geek life

Capaldi’s got clothes! Thoughts on the Twelfth Doctor’s costume

twelfth doctor costume

Last week the BBC released its first images of Peter Capaldi in his official costume as the Twelfth (Thirteenth if we count the War Doctor) iteration of our favorite Time Lord, the Doctor, and oh what a costume it is!

My basic reaction? Love!

His coat and vest is similar to the last rendition of Matt Smith‘s costume, which is a nice homage to Eleven, but gone are the bowtie and fez. Well, that really remains to be seen I suppose, but I really doubt Capaldi’s Doctor will have as much childlike pleasure in wearing different hats as Smith’s did.

In fact, here’s the direct quote from Capaldi about the new look:

He’s woven the future from the cloth of the past. Simple, stark, and back to basics. No frills, no scarf, no messing, just 100 per cent Rebel Time Lord.

I couldn’t agree more. To me this costume choice harkens back to the Third Doctor, played by Jon Pertwee. During that time, the Doctor’s costume was almost like a dandy magician’s, with a cape that sometimes appeared along with the various velvet dinner suits he wore, including his iconic first costume that featured a very familiar looking red lining.

third doctor costume
You can see how the new is reminiscent of the old, and I wonder if Capaldi’s Doctor will be likewise a slight nod in that direction. The Third Doctor was the one banished to Earth for breaking Time Lord law, after all, and with Gallifrey sort-of-back, kind of a little bit, and with the amount of rule breaking the Doctor has done in the last several hundred years, he might be heading back into the full on rebellion mode again. This is also interesting because Matt Smith has said that he patterned his own Doctor after the Second, portrayed by Patrick Troughtan. Could there be similarities?

Regardless of any connections, real or implied, I’m excited to see what direction the show goes as it enters its eight season since the 2005 reboot. I’m ready for an older Doctor, and I think it will be interesting to see who he is after everything he’s been through, losing his home and then finding it again. I’m also still holding out hope for improved writing for Clara (seen below, with Capaldi wearing Smith’s last costume), who has so much potential but, in my opinion, not well utilized at all. But this isn’t about that. This is about costume. And I love the new look for the Doctor. Bring it on!

twelfth doctor, clara

cosplay, geek life

Bang for your buck: finding multi-tasking cosplay items

Cosplay multi-taskers

I love cosplay. I should qualify this by saying I love costuming, and very rarely dress as a specific character (though I’m hoping to change that in the coming year), but I have found over the years that such hobbies can get to be pretty expensive. I’m terrible at sewing but I’m very good at finding and collecting, and I have accumulated an entire wardrobe of pieces. That being said, there are definitely some that were more expensive than others, so how do I manage to stay within my budget? By investing in pieces that can multi-task.

If you look in the pictures at the top, you’ll see that both costumes on the left use the same green bodice, as a fairy and as a witch. That same bodice is actually reversible, and the other side looks like a tapestry with leaves and animals for when I want to change the look (the fabric matches the pouch I’m wearing in the pirate photo). It set me back about $125, but it has lasted for almost 10 years as a staple in my costuming wardrobe. I’ve been a fairy and a gypsy, a witch and a hobbit, and of course I’ve done renaissance festivals for years. It’s a versatile bodice and, because it’s in a basic green, goes with almost everything.

The other workhorse in my closet is the black dress on the right. It’s similar to the green bodice (made by the same tailor) and I’ve used it dozens of times as the base of a great cosplay. There you see it as part of my pirate costume, though it’s been a vampire and a witch, not to mention a princess (with the right accessories!) and a general merchant’s wife look.

You may notice that there are three different tops in those outfits. I find that having basics like white and black are most useful, though the short-sleeve orange peasant top has been a fun addition. My black and white tops are actually designed for men– those are generally more affordable, plus look fantastic when you gather the sleeves, or if you want to wear pants instead of a skirt.

 breaking the fourth wallHere is another example of the multi-tasking items: notice I’m wearing the same white top as the pirate costume, and though it isn’t visible, the green skirt was also part of the fairy costume (although hitched up to make it shorter). J is wearing the same top and brown jerkin as in the fairy picture as well. This photo was to showcase the pieces we acquired in April: the pants for him and the corset for me.

The next thing I want to point out is that the colors we use for our costuming are mostly interchangeable. Having pieces that all basically go together makes putting them in new combinations much easier. I stick with greens, burgundy, and black mostly, while J tends to wear black, brown and gold. Because any given top, skirt, or pair of pants will go with any of my bodices or corsets, I can mix them up into many more outfits and therefore more costumes.

Cosplay cloaks

And that brings me to the last point. Successful costuming is really all

about the accessories. Having the basics for multiple costumes is essential, but the way to make each one different (so that it doesn’t look like you’re wearing the same thing every time) is to find accessories that are specific to each one, and don’t have to cost a

fortune. The pirate scarf and some skull jewelry came from Hot Topic and made that costume pop, and I found

black boots with large buckles at a thrift store for about $7. I got to reuse the black boots for my witch costume, and will probably find many other uses for them in the future. Multi-taskers. Makeup is important, too, but that will have to be another post entirely. ^_^

Where I got my pieces:

Bodices and dress by Felix Needleworthy
Pirate scarf from Hot Topic (though it’s been a while ago, so no longer carried)
Skirts and blouses from Felix, and from Ophelia’s (I like the split-front skirt because it’s fun for layering)
Corset from Pendragon Costumes (steampunk/neo-Victorian section)
Flower headpiece was homemade by a friend.

Jewelry came from a variety of sources; I always keep an eye out for pieces that would work and get them when I see them. For instance, necklaces with coins on them work for pirates, gypsies, belly dancers, and more.
Honorable mention goes to Texas Body Hangings for the exquisite cloak I have, though they don’t seem to have a website anymore.

geek life

Relaunching the Geek Girl Pen Pal Club

iggppc logo3On January 11, the International Geek Girl Pen Pal club relaunched itself, with a brand new website ( and a whole slew of updates* and improvements.

You can read their full press release here, but the basic reason is that a little idea shared between two friends separated by an ocean exploded into something much larger than anyone could have foreseen. Ten months later, the leadership team (which has grown to five, plus forum moderators) has paired over TEN THOUSAND people around the world with pen pals based on age group and shared interests, dubbed “geek loves” on the site.

Today marks the launch of Round 10, another chance for geeky girls (and guys) to find someone to share the love of handwritten correspondence, all while discussing the latest episode of Doctor Who. Or maybe that’s just me and my pen pal… ~_^

pen pals and owl post

My pal Melissa and I were matched in the fifth round, but it seems like ages ago, and we’ve had so much fun getting to know one another and exchanging small, geeky things that fit in envelopes. Okay, I’ll be honest, it’s a lot of tea and stickers. We both love tea and stickers. And she sends some amazing postcards (see above).

I think when it comes down to it, that’s the reason Geek Girl Pen Pal Club works: sure it’s thousands of people, but at its heart, really it’s a connection between people, and finding a friend you didn’t even know was out there.

On a personal note, I’m currently the resident movie-reviewer on the site, so if you want to read those, check the link in the side bar. ^_^

*I would be remiss to not mention the achievements hidden around the site. Who knew that all those childhood hours spent with my “Where’s Waldo” books would serve me so well?

geek life, this and that, TV commentary

Clara Oswald: looking back at “The Bells of St John” and some Wild Speculation about The Time of the Doctor

Tonight I am revisiting the Clara Oswald episodes from this past season of Doctor Who. While watching “The Bells of St John,” I noticed something interesting, a very specific detail that got my mind rambling off (as it does) on all sorts of little theories. I’m going to ramble about them now and see if I get anywhere. Coming with me? Geronimo!

“I don’t know where I am.”

The episode begins with a warning: people are being uploaded into a giant computer database and they all say this same phrase. They don’t know where they are because they have ceased to exist in the physical space.

Clara, of course, gets uploaded twice; the first time the Doctor interrupts but not before she’s received her “computer package” which makes her as smart at computers as the giant database, or so it seems. The second time, she’s “fully integrated” and the Doctor must get everyone in the database downloaded to get her back. Each time she keeps on repeating “I don’t know where I am,” just like all the others.

Clara really is one for the repeated phrase. We know, thanks to “The Name of the Doctor,” that her catchphrase is from the moment she jumps into the Doctor’s time stream. “Run, you clever boy, and remember” is repeated each time she’s about to die in the other episodes. What’s really interesting is that at the very beginning and at the very end of “Name,” she repeats another phrase: “I don’t know where I am.”

She says this as she’s falling through the Doctor’s time stream, living through his entire history and stopping the Great Intelligence from killing him at every point in time. She was born to save the Doctor and she saves the Doctor again and again by being born. The episode implies that she sends the leaf that causes her parents to meet and have her…

…which means that Clara is essentially a time loop. This is where we get into Wild Speculation with a dash of Theorizing and Guesswork for good measure.

If Clara sent the leaf that caused one of her selves to be born, and we think it is the “original” Clara (Clara Prime), then she creates herself. That’s a bit confusing and a bit too Bad Wolf for my liking. But, if the Clara that sends the leaf is a version created when she jumped into the Doctor’s time stream, then where does Clara Prime actually originate? Is the Doctor traveling with Clara Prime, or is he traveling with a “Saving the Doctor” Clara? Or is it a combination?

It bothered me in the 50th special, “Day of the Doctor,” that even though the season ended with Clara and the Doctor both inside his mind, that there was no explanation for how they got back out of his mind. He asks her to trust him, to let him save her, and they see the War Doctor… and then she’s in a school?

No. We’ve missed something.

So, then, is it possible that the entire 50th anniversary episode takes place in the Doctor’s mind? It would be tricky with all the other Doctors there, but, if versions of Clara are throughout the Doctor’s timeline, then couldn’t there also be versions of the Doctor scattered around, too? And I hope this doesn’t get too Timey Wimey, but couldn’t that also account for why the War Doctor was able to reach two future Doctors are once, and not just, say, Ten?

And what about that computer database? It is, of course, the Great Intelligence, but is it the original Great Intelligence, or is It one of Its own versions that also went into the Doctor’s time stream? Are the players in “Bells of St John” their Prime selves, or just copies?


I’m hoping that the Christmas special “Time of the Doctor” will reveal how they got out of his mind, or at least give a hint to it. I know sometimes there are coincidences, but repetition of key phrases? That’s very Moffat, isn’t it Sweetie?

“I don’t know where I am.” And we don’t know where the Doctor and Clara are, either.

Note: On a second watching of “Bells of St John” and other episodes, I have to say that I still think Clara’s character isn’t written well, but with my newly found affection for her thanks to the 50th special, I’m enjoying her a lot more in these. I hope the writers continue to give her more depth, because I like her attitude and independence. She’s the first modern companion who isn’t either A) interested in the Doctor or B) has or is looking for another love interest (remember, even Donna was constantly dealing with weddings and marriage). I like that she’s perfectly content to just wheel around the universe with him, having a laugh. She’s got a lot of potential.

Commentary, geek life

Theories and Queries: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Two weeks ago, the Wizarding World of the Harry Potter Fandom was set abuzz by the news that JK Rowling is penning a new screenplay based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The book itself was published in 2001, written by Rowling to benefit the Comic Relief Charity. It is “written” by Newt Scamander, and the copyright page says it’s in its 52nd printing. The margins are full of commentary from Harry, Ron, and Hermione, which makes it all the more entertaining, especially for such a short read. Now Newt Scamander’s story is going to be the subject of the film, or series of films, and I am not alone in wondering what new things we will get to discover. Here are just a few of my rambling thoughts on it.

The first Harry Potter book takes place in 1991, so if this new story is “seventy years before” that, it would fall right around 1921. It also takes place in the US, which opens up all sorts of possibilities to find out about differences in wizarding culture “across the pond,” if you will. The 1920s were interesting times in US history: prohibition was fueling gang culture and bootleg alcohol, the rich were ridiculously so, and yet we were careening toward the Great Depression at the end of the decade. Our cultural memory of it, as Americans, is largely flappers and speakeasies and Gatsby-like parties, though there was a lot more happening, too. Airplanes and cars were becoming much more common, industry was shifting, and people were optimistic about the future. The US was also solidly on the international stage then, having just helped win the Great War, and people were thinking more globally.

The interesting thing about all of this is that it largely involves technology and, to an extent, government, two things in which the wizarding community (at least in the UK) doesn’t much participate. They have magic, so why do they need electronics? It makes me think that perhaps this was when the biggest shift away from mainstream culture began. Up until then, no one really had electronic technology so the wizards weren’t necessarily that far out of date with their muggle neighbors. It’s also possible that the wizard community is simply SO “old fashioned” that they were already outdated by this time.

Since this story is told from Newt Scamander’s perspective, though, and is about finding Fantastic Beasts, then it makes sense that perhaps much of the story takes place in the wild. Despite that, I’m fascinated by the idea of circus side shows, which were still going strong in that era. What better way for a wizard or witch to make money than to tour the country performing “impossible” stunts, or showing “monsters” to muggles? They would be hiding in plain sight that way. It could very well be that Scamander begins his quest to learn more about these beasts after discovering (and possibly setting free) some of the Beasts from traveling circus shows.

I’m also curious about Scamander’s entries on Beasts from other countries. If the story takes place (at least primarily) in the US, then how does he learn about Beasts from other parts of the world? It could be that he goes on a long journey to find them. It could also be that he begins a field collection, much like the one at the Field Museum in Chicago, where they preserve specimens from all over the world for study, or that there already was a collection of sorts and he was the one who went into the wild to study all of the natural behaviors of these animals.

One of the questions I’ve seen arise in fan theories is whether there will be a major villain in this story. I’m just not sure about that. While the timing would fit for the beginning of the Grindelwald story, that seems to take place in Europe (and is tied much more to World War II, so at least the 30s). I think it more likely that Scamander will encounter poachers and the like who are out to steal his research, or the Beasts themselves, in order to profit from what he discovers.

All in all, I’d like to see Scamander portrayed as a naturalist, someone who does the research and takes good field notes. I’d also like cameos by characters we know (or their parents) if they are old enough to be in these stories. Remember that witches and wizards live a very long time.

So those are my thoughts. What are yours?

this and that

11 Guilty Pleasures

The other day I was in the craft store, looking at all of the autumny things (as craft stores always have things two months early for MAKING things), and discovered that the GOOD kind of candy corn was in stock. I promptly bought myself two bags. That got me thinking: I know there’s a contingency of Candy Corn Lovers and also of Candy Corn is TERRIBLE and Must Be Burned folks. I’m in the love it category… for the first bag. Then I’m done for the year. But I’ll admit that the first bag of candy corn of the year is the first of the following…. 11 of MY guilty pleasures.

  1. Candy Corn!
  2. Domino’s Pizza. This is another one where I know there are people who don’t like it (loudly) and they even had a whole ad campaign about IMPROVING THE RECIPE, but it’s always been one of my comfort foods. To me, it’s in its own category of pizza: there is GOOD pizza (like a really good New York slice) and then there’s Domino’s. It’s a different food and sometimes I crave it specifically. Give me another kind of pizza and it’s just not… right.
  3. Monster-based reality TV. I’m looking at you, Finding Bigfoot. But really, any kind of show where we’re SCUBA DIVING LOCH NESS to find Nessie, or CAMPING IN THE GRAVEYARD to find ghosts or SCALING THE HIMALAYAS to find a yeti and I’m in.
  4. Eating macaroni straight from the pan. I feel this needs no explanation. I even use the wooden spoon I used to stir in the cheese.
  5. Pressed penny machines. I know there’s no reason to feel guilty about this in particular, but I try to get them from everywhere I go.
  6. Hair extensions. Most people have never seen them. They only come out on rare occasions, usually involving some type of costume wearing. But sometimes I need a little pink or blue in my life and… well, it’s a way to not have them ALL the time and just when I feel like it.  I’m thinking of getting some platinum blonde ones, too.
  7. Geek chic. I got to the point a couple of years ago where I had entirely too many tshirts. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and I gave a LOT of them away… but they accumulated. I mean, how cool is it to find a Doctor Who shirt?! But then suddenly you have four of them… and a couple of Harry Potter shirts and some My Little Pony (okay, only two, but I HAVE them), not to mention my team shirts… and I needed another outlet. So my new thing? Geeky jewelry. I have necklaces that are Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter, I have My Little Pony earrings and a bracelet… subtle! And most people have no idea what it is. (By the way, this type of thing is ideal birthday gift fodder. Just saying.)
  8. Tea. This isn’t something I feel exactly guilty about. It’s more that I have SO MUCH TEA in the pantry all the time because I’m always wanting to try new kinds. And I really do drink it all. Really. But I’ve got more tea than the average person needs if I’m honest.
  9. Wendy’s french fries. This is another food-genre thing. Other fries just aren’t the same. But I will most definitely go to a Wendy’s and order a SALAD with a side of fries. What? I like their salads!
  10. Spiced Pumpkin candles from Yankee Candle. I always acquire a LOT of them when they go on clearance at the end of the season, and it is my FAVORITE scent, but then I never ever have time to burn them all before we move and EVERY SINGLE TIME I give them all away because I don’t want to pack up 30 candles that are half burned.
  11. Dragonvale. It’s a game on my iPad and I’m a little bit hooked on it. Only a little. If I can’t get wifi, I don’t really worry about it. But when I DO have wifi… I’m checking on my baby dragons. Every. Single. Day. Sometimes twice.

So that’s it. There are probably more if I sit here and think long enough, but eleven is really enough to be getting on with for now.

artsy stuff

Feeling artsy: dragons and owls

Dragon sketch postcard

I was going to do a wrap-up of my week, but I really didn’t do much this week that would make a post (that I haven’t already written, anyway), so here. Have a dragon postcard.

The postcard came from a scrapbooking store and I drew the dragon myself. I haven’t really drawn anything much in several years, so I decided to see how rusty my skills were. They weren’t too bad, but I found that I haven’t progressed at all for the obvious reason that I haven’t practiced at all. I did find that I’m a lot more confident with cartoon type sketches, though, and doodled some owls the other day.

Owl with cake

So there you go. I like that he looks a bit worried and also fat, like this isn’t an unusual snack. There were a lot of less-cute looking owls before this one that I won’t show you, but I’ve found a nice little “template” that I can reproduce, which is cool. No use for them at the moment, but maybe at some point I’ll think of something other than simply filling my sketch book.

Commentary, geek life, TV commentary

Thoughts on the Twelfth Doctor

I kept the title basic enough, but you should know this post has SPOILERS, sweetie.

So. Peter Capaldi is going to be the new Doctor.

I think most of the world collectively said, “Who??” when they made the announcement, but he looked really familiar and it didn’t take me long to find out why. Peter Capaldi has been all over our TV and movie screens for years, it’s just that he’s usually a character actor. We see him all the time.

The reason I recognized him was from his role in The Hour, which is a BBC drama I love. He came on for the second series (it’s a mini series with six episodes per run) and was fantastic, fit right in with the rest of the cast. He’s known for other things, too, but I think the most entertaining is one of his most recent billings: as “W.H.O. Doctor” in World War Z.

Anyway, that’s enough of the summary, you can get more of that elsewhere. Here are my two cents about it.

I like the casting choice. The Doctor has been getting younger looking lately, and I think it’s about time we had an older actor in the role. It’ll be interesting to see him not as the “heartthrob” any more, but as the over 1000 year old guy he is. And I’m really hoping that with a new Doctor that the writers will maybe fix Clara’s character up a bit, too. It’s been known to happen, where the characters get a bit, well, edited between seasons. It even happened with the Seventh Doctor (and I liked him a LOT in his second season).

All of that being said, I know there are people very upset about Matt Smith’s departure from the show. My friends’ six year old daughter bawled her eyes out about it, channeling fan-girls everywhere, I suspect. The thing is, the actors who play the Doctor always change. That’s the point, if you will. And I’m interested to see where the show is going next.

I also can’t help but remember the heartbreak over David Tennant’s departure, and how people said they just couldn’t see Matt Smith as the Doctor because he wasn’t David Tennant. Well, we (almost) all grew to love Matt Smith’s Doctor, and I’m sure we’ll love the new one, too. The Whovians are all in this together, and I think it’s going to be exciting.