Friday, December 30, 2011

Where Did You Go, Short Term Memory??

I mentioned in my last entry that I've decided that it's time to start reading on a daily basis again.  This is one of those situations where if I don't make a sign that says "READ!", I won't end up doing it, because I'm the kind of person who can be distracted away from a thought in a heartbeat by shiny objects and string.

I am an absent-minded person.  Always have been.  It took me until I was a full-grown adult to suck it up and start hanging signs around my room to remind me to do all the stupid simple things that any normal person would have no trouble remembering.  (I even have a sign up that reads "Sea Breeze Every Day!" because I wake up too many mornings with palpable evidence that I forgot to wash my makeup off the night before.)  It took me even longer to realize that those embarrassing signs don't have to be ugly.

If you're like me, and you need reminder signs, here's an idea for making them attractive to look at, at least.




Obviously, an awkward kind of place to hang a fancy sign, but it'll be directly in my line of sight all the time there.  I did this one in Photoshop, but if you don't have computer skeelz, you can just as easily make something like this by hand by printing out the components and gluing/taping them together.  You can paint or draw or plain-old write the words on, as well, if you're not a person who collects fonts.

Photos of ornate picture frames are really cool because they can retain the illusion of depth even when you're printing them out in 2-D form.  Here's a link to a website that has a bunch of cool frames you can download and print out:


The above link is a good start.  You can also go to Google Images, where you'll be presented with a ton of frames to choose from when you type in "photo frames".


Happy New Year to you all!  Here's hoping 2012 will turn out better for everyone than 2011 did!
_

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Time To Get On The Ball

I spent from the time I was 5 until The Young Lad was born as a voracious reader.  It was all I ever did, all I wanted to do.  I spent numerous summers avoiding the sunshine, laying on my bed under a ceiling fan with a book in front of my face.  I used to wedge myself into the space between my bed and the wall, with my face right in front of the furnace vent in the winter, hiding under a blanket tent, reading and reading, ignoring the world.  I famously caused a ruckus in one of my college classes because I spent the entire session reading The Color Purple under my desk while I was supposed to be watching a classmate's presentation.  She noticed and angrily ratted me out in front of the entire class.  The summer I was pregnant with The Young Lad, I was on mandatory bedrest, so I spent those hot, sweaty months doing nothing but read all my old favorite books over again.  The minute I finished one book, I picked up another.

And then, I just stopped.  The Young Lad definitely sapped a lot of my reading time away when he was little, but then once he started school, I figured I'd have the time again, with the continuing bedrest and all, to go back to reading for hours a day.  That never ended up happening, though.  I completely lost my attention span for it.  Whenever I've tried to settle down with a book, I get this insatiable urge to be doing something with my hands.....sewing or cutting paper or Sharpie painting or organizing something.  I feel all jumpy, like I'm wasting the time I could be using to do something more constructive.  I certainly can't concentrate, so I just give up.  I've only read maybe two or three new books since The Young Lad was born, and he's eleven now.  That is some serious badness.

So, I've decided it's time to get on the ball again.  I mean, I don't want to give up all my arts and crafts and things that I love to do, but I have to start working the reading back in, as well.  I'm thinking I'm going to make myself a sign to hang in here, directly in my line of sight when I'm in my bed, which is nearly all the time, that says "READ TODAY" or something like that, so that I'll spend at least a little while each day working through a book.  And I'm going to start with one my dad just finished, and handed off to me because he knows that The Haunting of Hill House is one of my all-time favorite books:



The cover image alone makes me feel like I'm going to like it.  Is it good?  Feel free to leave a comment if you've read it.  Just no spoilers, please!

YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT LIFE, MRS. PUMPERNICKEL!!!

I was slow to warm to The Amazing World of Gumball.  In the beginning, I thought it was one of those shows that was only bizarre for the sake of being bizarre.  But it has totally grown on me.  The kids that do the voices are mind-blowingly adorable (especially Darwin), and it is, in fact, really, really funny.  Also, the characters are seriously interesting and hugely varied, from Penny, the peanut with antlers, to the school counselor, who is made up of clouds and wears rainbow clothes.  And the teacher, Miss Simian, could read the phone book and her voice would still be hilarious.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Necessary River Song Viewing

For those of us who can't afford the DVD set.

This pair of mini-episodes goes from being light and airy to horribly, horribly sad in a split second.  Steven Moffat does it again.


Happy Holidays!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Yo Ho Ho!


The cameo was a Halloween gift, the setting was a Christmas gift....totally unrelated to eachother, but they fit together perfectly!  A little super glue, and voila!  I'm a pirate princess!

Thank you, Cecelia and Wendy!

I think I definitely need to switch to a wider ribbon, though....

_

Thursday, December 22, 2011

January Tarot Day!

101 Songs - Her Name Is Yoshimi, She's A Black Belt In Karate

I re-ran across this album while going through my old CD's recently.  Excellent, excellent stuff.....spawned a lot of imitators.

The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Part 1


Classic Cartoons - Somewhere In Dreamland

This has always been one of my favorite cartoons, but I wasn't really moved by it until I was an adult and could appreciate the parental nightmare of not being able to properly feed and clothe your kids.  The part that gets me the worst is when they go to bed, and their blankets are so threadbare there's hardly any blanket at all.

We need more people in the world like those shop owners.

On a lighter note....man, Dreamland looks amazing.  All of it is great, but the part that I love the most is the popcorn field, where popcorn shoots out of the corn stalks and the buttercups have actual melted butter in them.


 

The Dollar Store Tarot

I always go to the dollar store for stocking stuffers.  Only there can I find little dinosaur skeleton models, or a plastic knight on a horse, or a pair of wonky-looking magnets called "snake eggs", or a bag of chocolates wrapped up in black foil to look like coal.  As I was filling my green basket the other day with all kinds of awesome, my eye fell upon something I never, ever thought I'd see:

A dollar store tarot deck.

And I'm not talking about a leftover deck that had been sitting in some shop collecting dust for years and then ended up making it's way to a secondhand store.  I'm talking about an actual for-real tarot deck made specifically for the dollar store.  And you KNOW there was no way I was going to pass that up.

And then I opened it.  (Click the image to get a closer look.)




This thing is no kind of real tarot deck for numerous reasons, but considering that the packaging screams things like "READ YOUR FRIEND'S MINDS!!" and "AMAZE AND MYSTIFY!!", I figured right off the bat that it was tailor made for late-night junior-high slumber party shenanigans.  It follows the barest edge of the usual tarot guidelines:

There are four suits made up of Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles (though the pentacles aren't really pentacles, they're pentagrams, which is an entirely different thing)

All the usual Major Arcana cards are included

The Minor Arcana includes all the court cards, plus illustrated aces


But.

When it comes to EVERYthing else, these are not tarot cards

The suits of the minor arcana only go up to 7, which means this is not a "full 78 card deck", as touted by the packaging.  And after poring through the very short instruction book, I found no indication whatsoever of what you're supposed to do with them.  They're unillustrated pips, and going by the instructions, they have no actual meanings, so if you lay them out in a spread, they will have no bearing whatsoever on the reading, which is.....well, what's the point of even including them?  Laying them out at all will only murk up the proceedings considerably.  Now, if you're a tarot reader, you may be saying, well, if you know tarot meanings, then you'll know what they mean.  Ah, but no.  Because....

All the rest of the illustrated cards (including the court cards) include text printed right on them that covers three different specific meanings for each card, which is much more of an oracle card-type situation.  There are concise, simplified meanings listed separately for past, present, and future, and according to the instructions, this is extremely important, because you're supposed to choose which phase that particular card will represent, and you're only supposed to read the meaning that pertains to that particular phase.  Which is just.....weird and confusing.  The spread the instuctions tell you to use is called the "triad spead", and you're supposed to decide as you go along what phase each card will represent and then read the according meaning.  It leaves nothing to actual prophecy, because you, yourself, are manipulating everything as you go along.

When it comes to the spread, itself....well, that's just all kinds of a mess.  It's fine up until all the wishing stuff, where you're supposed to lay out cards to make wishes upon.  This is the major indicator, to me, that this deck is specifically targeted to giggly pre-teen girls.  (Especially since the packaging claims it's meant for "ages 6 and up", which left me all "wow...hmmm...." when I was looking it over in the store.)

Now, you may think, whatever, what does it matter if it's all sillied-up and confusing, it's a tarot deck for kids.  What's wrong with that?  (For the record, my opinion regarding whether or not kids should read tarot or have readings done for them leans toward the resoundingly negative.  Kids should be kids.  They have no need to know their future, and their parents should be the ones explaining how to deal with situations, not tarot cards.)  But then you've got to look at the artwork.  To call it "severe" would be a crazy-go-nuts understatment.  And it's not just the exceptionally stark red-white-and-black color scheme, which is actually kind of cool, though not very kid-friendly.  Nearly every human figure on the cards is shockingly emaciated and desperate-looking, as if they live in a post-apocolyptic world where everyone is destitute and starving to death.  And this includes the queens of the Minor Arcana, and the Empress.....the High Priestess is peering up at the sky with this look on her face like she's hoping and hoping for it all to end soon:




It's interesting how the situation dictates how I perceive the artwork here.  If this were just your average tarot deck I picked up in a little shop, I'd probably view it as intriguingly austere and thought-provoking, although not at all my personal cup of tea.  But since it's a tarot deck obviously made for kids/teens, I find it gross and unsettling and it actually kind of pisses me off.

Anyway.  I certainly can't recommend this deck if you're looking for something you can actually read with.  And I certainly wouldn't recommend it as a beginner deck, because the instructions included are ridiculously stupid, even by unconventional standards.  I'm not going to go into what I think of the card meanings, because there are all different kinds of card interpretations out there, and the way I do it is definitely not the only right way.  One way or the other, your mileage may vary.  If you collect decks and want to have it for novelty's sake, or you find that it does, in fact, appeal to you, head over to Dollar Tree.

I mean, seriously, you can't go wrong for a buck.
_

101 Songs - You, My Darling, Are The Rest And Motion...

I've been listening to everything I can find by Sarah Slean since she released her first EP more than a decade ago.  This chick needs to have a bigger fanbase.

Today's song is from her newest double album, "Land & Sea".  I've listened to it, like, 7 times since I downloaded it this afternoon.  I wanted to post the studio version, but couldn't find it.  This live version is as good as it's going to get for now...

The music is certainly beautiful, but the lyrics make the whole thing even more moving.

We are all made of stars.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Papercraft - Mathematical!

The Young Lad and I love Adventure Time.  I may even love it more than he does.  Aside from the fact that it's incredibly original and flat-out hilarious, the show's premise is really fascinatingly dark:

Click here for the Adventure Time Wiki's entry on The Great Mushroom War

Anyway, I wanted to give The Young Lad something Adventure Time-y for his room, since he doesn't have anything, but to be blunt, I'm crazy broke.  Papercraft to the rescue!




The Cartoon Network website has lots of cube-y models of characters from the show that you can download, print out and build.  Here's the link:


In the top row, from left to right, we have Lumpy Space Princess, Finn the Human (possibly the last human, for those not familiar with the show), Jake the Dog, and Beemo, their sentient game system.  In the middle is Ice King, with Marceline the Vampire Queen on his left and Princess Bubblegum on his right.  On the bottom are two of the many princesses reigning in the various kingdoms of the Land of Ooo.  The Young Lad didn't have a preference, so I chose my favorites:  Ghost Princess and Raggedy Princess.  They are definitely the two coolest.  I mean, it doesn't get much more badass than using the shard of glass stuck straight into your head as your crown.  And that's Lady Rainicorn up on top, who I had to print out as a regular image, because there's no paper model for her yet that I could find.

The minute I finished this thing, it went up in The Young Lad's room, and he went to sleep with it slowly spinning above the end of his bed.  The bottom line is, if you can't afford to buy stuff, make your own.  Surround yourself with things that make you happy, even if they're makeshift versions that you cobbled together yourself.  We all need a pick-me-up these days.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Come Have A Reading!

Tarot Day for December at Marjim Manor is this coming Sunday!  I'll be there from 12 - 6 pm, ready to do some readings.  No appointment necessary!

Directions to Marjim Manor


Monday, December 12, 2011

Budget Christmas Presents - Part 4

Another different kind of idea to delight a loved one at Christmas when you don't have the bucks to buy a lot of presents.

Got a kid or family member or friend who likes dragons?  The Young Lad loves them.  Papercraft dragons can be some of the most complicated models to build, though, and can take many days of work, so I was a little discouraged, because I have a lot to do before Christmas this year.  But then, I ran across something called "figure flats", which are simplified paper models gamers use for role-playing games and such.  They're referred to as "2.5D".  This particular model, made for a series called "Sundered Skies", is really cool-looking, and takes no more than an hour to build.



Now, this little guy wouldn't be all that impressive a gift on his own, but!  You can download versions of this dragon in numerous different colors.  If you were to make a bunch, you could surprise the dragon-lover on your Christmas list by hanging these dragons all over their ceiling, or arranging them on their dresser top, or any kind of creative thing you can think of to present them.  I'm trying to decide if I can get away with hanging them from The Young Lad's ceiling while he's asleep on Christmas Eve, but I'm thinking maybe that's probably not happening, since he never actually sleeps on Christmas Eve.  I'll think of something.....

Here's the link to where you can download all the different-colored versions of this dragon in one go.  It's a .PDF file, so you'll need Adobe Reader:


Just print it out, cut out the pieces, slap it together, and there you go.  The only glueing you have to do on this one is to make all the pieces double-sided.  The assembly is very simple, as all you do is cut slits and slide the pieces together.
_

Budget Christmas Presents - Part 3

Is there a guy on your Christmas list who grew up in the 80's hanging out at the mall arcade, but buying him a vintage arcade game to put in his house is not exactly in your budget?  And even buying him small replicas isn't something you can swing this year?  Make some yourself!


These are beginner-level papercraft projects.  Not at all hard to make.  A suggestion, though:

When I made mine, I really wanted them to last, so I did some extra stuff and things.  You're definitely going to want to use cardstock, anyway, (which is easy to get at places like Walmart in the stationary section), but if you'd like to give these as gifts, you're going to want to shore them up even more.  And by the time you're done, people are going to be surprised they're actually made of paper.  One tip:

Go to the scrapbook section anywhere (Michael's, JoAnn's, Walmart) and grab some black cardstock.  You can buy it by the sheet in a lot of places, for, like 70 cents a sheet, and if you get the 12x12 size, you won't need more than....I'd go with 5 sheets, because it's always good to have extra in case you make mistakes.  After you've printed out the patterns for the arcade games, cut them out, and score the lines where you'll be making the folds.  Once you've done this, glue black cardstock to the backs of each section.  The scoring you just did will act as a guide for this.  You want to do it this way so that when you do the folding, it won't make the glue pop off and separate the black cardstock from the pattern.  It's definitely a fiddly process, but there are two reasons why it's necessary:

If you just cut one of these out and build it straight out, you'll see that once it's done, the recessed area around the game screen is all white, which, of course, ends up looking completely wrong.  The black cardstock will remedy that problem.  The other reason it's necessary is that having the paper doubled up will make the model considerably more stiff and strong.  And for gift-giving purposes, you want it to be as durable as possible.

If you've got ink your printer, this is a very economical gift.  All you have to buy is glue sticks and cardstock.  Here are the links to the patterns.  I couldn't find the Ms Pac-Man or Galaga ones pictured above (I made mine a few years ago), but the ones at the link are just as good:



_

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Okay, So.....

Just some info and stuff for any regular readers out there.

Thing One:

Please feel free to leave comments, both here and at the Facebook page.  I'd love for this place to be more interactive.  I'm interested in hearing what you think, and you're more than welcome to post ideas for art projects, or requests for things you'd like to see covered in the series that I do here, like the colors or the fantastical creatures or the spells.

Thing Two:

I've usually got a poll running in the left column, looking for feedback on, for example, which color you'd like to see covered next in the color series.  It's a good way to interact without having to leave a comment, if you're not comfortable doing that.

Thing Three:

If you haven't already used that thing in the left column ("gadget" or "widget"?) to "like" my Facebook page, I'd like to call your attention to it.  Every time I post a new entry over here, I post a link to it on the Facebook page.  If my page is in your news feed, those links will show up automatically for you, eliminating the need to come over here and check for new entries.  Convenient, no?

I guess the gist of all this is that I'd love to hear your voices!

_

Friday, December 09, 2011

Ow, My Stomach! From The Laughing!

I know this isn't a new one, but my mom and I saw it for the first time tonight, and laughed so hard we were in tears.

Best.  Christmas.  Commercial.  Ever.


Budget Christmas Presents - Part Two

Here's another idea for a Christmas present you can make yourself for very little money.  Since The Young Lad doesn't read my blog, I can get away with posting these here....



This is an especially good present if you're a parent who has a kid who loves some brand name product like Pokemon or Mario games or even Justin Bieber, (if it's the latter, you have my profound sympathies), and you'd like to gently veer them away from plastering their walls with huge, retina-assaulting promo posters.  These are very easy to make, like, they literally only take an hour or two, and you get a nifty, unique result.

Michael's and other craft stores carry all different shapes and sizes of blank wooden plaques that cost only a dollar or two.  (The bigger-sized ones can be a little more expensive, but I've never seen one for more than 3 dollars.) Decorate it up and voila!  Instant fan art that's a lot classier than a life-sized color explosion of the Kidz Bop kids gouging your eyes out every time you walk into the room.

What you do is, see, is you:

Buy a blank wooden plaque.  (Michael's, JoAnn Fabrics, Hobby Lobby)

Paint it either with paints or with Sharpie permanent markers.  Regular readers know I'm a big fan of the Sharpies.  Easy, fast, FAR less messy, and the metallic versions, especially the silver, come in extremely handy for projects like this.

Go to Google Images and find a picture of whatever it is your kid (or other person on your Christmas list) is currently in love with.  Save it to your computer.  Make sure it's a decent size.  You can always pare things down, but if it's a very small picture, trying to print it out bigger than its original size can pixelate the crap out of it.

If you have Photoshop or any other photo manipulation software, it would really help to go in and cut the picture into a circle or square or whatever shape the plaque is digitally, before you print.  If you can't do that, find a glass or bowl that can sit over the front of the plaque without going over the edges, and then use that to trace the shape onto your printed-out picture.

Cut the picture out.  Glue it onto the plaque.

To make it hangable, you could either get a sawtooth hanger to nail to the back, or an eyelet screw to screw into the top, as per the examples above.  I'd actually recommend the sawtooth hanger over the eyelet, because it'll make it easier to hang on the wall.  I used eyelet screws because I've run out of sawtooth hangers.

And there you go!  You don't have to just paint them, either.  You can glue trim onto them, or screw eyelets into the bottom and hang stuff from them....endless possibilities!

_

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

This.

The prequel to this year's Doctor Who Christmas special!


12 Days Of Christmas Dodecahedron

An ornament for you to cut out and assemble!

Click on the image to enlarge.


Omigod, THAT'S GROSS!!

I put on a few episodes of HBO Family's "Crashbox" for The Young Lad this morning, and while generally loving it on most levels, he felt the need to hide under the blanket whenever we saw The Revolting Slob.  And for an 11 year old boy, that's really something.  I'll admit, there's usually at least one thing that happens in every Slob appearance that makes me legitimately queasy.  The video posted here is no exception....


Putting aside The Revolting Slob (which still does serve an educational purpose), Crashbox is everything kids' shows should still be but aren't anymore.  Inventive, artistic, funny, and not dumbed-down.  You're not going to hear any characters on Crashbox shrieking the same word over and over and over....and over and over and over....for an entire 20 minutes and calling that "education".  Watching Crashbox, I'm reminded strongly of the shows my siblings and I used to watch on PBS in the 70's, especially Canadian PBS.

Here's a less yuck-inducing clip from Crashbox:  the awesome Radio Scramble.


Also!  The Riddle-Snake had a good one on one of the episodes we watched this morning:

Where was King Solomon's Temple?

On his forehead!
_

Friday, December 02, 2011

Put Up Your Dukes!

There are a lot of Innistrad cards in Magic: The Gathering that have names that make me smile, but my current favorite (aside from the hilarious "Corpse Lunge") is "Instigator Gang".  The name, the artwork...total love.


There is NOTHING like a rag-tag gaggle of old-timey moustachioed bloodied-up cads going around picking fights for no other reason than to pick fights.  These guys are not messing around.  They've got those dukes raised and positioned just right to crack some jerk up the chin with a precise, fluid motion.  The fact that they're all werewolves makes them ten times awesomer.

Too bad I don't play a red deck.  I don't get to use this card.  My white/blue deck does have something sorta kinda like it.....kinda:


Okay, okay....I guess Unruly Mob isn't like Instigator Gang at all.  The Mob's obviously got some kind of righteous goal in mind, while the Gang is just mixing it up for the love of a good bloody nose.  But as long as I can keep Unruly Mob on the battlefield, any of my creatures that dies pumps it up by +1, so that's pretty good, right?

Right?
_

Thursday, December 01, 2011

101 Songs - Angel Mouth Ate My Jedi Jello!

They're a little hit and miss, but Bad Lip Reading can put out some seriously excellent stuff.

This one is a good example.  How can you resist it?  It's an absolutely stellar pop tune that's impossible not to move to.  Whenever I listen to it, I can't help laughing out loud at one particular part of the lyrics:

"Now all these teenage chickenheads call me all night
One that looked like Brundlefly said to me,
'Can you leave your wrinkled willie glue inside my ocean, please?'
But I didn't cuz her booty flat, flat, flat
Yeah, I'm a genius, trust me, it was fully sad
I said 'Get a whiff of you, you need a ass shroud'
Tuesday night, I did it with no hands"

There's all kinds of hilariousness throughout, but the "Brundlefly" thing gets me every time.  How many kids today are going to even know what that is?

I am old.


Bad Lip Reading - "Dirty Spaceman"


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