How to Get a Portal Gun Through Airport Security: Pax South 2016

It’s time for cosplay daughter to start looking at colleges.

Obviously, she wants to attend one where she work on coding, game design, art and costume design, so off to liberal arts places we go!

First stop was Trinity University in San Antonio Texas- a lovely school with a kick-ass costume shop.

As far as I was concerned, our trip to San Antonio was about checking out the college. For cosplay daughter? It was about PAX SOUTH.

pax south

Pax is a set of five super-humongous gaming conventions that started out as industry events, and are now pilgrimage points for the serious gamers and related fandoms. So of course we coordinated the trip to Trinity with the convention. I’m that kind of cosplay Mom.

She was pretty excited when the passes came.

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And of COURSE, she would have to cosplay at this convention, and cosplay an appropriate video game character.

she decided to go with Chell, from Portal 2- an early favorite. The object of the game is to solve a maze by shooting blue and orange “portals” through and around and between walls to escape.  To do this, Chell uses a fancy gun:

portal-2-chell

While also evading evil robots.

 

Cosplay daughter has been cosplaying Chell for some time, and wanted to take that cosplay to Pax.

Kira Chell

But…..this meant that we needed to get her new Portal Gun safely through airport security, in one piece, and without any of us getting arrested.

Which of course would be an adventure.

It’s not a thing you can pack in your checked bag. It’s got delicate little feet and feelers.

So we carried it on.

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Very early morning flight, with portal device, combat boots and thankfully supportive cosplay stepdad.

Here we go.

The first rule is: in an airport, it’s not a portal GUN. It’s a PORTAL DEVICE.

This is important if you want to make it to the convention without being hustled off to a back room and strip-searched.

Doesn’t mean, though that security (and others) will not still be interested.  She got to explain what “that thing” was to various TSA officers, (one of whom couldn’t wait to watch the face of the lady running the x-ray machine when it went through).

tsa

But, even once we got past security, the questions continued.

As a note, if you are sitting in an airport waiting lounge like this:

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Two things will happen:

  1. LOTS of people are going to ask you: “what IS that thing!?!?” and of course, you can tell them, but it won’t help the majority of them.  They have no idea what you’re talking about. We started saying it was a toy, or prop. Most walked away with puzzled expressions.
  2. You will find all the nerds and gamers in the airport, most of whom are going to the same convention as you.  They will say “nice portal gun” and you will shush them hurriedly:  “DEVICE! it’s a portal DEVICE!”

In the end, the DEVICE made it to the convention safely.

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She was a big hit:

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And made a bunch of new friends.

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oh, and yeah, really liked the university too.

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Costuming Philosophy: What Kind of Footwear Does it Take to Kick Ass?

Cosplay daughter and I just completed a shopping juggernaut looking for sensible, Victorian-style boots for an Elizabeth (Bio Shock) cosplay.

Elizabeth2

This was hardly my first rodeo when it came to trying to buy, borrow, beg or build cosplay footwear.

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about Cosplay Daughter’s odyssey to construct Chell’s boots from Portal 2:

long fall boots

And when I showed the essay and photos to my writing group it provoked a discussion about the whole “superheroine in heels” thing* that drives Cosplay Daughter (and others) nuts.  There are clearly some particular challenges for women in cosplay in this area.

Full disclosure: both my teenage self, and later, Cosplay Daughter as an 8-year old (watching on dvd) loved the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman program.

Wonder Woman TV show

It was fun, and fantastical and certainly never, never accurate- historically -or in any other way. And I doubt either one of us noticed her boots.

So with those warm, early-childhood memories. Cosplay daughter and I were excited to hear about a reboot of Wonder Woman as a television program:  a new Wonder Woman for the twenty-first century.  You may have never heard of this show, and that’s because it never got off the ground, in part because of the outfit:

adrianne-palicki-wonder-woman-tv-show

There was a LOT of public criticism of this supersuit- from the rubber pants, to the provocative pose-  (there was significant repetition of the words “cheap” and “porno” in the online descriptions).

But for me, it’s the boots. Those look like at least 4 inch heels. How, exactly, does one fight the bad guys whilst standing on tiptoe stilts? (Even if one IS an Amazon).

Suspend disbelief! You say. 

It’s a comic book! You say. 

Men are represented in equally unlikely and anatomically impossible fashion! You say.

And all of that is true.  But all of this makes it much harder to cosplay.

(As an aside, Cosplay Daughter and I had a wonderful conversation in Bed, Bath and Beyond, of all places, with a friendly young sales guy who would love to cosplay Brick, from Borderlands,

Brick

but expressed tentative self-consciousness about being buff enough. Obviously, NO ONE is buff enough).

I have to say though, that at least the exaggeration in his muscles makes sense for his character-  the physique looks like it was built to kick ass. 

So we’re back to the question, which is apparently limited to female characters- What Kind of Footwear Does it Take to Kick Ass?

I cannot say, with a straight face, that Cosplay daughter is in favor of sensible footwear on femme heroes.

(Remember, I have an entire post dedicated to trying to construct the ridiculously elaborate footwear pictured at the beginning of this post).

But she certainly IS in favor of footwear that makes SENSE for fighting, questing and saving the day.

She notes that Harley Quinn sometimes wears high heels- but in that case, the heels are knives that she uses to stab people. The rest of the time, it’s sensible (evil) booties:

Harley_Quinn_Vol_1_19 Watch out, Superman! (The shoes look comfortable though…)

Katara wears warm leather boots and of course, Chell has the boots that are specifically designed for jumping and falling. Notably, Hit-Girl, in the Kick-Ass universe, wears combat boots.

So why the heels?

Sex appeal, clearly.

In my day job, I research beauty and physical attractiveness for women around the world, and I know that there is ample and compelling research that high heels on women increase their attractiveness to men. (The scholar in me wants to give about 14 footnotes here, but I’ll content myself with this one link).

And that’s fine. More power to anyone who works the (limbic) system to achieve personal or professional success. Succeeding in life or work is a type of kicking ass, certainly.

But for the superheroines, the first-person shooters and the supervillans, for the game characters, and for a young woman like cosplay daughter, who is seeking to achieve her goals and demonstrate artistic, intellectual and skill-based power and effectiveness, I come down in favor of the logical footwear.

What kind of footwear does it take to kick-ass?

The kind that shows your skill and highlights your strengths.

Whatever those are.

*(Many thanks to dear writing friend Katie who asked the question that provoked this essay)