Thursday, February 13, 2014

MORTIFIED

Valentine's Day is coming up and, while other ladies have high expectations of expensive dinners, long-stemmed roses, and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, I really don't want anything.  Don't get me wrong, there are things I want and I probably wouldn't turn down a bunch of chocolate, I just don't "do" Valentine's Day.  Perhaps it's because I never had a love interest until college or perhaps it just runs in the family.  Last Valentine's Day I joked on facebook that I was getting dressed up in my sexiest bleach-stained sweatpants and over-sized college orientation t-shirt (because I like to maintain an air of mystery) and my brother in-law replied that my sister just wanted to go to Panera Bread and pick out bathroom tiles at Home Depot.  Yup.  We're a bunch of romantics.

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Anyway, there is one Valentine's tradition I do get behind and that's Mortified's annual Doomed Valentine's show, which we go to every year.  If you've never been to Mortified, it's pretty amazing.  Basically, it's a stage show consisting of people who have dug-out their childhood journals and read them in front of an audience.  It's both cringe-worthy and hilarious because we know we've all been there.  Hell, if I could go back and erase all of seventh and eighth grade I probably would.  At the very least I'd erase the bad perm I had.

The presentation is not always in the form of journals.  Sometimes there are also original plays, short films, poems, songs, or artwork which only heighten the experience.  They also have an after-school orchestra which plays short, corresponding songs after each story.  You never know what you're going to get at Mortified, but it's always going to be funny.  They have also released a documentary about the shows called Mortified Nation and I'm very much looking forward to watching it on the Sundance Channel in March.

Here I might share my own mortifying stories, but sadly, when I was a teenager I was very, very good at destroying evidence and so I have no journals or letters left to read.  I'm afraid all of my embarrassing secrets will be going with me to my grave.  How about you?  Would you get mortified?  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

ELEPHANT PLANTER

In the interest of paring-down and saving on space, I've been trying to use up some old craft materials.  The challenge is to use what I already have and not buy anything new.  Well, I had to buy a fairly large block of air-dry ceramic clay to repair a broken canister awhile back.  The repair ended up using very little clay so I had a LOT left and, since it wasn't particularly cheap, I wanted to made sure I used it all before it dried.  I needed a planter for the shelf in my kitchen and had seen some other bowl-shaped planters that had animal ears and stuff on them so I decided to make one in the shape of an elephant.
First I shaped him over an existing bowl and tacked on the other parts.  Did I mention that I don't have any tools besides an X-Acto knife?  Yeah, that's why he's so lumpy.  Then I let him harden enough that he kept his shape and his bits didn't fall off.  My sister said that I should of just sent the extra clay to her instead and she would have rolled it in a ball and made me the best paperweight ever.




Here he is after a smoothing layer of slip.  People seemed to like his cellulite-like texture so I just left it that way.  I only had one semester of ceramics in college and it took about the whole semester to be able to handle the clay easily enough that I didn't want to scream.  If you're thinking of taking ceramics as a blow-off class, let me warn you in advance: ceramics is CRAZY HARD.  I was feeling pretty good about this guy until I came back later to find that my slip was too wet and his bottom had fallen out.  I patched it into place and it fell out AGAIN.  I had to reinforce the crap out of the bottom of this guy's bowl, but after a few days of slowly filling in the cracks he was ready to paint.
I used Martha Stewart's Glass paint in Black Opaque Gloss, which I had leftover from painting my kitchen canisters.  This paint hardens into a pretty sturdy glaze if you bake it and the baking also fired the clay enough that it lost its plasticity and I'm not so worried about it falling apart if it gets wet.  It's not nearly as good as a kiln firing, but did I mention that I didn't use any tools to make this thing?  Yeah, that's the kind of project this was.  I'm just relieved he didn't explode in the oven.
 
Here he is with a face!  And here is his butt again!  I wanted to keep him simple and graphic and ADORABLE!
Aaaaand... the end product!  He looks right at home in his place of honor on my kitchen shelf, holding a flowering plant that will probably die.  But still, I'm pretty pleased with how he turned out.  There was a little bit of clay left over after all of this, which I promptly packaged and sent off to my sister.  YOU'RE WELCOME, Kimmy.  I'm expecting the best paperweight ever.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

I AM GRATEFUL FOR THE 2014 WINTER OLYMPICS

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Okay, I'll admit that I'm not the biggest sports fan.  Football season just ended and I couldn't be happier to have my husband back on Sundays.  But, really, who doesn't love the Olympics?  It's about the only time I can watch sports on TV and not be bored witless.

Despite all of the controversy surrounding the security and views on homosexuality in Russia, I am still extremely excited for this year's games in Sochi.  I'll happily watch all of the sports (even curling!), but my absolute favorite is figure skating and I'm intrigued as to what the new event of team skating will be like.  What can I say?-- I'm a girly girl.

Competition starts today and I can't wait to see the spectacle of the Opening Ceremonies tomorrow night when the U.S. team parades out in their ugly Christmas sweaters.  (What were you thinking, Ralph Lauren?)  If you're so inclined, you can see the official uniforms for some of the other countries here.

What are your favorite Winter Olympic events?  Are you doing anything special to celebrate the occasion?

Monday, January 27, 2014

CURRENTLY READING: ANNE OF GREEN GABLES & CAFÉ SOCIETY

I love to read and have been making an effort to take in more literature this year.  I recently re-read one of my childhood favorites, The Secret Garden, and enjoyed it so much that I decided to take in another before I move to heavier fare.  Currently I am re-reading Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.


I devoured the whole series of Anne Of... books as a child and they're all good, but out of the lot I loved Green Gables the best.  It follows the story of a feisty, redheaded orphan named Anne Shirley who is mistakenly sent to an older couple who had instead wanted a boy to help them with their farm work.  Still, as much as I read and re-read it as a child I could really only remember flashes of the plot and random things like how her best friend was named Diana, Gilbert Blythe teased her in school, and puffed sleeves were considered the height of fashion.

I'm only a few chapters in, but already I'm admiring Anne's "scope for imagination" and how she can find the exquisite in everyday things (and then give those things elaborately fancy names).  Also, Montgomery's visual and emotional descriptions are absolutely wonderful.  It's reminding me that I could stand to be a little more imaginative at times and how much of that I've lost lately.  It's also reminding me how odd it is that most of my favorite childhood stories are about orphans and then that reminds me of the part in Moonrise Kingdom where Suzy says, "I always wished I was an orphan.  Most of my favorite characters are.  I think your lives are more special."  To which Sam replies, "I love you, but you don't know what you're talking about."  Anyway, this book holds up for adult readers, too.  If you've never read it and you like stories about orphans, or period pieces, or just like a piece of good writing, I'd highly suggest picking up a copy.


I don't normally read two books at once, but I've become absorbed in Café Society: Socialites, Patrons, and Artists 1920 to 1960 by Thierry Coudert.


It's a heavy coffee table book, so the photos and illustrations are stunning-- you can see a slideshow of some of the highlights at The Daily Beast here-- but more interesting is what is contained in the text.  Café Society covers the period in history after the first World War through to the end of the 50's where the traditional high society of wealthy landowners started to break down and instead selectively include those of non-noble blood who were rich enough, artists and entertainers, socialites, and certain individuals who were maybe none of the above, but deemed "interesting enough" to be included into this extravagant, avant-garde world.  It profiles many of these individuals in detail and it is a colorful cast of characters, indeed.

If you're watching this season of Downton Abbey, it's especially interesting to see how many of the themes echoed in this season are also talked about in this book, like how when the opera singer visited and the more traditional members of the house were confused as to treat her more like a distinguished guest or the help.  And how the upper class were more open to getting out and meeting at public places instead of just private residences.

As I mentioned earlier, this book also has some amazing large-scale photographs and illustration/ collages portraying themed costume balls, the well-dressed, and the opulent interiors in which the well-dressed lived.  If you enjoy reading about the arts, social history, and eccentric rich people leading scandalous lives, then this book is for you.

What are you reading?  Any suggestions for future reads?


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I AM GRATEFUL TO BE BACK

Two years ago I fell off the face of the earth.  Okay, that's not exactly right.  I fell off the face of the blogosphere.  It started because I was diverted when my '96 Nissan tragically kicked the bucket and ended now that I'm finally settled into our new place in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Somewhere in the middle we moved to Canada for a year, but I'll tell you about that later.

Ultimately, I was glad to have the time to recharge and am ready to bust-it-out with some new projects and stories and things for which I am thankful.  I hopefully you'll be with me as we celebrate life's little occasions like this one:

The morbid teenage part of myself had to celebrate a remake of "Flowers in the Attic" in total Dollanganger style-- with paper flowers and powdered donuts.  We are very excited for the Lizzie Borden movie next week, although snack ideas are considerably trickier.
Let's make 2014 awesome!

Friday, January 20, 2012

FILMS I'D LIKE TO SEE

There are so many films that have recently come out or are soon coming out on my wish list of things to see.  These not only look like fantastic stories, but the cinematography is also stunning and sometimes I just like to lose myself in the pretty pictures.  Have you seen any of these yet?  What movies have you been wanting to see?







Sunday, January 1, 2012

I AM GRATEFUL FOR A NEW YEAR

It's A Small World, Disneyland
Happy New Year, everyone!  My wish for you is that your 2012 is filled with sparkles and dreams-come-true and that that whole Mayan-apocolypse thing is a just a gross miscalculation.

I am a big fan of new years because I am a big fan of fresh starts and I think everybody deserves them.   Last year was pretty okay so I'm not looking to overhaul my entire life, but I'd be lying if I said it couldn't use some improvements.  And so I've made some resolutions.  These will, of course, have to be broken down into smaller, manageable chunks, but today I'm going to focus on the Big Pictures.

#1: Overdress at every occasion.
This is the only resolution from last year that I actually kept so I'm rolling it over to this year to remind myself that I can actually stick to a plan.

#2: $$$: That thing I need to save.
I'm somewhere between a problem spender and a shopping addict.  The funny thing is, all I really want to do is have enough money stashed away that I can quit my job for a year or maybe take a long trip to a foreign country.  This shouldn't be hard-- and yet I can't keep my priorities straight when there's a sale happening at Kate Spade.  This year I will be anally tracking my spending and getting therapy.  Lots of therapy.

#3: Lose that 10 lbs. I gained during the Great Hibernation of November and December.
I know, I know.  The tiresome weight loss resolution.  Good thing is: I'm not worried about this one at all.  I just need to get back into the swing of exercising in the mornings, which will be easy-peasy now that it's not pitch-black and freezing at 6AM anymore.  I'm honestly looking forward to it.

#4: Bitch, you have a BFA.  Try using it.
I already have a reputable job in my intended field of animation, but that job basically consists of making spreadsheets and telling people to work faster.  I have little time for hobbies outside of work and am feeling creatively bankrupt.  I'm going to start small by doing one drawing a week and trying to put out one ukulele song a month.  Please hold me to this.  If you don't see one of my crappy drawings every week or a video for one of my silly songs by the end of every month I need you to complain and I'll promptly put on Gwen Stefani's "What You Waiting For?" while I stare down at my blank sheet of paper.  The motivation has to come from somewhere.

Despite these hurdles, I'm really looking forward to 2012!  My best friend is getting married this summer and I know that I will be going back East twice to visit both my Pittsburgh and Connecticut families.  Also, Angry Boys is finally premiering tonight so, y'know, way to start the new year off right.

Do you make resolutions?  Have any tips to help me stick to mine?  What are you most excited for in 2012?