Date Archives October 2011

This year’s Halloween costume: The Gunstringer

I found myself seriously charmed by The Gunstringer right around the time I was deciding what my Halloween costume would be this year, and it immediately became the forerunner, handily beating the competitors: Oompa Loompa, She-Hulk, and Sexy Phlegm Ball.

I made the poncho, gloves, hat bullets, holsters, and horse prop, as well as painting bones onto a leotard so I could pretend my body was skeletal and painting some plastic guns to look more realistic. I’m wearing it now, stuffing my face with mini-twix, and justifying the whole thing by telling myself I’m nothing but skin and bones. Out of all of it, the gloves gave me the most trouble. So much, in fact, that I may never make a pair of gloves ever again. Or at least not until sometime next year.

The makeup took about two hours to apply, from covering my eyebrows until finishing touches. It took nearly as long to remove, and I’m still finding occasional blue spots along my hairline or in a hidden cranny in my ears. If I was going to wear the costume again, I’d consider making prosthetics for the cheekbones, jawline, and forehead to make the skull more pronounced.

This year marks my first time doing something I thought I’d never, ever do: wear a couple’s costume, which on the scale of Big Deals is somewhere right around acquiring a mortgage. We might as well buy burial plots together now or get his and hers face tattoos.

Jason attended as my power-up: El Taco Diablo.

Our costumes were a hit even with people who hadn’t seen the source material, and they didn’t much impede us when it came to eating, drinking, or getting busy…dancing.

“I have no interest in that, besides occasionally wearing the underwear, which as we discussed, is strictly a comfort thing.”

I found these beauties at the local Fred Meyer. Now, far be it for me to begrudge anyone some spooky panties on Halloween, but really, the scariest thing about this pair isn’t that there’s a witch on them–it’s that the melted witch-blob is positioned in such a way as to make it look like you’ve had a terrible, terrible accident, perhaps involving Olestra. Who wants to take their pants off in front of someone (especially in low light) knowing they’ve got what looks like slimy turd residue hanging out on their backside? Mmmm, sexy.

No wonder they were half price.

Nom or Vom: Cheese and Bacon and Bacon and Cheese

Now, I know you’re going to make a snap judgement on this one as soon as you see the picture, without considering the pros and cons, so I am going to present them beforehand, which of course, you’re going to ignore in favor of the photo. STILL.

Things to consider:

Pros: What’s not to love about cheese and bacon? Probably the most nutritious/healthy of the nom or voms so far, even with the inclusion of cheese and bacon.

Cons: You’d have to be blindfolded to eat it, and maybe even that wouldn’t stop the screaming.

Would you eat this?

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Yo dawg, I heard you like cities so I put a city in your city

We took the free tram from the Sheraton Universal to Universal Studios, and were dropped off at CityWalk. Now, I’d seen the sign at the entrance of the park calling the place Universal City, but I thought they were being cutesy and calling their combination of two hotels and one theme park a city: the same way a Rite Aid, a mexican restaurant, and a Sally Beauty Supply somehow constitutes a mall. I really had no idea. Universal City itself is enormous, offering tons of dining, shopping, and entertainment options, with the Gibson Ampitheater throwing free concerts nightly. They even have an indoor skydiving facility! Had I known, we could have taken the tram the first night and skipped Hollywood Blvd…but I didn’t, so we took what limited time we had before the park opened to explore and wolf down some food. And by wolf down some food, I mean deep throat a sausage so quickly that it made Michele Bachmann look like an amateur.

I didn’t want to do much shopping, or rather, I saw a ton of things I’d want to own to wear/consume if only it wouldn’t have meant carrying it all around for the next seven hours at the park, but we decided it wouldn’t be too much effort to stuff some candy into our pockets from IT’SUGAR–especially if we found some awesome exotic candy. By exotic, I mean something we haven’t seen or tried before, instead of a giant version of something familiar (2 pound Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, I’m looking at you!).

Inside, they had a statue of Marilyn Monroe made entirely of jellybeans, and toothbrushes at 50% off:

The store was mostly full of candy you could get anywhere, but I did manage to find something I’d never seen before: Milk Chocolate Pop Rocks. Well, two things, but I’m saving the second for a nom or vom after this post. Is this really it? At twenty-nine, have I already exhausted all of my candy options?

Now that I’ve tried the pop rocks, I can safely say that I’m not a fan. In order for them to pop, you have to keep a mouthful of melted chocolate in your mouth long past the swallowing point, making them sort of awkward to eat. I don’t want to swish candy around in my mouth like wine. I’m really not even pretentious enough to do it with wine. The order of things is: put it in your mouth, enjoy, swallow. Not: put it in your mouth, wait for it, wait for it, wait for it….wait for it, enjoy, swallow. I’m a busy girl who needs instant gratification candy, lest I throw myself onto a shop floor in a delayed gratification tantrum.

After buying our candy, inhaling our sausage, and drinking an unwise amount of fluids immediately before attending an event that’s supposed to be pee-your-pants levels of scary, we found ourselves out of time and rushed off to the park entrance for the start of Halloween Horror Nights.

“Ever since I became a movie star I’ve been miserable. I had to get up at five a.m. just for makeup. I like the way the blush brings out my cheekbones, but it’s not worth it!”

On Saturday morning, we hopped back on the subway toward Hollywood Blvd to have lunch at Mel’s Diner and check out the Hollywood Museum, located in the historic Max Factor building: four floors packed full of Hollywood memorabilia. The ground floor was right up my alley and nearly bored Jason to death, as it was almost solely about makeup. They highlighted the differences between makeup applied for black and white films versus technicolor, how Max Factor’s innovations revolutionized makeup for film, and how it was eventually introduced for sale to the public as it was being stolen off of the sets by everyone. Max Factor’s “pan-cake” makeup was essentially a heavy foundation which, unlike the existing panchromatic makeup, did not reflect surrounding colors. Before the development of pan-cake, actors looked so bad in color that many refused to act in color films.

…the things women do to be beautiful.

Celebrities loved Max Factor’s makeup so much that they were more than willing to be featured in advertisements for the product. Today, you’d have to pay out the nose to get a celebrity to endorse your product! Celebrities no longer fall over themselves to advertise Max Factor makeup: After Max Factor Jr died, the company went public and then was merged with Norton Simon. Quality went down the tubes, it was turned into a drugstore line, which sold so poorly that it is now no longer even sold in the United States. However, the Factors are still involved in makeup–it’s not widely known, but Max Factor’s great grandsons are the founders of Smashbox, a higher-end makeup line.

Makeup displays were set up in four different rooms: one for blondes, one for brunettes, one for brownettes, and one for redheads. I’d never heard the term “brownette” before, but it does seem to fill in the spectrum nicely for women who have neither blonde nor dark brown/black hair. The redhead room was painted a pale green, and Max Factor felt that if your skin looked healthy and natural in this room, your tonality was right to become a redhead, which is how he decided that the color would work for Lucille Ball. I now know that redheadedness would not look natural on me, as the room gave my skin a sickly tint.

Mine would undoubtedly read “She’s a jerk!”

The blonde room was, of course, filled with Marilyn Monroe memorabilia, from some of her personal makeup, to outfits she wore, to some manner of prescription drug bottle. And then there was this: an unlabeled clump of dark blonde/light brown hair emerging from a box. There were quite a few things like this throughout the museum–just there, with no explanation. Was it Marilyn Monroe’s hair? Was it collected from her brush? Yanked from her head by the paparazzi? Was it wig hair? What is it doing there?

Also on the first floor: Marilyn Monroe’s limousine, the eiffel tower prop from Moulin Rouge, and a number of creepy bunny heads on legs from Along Came Polly.

The basement floor, a former speakeasy, was dedicated to horror and sci-fi memorabilia: in addition to props and costumes, they recreated the prison walkway from Silence of the Lambs. They had some of my personal favorites–one of Elvira’s costumes, a cryptkeeper puppet, and an entire Stargate costume display. I was sorely tempted to try and take Ra’s costume, as it would be much easier than trying to make one of my own for a future Halloween (of course, then I’d need the body of a twelve year old boy, so it’s probably for the best that I wasn’t able to get at it, rather than bellow in hippo-like dispair as I tried to cram myself into the original), and while I was at it, stick my face in Daniel Jackson’s pants since James Spader’s butt was in there for a time. (Was that too far? That was too far, I’m sorry.)

The third floor was also right up my alley, as it was a tribute to Lucille Ball, from her early days in Hollywood through the height of her career, up until her death. They had costumes, outfits worn to events, awards, jewelry, film clips, and more. She is one of my all-time favorite actresses–I watched reruns of “I Love Lucy” incessantly as a child, and I still love them as an adult. She was fierce, and brave, and funny, and an incredible role model for women, and it was very moving for me to be surrounded by evidence of her legacy. The fourth floor was more of a mishmash–a lot of random things from random celebrities and movies: the dog in a cast from There’s Something About Mary, Elvis Presley’s tattered robe (which they claimed came complete with peanut butter stains, though I could find evidence of no such stain, so it I suspect it was just sensationalism–like The King would have wasted any peanut butter on his robe!), Pee Wee Herman’s bicycle, some costumes from Moulin Rouge, and a small display on Michael Jackson, featuring even more random unexplained hair with a lifecast of his face. Two of the pieces appear to be wigs, but there’s a long ponytail that could have formerly belonged to Jackson? Maybe?

I like that they assumed that their visitors wouldn’t know the meaning of the word “scandal”.

We ended up spending several hours at the museum, seeing everything there was to see. However, we still had time to visit the Fredericks of Hollywood IN Hollywood (because, c’mon, who doesn’t love trashy lingerie?), meet another crazy on the subway, head back to the hotel, AND go swimming before it was time to head to Universal Studios.

“It’s one of Nature’s most beautiful sights — the convoy.”

…I never knew how tiny that sign actually was.

We left for LA on Thursday evening as soon as Jason got home from work, making our way to the tiny town of Yreka, California before having to stop to rest. (I was glad we were finally through Oregon–it’s not that I have anything against the state, but as you aren’t allowed to pump your own gas, stations tend to close at night rather than manning them 24 hours a day, which made for an, uh, interesting tour of Roseburg where I first attempted to illegally pump my own gas at a closed pump and then drove around town until I finally found an open pump, at which I waited ten minutes for the operator to sashay his way over to the car.) Once in Yreka, I initially pulled into a rest area, intending to nap for twenty minutes and then hit the road again, but as Jason tossed and turned and huffed and puffed on his seat, moaning, “This is so uncomfortable. I thought we were going to stop at a motel. I thought that was the plan.” I realized it wasn’t fair for me to change the game plan on the fly without consulting him, even if it meant arriving in LA later than I would have liked. So I drove us to a nearby motel and had five hours of overly caffeinated, jittery dreams, hitting the road at about 8 am, putting us on pace for an arrival at our hotel around 6pm. Along the way, we stopped for Jason’s first taste of In N Out burger, saw tons of cows along the road (aka baby In N Out burgers), and, during the hottest portion of the day, the highway came to a complete stop and we got to watch the car’s temperature gauge click up…and up…and up…and up, all while panicking and cursing a little. Luckily, after clicking off the AC (which, in that car, means “blast slightly less hot air directly into your face”) and a few minutes of backed up traffic, the roads opened up again and the gauge went back down into the normal range. After checking in at the hotel, and finding our room, tucked back in the “loser corridor” away from the main hotel rooms, we went to the concierge to get directions to Hollywood Blvd. The Sheraton Universal hotel’s website indicates that it’s within walking distance, so I thought it was just a matter of having him point us in the right direction. Not so. It’s technically within walking distance, if you consider walking distance to be “Walk to the subway station and then take the subway to your destination,” otherwise, it’s a mere casual stroll over a mountain range. Not ones to be deterred by such technicalities, we made our way to the subway system and were immediately befuddled by their ticket-selling system. They sell passes that can be used across their entire transit system, but if you buy a one-way pass, you walk through a separate stall, which doesn’t verify whether or not you have a ticket. At no point does anyone verify whether you have a ticket, and since the majority of the people use passes, it wouldn’t even make financial sense to have someone roaming the stations, asking to see ticket stubs. What, exactly, is stopping anyone, everyone, from riding for free? Aside from being pansies from Washington, too dorky and law-abiding to try and skirt the rules? We didn’t spend a long time on Hollywood Blvd that evening–just long enough to have dinner and map out the area for tourist activities the next day, but it was still nearly 10pm by the time we were in the subway station waiting for the train to take us back. We waited. And waited. And waited. A train showed up on the other side, and a garbled announcement was made on the overhead speakers, but I couldn’t hear it over the rowdy teenagers shouting and fighting nearby. We waited some more. And after that, we waited some more. On our side of the station, a man in a wheelchair cut pieces off of an onion bagel and flung them down onto the tracks, yelling “You all is stupid, waiting on the wrong side of the tracks. Crazy! Trains is all on the other side. Asshole! Shitbreath! Cuntstain! Wrong side trains!”, each exclamation punctuated by another piece of bagel chucked onto the tracks below. I leaned into Jason and whispered, “So…the man throwing bagels onto the tracks says that all the trains are coming on the other side of the station. But other people are still waiting on this side. Do we listen to the bagel-throwing man?” Jason replied “I think it means we should take a cab.” “Not after I paid for these tickets, it doesn’t! Shitbreath!” We approached some friendly-looking people, and as it turns out, they were tourists as well so they couldn’t be of much help, though they did say it seemed as though the trains were running in both directions from one side of the platform at this stop, as they’d gotten on the previous train and it announced it was traveling in the opposite direction. So we waited, and waited, and waited, and sure enough, the bagel-throwing man was correct. After finally making it back to the hotel, we showered off 30 hours of road sweat, grit, and the occasional french fry out of our various nooks and crannies, and collapsed on the bed so we could get a solid night’s sleep before the long day ahead of us.

“Thrilled to be Undead! A Zombie-licious Exhibition”

Immediately following my post talking about how played out zombies are comes a post about a zombie art show at Shindig Martini Bar, as I am nothing if not self-contradictory. Jason and I found ourselves there on a Monday night two weeks ago to take in some awesome zombie art by Kate Vrijmoet, and drink some delicious zombie-themed drinks, at least superficially. My not-so-hidden agenda was to twist Jason’s arm into taking a road trip to Hollywood to attend Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights. Little did I know that no arm-twisting was required, as he immediately agreed that we should go. I then found myself attempting to talk him out of it, saying “It’s a long drive. Like, nineteen hours long. There’s every chance on Earth that we’ll break up after spending so much time cooped up in a car together. And the car might break down and the attraction might suck and we could end up being murdered by transients, and then who would take care of the dog? Did you even think about the dog when you agreed to this?”

Since I didn’t need to persuade him and I couldn’t dissuade him, it was decided that we’d be making the trip to LA that weekend. With the matter settled, we dipped into our drinks and checked out some artwork.

If you’d like to check out some zombie art and sip some zombie-inspired drinks, the show is running at Shindig through November 6th.

“Oh, please. I saw Paul Lynde do that same hackneyed trick on Bewitched.”

I just left ZomBCon 2011; it was my first and last time attending this con. I’m sure it didn’t help my overall impression of the con that I think zombies are beyond played out (seriously, stop beating the undead horse!), but I figured this would still have some horror things I would be interested in, and even better: it had Tom Savini, the “master of splatter”, a special FX artist I highly respect(ed).

But I’m getting ahead of myself. My first experience with the con was taking a lovely thirty minute tour of the Hilton parking garage, trying to find a parking spot. After I’d finally found a spot, we followed some posted signs to the convention, only to be told to turn around and trek back to a different area to get our wristbands. Since I was most excited to meet Tom Savini (I’d brought my first edition copy of Grande Illusions for him to sign), that was my first stop. He could not have been less interested in having any sort of conversation with me, looking away even as I paid him money for an autograph on an item I already owned. I asked him one question–has he ever considered offering online makeup courses for those people for whom moving to Pittsburgh would be extremely difficult if not impossible, and he cut me off, saying he wasn’t interested in competing with himself, and dismissed me. If looks could kill, the burning glance of hate he shot at me while sending me on my way would have killed me six times over–and that’s the only eye contact he made.

Look, I didn’t expect him to be my best friend, to stand up and take a photo with me, to chitchat or become sworn spit brothers. I understand that it’s awkward, even exhausting, to meet a bunch of people who know who you are, when you have no idea who they are, especially if they creep into the territory of rabid fandom, and you suspect they might want to make a dress out of your skin or something (which horror fans might be more likely to do). But I didn’t interrupt his lunch, or stop him at the john with his dick in his hand, asking him for an autograph. He was there of his own free will, I paid him for a moment of his time, and even then I couldn’t get his full attention. There wasn’t even anyone behind me–I was literally the only person asking for a second of his time, and he made me feel like I was some disgusting substance he’d found on his shoe. It was so disappointing, I could have cried. Granted, some of that is PMS talking, but if you’re not a person who is cut out to do meet-and-greets at conventions, maybe you shouldn’t do meet-and-greets. I’ve met a lot of celebrities–tv stars, movie stars, rock stars, porn stars, authors, artists, from the just-starting-out to the mega-famous-known-round-the-world and each and every one of them was nicer to me than Tom Savini.

We walked through the dealer’s area, but I was so embarrassed and shocked that I didn’t want to browse–not that I was much interested in getting a con tattoo beforehand, anyway. The only other activity going on at that time was a film screening of The Devil’s Rejects with Sid Haig and Bill Moseley, but I’d done that at Crypticon a few years ago and didn’t see much point in reprising the experience, and I didn’t have any interest in waiting around for any of the other zombie-related panels. When we left, about five minutes later, I left through a different door so I wouldn’t have to come face to face with Savini again.

I suppose I should look at it this way: forty minutes of wasted time saved me fifty grand in wasted money on Savini’s special FX school.

It’s Alarming!

There are many alarm clocks on this earth, each one designed to wake you up at an hour at which you would not naturally rise, in order to do shit that you don’t want to do. Some attempt to lessen the blow with subtle chimes that are supposed to integrate into your dreams to wake you naturally, while others wake you to music to entice you out of bed, while yet others attempt the “foghorn blast announcing the end of the world” method. These might work at first, but eventually you’ll grow used to them, rolling over to hit the snooze button six or seven times, or maybe even turning the alarm off entirely, leading to an interesting telephone conversation with your boss during which you groggily attempt to understand why he’s asking you if you intend to come into work today.

Congratulations! Your “late to bed, too-goddamned-early-to-rise” problems are solved with my new invention: The Dog/Cat vomit alarm clock. How many times have you been woken out of a deep sleep full of sexy dreams instantly by the sound of a “GURK…GURK..GUUUUURK” occurring somewhere in the vicinity of your home? Unlike conventional alarm clocks which use the same sound every morning, it will randomly choose between a number of vomit and hairball sounds, ensuring that you’ll never say, “Oh, it’s just the alarm clock” and drift back off into sleep…because each time, it could be for real. Are you going to take that chance with your carpets? Remember: your pets always know what items in your home have the most value, sentimental or otherwise, and those are the items that will be destroyed if you allow pet stomach bile to remain on them for more than ten seconds. But wait, you say, if the sound is always coming from the same place, won’t that indicate it’s the alarm instead of a real hurl emergency? It would, if this were a conventional alarm clock. However, this clock comes on wheels and throughout the night, will silently move through your home, stopping in a different spot every morning that will have you rushing out of bed to your kitchen, your laundry room, your office, with paper towels and spot cleaner in hand.

Say hello to being on time for work every day for the rest of your life. Say hello to the Vom-Larm Clock.

Nom or Vom: Well, I can tell the difference between butter and “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!”

Paula Deen branded Butter Flavored Lip Balm. Things to consider:

Pro: Having it on your lips might be like eating a piece of really buttery toast all day, or like a delicious buttery kissing lubricant

Cons: The idea of rubbing your lips with a stick of butter (real or lip balm-y), the scent of artificial butter (especially over a long period of time)

Would you use this?

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