Friday, October 14, 2016

Halloween 2016: Steampunk Ghostbusters!

Steph and I were Steampunk Ghostbusters for the Halloween festival in Muskogee this year:

CLICK HERE for the full photo album.
(And click here if you aren't sure what "steampunk" means.)

Everyone loved our costumes this year, and the "proton packs" in particular. Several little kids (and even a few adults!) wanted their pictures taken with us. Even the cast/crew of the Castle themselves had plenty to say about them: the "classic" Ghostbusters who are there every year joked about finally finding us after we got lost in time, and the Mad Hatter even cracked a "Who ya gonna telegram?" joke (which I had also thought of, but didn't have time to work into the costume).

Of all the Halloween costumes we've done over the past couple years (i.e. Pirate Batman/Ivy and Hardcore Link & Zelda), these definitely elicited the best and most frequent reactions. It felt like it justified the massive amounts of time/effort/money we put into them.

I designed most of the proton packs myself, and Steph helped by designing the straps and the comfortable foam padding, and by doing most of the painting and staining:

I started by coming up with each individual component. The main "steam tank" is actually a large-sized can of Monster energy drink (this kept it cheap, and light, as weight was a concern). It's connected to the "motherboard" (plywood body) with normal plumbing parts. To the right of the steam tank are the "electrodes" (brushed nickel cabinet knobs), based on a design seen in various Frankenstein movies.The brass gauge in the middle was scavenged from a thrift store, $8 for three of them. The "gearbox" doesn't actually function or spin, but you have to admit, it looks cool when it's lit up. Below that is a miniature Frankenstein-style "knife" switch and three circuit vacuum tubes. And below those is the "ampere meter", which was a real (but cheap) analog voltmeter that I disassembled and made steampunkier by installing a custom brass backing.

On the left side is the "slime tank" – a glass tube with a custom label (based on a real graduated cylinder), filled with two intact green glowsticks and a combination of water and milk (a technique Steph found online, which produces the appearance of a cloudy, green-glowing liquid). The tank "feeds into" (i.e. is stapled to) the "cyclotron" (a.k.a. "Ye Olde Nuclear Accelerator") – a cake pan with four Christmas ornaments painted red to look like incandescent lightbulbs, and a few other pieces of wood and hardware. The "lightbulbs" are lit by the same miniature keychain flashlights that illuminate the "gearbox".

Both of our packs were completely identical. And I also designed the proton-wand-guns:

I started with the "grappling gun" from my Pirate Batman costume (and bought a second one for Steph). The wood block that connects everything to the body of the replica pirate gun was inspired by the Picatinny rail system used on real-world military rifles, for adding various attachments. It's held to the gun with eye-hooks and zip-ties, to avoid making any permanent modification to my much-loved replica. To that, I mounted (mini zip-ties and U-bolts) a spring used for porch swings, and a temperature gauge used for refrigerators. I ran copper wire from the gun's "working" firing mechanism to the spring, and added the "Nary A Fear Do I Harbor Toward Spectres!" (HEH) label. I also installed a handle below the spring, on a hinge. And finally, the gun is attached to the proton pack via a length of garden hose, which Steph was able to wrap in faux leather at the last minute.

All in all, not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

Our friends Dani and Andy went with us as well. Dani had an impressive (and labor-intensive) "fallen angel" costume (complete with scorch marks and gold-blooded wounds), and Andy was Dean from Supernatural:

We had a SUPER fun time this year, largely from getting such an overwhelming number of positive and enthusiastic reactions to the costumes. And another cool thing about Steampunk Ghostbuster costumes is that they're fair game to wear again at the Renaissance Faire in May ; )

Pirate Batman & Poison Ivy, Hardcore Link & Zelda, Steampunk Ghostbusters.....THIS type of thing is why Halloween finally surpassed Christmas as my favorite holiday each year :D

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Shit My Right-Wing Cousin Says: The Return!

The husband of one of my non-crazy cousins wrote a post about the election on Facebook. Crazy cousin - whom I blocked long ago, as I have neither the time nor energy to put up with this sort of thing anymore - chimed in.

Rest assured, he's just as Looney Tunes as ever:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Vacation in South Padre Island!

A couple weekends ago, Steph and I took a road trip down to South Padre Island, TX, for the long Labor Day weekend. This was the first vacation I've ever had in my entire life where there was no agenda, no schedule to keep track of, to predetermined list of things to do or see. It was just "Hey, let's stay at a nice hotel and hang out by the beach and sleep in and get massages and have some drinks at the poolside bar and take naps and whatnot". It was AWESOME.

The food was great, too. We had lots of fresh seafood, an amazing buffet with mimosas, and authentic tacos from a Mexican restaurant only a few hours from the border. This was also the first time I've ever actually been to a beach (and for the record, drinking champagne on the beach at night is the best).

As a side note, a 5th-Generation V6 Mustang really is the perfect road trip car. It's the perfect blend of power (to have fun), style (to feel cool), and efficiency (30mpg, because who wants to waste vacation money on gas?). Sadly, I was also reminded that the state of Texas has the worst drivers on the face of the planet. Texans drive about as competently as they vote ("WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING? ARE YOU COMPLETELY INSANE? WHAT ON EARTH IS WRONG WITH YOU?"). New Rule: The Nation-wide speed limit for anyone with a Texas license plate is 15mph.

I am totally down for more *relaxation* vacations (aside from the usual *sightseeing/activity* vacations) in the future.