Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Days of the Dead Atlanta 2013 - How To Make A MURDERER!

Hey, everybody and welcome to my recap of Days of the Dead 2013 in Atlanta. It was… a convention. There were a lot of things that sucked. Right now I feel like the Sheraton kind of pissed all over it, but I think I’ll determine who the responsible parties are as I write this. It was mostly the Sheraton’s fault; but maybe not all. Heck, it was partly even my fault just because of the work funk I’m in right now.

I’ll get that out of the way since you do need to understand my perspective going into this thing and understand that at least a portion of my negativity was built in.

            Work sucks fucking balls right now. Almost every shift I have worked since the beginning of the year has had some problem. Like any other job, mine has factors that are beyond my control. Sometimes they don’t affect me, sometimes they do. And sometimes they fuck me right in the ass. And since the beginning of the year my ass has been mighty sore. Almost every day there is some new problem that I have to deal with that not only causes twice as much work and stress, but also greatly reduces the amount of time I have to write. As much as I dislike my job, I haven’t actually been this stressed by it in a few years. I’m tired all the time, I dread going in, and in general I’m just not as awesome as I should be. It’s to the point where I don’t even have an idea of how much of this I am going to be able to write today and tomorrow. I’m just going to do what I can and parse it up into posts through Thursday or Friday depending on how much there is. I can’t do my usual conscious division of days or whatever.

With all of that you’d think a weekend at a horror con would be just what the doctor ordered, but I didn’t even have time to get myself mentally psyched up for the thing. I finished my costume the night before – something I don’t ever do. Granted, it ended up being my favorite one that I’ve made; but it could have been even better. I just didn’t have the time or energy to devote to it. Same with the con. I just didn’t plan at all compared to how good I’ve been about con prep for the past several years. I forgot every single thing I had for the famous people to sign – the Machete figure, my House of 1000 Corpses and Devil’s Rejects posters, and a couple of other things. Of course, this also saved me a lot of money, so maybe it’s not so bad.

But I went in lower than I normally do. Don’t; get me wrong – I was still excited and still looking forward to the weekend, but my energy level just isn’t what it normally is. So keep that in mind if I sound too critical or grumpy throughout this thing.

Also, the Sheraton was apparently responsible for a lot of dickery. From what I understand they were tremendously difficult for the con and the vendors to deal with and were almost constantly changing conditions, times, and other factors that you simply can’t mess around with at such an event. Just to be clear, every interaction I had with the actual staff of the Sheraton was nothing short of fantastic. I’ll get into some of those later. I also heard of and witnessed some things that were inexcusable and I’ll get into those as well. I feel comfortable speaking about the things the Sheraton did wrong because they were clearly in evidence. The things I heard from others lined up with what I was seeing around the con. For a hotel that has been a host for the madness that is Dragon*Con for the past several years, the Sheraton handled the comparatively small Days of the Dead in a manner that was shockingly inept.

Like I said – I’ll get to all of that. For now, let’s start at the beginning.
We had planned on going to the pre-party at The Earl, but it didn’t happen for a lot of reasons. We had to get Lil’ Troublemaker off to school the next morning, I hadn’t packed or finished my costume, we would have to drive downtown and spend money and drive back home, and I just plain didn’t feel like it. Plus, it was the last few hours I would get to spend with my son before we left for the weekend. Unpreparedness aside, I’m fine with the fact that we missed Thursday night. And so is Ari Lehman – we talked to him on Friday and he gave me a pass.

The costume was fun to make. I say this because the last time I made an actual costume it was months of torture. This time all I had to do was alter a mask and age some coveralls.

The mask was one I had bought on clearance from Party City years ago. I think I paid five bucks for it, if that. It was a full head mask that looked like a bunch of faces sewn together. It was a really fantastic piece for something store-bought, which is why I held onto it for so many years. I just never wore it for anything because it was so hot. The thing extended all the way down my neck and was just not pleasant to wear. I am not claustrophobic but that thing was stifling. I say that as somebody who routinely wears tight-fitting wrestling masks for hours at a time.

So anyway, I cut out around the shapes on the front portion of the mask to make something akin to what Kane wears (sorry I didn’t get a picture of the whole thing, I didn’t think about it until just now):
Now, that looks pretty creepy, but I had more in mind. I had a very specific vision in my head for what Phantom Murdermaker was going to look like. After all, I have a certain luchadork look to maintain. So after a little paint and some stitching I ended up with something that looked exactly like what I had pictured in my mind:
This does not ever happen for me. I can’t even tell you how satisfying it was to strap this thing on for the first time and see what it looked like. More often than not when I visualize something – whether it’s a drawing or a costume or a video or whatever – it simply doesn’t work out. Whether it’s beyond my skills or my willingness to invest; things either don’t match up with my vision or just don’t get done. This did. It was perfect.

Mrs. Troublemaker gets credit for the straps and the alligator clips. We were in Home Depot trying to figure out how to strap this thing to my noggin and she saw those black rubber straps. She also suggested suspender clips, which made me think of alligator clips and how creepy that might look. The stitching was the last thing. The original mask had lines that suggested the pieces of flesh were sewn together, but no actual stitching. I had to fix that. I wasn’t sure exactly what to use, but I came across something called “cord” in an arts and crafts place and it was perfect – very similar in appearance to what they use to stitch up wounds.

The coveralls came from Sears and were almost exactly what I wanted. I did my best to make them look worn with sandpaper and my trusty Dremel. I wish I had the time to do more, but at least they didn’t look brand new. I also sent out a call to my wrestler buddies on Facebook asking about athletic tape. I wasn’t about to shave my arms but also didn’t particularly want to have the hair ripped out. The tape served two purposes – first it added to the monster/slasher/wrestler vibe I was going for and second it would cover my tattoos, which I felt undermined the scariness of the costume. I got lots of suggestions, but ended up using regular athletic tape. I did one layer with the sticky side facing out, then went back down and covered it with another layer facing the other way. It worked perfectly and gave my wrists the support they needed to strangle bitches:
After I got my costume together I packed while watching The IT Crowd. This took a long time because I hadn’t given a single thought to what I was wearing other than my costume and also because The IT Crowd is very funny and I kept stopping to watch it. But I did eventually finish and when I laid down I fell asleep almost immediately.

Come back tomorrow for part two - The Moon Shines Like BLOOD!



  1. The general consensus on the con is making me feel a little better I couldn't make it.