Wonder Woman, which I put down to the sheer quality of the cosplay. I was too busy chasing people for pictures!

Sunday was immense; I caught up with the lovelies from Gotham Cosplayers for a photoshoot. I’ll be sharing the pictures from there very soon – they’re amazing!

Without question, I’ll be back to MCM Birmingham, and not just hitting the London conventions, for sure.