Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gettin' My Iron On

Fear not, loyal readers. This is not yet another laundry themed post. Though it is laundry related. Laundry adjacent - as are my dirty underwear. Hey Oooohhh! OK, that didn't really land, but you know what I mean.

Well it's only laundry related in the sense that the star of the post will at some point be laundry. It was Arts & Crafts Sunday here so I grabbed my iron and got to work on some projects I've had planned. The first was a requested "Eugene" shirt for J. R. (Justin's best gal). The "Eugene" is quickly becoming my most popular design. (I've made two of them now!) You'll notice that this incarnation has the trademarked Independent "e", as did the original. I went with an (appropriately) more feminine take this time around. J.R., congratulations, you've just had your wardrobe pimped. How do you feel?

From left: Eugene v2.0, Blogger, Eugene original

The second project marked a departure from the felt-based iron-ons I have worked with in the past, to the glamorous, fast-paced world of metallic iron-ons. There is considerable more risk with going metallic (designs are often more intricate and can be ruined without precise and careful peeling of the backer paper) and a bigger time investment (the iron must be left on the transfer for upwards of a minute - versus fifteen seconds with traditional felt transfers), but the money to be made in this market is lucrative. I've just got to remember to step back once in a while and take inventory of myself to make sure what I am doing is still in line with my craft ideals. The number of young iron-on artists who have spiralled to a steaming pit of artistic compromise chasing the fame and glory to be had in metallic iron-on transfers are too many to number.

Here's my first attempt. Critiques? Be gentle. (Alternate pic here. Close-up here.)

If you'd like any of the above designs, let me know. But don't expect me to get it done. I'm kind of busy. And feel free to visit your local Jo-Ann Fabric's and make your own "Jessie" or "Ingrid" (or the ironic "Iron On") design.

Are You Smarter Than An 8th Grader?

Well for most of you reading this the answer for that would be "Yes.", but what if you were up against a room full of kids like this:
Not so sure now, are you, Smarty Pants? Huh? Is that your inferior quantitative skills I hear shaking in the background? Thought so. This past Saturday, the brightest 12-14 year old minds in the South Bay gathered for MathCounts chapter competition. I was there to pass out pencils and scratch paper, and most certainly not answer questions about the test. It wa about as fun as math competition could be for a spectator, but it did take me back to my days as a Mathlete. I think Jason and Mike will agree that the stop at Yo-Nuts and video games in the Purdue union were the highlight of our trips to chapter competition.

I could actually feel these kids' brains working that morning. It was really warm in the cafeteria during the three testing rounds, but as soon as they were over and the kids relaxed over lunch, I swear the temperature dropped 7-10 degrees. I am not making this up. It happened.

For the nerds out there, you can access the MathCounts Problem of the Week here, and for super math studs, the Wabash Mathematics Problem of the Fortnight here. That is all.

UPDATE: One of the schools I was proctoring was Magruder, which had me playing the theme song from the SNL "MacGruber" skits all morning long. And in no way was that a bad thing.
[MacGruber archive @]

(ANOTHER) UPDATE: Volunteers also got free Aerospace t-shirts. Suck it, Anne!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Reasons Number 3,286-3,289 Why I Love the Internet

Netflix. Recently I subscribed to Netflix and the insant streaming feature has me watching a lot of strange and strangely bad movies. (OK some of those were obviously going to be bad.) Tonight I was watching Streets of Fire which was, well, strange. A war veteran (Peter something) returns from overseas to find his ex-girlfriend and pop singer (Diane Lane) - now with her manager (Rick Moranis) - kidnapped by a leather, music, and anarchy-loving motorcycle gang led by Raven (Willem DaFoe). But what caught my eye was a minor character who tags along after the inevitable rescue who I recognie as the woman who played Dottie, bicycle mechanic and love interest, in Pee Wee's Big Adventure. Which leads me to...

Google search. Duh. It's awesome. And linked me to Elizabeth Daily's (Dottie) Wikipedia entry...

Wikipedia. Yeah laugh if you want, but it's a quick and oft reliable method of finding information on nearly any subject. (Just before to check your facts somewhere else before spouting them off as unquestinoable truths, and don't use it as a source - or the only source - for a research paper. At any level of education.) Dottie's Wikipedia entry is easily the most fascinating thing I've read this week. Some tidbits I gleaned in case you don't have time to read the whole page (which I strongly encourage):
  • Voiced characters for the Rugrats and Powerpuff Girls
  • Was married to Rick Salomon who also "starred" in a "movie" (yep, that one) with Paris Hilton
  • Played Paris Hilton's mother in a movie
  • Dated several other notables (go to the wiki, it will blow your mind)
Internet Movie Database. I don't like this to the level of Wikipedia, but again good information source, which blessed me with the following tidbits of interest related to Pee Wee's Big Adventure:
  • Phil Hartman has a writer's credit
  • Directed by Tim Burton, who...
  • ...has a project underway for a full-length Frankenweenie film*
*The 29 minutes of video that are Frankweenie was included as a bonus on a tape (yep, VHS) of another full-length movie (can't remember what it was), and was one of the greatest entertainment moments of my childhood. If anyone could find this on DVD, well, you would rock. If you gave it to me. If you kept it for yourself, you would suck. Though I'd understand.

Thank you internets. Well done.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Just Wandering, er... Wondering

Seen Monday at La Cienaga and Manchester. I've on occasion wondered how Jesus' name became a swear. I mean, to Christians it always has been when used in vain, but how did it get to the point where people for whom JC - well I was going to say no significance, but let me rephrase - is given ne'er a thought are using it to express emotion? Can you say it on TV (I know I've heard it but that was probably cable and I think you can even see old George Carlin clips on there now)? Is there there analogous vocabulary phenomena from other religions?

Laundry Fail.

Ten. 10. X. Diez. Two hands. However you want to phrase it, that is how many unmatched socks I had after finishing my laundry. All white. I didn't even know I had 10 different kinds of socks. I've never had this much trouble with missing socks before. Or laundry in general for that matter. Weeeeellll... There was that one time. When someone My-Name-Is-Earl-ed me and took that (wet) load from the laundr-o-mat. I'm going to blame it on the fact that I was only wearing one sock until the last couple weeks on account of my lingering ankle injury. Anybody buying that?... Anyone?... Bueller?... Anyone?...

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Right Place At the Right Time

OK, OK. So ever since my post on the Todd Snider concert, my phone has been ringing off the hook, my beeper has been blowing up, the deluge of e-mails have crashed my ISP's servers twice, etc., etc., and on and on... Everyone has been wanting to know exactly how Todd became the lead singer for the K. K. Rider Band. And I quote:
"Ryan, you have got to tell us how Todd became the lead singer for the K. K. Rider Band!"
-Guy I made up #1

"What!? How can you leave us this otherwise entertaining and insightful post without relating the story of how Todd became the lead singer for the K. K. Rider Band?!?!?!?!?!"
-Guy I made up #2

"Ryan... although you are a perfect gentlemen and astonishingly handsome, I just feel like you can't be open with me. Where is the communication? More importantly, how did Todd become the lead singer for the K. K. Rider Band?"
-Girl I made up*

*note: girl was INCREDIBLY good looking

OK, so my phone is usually on vibrate, I don't have a beeper (yet - remember technology is cyclical), and most of my e-mail is related to male enhancement or Nigerian princes. The real story is that I've been spending an inordinate amount of time on YouTube watching Todd Snider concert clips. And I came across this relation of how Todd became the lead singer for the K. K. Rider Band.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

That One Looks Like a Possum With a Hat

I've been really excited the past several days because we have clouds in LA! We seldom have clouds here, and when we do, they are never the nice fluffy ones that are around now. (I know, I know. Such a pity that the weather is always sunny there, Ryan.) The truth of the matter is it's really not as nice as it sounds. While it is rarely cloudy, there is normally a smoggy film over the horizon (imagine looking at the world through a pair of dingy glasses). So it has been a real treat to have a sky that is actually, you know, BLUE, and these big white, puffy clouds.

So I've been running around taking pictures as much as I can. The first set is from Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Park which overlooks the city. I think its real purpose is to hide the neighboring colony of oil well pumps and accompanying machinery. In any case, it's a really nice park with an exceptional view of downtown and the Hollywood hills.

The second set is from the first outing of the South Bay Photographers group. Justin, Peter, JR, and I went to the Redondo Beach Pier to eat Hot Dogs On a Stick (most of you will know these as corndogs), play with the pelicans, and shoot some photos.

And if you get tired of mine and want to look at some good ones, just pop over to some of Justin's. He got skillz.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

18 Minutes

"Good evening, for those of you who don't know, my name's Todd Snider,and I've been drivin' around for 15 years, makin' this [stuff] up, singin' it for anybody who'll listen to it. Some of it's sad, some of it's funny, some of it's short, some of it's longer than others, and sometimes I'll go on for as many as 18 minutes in between the songs.

These days my friends will tell me that my songs are getting more and more opinionated. And that may be, but they are just that. Opinions. And though I may express some of my opinions tonight, I won't do that becaus I think they're right or important... I sing them because... they rhyme. I don't sing to try and change anyone's mind about anything. I sing to ease my own my mind... about everything."

At some point during a Todd Snider set you will undoubtedly hear some variant of the lines above, and each of the stanzas will generally be uttered in a single breath. I heard those words Friday night at the El Rey Theatre. And let me just state right now, I love, love love Todd Snider. Easily my favorite musician right now. And though I may not agree with Todd on everything, on those items that don't I still like hearing about it. After all... it rhymes.

Todd is one of the most unique live peroformers around. You are guaranteed every night to get some mix of songs you love, songs you've never heard, funny stories, ramblings, interesting covers, whatever you want (half the show is often by request), and sometimes you get all of those things in the same song. Friday (after Dinah's) Matt and I got all of this in more. A new song about Todd's lucky day when he found a four-leaf clover (with only one leaf missing, close enough - slim chance... still a chance). Matt got to hear the Ballad of the Devil's Backbone Tavern. Extra verses of Talking Seattle Grunge Rock Blues (specifically for Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie). Todd picking through a 15-minute story of how he became lead singer for the K. K. Rider Band.

Todd is the main reason I've only ever bought one song on iTunes or any other system built entirely of streams of electrons and light. See, Todd used to sit around and listen to music and read the liner notes to the albums, and now I do that with Todd's. A lot of present-day artists don't write anything other than long thank you lists in there, which aren't much fun to read. You know... unless they were to rhyme. (They never do.) But Todd does. And so do a few others. And maybe I get to learn a little about the inspiration for that song, or who wrote it (if not him), or who was the guest vocalist or guitarist. And then maybe I go out and get their album and get turned on to a lot of other great music.

Well anyway, that's Todd. He's just a guy up there with a guitar and a harmonica. No fancy light show. His jeans aren't tight. And you just set there and listen and maybe sing along, and maybe talk to someone next to you about another Todd show you saw. Maybe that person is twice your age, or maybe its a handful of surprisingly young kids in skinny jeans and crooked hats.

Great show. As the song goes, "the crowd was cool and the band was prime..."

The One Where We Go To Joshua Tree - UPDATE

UPDATE: Picasa album with more pics!

Finger-Lickin' Friday

Friday night I met up with Matt before the Todd Snider show (post to come). Last time we saw a show we ended up at the time warp that is Pann's Diner. We had big 'ol breakfast platters and milkshakes. For the life of me I can't remember if this was before or after the show (coincidentally also a Todd Snider show). Since that worked out so well, I proposed that we go to Dinah's before the show this time.
I pass Dinah's all the time, but with so many restaurants in L.A., that establishment is not unique in that respect. I never thought much about it until I saw a bucket of their chicken in "Little Miss Sunshine." I enjoyed the movie, and the Hoover's seemed to enjoy Dinah's chicken, so why not? The transitive property did indeed hold true, and as a corrollary, Matt also enjoyed Dinah's "World Famous" chicken (even though he ordered the "World Famous" burger).

The entire interior looked vintage.
The last remodel must have been decades ago. Dinah's has the
distinction of having L.A.'s first "bucket sign." And I do like buckets.
And the antique radios all along the shelf high on the walls was a nice touch.