Hopeful Not Mournful

Found out a cool young lady I started my training class at my current job with died this past weekend in a car wreck. She was young, full of life, and always happy to see everyone… and now she’s gone. Damn. Kinda depressed about it.

Some people know I dress up as the Grim Reaper for conventions, videos, and other stuff. I’ve always portrayed the Angel of Death as a being resolved to his fate and taking pride in his work. He isn’t evil, just the embodiment of a fear all mortals have of a natural, normal process. Like myself, he celebrates life in spite of it coming to an end, and I prefer to think of that as hopeful rather than mournful.

My friend, to me, was the kind of person everyone talks about being but rarely ever is, genuinely happy to see you and genuinely interested in your well being, happy for no reason and every reason. I’m keeping that as a way to remember her for when she was here, not only for myself but for anyone I happen upon; it’s the least I can do.

Goodbye, April.

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The Reaper Rants Return!

Back a few years ago, I changed over the “horror host” for my movie review website, MovieCrypt.com, from the static “Crystal Lich” (a disembodied crystal skull with an attitude) to “Grim D. Reaper” (a gleeful Angel of Death that reviews movies when he’s not reaping souls). The response was wonderful, and even outside of his film critique venue, Grim’s popularity is obvious.

One of the big changes from the Lich to the Reaper was for making videos. These started out on the simplest of tools, Windows Movie Maker. I shot film, taught myself editing, learned how to improve the sound, and so forth. One thing that never made me happy was the limited space I had to create an actual lair for the character, something I’ve now fully realized at my home in Texas.

At-home tools for both capturing sound/video and editing it on a home computer have improved drastically, so I have put my new “Reaper Rants” video series into production and set up a YouTube channel for it. The micro-set was designed and lighted (thanks to my theater experience) to make it very easy to quickly shoot the baseline footage I need, and my custom-built editing suite (fortified with Sony Vegas editing software tools) enables me to assemble and polish videos on a whim.

Check out my YouTube channel and subscribe or follow MovieCrypt.com to catch all of the Reaper’s latest videos. With Halloween coming up very soon, who knows what mischief the Angel of Death is going to get into.

Just About the Scythe of It

Con season is upon us, and Grim D. Reaper is getting ready to make his rounds. I’ve been working on a few cosmetic upgrades this year, mostly in terms of paint and improvements to allow the costume to be worn better for longer periods of time. People ask to have their picture taken with Grim D. all the time, and I’d like those close-up shots to look as good as they can.

Believe it or not, there are hundreds of decisions that have gone into my Reaper cosplay outfit, from little things (did you know there are white Velcro strips on the top of the skull mask that pair up to black Velcro inside the hood so that the cowl moves with my head turns and keeps it in the right position without risk of falling off?) to big things (a fully collapsible scythe so that it slips easily into a gym bag). The scythe in particular has been an ongoing project to improve its look.

I wanted a more realistic look for the blade (since that’s where people’s eyes are drawn to when looking at the Reaper’s signature “farm tool of choice”) and initially painted it a metallic silver. It didn’t have the effect I wanted; it looked like poorly painted wood. I also wanted to reinforce the tang and ring assemble (the part that holds the blade onto the snath/staff) because the blade would bob a bit (making it look very fake), and I came up with a simple, light-weight way to do that. Over all, it looks very heavy (it isn’t) and very rigid. There is no actual blade edge, but you can’t tell from looking at it straight on; the illusion is complete.

The added bonus was filling the holes that I had to drill (to mount the assembly onto the blade) with bolts that reinforced the hold onto the snath but also made the entire blade look more realistic. Finally, I gave the entire rebuilt blade a few coats of coppery fleck paint to give it an oxidized look, and the finished product (mounted on the collapsible snath) is the product you see here. I think it turned out pretty good!