Archive for June, 2011

Ugh. Must remember not to watch reality TV.

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

I got home last night from a rather grueling week of work and I flipped on the TV just to cool and down and relax and possibly fall asleep. There was nothing, and I mean NOTHING worth watching, so I didn’t bother to change the channel from what I had been watching the night before (TLC). Here’s the problem: Toddlers and Tiaras was on. You could actually hear the “shlupth” of me getting sucked in against my will. I kept saying things like, “Okay, seriously, next commercial break, I’m changing the channel.” But I didn’t. And so I got to see a few things I didn’t want to see. And one thing I did. The episode I was watching was a Halloween pageant, so the little girls got to dress up in costumes. One was a bride, one was Little Bo Peep, etc. But there was one who was…different, and when they lined up on the stage, you could clearly see which kid that was.

I think of two things when I look at her: One, the Bee Girl from that Blind Melon video, and the girl from Little Miss Sunshine. I really wanted her to break into either “No Rain” or “Superfreak”, but if she did do either of those things, we didn’t get to see it.

I did, however get to see the worst thing ever in the history of the world. It actually caught me off-guard and I jerked back and said, “Whoa” to the invisible people who watch TV with me in my apartment. I tried to capture it with an animated gif, but I don’t think I did it justice. It’s a girl, about four years old, dressed as a kitty-kat. I think her mom told her to pantomime licking her paw or something, but that is not what it looked like. THAT’S NOT WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE. Even thinking about it, I gotta go wash my hands.

As an added bonus, here’s a video of Eden, one of the most famous pageant-circuit girls. I can’t stop laughing every time I watch this.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/theuniblogger/disturbing-toddler-beauty-queen-slowed-down-to-a-bhd

I made another lariat! They’re like cocaine, they are.

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

So remember how after I made the last lariat, I said I wasn’t going to make another one? Apparently I was lying, because here’s another one! This one is quite a bit different. It’s simpler and it only has one tail. But don’t get me wrong, it still took forever and a day to make. I took pictures of it on my desk at work.

And here’s what the dangly end looks like when it’s hanging.

My mom likes it so much she commissioned one, so it looks like I’ll be making another one. Eh, it’s a good thing. Keeps me occupied, keeps me off the streets.

Torchwood and Winter’s Bone.

Monday, June 20th, 2011

How is it that there is nothing good on TV, like, ever anymore? House is tragically sinking into the mire like a baby mammoth in a tar pit; Castle, while starring the charming Nathan Fillion (browncoats forever!), has some of the hokiest writing this side of the galaxy; Law and Order SVU has totally jumped the shark and is completely cringe-worthy and unwatchable, and I am just not diggin’ Modern Family – everyone is a bit whiny. If it wasn’t for Tosh.0, Mad Men, Community, 30 Rock and Nurse Jackie I would have nothing to watch. So I have now turned to Netflix for all my TV needs. Did you know they have TV shows in their entirety on there? Very exciting. I decided to watch a show called Torchwood. I read on a blog that I like that Torchwood is a snazzy show, and indeed, the first two seasons were pretty good. It’s a spin-off of Dr. Who (which I totally need to get to watchin’) and it reminds me of The X Files, if The X Files were set in Cardiff, Wales. Here’s some interesting info on Torchwood: It’s a UK show, so the rules are different. And we here in the U.S. have a lot to learn. For example, everybody’s pretty bisexual. Seriously. It’s a cast of about five people, and all of them have made out with each other and everyone else in Cardiff. And no one cares. I would like to believe that homosexual behavior is regarded as normal there, that no one looks at it funny and the show is reflecting their society. That would be terrific. Also, sometimes people use the F word and the S word. They don’t bandy it about willy-nilly, but occasionally one pops up in a heated scene. And no one bursts into flame. You hear me, FCC? The earth continues to rotate. Stop being so puritanical.

Next I intend to watch Battlestar Galactica (also based on a recommendation). If anyone has any other TV shows, preferably on the instant queue of Netflix, for me to watch, I would love to hear it.

I saw the Oscar-nominated film Winter’s Bone last week. I used to try to see all the Oscar films that are nominated for Best Picture the week before the Oscars took place so I would be able to make intelligent choices as I yell at the television, but I don’t now for two reasons: one, there are ten of them now, and that’s too much film-watching for me, and two, apparently one of the qualifications for being a Best Picture nominee is being a soul-crushingly, depressingly sad film. Like chug-a-fifth-of-gin-to-forget depressing. So I space them out over a large period of time to soften the pain. Winter’s Bone was anywhere near as sad as, say, The Reader or Slumdog Millionaire, but it sure wasn’t happy. It’s about life in the Meth Belt. (Remember the Bread Belt? We now have a Meth Belt. Progress!) Quick plot summary: poor white teen girl supporting her whole family goes looking for her missing father all over the Ozarks, meeting many grim-faced white people along the way. There are no leaves on the trees. There are no plants in the ground. There are no pleasantries exchanged. No one smiles, ever. It’s a chipper film. That being said, I liked it. I was interested the whole time. It’s so incredibly foreign to me, the way they live and co-exist, it was like watching a foreign film in English. I recommend it, but don’t watch it waiting for explosions or nothing. It’s a quiet film.

Scales and feathers and sparkles, oh my.

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

I don’t normally talk about fashion here because, frankly, I don’t normally care. I think 98% of fashion is boring. Oh, are dumb-looking scarves in this season? Great. That’s swell. I will continue to wear the same things I do every single day that I’ve worn for the last fifteen years (black stretchy pants, black t-shirt, black trouser socks, black shoes). But I happened to see an article on Emma Watson who is being featured in Vogue this month. I think she’s a classy broad so I clicked the link and lo and behold! Fashion awesomeness! Check it out.

In the first picture, she’s wearing pantyhose encrusted with rhinestones and other whatnot. While that would be unpleasant (I like to cross my legs and the rhinestones would be all kinds of digging into my leg meat) it looks fabu. And in the second picture – oh, I can’t even describe my glee. Plastic fish scales over a ombre-dyed base fabric, the scales being held in place with little rivet-things, and then a feathered collar to top it off? WANT. Which gets us to the point of why I wear the most mundane-looking clothing imaginable. In high school, I used to care a great deal about fashion. I pored over magazines trying to copy the looks I liked. Unfortunately for everyone around me, the looks I liked were never tasteful pantsuits or sweaters. They were always the plastic-fishscales-rhinestone-pantyhose variety of garb. So I would trundle off to high school wearing the most inane garments and wonder why people would make fun of me. At some point I realized two things: one, no one was ever going to take me seriously if I kept dressing in this way, and two: you have to be very thin and very tall to pull off a great many of the looks I was emulating, and I am neither. So I decided to simplify things I would just pare my clothing down to the easiest things I could think of and focus my attentions elsewhere. I won’t lie though: sometimes I miss dressing like an extra in Cirque du Soleil.

Birds of Prey Day.

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

For weeks now I’ve been looking forward to going to Birds of Prey Day in Brewster, NY. It’s on a farm and the poster said there would be 100 birds of prey there! You know what that means: OWLS. I was so excited I didn’t know what to do with myself. Cricket and I drove up to Brewster (a 45-minute drive) and OMG I’M GONNA SEE A MILLION OWLS!!

Okay, so it was a bit of a letdown. There were indeed about 100 birds of prey, but they were mostly eagles and hawks and falcons. In fact, this was predominantly run by a falconer’s association, so people were walking around with scary killer birds on their arms like it was no big deal. There was this bird:

And this one:

And this and this and this and also this:

And this adorable baby goshawk who was soft and warm and precious:

And they’re beautiful, but I really dig owls. Owls are my bag, man. What I learned there is owls are not for having. If you’re a member of the falconer’s association (which I could never be because I live in an apartment and you need to have a falconer’s outdoor area which must be approved by the association) you can slowly (over seven years) work up the falconry ladder getting to bigger and more dangerous birds, but at no point can you have an owl. You cannot buy an owl. You cannot acquire an owl. There are no owls to be had. I was very forlorn. It seems my dream of owl ownership is slowly fading away.

But not all was lost! There was a wildlife rehabilitation group there and they had some owls! Granted, they didn’t have the ones I really wanted to see (Eastern Screech or Saw-Whet) but they had this lovely one that was trying to catch a bit of a snooze, I think it’s a Barred Owl:

And a grumpy-pants horned one who gave me some serious stink-eye.

I love how because their eyes work independently in a lot of ways (pupils dilate and contract, eyelids blink) it looks like there are two separate expressions on their faces.

The best owl experience of the day was a with a wee tiny fellow. He was a short-eared owl, and he was a seething tiny puffball of rage in a wooden holding thing. I asked the nice rehabilitator man if he could pull out the little guy for me so I could get a shot of him and he said, “No, and I’ll tell you why. That bird is new, he’s wild and he’s feisty. But I’ll take a picture of him if you’d like.” I handed him my camera, and the man walked up slowly to the box, snapped a photo as quickly as he could and pulled his hand out of there. I found it great that this large, six-foot-one man was wary of this itty-bitty tiny smootchie demon-beast. Here’s the photo.

Evil Death-Bird…of DEATH! And Cuteness! But mainly DEATH!

There was also a wolf at the Birds of Prey Day, and that was kind of exciting. The wolf handlers were really nervous about having the wolf be around so many kids, but I was psyched. “Wha…? There might be a mauling? I don’t want to miss that! Lemme get my funnel cake and I’ll be right there!” However, this was the most mellow wild animal I have ever seen in my life.

The wolf handler asked the audience if anyone had a really fragrant perfume or lotion and someone did, so she poured it on the ground, and the wolf rolled around in it. He does that to mask his scent from his prey. So now, before his prey is taken down, it will be wondering why the forest smells like Bath and Body Works.

Sparkly wire crown for meeee!

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

With all the British monarchy in the news lately, I’d been seeing a great deal of crowns and tiaras. When I was a wee tot I wanted the sparkliest, gaudiest crown ever, something like this:

Luckily, as I have gotten older, my tastes have become more refined. And over time, I forgot about my childhood lust for royal headwear. But then the Royal Wedding happened, and the fire in my belly was ignited again. I don’t work in metal so I couldn’t weld anything, so I decided to go with wirework. I bought a bunch of wirework magazines and books and looked through them for ideas. I decided I didn’t want the wire to be gold or silver, but a darker, more muted bronze-brown color. It made the objects near it really pop out. And then I went with clear AB crystals, both in bicone and round. Normally I avoid AB crystals. AB is short for Aurora Borealis, which is this rainbow coating on one half of the crystal bead. I was going to go with plain clear crystal, but the ABs had a bit more life to them. Once I had all the ingredients, I hunkered down and started to work. And pretty much immediately there was a big pile of failure. Working with wire is HARD. It’s squishy and soft, or it’s hard and difficult to bend, and it has a tiny bit of elasticity, so it is damn near impossible to make everything match perfectly (which is how I wanted it). However, after accumulating a pile of spent wire, I finally kind of got the hang of it, and this past weekend, I finished the crown. I must say, it turned out really well. Here’s a picture of it on my dining room table only lit by sunshine from my window.

And here it is lit at night lit by my dining room lights.

And the best part about it is that it has dangles, so it sparkles with almost no motion. Here’s an animated gif to give you an idea.

I couldn’t, for the life of me, get a picture showing the sheer twinklitude of this piece, but take my word for it, it is Twinkle City. Oh yeah.

More artists I be diggin’.

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Yapyap is a new artist for me. I only recently discovered her and she is delightful.

I think she’s Scandinavian and I really feel her Scandinavian-ness because her work reminds me of the Moomin books. Did anyone read the Moomin books as a child? They’re a series of books by Tove Jansson, a Finish/Swedish author, and they’re about a forest creature called a Moomin, the various adventures it has and the creatures it meets along the way. I just read the Wikipedia entry on the Moomin books and this line make me smile:

Some of Jansson’s characters are on the verge of melancholy, such as the always formal Hemulen, or the strange Hattifatteners who travel in concerted, ominous groups. Jansson uses the differences between the characters’ philosophies to provide a venue for her satirical impulses. The novelist Alison Lurie has described the Groke, a black, hill-shaped creation with glowing eyes, as a walking manifestation of Nordic gloominess – everyone she touches dies, and the ground freezes everywhere she sits.

I’m officially changing my name to A Walking Manifestation of Baltic Gloominess*. Then, when people complain that I’m negative and crotchety (which I am most of the time), I can whip out a business card and point to my name, like, “See?” But I digress. I think Yapyap has done a great job of combining hand-painted elements with computer-generated elements. It’s kind of hard to get them to meld smoothly. Also, I love her color choices – some really bright, some really muted. Yapyap’s work is charming and I want her to make a video game, like Little Big Planet, but with her characters. I think that would be super-swell.

The other artist I wanted to touch on is Motoi Yamamoto. Ever since his sister died, he’s been working in salt. He makes complicated patterns on the floor with salt. His patience and thoroughness is so impressive.

Apparently Motoi is very connected with the earth, so when his shows are over he sweeps up all the salt and returns it to the sea. All I can think about when I watch him work is how quickly my legs would fall asleep, sitting indian-style on the floor for a million hours with a squeezie-bottle of salt. Ungh. I’m getting stiff just thinking about it. That kind of dedication to one’s craft is commendable. And I love that he deviated from the labyrinth style to do the cherry blossom piece. It’s neat to see him explore new and different terrain within his chosen style.

*I have to make it Baltic not Nordic because my people are originally from Latvia, Lithuania and the Ukraine, but it’s very cold and dark there too so I think the gloom is transferable.