Sunday, June 13, 2010

Urban Decay

Maybe I read too many fantasy novels, but I find abandoned and decaying buildings and theme parks absolutely fascinating. It could be the post-apocalyptic feel, or the beauty in man-made things being retaken by nature - or perhaps just the feeling of exploring a strange new world that few others have seen in a long, long time. Whatever the reason, I get a vicarious thrill out of seeing photographs like these:

Taken in Pripyat, an abandoned city near Chernobyl. Go here for lots more great shots by deviant_man. (Also try googling "Pripyat" - there are tons of amazing photos out there.)

When John and I were taking a black and white photography course back in college, we went exploring at a local drive-in movie theater, long abandoned. There wasn't much to see: a big overgrown field, some of the metal framework for the screen, and a small concessions building rotting away among the palmettos. Once inside, you could barely see the floor for all the broken glass, papers, film strips (!!) and general trash. Even so, I was thrilled. They'd even left the giant movie projector in there! Oh, it was heaven - even with the smell of urine and obvious evidence of squatters about.
Looking in, past the projection room door.

Because of our limited time and funds in the dark room (nothing digital in that class!), I don't have many pictures from that shoot. The projector was crammed in a tiny room with the windows boarded up, so it was too dark to photograph it with our ancient, flash-less manual. I've always regretted that, since we never went back and the place was bulldozed less than a year later.

Here's the exterior door:

And a shot of the surprisingly well preserved counter:

There's not much urban decay to explore here in Orlando, but about a month ago our local news featured Shane Perez, a self-proclaimed "recreational trespasser," who did something nuts: he and some friends swam across the alligator and bacteria-infested waters of Bay Lake to explore Discovery Island in Disney World. At night.

I'll let you read the goodies yourself, but take a look at this shot he took while on the island and tell me it doesn't look straight out of LOST:

The lights are still left on every night, despite the fact that the island was shuttered and abandoned over ten years ago. Brrr. Feel that? Creepy shivers. :)

Oh, and when you're done with that post, check out the rest of Shane's site: his portfolio is gorgeous. (Note: It's also NSFW as he uses nude models.)

And the final cherry on top: recently a friend linked me to this article: "8 Abandoned American Theme Parks 'Open' for Exploration" There are photos and even videos embedded in the article, so it's definitely worth a look.

Oh, and I think I once saw a book or website on abandoned movie theaters - the great old Art Deco style ones - but now I can't remember where. Let me know if that rings a bell, will you?

So, have any of you ever tried "recreational trespassing?" I'm far too law-abiding myself (not to mention too wimpy) to jump fences or swim through eel-infested waters, but I'm not above looking at your pictures if you have. :D And if you have any links to other sites with nifty photography of abandoned places, feel free to share those in the comments, too!

Friday, June 11, 2010

How to Make: Penny Buttons

I love all the military styles in fashion right now - and especially the ornate dome buttons lining the vests and jackets. Trouble is, the buttons can be pricey. The least expensive ones I could find at my craft store were $3 each - and I needed 20. Yikes!

Well, remember that cool dime necklace I bought last month? It inspired me. So, John and I took a trip to the hardware store to see what we could use to hammer coins into domes.

Little did we know we'd find THIS: 


It's called a Doming Block, and its sole purpose is to hammer things into domes! How cool is that?!?

John has almost every tool known to man, and even *he* didn't know this thing existed. We stumbled across it in one of the aisles, and it was the only one the store had. I'm calling it fate. :D

And look what it does!
It's a little tricky at first, of course, and requires some serious pounding with a giant mallet, but once I got into the swing of things [smirk] I was zipping through the change jar.

John and I also had fun seeing what a difference a blow torch makes - but that's for another post. ("Fire!")

Anyway, once you have your dome pennies, here's all you need to turn them into ├╝ber cool buttons:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dragon*Con! Continued

More goodies from last year's Dragon*Con:

The away-team red shirts! Always a classic.

As prevalent and unforgiving as spandex is, there's both a lot of tragedy and a lot of "sha-ZAM!" to see around the floor. This gal definitely falls in the latter category.

I felt like a stumpy little hobbit around all the svelte Amazon women there - thank goodness the tragedies helped even it out a little. ;)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


After finding out I needed glasses on Sunday, I called my parents to break the news.

They took it well.

Then, as the conversation went on, I found myself chatting with my dad about Dragon*Con. The "chatting" soon turned to "fangirl gushing," and before you could say "sonic screwdriver" I'd managed to convince them to come see the madness for themselves this year. Muahahaaaa!

We immediately Priceline'd ourselves some hotel rooms, and now...we wait. In giddy anticipation.

I was so jazzed I decided to look over my photos from D*C last year. Since we left on the first Cake Wrecks tour just 2 weeks after the con last year, it was months and months (and months) before I even downloaded them off my camera. Anyway, I know they're 9 months old now, but I thought you guys might like seeing some of my favorite costumes, so we can geek out and count down the days together. ('Cuz you're all going, right? If it will help entice you, John and I will be playing the Twitter game again this year: find us and win a prize!)

Here we go, in no particular order:

You can always tell the seasoned costumers. Most of them never even speak; they just turn, strike the pose, nod when you thank them, and move on.

C'mon, a cute Stay Puft? That's a win.

Monday, June 7, 2010

For My Eyes Only

My entire family for the last three generations have all worn glasses. Every single one of 'em.

Except me.

Naturally, with those kind of odds stacked against me, I make sure to get regular eye exams.

Ok, well, that may not be entirely accurate. That is, if by "regular" you assume I mean "more than once every 15 years."

(Which would be pretty disastrous for Activia, now that I think about it...)

Ahem. So, anyway, yesterday I strolled into an eyeglass place to get my regular once-every-15-years check up. Which is to say my second one.

The tech was very friendly, and like everyone, mildly surprised that I was there. Especially after I informed him (with all due modestly) that my last exam showed I had better than perfect vision. In fact, I was actually looking forward to impressing him with my letter-reading skills. Yessir, bring on the eye charts! I'll show that big 'E' who's boss!

He sat me down in the chair, and popped on the projection thingy.

"Ok, Jennifer, can you see that line there?"

[a pause]

"Um. If you mean the white box, then yes."

The tech let out a sudden belly laugh, which I'm pretty sure was not a "Wow! You DO have better-than-perfect eyesight!" kind of laugh. He then flipped a few switches, and the white box suddenly had black squiggles in it.

"How about now?"

[a longer pause]

"Um. F?" (My voice actually cracked on the upswing of "F?" I think I nearly went supersonic with that squeak.)

More chuckles.

"I'm breaking my perfect record, aren't I?"

The tech might have been chagrined, but he was grinning so wide it was hard to tell. "I'm going to say yes."

So, I need glasses. I haven't ordered them yet, because the place where I had the exam was old-school this-is-a-stick-up expensive, and there's no way I'm paying $200 for a simple prescription on the cheapest possible frames.

Still, I'm actually kind of looking forward to this whole new accessory option. That, and seeing my monitor look all crisp like that little E. (Yeah, turns out it was an 'E.') The doctor - a gruff old-timer who stared at me incredulously and exclaimed, "Don't you squint?!?" - assures me that this will be the case. I just hope I can find some power geek glasses to give me adequate "cred" on the upcoming CW tour. :)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Steampunk Sparklies

Today is our only day "off," (as much as any blogger takes a day off, anyway) and wouldn't you know it: John and I are sick! [insert boos and hisses here]

It could be worse. For now, the bug just has us achy and weak as wet pasta, so we've been sitting/laying/flopping around groaning for most of the day. We both had flu shots back during John's hospital ordeal, so I'm wondering if that's keeping us from being really sick sick. (Or maybe these will end up being my famous last words. Heh.)

At any rate, all the fun crafty things we were going to do today have been postponed, so instead, I'm going to sit here with my head propped on a pillow and do some online shopping.


Yep, I thought it was an oxymoron, but it turns out sparkly steampunk jewelry does exist! And I have proof!


By Rivkasmom on Maker's Market (which is another cool site I need to explore) $185

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sea Horsin' Around

Behold, my spoils of war!!

Ok, so not so much "war" as "craft store and Pier 1 shopping," but whatevs.

(Ah, clearance, how I love thee.)

Granted, the large sea horse bottle necklace was a bit pricey at $10, but I have a secret passion for seahorses, and immediately thought I might be able to jazz it up a bit.

Here it is out of the package:

First things first: that "cheers" dangle had to go. I enlisted John's help, and he used a Dremel to cut off the rings.

Next came the fun part:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bustin' Makes Me Feel...Well, Somewhat Better

So we're reaching that time again (a time which, for argument's sake, let's say occurs every 28 to 30 days) when John starts begging me to eat chocolate and play video games.

I'm not sure why.

John: [looking pained] "Please. Stop working."

Me: [stabbing angrily at keyboard] "I'm FINE. If this stupid filth-flarned flippin' WEBSITE would just work...!! WHY is it TAKING so LONG?!? Aauuughh!! [now sobbing] And I HATE my toenails!!"

John: "How about a brownie? Look! [waggling video game in front of me] I got you Ghostbusters!"

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Jen's Procrastination Station

Like you, I read blogs. A lot of blogs. I'd never keep track if it weren't for the miracle of the RSS feed. (And by the way, if you're *not* using a RSS reader, what are you waiting for? Google and Yahoo both have great options.)

So, if you're looking for more great blogs to read - and really, who isn't? - here are a few of my time-tested favorites:

Super Punch - my favorite blog, period. I describe it to friends as "a blog for people with Internet ADD," because John (the writer) posts a little of *everything*. Amazing art, funny comics, geeky products, fascinating news stories, and yes, even the occasional cake - it's all here. In fact, much of the cool stuff I've discovered online has been thanks to this blog. Plus, John posts a LOT - a dozen posts a day is common - so I never have to wait long for my next fix.

Great White Snark - all forms of geekiness, served up with a heavy side of snark. I love it. Even if he *does* keep mocking Star Trek. (Grrr.)

Snark is also the only blogger I follow who I've actually met in person. He reminded me a lot of my older brother. Is that a good thing? I'll never tell.

Daddy Likey - In Winona's words, "Daddy Likey is a blog about fashion. But sometimes I write haiku about chlamydia." It's hysterical. I once lost an entire Monday reading the archives, and that remains one of my favorite Mondays ever. I *highly* recommend reading this blog in huge doses; one post at a time is simply not enough.

Hyperbole and a Half - Allie draw hilariously bad pictures in Paintbrush to illustrate her hilariously hilarious posts about random things like showering. It's hilarious.

LikeCool - claims to be the "coolest gadget magazine", but it also has amazing videos, pop culture art, geek toys, fun designs, etc, etc. For some reason they also randomly post pin-up girls, though, so this one isn't always appropriate/safe for work.

Ok, I think that's enough procrastination fodder for now. :)

I tried to pick blogs with a fairly broad appeal here, but I'd love to swap recommendations with you on more specific topics. So, what do you read? Geek blogs? Girly blogs? Humor? Disney? DIY? Art? I love them all, and have plenty of blogs to recommend, so tell me what you like in the comments and I'll plan my next "procrastination" post accordingly.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Other Side of the Table

I'm pretty much your typical introvert: I like people, but interacting with them takes effort. And while you might think working online 14 hours a day would improve my social skills, shockingly, it hasn't. These days I spend so much time locked in my own head that I need advance warning to effectively switch gears from cerebral to social. (Of course in this context, "cerebral" = "brainstorming poo puns.")

As I'd guess is normal for introverts, I'm also easily star-struck. It doesn't really matter how famous the person is, either; I've been struck dumb and noodle-limbed by a photo op with Darth Vader. Last year.

"I find your lack of poise...disturbing."

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Muppets Do America

Since I'm still working on my next post (it's kind of long), let's take a quick Muppet break.

I love the Muppets, and Sam Eagle never fails to crack me out. Fortunately, the Muppet Studio just released another great music video for Memorial Day, featuring Sam. Check it out:

Reminds me a bit of William Shatner's "singing." Hah! Even so, I'm not sure they managed to top their last tribute, "Stars & Stripes Forever."

Yep. That's tough to beat.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Baby Boba Fett is ADORABLE

Fellow geeks, prepare to feast your eyes on the best Boba fan art EVER:

Must. Restrain. Girly. Squealing.

Seriously, how awesome is this? Pixar artist Austin Madison drew it to celebrate both his brother's birthday and the anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, which turned 30 last weekend. Now all it needs is a punny saying...

"Hope your birthday's a blast!"

"Have a bounty-full supply of fun!"

"Cake and birthdays are a great fett!"

...and you've got the perfect birthday card.

Austin also does fun little doodle animations on his iPad. Here's his Baby Fett:

Just try to watch it less than three or four times. Go on.

Be sure to check out Austin's blog, AustinTranslation, for more great art!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Car Update

First things first: thanks to my less-than-clear "Scrooge" remark in my last point, some of you mistakenly thought that *I* was the one who wanted a new car. Not so. I'm the Scrooge, whereas John has wanted a new car pretty much since birth. So sorry for the confusion, and for besmirching John's good name.

Ok, on to the update!

As you may have surmised, we've been car-shopping this past week. I even have the farmer's tan and frayed patience to show for it.

"What's wrong with this car? This one right here? I'll tell you what's wrong with this car, Mr. Pushy Car Salesman: I can't reach the pedals or see over the steering wheel. Yeah, that's right, I'M SHORT. Thanks for pretending not to notice. Now, lead me to your ridiculously tiny Hobbit cars, lay off the smirking, and we'll get along just fine."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Geeky Hardware

I adore quirky jewelry, and the older I get, the more I find the stuff at the mall just won't cut it. There are lots of great and geeky options online, but I always face the same dilemma: the geek in me wants a conversation starter that reflects my interests, but the girl in me wants something, well, pretty. Too often the options are either/or.

Well, after much digging, I've assembled a personal wish-list of suitable lovelies over on Etsy. And in order to call all those hours of online shopping "research," I'm now going to share my list with you guys. :) Enjoy!

For Harry Potter geeks:

"Fleur's Snitch Necklace" by trophies [$19.50]
[click the pics to go to the Etsy listing]

This is my favorite of the snitch necklaces I've seen so far - it's kind of subtle, and I like the way the gold glass looks against the textured metal of the wings. Plus, it's under $20!

Friday, May 21, 2010

How to Hose Your Old Car in 8 Easy Steps

Step 1: Forget to change the oil for about a year and a half.

Give or take 6 months.

Since my idea of "car maintenance" is chastising John for throwing his Diet Mountain Dew bottles in the backseat, this was a breeze. John's not much better: his idea of car maintenance is throwing his Diet Mountain Dew bottles in the backseat.

Step 2: When the car begins making "chugaggugug BLURRgarg" noises, take it in to the shop.

In my defense, I thought the car was fine. I figured those little bucking vibrations and the erratic engine revving were a feature. John, however, would not be convinced. (He has a ninja-like sixth sense about these things.)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mac Out Your Mac

You've probably seen some of the nifty Macbook decals that made the rounds on geek blogs a while back. The first one I saw was Snow White, and I still love how cleverly the design incorporates the apple:

Anyway, I have a plain white Macbook, so I really like the idea of jazzing it up. Once I started shopping around, though, I realized there are tons of great, geeky options! Here are my favs so far:

A Quick Note Regarding Paid Endorsements:

I don't do them.

I mention this because I plan to talk about lots of cool stuff on this blog, and I don't want you thinking I'm getting commissions, kick-backs, free products, or what-have-you in return. I profit from my banner and side-bar ads, and the occasional Amazon referral link. That's it.

I take the blogger disclosure thing very seriously, so if I ever mention something here that I *have* gotten for free (which I don't expect to, but you never know), I'll tell you.

And in that spirit of full disclosure: Jules, the maker of the cute robot necklace from my first post, recently surprised me with one. She sent it as a birthday gift, which was both incredibly sweet and incredibly unexpected. Still, I just wanted you guys to know.

Now, let's hear a word from our imaginary sponsor, 30 Rock:

Monday, May 17, 2010

I Want a Baby Sloth

Can I have one?

Meet the sloths from Amphibian Avenger on Vimeo.

What's that? You want to see one falling asleep?

Your wish = my command.

I would love him and squeeze him and call him Cinnamon, because that's what I like to imagine he smells like. Cinnamon, and rainbows.

Show and Tell

We've all got 'em: collectibles, artwork, figurines, souvenirs, etc. In other words, stuff we want to show off. The only difference between regular folks and us geeks is that our stuff is less Hallmark and more...well...this:

The little guy is actually from 1984. That counts as an antique, right?

Anyway, I absolutely love finding unique ways to display my stuff, because let's face it: working StayPuft into your home decor is NOT easy. And since I'm sure I'm not the only one with this problem, here are some of my own display solutions to (hopefully) give you some ideas.