Archive for March, 2013

Spam, Subway and Fennec.

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

First of all, I realized that I talk about a variety of topics here, and how I came to that realization was when I received a piece of spam and had to read all the way to the bottom to figure that it was indeed spam.

Doesn’t that look like something someone would write to me? I immediately assumed, oh, someone is writing to me about mucus, that’s makes complete sense. I’m not sure if that’s sad or awesome. I really don’t care deeply one way or the other. Moving on.

I once saw a video that I totally cannot find now that taught me something I did not know concerning the NYC subway. If you look carefully, you will notice a zebra-striped sign near the ceiling in every subway station. They look like this:

Now, the conductor of the train sits in the center of the train, and when he sees that sign he knows to stop because he is fully in the station and when the doors open everyone will have a platform to step out onto. AND, in order to prove that he saw it, he must point to it. Every time. Lower the wee window, stick his hand out and point. Sure enough, I was standing under the sign today when the train pulled up. The conductor lowered the window, pointed to the sign, and then put his window back up. It was like spotting a celebrity for me. “Holy crap, Pointy Finger! That’s so awesome!” And, not surprisingly, the people around me could not fathom why I was so psyched, which is the story of my life. You should make a point (see what I did there??) to try to stand under the zebra sign the next time you are in a NY subway and experience the magic for yourself.

Addendum – 10/29/13: Look what I saw today! An article on the stripey boards!

My friend JR is expecting a little boy shortly and he asked me to paint a mural in the kid’s room in the style of Charley Harper. Charley Harper was an illustrator who was well-known for his clean geometric blocks of color style. His main subject was wildlife. Very mid-century. Jonathan Adler was clearly inspired by Harper. It’s a little bit difficult for me to work with because it is so opposite from the ornate, overly flowery style I tend to favor, but I love the challenge. I have to take all the elements they requested (birch trees, fox, rabbit, woodpecker, etc.) and try to reduce them down to their basic shapes with only essential details to convey what they are. I still need to add a squirrel, but otherwise it’s almost done.

In the process of doing research for this, I came across someone else’s Charley-Harper-style work. It’s a fennec done by an illustrator named Lauren Taylor and I think it’s lovely.

Addendum: This, my friend, this is some creative Banksy-type stuff. The people who both ride and work on the London Subway System have a good sense of humor. I think we’re far too litigious here in the U.S. to get away with some of those. Another point for London.

Oh, cinema. What’s going on with you? Were you always like this?

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Last night I went over to Nessa’s house in an attempt to get into work this morning at a reasonable hour (I failed, we stayed up until 1:00 a.m. then went to work at my usual time which is late). We spent the entire evening slumped on her couch yelling at her flatscreen with her apartment-mate. I don’t normally post people’s real names, but Nessa’s apartment-mate has the best name. You ready? Edward Christmas. For real. Wait, it gets better. Upon learning his name, I immediately nicknamed him “Edward Christmas-Hands”, because that’s what you do, it’s so easy. It turns out that I am the first person in his life to call him that, and he’s, like, thirty years old. Why, after thirty years, am I the first person to come up with this? Shame on you, everyone else. But I digress.

So me, Nessa and Edward Christmas-Hands sat on the couch and watched Taken, Man on a Ledge and Pretty In Pink. An eclectic blend, I agree, but that’s how it ended up. Taken was on TV and you can’t turn that movie off once it starts, so we got to watch Liam Neeson kill a plethora of naughty, human-trafficking Albanians. Very satisfying. I came to an appalling realization during the auction scene, the scene where they sell Liam Neeson’s daughter for $350,000. I said, “Yeah, I don’t think I would buy someone for anywhere near that much money, I don’t care if she’s hot, white and a virgin*, that’s too much.” Which means I have a notion of how much I would pay for a person, and that number is about $50,000, tops. And now I know I’m okay with the buying and selling of people. Awesome. Self-discovery is the greatest.

That film was followed by Man on a Ledge. OMG, this movie sucked in all directions, like an exploding star of suckery. I think it was in the theaters for a total of three seconds which, after seeing this, is three seconds too long. It felt like a crappy Syfy channel film, that level of plot development and acting, but without a sharktopus or piranhaconda to make it exciting. Here are two striking examples of badness. One, the lead actor who is from England as was attempting to sound like a New Yorker, swung in and out of a Jersey Shore and Australian accent. And Kyra Sedgwick plays a Latino News reporter. KYRA SEDGWICK. Did no one show up to the audition? The Evas, both Mendes and Longoria, they had stuff to do that day and no one could reschedule? Word to the wise: Watch this only if you are in a foreign land and it’s been dubbed over. And you don’t speak the language. And you have to guess at what’s happening. Then it might be tolerable.

And finally I saw Pretty in Pink. It was okay. Duckie is super-annoying. I decided he’s allowed to be annoying because in one shot they show him in his bedroom, this sweetly irritating high-school student, and he’s sitting on a mattress on the floor with spray paint on the wall behind, it totally looks like a crack den. Does Duckie live in a crack den? Poor little feller.

Anyway, most of the movie follows around Molly Ringwald’s character who’s supposed to be fashion-forward but basically dresses like an artsy Orthodox Jew. Seriously, I’ve seen members of FLDS show more skin than her. Then, to complete the fashion travesty, she takes her co-worker’s cool 1960’s pink dress and a nice pink poofie dress her father buys her, we watch a dressmaking montage, and then there’s the reveal… on this.

What the hell is that home ec. tablecloth potato sack doing there? She had TWO perfectly fine dresses and she managed to combine both into a singular crappy one AND she gets the guy at the end??? Is there no God? John Hughes, if you were still alive I would write you a stern letter stating my disapproval. Indeed I would. Still like Breakfast Club though. Nice work on that.

*Their criteria of valuable attributes, not mine.

Addendum – 3/29/13: Look what just popped up on Buzzfeed today!

The elusive beaded acorn.

Monday, March 18th, 2013

My father is having his second bar mitzvah in exactly one year. Apparently that’s real: You have your first bar mitzvah at thirteen and you can have your second bar mitzvah at eighty-three. It’s a real thing. My dad is super-psyched and I figured I could make him a really nice piece of judaica for this momentous occasion. He has a beautiful torah mantle in his house (here are two examples of a torah mantle, the one my dad has has the same embroidery, but it’s on a cream-colored velvet, not maroon or navy):

And he could use some rimonim to go with it. Rimonim is a Hebrew word based on the word Rimon, which means pomegranate, and that will make sense when you see them. They are, basically, decorative stick toppers. The Torah rolls onto two sticks, and the rimonim go over the sticks. That’s the whole story. Often they have orb-shaped components that resemble pomegranates, and then sometimes there are bells, which is nice. They are most commonly made of brass and silver. Here is an example of that.

See? Decorative stick toppers. So I think it would be a cool gift to make my father a set of rimonim. I thought that instead of bells, I would have beaded acorns, and maybe make the pomegranate part be a bird’s nest of wire with eggs in it. Ain’t nobody got a set of rimonim like that. Thems be one-of-a-kind. Anyway, while I was taking a brief hiatus from the leaf tapestry, I tried coming up with a beading pattern for an acorn cap. The first tries, they did not go well. But in the end, victory was achieved.

Attempt #1: Lumpy weirdness.

Attempt #2: Still lumpy, getting better.

Attempt #4ish (I took #3 apart and restarted 2/3 of the way through): Boom. Got it.

Here. I will hold it on an acorn to show where I’m going with this:

I think those will be nice dangling all over the periphery of this wire beaded structure. I need to make more sketches so I can figure out how this is going to evolve. More elements of these to come.

I made a thing and bad makeup choices.

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

1. I made a thing! Nessa went home to her mom in California and wanted an iPod case with a mirror on it so her mom can touch up her lipstick on the go, similar to these:

Conveniently we work in the crafty-beady district of Manhattan, so it wasn’t too difficult to procure all the needed ingredients. Nessa’s mom likes the color red and belly-dancing and therefore we decided to go with a Persian rug look. I glued a whole myriad of plastic-y hoohah and Swarovski crystals all over the back of a chestnut brown case and it turned out pretty great. So, you know, hooray for me.

2. I was walking through Times Square two days ago and there is an enormous ad for Viva Glam by M•A•C Cosmetics. Viva Glam is wonderful and all the money goes to help people with AIDS, and usually their ads are fantastic. But this one, wooo. Nicki looks not good.

Were they going for Disney villain?. Someone at M•A•C must really hate her. First of all, her eye makeup makes her look like she has a pink-eye-related-rash situation goin’ on. Her false eyelashes are uneven. And she’s got a long nose, why would you take a shot from that angle with the super-obvious white stripe down the middle for “slimming”? I know it’s possible to take a good picture of her, like this one:

Now, what she’s advertising is that particular shade of lipstick that she’s wearing. I went on the internet and checked it out. After my copious research, I do not recommend it. On some people, it looks okay. On most everyone else, it does not do them any favors at all.

Kelly Rowland, pretty nice:

Random other chicks, failure:

This one chick, awesome, but she mixed it with other colors so it doesn’t count:

Do you know what I think? I think this is going to be one of those fashion trends that people follow for a season, and then when they have children fifteen, twenty years down the line, the children find photos of of their mothers wearing this lipstick and call them out on it, and the mothers blush embarrassedly and say, “Well, it was the fashion then!” An example:

Not an acceptable answer, ladies. Don’t be a sheep. If something looks like poo, don’t wear it even if it is “in” this year. Poo is poo. Here, I’ll let Oscar Wilde explain it to you.

Some things that have recently been brought to my attention.

Friday, March 8th, 2013

1. I am tired. While I was typing the title above, I wrote, “Some things that have breen to my attention.” Then I looked at it and thought, “That’s not right.” And it took me far too long to figure out what was incorrect. I need a nap.

2. Nowadays when people say something was decimated, they mean totally destroyed. Poof, gone. I just learned, though, that decimated actually means “reduced by a tenth” (deci = ten). That’s not totally destroyed at all. You got a thousand guys attacking a village and one hundred of them die, you still have nine hundred guys! How did this word evolve to this meaning?

3. I was watching The Jeselnik Offensive the other night on Comedy Central, and I think Anthony Jeselnik is a reptile. He says a joke, and then he slooooowwwwwly licks his lips and slooooowwwwwly blinks his eyes like a komodo dragon. I feel like one day I will turn on that show one day and he will be calmly and quietly consuming an entire waterbuck.

4. Speaking of antelopes and antelope-like creatures, did you know there’s a deer with fangs? Imagine a docile, pleasant deer. Now imagine it with those plastic vampire teeth you could wear at Halloween that never fit. That’s a pretty good description. Here, see for yourself:

5. I saw The Patriot for the first time recently (Alternate title: Braveheart in the U.S.) and it was good and all that, but every time Jason Isaacs and Mel Gibson had a scene together, this is all I heard:

6. I finished all the frost around the edges of all my leaves! Yay and hooray! The tapestry now looks like this:

Now I will attempt to put extra points of frost extending out from some of the leaves to create the appearance of… more frostiness, I guess that’s what I’d call it. Extreme frostitude. Then Snorth will teach me how to finish the edges and I will have completed a project that has been a bother for well over a decade! So exciting.

It’s time for charts!

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

I got a lot of ’em. Enjoy.

I especially like the chemo-hair growth one, partially because it’s a nice thing that happened, and partially for when the hair quits trying to fight gravity and just floops down, near the end there. You can almost hear the hair struggling upwards, “Ehhhhhhh” and then saying, “Oh, screw it,” and falling over to the side. I also like the Nelson Mandala one. It reminds me of a thing I saw one holiday season. It was a circle of Xeroxed $100 bills and pictures of Aretha Franklins. It was a wreath of Franklins. Get it? Ha ha! Holiday puns!


Monday, March 4th, 2013

Does everyone know what amigurumi is / are? Here’s a description from their Wikipedia page:

Amigurumi is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small stuffed animals and anthropomorphic creatures. The word is derived from a combination of the Japanese words ami, meaning crocheted or knitted, and nuigurumi, meaning stuffed doll. Amigurumi are typically animals, but can include artistic renderings or inanimate objects endowed with anthropomorphic features, as is typical in Japanese culture.

Amigurumi have no practical use; they are created and collected for aesthetic reasons. The pervading aesthetic of amigurumi is cuteness. To this end, typical amigurumi animals have an over-sized spherical head on a cylindrical body with undersized extremities, usually termed a chibi style outside of Japan. Amigurumi may be used as children’s toys but are generally purchased or made solely for aesthetic purposes.

An online fad for creating and collecting amigurumi began in 2003. By 2006, amigurumi were reported to be the most popular items on Etsy, an online craft marketplace, where they typically sold for $10 to $100.

Got it? Cute little crocheted figurines. Snorth made me one of a big brown rabbit holding a carrot that I treasure. If you are hankerin’ for a new skill, I highly recommend learning how to do this. If you type “amigurumi” into Image Search in Google, the plethora of designs that come up are astonishing. You want the standard insanely-adorable Japanese designed creatures, like wee bunnies and pandas? No problem. But people have gone well beyond that. There’s food:

And some not-so-typically-cute wee creatures:

There’s famous characters from book, game and screen:

Heck, someone made a house in situ:

A pack of dinosaurs:

And my favorite, the large dinosaur wall skeleton:

And then there’s whatever the hell these things are.

Someone made an amigurumi crochet hook, which is super-meta.

There are tons of book available to teach you the art, so check it out and make something snuggly and cute today! (Or weird and cute! Or horrifying and cute! Do your thing.)

This one is for knitting amigurumi, but it has that amazing hermit crab on the cover, so I’m going to include it as well.\