Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Rosey Morris


These sweet little paintings my Rosey Morris on Etsy made my die just a little inside. The gold and silver edged landscape, portraits and nature scenes have a child-like unfinished quality as if they were details stolen from a mural. The moon and clouds round is just like looking up through an open observatory dome. Also, rooster.

Who said good art can't be affordable?

(I didn't. I did not say that)

via Bijou and Boheme

Friday, November 23, 2012

An Important PSA about Fake Geek Girls



I've been a fan of "A Distant Soil" ever since the fated day in 2001 I stumbled upon one of Colleen Doran's collections because it was sitting too close to an Elfquest anniversary edition at Big Planet Comics. I haven't even read all of her exquisitely drawn issues.

Doran has posted a PSA on her website accompanied by a discussion about what she called, "The Emotional Economics of Scarcity".  This is about bullying folks, the sexism prevalent in geek (and may I add gaming) culture, about the subsistence of mean girls even within subculture cliques and, I think, a study about how women have been trained to interact to tear each other down in dominantly patriarchal constructs.

Yes, watch the hysterical, 40's style propaganda film. (While you are at it, enjoy "Women, know your limits!" from Henry Enfield of the BBC immediately afterward).

There is no contradiction between being a frock-sporting, lipstick-wearing, fake-eyelash fluttering female and being a blathering, fandom-obsessed, subculture-worshiping geek.  There is no dichotomy.  Geek culture, science fiction and in fact science, math and technology are not inherently male.  And they will keep telling you that they are.  They are not.  Einstein's brain might have been different than normal people's brains, but the normal male brain is no different than yours.  There is nothing about aggression that inherently indicates leadership.  It only indicates that you are a dude since it is biological linked to a production of testerone.  All of those ideas are constructs.  Perhaps becasue the 1%-ers are 99.998% male, and they are terrified that any change in the status quo represents a loss of control. It doesn't.  Without change there is only stagnation.

More importantly, there is no diminishing of yourself when others succeed.  To think anything otherwise is straight up narcissism and you should probably get that checked out.  With a therapist. Change is made by groups sticking together and pursuing similar ideals side-by-side.

Now go listen to "As Cool As I Am," by Dar Williams.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

When You Wish Upon a Star Wars


Disney buys LucasFilm for Four Billion; Episode VII anticipated for 2015.


Just sit with that for a moment. It's a little scary.  Disney is the corporate behemoth equivalent of the Empire, amirite?  But then I read this part of the official press release, and I got really, really excited:



"For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said George Lucas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lucasfilm. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers." 
A new generation of filmmakers. This is a good thing. The last time George Lucas turned over the reins to someone else, we got The Empire Strikes Back.  Director Irvin Kershner delivered a dark, complex, emotionally resonant story that built on the Saturday matinee adventure of Episode IV and fully exploited the richness of the hero's journey trope.

Granted, there's a lot that could go wrong.   If it does, it will probably involve Jar Jar. Return of the Jedi could be reissued with all the Ewoks digitally replaced by Fozzie Bears (which honestly, would be kind of awesome).  But in the best case scenario, Disney utilizes the staggering amount of creativity already at its disposal - Pixar, the Muppets, and Marvel - and applies it to telling a new generation of stories set in the Star Wars 'verse.

If you're still not sold, I'll leave you with this:


Joss Whedon might get a crack and writing and directing a Star Wars movie. 

You just got light headed didn't you?  It's alright. You just go lie down and I'll bring you a glass of blue milk and a damp cloth for your forehead.  Then we can get to the serious business of fantasy casting the upcoming films. I think we all know who should play Han and Leia's son.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Magic Binder Full of Women


During university, a particularly awe-inspiring upperclasswoman who lived down the hall from me had fine-tuned a feminist, tri-colored Magic the Gathering deck by Wizards of the Coast. All of the cards, whether creature or enchantments, featured powerful female images.

Jiminy Christmas did I want one just like it.

However, my geek-lust for that deck has nothing on the Magic Binder Full of Women's, selection of politically charged cards, which has sprung up in response to the birth of the "Binders full of Women" meme following Romney's quickly quipped gaffe in the second presidential debate.

You can bulk out your deck with choices like:
  • Nancy Reagan (artifact) - All of your undead units creatures in play gain the text "regeneration".
  • Michell Obama (angel) - Flying, Vigilance. Target creature gain flying until end of turn.
  • Jan Brewer (legendary harpy) - Return target creature to owner's hand. 

Now some of you may be complaining that Internet memes detract from the real issues, in what is, essentially, a deadly serious political contest. But in my opinion, memes actually draw attention to the issues. While I didn't have access to live television coverage for the second presidential debate while I'm in London, I knew exactly what I'd missed first thing in the morning during my daily in-bed Facebook/Twitter scan. And it was impossible not to notice that equal pay for equal work and women's rights were at the heart of this meme.

Also, it sticks because it is damn funny.

You can submit your own ideas for the cards here.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Let’s get our Organize on: Taxonomy vs Folksonomy




Image courtesy of Pop Chart Lab (available as a poster!)
Organization is my dirty little secret. Dirty, because it never seems to trickle down to my own desk, rendering me a professional pig pen. Secret, because I hungrily digest research on sophisticated ways to relate, arrange, and organize information, terrified that I would be pilloried if anyone saw what I was reading.  But “little” is a misnomer. When I am presented with inefficient, ineffective methods of knowledge management that both waste my time and confuse me, I can rage. Like a wild-eyed wildebeest raised solely on Google algorithms, I can rage. And so begins a bender into the world of taxonomies and their much maligned cousins, folksonomies, better known as social tagging.

Rather than cause me innumerable suffering, taxonomies are supposed to help make sense of the world. (Who could live without a taxonomy of beer? Beer.) Taxonomies work behind the scenes, allowing us to fit our product quickly into the right space, so that it can be retrieved by someone else at a later time. They are not just family trees of animal classifications that branch off into the ether, although hierarchies are the form in which they most often appear. Ideally, taxonomies are comprised of three major components: schemes that classify and group items, controlled vocabularies that serve to explain and relate terms, and knowledge maps that clearly demonstrate relationships.


Image courtesy of Green Chameleon


The key word is relationship. It’s very hard work, as we all know. Taxonomies are living creatures; they must not only be established, but tested, and maintained regularly.  There is no one correct way to structure a taxonomy, demonstrated by challenges to these suggested types of science in science fiction.  Do we all agree on how this is organized? I doubt it. (I bet a minor war might break out between CandyBuffet and FreshSnaps if we ever dared to discuss it.) And just think of how much effort has to go into keeping this up-to-date. It's an ever-expanding universe of information! Most fields are, except for Latin and Star Wars. We all like certainty and structure in our relationships, but with the pace of knowledge generation and dissemination, how can practical taxonomies keep up? Like the good cynic I am, I argue that they cannot possibly do so. Enter folksonomies, stage right.

Image courtesy of Little Red Crayon
Wikipedia has an excellent entry on folksonomies, with a nicely articulated definition: “A folksonomy is a system of classification derived from the practice and method of collaboratively creating and managing tags to annotate and categorize content.” Contrary to popular belief and Bill Murray, it is not mass chaos. Organization does emerge, categories can be identified, especially at higher levels, and among groups of individuals working in similar fields. Complex adaptive systems, made famous by Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point (though he never uses the term), run rampant in our society, including our knowledge management systems. They forsake top-down, centrally managed systems for user-generated classifications. Patterns shift as knowledge is generated, used, and modified, which is incredibly fast. It shouldn't be that surprising: people are good at classifying their own stuff, and the stuff that they're interested in. Perhaps a tenuous relationship can emerge, where folksonomies help to craft taxonomies and maintain their relevance. And then maybe we all can find organizational happiness in the balance. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

A war on two fronts


Usually I leave the politics stuff to FreshSnaps, AletheaKairos and Catty, but this smacks of a fundamental misunderstanding of word usage and by gum, I will defend the rights of semantics everywhere.

Rebecca Solnit, has a nice article on Salon, "Must men be patronizing?" about why some men feel compelled to hold court and explain things to women. Now Solnit is incredibly succinct and is a lover of facts by profession, but I'm going to state first that not all men are enamored with the sound of their own voices and that women can succumb to this kind of smugness and entitlement as well. (Phew, that's out of the way), but "the out-and-out confrontational confidence of the totally ignorant is", according to Solnit, "gendered".

"Self-doubt is a good tool for correcting, understanding, listening, and progressing," suggests Solnit, "though too much is paralyzing and total self-confidence produces arrogant idiots." She goes on to say, "This syndrome is a war that nearly every woman faces every day, a war within herself too, a belief in her superfluity, an invitation to silence, one from which a fairly nice career as a writer (with a lot of research and facts correctly deployed) has not entirely freed me."
"On two occasions ... I objected to the behavior of a man, only to be told that the incidents hadn’t happened at all as I said, that I was subjective, delusional, overwrought, dishonest — in a nutshell, female ... Billions of women must be out there on this 6-billion-person planet being told that they are not reliable witnesses to their own lives, that the truth is not their property, now or ever. This goes way beyond Men Explaining Things, but it’s part of the same archipelago of arrogance."
Why am I going on about this? Because I agree with Solnit that "at the heart of the struggle of feminism to give rape, date rape, marital rape, domestic violence, and workplace sexual harassment legal standing as crimes has been the necessity of making women credible and audible."

Yes, that's right, this is a post about Todd Akin and the use of language when discussing rape (Thanks to the NYTimes for the the link).

Kelly Whitman's has some excellent things to say about talking about and acknowledging rape in her "Using the Right Words About Rape" post at her Mocha Momma blog. As a young mom and a teacher, she tries to speak naturally and organically with her children about their bodies and how to discern abuse. Why can't we do the same thing as a nation with our laws and with the adults we have elected to Congress?

"Most women fight wars on two fronts," Solnit tells us, "one for whatever the putative topic is and one simply for the right to speak, to have ideas, to be acknowledged to be in possession of facts and truths, to have value, to be a human being. Things have certainly gotten better, but this war won’t end in my lifetime."

And thanks to bors blog for the "The Avenging Uterus Vs. Todd Akin" Strip!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Olympic Comedy and Tragedy


I knew something was up with Olympic coverage when I couldn't find a live showing of the opening ceremonies. The Washington Post TV guide had a '(L)' next to the prime time scheduled event, which I had to patiently explain to my father couldn't be live (No Dad, it'll be 2 AM there. Trust me no one is going to the stadium when the tube won't even be running).

Thank goodness for streaming BBC One's (excellent) commercial free coverage. I didn't even have to sign up for a $100 a month subscription to a cable-TV service of their choice (Neither of my parents have cable btw NBC. And they likely never will).  Heidi Moore has a great piece on NBC insistence that we "huddle around the radio" to receive our Olympic news in "NBC fail shows network's commitment to 'the last great buggy-whip Olympics'".

I'll continue to show my displeasure by making use of the trending #nbcfail twitter hashtag (Women's soccer gold match game anyone? Oh, never mind.  You need a cable subscription for that too. I braved Lucky Bar by myself on a Thursday for this?). I also highly recommend following NBCDelayed on Twitter to feel vindicated.

Tip of the Hat to the Guardian for their London 2012 Viral Video Chart: the 10 best videos from the Games, which showcases the viral video highlights of the Olympics thus far. Cry all over again with South Korea's Shin A-lam's mind-boggling defeat with (literally) a brick-by-brick recreation of the women's fencing semi-final. Then watch Funny or Die's video of Sir Patrick Stewart swindling yanks as an Olympic ticket scalper to make the pain go away.  (sigh. wishes were a knight or a dame or whatever.) You get Simon Pegg, Ryan Lochte's patriotic grille and that girl who plays Arya on Game of Thrones.

 Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A petite rant on usage


I worked for a financial newspaper that shall remain nameless (Voldemortgage News? Hrm...) and it had the worst culture of institutionalized bullying I have ever had to endure. Which made me a ruthless editor because editing became survival.

The scars of this experience are my intolerance for misused words. I'd be annoyed by them anyway, I assure you, but not to this PTSD degree. And while I could dismiss my vehement reactions on unresolved anger at a chief sub who was a righteous prick and needed a kick in the balls, it still doesn't change the fact that words are misused all the damn time by people and publications that should know better, and as a result they are dumbing down our entire society and heralding the End of Times.

Here are a few examples:

Over. Dear every newspaper editor or broadcast journalist ever, please stop saying "over" when you mean "about". "Over" implies space and direction. Full disclosure: I used "over" in a headline when I was working on the Daily Telegraph business desk but that was because "about" wouldn't fit and the next word was "oil" so it rolled nicely. But you know what? Print is dying, the internet has unlimited space and the Daily Mail is going to use all of it for a five-deck SEO-generating headline so there's no excuse for saying "over" when you mean "about".

And just in case you don't mean "about", you probably mean "more than". Because if it's an amount of something, it's "more than". And while we're talking about amounts...

Significant. You mean "substantial". Because it's an amount, right? You're talking about an amount. You're talking about how much more you're paying in insurance every month or how many more students are not going to go to university if there are no jobs. Amounts are "substantial". If you say "significant" you're implying something is special. And you know what? It isn't.

Fantastical. You know who the worst sinner of this is? SFX magazine. Every goddamn "reboot" of a "franchise" is "fantastical", according to its "showrunner". NO. If it's a fantasy you're describing, then the adjective is "fantastic". Yes I am aware that it is a superlative. It's funny how some words can function in different word classes, isn't it? Like "fuck" and "smurf". Stop taking a perfectly cromulent adjective and trying to turn it into another adjective. I don't care if Shakespeare used it. You're not Shakespeare. You're not even Stephen Moffat. Unless you are. But if you are, please don't say "fantastical" because you're Stephen Goddamn Moffat and you are BETTER THAN THAT.


Vast majority. It's either a majority or it isn't. Fuck off with this "vast" nonsense.

Whilst/amongst. In grad school my grammar professor argued (in my words, not his) that anyone who said "whilst" or "amongst" was a pretentious dickhead and in practice I've found this to be largely true.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fab dot com


Let me start by apologizing, to you and your bank account.  Because you're going to go to Fab.com and be powerless to resist their daily collections of art, fashion, jewelry, furniture, and home goods.  It's an electronic orgasm of what Eddie would lovingly call gorgeous, tasteful, little stylish little gorgeous things.

YOU'RE GOING TO BUY ALL OF THE THINGS.  

Like this, for example.  

Space Jam by Chase Kunz.  Currently hanging in my bathroom

Items tend to arrive when they arrive, but if you don't mind waiting, it's a minor thing.  It's like Christmas!  One day something you forgot you ordered just magically shows up at your door.  So far I've only had one real hiccup with an order when I received the wrong item.  The customer service reps I dealt with via email were very communicative and downright earnest in their desire to make right the mistake.  When they weren't able to replace the item, I got a full refund plus a $10 shopping credit.  Earnest like a fox.  A stylish gorgeous little fox. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Inspiration Grid


For a daily dose of arresting images, visit The Inspiration Grid.  This curated gallery presents new works in art and design from creators around the world.  It's easy to immerse yourself in these beautiful, amusing, and provocative pieces.

Some of my favorites come from the photography gallery:


Interiors of classical instruments, created by Mona Sibai and Björn Ewers for an advertising campaign to promote the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.   Photographer: Mierswa KluskaIf


Lips: Creative Photography by Nikos Vasilakis

The War Against Christmas, high speed photos of exploding Christmas ornaments by Alan Sailer
The Inspiration Grid

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bully for you, Mittens


I guess the news cycle has washed away all traces of the Mitt Romney Is A Bully story that commandeered headlines for about 10 minutes in May. Many people argued that Romney being a bully in high school isn't that big a deal because he should be judged on what he does now.
I disagree. (And not because there isn't anything to judge him on now, because there is. Lots.)

When I was in sixth grade, I was bullied repeatedly to the point that I started skipping school for weeks at a time. Because I was bullied, I bullied others I perceived to be weaker than me when I got the chance to, because that's how I thought things went and how I thought I had to survive. (That's how it works; it's a cycle. You might notice this now in how Romney treats the middle and lower classes in regards to tax and healthcare.) This reaction-bullying resulted in the worst thing I think I have ever said to another human being.

His name was Chris and he was having a more difficult time adjusting to middle school than I was. I'd heard from someone that he wanted to commit suicide. So after school one day when we were the only two students left at the bike rack, I said: "Hey, is it true you wanted to kill yourself?"
He said "yeah". Defensively. Like, you wanna-make-something-of-it.
So I said: "What are you waiting for?"
And he snorted in a "yeah, good one" manner and rode off.
He disappeared before the year was out.

I have regretted this for years and never told anyone this story. Ever.
But I remember it. I carry it with me and I would apologize to Chris if I even knew how to find him, if he was even still alive.

In 1965, Mitt Romney bullied a classmate who had the audacity to style his hair. His "long" hair that draped over one eye. In 1965. Okay, the Beatles happened already, Mitt. Even at Cranbook. But that didn't stop him from corralling his gang of Crabbes and Goyles to physically restrain John Laubner and cut his hair off.

Are there worse things? Yes. Like telling a student to go kill himself, maybe. But I was 11. Mitt was 18. I was a disturbed child and Mitt was a grown man ready to take up his place in the 1%. And while I remember my horrible act, Mitt apparently does not. Oh, his classmates remember it, feel bad about it, and even made an attempt to atone for it before Laubner died. But Mitt, in a startlingly heroic move worthy of any American President, does more than just deny it ever happened, he rubbishes the entire issue by saying he doesn't remember it.

For some reason, electing a President has become a popularity contest instead of the job interview it actually is. Voters, if you elect this bullying dickwad asshole President of the United States of America, you have just made the villain of every John Hughes film ever Prom King. And that is not how we want to be known in the global community. It really isn't.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

TARDIS and Browncoat Jerseys - Last Day to Order


It's hard to think about hockey when it's 4,000 degrees outside, and inside you haven't moved from the couch since Friday.  Also, you can suddenly speak with great authority about the nuances of a full twisting layout Tsukahara.  But!  Today is the last day to order one of these cunning jerseys from designer Dave Delisle.

You can customize the number.  9 is my Doctor

To me this is a form of cosplay, as many people opt to put a character’s name on their back. In my opinion this is sort of a fandom, where every design I post is usually for something I really love. I don’t see these as products but large personal billboards for things we like, be itGame of Thrones or Voltron or Zelda or what have you. I hope large companies see these as fan expressions, not infringing. 
I don’t have big aspirations of turning this into a mega-business, I rather like the small scale we are currently at. I do hope geeky hockey jerseys become more commonplace eventually. 
If anyone had jerseys like these available I wouldn’t be going through all this effort. Maybe Reebok will take notice.
Check out Dave's site for more great designs.  Fandom jerseys from Dave's Geeky Hockey.  Tip o'the hat to Bruce!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Large Hadron Quilts


I'd like to imagine that when the scientists and engineers at CERN go to sleep at night, they tuck themselves up under one of these:


Inner Eye February 2010
Size: 120 cm square.
Materials: Silk, synthetic fabric, pvc fabric and sequins.

Teacher and artist Kate Findlay was inspired by the recurring circle-in-square motif of the Large Hadron Collider and spent four years translating those forms into fabric.
Findlay used traditional patchwork for her three earliest pieces, “Breakthrough,” “Inner Eye,” and “Does the Dark Matter?” Because of the way fabric moves, this technique makes creating circles a fiendish feat. After six to eight weeks of sewing, and down to the final piece, she says, “My heart was absolutely in my mouth.” Until she finished, she had no idea whether everything would line up and lie flat.
Quilts by Kate Findlay via Symmetry magazine - February 2012.  Tip o'the hat to Bethanew.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Astonishing, Awesome, Beautiful, Seductive


And the ship's not bad either.

Each year at San Diego Comic Con there's a Starship Smackdown panel held to determine which spaceship is best.  Prior to watching this video, if asked, I would have naturally thrown my vote to the Millenium Falcon.

But Neil DeGrasse Tyson makes a very persuasive argument for the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701.

 
What matters is not what they look like now, but what they looked like to others at the time that they prevailed.  There is only one spaceship [in the bracket] that's earlier than [USS Enterprise] and that's the flying saucer from The Day The Earth Stood Still ... So, what matters here is what did that spaceship [points to USS Enterprise] look like at the time it came out?  Compared with anything that had been imagined before.  And when you consider that, that is the most astonishing, awesome, beautiful, seductive machine that has ever graced the screen. 
And everything else is derivative.
In other news, when the Wu-Tang Clan's GZA undertakes an album intended to convey the grandeur, energy, and chaos of the universe itself, who does he turn to?

Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal
Watch out, guys.  We've got an actual badass over here.

Starship Smackdown via

GZA on 'Dark Matter' album: WSJ

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sasquatch!


My husband has taken to watching Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot. It's ridiculous. Despite never having found the remains of a Sasquatch, the droppings of a Sasquatch, or actually – irrefutably – caught one on camera, this dedicated team goes all Blair Witch in the Pacific Northwest with their Sasquatch "calls" and proof that bigfoots "whistle", "can't understand words", and "sleep on hemlock" in the open forest.
As this show really only prompts more questions than it answers, we've taken to googling and wiki-ing Sasquatch for random fun facts. Here's the one my husband found:
"'Sasquatch' is a slang term for 'hairy vagina'."
I'm not sure how much I can express the rage I felt when I heard that. Because, seriously? The vagina is an internal organ. What you're talking about is the labia. There is no such thing as a 'hairy vagina'. (While we're at it, there's also no vagina dentata.) Second? The labia is supposed to be hairy. Just like armpits, upper lips, bellies, legs, arms, and ears. Just like dudes are hairy.
You don't need to be a doctor to know this but if you are a heterosexual male with any hope of having consensual sexual relations with a member of the opposite sex the least you can do is learn what things are called and where they are. Damn, y'all.

Also, yay for Those Pesky Dames, who take to YouTube to rant about body hair and other feminist topics. I was introduced to them on Cherry Healey's latest series, How to Get a Life, which is a hell of a lot more interesting than Finding Bigfoot.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Higgs Boson Explained


I find that most everything in life can be explained by how-to videos. I'm looking at you Higgs Boson.

Start with this video which compares Higgsy to a tray of sugar. Raw muscavado sugar it looks like, because this guy is from the Guardian and the British are like that about their sugar.

Then move on to this more in-depth look from PHD comics. This one's gonna take a bit longer, so you might want to smoke a clove cigarette while you're watching to take the edge off.

And don't let this new fangangled addition fool you.  Higgsy isn't the last particle to complete the standard model.  We are still looking for gravitons, people. 

You're welcome.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Rosemary Rain


So I was flipping through the online pages of I Love Cat Party again, because of its hypnotic sweetness and mooncalf sexiness is just so soothing.

They've turned me on to Rosemary Rain, an etsy store of (literally) cheeky watercolors and digital art. The theme here seems to be maryjane and nude babes in a soft, sweet, I love Californian sort of way. Bizarre? Check. Adorable? Check.

I mean come on. Naked. Lady. Riding. Dinosaur.

I just want to purchase of collection of them, frame them and stick them up in my guest bathroom. It would be, I don't know, a really good time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sailor Moon Returns in Summer 2013


Sailor Moon is getting a new anime series in summer 2013 according to the anime news network.

There is only one way to express my excitement, which is by a squee. So I will do so so now.

(Squeeeeeee!)

Kodansha editor Fumio Osano has only confirmed that the new project will be a serial not a film and it will be produced by Toei animation, which also animated the original series, for worldwide distributed. Mashable speculates that this new serial may be a reboot geared to both younger and older fans. And the Mary Sue hopes they won't remake Haruka and Michiru’s relationship when the series hits the States.

I only only hope that Naoko Takeuchi will read my letter re-translating Moonlight Desnetsu into American English before Momoiro Clover Z re-records it for the new series. (sigh).

To tide us over until more releases hit the interwebs, check out Corey Lewis'recent fan art Sailor Bat (via reyyy.com) and Ann Marcellino's Sailor Avengers (via How to Carve Roast Unicorn).

PS Did you know CandyBuffet has a twitterfeed? Even more sciencey unicorn magic can be imbibed here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Texts From Jane Eyre


Mallory Ortberg wrote Texts from Jane for the Hairpin.

A snippet:
JANE I BOUGHT YOU A DRESS MADE OF TEN THOUSAND PEARLS AS A BRIDAL PRESENT where on earth would I wear that YOU COULD WEAR IT ON THE MOON that seems impractical how would i even breathe on the moon? I WOULD BREATHE FOR YOU MY JANE
Read it because it is funny. Read it because, I could read a whole blog just about texts from characters in classic novels. Really, I could read the whole of Jane Eyre re-wtritten as texts. Are you listening Mallory Ortberg?

Like it? Try Texts from Scarlett O'Hara.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Side-by-Side Comparison of Humanity’s Notable Spaceships


Molecular astrophysicist "Invader Xan" has created an infographic, "Model spaceships", comparing the sizes of various space-faring vessels at Supernova Condensate.

Why? I'm not sure where you got lost when I said, "spaceships".

And you know what? S/he/It's blog has great stargazing tidbits like, "How to diffract a Cadbury’s creme egg…?" and including killer images of the Venus-Sun transit. You are not aware of my penchant with Venus-Sun porn? Then you are not following my Twiterfeed. Xan has also included bonus material (above) comparing fictional and non-fictional craft. [via Discover Magazine]

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Geek glam


Captain America by Jangasara

Self taught artist Jangsara is about to make cosplay or just getting dolled up for a Friday night a metric ass tonne more awesome.   She makes being a nerd impossibly glam with her takes on Star Wars, The Avengers, and The Hunger Games.

I am left without words.  Just gasps and squeaks and now if you'll excuse me, I have to go buy ALL OF THE THINGS at Sephora.

Makeup your Jangsara via


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Jennifer Landa


Actress and Orange County native Jennifer Landa used to Princess Jasmine at Disneyland. Who knew she'd turn out to be such a prodigy video blogger and Star Wars superfan?

Make her YouTube channel a viewing prioity. Her message runs from the absurd (Ewok hunter!) to the inspired (Star Wars Blue Ray Rap) to the educationally enlightening (How to Speak Huttese). 

The Official Star Wars blog has an interview with her about her crushin' Death Star cosplay dress (Nice tie interceptor head piece).

And don't forget to check out her blog where her not so inner geek is on full display.

Yub nub.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Free Universal Toy Construction Kit


This Universal Construction Kit created by F.A.T. Lab and Sy-Lab, makes all brick toys (and not so brick toys) compatible. We're talking Lego, Duplo, Fischertechnik, Gears! Gears! Gears!, K’Nex, Krinkles (Bristle Blocks), Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys, Zome, and Zoob and the ability to connect each brand to any other brand.

And its free. Of course there's a catch. You need a 3D printer to produce the collection of 80 parts. Even so. Holy shnikees.

Happiness bomb.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hef comes out swinging for women in GOP war



It may seem hard to believe but Playboy founder and pajama enthusiast Hugh Hefner actually likes women. According to Politico, Hef published a rare editorial in the magazine's May issue, condemning the Republican war on women and attempting to stoke what he called a "new sexual revolution":
"If these zealots have their way, our hard-won sexual liberation — women’s rights, reproductive rights and rights to privacy — lie in peril. We won’t let that happen."
This undoubtedly will be criticised as self-serving; if women are shamed into keeping their legs together, Hefner is less likely to get laid (let's not dwell on logistics or visuals). But having lived through the glorious decade(s) these comparatively whippersnapper politicians laud as some kind of lost golden age – and considering he started publishing the magazine in 1953 – Hef is in a unique position to call bullshit.  I have a fondness for Playboy; maybe it's because I grew up in Chicago in the 70s, when sexual liberation reached the suburbs and The Playboy Club seemed so glamorous (my dad was a member).

I appreciate the magazine is responsible for a lot of damage when it comes to sexism and objectifying women. And although many feminists will regard his editorial as suspect, Hefner has undeniably had a unique insight into womens' sexuality during the past six decades – our sexual liberation was absolutely in Playboy Enterprises' best interest.

The magazine reaches an audience that has little crossover with... say... Jezebel, and its readership is more likely to listen to Hef than a feminist movement that might come off as unapproachable or has been misrepresented by its enemies. Without strong women, Playboy is nothing: Hef started his empire on a $1000 loan from his mother and his daughter ran the company from 1982-2009. 

 I'm pleased to see Hefner add his voice and influence to the cause. Men are less likely to gaslight other men and as ridiculous as Hefner has become, it's a lot harder for old rich white men to rubbish another old rich white man's opinion as 'hysteria'.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Wordless Diagrams


There is something appealing about diagrams without language. You've entered a realm of mystical symbology. Like when Ikea got rid of all the words in their instructions.

That's why I'm lusting over Wordless Diagrams by award-winning illustrator and graphic designer Nigel Holmes. The universalness of the messages are like big language-transcending hugs to humanity. Inside this whimsical picture-book are practical guides to complex tasks such as how to program your VCR, or how to kiss hello in different countries. These graphic explanations are uncomplicated and easy to understand (though I wouldn't recommend attempting the diagram for performing a facelift, unless of course there was some sort of zombie apocalypse spy ring scenario.  In that case, please, save the world).

Listen to an interview with the author on NPR and don't forget to visit Holmes' website which is wordless too.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fancy Dress - Pin-up of the Month


The Gorgonist is Robin Kaplan, a Pacific Northwest Illustrator, who runs a self-proclaimed monstrously charming sketchblog.

Some of the imagery has an Erte-like ephemera or composition similar to vintage Leonetto Cappiello art deco prints. However, drawing subjects run the gamut of sweet, plucky, strawberry-shortcake reminiscent science fiction (pictured above) to steampunk enguenues, anything from Alice's Robotic Tea Party to a Victorian Lady with a delicately coiffed centipede. Bless her geeky, little heart.

Super bonuses for you: Homages to Doctor Who (with companions) and Firefly (wipes tear).

The whimsical prints can be purchased at her Etsy Shop and io9 has review of her Sci-fi based art at Fancy girls dress up as Droids, Daleks, and Death Stars.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

You Scream, I Scream, we all scream for The Scream



"The Scream?" the doorman asks. I nod. "Straight through and up the stairs to your left."
"No screaming," says another doorman, pointing to the infant strapped to my chest.
I check my bag and go through three security checkpoints before finally entering a dark room containing more security than punters and one £50m pastel glowing sinuously from the far wall.

I have a two-minute audience with Edvard Munch's The Scream, the third version he created of four (not counting his woodcuts, known as The Cry) and the only one in private hands. It is making its way to auction at Sotheby's in New York next month by way of a limited London showing. It is also the only one to actually leave Norway: the other three, all in Oslo museums, are not insurable to lend due to the potential for theft, which only adds to the appeal. (One of them was simply lifted off the wall and walked out, apparently.)

Originally created for Norwegian shipbuilder Thomas Olsen, this version is pastel on board and features a prose poem by Munch painted on the original frame. It also has a variation: of the two figures on the bridge, which are either approaching or retreating from the central figure, one is leaning against the bridge's handrail, forehead in hand. It changes the reading of the piece, which Munch himself never revealed.

Behind me the experts are educating. One is pontificating on the "flowing lines", which I can't help but think is the kickoff to a pickup, and another -- a man in his late 50s with longish grey hair, square frames and a tendency to pat his rear end, as all the men here seem to do -- explains the origin of this painting to a dim but excruciatingly well-dressed American woman, who apparently couldn't be arsed to read the exact same text outside the gallery, despite the fact it was on a display 30 feet high. If this broad has £50m to drop on a painting there in no justice.

Nobody says how the pastels really just look like Crayola, that the piece is much bloodier than any of the reproductions suggest, or that the face, which is mostly unworked board peaking through, is ghostly and washed out in comparison to the rest of the saturated colouring and therefore that much more haunting and sad. They also don't comment on how small it is. The smaller version of the inflatable scream my other bought me during my mid-twenties breakdown is surprisingly comparable in size.

What they also don't say is how much more impressive it is in person, or more pointedly, how disappointing other masterworks are up close: the Mona Lisa is impossible to get to as it hides behind Plexiglas and flash-popping tourists, who not only seem oblivious to the fact that each flash is physically damaging the paint but also are taking pictures of a painting they could easily buy reproductions of in the Louvre's many gift shops. At MoMa they click-click flash-flashed around van Gogh's Starry Night as though proud of themselves for recognising at least one masterwork, as if that damn painting isn't a screen saver for dorm room walls. The ubiquitousness of Leonado da Vinci or Vincent van Gogh -- and their merchandising -- makes their work underwhelming up close, but the opposite is true of Munch. Inflatable Screams, key chains, postcards, prints, finger puppets, and Simpsons parodies aside (I am guilty of buying all of these), the violence and horror in his work -- which prompted a ban by the Nazis, if you can stomach that particular irony -- make his pieces that much more immediate and striking.

Hopefully a museum not in Norway will buy The Scream next month and not some rich bastard who will squirrel it away on a yacht or some such shit. Not that there's anything wrong with visiting Oslo, of course. But.

And if anyone has a copy of The Mystery of The Scream board game, please let me know. I'm dying to play it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Closet in Sketches


My Closet in Sketches is an adult picture book, an illustrated journal if you will, with delightful hand-drawn doodles, which also happens to be the blog of fashion illustrator, Lauren Friedman. 

I dunno. I kinda dig, you know, fashion sketches. Kat McLeod blew my mind apart with her mixed media, paper doll-like art, which graced the page of and absolutely glittering cocktail book.

But Friedman's art is completely different. The smudgy water-colored shoes and impressions of bracelets and bangles make a statement about how empathic these pretty things make us feel. And her post about a wet, hot American Spring makes me feel good in a Liz Phair sort of way.

Judge for yourself.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Play to Win


NYLON magazine ran Diane Vadino's article, "Play to Win," (zip to page 170) a short, playful, fashiony article featuring Rue (Amandla Stenberg), Clove (Isabelle Fuhrman), Glimmer (Leven Rambin) and Foxface (Jackie Emerson), all minor characters in the Hunger Games movie.

Yes, I saw the Hunger Games at 12:00 AM the day of its release. Yes, I saw it without any (lame) friends who may have been worried about being groggy the next day at work. Yes, I bought myself an excruciating amount of exorbitantly priced popcorn. Yes, the theatre was packed. And no, no, no, I did not regret one minute. Especially not when some young lads in the balcony (thank you, Uptown theatre) began chanting "Peeta! Peeta!" before hand.

First, Amandla Stenberg (Rue) is dressed adorably throughout the 4-page spread. Second, there is a reason Nylon is focusing on the ladies, and it's not because of the typical female reasons.

A friend (I'm looking at you mlle kitty) asked me what the fuss was about. And it's this: Harry Potter was dark, and the characters did anything to defeat evil, for justice, for freedom, perhaps just because they had the courage to do it. Spoiler: Everything works out in the end. Everybody gets a family; gets a good job; gets the girl. Even Draco gets a girl.

In the Twilight series, the world is dark, and heck, why not, because the world is hyper-romantic and the main characters do anything for love. Love conquers all right? If you love someone enough you can make it work, no? You can change the world. You can even change yourself.

Well, in the Hunger Games, the world is dark, and the characters will do anything to ... eat. The sappy, doe-eye, idealistic characters are ... all men. Depression and disappointment and bad luck means starvation, and perhaps a brutal death, while the affluent one percent cheers your demise. Attempts to escape mean punishment and humiliation and silence. Sound familiar? Oh yeah, it does. It sounds like real life.

Here is a dash of realism that Vadino did not overlook. "The stakes of victory are not the triumph of good  over evil, but, for most of them, the sad remaining years of a life interrupted ... The Hunger Games is the right match for the cash-strapped wartime during which it was created."

Okay, also the lead character, Katniss, is a steel-hearted, huntress who can shoot a deer through the eye.

Woot!

Monday, April 9, 2012

DC Comic Mimomicro Card Readers


Mimoco began making drool-worthy 'mimomicro' portable data drives in 2005. My hands still shake when I realise I never got these paws on the Princess Lei USB drive.

The Boston-based geniuses have now opened a line of superhero based gadgets after collaberating with DC Comics. Each device has a built-in keychain, a flip out USB port, an LED light so you know its working.

If you can hear me God, forgive me for Princess Lei mishap only if I get my hands on Wonder Woman.

You. want. this. don't you.

Friday, April 6, 2012

In the Tower


You still have a chance to catch at the National Gallery of Art exhibit, "In the Tower" by Mel Bochner. The show is a retrospective of 43 thesaurus-inspired works from the last 45 years.

Give me a minute ... (squeeeeee!). Okay. I'm done.

Explore the transistion of the bomb (bad) to the bomb (good) and other language evolutions painted as conceptual art using words as a medium.
A schedule of art talks can be found here.

Did you know he used to compose portraits to his friends composed of synonyms describing them? Best. present. ever.

Get off your duff, it's only through April 29th.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Enlightened Bracketologist


Various so-called friends have ridiculed me for my list addiction. So I've documented my top ten favorite movie kissing scenes. And my top ten favorite dance scenes (Footloose makes both lists BTW). I've always had trouble picking a favorite.

Welcome to the land of The Enlightened Bracketologist: The Final Four of Everything, by Mark Reiter and Richard Sandomir, is a book that uses NCAA Tournament-style brackets to answer life's difficult questions. You know like what's the best American craft beer? Or your boss's most annoying habit? Maybe not deep questions but probing ones.

Bracketology parses people, places, and things into discrete one-on-one matchups then pits them in an intellectual knock out tournament. At the end we are the winner by understanding what we we prefer. Simple.

Try making your own bracket system to help you make the best life choices ... like what to do with an hour of leisure time. You're probably ready to throw in the Towel with your office pool bracket anyhow.

Friday, March 30, 2012

RunPee


While RunPee has been around for a while, 2011 was a big year as the app was rebuilt from scratch and launched new Android and iPod versions last June and July.

The app runs a timer (that can be set to vibrate), which let's you know when the best times are to visit the rest room during a movie, ie when a 3-5 minute opportunity appears when nothing is really happening. When you return, you can hit a button to reveal a synopsis of what you missed, without spoilers.

Great, I can use this app after I've downed a couple of pints at the pub, need to make a call or experience and undeniable urge for Twizzlers in my ice cream. The RunPee database has more than 400 movies and the family of reviewers is adding new releases all the time.

Other bonuses? RunPee can give you a synopsis of the first five minutes of the movie in case you're running late, and let's you know if you should stay after the credits for bonus content. Best of all, this app is still free.

Monday, March 26, 2012

No Globes


Yeah, so I've blogged about Dorothy, the UK-based art collective before. That's because they are totally awesome. This time, I want to show you their "No Globes", a kind of reverse snow globe art with a cutting environmental statement.

From the Dorothy website: "The single greatest threat to the climate comes from burning coal but despite this a whole new fleet of dirty coal-fired power stations are on the verge of being built in the UK (the first for 30 years)."
The globes are a limited edition of two, so its pretty much a fat chance that you'll be able to own one of these babies.

How's about you head to your own hearth (or demolish some black tissue paper) and make one, yourself. I'd recommend adding black glitter to your mix.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Neil deGrasse Tyson gets mad.



Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist, current Director of the Hayden Planetarium and all around good guy. He is a frequent guest on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report and it's always a fun show when he's on. What I'm saying is we like him here at Candy Buffet. So when the seemingly nicest astrophysicist you'll ever meet starts ranting we tend to listen. And what is it that has him all riled up? The fact that we've all but abandoned manned (I want women astronauts too, sexy nerdy women astronauts) space exploration.

Back in 2010 President Obama cancelled the Constellation program and while he did increase NASA's budget he endorsed a kind of wishy-washy plan for the ultimate goals of NASA. He said, essentially, yeah, we should go back to the Moon and probably Mars and there are some asteroids and things we should check out but our current plans won't get us there so let's kind of, you know, do some studies or something. And probably the biggest shift was the decision to move away from government backed heavy lifters to a private enterprise based  system.

I don't like this and Mr. Tyson doesn't like this. As he points out, the space program of the mid to late 60's was a huge boon to the economy and the technological superiority of the U.S. as well as a great motivator to the next generation. Going into space in a sustained, permanent way should be the ultimate goal of humanity and we're not going to get there by saying maybe we should go check out some asteroids sometime.

Which is why I was pretty excited when Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said that by the end of his second term we would have a permanent Moon base. Then my head exploded and I wept for 24 hours straight questioning my own existence, because, FU@#$%, I actually agreed with and liked something   horrible, hypocrite pus-bag Newt Gingrich said. But then it got worse, everyone started laughing at Newtie and I was in the position of defending him until I realized that Newt is probably basing his ideas on comic books and he's a crazy person that everyone laughs at all the time regardless of what he says.

Now I'm hoping someone in the Obama administration is listening to Mr. Tyson and not the people laughing at Newt because I do feel that a definitive statement from the President of a bold and clear plan outlining the next step in our exploratory journey could again reap vast benefits for all humankind. A statement like this one.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Robot Unicorn Attack


So I'm slow on the uptake. Even though Robot Unicorn Attack came out in 2010, its mystery tour has just recently bedazzled my smartphone.

You race a rainbow coloured unicorn through clouds, stars and fire. Besides sounding like the power-up of a Sailor Moon magic attack the game is otherwise Completely. Awesome.

Nylon magazine recently said the game induced the "girly '80's joy of a Lisa Frank notebook". One commenter on the Nylon's website claimed, "I love dashing through the stars more so when dolphins are with me!" And Kieron Gillen of Eurogamer wrote
"Like a comet made of gold, glitter and Lady Gaga's eyelashes, Robot Unicorn Attack circled the Earth and filled the firmament with its irresistible radiance for the whole of 2010. It changed lives. It challenged sexualities. It involves pressing two buttons. It is undoubtedly the greatest game of all time which features a Robot Unicorn, unless you're a metalhead who digs its sequel." 
Pay just a buck for android, iphone and ipad. You can also play at adultswim.com

Friday, March 16, 2012

Some Planets Are Alien Invaders


In "Some Planets Are Alien Invaders", Science magazine explores the possibility of the existance of a super-large gas giant in our own solar system, far beyond Pluto.

The impetus for this theory is the number of exoplanets we have been discovering revolving around neighboring stars, more than 100 sun-Earth distances (AUs) from their stars. The Nature article, "So many lonely planets with no star to guide them", supports that the number of free floating planets in the galaxy may be more abundant than stars.

Ready for the big stuff? This theory isn't new. Nemesis theory has been bandied about since the eighties, suggesting that a (far away) brown or red dwarf may be orbiting the sun to explain for the elliptican nature of our planets' orbits and the large number of comets we see originitating from the oort cloud.

In the immortal words of Obi Wan Kenobi, "That's no moon".

Monday, March 12, 2012

DC Metromaster



In time not so immemorial, when riding the DC Metro, I often dictated to friends which car I wanted to be in. Not even just which car. But beside which door.  The reason? I had a mental map of where the escalators were for my favorite stops. Getting off at Woodley Park from in town? Second car, last set of doors. Going to RFK for a DC United match? Front of the train baby, you'll beat masses of fans.

So hats off to the makers of, DC Metromaster, an iPhone or iPod app that tells you the best place to board Metro trains to be as close as possible to your desired station exit. Metromaster also one ups my mental map with a 'heat map' which indicates which cars are most likely to hold empty seats (based on yearly ridership demographics).

Washington Post's Express has a great snippet, "Left to Your Devices", in the February 24 issue.

And remember that the side of the tunnel with the florescent lights is the side that the doors are going to open next.  No, thank YOU for riding Metro.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Essential Geography of the United States of America


My appreciation of geography outside of studying the covers of the classic Belgariad series and the indices of Middle Earth are, to say the least, latent. But the underdog story of David Imus's creation, "The Essential Geography of the United States of America", an enchanting, edifying and information infused map of the United States, is as compelling as it is educational.

Winner of the prestigious “Best of Show” award at the annual competition of the Cartography and Geographic Information Society, the highest honor that only the geekiest of cartogrophiles would remember (that's right, I just made up a word), Imus's map is the equivalent of an information-rich, geography-is-delicious layer cake. Check out the masterful shading of the sub-oceanic architecture of the Hawaii islands, something I have been wondering about for seven years. I kid you not.

Bob Welch's lovely article, "A labor of love finally validated" describes Imus's torturous climb up the cartographic ranks. A masterful review of the map itself can be found at the Slate article, "The Greatest Paper Map of the United States You’ll Ever See: Made by one guy in Oregon" by Seth Stevenson.

Buy one of these darn things to educate your self, your classroom, your kids and America, who could use a reminder that the artistry and labors of one guy in Eugene, Oregeon can be greater than all the corporate buying power of every big name cartography institution in all the States.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Super Best Friends Forever



Lauren Faust has created a series of animated shorts in which Batgirl, Supergirl and Wondergirl hang out and fight supervillains. Who is Faust? She is the genius (genius!) story artist behind Power Puff Girls and creator of My Little Pony's: Friendship is Magic, that's all. io9 spills all in, "Super Best Friends Forever".

Here is a scan from the page about the shorts in TV Guide via supercool comics. The interstitials will be scattered throughout a new "DC Nation" block of Saturday morning cartoons that Cartoon Network will be airing featuring DC Comics heroes, premiering March 3rd.

Thank you, Faust.  Thank you for getting it right over and over again. Here is a fun, adventurous albeit lighthearted view of classic comic book heroes unfiltered through the eyes of girls.  Now draw some more after being inspired by Mike Maihack batgirl & supergirl webcomic.

Erm, you too sugar addicts.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jupiter, Venus and the Moon dance in night sky


The light show's not over yet. Venus and Jupiter are due to pull closer and closer together until about March 12, according to the Washington Post's "Jupiter, Venus and the Moon dance in night sky; five planets come into view," (which includes a cool NASA video!).

If you can catch the action less than hour after sunset over the next few weeks, you can see Mercury too. Mars will be low and tight on the other side of the sky. Earth and Sky has a good field guide in "See all five visible planets in the February evening sky".

Want time and positions at your fingertips? Have smartphone will travel? I recommend Planets by Dana Peters. Then get high (in altitude people, but I'm not terribly picky) so you can get a view of the horizon and get busy.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Literary Composites



We all have a mental image of what the characters in our favorite books look like.  Brian Joseph Davis has gone one better, using law enforcement composite software to create a sketch based on the writer's description.  The results aren't perfect, and some hover on the edge of the uncanny valley, but others like Lolita's  Humbert Humbert seem pretty spot on.

He's taking suggestions.  Who would you like to see?

THE COMPOSITES via bookshelves of doom

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hula Cam



Have you ever looked at a hula hoop and thought, "oh, that could be a little more sonic heroic"?  London based artist Helen Buckley did, and the result is a trippy perspective that sends the world spinning.





Via