I have been working in this massive Halloween craft project for the past month and a half, and I am nowhere near done and I’m starting to freak out under the pressure a little bit.

What am I doing, you ask? Well, this year I am endeavoring to construct the singing bust effect (also known as the Phantom Five) from Disneyland’s The Haunted Mansion dark-ride. As you may remember from last year and THIS POST, I fashioned the front of my house in tribute to The Haunted Mansion because it is my all-time favorite dark-ride in the history of ever. EVER.

I had a Madame Leota effect going in the front window and it was really dang cool, and this year I decided I just HAD to top it by adding the singing busts. Never been to The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, Disney World, Disney Paris, or Tokyo Disney – don’t know who/what the singing busts are?

Well, they are these guys:

well, that's four out of five, anyway...

And they sing the famous Grim, Grinning, Ghosts song which is the theme song for the ride. Not familiar with that either? It goes like this:

when the crypt doors creak and the tombstones quake
spooks come out for a swingin’ wake
happy haunts materialize, and begin to vocalize,
grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize

now don’t close your eyes and don’t try to hide
or a silly spook may sit by your side
shrouded in a daft disguise, they pretend to terrorize,
grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize

as the moon climbs high o’er the dead oak tree
spooks come out for the midnight spree
creepy creeps with eerie eyes, start to shriek and harmonize
grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize!

when you hear the knell of a requiem bell
weird glows gleam where spirits dwell
restless bones etherealize, rise as spooks of every size
(Sad fact… I wrote these lyrics out entirely FROM MEMORY… oh yeah, I got it bad.)

Lots of folks/fans of The Haunted Mansion have created their own singing busts effect for their own Halloween displays and, honestly, mine is no better or worse than anyone else’s. But it is still a really frickin’ neat effect to pull off and you generally get lots of “Oh’s” and “Awe’s” from trick-or-treaters and their parents.

This has been the most ambitious project I have ever undertaken – and while I thought I had given myself enough time to accomplish it all (2 months) — so many things have come up in the meantime that have thrown off my construction schedule that I’m starting to wonder if I’m going to make the Oct 31 deadline.

I guess I’m just going to have to put my foot down and make it happen – but this may be easier said than done.

You can bet, though, if I DO manage to pull this off, I will be posting a follow-up report with lots and lots of pictures!

Happy Halloween!!

Eek! Zombies!!

ZomBcon was fun. This cannot be denied. But I have to be honest and say that IMHO it was not as much fun as GeekGirlCon – which was AMAZINGLY fun.

Really I think that ZomBcon could have been more accurately named “Tom Savini Con” because the man was on a bazillion panels.

Tom Savini on the right - Hairy man on the left

The good thing about this is that Tom Savini is amazingly cool in a panel setting. He is thoughtful, witty, urbane and comes off as an overall nice guy. I was surprised to learn that he is, among other things, a classically trained actor and had performed such roles as Cyrano and King Arthur in the musical version of Camelot. I know, right?! Could’ve knocked me over.

The most interesting (and hysterical) panel of the con, for me, was “Creating A Hero: Costume Design of a Super Hero” which featured notable cosplayer Vampy BitMe and local-Seattle real-life super-hero (and multi-hyphenate) Phoenix Jones. It was supposed to be a panel on how to make your own kick-ass costumery. It ended up being a panel about Phoenix Jones and his “in-case of zombie outbreak” self-defense kit which included peanut butter, a lighter and surprisingly ineffectual hairspray. (If you want to make zombie go “PHWOOM” with fire, don’t buy Vidal Sassoon.)

First, you find a zombie....

Say what you will about Phoenix Jones putting himself in harm’s way and driving the Seattle PD nuts – he is a seriously funny, super-intelligent and incredibly sharp dude. If crime was being done to or near me, I’d want Phoenix nearby to save the day.

Another great panel was “Zombie Autopsy” where Zombie Research Society members Harvard PhD Dr. Steven C Schlozman &  Jonathan Maberry talked about actual diseases that could evolve into zombie-like plagues. The good news is that with our current infrastructures in place it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that an apocalyptic scenario would play out in real life. The bad news… stay away from prions. Seriously.

One really neat thing about this con was all of the cool people attending and exhibiting. Who knew that the nicest people in the Pacific Northwest would be at a convention for one of the most violent, gory, and terrifying subgenres of our time? I met some amazing artists and writers and all-around interesting people. I even met a few folks who I’ll be writing some future blogs about – yay!

The biggest issue I think ZomBcon suffered from was poor planning. The con was held in a venue far too small for the number of panels it was trying to run, and the panels ran consistently over-time which meant that all of the panels also started late. It was confusing trying to figure out when panels were actually starting, if they were still in the room they had been scheduled for and whether or not we could even stand in line for them due to fire safety restrictions. For next year the planning committee is going to have to do a massive re-think.

But now I’d like to share my “magic moment” from ZomBcon. I’ve been very lucky in that most cons I attend include a special “magic moment”. At GeekGirlCon it was telling a joke that made Jane Espenson laugh and give me a thumbs up. At ZomBcon it was getting to meet Judith O’Dea (Barbara from the original Night of the Living Dead).

That doily continues to haunt her to this day....

Judith had a little table set up  in “autograph alley” and she was signing for a small fee (as most do). Here’s the thing about Night of the Living Dead – even though it’s firmly ensconced in B-Movie land – it is actually a pretty darn good film! The script is well-written, the direction clear and the acting is more spot on than not. Judith, as Barbara, was tasked with one of the most difficult emotions to play on-screen: shock. Barbara is the first character in the movie to experience a “ghoul” attack, and witnesses the violent death of her brother as a result. She manages to get away to an isolated farmhouse, only to find the presumed owner of the house half-eaten on the floor. After an initial freak-out she ultimately succumbs to a state of utter, nigh-comatose- shock. As an actor, this is not easy. What is easy, far too easy, is falling in to the trap of melodrama. Judith handily avoided this and played Barbara’s shock truthfully. I’m not sure how to explain this except to advise that you watch the movie, particularly her performance.

Anyway, seeing as Judith was at the convention, and in the business of receiving admirers, my wife and I took the opportunity to meet her. She was SO nice and elegant and wonderful! I told her my feelings regarding her performance in NotLD and she was absolutely gracious and said that I had made her entire day. Maybe I had, and maybe I hadn’t, but she sure made me feel like I had. She said that her friends had always teased her about some of the acting choices she’d made in the movie and that it was nice that someone actually “got it”.

I may have made Judith’s day, but she made my entire convention. This is what cons like this are for – moments like this.

I’m not sure if I’ll be attending next year’s ZomBcon, this year was a little too willy-nilly and disorganized. But it was still a fun experience overall.

ZomBcon Wrap-Up!

Hi folks!

Ok, so here is the deal – I am super-duper sick with an awful mucous-y cold from heck. It sucks. And I can’t think beyond the blecch.

I promised my wrap-up by today… but I am not up to writing it. So – to tide you over until I am – here are some awesome con photos!!

Zombie Mario and Luigi!! Luckily Peach is there in a pinch!

Zombie Spock? Illogical! Zombie Pirate? Sure! Both together? Mind BLOWN!

Annie Makes an Adorable Zombie Doll... with a Zombie Doll!

This Horde Makes a Great Posse!

Zombie Mulder and Scully! I want believe! (P.S. isn't that Scully an AMAZING doppleganger for Gillian Anderson??!)

And finally, completely random:

I found them!!! At ZomBcon - who knew?

Zombie Preparedness

Getting ready to go to ZomBcon!!

Cannot wait to join the hordes of the undead here in Seattle. My wife and I will be attending Saturday and Sunday (we couldn’t get off of work for Friday… ah well) and we will be dressed for our own funerals and shambling about looking for “braaaaains” one of these two days. Probably Sunday.

I will be handing out fun little comic cards featuring this guy:

At least until a con representative tells me to stop.

Once again, I will be harboring a super-secret surprise that will be given to the first person (who I don’t already know) that approaches me and says, “Hey! I’ve heard of Jen Tidwell!”. There was no prize-winner at GeekGirlCon, so I’m hoping to divest myself of this awesome schwag at this con instead.

My interest and fandom of the Zombie genre is actually a fairly recent thing. Our best friends are zombie lovers and they got us into the world of staggering, undead, horror. Since then, and especially thanks to flicks like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland and TV series based on comics like The Walking Dead, the wife and I have dove into the fandom with abandom…er, don.

I have devoured books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Zombie Survival Guide, and World War Z much like a zombie devours flesh; and loved every second of it, much unlike a zombie which has no discernible emotions.

Lately, I’ve been catching up on my zombie canon such as the original Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead (which counts!! You can successfully argue that the “deadites” are a type of zombie)and My Boyfriend’s Back (which a lot of zombie fans seem to skip over for some reason…).

I’ve decided that I am firmly on the side of the “slow, lumbering zombie” over the “fast, athletic zombie”. I think that monsters slowly creeping toward you, becoming increasingly dangerous as their numbers increase, is far more scary. A creeping terror is so much more effective than a jumping scare. Your adrenaline stays up longer when the danger is increasingly imminent. Your mind has more time to freak out as it fumbles over escape plans, or defense strategies.

I’m seriously excited for ZomBcon. It’ll mark my first attendance to a zombie-related event, and the first time I have ever dressed-up for a con. I wouldn’t call it “cosplaying” because neither my wife or I will be imitating an established character, but still, we’re dressing up. We’re not going for full gore, or using latex-appliances because, hey, we have to be in the make-up for up to 8 hours and comfort is a factor. We’re more going for a “freshly dead” look. Yes, pictures will be posted.

So excited!!

Yay! I mean… Braaaaaaaains!!

Geek Out, Girl!

Okay, wow. So for a first-year con Geek Girl was AMAZING!

First of all, I must thank my sponsor for day two of the convention: Lunasea Studios!

When Rebecca, the owner, proprietor, gleeful art-making wench of this fine company (who is also an incredibly cool chick) made me the amazing offer of sponsoring my attendance to the con on Sunday I Could. Not. Turn. It. Down!

Her art is super smile-inducing, and you may already be familiar with her uber-awesome web-comic Little Vampires. If you’re not familiar check it out. Like, right now. Seriously, here’s a link. Go. I will wait.

Welcome back! I know, right?!? I spent over an hour just going through the archives and laughing my butt off – so on top of being awesome, her comic is also great for your physique!

Rebecca was also doing commissioned Art Cards at her booth in the exhibition/vendor hall and she made me this:

It’s the 10th Doctor (David Tennant) in a fez, with the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) looking on, not at all pleased. A-hee! I giggle with glee every time I look at it.

It was a small group of vendors/exhibitors, but despite this, there was a LOT of really neat stuff to geek out over. And you better believe that I did.

Saturday started off with a bang and Oral History Live! With Jane Espenson. Sigh. Oh how I adore Jane Espenson. She is witty, she is genuine, she is so INCREDIBLY nice. The panel was essentially a live, less-snooty, version of Inside The Actor’s Studio where Jane chatted casually with an interviewer about her life and experiences in the “biz”. She talked about the difference between writing in a 30-minute sitcom writers’ room and an hour drama writers’ room. I was surprised to learn that writing for an hour show is a much more solitary experience than a “group-think”.

Favorite moment in this panel was when an audience member asked Jane if she’d ever been surprised by the intensity of viewer reaction to any of her shows. Jane harkened back to Buffy and “the death of Tara” (which was a HUGE deal for Willow-Tara fans, and viewers in the LGBT community made their discontent HEARD) and said that it was the one time they ever second-guessed themselves and that it has made her far more cautious with “marginalized” characters ever since. Then, she made the fabulously quotable statement, “[When writing for television] Try not to murder the gays.”

Conveniently, this also served as a wonderful segue for her talk about her new web series Husbands. Which you must watch as it is super funny and very, very good. And also very, very short. Another great quote from Jane, “Husbands! You can watch it while you’re peeing!” (This is true!)

After the Oral History panel, we headed back to the exhibition hall to browse and saw some EXCELLENT cosplay, seen here:

Awesome Star Wars Cosplay

*Sandtrooper on an Unauthorized Coffee Break

Robert Mears as Arnold Rimmer w/ Mr. Flibble from Red Dwarf

Adel C. Crossplaying Capt. Hammer-style

A Little Dr. Who Crossplay by Christina Newhall

Monarch's Henchwomen!!

Naturally, being a huge Buffy fan myself (really, I’m an extra-large), we made it to the Whedonistas Panel, another panel with Jane Espenson, but also several other writers who contributed to a new book of essays (titled: Whedonistas) that discusses Joss Whedon’s impact on both the world of sci-fi and women in television. It was an insightful panel and very enjoyable. At the end they had a little trivia contest and I WON SOMETHING! I won an official Husbands crew hat SIGNED BY JANE ESPENSON!!!!

#swoon #geekgasm

And that was just the first day! Day two was a bit more subdued, but there were still fabulous panels and craft-labs to attend. I really wish I had been able to clone myself so that I could have attended BOTH the Media Literacy panel AND the Make A Yoda Stick Puppet panel. I ended up in Media Literacy – which was an informative panel… but I think it would have been better with stick puppets. OH!! Media Literacy with Stick Puppets Panel – Make Your Own Marginalized Stereotype with Popsicle Sticks and Pipe Cleaners!!! Win!! Maybe they’ll do that next year.

Geek Girl Con wrapped with a Labyrinth sing-a-long (which I sadly was unable to attend, but heard was bunches of fun)!

Overall, the weekend was amazing. The only suggestion I have would be to NOT schedule the Star Trek Panel at the same time as the Star Wars panel. This forces fans of both universes to have to choose between them… and this can be a very tough choice.

I am so excited for next year’s con! Geek Girls! We run this mutha!

*I originally had written Stormtrooper. I stand corrected.

UPDATE Re: Geek Girl Con – Seattle

It’s official! I will be at

This Saturday!!

I am planning on attending both Jane Espenson Panels, otherwise I’ll be hanging out in the exhibitor hall.

If you’re the first person to find me and utter the phrase, “Hey, I’ve heard of Jen Tidwell!” you get a super secret surprise!

See you at the con!