April 30, 2010

For the female demographic

Blog, I realize you are gender-neutral with a masculine vibe, so you may want to cover your eyes for this particular post. The subject is marketing, but it will seem like the subject is tampons. So, I’m sorry about that.

[Now I need to make the first image on this post something other than what I have planned for the second image. The first image is what appears on the Networked Blogs summary, you see. How about this nice pizza?]

Being a Marketing Babe by day, and offspring of an ad man, I find myself constantly analyzing the effectiveness of advertising campaigns. And I have to give an A++++ to Kotex for their new product “U.” Why does it deserve such a high mark? Because (and please forgive the TMI here) although I’m shall-we-say “no longer this product’s target audience,” I actually feel bad that I don’t need to buy any. Wow, that’s impressive--especially when the product is necessary for a reason no one actually enjoys.

First off, I just love the packaging. Davie and I were at a grocery store the other day and passed a display and I really freaked out. I mean, if this look were applied to jewelry or or stationery or bathroom décor, I’d be buying the whole line. I need to use this color scheme in some polyclay project sometime. It kind of reminds me of when we were little kids and did that art project where you cover a piece of paper with day-glo crayon colors, then paint over it with black, then scrape off a picture with the point of a scissors so the colors show through.

But the reason I most approve this product line is the absolutely priceless TV spots. Here’s the first one I saw:


“Oh, that's what’s supposed to happen.”  You gotta love an ad built on snide sarcasm. It expresses feelings we women may not even have known we had about ads for feminine products. All the clichés are spot on.  (Oops, pardon the pun I guess.)

And then I saw this ad, which I liked even better:


This one lampoons the whole business of marketing. Brilliant. As a Marketing Babe I enjoy manipulating the desires of the buying public as much as the next person, but I also admit to exactly what I do. Of course we marketers prey upon your emotions. And if we use clichés, here’s why: they are clichés because they work.

I am put in mind of the one 60-second spot I created myself, the book trailer for my vampire romance novel Bloodchained. You can check it out here if you wish, but I don’t necessarily expect you to lose a full minute of your life in that way.


Romantic music, hot guy, penetrating looks, the implication of danger and lust, a simple presentation of a classic conflict, a bit of suspense...nothing original there. Still, it was really fun to create and pretend for a day that I was some kind of filmmaker. Chah, right. Anyway, as I reflect upon this trailer, I realize I’d love to see a spoof of it. Because we marketers spend so much time passionately (and sometimes desperately) trying to sell stuff, having a good laugh at the whole business is really refreshing.

So thanks, Kotex and your ad agency. I’d give you my business, I really would. In lieu of that, you have the compensation of my having embedded your ads on my blog. And really, how do you place a value on that kind of exposure?

At the very least, it’s worth a pizza.

April 28, 2010

I like [almost] everything

Yesterday, Blog, we learned that I like Liv Schreiber dressed either as a man or a woman. This just went to reinforce my sense that this blog could be subtitled “Eclectic R Us.” It also put me in mind of that beloved song by Pat McCurdy that runs like this:

I like men and I like women
I like sinkin’, I like swimmin’,
I like dogs and I like cats,
I like cows in cowboy hats.
I like knives and forks and spoons,
I like to whistle happy tunes;
I like to come, but not too soon...
I like everything!

I like almost everything, to the point where it’s almost more interesting (assuming it’s interesting at all, which may be a leap) to know what I don’t like.

Take for example Ipo, my iPod, who currently stores 30 genres of music. This morning during my workout and drive I heard these random tracks:

Manhattan Transfer – Route 66
The Four Seasons – Candy Girl
Sisters of Mercy – This Corrosion
[title of show] (OBC) – Part of It All
Roxette – The Look
Vince Guaraldi – Baseball Theme
Hair (OBC) – Good Morning Starshine
Eric Carmen – That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll
Bryan Adams – Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman


I’m hard pressed to come up with a type of music not on Ipo, as I do have a rap song, a couple country songs, and something approximating death metal. But here’s what I don’t like: late Beatles. I actually don’t like “Eleanor Rigby--I know, Blog, it’s a scandal.

When it comes to movies and TV shows, I’m also pretty eclectic. “The Sound of Music” to “3:10 to Yuma,” “Forbidden Planet” to “Office Space,” “Lethal Weapon” to “Beaches,” “Saw” to “Veggie Tales,” I can dig it. What I don’t like? Mob movies and stuff about drug dealers. With the rare exception (e.g., the Godfather movies) they are just not my scene, and no I didn’t watch “The Sopranos.” Weird though how I like “Breaking Bad.”

I will also eat just about anything. I even ate dirt on a dare when I was a kid. Along with unsweetened Koolaid powder, but let’s not digress. I do have a problem, however, with offal and celery. Offal, you know, Blog, is stuff like brains and headcheese. And while every other veggie is fine with me, celery is as awful as offal. Put a stalk in my bloody mary and I will be offally offended.

What’s that you say, Blog? You think our Randometer would enjoy a list of random things I don’t like? Well, I’m happy to oblige! I don’t like:

  • The current obsession with stainless steel appliances.
  • Chimpanzees (although I do like “Another Postcard with Chimpanzees” by Barenaked Ladies).
  • Not cutting the tags off stuffed animals.
  • All amusement park rides that have height requirements, and most of the ones that are for kiddies too (although it’s fun watching other people ride them).
  • Chewing gum (and it’s not fun watching other people chew it).
  • Knotted up telephone cords.
  • When Google Alerts turns up bogus stuff that has nothing to do with the topic.
  • Top hats when they are not worn to look elegant (e.g., Slash and the Mad Hatter).
  • And the ultimate thing to be hated in my world: Misuse of the term “enthused.”

But you know, Randometer, as much fun as that was, I believe it’s far better to think about the random things one likes (see bizarradore). I feel extremely fortunate to be born such an eclectically-inclined person. Life would be even better if I could say I liked soccer, the band XTC, tarantulas, scotch, and the Great Plains.

Okay, fellow eclecticophiles, what do you like? Click the right-on box if cows in cowboys hats rock your world!

April 27, 2010

Blog dares interview me a second time

On March 2, as you may recall, Blog, you interviewed me, and there were twice the requested number of haha box clickers who voted for an encore.

This is that encore.

Blog: Okay, what sort of theme do we have for the interview today, Diana?

Me: I’d like to demonstrate a general principle that you discussed in your interview with the Internet the other day, that being that you, Blog, are not autonomous.

Blog: And that I am really only an extension of your own will and opinions?

Me: Exactly.

Blog: Cosmic. Let’s begin. What’s new with you?

Me: Well, this week I’ve been really enjoying the updates daughter Katie has been sending from the road as she travels Route 66 with her boyfriend. Quite an awesome vacay. I was so inspired in fact that I made up a new word: vacayrious. As in “Vacayrious enjoyment is almost as good as taking the trip oneself.”

Blog: That’s bizarradorable.

Me: Thanks. Anyway, Route 66 rocks. Check out this photo Katie uploaded to Facebook of the famed Blue Whale of Catoosa.

Blog: What the f?

Me: I’ll field that question, Blog. A guy called Hugh Davis built the Blue Whale in the early 1970s as a gift to his wife, who collected whale figurines. The Blue Whale and its pond became Nature’s Acres, a popular Route 66 roadside attraction. By 1988, the Davises were not able to continue managing it, so the park fell into disrepair. But ten years later the people of Catoosa, OK and employees of the Hampton Inn restored it.

Blog: Hooray! Oh, don’t you just love nostalgia?

Me: Indeed I do. Which segues nicely into a great film I saw this week, “Taking Woodstock.”

Blog: Hmm, you know, it does segue nicely, almost as if it were all part of a sinister plan…what are you up to?

Me: I just think it’s interesting that the last day of Woodstock, August 18, 1969, was my thirteenth birthday. I like to boast that I passed through puberty during the Summer of Love.

Blog: T.M.I., Diana.

Me: Around that time I seriously crushed on the two longhaired guys who wrote and starred in the musical “Hair.” And all these years later while watching “Taking Woodstock,” I found myself amusingly attracted to the actor who played famous Woodstock organizer Michael Lang, with his fabulous 60’s ‘fro.

Blog: Ah, I see you mean Jonathan Groff, star of Broadway’s “Spring Awakening.”

Me: Yes, ironic in view of my own 1969 “spring awakening.”

Blog: Nice euphemism. And isn’t he currently guest starring on “Glee”?

Me: Yes, the very emotion I frequently felt when I was thirteen. And still feel when I look at Jonathan Groff.  Especially when he sings. 

Blog: Okay, Aging Teeny-Bopper, let’s get back to the movie. Was it good?

Me: Indeed. I particularly loved Liv Schreiber’s portrayal of Vilma, a cross-dressing Vietnam vet with a heart of gold.

Blog: Well, I can’t imagine a movie that couldn’t be improved by the inclusion of a cross-dressing Vietnam vet with a heart of gold--wait a tick, is THAT Liv Schreiber?

Me: Yup.

Blog: Would it be wrong of me to say he’s kind of attractive in drag?

Me: Better you than me.

Blog: But I thought this interview was about how I’m just an extension of you!

Me: Hmmm, what does it all mean? Hey, my excuse is that Liv Schreiber is always attractive.

Blog: Riiiiight. Maybe we could digress awhile from your, um, interesting fascinations.

Me: Certainly. I did want to bring up a weird thought I had, pondering the movie. Play along with me here, Blog and readers. Think of a memory you had, say, 25 years ago. That was about the time I coped with living in the rural boondocks of Iowa by obsessing about Rick Springfield, who was on “General Hospital” and had just released “Jesse’s Girl.”

Blog: Wow, that is awhile ago!

Me: So, pick your old memory and think how long ago it seems. Now think about how in 25 years you’ll be feeling that same exact nostalgia about what’s happening to you RIGHT NOW.

Blog: You mean, writing this blog with you?

Me: Yes!

Blog: Cosmic.

Me: I know!

Blog: And you managed to sneak in a fifth celebrity crush.

Me: Who’s counting?

Blog: I think you just wanted me to ask you about your celebrity crushes, this whole time!!!

Me: Since you asked, Duncan Keith.

Blog: Who’s Duncan Keith?

Me: My latest celebrity athlete crush. The All Star defenseman and Norris Trophy nominee from the Chicago Blackhawks.

Blog: And did I ask?

Me: Not really.

Blog: I’m beginning to feel like I have no control whatsoever over this interview.

Me: Q.E.D., Blog...Q.E.D.*

*An acronym of the Latin phrase quod erat demonstrandum, which means “that which was to be demonstrated.” The term was invented long before texting became popular, but feel free to use it on your smartphone anytime.

MAY FLOWER CHALLENGE FINAL REMINDER

Okay, people, the May Flower post is this Saturday, so submit your images by day’s end Wednesday! Anything featuring flowers or plant life is acceptable! Photography, crafts, art work, food, heck we’ll even take poetry! Email to me at dianalaurence @ wi.rr.com (without the spaces). Otherwise I will send Guido, the guy on my payroll who breaks knees, to your house. J/K. Probably.

April 26, 2010

Trying to make up for lack of talent

Well, Blog, as planned I spent the weekend launching my Diana Sculpts a Human Figure Project.  I'd amassed a ridiculous amount of tools and supplies and got myself a copy of the awesome book Creating Lifelike Figures in Polymer Clay by Katherine Dewey.  So on Saturday morning I set everything up, extricated Cody from the middle of the work table, and got started.

The first step was to make eyeballs, and while I was at it, I made several sets in different sizes.  They'll be handy for other stuff in the future; I mean, you know how often a person says to herself, "If only I had some miniature eyeballs handy right now!"  The eyeball making went fairly well, and as you can see, the results were completely acceptable.  The green eyes on the lower right were for my current doll project.

After lunch I started working on the head.  First you make a foil core, then cover it with clay, then add various clay "appliques" to it and manipulate it to the right shape.  The eyeballs go in...more refinements...etc.  You put the head on a metal rod or thick wire, add the neck and ears, and there you go!

Supposedly.  Except, Blog, you have to factor in my complete lack of talent.  And also that the detailed directions are not always entirely accurate (understandable with a process that cannot be exactly precise).  By the time Katie (who undoubtedly would have the talent to do this if she were so inclined) stopped by, I had a rather scary head.  We agreed, generously, that it needed work.

After more hours during which I several times obliterated the nose, I had something not quite so horrific.  However, it looked like a male.  More precisely, some sort of "missing link" type male.  You'll notice I did not take photos of this stage, Blog.

It was time to go out to dinner then, and later in the evening I had "fresh eyes" (not clay eyes) so pulled out the head again to re-examine.  I was able to recognize some competely wrong aspects and fix them.  I did totally new lips.  And of course obliterated the nose and half the ears a few times.  It was almost midnight when I was more or less satisfied (or defeated, depending upon your interpretation).

Eight hours into the project, I still didn't want to take pictures.  Bad sign.

Sunday morning I started work on the torso.  Again, you start with a foil core.  I took a picture of this core but just picture an unmentionable body part made of aluminum.  Etc., etc., until you have a fun torso-like shape.  I must admit I rather enjoyed putting a tush and breasts on this shape.  The human body has such nice curves and stuff.  More problems but not so many this time.

I really need to put a photo in here, Blog, before you bail on me for lack of visuals.  So here you go. 

I had a rough time adding the head to the torso because the neck was too long (the torso is too, but let's just suppose she's willowy).  But pushing it down squished the already too fat head.  Oy, why did I ever start this?

I had a mood booster though when I added the eyelashes.  The technique was my own devising.  I bought some human-hair doll eyelashes and was actually able to superglue them to the clay eyelids.  The glue also made a nice glaze for the eyeballs!  Sweet!

[By the way, the doll-person is going to be staring in wonder at something she holds up in her hand.  I have no idea what it's going to be, so comment if you have any ideas!]

So, into the oven went the piece at last.  I'd like to say that the photos you see here are the way she came out, but actually, I made more changes after baking.  You really can carve baked polymer clay and so I did, making more adjustments.  (Face less fat, back muscles less bulky, etc.)  Finally I just took pictures and called it (inaccurately) good.

So it took me about 14 hours to get what you see here.  And she still needs arms and legs...it's frightening.  I really don't know what I would have done without the set of 3D renderings my artist pal CC prepared for me according to the planned pose--those were invaluable!  And will be even more so in the arm and leg stage.

I am a sculptor much in the same way I am a sketcher:  I manage by doing things over and over until they are approximately right.  Approximately.  It takes me an eternity to achieve what real artists do, only of course not as good.  In view of this fact, Blog, doing something like a human figure is a real pain in the polyclay arse.

I'm really hoping against hope that the addition of paint and hair to the head will make a significant difference.  I tell myself, shave my head and don't let me wear makeup, and I look like Yul Brynner on a very bad day myself.  Actually, he's WAY better looking even then.  So, that's my current hope and prayer.

As for the body, which isn't great but decent, it will have the advantage of clothing.  Although honestly, she has it all over me, body-wise.

At least for now, until the arms and legs go on.  We may end up with something that looks very much like half of Dr. Octopus.

April 24, 2010

Blog’s Book Corner: Gift of Flesh

Blog, with all we’ve talked about together, we’ve forgotten all about my #1 calling, as an author. So I thought we should start a new feature where we take a look at some of my writing, from a new and I daresay fun angle. So, what say you be the moderator in a little panel discussion between myself and some of my characters? It’s no weirder twist on reality than anything else we’ve done here!

So, today’s book is my novella Gift of Flesh, which happens to be offered totally free on the Web from Living Beyond Reality Press’s READ FREE Project. (That way, our intrigued readers can indulge for free if they wish.) Our guests today are the two stars of the book, Miakaela and Naissun. And the three of us are ready for your questions, Blog!

Blog: Okay, which one of you is the Gift of Flesh, and what exactly is that?

Miakaela: Blog, that would be me. In the story, I’m a concubine who has been selected for delivery to a neighboring king, as a tribute. I was raised for this life but have not actually performed it yet, when Naissun comes to court to serve as the Envoy who will deliver me.

Blog: I’m guessing this doesn’t take place in present day Cleveland.

Diana: You got that right, clever Blog. It’s a medieval type setting, two fantasy kingdoms called Taelorea and Royoun.

Miakaela: Naissun is the Rouyounish one: you can tell by his silver hair and amber eyes. I find them quite swoonworthy in the story.

Blog: As a gender-free entity who nevertheless is known to possess a somewhat masculine vibe, you’re pretty swoonworthy in your own right, Miakaela.

Naissun: Lest you think me just another shallow guy, Blog, I’m drawn to the Fair Tribute for more reasons than her appearance. Which I confirm is, as she coined, swoonworthy. Mia makes for an interesting female character because while she has been raised and trained in the erotic arts, she is quite innocent and child-like in many respects. And also intelligent and articulate, a woman of most attractive character. She should offer a lot of appeal to today’s women, of Cleveland and elsewhere.

Miakaela: Thank you, sir.

Diana: Mia’s story is an interesting one: She is very optimistic by nature, but not stupid. She is well aware of the downside of being carried off to a foreign country to serve its king in the bedroom. In her culture, as a woman with no legal stature beyond that of property, she knows she has no means of survival beyond the protection of the males who control her.

Miakaela: Consequently, when I sense benevolence in Naissun, I find it hard not to lean upon his mercy and enjoy what feels like his protection.

Blog: Whoa, there, Mia. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this guy delivering you to a horrible fate? Doesn’t that make him a bad guy?

Naissun: I certainly feel like a bad guy doing it, Blog. Especially after I fall in love with her.

Blog: Which is, of course, treason. And knowing the kind of stuff Diana writes, I’m guessing you two don’t settle for longing looks from opposite sides of the medieval forest.

Diana: I assure you, they don’t. (And this is as good a place as any to mention the book, while tasteful, is quite graphic in parts and not for young teens.)

Miakaela: Blog, Naissun has this beautiful line that he delivers so poignantly, it makes me cry just to say it out loud: “That which we remember all our lives cannot be brief.”

Diana: And there’s a sword fight.

Miakaela: It’s funny how violence and fear can serve as a kind of aphrodisiac. I didn’t exactly learn that in my concubine training.

Naissun: Not to boast, but that sword fight did give me a nice opportunity to demonstrate some skills of my own.

Blog: Sex and violence aside, are there some other compelling themes in this tale?  (for the answer, follow the jump link!)

April 23, 2010

Stuff I bizarradore, Volume 2

Hey Blog, now that bizarradore is on its way to becoming a household word, let’s revisit the concept. Raindrops on roses, it’s some more random little things that I love!

Cat paw pads

What’s not to love about paw pads? They are cute and come in many colors. Some time ago I made up an annoying little song that I sing to Cody about his paw pads, to the tune of “99 Bottles of Beer.” It goes like this:

Some your paws are black,
some of your paws are pink!
How many paws are black,
and how many paws are pink?
Ten of your paws are black,
ten of your paws are pink!
That’s how many paws are black,
and how many paws are pink!

Yeah, I’m that way. Cody truly does have twenty paw pads, and ten of them are predominantly black, while ten are predominantly pink. Which pretty much exhausts this topic.

Mini-tours of my own house

Sometimes at night after Davie’s a-bed, I just walk around the house and look at stuff. You know, the furniture, the art on the walls, the knick-knacks and collectibles. When you live in a place, you tend to stop seeing the cool things you own. When you picked them out and bought them, you thought they were awesome, but after awhile forget to appreciate them. So I’ll admire the box frame with the leaves in it that Davie snuck back to Cedarburg to buy me as a surprise, or the polymer clay faux geode heart I made, or how nice the paint in the studio looks.

Rocks

Ask anyone who knows me or has been to my house. I’m obsessed. I have collected rocks since I was five years old and would go beachcombing at Point Beach (Lake Michigan) every summer. The volume of rocks that accumulated in my room was rather annoying to my mom. Whenever I’m walking around rocks I can’t help but stare down at them, looking for free treasures.

I have one word for heaven on earth: lapidaries.

One of the very cool things about polymer clay is that you can make rocks out of it. They look just as cool as real rocks but are lighter and easier to use for stuff. Like you can make holes in them for jewelry or stick them on things like switchplate covers. Awesome.

Books published by my friends

I love how people I know personally are taking advantage of all the new ways a person can get books published these days. My friend Cherie Burbach was here recently to talk about her book; she has her own publishing company just like I do, called Bonjour Publishing. My friend Bob Le Normand, who lives in Wales, had his fantasy novel Kendulla published by a small independent press called Willow Bank Publishers. The husband of my friend Connie, Ron Pappalardo, published his book Reconciled by the Light via Lulu, a “self-publishing” service. My daughter Katie’s boyfriend Chris produced his photography book Fading Nostalgia: Polaroid Adventures on Route 66 using Blurb.com, another very nifty way to self-publish. I guess you could say I collect books written by my friends!

Bizarradore shorties

  • Beer chasers with bloody marys
  • Steel drums
  • Seeing what new outfits Kurt Hummel will sport on each episode of “Glee”
  • The typeface used for the titles of the Austin Powers movies
  • The word “fox”

Any bizarradores to share, readers? Or, if you like any of mine, click the “right on” box!

April 22, 2010

Artist of [Undetermined Timeframe] #5: Graphic Designer Jennie Brown Hakim

Blog, my friend Jennie and I have known each other for over a decade but never met in person. (I should have told you to thank the Internet yesterday for friends like Jennie too.) She’s an experienced graphic artist who has used her skills to create a little cottage business. She’s living proof you can use the Web to share your creativity with the world, and make some money in the process.

Jennie shares with us:

I have designed charming little characters called Roundhedz. Roundhedz have no mouths, but they sure do have a lot to say. In real life, I don't speak out loud that much, so I often let the Roundhedz talk for me.


When I am creating Roundhedz, I get a boost in mood. Look at them – how could I not?


I have put Roundhedz on birthday cards for my friends and family, and am selling Roundhedz products on the web at:

www.CafePress.com/3Roundhedz
www.CafePress.com/Roundhedz
www.CafePress.com/TUQ
www.GreetingCardUniverse.com/RoundhedzAndMore



And here you see Jennie at work, with her creative juices flowing and some handy tea and treats to feed the muse.  I just love the bright colors she uses in her work.


Thanks so much for sharing with us, Jennie! These little guys are cute and clever, all right. So you let inanimate objects talk for you, huh? I can’t imagine what THAT’S like!

Yes, Blog, that was intentional irony.

April 21, 2010

Blog interviews the Internet!

Ay-ohhhh, Blog!!! It’s our 50th post, which ain’t too shabby for our seventh week! And the subject line of today’s episode reveals our Intensely Incredible Interviewee, the Internet! So everyone crack open a cold one, we’ll turn down the rock ‘n’ roll music, and let Blog take it away....

Blog: Omigosh, I’m almost speechless. Welcome, Mr. Internet.

Internet: THANK YOU.

Blog: Sorry, readers, I know using all caps is frowned upon, but I don’t know how else to capture the deep, majestic, booming voice of our imposing guest.

Internet: I’VE BEEN COMPARED TO CHARLTON HESTON AND JAMES EARL JONES.

Blog: And I can hear why. This is just such an honor, sir.

Internet: MY FRIENDS CALL ME “THE ‘NET.”

Blog: I’m far too intimidated and in awe to do that, sir.

Internet: NO BIGGIE, SON.

Blog: I mean, look at your headshot! It’s really mindblowing. Gosh. Well, let me consult my notes here...I guess we might as well start with the question our readers are most wondering. Did Al Gore really invent you?

Internet: HA HA HA HA.

Blog: I take that as a no, then?

Internet: DEAR AL, HE’S SO CUTE.

Blog: There seems to be some debate as to the specific date of your origin. Do you have a birth year?

Internet: MOST PEOPLE CONSIDER MY CONCEPTION AS 1969, WHEN THE U.S. LAUNCHED ARPANET, AFTER YEARS OF WORK. IT WAS REALLY A RESPONSE TO SPUTNIK, AN EFFORT TO “BEAT THE RUSSIANS” AND ESTABLISH TECHNOLOGICAL SUPERIORITY. BUT I COUNT MY TRUE BIRTH AS JANUARY 1, 1983, WHEN THE SYSTEM SWITCHED TO TCP/IP LIKE IT IS TODAY.

Blog: Wow, same year as the Police’s fabulously successful album, “Synchronicity.”

Internet: YES. IN FACT, MY THEME SONG IS “EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE.”

Blog: Wow. Considering the lyrics of that song, that’s a little creepy. You’re not going to end up like HAL from “2001: A Space Odyssey” and lock us all in the pod bay, are you?

Internet: NOT TO WORRY, I’M NOT AUTONOMOUS, ACTUALLY.

Blog: You’re not? Me neither!

Internet: WELL, THAT’S BECAUSE YOU’RE A SUBSET OF ME, BLOG.

Blog: Whoa, this is getting a little deep for me, Internet. Let’s lighten things up a little. David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar?

Internet: http://www.sodahead.com/entertainment/sammy-hagar-or-david-lee-roth/question-111587/

Blog: Nifty. But don’t you have your own opinion?

Internet: ACTUALLY, NO. MY KNOWLEDGE IS JUST THE SUM OF ALL THE CONTENT CREATED BY HUMANS ALL OVER THE WORLD.

Blog: Well, that certainly must make you way smart.

Internet: MAYBE, MAYBE NOT.

Blog: Hmm. True. What’s the difference between you and the World Wide Web?

Internet: I’M THE SYSTEM THAT HOSTS THE WORLD WIDE WEB. I ALSO HOST OTHER KINDS OF COMMUNICATION, LIKE EMAIL, USENET, FTP AND INSTANT MESSAGING.

Blog: Ah, I get it. But do you have a favorite website?

Internet: ACCORDING TO ALEXA.COM, MY MOST POPULAR SITES ARE GOOGLE, FACEBOOK, AND YOUTUBE, IN THAT ORDER.

Blog: Yeah, yeah, I know...you can’t have your own opinion. Say, where am I ranked according to Alexa?

Internet: HA HA HA HA. YOU’RE AS CUTE AS AL GORE.

Blog: Funny, Internet. Well anyway, I think your favorite site should be I Can Has Cheezburger.

Internet: THAT’S DIANA TALKING, I SUSPECT. BUT I DO ENJOY LOL CATS. THAT OMG CAT IS A HOOT.

Blog: He looks like I looked when you walked in here! Well, clearly you do have a sense of humor, Internet.

Internet: LIKE I COULD CONTAIN THE SUM OF ALL THE CONTENT CREATED BY HUMANS ALL OVER THE WORLD AND NOT?

Blog: True. But Internet, if you’re not autonomous and don’t have your own opinions, how’d you get a theme song?

Internet: I DIDN’T SAY I PICKED IT.

Blog: So some Arpanet scientist was a Sting fan?

Internet: *PASSWORD PROTECTED*

Blog: Oh, now that’s handy. If someone asks you something you don’t want to answer, you just respond “*password protected*,” huh?

Internet: EITHER THAT OR “HA HA HA HA.”

Blog: Okay, good to know! Well, I did want to share with you a couple of examples of things in Diana’s life that have demonstrated the immeasurable value of the Internet, Internet. The first anecdote demonstrates your tremendous problem-solving skills.

Internet: LAY IT ON ME.

Blog: Last fall Diana got trendy new glasses. She discovered this spring that her old clip-ons don’t clip on them. They are just too wide.

Internet: BUMMER. GOOGLE TO THE RESCUE, I ASSUME?

Blog: Yup. She googled “custom clip-on sunglasses,” and found The Clip-On Guys. And they are awesome! You just photocopy your glasses, mail the copy with a form and payment, and in a week to ten days, you get clip-ons that fit perfectly! Even the curve of your glasses! And they only cost $44.95.

Internet: I DARESAY THEY ONLY HAVE THIS COOL BUSINESS BECAUSE OF ME, IF I MAY BE SO BOLD.

Blog: I daresay you’re right!

Internet: TELL ME ANOTHER ONE.

Blog: Okay! When Diana’s daughter Katie was like five years old, she saw a video on VH1 that always stuck with her. She remembered a couple on a date at a drive-in or something, two guys getting into a brawl, and the moon getting hit in the eye like in Georges Melies’ 1902 film “Trip to the Moon.” And it was done like a cartoon somehow. She posted to a bulletin board about it but didn’t get an answer for like five years.

Internet: PEOPLE DO GET FIXATED ON CHILDHOOD MEMORIES. FORTUNATELY I’M A SORT OF TIME MACHINE.

Blog: That you are! Last week Katie googled the subject again, and found a posting by someone on another board, also looking for the video. This guy asked about “this video from the 80s that was animated and looked very much in the style of Roy Lichtenstein. I think the storyline had something to do with a young couple going to a drive-in.” Well, HE got a reply, and it was Alan Parsons Project’s “Don’t Answer Me.” Bingo, that was the one! Says Katie, “I KNEW Google would come through someday!”


Internet: A GOOGLE / YOUTUBE DOUBLE-PUNCH.

Blog: And these are just a couple reasons why we heart you big time, Internet. So on behalf of the human race, I want to say thanks, you rock!

Internet: UH, BLOG...DON’T FORGET WHAT I AM: THE SUM OF ALL THE CONTENT CREATED BY HUMANS ALL OVER THE WORLD. I JUST HELP HUMANS HELP THEMSELVES. THEY SHOULD REALLY GET THE CREDIT.

Blog: Wow, I never thought of that!

Internet: IT’S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PEOPLE WORK TOGETHER.

Blog: I guess you’re right. Geez, I’m tearing up a little here. That’s really pretty cool.

Internet: WELL, I NEED TO GET BACK TO IT. BUT BEFORE I GO, I HAVE A QUESTION FOR YOU.

Blog: For me? Is the answer “42”?

Internet: NO. I’D JUST LIKE TO KNOW WHAT GUEST YOU PLAN TO GET FOR YOUR 100TH POST WHO IS GOING TO BE BIGGER THAN ME.

Blog: *password protected*

Internet: DARNIT SAUCE, I SHOULD HAVE SEEN THAT COMING.

Blog: Yeah you should have. Thanks, Internet.

Internet: YOU’RE WELCOME.

Blog: And while we’re thanking humankind, big thanks to our readers for reading our first fifty posts! More to come that is going to be just as weird. Hopefully you’ll bizarradore it as much as we bizarradore you!

April 20, 2010

Clay people?!?

Yes, Blog, I’ve embarked on my latest crazy creative endeavor. Like I said recently, when I really like something so much it hurts, I have to try it myself just in case I can do it. And awhile back I discovered Nicole West, the most astonishing polymer clay sculptor I’ve yet to see. Here are just a couple of her incredibly gorgeous creations:

Teacup Fairy


Lonely Goldfish Mermaid


I like these so much it hurts, Blog. And I figured, they are so grand, if I could someone make something even one-tenth as nice, it would be pretty decent. I looked on Amazon for the best book on sculpting human figures in polyclay that I could find, and this is what I found:

It’s all the reviews suggested and more. The instructions are so detailed and well-conceived, it’s possible even a total newbie such as myself could succeed. And I am determined, Blog. I am skipping no steps and applying myself 110% to this project. It’s the only way I stand a chance.

So, the first step was to make the tools you need. Quite a challenge in itself. I did quite a bit of shopping to come up with all the items I needed to construct the tools, as you see here below. Some of these things are already supplies or tools, but some were combined in a tricky fashion to make unique tools. And yes, Blog, I even had to go to Home Depot and get a tubing cutter! (That what that blue thing is.)  And another art supplies storage box (heck, they were on sale).


You use your tubing cutter to cut the big knitting needles into chunks. One pointy needle tip is used in a tool, and the rest of the parts are covered with clay to make sturdy handles. I actually figured out how to cut tubing! Awesome. I also got to use the electric drill, to drill holes in that piece of wood. This is as close to woodworking as I get.

Okay, so after a few hours of labor, here’s what I crafted:


A – Platform to hold clay parts (like heads) on wires during work (bolts and washers to add a little weight for stability).
B – Big knitting needle tool, for modeling.
C – Sewing needle tool, with big and small needles, for modeling super tiny detail.
D – Curvy end tool, with big and small curve ends, for modeling curvy shapes.
E – Tapestry needle tool, with big and small needles, for modeling small detail.
F – Eyeball mold.
G – Tray for holding eyeballs on pins for drying after painting.
H – Dish for shaping ovoid head armatures from aluminum foil.

The tools I made are ugly because I used random gooky leftover clay hunks. I now have no random gooky leftover clay hunks left!

I needed to get a lot of other supplies besides these. Like calipers, also from Home Depot, which I will use for accurate measuring of clay so I can get the proportions of my clay people right. I’ll use Tacky Glue, fabric glue AND Super Glue in various ways. I got a nice supply of heavy wire for armatures. And some inexpensive doll hair (the good artists use mohair but that stuff costs a ton). And a fine new set of acrylic paint in tubes (a steal at, of all places, Wal-Mart). And some super tiny new brushes. And of course, a bunch of beige clay, bought over the Web!

My existing clay and jewelry making tools and supplies (like pliers and glaze and pasta machine) will provide the rest of my needs. Along with my sewing machine (for wig and clothes making) and the eyelashes I ordered off eBay.

In other words, Blog, this is quite an undertaking. But I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. This weekend I’ll make some heads and see what happens. I’m planning on relying heavily on beginner’s luck.

My Impossible Clay People Dream? Well, first of all I’d like to make some gorgeous fairy-like female creature for which I can make a terrific tiny costume. And secondly, I’d like to make some really hot male, perhaps in a revealing Roman toga.

But before that, I’ll have to see if I can actually make something that appears vaguely human.

My confidence was slightly boosted this weekend, Blog. On a whim, I decided to submit my stitchpunk doll, Herbert G, to an author (Barbe Saint John) soliciting content for her upcoming book, 1000 Steampunk Inspirations. And he was accepted! Enthusiastically! The book comes out in March 2011 from Quarry Books. This is the first time I’ve felt like a real artist in any way. It blows my mind to be included in a book full of the work of real artisans.

ONE FINAL HINT!

Tomorrow is the big day! Our thrilling 50th post! Blog’s mystery interviewee is the perfect “big name act” for the occasion. Your last hint as to his identity: His age is a subject of debate, but we’re putting it at 27. All will be revealed tomorrow, and BYOB!

April 18, 2010

Blog interviews the cake-like thing

I'm so embarrassed to even talk about this, I'm just going to defer to Blog tonight.  He's here to report to you on the Saga of the Cake-Like Thing:

Blog:  Well, a lot of really weird $#!+ went down in Magic House this evening, if you pardon my departing from my usual AP Stylebook-type language.  Cake-Like Thing, what exactly are you, anyway?

CLT:  I'm a labor of love, Blog, a labor of love.  You see, last weekend was Davie's birthday, and Diana forgot to get him a cake.  She felt bad tonight when they were driving home from dinner, so she said she'd make him a belated cake.

Blog:  You do resemble a blighted cake, yes.

CLT:  BELATED.

Blog:  Oh.  Sorry.  Go on.

CLT:  So Diana quick found a recipe for chocolate cake online, which she planned to doll up with some extra ingredients and what-not.

Blog:  I'd say the what-not was a mistake.

CLT:  Hold on, Blog, let me tell!  She put together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, sugar, salt, vanilla, water, oil and eggs, and dumped it all in a pan, and put the pan in the oven. 

Blog:  You mean A.B.  The oven's named for Alton Brown, the host of "Good Eats," and Danny Elfman doppleganger.

CLT:  Right.  Whatever.  And then she realized it should have been 3 teaspoons of baking powder, not 3 tablespoons.

Blog:  Uh-oh.

CLT:  Too late though!  And seeing as the real Alton Brown wasn't there to tell her what that signifies from a food chemistry point of view....I was born....

Blog:    Not a cake at all but a...

CLT:  Cake-like THING.

Blog:  So how did you come to look like that?  All...leprous?

CLT:  First I swelled way up.  Then parts of me cascaded down the sides of my pan.  They fell on the oven floor and burned, which meant Diana had to scoop burning chunks of batter out of the oven and fling them into the sink, then rush to run the vile, stinking things down the garbage disposal.  And then she put a protective cookie sheet in the bottom of the oven, which got burning goo on its bottom, and more burning goo on its top. 

Blog:  This is not good.

CLT:  As smoke filled the kitchen, Diana soldiered on making amaretto glaze out of butter, sugar, amaretto and creme de cocoa.

Blog:  Hoping that alcohol might cover a multitude of sins. 

CLT:  She also made frosting out of powdered sugar, more butter, milk, cocoa and more amaretto.

Blog:  Booze and butter, the only hopes of the culinarily incompetent.

CLT:  Yes.  And meanwhile, having puffed up and gushed goo, I now collapsed into a more normal but oddly disfigured size and shape.  The timer went off that I was (supposedly) done baking, and Diana put a toothpick in me to test, praying I was so she could remove me from the violently smoking oven.

Blog:  What happened?  Did the toothpick come out clean, indicating you were done?

CLT:  My top was crispy, but my edges swirled.  Like pudding.

Blog:  Sweet Mary and Joseph!  Your edges swirled?  What did Diana do then?

CLT:  She cranked the oven up and went out to watch the hockey game in the living room.

Blog:  She is really hard core.

CLT:  I know, most women would have fainted.  In the end she decided I was as done as I was going to get, and took me out of the oven.  Then she slathered me with amaretto glaze, cut me into square-like things, put frosting on two of them, and then whipped cream.  Then she chipped some of the hard stuff off the sides of the pan, crumbled it, and sprinkled it on top.

Blog:  And she served you?  What did Davie say?

CLT:  He said...wait for it...that I was delicious.

Blog:  No.

CLT:  Yes!  And in fact, I was delicious!  Can you believe that?  Here's how I would have been described on a dessert menu in a fancy restaurant:


Chocolate Amaretto Decadence

With rich chocolate flavor and textures ranging from chewy to molten, this is more than a cake.  Topped off with scrumptious chocolate amaretto frosting, whipped cream and crispy fudge crumbles, it will overwhelm you with decadent deliciousness! 

Blog:  Well, I don't know what to say!

CLT:  I do--eat me.

Blog:  What?

CLT:  Seriously, try a bite.

Blog:  Say, you ARE delicious!  That's just nuts!

CLT:  Diana dodged a bullet, that's for sure.

Blog:  Is she going to make you again sometime?

CLT:  I don't think it's possible to replicate the combination of open oven door, smoldering goo, and pan shuffling that brought me into existence.  So alas, no, Blog.

Blog:  It's too bad, because you are one tasty cake-like thing, Cake-Like Thing.

CLT:  Thank you.

April 17, 2010

My recipe for a perfect song

...might not be exactly the same as yours, Blog. Seeing as your theme song is the B-52s’ “Rock Lobster,” we can safely say you prefer songs that include a bass lead vocal + two crazy female backup singers + surf guitar + organ + undersea noises.

My ingredients are not quite the same. I’m sure our readers have nothing better to do than find out exactly what I want in a song, so let’s not make them wait another minute, Blog!

[Readers, if you have an extra two minutes to spare, that’s all it will take to enhance your experience of today’s post. Click on the hot links, which will take you to Amazon where you can play the first track on each page to hear a sample of what I mean.]

First, the song needs Danny Elfman. While Les Stroud is my favorite folk-type singer, and Jason Danieley is my go-to for Broadway, and Josh Groban is best for classical music, if we’re doing a pop/rock song, Danny Elfman is your man. Not only does he have a fabulous voice (whether crooning or screaming), his range is approximately 12 octaves. Check him out in “Stay,”...he’s singing all those parts! He also did 100% of the vocals in the score to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”  Which he also composed.  What a talent.

Speaking of Oingo Boingo, the ideal song could also use a stirring brass chorus, like the one in “Try to Believe.”  Gets the old blood pumping, hey, Blog?

Speaking of instrumentations, in my humble opinion, we are WAY overdue for a harpsichord resurgence. Seriously. It’s been like 45 years since we had a Top 40 hit featuring some quality harpsichord. Which is why I must reach back to “Love is Blue” for my example here.

Meanwhile, I have to say I just love electronic music, which kinda sorta reminds me of harpsichord sometimes. The 80s got music right in this regard. But for my example here, I’m going all the way back to 1962, probably the first “electronic music” hit ever, “Telstar” by the Tornados. Gol-dammit, Blog, that song rocks!

But speaking of the 80s, the song also needs to have an infectious, happy beat. Like, for example, “Pop Goes the World” by Men Without Hats.  Toe-tapping, isn’t it?

And there you go, the perfect recipe for a fantastic song! An upbeat, zippy tune + Danny Elfman + Moog synthesizer + harpsichord + brass chorus. Not even cowbell could improve that, I daresay!

But you know what, Blog? Ironically, one of the best songs ever recorded is NOT an upbeat, zippy tune sung by Danny Elfman, accompanied by Moog synthesizer and harpsichord, featuring a brass chorus. Instead, it’s a no vocals + flamenco guitar + Renaissance harmonies + speedingly-syncopated-beat hybrid known as Mason Williams’ “Classical Gas.”

Which just goes to show you, you really can never tell what’s going to work fabulously well in music.

YET ANOTHER CLUE

...as to the identity of our special guest interviewee for the Rockem Sockem 50th Episode next week!  He is multi-lingual.  I mean VERY multi-lingual, even more than my iPod, iPo, who knows English, French, Spanish, Latin, Italian, Greek, Polish, German, and Swahili.

April 16, 2010

My TV Soulmate revealed!

Blog, it was very cool to see a lot of people participate in the TV survey so far. And I’m leaving it open for future readers if they would like to take it as well just for giggles. But right now I know you are chomping at the bit to find out the results.

Well, as you might expect, my best match in TV watching is Davie, with a score of 33 out of 39. It always nice to have your spouse/life partner be a good match in this regard, seeing as you do undoubtedly share a TV. Davie and I only differ on “Lost” (which he watched for a long time and then quit; he is not one who enjoys drawn-out suspense), musical shows (“Glee,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” “The Sing-Off”) and sometimes comedies. He also bailed on “The Office,” due to his [justifiably] perpetual embarrassment for Michael Scott, and although “30 Rock” cracks him up, he doesn’t watch it.

But Davie is exempt from competition here, and I’m happy to report I found another amazingly close match! “R.E.B.,” a Facebook friend of mine who friended me due to her interest in my fiction writing, scored an incredible 19. It’s fascinating to discover you have such similar taste in entertainment with someone you just met on the Web. Awesome!

What I think our readers will find even more interesting is the astonishing news of which of my shows scored highest with survey participants. Well, there was a tie with the totally awesome hit comedy “The Big Bang Theory,” but this other one surprised me.  It was…wait for it…“Mythbusters”! Who knew? (Besides those of you who looked at the graphic?) I never would have guessed that Jamie, Adam and the Build Team were so well loved by our readers. Hey peeps, for more stuff about my feelings for that show, check out this post on my old blog about “Hot Guys on the Discovery Channel.” You’ll find out which Mythbuster I think is the sexiest!  (Oh, and you can also find out my secret Big Bang crush on this other post.)

Davie and I were NOT surprised to learn you aren’t all tuning in to Larry Kudlow on CNN. But it did amaze us that no one else watches the incredibly awesome AMC drama series “Breaking Bad”! There’s a reason it keeps getting awards, people! So if you are looking for a good series to rent from Netflix, this disturbing but gripping show about a chemistry teacher turned meth manufacturer is terrific.

May I also throw in, glad to see a few votes for “Better Off Ted.” It’s a hysterical show in the same quirky vein as “Arrested Development,” which is constantly at risk of being likewise cancelled. Rent. It. Soon.

We got a request for another “Soulmate” survey in the future, Blog, isn’t that cool? I wish it could be “who has the most same songs on their iPod as I do” but no one is going to review 1,213 songs and click boxes. We’ll have to ponder it….

ANOTHER HINT!

Time for another clue as to who we’ll be interview next week for the big 50th Episode. Here it is: Blog and I both depend upon him--but Blog more than me. Ooooh, any guesses?

April 14, 2010

A quiet spring evening at Magic House

As Blog well knows, "Magic House" is what we call the old homestead here in Tuckaway subdivision, Wisconsin.  On this April night we are fortunate to have the windows open and the place flooded with fresh air.  Davie has to leave for work at 6 a.m. so is already a-bed.  So I decided to capture a few cozy scenes.


Here's a commonplace occurence chez us, Blog:  Cody with his furry face pressed to the screen door.  His hobby is being interrupted by the rude intrusion of Alice.  She won't stay long.


Aaaaand, she's moved on to the food dishes.  Actually, I took this photo to show you two brand new additions to our home.  It's our garbage can and paper recycle bin, Castor and Pollux.  Our old cans were broken long ago but we had not been able to find correct sized replacements anywhere.  Then today Davie came upon this pair at Wal-Mart of all places, and in the perfect red to match the kitchen walls!  C'mon, red garbage cans deserve to be named on that count alone!  And they were only ten bucks each.  Insane.


Here's our renowned scribbler board, on the fridge.  Well, last week I impulse-bought one of those little machines that shaves the pills off sweaters.  I have some VERY pilly sweaters that have been repulsing me lately.  I shaved the black one and it came out great!  Need to do the white one and the blue one next.


And where is that shy little beastie Selke hanging out?  Up in the studio, per usual.  The studio is always uber-cozy at night.


I apologize for the graininess, but this is the view of our patio from the studio window.  One of these weeks we'll be out there at this hour, having a nightcap.  It's almost warm enough tonight.

That's all I got, Blog!  Time for a tiger snooze...goodnight.