Archive for January, 2012

Costa Rica.

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

I am leaving for Costa Rica in two days for a nine-day vacation, and one of the places I’m going is a butterfly farm where hopefully this will happen to me:

I’m sure I will have a million photos when I return. Start getting excited about that.

Addendum: I’m back. That did not happen to me. Still a phenomenal trip, though.

Burning Man Costume 1.

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Even though I studied some costume design in college, I always have problems when I make a costume. One specific problem, actually. I keep forgetting that it is not important that the costume look good up close, it has to have impact from twenty or thirty feet away. I get so obsessed with minutiae that I end up fussing over these tiny little bits that from a distance don’t look like anything. I promised myself I would attempt to rectify this error, so every time I design an element for this Burning Man costume I like I pat myself on the back, good job Jess, and then I immediately make the thing twice as large. I try to make it so big I feel ridiculous about wearing it. Then I know I’m in the right area. So far I have made a kelp necklace, 56 barnacles and three orange seastars.

I made the kelp necklace before I had my “bigger, simpler, more garish” epiphany, so it is small, delicate and softly colored. But I had beaded it already, so I’m incorporating it nonetheless.

The top part is a large tube so that if it’s possible I can slide a thin strip of LEDs into it and they will shine through the glass seed beads. I’m creating a lot of semi-translucent and / or pierced and / or hollow elements in the hopes that some of them can be wired for light. I’m not expecting all of them to be, but I don’t know which ones will be feasible and which won’t, so I’m making a bunch of them lighting-friendly.

Seastars. Big, simple, orange, with reflective sequins. I’m making two more seastars in pink, and they will be slightly larger and have more reflective sequins.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of ocean research, and the thing I have learned about the shores and most coral reefs (which is where I’m basing my costume on) is that it is not very colorful. The rocks and the sands and the kelp and the seaweed and the coral is predominantly four colors: medium brown, bottle-green with some yellow in it, muted grape-purple, and sickly dusty pink. Mostly the brown and the green with a smidge of the purple and the pink. A jazzy yellow fish or a bright blue anemone pop up all over, but the majority is rather bleh. So the base of my costume will be brownish-greenish with brightly-colored characters scattered about. And I won’t be making any fish. I will have crabs, sea slugs, sea worms, the above-mentioned seastars, snails, anemones, urchins, clams maybe, and an enormous jelly. The closest thing I’m going to have to a fish is putting scales on my corset. It’s just everyone when they think of ocean think of fish, and there are so many other under-appreciated oceanic beasties that I want to highlight.

Speaking of one of those beasties, here are my barnacles. I put a pencil into the photo to give you a sense of scale.

I’ll keep updating as I create more pieces of this exciting ensemble.


Friday, January 20th, 2012

The Moomins likes African art, which is fine. She’s from Africa and she’s entitled to like whatever she wants. (I do not, by the way, tend towards African art in general. It’s not persnickety and perfection-oriented enough for me. I lean more towards Asian art, specifically Japanese. But I digress.) Normally I tolerate the fact that her house is filled with odd figurines that look at me funny in the night and weird bowls with jacked-up-looking animals painted on them. However, on her last trip she returned with a sculpture that is not okay. She can have whatever wacky art she wants but this is just gross and my father and I are perpetually creeped out by it. And OF COURSE she insists on it being displayed right above the television where it’s in your face and you cannot escape its horror. Let me clue you in. It’s a clay sculpture, about ten inches tall of a goat standing upright like a man. A goat whose front is covered with leopard-print boobs that birds are drinking from. The feet are pig snouts and birds are eating from them as well. You with me so far?

That’s all fine, sort of. Until you turn the sculpture around and WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE OH MY GOD GET IT AWAY FROM ME.

Why? Why, Mom? At one point she attempted to explain how it represents the artist’s rage at his treatment, blah blah blah, but all I could think of was a bunch of birds chowing down on the poop coming out of a goat’s ass and I couldn’t hear anything else she said. I would simply break it “unintentionally” but it’s expensive and The Moomins would be so sad, I can’t bring myself to do it. Now my father and I are stuck watching TV with this atrocity grinning down on us. But The Moomins is happy, so I guess that’s all that matters. And I don’t live there. That helps.

10/17/2013 Addendum: She broke it! She was cleaning it and it broke! It’s an early Christmas miracle. I’m so happy.

I’ve been watching movies and television, which should really come as no surprise to anyone.

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

First, I watched Pee-Wee Herman’s Big Adventure for the first time, which was exciting. Not so much the movie, but watching it with Snorth. See, this is Snorth’s most favoristest movie ever, she has seen it approximately eighty times. So naturally I invited her over to Cricket’s house to watch it in his movie theater. One might find her hysterical giggling and, “Oooh, oooh, best line ever coming up!” and, “This scene scared the crap out of me my whole childhood” annoying, but I found her enthusiasm infectious. I think I enjoyed it more than if I had watched it alone or worse, with Cricket, who is a fun-sponge and has a God-given talent to suck the excitement out of the room merely by walking into it*. As a gift to Snorth I made two animated gifs from the film. One, Large Marge’s epic facial moment (thank you, Tim Burton):

And two, the expression Pee-Wee makes when he is forced to carry snakes out of a burning pet store:

The second thing I’ve been watching is Battlestar Galactica (the new one from 2005, not the older one from the late 70s). I normally don’t care for science fiction, but this isn’t really a show about science fiction. It’s more a show about struggling to survive all alone while something you barely understand tries to annihilate you, which makes it an inherently interesting premise. I have a couple of thoughts about the show.

1. If everyone is wearing the same uniform, maybe you should not hire four handsome strong-jawed chestnut-haired men to play four different roles. I keep getting them confused. If you know the show, it’s Chief  Tyrol, Helo, Hot Dog and sometimes Apollo if the camera is zippin’ around enough. What, are there no Aryan Nazi-looking guys in the future? No Anthony Michael Hall-lookin’ folks? That is unfortunate.

2. Does anyone else find the theme song unbearable? I think it reminds me of that damn Sarah McLachlan song they use in all the ASPCA commercials, and I have been trained Pavlov’s-dog-style to hear that “Angel” song and immediately get sad about all the doggies and kitties with their woeful eyes. Gotta say I love all the drumming and didgeridoo-ing in the background of the battle scenes, very tension-filled and exciting.

3. It’s hard to take the mechanical-looking Cylons seriously when they have Knight Rider woosh-woosh red lights on their faces. I always hear Kit saying “Michael” over and over when I see them. That being said, their fingers that just pop out all blade-like are super-rad and I want them. If I was a Cylon who looked like a human (spoiler but not really because that is the premise of the show and is revealed in the first episode) I would insist on keeping the long stabby magic metal fingers.

4. Lieutenant Starbuck is BAD-ASS. That is all I have to say about that.

5. I say “fracking this” and “fracking that” all the time now. It really is brilliant, substituting “frack” for the other f-word. It sounds similar enough that gets the point across beautifully and no one at the FCC can nail you for cursing because technically, you’re not. Between me saying “frack” from Battlestar Galactica and “gorram” from Firefly, I am getting too nerdy for words.

Everyone says that it gets really crappy halfway through Season Three, so I’m bracing myself for that. However, I’m presently in the middle of Season Two and everything’s great, so I prefer to not think about the lameness to come.


*You will know it has happened by the “shluuuurrrrrp” sound, followed everyone putting their heads down on the table and falling asleep.

Addendum on 2/15/12: Now at the middle of Season 3. It did get kinda dumb. But now I have to watch until the end because that’s what I have to do. Ehhh.

Several HIGHLY unrelated things.

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

1. I watched “Intervention” on Monday and it was the usual. “My name is Brooke / Steve / Vanessa and I am addicted to meth / Oxy / huffing Febreze / whatever.” Followed by footage of their crappy life on drugs. The super-bummed-out family tells how he / she was a precious little angel as a child. One of them inevitably says, “Always smiling, always happy.” The drug enthusiast who is the focus of this particular episode makes a comment about how they don’t know how they’re going to go on like this, and if they’re on an opiate they doze off while they say it. Cut to commercial. It’s the same every time. But something stood out for me on this week. The chick was addicted to black tar heroin and had been for five years, since she was sixteen. I was impressed with her. She was practically an advertisement for the stuff. She looked great (aside from the slurring of the words and the small weird bumps on parts of her arms from injecting in one place too much) and her description of how heroin feels, mmmm, it sounds delicious. Something about warm honey flowing through your veins – I wanted to whip out anything that could be construed as a tourniquet right then. (Relax, I am not going to start dancing with Mr. Brownstone. Everyone stay calm.) But that’s not the thing that stood out. At one point, they talked about how she’s homeless and sleeping on the street with her boyfriend, and then they showed her wearing a white shirt. A white shirt that is white. Following that they showed her shooting up in the white shirt, which remains white. I wear predominantly black because of a variety of reasons, but one of the main ones is that I find it damn near impossible to not stain my clothes with soy sauce or any other food I might place in my mouth. It will, guaranteed, end up on my boobal area. So I am to understand that a homeless heroin addict who is making pinholes in herself that then cause her blood to leak out is more capable of keeping her clothes clean than me? Because that’s what I’m taking away from this. And gosh darn it, if that don’t make you feel bad about yourself, I don’t know what will.

2. Eels! Specifically moray eels. They give me the heebie-jeebies because their mouths extend too far back, or maybe their eyes are too far forward and close to their nose, one of the two. I was watching a special on them recently and thought they had reached maximum creepitude but I was incorrect. Scientists were wondering how the moray eel pulled its food into its mouth and throat, and through careful scientific study it was discovered that the eels have a second set of jaws that pop out, grab the food and drag it inside which, I don’t know about you, is one of the most horrifying things I have ever heard. Want to see some video of it? Think carefully before you answer that.


3. In honor of ten years of dating, I forced Cricket to express his love for me through a sparkly object I can wear on my hand. I love this ring. It’s big, it’s old, the stone is an antique cut, it’s platinum, and it’s got rubies (my birthstone) all around the edge set in gold. The first few weeks I had it I couldn’t stop looking at it, so my co-workers nicknamed me Gollum. And when we moved to our new offices this last week, A small Gollum figurine managed to make its way onto my desk. I took a picture of my ring with Gollum holding it. It just seemed right.

Pumpkin Fest.

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Welcome to 2012! We’re all gonna die in either May or December, so that’s a fun thing to look forward to. Two things I want to cover. One, Snorth and I went to the local cat show and it was the same old same old of insanely beautiful cats and their super-odd owners. I didn’t take any pictures (you can go here and see previous cat show pics if you are so inclined) but I did have to take one specific shot. This one.

Okay. You don’t just put that sign in the water fountain, right? This implies that one, or possibly more than one, persons or peoples have attempted to cleanse their yewling felines in the water fountain. Right? I won’t lie, it made me want to wash a cat right then and there. Just grab any random one hanging around and SOAK IT ON UP, YEAH, SOGGY CAT TIME! Cats don’t like that though, so I didn’t. But I thought about it.

Two, I’ve been meaning to talk about this pumpkin festival I went to back in October. It was called the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze and there were a whole lotta pumpkins (not surprisingly). It covered the grounds of a fancy country home on the banks of the Hudson River. Seriously, illuminated pumpkins everywhere. My college classmate Jay Woods did the lighting design, so mad props to him – some of the pumpkins had candles in them, but many of the pumpkins had electrical lights because, hey, keeping 4,000+ candles lit is a hellish task meant for no man. It was indeed great, mainly because it felt like something one would go to in ye olden tymes. “Oh yes, Edward, let us venture into the countryside via carriage to look at the carved pumpkins strewn all over the estate. They have been lit with candles, it’s all very festive. We’ll drink mulled wine and then die of typhoid, etc.” Here’s the entrance.

I think there were professional carvers working for a month beforehand, but to create the full effect of OMGGOURDSALLOVER they had girl scouts and various other children’s groups carve other pumpkins that were on the lawn as you walked up. It was impressive to say the least.

There was an abstract snake shape over the entire left section that was guarded by ghosts.

The jack o’lanterns weren’t all on the ground. Whoever designed this came up with some really cool ways to use the pumpkins to their full potential. Like the corn and sunflower stalks.

And the beehive.

And the spiderweb.

And King Kong on top of a side building.

And these warrior-type figures. I don’t know if they symbolized anything, but they were neat nonetheless.

I had a couple favorite things. One was the sheep skeletons.

Another was the dinosaurs. Specifically the baby hatching out of the egg. I took a picture with flash and one without to show the full awesomeness of the egg idea. I suspect after seeing this you will make one for your front porch next year.

But my favorite thing was the intricately carved pumpkins, most likely using drills with different-sized drill bits as an integral part of the carving. They remind me of those Ukrainian painted eggs.

I recommend that if you’re in the New York area around Halloween next year, you give this a look-see.