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Archive for April, 2010

POP pilgrimage

April 30th, 2010 No comments

For the past couple of years, squeezle and I have spent our Memorial Day weekend in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We are big fans of Santa Fe (read that as “we like to drink and eat a lot in Santa Fe, NM”), and we try and make a trip at least once a year to relax, throw the munch at some of our favorite restaurants on the planet, and spend money on art that one would usually not expect to be showcased in Santa Fe.

In fact, the Memorial Day Weekend is when we travel to Santa Fe for a very special event. No, it’s not Pancakes on the Plaza (which falls on July 4th and is pretty damn awesome), rather, it’s POP Gallery’s POP Femme Sugar Coated Strange opening and reception. Squeezle and I have been incredibly impressed with Michael and Sharla McDowell’s little shack of wonders since they opened it back in 2007. We had known both of them from their work with the Chuck Jones Gallery in Santa Fe, so we were both delighted that they cut out on their own to showcase artists and works that were more in line with their own tastes, and, subsequently, ours.

One of the best things about the Sugar Coated Strange show is that it really bucks the mentality of a typical art gallery “opening.” Sure, there are loads and loads of fabulous pieces of art, patrons swigging back glasses of champagne, but where it differs is that it really seems to be more like a reunion than an opening.

While this year’s show is just the third, it seems like it’s been going on for just about forever. Squeezle and I have been fortunate enough to meet a gaggle of very talented artists and really get a better feeling of where their art really comes from.

One of my favorite things about this show is that it involves artists who do an incredible amount of “crossover” work into the realm of vinyl and resin toys (one of my other obsessions), as well as other media. See if you recognize some of these names: Kathie Olivas (and, by proxy, Brandt Peters), CJ Metzger, Miss Mindy and (former Dallasite) Marie Sena.

Squeezle and I have purchase multiple pieces from each of these artists and consider ourselves very lucky to have had the opportunity to have met them and spent some time chewing the fat.

All-in-all, it’s a party with just about everything I love about a nice chill weekend. It’s got booze, it’s got green chile, it’s got art, it’s got friends and it even has tattoos (Marie is an incredible tattooist as well as an incredible artist). If you throw in a soccer match, I’d think I had died and gone to heaven.

What I’m saying is that you should go to Santa Fe and definitely go to POP Gallery. At the very least, spend some time with their website and pick out a piece or dozen you’d like to add to your collection. What, you don’t have a collection? Well, it’s high time you got in touch with Michael and Sharla to get one started for you.

If you’re there on Memorial Day Weekend, let me know and I’ll buy you a beer.

Nukin’ Chips, and I don’t mean Ponch and Jon

April 26th, 2010 No comments

There is a special place in my heart for the relationship between the microwave oven and the potato. Such an innocuous combination was responsible for the beginning of an amazing friendship and the formation of the Forkers.

With that in mind, I approached the melding of microwaves and starchy tuber after reading Savory Sweet Life’s article on “How To Make Potato Chips In The Microwave” for a new approach on things to make with potatoes in a magnetron environment.

Unlike most endeavors I undertake, I actually wanted to follow the instructions on this one. The last thing I needed to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon was to have to explain to squeezle why and how I’d managed to blow up the kitchen and set the microwave on fire. I realize most modern microwaves are smarter than I am, but I’ve been very wary of them since the incident I had with the microwave that was in our house when we first bought it that operated just fine with the door open. It took one good burn on my hand to figure out that I probably wasn’t smart enough to operate that particular machine.

We’ve since replaced that oven (a couple times, I think), and our current microwave presented me with a few “challenges” when approached from the chip-makers perspective.

First and foremost, the instructions say to turn off the rotation in your oven if it does that. Since mine rotates and doesn’t have the ability to disable the rotation, I pulled out the gigantic glass tray and elevated it using some prep bowls to inhibit the rotations. From there I was able to follow the instructions: putting down parchment paper, covering the paper in thinly sliced potatoes (thank you scary mandolin cutter), spraying the mess with cooking spray and applying a sprinkle of sea salt.

Now came the scary part. I was about 50/50 convinced that the microwave was going to implode when run for five minutes with not much other than a quarter of a potato and a sheet of paper in it. To my surprise, it did not. What it also did not do, however, was crisp up those chips. I had to add an additional two and a half minutes to the time in order to get crispy chips with the stationary setup. It was vitally important to monitor the chips after the first three minutes because they all pretty much cooked at different rates.

For the second run (you honestly don’t get that many chips down in a standard-sized microwave), squeezle suggested I yoink out the elevator bowls and let the stupid oven rotate. This worked infinitely better than the stationary chips. After about three minutes, chips were crisping up and my speed to delivery (aka, squeezle’s belly) was way faster.

One potato about the size of a pint glass generated four and a half runs through the microwave and a pretty normal serving size to go with sammiches that squeezle made for dinner. We were about to embark on a second potato, but figured the oven could use a bit of a rest since the glass tray was close to lava hot and the kitchen reeked of potato steam.

That being said, I found it a bit too easy to make these chips. They were a snap to make and remarkably tasty. Usually when I set out on a “project” such as this, I make a huge mess and usually end up hurting myself or causing some sort of trouble that I, then, have to resolve.

None of that was true with this. Even with my liberal applications of cooking spray (a potential for me seriously injuring myself in a plethora of ways), nothing bad happened. I didn’t start any fires, I didn’t cut myself on the razor-sharp mandolin, and I didn’t leave the kitchen looking like the Swedish Chef had done a guest spot.

I guess there is always next time.

Categories: Awesomeness, food, monkey, Stupidity

There is a light that never goes out

April 19th, 2010 No comments

I spend an inordinate amount of time sitting in front of a computer. I realized last night while going through my typical Facebook/blogs/forums routine that, even when I’m not at work, I spend a crapload of time sitting in front of my monitors.

Ultimately, I’m all about getting my daily dose of rads while I rot my brains chuckling at lolcats and maybe even popping out a line or hundred of code. What I’ve never thought about, or even had to think about is how much I’m moving around while I’m “moving about” onscreen.

That sounds weird doesn’t it? Well, let me set up why this concept suddenly became my biggest daily issue.

In my office at work my area used to be a gigantic open section of floor. At some point very flimsy walls were hung from the ceiling and doors were hung on some of the holes in these walls to form rudimentary offices. One of those caves is my office. What didn’t change, however, is the lighting. The lighting setup for the gigantic open area was left as-is for the current setup of five offices, one conference room and a whole crapload of cubicles. What this means for me is that the single switch that controls the lights for my office, and all the areas in-between, is about fifteen yards away from where I sit and around all of the cubicles.

That really never bothered me. I’m at work, the lights are on, it’s time to get crackin’ on what needs to be done. Sure there have been a couple days of severe hangover that made me wish I could turn out the lights and just curl up, but it really hasn’t been an issue.

Last Thursday night, however, everything changed. Apparently a crack team of commando electricians spent their Thursday night rewiring my little area with motion-detecting sensors for all of the lights. Now my office can be dark while the rest of the floor is lit up.

All in all that’s very responsible of them. Mythbusters has proven that it’s more economical to turn out those nasty fluorescent lights rather than leave them on all the time, so I’m a believer in the off switch. What I’m hating, however, is the fact that the damn motion detecting sensor is a low-bid piece of shit.

Three times, yes one, two, three freakin’ times the lights have gone out while I have been writing this piece.

If you’ve been around me for any given amount of time then you know that I’m not really one to stand still well. I’m a fidgeter and it’s genetic. I almost always have one or both of my legs bouncing like crazy whether I’m sitting or standing. When I’m working and my brain is pretty much just wired to my fingers, it gets even worse. Here I am, wriggling like a puppy and the damn lights are still going out.

The ultimate beauty of this change, however, is the fact that noone is stepping up and taking responsibility for it. I’ve talked to three different “people of authority” and each and every one of them has pointed me in a different direction: all wrong. Times like this remind me how laughable bureaucracy really is. Something major happened yet nobody knows who did it or even authorized it.

This afternoon, I am going to stop bitching about the lights that keep going out on me. The way I look at it, lights on means business and productivity and lights out mean nap time. When I crawl back into my hole after lunch and the lights go out on me, I will take that as a sign from the mysterious “Powers That Be” who authorized the installation of our wonderful new lights as a signal to take a nap. I guess they really do care about employee engagement around here.

Categories: monkey, Ravings

Doodle-dee-doo

April 12th, 2010 No comments

I’m not sure if a recent head injury (reference my zombie hammer posting below) managed to rattle loose the plaque clogging up my artistic side, but I’ve been scribbling on just about everything for the past week or so.

I have one gigantic stumbling block when it comes to artistry, however: I can’t draw a straight line to save my life. Sure, everything looks just peachy in my head, but transition to paper is a Herculean effort of “over-the-mountains-and-through-the-woods” between my brain and hand. To make matters worse, the frustration of the effort makes my lines even shakier than they normally would be.

If, by some chance, I do indeed manage to get out a decent representation of what I was attempting (typically on the piles and piles of random scrap paper I keep in my office), I am often hard-pressed to duplicate whatever effort I just made look acceptable.

Even more scary is that the current things I’ve been doodling out look like stuff that Martin Ontiveros has done whilst having a seizure during an earthquake.

By no means do I let any of this distract me from putting ink and graphite on paper: it’s just adjusted my approach a little. I spend much more time experimenting with lines I normally draw straight and seeing if I can duplicate the opposite side of a curve. It’s frustrating as all hell since I’ve been spending the better part of the last decade popping out computer generated graphics like crazy. Photoshop and Illustrator are much more forgiving that good ol’ pen and paper.

I’ve got no problem with computer graphics, and still rely on using the computer for almost 90% of ideas I’d like to move forward into any semblance of a physical manifestation of my creativity, but there is just something fundamentally different between printed images from the screen and something that was plotted out and drawn on a given surface.

Recently I’ve begun playing around with customizing the paint schemes on designer toys (my beloved RealxHead mini fortune cats in particular). The challenges of working with a two and a half inch tall piece of vinyl really turn into a matter of scale. I’ve got grand plans that need to be executed very small, so I’ve turned to working with stencils and my newly acquired airbrush setup. On the screen everything seems just perfect, but trying to cut out wee tiny stencils after printing is just about one of the most annoying things I’ve ever done.

I realize that the more I practice, the easier this will all go and the better I’ll eventually get. It’s a painfully slow process, but I’m willing to stick it out (for now).

Categories: Art, monkey, Ravings, Vinyl

Divine hammer? I sure think so

April 6th, 2010 No comments

Something to consider each and every day is your level of preparedness when the zombie apocalypse comes.

This may sound farcical, but being ready to not be overcome by flesh-eating masses of the undead will pretty much make you ready for anything. To this end, I spend more than my fair share of time thinking about how best to defend myself if set upon by shamblers, runners or both.

Several weeks ago a friend and I came up with what could be one of the best zombie survial tools to date; a device we simply call the “zombie hammer”.

The construction of the zombie hammer is quite simple. Cast a pretty decent sized sledge hammer in titanium with a slightly over-sized head that is hollow. Fill the hollow head with mercury and you are all set to swing for the bleachers.

When considering a zombie weapon it is important to think about upkeep and portability. Guns will run out of ammo, and swords/knives will probably lose their edge (ever de-bone a chicken?), but hammers and/or maces seem pretty solid. Putting a spike on one end may provide for some more damage, but if you get stuck while a horde is on you, a spike could be a problem.

Let’s talk about the power behind the zombie hammer: a head half-full of mercury.

When I was a kid my brother and I had one of those over-sized plastic baseball bats that we used to smack all manner of objects around our backyard.  Quite by accident we discovered that filling the bat a bit with water allowed us to smack the crap we were swinging at a lot farther. The weight to power ratio was pretty damn amazing.

I was further able to test the power of the zombie hammer this past Friday when I managed to smack myself in the eye giving myself a slight concussion. The offending object? A half-filled Camelbak water bottle.

That’s right, I conked the crap out of my face and managed to give myself a black eye in the name of science! I can say, from firsthand experience, that the zombie hammer is quite effective against human flesh. Please don’t try this testing at home, I’m a pseudo-professional.

My embarrassment of concussing myself while standing in my bedroom were only compounded by the fact that America’s Funniest Videos was on the television. Oh the humanity.

Take me for a fool?

April 1st, 2010 No comments

As many of you know, April Fool’s Day also coincides with my birthday. I’m sure many of you who weren’t previously “in the know” are now smacking your heads and thinking “that explains so much.”

That’s right, every time Mr. T utters “I pity the fool” he’s talking about me.

The life of a fool is relatively simple. People don’t expect much out of us, so we traipse through this world unawares of the dangers that await us at every turn: a.k.a. life.

Generally I avoid overt April Fool’s pranks since everyone expects them from me. It’s a lot funnier to have people wait in suspense for a punchline that never comes than to cave into expectations and actually do something stupid that people can say “I expected that from you” for.  Some of my best pranks come in the “off season,” well away from my accepted day of glory.

In fact, the last really good April Fool’s prank I pulled was way back when I was a kid and taped down the sprayer handle on the kitchen sink; soaking my mother when she came in to wash something off.

That is, until this year.

The most important thing to remember when pulling off an epic prank is that everyone expects it on April first. The key is to lay down the groundwork several days, if not a week, in advance. On top of that, an epic prank is subtle in its nature rather than right up in your face. If executed correctly, the epic prank could stay in place for weeks or even months before discovered.

The poster to the right is my prank of the decade. (click to see a bigger version).

Around my office we have a fair number of multi-function printing devices. They print, they scan, they even copy and collate all of your documents in a zippy-quick fashion. They are part of everyone’s mundanity yet just a little mysterious. That is what makes them ripe for the pranking.

I’d like to say that my prank was an original idea, but I stole the basis of it from a picture I saw on the internets of a similar sign put on an HP printer/copier. It’s always good to give credit where credit is due.

The pieces I needed to put my prank into action were simply a copy of photoshop, a list of model numbers for the MFP’s we use around here, a SHARP logo and a small illustration of the said device. The rest is creative genius.

The important thing to remember is that most people in an office are conditioned to respond to “official” looking documents. By putting a notice at the top of the poster demanding that the poster get posted and putting something mystical like a QRcode, a document number and, most importantly, a revision date on it, I effectively made this poster a missive from the copier gods. By using clever shapes and multiple colors, I lure the observer into thinking that important people took hours and hours to make sure this document was as clear and concise as possible so the observer would understand the cryptic instructions as easily as possible.

All that’s left to do is print up a couple of these and post them near the devices.

I typically get into work at least 30 minutes before most everyone, so wandering around to the various printer/copy stations with a pile of papers and a roll of tape was a breeze. Quite actually, having these signs show up when you aren’t around actually lends to the official-ness of it.

The ultimate kicker is that I actually signed this “document” in two places. See if you can find them.

This one is for Markoff Chaney.

Categories: Awesomeness, monkey, Stupidity