Monthly Archives: March 2012

Book Review?

I just finished “The Lives of Cells” by Lewis Thomas. I was going to explain how eye-opening and enjoyable it was. Then I saw this:

(Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

It’s pretty accurate, even though Mr. Thomas was a biologist. The book is a fun read, though.

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Escape From My Childhood

My teenage years (14 to 17 or so) saw an abundance of weird tastes. My music was “alternative”, my clothing was either dregs or the popular “ska” style wide pants, and my choices in movies and television were not things I could share with the general public. General public meaning the small towns I grew up in. Now that I have the power of the Internet, I find there are so many losers outcasts like myself.

This post is being made to record my personal infatuations during those years. If you’ve read any of my “I’d Hit That” posts, I think you know what terrors are in store.

One of the main things I can remember, as it went on for years, was my obsession with Billy. Billy the Blue Ranger. I adored the fact that even as a shy, sweet, nerdy outcast he earned respect from his more popular peers. That and the group had to like each other in order to make a good “team”. The fact that I was still obsessing over him at the age of 16 seemed a little odd, but I had hope since I was close to his age. Turns out I had no hope as he came out of the closet several months back. I still adore him, though.

(This image comes from Andinoh’s blog and is a fantastic piece on the backstage dilemma David Yost faced.)

Now to the reference of the title: At some point we ended up taping Escape From L.A. (link is to a really old John Carpenter website – I love finding these and I have a few more on this post). Mom and I loved bad movies and this one had promise. It was because of this movie that my obsession with Kurt Russell began. It was a peculiar fixation. He was old enough to be my dad back in the 90s. My main attraction was to Snake Plissken (wore all black, bad-guy attitude, and he smoked which I thought was so cool), but I sought other Kurt Russell movies. I ended up watching Executive Decision more than once. This desire to see more Russell also lead to the unfortunate viewing of Captain Ron.
He has worked with some awesome actors, especially the cameos from Escape From L.A. like Bruce Campbell and this guy:

Executive Decision was kinda campy and I think that made Halle Berry tolerable:

Other image sources I thought to use: the ad poster that shows him surfing, the tumblr tags, and a picture from my Memories folder on Picasa that surprisingly came up when I was searching for Escape From L.A. pictures. And to answer any queries: I did not see Escape From New York until I was in my early 20s.

I’ll do one more and then maybe save the rest for later. I loved watching Xena and Hercules. Due to the attraction of one of the side characters I was lured into watching Young Hercules (which also starred a young, hot baby goose Ryan Gosling) and Cleopatra 2525 (which I wrote fanfic for… don’t ask). The character in question was Strife. Yep, a god that started with small cameos and then became one of the main villains in the shows listed. Played by Joel Tobeck, I found his pale, weirdly S&M look just.. hot. His character was annoying as fuck, but it was forgivable as long as he remained skinny and pale. I think this is when I started my goth phase.
Strife and his hot aunt… mother… thing Discord:

And Tobeck as an evil clown:

(Also looked hot in a show called Tangle apparently as well as playing Dr. Frankenfurter.)

Side story: Joel Tobeck came to visit for a Xena/Herc convention in Connecticut and it was the first one I had ever been to. His was also the first autograph I’ve ever gotten. Since this was during high school I was at the extreme height of my social phobias and therefore could not talk in his presence. To my chagrin my mother decided to speak for me. When we got to the head of the line she said, “You’re her favorite!” and took a picture of him. I wasn’t really in it. I was sort of obscuring Kevin Smith a.k.a. Ares. I still get nervous when asking for an autograph. I feel like I’m intruding into their space. And I’m also sad that Kevin Smith wasn’t really in the picture because he passed away (doing awesome stunts) a few years later.

These posts, while mostly personal, take awhile because I like to find old, obscure sources. The Internet is vast and the old layers provide for our needs and yet we feel the need to bury what can never go away. For instance, I have two Angelfire accounts that I will never be able to shut down because they were set up under a different e-mail. Any suggestions?

What To Get Geek Girls

At some point I might have promised not to do ring posts again. I LIED. Going back to my raven/shiny objects analogy, I prefer bright, odd, and more costume-esque jewelry. I like hunting through secondhand stores for a piece of treasure (and renaissance festivals are my bane). The Internet is another source for ornaments I want and can’t afford. Here are a few:

I had an entire post on Lego fads and how I couldn’t understand why people go to lengths for toy fashion. I guess it’s like the Rule 34 of design (if it exists someone has tried to make it wearable). Here is something Lego-related that I do approve of:

This is from Totally Geek.

Being the science geek that I am, I would kill for one of these (especially if it comes in Beryllium):

Linked from The Toy Zone‘s article on geeky wedding rings. From that same article there were a handful of USB rings and this:

And as an aside, I like shiny necklaces, too. Please, please, please:

A la EPBOT from their article on Geek Chic Bling.

Coffee and Cigarettes

It has been one full year since I quit smoking. This is the longest I have gone without nicotine; the previous record was about 4 months. I do not view myself as a strong-willed individual. The fact that I’ve made it this far is thanks to friends and family, as well as financial and medical issues. I think about smoking everyday and the fond memories my brain clings to gloss over the hacking and nausea and occasional segregation from social circles.

I jokingly blame my sister for the habit. She came down to visit me in Atlanta in 2004 and to visit with some friends. We met her friends at a pub with an outdoor smoking area. One of them was chain smoking. The scent was sweet and alluring. The pack had a palm tree and the words “Bali Hai”. She gave me one (under my sister’s disapproving glare) and it was wonderful. Bali Hai is a product of Djarum clove cigarettes. I began seeking them out and eventually fell under the lure of the “Djarum Blacks”. I became a regular at cigar and liquor stores since other places often didn’t sell them. Even though they were harsh on the lungs, I saw an appeal to smoking thin black cigarettes. I hear recently they’ve gotten thinner and places are charging the same for nearly half the original pack size. So while I miss them, it’s a good thing I sought something marginally less harmful. Marginally.

(Beautiful, aren’t they?)

Drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes helped me lose some of the weight that I have since regained. They helped keep my appetite down, obviously, with the side effect of malnutrition. Occasionally when I’m drinking coffee I get the urge… the nostalgia… I remember… I also remember the next stage which is when I discovered “Dreams”. Sounds girly? Yes. Think it would taste girly? Yes. They were some sort of off-shoot of cigars, mixed with a range of flavors. My favorite was Chocolate Mocha. I blew a lot of money on these specialty cigarettes, but it felt like it was worth every dollar. The flavor was much more palatable with food and coffee, and whilst not great with alcohol, I could smoke more of them and not get as sick as when I was smoking cloves. But alas, thence came Obama. Obama’s policies on smoking (which I don’t disagree with, but was affected by at the time) included banning flavored cigarettes. Dreams and there ilk were out. Djarum was still around, but they had to lose their Vanilla and whatever else they had. I hear these banned treasures are allowed in other countries. Yet, I have been too poor to demand import. But look what we are missing out on:

I smoked for the duration of working at my hell-job (customer service). That 4&1/2 years saw my evolution to the inevitable: menthols. Most of my break time was spent in the smoking area, which had a gazeebo for some reason. Smoking out there was a relief and a reason not to socialize. Have I mentioned I have social anxiety? I have social anxiety. Smoking briefly assuaged it. I was making crap money at the time and when I moved into an apartment by myself I had to face facts: quit or downgrade. My drinking habit needed money, afterall.

I began with Camel’s Turkish Silvers, but even that was too pricey. I found myself one day asking sheepishly for a pack of Newports. (Buying cigarettes was a cause for anxiety because I either felt judged, or was upset that I had to ask a stranger for something that was ~behind the counter~.) I tried to keep the count low, but as my drinking got bad, my money got tight, the job got harder to deal with, and my health (brain-wise) kept deteriorating, the cigarettes helped relieve the depression. So when I quit the hell-job I figured I might quit smoking. That didn’t happen. It couldn’t happen. I was now under the pressures of no money (begging the family and trying not to let them know that at least $40/mo was for smokes), an even worse drinking habit, and the depression that follows job searching… the addiction would not go away.

Finally, I was shipped up here to Long Island. I experienced a shock when I found that while Newports in GA were around $4/pack, they could be anywhere between $8 and $11 here. I definitely had to cut down. I know Mom reads this, but I have to say she was an enabler for my first few months up here. Living with Dad, I was constantly supervised and judged aloud (now that he knew, since I hadn’t told either parent for the 6 years prior). At Mom’s I felt freed from the restraints of a rather conservative home life. Then I’d go back to Dad’s and get a lecture about how *he* had to quit because Mom had claimed allergies and wanted him to stop before the girls were born. He used to smoke pipes. Someone can correct me on this, but pipes, I feel, don’t have the same high/effect from the carcinogens and pure toxins that come with cigarettes. I would loved to have smoked pipe tobacco as an alternative. Other than nicotine, I have a desire for the actual act of smoking. Chewing on gum or a toothpick satisfies nothing. (If you are interested in pipe tobacco and/or beer reviews, check out Pope Crisco’s Intoxico.)

The family nagging was only a small portion of my reason to quit. (After all, I still have a rebellious streak.) My money was (still is) non-existent. When I asked for money for bills, the family did not show an enthusiasm for my cigarette needs. With my new health care, I got to see a handful of doctors in regards to my brain and general check-up. Every single one of them gave me the “you will die” lecture. But really, I have my friends to thank for a good portion of my quitting. It is hard to quit on your own. It wasn’t so much the fact that most of my friends were harassing me, but they would actively get involved. Sarah was a big help, Rob has been an inspiration (having quit a few months before me and still not smoking), my sister prevented me from bumming off her friends anymore, and there was a positive response instead of disapproving nods. When I vocalized my urges, I got appraisal for my progress so far.

So here’s to one year without cigarettes. My coffee will just have to go on without the death sticks for the time being.

Bottle of Stars

A few months ago I fancied I could create a ball of stars in a watery globe. Since I’m apparently part raven, my eye for home fashion usually involves glittery objects (and skulls). The globe was an inspiration. Also, I had a ton of star confetti that I didn’t know what to do with. (Several years ago I did a “Space-Themed Party” and thought a huge bag of glitter was a good idea.) Logical idea: take bottle, fill with water, add stars. Done. … No. The first experiment was just a huge clump of wet star glitter.

To give you an idea about these stars, think of those little stickers your teacher might have put on good grade papers (when they weren’t using up their “pencils with sunglasses saying ‘cool!'” stickers). I bought a bag of non-sticky silver versions of this: 

I learned the hard way that large pieces of foil don’t tend to float and the properties of water sort of… push things together. (I wanted to check the composition of glitter and found e-How: How is Glitter Made? – which explains that glitter cannot be explained. As I thought.)

How to go about this? I figured there must be an interim chemical. To the Google! I found several sites that told me relatively the same thing. Here’s e-How’s directions which I went with. My prototype was a series of miscalculations. I was also trying to use the large stars. Apparently large pieces of foil were just too damn heavy for my purposes.

Second round: The measurements were correct. I switched to regular glitter. (I don’t buy the stuff; bottles of it just sort of… collect in my arts & crafts bins). The effect was about right. But. I didn’t use any food coloring so it was water, rubbing alcohol, and oil. Canola oil is a rather ugly, uriney sort of yellow. The mix was wholly unappealing.

Third round: I asked Meg if there was any food coloring in the house. She said the bottles she remembers were really old and they must have been thrown out during the last move. I believed her not. This is a house in which NOTHING gets thrown away. Once I was told to cook a steak we had found in the freezer that was two years old. Still edible, but had the texture of mummy flesh. Most of her kitchen appliances are from the 60’s and 70’s. I searched everywhere. Finally I located a box of party and cake supplies over the fridge. It was a treasure trove that contained not one, but two boxes of food coloring. I also found a bag of mini chocolate chips. Bonus!

Red + Blue – the water turned a dark purple hue. I hoped it wouldn’t make my third attempt null by being too dark. I measured carefully and water plus oil plus glitter equaled a night sky in a bottle. Even though it wasn’t what I had started out to do, it made me happy. It does separate every few hours, but that gives me the satisfaction of being able to shake it up like a snow globe. Here is my final project:

Now I still have that damned bag of stars. Any ideas?

I am a Goddamn Moron

I don’t know how this affected my subscribers, but my profuse apologies if all of a sudden you were told 1,125 additional posts magically appeared on my blog. I love my tumblr blog and was hoping to integrate it into this one. Ideally I wanted to put the updates in the sidebar like a widget, but that wasn’t available. Under tools ->import you can add your LJ, tumblr, etc. content. As I set up the transfer I was terrified that the import started moving ~everything~ over. As posts. And there was no stopping it.

There isn’t anything particularly gross or inappropriate on my tumblr. I think it is the most awesome thing and if you want to see all those posts go here: My Safe Word is Fire. I have a fear that since I’m still linked through WP (something I can’t undo?) that whenever I update, not only the new post, but the past posts will start to recollect. Worse comes to worst, I’ll have to export and start a new blog. Sad face. 😦

I revamped the blog a bit because I know when I stagnate I need to reconstruct. The format is basically the same, but I changed the style. Look for upcoming posts that will hopefully look like my old work. I’ve been saving a lot of crap in my bookmarks bar that I’ve wanted to post. Also, my main New Year’s resolution was to read at least 4 books a month. That should be an easy feat, despite being a slow reader. I had read only a handful of books last year and feel my brain is going zombie. With this resolution, I’m going to put a few book reviews up here and there.

For those who are bearing with me/ still subbed/ forgiving, I love you guys.

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