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.