Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How to Drive in Snow

I live in the desert, where we're lucky if we get snow once the entire winter. Other places are quite a different story.

Take a place like Spokane, Washington for example. You'd think with all that snow people would be better at driving in it, butI guess that's not always true (still, before all you snow bunnies kill me, allow me to point out that I, as a desert rat, have no idea what I'm talking about).

My favorite is the guy who closes his car's door before running out of the way of the oncoming sliding car. It's like a train wreck, you just can't help watching.

Rhymes with Smushmortion

I try really hard to not be a militant activist. Strident, sometimes, maybe - I mean, we all have those moments, right? When we get just a little bit too caught up in some debate and all of a sudden we're chaining ourselves to the Thanksgiving table screaming, "You'll never take me alive!" while Great-Aunt Edna looks on in in utter horror before fainting into the mashed potatoes . . . Just me? Well, what I'm attempting to say is I try to keep it toned down - not militant.

That said, this post is going to be a little controversial, so if you are easily offended or don't like reading opinions different from yours, I might recommend reevaluating whether you really want to read this pro-choice woman's blog post. Nope, you're staying? You sure? All right then - just be prepared: I'm happy to discuss at length any aspect of the abortion discussion in the comments section, and would in fact LOVE to see people from different viewpoints drawn in and talking to one another. But flaming, trolling, name-calling, and any other childish behavior will not be tolerated. Let's all take a deep breath and remember, it's just a comment thread!
Do not feed the trolls.
Okay, now that's out of the way, let's get started.

I tend to seek out abortion articles like a pig snuffing for high-end truffles - I pass by a lot of them because they're either old news, too superficial, or so outrageous that the only way to make them die is to ignore them (NOTE: see above). Like I said, I'm pro-choice -- which means I'm pro-every-woman's-choice. Carrying a pregnancy to term, terminating the pregnancy, keeping the baby, putting the baby up for adoption, these things are all fine by me. Sometimes, I may question the reasoning behind another woman's decision regarding her pregnancy, but hell no would I ever take away her right to make that decision.

So, that's where I stand. And here's where the American abortion debate stands: at an absolute standstill, because we've gotten caught up in our sense of moral obligation to protect the lives of others and our God-given* right to personal liberty (I'm thinking T. Jefferson's take on this bit). So what to do?

William Saletan, one of my favorite writers at Slate.com, wrote a couple articles covering a recent meeting of the minds: the pro-life camp and the pro-choice camp got together and hugged it out. Well, technically they didn't hug it out -- they talked abortion policy in America and how to get the debate moving again, and the representatives for the pro-life camp got ostracized by their own groups for fraternizing with the enemy, and the representatives from the pro-choice camp got blackballed for sacrificing the party line.

Extremism: It's not just for the crazies anymore

Basically, not a whole lot happened -- superficially. But as Saletan points out, there were some real concessions made, by both sides, and some real common ground discovered, that could help to move us forward. The main points to take away after the jump, as laid out by Saletan:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell is Going Down!

No, it's not the end of the fight against prejudice and the fight for equal rights for all, but it is the end of a over a decade of institutionalized discrimination and shameful, wasteful policy. The Senate has voted to repeal DADT, and Obama has sworn to sign it into law. This is happening, people, no matter how sad John McCain may feel about it. In celebration, let's look back at one of the loudest calls to end DADT that helped make this happen, from a little singer called Lady Gaga:

Hot damn, woman - thanks for making pop music cool to me again :).

The full transcript is posted after the jump:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Adventures In Photoshop

I'm looking at YOU, Bratz Doll!
Ever since I saw this video, I've been dying to try my hand at some of the more "extreme" tools in Photoshop - particularly the infamous liquify. Now, I really feel like I'm betraying my team here, because generally I'm firmly on the anti-photoshop, please-give-me-as-close-to-reality-as-artistically-possible side of things when it comes to fashion advertisements, and whatever other places little girls get crazy ideas about what is beautiful . . . what could it be?

But I promise, the technological depravity is for a good cause -- I'll use Photoshop in an upcoming art project that addresses gender perceptions. Still, I need to get good enough first! Hence, as of today, I've started my practice sessions in "Extreme Photoshop Editing" (that's what they call it on the internets so it must be true!). I'm slow, but things are turning out (sorta).

Today's victim: a propaganda pic I took right after running down to the polls on election day (gotta document those voter stickers quick before they fall off!). I've styled it after the pin-up girls of Gil Elvgren (who happens to be the artist behind my profile pic and one of my favorite commercial artists of all time). He worked from real models, photographing them in the poses he wanted, then painting them with the classic idealized features: smaller waists, bigger busts, fuller mouths, and big exotic eyes. Often, they were in some variety of this pose:

That wringer is getting quite a view.
I mean, who wouldn't just happen to get their entire skirt stuck in a wringer? I know I would!

Now, remember, this is my first time, so don't mock me too harshly. Without further ado, ladies and gentleman and everyone else, I present to you "EXTREME ADVENTURES IN PHOTOSHOP, PART I: I Voted"

More food, coming from a freezer near you . . .

Mr. says the blog is off to a roaring start (thanks for the bump, guys!), so I figure I should get back to my proverbial roots - it's time for a food post!

I know it's December, but here in Tucson we've been having some incredibly warm weather - and this sweet treat is just the cure.

And yes, that really sums up the instructions.
Thanks to my father for coming up with this pretty, easy, and even kinda healthy dessert idea! How we did it:
  • Arrange two thin cantalope slices in a small bowl.
  • Use a melon-baller to add three scoops of each of the following sorbets:
    • Lemon
    • Peach
    • Raspberry
    • Mango
  • Top with a handful of raspberries (or really any kind of berry - go crazy with this!
One final tip: make sure the sorbet is really good and frozen before trying to scoop it - things can get goopy fast! In a perfect world, you should end up with 12 perfectly balled sorbet bits smiling up at you. In my world, you end up licking sorbet juice off your fingers and hoping no one minds the smushed appearance.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Peace on Earth

With the holidays and all that going on -- and now that finals are over! -- I've been thinking up a new piece. I don't want to give too much of it away right now, but I can say that it deals directly with the theme of Peace on Earth that we hear repeated so much around the holidays. In spirit of that, my current cover song obsession: "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy." David Bowie and Bing Crosby sang it first, and Will Ferrel and John C. Reily have a parody video up on Funny or Die which is actually quite good.

The Original:

The Parody:

I'm loving the way they skewer the old "unscripted scenario" format. That, and how spot-on the caricatures are. Hilarious.

And then of course there's Jack Black and Jason Segel, with their own animated - and rocktastic - version. Sorry the screen's so big - hopefully I'll get it down to a smaller size once Mr. comes home and teaches me how to do the html (Yes, I know I could Google it myself, but according to Good Wives Weekly*, sometimes I just need to let him open the jar for me - then get him his drink and keep the children away so he can unwind after a hard day at the office).

UPDATE: Video's fixed, Mr. saves the day again!

I'm loving it.

*Not a real publication, as far as I'm aware -- but these are actual wifely advice tidbits)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

And now for something completey different!

Things have gotten rather serious around here. Let's lighten up . . .

Only real life could come up with a name that awesome.

HPV: Not just for sluts

This is a video more people need to see -- HPV infects 80% of the U.S. adult population, and usually those infected don't even know they have it. Yet for those who become infected, it can bring on all the shame and stigma assosciated with STDs in our culture - but it shouldn't! The woman in this video gets it right: "It's not something that's dirty, it's not something that's any different if you would get if you had strep or you had the common cold; it just has to do with your sexual organs and therefore has a stigma associated with it."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Everything is Terrible, Part One

Welcome to the first installment of my "Everything is Terrible" series, where I discuss something that's really getting on my nerves. Don't worry, I'll keep it fun.

Driving home today, listening to the elitist liberal propaganda radio station otherwise known as NPR, I was struck by a general irritation with politics. Now don't get me wrong, usually I love politics (truly, I do, just ask any of my friends who are sick and tired of hearing me promote the latest cause or express my complete outrage with some miserable situation -- I live and breathe for political discussion, right after cute shoes and a giant English manor house with a limitless decorating budget).

But here's what's sticking in my craw: why the HELL can't the Republican party come up with some other solution for our national debt besides cutting taxes and spending?? I'm sorry, but if I notice my household finances are out of whack, of course I cut back on spending in order to get out of debt, but I never, ever, not in a million, trillion, bazillion years also decide to cut my revenue. I mean, honestly -- if I'm in debt, I'm looking around for some other ways to make money, like dealing suger-laced baked goods to the kids or selling domestic-themed lap dances or something. Maybe a striptease involving irons and a lacy apron . . . hmm.

Borrowed from MadPhotog

My future money-making aspirations aside, I know that Republicans very rarely cut taxes the way they claim to want to. GOP god Ronald Regan actually RAISED taxes considerably during his presidency: after his big cut in 1981, he increased taxes twice, resulting in the lower- and middle-class actually paying a greater percentage of taxes than they had in 1980. That's right, Ron raised taxes - because it was the right thing to do, in order to rectify budget mistakes that had been made when calculating his initial tax cut, and then again to help sustain Social Security and Medicare. And he had bipartisan support! (source) 
This is to say, I'm not asking Republicans give up their "make less, spend less" platform when it comes to government budgeting, but could we please ratchet the dedication to the rhetoric down a couple notches? This country is in a major mess, money-wise, and while I agree we need to eat out less, now is hardly the time to quit the second job so we can have more free time. Let's go find that lacy apron! 

In other words, now is the time to urge your congresspersons to let the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy expire -- continuing to lose that revenue is a luxury for the few that we cannot sustain. Check out these sites after the jump for ways you can make your voice heard in this debate and get involved:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Head goes POW

Since I'm hard at work on my grad school application (no, really!), I've found I've exhausted my usual means of procrastination. Thankfully, there's AOL News photo galleries. I stumbled across a article about a recycled bicycle Christmas tree, and . . .
Artist Ralph Schmerberg's piece about climate change called "Power Eater."

Photographer Carl Warner is blowing my mind with this edible landscape.
Pillow-Tie. Yes, this is a real thing.
David Mach + Bottecelli is this fiber artist's dream. Although technically, I discovered him through his giant metal hanger sculpture of a gorilla . . .
Gianfranco Reni's gas masks - this season's must-have commentary on Mexico City's air quality. Or just post-apocalyptic glamor-ware?
Boo Ritson, your creepy real life action figures are making my mind boggle at the time involved (and my skin wonder how much it hurts to remove all that paint).

These lucky peeps are checking out a solar eclipse, and Noah Seelam got to document it. Jealous!

Yep, I had to share a bit of it with you. If you want to see the original gallery where all this cool stuff came from, along with a bunch of other cool stuff, go here, and click on the tree-cycling gallery link.

That's all for now -- I should probably go clean something.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The beginning of a beautiful friendship . . .

Mr. has discovered his inner artist, and I sense this is only the beginning of some amazing collaborations to come - watch out Christo and Jean-Claude, Kidney House Productions is just getting started!

We created this piece for the GLOW exhibition up in Oracle, AZ, using wire, blue LEDs, and Mr.'s extensive soldering knowledge (I don't work with hot stuff outside of the kitchen), and ended up displaying it twice in the last couple months. Hopefully, our website will be up and running soon, but in the meantime, here's a couple pictures of the piece, along with pictures of some of the other works displayed there.

Our piece
Some fun glow-in-the-dark Rorschach paintings, and one of the spinning shadow pieces.
I can't wait to try out the method of this mermaid painting! The octopus and giant puppet were both awesome uses of light in a sculpture -- so cool.
That lamp needs to be in my living room. The galaxy is my pick for best micro-macro piece, and the final image is a shot I took of the interior of a corrugated aluminum tube with lights inside. Pretty incredible how the simple can become sublime.

If you're interested in checking out more images from this show, or seeing some images from the second installation (hopefully I'll get some posted up here soon), go check out my artist page on Facebook.

Got in the kitchen, baked myself a pie!

My father makes the best pies on earth. No, really, he does -- which means I will never be willing to show one of my sad excuses for pie in public until I get a lot better at baking them.

That said, for a first attempt this didn't turn out all bad.

Yes, that is a pie -- a Joy of Cooking, 9th Edition, crust, filling, everything-from-scratch peach pie at that! And since I've made this, I've gained some vital knowledge:

  • I need to get better at rolling pastry dough.
  • End of the season peaches will not be as flavorful in pie as earlier ones.
  • Must buy pastry brush for cream wash application on the crust!

That said, it was quite edible, and although next time I think I'll be using a more butter-based crust than a dominantly shortening-based crust, overall I give me an 8 for appearance, 6 for flavor -- and that's better than I was expecting, so overall I'm pleased.

Finally, one more picture, of the juicy crusty bits where the filling started to bubble out:

First Tasty Post - The food I've been waiting to show you.

At last, the blog is up and running - and what a fitting subject matter!

I rarely have time to cook, so when I do I like to go all out. Today's featured food is actually from a while ago, when I wanted to make a pizza but didn't have the time to wait for dough to rise. Turns out, those raw tortillas you can buy at the store work just as well for crust!

I started by sauteing some green bell peppers and cherry tomatoes, threw some ham in halfway through, and finally dropped my baby spinach leaves in the hot pan after I turned off the burner, so they wouldn't be too crispy. I poured that stuff out of the pan into a small bowl, then put my raw tortilla into the pan so it could soak up all the food flavors while it cooked. As soon as the bottom side was cooked, I flipped it over and sprinkled some mozzarella cheese on, then spread my toppings over that, then sprinkled more cheese to bring it all together. Then, I let it cook on medium low heat until the cheese was melted (but be careful with this part -- another time I made this I ended up burning the tortilla! Blackened tortilla pizza -- not so yummy), then gave it a minute or two to cool off before I ate it. The whole thing took twenty minutes max, and it was so much tastier than the Kraft mac and cheese I had been considering.

While the pizza was cooking, I made my salad: baby spinach leaves (I buy this stuff in bulk!), fresh sliced strawberries and blueberries, crumbled blue cheese, slivered almonds, and balsamic vanaigrette (I'm particularly fond of Paul Newman's version of this dressing -- it's good and sour and salty). Mr.'s comment regarding the overall taste: "I really like how there's the sweetness of the berries and then the balsamic comes and kicks you in the teeth." Yes, but it's a GOOD kind of kick.