Just me talking about costume-y kind of stuff
Geekfest is my favorite local comic con and this year is its 10 Year Anniversary. Our first Geekfest was back in 2012. All we did was show up, meet Peter Mayhew, and go see Jason's panel on "Intro to Cosplay", but we were hooked. I became a presenter the very next year and a costume contest judge the following year and I've been doing it ever since. I have 13 of these badges in my collection now.
First and foremost, Geekfest is a wonderful opportunity for me to recruit theatre majors for MCC. I have a table set up every year in the hopes of finding potential students and luring them to my school with scholarship money. I met two seniors and two freshman this year who are very interested in coming to school with me. The MCC theatre department has a Facebook page that you can like and follow to get all the latest info about our upcoming productions.
New for this year I was able to tell everyone about the McLennan Alumni Cosplayers group that I started this summer. Right now we are made up of 12 former students from the last 23 years of my teaching who are into cosplay. We meet in my costume shop on Wednesday evenings and help each other out with our costumes. This is the first event that we have appeared at and only 6 of us managed to attend, but that's OK. We're brand new and it was our first ever convention together. We have bigger and better things in the works for next time. We have a Facebook page that you can like and follow to get all the latest info on our next cosplays.
I did two panels. This one is "Where's My Supersuit? Part 2 Supervillains". Catwoman presented this panel.
Sunday I presented "How to Cosplay" as Squirrel Girl. You can view both of them on my website under Presentations.
Lauren Knowlton's Moveable wings workshop
Lauren has won trophies for her Hawkgirl and Maleficent wings that she entered in our costume contest in 2017 and 2016. This year she judged the Kids' Costume Contest and presented a panel on how to make moveable wings. She took her audience through the process step by step starting with Maleficent and moving on through two different builds of Hawkgirl.
Besides recruiting and doing panels, my main job for Geekfest is to help judge the costume contest. You can pre-register online or sign up on site. This is my fourth year to be a judge. The contest is run like a well-oiled machine. Jason Sanchez is the head of the committee as well as Judge #1. I am Judge #2. We get guest cosplayers to fill in Judge #3-#5 depending on how many Cosplay guests are in attendance. The two amazingly organized folks who do all the form generation, spreadsheets, data entry, tabulation of scores, and man the registration table are William Priest and Lindsey Packett.
Our special guest, Miss Cynthia Lee Fontaine, did a special performance to get our costume contest started and then also helped MC the contest. She was wonderful to work with and made the contest so much fun!
This is Lindsey showing off our trophies for the contest. She is cosplaying Francine Smith from American Dad. Below is a photo of our wonderful Costume Contest Committee.
From left to right are: Brice Garcia as Elizabeth Swann, Kathleen Laundy as Batgirl, William Priest as Quail Man, Jason Sanchez as Sailor Uranus, Lindsey Packett as Jem and guest MC Miss Cynthia Lee Fontaine.
Here's all the winners in a giant group photo!
cOSTUME cASUAL CONTESTANTS
We had 33 entries in this category. Most unusually this year we had ties for all the places. I'm not sure about the order, so here are just the characters who won.
Frank Zapp as The Joker
Nikita Tomlin as Officer Judy Hopps
Kori Camp as Negasonic Teenage Warhead
Izabel Weaver as Rose Quartz from Steven Universe
Jacob Fonseca as Jason Todd "Red Hood"
Terrence Moon as Eternal Sailor Moon
dUOS AND gROUPS CONSTESTANTS
We only had three entries in this category so they all won trophies.
1st Place: William, Nick, and Koa as Halo
2nd Place: Jaylon and Val as Howl and Sophie
3rd Place: Mia, Mariah, Allie, Mika as My Hero Academia
We had 10 entries in this category and almost half of them won trophies for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, as well as Judge's Choice and Best in Show.
Best in Show: Valerie Marten-Ellis as Fiona from Borderlands
Judge's Choice: Kayla Robertson-Jones as Okoye from Black Panther
1st Place: Allysa Garcia as Maki Nishikino
2nd Place: Rhiannon Schlicheiser as Dr. Strange
3rd Place: Mary Ann Mervin as Neopolitan
pROPS AND aRMOUR cONTESTANTS
We had six entries and awarded three trophies.
1st Place: Reina Webly as Queen Vexus
2nd Place: Caitlyn Victory as Garyl
3rd Place: Taia Mitchell as Inuyasha
Geekfest's Got Talent
Here's our MC and contest chair Jason Sanchez.
And the rest of the committee.
We had 15 entries for our talent competition. Here are the winners:
1st place: Rosalie for her Whitney Houston song.
2nd place: Emily for her Harry Potter dramatic reading.
3rd place: Duo Lip Sync of "Allstar" by Smashmouth.
This year we had all kinds of talented people participate: several singers, dancers, and musicians. Plus an impressionist, an actor, a belly dancer, and a roller skater!
Kids' Costume Contest
Captain Jack Sparrow and Anna from Frozen judged the Kids' Contest.
Here's the winner's circle. Our friends' daughter Evie won 2nd place showing off her Supergirl costume.
The costume committee did a different cosplay every day of the event. We also took photos of other cosplays that we loved.
Next year, CTC is renaming Geekfest to Epically Geeky Expo. Here's the new logo.
To date, Batman has the largest Rogue's Gallery on film. The original gangsters made famous in the 1966 movie were Joker, Catwoman, Penguin and Riddler, but Batman also fought Scarecrow and Two Face in the 1940's. In the 50's Deadshot and Mr. Freeze were introduced. In the 60's we got Poison Ivy, followed by Ra's Al Ghul in the 70's, Killer Croc in the 80's, and Bane and Harley Quinn in the 90's. These villains make up the complete Rogue's Gallery on film.
1966 Batman Villians
"A Visual Guide to all 37 Villians in the Batman TV Series"
By Scott Neumyer
Yes, in the three seasons of the original TV series, there were 37 different villains. I'm not going to bother covering all of them, just the ones who had more than one appearance. Some Villains were created just for the TV show. Of those, Egghead and Bookworm are my personal favorites.
Vincent Price as Egghead and Roddy McDowell as Bookworm.
For the purposes of this blog, I'm going to discuss the 13 most iconic Batman Villains represented in TV and film: Joker, Catwoman, Scarecrow, Penguin, Two Face, Riddler, Deadshot, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, Ra's al Ghul, Killer Croc, Harley Quinn, and Bane.
First appearance: Batman #1, April 1940.
The Joker was created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and Jerry Robinson. The inspiration for The Joker was Bill Finger's image of Conrad Veidt as Gwynplaine (a man with a disfigured face) in the 1928 movie The Man Who Laughs. Jerry Robinson created a playing card sketch in 1940 based on the photo of Veidt.
Left:"Conrad Veidt". The Man Who Laughs.
Right: "Joker Concept Sketch". Jerry Robinson.
The Joker is a criminal mastermind; a psychopath with a warped, sadistic sense of humor. He's an expert at chemical engineering. The Joker is responsible for the murder of Robin #2 Jason Todd, and the paralysis of Barbara Gordon. He is Batman's Arch Nemesis.
1966 Classic TV Series
Cesar Romero as the Joker, costume designed by Pat Barto, makeup by Ben Nye, and hair by Margaret Donovan.
Compared to the comic book original, 60's Joker's suit is pink rather than purple with a matching pink vest, rather than an orange one and matching pink gloves, instead of purple ones. They did put the pinstripes on the pants, but original Joker had pinstripes on the jacket as well. The signature makeup and hair is correct: green hair, white makeup, red overlarge smile. Cesar Romero didn't shave off his mustache for filming, so they just put the clown white right over it.
1989 BAtman: The Movie
Bob Ringwood concept art for The Joker.
According to Bob Ringwood, all the clothes were inspired by 1940's gangster styles.
Interview with Bob Ringwood:
"The concept behind the Joker costume is that it took Jack Nicholson's style and enhanced it. "He adores clothes," Ringwood said, "So all we did was just re-interpret the clothes that the Joker wears in the drawings to work with Nicholson's personality. To do clothes with him is a joy ride, really, because he just loves them. He is really with you and he's suggesting things and inventing things and doing things. He's wonderful."
Compared to the 1966 TV series, these four Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher films are even more colorful and saturated, with really overblown production design all around. To fit in with that world, Bob used a variety of color on the Joker costume. Jack's Joker suit is purple, but they've switched the colors of the vest and the shirt from the comic book costume. Instead of pinstripe pants, Jack wears plaid pants. The fabrics used on his shirt, vest, and cravat are very shiny and make the center of his body pop to reflect more light on his face. The surrounding fabrics are matte and absorb light. His coat is wool, wool felt hat, and suede gloves, leather shoes with built in spats.
Nick Dudman designed the Joker makeup. In this movie we see him using makeup to hide his chemically bleached white skin so he doesn't look so ghoulish at the museum with Vicky Vale. Plus Bob has traded in the fedora for a beret to make him seem more artsy.
2002 Birds of Prey
The only two episodes that Joker appears in references the events of The Killing Joke by Alan Moore, in which Joker shoots Barbara Gordon, paralyzing her and forcing her to continue her crime fighting from a wheelchair as Oracle.
Roger Stoneburner resembles The Killing Joke Joker, but his costume resembles the Jack Nicholson costume: purple suit, orange shirt, green tie.
Roger Stoneburner played the Joker in the pilot episode (Mark Hamill did the voice). His costume was designed by Chris Karvonides-Dushenko and Sara Markowitz.
2008 The Dark KNight
Early Joker Concept Art on display at the DC Experience London, 2018.
Interview with Lindy Hemming:
"What we were searching for at the very beginning of how to do this Joker, were images. I was looking through images of people who might have dressed like that in the pop world and the fashion world. You can imagine Vivienne Westwood meets Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, Pete Doherty. You think of all those people who dress themselves up and are very interested in their appearance — and then we added into it the life of him. So whatever it is that's wrong with him — made him be like this — means he doesn't care about himself at all, really. He's very sweaty and he probably doesn't have a proper home. We were trying to make him sort of a... I don't want to say vagrant... But a back-story for him that he really doesn't look after himself."
"The idea was to create someone, as you can see with these different sketches, who would dress so not because he is a clown, but rather because he's more like an eccentric modern punk, a bit like Keith Richards, far from the usual versions of the character. I looked at what Alexander McQueen was doing, for example. His hair is green because his dye messed up and turned green for no reason. All this was to make him modern and not just the caricature of a clown. In fact, actually making the costumes wasn’t that difficult, but visualizing them was. He’s a kind of dandy: the leather shoes look dandy, but they go up a bit at the tip. It's subtle, but we can see the clownish side right there."
Heath Ledger in the Dark Knight. designed by Lindy Hemming.
Heath's Joker wears a long purple coat, purple, pin-striped pants, a hexagonal patterned purple dress shirt, green vest and tie, multi-colored socks, with brown leather shoes. His makeup continues the tradition of white skin, green hair, red over-large smile.
Interview with Lindy Hemming:
"The Joker's shoes are from Milan and were selected by the costume designer because they had an upward swoop at the toe, which she thought was reminiscent of clown shoes. His tie was fashioned from a fabric that was specially woven to Hemming's specifications by Turnbull & Asser, a London-based clothier better known for dressing British royalty and the like. "Heath wanted it to be thin, so it's a '60s tie but in a Turnbull & Asser fabric. I dare say it's the weirdest tie that Turnbull & Asser has ever made," Hemming laughs.
"When Heath came in and we showed him all the bits and pieces of the costume, he thought it was fantastically original and just went for it."
Joker Costume on Display at the DC Experience London, 2018.
Joker Makeup was designed by Peter Robb-King. John Caglioni Jr. was Heath's makeup artist.
Peter Robb-King on the Joker makeup:
"The Joker's make-up was also a departure from past incarnations of the character. While he retains an allusion to his familiar white-faced, sneering visage, his make-up for The Dark Knight was intended to give him a more frenetic look that also lends to its shock value. The Joker's face is covered in a white pancake that is cracked and runny in places. His eyes are thickly rimmed in black, and a sloppy red grin is painted on, extending from his mouth to his cheeks but not quite masking the terrible scars beneath. His hair is a more subtle, but still noticeable, shade of green.
Make-up and hair designer Peter Robb-King remarks, "Clearly, there was a perception in the audience's mind of what The Joker would look like, but we wanted to get under the skin, so to speak, of what this character represents in this story. He is someone who has been damaged in every sense of the word, so it was important that we create a look that was not, forgive the pun, 'jokey.'"
Heath Ledger's make-up artist, John Caglione, Jr., calls the application of the actor's make-up "a dance." He describes, "Heath would scrunch up his face in specific expressions, raising his forehead and squinting his eyes, and I would paint on the white over his facial contortions. This technique created textures and expressions that just painting the face a flat white would not. Then I used black make-up around Heath's eyes while he held them closed very tight, which created consistent facial textures. After the black was on, I sprayed water over his eyes, and he would squeeze his eyes and shake his head, and all that black drippy, smudgy stuff would happen."
The Joker's make-up also represents a revolutionary advancement in the application of prosthetics, developed and executed by prosthetic supervisor Conor O'Sullivan and prosthetic make-up artist Robert Trenton. "They used a brand new silicone-based process that enables the prosthetics to be laid on the skin in such a way that it's seamless," Robb-King describes. "It's absolutely amazing because you can put a camera right up to the face--even an IMAX camera--and there are no issues."
O'Sullivan reveals, "It took us about two years to develop the technology, but after a few glitches, we hit on it. We are now able to produce silicone pieces that are applied directly to the skin. And it blends with the skin perfectly; if you didn't know it was there, you would have a hard time seeing anything."
In addition, the new process cut the application time to a fraction of what was needed in the past. O'Sullivan confirms, "The Joker prosthetics would previously have taken a good three to four hours. Instead they took about 25 minutes and looked far superior, which was great."
Contractually, Jerome is not the Joker, however, he's got everything but the name and the green hair. That's why Jerome is a ginger and wears an orange jacket instead of the purple. DC is reserving all Joker characters for the big screen so no small screens can use the name.
Cameron Monaghan as Jerome Valeska, designed by Lisa Padovani.Prosthetics Makeup designer David Presto
2016 Suicide Squad
Left: Joker graphic novel, 2008 written by Brian Azzarello and Illustrated by Lee Bermejo.
Right: Joker Concept Art on display at the DC Experience London, 2018.
"They're all wearing Versace and Balmain and all of that. David wanted that world. When we go into this club scene in his and Harley's world, they're not the only freaks in there. There's this high end, almost like a Studio 54 thing. It's like everyone's [****]ed up in this world and there's a normality to it. There's that beautiful book which actually i based some of the jester stuff we were playing around with."
Jared Leto in Suicide Squad, designed by Kate Hawley.
Joker is wearing a purple alligator coat, Arkham Asylum pants, a lot of tattoos some of which Harley Quinn is responsible for, and a cane. Hawley teased that the Joker graphic novel was the inspiration.
Alessandro Bertolazzi designed the hair and makeup for this film. Rob Coutts designed the tattoos.
"Joker is the guy with the green hair. This is what I knew. Then I started looking around, and I saw Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson, and everything else. I wanted to do something that was not the same, and Warner Bros. said, "OK, do your Joker." Usually with a big movie studio, people suggest things, have an opinion or give me guidance. With this, nothing!
They give me Jared Leto, a guy with hair and a long beard. A month before starting, I studied The Man Who Laughs, the 1928 film from which the Joker was inspired. It's so beautiful.
I ask David, "Who is this guy? What is his story?" David says to me, "He's also a poet." He's in love. It's a sick love, but still love. I tried to find something to make him super scary, but at the same time, a romantic. I always loved that contrast. I want a guy who is a poet, a romantic, and a devil all at the same time. He is completely sick.
Then we start painting in the face. And we do the skin. We work a lot on the skin, because the skin is the most important. I wanted it to look like a really dirty, really sick. It's three hours of makeup, with six or seven layers. With the pale skin and the veins and a wound — I make it dirty. He's a guy who hasn't taken a shower in forever. This is The Joker.
Then he needs something else. David said, "Why don't we give him a scar?" That's interesting. Then I decided to do seven scars. This guy is completely crazy — I imagine him in front of the mirror in the morning, where he never brushes his teeth, but instead he might take a blade and he cuts his face. Just for fun.
This is my process.
During the shoot, every day, every single shot, we changed something. I have more details or I have less, depending on the moment.
What was incredible, Warner Bros. and DC Comics are obsessed about everything, but they never asked me to change anything in my makeup. Not one single thing. They let me do everything I wanted.
Jared had to be completely in connection with me. Jared was amazing. We had a special makeup department only for Jared. When he arrived in the morning, he'd come straight to the makeup department without seeing anyone else and we'd start the process of the transformation. The Joker's part of the film, it's like another movie inside Suicide Squad. So we decided to keep him completely separate. He had the whole makeup department and it was just me and him alone for three hours.
It started in silence. During this process he slowly, slowly he started to act like the Joker. And then … "Oh my god!" He becomes the Joker for real.
For a month, Jared had no contact with any actors except as the Joker. You know how actors go to the lounge and get coffee? Not Jared. Never. He was the Joker, 100 percent. Margot Robbie and everyone saw him only as the Joker for the whole shooting. This makes the difference.
People look at me and say, "Oh my God. It must have been so tough for you." No. It was amazing. Because I made the Joker."
First appearance: Batman #1 June 1940.
Catwoman was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. Her real name is Selina Kyle. She is a jewel-thief and has a love/hate relationship with Batman.
Cover of Catwoman: Nine Lives of a Feline Fatale (2003), showing Catwoman's various costumes throughout the years. Art by Brian Bolland.
1966 The Classic Series
There were three women who played Catwoman in the Batman TV Series: Julie Newmar did the first season, but couldn't do the movie, so Lee Meriwether stepped into the role for a one-off. Newmar came back for Season 2. Then Eartha Kitt took over for Season 3. Pat Barto made all of the Catwoman suits from lurex. It was the height of technology infusing a stretch knit with a metallic fiber overlay.
Designed by Pat Barto.
1992 Batman Returns
Michelle Pfeiffer played Selina Kyle in Batman Returns, designed by Bob Ringwood. Her suit was made from latex.
Interview with Mary Vogt:
"Tim is a very visual director who's involved in everything, including costumes. As an artist, he's able to provide sketches of his basic idea, and gives you the freedom to take off from there.
In the plot of Batman Returns, Selina Kyle makes her Catwoman costume herself after she's been brought back from the dead by a coterie of cats. As a result, Catwoman's suit has large, visible white stitches to reveal its homemade origins, becoming more ragged and torn as the film progresses. These ragged stitches are also intended to function as a visual suggestion that Selina has been sawn back together again in an act of physical regeneration.
It's like she's wearing black glass, and with Michelle Pfeiffer in it, the suit looks like a beautiful sort of dark sculpture.''
Halle Berry played Catwoman in her stand alone movie, designed by Angus Strathie.
He designed a new silicone fabric for part of her suit. The rest was leather. Halle's suit bared way more skin than previous suits.
2012 DArk Knight Rises
Anne Hathaway played Catwoman for Dark Knight Rises, designed by Lindy Hemming.
"The catsuit worn by Anne Hathaway is actually a two-piece, separated by a low slung, fitted utility belt; her serrated heels double as weapons. The suit’s outer material is polyurethane coated Spandex with an embossed hexagonal pattern. Catwoman iconography is referenced subtly by night vision goggles (also functioning as a jeweller’s loupe) that flip up to form ‘ears’ when not in use."
2014 Gotham TV Series
Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle aka Catwoman in Gotham designed by Lisa Padovani.
“Even though it’s not a period piece, per se, it’s a concept piece, so everything is very particular,” Padovani says, admitting she tries to produce the majority of the show’s costumes in-house. For inspiration, Padovani focused on the “timelessness” of the story. “I took the idea of the original graphic novels mixed with elements of ‘Blade Runner.’ And punk rock actually played a big part in it,” she notes.
First appearance: World's Finest Comics #3 September, 1941.
Scarecrow was created by Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, and Bob Kane. His real name is Dr. Jonathan Crane. He is an ex-Professor of Psychology who used experimental drugs and psychological tactics to exploit the fears and phobias of his victims.
2005 Batman Begins
Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow in Batman Begins, designed by Lindy Hemming.
Charlie Tahan played Dr. Jonathan Crane in Season 1 of Gotham, designed by Lisa Padovani.
Penguin was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. The inspiration for Penguin was the advertising mascot of Kool cigarettes--an Emperor penguin in a top hat and cane. Penguin's real name is Oswald Cobblepot. He owns a nightclub called the Iceberg Lounge which is a front for his criminal activity. He uses high tech umbrellas as weapons. Unlike other villains, Penguin is sane and in control of his actions.
Original Concept art for Penguin, 1940.
First appearance: Batman #58, December 1941, but he didn't make the cover. Here's a later issue.
1966 Classic TV Series
Burgess Meredith played Penguin in the TV Series. This costume is very accurate to the comic. Black tailcoat, pinstriped pants, white shirt, purple top hat and bow tie, white gloves, black shoes and white spats. He had a variety of specialty umbrellas for all his Bat-fighting needs.
1992 Batman Returns
Danny Devito played Penguin in Batman Returns, designed by Bob Ringwood.
Interview with Bob Ringwood:
"For the Penguin, costume designers Ringwood and Vogt not only had to develop original costumes, but also the character's body shape, which differs radically from that of Danny DeVito's. They created a body 'shell' for DeVito to wear, and for his actual wardrobe, they chose a strange Victorian look that's markedly different from the tuxedo of the comic book representation. Bob Ringwood commented: ''It's almost like something out of Charles Dickens.''
Stan Winston designed The Penguin's makeup. Greg Cannom did Penguin's hands. Ve Neil was the makeup supervisor.
Robin Lord Taylor played Oswald Cobblepot aka Penguin on Gotham, designed by Lisa Padovani.
"There have been so many different renditions of The Penguin, I tried not to be too stuck on what has already been done and tried to look at his character in a fresh way. I am a big believer in mixing up eras and that’s what I did with his costume- he’s a complete custom build except for some accessories. He wears a one-button tux jacket influenced by the ‘20s, a vest based on a teens tux vest, a tux shirt based on a ‘70s model and a cross over tie that was based on early ‘60s rock and roll groups from England. I am not afraid to use color so his jacket lapels are an acid black/green with a reptile green vest. Purple was also a color we used on him in the vests and bow ties. The idea was to show a progression of his look- he is still not completely The Penguin everyone knows. He’s a very odd character with a painful past, so he needed to look unusual and individual without sticking out as a complete freak. That will come later."
First appearance: Detective Comics #66 August, 1942.
Two Face was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. His real name is Harvey Dent and he was Gotham's District Attorney. He was hideously scarred on the left side of his face during a criminal trial by a mob boss who threw acid on him, which made him insane. He is obsessed with the duality of good and evil and this he makes all decisions by flipping his two-headed coin, which was also scarred by the acid on one side.
1989: Billy Dee Williams played Harvey Dent in Batman, designed by Bob Ringwood, and was supposed to continue in the role and become Two Face in Batman Returns except that didn't happen, because Joel Schumacher took over the production and cast Tommy Lee Jones instead. We finally did get a Billy Dee Williams Two Face in 2017's Lego Batman.
1995 Batman Forever
Tommy Lee Jones played Two Face in Batman Forever designed by Bob Ringwood and Ingrid Ferrin.
He had two suits. One business and one formal.
His makeup was designed by Rick Baker. Ve Neil was the makeup artist.
2008 THe Dark Knight
Aaron Eckhart played Harvey Dent aka Two Face in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight designed by Lindy Hemming.
Makeup designed by Peter Robb-King.
Nicholas D'Agosto played Harvey Dent aka Two Face in Gotham designed by Lisa Padovani. We have yet to see Harvey turn into Two Face on the show.
First appearance: Batman #140 October, 1948.
The Riddler was created by Bil Finger and Dick Sprang. His real name is Edward Nygma. He is a criminal mastermind and takes delight in leaving clues in the form of riddles or puzzles for Batman to solve.
1966 Classic TV Series
Frank Gorshin played The Riddler in the TV series, designed by Pat Barto. He had two costumes: The suit when he was plotting and the unitard when he was out committing crimes.
John Astin stepped into the role for two episodes, but he's clearly wearing the same costume.
1995 Batman Forever
Jim Carey played The Riddler in Batman Forever, designed by Bob Ringwood and Ingrid Ferrin. Carey had three different costumes: one sequined suit and two different unitards. The suit lit up so he could go jogging at night.
Rick Baker did the makeup and Ve Neil was the key makeup artist.
Cory Michael Smith played Edward Nygma aka The Riddler in Gotham designed by Lisa Padovani and John Glaser.
First appearance: Batman #59 June, 1950.
1977: Detective Comics #474 Deadshot got a costume makeover.
Deadshot was created by David Vern Reed, Lew Schwartz, and Bob Kane. His real name is Floyd Lawton. He is a deadly assassin and never misses his shot.
Bradley Stryker played Floyd Lawton on the Smallville TV Series in Season 10, designed by Caroline Cranstoun and Melanie Williams.
Michael Rowe played Deadshot on the Arrow TV Series, designed by Colleen Atwood and Maya Mani.
Will Smith played Deadshot in Suicide Squad, designed by Kate Hawley. This is the first on screen design to even come close to getting Deadshot's costume right. They eye-piece and his mask are spot on, She's turned his red outer garment into an undersuit and put tactical, black Kevlar armor over it, essentially replacing all the white areas in the costume with black. This is a good transition from page to stage, in my opinion. I feel like Hawley looked at what Marvel had done with Falcon and went down that path.
First appearance: Batman #121 February, 1959.
Mr. Freeze was created by Dave Wood and Sheldon Modoff. His real name is Dr. Victor Fries and originally he was called Mr. Zero. He is a cryogenics expert who was involved in a lab accident while attempting to cure his terminally ill wife Nora. The disaster lowered his body temperature so much that he must wear a cryogenic suit to survive. He uses a freeze ray gun freezes his victims solid. When he made his first appearance on the TV series, the producers renamed him Mr. Freeze. At that point his costume in the comics was changed to be more in line with the TV show costume.
1966 Classic TV Series
There were three actors who played Mr. Freeze--George Sanders in the 1st season, Otto Preminger and Eli Wallach in the 2nd Season, all designed by Pat Barto.
Sanders' costume looked more like an astronaut suit. Otto gets orange eyebrows, and no hair. He wears the same grey jumpsuit and silver gloves, but they changed the helmet and gave it dials. Eli gets grey hair and eyebrows. Because all three actors who played Mr. Freeze used German/Austrian accents, Mr. Freeze became fixed in the public's mind as being Eastern European, which is why it should be no surprise that Arnold Schwarzenegger was cast as Mr. Freeze thirty years later.
1997 Batman and Robin
Arnold Schwarzenegger played Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin, designed by Ingrid Ferrin and Robert Turturice. Arnold had two costumes: his supersuit which looked a lot like his Terminator body from 1984, and a smoking jacket. His Mr. Freeze suit was powered by diamonds which apparently made it glow. It was fabricated by Terry English. They made four suits out of aluminium. It weighed 45 lbs and made Arnold claustrophobic. Each suit was powered by a back pack and had 2500 LEDs. In the first action sequence it also had wings.
Arnold's costume is a major improvement over the 1966 version, although it's so high tech that it looks a lot like Tron and Terminator had a baby and now it's a teenager that has a Playstation.
I have a particular fondness for this costume. The silver/blue fabrics are beautiful and the pajama pants have bears on them. Together with the polar bear slippers, and the fact that he's watching Mr. Snow Miser on all his TVs is hilarious!
His makeup application took 3 hours. He wore a bald cap and opalescent contact lenses. Jeff Dawn was the makeup artist.
Nathan Darrow played Mr. Freeze in Gotham designed by Lisa Pardoni and John Glaser.
Ra's al Ghul
First appearance: Batman #232 June, 1971.
Ra's Al Ghul was created by Julius Schwartz, Denis O'Neil, and Neal Adams. His name means "The Head of the Ghoul" or "Cheif Demon". He is the head of the League of Assassins. His daughter Talia has a son with Batman, Damian Wayne.
2005 Batman Begins
Liam Neeson played Ra's al Ghul in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, designed by Lindy Hemming.
Peter Robb-King designed makeup and hair for this film.
Matt Nable plays him in Arrow, designed by Colleen Camp and Maya Mani.
Alexander Siddig played Ra's al Ghul in Gotham designed by Lisa Padovani and John Glaser.
First appearance: Batman #181 June, 1966
Poison Ivy was created by Robert Kanigher and Sheldon Moldoff. Her real name is Pamela Lillian Isley. She's a botanist obsessed with protecting endangered species and is a notorious eco-terrorist using plant toxins and mind controlling pheromones. She is sometimes romantically linked with both Batman and Harley Quinn.
1966 classic TV Series
Although the TV series premiered in 1966, the same year that Poison Ivy made her debut, and ran for three seasons and a movie, Poison Ivy did not make it onto the small screen. It's a shame. The closest we got was Glynis Johns playing Lady Penelope Peasoup for three episodes.
1997 Batman and Robin
Uma Thurman played Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin, designed by Ingrid Ferrin and Robert Turturice. Uma gets three different Poison Ivy costumes and a lovely red wig. Her leaf eyebrows are prosthetics, however she only wears them with the first two costumes.
I'm not sure why they didn't continue and give her another set for her third costume. I would have gone with red and black.
Clare Foley, Maggie Geha, and Peyton List appear as Ivy "Pamela" Pepper aka Poison Ivy in Gotham, designed by Lisa Padovani and John Glaser.
"Ivy Pepper's look was inspired by punk rock god Johnny Rotten.
"I'm personally very inspired by early punk and new wave and rock and roll, and it's very much a part of my life, and how I think, and how I dress, and how I live every day. So I saw the actress that they hired, and iI was happy to see that she was a real redhead. And Johnny Rotten just immediately came to mind."
She saw the spirit of Johnny Rotten in the character.
"I just thought, this is a street urchin that runs wild, does whatever she wants, and has got this edge to her. And I thought, let's put the holey sweaters on her that Johnny used to wear, and let's mess her hair up, and just make her look like an anarchist. So, she loved it. Everybody else seems to have loved it, so I think yeah, he was a great role model for her."
Maggie Geha's costumes are in a range of green high fashion clothing and accessories.
Peyton took over from Maggie Geha at the midseason break and appeared in her first episode in March without red hair. However, this photo was released as a tease for its upcoming 5th and final season in 2019.
Harley's first appearance was on Batman: the animated Series in 1992. She was created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. Her real name is Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel. She is a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum and falls in love with The Joker. They have an abusive love/hate relationship.
It wasn't until the next year that she appeared in the comic book.
Batman Adventures #12 August, 1993.
In the New 52, Harley's origin story was ret-conned and they had Joker throw her in to the same vat of acid that bleached his skin and turned his hair green.
2002 Birds of Prey
2002: Mia Sara played Harley Quinn on the Birds of Prey TV series, designed by Chrisi Karvonides-Dushenko and Sara Markowitz.
2016 Suicide Squad
Harley Quinn concept art on display at DC Experience London, 2018.
Margot Robbie played Harley in Suicide Squad, designed by Kate Hawley. Rob Coutts designed Harley's tattoos.
Harley Quinn Costume on display at DC Experience London, 2018
His first appearance: Detective Comics #523 February, 1983.
Killer Croc's real name is Waylon Jones, he was a side show wrestler. He has a rare genetic condition that gives his skin a crocodile-like appearance. He is a member of the Suicide Squad and is the lover of Enchantress.
2016 Suicide Squad
Concept Art on display at the DC Experience London, 2018.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje played Killer Croc in his only film appearance to date in Suicide Squad Designed by Kate Hawley.
Alessandro Bertolazzi was the makeup and hair designer on the film. Greg Nicotero was the Killer Croc makeup supervisor. KNB EFX Group were the prosthetics manufacturer for Killer Croc. Sean Sansom was Adewale's makeup artist.
First appearance: Vengeance of Bane #1 January, 1993.
Bane was created by Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan. Bane spent his childhood in prison paying for his father's crimes. He received a classical education from a Jesuit priest while imprisoned and can speak Spanish, English, Portuguese and Latin. He is super strong and knows martial arts. He was the victim of an experimental drug which increased his physical strength but he must inhale it every 12 hours or suffer debilitating side-effects, hence the gas mask he wears. He is the only supervillain to have broken Batman.
1997 Batman and Robin
Jeep Swenson plays Bane in Batman and Robin. designed by Ingrid Ferrin and Robert Turturice. His costume is inspired by the stereotypical Luchador wrestling costume. Jeep was 6'4" and weighed over 400 lbs. He had been a professional wrestler before he was cast as Bane, unfortunately, he died right after the movie was released.
I'm not sure where the idea for green skin came from, other than he was created in Poison Ivy's lab. But he looks a lot like the Hulk in a mask.
2014 DArk Knight Rises
Bane Concept Art on display at the DC Experience London, 2018.
Tom Hardy plays Bane in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Rises designed by Lindy Hemming.
"The padded vest was made as it would have been in the story, from a collection of surplus tent canvas, old webbing belts, metal plates from the door of a jeep, military meshes etc., and was designed to be worn both with and without the leather and canvas back support belt, which Bane needs due to his torture in prison as a child/teenager. These pieces were also needed in exactly identical multiples, and were a very important part of achieving his extreme silhouette; tinkering with his proportions to help make him look more bulky, animalistic and aggressive. Bane’s costume is intended to resemble a hotchpotch of influences from different parts of the world he has visited as a mercenary. The mask’s design is intentionally animalistic but functional; it masks his identity but also keeps him alive by pumping a painkilling gas into his body. It was digitally mapped to Tom Hardy’s face as a prosthetic but intended to look metal. It had to appear completely different to Batman’s cowl and could not be black."
Bane Costume on display at the DC Experience London, 2018.
Interviews with Designers
A Closer Look: The Classic Batman TV Costumes
Reinventing the Batsuit for the Modern Era
Masterful Batman 1989 Costume Concept Art by Bob Ringwood
Catwoman's Suit's a Ripper
Lindy Hemming on The Dark Knight Trilogy:
The Making of Heath Ledger's Joker
The Dark Knight: Ledger Takes the Joker to a Whole New Level
Making the Joker: Heath Ledger and Jared Leto's Makeup Artists on the Job of a Lifetime
Costume Designer Lindy Hemming Talks Catwoman, Redesigning Bane for Nolan's Universe, and More on the Set of the Dark Knight Rises
Costume Designer Lindy Hemming Talks in Detail about her work on the Film
We Chatted to Batman's Costume Designer, The Woman who Inspired a Generation
Birds of Prey:
Retro Review: Birds of Prey
Gotham's Costume Designer Lisa Padovani Describes Her Process
Gotham Costume Designer Lisa Padovani Create Villainy With Style
Gotham Costume Design Origins
Gotham costume designer Lisa Padovani is totally fine with being called a control freak
Esquire Interview, Aug. 2, 2018
Making the Joker: Heath Ledger and Jared Leto's Makeup Artists on the Job of a Lifetime
Suicide's Squad Margot Robbie and Costume Designer Kate Hawley on Harley Quinn and Joker's Mad Love
Suicide Squad Joker influenced by Joker Graphic Novel
Joker's Tattoos Define the Character in Suicide Squad
We were so excited to make our annual pilgrimage to Kilgore for the fourth summer in a row. It's been a crazy summer and I almost waited too late to book our hotel and tickets. We ended up not being able to stay in our favorite hotel, Holiday Inn Express and ended up in Best Western instead. Best Western is much closer than Holiday Inn, but the breakfast isn't nearly as good and the rooms open to the outside which I don't like because there's too much noise from the street. Plus I really hate sweating on my walk down to breakfast every morning. For our seats, we ended having to get tickets on the padded bench for both shows Friday. The padding on the bench is adequate, but there's no more rake there and I'm so short already, that not having the extra height means I miss a lot of the stage due to the usually taller person sitting in front of me. Saturday our seats were much better. We had front row seats for the matinee and center seats in row G for the evening performance.
The costume designers for this season are Angelina Herin, returning for her third season with TSF. This year she designed 110 in the Shade and King John. Last year she designed Richard III and The Marvelous Wondrettes, the year before it was Henry V and Carousel. She is the professor of costume design at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
This is Christopher Metzger's first season with TSF and he designed Love's Labour's Lost and Tartuffe. Christopher is based in Brooklyn and is a member of Local USA 829. I have included a link to his website below.
The Tyler Morning Telegraph did an article on the costume department.
This year, the lobby display paid tribute to Val Winkelman who received her 30 year award from the Festival. Val has been managing the festival since 2008, but she used to be a costume designer, having designed 26 productions throughout her career for the festival. These costumes are from the early 2000s.
110 in the Shade
Costume design by Angelina Herin
I had never seen a production of this musical before, although I had seen The Rainmaker, once a long time ago. The script is interesting because the Sheriff, File, is revealed to be a divorced man (his wife left him) which is unusual for the time period. He's afraid to let anyone get close to him, not the town-folk and especially not any women-folk. The lead female role, Lizzy, is approaching spinster-hood even though she is a great home-maker, keeping house for her father and brothers. Her flaw is that she is both plain in appearance and honest to a fault in personality. Men don't like women who come right out and say what they're thinking so she's been unable to attract a husband, a fact that makes her family sad, but that ultimately her father is OK with. Better to be honest than fake. When a mysterious stranger, Starbuck, comes to town (a con-man who is supposed to make it rain) he is the first to find her attractive and show her how to see herself as such. When her brothers find out that she's gone off with Starbuck, her father stops them from rescuing her from making (in their opinion) the biggest "mistake of her life". Her father tells them that this may be the only time that she's happy with a man even if it only lasts one night. The attitude toward women in general and sex out of wedlock in particular are very unusual for a father to have in this time period, which is what makes this play much more interesting than Carousel (to use an example from last season) or Oklahoma!, or any other dust bowl era play.
Unfortunately, the Festival hasn't posted any photos of this show yet. I've inquired about it, so hopefully they'll post them soon. The costumes were typical 1930's fare. The town is in the middle of the drought so colors were faded and dusty. Starbuck was in equestrian pants, a pink, bibbed shirt with white cuffs and collars, worn with black accessories of a vest, riding boots, and bowler hat. He looks a bit like a circus ringmaster. Lizzie starts the show in a green suit and then changes into a white dress for the picnic. I bought the note cards again this year so I do have a few of Angelina's renderings of the costumes to show you.
Love's Labour's Lost
Costume design by Christopher Metzger
I had also never seen a production of LLL. Normally I'm upset when Shakespeare is moved to a more modern period because I miss the extravagant costuming, however, since I had nothing to compare it to, I did not mind the show being set in the 1920's jazz age. I felt that the music added a lot to the show and I didn't miss the play within a play element being replaced by a dance. One of the remarkable things about the casting at TSF is that so many of the actors play musical instruments. This production had it's own jazz combo with a piano, stand up bass, guitar, drum kit, trumpet, and saxophone. Only the pianist was a professional musician, rather than an actor.
The King and his boys get most of the costume attention for this show, changing costumes five times. They start the show in all white sweaters and pants looking like frat boys, then ditch the sweaters for white dinner jackets and bow ties, then ditch the white costumes for black tux pants and maroon smoking jackets, then green and red Russian "muscovite" jackets with black furry hats and fake beards as a disguise. They ditch the Russian disguises for the rest of the black tie, tux ensemble. The Princess and her girls only have two changes, cool colored day dresses which they change for evening gowns in the same color palette: baby blue, mint green, purple. The only other female character in the play is Jacquenetta, a "base, country wench" that the Spanish Don Armado is in love with. She is played in this version as a cabaret singer. I couldn't find any reason for her to be in the play other than to sing songs and be swooned over. Shakespeare probably doesn't have a reason either. However, her costume is deliciously flapper-esque: long bias cut pieces in various shades of pink with an oversized velvet coat in green with a pink floral design.
Because the boys are trying to trick the girls with their silly Russian disguises, the girls are supposed to don masks to fool the boys into wooing the wrong girls. The boys have given the girls tokens of their love (a brooch, bracelet, necklace, and gloves) that they expect the girls will wear and that's how they will identify them but the girls outwit them by trading the love tokens in order to tease them with their own words later. Unfortunately, the girls didn't have time to leave stage and change or add masks or anything that would have actually served the purpose of disguise. Instead they use the net veils on their cloche hats to hide their faces however, their very distinctive dresses were obvious clues as to who they really were. So that bit didn't work for me.
Photos by John Dodd
LLL Talk Back
The talk back we attended was for this show. In the previous years, the talkbacks had been held on campus in one of the two buildings right behind the theatre. This year the talkbacks had been moved off campus to a lovely little bookstore/coffee shop called The Coffee Cherry. They had just opened less than a year ago in what was once a rather large house. It just so happened that the morning of the talkback they were also having a book signing and the author was the father of the festival's choreographer, who played the Princess in LLL.
Matt introduced the panelists and told us a little bit about his approach to the script. LLL isn't nearly as produced these days as it was back in Shakespeare's day when the French people he was making fun of with the characters were well known by his English audiences. The other institution that Shakespeare was attacking was a recently formed School for Atheism, in which students were required to leave the company of women and were expected to hate Shakespeare. There are two characters who argue with each other and are endowed with the biggest use of language for language's sake that Matt cut from their production. Matt had two reasons for these cuts: there weren't enough actors to play two more characters and their arguments didn't contribute to the romantic comedy or satire that Matt felt were the most important attributes of the play.
Matt spoke about his idea to turn the play into a musical and replace the play within a play with a dance. Originally, he wanted one musician to do all of the songs for the whole show. An actor was given a contract early on to do just that, but the actor ended up turning it down probably due to being offered a better contract at another theatre. Once that happened, Matt had to scramble during casting to make another plan. Fortunately his wife Meagan is the casting director for the festival so while she was still in process Matt was able to let her know he needed actors who could also play instruments and that he was specifically looking for a bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, and sax. Luckily he got exactly what he wanted. The pianist, Arnold Sherman, had already been hired to be the music director for 110 in the Shade and was available to become the music director and play piano for LLL. Matt does not read music, so he would find the versions of the songs he wanted in the show and send them to Arnold and Arnold would write out the arrangements for the actors in his jazz combo. There were 16 songs in the show. The actor/musicians only had one rehearsal to incorporate their songs in to the show before they opened, which is insane to me. When we do musicals our orchestra has three rehearsals with the cast. So kudos to those actors!
Cadence Lamb, who played the Princess, was also the choreographer. She was told that she was being given actors who could move well, rather than dancers. She was not daunted because one of her past gigs was to choreograph elementary school children. She taught the cast the Charleston and the Lindy Hop and then let them improvise their own dancing to begin with. After that, she began to reign them in during the rehearsal process, when finally she gave each of them specific things she wanted them to do during various moments of the play.
Rick Higgenbotham told us that he used the Paul Meyer dialect tapes for his Spanish accent. The vocal coach for the festival, Jennifer Burke, then helped him figure out when and where to use less of it so that the audience could still understand all the words. There were certain words that Rick had chosen to mispronounce as a character choice and Jennifer helped him with that.
Then Matt opened it up to questions from the audience and someone asked about the budget for the festival. Matt said the budget is $760,000 annually which Kilgore College gives them up front and then the festival pays back at the end of the season. Of that, $500,000 is spent on staff, 75,000 is spent on the productions, $25,000 is spent on meals, and $8,000 is spent on travel. If you keeping track (and good at math) that leaves another $152,000 unaccounted for. Matt also mentioned that this year they began renting a warehouse to build all the scenery in so that the technicians aren't building outside in the heat, like they had been doing the last 32 years. So rental fees for the warehouse are coming out of the budget too. My guess is the rest of the budget is spent on a combination of housing, publicity, and administrative costs, which Matt didn't mention. Matt did mention that it saves the festival money if Matt and Megan don't act because they are Actor's Equity members, they must take a paycheck for acting, but since they are not members of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Union, they don't have to take a paycheck for directing.
Another thing that came up in conversation was the unexpected crisis of having to replace an actor at the last minute during a performance. Tim Sailer had been sick and was losing his voice after the shows began their run. He was cast in 3 of the 4 shows. During intermission of July 15th performance of Tartuffe, where he played Cleante, the SM told Matt that Tim had completely lost his voice and asked what was the protocol for replacing him. In 33 years of the Festival they had never cast any understudies (because they couldn't afford to hire extra actors) and in 33 years no actors had ever had to be replaced. However, the protocol was the Matt could cover for the male roles and Meagan could cover for the female roles, so as Matt was too big to fit into the Cleante costume, he went home, dressed in all black and came back to go on for Tim. Matt stood at the side of the stage and read all of Cleante's lines, while Tim wore the costume and did the acting and blocking. After they got through that show, Tim was put on vocal rest and luckily his voice healed before he had to perform LLL on Thursday afternoon, four days later.
Costume design by Christopher Metzger
I have designed Tartuffe twice in my career; once at UTEP and once at MCC, so I am very familiar with the show. This production was excellent in every way. I loved the costumes. Christopher kept his designs in the Cavalier period with corsets, hip rolls, petticoats, and cartridge pleating galore. Mdm. Pernelle was in black, Elmire was in gold, Marianne was in blue and pink, Cleante in purple, Damis is blue, and Orgon in brown and black stripes, Dorine in blue and brown stripes as his foil. Lots of prints on all the fabrics and a lot of contrasting fabrics in each costume. I love that.
Some things that this production did that I'd never seen before. When Orgon first gets home, Dorine undresses him, taking his hat first, then his jacket, then finally his boots which made for a funny bit her trying to pull them off. Then he changed into a lounging gown and matching hat with slippers that he wore for most of the rest of the show. Tartuffe wears a monk's robe throughout most of the show until he boldly kicks the family out of the house, then apparently goes shopping for some new threads and comes back resplendent in red and gold feathery finery complete with periwig and beauty patch. The shoes were the best bit, red with enormous gold buckles. The other interesting acting bit that I'd never seen before was Micah's choice to play Tartuffe as a con man who is ready to give up when he gets caught by Orgon in the table scene until he realizes that Orgon is so stupid he won't believe what he's seen with his own eyes. Then you can see Tartuffe getting bolder and really coming into his stride as he takes possession of the house. It's almost like he's shocked that he's evicted them, but also super pleased with himself that he came up with the idea, so pleased in fact, that he goes out and buys himself a fancy new outfit, all pretext of religious modesty gone.
Photos by John Dodd
Costume design by Angelina Herin
I had never seen a production of King John, much less designed it. I hadn't even read it before. In fact, the Festival had never staged King John in its entire 32 year history. In the Director's Notes, James Dean Palmer says that King John was very popular in Shakespeare's time but wasn't much done after 1900 and has since fallen into obscurity. "However, the story is finding a resurgence in the new millennium. Perhaps it's telling that a play about feeling powerless in a world of fickle and futile politics is finding current resonance....King John is a burning homage to the frustration and sheer absurdity of living in a broken political system"
If you're not familiar with the history of the English monarchy, Lion in Winter is a good place to start. King John picks up after Henry's death and Richard's disastrous reign. Richard died making his youngest brother John, his heir instead of Geoffrey's son, Arthur. Geoffrey died before Arthur was born. John is a man of 32, Arthur, a twelve year old boy. Hearing this news, Arthur's mother Constance, takes him to France to Phillip II, who is now king, with the intent of using the French forces to raise an army and take the English throne for Arthur. Phillip backs this plan because he intends to, in the resulting squabble, get all of France's territory back from England. Because France opposes John's Kingship, the French and English forces fight and in the fight Arthur is captured and taken back to the tower to be killed but instead falls to his death in an escape attempt. Constance, in her grief, tears out her hair and dies of a broken heart. John maintains the throne in spite of his nobles leaving him to back France. John is poisoned by the Cardinal sent from Rome to keep John in line. John dies and his son Henry III becomes king at the tender age of nine, three years younger than Arthur would have been had Richard made Arthur king.
There's two subplots. One involves Richard's bastard. IRL, Richard was homosexual and never had a legitimate heir, much less an illegitimate one, a fact Constance knew and was counting on to win the throne for her son so this bit is something Shakespeare completely made up. The bastard fights for John against France and in doing so, manages to kill Austria, then man who is blamed for killing The Lionheart and bragging about it by wearing Richard's lionskin cape around his neck ever since. IRL, Austria most certainly did not kill Richard, although he did hold him for ransom awhile in his dungeon during the crusades. The other subplot involves the peace treaty called for by the people of Angiers for the Dauphin Louis to marry Blanche, John's niece, in order to stop England and France demolishing their town in the fight. In the play Loius and Blanche are adults, but IRL they were 11 and 12. That's really all you need to know about the plot.
The costume design had a very Game of Thrones feel to it, specifically the House of Stark with all the layers and fur. All the men and most of the women were in long, lace-front wigs. The wig master for the production was Nicholas Jones, and the wig stylist was Ryan Sozzi. The armor appeared to be mostly leather pieces and John even begins the play in a crown made of black leather, which is both elegant and frightening. Later he dons what is supposed to be a black metal crown studded with red jewels. It too is beautiful and frightening. My guess is that it was 3D printed. John has a wonderful leather armor piece that looked like a cross between a corset and a girdle that he only wore for one scene and no one got a photo of it, so you'll just have to imagine how lovely it was. He spends most of the show in his soldier tabard of red and white with the lions passant and the rest of the show in one courtly gown or another. There was a lot of red and brown used on the English characters and a lot of blue used on the French, as it should be in any play about English history. Constance and Arthur were in pinks and purples;, the Cardinal in white and gold with the largest egg-shaped hat I've ever seen. I did some research on my own about that hat, because it's not the traditional shape or color (red) for a Cardinal's hat and I discovered that Innocent III didn't make an official decree dictating the Cardinals costume until after John died. So they may have worn all white with egg-shaped hats before then, as far as I know but I didn't bother doing any more research to find out.
Photos by John Dodd
The gift shop has new shirts this year. We both got new ones.
Seth is really into Justice League Dark right now, so Rob and I watched the movie before we went to GACC. There's exactly the right number and gender of characters for us: Seth really wants to be John Constantine, Rob really wants to be Swamp Thing, Sarah's going to be Zatanna, I'm going to be Black Orchid, and Sylvan's going to Deadman. As an added bonus, we already have most of this stuff.
We already own a London Fog trench coat, so I still need to Goodwill shop for him a white dress shirt, and some brown dress pants. Rob has tons of ties. He does need a new belt, though and new dress shoes. He's worn out his Joker dress shoes. Maybe something more hard wearing this time. I think it's funny that John Constantine cosplays are super hard to tell apart from Castiel cosplays these days. Castiel totally stole his look.
For Seth's birthday, I bought him pants, shirt, tie, and shoes. He still needs a belt. We need to do a fitting because the pants are unhemmed.
Fitting took place Tuesday night. The only things that fit are his shirt and tie. That's the problem with buying clothes for someone for a surprise. The pants are too small and the shoes are too big. so it's back to the Goodwill.
I got another pair of pants and now he just needs a pair of shoes. He says he's willlng to cut and bleach his hair, so we'll see how that goes when I remind him later on this month.
As you can see he did cut and bleach his hair. Halloween (yesterday) was the test run and everything seems to be fine. He still can't tie his own tie by himself and he doesn't understand that dress pants are supposed to be worn around his belly button and not down around his hip bones. But whatever. His tie is way too long in the photo. We didn't spike up his hair either, but we will.
total cost: $42.00 including hair cut and color.
Sarah already has the black tux jacket, white shirt, vest, gloves, and bow tie, and black top hat that we were going to use for her Penguin cosplay until I found a lavender one on Amazon. Instead of buying her a black leotard (which would make it extremely difficult for her to go to the bathroom) I'm going to use the black tux pants that came with the jacket for Penguin $33 from Amazon, and just cut them off into shorts. I ordered her black fishnets $7 from We Love Colors, and she already has black boots, they're just not above the knee. I could easily make her black boot covers that go above the knee, but I don't know that it's that important to me, especially when it only serves to overly sexualize the character and Sarah's 11. Then all she needs is a red carnation. Sarah says she's going to wear a wig rather than dye her hair, again.
Total cost: $41.00
I ordered the red unitard $56 and gloves $16 and extra fabric $18 from We Love Colors last night. It's going to take a couple of weeks to ship because they don't have the extra fabric in stock right now. I have white fabric for the D already. The problem will be when I wash it I don't want the red to turn the white pink, so I'll have to wash all the red first, before I add the D. Sylvan is totally willing to shave his head bald to do this. He hates having hair in the first place. I still need to order clown white makeup for him Mehron $12 from Amazon.
I ordered both clown white and a pair of red boots from Amazon yesterday. They'll be here tomorrow. This week I am patterning the collar, and a belt to help reign in his tummy, as well as the D. I have used craft foam to back the D and will attach with velcro like on Nightmare Nurse's cross. I am backing the collar and the front of the belt with fusible horsehair to add some stiffness. I bought him some red boots to share with Rob for his Ming costume. I found them on Amazon for $60. The collar has been a bitch. I have tried to pattern it three different ways to make it stand up, but because it's lycra and not a stiff fabric, it's both heavy and wimp and because I can't sew it to the costume and have sylvan still be able to get into it without a zipper, it's a real problem. It's not like an Elizabethan bodice that's already stiff and you can just run the boning down the back of the bodice and sew the whole thing down. He's got to be able to take it off and pee. I finally decided to make it with a pocket for the boning to go into the back of the unitard and have it snap into place, so that he can unsnap it before taking it off. I didn't finish it yesterday and today is Halloween so I have to get it done this afternoon. Yikes! We went to Target tonight and bought him some generic Spanx for $14 to help with his tummy.
I just barely finished before close of business yesterday and one of the snaps is in the wrong place. Oh well. It works just fine. We didn't do a test run last night for Halloween because it was cold and rainy and I didn't want him getting it wet and dirty before the con. He was fine with wearing his Luke Skywalker footie pajamas and handing out the candy to the neighborhood kids.
Total cost: $165
So I was going to be Black Orchid, but Rob likes the JM DeMatteis run better, so Nightmare Nurse it is. I already have purple gloves from We Love Colors. I have plenty of left over purple fabric from my Batgirl cosplay. I have super tall brown boots that I can either paint purple or make bootcovers for, I haven't decided yet. And since she's a ginger with a short bob, and I need a new Squirrel Girl wig anyway, I'll buy one that I can use for both.
I draped a pattern for her dress last night. I'm going to ruche the front panel like it seems to be in the comic. I cut out the pieces last night as well. Today I ruched the front panel and sewed the other pieces together. I will have to wait for the next MAC meeting on Wednesday to get someone to fit it on me.
Wed Oct. 17: Jason did my fitting at Cosplay Club. I completed the alterations, which was just taking in the CB seam a bit. Then I hemmed it all over and cut the straps to the right length and attached them. I also did one coat of purple acrylic on my brown Sarah Jane boots. I mixed two different purples with iridescent extender to get the right color and shine. By Friday I'd done three coats and then finished with mop and glow for the top coat. They look great.
I started on the nurse hat on Friday. I've made nurse hats before, so I just used on old one to pattern the new one in the same purple lycra. The lycra was much heavier than the cotton I'd used previously, so I added both interfacing and craft foam in the middle to help it stand up better. I need to made a Joanne's run to get grosgrain ribbon trim for it and the cross on the dress. I also need wired ribbon for the ace bandages to keep them standing away from the gloves. I still need to buy a wig. I got the rest of what I need to make the hat and the cross on the dress today at Joanne's for $10.99 i still need a white headband to sew the hat onto.
I couldn't find a white (or purple) headband for the hat, so I gave up and got a maroon plush one at Target for $9.99 that I covered in lycra. Handsewing the lycra on sucked even with a curved needle. Then I attached the hat to it, also handsewing, which also sucked. I stuffed water bottles into my gloves and wrapped wired white ribbon around t hem and hand sewed that on as well to make the bandages. I got the red wig today at Beauty Mart on Waco Drive. It was the floor sample so I got it for 10% off. It was $19.99 at the register. It got the velcro sewn on the dress this morning and just used tacky glue to glue the velcro on the cross. I used white hook velcro for the cross and black loop velcro for the dress, so it won't ruin it when I wash it. I am totally done with this costume and will be road testing it on Halloween.
I bought white tights to wear with it and ordered some earrings from Amazon that got here yesterday. They are not the Rod of Asclepius which is what she uses to identify an illness and cure it, because I couldn't find any, so they are the Staff of Caduceus, which is also used interchangeably as a medical symbol even though it's actually a symbol of commerce. They are silver and cost $9.90. I didn't road test my costume for Halloween like I intended because it was too cold and rainy. We didn't even go out, we just stayed at home and gave out candy.
Total cost: $69.90
I thought about getting a green unitard from We Love Colors, but I think it would be more comfortable and easier in the long run just to make him pants and a shirt from a less stretchy, sturdier fabric that I can sew other bits of fabric too to create the viney look.
July 17: I started on Swamp Thing today. We bought camo fabric from Joanne's a while ago 5 yards for $10.19 a yard. It has a slight two way stretch to it. I cut out pants with a high waist, a shirt and sleeves. First fitting happens this afternoon. It totally looks like Duck Dynasty right now, but that's OK. It's a process. I also cut out a hood and a collar.
Monday July 30: Sarah came to help me dye all this polyester trim green for the viney bits of Swamp Thing. It took 3.5 hours.
Tuesday July 31: Today we're doing more of the same. We dyed the cotton trim pieces brown.
Wednesday Aug. 1: I started by sorting the trim into short, medium, and long pieces. The short pieces will go on the hood and collar, the medium pieces will go on the shirt, and the long pieces will go on the pants. I started with the medium pile and began applying the trim to the shirt. All that took 4 hours this morning. Tonight I went back and got more trim on the sleeves and the hood and just barely started on the pants. That took 2 hours. Right now the whole thing is looking more like Ron Weasely's dress robes than anything else, but it's a process. At least doesn't look like Duck Dynasty anymore.
I have been adding the trim to the costume slowly but surely. I got a lot done the week of Oct. 16. I spent another 7 hours over the weekend adding even more trim and I mostly had to hand sew it on the pants. I still have more to sew on esp. the sleeves of the jacket look bare.
I'm making him a mask from thermoplastic with the mouth cut out. I got that molded on Saturday. I wanted to paint it on Sunday when the weather was nice, but ended up missing the daylight due to errands that had to be run. Hopefully the rain will hold back enough this afternoon so I can get at least one coat of plastidip on it. Three coats of plasti-dip later and I can now use my acrylics to paint it. Finished that on 10/24. Now it needs elastic. Did that 10/29. I spent most of last week sewing trim on the boot covers and now today (10/29) I'm going to add pockets on the inside of the bootcovers so he can keep his phone, keys, and money in them. Also, this weekend we went to Michael's and bought some greenery plus the red flower for Zatana's lapel ($67.06) to add to the collar finally and I'm sewing that on today. I also bought some moss so i might add that to the mask.
He needs green makeup for his goatee still. I plan to finish this costume so that he can also road test it for Halloween, which is Wednesday, so I have to hurry!
The mask at this point is black with 3 coats of plastidip on it. I used acrylics to paint it for real. Then I added moss and other viney things from Michael's. The photo on the right is how he looked for Halloween. I had to cut a bit more out of the right eye hole and trim down some of the moss from around his eyes and mouth. The only other issue is that his boot covers are swinging around on his feet as he walks, because I didn't put elastic around the bottom yet. But I think a better solution is to velcro the pant legs to the boot covers since there are pockets inside and that would keep his stuff from accidentally falling out. But since Con is just two days away now, I'll probably just safety pin them.
Total cost: 118.06
FINAL COST OF JLD COSPLAY: $435.96
We were invited to this con because of our Batman 66 cosplay that the con organizers saw us do at Fan Expo in April. They gave us five free two day passes. We knew we'd be doing Batman again because the reason they invited us was because they were going to have the 66 Batmobile and Commissioner Gordon's cars there. We knew we'd need one more cosplay for the other day, because we get too sweaty and do not want to repeat costumes in Texas in the summer ever. We checked the guest list and saw that Melody Anderson and Sam Jones were going to be there and that's when Seth suggested we do Flash Gordon. That is one of my all time favorite costume designs so of course I said yes even though I knew (because of my production schedule and our college trip to the UK that I'd only have four weeks to do five costumes. It would be difficult, but I was willing to take on the challenge, which you can read all about here in a previous blog.
Flash Gordon cosplay: Seth is Flash, I am Aura, Rob is Ming, Sarah is Dale, Sylvan is Dr. Zarkov. Photography and graphic design by Briumbra Photography.
Batman 66 cosplay: Sylvan is Riddler, Katryna (Sarah's friend) is Catwoman, I am Robin, Rob is Batman, Seth is Joker, Sarah is Penguin. Photography and graphic design by Briumbra Photography.
We wore our Flash costumes Saturday and got our photos taken first, then immediately went to get Melody and Sam's autograph. We paid extra for the photos with them. Melody in particular loved our costumes. The best part was that NO ONE ELSE dressed as anyone from the movie. Sam Jones got a big laugh out of Seth's wig. Later, while we were waiting in the line for Doug Jones, John Wesley Shipp (The Flash) walked up to us to tell us how awesome our costumes were. It was a Flash moment of awesomeness!
The Flash panel was at 1 that afternoon. I got to ask the first question which was, "What was it like working with the costume department?" Melody talked about there being a roomful of old Italian women hand sewing on thousands of bugle beads and how heavy all of her costumes were. Her wedding dress weighed 33 pounds! She talked about how her orange headdress (that she disguises herself in to get away from Ming's bedroom) was made out of leather and bugle beads and it was super heavy and kept falling forward onto her face so that while she's doing her fight scene if you keep your eye on the headdress it moves forward and backwards on her head everytime they cut to a different angle.
Sam talked about how Max Von Sydow would get fully dressed in costume and makeup just to do Sam's close up shots when Max would never be on camera. He told Sam that any considerate actor knows that it's your job to give your fellow actors everything you can so that they can give their best performance even (and especially if) you're not even on camera in that scene. It's advice Sam took to heart and continued to do throughout his film career.
Rob and I are huge Star Wars fans, so Rob's made it his mission in life to collect all of their autographs on one poster. We were really glad we finally got to meet Paul Blake who said definitively, "Han shot first!" He was a super nice man and I loved his green glasses.
Doug "hug" Jones
We have seen almost every movie Doug Jones has ever made plus all of his guest appearances on Face Off. He is such a talented actor. My husband compares him to Boris Karloff for being able to act so well under all of whatever appliances he's wearing. He gives super great hugs too!
Focus Comics Panel
From left to right: autistic intern Tabidi Elkhalil, celebrity advocate Tony Todd, Sylvan, creator and certified social and cultural anthropologist Yvonne Wan, and main artist Douglas Herbert.
I had seen an advertisement on facebook for this comic about an autistic superhero before we left for the Con. So I made sure we went by their booth with Sylvan to check it out. We made it there on Sunday and learned they were having a coloring contest so Sylvan entered. You had to color in one of the variant covers of the comic book and everyone who entered won a bookmark with art drawn by the comic creator, Yvonne Wan, featuring Tony Todd (their celebrity advocate, who also played Candyman). I told them that Sylvan was autistic and they wanted a photo with him. We bought him the first issue. They had 16 variant covers (which Office Depot sponsored getting them all printed). Sylvan picked his favorite which was drawn by Tabidi Elkhalil, one of their autistic interns. He's the man on the far left in the photo. Then they told us there would be a panel at noon where the prizes would be announced. I would have gone anyway, even without the lure of prizes for Sylvan.
We went to the panel and we listened to what they had to say and it made me cry. The main artist, Douglas Herbert, is a K-8 art teacher in Arizona who has had many autistic students over the years and who understands just how difficult it is for them in school and how much art helps them to realize their potential. Tony Todd is involved because he was taken away from an abusive mother at 3 years old and then helped raise his younger brother who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. The autistic intern who did the cover Sylvan chose, Tabidi Elkhalil, talked about how diversity should be celebrated and how important art is to him and how he hopes that this comic book would help other autistic kids to realize that they are not alone. Then they told us about the internship program being run by the main artist, Douglas Herbert. Each kid is paired with one older intern, both of them autistic and lessons are done through Skype. This year Malekith George (12) was paired with Tabidi Elkhalil (21). Now Tabidi has been promoted to regular artist.
From their website:
"Focus is an autistic super hero, founded and created by Yvonne Wan (A Social Cultural Anthropologist & Autism Documentary film maker). We have a large creative team who have previously done work with DC Comics, Marvel, Universal Studios and more.
Artist Douglas Hebert (Award winning artist, and Elementary school art teacher with experience in teaching some autistic kids) and Artist Yvonne Wan (Award winning artist) are leading the creative team and autistic internship program."
As it turned out, Sylvan won the coloring competition. He won a free night in a hotel in Cedar Park, a gift certificate to Office Depot, and a pad of Strathmore Comic Book paper, as well as a goody bag full of chips and soda. That's Douglas Herbert holding up Sylvan's cover that he colored. Afterwards, I asked Douglas about the internship and Sylvan can apply online for next year. Sylvan was really excited about that. He loved art all the way through elementary school, but Rapoport didn't have an art elective while he was there, so he was in band. I had given him one of those "adult" coloring books of cats for Christmas, so now he has a reason to get it back out and start coloring. Maybe when it's time to apply for the internship, he can email them some pages.
We saw some great cosplays this weekend. My favorite was the Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy girls. Those characters were the reason that we did Batman 66 in the first place. Long story short, I saw them on Spongebob years ago when Sylvan was little and thought they were hilarious. Rob's favorite superhero is Batman and Adam West and Burt Ward were going to be at Fan Expo two years ago. We both wanted to meet them so I thought we could cosplay them, except that in the back of my mind my subconscious was telling me we were too old and too fat to be them. But then I thought of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy being old and in the nursing home together and still a team, and somehow that made it all OK. I think this may be a problem only women make for themselves. My husband certainly never thought he was too old or too fat to be Batman. So there you go, I am forever grateful to the Spongebob team for dreaming up Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy so I could allow myself to have all kinds of fun after 50.
We also saw another husband/wife Batman/Robin team up. They spotted us across the concourse and came running over so we took a bunch of photos together.
MOre Great Cosplays
Costume Contest gallery
When I was in conversation with Vo Nguyen, one of the organizers, I offered to provide a full ride scholarship to MCC for majoring in theatre. Unfortunately, that didn't pan out for this first year. When I made the offer I asked to be allowed to choose the winner of my scholarship so Vo said I could be one of the judges, which is why I didn't enter my family in the costume contest. Then we went off to the UK and none of that materialized. If I had known that I wasn't going to be a judge, I would have signed us up for the contest. Oh well. Maybe next year.
Here are the photos of the four winners as well as the other really great costumes (IMO), Two of them I'd judged before at Geekfest. Lauren Knowlton as Hawkgirl (Best of Show) and the man who does Captain Jack Sparrow. Their awards were trophies for Best Pop Culture (Cpt. Jack), Best Anime (Sailor Jupiter), Best Comic Book (Shredder). There were maybe 20 entries total. They had the judges on stage with the contestants, which blocked the audience's view of them. There was no pre-judging or any inquiry of the build process before or during the contest. The other three cosplays that I really liked but didn't win were Dark Pit from Kid Icarus, whose wings were articulated and were made entirely with real feathers. If there had been a video game category, she should have won it. The other was Silk Spectre from Watchman, which wasn't as complicated as Hawkgirl or Shredder, but still great. The African guy was not a character from Black Panther, but I didn't catch what the MC said it was. But it was also good.
My angle for photos was not good since I was seated right behind the judges who were all crowded over into the corner which was the side of the stage that the contestants entered from so they mostly stood there in front of the judges who were on raised stools. By the time they were done, they were walking away from me with their backs toward the camera.
I thought it was very successful especially for a first year con. The costume contest could use some work, but at least it started on time, which is a rarity. The HEB Center in Cedar Park is a lovely facility with plenty of spacious bathrooms for costume adjustments. The parking was $5 a day, but there was plenty of it. The food was very overpriced, so I recommend leaving for lunch. The air conditioning was cranked up and I was cold in my Aura costume but just fine in my Robin costume. My husband never broke a sweat and he sweats all the time. The only annoying thing was that you had to have both your ticket and your wristband to leave and get back in each day. We were afraid they weren't going to let us leave to go back to Waco Sunday afternoon because we couldn't find two of our five tickets by that point. They said it was a fire marshal thing so that they could keep track of how many people were in the building at all times. They finally did let us leave and weren't too terribly unreasonable about it, seeing as how it was 4pm and the con was ending at 5. We had to go through a metal detector every time as well as having our bags searched. Also, there were no backpacks allowed but this fact wasn't publicized by the con, so a lot of people were turned away to go put them back in their cars. One kid had been dropped off by his parents and had nowhere to leave his backpack, I have no idea how that worked out. All in all we were really pleased and had a great experience. We will definitely be going back next year!
The Tartan Weaving Mill is right next to the entrance to the Castle, which we had to pass up that day because of the crowds. So we finally got back up there two days later and it was totally worth the climb up the ginormous hill. Here's a very short advertisement from their FB page:
We didn't actually buy anything from the 5 floors of merchandise, but if I had the money and it was ever so much colder in Texas year-round, I would have bought this:
It's an officially recognized tartan designed by Brian Wilton in 2017. I can't find it anywhere else online so I'm guessing it must be exclusive to the store, which doesn't have a website, only a FB page.
Tartan Weaving Mill experience
This was a mural at the entrance to the mill so that as you walked in you were reading the panels in order from right to left. But I've put them in order from left to right, so it might seem confusing. The first panels are the history of tartan and they lead into the loom viewing area which is in the basement. The looms are very loud, even though they are behind walls and glass, you can still hear them. The employees have to wear hearing protection when all four of them are going at once. Outside of the loom area but still in the basement were seamstresses who were busy sewing bespoke kilts. The UK word "bespoke" means made to order.
Here's a view from above the basement level of one of the looms. Even the stairs are tartan!
Check out the giant cones of thread!
Here's another video from their FB page of one of the looms in action.
History of the Kilt
And again the display is set up so that it reads from right to left as you come into the room. So the figures on the right are the oldest.
The individual figures in the correct order:
The artists' renderings also read from right to left as you walked into the room so that the figures as I've listed them below start in 1910 and go backwards till 1200 is at the end. I apologize for the confusion.
Rob did get a scarf in his actual Murray tartan, but not at the TWM. They were way out of our price-range there. This came from Prestige Scotland, which was also on the Royal Mile, but cheaper. The address is 187 Canongate and the guy who was working there was super helpful and nice.
We walked past The National Gallery every day and it took till the last day before we went in and explored it. It's free like all the museums we saw in London. We walked through the permanent collections and they allowed photography, so we took a lot of photos of the French Impressionism gallery. I was also interested in the Scottish painters, so I took photos of that.
We didn't pay for the tour, so this is as much as we got to see for free. If we'd had Edinburgh Passes like we had London Passes, then the Palace and the Castle would have been free. As it was, we chose the Castle and paid for that.
Here's the inner doors behind the archway. The unicorn is the symbol of Scotland and the lion is the symbol of England.
I don't know who Wullie is but he sure likes sitting on his bucket.
A Cow in a Kilt. Edinburgh really likes their coos. I guess the coo is Wullie's friend.
Here's another one on the roof of the building we were standing by.
And here's an aptly named pub.
Speaking of weird pub names, here's some weird pub signs. Apparently Edinburgh has a problem with wild animals?
Because, yes, it really was that cold all the time.
And if that's not weird enough, here's two cigar store Indians.
Another Graveyard behind a church
Once we discovered this tea shop, we ate there every day. It's WAAAAY better than Starbucks.
Four cups of tea in the pot and scrumptious desserts to boot! I had an apple tart and Rob had a strawberry gateau. It's more expensive to eat in the restaurant than to get it as take-away, but you can't take four cups of tea back to your hotel room so we paid the extra sitting down fee.
The Leaving Feast
Because it was a school trip they weren't allowed to serve us whiskey, even us adults, so we got irn bru instead. Irn bru is basically orange crush/big red.
Here's our entertainment. It was Am-Dram at its finest.
Here's the haggis. I ate it and it wasn't that bad, but I did get sick later. Also, there was shellfish in the fish course even though the waitstaff said there wasn't and I was already sick from that.
This is the mousse fantoosh. It was good.
And that was it. We walked back to the hotel, I took a benadryl to combat the shrimp allergy and went to bed to combat the naseau from the haggis. Rob went back out to take more night time photos. We woke up the next morning, had our free cornflakes, and got in the van to take a death defying, way too fast and reckless, ride to the airport. 24 hours later with no sleep we were eating Tex Mex at Rosa's in Killeen.
I have never been happier to see a breakfast taco in my life.
Rob got migas.
University of Edinburgh
Founded in 1582, it is the 6th oldest university in the English speaking world. The bit of it that we saw was built by architect William Henry Playfair starting in 1817, who did everything but the dome which was added later. There's a statue of him out on the street. Also, those horrible steps we had to climb every day were named for him, because he designed most of the buildings in New Town and they needed a way to get from Old Town to New Town, thus the steps. We went there after supper and right before we went to see the opera. They were getting ready for an event out on the quad, setting up tables with lots of food and champagne glasses. Maybe graduation? They didn't mind us looking around and snapping a few photos.
Here's the entrance to the art gallery at the University. We visited it once accidentally looking for a toilet. There wasn't one.
Eugene Onegin by TCHAIKOVSKY
Eugene Onegin is a novel in verse by Pushkin, that was turned into an opera by Tchaikovsky. Here's the wikipedia article on it if you'd like a plot summary. I had never read it or seen it before. It was performed in the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, which was built in 1892. There was a fire onstage in 1911, in which eleven people who had been backstage died, but all 3,000 audience members got out safely. The theatre reopened just three months later and continued to host opera, ballet, and concerts. There was a decline in the 1960's where it became a bingo hall and only had concerts after the bingo was concluded. It was remodeled in 1994 and given a new glass fronted entrance, with the interior being restored to its former glory. The theatre is said to be haunted by a magician, Sigmund Neuberger, who died in the fire.
Our seats were extremely house right and it was difficult to see the action on stage. There were two intermissions, so we moved to seats that were further back and more center during the first one. There were very few characters, a huge chorus, and a horse on stage. The music was beautiful, of course, but the action was slow, because of course, it's Russian. It was sung in Russian but there were supertitles projected above the stage. Rob LOVED IT and even cried a bit. I confess, I was bored. I didn't really like the Russian literature that I read in college. Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Nabokov, etc... just didn't do anything for me. It's a slog to read, all the characters have very long names, and at least with Chekhov he keeps changing their names as you read. But I had no problem understanding the plot of this opera.
The opera was performed in the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh. The scenery and costumes were designed by Annemarie Woods.
All photos are by James Glossop and are from the Scottish Opera website linked above.
Public Executions in Edinburgh
The pub is named for all the public executions that took place on this site in the 17th Century. Most of the people were Covenanters who were hanged for being Presbyterian when that religion was illegal during the reign of Charles II. In 1937 a memorial was erected on the site of the gallows with the names of all the people who were wrongly executed during the twenty year period known as The Killing Time. However, the last public execution in Edinburgh was in 1954 when George Robertson was found guilty of the brutal murder of his ex-wife and two children. The death penalty was abolished in the UK in 1965.
Deacon Brodie was the real life inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Ironically, he made a cabinet for the Stevenson family that was in young Robert's room growing up and is now in the Writer's Museum that we saw the day before.
Scotland has a strong literary tradition. This is the day we visited all of the things in Edinburgh that had literary ties.
The National Library of Scotland
The exhibition that was on while we were there was "Illustrating Scottish Poems". Here's a link to the description.
Also on display were 5 book sculptures inspired by specific novels and done by cutting into pages of the book to create scenes from the book.
The writer's Museum
The Writer's Museum has very limited hours which is why we had to wait so long to go there. It is mostly about Robert Burns, Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson, although there is a little bit about Muriel Sparks and JK Rowling.
These quotations are on paving stones outside the Writer's Museum. It is a National Literary Monument. "Makar" is Scottish for author or writer in much the same way the suffix "wright" implies crafter of a thing, makar implies crafter of words. The quotations are from famous Scottish authors.
Other monuments to writers
Wind in the Willow references
Rob wanted to see a Hedgehog in a hedgerow the whole time we were there, but this is as close as he got.
Just so you know, I LOVE the HP books. I started reading them when my friend Monique gave me the first one as a present, back in the summer of 1999. Our friend Heather was visiting me in Waco, so Monique had mailed both of us a copy to give us something to read by the pool. It was so good, I read it a second time as soon as I finished it. Then I went down to the bookstore to buy Chamber of Secrets, which I read immediately, and later Prisoner of Azkaban, which came out after school started. It was a long wait for Goblet of Fire to come out, but I busied myself with the new website Mugglenet, which was quite different in the early days than it is now. I got into fan fiction (reading it, not writing it) and really enjoyed the Red Hen website. I was sad when the series was concluded and, although I enjoy the movies, they are not nearly as good as the books, not many movies have that distinction. So, to finally be in the town where it happened (thanks LMM for that song), I was flushed with fangirl excitement! But before I can tell you about all the awesome Harry Potter related sites we saw, I have to tell you a story about a dog, Greyfriars Bobby.
Greyfriars Bobby was a dog who sat on his master's grave for 14 years until his own death on January 14, 1872. People in the town felt sorry for him and started feeding him and he became welcome at all the local establishments. A baroness had a monument established to Edinburgh's most faithful dog. It was originally atop a water fountain that served people as well as a ground level one for dogs. His collar is in the Museum of Edinburgh that we had visited the day before, along with a copy of the statue and a whole display on his history.
Greyfriars Bobby has been the subject of a 1912 book, a 1961 Disney movie, and a 2006 film starring Christopher Lee. For another pop culture appearance, watch Burke and Hare on Showtime. The dog is shown sitting on his master's grave at Greyfriars Kirkyard in the scene where our infamous protagonists are attempting to rob a grave. The pub right across from the statue is where Bobby would go for his luncheon upon hearing the 1:00 gun. There's a plaque on the outside of the pub commemorating that.
The Potter Trail
Harry Potter tours were free and left every day from the statue of Greyfriars Bobby at 3pm sharp. Our tour guide was Sam, a Slytherin. This was the best thing we did in Edinburgh and especially for the money we paid for it which was nothing. The tours are free but they pass the hat at the end because the guides don't get paid, they are doing it for the love of Potter, so cough up some galleons, sickles, and knuts! I think we gave him a couple of pounds, as did the other 20 or 30 people in our group. Not bad for a couple hours of work each day.
We started off at the Greyfriars Kirkyard. Kirk is Scottish for church (Did you know that, Trekkies? I didn't) so essentially a kirkyard is a graveyard. JK spent a lot of time there. We entered through the back fence behind Greyfriars Bobby. We went there to see the real life versions of three things: Tom Riddle's grave, Professor McGonagall, and Hogwarts. The tour was during the day, but we totally went back at night, for the atmosphere, and to see if we could see any ghosts. More about that later.
1. Tom Riddle's grave
The plaque on the left belongs to Tom Riddell Esq. and reads, (sic)
"Sacred to the Memory of Thomas Riddell Esq. of Befsborough in the County of Berwick who died in Edinburgh on the 24th of Novm. 1806, aged 72 years. ALSO of Thomas Riddell Esq. his Son, Captain of the 14th Regiment, who died at Trinidad in the West Indies on the 16th of Septm. 1802 aged 26 years. AND of Christian Riddell, his Daughter, who died in Edinburgh on the 29th Oct, 1808, aged 31 years, ALSO Maria Jane Riddell, his daughter died 5th Sept. 1819, aged 47," The plaque on the right belongs to more five more Riddell relatives who died later on.
2. William McGonagall's memorial/grave
This plaque is on the stone wall in the corner by a big gate that keeps the Kirkyard visitors out of the parking lot of the George Heriot School. William McGonagall was celebrated as Scotland's Worst Poet. His most famous poem is the "The Tay Bridge Disaster", an event we learned all about at the Museum of Edinburgh, the day before. These are the last few lines of that terrible poem,
"I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed."
JK borrowed his name for Minerva McGonagall, Head of Gryffindor House.
3. George Heriot's School
Hogwarts was inspired by this very expensive private school, which, ironically started out as a free school/hospital for orphaned boys in 1659. Although orphans still attend for free, everyone else pays through the nose. While JK was writing the first HP book, she couldn't afford to send her daughter there, but later, she totally sent her by then three kids there. It has four houses with four towers and their own colors. The four houses are Lauriston (Slytherin), Greyfriars (Hufflepuff), Raeburn (Gryffindor), and Castle (Ravenclaw). Also, it;s the only co-ed school in Edinburgh. The fees for Senior School for the 2018-19 school year are $12,522.00, that's pounds not dollars, but my keyboard doesn't do pounds. You get the idea. Very expensive prep school and they don't even keep your kids overnight, nor is there any magical education. Here's their website if you're interested in the history of the school or its architecture. I took this photo by sticking my phone through the fence.
This locked gate to the school was on a different street.
We left Greyfriars to go see The National Bank of Scotland building, which was the inspiration for Gringott's. It's a very tall building with a dome. It's at the end of Bank Street and you can see it from all over Edinburgh. The building no longer houses the National Bank of Scotland, instead it's a museum dedicated to money, banking, and commerce.
5. The Spoon Restaurant
This coffee shop used to be co-owned by JK's brother-in-law and was called Nicolson's Cafe. JK used to come here to warm up, get some coffee, and do some writing. She finished writing Philosopher's Stone here. It was later sold and turned into a Chinese Buffet, and then sold again and turned into Spoon. They still sell coffee. It's the upstairs shop, not the one on the ground floor. It's on the corner of Nicolson and Drummond Streets.
6. The Elephant House
Another coffee shop where JK wrote some of Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban.
Potterrow is what the the medieval suburbs outside of the city's walls were once called. Edinburgh grew outward and eventually encompassed that area which had become a bustling part of the city during Victoria's reign. A hundred years later, the entire neighborhood was demolished in the 1960's to expand the University of Edinburgh. This building, the Edinburgh University Student Association, was named Potterrow to commemorate its origins. Potterrow houses all kinds of shops and services for students, much like a mall. During the day it's a quiet study space, at night it's a club scene. Potterrow has nothing to do with Harry Potter, other than JK was a student at U of E in 1995 and would have been there. It didn't even inspire Harry's name. But there is a connection if you look across the street.
Here's the important bit. This culvert is directly across from the dome and goes underneath the street and was the inspiration for where Harry defends Dudley from the Dementor attack in Order of the Phoenix.
8. Diagon Alley
Victoria Street inspired Diagon Alley. The street curves up and away from you, or down depending on what end you start from. Victoria street has a pub, a book shop, several clothing shops, a magic shop, a joke shop, and a restaurant where they carve the pig up in the window so all the passersby can watch. We were told that if you go into the magic shop and ask about HP you'll get ugly looks and possibly thrown out. Since the HP mania, there is also a HP museum, called The Museum Context.
Also, Victoria Street has an upper level where there's a sidewalk to allow access to those shops.
Here's all the shops.
The Museum Context is free and is totally dedicated to all things HP!
They had a cupboard under the stairs, the warning about the chamber of secrets being open, and a basilisk on the second and third floors!
9. Knockturn Alley
Candlemaker Row is the inspiration for Knockturn Alley. It curves away too, just like Victoria Street does, but in the opposite direction. They both end in front of Greyfriars Kirkyard and become a street called Cowgate. This photo below is of the back window of The Elephant Room where JK used to sit and write on the corner of Candlemaker Row and Merchant Street. If you look up JK Rowling's Window on Google Maps, you can see that the marker is actually in the middle of street, but it's actually the old Harvey Furniture building which now houses on the ground floor a pub called The Oz Bar. There's another photo of that later on.
This is at the bottom of Candlemaker Row looking up the street.
Naturally we went back nocturnally. This is the Oz Bar on the ground floor that I was telling you about. JK's window is lit up on the second floor. The pub was jumping that night.
Here are some more night time views of Candlemaker Row. The Oz was the only thing open, which made the rest of the street look dark and forbidding, possibly full of dark magic. The photos below are of the Greyfriars Kirk (Church). This is the side that faces Candlemaker Row.
The is the corner of Cowgate and Candlemaker Row. Yes, there's cows sticking out of the walls. Scotland is weird, y'all.
Here's all the places our tour took us. The tour lasted about 90 minutes and was very easy walking with no ups once you got to Greyfriars Bobby.
Greyfriars Kirkyard Gallery
Here's the graveyard at night. We were there after the performance of Eugene Onegin, so it was really late when we finally got there on our way back to the hotel. It became midnight while we were there. We thought we'd be alone and it would be scary and maybe we'd see some ghosts, but no, there were a ton of HP fans there, many of them on an official Greyfriars at Night tour. So, we were not scared and didn't see any ghosts. Rob did some photoshopping to the night time photos.
We passed this pub on our way to the Harry Potter tour and decided we'd come back for supper before we saw Wicked. It is housed in an old Victorian church building. The inside is entirely devoted to the old Universal Studios Frankenstein movies. They are playing constantly on TVs inside. They have props from the movies and an imaginative menu where everything is named for characters from the movies. The waitstaff is all dressed in Bavarian costumes. We had hamburgers and chips which were great.
We went from one green skinned fictional character to another. Wicked was playing at the Edinburgh Playhouse. It's facade was also lit up in green. I knew it was based on the book by Gregory Maguire, but I hadn't read it in 1995 when it was published, nor when he started publishing sequels in 2005. It was turned into a musical in 2003, but it took another 5 years before all our students were going nuts over it. I decided that maybe I should see what all the fuss is about, so I bought the first book and read it in 2008. This was partly to combat the incessant hearing of "Popular" being sung by Christen Chenoweth before the previews started of every movie we went to see that summer. I confess, I didn't enjoy it, it didn't make a lot of sense, and nothing got resolved at the end. It has a very convoluted plot and has almost nothing to do with the original Frank L Baum novels. Eventually the movie theatre stopped playing "Popular" and I forgot all about it. Fast forward 10 years. We got tickets to see the show and I went in with zero expectations. I did not reread the book before I saw the musical. Here's a link to the wikipedia page that explains the entire plot of the book, in case you haven't read it. This is what I read to refresh my memory before we saw the show.
Here's the trailer which I did not see before I saw the musical. If I had I would have been more excited to see it.
Here's the proscenium at the Edinburgh Playhouse. There was a giant dragon hanging out on top. At the top of the show, It breathed fire and its eyes lit up red, but it just seemed to be there for decoration, and didn't serve any purpose in the narrative.
Our seats were in the 1st balcony on house left, as you can tell from the photo. This theatre was originally built as a cinema house in 1929 and ran films for 40 years until it became unprofitable and was closed and scheduled for demolition. The townspeople created a petition and collected 15,000 signatures and a preservation society was created. It's housed a variety of touring musicals and bands since 1980. It also has its resident theatre ghost, Albert the Maintenance Manager.
The odd thing about this production was that it was performed in RP (Received Pronunciation--the standard form of British English pronunciation, based on educated speech in Southern England) rather than in any American dialect. Considering Frank L Baum was American, as is Gregory Maguire, I found that quite odd. Glinda flew in on a blue bubble, Elphelba flew, and the scenery was comprised of moving clockwork pieces, all of which were impressive. However, the music was forgettable, sorry Stephen Schwartz, and the story wasn't compelling. That said, the production design is amazing! Here's some short videos that the company put out on the show.
Here's a video on the special effects, of which there are many and they are also amazing. I know I keep using that word, but the magic quotient in this production is quite high, as it should be.
Susan Hilferty was the costume designer, Tom Watson was the hair and wig designer, and Joe Dulude II was the makeup designer. I have included a link to Susan Hilferty's website, specifically the page on Wicked. She has included sketches, production photos, and videos of her interviews. It's a great resource. One of the original costumes is on display at the V&A in Kensington that I had seen just a week earlier. The costumes are amazing, as is the makeup design and hair and wigs design.
Here are just a few of Susan's costume sketches from her website.
Here are some more videos on the costumes, and makeup and hair specifically. They were done by the production company and were put up on You Tube.
This is a video put out by Broadway World in which LIndsey Mendez, the original Elphaba takes the viewer through her various costume, makeup and hair changes during the run of a show.
Here are a few of the photos from the musical's website. All photography was by Matt Crockett.
All of this is uphill. As always. But at least once we got to Frankenstein, we got to sit down and eat and rest first, before we had to keep going to see the show.
We bought timed entry tickets to the Castle the night before. We're allowed in at 9:30, so we had an early breakfast and then began to hike. We climbed up the Playfair Steps and this time I counted them (85). Like I mentioned yesterday, the street that goes to the Castle also goes straight up. It's cobblestone and has a handrail which we used to pull ourselves up. The climb was so difficult for us, I couldn't imagine English soldiers hiking there only to attack it in full armor. I guess that's why it's the most besieged castle in Great Britain. It's much easier to starve the defenders out than attack a castle on the top of a volcano!
Right in front of the entrance to the Castle is the Tartan Mill, which I desperately wanted to visit. I'd researched it two years earlier when I started making kilts for the family. But we didn't have time to visit it properly before our timed entry, so we saved it for another day. The Castle was a lot like the Tower of London with the exception of it being built on top of yet another EXTINCT VOLCANO! (430' above sea level and 260' higher than the surrounding landscape.) We were so high up in fact, that there was no wifi signal and there's free wifi everywhere in Edinburgh. That was one of the nice things about Edinburgh compared to London--no free wifi on the mean streets of London.
Here's a model of the Castle, so you can see just how extensive it is and also how it's just sitting right on top of a giant volcano!
The cool thing about this castle was that there had been a castle there since the 11th C. We bought the guide book but now that we're home and I'm actually writing this in September, I can't find it anywhere. I'm writing all this from memory and my journal entry, which was pretty brief.
The castle had many cannon guarding every wall, plus the biggest one ever that was named Mons Meg. it weighs 6 tons and could fire a 330 lb. stone up to 2 miles.
Besides Meg, there was also several WW2 anti-aircraft missiles. One of them shoots a blank every day at 1:00pm so that the townspeople can set their watches by it.
The nicest part was the dog cemetery. Officers are allowed to have dogs and when they die, they bury them in the dog cemetery.
Mostly the castle housed a memorial to WWI and WWII soldiers, which was sad.
But also, prisoners were housed there for a time, so we got to see the dungeons. There were giant fake rats decorating the place with recordings of "prisoners" talking to each other in many different languages. They were actually pretty nice. They weren't isolated from each other, they got hammocks to sleep in, they got to hang their laundry up to dry, and they got fed pretty well. In 1811 49 French prisoners of war hacked their way through a wall and lowered themselves down on ropes. All but one escaped that way. They didn't mention if that one guy stayed behind or fell to his death. The hole is still there. During WWII they continued to house prisoners of war here. I guess none of them were brave enough to escape that way.
Just like the Tower of London houses the British Crown Jewels, the Edinburgh Castle holds the Scottish crown jewels, which we got to see, but were not allowed to photograph. There was kind of a costume gallery showing the history of the Scottish Kings on the way to see the jewels.
The oldest part of the Castle is St. Margaret's Chapel, which had some lovely stained glass.
It cost $17 each for tickets to the Castle.
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The Museum was an unexpected delight. We really didn't know anything about what to expect in Edinburgh, so it was great that there were so many neat things to do and see. The building itself was an architectural delight. When you first walked in onto what seemed to be the ground floor it was like you were actually in a subterranean crypt. At first I thought that it was going to be tiny and not have much to see. There were a few things in niches plus the toilets, and gift shop. But then you go upstairs and it's so open and full of light and just keeps going up. The photo above is of the Grande Gallery which was designed by Captain Francis Fowke, the same man who was responsible for the Royal Albert Hall, and was inspired by the Crystal Palace. By the end of our visit we'd almost forgotten what the entrance was like, pictured below.
The Fashion Gallery
The fashion gallery was comparable to the one at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
There was a display of antique sewing machines.
As if I don't do enough laundry every day of my life, both at home and at work. At least I'm not having to scrub clothes on a washboard and wring them out and hang them to dry. And the only place I iron clothes is at work. My grandmother used to iron the sheets, tablecloths, and napkins every Sunday. Can you even imagine doing all that work?
There was armor from a Muslim soldier.
There was a small wing off the main gallery dedicated to Scottish life and industry. There were a few things related to clothing and costume.
Velvet suit made by Liberty & Co., about 1905, a well-to-do child's outfit for special occasions.
Lady's wood suit with matching hat, about 1905. Made in Paris, possibly from wool woven in Scotland.
Costumes from the world's cultures exhibit
There was a display of Police Boxes. I was so happy to finally see a TARDIS, I just couldn't believe that I had to go to Edinburgh to see one.
Dolly the Sheep
Lunch at the museum was much cheaper than in London and much better. Lentil soup and half a sandwich with crisps and a drink. The soup was so good that Rob googled the recipe and made it as soon as we got back home.
Even though we were still at a Travelodge, our free breakfast was not at all the same. At this hotel, our free breakfast was cornflakes, milk, and OJ, with a super bitter orange-cranberry muffin and a packet of tea. There was no kitchen, so we had to go down to the lobby and pick up our free breakfast kit and then take it back up to our room to prepare and eat it, with tiny plastic spoons. After the awesome spread in London we were quite disappointed. Lizzy promised to take us out for a traditional Scottish breakfast at The Standing Order. It was originally a bank, but was taken over by Wetherspoon, a conglomerate of pubs that use pre-existing buildings with interesting architectural histories. This particular Wetherspoon had redecorated the bank with a wide range of Scottish authors, artists, and other important personages. We ate in the Robert Louis Stevenson Suite. Breakfast was just exactly like the one back in London with the addition of blood pudding and potato scones. The scones were great, the blood pudding, not so much. It was basically a very dry, well done, sausage patty. But it was super cheap and Rob and I split one plate of food and it was plenty for both of us. He ate more of the blood pudding than I did.
Then we foolishly set off for Arthur's Seat which, as was poorly explained to us before we left, was a rock that you could climb on top of in the middle of a park and see really far around Edinburgh. We bought a guide book before we left and it had a map in it but again, it's not a topographical map and nowhere did it say that Arthur's Seat is in fact AN EXTINCT VOLCANO and is 822 feet high! Sadly, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.
As I said yesterday, just getting to Holyrood Park was a trial because everything is up, so our legs were already tired before we even made it to the path that leads to Arthur's Seat. The map told us there was a shorter, steeper path and a longer, less steep path and we chose the latter. We did our best and ended up at the ruins of an Abbey. We were quite happy to rest there and take some gorgeous photographs.
We asked some fellow hikers how much further and they told us we were about halfway. We bravely carried on. Once we ascended into the clouds and could no longer see anything in front of our faces we were exhausted and a little scared. We again asked how much further of some people who were on their way back down. They told us it wasn't that much further but that they'd had to climb the rest of the way using their hands to help them along because that's how steep it was. When I say we were on a path, we were really on a very narrow, rocky trail. So we took two photos to prove we'd made it that far, although all you can see is fog, and then we went back down. Even if we had made it all the way to the top, you can tell we wouldn't have been able to actually see anything.
Here's an aerial view of where we were. The red marker is Arthur's Seat. The convergence of paths to the right of the marker is where we stopped. The lake directly at the top right hand corner is where we walked back to and took photos with the ducks. Below the lake is St. Margaret's Chapel, where we stopped at first. You can't see it unless you zoom way in. It's the tiny grey dot in the V of the paths.
On the way back down, we decided to go down to the lake we'd seen behind the Abbey. There were ducks and geese and lots of pretty flowers. We felt lucky to have survived it. And then we still had to walk back to the town and find lunch. The first place we saw that had fish and chips was the winner.
Museum of EDINBURGH
After lunch, and because it was on the way back to the hotel, we stopped in at the Museum of Edinburgh. That was neat. It was basically a history of the town.
The costume Gallery
Robert Louis Stevenson's house
The World's End
We love the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost Cornetto movies so we were really excited to find the third and final installment here in Edinburgh. We were going to hunt down The Winchester pub (in real life The Duke of Albany) while we were in London, but once we did some research on it, we found out it had been sold and then completely redone into apartments, so there wasn't a point. The actual pub used in the film is The Gardner's Arms in Letchworth Garden City.
I found Tom Baker! Yes, this is how we dressed every day, because it was this cold and damp here. It's the weather we expected in London but didn't get until we got to Scotland.
This is the awesome bookstore we found while walking back to the hotel.
There's a pub named for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle!
Burke and Hare were infamous grave robbers that made their money selling cadavers to the medical school back when it was very difficult to legally acquire them for anatomical studies/dissection. Both Burke and Hare were Irish, but were living in the same lodging house in Edinburgh when they went from grave-robbing to murder, eventually killing 16 people in one year. They were caught and Hare was granted immunity for turning King's Evidence on Burke who was tried and found guilty. Burke was hanged and in an ironic twist of fate, his body was sent to the medical school for dissection.
Here's the Wikipedia article if you want to read up on them. There's a movie about it starring Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis, directed by John Landis. It's super hilarious right up until the end.
We had pizza for supper and noticed that it was right across the street from where we were going to see Wicked the next night. The pizza was amazing, plus we were so tired, we ate every last bit and then had to stagger home.
We made it back to the hotel finally !
This is how my day ended. I will never see stats like this on my fitbit ever again.
This is the first train station in Scotland that our train stopped at so I took a photo. The journey took about 4 hours from King's Cross. When we got to Edinburgh the temperature had dropped by about 20 degrees. Everyone had packed their coats and hats and we walked from the train station to our hotel freezing our butts off. Here's the train station in Edinburgh. I snapped the photo as we were leaving.
We stayed at another Travelodge on Queen's Street. Here's the view from our hotel room.
Rob and I immediately unpacked our warm clothes and went back out to find dinner and do some initial walking around to get the lay of the land. Compared to London, Edinburgh was way less claustrophobic. The streets were wider, there were less people, but OMG everywhere you want to go is up. It's like our hotel was built in a valley and the rest of the city was build on the side of a mountain. We just thought we walked a lot in London, this was just as much walking but all uphill. We ate at the first Indian food restaurant we came across because we were freezing and we wanted food that was hot and spicy. Plus it was right around the corner from the Travelodge. I got lamb curry and Rob got basically Pakora. It was their specialty and Rob said it was great, a lot like Tandoori chicken. Once we were sweating from the heat and spice, we were ready to go back into the cold, foggy evening and do some exploring.
There was a model village built into the street with a plaque explaining that it was designed for blind people to be able to enjoy the city.
We found the Sir Walter Scott memorial immediately because it's the tallest thing around. It basically inside the Princess Street Gardens.
Princess STreet Gardens
The Gardens surround the Scottish National Gallery and border Edinburgh Castle. We spent a long time touring the gardens and taking photos of the beautiful flowers. We walked around for quite a bit because it doesn't get dark in Edinburgh till 10pm, which is weird even for us Texans in high summer when the sun doesn't go down till 9.
Here's the National Gallery which we walked past every day, but somehow didn't actually go inside till the last day. There were always musicians busking around the building and in the back there was a stage for them to play on. The courtyard was filled with students all the time.
Here's a lovely view of the stairs we seemed to climb every single day to get to the Royal Mile and the Castle and pretty much everything else we did. That is not the Castle in the photo, that's St. Giles Cathedral. The castle is to the right of the church and up another very steep hill.
Here's a better view. That's the National Gallery at the bottom on the left.
You have to make it to the top of the steps to see that they have a name.
This is the same church now that we're at the top of the Playfair Steps. Notice how when you turn right, the road goes ever UP. That's the way to the Castle. If you go left, you're going down the Royal Mile (the high street) which connects the Castle to the Palace. It's just a mile, but it's all UP, seemingly both ways, if that's even possible. This is as far as we got the first night. After we got home (to Texas where it's mostly flat) I looked it up and found out that Edinburgh was built on 7 hills. So yes, we weren't crazy it is uphill both ways all the time.
We had been using our Google Maps app to navigate our way around London very successfully. We used the free wifi in the hotel to set our destination and then once we left the hotel, our phones would still work like a compass keeping track of where we were while guiding us to our destination. We didn't buy the international data usage for our phones but were lucky enough to figure this out while we were there. That was all well and good when we were in London because London was flat. Edinburgh, as I said before, is all uphill, all the time. Google maps does not reflect the topography of your location or destination while it's plotting your route. Old people with bad knees need to know how much up is involved in walking before they set out and, if possible, have the ability to ask for an alternate route that is not so much up. Someone who works at Google should fix this oversight immediately. As you can see Google maps is showing you that our journey from the hotel to the castle should only take 15 minutes to walk half a mile. This is a lie. The .6 miles is ALL UPHILL. They built handrails into part of the road that had a sidewalk so you could drag yourself up the incline. We had to use the handrails. By the time we got there, we were exhausted. You can see on the map that the Princess Street Gardens are right next to the Castle. In reality, the Castle is directly ABOVE the gardens by probably another half a mile. This oversight becomes much more apparent in tomorrow's blog when we eagerly set out for Arthur's Seat which is smack dab in the middle of Holyrood Park at the other end of the Royal Mile from the Castle.
We saw a lot of things besides musicals and museums, so I thought I'd lump them all together at the end and it would be enough for one more blog. I had tea and cake while I was writing this, so you should have some tea and cake while you're reading this. The tea and cake at Drury was the best (and cheapest) tea and cake we had the whole trip. Four cups of tea fit in those pots each!
the National Gallery
We did two visits to the National Gallery to see the Van Gogh paintings. The first time we didn't realize that it was OK to take photos. So we went back and took photos the next day. Contrary to the Doctor Who episode, "Starry, Starry Night" isn't there.
We toured St. Paul's on May 21. Christopher Wren built it after the fire. He's also buried there. They wouldn't let you take photos of the inside, which is too bad because it's beautiful with mosaics and stained glass. We bought guidebooks. I didn't realize that it's mostly a war memorial to all the soldier's who died in WW I and II. There was one chapel dedicated to the American soldiers who died in the Wars. There was one corner that I found where a few women were buried. In the ccrypt in the basement they had some effigies that had survived the fire that were from before 1666. That is also where Admiral Nelson and Wellington are buried. That's also where the keep the toilets, the gift shop, and the cafe. It was super weird down there. I got a very creepy feeling. We bought sandwiches at Tesco and ate them on the lawn. We weren't the only ones having a picnic. Do we look tired? Yes, we are absolutely exhausted from our sunburn on the river boat the day before and the miles and miles of walking we'd done already.
We took the tube from the O2 and did the tour. We had to stand in line for an hour by the time we got there at noon. We saw the Poet's Corner with the graves of Shakespeare, as well as some famous English monarchs: Henry V, Henry VII, William the Conqueror, Richard II, Anne of Cleves, Mary Queen of Scots, as well as Darwin, Noel Coward, and Handel. They don't let you take photos inside, so here's some lovely views of the outsides. We made the mistake of eating inside. It was way too expensive. There was a food truck parked right outside by the exit that we could have eaten at and it was way cheaper.