Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Art Attack: Double Takes!

It's always fun when artists put a fresh spin on familiar characters. Check these out:

Snow White gets a more "historically accurate" dress makeover by shoomlah, who's also drawn Jasmine, Belle, and Ariel. Hit the link to see the others! [Found via @TheDisneyBlog]

How about a Victorian Mario?

Epbot reader Brandi spotted this one on artist Shane Parker's blog. Perfect for stereoscope viewing!

More Mario art, this time done in one of my favorite styles:

Art Nouveau! This is actually a sticker found by reader Holly K., but artist Megan Lara also has it available as a t-shirt, along with lots more geeky heroines (including The Guild's Codex!) drawn in the same style.

Another artist rockin' the geeky Art Nouveau is Bill Mudron, whose Amy Pond print went viral not too long ago. It's a gorgeous print, but I like *this* one even more:

Awwwesome. It's currently sold out at his store, but at only $20, I'd check back if I were you.

Gotta have a little cute in here:

Michelle V. sent these in - they're by ginormousrobot over on Etsy, and there are several more in the series. My favorite is R2 and C3PO in the sandbox; I knew R2 was a mischievous little imp!

Plus a little Ghosbusters!
I just bought this print (only $10!) not too long ago from Dave and Tracy, the artistic duo behind henNchicks. Isn't it a fun retro style? Plus, check out their Edward Scissorhands:


Also on Etsy is the Gorgonist, who has a fantastic "fancy dress" series I think you'll love:

Seriously: So. Fabulous. And I cannot tell you how tempted I am to make a Death Star cosplay dress based on that last painting - which is ironic since Robin, the artist, was inspired by people cosplaying in the first place. :) I think I'd wear it with the X-Wing hair piece, tho, and then have a light-up strip down the middle channel to highlight Luke's flight path. Eh? EH?

So, what geek art makes you smile? Share your links in the comments!

UPDATE: Oops, nearly forgot: artist James Hance of the adorable Wookiee the Chew fame is raising money for his daughter's medical expenses. So, if you're in need of any adorable Star Wars/Disney mash-up art, now's the time to buy!

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Dizgeek's Dream

If you're a hardcore Dizgeek (like me) with a bank account to rival Scrooge McDuck (not so much like me), then have *I* got the auction for you!

Next month, Profiles in History (the outfit that previously held that awesome Back to the Future auction) will be putting up some amazing Disneyana for sale. I learned about it through Inside the Magic, my favorite Disney blog, which if you love Disney - and I mean REALLY love Disney - you should definitely add to your reader.

Now, who wants an original Mr. Toad's Wild Ride car?

How adorable would this be in your front yard? Eh? Anyone?

'Course, it's estimated to go for between $8,000 and $12,000, so...I wonder how hard it'd be to DIY? Heheh. (I just love the color scheme, don't you?)

Or, for a spare $15,000 to $20,000, you could own the ORIGINAL Fuzzball:

Now you can put on a puppet show with the cutest character from Captain EO!
(Just be sure to invite me, Ok?)

Hey, anyone remember The Black Hole?

Ok, so I don't. (Hey, it's a little before my time, Ok?) Still, how cute is little V.I.N.CENT. here? $16,000-$20,000 and he's YOURS.

Or, hold on to your helmets, 'cuz this next one rocks:


Hm. I guess $12,000 is a little steep for a theoretical crossplay Rocketeer costume. But still...

And finally, this one's not Disney, but I know how often you've fantasized about dressing up as Gozer the Gozerian, so...


Sure, it looks a little rough, but get this: this original Gozer costume was actually found over a year ago in a rack of "unidentified costumes" in a surplus store! You can read the story (and see more pictures) on my favorite Ghostbusters blog here. Amazing. Makes me want to find a surplus store with unidentified costume racks. (Where do you find those, anyway?)

Oh, and here's a shot of Gozer herself for comparison:

Now for $8,000 - $12,000, you, too, can ask people if they're a god.

(And we all know the answer to THAT, now, don't we?)

See lots more of the auction goodies here, or go download the entire massive catalog here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Crack House Love

I've been holding out on you guys.

Yep, these past several months John and I (but mostly John) have been working behind the scenes on our biggest project to date:

A (former) crack house.

Cue the scary music!

[blood-curdling scream]

Yep, that's our baby! Or was, back when we bought it last November.

Brief back story: the house is a few streets down from ours, and we'd noticed 'For Sale' signs going up and down for over a year. We'd also been talking for a while about investing some of our savings in the neighborhood instead of the market, so finally, out of curiosity, we called on it. Turned out it was going up for auction that very afternoon, so after a hasty tour (yikes) we decided to put a low-ball bid in. And, huzzah! We got it!

Of course, our jubilation was short-lived when we realized we'd just purchased a total dump whose last occupants were forcefully evicted by the DEA. Hm. Yeeeeah.

We decided to leave the house until spring, because I had a book to write by February, and I needed John's help to keep the blogs going while I did. Then we started looking into insurance for the house, and realized we'd have to have it up to inspection standards within three months of closing to qualify for the insurance we needed.


So that's how we embarked on completely renovating a former crack house during the three months I had to also write CW book #2 and keep two blogs running.

It was...interesting.

John made the deadline with literally only hours to spare, and then we spent another month or two on the final finishing details.

But, now we're done! And I HAS PICTURES!!

So sit back, relax, and prepare to be scared wit-less by my 'before' photos. [evil grin]

First, a closer look at the exterior:

That's the front door on the left. (And also John's hand.)

Actually, compared to the inside the exterior wasn't so bad. There were shutters missing, lots of overgrown weeds, and plenty of wood rot on this side (the rest was concrete block), but to me the worst part was the big hump in the front yard, which looked like it had a septic tank under it:

Ok, so it's hard to see here, but trust me: there was a big ugly hump there.
(Fortunately we learned later there was no septic tank, though.)

Here's the other side of the front:

Ready to see the "after"?


The yard hump is gone, plus all of the overgrown yuckiness. Those are all new bushes, plants, and stone edgers, plus new wood siding around the glass doors, not to mention new doors, windows, lighting, and even grass, which has grown in a lot more since this photo was taken.

Everything is freshly painted, too, although I convinced John to use a similar soft green (just a few shades lighter) because I liked it with the red brick.

Now, to the inside!

This was the large open living area, which has a vaulted ceiling:

The floors were a combination of peeling stick-down tile, bare concrete, dirt, and duct tape.

Facing the opposite direction, looking down the hall:

To the right were glass sliding doors, which led out onto some kind of zombie apocalypse:

Seriously, aren't you expecting to see homicidal brain-munchers pop out of that jungle any second?

You can just see the steps up to the rotting deck out there, too. It was built so that all the rainwater flooded backwards into the house. Nice.

Here's the "After":

New tile, trim, doors, vents, electrical, paint, drywall, texture...um, you get the idea.

Once John and a few handy friends finished ripping out the rotting deck, they found a concrete foundation under it. Trouble was, one corner of the concrete square was completely gone - cut or broken away. So, after a little puzzling, this was our solution:

We made that corner into a plant bed! Not too shabby, right? Then John painted the concrete (which already had several chippy layers of paint on it) and cleared out most of the jungle that was the backyard. Now it's actually a nice place to sit in; no more zombie hidey-holes.

Believe it or not, this was the kitchen:

Those top cabinets were rusty metal, and barely hanging on to the walls. And don't get me started on the giant mirror and bathroom vanity lighting. [shudder] I don't have more photos because this was the first room to get ripped out, but believe me: the whole thing was nasty.

And here's the dramatically different kitchen today:

I begged John to knock that hole in the wall over the sink to open up the room. He had to re-route both plumbing and electrical to do it, but I'm so glad he did; I love the look.

Here's another angle, showing off our Ikea lighting:

In fact, other than the countertops and handles, the whole kitchen is Ikea. We've now installed at least four complete Ikea kitchens, for ourselves and for friends, and we'll probably never use anything else. You just can't beat the price and the quality.

Here's a before view from the dining room:

As you can see, this was taken after the kitchen was ripped out.

Now here's the after:

Oh, and see that door there? It leads outside, and used to look like this:

We also found random bits of drywall that were cut out and propped back in place, we assume as hiding places for nefarious goods. Ah, the former homes of drug dealers...

Who's ready to tackle a bathroom?


Drum roll, please:

And can't forget the shower:

That was fun. Let's do another:


Double "Ew".

Muuuch better.

I don't have many before photos of the bedrooms, but they all kind of looked like this:

And the ceilings looked like this:

All the doors had extra locks and bolts on them, too, and were scratched up and filthy. Cheery.

Now all the bedrooms look like this:

Again, it's new everything. So nice and clean!

And finally, there was the garage-turned-mother-in-law-suite. It was a decent room with its own bath and exterior entrance, but...

...it was in about the same shape as the rest of the house.

Plus it had a plumbing leak overhead:

The water had caused the ceiling to fall down, so it was nailed up around the edges.

This bathroom was in the best shape of them all, since it was only about 20 or 30 years old - as opposed to 50 like the others:

Still, due to the plumbing trouble, John had to re-plumb much of the house. So all the bathrooms got torn down to the studs.

And in the end:

Here's the view from the door:

Those sliders lead out to the driveway. As garage conversions go, this one's not too shabby.

And that's our crack house remodel! Hope you enjoyed the tour. John's poured his blood, sweat, and colorful curse words into this thing, and after re-plumbing, rewiring, and in many cases building from the studs up, we can honestly say it's beautiful both inside and out. In fact, the building inspector (not knowing John had done most of the work) told him it was some of the best plumbing, wiring, remodeling, etc. he'd ever seen in a house. You should have seen the grin John couldn't wipe off his face that week. It was adorable.


...anyone want to buy a house?


Yep, with our unexpected tax bill this year, and all the extra expenses to repair the many surprises, I'm afraid we have to sell our beloved crack house. (Not to mention stop calling it "the crack house." Ha!) Keep your fingers crossed for us, guys; it's not an easy time to sell a house, as I'm sure most of you know. Still, I'm hopeful some family is going to see it and love it as much as we do now.

I'll leave you with my favorite shot: the front door.

I made the magnolia wreath (for only $14!) to go with the big magnolia tree in the yard. Isn't it pretty?

What's that? You want a close-up? Well, if you insist:

Well, [dusting off hands], that's done. Time to turn our attention back to our own house.

Oh, Jooo-ooohn!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Edwardian Ball 2011

Mark Day, the guy who filmed the crossplay Justice League I featured recently, just sent me his latest video. It's pretty awesome, too, so I thought I'd share:

This is the Edwardian Ball held recently in Los Angeles. I remember seeing Mark's last video of the San Francisco Ball last February, and both are equally incredible. The Ball itself is both beautiful and disturbing by turns, and I'm fascinated by the mash-up of Victorian, steampunk, carnival, and just plain weird styles. Part of the performance is a live staging of Edward Gorey's "The Eleventh Hour," and then there are lots of musical numbers, dances, and aerial acts. Definitely a spectacle in every sense of the word, and Mark captures it all beautifully.

Anyway, hope you enjoy, and check out Mark's Youtube channel for more!

Monday, April 18, 2011


I was recently asked to help spread the word about GeekGirlCon. As a geek, a girl, and rabid convention fan, obviously this is right up my alley.

Of course, the powers that be then decided to host it in Seattle - a location which couldn't possibly be farther away from me and still remain in the continental U.S. - and I'm really trying not to take that personally.

But, I digress.

The convention isn't until October, but I'm telling you now because this is their very first year, and they're looking for people to get involved any way they can. You're encouraged to volunteer, spread the word, suggest topics, bring cookies (ok, I'm guessing on the cookies), and just generally get plugged in over at the GGN website.

So, go! Do that. Tell 'em I sent you.

And then maybe start a petition for an east coast version.


PS - Oh, and guess what? Katie and her mom will be there!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Essential Steampunk Reading List

Since I've had several of you ask for steampunk book recommendations, I thought I'd put together a little list. So, if you like Victorian alternative history adventures with dashes of the supernatural, airships, and plenty of gadgetry, read on!

Note: I'll just be telling you whether I liked each title one or not, so hit the individual links for more info and plot summaries over on Amazon.

Let's start with the ones I've actually read:

Soulless, part 1 of the Parasol Protectorate Series

This is a fun book, and it's been wildly popular in the steampunk community. It is adult fiction, of course, not Young Adult, so expect the love scenes to be a bit more...adult. But, it's witty and funny and well worth a read.

That said, I can't recommend the rest of the series nearly as enthusiastically. I've read the first three, and felt books 2 and 3 just went downhill. The things that happen with the main characters also made me mad. ('Cuz I take my fictional characters seriously, dang it.) That said, if you simply ADORE the first book, then by all means keep going and judge for yourself.

Next up is one of my all-time favorites in any genre:

Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel

This is a YA adventure story on the high...winds. Heh. It's swashbuckling in the best sense of the word, with airships, lost islands, and undiscovered aerial species. I loved it. There are more books in the series, too: book 2 isn't *quite* as good, but read it anyway, because book 3 is simply spectacular. (In my opinion, of course.)

Next up is a book by one of my favorite authors:

Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld

If you've read the Uglies series, then you know Westerfeld couldn't write a bad book if he tried. So with that in mind, I'd definitely recommend this book. It didn't grab me quite as strongly as Uglies, but it puts a unique spin on steampunk and has a rich alt-history timeline.

Those are the steampunk titles I've read thus far. Now here's one Epbot reader Teabunny recommended:

The Iron Duke, part of the Iron Seas Series, by Meljean Brook

This has great reviews, and - in case the cover didn't tip you off - is a steamy alt-universe romance. Hubba hubba.

I've also heard good things about this one:

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

It's on my to-read list, so I'll let you know how it goes!

And finally, Delphine S. sent me a link to a gorgeous steampunk comic book. I'm ashamed to say I've never been a comic book reader, but the art in this one makes me want to start:

Lady Mechanika, by Joe Benitez

Have any of you read it? How do you like it?

Of course, there's plenty more steampunk lit out there. In fact, Jodie G. sent me this list: Steampunk: 20 Core Titles

So check that out, and then share your own steampunk reading recommendations in the comments!