Emotional whiplash - Jay Maynard

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Monday, 19 April 2004


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2302 - Emotional whiplash

From one comment to the Slashdot story:

I really hope he isn't disheartened by the multitude of +5 Funny posts here, because once you're proud of something, it's excruciating to be suddenly confronted with doubts that you wasted your time.

Yeah. "Emotional roller coaster" is not strong enough to describe what I've been going through...

I worked on the costume Friday morning, and a bit on and off Friday afternoon after the first set of completed pictures were taken. I spent all day Saturday getting nervous about the debut, to the point that I needed a little pep talk from bronxelf_ag001 to get myself together and changed into it. Once I headed out for the Masquerade muster, I was really nervous...until Cathy Raymond, who's a friend as well as one of the judges, saw me as she walked down the hall and said "Wow." At that point, it started to be worth it. Cathy had no idea I was even entering, much less what I was entering, as I knew she was a judge and took great pains to avoid any appearance of trading on that friendship.

I was mostly nervous because I had no idea what I was up against, or whether it was appropriate, or a reasonable level of effort, or if I was going to make a very public fool of myself.

Fortunately, the reactions of the judges, and the other entrants, dispelled that notion rather quickly. They were all quite impressed, at least as far as their words went. Several wanted to talk to me about what and how I'd done, and a couple of photographers made a point of taking pictures after the judges had done their examination. One guy suggested a cup; I'll discuss my answer more fully below, since it figures prominently in the Slashdot and Fark crap.

The audience response was overwhelmingly positive. My little explanation of who I was seemed to have hit the mark, and there was more than perfunctory applause. When the Workmanship award was announced, the sense of approval was universal. Cathy told me afterward that my choice for that award wasn't even close - a surprise, because I'm not that happy with some of the detail workmanship. I wasn't going to argue.

I mentioned that I was thinking about wearing it as a walking-around costume the next day to a few folks, who all said things along the lines of "go for it!". I got stopped for lots of pictures, and the DJ tried to get me to come to the dance that was going on at the time (I declined, since I'm not a dancer).

I went to all of the room parties I could think of, then went to a panel Cathy's husband Eric (the famous Open Source advocate, and a guy I've known for well over a decade) was on. He came up to me afterward, took a good long look, and said, "Oh, wow." (This would prove to be a general reaction.) Neil Gaiman told me he thought it was neat. I was really fading by this time, so I went back to my room, sent out notices to everyone I could think of, posted the LJ entry, and cratered.

The next morning, I got up, had breakfast, put the costume back on, and walked around the con, to more requests for pictures and positive comments. One seminar I went to was one on blogs as literature, notable because Steve Jackson (gaming publisher and guru) and Jeff Bates ("Hemos" of Slashdot) were on it along with Gaiman. Two guesses as to what Jackson and Bates had to say. (You guessed it: "Oh, wow." I could hear the thunk as Bates's jaw hit the table.) I'd asked Bates and his co-founder of Slashdot, Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda, the previous day how I should submit an update to an article. This morning, I told Bates that this was the update I was talking about (referencing the TRON costume article from two weeks prior). Bates told me I should definitely submit an update.

I was having fun.

Eventually, the con wound down. As Eric and Cathy were making the rounds prior to my driving them to the airport, Rob Landley, a good friend of theirs and co-founder of Penguicon, came up and told me that the story about my costume had made it to Slashdot. We all thought that was neat. I didn't have time to check before we left. I drove Eric and Cathy to the airport, in a nice warm fuzzy glow from all the good comments.

During the drive, I did mention that there would probably be comments posted complaining about how the pictures show that some folks shouldn't wear spandex. Eric and Cathy shrugged, and suggested that that was indeed to be expected. Little did I know...

I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing. Then I got back to my room and checked out the Slashdot story. The good mood evaporated in a hurry, to be replaced by more than a little depression and wondering if I did, indeed, waste my time. I posted the LJ entry on that subject and then went away for a nap, my usual response to an emotional sledgehammer.

It's easy to say "illegitimi non carborundum" (even if that does invite retribution from jdm314 for the horrible mangling of Latin), but much harder to put it into practice. The comments, both there and on Fark, really hurt. There were a few supportive comments on Slashdot, and a very few on Fark after I posted my comment about their userbase, but on the whole, it hurt. Getting support from friends helped, as did a suggestion from an anime costumer to post the page to an anime cosplay site. Even so, I was still hurting when I went to sleep last night.

The 12-hour drive back was no fun. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I finally came to the conclusion that the crap was the same kind of bullying and taunting that made my school life hell, carried on by the same kind of juvenile mentality that cannot make itself feel good without making someone else feel bad. I had thought that the passage of time had robbed that kind of thing of its power to hurt. Guess I was wrong.

There have been several supportive comments via email, and one request for an interview from a magazine (which I'm thinking carefully about before going ahead and granting it). I'm planning one final update to the page, discussing all of this, as well as the helpful suggestions I got; that will happen tomorrow, as it's far too late, and I'm far too tired, to do it tonight.

I was thinking of doing a costume for next year's Penguicon, and/or updating this one and entering it at Linucon this October. Both are, now, much more in doubt: why should I subject myself to this crap all over again?

One final note: The sight of even the suggestion of male genitalia seems to be too much for people to handle. I gave long and careful consideration to whether I should do anything in that area as I was designing the costume, and did some research. Nowhere in the movie, the press kit, or the Rolling Stone article on the making of the film does any male character wear anything, cup, dance belt, or otherwise, to alter the profile or disguise things in any way. I decided to do the same in the name of accuracy. One overriding design goal for the costume was to be as accurate as I possibly could given my own artistic limitations and the availability of materials. I think I succeeded. I do think that, if Bruce Boxleitner and Jeff Bridges' genitalia are outlined for two hours of film, people should be able to handle having it done the same way in real life...After this, I am considering adding a cup to my one Renaissance outfit where it is an issue - but I strongly believe that will detract from the periodicity of the garb, and thus, from my enjoyment of wearing it. Sigh. Dammit, that wasn't an issue in 1500, and people should think of it in those terms.

current mood: [mood icon] drained

(26 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:psychemarlies
Date: - 0000
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I love your Tron costume. You put a lot of work into it and it shows. I am very impressed. I know it would be a hit at Dragon*Con.

Plain and simple... people can be asses. A favorite quote of mine... one I have to remind myself on occasion:
"Always do what you want, and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Suess

Never be afraid to live your dreams. You ARE living those dreams. Don't let the naysayers and bullies bring you down.
*hugs*
From:cyclometh
Date: - 0000
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Meh. Don't let the trolls and freaks on /. or Fark bum you out. Most of them wouldn't have the stones (or ability) to do anything like that, and dammit- who cares? It was for your enjoyment, not theirs.

I've been to many a con, and costumes are always fun, because people do things they wouldn't do outside that atmosphere- I did a Centauri from Babylon 5 one year, and my hair took 3 hours, an iron and two cans of Aquanet superhold to put up. I'm sure a lot of folks thought I was a total freakshow because my hair was about 2 feet long at the time. But I had fun doing it, which was all I wanted.
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From:timmowarner
Date: - 0000
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I think you should concentrate on how positive everything was at the actual con in real life. If there's one thing the internet has taught me it's public forums generally attract the worst sort of people. I often wonder if posters are going out of their way to make life miserable for themselves and others. That said, I don't give any merit to what's said on them (with a few exceptions when things are presented intelligently, positive or negative).
From:jmthane
Date: - 0000
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[User Picture]
From:taper
Date: - 0000

Potential helpy thing:Potential helpy thing:Potential Helpy Thing

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Steve Jackson Games' Daily Illuminator today is Steve's con report, which includes a mention of your costume with "Is this not the coolest thing you have ever seen?"

Beth's one comment was to suggest a dance belt, but if it's about accuracy, okay.
[User Picture]
From:aiela
Date: - 0000
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You know, I wouldn't let people get you down - the rules are different at Con, you looked great, it was a cool costume, and everyone there thought you were terribly impressive.

If the mermaid girl can walk around 90% naked, I think you had the right to make your costume historically (heh) accurate.
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From:mielikki
Date: - 0000
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You rock. Don't let 'em get you down IN VERY DEED! I would much rather hang out with you than any of those frat-boy twerps. Hang in there!
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From:stevenglassman
Date: - 0000
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I thought the costume was great, and actually stuck the pic I took of you up in the con report on my journal. (I'm a Tron-geek from way back, so of course I love it.)

As far as the whole cup thing, my only thought regarding your genitals while I was at the con was, "he's a braver man than I am."

[User Picture]
From:matt_arnold
Date: - 0000
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Jay, you rock. I was surprised by their comments because as a costumer I don't think about the wearer, I think about the costume. Sometimes non-costumers just don't understand. But remember who you're doing it for. They aren't convention-goers, they aren't costumers, and they aren't Fen. Ignore them and keep being a class act as you have been.
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From:jdm314
Date: - 0000
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It's easy to say "illegitimi non carborundum" (even if that does invite retribution from jdm314 for the horrible mangling of Latin)...

Heh, someday I plan I writing a journal entry about that saying. Basically it's impossible to correct because it's not real Latin. It's an old pun. I probably told you this story a while back.

At any rate, good luck putting it into practice.
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From:txtigerman
Date: - 0000
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Not to sour your mood even more, but you made http://www.somethingawful.com today.
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From:g4sheriff
Date: - 0000
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Five days late, just want to reitterate that tell them to shove it. It -is- the same crap that was perpetrated by assholes in high school, I dealt with them too, then I laughed my freaking butt off when I later would arrest and/or cite them for things like drunk driving or beating up their wives.

I'm ont a religious man, but I do believe in karma.

They will get theirs!
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From:jeffreyab
Date: - 0000
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It is a cool costume and it shows a lot of hard work.

I would improve and expand it and keep entering it.

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From:kimnicole
Date: - 0000
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Dud, excellent costume. I agree with the poster I just read: whatever you want to do with it: Wear it, Expand on it, whatever.

But BE PROUD. That is one seriously good piece of work there. Very cool. :-)
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From:bearblue
Date: - 0000

Considering...

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Considering that I can't sew and I've certainly never made a costume before...

I agree:

But BE PROUD. That is one seriously good piece of work there. Very cool. :-)

You've got some real talent. Go you!

From:delightb32
Date: - 0000
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I found this through lj drama and I think you are great. First of all, Neil Gaiman spoke to you voluntarily which makes the costume worth its weight in gold. Second of all, you are brave. It takes a lot to wear something skin tight, and I never could have done it. You are one of my heros, and I mean it.
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From:phuries
Date: - 0000
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Aww! You did an awesome job with the costume, and you were quite brave to wear it. Be proud of your hard work and effort and know that there are tons of people who think you're amazing for it!
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From:kierkegarden
Date: - 0000
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I just wanted to say... I read a lot of rude comments and your journal entries and the LJ drama first... and I was thinking, boy, that photo must be so awful... And you know what, when I finally saw the photo of you in your coz... You are not the fat man I imagined. The cup is not necessary. You look just fine, maybe a little tubby, but nothing near "disgusting fat"... and a lot of people on the internet are very close to obese. So I say FUCK THEM, cause there is nothing wrong with your costume or with you!
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From:jmaynard
Date: - 0000
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I'm not as fat as I've been made out to be, for sure. I'm 5 feet 9, and weighed 201.4 pounds this morning. I could stand to lose between 30 and 40 pounds, depending on whose tables you believe. I'm certainly no more overweight than many, many folks out there, and I suspect I'm probably about average when compared to the kiddies.
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From:lunameow
Date: - 0000
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Eh. I don't know you, you don't know me. I happened across the whole LJDrama thing, vaguely remember liking Tron when I saw it *cough*20*cough* years ago, and figured I'd check it out. Especially when they mentioned Gaiman liked it, 'cause he's a god and stuff. I gotta say, I was expecting some sort of so-fat-he-doesn't-walk-he-rolls thing, and you're definitely not that. Probably a bit smaller than my fiance, in fact. I can't say I dig the costume, 'cause I really just don't like that green color, but I definitely admire the work that went into it, and your balls (no pun intended) in going with the "Fuck what other people think, I'm doing this" attitude. The comments come from their own insecurities in knowing that they'd never have the guts to do something like that, even if they had so-called perfect bodies. Plus, if they're spending that much time sitting around reading slashdot, Fark, LJDrama, etc., and commenting religiously, they'd never be able to get off of their lazy asses long enough to create a bologna sandwich, let alone a work of art like your costume. Not to mention they'd be too braindead to be able to come up with the concept in the first place. Keep doing what you do and being you and don't let these hosers get you down. You rock, and you're an inspiration to others.

Oh, sidenote on the cup issue. For Ren garb, a cup wouldn't be a big deal. Just style it as a codpiece. Hell, if I were a dude, I'd do it anyway, just because I'd be terrified of the damage that could occur with nothing but tights for protection. *shudder*
From:docbrite
Date: - 0000
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Stranger here; followed LJDrama link. I'm not into costuming at all (though in the spirit of full disclosure, I should admit that at age 15 I won a con prize for going as Ford Prefect's towel), but I do think you've handled this admirably. It sometimes seems as if the Internet was invented so anonymous pinheads could say stupid shit to people they don't know. It's easy to pretend the comments don't matter, far harder to admit that they hurt and keep doing what you want to do anyway. In the final analysis, though, fuck 'em. I've dealt with my share of them, and hey, Neil Gaiman likes me too. Guess whose opinion means more to me.

Oh, and by the way: Consider moving to New Orleans. You're not a bit fat by our standards. You look to be about the same size as my husband, and as far as I'm concerned, he's the sexiest man I've ever met. :)
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From:nmi
Date: - 0000
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hi. my husband follows news on steve jackson's web-site and we're both fans of neil gaiman. anyway, my husband told me about your tron costume and i went to the link and looked at it and think it's really cool... especially since you share a lot of your process with the general public. then, he told me about all this crap that you've been getting from people... and to be honest with you. it broke my heart. it affected me so much to hear that someone who did something out of pure happiness and joy got taken down for expressing that happiness and joy simply because it wasn't "mainstream" or he didn't look like everyone else. yeah... i've been there. and i was so saddened by this, that i am actually writing this post at 1 a.m. because i just feel that i wanted to say all that. when there are all these horrible events in the news, pictures of people being dehumanized and tortured... the lack of compassion truly hurts me on a personal level. and then to hear this... about some guy who made a cool costume and people just used it as a whipping post because they have nothing of happiness and joy in their lives. anyway, i just wanted to let you know that i think your costume is really cool, and that you shared it with everyone is great... and keep it up. because if you don't... who will?
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From:clarinet_geek
Date: - 0000

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You know what? Your costume is cool, you had fun doing it, you had fun wearing it and you won an award for it. I don't really understand why people are so cruel and hateful. Likewise, most of the people posting nasty things aren't so lovely themselves, I'm sure. Don't let them get you down, I think you're awesome!
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From:sistercoyote
Date: - 0000

I'm backreading LJdrama and found this

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First off: Good on you; bollocks to the nay-sayers.

(In the interest of accuracy, however, you should have been wearing a "dance belt." Got that years ago from (of all places) a B5 con from Boxleitner's (sigh. I never can spell his name) mouth directly - evidently he and Jeff Bridges used to tease each other about "losing" the belts.)

Anyway. I think you should go ahead either with this or with something else for the next con (whatever it happens to be, I know I'm behind the times) - but then, I'm all for doing what makes you happy.
From:jauncourt
Date: - 0000
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From:jmaynard
Date: - 0000

Re: Another ljdrama surfer

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Sorry it took so long to reply; I just noticed this one.

I've got the next one planned, but I'm not going to say anything until it's time to unveil it at Linucon, the second weekend of October.

Reflective paint might be good, although I don't know what it would do in the presence of TV lighting (although I certainly wouldn't have taken that into consideration when I was making it!). Reflective tape wouldn't hold up under washing, I'm afraid.

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