Good bye (for now) Beard Bros

Back in about February of this year, my friend Karl mentioned that a local game store (Beard Bros) was having board game nights every Wednesday and I might like to drop by. Advantage for him, the store was walking distance from his home (a long walk, but for someone who doesn’t drive walking distance is a pretty good range!) and only a short drive for me.

And it was FUN! Getting to hang out, talk gaming, play games, every week… well, I started doing work-from-home days on Wednesdays so that I could fulfill my gaming need without stressing over traffic or struggling to get to the game store in a timely manner. That turned into a weekly KBBQ for Karl and I, time to catch up, vent about our week, and get our meat-food cravings satisfied! Followed by, of course, game night. My copy of Red Dragon Inn actually got PLAYED – since I was always having trouble getting coworkers to make time for it. Recently we added a Korean fried chicken dinner as a variation to our KBBQ tradition, and started the Pathfinder 2.0 playtest ( on Wednesday evenings. It was great.

I started coming down other days, sometimes even my Saturday nights, to hang out and talk everything gaming, I even started to get back into Warmahordes (Warmachine/Hordes – the miniatures games) and mini-painting.

But all good things, as they say…

The owner of the store became not just a source for gaming good times, but a friend. However the store ran into some rough spots, and so he is having to close the doors as of the end of this month. It’s still his goal to run an area game store, so while it may be a while before a new opening I fully expect that some day Beard Bros game store will live again!

So let’s pour one out for the homies, and see how we can keep my Wednesdays as a great release valve for work/life balance!

To Beard Bros. *clink*

Annual Costuming Conundrum

I haven’t worked on anything special for Halloween. But that doesn’t make me bereft of costuming, not by a long shot.

So, I have a classic Halloween party on the Saturday before Halloween, a Witches Brunch the day after that party, the day of Halloween is a work from home/game store day, and then the Saturday after Halloween is a Day of the Dead/Halloween party.

Witches Brunch is easy – I have a wonderful maxi wrap dress from Elhoffer Design in Slytherin green and silver and a black and green sequined witch hat. Especially since I will probably be wiped out from the party the night before (and likely well into the morning of) the brunch, this should be easy to assemble. In a perfect world I would use some of the beautiful nail wraps I have in Slytherin house colors, but wraps tend to be worn for weeks, so one day is a bit much to theme around with so much else going on.

The Bombshells Catwoman is likely coming out for the pre-Halloween party, because I want an excuse to wear it and it’s a short enough skirt I can never wear it to work. Yes, the sunglasses are going to be difficult at night, but I’ll figure something out. Must iron the dress. Gloves mean nail wraps are not a concern.

So that’s two, of the four. This week I’m going to Disneyland, so I will be BB-8 bounding once more (as seen for my birthday a couple years back) 

That means my nails may be orange or white this week – and that could easily last through the rest of the month… provided that color works with everything else?

So now it’s game store consideration. Bombshells Catwoman again? Mara Jade with wig is a bit much for just going to the game store. My other Elhoffer midi wrap dress for a more casual witch – in my true house Ravenclaw blue accents? Easy, quick, comfy, cute… heavily winning in my estimation so far.

Finally, the Day of the Dead party – I have NO IDEA what to wear. More Bombshells? I do love that dress after all! I’ve never made it to this particular friend’s party – not sure how much of it is just late Halloween and how much is actually focused on Day of the Dead. This is the group doing the Witches Brunch, so no Slytherin, but I could Ravenclaw?

So I guess I have more of it planned out than I thought, without any more indulgent purchases!

Pen to Paper in Stormy Brain Weather

When I’m manic, writing is a blessing. My thoughts flow faster than my fingers, so I can use that to slow the brain-loops down as I record the stream of crazy. Sure, it needs editing later, but it gets words on paper. Ideas jump on top of each other to be represented and heard.

Depression is a blinking cursor on a mountain of white empty space.


Later, I’ll do it later.

Later never comes.

The ideas are there, but none of them have enough value.

Why bother.





WonderCon 2019 – planning in progress

“WonderCon isn’t until March, why are you planning your costumes already?” Well, because I’m planning my Halloween 2019 costume already, and if I finish it early enough I’m wearing it to WonderCon. Duh.

“Wait, Halloween next year? It’s not even Halloween 2018 yet, why are you planning 2019 already?” So I can wear it to WonderCon? Kidding!

Mostly because I plan to join friends at Disneyland for a group costume spectacular in late September of next year, which means putting down dibs on my character to avoid overlap. The theme is Jedi/Sith crossovers with Disney characters… in my case I already own a purple lightsaber so I’m going with the Cheshire Jedi!

This harkens back to my pin trading days, where my screen name was “Cheshire Nomi” – Cheshire being the obvious Cheshire Cat that I collected pins of and Nomi being a reference to my common screen name Nomi Jade, a Star Wars fanfic character/nickname I had developed in High School and still use extensively to this day. Nomi was referential to Nomi Sunrider, a Jedi from the ancient Sith Wars. So Cheshire Nomi clearly ties quite cleanly to a pink and purple grinning Jedi, right?

The basic Jedi layering works well with alternating pink and purple layers to evoke the feel of stripes. But nobody makes Jedi tunics in pink or purple currently, so this is either a custom order from some Etsy vendor… or a sewing project!

Normally a sewing project involves showing up on my Mom’s doorstep with pictures and relying on her amazing needlework, but this is a straightforward enough project that my ambitious self is willing to, with extensive help of course, spend some of my holiday break this year… sewing! Well, botching attempt after attempt, but maybe coming out with something wearable in the end.

Because this is utterly non-approved colors by Rebel Legion or other official standards, I get to go off the reservation with style, as well. Part of me has considered a Satele Shan-esque look, or at least a sleveless Jedi tunic.

In a perfect world, I will acquire some pink and purple fur to back a set of fingerless gloves and make leg warmers to go over purple boots, then if I’m really crafty some fur-backed cat ears to clip to my head. Maybe a pink and purple wig?

Purse gets tricky, no ideas yet. What day to wear it at WonderCon is also a bit tricky – though having a wig makes it almost a guaranteed Saturday outfit, since that’s the day I have the room the whole time for retreating and re-adjustment.

Crowded Cranium – Character Creation

New characters – new names – new backstories.

I’ve been playing the same characters in our every-other-Sunday game for 14 years. Sure, we’ve paused for a few interlude games, but over all my effort has been focused on these three – Flynn, Ivonna, and Ciara. Last year I took a background I had been playing with in my head (and on paper) to join a Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition game, but since the game is mostly combat focused, the back story doesn’t really matter, it’s more a test for how the character plays in those situations.

That means I haven’t put the major thinking into a new fully fleshed out and ready to play character in some time.

Then we start moving towards a point where Flynn may retire as a character. So I start writing up Wren, the Cygnaran noble writer. Doing a lot of research since I have not played a Cygnaran, a noble, nor a writer (Bard without music? Vigilante? Other?) in this setting before.

While that’s still bouncing around, I join a casual Saturday night game themed around the ‘Welcome to Nightvale‘ podcast – but given a fantasy setting twist. So I take advantage of the unusual setting to play a race I’d never have access to otherwise – a Sylph (descendant of an air elemental in Pathfinder’s setting). To add to the wispy aloof nature, I make her an Inquisitor of the church. In writing out backstory I played with trying a very different ‘voice’ and since I’m not quite happy with it, the story continues to ricochet around in my mind.

To add to the madness, a friend invited me to join an In Nomine game on a live stream – you can actually watch the first game on September 16th at Back In The Deck’s Twitch when we kick off the campaign! So in letting concepts kick around, I generated a more modern take on the role an Ofanim (the messengers of Heaven, who have a true form that manifests as a wheel of fire) might adopt in a vessel form – the restless energy in the form of an Uber driver, working for Yves, Archangel of destiny – as she tries to encourage people to get to their true destiny, while driving them to their actual destination. But that’s another being who needs to be given some depth occupying the corners of my crowded skull.

When you’ve played a character for a long time, it gets easier to slip into their skin, you know their quirks and issues. A new character takes a great deal more concentration as you learn who they are and how they tick. I can honestly say a few times my own characters have surprised me with the people they actually are once put into play. Balancing three at once is a feeling that borders on disassociative personalities populating my madness muddled mind.


Costuming Procrastination

So I am going to Labyrinth Masquerade Ball for the first time EVER this year! (This is a thing I have wanted to do for many years)

This ball can be attended in formal wear and a mask, but costumes are distinctly encouraged, and they more elaborate or absurd, the better! So even though it’s my first year, I decided to put SOMETHING special together. The trouble is finances – I have a relatively short time frame, limited crafting ability, and not a big budget.

So with a little brainstorming I decided to convert an existing dress:

Image may contain: Willow M Hawker

Into an Orca!

Image result for orca

Okay, yes, it’s a little weird. So am I. I had planned to document my crafting efforts (dorsal fin, blow hole hair style, mask modification) here… you may have noticed there have been no ACTUAL posts of this.

That’s because I’m being lazy. Work is stressful, lots of gaming outside work is happening, and so crafting just… isn’t. I have the mask I need to modify (black mask, turning the eye hole rims white), I have the blue hair lights (yes, you heard me – hair lights), I know what fin I want to order to recolor and change the straps on, but none of this is actually, you know, going forward.

I haven’t even taken the dress to the dry cleaners.

I have two weeks. This has to happen.

Oh no, I just thought about the fact that I need to work on makeup, too!



Rosencrantz: Heads.
(He picks it up and puts it in his money bag. The process is repeated.)
Rosencrantz: Heads.
Guildenstern (flipping a coin): There is an art to the building up of suspense.
Rosencrantz: Heads.
Guildenstern (flipping another): Though it can be done by luck alone.
Rosencrantz: Heads.
Guildenstern: If that’s the word I’m after.
Rosencrantz (raises his head at Guildenstern): Seventy-six love

What in the world am I on about today?

Every year a group of friends selects a Saturday night in late July to mid August to have a birthday party for the Zodiac Leos in the related circles of friends that intersect there. Aptly named, it is the Leo Party. It’s been running annually for twenty two years.

For fourteen of those years my every-other-Sunday tabletop group has been running a game set in the Iron Kingdoms/Warmachine universe.

While the latter group is (mostly) members of the former circles, the overlap is not perfect and the larger circles are not cognizant of the dates the latter group meets. In planning the schedule of the latter gaming group is not an element to map for.

This means that every year there is a 50/50 chance that the Leo Party will be followed by a game day.

For fourteen years, every Leo Party has been followed by an IK game.

Without fail.


Serious Steel

A year ago I came across a writing prompt on Reddit:

“You’re at the largest Renaissance festival in the US when the zombie apocalypse starts.”

The song ‘Serious Steel‘ by Leslie Fish came to mind immediately, as did my experiences at Faire, so as a quick writing practice I came up with something I’m still a bit fond of…

“Damn, the Celts are looking more hung over than usual,” Sam muttered, hefting his pike as he headed out onto the field. Sure enough, the usually energetic band of opponents to the English in their daily battle pageant were groaning and dragging themselves onto the field.

“Sam, I don’t think they’re hung over…” Chuck said from behind him. In his real day job Chuck was a nurse at the local hospital, but at Faire he was called Charles and he wielded his bastard sword with ease in defense of Queen and Country. “They don’t look healthy at all, and I think they’re chanting something like, well, did Liam just say ‘Brains’?”

Instead of an organized charge onto the field, the camp of Celts oozed men and women out in drips and drabs without their weapons or armor as expected, all of them groaning and staggering towards the pikemen, at first accompanied by a rousing cheer from the audience – which quickly turned to mutters, confusion, and finally a single high pitched scream as one woman noticed Liam’s lack of a left arm, just a dry stump where ragged flesh hung.

But without hesitation the captain called the charge, Sam found himself joining the ranks marching forward, and while his stomach did flip-flops he realized the battle was no pretend-play this time. He felt the weapon make contact with flesh and he pushed on, digging it into the torso of the friend he’d drank with over many an evening. It was the beginning of the end, but his instincts lead him to try to protect the people who watched that day.

The next few hours were a blur. He’d taken up the sword after his pike had been shattered. Many of his friends were dead, and the barber surgeon was forced to play his part for real, bandaging as best he could and making the call when a soul was lost, with Chuck’s help. Decapitation was the order of the day, it was the only way to be sure, and it made everyone sick.

The hair braiding booth became an orphan-care, watching the children that had lost their parents or those whose parents were busy with other activities like manning the pyre, which had once been the site of the Maypole. It seems that after the initial push there had been a lull, but cell phones weren’t getting any signal, and anyone who had been sent away from the park had yet to return or send word back that anything was accessible. Many of the guests had fled, and the Faire workers were trying to keep a sense of calm for the rest. The food court was handing out meals sparingly, not sure how long they were going to make the supplies hold out. Strangely enough, the actress that had been playing the Queen was a great source of leadership – finding those who needed things to do and giving them tasks, providing comfort where she could, organizing the able bodies into turning the former Faire site into a camp for an unknown amount of time.

Sam was recruited for the defensive patrols of the perimeter, and as the sun sets on the world he knew as well as the day of horror, a determination to help see this isolated band organize, survive, and flourish began to spread through him. The blacksmith’s hammer could be heard ringing out, as more blades were prepared for those to be trained. The weavers were ready to make the garb into more practical clothes. Even the military camp was having councils of war. Who else, he reasoned, was more equipped to be ready for the end of the world?

Documenting the Process

As I continue painting miniature figures, I’m trying to take pictures of the process, as a way to remind myself what I’ve done well and where I need to improve, as well as a way to share it with others. If I have pictures of where I’ve come from I will see my growth over time.

(Also, the phone pictures zoom better than my eyes, so I have found errors that need correction that way, ha!)

Yesterday I opted to tackle Maeve, the Tiefling Warlock. But I was so into getting started and selecting her color scheme for the dress… I forgot to take starter shots! It was only after I laid a very pale skin tone over the white primer (barely visible, but it was the color I was going for), a chemise color that I would later go over with a darker shade when I changed my mind, the undergown color in the center panel, and some of the overgown color that I realized what I was supposed to be doing. Sorry, use your imagination…

I was actually very proud of this stage – there was very little guideline except a thin line to mark the center panel, so the fact that the light blue went down with only one major bobble (on the hip piece, which was getting a dark color later anyway) was noteworthy. One challenge I have had in the past has been going for too many diverse colors, so a large part of this exercise was picking carefully and limiting my palette.

The cyan blue, which is one of my favorite colors in my paint options (I bought a lot of blues when I placed my order, I have a bias), was a little hard to get even, so this was many passes, several bobbles, and a lot of frustration… so when I got it to relatively a mostly done state I got annoyed enough to do something fun… SMOKE!


Hard to screw up magic purple smoke, right? It was such a relief that it also inspired me to go back and darken the chemise (under shirt) because there wasn’t enough contrast. I have no idea why purple was really such a relief, but it was downright fun!

Then it was back to tricky stuff, hair. Technically the color I use for most fantasy black hair is actually a color called Nightshade Purple – but it’s so dark that unless you put on a thinnest coat it resembles a very slightly tinted black, which I love for hair.

One ear was done smoothly around, victory. The other was painted over with purple at the tip, which I just decided was loose hair because my thought was that Bleached Linen (my skin tone of choice for a white Tiefling – way too pale for normal flesh) would never cover the purple. I would learn later that I was underestimating Bleached Linen!

And after hair was another tricky pass; luckily I had planned ahead and made the hip pieces and the sleeve cuffs (in close proximity due to the pose) the same dark color, so it was time to apply my main “contrast” color and hope my color sense was not terrible.

Pleasant surprise – my color sense checked out for this garment! The dark red seemed to contrast well without being obnoxious – it actually reminds me of garments I’ve seen in reality (at Faire, probably) so that’s a great sign. This also let me frame the tail, and gave me a color to use for the boots (I was planning black or brown, but dark red was so much more interesting!) which means it was a win across the board.

This is where I started getting… ambitious. A base coat is what I know, but details, washes, any of that? Hell no. Washes for the face (started with flesh wash, no go on this pale tone, used a pale gray wash and still had to keep undoing it until I blended it with Bleached Linen to start with) were not my friend. Part of it is my hesitation to move outside my comfort zone, or accept it not looking ideal until the next stage. But the horns, typical of Tieflings to have horns roughly the same color of their skin, looked really incomplete. Ideally they would be black at the tip and fade back to pearl white at the base, but that’s WAY beyond where I will be for a long time. However my spouse recommended black tips anyway, so with a deep breath I plunged in…

I also decided to add a colored band as a hair tie – figuring it would be easy enough to cover when I botched it. But I didn’t botch it! And the tips came out looking rather cool. I did an experiment using a thinned pearl white to add shine to the tail and horns, but it just muted the black with no real impact that I wanted, so the black was re-added (luckily I had the previous black to use as a template) to the horns and I tried to walk away for the night.

Think about it, I’d already pushed my comfort zone. The mini looked good. Next would be things like eyebrows… those seemed impossible. But as I dwelt on the idea I started idly practicing thin Nightshade Purple lines on my paint tray I waffled.

Over and over I started to hover the brush over the mini, then stopped. Cleaned the brush. Even cleaned the tray as if I were wrapping for the night! Sat back down.

Deep breath…


Silver eyes (hard to see) and crooked eyebrows – I’ll just say she’s raising one at the situation at hand! BUT EYEBROWS… MY FIRST.



And with that I really was done for the night.

Strangely enough it wasn’t until later I realized that on the 4th of July I did a character almost entirely in blue dress, red accents, and white skin. How patriotic.

So for the time being Maeve is complete and playable, which should make my DM happy.

More importantly… it make me happy.

I suck less than I used to. This is documentation of that.

The ways a day can change

Yesterday I started out my morning already short on sleep – it was Board Game Night as usual Wednesday night, so I didn’t get home until about midnight, and had to get up earlier than usual for work. Specifically to be at the office early so I could help transport donated clothes to the LGBT+ Youth Center we had made arrangements with during IDAHOTB.

This meant I had to scramble to ensure my car was clear of personal effects (like my N7 jacket, and my sleeping bag) because I didn’t want them to be accidentally donated. In trying to keep the cat out of the garage I slammed the door between the house and garage on my middle finger. OUCH!

Traffic was… trafficy. So I was not as early as I’d hoped, and I had my laptop backpack with me, so I parked under by building before I drove across the street to our campus to ask security to let me park there temporarily while we loaded. Usually I can only park under my building, so I was not looking forward to that persuasion check. On an impulse I set my laptop up on it’s dock so I could ping the person coordinating this effort to let him know to expect me.

That’s what I saw the update from the night before that the donation drop was canceled, so my day was suddenly opened up – kind of a relief- but there I was in the office early. I used the time to catch up on some yearly review work (ick), some planning work on a fun project (yay), and generally was pretty productive, to redeem my exhausted mind state. Everything was once again normal until after lunch.

After lunch I realize my normal one-on-one was canceled earlier that week, so I was just chilling and getting some normal work done when I get a FB message from a friend asking about my plans for the night. This is unusual, especially given that this friend lives out in Riverside, which is not close by. So I explain my plans to go home, watch some of Critical Role, and turn in early…

OR, she suggests, I could join her for the Janelle Monae concert since her planned concert buddy had already paid for a ticket, but had to cancel at last minute due to illness.

YES! I got it cleared with my spouse, and my boss to leave a bit early, and after my next meeting I was gone!

But… I had on a sleeveless light dress (luckily with leggings) and my jacket had been removed from the car due to earlier transportation of donation plans. So a quick trip to a Target that Google said was on the way.

Turns out the USC Target is VERY small, half groceries, nothing larger than a Junior’s size to speak of, and no long sleeve shirts, sweaters, or jackets to be seen (unless I wanted a USC sweatshirt, they had a few). To have avoided wasting my trip I did snag eyeliner and mascara to keep in my purse, since this is not the first time I’d wished I had easily available makeup due to unexpected circumstances. Well, hoping that it wouldn’t get that cold (we were at the Greek which is an outdoor venue) I swung through a drive through to get myself a bit of dinner and made it to the theater early!

Got a bit of makeup on – Selfie mode for phone cameras = great mirror, figured out the venue wi-fi since the Greek is in Griffith Park where phone signal is terrible at best, and took it easy, wished I had brought my book, tried to keep from getting sunburnt on the benches by standing in the shade. Then my friend arrived and we waited for the gates to open, but once they did all was awesome!

She got food, we got cocktails, we bought event merch (a totebag for me, because it was useful), and then we took silly selfies up at the Belvedere Vodka lounge. Because we were early all the staff was slightly bored and gave us a lot of positive attention, so it was a lot of fun. Found out seats, then realized we needed drinks again, but this time we decided to split a bottle of prosecco while watching the opening act – who we knew nothing about.

Turns out the opener, St. Beauty, was a lot of fun! They had great energy and good music, so that was fun. Then we watched it get dark as the place filled to the brim with a ridiculously diverse group of people!


And then… the show. I just, I lack words. Janelle was obviously having a BLAST, you could see it in her smile and bounce the whole night. Especially great was the moment of the encore, when she came out wearing the Pan pride flag, tried to be super serious… but the love and reaction from the crowd was too much and she broke out in the biggest grin of the night.

Of course it’s hard to get pictures during a concert, and I was far more focused on enjoying the show, but a few moments captured on phone-film:

From a day that started with slamming my finger in a door – that was a magical ending.