Crafty Goodness

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blue angel

It’s garbage day here in Brooklyn, a fact inescapable even locked three doors in. The full swelter of summer is upon us (and the garbage piles), and what better way to cool down than an icy beverage? That’s right! Cooling down with an icy beverage containing alcoholic spirits to numb you to your fetid city surroundings!

Today’s beverage is a variant on the Marlene Dietrich, a rye-and-citrus concoction whose color evokes the Teutonic bombshell’s hair. Lacking the dignity of regular orange curaçao, I had to make do with that Spring Break of a liquid, blue curaçao. The color now looked like a gorgeous tropical Pacific ocean, or if you’re more practical, like the chemical glow of 1000 Flushes.  In honor of the namesake original, I’ve christened this The Blue Angel. Two or more of this heady mix will leave your voice as husky as Lola-Lola’s singing.

 

THE BLUE ANGEL

2 oz. rye whiskey (preferably Old Overholt)

1/2 oz. blue curaçao

3 drops Bitterman’s Tiki Bitters (or good ol’ Angostura, if you’re in a pinch)

1 slice lemon

1 slice orange

 

Pour the whiskey, curaçao and bitters over cracked ice.Shake well, and strain into a chilled tumbler (or one with a few ice cubes in, if you don’t mind the drink watering down a bit as you drink). Squeeze the slice of lemon and orange into the glass, discarding the rinds; stir gently. Add a slice of lemon as garnish*.

 

blue angel 2
*Both drinks have a lemon slice accompaniment as a nod to Dietritch’s claim she sucked lemon wedges between shots to keep her mouth and cheekbones sharp. Worked for her!

 

the blue angel

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I’ve been working on a series of projects using cheap craft materials – cheap both in price and quality – to see if I can create something of worth from them. Sort of a venture into craft alchemy. Previously I’d made a Lost Soul, but this time around I tried something more abstract.

pink garter

green grass

 

The patterns are based on common snakes, and the colors were determined by whichever colors I had the most of after working on the flaming skull. Did you know you can buy pony beads by the pound, and that the colors change radically from batch to batch due to a complete lack of caring on the part of the companies that make them? Were I a Jeff Koons this might be problematic or worth quibbling about, but until I angle for a gallery show I’ll make do with apathy in plastic from America’s Heartland.

The stitching is in-the-round peyote;  with the size of the beads the necklaces (snakeleces?) came together pretty fast. I didn’t want to bother with fancy finishing so I just stitched them shut in pattern. They slip neatly over the head and stack, looking like blown-up Maasai collars (and if you are so inclined there is an interesting brief article on the symbolism behind Maasai collars here).

snakeleces

close up

snakelece scale

 

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Over the years, I’ve created PowerPoints for many deeply unsavory reasons – to push pharmacological products using sketchy ‘data’ published by the parent company, as part of half-assed attempts on educators’ parts to get hip with technology and liven up rote classroom presentation (one of the few chunks of high school, along with forced learning to type without looking at our hands, that actually had real-world applications), to reinforce big business mentalities I did not believe in. Each of which falls under the standard use of PowerPoint, a program designed with the twofold goal of ‘snappy corporate presentations’ and ‘useability by the computer illiterate’.

In spite of, or rather because of the inherent weirdness at this intersection of Business and Flair, the program’s potential for pure art has been explored by several artists, most notably David Byrne’s E.E.E.I tour. I was going to say ‘accidental’ or ‘ironic’ art, but all that’s ever needed to turn something practical into art is to remove the practicality.

Which brings me to my recent, happier experiences with PowerPoint – created for a friend’s yearly salon of presentations on whatever we wanted, far from the boundaries of desks or logic, these slides were fun to create. No templates! The pure joy of random transitions! Finally using all the sound effects your supervisor expressly forbad! Unfortunately after the small gathering was over, the presentations languished on my computer. No more! I finally figured out how to time slides and export to a movie file, so that you, The Reader, may benefit from my research.

Admittedly quite a bit is lost in translation – no transitions, only one audio track and no sound effects, no me rambling on about a particular subject while accidentally skipping three slides ahead – but I’ve tried to make up for it with a dip into my recently acquired well of 50s instrumental tracks. Enjoy!

Mary Maxim: A Wearable (Mostly Canadian) History from Rarer Borealis on Vimeo.

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The wild reaction to Jeremy Scott’s Bart sweater set said less about enthusiasm for his aesthetic (which appears to be the brain of a 1995-era 13-year-old looking at a Delia’s catalogue, made real) and more about the still-rampant popularity of the Simpsons. The current ’90s’ obsession (and I say this in quotes as the younger set has somehow blinded themselves to the time’s prevalence of JNCOs and waffle knits)  and fondness for the Simpsons resulted in a perfect storm of want.

Bootlegs of the Jeremy Scott design likely hit the market seconds after its debut, and with Simpsons bootlegs themselves a time-honored tradition, it’s hard to begrudge their existence. Where formerly Simpsons bootlegs were 50/50 underrepresented groups using Bart as voice and icon/Chinese manufacturers seeking to capitalize any sudden burst of popularity with little understanding of the symbolism, today it’s a small sliver of all-too conscious designers carefully manipulating Bart’s odd combination of major corporate mascot and bad-boy outsider status to bolster their own credibility, and a LOT more of the Chinese-random-stuff-algorithm churning out goods in response to response.

A slight digression – it’s interesting to note the new wave of designers capitalizing on the Simpsons and what they’ve meant still hew mostly to Bart designs, with a few Homers and Milhouses thrown in. Homer’s too much of an adult for ‘the kids’ to appreciate his utter lack of responsibility to anything tied to being an adult (a later development in what Dead Homer Society refers to as ‘Jerkass Homer’). Milhouse makes sense as a newer development – he’s the outsider’s outsider even within the Simpsons world – second banana to Bart, too much of a nerd to be an underachiever, too much of a loser to join the other nerds. Still no focus on Lisa or Marge, as they represent the moral core of the show (pretty much the opposite of  beloved male irresponsibility fantasy stand-ins like Homer, Peter Griffin, Cartman, etc.), but I’m surprised there’s not more Maggie, as she would’ve been the age of many of the whippersnappers currently sporting this gear, was always somewhat of an enigma, and certainly in her Harpo way was another rebellious badass in the family.

Anyway. This is all a long-winded way of saying now that the Jeremy Scott sweater hype’s had a year or two to stew, the strange permutation bootlegs are finally coming up – copies of copies of copies made with no reference to the original, weird evolutions of imagery put out into the world. Behold:

Here’s a photo that I believe was used for reference, taken at an odd angle of the Bartman logo translated to knitwear…

Bart Sweater B

 

This photo from a magazine shows a bootleg of the bootleg, with jagged lettering and weird perspective…

bart sweater A

Note the wonkiness in the eyes…

Bart Sweater A

 

This same photo from earlier was used in ANOTHER sweater post, claiming THIS….

Bart Sweater B

 

…is the same sweater as THIS:

Bart Sweater C

 

Don’t get me wrong, this sweater certainly has its own weird charm, plus it looks like a drawing from Hyperbole and a Half. But it is DEFINITELY not a straight-up Bartman sweater. I can only wonder where the next mutation will go.

Bart Sweater C

 

Ned's New Master Bedroom

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Too far away from the previous weekend to warrant proper revelry, not close enough to the next weekend to justify celebrating post-actual holiday, Thursday Halloweens are the most neglected Halloweens. Do your small part to help by wearing costume no matter what your day entails. And with this handy last minute guide, there’s no excuse not to dress up for the office, school, or whatever cramped underlit area you while away your days in.

 

The Monolith from ’2001: A Space Odyssey’

full_frontal_monolith

 

What you’ll need:

Large cardboard box (check IKEA or any place that sells refrigerators or flat-pack furniture)

Matte black spray paint

Black pantyhose

Glue gun/stapler

Duct tape

Random takeout containers &/or soda caps, or foam balls

Portable music device & portable speakers

1. Accept this will be a physically awkward costume. You will not be able to sit or walk very easily, but it will be worth it for the sheer weirdness of having a giant alien monolith in the middle of a party. Or room. Or daycare center.

2. Try on the box. Mark your eye level. Cut off the flaps by your feet.

3. Cut a small rectangular slit out at eye level. You can do the same on the box sides as well, if you care about peripheral vision. I don’t. Cut out a rectangle or two near the top of the box, either at the very top or on the sides (this is for the sound to come through).

4. Cut two thick strips from the bottom cardboard flaps – these will be your internal hand holds. Glue or staple the top part of the strip to the side wall, and repeat on the bottom, leaving room for your hand to grip the rest of the strip between.

5. Spray paint the box a fine matte black, including inside the eyeholes.

You won’t be able to spray-paint it the mattest black of the actual monolith though – turns out our blackest blacks are classified by the government! No joke – the U.S. Air Force pays good money to companies who can come up with ever-blacker blacks, as a paint that would prevent visibility either through radar or visual spectrum would be VERY USEFUL to use on satellites and plane underbellies that one might want to go undetected.

6. Cut out bits of the pantyhose larger than the eyehole and other holes cut. You may need more than one layer. Stretch and glue/staple the pantyhose to the INSIDE of the box.

7. Put ‘Requiem for Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Two Mixed Choirs & Orchestra‘ and ‘Atmospheres’ on your music device. I recommend taping the speakers near your speaker-holes using duct-tape, but if another configuration works for you, go for it.

8. Tah-dah! You’re ready to join the party! Get your pal to go as the Star Child or Dave for a couples costume, or if you have kids, get them to dress up as little apes. For extra fun, read this extensive theory on the Monolith as Movie Screen and the enlightenment of the viewer/Dave.

 

Talking Head

thoial

 

What you’ll need:

Cardboard box big enough to fit around your head

spray paint (likely black, or purple if you want a Simpsons TV)

Boxcutter/X-Acto/Scissors

Coat hanger/wire

Moderate drawing skills/printer

Glue gun/tape

 

1. Cut a hole at the bottom of the box big enough to squeeze your head through, but not so big it wobbles all around. If necessary cut bigger and once the box is on tape the hole smaller.

2. Draw a TV on the front of the box (either old-style with the knobs on the side and rounded corners, or ultra-sleek and modern with just a thin border and the name brand at the bottom. If the latter, make sure your box is ‘widescreen format’ (16:9) instead of traditional 3:4 ratio.

Here’s a nice vector image of the Simpsons’ tv to give you an idea of what you’re going for:

free-vector-the-simpsons-tv_029933_the-simpsons-tv

3. Cut out the ‘screen’ portion of your TV.

4. Spray paint the set the color of your choice.

5. Draw in any details. Use whatever vaguely dome-like objects at hand (half a tennis ball, take out container, cat food can) and glue it to the top of your TV. Glue smaller objects on the side (liter soda caps, buttons, whatever)

6. Depending on what kind of TV show you’re going for, draw or print out a picture to go behind your head. Action sequence, car chase, news outlet – might I recommend finding a dangerous situation (like a car burning, a bank robbery in progress) and going as local Tri-State news anchor and trouble magnet Ti-Hua Chang?

7. Unbend the wire and re-bend into classic rabbit ears (or skip this step if you’ve gone for the heartless modern variant).

8. Dress to match your chosen genre, and pop on your TV head.

 

Ralph Wiggum as Idahotumblr_lcj55pVdCk1qztjn5o1_500

What you’ll need:

Collared blue shirt

Matching pants

Piece of paper

Tape

 

I am not even going to dignify this with instructions, as it is truly the lazy man’s costume. If you happen to have foamcore about (or just an old mattress pad), you could just as easily whip up Lisa’s ‘Floreda’ costume.

 

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