I think I might get into heaven now.

December 30th, 2017

How was everyone’s Christmas? Hopefully good. Mine was good. I went to two Christmas parties. At the first one on Christmas Eve I received a present from my new niecephew: a black t-shirt.

And on Christmas Day I went to a friend’s house for Christmas where I received… a black t-shirt.

I consider that a win. I’ve set up a range of things I like (black t-shirts, snarky comments on said t-shirts) and people are paying attention. This is excellent.

Now, concerning the title of this post. I made nice things for others really hard this year. I had said I was going to make stockings for the mantle for my niecephew and BOOM! they were born and I hadn’t started on a single sock. I sewed like the wind. I bought plain burlap stockings and using felt, beads and sequins I thoroughly pimped them out. I tried not to make them too feminine or masculine because I don’t want to reinforce gender colors but they still had to be holiday-themed.  I feel like I accomplished my goals.

While at work in early December I heard a young girl in the design group talking about how her cousin wants a rhinestone-covered S’well bottle. The only problem is that they cost $1,500. For a water bottle. I should have just walked on by but I cannot hear about a craft project and not offer to help. I should tattoo “SUCKA” across my forehead to make everything faster. Anyway, due to time constraints I ended up encrusting the top and not the whole bottle. I did it ombre because why the hell would I not. Pale pink to cream to crystal clear. I’ve never done anything like that and I’m actually glad I took this project on because I learned much about the rhinestoning of things. (And in keeping with the sucker motif, I only charged the $25, the cost of the raw materials. I gave her my time for free. My patronus is a vacuum. Sigh.)

 

Addendum: Totally forgot that over the holiday break I helped a co-worker with a master’s thesis in Keynote, repaired and rebuilt another cow-worker’s broken necklace AND made my sister an overdue birthday present. HEAVEN. I’M GETTIN’ IN.

The bounty of the Internet is endless.

December 25th, 2017

1. There’s a guy named Keaton Patti who loves Photoshop. He fixes screengrabs from the PBS program Antiques Roadshow and makes them truthful and real and I certainly appreciate all his hard work.
3c4 ab32932567261eb8e690714db50e19a5 f14 tumblr_oknk8lYN4E1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_ol873tKE4I1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_olh7ncfxJq1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_olhvvrn1Su1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_olizq1lPar1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_oluiz1q6H01sug43ho1_500 tumblr_olzr4o2Wwd1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_omsdegEWRv1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_on0oqq1XBE1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_on2pf8i2Cj1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_on4enhVnCC1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_on6b8q7Tsf1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_on14qrkqEg1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_onc02xCNQ81sug43ho1_500 tumblr_onjbp6pUpe1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_onjfjjieqZ1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_onnew05MqG1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_onnsveoViq1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_onsn2e0FaU1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_onusrfOL3C1sug43ho1_500

He has more of this and other stuff on his Tumblr.

 

2. Have you heard “Sweet Dreams” played on a collected of floppy disk readers? No? Well, I can fix that. (Thanks for introducing this to me, B.)

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

 

3. This is self-explanatory and I start ugly-laughing every time I read it.

17630058_1358297977549653_2443569579794525705_n Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 12.12.52 PM

 

4. I could watch this video all day.

http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2017/04/blooming-kinetic-sculptures-built-with-wire-by-casey-curran/

 

5. There’s a page on Reddit called Ambien thoughts. People go there after taking the popular sleeping pill and write down their thoughts. I find it HIGH-larious (see what I did there?). Some of the comments are fine and normal:

And then there’s all the rest of them. Hoo boy. Don’t do drugs, kids.

 

6. I love calligraphy. I love bugs and fruit and plants. Ergo, this is magnificent. I mean, those cherries. <3 <3 <3

http://publicdomainreview.org/collections/the-model-book-of-calligraphy-1561-1596/

 

7. And finally people, who apparently never freakin’ learn, made a poll so The Public could name seven new planets. The Public responded accordingly.

Additional item that reinforces my point that you should never let The Internet name anything ever:

 

I made some stuff. Let’s look at it.

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.

The television gods have blessed us with a bountiful year.

December 12th, 2017

As a hardcore crafter I am perpetually on a quest for television to “watch” while I’m making whatever I’m making and it seems like I have quite a vast choice. There are both new series and series that slipped past me that I can binge and stuff into my brainhole while I create masterpieces (like Christmas stockings for my new niece and nephew, they’re extremely festive) (the stockings are festive, not the niecephew, they’re newborns and they don’t really do much). Here’s my reviews of my latest consumptions:

Mindhunter. I LOVE police procedurals and Forensic Files and documentaries on the criminally insane (I do a stellar Robert Durst impression, btw) so when I found out there was a sorta-kinda-based on a true story about how the Behavioral Science Unit was developed at the FBI, I jumped right on. Added bonus for me: The lead is played by Jonathan Groff who I have a soft spot for since I saw him in Spring Awakening. It starts slow but it picks up around episode 3. As with all sorta-kinda-based on a true stories, the good parts are all there word-for-word and the boring bits (because life is chock-full of boring bits, it’s all insurance paperwork and dentist appointments as far as the eye can see) have been jazzed up to keep you invested. For example, in real life the lead was married but on the show he’s dating and figuring out who he is and all that. And everyone is absurdly attractive. I was unaware that the FBI is filled with models and the occasional character actor for “realism.” One aspect of the series that I liked were the many conversations about what makes a man (it’s pretty much always a man, sorry dudes) a serial killer? There’s a line in the first episode which summarizes the focus.

Serial killers don’t have the same motivations as killers who are angry at a specific person, or feel slighted by a specific person, or want money from a specific person. They kill for the joy of killing or to fulfill a need deep inside, but we know now that there are some clear markers so we can occasionally apprehend them early. We know that they are almost always men. And as children they often hurt animals. And started fires. And were bullied and abused. More than half wet their beds until the age of twelve. Mindhunter is about the beginning of interviewing incarcerated serial killers to accrue this data and develop profiles. The best part of the show is the interviews with the serial killers. They are taken directly from videos and tapes and whoever the casting director is deserves an Emmy. The actors playing the serial killers are spot-on. For example, Ed Kemper. Ed Kemper, in case you didn’t know, was a GIANT man who was treated like dirt and demeaned by his mother every day for his entire life. So he killed her (okay), then he decapitated her (less okay) and had sex with her head (I’m out). He killed a bunch of other women which is why he’s classified as a serial killer but the matricide is the really special one. The actor totally nails Ed and every scene he’s in is riveting.

I found a video explaining all the characters and their real-life counterparts for further clarification. But I recommend just watching the series because it’s a good chewy series. Chewy shows mean that you mull it over later and do further research and ask questions. It’ makes you think.

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

 

The Americans. Even though I lived through it I have no recollection of the Cold War in the 1980s. The show is about two people, a man and a woman, who are U.S.S.R. spies that have integrated themselves into suburban Washington D.C. life in order to gather information to send back to Mother Russia. Aside from being badasses, the two characters have to figure out why they’re fighting and lying and coercing and whether they find themselves embracing Western culture against their will. In addition, they have two teenage children that are starting to suspect that something is off. And their neighbor is an FBI agent. This is a tough show to pull off because the main characters are in costume to hide their identity frequently and they have to have backstories to the every person they’re leading and it could get so confusing very quickly but it doesn’t. I also like that the creators trusted their audience to not be total idiots and let the Russian conversations be in Russian with subtitles (as opposed to English with a Russian accent or something stupid like that). Fun Fact: I thought that the trope in movies where people meet on park benches and exchange state secrets was a Hollywood trope but apparently that is real thing that actually happened and is happening! I could be adjacent to the planning of a coup while feeding ducks! Who knew? There’s one more season left to air and I’d like to see how they wrap it up. Or not. However they choose to end it.

http://www.fxnetworks.com/shows/the-americans

 

Orphan Black. This one has been on my must-watch for a long time but it was always like, ehhhhhhhh, I’ll watch something else. I finally buckled down and now I’m in the beginning of season 3. The basic plot is there are a number of clones of the same woman, somewhere around eleven of them, and they’re only just learning about each others’ existences and the fact that they were made in a lab and the fact that the lab still wants to study them. It delves into the idea of property because these “sisters” believe they belong to themselves but the lab believes they are lab property because the sequencing of their genome was patented. Actually, here’s the first paragraph from the Wikipedia:

Orphan Black is a Canadian science fiction thriller television series created by screenwriter Graeme Manson and director John Fawcett, starring Tatiana Maslany as several identical people who are clones. The series focuses on Sarah Manning, a woman who assumes the identity of one of her fellow clones, Elizabeth Childs, after witnessing Childs’ suicide. The series raises issues about the moral and ethical implications of human cloning, and its effect on issues of personal identity.

Tatiana Maslany is one of the best actresses because she created distinct mannerisms and personalities for all these different women who are often onscreen at the same time. The series has ended and I cannot wait to see what she works on next.

Those are all her. It’s amazing what Tatiana does. And the plot is very engaging. You don’t know who to trust, a group of people are trying to kill all the clones because they are an abomination unto the Lord, the government is involved, it’s a whole thing. That does not mean the series is without levity. One of my favorite moments is when Vic, a reformed drug dealer in rehab, gets a spiked drink and passes out face-first on a table filled with children’s crafting supplies. He hits that table HARD. Note how there are no feathers flying in the air and as soon as he hits the ground feathers flutter down all around as if they were released from the ceiling at a Katy Perry concert. I could watch this on a loop for a good half-hour.

http://www.bbcamerica.com/shows/orphan-black

Gifts for the holidays.

December 7th, 2017

It’s getting close to the holidays but I still wanted to show some handmade options for gift-giving. I’ve found if you get someone something that they would adore, especially if the gift is hand-made, the receiver is okay with receiving it after December. Here are some of my stores to support.

1. Margarita Zimina. Margarita does dipped flowers in the style of the famous kanzashi designer Sakae. While it is straight-up impossible to buy Sakae’s work you can actually get Margarita’s work. I know that because I own two of her pieces and they are stunning. She’s lovely to communicate with and her pieces are incredibly beautiful in person. Big recommend from me.

 

2. LucysLittlePeople. Lucy makes tiny polymer charms of birds or your pet (if you send her a picture) and they are super-accurate and give me cuddly feelings in my heart. No surprise I want that pigeon. Honestly though, I would like any of her work, it’s so sweet.

 

3.  Bespoke Glass Tile. Lesley Green does predominantly geometric shapes (which are precise as hell, mad props to her, that is hard) but she also makes some organic items like the cactii. I could stare at her work all day as the sun moves across the sky. I love the layering and the use of three-dimensional space.

I have made a mistake.

December 4th, 2017

“Gosh, the news is chockful of depressing politics. Let’s look at non-political news, that’s gotta be better, right?”

 

 

A note: This wasn’t photoshopped. Those were precisely the links on the side of a news page I went to. Unedited. What a magical time to be alive.

Italian-American wedding. I was not ready.

December 2nd, 2017

I feel like, having lived in the diverse tri-state area for the all of my life so far, I have been exposed to many different cultures and their customs. I had not, however, been to an upscale Italian-American wedding. It was… intense. I’ve been to upscale Jewish weddings and I thought they were lavish but I was WRONG and INCORRECT. Let me give you some backstory: the couple is from Staten Island (Italian-American Mecca #1) and New Jersey (Italian-American Mecca #2). I’m surprised when they walk around, this music doesn’t automatically play in the background and the smell of fresh pizza wafts through the air.

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

For the rest of this story I will give the bride and groom the pseudonyms JJ and Esteban to protect their identity. I went to the ceremony which was fine, standard Catholic ceremony, very sweet, the bride looked beautiful, parking in Hoboken was difficult, nothing out of the ordinary.

After that we drove into the wilds of New Jersey to the reception. Okay. I used to mock Esteban that his family made this commercial (pertinent part about halfway through with Scarlett Johannson):

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/marble-columns/n12141?snl=1

So imagine my unbridled glee with we pulled up to The One And Only Westmount Country Club (that’s its name).

Here’s a better picture I found on the internet.

Guys. If I had to sum up this place with one specific description, it would be “rainbow-cycling LED uplights.” It was on the outside of the building. It was in the trees. It was in the entry hall. It was in the floors of the reception area and in the chandeliers.

After walking under this glorious castle-like overhang I was greeted with glossy veined marble stairs with uplighting between every stair and fifty small chandeliers that changed color (you can see some of them in the back part of the picture). My friend Børkke had to pull me aside and remind me to behave myself because OMG.

There were attendants passing out drinks and hors d’oeuvres, all dressed in long, t-shirt material evening gowns and elbow-length black gloves. There was a stack of champagne glasses with small amounts of colored flavored syrup and the attendant would pour champagne into them.

There were plenty of snacks in the hallway – an assorted meat cart, an assorted cheese cart, a big plate of fruits, little snakkies, ladies bringing festive drinks around – so I thought that was a light cocktail hour. It was not. It was TRASH. We were eating TRASH from a DUMPSTER compared to the cocktail hour. Eventually they opened the door into the cocktail hour and it was pure gluttony. It was so fancy and excessive I kept waiting for French revolutionaries to storm the building and execute us all via guillotine. There were, I kid you not, maybe fifteen stations. I’ll try to remember all of them. There was veal scaloppini, risotto, chicken tetrazinni, arancini, kale and white beans, prime rib, thick-cut bacon and a full suckling pig wearing a chef’s hat. Those were the hot station with servers. Then there was the seafood area, complete with a two-foot tall ice sculpture of a fish, and that had oysters and crab claws and jumbo shrimp. There were about twenty different salads and a huge pile of pickled vegetables, antipasto-style. There was a person with a fancy shiny silver slicing machine and he would cut you molecule-thin strips of prosciutto. There was cheese. There was a fruit platter the size of a baby stroller. And, I might add, that’s only the parts of the room that I saw. There was a whole lot of remaining room I did not explore. There was more. It was insane. I was not well-behaved. Esteban came over to say hi and thank us for coming to the wedding. Did I say, “You looked nice?” Did I say, “It was a beautiful ceremony?” No. What I greeted him with was, “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME IT WAS LIKE THIS?? I WOULD HAVE BROUGHT TUPPERWARE!!” Favorite picture of the night: someone offered to take a picture of our group of friends and said we should put down our plates and smile. I flat-out refused. Nothing interrupts Shrimp Time.

Eventually cocktail hour ended (why??? why did it have to end???) and in order to inform us that the proper reception was going to begin an otherwordly thing occurred. A bored, visibly pregnant attendant wearing the t-shirt evening gown and the elbow-length black gloves walked around the room like a spectre strumming a small set of chimes which sounded like when they have a flashback on a TV show. I feel like that’s what happens when you pass away in your sleep: a dead-eyed pregnant woman enters your dream slowly walking around in a stretchy black dress and fancy gloves making woobly-woobly sounds from a tiny percussive instrument. That’s your cue to get coins to pay Charon so he can ferry you across the river Styx. As soon as this apparition departed the lights dimmed and a curtain rose up to reveal the reception hall. At that moment I gave up all pretense of being a calm collected human being and started cheering and clapping. I was the only one. Everyone else was whelmed. I was flipping out. There were flowers everywhere and silver chafing dishes on the table and an 11-person band and swirly lights bouncing off of the giant chandeliers. I ended up taking a ton of pictures because the lights kept changing color and I couldn’t decide which color palette I liked best. After much culling of jpgs I’ve decided on this one.

The two bars in the back of the room looked like giant chrome spaceships. And there was a woman live-painting the party off to the side of the dance floor.

My only major complaints are, when announced, the couple did not rise up out of the floor and during the first dance there was no smoke machine workin’ overtime to create faux-mist. Way to drop the ball, Esteban. Other than that it was lovely. There was drinking and dancing and dinner, all of which was fine.

And then I saw the fire.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man wheel what appeared to be a crucible filled with liquid metal into the middle of the dance floor. I blame Game of Thrones for this, but does everyone who watches the show remember in Season One when Khal Drogo gives Jerkface McBlondDragon a “crown” by pouring molten gold over his head? Great scene. Here’s a link. You can start it about halfway through.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Akl6OK2HUNA

So when this made an appearance I was like, “Oh no, someone did the family wrong and as a gesture of goodwill they’re going to kill that person in the middle of the dance floor! This wedding is amazing! And horrifying! I am awash in emotions!” Turns out it was an enormous baked Alaska and it signified the beginning of the dessert train. Following the baked Alaska was the wedding cake (which was small and tasteful and did not have white doves or a naked lady pop out, so meh), then there was a guy on a bicycle pushing a full gelato stand (holy crap), but the piece de resistance in my opinion was the giant shiny brass chocolate fountain that had milk chocolate on one side and white chocolate on the other and they cascaded down and around each other in twinkling gravy boats into a huge punch bowl with a partition in the middle so the two chocolates didn’t mix. After that came the full espresso / cappuccino cart but who cares because did you see the chocolate fountain? I now know how the wayward Israelites felt in front of the golden calf. I was obsessed with the chocolate fountain.

https://youtu.be/5gVs3iA-Ef4

And then there was more dancing and more frolicking and then it was over and we took some flower arrangements and went home. If you get invited to any event, a circumcision, a tax-filing conference, anything, at the Westmount Country Club, I highly recommend you go. Here’s a promotional video that has the chime ladies. And additional footage of the flaming dessert.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gMUnVMRuzo

Y’all need some charts. Allow me to supply them for you.

November 28th, 2017

 

And The Most Useless Chart of All Time.

It’s an animal post!

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.

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.