Archive for January, 2011

Beetle. The companion to the cicada.

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

You remember the cicada I made?

Well, I made him a beetle friend. Now he has someone to talk to during the day when I’m at work.

I need to make his head less shiny, but other than that, he’s a completed beetle. I’m going to use my laser stencil designs and combine the whole process into a really cool set of pieces.

Prince and the New Year.

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Did we all have a nice New Year’s? I got to see Prince  live, people. Live! I’ve been wanting to see him since high school, so this was super-exciting for me. I went with Börrke. He performed on a stage shaped like his Glyph symbol, and since we was in the mega-crappity seats, I was very grateful for the big screens. Prince is a little man (5’2″, woman’s size 4, itty bitty man), and when you’re up against the ceiling, he’s just a vibrant purple speck in your vision. Here are some pictures I took during the concert.

We were surrounded by all kinds of people, but the best people were the middle-aged black women. They were into it – singing, dancing, etc. One woman behind us had been appreciating hard liquor earlier in the evening, and she was hell-bent on hearing Prince sing a song called “Adore”. Every time he started playing something, she would scream out, “PRRRAAAAAAANCE! ADOOOOORRRRRE!!!” At one point, I said to Börrke, “Do you think she understands the concept of a set list? As in, the song are set in advance? It’s not a ‘yell out stuff’ list. Don’t be all screamin’  ‘Free Bird’ and whatnot.” Anyway, the super-awesome concert ended, and we decided to take the stairs down from the roof of Madison Square Garden (about ten flights). So does Adore Lady. She turned to me and says, “You know the song, right?” and she started belting it out. We’re smooshed in there with everyone else in the known universe and we’re moving at the speed of a glacier. A man started howling like a dog in response to Adore Lady’s enthusiastic singing. I turned to Börkke and said, “This is my hell – trapped for eternity on a never-ending downward-heading stairwell with a thousand other people moving really slowly while this woman sings ‘Adore’ and the other man howls like a castrated wolf. My hell. Welcome to it.”

Finally, about a million years later, we made it outside where I saw the Empire State Building. I would like to think it was purple in honor of Prince. So until someone tells me otherwise, that’s what I’m going to do.

And since I’m sure you’re curious, here’s a link to the song “Adore” (which Prince did not sing).


Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

One of the things I learned in college was keeping folders of inspiration. Before the Internet, during the dark ages when you couldn’t find anything you wanted at your fingertips in a split second, I kept a filing cabinet of inspiration. Everything I ever saw in a magazine that was of interest to me, I pulled out, labeled and shoved in its corresponding folder. Now with the beloved ‘net, I still do that, but on a much smaller scale. I now keep three-ring-binders of inspiration. Anything design-wise that strikes my fancy, I drop into a folder on my desktop labeled “scrapbook” and every month or so, I assemble them on pages, print them out and put them in my binder.

You’ll notice that just on these pages, we have: a book cover, a soccer ball, a wreath made of wire, logos, illustrations, a beer ad, graffiti, music posters, a pair of shoes, a web banner, etc., etc. Sometimes I’ll forget I liked something and I put it in there already, so I’ll have duplicates. I don’t berate myself. I like to that I liked it so much I put it in there twice. Like this crazy-ornate calligraphic letter (I think it’s an F).

Or this delightful Coca-Cola ad.

And even that freakin’ wallpaper I keep complaining about in commercials and music videos.

Now, if anybody thinks I use this for plagiarism, they aren’t really correct. What I do is when I am asked to create a design project and I’m not quite sure how to approach it, I ask myself, “Well, what am I trying to evoke in the viewer? Do I want them to feel a charming whimsy, or do I want it to feel like strong and powerful, or mystical and underwater, or bleak and sparse…?” Then I go through my scrapbooks and Post-It tag all the pictures that make me feel that way, and I assess why. I take those elements and incorporate it into my own project and hopefully I get the response I want. I use it as a starting-off point when I’m a bit stumped. And if you do anything like me, whether it is drawing or painting or designing or collage or embroidery or whatever, I highly recommend creating one of these for yourself. It takes that stress out of the beginning of the project.

T’raveling to T’ronto.

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

I bet you’ve been wondering where I’ve gone. I have been working like a dog. Brutal brutal work. I was busting my butt at my normal 12-hour-day-pace, and then I was asked to go to a high-end casino/convention hall for a meeting, which would kill my Saturday, Sunday and Monday. No problem, I packed up a bunch of laptops and clothes and plugs and dongles and clickers and toiletries and took a car to the casino, where I got to spend a lovely evening not gambling. I don’t gamble, so most of the charms of casinos are lost on me. But I did get to eat good food and sleep in a mad-comfortable bed and take a 900-degree shower where I came out looking like a boiled ham (that was my desired appearance, strangely enough. I like very hot showers.). I came back to the office on Monday evening expecting a nice relaxed week, but no! I was immediately told not to unpack because hey, you’re flying to Toronto tomorrow for another meeting! Jolly fun! Here’s the problem: I don’t mind working. I HATE HATE HATE flying places for business. To begin with, flying is a hassle of epic proportions. Now add two big ole heavy laptops and a projector to your carry-on, all of which you must unpack and lay out for the scanner along with your shoes and jacket and other possessions of DANGER!, and you have a colossal pain in the posterior. I make a very poor pack-llama. But for the bulk of this trip I was kickin’ butt, until The Incident. The pitch team and I were holed up in a meeting room at one of our sister offices, Publicis Toronto, which is in an old factory. The benefit of that are the giant windows and the wide-open spaces. The not-good thing is that the floor subtlely changes height all over the place by about and inch and a half. All over. So when everyone went to dinner, I decided to stay behind and work on some stuff, the CCO kept me company, and I got a phone call. So I’m not rude, I went into one of the cubicles waaaay on the other side of the building. I jabbered away, finished my call, and stepped out of the cubicle, not noticing the distinct difference in height. I then proceeded to collapse on myself like a fat deck of cards, lightly twisting both of my ankles, but mainly twisting the hell out of my right knee. I laid there like the Heisman Trophy on my side, making hissing and groaning noises and trying not to poop myself from the pain. Which is how my company’s CCO found me. Awesome. Really dignified. I made it through the meeting on the next day and got home with my 40-pound, $6,000 carry-on luggage, but I did it all while hobbling like Frankenstein. What tiny shreds of sex appeal I had blew away in the breeze when I entered the room with my stiff-legged Weeble penguin gait. Here’s the best part: I called my mom that evening of The Incident to inquire on the best type of care (apply ice). I then asked her to make a doctor’s appointment with an bone-n’-joint doctor. The next day she tried to make an appointment but they asked for my insurance info, which she didn’t have. So she called Cricket and asked him if he knew it, and she also called Börrke at the office and asked her. Now that Mummy had informed the entire planet of my debacle, I kept getting text messages like “ARE YOU OK????” and “Call me!!!! R U in a hospital?!?!!!” and the like. Lots of unnecessary drama. It turns out that I have what the medical community likes to call “a boo-boo”. Basically I just twisted it, now there’s a little swelling and a lot of ouchies, but it should go away by itself in ten days or so. Moral of the story: Jessica better not have to travel for work any time soon, because it sucks so very hard. I swear to God, I will go all Münchausen and break something on myself every time until they stop making me go.

In an unrelated note, I love how Canadians say the word “sorry”.

Washington D.C. – Roller Derby and the Zoo.

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

As you can probably deduce from the title, I went to Washington D.C. to visit a friend of mine, Moss. And we went to the Roller Derby. And the Zoo!

First, Roller Derby. I had never been to it, and I’ve always wanted to go. For those of you that don’t know, to simplify it down to its raw basic nature,  it’s a bunch of strong women rollerskating with other strong women pushing each other out of the way, often knocking each other down and getting points for their team in the process. While it’s similar to every other sport in the world, the thing I like about this particular activity is the sense of humor. For example, the participatin’ ladies all have really swell nicknames. And they pick numbers that are related with those nicknames. My favorites:

Ovary Action  – 28 Days
Chinese Cheker – 5354
Hoova Dayum – H2O
Marion Barrycuda – 311 (remember, this is Washington D.C. – ergo, funnier)
Dyke Diggler – 13 inches

There’s also HaBitchual OffendHer, Rachel MadHo, Lois Slain (she’s a reporter in real life, so that’s extra-cute), Ivana Tripabitch, Peaches N Cruelty and Wham Slam Bambi. The warm-up round was “Grinches vs. Santas”. The regular players had festive holiday nicknames like Blitzkreig Blitzen and Thumpa Coal, and they came out before the game and were introduced by the announcers. The grinches (dressed all in green) skated around the track in the shape of a Christmas tree, and the Santas (dressed all in red) formed the shape of a sleigh. Even the lead skater had a blinking red nose.

I tried to take pictures of the “jams”, as they’re called, but those girls move FAST. So here are my shots.

The next day Moss and I decided to see the pandas at the Zoo, but first we toddled off to experience the magic of chili. There’s a place in Arlington called The Hard Times Cafe. They have four kinds of chili. And they will put any combination of those chilis on a variety of substances. I chose half Texas chili, half Cincinnati chili on tater tots. Excellent decision, I must say.

Outside the Mecca of chili goodness was an oldey-timey truck…

…with a statue of a horse on the back, wearing mittens on its ears and fake antlers, and this sign propped up on its side.

Which is awesome.

Moss also showed me The Spite House. Here’s the story: A guy owned a house. He also owned the seven-foot alleyway between him and the house next door. People used to cut through the alleyway all the time, which really cheesed his crackers. So, Grumpy Guy built a house in the seven-foot alleyway, which is supposedly the thinnest house in America. It is called The Spite House and people do live there.

Now, on to the zoo. We did in fact see a panda, but he was far, far away, so I couldn’t take any pictures of him. I had never seen a panda before, and sure enough, they look like a soft, pillowy, black and white bear-shaped object. Which is nice to know. We also saw Indian elephants, a tiger, orangutans and a male lion roaring, which I had also never experienced, even though I have been to Africa a bunch of times, so that was so very cool. It is astonishingly loud and the sound really carries. It reverberates in your abdomen. I found a video of a lion roaring.

Does anyone who reads this watch Dirty Jobs? There’s an episode when Mike Rowe goes worm-grunting. You shove a wooden stake into the ground, rub an iron thingie over it, and it makes a groany sound. This causes the worms to come to the surface. You collect them and sell them to fishermen. The lion’s roar made me feel like a worm being grunted.

Here are some of the beasties I got to take pictures of. The bestest one was the red panda. Normally, when I see red pandas, they are in trees and they are napping. This was the first time I saw red pandas sauntering around, doing red panda stuff. I got some great shots of what might possibly be the cutest animal in all of creation.

So cuddly.

I was in the small mammals building, and there was a window casting a sunbeam right into the meerkat’s habitat. And a meerkat was standing right in it. It was precious.

And other meerkats were just standing around because, you know, that’s what they do.

There were also degus, which are small rodents that live in South America. They do a great deal of napping. And look, there’s a degu napping on another degu! Awwww.

In one of the habitats there was an armadillo being all invisible and buried underground, but if you looked up OMG burrow owls! Teeny tiny owls that live in holes in the ground! So happy!

Elephant shrew. Prehensile snoot. Lotta rooting around in the ground debris.

Poisonous froggies.

And the lamest scientific name ever. So not creative at all.

It was a lovely trip. I may have to swing by Washington D.C. again soon.