Archive for May, 2013

JR Jr’s mural, Part 4.

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Bunnies are done! Done buns! I cleaned up their edges and added shadows under their chinny-chin-chins.


On the owl, I added a defining line around its eyes and put three feathers on its belly. Now I need to put the feet on him and he is finished. And I painted a woodpecker. He turned out great.


I laid out the basic structure of the cardinals. Now I just need to paint their bodies red and their beaks mustard yellow.


All that’s left is the fox and the squirrel. I’m getting there.

The Sessions, Iron Man 3, Epic and Star Trek: Into Darkness.

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

1. The Sessions. I really liked this movie. First of all, the two leads are great actors, John Hawkes and Helen Hunt. And it’s an interesting story based on an autobiographical article. There was guy named Mark O’Brien and he had polio as a child. He became paralyzed (sort of, he could still feel everything but he couldn’t move his muscles) from the neck down and spend a large portion of his time in his iron lung. But O’Brien was not a defeatist; He created a electric gurney he could control, covered it with mirrors so he could see where he was going while lying on his back and went to class at Berkeley University, where he studied and graduated with a degree in journalism. He wrote a bunch of articles for magazines and newspapers that he typed with a stick in his mouth on his typewriter. In 1990, despite being a devout Roman Catholic and unmarried, O’Brien decided he wanted to lose his virginity before he passed away (an unfortunate possibility: see post-polio syndrome). After much soul-searching, he decided to do it and hired a sexual surrogate called Cheryl Cohen-Greene, and the film is about that period of time. If you think the sex (or not-so-much-sex-as-awkward-touchings scenes) is uncomfortable, they are indeed. But the fact that this whole story is real and, in fact, documented in Mark O’Brien’s article “On Seeing A Sex Surrogate“, makes it sweet and poignant. O’Brien’s positive attitude and good humor in the face of what would cast most people into a pit of self-pity, beautifully portrayed by John Hawkes, keeps this from being a woe-is-me tale.

2. Iron Man 3. Blasty-explosiony-goodness! After the dopeness of IM1 and the not-dopeness of IM2 I was bracing myself. But it was super-fun! Some key points:

  • At first I was like why is Ben Kingley acting crappily? He got knighted with the acting, fer Chrissakes! And then in the middle is El Grande Plot Twist and I was like awww Ben, I’m sorry for doubting you, hearts and cuddles forever.
  • The continuity person on this movie should be shot in the face with a harpoon. There’s a big showdown that takes up the last third of the movie (no spoiler there, that’s how all these comic book films are structured) and Tony Stark gets a cut under his right eye. UNDER his RIGHT EYE, got that? Then, right in the middle of the fighting, there’s a short scene where for no reason whatsoever, Tony Stark has the cut over his left eye. It’s such a big cut that it’s doing that Rocky thing where it swells a little and pushes his lid down so it looks like he’s a wee bit sleepy, but only on one side. And as soon as that scene is over, it switches back to under his right eye for the rest of the film. This movie had as much money as the gross national product of several countries; You couldn’t deal with that in post maybe? A little CGI? Hell, just FLIP THE FILM in that scene so at least the cut is on THE CORRECT SIDE OF HIS HEAD. I found it infuriating.
  • I love the opening song. It’s a horrid European dance track from the ’90s (don’t click on the link if you want to be surprised) and I was so happy I sang all the words in the theater. And then after the movie I sang all the words on the way to the parking lot. I love bad 90s dance music. Started my movie experience off great.
  • Product placement is out of control. There’s this really sweet scene near the end and you’re all emotionally invested in it and then the screen is taken over by a giant FIOS – THE NETWORK AHEAD for several seconds and it’s such a blatant plug it takes you right out of the movie. I’m not saying get rid of product placement, but try to weave it into the movie gently, not slappity-slap people with your shilling.

3. Epic. SO CLOSE. It was SO CLOSE to being one of the best movies ever. This movie was a hodge-podge of Fantasia, Casper (the movie with Christina Ricci), Ferngully and a sprinkling of The Wizard of Oz. While in my head that sounds great, it just… wasn’t. I am so accustomed to Pixar and their breathtaking character development, so when I see something where the focus was more on the look and feel and less on perfecting the story structure and characters, it fills me with sad.

  • However, all is not wrong!  This movie is one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen. I don’t say this often, but if you can, you should see it in 3D. The scene where the queen goes off in her chariot to find a successor – gorgeous. The scene in the rings of the tree – gorgeous. The costume design – exquisite. Seriously. Look at this.
  • I noticed that there was a lot of pulling from a variety of inspirations. The bad guys were clearly inspired by Brian Froud. Here are some of Brian Froud’s illustrations:
    -1 -4
    And here’s the main bad guy (voiced by one of my favorite actors, Christoph Waltz). Similarities? Me thinks so.
    epic1 -2
  • If they could make a movie only with the anthropomorphic flower-and-bug people, I would be the first in line to buy a ticket.
  • Oy, Beyonce. I love you so much, but girl can not act. Her voicework was so non-emotive. She has a big important scene which is supposed to punch you right in the feels, but you don’t care. Dammit, Beyonce! Don’t be Madonna! Stick to what you’re great at! No acting for you!
  • If you see this movie for one reason, see it for the pug running at the camera in slow-motion. Never stops being funny.

4. Star Trek: Into Darkness. Eh. I didn’t love the first one, and I don’t love this second one. I almost dozed off during one of the battle scenes. If I had to sum up this film, I would call it “Tears and Lens Flares”. Someone cries in, like, every single scene. Uhura cries, Spock cries, Scotty cries, Benedict Cumberbatch cries, I think Kirk cries twice. I’m surprised the Klingons didn’t cry. And lens flares all over everything. Holy mackerel. Here are some examples I found online.

star+trek+lens+flare startrek-lensflare-spock-tsrimg images

And here’s a lovely photoshopped image of the director J. J. Abrams. Someone does not care for lens flares.


JR jr’s mural, Part 3.

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

I had a lot of drama surrounding the squirrel. I just couldn’t figure out how to render him and make him look cute and then I had an epiphany, “Why must he be crouched on a branch? Why couldn’t he be climbing?” BOOM. Instant problem solved. He now looks like this:


And that means I can put him on any trunk I want, wherever there might be a blank bit. I’m so pleased that my squirrel crisis is resolved.

This past weekend I cut out all my stencils and started with the bunnies and the owl. I cut two stencils for each animal – one overall outline one, and one with the details. The basic outline one looked like this:

mural1 mural2 mural3

And the second stencil was so I would know where to put the eyeballs, beaks, shadows, wings, tails, etc. I want to give the rabbits another coat because they’re still a bit streaky. On the owl I need to put the spiky feathers on his belly, outline his eyes and put in his feet, but it’s getting done. Movin’ right along.

mural4 mural6

Important things I have learned recently.

Monday, May 13th, 2013

1. The song “Smooth Criminal” by Michael Jackson, we’re all familiar with it, right? You know there’s a part of the song where he sings, “Annie, are you okay? Are you okay? Are you okay, Annie?” Michael Jackson was taking a CPR class and the doll used for that class is called Resusci Annie and you are supposed to say, “Annie, are you okay?” before you pound on her chest and break all her ribs. Michael liked that and put it in his song. This is true.

2. In France, doughnut holes are called Nun’s Farts. Story goes that a nun had a spoonful of dough and she farted. The other nuns laughed so hard at her that she accidentally dropped the dough into frying oil and poof! doughnut holes were made. I think this story is slightly less true.

3. When I found out the Golden Retrievers that were in Newtown for people to pet were going to Boston, I got all teary-eyed. The tears came to a halt when I found out they are referred to as “Comfort Dogs”.


Okay. Anyone read up on World War II? Ummm, does anyone immediately think of the Japanese and Korean women forced in to prostitution for the Japanese soldiers? You know they were called “Comfort Women“, right? Did anyone other than me think, “How could they do that to those dogs???” when it occurred to me that they just being petted by sad people and not degraded and made to sell their bodies? Still, maybe they could change the name to Dogs of Amelioration or something.

4. I don’t care much for Twitter. I find it confusing with all the retweets and the shorthand, but whenever I have an opportunity, I check up on “Florida Man”. Florida has a really lax policy on sharing police blotters and therefore all the crazy-pants things that occur in Florida the newspapers can write articles about. Here is a sample of a few of my favorites:

Florida Man Assaulted Boss With Chicken Tenders After Being Fired From Burger King

Florida Man Chugs Half-Pint Of Rum Before Jumping Into Storm Drain In Search Of Woman’s Keys, Nearly Drowns

Florida Man Arrested For Running Onto Field During Powder Puff Football Game, Spraying Silly String In Coach’s Face

Florida Man Used Dog Food To Steal $1,800 Worth Of Razors From Walmart

Police Suspect Florida Man Is Walking Awkwardly; Find Needles Between His Butt Cheeks, Pills In His Anus

Florida Man Tries To Kill Squirrel With Bullet Taped To BB Gun, Ends Up Hospitalized With Shrapnel Wounds

Addendum on 5/17: Did you know how stoats kill rabbits? They do a crazy dance that hypnotizes the rabbit. I adore rabbits, but I am not even slightly bothered by this. If you are dumb enough to be hypnotized by a jumping weasel, you deserve to be dinner. I found some video:

An artist I like and a website I also like. Lots of liking goin’ on around here.

Friday, May 10th, 2013

First, the artist. This guy is amazing. Keng Lye puts down a layer of resin and then he paints with acrylic on that. Followed by resin, followed by more acrylic, until he builds up a three-dimensional sculptural painting. How beautiful are these?

For the goldfish and the octopus, Keng put a pebble in to add dimension. For the turtle, he put an eggshell. I am totally in love with his bowl of shrimp. I would love to have that in my home forever and ever.

Second, the site. It has lots of cool DIY project ideas, like this one:


Or this one:


And then they posted this the other day.


NOPE. That is not whimsical. That is a toy made by a child in a horror film. If that thing was in the corner of my bedroom, I would move.

Oh I just noticed the “exposed bone” foot. This keeps getting better and better. And by “better and better”, I mean “more and more creeptastical.”

Darkness to light.

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

I made a promise when I started this blog that there would be some rules – no cursing, no over-sharing, no political views – but for the first time since I began writing this blog almost six years ago I’m going to break one of those rules. I am inspired by something Dave Holmes said when everyone on Facebook changed their profile pictures to the red background with the pink equal sign:

If something like this had happened when I was a kid, it would have made my day. If one person I knew had expressed the opinion that I was a human being who deserved respect– whether it was by wearing a shirt, or hanging a sign, or using the word gay even one time in a way that was neither derogatory nor pitying – the teenaged me would have been overwhelmed.

I don’t ever talk about this particular issue because, frankly, I’m embarrassed about it. I think if I ignore it, if I pretend it isn’t there, maybe it won’t be so bad. To be frank, I can’t even be totally honest about here, I can’t face it entirely. I still have to minimize it in order to cope. However, if what I write here below helps one person to feel less alone, to feel less isolated, then it was worth it.


May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental illness is something that affects 1 in 5 people, but it is still taboo to discuss. You can say you have diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, and people will nod sympathetically, but if you say you are bipolar, or manic, suddenly the room gets chilly and people find they have to go do something somewhere else. You are labeled “crazy” and written off as a person. And even if you are on medications and your symptoms are completely under control, you are still disregarded because you are “unstable.”

I suffer from Anxiety and Depression. The anxiety, I’ve had it as long as I can remember. When you have to give a speech in front of a large group of people, or you have to walk on a twisty rope bridge over a lagoon, you know that tight feeling you get in your chest and how all your muscles tense up and you can’t concentrate on anything aside from that fact that you are quietly freaking out? I feel that all the time. If I’m awake, that’s my default state. Adrenaline pumps through my veins constantly and my eyes are always dilated. I feel like I’m walking on a knife’s edge. Since I am accustomed to this sensation, I’ve learned to manage it. I am by no means non-functioning. I hold a good job at which I excel. I have lots of friends. I’ve never been in debt, I own a car and an apartment. I’m not a cutter. I’m not addicted to drugs. But all that comes at a cost, which is that I am exhausted from maintaining the appearance of calm that most people take for granted. When I get home from work I feel like I’ve been slogging through knee-deep syrup all day. I wear big headphones at work and more often than not no music is playing, I’m just shutting out the rest of world. On Friday night, I usually go to sleep at 1:00 in the morning and get up at 3:00 in the afternoon on Saturday. I sleep a lot. It’s the only break I get.

I always had hope. In high school I told myself, “When I go to college, it’ll get better.” When I was in college, I dreamed of working in a creative outlet. Then living in New York City. Then getting a boyfriend. And then, shortly before my 28th birthday, after I had achieved all these things one by one, I had an epiphany –it’s never going to get better, not for me. Nothing’s going to alleviate this. This is my burden until I die.

And, armed with this knowledge, I had a nervous breakdown.

That’s when the depression started. I have no hope now. I know that there is no pill or therapy or meditation or acupuncture that will take away what feels like the Eye of Sauron charring its way through my sternum. I’ve tried them all, nothing works. I wake up every morning disappointed that I woke up. However, as grim as that sounds, it’s not all bad. There is one good aspect. This is an excerpt from an article I found:

Mood disorders and madness have long been associated with creativity. In the fourth century BCE, Aristotle argued that an excess of the bilious humour, while causing melancholy, was also a necessary component in creative genius: ‘All those who have attained excellence in philosophy, in poetry and in art, even Socrates and Plato, had a melancholic habitus; indeed some suffered even from melancholic disease.’ … But it was the Romantics who gave fullest expression to the notion that madness, melancholia and creativity might be inextricably wound together. ‘We of the craft are all crazy,’ Byron famously proclaimed. ‘Some are affected by gaiety, others by melancholy, but all are more or less touched.’

So you know every musician or artist or writer or comedian or director you have ever liked? Chances are they are dealing with some kind of mental imbalance. I like to credit my ability to create in so many different mediums, in fact my desire to create, to my constant state of unease and misery. It motives me to keep making things of beauty and interest. If I was content with my lot in life, I would have no impetus to do that.

I’m not yet at peace with my situation. I still struggle with the idea that there’s something or someone out there that will fix all my problems and I’ll be like the smiling people on TV dancing through a field of wildflowers. I develop obsessions with different people, sometimes people I know, sometimes celebrities, that last about six months. My brain tries to convince me that if I was around that person all the time everything would be fine even though I know that’s a complete fallacy. It’s profoundly distracting and irritating. For example, most recently, my brain only wanted to think about Tom Hiddleston. Tom Hiddleston is a British actor best known for his performance in The Avengers as Loki. If I’m having a good day, I don’t think about him at all. If I’m having a horrible day, I think about him incessantly. “If he was on the subway with me right now, we’d talk about THIS” or “If he was eating dinner with me right now we’d talk about THIS” or “I bet he’d like this song I’m listening to right now.” It’s like those pictures of Jesus that are supposed to be comforting.

In my case, I am the girl staring off into middle distance, and my obsession o’ the moment is Jesus, hovering behind me like a spectre in a backpack I carry with me everywhere. And the statement, “I am always with you,” instead of being soothing ends up being more like a bleak reminder.

(On a positive note, I found a version where Jesus sparkles like a teen vampire.)

I have met thousands of people in my 35 years on this planet, and I have learned that no one is a magical healing balm. Every person is just a person, and my anxiety is mine and mine alone. This is just how it is. I try to look at it from a brighter angle: It has made me more compassionate to the suffering of others, it forces me to constantly strive to better myself in some way, it made me funny. Nothing is ALL bad or ALL good, and this is no exception. If you or someone you know struggles with depression or anxiety, I recommend you send them this article.

It’s a start. And remember, everyone is a little different. Maybe yoga will help you. Maybe SSRIs. Maybe therapy. B vitamins. Sunshine. Running. Try everything. You never know.

Here are some really good blogs written by people who have depression and are wildly successful. Jenny Lawson. Author. Her book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened debuted at #1 on the NYTimes bestseller list. Collects taxidermied animals in anthropomorphic poses. Benjamin Grelle. Comedian/Photoshopper. Makes some of the most shared images on the internet. Gets marriage proposals from strangers. Has a cute corgie named Otis. Heather Armstrong. Professional blogger. Coined the verb “dooced“. Has so many fans she has her own community site. Takes really good photos and has excellent interior design sense. She recently wrote an article about this specific issue. Allie Brosh. Awesome illustrator and writer. Has thousands of fans. Her “Clean all the things!!!” is one of the most iconic images and is used all the time. Just returned from a debilitating bout of depression and we’re glad she’s back. The internet wasn’t quite as internet-y without her.

Good luck on your road.

An artist I think is delightful.

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

There’s a woman named Kim Rountree who loves the kawaii elements of Japanese culture. She makes super-qte charms and does a lovely job of it too. Her company is called Oborocharms. Since she makes them herself by hand she has what’s in stock when it’s in stock, so if you like a particular purple charm you should snap it up because who knows when it will be back.

star-cookie-charm-shop_large cocatiel-front_large black-cat-charm_large 883101_501495996580386_1108212269_o 882714_503456389717680_1682515566_o 858384_500568883339764_1932148971_o 602064_494981290565190_2032388769_n 419350_495581720505147_439614443_n 529269_487307744665878_335004398_n

So sweet! There are also clouds, stegosaurii, penguins, oranges, bubble teas, poison apples, wolves, bats, foxes, narwhals, shooting stars, onigiri and a peppermint octopus. Good stuff.

JR jr’s Mural, Part 2.

Monday, May 6th, 2013

I fixed the branches that weren’t to my liking. Then I took out my X-Acto knife and cut away any parts of tape that crossed over each other.


I quickly learned that the white paint, while thick and viscous, was going to need two coats. Ehhhhh.


After I finished the two coats of white, I let the paint dry thoroughly and drank a delicious chai latte. That’s not pertinent to the story of painting, but it was delicious and I though you should know. JR has a fantastic coffee machine. If I lived at JR’s house, I would never go to Starbucks ever again.


Following my nummy drinkeepoo, I took a stencil that I had cut of two boomerang shapes, one slightly bigger than the other and made those dark triangular marks that one sees on the bark of paper birches.


And finally I peeled off all the tape and with a white-dipped paintbrush in one hand and a aqua-dipped paintbrush in the other, I touched up all the places where things didn’t line up exactly or where there was chipping. It is astonishing how long it takes to do this kind of work, especially when you want it to be right ‘n’ tight.

trees5 trees4

Okay, trees done. Now I need to cut out all my animals – fox, cardinals, owl, rabbits – and get ready to paint them in their appropriate locations.

I’m makin’ stuff! JR jr’s Mural Part 1 and other things.

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

First, I started on JR’s mural for his kid. In case y’all have forgotten, the basic design looks like this:


I bought a whole lot of blue painter’s tape and started laying out where I wanted the trees to go. Now I need to get an X-Acto knife and cut away anywhere the tape overlaps. Then I can start painting in the white of the birch trees. I’m not thrilled with the layout of the branches, and I think I will pull down some of the existing tape and reposition it for better branchiness.

mural1 mural2

Second, I’ve been embroidering my leaf tapestry. I’ve been making frosty protuberances* emerging from the leaves, and I’m a little less than halfway done. ACCOMPLISHING GOALS HERE, PEOPLE.


*I call them “frost-horns” which sounds exciting and Norse. Also I realized that subconsciously I was totally ripping off one of my favorite childhood movies, Fantasia, the scene with the frost fairies. Disney has a lockdown on the video, but I found some nice screenshots of what I am referring to.

frost-fairies1 frost-fairies2

Juice cleanse.

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Nessa, my co-worker, has decided to do a three-day detox juice cleanse. She said why don’t I do it with her, and I thought why not? I am clearly an idiot. I now know a million reasons not to do this. Remember chewing? I don’t. I haven’t done it in three days. I want to gnaw on my own fingers. And kale is the worst thing ever. Ground up raw kale tastes like rancid grass clippings. I want to punch all the kale farmers right in the jibbly bits. I feel like I’m rockin’ a stomach virus, with the dizziness and the nausea and the sleepiness. We’ve never eaten so healthy in our lives, and we’ve never felt so crappy. I feel like this cleanse is a secret plot put out by McDonald’s to encourage people to eat more fast food. I want to make a t-shirt that says “I HEART PRESERVATIVES”. Did you know dead people are taking longer to decay? Really. It used to take something like two years, and now it takes about twice as long. They attribute that to all the preservatives we ingest. “Twinkies – helping our deceased keep more meat on their bones so they can more effectively turn into zombies should the need arise” should be their motto. I got to listen to Nessa barf up her dinner shake last night and I can honestly say it was one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard because betwixt the hurling she gave color commentary. “Harghhghgghh… It’s never gonna end oh God why… Huhgghghhhgh… When did I drink this much fluid?… Hughhhururgghhhhh… So many blueberries!” I would have gone and gotten her a glass or water or held her hair or something but I didn’t have the energy to get off the couch. I just lay there laughing at her. It must have looked like something from an experimental film. Did I mention yet that I hate kale? THE WORST. Tonight it’s all over and if I haven’t lost eleventeen-million pounds I’m gonna be so mad. I will try to raise my fist weakly and shake it if I can.