Saturday, March 5, 2011

Saturday Steam: Steam Powered Giraffe

There are several fairly well-known steampunk bands out there. I've heard a couple of them live before, and I have to say: they all really look fantastic. [diplomatic smile] The sound, however, is as hit-or-miss as any genre of music - and most of what I've heard falls more on the "punk" side of steampunk. I like a pretty diverse range of music, but - prepare to call me an old fogey - crashing noise and screaming just isn't my thing.

So today, I want to introduce you to a group that's a little...ok, a lot...different than any other steampunk band I've seen.

Here, watch this:

This is Steam Powered Giraffe, "A Musical Pantomime Troupe featuring robot imitation with song." Meaning they're robot mimes, who sing. Gotta love that.

Mime has gotten a bad rap over the years, but these guys put it to amazing use. In fact, their movements are so mesmerizing that you're instantly sucked in to the performance, whether the music is to your taste or not. Just watch Rabbit, the "robot" with the goggles. Amazing, right? As a former (amateur) mime myself, I'm awed by that kind of consistent skill.

Oh, and check out his awesome make-up:

The other two guys are The Spine (silver face) and The Jon:

The girl, Upgrade, is no longer featured on their website, so I'm guessing she no longer sings with the group.

For those of you in or around San Diego, you can find SPG busking in Balboa Park most weekends. In fact, here's a video of them at the park singing another of my favorites:

For professional recordings of their songs, check out SPG's first album on iTunes. They also just released a new single, Honey Bee, which has a sweet, old-timey sound you'll love if you like the two I've posted here. (Actually, if you like these you'll probably like the whole album; it's one of the very few I've ever purchased online.)

For lots more info, pictures, and video links, head on over to Steam Powered Giraffe's website. Oh, and I also heard a rumor that the group has applied to perform at Dragon*Con this year. Fingers crossed that pans out; I'd love to see them live!

And finally, a big thanks to Brie, the 13-year-old reader who first introduced me to SPG last year. (Yeah, that's right: I have 13-year-old readers. Check me out, being hip and cool with the next generation and stuff.)

John and I are on the road again this weekend, this time to a Renaissance Festival in Tampa. Stay tuned for pictures and tales of our dastardly medieval exploits, which I have no doubt will be MOST dastardly. ;)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Quick Craft: Box It Up

If you're like me, you're probably guilty of buying more decorative wooden boxes and pretty trays than you know what to do with. A few years ago at Ross I found a lidless box in a leaf pattern that went perfectly with my India-themed bedroom - but I had no place to put it.

(This is a larger size of the same box.)

So, naturally, I had John cut it in half and hang it on the wall.

The space inside is perfect for perfumes and body sprays - and you get two shelves for the price of one box! (Mine was $4. Not too shabby.)

For extra usability, add cup-hooks to the bottom of one or both shelves:

Now it's a place to hang favorite (or extra-long) necklaces.

To do this yourself, just find a small wooden box or high-sided tray. Cut the box in half using a miter or jigsaw (or even a hacksaw, if you don't like power tools), and then attach heavy-duty picture-hanging hardware to the edges, like this:

Fill with your favorite bottles, and enjoy!

Plus, talk about instant gratification: you can be done in under 30 minutes. This would also be a great way to organize toiletries in the bathroom, not to mention help get them all off the counter and toilet tank. (Or is that just me?)

I hope this helps inspire some crafty ideas out there!

[UPDATE: Katphoti in the comments just mentioned another great idea: flip the shelf over so the bottom becomes the top! This would make a perfect display shelf when the sides would otherwise be in the way. Brilliant!]

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

2011 Miami Comic-Con

Last Friday John and I made the 4.5 hour drive to Miami for the first-ever Miami Comic-Con. We did this because A) It seemed like a handy excuse to eat at our favorite Cuban restaurant, B) Ernie Hudson was going to be there and I wanted my Stay Puft signed by an actual Ghostbuster, and C) Con within driving distance! Heck yeah!

We stayed two nights, although the con really only had one afternoon's worth of entertainment. One really *great* afternoon, though.

Let's start with a few costumes:

My fellow Dragon*Con attendees will remember this lovely Morgan Le Fay from the past two years. I love her props; the armillary sphere lights up and spins.

Even better, we spotted her again the next day in this costume:

Mrow. Steampunk Baroness, anyone?

(John's reaction to this outfit: "Look at her WAIST! It's so tiny!" He was absolutely correct, of course, but I thought it was funny that he was staring a bit south of where most men stare when corsets are involved.)

Zombie princess Peach:

The Batmobile was right inside the entrance to the main floor:

It was surrounded by waist-high curtains, so I'm afraid I didn't get any good shots of it.

Nifty interior, though:

The table in the background was Adam West's booth. The con was so small that there were never more than a few people in line, if there even was a line.

In fact, while John and I were waiting to buy some food at the little snack bar, John suddenly hissed, "JEN. Adam West is right behind you." I turned, and there was Mr. West, peering over my shoulder at the display case. I quickly apologized for being in his way, he very graciously assured me I wasn't, and then I suggested the yogurt parfait. 'Cuz I'm totally casual like that. [snort] A moment later he was replaced by Ernie Hudson, who bought a salad.

So, if you want to literally rub elbows with the stars, go to a small convention and hang out at the snack bar.

Less than twenty feet away from the Batmobile was the Team Fox Delorean. For a $20 donation you got to take pics sitting inside, plus a sweet little light-up Flux Capacitor pin.

This girl was clearly having a blast; she couldn't stop giggling.

These two ran squeaking shrilly through the aisles:

Which attracted the attention of the local brute squad:

Gotta love pretty people in spandex:

In the very back of the room was a fencing area:

This was also near my favorite spot: the art. I have way more than I know what to do with at this point, but I still couldn't resist adding a few things:

My cat Tonks is "helping."

That Animaniacs print was a LE of 10, and yet only cost $10. The artist even threw in a free head sketch of Brain. The adorable piggy Flash & Wonder Woman (aka Chester & Gretchen) is an original by Mike White, and came with the frame for only - no, really - $8. I had to restrain myself from buying all of his sketches; hit the link to see the others.

I also love artists' alley because it's fun to chat with and watch the artists at work:

This guy was especially impressive. Check out how he's resting his hand on that wooden stick to steady it; I've never seen anyone paint that way. [Edit: It's called a "mahl stick." Thx, commenters!]

The next day:

There were several excellent Star Wars costumes around, plus the R2D2 builders, but since I'd seen and photographed them all at the Star Wars Celebration I didn't bother tracking them down again. Here's a nicely weathered Storm Trooper, though:

And I asked this gal to take off her helmet "so I can show off that you're a girl." :D

Speaking of girls, here's my girl-crush from the weekend:

She was the only female in full Ghostbuster gear, and she was rockin' cherry red Doc Martins with her costume:


That group is actually from the Orlando Ghostbusters, which hosted the game show "Are You Smarter Than a Ghostbuster?" In it they pitted poor Ernie Hudson against rabid fans in a trivia contest.

I say "poor" Ernie because he lost...


Though, really, that's only because the contestants were allowed to use "lifelines" by asking the Orlando Ghostbusters for answers. Totally not fair! So, Ernie took to asking the audience for his answers. Soon no one on stage was answering anything: it was all lifelines. Still fun, though. (And Ernie still lost. Heh.)

By the way, I've never met an easier celebrity to talk to than Hudson. He could have been a fellow fan, he was so approachable and chatty. He was surprised when I mentioned seeing a vid of him at a con in Germany from a few weeks ago, and then - to MY surprise - he started telling me about a picture of him that's been all over the 'net recently. You know, uh...this one:


When I realized which photo he was talking about ("There was this picture of me behind me..."), I immediately cracked up and admitted to seeing it. He seemed pretty amused himself, though, so now I wish I'd let him carry on explaining; that could have been comedy GOLD.

I brought my 1984 Stay Puft for Hudson to sign:

Sidenote: I *finally* found something that cleans soft plastic: Magic Eraser. Seriously. You have to scrub, but the thing works miracles. (Just be careful not to take the paint off.)

And here's his signed butt:

Awesome, right? Although I still think it looks like he called me "gen."

And finally, let's end with a little more costume eye-candy:

I had a hard time chasing down this Batman. That's his daughter in purple to the side, and I wish I'd managed to get a better pic of them together!

[Correction: I'm told the little girl is Hit Girl, and "Batman" is actually "Big Daddy," who looks a lot like Batman. Sorry. You may now revoke 5 of my geek points.]
And even more pretty people (this time in corsets):

Hope you enjoyed my tour of Miami Comic-Con, guys!

Next month: MegaCon. (Aw yeeeeeah.)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Cinderella, R2D2, and Tasha Yar

I'm still working on my recap of the Miami Comic-Con, guys, but I had to share my favorite shot right away:

John and I happened upon this little Cinderella solemnly flipping through the pages of a book and showing them all to R2D2, who was responding enthusiastically with beeps and whirs. The few adults around were standing back to avoid disturbing the pair. After grinning madly at the cuteness for a moment, I silently asked her father (just behind her and out of frame) if I could take a picture. Then, when I quietly went down on one knee a few feet away, the little girl turned to look at me for just this one second before returning studiously to her task.

It was only after I downloaded the photos at home that I spotted Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar of Star Trek: TNG) in the background. And you know what? This is exactly why I love conventions. Where else can you find actors and fans, sci-fi and fantasy, and kids and adults all mashed together in one glorious melting pot of geekery?

More pics and goodies, coming soon!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Kawaii Capsule Cuties

A long while back I featured some of Jerrod Maruyama's oh-so-adorable art, which soon had me on a rabbit trail of Kawaii-inspired cuteness.

Ok, maybe less "rabbit trail" and more "obsessive hunt." And you know what that means, right? Time to foist my obsession onto yooou guuuuys! [sing-song]

First off, have you seen the Cutie style Disney characters?

They've been around for a few years now. My favorite, though, is the much rarer *angry* Cutie Donald:

Add a bunch of indecipherable duck swearing, and I am powerless against this kind of cute.

I haven't been able to find much Cutie Donald here in Orlando - much less his angry version - but here's my little cubby shelf devoted to him:

The toy on the left is a solar-powered head bobble, and the globe was a candy container. I also have a small collection of pins on my special "Donald pack" that I bring to the parks sometimes:

If you want to be complimented by random 12-year-old girls, just wear this.

Although my cutie Tigger purse actually gets a lot more use:

I mean, c'mon: it's orange.

Anyway, the Kawaii/Cutie style is still pretty scarce here in the U.S. (except for pins, of course), so you can imagine my envy when I see websites from Japan or Singapore filled to the brim with the most fabulous Kawaii Disney adorbz:

via Capsule-licious

(If you just heard a *thump* that was me fainting over the Donald & Pinocchio charms.)

via Vinyl Aficionada Toy Collection

These are all "capsule toys" (or "yujin") from vending machines, which are quite the rage in Japan. I've yet to find a place online or off that I can buy them. (All the sites I've found only sell to locals - no shipping.) It pains me, guys. It really does. Will someone please open a capsule toy store here in the States so I can throw my money at them?

Ok, two more:

These come with little suction cups! Ack!

If you want to drool and squee some more, check out the three sites I just credited above, or do an image search for "Disney yujin toys." Or leave the "Disney" off, and behold all the fabulous candy-themed, Sanrio, Mario, and Sega goodies, too. Believe me, if you like this style, it's all good.

Oh, and while I was hunting these images down I did manage to find one brand available online: Cosbaby.

They're not cheap - averaging $15-$20 each - but I've seen these on various toy sites from time to time, and also on Ebay. (They're also larger than most capsule toys: about three inches tall.)

Here's the Toy Story set:

Isn't Buzz the best?

I mean, sure, they're not "yujin" cute, but they're still pretty darn cute.

Well, that's all I've got, guys. If you know of any sites selling capsule toys internationally - or even just ones with more photos of them - then please share your links in the comments! My obsession needs feeding. [crazy eyes]

Oh, and if you're ever in Japan, and want to buy me a souvenir, rest assured that I really don't need any more toys, and I'm happy with what I have, and what am I saying get me one of everything! EVERYTHING, do you hear??

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Five Fabulous Geek Tees

I'm still re-working a t-shirt tutorial for you guys (meaning I've now ripped out so many seams I had to take a break so my facial tics could relax), so in the meantime... let's go SHOPPING!!

I mean, sure, half my closet is geeky t-shirts, but you can never have too many, right?


Submitted by Lindsay S., Stay Puft and Carry On, $20.00

Must. Have.

"What Would Geordi La Forge Do?" Tee, submitted by Kelly, $29.99

Made me laugh. I'd actually love to see this design with every Star Trek character... and then I'd buy the Janice Rand one, just to be different. And Q. Gotta have Q!

This next one is pretty subtle; most people will only see a metro line map:

Submitted by KNS, Lord of the Rings "There and Back Again" Tee, only $10.00!

However, it's *actually* a map of the lands in Middle Earth. Aw yeeeah.

Amping up the adorabletude for you crafty crochet types:

Found via SuperPunch, by Doomed to Live Studio.
(Currently out of stock, but she also has an "Octoknitter" design for $15.)

So here's the problem: I don't crochet, but I still want this. But then I'd feel like a phony, 'cuz I don't crochet. But it's so CUTE, and I WANT it. Is that so wrong?

Maybe if I took a crochet class, I'd gain enough "crochet cred" to wear this shirt.

I mean, I *did* once crochet a hideous mauve scarf-thingy as a teenager, which somehow turned into a bag. So there's also that.


Am I over thinking this?

And finally, the Dark Side is staying alive:

Submitted by Katrina, Darkside of Disco T-Shirt, $19.99


'Course, now I can't get that song out of my head. Drat.

Oh, and I believe all of these shirts (with the possible exception of the Crothulhu) are available in both guys' and girls' cuts, so no one can feel left out. With the possible exception of crocheting guys. (Sorry, crocheting guys.)

Seen a great geeky t-shirt lately? Share your links in the comments!