Archive for the ‘Beastiesbeastiesbeasties’ Category

New York observations.

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

1. On my way to work every day I come out of a tunnel that goes from Grand Central Terminal to further up midtown. There is a fancy glass office building being built across the street from the exit and the windows have a neat white faded pattern that have a top and bottom. It’s subtle, but it’s noticeable. Which is why I’m wondering when the building owners are going to notice that one of the windows was installed upside down and how they plan to fix it.

2. Additionally on my walk to work: Has everyone seen Moana? There is a small blorp of asphalt that is mushed up the sidewalk for some reason or another and it always reminds me of the anthropomorphic wave in Moana.

3. Occasionally I take a cab to work if the weather is garbage or I’m carrying something heavy and last week it was sleeting so I cabbed it. No biggie. When I got into the cab the cab driver was on a conference chat with like three other people. Also not that unusual. What was unusual was the cabbie who, shortly after I got in, decided to hold a prayer meeting with the other people on the conference call and they all starting being infused with the Holy Spirit. I was not thrilled with that. I do not want a person who is control of a large metal vehicle that has me encased in it traipsing through city traffic shaking their head and speaking in tongues. That’s not what I look for in a driver. I tried to casually video some of it and I isolated the sound. I was holding the phone down by my side so the cabbie wouldn’t see so you may have to turn up your volume but trust me, it’s worth it.

speaking-in-tongues

(I knew it was Christian-based because at the end the cabbie said, “Mumblemumblemumble HOLEE SPEEREET mumblemumblemumble JEEZUS CHRYYYYST.” But for a while there I thought maybe they were going to conjure a djinn or something.)

4. I didn’t go and see the window displays this Christmas but I did walk past one window that made me quite happy. I think it was the giant H&M on Fifth Avenue. They had cool giant dandelions aaaaaaand a big ole hare made of yarn! I thought he was great.

I loved that the window designers went fully into textures and kept the color palette super-muted. There was a giant yarn fox and a giant yarn otter in the store but I’m a rabbit-lover to the core so the hare was all I needed. I vote that this be the window display for the rest of the year.

5. The Westminster Dog Show happened this week and I watched religiously and picked my favorites and none of them won, the usual. The thing that stood out this year was The Camera. Let me explain. Normally, the cameras are manned by humans and I never had a problem with that. This year The Powers That Be at Westminster decided that they didn’t want live bodies on the judging green, they wanted robot cameras. On the main area where cameras that looked like tank turrets merged with R2D2 and that was fine.

HOWEVER, during the Toy Group I noticed someone off to the side. I say someone because I could have sworn it was a person. Look in the upper right-hand corner of this screengrab.

Uhhhhhh, who the hell is that? I eventually figured out that it was a robot camera wrapped in purple cloth but I could have sworn it was a person. Tonight was the finals and they moved The Camera right into the main shot where I couldn’t stop staring at it.

Even worse The Camera followed the dog presenting so it appeared extra-sentient.

So while I was supposed to be saying things like, “I love that fluffy dog’s ears,” I was yelling things like, “Why is the freakin’ Grim Reaper helping the judge?!??”

I hope next year they leave the camera naked. I’d rather see the inner workings of Robot Cam and I would imagine everyone else would too instead of being reminded of their own inevitable demise during the Terrier Group.

What a wonderful day for an exorcism. Or charts.

Saturday, February 3rd, 2018

And, because I’m going to Vienna and Krakow in late February and Krakow is one of the last places that has wild European Bison, this pertinent chart:

Mantis mantis mantis. (Mantis.)

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

Mantis! First, my work companion. My coworker Tongue is obsessed with plants. He has a gazillion plants in his home, and seeds, and things that look like they’re dead twigs but are not, all the plants. In order to prevent bugs from eating his beloved plants Tongue bought baby mantises (I like to pronounce that “manteeses” even though it’s wrong). He brought a few of the mantises in plastic containers to work where I proceeded to get no work done because I had to cuddle the sweet wee demon-bugs! So cute! So sway-y!

I love how he has a little hat on his head between his sweet little curly antennae. It reminded me of the Pharoah’s crown, the one that looks like a bowling pin nestled in a wonton soup spoon.

I also love how the mantis had a neck that he can turn. And the swaying was great. And occasionally he would flick out his praying arms. As I said, not much work was accomplished during his tenure. Eventually Tongue took the mantises home which made me forlorn but was probably for the best. Sigh.

More mantis! A friend of a friend recommended me for some design work. A woman named Yoda was starting her own production company called Pink Orchid International and asked me for a logo. She said she was not opposed to anything related to pink or orchid. I got to make a variety of interpretations and you bet your sweet patoot I did an orchid mantis version, yes I did.

Yeah. Not surprisingly, Yoda did not use my super-amazing mantis logos. She chose the one in the upper left because she is professional and I want to incorporate insects and skulls and rainbows into everything I do. But I was appreciative of the opportunity. Maybe someday I will get the chance to make bug-related business identities. Who knows what the future holds (insect-logo-wise).

Russia’s vice-like hold on the apex of crafting will crumble at my feet.

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

So you may or may not know that I have a personal ongoing feud with the entire former Soviet Union because every time I am feeling good about my artistic talents some Slavic person pops up on my Pinterest and destroys my self-esteem with their superior skills. Every time. Like clockwork. I’ve mentioned it here:

http://design-newyork.com/blog/2013/10/08/two-artists-that-are-magnificent-and-humbling/

And here:

http://design-newyork.com/blog/2016/01/23/two-artists-that-might-make-me-not-scared-of-dolls-finally/

And here:

http://design-newyork.com/blog/2016/08/30/moooooooom-the-russians-are-being-better-at-crafts-again/

While we’re here, let’s add Julia Gorina to the list:

And Tatiana Verkhovskaya:

It never ends. But today is a new day. Today is the day I begin my climb to my rightful place as The Best At Crafts. I’ll take you through my journey.

I like jewelry. I like early 1900s fancy jewelry with enamel and plique a jour (enamel with no back, kind of like tiny stained glass) and diamonds and gold. Unfortunately I do not have the kind of money to buy all the things I want. So I’ve decided to figure out how to make it myself in far less expensive mediums like wire and resin and crystals. I made a folder of inspirational images to draw ideas from.

 

I started with this one:

I wanted a really simple shape with thicker and thinner parts where the diamond sizes are graded and the diamonds are on a dark background like tarnished silver. I only used stuff I already had in my apartment, so I wrapped some gold wire in some brown wire and soldered loops so it could hang and made sure all the shapes were closed because I intended to dip the shape into that plastic stuff that Sakae uses for her kanzashi.

I learned oh, oh so much during this process. Like if the wire is made of aluminum it does not want to be soldered. And if you have a big open space in the middle of your piece the plastic dip material will not go across it, you need little struts to break up the space. AND why people don’t have thick wires at in their plastic dip pieces is because of The Glop. More on that later. But I got it to a decent place. I wired, then I soldered, then I dipped, then I failed, then I picked off all the plastic, then I did it again, then I failed again, then I finally got it right, then I covered it in a thin layer of UV resin, then I painted delicate black calligraphic lines on the thicker edges, then I adhered graded flat-back crystals along the black paint. The final product looks like this.

With my hand for scale.

Here is The Glop situation I was describing.

Okay. Good start. Things I will do in the future:

  • Use raw copper wire with copper solder so it adheres more easily and the solder isn’t as noticeable (the solder I used was the standard silver-colored one and it’s REAL noticeable)
  • Spray it with a water / baking soda mixture to make it brown
  • If the “windows” are small I will use thinner wire to avoid The Glop
  • Try UV gel topcoat instead of UV resin because the resin is thick, prone to bubbles and has a yellowish cast
  • The black acrylic paint worked fine, that’s staying
  • Using UV resin with a paintbrush to attach the crystals also worked fine, that’s staying too

I’m psyched about where this is heading. I feel lots of growth and potential in this. Soon all of Siberia will be mine for the taking, craft-wise. Stay tuned for more on this as it happens.

No sleep for you.

Friday, January 12th, 2018

You know when you go to bed at night and you’re tired and and you think, “Ahhh, I will fall asleep immediately, better get my passport ready for the Land of Nod,” but your brain decides this is the ideal time to throw random nuggets of information at you that you feel compelled to ponder? And this prevents you from going to sleep? And you end up hating your own brain? I know other people experience this, I’ve seen the memes on Buzzfeed:

 

(Colitas are mentioned in the song Hotel California. “On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair, warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air.” It’s supposed to mean “little buds” as in marijuana.)

I’d like to share my night-time thoughts that cause me to be an unproductive bag of parts the next day. Here we go:

  • I heard somewhere that Usain Bolt has never run a full mile in his life. He only does short sprints. That seems crazy to me. I’ve run/walked/huffed The Mile several times in middle school and high school. If I’ve done it Usain should have done it. Do the schools where Usain grew up not require them? And if so, why did I not move to that place? I really hated The Mile.
  • I watched a video of a snail laying eggs.*https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BK2GRY8Y6U

    How do the eggs make their way down the body? Is is like peristaltic motion, where the muscles move in a sequence? Is the snail positioned downhill and I can’t tell from the camera angle? Why don’t the eggs take the shortest path possible and ploop off the side of the midsection instead of making their way to the tail? Also, there’s that snail that that doesn’t have a vagina, the acting male (they’re hermaphrodites) just stabs it and throws the sperm in the stabbing hole. How does that work? How does he know he’s not pumping his seed into her liver or kidney? Is her whole body a holding tank for eggs? What the hell is going on in there?
  • What ever happened to that lower-case “f” letter without the line across it that was the “s” sound? Does everyone know what I’m talking about? Here, an example:

    I read somewhere it has something to do with a “hard s” (which is the Z sound) and a “soft s” (which is the typical S sound, like a hiss). I’m wondering if we can bring it back. And what made the Germans get rid of the stacked double S?

    Did the Germans take a vote? Like, okay, this letter ain’t cuttin’ it no more, bring in your keyboards and a pair of pliers, we’re going to pull that key off never to be pressed again. Who is on the committee? Are there lobbyists, sliding money under the table to keep certain letters off the chopping block? I bet the pound sign people were sweating bullets until hashtags became a thing. The early 2000s were a scary time for the pound sign folks.

*If you want to have a profoundly trippy experience, watch this video with the sound on. And tell me, why that snail is laying eggs out of the side of its head? Because that doesn’t seem right AT ALL.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qGnbLeuysU

I made some stuff. Let’s look at it.

Monday, December 18th, 2017

I made two things, veeerrrrrrrrry diametrically opposite. First, the deer skull. Cricket’s dad found a deer skull with antlers behind their house twenty years ago and Cricket recently gave the skull to me. It was a fine-looking skull and I wanted to display it but it looked sort of nakey. So I decided to decorate the skull using every bead technique I could think of. I even tried new techniques I had only seen online. One of my big inspirations was Betsy Youngquist. I’ve mentioned her before. She does some drool-worthy work. I don’t know what you’d call what she does – bead and found item mosaic? Object decoupage? Three-dimensional collage? Whatever it’s called, it’s awesome and I’m a big ole fan. Here are some of her newer pieces.

You know those sewing samplers from days of yore? Where a young girl would make every stitch she knew how to do on a piece of fabric? That’s what this skull turned into for me. Since I was using a million different techniques I limited my color palette to white, pearl and silver. I was pretty psyched with how it turned out. My photos are meh because for some reason my camera was flabbergasted by all the white but maybe someday in the future I will have a professional take pictures of it for my portfolio.

The second project I worked on was different in every way something could be different. It was for work, for starters. We were pitching a birth control drug. Most of the deck was perfectly normal. “Our research shows that women this that and a third thing and here’s a quote and here’s a chart,” etc. I blurred out a lot of stuff that may or may not be proprietary.

However the strategists wanted to show that modern women are bombarded by unwanted dick pics all day every day. I was told to find pictures of men showing off their charms, put them in the deck and cover the jingly-jangly parts with emojis. I get paid actually usable currency to do this. So late on the night before the pitch I typed in things that would get you fired anywhere else into Google and there they were. A veritable field of men displaying their appendages. Here’s a screengrab I took that I heavily doctored to make it SFW.

I was sitting there, sifting through the pics because I needed their head at one angle and their implements at another angle (to get the emoji cover-up to work). I also typed in several specific ethnicities to get a diverse spread (ha ha ha). I was so involved in finding the right images for the job that I neglected to notice the cleaning lady behind me who could totally see what I was doing. I only realized it afterwards and I REALLY wanted her to report me for being gross and pervy on the job so I could explain that it was for work. Alas, she did not. She does, however, greet me with a big smile every time she sees me now, like, “I know what you’re into, yeeeeeaaaaaaah.” I kinda want to tell her that that’s not my jam but then we’d have to talk about it and I don’t feel like doing that so this is how it’s going to stay. Me and the cleaning lady have a dick-pic bond. It’s a dream come true.

It’s an animal post!

Saturday, November 25th, 2017

1. A woman put a camera near her bird feeder and the pictures she gets are straight-up gold. Her name is Lisa M. Ca (but it should be Lisa M. CAW, amirite everyone? Hello? Anyone?). Here is a picture of her camera setup.


I think my favorites are the doves because I’m a sucker for doves (PigeonLover 4 Lyfe) but the, and I quote, “Grackle with a Snackle” is pretty great as well.

I highly recommend going to her blog and looking at all the bird pics. They drop your blood pressure really fast. So calming.

https://ostdrossel.tumblr.com/

 

2. A picture of alligators (or possibly crocodiles) in a river. With reflective eyes. I love the deep blue water and the orange retinas. Photo by David Moynahan.

 

3. I think we should return to this form of reproduction because I am 100% not feeling the “Imma rip my way out of you” technique we as humans are using now. Methinks time for an upgrade.

 

4. What my day would be like in Toyko: Wake up. Put on oven mitt. Go to squirrel park. Hang out with squirrels. Go home at night. Repeat every day following.

https://kotaku.com/inside-japanese-squirrel-gardens-yes-squirrel-gardens-1465052392

 

5. And while this isn’t technically an animal it is still nature-related so I’m putting it here. It’s a chandelier made with living algae. It helps clean the air.

Here’s an article about it. https://www.curbed.com/2017/9/27/16372820/air-purifying-plants-algae-chandelier-julian-melchiorri

Guatemala, Part 6.

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

Lake Atitlan. Get ready.

But first, Antigua’s main plaza! That I forgot to add to the Antigua posts earlier! I love how there’s old ruins and new ruins and everything all sort of mooshed together.

And I only made it to the main cathedral at night so all my pictures are blurry, but here’s the best of the bunch. A beautiful building, beautifully lit.

Okay, Lake Atitlan. We stayed at a hotel with THE MOST AMAZING GARDENS EVER. The owner started them several decades before and lovingly caressed and cuddled them and now they’re mind-blowing.

You would think I had never seen a plant before in my life the way I reacted to this garden. Right outside our room there were some screamy parrots that came out of their enclosure during the day to sit in the vines and shriek violently at the guests. One was a scarlet macaw. He was extra-screamy.

And there was one tree on the far edge of the property with the most interesting pattern in its bark. I felt like I was in a werewolf movie.

And here are the closeups I took of specific plants. Fun tidbit: while taking some of these photos, The Moomins had to protect me from getting attacked by an ornery goose that lives near a small koi pond on the property. I guess I got too close to the goose’s woman and he was disgruntled. It was worth almost dying at the hand (wing?) of waterfowl because these plants were something else, I tell ya.

We went out on a tour of the lake itself. I did not know that Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author of The Little Prince, crash-landed in Guatemala and saw the mountain there that inspired him to write the “draw me a sheep” portion of the book. Specifically the elephant in the snake that is mistaken for a hat. <—- That sentence sounds like I had a stroke but if you’ve read the book it makes sense I promise.

Here’s an article about Saint-Exupéry and Guatemala.

https://globalvoices.org/2008/07/11/guatemala-was-antigua-the-inspiration-for-the-little-prince/

There was also a napping volcano. Shhhhh, Volcano, everything is fine. No make ‘splosions.

Aaaaaaaand that’s pretty much the highlights from my trip. However, one of the other people on the trip, Boris (who had THE BEST Russian accent in the world) had a far superior camera and took some unbelievable pictures of birds and other beasties. He was kind enough to share them with me, and now I will share them with you.

Guatemala, Post 5.

Friday, November 17th, 2017

More Antigua! But first, other things.

We drove past a funeral. It was quite sad. A police officer had been killed. I love how the whole neighborhood showed up and was walking with the family to show support. There was also a band playing mournful walking music and I think we as a nation need to get on that.

I saw a fountain and I liked how they planted flowers birds-of-paradise flowers the fountain. Plus there was a pigeon and I am on Team Pigeon 4 Lyfe. Extremely pro-pigeon. Not ashamed of it.

Okay, so Antigua. The buildings are very short and the roads are extremely wide because if an earthquake destroys a building and it pitches forward it doesn’t knock down the building on the opposite side.

There is a former nunnery in Antigua, Convent of las Capuchinas. It cost a lot of money to become a nun and that, combined with the constant battery of earthquakes, caused the nunnery to be shut down.

The grout that holds those brick walls together was a mixture of sand, gravel and egg whites. The city apparently ran out of eggs during the construction of this building.

The wine cellar for holy ceremonial wines was build like a doughnut with a big column in the middle which is how it survived all the earthquakes. It has great acoustics so the nuns used to go down there and sing and maybe sample the wines.

And there are gardens which are beautiful. It’s not too hard to have a gorgeous garden in Antigua, I saw many of them.

As we walked along the street during the sunset on the last night we found a rooftop bar in an old mansion-type home. The fancy older buildings reminded me of Spain. They tended to have huge scary exterior walls:

And gorgeous compound-like interiors with gardens. This was no exception.

When we went up to the roof you could really appreciate how the city is nestled in between the mountains.

• | • | • | INTERMISSION | • | • | •

Dia de los Muertos-type dolls! Same store as the decorated antlered skulls. I showed restraint and did not buy them.

• | • | • | INTERMISSION OVER | • | • | •

That’s all my photos on Antigua. I only have four photos for the town of Panajachel, a town on the edge of Lake Atitlan (more about Lake Atitlan in a bit) so let’s go through those.

CHARCH! In Panajachel we visited the church. I liked the architectural style

The inside of the church looked like and upside-down boat.

And there was a nice carved monster holding up the display board in the back.

Here was the biggest surprise for me in Panajachel. Stay with me here: There is a semi-famous artist from Vienna Austria named Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928 – 2000). His artwork is extremely distinctive. It’s difficult to mistake it for someone else’s work. Here are some examples.

Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to see a rather large mural featuring some of Hundertwasser’s work in this small village in Guatemala.

Whattup, Hundy? How you doin’?

Okay, coming up next: Lake Atitlan. Get ready for the most insane plants you have ever seen.

Guatemala Part 2.

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Tikal! I saw jungle pyramids, everybody! Jungle. Pyramids.

Let’s see what Wikipedia has to say about Tikal.

Tikal is the ruin of an ancient city, which was likely to have been called Yax Mutal, found in a rainforest in Guatemala. … After the Berlin Academy of Sciences’ magazine republished the report in 1853, archeologists and treasure hunters began visiting the forest. Today, tourism to the site may help protect the rainforest. It is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. … Though monumental architecture at the site dates back as far as the 4th century BC, Tikal reached its apogee during the Classic Period, c. 200 to 900 AD. During this time, the city dominated much of the Maya region politically, economically, and militarily, while interacting with areas throughout Mesoamerica such as the great metropolis of Teotihuacan in the distant Valley of Mexico. There is evidence that Tikal was conquered by Teotihuacan in the 4th century AD. Following the end of the Late Classic Period, no new major monuments were built at Tikal and there is evidence that elite palaces were burned. These events were coupled with a gradual population decline, culminating with the site’s abandonment by the end of the 10th century.

No one from the modern era knew the pyramids were there. They were completely covered with dirt and trees. Some of them are still covered or partially covered, archeologists are still working on the site and it is massive. There was a 3d map in the main entrance center.

Also tall trees filled with air plants.

You basically wander around the rainforest on neatly organized trails past very very large stone structures. I imagine there’s some kind of system but because of the trees and unexcavated mounds it seems very higglety-pigglety.

You can tell the Mayan’s belief system was similar to the Aztecs because at Teotihuacan they considered the circle to be holy and used it a bunch on their art and refused to use wheels because they thought it would be disrespectful. On a building at Tikal I saw the wheels represented as well. So, I’m guessing overlap.

Some of the gargantuan temples you were allowed to climb. I didn’t, of course because any form of athletics are not my jam ever ESPECIALLY in a hot sweaty rainforest, but The Moomins did and I took a picture of her at the top. Very proud.

   

A lot of the buildings are still covered or in the process of being dug out of the centuries of soil that has accumulated on them.

There were beasties roaming the property. The most visible were the coatimundis. There were two right next to where we were sitting snuffling around in the dirt eating fruits that had fallen from the trees. Sorry there’s so many photos – they’re very cute animals and it was extremely difficult for me to cull the pile of pictures.

Coatimundis are in the raccoon family. These must have been males because the name means “forever alone.” The females and babies hang out in family units but the males are forced to forage by themselves. Further on the trail we saw a family unit. I think the pale ones are teenagers (this fact is based on precisely nothing, don’t get mad if it’s wildly untrue).

I saw a bird from the corvid family (crows, jays, ravens, magpies, etc.). I think it’s a jackdaw.

We saw a snekkie-snekk but he slithered off with great haste.

Small lizard friend.

We almost got peed on by a troupe of spider monkeys that were high in the treetops. And we glimpsed a toucanet betwixt the leaves.

However, I was exceptionally excited to see an ocellated turkey. They are the most beautiful ugly animals ever in the history of things. I once saw a taxidermied one for about two thousand dollars and I was sorely tempted to buy it because, c’mon, amazing. Better than peacocks. Like a turkey designed by Lisa Frank. See for yourself. These are all photos I found online.

See? GORGEOUS. Hideous and exquisite simultaneously. Even the female is dope and rainbow. Therefore I was so very excited to see one. I saw this sign and readied my body for the magical bird to appear.

Aaaaaaaand nothing. I know from safaris that you see what you see because nature can’t be controlled but … it’s a turkey! Not a jaguar! I feel like I was making a reasonable request to the heavens. I wanted to see the blue heads with what looks like little mandarin oranges stuck all over it. Sigh.

(If anyone is feeling real generous and wants to buy me a present, here’s the link to the taxidermied occelated turkey for sale.)

http://www.creelandgow.com/prod-pages/CaGa2880.html

Coming up: Coffee plantation.