Monday, December 30, 2013

Interview With Cosplay Queen- April Gloria

I love the aspects of cosplay.  Not just the whole, "look I'm dressed up in an awesome costume" part but the part that takes creativity, and imagination.  Well I stumbled upon April Gloria when I was on Facebook the other day.  She's a fellow Michigander who is the entire geek girl package.

April Gloria answered a few questions about what she does to get ready for a big costume, when she got started and even has a little advice for anyone who wants to get into this crazy hobby!

Q. When did you start cosplaying?
A. I started cosplaying in Spring I'm definitely still new at it!

Q.Why did you want to cosplay?
A. I saw it as a creative outlet. I've always enjoyed art and creating things so this allows me to use skills I have and acquire new ones in order to make my own types of 'art pieces'. I also love learning about makeup, hairstyling, and photo editing so cosplay is a way to be able to enjoy those things and become better at them.

Q.How many cosplays have you done so far?
A. To date I have three complete costumes: Elizabeth(short hair) from Bioshock Infinite, Aela the huntress from Skyrim, and Elizabeth (Burial at Sea version). I wore the first Elizabeth three times, but I tweaked it every time to make it better! First I swapped my skirt for something less poofy, and then I got rid of the ill-fitting corset. Now I'm really happy with it.

Q.Whats your favorite cosplay to date?
A. probably Aela. I love how the photos turned out!!! The entire outfit minus the shoes and wig is handmade so when I look at the photos I feel really accomplished! I learned a lot while making it; it was a great experience. However it's not easy to wear...body tape does not cooperate well with the leather I used for some reason so I will have to think of a solution if I want to wear it again. But that's the thing about cosplay; you are always learning, which is awesome!

Q.You mentioned on your site that you are learning to sew and getting into making more of your own costumes. Before that who did you commission from?
A. I commissioned the Elizabeth jacket from Sherryval on Etsy. She sews entire Liz outfits but I could handle the rest on my own. She did a good job on it!
I also got my pendants from another Etsy shop called CosplayDesu.
Sometimes if a piece is out of my skill level, or if I don't have tons of time to finish, I'll pick up some things at Goodwill. I did that with my Burial at Sea Liz shirt. I've never sewn a dress shirt and I didn't have tons of time so I bought a black shirt and a white one. I snipped the collar and sleeve cuffs off the black shirt and attached them to the white one. It worked pretty well. Someday I will learn the skills to make my own!!!

Q.What is the something you have learned from cosplay?
A. It's always more expensive and more time consuming than you estimate! I can't even tell people when certain costumes will be ready..because that date changes all the time! I might have real life issues come up, or need to use my 'play money' for other things, run into problems with construction...anything can happen really!
In relation to that...I learned that it requires a ton of patience and trial and error. Things often don't turn out the way you picture it the first time....or even the second or third. This is tough for me because I am the kind of person who wants to get everything right the first time I do it. I know it's not a good way to think, but I'm working on it. Cosplay has helped me a lot.

Q.Do you have any tips or advice you can share to new cosplayers?
A. 1. Be prepared to pay! Cosplay is expensive. Between materials, convention tickets/airfare/hotels, photo shoots...materials alone add up fast.
2. Be patient! Like I said above, trial and error is a commonplace thing. But don't get discouraged because eventually you will figure it out and it will be worth it.
3. Google and YouTube are your best friends. Research everything!!! What material is best? How does Pepakura work? How do you make armor from Worbla? What the heck IS Worbla? Pretty much anything you could want to know, you can find online through blogs, forums, other cosplayers' sites, and videos. I've learned so much just by Googling.
4. Don't be afraid to commission! It's awesome to make your own costumes. I admire anyone who has the skills to sew an entire outfit. But I'm not afraid to commission or buy something from Goodwill and alter it. Don't let lack of sewing skills limit who you cosplay.
5. Be confident! Fake it if you have to! At cons, be open and approachable. I'm naturally an introvert so this is something I have had to work on. I've gotten so much better in this area. Show the world how proud you are of your costume and how much fun you are having, and people will notice.
6. Prepare for trolls! They will come around every so often. But don't let them get you down. Some people seem to enjoy putting others down for no reason. Just remember that as long as you are doing what makes you happy, that's what matters. If you let the trolls get to you and discourage you, they win. I hate that's motivation for me, haha!

Q.Whats your favorite memory so far in cosplaying?
A. Probably when the official Elder Scrolls facebook page posted a photo of me in my Aela costume. Skyrim is my absolute favorite game so the fact that the creators of it thought I did one of their characters justice was just completely surreal!!!

Check out April Gloria's facebook page by clicking HERE.  

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Unlisted Reunion Show

I had one heck of a Saturday people!  My husband's former band, Unlisted, had a reunion show up in Big Rapids, Michigan at, The Pub.

I love when the guys get back together not only because I can see how happy Jimmy is to be on stage again, but because they are so talented.  When they were planning their set they had 2 hours to fill, and having not played together since last year at their last, reunion show, they were a little rusty.

Jimmy asked me if maybe I wanted to step in and sing a song or two with them... I was a tad skeptical at first.  Don't get me wrong I love being on stage, and singing/music is a huge passion of mine.  The thing is- I don't exactly have the voice of an angel...

I have been getting voice lessons for the last few years but needless to say I will never be the girl with the voice that wows an audience.  I just like to have fun, and not sound terrible when I am doing it.

We decided that they would split the set into two, one hour segments and I would close the first segment with three songs.  I sang, "Zombie" by The Cranberries, "Wrecking Ball" by the infamous Miley Cyrus and my favorite, "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You."  Originally by Heart, but covered recently by one of my favorites, Halestorm.

We practiced all of one time before I made my "stage debut" with the guys, and while I knew the songs pretty well, I wasn't vocally warmed up and I was pretty drunk once my time came to sing.

Yes... I am making excuses for my lack luster performance.... but I can do that because this is my blog.  I got a little pitchy here and their, I may have talked to the drummer during the songs, and I may have done some awful dancing and completely ignored my audience...

BUT I had fun and that's really why I sing at all (even when it's not so good)

alas I have a video (of course I do...)  Check it out-

Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 In A Nut Shell!

I hope this post isn't going to end up being obnoxiously long... But 2013 was FREAKING AWESOME!  I have accomplished a million things on my checklist and 2014's checklist is already a mile long.  I thought as I step into 2014 in a matter of days I should probably go through and share what I did in 2013 that's going to prepare me for 2014!

First and foremost at the very tail end of 2012 I got engaged!  That was freaking exciting.

That was the most exciting day ever- then 2013 hit us and we left for Florida where I completed the Walt Disney World Half Marathon, first race of over 10 races I competed in this year.  After the big race we boarded a cruise ship where I joined some of my best friends for an amazing week of fun in the sun!

We got back from the cruise only to find out that Jim had made "Presidents Club" at his work and we would be flying back out to Key West for another fun filled weekend!  This was all only in January!

After all of this I decided to crack down and prepare myself for upcoming musical auditions and pageants.  I worked very hard with my vocal instructor and auditioned for all the shows that were coming to Grand Rapids Circle Theatre.  I got called back for round 2 of auditions for every show, but did not get a part.  It wasn't my time.  The good new is though that I was cast in the summer concert series they were holding called, Hits Of The 80's!  Which was a BLAST!

All the while I was still running.  Now going into 2013 I was NOT in the shape I had been in the past.  My speed was down and I struggled to run sub 8 minute miles on my training runs. I decided on a whim to run the 5/3 River Bank Run.  I literally waited til Friday afternoon and signed up which was the night before!  I crossed the finish line in 1:58 mins!  Which put me in the "2 Hour Run Club"  I was ecstatic!

I look dead because I am! haha
Next up was the National Miss Captivating pageant.  This years pageant was held in Ohio and I went in pretty nervous.  I dreamed of winning a national level pageant for years and little did I know that 2013 was the year I was going to do it.  

After the pageant my (now husband) said he thought I was going to "burn out" if I didn't slow down- I told him, "you can't accomplish things if you stop trying."  We laughed for a while about how corny that sounded but I knew what I wanted, I wanted to be faster!  At this point I was still working nights (7-midnight) on GRD.  My dream was and still is to someday be on a morning show but secondary to that would be to do afternoons or middays.  I was given the opportunity to move up in the ranks back in July and became the midday day host on GRD!  I was now on 10AM to 3PM everyday!

This whole time I had not forgot about running!  At this point I had raced probably 8 times (all being half marathons or longer!) and was steadily reaching goals each time.

A huge goal of mine was to qualify for the Boston Marathon... the elusive BQ seemed so out of reach as I ran multiple marathons hitting a 3:45 time and needing a 3:35 or faster...  I traveled to Dayton Ohio with a group of friends though and it must have been my lucky day because I made the cut and qualified for Boston with mere seconds to spare!

The fall was full of wedding stuff- planning, parties, etc. I started to feel like my goals weren't being accomplished and I was getting "comfortable"  So I made my mind up that I was going to get back under 20 minutes in a 5k before I got married.  For 2 months I did speed work once a week, and made sure to never skip a run unless.  By Novemeber 9th I was two weeks away from my wedding.  It was also the same day that I was having my hair trial for the wedding!  I signed up for a small race in Comstock Park with my friend John and decided that was the day I would break 20 minutes.  

The race was hard.  Harder than I thought it would be, my gut hurt, my legs burned, and it was pretty cold outside- about 40 degrees which was the coldest day we had, had so far.  I tried not to look at my watch the whole run, and it wasn't until the last 100 meters that I realized I was going to reach my goal if I just sprinted!  So I did, here's a pic of John and me after the race.

Immediatley following the race I "raced" over to Brindle and Blonde for my hair trial- where my fabulous friend, and hair stylist, Christopher Michael helped create what would be my wedding day 'do!

Not much happened between this day and my wedding day, mostly just nerves and fun stuff!  Went to go see the new Hunger Games movie (and it rocked!) I kept running, and working my fabulous shift of 10AM to 3PM!  My wedding day came and went so fast but it was easily the best day of my life.

And that takes me to today!  December 27th.  WOW I can't believe the year is almost done and it will be 2014!  I feel like I just scratched the surface of things I did this year.  I had so many other things that I got to do, went to Rock on the Range and interviewed like 15 huge rock bands!  I got to have numerous bands in the studio, I made new friends, and I almost forgot to add that I decided to audition for a musical one last time in 2013 and I got a part!  Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson- the show runs starting in February!

So long 2013, you were a good year, I am looking forward to 2014 though, to see what adventures will come!

What was your biggest accomplishment in 2014? Was it fitness related? Work related? Comment below!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Throw Back Thursday

Today's #ThrowBackThursday is from Septemeber when I raced in the AirForce Marathon!  The race was brutal (partially because my long run didn't get past 14 miles...) I still (barely) achieved my goal and qualified for Boston! I love this picture becuase you can see the pain all over my face!

Gettin Geeky at the Geek Group

Not too long ago I had an "outside the box" photo shoot with Jason Hite of Hite Design and Photography.  Jason is a pretty cool dude that likes to, "think outside the box."  Normally any photo shoot I do is either, pageant related, or cosplay style.  This was a just for fun type thing.

We went over to the Geek Group in Grand Rapids.  If you are from the area you may be familiar with it, it's over on Leonard Street.  This place is nuts!  It is geek heaven my friends.  A 42,000 square foot facility that is perfect for any kind of experiment. 

The guys at the Geek Group were super cool and let us play with all the toys they had, which were kind of frightening (like the tesla coil that could kill you if you are inside of the fence that surrounds it...) 

Check out these photos we got using the space!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas Love The Blankenships

This year Jimmy and I wanted a Christmas card that was fun.... So this is what we chose.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Pop Evil At The Intersection

Last night Pop Evil made their way out to the intersection, downtown Grand Rapids.  Love when they come to town and I got the pleasure of interviewing them along with Metal Head Ned (one of my co workers at GRD.)  

I'll have the interview video soon I can share but right now here is a photo from hanging out on the bus with the guys... 

Marshmallow fluff, Nintendo game controller, go cart trophy... yeah things got weird.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Disney Training Update

Burr!  Can we start with that?  Geez has it been a cold start to winter or what!  If you are not from Michigan and have not experienced a "Michigan Winter" then let me tell you, it's insane!

I currently am training for "The Dopey" at Walt Disney World this January.  It's 4 "fun filled days" of running, running, and more running.  Thursday I'll complete a 5k, Friday a 10k, Saturday a half marathon, and Sunday I will complete the insanity with a full marathon!  

Well the last year or so I have been training very consistently and if you know anything about running you'll know that consistency is the key to a successful runner.  Coming out of college as a cross country and track athlete at Ferris State University, I was very competitive, every race I did either ended with a win or personal record or I would be pretty upset.  

After years of competing and running myself into the ground I slowly began missing runs.  Without my coach and teammates there to push me it was very difficult to stay motivated.  2 years went by and they felt like 2 minutes.  Suddenly I was slow, I was 10 pounds heavier and I wasn't very happy with myself.

I decided to jump in a 5k and was disgusted with myself when I cross the finish line with a time of 22:25.  Now a lot of you may read this and think, "Stupid bitch that's freaking fast!"  But keep in mind, "fast" is very relative to the person who is running.  For one person "fast" is 24 minutes in a 5k, for another it may be 15.  For me "fast" was 18:49, which was my PR when I left college.

That 5k had ate me alive, chewed me up and spit me out.  For one thing I felt like I had ran a marathon and not just a mere 3.1 mile race.  That day I decided I am going to run every day of 2013.  

I didn't do it.

Not because I gave up or because I wasn't trying but because that is a lofty goal!  It's basically asking for an injury.  I did however manage to keep an average of 30 miles a week (some weeks much more and some weeks a tad less) for the entire year thus far (only a few weeks left!)

I started with a race the first week of 2013, The Walt Disney World Half Marathon.  It was god awful!  It was hot outside and I felt like I couldn't breathe.  The last 2 miles were miserable and I forced myself to keep pushing and finish the damn race even though I just wanted to roll over dead!

The positive side to things?  I had earned 2000 dollars for the AT-Children's project and I finished.  I ran 1:51 that day averaging 8:28 a mile. 

I got back and immediately started training for The Gazelle Girl Half Marathon.  Where I decided that I was going to break 8 a mile no matter what I had to do.

I ran all winter and by March I was in considerably better shape.  I finished the Gazelle Girl with a HUGE personal record of, 1:41!  That's 7:42 a mile.  

 I'm Wonder Woman in the picture above!

Immediately after finishing my former team mate, and friend Tina (Who also blogs check it out HERE) asked if I wanted to travel to Chicago to run the Chicago Women's Half Marathon.  I DID so I signed up and kept my training going. 

Little did I know this would be the hardest run I had ever ran in my entire life.  It was HOT, 90 degrees to be exact at 6 in the morning!  The humidity was no joke and the run was miserable.  In the end I finished in the exact time I ran Gazelle Girl in and I realized, being that miserable I had ran the same time!  My consistincy was starting to pay off!

That brings me to the fall.  The rest of the summer I trained and ended up running the Air Force Marathon.  This race was AMAZING.  It was the first race that I truly felt inspired to run FASTER.  I felt like my training and everything I was working toward was finally truly paying off.  I finished the 26.2 mile trek in 3:34 minutes just qualifying me for the Boston Marathon by 1 minute!

A few weeks later my lovely town of Grand Rapids held its annual Grand Rapids Marathon and Half Marathon.  I last minute signed up for the half and decided in a snap decision that I was going to race this as hard as I could and see what I could do!

I finished the race in 1:32 minutes!  That's a 7:00 minute mile average  I even had 5 of the miles UNDER 7 minutes!  It felt incredible flying through the finish line, and I can say I finally felt, "fast."  I placed 13th that day out of every female in the race.

Now I know not everyone races for time, or for placement, but I do, and that was, and is important to me as a runner so you can imagine the feeling of finally truly feeling like I was BACK.

I decided that day that all my running was working but I had to add speed work into the mix.  I began doing speed work outs every week.  Tuesdays I would go over to East Grand Rapids track and put together a work out.

I decided since it had been a year since I truly began training again I would make the goal of finishing a 5k in under 20 minutes before my wedding.  Remember a year ago when all this started I was at a 22 minute 5k!  I found a 5k near my house and signed up.  It was the Comstock Park Panther Classic held on November 9th.  Only 2 weeks before my wedding!

I was so nervous the day of the race because I felt "off" all morning.  I had those nagging nasty little thoughts popping into my head telling me, "this is too hard."  "You can't do this."  Before I knew it though the gun had gone off and I was racing!

I pushed and pushed through out the race and I didn't even really know if I was on target to run the time I wanted or not.  It wasn't until I crossed the finish line in 19:58 that I realized that I had done it!

That brings me to the now.  The "training update" well its snowy, it's cold and its all in all just awful here.  I have been running but with my wedding and everything else my speed work is starting to peter off and I have been making myself nervous that I am going to lose everything that 2013 has given me.

I have 1 month til it's race time and my goal is to run the 5k, 10k and full marathon at a normal relaxed running pace, but I would like to complete the half marathon with a personal record (PR) and break 1:30 minutes.

Any advice for this race?  How do you get through the winter blues?  If I don't have a treadmill or gym membership how can I break this pain in the ass of running through ice and snow?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Actors Theatre Presents- Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

 If you have been following me, you probably know I am a musical theater geek! I love the stage.
Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids recently had audtions for “‘Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” a rock musical about Jackson’s presidency and his relationship with his wife Rachel.
If you aren’t familiar with the show, think “Saturday Night Live” meets Green Day. That’s the best description I can come up with.

Not only is the show hysterically funny, but it’s a limited cast, only four female roles in the cast.
I was pretty nervous going into auditions because Grand Rapids is chalk full of talented ladies. I decided to sing “Because the Night,” by Patti Smith.

I was terrified at auditions saying I was "pretty nervous" is probably under exaggerating.  I love acting, and singing but I am not by any means the best.  While Grand Rapids clearly isn't New York City or anything we have some amazing theater programs that offer the community a very nice off broadway experience. 

I originally was happy to just get a call back for a second audition.  I went back for the second audition Sunday evening where they had narrowed it down to about 10 females and 10 males.  Like I said earlier though the cast consists of only 4 girls!  Every girl that walked up to sing wowed me.  They all had chops and EXPERIENCE which is a major key in a lot of these auditions.

I left the call back feeling proud of myself for just getting there, and I knew I had done my best even though my nerves were rattled and I dropped my keys and hit my head against a ballet bar when I went to pick them up (in front of everyone...)

I held my phone in my hand for like 2 hours straight... just in case it rang telling me I got a part... well lucky for me, it DID RING!  I got a part!  I have a solo, I have lines, I have a REAL part!

Performances of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” are in February, Feb. 6-22.
I’ll keep everyone in the loop on how to come check out the show!

We had our first rehearsal last night and let me just say this word, "Magic."  Because that is what the show will be!  I am so excited!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Jackie Cosplays- The Punisher

I first became familiar with the Punisher when the movie starring Tom Jane came out. I was a senior in high school and went to go see it with a group of friends. The other girls in my group said it was okay, but I loved it! I ended up going again to see it with my dad and then bought the DVD and used to watch it in my dorm when I was pre drinking with my college buddies!

I've began reading a few of the comic books to familiarize myself with the background of Frank Castle and the guy is a bad ass! He is the coolest, "anti hero" ever. I think the hardest part of doing the shoot was finding weapons to use. Castle uses anything, the guy had a gun that shot swords in one of the comics I read! Well clearly I couldn't get anything as cool as that because I am pretty positive that doesn't exist.

My brother in law (my sisters husband) apparently is a weapons enthusiast and brought over everything he has. Now I know I'll be getting some slack because I have a sword and The Punisher never uses a sword blah blah blah, well I highly doubt Frank Castle would throw a fit if there was a sword there and he needed a weapon...

My sister once again shot the photos and she did an incredible job! It was freezing outside and it was right when the snow was starting to really come down so you can imagine how cold we were. We went out to the back alley behind Stella's (my favorite bar!) and shot the majority of the photos there. We also made our way into "Vault Of Midnight" comic book shop downtown for a few photos. Check out more of my sisters work HERE.

Normally I do my own hair and makeup on shoots, but this time I had an entire entourage (which was awesome!) Makeup was done by Erick Gerson Rodriguez who also did my makeup for my wedding. Hair was done by Sin Chun of Sin Republic salon. Sin took REAL bullets and put them in my hair... I kept thinking what if something happens and soccer ball or something comes flying at me and bounces off my head... BAM! That's how I live life though, on the edge...

You can always check out more photos and chat with me live by going to my FACEBOOK PAGE!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sneek Peek- The Punisher Cosplay

Over the weekend my sister came to visit me.  Dani has been getting into photography and what once was a hobby that she was pretty good at is now a career and she is doing really well for herself.
We had been talking about doing, "The Punisher" as our next shoot for MONTHS.  Well we finally made it happen.  First off it was OF COURSE the coldest fucking day ever!  I mean ever!  What the hell it was like snow city, I wanted to go punish some bitches.  
Secondly my brother in law is a bad ass and apparently owns an array of weaonry including but not limited to, rifles, swords, blades, knives, and pistols... So that kind of helped the shoot.
I only have one shot so far, check it out!

Oh and PS: I had my hair and makeup done for this shoot by some kick ass people!  Erick Rodriguez made the makeup look incredible while Sin Chun of Sin Republic put REAL bullets in my hair... not sure how safe that is but it happened... More images to come soon! 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I Got Married Part 2

I like how I promised at the end of Part One that part two would only be a day away... Well five days later here I am finally writing about part two, why?  Well a number of reasons, one, I was  being lazy, two I got the flu and didn't want to do much other than sit around and barf a bunch... any-who here is part two to my wedding saga!

My mom lifted me by the arms and dragged me to a chair nearby.  I was aware of what was going on around me but my eye sight was very blurry, like I was wearing glasses with butter smeared across the lenses.  My mother quickly got my dad to grab some food for me, and my trusty Mistress Of Ceremony, Katie grabbed me a granola bar.

I was panicking inside all I could think was, "I'm not getting married today anymore, I can't even stand, Jim is going to be so sad!"  As I munched on a peanut butter nature valley bar my eyesight came back into focus and I found myself feeling just a little better.  I scarfed down two snack bags of pretzels and a coke and then I was back!
I was kind of a hot mess at this point, if you want to have a true image of what I looked like, picture me sitting in a chair slumped down just a ball of white wedding dress, and 6 brides maids with bibles fanning me.  Some were just fanning me with their dresses, to be honest the air helped I remember it being very warm, but I saw a lot of underwear at that moment!

It was way too late to take any photos or really do anything before the ceremony so my mom finished lacing up the last bit of my dress and we just hung out like that for five minutes or so until they called us to our places.

I wasn't really nervous because I wasn't afraid to marry Jimmy, I was more thinking about how I could pass out at any moment again and how embarrassing that would be.  Like the blink of an eye the ceremony went by so quickly.

We had to readings one from our best man, Greg, and one from my two maid of honors, my sister Dani and my best friend Nikki.  The 30 minute ceremony felt like 5 minutes it went so quick.  When finally our pastor, Dr. David Lee Smith said we could kiss I realized, "Holy shit we are married!"  As we kissed our chosen song of, "I Believe In A Thing Called Love," by The Darkness played and we used that to walk back down the aisle to.

The rest of the bridal party followed and next thing you know Jim and I were hopping in a limo while bubbles were being blown at us and off we went! 

I didn't get a good look at the church really until later but it looks beautiful!  My aunt had put bows up and these awesome pillars on the stage.  They had lit candles all along the aisle so everything was so lit up.  It looked just as I had pictured in all my months of planning, honestly it looked even BETTER than I pictured. 

We had to race the clock to get photos done because it was quickly approaching 5 o clock which is when it starts to get dark here around this time of year.  We had multiple trouble along the way though, first Jim's mom up and left after the ceremony not realizing we had photos... then the photographers car was about to get towed and we had to find a way to move it before we could start.  I was in full panic mode acting like a mega bitch because as anyone who is married knows, pictures are important!  In the end they are all you have left of that day for memories, especially since we did not have a videographer.

All my bridezilla bitchiness though dissipated quickly we got the pictures we needed and had a great time cruisin around in the limo until the reception.  That's when the real fun starts, and that's where I will end this post, I'll have "Part 3- The Reception" next.