Thursday, May 31, 2007

La La

Coolest discovery since Netflix. If you, like me, have comptemplated the many art creations that could be crafted from your discarded jewel cases (take a look in the Sweetshop for, but that is an entirely different post). Trade your old CD's (obscure since you bought that Ipod and back-up hard drive) for new CD's in much the same way netflix sends you DVDs.

Welcome to Lala!

You Register, then list the CDs you want to get rid of on your "Have List". List the CDs you want on your "Want List". When someone wants one of your Cds, Lala provides you with envelopes, shipping paid. Everytime you send a CD (with or without album cover), you get a CD off your "Want List". I would tell you more about it, but I will be busy for the next few days brushing the dust of my CD cases and listing every living last one of my Cranberries CDs online.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hepburn would have been proud

Nymph-like, erotic with a sixties bent, the paintings of Audrey Kawasaki are refreshingly stylized and faintly hypnotic. Plus they make bitchin' Wallpaper. Her painting Yuuwaku is a homage to the Naughty Librarian. I struggled with the above image as my new pin-up of the month, being as this weekend I am going to a Bryn Mawr Reunion in Philly. Owls and crossdressing probably striking a chord with Mawrters everywhere. Alas, she may still show up in November. Anassa Kata!

Learn more about Audrey Kawasaki at her website.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

No Little Problem

Back in the day, I used to be mocked quite fiercely on the Middle School track team (no really, that's an entirely different post). I couldn't sprint worth a spit, but I ran a pretty decent 8-80 (read came in third a couple of times). One day, the track coach was out sick and her assistant coach made a roster with me on a sprint race. I told her flatly I couldn't/wouldn't do it and I told her who should be running in my place. The girl I suggested was relieved to switch places with me, saying, "At least you know you don't belong in a sprint."

I replied, "I'm not that unintelligent".

Cocking her head to one side, she rejoined, "You know, I never would have said that. I would have said, 'I'm not that stupid'."

Enter, Litotes (Pronounced Lay TOTE Tees) a rhetorical device I have been fond of since I was a wee sprout that emphasizes a word by negating its opposite. If you look it up in a dictionary you might find something like this:

that in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of its contrary

Ugh. I can hardly read that. Just remember its mnemonic above. A litotes is no little problem.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Paper Gallery of SF Delight

Who wants hours of fun? I want hours of fun. I saw this link to the SF Movie Paper Craft Gallery on Boing Boing the other day, lauding the paper AT-AT from Star Wars . But I think the Veritech fighter in Angel configuration (above) is even cooler. Basically, you print out the PDF pages of your preference and build your own Sci-Fi Model. Here is the picture of the Borg Cube (and stand) I put together today at work. I used a color printer, office scissors, glue (the liquid kind used to seal envelopes), and a letter opener (to press the edges shut).

Cutting time: 8 min
Folding time: 8 minutes
Gluing time: 14 min
Basking in my own geeky glow: Eternal

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Violence Inherent in the System

Five Minutes of Fun
The rumor is this is an IQ test given to job applicants in Japan. Whatever.

Click on the blue circle to start.
The goal: Everybody has to cross the river

The rules are:
Only 2 persons can be on the raft at a time.
The father can not stay (on the bank or raft) with any of the daughters without the mother's presence.

The mother can not stay (on the bank or raft) with any of the sons without their father's presence.
The thief (striped shirt) can not on a stay (on the bank or raft) with any family member without the Policeman's presence.
Only the Father, the Mother and the Policeman know how to operate the raft.
To move the people click on them.
To move the raft click on the pole on the opposite side of the river.

Ivory Tower has Dry Rot

This associated press article in the Washington Post explains how executives at the Smithsonian Institution requested changes to an exhibit on global warming in the Arctic in order to insure that material would not anger president Bush or Congress. This "rewrite" of the exhibit included omitting scientists interpretation of the data.

I always imagined the Smithsonian Institution as one of the few Bastions of pure knowledge. But if everything is a business, then I guess running an exhibit is just another form of marketing for the guys paying the bills. Stranger still is that I noticed the synopsis of the below article under the "Local" section in the express.

Smithsonian Accused of Altering Exhibit

Pictures from

Monday, May 21, 2007

Alter Egos

Recently I read about a photo journal called "Alter Ego" that collected portraits of gamers and their in-game avatars. I like photo journals. The ones I currently own are about Japanese Street Fashion, the subject of which is not that far from the subject of the avatar book (How would you dress if you could dress like anything). Flip through this gallery from the BBC to see how men, women, young, old, rich, and well, all sorts of people view themselves in their gaming world.

"The Celestial Steam Locomotive," A rather random novel located in my brother's childhood bedroom had more than a little to say about this subject. The plot is dense: thousands of years in the future, part of mankind has chosen to immerse themselves in a kind of cryongenic virtual reality to survive a holocaust. The publication date of the novel is 1983, before avatars or MUDs became more of a reality than fiction, but the author fortells the virtual people to be almost entirely Marilyns, Jaynes, Gretas or Burts. And because they are all perfectly beautiful, they are all perfectly the same. One Girl is Herself.

Both models beg the question: In a world where everyone could look like anyone, how would you like yourself to look?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

My Mother was Right

The fiction in my family is that I had blue eyes until I was two. Then I had green eyes for about a year, which changed to hazel and finally settled on my current caramel-colored brown. I'm rather obsseviley vain about my light colored eyes. Since puberty I have throughly checked them for any signs of...darkening!

Now, according to a study in the Archives of Ophthalmology (1997;115:659-663) , they could be! But they could also be turning green!

A synopsis of the study can be found here. If your eyes are light brown, hazel, or grey, you have a 15% chance of their color changing in your adulthood as well.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Aunt Anna

Welcome to my series on Words, Meaning and Language (mostly English). You will find entries under the "Mother Tongue" Flavor.

I find particular glee in knowing the technical names of rhetorical techniques. (Only surpassed by my glee in knowing the technical names of all the symbols on my keyboard. Octothorpe anyone?) Currently pasted to my computer screen is the word "Antanagoge" (pronouced Ant'' an a go' ge).

If you look it up in a dictionary you might find something like this:

A figure which consists in answering the charge of an adversary, by a counter charge.

Only lawyers use that. But, you may have recognized its use by your significant other with this definition:

Not being able to answer the accusation of an adversary, a person returns the charge, by charging his adversary with the same crimes, such as:

Did you do the dishes?

(Dramatic pause) When's the last time YOU did the dishes!

However, more commonly uttered by boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives is its lesser known use of:

Lessening the effect of a negative phrase by following it immediately with a related positive phrase, such as:

I forgot to pick up the groceries, but I did the dishes!
He's always late, but he brings me flowers...

Next time someone lays an "Aunt Anna goes Gee!" on you, point it out for what it is, a rhetorical device specifically calculated to produce sympathy toward the speaker. Or just smirk all-knowingly.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Candy Machine

Comment about the blog here.

Comment, comment, comment.

Monday, May 14, 2007

My New Face

Junction on U and 15th is my favorite Vintage store in DC (Yes even better than the oft lauded Meeps). Not only did I find an awesome vintage Avon ring (in their newly renovated space) on Tuesday (one I had been lusting over in my Mom's jewelry box for the past 25 years) but the proprietress had cool post cards from "StuntKid" aka artist Jason Levesque (featured in WebDesigner and Playstation magazines).

At his website, (along with galleries of his edgy, cyberpunk digital artwork that manages to be silly, violent and pornographic all at the same time) you can "Design a Girl" and illustrate your own face by changing hair, eyebrows, make-up, nose, lips, and skin color. Trés fun!

Sorry boys, it's girls only. But maybe you can have just a much fun using his "Paperdoll" Tool. Look for it in my Sweetshop.


Friday, May 11, 2007

The Bee

A little bit of Summer, a little bit of insect fear. Enjoy!

A dragon rose up from the bronzed air,
and fixed me frozen with his faceted glare.
Sun-color rays stung from steely wing,
while my ear turned round from his roaring.
His yellow scales bristled, strangely hewed,
and nasty breath out of his angry mouth spewed.
Advancing on wing, his countenance glowering,
he threatened my maidenhood as it lay full flowering.
Oh, how I cowered, I ducked, I fled,
from the darkling mane wreathed round his head,
and Lord, his span barely grazed my tress,
as he churned the air in search of his nest.

The Bee -- Anika Ismel, 1992

Thursday, May 10, 2007

My Chart

My favorite astrology site, Astrodienst, just came out with a new interactive astrological chart good for five minutes of fun. For each house or planet in your chart you can click on the element and a pop-up window tells you what it means.

First register at Astrodienst for Free. To draw your free chart, login and go to "Free Horoscopes". Look under "Horoscope Chart Drawings" near the bottom of the page and click on "Chart Drawing Ascendant" (Remember you need to know the time and location of your birth in addition to the day month and year).

Now go back to Free Horoscopes and click on "Astro Click portrait". Hmmm, Sun in the Third House? I have a quick and curious mind, although sometimes I speak when I have nothing to say. Who knew?

Every Thursday Astrodienst also has free transits for their daily horoscopes (created specifically for your profile based on your chart). I usually take a peak to see if it’s a good day for happy hour or for staying home and watching TV. Seriously.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Where is Barack Obama coming from?

Sarah sent me this New Yorker profile about Barack Obama. It's pretty informative.

The Conciliator: Where is Barack Obama coming from?

I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends... that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them. Adlai Stevenson, 1952

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Supernova the brightest ever seen by astronomers

SN 2006gy (a massive star in our local group) really went bonkers earlier this week providing astronomers with a good look at one of the rare phases of a star's life than can be seen in a single lifetime. This supernova took 70 days to reach full brightness and stayed brighter than any previously observed supernova for more than three months. Now, nearly eight months later after it started, it is still as bright as a typical supernova at its peak, outshining its entire host galaxy.

What is even more interesting about this baby is that it's mass and spectrum (read age and composition) are suspiciously similar to that of another super massive star in the Milky Way, Eta Carinae. SN 2006gy is 240 million light years away and provided some spectacular fireworks (needing at least an earth telescope to view). Eta Carinae is only about 7500 light years away (in our own Milky Way galaxy) and “may be poised to explode as a supernova” just like SN 2006gy. If it does, a spectacular new star would appear in our night sky (visible with the naked eye) in our lifetime.

That hasn't happened since SN 1572 appeared in Cassiopeia around 1572 (shown below in a map drawn by Thaddeus Hagecius) and shone hard for the next two years with a magnitude close to Venus. Cool, apocalyptical, or creepy?--you decide.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Good vs. Evil

Last Christmas, Sean gave me a unicorn play set (vastly appropriate). Here they are above my writing desk along with the posable sailor moon doll Imani gave me ages ago--right where I can gaze at them for inspiration while writing (And yes, they are currently battling over sushi).

On the packaging of the good vs evil unicorn playset, there was this quiz:

Are you a Good Unicorn?
• Do you like to prance through meadows?
• Have you ever spent all day chasing butterflies and rainbows?
• Is your favorite sound a laughing brook?
• Do you believe the children are our future?
• Are the fairies your friends?

Are you an Evil Unicorn?
• Do you go around impaling Teddy bears and baby seals?
• Have you ever dreamed of ruling the underworld?
• Are you still bitter you weren't invited on the ark?
• Have you ever used your hooves to bludgeon the weak and innocent?
• Do you occasionally breathe fire?

It was the night of our New Year's pajama party. I read the packaging and felt the light of revelation on me. I was slack-jawed until Peter said, "What's the matter, darling?" to which I responded:


Suddenly, I make sense.

Shop Pop

It wouldn't be a blog about me without regular updates on fashion items I am obsessed with. I compulsively troll the online sale sections of Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters on a daily basis. I feel pretty bad about Urban Outfitters since most of their donations go to the Republican Party, but not so bad about Anthropologie since most of their donations go the opposite way even though the two are owned by the same company (in much the same way as Old Navy, Gap, and Banana Republic are). You too can wage war against the right with your wallet by buying "The Blue Pages: A Directory of Companies Rated by Their Politics and Practices".

Anthropologie uses a particularly insidious marketing technique by naming their styles with fanciful, gothic monikers that invoke an "I live in the Great Gatsby" sort of feeling in me. My long standing fetish with colored stockings began quietly after my fourteenth birthday after reading "Sons and Lovers" by D. H. Lawrence too many times. Hence, my current obsession with such Anthropologie items as their "Puddle Jumper Dress", "Aviatrix Cardigan", or "Stenographer's Blouse" whose styles I am not sure I even like, but whose names are to die for.

Take for instance their "Great Parlor Dress" shown below (Dress on undead, stick model shown on right).

Not only am I convinced that if I own this dress, I may one day own a "Great Parlor", but I've been having fantasies that wearing it will lead me to step out of this Erte drawing.

Ce' magnifique (say longingly with a little sad sigh).

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Chicago Poem

Here's the first in my series on literature (taklin' about it and postin' it). Shout-out to Marianne Reed!

The lake is cold and dark,
and the steel scrapes upon it,
bordered by glass and brick,
we kneel before it,
their bones an icy echo,
of civilization.

The water exhales its aura into the sky,
a pale, shell pink and yellow.
Beneath these wooly clouds
is the final shard of the sun,
and the last vivid blue of space,
tearing itself to meet the water.

I imagine this place a belvedere of stone,
a lonely stela upon the water,
the last burgeon of sanity,
but in truth we are on the shore,
and civilization is drifting out there,
with the unknowable water.

We are degrading slowly,
while the water turns, churning cold.
My last breath is tearing itself up,
like the last vivid blue of the sky,
while the light of earth is diminishing,
soon all will be dark.

Chicago, Illinois November 2006

Friday, May 4, 2007

Heart-shaped Heart

Isn't it strange how, as a child, you learn to make the shape of a heart? Do you remember when there was a time when you couldn't draw a heart? You practiced it over and over again. It's hard to make it symmetrical. It was hard to make the humps the right shape, to make the points at the bottom meet.

Drawing a heart and learning to draw a heart is not like learing how to draw letters: everyone either makes those the same way or like drawing flowers, everyone makes them differently. Even if you can not draw, you are expected to be able to make a heart. It's realm is something other than a letter's: it is a symbol, a mark without much variance. If someone asked you to draw a flower, an eye, a clover, you expect some variance, but the heart--here you have two cloves of equal depth with inverted curves beneath them that must meet in the center. It is the heart. An english ideogram that is almost universal. It's a bit weird.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Virtual Ice Cream

Here is a digi-picture I made as a gift and the original picture below it. Now, don't think I have any actual art talent, because I couldn't draw a stick figure in order to stop a puppy from whining. I learned the technique at and it's closer to tracing. The learning curve was about two weeks. Go forth and conquer!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Enter, Enter

Curious Stranger,
Ring the Bell and Brave the Danger,
Or Wonder till it Drives You Mad,
What would have Happened if you Had.

C.S. Lewis -- The Magician's Nephew