Kitchen progress! (Season 4, Episode 12,000)

September 21st, 2018

Good stuff. I’ve repainted the entire countertop and now I’m ever-so-carefully painting around each and every freakin’ rock on the backsplash edge. I would like all the awards when I finish this. I want an EGOT for this.

ALL THE AWARDS. GIVE IT HERE.

Everything’s the WORST.

September 12th, 2018

I watch a ton of Cartoon Network and Disney XD because those are excellent shows to have on in the background while you’re working on your laptop. They’re bright and fun and the plot’s not critical, they make great filler. Along with cartoons come commercials aimed at children, so a great many toy ads. Changing topics slightly: I understand the need for excrement in one’s life as a necessity but I cannot for the life of me understand the joy people find in turds – the poop emoji being a prime example. For some reason it really bothers me. Enter some of the toys I’ve seen commercials for recently, a.k.a. these atrocities that haunt my nightmares.

Flushin’ Frenzy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEtM1gwCkP8

Don’t Step In It:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjztIsqVI2Q

Doggie Doo:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPQrTKoP8Zo

Poopeez:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6aUvDsTMRU

I can’t. I seriously can’t. I’m going to go back to watching women-killing-their-husbands reenactment shows where the commercials are mainly for Life Alert and debt consolidation. It’s too much.

New York musings.

September 11th, 2018

1. This past summer when The Moomins took me to all those concerts in Lincoln Center I noticed there were seats behind the orchestra for when there’s giant choirs. They were black chairs with with metal armrests which was fine when the lights were up.

However when the lights went down and the tips of the armrests caught the light they looked like creepy animal eyes peering out of the forest. I didn’t take a picture during the performance because I’m not a HEATHEN GARBAGE PERSON LIKE THE GUY IN FRONT OF ME DICKIN’ AROUND ON HIS CELLPHONE so I photoshopped exactly what it looked like. It certainly made the concert spookier which I consider a bonus.

 

2. I passed a pawn shop on 8th Avenue and the window was filled with the usual… and a giant tomato. I decided it was because the owner wanted the tomato to ripen or something, but it really drew your attention away from the merchandise.

 

3. I saw a really nice mashup of modern and retro. I was walking past a coffee shop and I saw what looked like one of the oldey-timey Edison bulbs, but the filaments were replaced by three rows of discs where the edges of the discs had wee yellow LEDs. It looked really cool. I highly recommend using it if you’re thinking about eclectic but environmentally conscious lighting.

I found a pic online. It’s called the Edison LED Fireworks bulb.

 

4. I don’t normally care much about fashion but Cole Haan has come out with sandals that look like lobsters. Not only are they lobsters, but they’re ombre lobsters.

I support this fashion movement and I hope that the spring fashion season is awash in color-blend sea creatures. See my previous three posts to understand my love of ocean beasties (it’s intense).

 

5. Closing with another weird store window: There is a sweet perma-Christmas store down the street from my job and they sell all kinds of charming trinkets as well as old hotel keys with the tags on them (I do love an old hotel logo). But in there window right now, monopolizing the whole left front section is a intentionally dirty handmade doll of the Statue of Liberty. I believe they were going for whimsical but it looks straight-up haunted. Haunted and stinky.

I can make you a badly sewn doll and then drag it behind me on a string through the streets of NY on a rainy day if that’s what you’re looking for in home decor. I don’t like to call people out for how they dress their homes but unless you’re running a Halloween Horror House and need to make a children’s room extra creeptacular I would say skip this one. You’re just asking for problems (and by problems I mean ghosts).

Cricket went scuba-diving! We’re gonna look at some dope fish, part 3.

August 31st, 2018

Wrapping up the magical ocean photos. Here we go!

A sweet spotted eel. Not scary like the moray demons with their extra set of throat-teeth.

And some moray eels. Creepy finger-biting-off creepers from Creepytown.

Mouthful of eggs. As someone who swallows regularly I would find this concerning as hell, but I guess you do what you have to do.

Puffer fish!

Another puffer fish!

Puffers and friends!

Get ready for a very pretty creature with an equally awesome name straight out of Harry Potter. Meet the Bristled Fire Worm.

Please enjoy… Lil Critter. We could not figure out what this little fella was. He has claws and eyes and antennae and that’s about all we could figure out.

Flounders! Did you know when they are born their eyes are on either side of their head but when the flounder picks a permanent side to lay on the eye underneath migrates to the top? NATURE! It’s real weird!

Glowing Fish. Cricket said he looked like he was lit from within.

Lobsters that are notoriously protective of their hidey-holes. They get very grumples when you get close. They will charge you.

Very important: Cricket went for a night dive (because I guess diving 80 feet below the surface during the day wasn’t terrifying enough) and saw a lobster out of its burrow trekking across the ocean floor which is a rare thing to see.

Dead piece of lobster face.

Okay. Now we begin with the shots that made me smack Cricket in the arm and say, “YOU SAW THAT??? FOR REALSIES??? My envy consumes me.” First, the nudibranch (pronounced “noo dih brank”). I’ve had strong feelings about nudibranches for many years, but I assumed I’d never see one in real life. They are sea slugs that come in a ton of varieties. Sometimes they have tufty protuberances on their backs, they’re the best. Here’s a collection of random shots I found on the internet. Type “nudibranch” into Google, click on images and fall deeply into the exquisite world of color and texture.

  

I know, right? Amazing. So when Cricket showed me a few different pictures and said, “I dunno what that is” I screamed, “YOU SAW A NUDIBRANCH IN REAL LIFE IN FRONT OF YOU.”

Shortly after the magic of the nudibranch, Cricket showed me a picture of, as he called it, “A shrimp in his hole.” Uhhhhh, that’s not a regular shrimp. That’s a MANTIS SHRIMP, THE KING OF SHRIMPS. They can see all the colors. They punch their prey at the speed of lightning, boiling the water around them. The Oatmeal did a whole long strip on the glory of the Mantis Shrimp. And Cricket saw one. I don’t know how to process this.

Finally, the group of squids. These were teens and they were travelling in a group that looked exactly like a group of battleships in a scifi movie. I christened them “The Squidron.” I would love someday to see a squidron in person. So marvelous. I would mess up all the squids trying to hug them.

A close-up of one squid’s chromatophores.

And that’s it. Pretty amazing stuff. Hope you screamed with glee as much as I did.

 

Cricket went scuba-diving! We’re gonna look at some dope fish, part 2.

August 24th, 2018

More fish! Excellent, magical fish. Get ready.

But first, anemonemones! Memonemones! Mnemonoes! Mahnahmahnah (doodoodoodoodoo)!

My favorite are the ones that look like little hands.

Big ornery crab.

Two very beautiful fish that resisted classification due to my ignorance of oceanography and whatnot.

A not-great picture of a boxfish but look at those patterns! Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about hexagons (I’m pro).

And a far better picture of a boxfish but without any hexagons (boo).

Trumpet fish. I think they should be called Flute fish because they do not flare out at the end but I wasn’t there when they were naming the fishes so I lost my vote.

Nurse shark. Nurse shark. Nurse shark. Shark skin. I like nurse sharks because they do not have those gross eyes that pull in to the socket when they bite. Ugh, those give me nightmares.

 

Cricket was attacked by a protective fish. “Attacked” is a strong word. He tried to bite Cricket with his little moopers again and again but sadly, due to the fact the Cricket is a thousand times bigger that AggroFish and wearing a wetsuit, the bites did not have the desired effect. However, Cricket appreciated the little guy’s tenacity.

Conches! It is pronounced “konk.” I’ve being saying it wrong for the majority of my life. They are similar to snails. Here are the trails they leave when they trot around on the sea floor.

The best part of the conch is their eyes. They peer out from under their shells with concern and anxiety and I always enjoy seeing them.

Brace yourself for some supreme cuteness. Wee bebbeh boxfish. He was extremely wee so Cricket couldn’t get a good focus on him. First, an example pic so you know what you’re looking at.

I know. Epic cuteness. Now Cricket’s photos. So precious. My heart hurts looking at it. I love you, tiny fren!

That’s it for now. Next entry: the final pics. Get ready to shriek with excitement (I did).

Cricket went scuba-diving! We’re gonna look at some dope fish, part 1.

August 18th, 2018

Cricket loves to go scuba diving and he bought a special camera to his last few diving trips. I do love a good deep-sea friend and every time Cricket goes diving I ask him to wave and say hello to the fishies, which he says he does (there’s no way for me to really check up on that, I have to take his word). When he returns he asks me to remove some of the blue from his photos. There’s only so much I can do but on many of his photos I clean out a lot of the blue tint. Here is an example.

This photo collection is from several trips so I’m going to break it up into several entries, because many things to share. Let’s dive in, shall we? (I’m so sorry.)

Here is a random assortment of some of the stunners Cricket has come across. The ocean has some truly magnificent treasures.

      

Look how many fish!

I know animals do not have the same emotions as us and it is ridiculous for us to force our human qualities on them but I do it anyway. Shoot me, I like to anthropomorphize. Anyway, I call these “concerned fish.”

A ray. Look at his pretty pretty pattern. He has dots and then his dots have dots.

I do not know the name of this guy, so I christened him The Toadfish. I like his angry expression and stripery.

Skinny crab! It’s real skinny and it has glowy-glowy claws.

Here is another skinny crab but the reason I included this is because of the pignose anemone/coral/whatever in the background.

I call this The Ooog. I have no idea what this is. I’m not positive I want to know.

Cricket sees turtles fairly frequently and what’s cool is he gets to watch them eating coral. You know that’s how sand is made, right? Part of it is crushed seashells and part of it is munched-on coral that turtles have eaten.

I feel like the fish off to the side is like, “Sooo, eating coral again? Going well? Good talk, good talk.”

Here’s a super teeny tiny crab.

And here’s a super teeny tiny seahorse.

Here’s a closeup of the seahorse because it is so teeny tiny it’s hard to see.

Stonefish! A decomposing heap of ocean debris masquerading as a fish and if you step on it it can kill you!

A barracuda.

A blenny in its home-hole.

A blenny with great eyebrows. I have named him Martin Scorsese and if you don’t know why look Mr. Scorsese up on Google and take in those glorious furry forehead caterpillars.

No idea what this is. Any information would be most appreciated.

Cricket sees many hermit crabs on his journeys. Here is a sweet little guy on a pile of some kind of beautiful organic netting, possibly seaweed.

Here’s an extremely small guy. Cricket said it was the size of the pad on your pinkie finger.

This crab had eyelids!

 

This crab has eyelashes!

 

Shrimps bein’ shrimps. Some with glowy-glowy claws like the skinny crabs.

A grouper at a cleaning station. The big fish pull into the station and little fish go into their mouths and pick the goonk and bacteria out.

And I leave you at this time with a large grab in a lovely multicolored setting. Super photogenic.

A light smattering of internet. Mostly nature-related.

August 10th, 2018

1. A VERY important article about the our friend the boxfish.

http://anklecrack.tumblr.com/post/174496481893/its-hip-to-be-square

 

2. I don’t know what ballet this is from but I REALLY need to see it. If anyone knows, please tell me so I can buy tickets asap thnx.

http://10knotes.1000notes.com/post/80231584492

 

3. Look at the beautiful pattern of weathering on this chainlink fence.

It reminds me of the graffiti artist El Mac and the circular patterns found in his work.

 

4. I love that the artist Alexis Pavlantos is making dung beetles with felted dung balls as jewelry. I went to the site and no items related to the dung beetle is being sold which is a bummer, but it’s still cool as hell. Maybe Pavlantos will bring back the poop-pushing jewelry line. Let’s hope.

 

5. The Audubon website recently had an article on the gorgets of hummingbirds. The gorget is the bib area and it is often really bright and metallic. This particular photo blew me away. I never realized that each of those little peaks and valleys is one feather, not the whole curved scale section. Those feathers are teeny-tiny.

 

6. Trees no want to make touch.

It’s so cool and no one has a concrete answer on why trees do it. Wikipedia has some theories.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_shyness

 

7. Uhhhhhh, I don’t know what kind of filter or video-editing program this is but I kind of want to edit everything to be like this. That is trippy as hell.

http://photoelectron.tumblr.com/post/133267929461/walking-down-a-trail-in-charlottesville-a-few

The Handmaid’s Tale (Spoiler: it’s not a bedtime story. Don’t read it to your kids.)

August 2nd, 2018

Since it was my birthday last week and I am officially enmeshed in my forties I have decided to complain about the weather. Is it getting muggier or is my tolerance for The Mugg getting lower? Let me tell you what walking to and from work in NYC was like recently: You know when you went to the water park and you wore normal clothes, not a bathing suit, and you got on the water floom thing and then for the rest of the day your damp underwear tried to crawl into your butt? That’s what it was like, but all over. And the smells! So vibrant! So rich! At one point I thought everyone in Manhattan had thrown up in unison because that’s what it smelled like. I long for eternal autumn.

Okay, now that’s done, The Handmaid’s Tale. Whooooo. Not a fun show. Beautiful and evocative and pertinent, but not fun. I was concerned about Season 2 because the book that the series is based on ends with Season 1 so Season 2 is not based on anything. It could have gone horribly wrong. It did not. I mean, it did (it’s about a dystopian society where most people are infertile and the earth is poisoned) but in all the right ways. One of the things I love about the show is how the director and cinematographer pulled from Flemish and Dutch art of the 1600s, predominantly Vermeer. I studied that period of art so I saw the references right quick. I was delighted. Here are shots from the show:

Here are some paintings by Vermeer:

And here are some additional paintings from the same time period as Vermeer:

 

Blatant ripoff that I 100% support.

ADDENDUM: What makes this show so good is there’s a distinct lead character. However, there are a variety of secondary characters that I would like to learn more about. If they killed off the lead and then followed one of the other people I would be okay with that because the showrunners have set up a richness that can be plumbed in many directions. I vote they go Game of Thrones, kill of the lead (sorry Elizabeth Moss, you’re awesome) and then tell someone else’s story.

What I’ve been up to. (Normally, no good. This time, actually good).

July 29th, 2018

I would love to say I’ve been busy with cool, rock-star-esque activities but let’s be real here: I went to some classical music concerts with The Moomins and I am teaching myself After Effects. I was never, no will I ever be, hip or cool in any manner.

First, the concerts. The Moomins bought tickets for a bunch of performances at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall (it’s been renamed David Geffen Hall but I ain’t havin’ any of that ish; David Geffen is the juice, Avery Fisher is the sauce) and she always gets two in case my dad wants to go with. He did not want to go with so I was drafted into the Going to the Concert Army for the day. This particular night was a Baroque chamber orchestra doing Bach and Handel, specifically Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto and Handel’s Water Music. You know both these pieces. The Brandenburg Concerto is used in a lot of high-end product commercials. Play it and think of a Lexus commercial. There ya go. Handel’s Water Music you know from, I don’t know, weddings and graduations or maybe other high-end product commercials. Music from the Baroque period seems ideal for shilling overly expensive objects to the bourgeoisie. Anyway, the concert was good and the harpsichord they brought in was good but they had the dumbest-looking lute I’ve ever seen in my life. Baroque lutes normally look like if a banjo and a guitar went to a steampunk convention.

Fine. Weird stuff happening near the twisty knobs, but okay. The guy comes out on stage with a ginormous lute where the frets end at a reasonable spot but then the neck continues on for, I kid you not, another four feet. It was taller than the guy. How much better is the sound that you have to lug an impossibly large instrument around with you when you could have a… not impossibly large version? That seems like self-imposed suffering. The lute looked like this:

Jessica: Ask Her About Her Strong Feelings Regarding Baroque Lutes.

Now on to topic #2: Learning After Effects. I’ve been making a real effort to learn this program because I’ve been doing presentations for over ten years and I’d like a bit of change. Animation is super-interesting to me so I made a bunch of stuff to update my portfolio AND teach myself this program. Let me take you on a journey.

When my company won Walmart as a client a few years back they decided to use The Spark in their campaigns, the yellow thing next to the name. So they figured out how to use it and break it up and incorporate it in things so if you’re paying attention you can pick it out.

And then this past December my company designed a sign that said “Rock This Christmas” with a snowman playing guitar, a penguin playing a saxophone and various other Christmas and/or music-related imagery.

So, armed with that knowledge, I designed two Walmart signs – one for Halloween because have you met me and one for summer to show that I have range and I am not a goth nightmare. For the Halloween one I made all different types of costumes using a variety of ethnicities and genders and if you look closely you’ll note I incorporated some Spark in each and every child. <3

Also please note that I made a little representative image on each treat bag that corresponds with the costume. The werewolf has the moon! The witch has a cauldron! The pirate has a parrot! The clown has a (not red) balloon! The mummy has an ankh! (I struggled with that one.) Then I assembled a variety of these kids on a composite similar to the Rock This Christmas one above. I got to put in candy corn and other candies and spiderwebs and an owl.

After I finished and it was to my liking I replicated the composite and started building a summer-themed version. I was psyched about this one too. I got to make cactii and popsicles and hell yeah I put in crabs because who’s gonna stop me. Also note the frequent use of Spark bits.

I know. I am very pleased with myself. So in order to give myself a challenge I decided to animate the “Fun in the Sun” image using After Effects. I would say I’m about halfway there.

I’ve done the blue background, brown base elements, words, waves, cactii, crabs, sunglasses, orange slice and pinwheel. I still have to do popsicles, beach balls, flip flops, shorts, the corner bits and fireworks. I’m getting there. I’ll keep you posted.

Cape May, NJ.

July 16th, 2018

Cricket’s family goes to Cape May, NJ every year and even though I’ve been with him for a decade and a half I’ve never accompanied him on this annual journey to reunite the soul with the sea, birthplace of all living things.

I decided to go this year and I have to say, I had an extremely pleasant time. I mean, I was outside a lot where the sun is located and I don’t care for that at all, but aside from that it was really nice. The best thing about Cape May is all the Victorian houses. So many painted ladies with porches and pretty landscaping. I took photos.

And here are more pictures I found on the internet taken by other people.

 

At night (when the sun was not out and I didn’t feel like Helios was trying to tandoori my skin off my flesh) I would walk around the streets and feel feelings about the architectural details and the occasional remaining stained glass window. The only time I felt unsafe was when I walked past one house and someone was playing a piano that sounded exactly like the piano from Westworld. Westworld takes modern songs and makes them sound like a tune you’d hear in a saloon in the Wild West. One the show you hear them right before something atrocious and violent happens so as soon as I heard it I was like, “Oh no, is everyone going to get shot? And disemboweled? Maybe a shot and disemboweled combo? Definitely booze bottles and knives will be thrown. I should take cover with the prostitutes.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mq364f4RGqE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNaaimFtMTg

Something that amused me nonstop was how they tried to make the street signs look Victorian but they just look vaguely goth as if 1990s Hot Topic designed them.

A+ for effort.

Our B&B where we stayed was designed in the typical 1870s-style with the doilies and the marble-topped pedestal tables, etc. Our room had a strip of decorative wallpaper with a repeating peacock motif that I thought was fine until I got up close and saw that the peacocks looked demonic and had angry skull faces and then I liked the wallpaper a lot more. The way to my heart is evil peacocks, unsurprisingly.

The majority of the two days I was there was spent at the beach splashing around in the water and trying to dislodge shell shards from my sandals. In the evening Cricket and I would go to the other beach about three miles away that faced in the opposite direction and watch the sun set.

This beach didn’t really have sand, it had awesome round smooth pebbles and horseshoe crabs mating like crazy. In case you don’t know what that looks like, a female horseshoe crab (which is the larger of the sexes because she is filled with thousands and thousands of eggs) climbs up on the beach and the male horseshoe crab glomps onto her tail so whenever she’s ready for love he’s there. She now has to drag him around the beach as she contemplates where she will make her nest. It looks like two mismatched frying pans moving slowly around in the shallows. Very romantic.

I also saw dolphins and a ray and a shark, it was a good weekend for seeing animals. I even enjoyed the seagulls. They were fancy, high-end seagulls with black heads and gray wings and elegant lines.

So since The Moomins likes the beach I am taking her back for her birthday at the end of August. We will eat ice cream and frolick in the waves (after 4:00 in the afternoon because the sun sucks).