Date Archives July 2011

Makeup as an Assault Weapon

MAC is collaborating with noted photographer and artist, Cindy Sherman, who does a lot of self-photography, acting as photographer, makeup artist, hairstylist, and model. The promo images reflect that; they could be portfolio pieces. Unfortunately, they don’t make me want to buy makeup.

Their sole purpose seems to be to give me nightmares.

Me, and now, you. You’re welcome.

Furthermore, I thought her work was intended to reflect on what society expects of women–makeup and aesthetic surgeries and so on and are intended to be garish and unsettling–so why is she collaborating with a makeup company to sell products to women who feel pressured to conform to society’s beauty ideals? Or maybe that’s the reason the promo pictures are so off-putting and she’s having one over on MAC?

Glittersplosion table makeover

The friend who gave me the now orange chairs also gave me a table to makeover. The table was overall in decent shape, save for the top, which was flaking and peeling like a sunburn.

I decided I didn’t want to refinish the entire thing, just the top, and I was just recently inspired by a completely glittered concrete floor, so I decided to glitter this tabletop in a similar fashion. After sanding it down, taping it, and laying down the base coat, the first lesson I learned is that glitter doesn’t stick well to spraypaint. Even wet spraypaint. The second lesson I learned is that if you’re going to get large amounts of glitter to stick where it doesn’t want to stick via spray lacquer, you must first mist the glitter from above with several light coats, as if you spray too directly, the glitter will ball up and roll across the table in chunks. The third lesson, I already knew: glitter eats topcoat, so in order to have a non-bumpy, reflective top, instead of gritty, dull glitter, you have got to coat and recoat and recoat with lacquer. I determined that doing this via spraycan would take a year and a day, so I busted out the big guns: polyurethane in a can, and I still needed three thick coats before the surface was smooth and reflective, with each coat taking approximately 24 hours to cure as apparently it dries very differently on glitter than on wood–lesson four.

Lesson five: if the paint on the top was flaking, the other paint probably isn’t all that stable, either, and the tape you placed to protect it from red spraypaint and glitter will likely pull it straight off. @(#& Nothing a little more spraypaint can’t fix!

The photo doesn’t even begin to capture its glittery majesty. It’s primarily red sparkle but in direct sunlight, it flashes gold and purple. It’s going to live in my crafts room, dubbed Mellzah’s Sparklepalace of Glitter and Gore, and there it will serve as a stand for the monitor/xbox Jason got me for the room, as he knows how important it is to me to have movies/tv shows running in the background when I’m working on a project; it helps me to stay focused on the task at hand instead of wandering away after five minutes.

Setting the bar on new levels of shame.

Yesterday, I felt worse than I have in years. I’m blaming something I ate; the unfortunate part is that all I had the day before were home-cooked meals, so if I got food poisoning, I did it to myself. I like the idea of food poisoning much better when I can cast the blame elsewhere. Then again, Jason ate everything I did and was fine, so…?

I don’t know about you, but when I feel cruddy, one of my go-to home remedies is to take a hot bath. Usually, I’ll try to keep my hair out of the water, but inevitably some will get wet and turn into an unattractive snarled curlfro. Then, I put on a well-loved pair of comfortable sweatpants, as evidenced by the paint stains and the hole in the crotch, turn off all the lights, and curl up under a blanket in front of the TV and moan. There is nothing wrong with this ritual, and I challenge you to tell me otherwise.

However, what I didn’t expect was that yesterday the mailman would bring all of the mail up to the front door, including a giant box of candy for a party I’m throwing in a few weeks. I had to go and get the door in order to stop the dog’s “Oh god! Stranger danger!” barking frenzy…so there I was. A complete wreck, with greasy hair up top and a tangled, curly, matted mess below, a tank top, a nasty chipped manicure, sweatpants stained with craft goo and a hole in an indecent area, skin pale, sweaty and clammy, reaching outside and sweeping my box full of candy into my dark hovel like some sort of candy troll. I’m sure that looked GREAT. You caught me, mailman. I’m mainlining cinnamon bears, and I’ve been going through withdrawals, so that is why I look like crap.

Oooh, that smell! Can you smell that smell?

I can’t believe this actually exists. Who decided, “Yes, please, I would like to suffocate from the pervasive aroma of Garden Sweet Pea while I assemble a puzzle”? Do people actually buy them? Is the addition of perfume bringing puzzles back?

I note they are intended for adults. Why can’t children savor Midnight Jasmine? It’s not like 300 pieces is beyond the reach of a dedicated child. Or did they mean “geriatric” in place of adult and couldn’t think of a nice way to put it on the box?

It’s a puzzle, to be certain.

Berries slain in anger and pie

Even though days that feel like summer in the Pacific Northwest have been fleeting, it’s still harvest time for blueberries. Last weekend, Jason and I found ourselves at the Henna Blueberry Farm as their blueberry season starts a week or two earlier than other farms–the reason being that they are protected from some of the rain by a large nearby hill, so they ripen faster.

Holy shit, it’s a giant blueberry! Aww, it’s just me.

At the end of our vigorous picking endeavors, we found ourselves with nearly 10 pounds of blueberries, which, if that sounds like a lot, is in reality even more than that. Most of them are destined for the freezer, for the the times of year when blueberries are out of season and ridiculously expensive, but in the meanwhile, we’ve been eating blueberries on cereal, blueberries with lunch, blueberries with dinner, blueberries as a snack…We’ve made blueberry sorbet, and I’ve even made a blueberry pie. This is a big deal for me, as I’m terrible at making pie. I’ve had crusts burn, fillings erupt like a volcano all over the oven bottom, crusts turn out rubbery and tasteless; what I’m saying is that pie is not my forte.

However, this time I was determined to do it right. After cutting the butter into cubes, I put it in the freezer for an hour. I iced my hands before handling the crust, and even then handled it as little as possible. Between steps, the crust rested in the fridge. This made the pie-making process much longer than I’m used to, but I’m also used to not wanting to eat the pie after I make it, so obviously the fast way wasn’t working. For a fun touch, I used my pirate toast stamp to vent the top. I also foiled the edges of the crust to prevent them from burning, and placed a parchment-lined pan beneath the pie in case of filling explosion.

The foil pulled off some of the edge crust, so while it’s not a pretty pie, it IS a delicious one. The filling isn’t too sweet, it stays where it belongs when cut instead of slopping around, and the crust is flaky in a way I assumed no pie from my kitchen could ever be. Pie success! Now, if only I could learn how to make food look appetizing in a photograph instead of gross.

…Only 8 more pounds of blueberries to go.

Recipe can be found here.

Chairman of the Orange

Recently, a friend gave me some chairs and a side table for me to refinish that had seen their fair share of abuse; she didn’t want/need them anymore and didn’t have the time to fix them up.

I started on them today, and while the table is going to take more work than anticipated (and will thus get its own before/after post if I don’t screw it up completely), the chairs are just about done. I sanded them down–one of them required a lot more sanding than the other (can you guess which?), wiped them off, primed them, and then painted them the color I’ve deemed “Fuck Yeah Orange!” I am completely and totally into vibrant color lately, particularly in the kitchen, and since I’m not going to paint this kitchen orange like I did the last one, Fuck Yeah Orange! chairs are the very best next thing. I’m going to also make some cushions for them when I find the right fabric, which will be dual purpose–both protecting the finish and delicate hineys– but in the meanwhile, they will be a sorely needed splash of color in an otherwise entirely-too-neutral kitchen.

It’s so vibrant, my camera can hardly deal with it. LOVE IT. If I could find a leather/leatherette purse this color, I’d snatch it up in a second.

In other news, my manicure is shot, I’ve got primer in my hair, spraypaint coating the inside of my nose, and two to three distinct strata of sandpaper grime and dirt on the rest of my body. How many showers to get it all off? The world may never know.

Ho’n’Go Some Mo’

When I mocked press-on eyeshadow three years ago, I had no idea that it would stick around and that other companies would follow suit. I mean, really. Press-on zebra stripes? How many occasions does one have to wear such a thing? “Let’s see, today I have to go to the gym, the grocery store to pick up some asparagus, deposit this check at the bank…I’m thinking camouflage eyeshadow. Yeah, it’s definitely a camo kind of day. Let’s reserve leopard print for the office.”

But follow suit they have, as now with a little extra money and no sense whatsoever, you can purchase temporary lip tattoos.

Yes, you too can now let total strangers know that you shouldn’t be allowed to handle money, and from a distance, perhaps even project the appearance of late-stage oral disease. Or maybe even up close, as we all know how temporary tattoos flake and peel, and who DOESN’T want a potential lover to think of leprosy when looking at their lips? Oh, BABY.

But then again, since I have a history of being wrong about these sort of things, I’d like to present you with my brand new line of cheek tattoos, Cheeky Monkey:

Clownin’ Around

Love that Lurch!

MeeeYOW, Baby

Chillin With My Tribe

Dolla Dolla Bill, Y’all

The Beast Within

I’m Dating a Sparkly Vampire

Only fifteen bucks for a three-pack, and I’ll throw in a photo of a kitten wearing a hat for free. Place your orders now!

Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, a review in which the word “helpfully” is used sarcastically more than once.

I’ve long been a proponent of at-home fitness activities; the reasoning being that if you have to travel somewhere to work out, if it’s anything less than perfectly easy and convenient, you won’t do it consistently. I’ve enjoyed workouts like Turbo Jam and Chalene Extreme, which encourage me to jump and punch and kick without worrying how I look in front of a class of fit people and lift weights without some bulging dude grunting like a rhinoceros directly behind me, respectively. But with DVD workouts, you aren’t getting any feedback, unless your partner is sitting behind you on the couch, eating oreos and helpfully pointing out that you aren’t squatting low enough. Thus is the appeal of a game workout like Your Shape: Fitness Evolved–the Kinect sees your movements and can correct your form.

That is, if it worked properly. Apparently no one on the team of Your Shape has ever seen a fat or a short person, much less a short fat person, and my experience with the game was nothing short of extraordinarily frustrating. Supposedly, the program scans your body at the outset to determine arm and leg length, and to automatically sign you in, but even though I wear the same workout clothes and have my hair the same way nearly every time I play, the game has never once recognized me. My frustrations began with the personal trainer program. Like I’ve indicated above, this is not my first aerobics rodeo mimicking the movements of an instructor, so it’s annoying and frustrating to move exactly on beat, following the trainer precisely, and yet be punished by the game for being “out of rhythm”, during which your calorie count does not change even though you are performing the activity. Sometimes the game will indicate that I am in and out of rhythm six times over the course of one move, though my movements are indistinguishable from those of the onscreen trainer. With every move, I am berated to “move my legs farther apart”, and even when I widen my stance much more than the trainer, to the point of having to hop from foot to foot to perform the move, I am still instructed to widen my stance. Other times, I will be told not to raise my arms so high, so I will lower them a little, and then immediately be told to keep my arms up. The trainer will then helpfully repeat these useless suggestions at the end of each exercise, in case you didn’t hear them the first six or seven times. It’s here that the calorie counter really falls short, as having a she-hulk nuclear meltdown tantrum on the floor due to 6 contradictory corrections in the course of ten seconds burns way more calories than a simple step-touch.

When you aren’t being told to correct your form one way and then corrected the opposite way immediately afterward, the space in between is filled with “good!” “that’s right!” “you’ve got it!” “keep up the good work!” “you’re doing great!” “that’s it!” “That should feel much better”, one right after another. If the virtual trainer were a person, her friends and relatives would all tell you that she just likes to hear herself talk. It is incredibly annoying and distracting and there’s no way to turn it off. That’s right, I came to the game looking for feedback, but now that I’ve got an earful, I’d pay extra to disable it, since I’m getting nothing beneficial from it and it’s actively detracting from my experience.

In the fitness classes portion of the game, they have two different classes you can take: Cardio Boxing, and Zen, though they helpfully include all of the other workouts you can purchase for more money onscreen, as apparently the sixty dollars you paid for a workout game was merely enough to pay for the framework of the game and the workouts themselves have to be purchased piecemeal. The cardio boxing class is a joke. I’ve given myself a higher heart rate carrying in my sack of fast food from the car to the couch than I have during any portion of this “cardio” workout, even in the advanced classes. Now, I may be used to Turbo Jam’s style of cardio boxing, where after a workout, I can squeeze buckets of sweat out of my clothes, but then again, this is a workout game. Shouldn’t I expect a workout?

The zen portion of the fitness classes is equally useless. Since I’m a fatty mcfatass, and once again, the team has clearly never met a fat person before, the game has some interesting ideas about where my bones are located.

The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone, which goes somewhere up through my uterus and into the other leg. The second leg’s bone has decided to travel up into my butt, which is most DEFINITELY not where it resides within my body. In nearly every instance it places a bone, it will be along the side of a muscle/fat heavy area instead of where the bone anatomically belongs. There have been instances where the bone will sink into the floor or curve or snap in half, which means I NEVER get any useful feedback about how to position my body and I get no credit for doing the moves which means at the end of the session I get a sadface “Let’s try this again” message. Because if there’s anything more fun than frustration, it’s double doses of frustration!

I wish I had purchased a physical copy of this game so I could trade it in and at least get something back; instead, I bought it from the xbox live marketplace for the same amount of money, and now I’m stuck with it. Even if I could bring myself to play it, it can’t ever replace a gym workout. Hell, it can’t even replace my workout DVDs. Helpful.