Archive for the ‘Stuff’ Category

Thoughts.

Friday, July 25th, 2014

1. There’s a trend right now to have multicolored polygons in advertising and I just want to put it out there that I like it. Every time I see a Samsung Galaxy or pass a Starbucks it brightens my day a little bit. It’s so cheerful and festive. Keep it up, everyone. I WANT HAPPY RAINBOW TRIANGLES EVERYWHERE. IT’S FRIKKIN’ JOYOUS, Y’ALL.

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2. For the last three weeks I’ve been avoiding sugar and packaged foods, really just eating fresh vegetables and meat for protein. My body is running like a beautifully oiled machine. My entrails aren’t fighting with me like they usually do, my skin is clear, I lost some weight, all good stuff. And then the universe decided things were going too smoothly and I needed to struggle more, using 7-11 as a conduit for this temptation.

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Oh my gosh, that looks delicious. And like it would hurt me from the minute I put it in my mouth until it left my body angrily twenty minutes later. I still want it though. It’s so… orange. There’s crunchy crumbles! And runny cheesy goo! I must have it. Lord, give me strength to avoid the siren call of the loaded Dorito. It’s the work of the devil, I know, but I am weak. I’m only a person!*

3. Occasionally I walk on Broadway to get to and from work. There’s a building that is covered in scaffolding and the scaffolding has different artists’ interpretations of eyes over it. Fine, good, whatever. It’s better than raw nakey scaffolding. However, one of the eyes is clearly that of Michelangelo’s David. I never realized that Michelangelo left a small point of stone in the pupil to give the impression of light hitting the surface of the eye. When seen in situ it’s a brilliant move, but when the eye is seen all on its lonesome it looks like a goat eyeball.

david-eye goatface

4. Also on Broadway, a pop-up shoe store. It’s selling the usual high heels and boots and the like, so the first few times I walked by I didn’t even notice the freaky shoes.

wacky-shoe1

You see the iridescent and checkerboard shoes? I thought those were sandals on a plastic foot form, but look closer: the laces are on the plastic part. It’s a combination house shoe and clear plastic men’s shoe. Why? Why is this a thing? I can’t imagine your foot would look good in there, all your toes mooshed together and sweaty. Have we run out of ideas for footwear? Has it come to this? I want to speak to the person in charge.

wacky-shoe2

5. Unrelated to my walks around town: this is a phenomenal costume I saw on the internet and I love it. In case you don’t recognize it, it’s Statler and Waldorf from The Muppet Show.

 

*BTW, I figured out a solution: I take a different route to work so I don’t see the storefront. Problem solved.

Looking a gift horse DIRECTLY in the mouth.

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

The Moomins recently returned from a trip to Africa where she spent a month hanging out with relatives and friends. One of those relatives, my Auntie Bo, works for WIZO, the Women’s International Zionist Organization. It was created mainly to help women in Israel and according to the WIZO Wikipedia page:

Today, WIZO runs 180 day care centers in Israel, caring for 14,000 children of working mothers, new immigrants and needy families. The organization also runs summer camps, courses for single-parent families and therapeutic frameworks for children removed from their homes by court order.

That’s nice. Anyway, my aunt runs a chapter in Johannesburg and they have auctions to raise money. A woman in Africa passed away and left the contents of her home for WIZO to auction off. The Moomins was assisting Auntie Bo, organizing the stuff into piles when another lady came over with a puzzled expression on her face. “What are these?” she asked. The Moomins said, “Oh, those are penis shields.” Indigenous men in Africa would wear penis shields to prevent irritation from the rough animal skin pelt skirts. You don’t want to chafe. Now that Western clothing with underpants is more common penis shields have fallen out of popularity, but these were vintage ones from the 60s. “Who would want them?” the woman asked. “You know, my daughter would*,” The Moomins responded. So, when she came back and I said, “Hey, didja bring me anything cool?” thinking I would get something made out of wire or a piece of pottery, she presented me with not one, but two penis shields. A plethora of penis shields! Hooray! You can’t have just one! I didn’t know what to do. Despite what you may think my entire apartment is tastefully appointed, no art with any sexuality of any kind. I do not want these in my home. I cannot decide which drawer I will shove them in to try to forget about them. I insisted my father hold a shield in each hand so I could take a photo. He’s trying to smile but he’s actually saying, “What am I holding right now and why?”

dad-with-shields

In keeping with this vaguely sub-gartelian theme, I was asked by a gay co-worker for some signs to hold when he walked in the Gay Pride Parade. He is part of a gay outdoor adventure group. He gave me some witty and naughty catchphrases that he wrote (puns abound, y’all) and I designed a variety of posters based on them. I went to their Facebook page and researched all the places the group had traveled to (one was called Gaylordsville which is ridiculous, c’mon now) and used them as background images for the signs. I think they turned out great. Head’s up: some of these are a bit rough-and-tumble so don’t look at them if your workplace is uncool.

carter-gay-pride-2014-signs-6 carter-gay-pride-2014-signs-3 carter-gay-pride-2014-signs-7 carter-gay-pride-2014-signs-2 carter-gay-pride-2014-signs-1 carter-gay-pride-2014-signs-5 carter-gay-pride-2014-signs-4

*NO I WOULD NOT.

Empire State Tattoo Expo.

Monday, June 30th, 2014

A weekend ago there was a tattoo expo a block from my house. Now, I don’t have any tattoos but I love every kind of art and did I mention it was a block from my house? I called up Snorth and off we went to the tattoo expo.

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I didn’t take any pictures while I was there because I really wanted to focus on looking at all the displays and I took the risk that everything I saw would be on the internet. Luckily I was right, so all the pictures you see here were pulled off of the artist’s/company’s Facebook pages. We’ve all seen a great many tattoos in our lives and I was bracing myself for some unfortunate artwork. This guy I saw once comes to mind. I don’t think I saw any sub-par work. Every single artist I saw was above-average to out-of-this-world amazing. I could not believe the level of skill I was witnessing. I’m going to talk about three artists in particular, but here’s a quick glance at some of the other artists.

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The talent, it was awe-inspiring. The first artist I walked past that knocked me out of my socks was Nathan Mould. He hails from Pittsburgh and his work is mostly black and white geometric using pointillism to create gradations.

nathan mould 1625597_503451586442543_1790553805_n 1174877_522251134562588_324633065_n 10294347_546320115489023_7154979655685657544_n 10155501_530248547096180_4884797846923950179_n 10330419_549182365202798_5192036825946569774_n 10289897_547749565346078_7214477944633046952_n 1-1YGhXs6Z 1185166_520080604779641_1477773417_n 586779670c2d29d08e8741ba4ade28d5 1979553_527900617330973_1763943770_n 1982082_523696617751373_1903998195_n

He was selling a t-shirt and he could have charged fifty bucks for it, I would have bought it anyway.

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Then the next two artists were focusing mainly on the vibrantly colored watercolor technique incorporating a computerized collage feel. I saw Ivana Belakova, originally from Slovakia, now working in L.A. She’s on the right.

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I loved that she could tattoo any subject, but always in her very distinct style. You want a car? She does a car.

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You want a portrait of your dog? You got it.

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Or your kid? No problem.

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How about a beet? Now everyone will want a beet. I sure do.

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I loved her bird and animal work most, though.

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And the last artist I encountered was Justin Nordine (on the left). His studio is presently in Massachusetts. Snorth and I ended up talking to him while he prepared to tattoo a rainbow chameleon on a man’s thigh.

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Later when I went to his Facebook page, I saw the drawing of the rainbow chameleon and the finished piece! (No surprise, it came out brilliantly.)

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Here are the websites of all these artists. If you want to get something done by them, be prepared to wait several months. They have a long list.

http://www.justinnordine.net/

http://www.ivanatattooart.com/

http://artisanpittsburgh.com/tattoo/nathan-mould/bioportfolio/

While weaving up and down the aisles, I noticed an enormous inflatable something-or-other in the middle area. When we circled back around I realized it was a booth with giant jelly jar of moonshine on top from the Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine Company. I found a picture of the booth elsewhere, you’ll need to imagine it in a big open convention hall.

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I asked if I could buy a jar and they said no, the law prohibits them from selling the jar. What I could have was a shot. A shot of moonshine. I don’t really drink ever and it was 11:30 in the morning, but when an opportunity presents itself you take it. I was given the choice of original, lemon drop, cherry or charred.

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I voted for cherry, hoping that the fruit would mellow the inevitable burn of the 100-proof moonshine.

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I said I just wanted a taste, but the nice man poured me about two shots worth and then threw four cherries in. Hoo boy. I sniffed it. It smelled like something you would clean a hospital with.

I took a sip. Have you ever drank poison? I imagine what happened is what would happen if you drank poison. First, my chest got all warm on the inside and my left eyelid decided to close. It was done for the day. Then I ate a cherry. My nose-bridge began sweating and my tongue went numb. All I could taste was metal. I am not exaggerating. Snorth was watching me, she can attest to all of this. I politely handed my still-full cup back to the nice man, said thank you as best as I could with my tongue (“thakkoo”) and tried to continue on my way. I turned to talk to Snorth and she said, “Yeah, you reek of rubbing alcohol.” Fumes were coming off of me. But now I can say I’ve tried moonshine. Another thing on my list of things to impress youngsters. “Gather ’round children, lemme tell you about the time I tried NyQuil-flavored-propane.”

I went to Disney’s Realm of Thaumaturgy! Part 1 of 2.

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Oh lordy, my last few weeks of work was the complete absence of awesome. I didn’t walk into my apartment before 12:05 at night any night this past week, Saturday and Sunday included. I was miserable and exhausted. Then I was told I would have to fly to Florida with the team to build the pitch deck for them. The meeting would be in Orlando. Now, a bunch of years back I had to fly to a conference in Orlando that I was told was on or adjacent to the Disney property and I got to see not a damn thing while I was there. I blogged about my regret. I would not allow this to occur again. So when it was brought to my attention that I had to go on this epic journey, I quietly informed my boss that I had never been to Disney World and gosh, the meeting ends at 11:00 a.m. and did I have to fly back immediately or could I maybe perhaps kinda sorta stick around all day and then fly home on the red-eye? And I made this face. My boss, who is a lovely and kind mistress, not only agreed to let me stay, she got me an additional night in the hotel so I could fly back Tuesday morning. Seriously, she’s a good woman. Then I had a meeting with my co-workers to discuss which theme park I should go to. It was agreed that I would be best-suited for Epcot (SCIENCE!), but since it was my first time there I insisted that I go to Disney’s original creation. I promptly got a ticket for one day of revelry at the Magic Kingdom ($105.00) and suddenly I wasn’t so sad about my poopy work schedule. The meeting happened, it went great, everyone else got on their planes and I went back to the room to change from tasteful meeting garb into the only white t-shirt I own and get my camera. First, let me start with the fact that we stayed in a hotel that was part of the airport. You might think that would be awful. You would be wrong. The airport/hotel was a beautiful atrium with palm trees and fountains.

airport1 airport3

Allow me to introduce you to the joy of staying in an airport hotel. When I was leaving I had a morning flight. I am not a morning person. I woke up an hour and a half before my flight was scheduled to leave, got dressed, collected my bags, went downstairs and checked into Delta because the Delta counter was across from the elevators. That’s it. There’s no “We gotta leave early because what if there’s an accident on the highway and traffic and etc.” It simplifies the whole process. I am a convert now. Back to Magic Kingdom. I changed my shirt, got my camera and happily went over to the concierge’s desk. “I want to go to the Magic Kingdom now please,” I said. “Great,” the concierge said. “Where did you park your car?” “I flew here. I don’t have a car,” I responded. “Well,” he said, “You can take mass transit which will cost about $75 each way (!) or you can rent a car for about $40.” I have never rented a car. I have stood next to Cricket while he has rented cars and ridden in said cars, but I have never done it on my own. I’m an adult, I can handle this, I thought to myself. I shall rent a car and drive to Disney World. So I did. I rented a jaunty red compact Toyota with absolutely no pick-up which made me the least-favorite driver every time I merged onto a highway. I got to Disney World and then once I was on the property I drove and drove and drove until I got to the Magic Kingdom parking lot. I was then presented with the choice of parking in Heroes or Villains. I was like are you kidding me? I’m parking in Hades or Ursula, no discussion. I got there and was directed to park in… Zurg. Who the eff is Zurg? I want to park in not-Zurg! But Jafar was full and there was no Hades or Ursula options, so Zurg it was.

parking-lot1 parking-lot2

I took the tram from the parking lot to what I thought was the gate. I was incorrect. I now had to take a monorail to get to the actual park. I felt like this was my Waiting for Godot. I would travel trying to get to the Magic Kingdom and never arrive. But eventually I did arrive, got off the monorail and was immediately hit in the face with the smell of jalapeños. Which seemed profoundly odd to me. That seems like a weird choice of odor to greet your visitors with. In front of me was Main Street and “When You Wish Upon A Star” was playing which caused me to feel feelings and I’m not gonna lie, I got choked up. Caught a little childhood memory in my throat there.

entrance1 entrance2 castle1

I’m not a big amusement park ride aficionado, so I planned to walk around the sections of the kingdom (Main Street, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Adventureland) and see the architecture and the surrounding design elements. I loved the attention to detail. Not only was the exterior of Main Street well-done, a great amount of care was put into the interior elements of all the buildings.

main-street  main-street-interior

There was a brass band playing in the middle of the road and their jazzy rendition of “Under the Sea” is fantastic.

http://youtu.be/Pjq1SHETs2A

I realized shortly after arrival I did not have sunblock and I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but Orlando is located directly under the surface of the sun. It’s a hot swampland and I was going to roast if I didn’t do something soon. I zipped into a gift shop (one of several thousand billion I saw on the premises that day) and purchased the hat with the biggest brim. Then I wore it all day. If you happened to see me at any point, this is what I looked like.

goofy-headshot

Here’s the best part: anywhere else in the world I would be mocked for sporting such an idiotic headwear, but I was by far one of the least-silly-looking people walking around. There were people wearing the pointy wizard’s hat that Mickey rocks in Fantasia, for crying out loud. I was at the mild end of the spectrum. After I examined all the buildings on Main Street I found myself in Frontierland which is a hodge-podge of the Wild West and a bit of N’Awlins and some other stuff, it’s definitely America in the 1800s, but the precise location is vague. There’s a fully functional Louisiana steam paddleboat on a river, people. But if you know anything about me you will not be surprised to find out that my favorite thing in Frontierland was… an egret trying to mooch food from visitors. This guy was fearless. I walked right up to him. He did not care.

egret1 egret2

After I sauntered through Frontierland I entered Tomorrowland. I think this is my favorite of the kingdoms because it featured several of my most cherished Disney/Pixar characters.

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And all the windows were hexagons. My favorite polygon. If the future is all about hexagonal windows, I’m in.

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And is that a Shakespeare pun? Delightful.

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I was starving by this point so I decided to get some lunch. That was a mistake. In Tomorrowland was a hot dog stand and I got the special. It seemed harmless enough and the girl who worked behind the counter could not have been nicer (from Rochester, NY, just moved there, fresh out of college). I got a hot dog with bacon, lettuce, tomato and a splash of ranch dressing on it. For like seven bucks. And it was… not great. Not bad, but elementary-school cafeteria-level cuisine. About an hour after that I walked past a stand selling chocolate-covered frozen bananas and as an homage to the show Arrested Development I got a banana. That, too, was expensive and sucky. I spoke to people when I got back and it was the consensus that the fancy restaurants where it costs about forty dollars per person and you need a reservation to get in are good, but the street vendors leave much to be desired. I had no intention of waiting for a fancy meal, but I saw families bringing in their own food and drink and I think that was a smart way to go. If they let you bring in sandwiches and juice, you should do that. Spend your money on a handheld fan that squirts water simultaneously, or a lighty-uppy spinny pointless thing for night-time (I wanted one but I restrained myself).

Since I’m not a big fan of rides (I tend to get motion-sickness and no one enjoys that) I was told to go on “It’s A Small World” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” and to visit Belle’s castle. I walked past “Pirates” and saw this:

wait-time

And proceeded to keep right on walking. Did I mention it was a 90-degree muggy sunny pit of despair that day? I was not going to stand in line for over an hour for a ride that was two minutes long. That’s the benefit of not being a fan of any of this – if there was a line for something, I just shrugged and went to something else. It’s all the same to me. Luckily it was only a 35-minute wait to get onto a boat for “Small World” and a large portion of the waiting was done in an air-conditioned area. If you were worried that “Small World” had changed in any way since the last time you rode on it, rest assured it has not.

its-a-small-world1 its-a-small-world2

I got my own row in the the boat and watched the animatronic ethnically-one-note children sing the song and shimmy and wiggle and while the PC part of me was like, “I’m a wee bit uncomfortable,” the theater-tech part of me was enjoying the hell out of it. If I hadn’t had to wait thirty-five minutes I would have gone on it again. Disney is known for being not particularly sensitive to the many cultures of people of this world, and the best part of the park to truly appreciate this complete disregard is in Adventureland. Or, as I liked to call it, “Ehhhh, just put all the brown people over here. African, Indigenous Australian, Native Alaskan – who cares. And throw some themes of cannibalism in there too, it’s not quite offensive enough.”

adventureland-sign

Now I’m at a bit of an disadvantage here because I grew up with an art historian mother who collects sub-Saharan African art. That means I know exactly what it looks like, which meant I knew exactly when the Disney people screwed it up. For example there was a store called “Zanzibar” (an island off of the coast of Tanzania) where they were selling items from South Africa (nope, look at a map), including ostrich eggs that had Costa-Rican frogs painted on them (really?) and what appeared to be Guatemalan bracelets (I give up). It was here in Adventureland that I figured out why every so often I would get a massive whiff of jalepeño. There are phenomenal plants and gardens all over the park:

jalapeno-foliage foliage

And one of the plants decided it was mating season. In the process it got all musky and libidinous and the scent it was putting out was very green-peppery and chlorophilly. If anyone hears about a creepy woman walking completely alone through the park sniffing various plants while wearing a Goofy hat, that’s me.

Next: the rest of my day-long excursion.

Lightscapes.

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Around Halloween a couple years back I went to something called The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at the Van Cortlandt Manor. I blogged about it. I guess it was a big moneymaker so they decided to have a summer version using a garden theme. They used recyclables and it’s lit predominantly by LEDs so it doesn’t use a great deal of electricity and isn’t too taxing on the environment. It was like a fairyland. I went with Cricket and I loved it. I imagine one might love it even more on LSD or peyote or ketamine, but that’s not how I roll so I enjoyed it unaffected by mind-altering substances.

At the entrance, there’s a blinking swirling rainbow arch.

lightscape-entrance

And then you walk past a giant field of tulips made from old milk jugs. It was immense.

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Followed by an explanation of how trash was used to make almost everything there.

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There was a corridor of chest-high mushrooms:

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A trail of ants, trees full of ladybugs:

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And a grove of butterflies.

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Butterflies was a big theme. This was a large butterfly made from bubble wrap.

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There was a maze with projections of butterflies on the ceiling and Christmas lights with butterflies on them lining the route.

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Some of the things I felt could be worked on for the future. Like this bug kinda all by himself in a corner looking all weird:

bug

And this rabbit that looks substantially more like a viscacha than a lagomorph. Plus they were playing trippy Indian sitar music near it. What that has to do with this bunny, I do not know.

rabbit

There was a caterpillar cave to walk through:

caterpillar caterpillar-inside

There was a turtle made from a jungle gym:

turtle

A ten-foot-tall mushroom that if I had tall enough ceilings I would want at my apartment:

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And a kaleidoscope pattern being projected on a wall of a side building. I only took one picture, but it kept morphing, you know, how kaleidoscopes do.

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But most would agree the piece-de-resistance (aside from the gigantor field of tulips) would be the praying mantis watching over everything. He guarded a variety of plants like lilies and what I think are dandelions.

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As you near the end, you walk past the main house that had music playing. There were giant flowers on the house that changed colors and blinked in time with the music and vines that “grew”.

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The whole thing was awesome and I highly recommend it. If you live in or around Westchester you should make an effort to go. And as with the Jack O’Lantern Blaze, my college classmate Jay Woods was in charge of lighting and once again he did a stellar job. Here’s the website: http://www.hudsonvalley.org/events/lightscapes

Artists that be brangin’ it.

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

First, spam. When I was twelve I saw Monty Python and the Holy Grail for the first time and it had a great effect on me. So when I received this stellar piece of spammery:

aaargh

All I could think of was this scene from MP and the HG.

http://youtu.be/LJfowXTXOfU?t=38s

Okay, artists that are amazing and have come into my orbit recently. There’s Jeremy Fish’s new work. I’ve blogged about Jeremy Fish before. I love his work so much I made a signed poster he made the centerpiece of my living room wall. Well, I just saw some of his newer work and it’s really great. I love how he is evolving without giving up his signature style.

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And there’s Cody Eich the tattoo artist. I adore his colors and his nature themes. If I could commit to a tattoo design, it would most likely be one like his.

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I went to Hump Tour (which I will now try to explain to you as politely as possible)!

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Head’s up: I’m going to do the best I can to be as socially acceptable as I can, but maybe you shouldn’t read this at work. I don’t know what kind of job you have. Maybe you have the kind of job where you can do whatever the hell you want. I just don’t want to get into trouble if your work would deem this inappropriate. ‘Nuff said. Moving on.

While I was in Japan I would sporadically check my email on computers where the keyboards had some recognizable letters, but mostly not so much with that, so I would vaguely hen-peck my way across the keys in the hopes that I was hitting the right ones. This made checking my email a bit of an uphill battle, so I skimmed them for words like “emergency / flood / fire / catastrophe / no survivors” and as long as none of those popped up I felt pretty good. I saw an email from Snorth that said something along the lines of “You wanna do a thing three months from now with Dan Savage?” I knew that I didn’t have any plans in three months and I like doing things, so I said yes and tried to remember that I made plans for late April. Two weeks before the end of April I finally got around to asking Snorth, “What did I agree to go to in two weeks?” and Snorth said, “Oh, Dan Savage hosts a sex-positive film festival in the Northwest every year since the mid-2000s and for the first time it’s coming to New York and we’re gonna go see it.” It took me a minute but eventually it sunk it. “We’re going to see artsy porn, is that what you’re saying?” And Snorth said, “Yes, you and me and my husband are going to see amateur porn curated by Dan Savage in a theater with other people at 4:00 in the afternoon two Saturdays from now.” “Well, alright then,” I said.

First, who is Dan Savage. He’s probably most well-known for answering questions on a self-help column focusing on sex and romance issues called Savage Love. He is also well-known for starting the It Gets Better Project, where adults, both homosexual and not, film videos where they tell kids it’s not worth killing yourself because of bullying. I have found him to be arrogant at times so I am not a big fan, but Snorth likes him a great deal so she was excited to go see him. The film festival is called Hump Tour, and here’s a small snapshot of what it entails.

Since 2005 the HUMP! Film Festival has challenged ordinary people from all over the Pacific Northwest to become temporary, weekend porn stars-by making their very own five-minute dirty movies for a chance to win big cash prizes! And they did not disappoint! The resulting short films run the gamut of sexual styles: straight, gay, lesbian, transgender… every color in the sexual rainbow… and some we never knew existed. HUMP! films are funny, thought-provoking, sad, artistic, outrageous, and almost overwhelmingly sexy – because they’re real. And they’re real because they were created and performed by sex-positive people, just like YOU. That’s why we’re bringing the very best of HUMP! to your town! See 20 of the hottest HUMP films in action… they’ll make you laugh, squeal, and marvel at the broad (and creative) range of human sexuality. It’s the HUMP! Tour 2014! 

Saturday rolled around and I met Snorth outside The Village East Cinema at about 3:00 (it was general admission and I wanted a good seat). As we rolled in the people taking tickets at the door told us Dan Savage would be answering any questions we might have, so if we did have any questions we should write them on the index cards provided. It occurred to me that I didn’t have any questions before the movies but I bet I would have A WHOLE LOT afterwards. After they took our tickets we got to sit in a big beautiful turn-of-the-century theater covered with Arabic motifs. Then Dan Savage showed up and gave us a talk before the movies commenced. He first answered some of the index card questions, and he gave what I considered some pretty phenomenal answers considering he didn’t have any time to prepare. One question was, “I am a gay man and I have recently begun a relationship with someone new. When I friended him on Facebook I noticed we had about twenty friends in common, all young Asian men. I am a young Asian man. Should I be concerned? Should I break up with him?” Dan Savage said, “There’s nothing wrong your new boyfriend having a preference. Everybody has preferences. If a white man only dates other white men, no one thinks anything of it. Here’s the key – as long as he treats you like a person with thoughts and feelings and opinions and value who happens to be young and Asian, that’s fine. If he treats you like an object, like a fetish trinket, then you should cut him loose.” Another question was, “I am a straight man. My wife just left me for a woman. She wants to keep it a secret from our kids, but I don’t feel like I should have to do that. What would you recommend?” “Ooooh,” Dan said. “People are going to disagree with me on this, but I don’t think you should have to keep that secret. When your wife left you for another woman, making it a possibility that she was a lesbian the whole time and the entire marriage was a sham, she wrote that story. But this is your story too, and you have every right to tell your side. If your children ask, you should tell them the truth. You don’t have to force it on them, but if it comes up, you can say whatever you feel comfortable with.” I thought those were terrific answers to some tough topics and my esteem for Dan Savage went way up.

Then he explained the rules to us. I LOVED the rules. I think people are entitled jerk-faces and these rules were a delicious treat to me, one in particular. I’ll explain. Recently I went to see the Broadway show Pippin with my parents and throughout the entire show a man sitting in front of me would pull out his cellphone and check his texts. The text screen is mostly white, so that light was blasting right into my face every time. I thought about asking him to stop but he looked scary and I didn’t want to start a situation, so me and all the people sitting around me seethed through whole chunks of the show. At Hump Tour it was explained that since these were amateur videos, these people are possibly professionals and didn’t want their jobs jeopardized for performing. “Therefore,” Dan said, “There are people standing at the bottom of the screen watching you the entire time. There are three of my staff scattered throughout the audience, and they will not be watching the movies, they will also be watching you the entire time. If you pull out a cell phone for any reason it will be taken away from you and never returned. If you automatically pull out your phone when it vibrates, turn it completely off so you won’t be tempted.” As he said this I closed my eyes and let it wash over me. Repercussions for poor behavior! So yummy and fantastic! It’s one of the reasons I adore this commercial by the Alamo Drafthouse:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1L3eeC2lJZs

After the rules were covered the retrospective began. I won’t go into the details but I will say that what I expected was exactly what I got. I had anticipated that 95% of the films would make me go, “Well, if that’s what you’re into…” and 5% would make me go “THAT’S NOT A GOOD THING TO BE INTO PLEASE STOP.” I will never be able to listen to the song “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” the same way again. I think I spoke under my breath a few times, once to say, “Sir, do not lick that oil-encrusted car part, that will give you cancer. Sir? Sir? He’s licking it.” Then was also “Wash you hands before you touch that pizza.” What was so surprising to me was how un-titillated I was. If I had to describe the experience, it would be, “White people have too much free time.” And before you judge me, you go see all these films and then try to tell me that we know how to fill the hours of the day productively. All this libidinous exploration makes me tired. I’m glad I went, but I don’t know if I would go again. If you want a more thorough explanation of the films, meet me in person and I will describe them in detail, complete with hand gestures and festive sound effects. In the meantime, the creators of one of the films put their entry up on YouTube. You can watch it and get a sense of Hump Tour.

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

Kultchrrr.

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

I did stuff in New York which was good for m’brain! And I only paid for one of them! I don’t know if anyone paid attention or cared, but a few weeks ago was a weekend where New York was slathered in art and art-related activities, the primary branch of which was the Contemporary Art Fair down at the piers. It filled two piers, that’s how much ahhhht there was. I tend to get very angry when I am exposed to contemporary art (see this post to understand why) and it was a $40.00 entrance fee to get in, so I was not going. But then Neenernator called and said she had done the retouching work for this advertisement:

ad-for-caf

And in addition to getting paid, she received two free tickets and would I like to go with her? I have a policy that when free tickets are presented, I should go because who cares if it sucks? It’s free. This policy has worked out very well for me so I went. Lo and behold, I hated very little of the work shown! It’s a Christmas miracle. I will now discuss the one piece that made me want to slaughter not the artist, he’s just trying to make a buck, but anyone who considered buying it. Death. I wish death upon you, art-purchaser.

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It was a paper towel dispenser mounted on a wall. That’s it. It wasn’t bedazzled or nothing. And based on the prices of some the pieces of art around it (more often than not, there was no price tag because gallery owners be pretentious) the towel dispenser was between $7,000 and $20,000. That’s just a guess. Maybe it was a giveaway at $3,500. That’s not the point. The point is EFF YOU.

The thing I liked about the art fair was, for most of it, even if I didn’t like the art I respected the process that went into it. I saw a giant disc painted with tiny gray dots in concentric circles and while I don’t really want that in my house it clearly took a long time to paint all those dots and I commend the artist for investing the time. I would say that was the case for most everything I saw. Here’s some pieces I liked (most of the pictures pulled from the internet and not taken by me BTW):

No surprise here, a large (approximately 4′ x 5′) painting of a plaid squirrel. It was $7,500, but it doesn’t matter because it was sold anyway.

armory-show-2014-sean-landers

A mobile where the glass in coated with something that reminds me of the 80s. I love how the skylights of the pier, when filtered through, look rainbow-licious. This feeds right into my Lisa Frank desires.

rainbow-glass-sculpture

The marble Island of Manhattan. It was AMAZING. There bridges were there, the buildings were there, it was phenomenal.

marble-ny1 marble-ny2

The paintings that were used in the brochure Neenernator worked on. They were made by putting oil paints in a frosting bag and then squeezing them all over a canvas. I wanted to lick them but I think that kind of thing is frowned upon (or encouraged, who knows, art people are weird).

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There were some Nick Cave costumes. I’ve spoken previously about how much I love Nick Cave’s work, and now I finally had the opportunity to walk right up to them and examine them right up close. That was great.

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These stitched fabric doorknobs.

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This figurine. Rock that whale tail, little feller!

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This yarn tractor.

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And these clouds painted in stages on twelve panes of glass giving the impression of three-dimensionality. This idea I might steal. You should too, it’s a great idea.

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I may go again next year (if Neenernator snags another free ticket, it is not worth $40 to me) and see what there is to see.

The other thing I did recently was see “All The Way,” the play on Broadway about President Johnson starring Bryan Cranston. It was so great IF (I made that if capitalized for a reason) you like historical drama. Did you think the movie Lincoln was gripping and fascinating? You’re going to love “All The Way.” Did you think Lincoln was sooooo dull and tedious? You’re going to not like “All The Way.” I was riveted for several reasons: one, I find history really interesting because it happened, it’s not fiction. Second, my complete lack of American history knowledge worked for me because all the reveals were shocking surprises. Wait, Martin Luther King had extramarital sex?!?? J. Edgar Hoover was gay?!? The South used to be Democratic?!?!! Quelle surprise (pour moi)! I went with my father and since he’s 83 he totally remembers LBJ and he said Bryan Cranston was spot-on. In addition to the show being excellent, the production design (set, lighting, AV) was phenomenal. There were moving set pieces and syncing video and flashing lights that were critical to conveying plot points to the audience, and they were all perfect and tight. It was impeccable. I highly recommend going. Favorite line: “Nothing comes easy. Nothing bad, but also nothing good. When a carpenter builds a barn, if wood could speak, it would be screaming.”

o-ALL-THE-WAY-facebook 85395 ATW Bryan Cranston

Things I have liked recently.

Friday, April 11th, 2014

1. http://onestarbookreview.tumblr.com/

One star book reviews. I especially appreciated this one because I often hate classical books:

“The evidence is mounting. I am a philistine.”

 

2. I didn’t ride on it the last time I was there, but there’s a Bug Carousel at The Bronx Zoo! I adore the dung beetle bench. If I ever got married, me and my beau would need to take fancy wedding pictures on the dung beetle bench.

bronxzoo.020 BugCarousel_BronxZoo bronxzoo.019 bronxzoo.014 bronxzoo.012 6

 

3. I now want to make see-through stickers and put them on things.

XNEU

 

4. I received some spam as I do on a regular basis. I was going to delete it, but before I did I noticed that it was sent from someone who’s name was “Breast Nexus.” Is that not the greatest name from a steamy romance novel? Seriously. I typed “Breast Nexus” into Google and got this:

breast-nexus

Wow. Okay. This photoshop then immediately had to be made.

madame-bovine-ovary

Japan 2014, Part finished.

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Okay. Here’s the company that I took my tour with:

http://alljapantours.com/

And here’s the itinerary for the winter tour.

Winter Highlights – Snow Monkey & Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival Tour

Helpful tips that I have accrued:

1. Bring a ton of yen. It’s a cash-based country and there are very few ATMs. For my two-week vacation I used about $1000 (10,000 yen). I also bought a whole bunch of stuff so you may use less, but it’s good to have it on hand.

2. Wear slip-on shoes. If you visit places of interest, there is a good chance you will have to take off your shoes. It’s a pain in the kiester to tie and untie them because more often than not there’s no place to sit or anything so you end up doing this awkward hopping dance in an attempt to get the shoe on your foot. Also, try not to have socks with holes in them. Japanese people think that’s impolite.

3. On escalators, hold on to the opposite side than in the U.S. if you’re standing still. They drive on the opposite side of the road, so you hold on to the other side of the escalators.

4. Leave lots of time to get anywhere. The train stations are huge and confusing with multiple floors and an enormous floorplan. You will get lost a great deal. Budget in time for that. Try to grab as many maps as you can wherever you are. They are a lifesaver. Did I mention most streets don’t have names?

5. Schoolchildren will walk up to you and ask you if you can answer some questions. Do not panic. This is a common school assignment. They will ask you about three very basic questions (“Where are you from?”) and more likely than not they will struggle to understand your answer because they are in their first year of English. Then they will ask to take a photo with you. That’s it. No biggie.

6. Sometimes when you ask for directions Japanese people will run away from you. It’s not because you are gross. It’s because even through they understand you and know where you want to go they’re ashamed of their pronunciation of English. They know they get the “R” and “L” thing wrong and they don’t want you to hear them talk. If they don’t run away they may give you directions only using their hands.

7. Try very very hard not to say “no.” You have no idea how difficult this is. It’s like trying to not think about pink elephants. The Japanese think that the word no is super-offensive, so you have to use work-arounds. I saw a girl visibly recoil after The Moomins said no to her. I used “I’m afraid not, but thank you,” while bowing copiously and making an I’m-so-sorry face.

8. Bring a washtowel with you. Many bathrooms don’t have towels or dryers so most everyone has a tea-towel in their purse. (I did what I do in the States which is wipe my hands on my cotton t-shirts, classy 4ever).

9. People don’t eat and walk simultaneously so there are surprisingly few trashcans. If you expect to have trash, bring a small plastic bag with you. There will be garbage cans and recycle bins near large banks of vending machines so you can wait until you get to one. But like on the street? No trashcans.

10. If you order sushi and the waitress says, “Wasabi?” say no. They will slather your sushi with wasabi on the inside so you can’t scrape it out and your head will go up in flames. Learn from my mistakes (I did it twice).

11. Okay, how the subways work in Tokyo. You go down the stairs in your station and you go up to the ticket machines. Above it will be a giant graph. You find the station you are in and the station you wish to go to. Depending on the distance the prices will be 160 yen, 240 yen, etc. You punch the number of tickets you need and the corresponding yen amount for each ticket (the buttons are really simple like Fisher-Price) and little raffle tickets will come out. You go up to the ticket turnstile, shove the raffle ticket in the turnstile and it will pop out after the spinny bit. Save that ticket. Do not throw it away. You will need it to exit at your destination station. There’s a turnstile to get out. You shove the raffle ticket in there and the machine eats it. Then you can leave.

12. If you forget everything else, the three things you mustn’t do under any circumstance is stick your chopsticks upright in your rice, go into an onsen still dirty or with soap on you or have the nasty soles of your shoes touch anything it’s not supposed to touch. Be nice to everyone and speak softly. Everyone knows you’re a big dumb foreigner, they’re going to set their standards low. You’ll be fine. Have fun.

Here’s a great video of mascots dancing. Because Japan.

http://youtu.be/BP469wlVuZU

Addendum: This is cool. Japanese demons that get you while you’re on the (heated) toilet.

http://io9.com/14-terrifying-japanese-monsters-myths-and-spirits-1498740680