Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fun with the Founding Fathers

I'm something of a history buff. Not a good one, mind you; I can't retain dates or names for the life of me. Still, I really enjoy museums and learning about our country's past and the founding fathers. Exhibit A: John and I went to Washington, D.C. - for our honeymoon.

This was not taken in DC. Nor was it taken on our honeymoon. In fact, it has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that it's an eagle and today is the fourth of July and I'm really proud of this shot and I may not get another excuse to show it off. So...hey, look! Pretty eagle!

Anyway, I first saw this video nearly six months ago, and I think I watched it a dozen times in one sitting. It's odd, silly, and a flat-out bizarre in the end, but for some reason I love it. And since it's about the Declaration of Independence, I figure today's the perfect day to share it:

The best part is definitely the actor playing Thomas Jefferson, R. Keith Harris. There's something kind of mesmerizing about a smooth rockin' Jefferson. :D

You can download the song for free (and also learn more about the group who made the video) here.

Also, if you're looking to get your feet wet with American history, you can't go wrong with a book on Lincoln. He may not be a founding father, but his life and words are fascinating enough to get anyone hooked on history. (And when you're done with him, read something on his wife. Yowzers.)
Also not taken on our honeymoon. But at least it IS in D.C.
There are tons of Lincoln books out there, but for light reading I'd go with this one by McPherson - it's less than 100 pages, and I *think* it's one of the ones I read and liked.

If you're up for something (much) heavier, David McCullough is another good author. I don't believe he has anything on Lincoln, but his John Adams made for excellent bedtime reading: slow enough to not keep me awake after I put it down, but interesting enough to keep me going through the 750+ pages. (Keep in mind I'm a fast reader, though.)

And finally, just for fun:


A costume at the '08 Dragon*Con by Studio Creations

Just when you thought Lincoln couldn't get any cooler.

And one more for a good LOL:

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Excuses, Excuses...

I determined when I started this blog that I wouldn't populate it with posts apologizing for not posting, so...I'm NOT sorry. Yeah. So, um, there.

John and I are still in California, though, and with only one laptop and one day's reserve on CW, I'm just not able to write as much as I'd like to here. (And until you guys get about eighty thousand of your friends to check Epbot every day, I'm afraid the Wreckage will have to continue to take priority. Heh.) Rest assured that all will return to normal next week, though!

In the meantime, I will tell you that I'm loving the Disneyland downtime. Yesterday it took us four hours just to get down Main Street.

In related news: I love Main Street.

The old bank vault. Leave it to me to find steampunk inspiration in Disneyland!

Yep, I love the architecture, the signage, the window displays, the Dapper Dans, the lights...and yes, I am going crazy Disney fangirl on you right now. Sorry. But not really.

When we got here, the girl in the ticket window decided John and I were so cute that we simply HAD to celebrate our anniversary this trip. So she gave us buttons with our names on them, and now everyone is wishing us a happy anniversary two months early. It's awesome.

Carved capital building in the pre-show area of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, which I got to see for the first time.

Oh, and I'm collecting smashes pennies from the machines sprinkled around the park. (Pennies? Again? YES.) You'll see them pop up in a tutorial soon, so go dig up any you have from past theme park or museum visits and wait for further instructions.

No stalker sightings to report yet, which, to be honest, is a bit disappointing. I'm telling myself they're all just really *good* stalkers. :D I almost turned stalker myself, though, when I spotted fashion and make-up guru Shrinkle in the queue at Caption EO. My first celebrity siting! Woohoo! Turns out Leesha (aka Xsparkage) was also here, but I missed her. These gals make me seriously crave candy-colored hair. For now I'll stick to embarrassing John with my yellow boots, though.

So tell me, fellow Disney Geeks (aka Dizgeeks), what's your favorite often-overlooked thing here in California? I don't want to miss anything! (Btw, I haven't spotted the Rocketeer popcorn cart yet, but it's on the list!) We're actually here until Friday, which is good considering the crazy crowds. Whose idea was it to do this during June, again?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Robot Makes Me Smile

John and I leave in less than twelve hours for our Tempe show, but I had to show you these:

Just in case any of you will be there. :)

If so, just ask for one at the table; I only had time to make a few handfuls to bring along.

Wish us luck and good health; the CW "World" Tour part three starts tomorrow!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Packing Heat

John's been making me pack for the tour today, since apparently my usual stay-up-'til-4AM-the-night-before method is somehow "bad."

Packing does weird things to us girls, though. (C'mon, ladies, back me up on this.) I mean, one minute you're counting out the socks and underwear, and the next you're sitting slack-jawed on the bed wearing black leggings with shorts over them, one sock, and a yellow push-up bra. And maybe a cape.

John: "Sooo, whatcha doin'?"

Me: "Ummm...."

John: "Have you figured out what you're wearing to the signings yet?"

Me: "Yes."

John: "Really?"

Me: "Socks. I've decided on socks."

John: [patiently] "Do you think maybe you should focus on your actual outfits? There's only four this time, you know. Last time you planned out twice that many."

Me: [now laying on my back and addressing the ceiling fan]: "Mmph. Blurg."

So that's about how my day has gone.

John, of course, hasn't bothered to pack anything for himself yet because he is a guy, and guys only require about seven seconds to pack. Give him a pair of jeans and his toothbrush and he could survive for weeks in the wild. Weeks, I say.

I, on the other hand, require approximately seventeen "travel-size" jars of various potions, creams, primers, moisturizers, pore spackle, joint compound, masks, cleansers, toners, and concealers. And that's before the make-up.


I did, however, get some footwear sorted out:

Now, for the record, and before you mock them, I LOVE those yellow boots. Love, love, LOVE them. Since it's about 100 degrees here, and still in the 60's in California, I'm excited about wearing them a few more times.

They also go great with a cape.

Not that I have one.

[clearing throat] SO...have you heard it's going to be 106 degrees in Tempe on Monday?

Yeah, Tempe's getting flip-flops.

True Story: John just poked his head in the office and asked me - with dripping sarcasm, I might add - how the packing was going. Grumble. Well, I guess I'll see some of you Monday night. Make sure you wear flip-flops so I feel at home, k?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Steampunk Dining Room

Sorry for keeping you guys in suspense for so long! I'll post the curtain tutorial soon - for now, here are some shots of our still-evolving-but-mostly-done steampunk dining room.

First, a (badly) spliced together night shot of the whole room:

Our main area is all open, so the dining room only has these two walls. You can just see the hallway leading to my office on the right and the doorway into our back room on the left.

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!


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. :)