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the anticraft > blog
Oct 8, 2009
My kinda town, Chicago is...
w00t!! We're off to the Windy City. It's all rest and relaxation for me (except for one very early day) but hard work over the past several months for my husband.
It's Marathon Weekend in Chicago!! And I love it.
No. I'm not running. Not in a million years. I once considered training for a marathon, but that was because the marathon I was interested in was being run on Antarctica. I would have gladly let myself be distracted by the wildlife and geology; you might say that was the sole reason I'd ever want to do such a mad thing. And then I sobered up.
This is the second time Rick will run Chicago, and I couldn't be more excited for myself. The first time we went, I packed all sorts of stringy projects to keep myself entertained for the 5 or 6 hours it takes him to run that far (he's not fast, but that's not why he does it) and ended up touching not even one. I remember wondering on the plane to Chicago, chatting with another marathon spectator, what could possibly be at all exciting about standing around watching other people run past.
Oh man. Well, let me just tell you.
First of all, there's like a million people out there cheering and waving flags and signs and so forth. It's a wild crazy party on both sides of every street (and many hanging out of windows above the streets) of the 26.2-mile course. 1,000,000 people. It helps if you say it like Doctor Evil. Except that it's not only not an exaggeration, it's probably a low estimation.
Second of all, the people are so interesting. I expected people to be wearing tech shirts and shorts. Maybe a few would be wearing those special tights they make now for running in cold weather. There were 40,000 runners clogging the streets around Grant Park, and while most of them were wearing traditional running gear, many were wearing very outlandish ... um... things. (Wait for it...)
So in October of 2003, I was there at the start with My Beloved, eager and nervous for him, and a little more than surprised about the way the day was turning out. I decided that I'd be happy standing under the Sears Tower, which is just past the halfway mark. I actually got there before the professional runners.
Yeah. There are three phases of runners in any large marathon. There are the professionals, who were invited to participate from all over the world and have big names and will be running for giant bags of money. They are not human. Their endorsements have endorsements. They'll finish the race in 2:08 or so and make the end of the race a very exciting few minutes.
The second phase of runners are the super elite humans. These are people who will run the race in 3:20 and complain about hitting their plateau at mile 18. They take the sport of running seriously, but are not at Olympic or professional level. They will all have paid actual money for their sneakers, most of them even paid full price; there won't be a single endorsement among them, unless they happen to be an athlete from another sport. (That happens sometimes.) Many of these people are running to get a particular finish time which will qualify them to run the Boston Marathon or other hard-to-get-into races.
The third group is made of just regular people like Rick. These are the people who get in a 5-10 mile run at the gym on their lunch break and then do longer training on the weekends. Most of these folk are really just interested in visiting a new city and maybe actually finishing the race. They use running to keep fit and to excuse that extra helping of cheesecake, and they probably bought their shoes on sale or with a coupon. This is where my husband fits in.
Mixed in with the third phase of runners are the people in costumes.
In 2003 I saw the San Diego Chicken run past me at least 3 times. He (?) was wearing different sneakers and numbers each time. Elvises (Elvii??) from every stage of his life ran past, and I lost count of them around 7, I think. You might have thought that Fat Sequined Elvis would be the funniest to watch, but biggest laughs went to the Leather Elvises. I saw firefighters and members of the military running in full gear. Several Spidermen, Supermen, Wonder Women, Incredible Hulks, The Flash (who apparently lapped the other racers--I saw 4 or 5 of him), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles all streaked by. There were gorillas, brides, zombies (wonder if they needed the makeup by the end of the course?), Frankenstein's monsters, cheerleaders, ghosts, omigoodness all sorts of Halloween masks. It was spectacular.
So there I was, at the base of the Sears Tower watching in awe as the too-athletic-to-be-recognizably-humans ran past. I marveled at them and at the super amazing next phase of very serious athletes. By the time the real people started making their way past us the cheering got seriously loud. People who weren't in costume put their names on their shirts so we could cheer for them by name, and we did. I had gotten to know the people around me. Conversation was lively and fun. I am in this weekend for my own entertainment, and I know I won't be disappointed.
I missed seeing Rick running in the massive crush of runners that last time. I hope to see him this time. That's my goal. His goal is to finish. No, he won't be wearing a costume. Yes, he will be almost as entertained as I will be. And of course there will be the obligatory embarassing pictures on Facebook.
I can't wait.
standing and cheering and making a big public fool of myself over 26.2 miles,
PS: If you read this far, you may be interested in knowing that Rick is running the Chicago Marathon to raise money for the American Brain Tumor Association. His mom is recovering from brain cancer. If you would like to read his story and donate, please click HERE.
Sep 24, 2009
Ready. Aim. Draw.
Here's a way to get more bang for your art.
Set up a large, painted sheet of metal. Take aim. Shoot your subject into the surface.
This is what artist Walt Creel does.
He doesn't just use any old subjects, either. He specifically "draws" (heh. puns.) animals that are usually shot for food or sport. Mostly for food, though, or at least that's how it seems to me from what I've seen of his work. Here's one:
Take a look at this article and Creel's website for more information and more pictures.
Yes, each one of those pointillist dots is a bullet hole. A precisely placed bullet hole. The guy is a marksman and a draftsman. Incredible and exquisite.
This exhibit of animals rendered in steel by bullet hole is called "Deweaponizing the Gun". I find it utterly fascinating. His skill both with the gun and with drawing are formidable. I'm actually quite grateful he's considering this act of art "deweaponizing", as I would seriously fear to be on the receiving end of his 'drawing implement'.
The comments that can be inferred from his work are varied. I have my own take. I'm sure it's a bit different from his own take. I love how diverse the reactions can be to this wonderful work.
Sep 21, 2009
Mmmmm... Just MMMMMMmmmmmmmmm.
You will be.
Check out this fabulous recipe for chai tea syrup. I don't know if I love it for the deliciousness and the potential warm spicy smell saturating my home, or if I love it for the way Lucy wrote it.
I think if I get any more inspired, the size of my recipe box is going to become an issue in a very short time. Recipe *binder* may be the way to go.
Presentation truly is everything. Imma have to print this out on really lovely paper and frame it to hang in my kitchen. You know. For easy reference and all that.
mouth watering in antici----
Sep 16, 2009
Death is just another dance, after all...
Loads of tributes to the late and well-loved Patrick Swaze are swirling around the interwebs, all shiny and pirouhette-y and full of that special energy he seemed to have. And these tributes are so very appropriate -- this is a man who was a spectacular performer, a respectable professional, and an honorable yet down-to-earth guy off-stage and off-screen. How great that we're celebrating him.
Some of these tributes are pretty conventional and expected, and some are slightly elevated. And then there's this one.
THAT'S a celebration. THAT'S the sort of tribute I want when I succomb to Death's enveloping embrace. It made me laugh, cry, dance, and stand still in awe.
If you've never seen To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, I can't recommend it strongly enough. It really is a good movie, and not just because I'm all over anything that's got a clear antidiscrimination message.
Celebrate life. Celebrate diversity. Dance for any damned reason -- every reason, if you're doing it right! And embrace whatever form of beauty that is true to you, without compromise.
Dancing in drag with wild abandon,
Sep 9, 2009
Cornfed (warning: Here There Be Puns.)
'Tis the season for cornfield labyrinths, and I thought this one was rather moooving.
I didn't take this picture, so please pay attention here: This picture is credited to "REUTERS/Thomas Peter (GERMANY ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY IMAGES OF THE DAY)". I want to be sure they get the credit they are due because this image simply jumped out at me in my Yahoo feed. And partly because I'm lazy, though mostly because there's no better way to inform about this picture (so why rewrite it?), here's what Yahoo had to say about the photo:
An aerial view shows a labyrinth in the form of a cow that is cut into a corn and hemp field in Marienfelde outside Berlin September 2, 2009. The labyrinth was created by the Federal Institute of Risk Assessment to raise awareness for healthy eating and dangers from harmful substances in food as well as to explain the digestion process in the stomach of a cow.
I really 'cud' not resist, especially in light of my "Haptic" labyrinth embroidery project in the current issue of the 'zine. It is true, though, that I love a good corn maze. I'd love to see pics and hear stories of mazes near any of you.
Does anyone else think "corn and hemp field" is a bit of a surprising combination? Doesn't bother me, I'm just thinking about some people's tendency to mix the harvested and processed results. Corn chips and... _________, anyone? (YARN, of course. What else could I possibly have meant??)
I'll be watching for interesting corn mazes this year! It's been a while since I've had a good maze-wander, so I think I'll have to remedy that. I'm thinking, however, I'd pass up the opportunity to wander around in some animal's GI track. I'm not squeamish, I just think it would poop me out.
ruminating and wandering,
Sep 1, 2009
It's September 1, and that means you have only 18 days to brush up on your Pirate for International Talk Like a Pirate Day. HERE'S A LINK to the ITLaPD website which will, if not provide you with seamless fluency, prime your linguistic pump.
In honor of this momentous annual occasion, I was going to post a whole bunch of links to knitting on a pirate theme, but Stephanie Pearl McPhee beat me to it. THREE YEARS AGO. So HERE'S A LINK to her blog entry, as she put up everything I would have (honestly -- most of it was in my mind to find before I found her site!).
The one I want to especially highlight is HelloYarn's Pirate Mittens, not linked on YarnHarlot's site, but they match the hat pattern called "We Call Them Pirates", which is. I made those for my husband last year after he discovered that you can change your language on Facebook to "English, Pirate", and left his account set that way from the beginning of September until his birthday in late FebruARRRRy. They were easy and quick to knit, and he was so proud of them. If you have any desire to knit a sweater for your significant other, I'd strongly recommend these mittens instead, so as to avoid the Curse. You know what I mean.
So: is anyone having pirate parties? NOW is the time to plan them!! SeptembAARRR 19 falls on a SatAARRRday, aftARR all! Plus, it's a perfect excuse to get wicked sloshed on rum drinks, and who doesn't enjoy that? (Please don't answer if you don't. Unless you're answering with an alternate potent suggestion.)
Which is a really good segue into an important reminder.
The Samhain issue submission deadline is fast approaching. Our topic this issue is things to do with alcohol. So if you feel pARRticulARRly inspired by International Talk Like a Pirate Day and create your own recipe for grog (or really anything to do with alcohol), we'd love to receive your submission!!
Article and project submissions should be received at firstname.lastname@example.org by September 6. CLICK HERE for a reminder of submission guidelines.
swashing my buckles and yo-ing my hos,
Aug 28, 2009
Not for the Arachnophobic
I'm working on my arachnophobia.
It's the only reason I didn't go into entomology, you know. I love, always have loved, always will love insects. But it's hard to make a career out of something during which you must live in fear because the scariest of the scary is always Right There. Sort of like opening a wedding cake store when you hate white, sugar+saccharine, and the terrifyingly schlocky. (That's also my story.)
So this summer, when two Yellow Garden Spiders (closely related to Wood Spiders; they're both argiopes) took up residency on my back porch, I decided I would work at being at peace with them. It took surprisingly little effort; they've been wonderful neighbors, fascinating company, and their webs (I've always loved spider webs) have been breathtaking. In return, I've been leaving the back porch light on for them. I want them to catch lots of insects so they stay healthy.
I've been accused of spoiling my pets before. So what? It's not a crime.
So when I saw this video, I thought I HAD to share it with someone. And why not AntiCrafters? Who better to appreciate spiders?
Watch, and enjoy. You may even learn something.
What? It's all in the name of science.
I thought about conducting my own experiments but 1.) all caffeine in my household is to be used on ME; and 2.) no spiders are allowed in the house.
It just doesn't matter how snuggly we get out on the back porch. If they come into the house, they're only so much squished organic matter.
still laughing about Crack Spider "popping a cap in his arse",
Jul 18, 2009
Where were YOU 40 years ago today?
I'm an unrepentant geek. That should come as no surprise to any of you. I am probably not alone. These are all good things.
Today is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, an event so impossible and improbable and incredible it is believed by many to be mankind's greatest achievement.
Likewise, because of said impossiblity, improbability, and unbelieveability, it is believed by many on the fringe to have been mankind's (and by "mankind" I mean "Hollywood") most celebrated hoax.
In this possibly singular instance, I am not among the fringe. Though I really like the tv show.
Are you old enough to remember? I'm not. I was just over a year old. It happened sometime after midnight, and my parents woke me up to prop me up in front of the tv (b&w, no remote) so years later I could say I watched the first steps humans took on the moon. There are black and white photos of the tv showing this momentous event (no VCRs or DVRs). I have friends with the same photos, and I have friends who vividly remember the event. One friend can name EVERY astronaut from every Apollo mission, in order, and tonight that friend is having an Apollo party to celebrate the awesomeness of this anniversary. BONUS: (if the weather's clear) a bit after 10pm we'll even get a chance to watch the International Space Station pass overhead.
The mind boggles at the accomplishments we puny humans can reach (footprints on the moon!!!!), especially from my perspective of celebrating ancient handcrafts (drop spindle, frame loom, knotless netting).
So here's where art and science meet.
Alan Bean, an astronaut from the Apollo 14 mission, is now an exhibiting artist. He even found a way to incorporate moon dust into his paintings: he cut apart the patches from his spacesuit and paints them into his works. Works which are really quite awesome. See some HERE. (To help you appreciate the "oooh" factor, moon dust and moon rocks are the most controlled substance in the world.)
I find it inspiring that one so easily assumed to be from a very right-brained (analytical, mathematic) perspective is in fact eloquently left-brained (artistic, lyrical, symbolic). Many of his portraits of the moon use a lot of color, where in reality there is just a dizzying array of grays. It's an elegant interpretation of our nearest neighbor.
I'm always inspired by the impossible, improbable, and the arcane.
Consider how few people have had the opportunity to walk on the surface of another extra-Earth object, and consider how many more (though relative to the world's population, still very few) have been in/are currently in low earth orbit on one of the various space stations (there were 5 successful space stations, several more attempted and planned).
Are you like me: would you like to have been one of those chosen few?
Oh, just go look at Bean's paintings. And then grab a telescope or binoculars and gaze at the next clear night sky. It is vast, profound, and infinitely (pun intended) inspiring.
HERE'S Sternlab's unbelieveably great use of conductive thread used in embroidery. Consider the possibilities!!
If you're not inspired, please check your pulse.
always looking up,
Jul 4, 2009
You *know* it's not about us, right?
Happy Independence Day. I hope your weather is just right and the fireworks are spectacular, and that you are able to take a little time away from your hotdogs and potato salad and watermelon to think about what "independence" means, and how it applies to your life.
End of MomSpeak. This is The AntiCraft. (...which kind of is why I brought up that whole "think about independence" thing... we sometimes have a little different perspective on that...) And as such, I have something a little odd to throw in about the holiday.
You're going to be hearing the sounds of P.I.Tchaikovsky's The 1812 Overture today, if you haven't already been hearing it. Did you know that it is not about OUR War of 1812?? It's 100% France v Russia, with the Russians pwning all sorts of Napoleonic arse.
(I'm pretty sure you all knew that.)
In fact, it's a spectacular mash-up of two national anthems (La Marseillaise v God Save the Tsar) in a classic battle of the, well, cross orchestra instrumentalists. (It can't really count as a battle of the bands.)
Here's a reenactment of what La Marseillaise WOULD have sounded like if it were sung/shouted by angry Finns.
It's a little different from what you hear pretty much everywhere else (again: angry Finns; 'nuff sed). My theory is that if the French had sounded a little more like this (and, perhaps, invaded Russia AFTER winter, duh) there might have been a different outcome for the little Corsican.
What I really wanted to post today was a recording of The 1812 Overture as sung by barn animals. It's hilarious, but I can't find it. It was all over the Chicago radio WGN when I was a kid. It's probably too old to be uploaded to Teh Webz, so I found this instead.
There's an old brass instrument called a Serpent, and it sounds like a somewhat stuffy french horn. A musician named Douglas Yeo recorded The 1812 Overture using 26 of these intriguing horns. The link provides you with a free mp3 of this very performance. It's a good sound, and I recomend it for your holiday listening, bearing in mind always that this is not a song about any American war. (You want something American and 1812? Google "Don't give up the ship" and Commodore Perry. THAT'S an amazing story.)
I also recommend it just because Mr. Yeo is so darned adorable. I bet he'd be good at reading (or, more likely, reciting) children's stories, as well as playing arcane brass instruments.
Of course, I have a theory for why Americans like to use this foreign war rememberance to celebrate our Independence Day.
We like to blow things up. And there's no other classical tune that goes so well with cannons blasting like this one, outside of the movie Apocalypse Now.
Have a safe holiday!
slathering on sunscreen,
PS -- How would you design a musical instrument from an AntiCraft perspective? Would you choose a different animal (a spider as a stringed instrument, perhaps)? What would it sound like? What would you play on it?
Jun 14, 2009
Gold Lame Pants Make Me Dizzy
If you've been reading this blog for the past year and a half, then you may already know how I feel about flash mobs.
If you're new (or need a reminder), this is how I feel: I. LOVE!!!!! FLASH MOBS.
What's a flash mob?? It's wacky good fun. Occasionally it can also be a political or sociological statement, but in the case I present below, I leave you to make your own determination.
As opposed to shopping in fancy (albeit warehouse-y) Sunset Boulevard shops, which would be "PriceY".
wondering if I have enough gold lame for my own pants,
PS -- Watch for the guy in the headband. He made me HOWL.
Jun 3, 2009
Dazzling. Impressive. Just LOOK.
Here's a feast for your eyes:
Want more? Of course you do. I know this because I was not satisfied seeing just one painting. So click on that underlined bit. It'll transport you in more ways than one.
The artist is Julia Watkins. She calls this dynamic style of painting "Energism", and I'm sure you can figure out why. There's plenty of information about her on her website, so I won't duplicate it.
I'm inspired. I hope it brings light to your day.
inspired, mesmerized, and going back for more,
Jun 2, 2009
Literal translations drive me bonkers.
It'll make you laugh. It'll make you cry.
I don't always want to post a video, but this one seriously moved me to tears. I sorta wish my husband and I would have held out getting married til EVERYONE who wants to can marry.
I am now imagining ALL the scenarios in that particular sacred text that are no longer practiced, and which I would loathe seeing put into literal practice again.
I guess I'd better start developing a tolerance for stones.
May 28, 2009
I like zombies. And irrelevance. And irreverence.
My long absense insists that my first post in, like, a quingigillion years (it's a real number) ought to be an outrageously silly one.
Why? Why not. Plus, I like zombies. Some of you might, too. (HA! "Might.")
I canNOT stop laughing.
And because I like mash-ups, here is another version:
Aaahhhhh. Silly Bill. Bill being made fun of. And zombies. I think it's my new favorite combination.
In the meantime, I will not be so absent. It'll preserve you from these pent-up outbursts of silly.
giggling like a fool,
Jan 14, 2009
Have you ever envied Harold and his Purple Crayon?
Um, sit DOWN and go back to death, Dr. Freud. Sometimes a crayon is JUST a crayon.
Here's a game that lets you go on adventures, level after (increasingly difficult) level (otherwise it wouldn't be fun, would it?), drawing your route as you go. The kicker is that the laws of physics apply, in ways that they don't in your average Bugs Bunny cartoon.
Remember: Harold started to sink when he accidentally drew water.
Crayon Physics Deluxe trailer 2 from Petri Purho on Vimeo.
Intrigued? Want more? Yeah. Me too.
Here's a link to a demo for this game, on the Crayon Physics homepage.
I love the idea of "drawing" plus "gaming". Pictionary had me at "Pict," and I fell hard for Cranium. So, having given my heart almost fully to Crayon Physics, I have been nudged toward these other games, as well. Some of them I have tried, some I can't, but it's only because I don't have the equipment.
Magic Pen -- this is very fun and has a cruelly amusing challenge to it;
Line Rider was described as zenlike in its pointlessness... I agree, and lost interest soon after starting;
Trace, for iPhone and iPod touch, neither of which I have and therefore could not try (weep);
and Crazy Machines is lush in its steampunk pinball-ish homage to Rube Goldberg, and there are dozens of movies demo'ing this game on YouTube. Beware: watching others play this game is just as addicting as (I would assume) playing it. Once again, the platforms for this game are iPhone and iPod touch, and so (once again) my fingers are distressingly denied tactile entertainment fix. (Pouts, and reaches for the Atari 2600 I got my husband for Christmas this year...)
It's a great way to reconnect with a sense of play with drawing materials, and the result is that my hands are itching to transfer this energy to paper and cloth. I think this year is going to be far more productive, creatively.
reaching for paper, any paper! Or cardboard... or a tablecloth... perhaps a wall...