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June 2012



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Jun. 6th, 2012

art deco

In Memoriam: Ray Bradbury

When I checked Twitter this morning right before class, I came across a Tweet that punched me straight in the gut: Ray Bradbury was dead.  Ray Bradbury, one of the last living greats of the classic age of science fiction.  Ray Bradbury whose prose was often so beautiful that it rang my soul like a bell.  Gone, like one of my other favorite authors, Octavia Butler.  And like Octavia, I would never meet him.

The first of his works I was exposed to was a cartoon adaptation of his novel The Halloween Tree.  I am a huge fan of cartoons in general, but this one was rare, this one was magical and dark and secret.  I distinctly remember watching it on tv for the first time even though this must've been at least 15 years ago, probably closer to 20, and the impression it left on me when it was over.  Later in 11th grade English it was Ray Bradbury's short stories that I still remember out of everything we read, in particular the eerieness and horror of The Veldt.  

It was his novel Dandelion Wine though and, to a lesser extent, its followup Farewell Summer that sealed my love affair with Bradbury's work.  Even though this was the least overtly science fictional or fantastical of all his works that I had read, to me it seemed even more magical because it spoke directly to me.  It conjured words for feelings that I was tongueless to speak about and for that I say Ray Bradbury was a wizard.  Sadly, in this day and age, wizards don't live forever.  

Oct. 14th, 2011

dragonfly, MusesRealm

Tape Roll Napkin Ring DIY

So you've finished up a roll of tape and are about to toss that pesky plastic ring.  Stop!  You can make some cheap, classy napkin rings out of a few of those rolls!  All you need is some scrap fabric in a pattern or solid color you like, some scissors, and a hot glue gun/glue.  

Fold over the one edge of the fabric and hot glue so there's a nice edge.  Then put a little hot glue on the roll.  Sticking the fabric to it a little at a time, continue gluing the roll, pressing down and smoothing so the fabric adheres well.  When you're done, cut down the remaining edges, put a little glue on the inside of the roll, and pull one edge of the fabric taut against the glue.  Next, fold over and glue the remaining free edge of fabric so it's nice and clean without any fraying bits.  Once again put a little glue on the inside of the roll and pull down on the fabric so it's nice and taut.  

Ta da!

dragonfly, MusesRealm

The 3 R's (reduce, reuse, recycle)

At an early age my parents worked hard to instill in me a hefty measure of guilt.  It stuck.  And because of that guilt, I'm always looking for ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle, sometimes to incyr's chagrin.  This post concerns the second of the 3 R's, reusing.  

I am a Postcrosser.  http://www.postcrossing.com/  Postcrossing is like penpaling for the modern age.  You sign up on the website and when you want to send a postcard, the website spits out the address of a random user from halfway across the world.  It's pretty awesome and I highly recommend it.  The only problem is (well, besides the skyrocking cost of postage) is when you finish sending the last postcard in your book of postcards you're left with the empty cover.  You could recycle it, or....

...You could make an awesome notepad instead!  The notepad is literally sewn together with heavy duty thread I had leftover from sewing buttons on my steampunk jacket and the pages are made out of the envelopes you get from banks or charities or whatnot.  I already gifted one to entelein and this one I'm going to use to take notes on the Dark Heresy campaign I'm participating in.  

Jan. 19th, 2011

Fairyland, book

NYC Midnight Tweet a Story

Last week I signed up for NYCMidnight's Tweet Me A Story contest and then promptly forgot about it until Thursday evening about an hour before the deadline to submit.  The contest was to write a 140 character "story" using an assigned word.  For my group the word was "reservation."

Today we got the first round results and I made it into the top 25 stories for my group!  Public voting will be open later this morning and the top 5 will advance to the finals for a chance to win $100 so if you like my story, please vote for it! 


Here's my "story":

Johnny Two-Feather left home, guitar on his back. Ahead of him stretched the wall around the reservation. Tonight he was going to climb. [2]

Jan. 10th, 2011

Pushing Daisies, Chuck

Ironekilz has left the boat

So as of Saturday afternoon, I am back home after an amazing week on the JoCo Cruise crazy er...cruise.  For those of you not in the know, and really, if I know who Jonathan Coulton is, then you guys definitely should, he is the geeky singer/songwriter who penned the song Still Alive for Portal (probably his biggest claim to fame) as well as such classics as Re: Your Brains, Code Monkey, and Future Soon.  Being the sun around which other fellow geek celebs orbit, he brought with him: John Hodgman, Molly Lewis, Paul and Storm, Mike Phirman, John Roderick, Wil Wheaton, Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy, Stephen "Stepto" Toulouse, David Rees, and Peter Sagal. 

We arrived on the boat on the morning of January 2nd (after being shipped to Fort Lauderdale following a radiation treatment and thorough patdown much like an Indian mango) and settled into our stateroom.  I think next time if/when we go on a cruise we'll get a stateroom with a verandah we can walk out on, but the porthole looking directly out over the ocean was much bigger than expected and very welcome.  After dropping off our bags, we  explored the ship.  We mingled with other cruisers, most of whom weren't  JoCo Sea Monkeys, and even got to see manatees in the wild while we waited for the ship to set sail.

Every evening of the cruise we had a concert/show from the entertainers.  The first night was Paul and Storm and Wil Wheaton who read some of his short stories to musical accompaniment.  The shows started at either 4:30 or 5:00 depending on whether that day was an at-sea day or whether we were in port (Half Moon Cay, Bahamas, Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and Georgetown, Cayman Islands). The shows were universally entertaining, but incyr  and I agree that Mike Phirman was probably the most pleasant surprise.  He was hilarious!  

After each show we got into fancier dress and lined up for dinner.  Dinner was the classiest part of the cruise, hands down and it was all free!  One night I had escargot, another duck, and another, lobster.  I gained almost two pounds on the cruise because, in addition to a three course meal followed by dessert, there was also an all-you-can-eat buffet for breakfast and lunch and the buffet was open all day too.  It's a wonder I didn't gain more weight!  The first night was assigned seating, but afterward we were free to sit where we liked and we made it a point to sit with different people every time.  After dinner there was boardgaming, or Rock Band, or karaoke.  It felt very much like a small, gently rocking convention.  

On the 3rd, we put into Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.  Apparently Half Moon Cay has been leased to Holland America for 99 years.  It's a beautiful little island, and incyr and I had a great time, but it did feel a little touristy.  We went on a guided tour of the island and learned about a lot of plants and their medicinal purposes, which I promptly, and sadly, forgot.  Then we ate barbecue and headed off to our next adventure: snorkeling.  

I have never been snorkeling before and because I don't swim too well, it was with a mixture of terror and excitement that I donned the mask and fins and entered the water.  I probably drank half the Atlantic, but the view of the fish and the reefs was incredible and obviously I didn't drown.  Buoyed by my success, and my lifejacket, I can say I will definitely go snorkeling again.  

I've forgotten to mention the weather.  The weather was gorgeous: 70's and 80's during the day, sunny, no rain.  Although we didn't spend a huge amount of time just soaking in the rays on the deck, we did get some time to lounge, read, and drink expensive, tropical drinks with names like Miami Vice and Tropical Tom.  We even got some time in the hot tub on deck and I took a dip in the pool.

On the 4th was an at-sea day so after breakfast we spent the day lounging and playing games.  At this point I started to look forward to seeing what towel animal our cabin stewards would make for us that would be waiting when we got ready for bed.  I think I liked the elephant the best.  By far the creepiest, but in a good way, was the monkey they pinned to a clothes hanger and hung above the bed with the reading lights by the bed spotlighted on it.  It reminded me of JoCo's song My Monkey.

The only dark spot of the trip was on the 5th in Jamaica.  I knew there was something ominous about the cooler, cloudier weather, and the flocks of turkey vultures circling.  When we arrived we took a shuttle to Dunn's River falls, which is a famous waterfall that you can climb.  We rented a locker for our stuff, stripped down to our bathing suits, and followed our guides to the beach where we proceeded to climb directly into the flow of the water.  We got completely soaked.  Despite the cooler temperatures, this wasn't the bad part, it was getting ready to leave the park where we were hassled by half a dozen vendors all trying to push their cheap trinkets on us.  We ended up bankrupt because the last money we took with us (thankfully we left money on the ship) one vendor tricked us into giving him by pretending to give us free trinkets then, after carving our names into them, demanding we pay him.  Not even the dolphin cove, our second excursion there, where we saw dolphins, parrots, stingrays, and sharks could clean the sour taste from our mouths after that.  I have no desire to visit Jamaica again.

Much better was our experience in the Cayman Islands the following day.  While there we took a trip through Hell where I mailed a postcard, visited a turtle farm where they breed turtles (also where I tasted turtle soup), went to the Tortuga Rum Cake Factory and sampled various flavored rums, and took a ride on the Nautilus, a half-submerged ship where we got an up-close and personal view of the reefs, shipwrecks, and fish around the island.  Afterward we went shopping and bought rum cakes and rum for family.  I would definitely go back to the Cayman Islands.  

Friday was our final day aboard ship and another day at-sea.  There was a raffle for free spa treatments and I found out I'd won $30 toward one of these, so I spent the morning at the spa getting a facial.  This was a trip for firsts since I'd never had a facial before.  Afterward was more gaming and relaxing and then the final show, which was sad, but awesome.  If it were up to me, I'd be on the ship still.  The good thing though is that there were plenty of folks from the DC area onboard and that we're planning on getting together at some point or at least keeping in touch. 


Dec. 8th, 2010

Fairyland, book

Contract signed!

I just signed the contract to have my story Mermaid Silk published in Aurora Literary Journal's New Fairy Tales Anthology

Nov. 30th, 2010

fairy, musesRealm

A Tangled Web Disney Weaves

Much has been made lately about Disney's supposed move away from its lucrative princess franchise and much of the hubbub has centered around its newest movie, which saw its title changed from the more recognizable name Rapunzel to the more "gender-neutral" Tangled.  Ostensibly this was to distance the film from other Disney princess films, which apparently are scaring boys away in droves.  Never mind the fact that I know of at least three men (before you ask, yes of heterosexual persuasion) in their late 20's/early 30's who grew up during the second golden age of Disney and who are absolutely besotted with their films, including the "girly" princess films.

I'll admit that I too seethed when I heard of the title change for Rapunzel.  Could it be that the reason The Princess and the Frog didn't do so well in theatres (upwards of $267 million is apparently a bomb) was not because of the titular princess, but because it was a rush job that kowtowed too heavily to focus groups?  Of course not!  Silly me, boys just can't relate to girl protagonists (this is also why a Wonder Woman movie has been dead in the water and why Warner Brothers infamously declared they were shelving any female-driven pictures for the immediate future).  So let's change the tale of Rapunzel into a story about a male thief who just so happens to run across the follicularly-blessed beauty!  That's certainly the story the trailers told, but that's not the movie I saw last night.

First off, this article is dead wrong about at least one thing:  Aside from Aladdin, Flynn Rider is the most fully realized male protagonist of the so-called Disney princess films, but it is still Rapunzel who is the focus of the film.  Without getting into spoilers, it is her journey from submissive girl to assertive young woman that drives the movie.  In fact, I'd argue Rapunzel is the strongest female protagonist of all of Disney's animated features, stronger even than Belle and Tiana, who still needed men to save them and fulfill their dreams.  Not only does Rapunzel save Flynn's bacon numerous times, not only does she stand up to the villain, leading to the villain's downfall, but she has a rich inner life that Disney hasn't been entirely successful in conveying in their heroines up until now.  As a side note, while Rapunzel is cute, she's not conventionally beautiful in the typical Disney princess mold.  She's flat-chested, skinny,  has freckles and she's slightly bucktoothed.  Plus spoilerCollapse )

So yes, Rapunzel is still a princess and yes, the title was changed to make the film appeal more to boys, but I see Tangled as a positive shift in the way women and girls are being presented by Disney rather than being the nail in the coffin of female-centric fairytales as has been predicted.  Hopefully Disney sees this too.

Nov. 2nd, 2010

Bees, Wonder Woman

AMC's Walking Dead

So incyr and I watched AMC's pilot for The Walking Dead comic adaptation yesterday.  I haven't read the comic, but man was I blown away by the show so far.  The makeup is literally scary-good, I'm impressed that it was shot on location in Atlanta, and the acting is amazing.  I was variously on the edge of my seat or cowering during the whole show. 

What sticks out for me the most were two things, the first being the main character's (for some reason I didn't catch his name) awakening into the hellish new world zombie order.  I was so glad to see a grown man in full-on panic mode where it wasn't played for laughs or as a way to insinuate the character wasn't a "real" man.  That's EXACTLY how I'd react and how I'd expect  anyone else would react in such a situation.  The second thing that sticks out for me was Dwayne's father trying to come to grips with his wife's un-death.  I really felt for him.

Okay, three things.  For all the other horrific zombie violence, the most terrifying thing about this episode was zombie wife shambling to the door and trying to open it.  Something about her blank-eyed stare and the way it looked like she was trying to talk scared me way way more than all the other partially decayed nighmares did all together.

As I said via Twitter, an hour and a half of this show had more genuine emotion than the whole run of Lost.  I will even controversially say that if the quality stays at this level and the show isn't dragged out needlessly that it could supplant Battlestar Galactica as the best scifi-drama series in the last ten years.  I'm so looking forward to watching next week's episode.

Sep. 29th, 2010

dragonfly, MusesRealm

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

Yesterday I decided to pick up a few samples of some Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scents.  I still have the few entelein gave me (Malediction, Fae, Maiden, Cthulu, and Thanatopsis), minus Fae, which I tragically spilled, and Maiden, which I gave to my sister.  Out of all of them Fae and Cthulu were my faves.  This time I decided to see what Olokun, Titania, Endymion, Rosalind, Danube, and Lady of Shalott smell like.  I should be getting them soon.  What I'm really excited to try though are the new scents coming out based on The Last Unicorn.  I'll probably be snapping those up when they arrive.  Yes, I'm a sucker for anything having to do with Peter Beagle. 

Aug. 31st, 2010

Bees, Wonder Woman

Dragoncon ho

It's serious crunchtime for Dragoncon.  Today I'm working until 4:30 then I have class tonight at 7:30 so there's not much time to work on my costume.  We leave for Charlotte, NC, to meet up with coffeejedi and la_ardillita  on Wednesday and are headed to Atlanta on Thursday.  I'm so glad I picked something relatively easy this year, which is Pidge from Voltron. 


I still need to finish sewing the belt, either acquire or make his neckerchief thingie, and style the wig a bit, including getting a good wig cap and the headband for it. 

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