Thursday, July 26, 2012

Visitors in the Night

Last night at 3 in the morning I heard a noise outside my window. I figured it was probably a frog. I get frogs down there a lot and they jump up and stick to the window. The outside is pretty streaked thanks to them.

The sound didn't stop and turned into a rustling. I could tell it was a much bigger animal than a frog. At first I figured it was a cat. My bedroom is in the basement and there is about a three or four foot deep metal well around the window, and our cats have been known to jump down in there from time to time.

Then I had a thought that was not so pleasant. What if it was a skunk? There is a skunk that lives near our home, and every once in awhile it sprays somewhere near enough that it stinks up my room, even though the window is almost brand new and tightly sealed. I was afraid that somehow the skunk had fallen down into the well and would get freaked out and spray, and my room would be stunk up worse than it ever had before.

I was wrong on both guesses. I looked out the window and I could see the weeds being rustled around, so whatever had gotten down in there was running around. I had the light on so I couldn't see out very well, but I thought I saw a cat. It was a small fuzzy body the same size and color as one of our cats, and with the reflections on the glass, that's what I thought it was. Then it turned and looked at me with a masked face. It was a raccoon! It was still kind of small, not fully grown, and it had gotten itself down in the well, and it couldn't get out due to the slippery metal of the well.

Then I saw more movement behind the raccoon and I realized that there was another one back there! They started to run around in circles, and tried to climb out. I watched them for a minute and I realized that there were three out there. One managed to escape, or had seen the others jump in and was looking down into the well, trying to get the others to come out.

I tried to take some pictures, but the flash didn't work well on the dirty glass. I think the sudden flashes of light freaked them out even more than the sight of me watching them, and they got desperate and started trying to climb the bricks of the house. After multiple attempts they finally made it up and out. I did manage to get a couple of semi-decent shots of the last one before it managed to escape.

I don't believe I'd ever seen a raccoon that close before. They are much cuter than they look in these pictures. They make the cutest little purring, chirping noise too. I have decided that I want one for a pet. :p

Bob Ross

You might recall about 2 months ago when I shared THIS video on my blog.

I posted that because it was just a perfect little bit of childhood nostalgia, and I loved the message in the song. Today that channel, PBS Digital Studios, released a second video. This one is just as full of nostalgia as the previous video.

When I was little, Bob Ross was scheduled viewing at Grandma's house. Every Saturday we knew that she'd be watching Bob Ross, and we'd be right there watching with her.

I'm not an expert on psychology, or any sort of analysis of the mind, but if I had to guess, I would say that Bob Ross is at least one of the reasons that I love art so much. His consistent message that "Anyone Can Paint," is something that I firmly believe in. Bob Ross showed me that anyone can be an artist. You just need to take the time to learn, and develop your skills.

The people who claim to not be able to draw, or paint, or whatever, simply don't take the time to learn. Their lives would be so much richer if they just tried.

Bob Ross may not be considered a "Master" on the scale of DaVinci, or Michelangelo, but to me, he is one of the greatest artists of the last century. Not just for his works, but for his inspiring attitude, not just about art, but about life itself.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


The other day while I was watching all those Cookie Monster videos, I found a video on the Sesame Street channel by OK Go. I wanted to share it right then, but my post was about Cookie Monster, so I decided to wait on it and do an entire post about OK Go later instead. If you don't remember who OK Go is you can click HERE to read my post about their hilarious collaboration with the Muppets.
One of the reasons I love OK Go's videos is because of how colorful they are. To have them teach kids about color on Sesame Street was just perfect.

If you've never seen any OK Go videos before, you might want to see this one.

It's not nearly as colorful or polished as the ones they make nowadays, but this is the video that launched them to YouTube stardom. It's very unique. How many other artists would think of making a music video on treadmills? Besides colorful, the other word that best describes them is unique. Every video is so different. They are just fun to watch. You can tell they love what they do by how much work they put into each one.

I just loved the camouflage suits in this next video. That was a really weird surprise, but it was just so random, and you know how much I like random! :)

I hadn't seen that video before now, but I had seen their Rube Goldberg video for this song. It is still one of the most amazing videos they have ever made. If you haven't seen it yet, you need to.

That was all filmed in one take. ONE TAKE! And you can tell from the number of smashed TVs in the background that it took them many, many tries to get it right. These guys are artistic geniuses.

Also a must see, is their Needing/Getting video. It amazes me every time I see it that they pulled this off so well.

That's 4 months of planning!!! 4 months of work for a 4 minute video. That's dedication. :)

This one I had not seen before, even though it's two years old.

What I like best about it is the goose! That is SO random, and hilarious! :D

The next one starts out just kind of weird, but as it continues, it just gets sort of mesmerizing, and you begin to see how creative it is. By the end it was one of my favorites.

Another one of my favorites is their video for the song White Knuckles.

They must have had some good dog trainers to get this all filmed in one take. That is just amazing. I wonder how many times they had to start over before they got it right.

Now that you've seen these videos, rewatch their music video with the Muppets and see how many references to their other videos you catch.

All of OK Go's videos completely embody the spirit of Randomness. They're never the same twice, and they're always creative. No wonder I love them so much. :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dark and Epic

Dark, Heavy, Epic.

That was my reaction to "The Dark Knight Rises." It was so good.

Last night I went with two of my brothers to see "The Dark Knight Rises." I was a little tentative about it, because I was not a fan of the last movie. The reason for this was the Joker.

The Joker has always been one of my favorite Batman villains, thanks to my having grown up watching "Batman: The Animated Series." As that show is my main frame of reference for the character, my idea of the perfect Joker is one who is dangerous and deranged, but at the same time, completely hilarious. The Joker in "The Dark Knight" was just disturbing. The only thing he did that I found funny was to dress up as a nurse, and that one scene wasn't enough for me to like the whole movie. Plus the end, having Batman take the blame for Harvey Dent's crime spree and then disappear, was just an overall depressing way to end a movie. I don't like movies with depressing endings.

Still, this was a Batman film, one of my top three favorite Superheros, so I couldn't NOT see it. Plus, because this was supposed to be the final film in a trilogy, so I was optimistic. They wouldn't end a trilogy badly would they? I went with high hopes, because I really wanted a good ending. I am so glad I did, because I got exactly what I wanted.

Aside from the fact that it was a Batman film, the other biggest reason I really wanted to see this movie was for Anne Hathaway. She's one of my favorite actresses, so when I heard she was playing Selena Kyle, AKA Catwoman, I instantly became 10 times more excited for the movie. She was amazing in the role, and I loved that they eventually made her into an "Anti-Hero" instead of a one dimensional villain. I love character growth. :) Probably my favorite scene is when she appears out of nowhere to save Batman. It's one of those moments where you just want to punch the air and cheer. :)

The main villain was Bane, and he was much better than I'd hoped. Bane has never been one of my favorite Batman villains. He's usually depicted as wearing a Lucha libre style mask, which to me is halfway ridiculous, so I liked that they changed the mask completely. This also involved changing the source of his "Powers." There are no real "Super-powers" in this trilogy, but they used his mask as a medical device that blocks pain in his body. He didn't use the venom serum to "Hulk Out" like most of his other incarnations, he just had this mask giving him painkillers 24/7. That combined with his incredible, but still allegedly, humanly achievable, strength, was what made him a formidable foe.

There was one other villain in the story, though for those of you who haven't yet seen the movie, I won't say who it is. The character goes by a different name for almost the entire film, and toward the end their real name is revealed. If you aren't familiar with some of Batman's more obscure foes, you probably won't have any idea of the twist that's coming, but halfway through the film I figured out who this person really was, so I felt quite gratified at the end to learn I was right.

This movie was SO much better than the last one. It was not a "Fun" Superhero movie, like Spider-Man, but it was still an amazing film. The effects were great and the sound was massive. It's not the kind of movie I usually like. It's very heavy through the whole movie, and there isn't any comedy to lighten the mood at all. But it is a gripping film, and the end was so good. I hesitate to call final act "Beautiful," but one scene came very, very close, and I'm pretty sure that someone behind me needed a Kleenex. :p Oh, who am I kidding. After a movie that heavy, that scene WAS beautiful. I loved it. :)

If you are a Batman fan, you must see this movie. You will not regret it.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Yes, That's a Tractor Parade

Warning, even though today's post is about the fair and the parade, it is also about relieving my build-up of snark. If you judge the photography show at the fair, are a Shriner, wear a creepy puppet mask, or ride a firetruck in the parade, you might want to leave now. I am not very nice to you. :p

So the fair is over. Actually it's been over for a week, it just took me that long to recover emotionally from the stinging blows dealt by the cruel, merciless judges. Not really. I could care less what those half-wits have to say. Half the time they don't even know how to spell. If their opinion was worth anything they'd be judging an art show in New York instead of a county fair in the middle of nowhere in a land of cornfields.

I did not do well at the fair, but I'm not really that upset about it. The people that matter think my pictures are great. I did win 3rd place on my picture of the two Barn Swallows, but they didn't bother to give me a ribbon, so I spent the entire fair thinking I didn't win anything.

If you'd like a reminder of which pictures I entered, you can click HERE.

The judges did not have much to say in the way of nice comments. If I could sum up their thoughts about all of the pictures it would be, "Center everything and only use black mat-board." They thought that the beanie baby picture should have been zoomed out to show they whole body of the "Dead" dinosaur, and they thought that I should have zoomed in and completely cropped the sky out of the firework picture. The only criticism I agreed with was the one they gave to the picture of the girl and the giraffe, which was that it was slightly blurry. I knew that, and I didn't expect to win anything with that one, I just liked it, and I didn't have any other good pictures to enter in the "People" category.

Now onto the "Crazy" criticism. The seahorse. I entered it under miscellaneous. They told me that I put it in the wrong category. Miscellaneous could be anything, so why they were upset by the sea horse is beyond me. I suppose I could have understood if they felt it should have been in the animals and birds category, even though I think it is incredibly stupid that the category is animals AND birds. (Not Fish) They need to have separate categories for animals, birds, fish, etc. And don't get me started on how stupid it is that they put the insects in the same category as plants and flowers.

ANYway... They did not say that the seahorse should have been categorized as an animal photograph, they said it should have been with the PLANTS! *Face-palm**Face-palm**Face-palm* Plus, they said that it needed to be a close-up of the seahorse. First of all, if I had wanted it to be a close-up, it would have been a close-up. It was a picture of a dwarf seahorse, and I wanted it to look small, besides, in the print I made, it was THREE TIMES the size it was in real life.

Anyway, I think I should move on before I develop high blood pressure. :p

I did not spend much time at the fair, there is never anything new, it's basically the same fair every single year. The most time I spent at the fair wasn't even AT the fair, it was watching the parade in town.

Yes, this about sums up your average parade in Iowa. :p

Cue the horror movie music. Mr. Creepy, purple, dead-eyes shows up every year. What in the name of burnt meatloaf and rice pudding this thing has to do with the hospital is beyond me. It's just an embarrassment is what it is.

Awe, look at the adorable little cult! It's like the 7 dwarves traded in their diamond mine for a secret society, clown cars, and fezzes.

And the most annoying part of the entire parade. The screaming emergency vehicles full of people who want nothing more than to blow the ear-drums out of your head, and the firetrucks, which are full of rotten little children (And adults with the mentality of children) who are armed with squirt guns and hoses and mercilessly soak the crowds who just wanted to watch a parade in peace.

And now we come to the good part. The snarkiness is over. :)

I love horses. :)

And Cowgirls on horses. :)

The parade is probably the best part of the fair, so if I see anything of the fair I usually try to at least make it to the parade. Though, they could make it 100 times better if they replaced the firetrucks, police cars, and anything else that's annoying with a few more horses. Actually, just make the parade all horses. I'd be ok with that. :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012


I grew up watching 3 Super-Hero shows. Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man. So far I have yet to see a big screen version of either Superman or Batman that I absolutely love. I *Like* parts of all of them. But mostly they have been major disappointments. Especially Superman. Superman has always been my favorite superhero. Can someone PLEASE do him justice on the big screen?!

Ahem... I'm getting off on a rabbit trail... This post is not supposed to be an a rant about past disappointments in Superman movies, it's supposed to be about Spider-Man.

Spider-Man, has already had three awesome movies. I was disappointed that they decided to end the last film series and start over with a whole new story, but as I began seeing what the new movie could be, I warmed up to the idea and by the time I got to see it I was really excited for it.

My cousin and I went to see "The Amazing Spider-Man" last night, and we both loved it. I thought it was even better than the previous 3 Spider-Man films.

I'm sure a lot of "Hard-Core" geeks hated this, but I really liked that they changed the back story to make his father part of the reason he became Spider-Man. I found this to be a really interesting twist on the story. I also loved the fact that his parents just disappeared, instead of just dying somehow. I am really excited to see where this will lead in future sequels.

The characters were all different from the other movies. Of course they were the same in all the important ways, but they were all different enough so that they were not carbon copies of their predecessors.

Peter was mostly the same, they can't stray too far from his basic character, but he was still different in subtle ways. My cousin noted that in the other films it seemed that he was kind of a show-off, but he seemed a lot more down-to-earth in this movie. I think this is one reason I found this version of the character to be more likable. He just seemed like more of a "Normal" guy.

One of the biggest differences in characters was in the ages of Peter's aunt and uncle. They were quite a bit younger than they have ever been. I would guess them to be around 50. I liked this take on them. It makes more sense to have them be that age than to have them be in their 70's or however old they have been in the past.

Mary Jane was completely absent from the movie, which I didn't mind. In the original comics, Gwen Stacy was Peter's first love, and I liked that they went back to that for this film. I've never been very familiar with the character of Gwen, since she was not included in the animated series that I grew up watching. In that one it was Mary Jane only, from beginning to end.  I've read up on the character and I'm interested to see how this version of the story unfolds. The only downside to having Gwen be in the movies is how they will deal with the character when it comes time to introduce Mary Jane. I'm afraid they may end up giving her the same fate as her comic book counterpart. The reason they didn't include her in the animated series is because they did not want to feature a character in a kid's show that they would eventually have to kill off. In the comics she is murdered by the Green Goblin. Of course this would be a really great twist plot-wise, but I always hate it when they kill off a character you've grown to love.

I was really glad that they chose to do the Lizard as the main villain in the movie. He was probably one of my favorite Spider-Man villains when I was a kid. I'd been hoping they would use him in the other series, and it seemed like they were planning to since Doctor Connors was a character in the other movies. But since they never did use him, I'm glad they started out this new film series with him as Spider-Man's first super-villain.

One minor thing I really liked was this interpretation of Flash Thompson. He doesn't play a very big role in the film, but I really liked how they fleshed out his character compared to other versions of the story. He's always been a bully to Peter, but by the end of this movie, they have pretty much become friends. I always enjoy stories where a "Bad Guy" becomes a good guy. Even though Flash isn't necessarily a bad guy, he definitely would be classified as an antagonist. The fact that he grows as a character like he does, even though it's just a small part, was really great. I hope he plays a bigger role in the sequel.

This movie was a very different version of the story than the three that came before. I still love the first three movies, but I liked this one even better. If you haven't yet seen the movie, I highly recommend it for any super-hero fan. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Oz: The Great and Powerful

What is it about magical worlds that captivate me so much? Wonderland, Narnia, Neverland, Middle Earth. If it's a world where weird stuff happens, I'm there, and I love it. One of my favorite magical lands is getting another reimagining next year, and it looks AMAZING!

No, this is not a new version of "The Wizard of Oz." This is a completely different story altogether! This Oz is about the Wizard, before he was the Wizard. How he came to Oz from our world, and how he eventually came to be the Wizard.

I can't wait for this movie! I completely geeked out when I realized that they were switching aspect ratios in the middle of the film, having the first part in our world be in Black and White, and Full Screen, and then switching to Color and Widescreen once he gets to Oz. Yeah, that's a completely nerdy thing to get excited about, but I don't care, I LOVE the idea! If it goes well, I hope that they keep going and turn this into a whole franchise, following the entire book series.

When I was little, I really liked the 1930's MGM version of the Wizard of Oz. I remember the first time I found it at the library, Mom didn't want to get it for me because she thought it would scare me. Apparently she was wrong about that though, because eventually she did check it out for me, and I remember watching it multiple times growing up.

When I was older, I looked for the book and checked it out from the library to read. I read the book and I loved it. And even though I will always "Really Like," the 1930's Wizard of Oz, I've always held a *Very, very mild* grudge against it for straying so far from the book.

The Oz pictured in this trailer looks absolutely amazing, and I would love to see a more faithful adaptation of the book set in this version of Oz.

Even though I loved The Wizard of Oz as a kid, I am slightly ashamed to admit that I never read the entire series. The library didn't have any of the other books, and I never thought about trying to find them. Why, I don't know. The Wizard of Oz was always one of my favorite books, I even bought my own copy of it with my own money once, back when I hardly had any money of my own. (Not that I do these days either. :p) But for some reason, I never tried to find the rest of them to read. That will change soon, though. I found the entire series available for download on Kindle, for only about $12, and I bought it immediately. I plan to have the whole thing read by the time Oz: The Great and Powerful is released.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

County Fair 2012

Today was the entry day for the fair. I had been debating whether or not I even wanted to enter anything this year. It cost big bucks to get something framed, and for the pitiful monetary prizes that they award, it isn't worth spending $50 to get a painting framed, even if you won 1st prize. ($2) I lucked out last year and I found some old frames that fit my paintings and drawings, but this year it would have been a lot more challenging, since my paintings are on canvas and canvas board. So I elected to just skip the art department.

I almost didn't enter anything at all, but I decided this morning to enter some photography. Nothing like waiting till the last minute, eh? :p I didn't have as many as I did last year, but I did have 5 good ones that I found. Except for the last one, these are all pictures that I already shared on my photo blog in the past, so they may look familiar. The only difference is these are all BEFORE any manipulation.

One of the rules for entry is no photo manipulation. Not even color correction. In my opinion it's a stupid rule. You might as well ban any camera lenses that alter the color before you take the picture. You might as well ban the use of different colored lights! It's about the art, people... Come on. Are you going to start saying that we can't use certain brands of pens for drawing because they make the pictures too colorful? As you can tell I really hate this insane rule.

Anyway, enough of my rantings... :p Here are my five pictures.

In the "People" category:

In the "Animals/Birds" category:

In the "Things/Still Life" Category:

In the "Miscellaneous" category:

In the "Life in Iowa" category:

The Firework was from my first ever PROPER fireworks photoshoot last week on July 4th. I used the Bulb feature on my camera, along with a tripod, so the pictures actually turned out well. I plan to do a post featuring my best ones pretty soon.

So, that's it for my fair entries this year. Hopefully I'll get something. I'm not really expecting much, but I'm hoping that at least the picture of the Barn Swallows is worth a Blue. We'll see. :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

C Monster

I feel random today. I just watched a hilarious video someone shared on Facebook. It's a parody of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe."

Long time readers of my blog know of my love for the furry, blue, cookie-obsessed, resident of Sesame Street. He was always my favorite character when I was little and I still love him. Back when I first started my blog, one of the videos I shared in my very first post was a Cookie Monster video. Here it is again. Still hilarious. :D

After I watched Carly Rae Jepsen spoof, I started off on a YouTube nostalgia trip, looking up old Cookie Monster clips and I thought I'd share some of them here.

First up is this one that is pretty much Cookie Monster's Theme song.

I remember this next one from when I was a kid. I also remember the media storm surrounding this video and others like it where Cookie Monster encouraged healthy eating. People started claiming that Sesame Street was changing Cookie monster's character to brainwash kids into eating vegetables. It was pretty pathetic. The media's reaction, that is. The video is hilarious.

This one I'd never seen, but it was apparently made to dispel the myth surrounding the last one. I loved Cookie Monster's line, "You members of media blow story WAAAAY out of proportion!!!"

This one I'd seen a long time ago, it was made for YouTube, on the channel RocketBoom. It also covered the whole "Healthy Monster" myth. He cracked me up with his list of things he eats. "Me eat meat, and fish, and veg-et-ables... bicycle, fire hydrant... Me monster. Me not picky."

This one I had to do some specific searching for, because I couldn't find it on any official PBS or Sesame Street channel, but a private user had uploaded it and I found it. When I was little I had a Sesame Street cassette tape, and this was one of my favorite songs on it. I probably still have that tape somewhere... I should look for it... :p

And finally, I found this clip. I'd forgotten about, but I had seen this when I was little. I was expecting him to figure out by the end that what he wanted was a pie, but once Guy Smiley walked in I remembered the ending. I rather doubt they'd have ended it this way for a current Sesame Street sketch. :p This is classic Muppet humor. :D

Monday, July 9, 2012

My Little Brony

The internet is weird. It almost seems to have formed into a culture all on its own, with various subcultures sprouting off here and there, starting out on large sites like YouTube, or in chat-rooms, and then growing off by themselves into their own thing. Once in awhile I'll hear about something that makes me curious enough to look into it a little deeper. That's what today's post is about.

Have you heard of Bronies? They are adults, mostly guys, (Most of the girls prefer to be called Pegasisters), who like the show "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic."

I have considered writing about the "Brony" phenomenon for quite some time now, as it was something that intrigued me when I first heard about it. Recently Rhett and Link spent a whole episode of Good Mythical Morning talking about it, and I decided now would be the perfect time to do so.

After I watched the episode I started reading the comments. It was pretty pathetic. I know, I know, YouTube comments sections are a dangerous place to hang out. I am doing another "Snarky" blog post on pathetically bad misspellings though, and I consider reading the comments "Research." :p

For example:
it stupid these grone man hav nothin to do other than watch my little ponny lol
Despite the air of superiority with which the comment was written, the author lacked even the most basic spelling and grammar skills, leaving out all forms of punctuation, apparently had no concept of what a silent E was, or even capitalization for that matter. So I pose the question now, who has the bigger problem? An adult male who enjoys a children's show about rainbow colored horses, or a drooling idiot who can barely master a keyboard and uses their less than average skills to make fun of people?

I've heard about Bronies here and there, but I first REALLY heard about them on an episode of Teens React. Teens being teens, most of them acted like the idea of a guy liking My Little Pony was somehow a reflection on who that guy was as a person. A lot of teens are really shallow. I know, I used to be one, and I probably would have had a similar reaction at their age.

This episode got me to wondering about the true nature of My Little Pony. Why was it so popular? There had to be some reason that grown men would be drawn to a show about cartoon ponies. If it were just a few, they would just be considered anomalies, and wouldn't be talked about all over the internet. My Little Pony is an extremely popular show and has grown into its own internet meme, so there had to be a reason for it. I was very curious. I started looking around YouTube for more information and found an entire episode of "Know Your Meme" dedicated to the phenomenon.

As a slight warning to anyone easily offended, there is one unsavory word pictured in one of the image macros in the video, just a warning so no one get their knickers in a twist. :)

Later, I found this video shortly after that episode of Teens React was released. Someone got a whole bunch of guys who identify themselves as "Bronies" and had them watch the Teens React episode, and talk about why they liked the show.

After this I decided that I needed to see this show for myself. Eventually, I found access to all the episodes that had so far been released, and I started watching them.

I suppose at this point you are expecting me to reveal that I too am now a Brony. Well, you would be expecting wrong, though before I watched the first episode, I fully expected that I would become one. After all I'd heard about the show, I was expecting something really awesome, but I was actually rather disappointed in it.

The show is about 6 teenage ponies and a baby dragon who have adventures and learn what it means to be a good friend. It's your typical "Children's show with a moral." These 7 are all good characters, but sometimes there are these "little kid" ponies who are just beyond annoying. I don't think they're even in half the episodes, but when they are there, the show just seems to drag on and on, and I find myself wishing it would just end already.

Even though I didn't like any of the "Little Kid" characters, there were a couple older characters that I did like. The first was Pinky Pie. As you know, I love random humor, and Pinky Pie can be just off the wall weird sometimes. Rainbow Dash was another character I liked. She was as close as the show got to an "Action Hero" type character. If they made a spin off about her fighting evil, I'd totally watch it.

I do agree with all the reasons that Bronies give for liking the show. My Little Pony does have great animation, great voice acting, and great writing, but for all that it is, I still found it to be rather boring. The few episodes that I did really like were the ones where they had to fight some sort of mythical beast, or an evil pony. And that hardly ever happened.

Humor-wise the show can be pretty funny sometimes. Though not nearly up to the quality of one of my favorite childhood cartoons, Animaniacs, My Little Pony does have quite a few instances of adult humor. Not "Adult" as in "Filthy," but just stuff that kids wouldn't understand. It was subtle, but there was enough that I can see why a lot of adults like it.

I guess the reason I'm not a fan of the show is because there's not nearly enough action. If every episode was about fighting bad guys, I would totally be a Brony. But that's never going to happen. If they made it into a violent show, little girls' parents probably wouldn't let them watch it any more, and they'd lose their main audience.

If I want animated action, I guess I'll just have to stick to watching "Star Wars: Clone Wars" and "Young Justice." (I should totally write reviews of those shows, they are awesome!) Bronies can keep their My Little Pony, it's just not my thing. Maybe some day when I'm REALLY bored I'll go watch some later episodes and see if it has improved at all.

I may not be a fan of the show, but I am a fan of the art that has been made based on it. Since almost 100% of Bronies are geeks, most My Little Pony artwork consists of tributes to other areas of geek culture. Adult My Little Pony fans like to take the My Little Pony figures and repaint and re-sculpt them, sometimes even removing or replacing the hair, and creating a whole new figure out of them. Just as an example here are a few of my favorite ones.

I've never seen any of the Alien movies, but I still thought that this My Little Pony tribute to Alien was very cool.

Aragorn from Lord of the Rings? Awesome. How about Gandalf as well?

Love the beard. :p

Super Heroes are one of the most popular things for fans to make out of My Little Pony figures. Here is the Thing from the Fantastic Four.

And one of my favorites, Batman.

Also cool, but leaning toward disturbing, was "The Dark Knight" version of the Joker.

And since we're currently on a Batman theme, here's one of my favorite Batman villans, Harley Quinn.

Star Wars seems to be another favorite thing to make pony figures of. Here's Boba Fett, Princess Leia and Darth Vader. How awesome are these? :)
Another thing I have almost no knowledge of, since I've never played it, is Halo, but I still thought that this pony was awesome.

And for Avengers fans, Iron Man. Now someone needs to make pony figures of all the rest.

The level of detail that goes into these is what makes them so cool. Only a true geek would get these details so precise.

Before I close this post, I have a few more interesting things that I found on YouTube. And by interesting, I mean pretty hilarious, and kind of cool. If anyone still needed convincing that the male fans of My Little Pony were not girly-men, check out this prototype game that someone is working on. They are using the characters from the show in a fighting game.

This is being made solely as a fan creation. By Bronies, for Bronies, if you will. Though the creators of the show have nothing to do with it, they do know about it, and they aren't doing anything to put a stop to it. They have effectively given it an OK by keeping silent about it. I think that's pretty cool of them, since any other animation company would be up in arms trying to sue the pants off them for copy-write infringement.

There is a guy on YouTube who animates his own cartoons, and has done a whole bunch of movies, including Star Wars and The Avengers, as reenacted by My Little Pony characters. These are hilarious if you've seen the movies and the show, because the videos are a very even mix of references to both.

I'm not sure whether I found it disturbing or hilarious that he used Granny Smith as the Hulk. Maybe disturbingly hilarious.

Another big thing that My Little Pony Fans do is make trailer mash-ups. They take the soundtrack from a trailer, and put together actual animation from My Little Pony, to make it seem like that movie is about the My Little Pony characters. Here is The Avengers. If this were the actual show, I'd be a Brony for sure. :p

I think I need to figure out which episode had those zombie/bug pony things in it. That looked pretty awesome. Obviously I didn't watch enough episodes, because I never saw that one. :p

Even though I myself am not a fan of the show, I have no problem with guys who are. Sure it seems a little weird, but they have just as much right to like My Little Pony as a girl has to like Transformers. I say, embrace the weird. If everyone were "Normal" the world would be unbearably boring.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A "Brave" Trip

Last month Joel and I went with our cousins Shaina and Sasha, and a group of our friends to Omaha to see the movie Brave. This post is not about the movie, but about our adventures on the way to the movie. If you want to read about the movie, you can read my review HERE.

We started out the trip at Robert and Rachel's house. Alex was working until 5, so while we waited for her, we played one of our favorite games, Apples to Apples. If you've never played the game before, you really need to. It is so fun, and absolutely hilarious when played with a big group of friends.

At five we left for the city, but on the way we stopped at school. Joel and my art gallery was hanging in the art studio there, and we wanted our friends to see it. If you haven't yet seen the gallery pictures I posted, you can find them HERE.

When we got there, the studio was locked, and neither of our cards would open the door. Joel's card was supposed to have been activated so we could get in, but apparently it hadn't been. While Joel tried to get campus security on the phone to see if someone could let us in, the rest of us walked around and visited, and Rachel took some pictures of us.

Ultimately Joel was unable to contact anyone. We actually started to leave, but as we headed for the door, two housekeepers walked in, and I could see that they had key cards. I'm not really sure they knew a lot of English, but we managed to communicate to them that we needed into the studio, and they let us in. I believe in divine intervention, and I'm sure that God sent them there at that exact moment to help us. :)

Our teacher had known we were coming, and had set up the display lights so that we could illuminate our artwork better than just turning on the overhead lights. It looked so amazing. :)

Robert found my humor to be a little disturbing. :p

After our tour of the gallery, it was a little later than we had planned. It had taken quite awhile to actually get into the room, and we were already later than we had wanted to be. We were in two vehicles and Robert and Rachel knew the way to the theater, so we followed them. What we hadn't expected was the HUGE amount of people in the city and the numerous detours that we'd have to take because, as it turned out, the College World Series was taking place at the exact same time. I'm so glad I wasn't the one driving. Poor Joel. Eventually we realized that there was no way we were going to make it to the movie in time, so we decided to go eat supper and then try to find a theater with a later showing.

We had been planning to eat at a restaurant called Spaghetti Works. Finding that in all the mayhem was another chore. After a lengthy episode of losing sight of Robert, getting lost, and going completely in the wrong direction, we finally found a place to park in a parking garage. Thank goodness for cell phones, because we'd probably still be driving around Omaha lost if we didn't have a way to contact Robert.

It took us so long to find our way back, that Rachel and the girls went ahead and got us a table in the restaurant, while Robert waited for us to find him. By the time we got there everyone was starving, but the food was so good it made it worth all the trouble. :) Italian food is my favorite kind of food. If someone serves pretty much any kind of pasta, I'm in heaven. :)

It was so nice to relax after the stress-filled night. We had a lot of fun just visiting and eating.

Robert can be such a clown sometimes. :)

Eventually we decided that it was getting late enough that we should head for the theater. But after we left it became apparent that it was not going to be that easy. We ran into the same problems as before. The routs that Robert and Rachel knew were blocked off, and the longer we drove, the later it got. I began to wonder if we were even going to get to see the movie that night.

Thankfully, Alex had a cell phone with internet and was able to look up theaters and showtimes. We eventually got to one of the last showings of the night at a theater called "Rave" at about 10 o'clock.

The movie was so good. It made the whole stressful night worth it. Even though it was not so fun driving around lost, I wouldn't go back and do it any other way. Sure, it would be nice if life was always easy, and nothing ever went wrong, but such a life would eventually get boring. And if you're going to get lost in a big city, it's best if you get lost with your friends. Even a completely stressful night can be made better when you have people you care about to share the experience with. :)

That being said, I never want to go to Omaha during the College World Series again! :p

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Wrinkliest Baby Ever!

Do you have a snarky voice in your head? I do. I only let it out online though. It's not polite enough to be let out in public. You'll see why in a little bit.

Today at work I was on the express lane and I was approached by what appeared to be a harmless little old lady. She plopped down three of the biggest sized boxes of Rice Krispies we carry.

"Can you make sure these ring up at 6 for $10? The ad says up to 18 ounces, and these are 18 ounces."

I scanned one and it rang up at $4.50.

"No, that's wrong." she said. "I looked at the ad and it says that all Kellogg's cereal is 6 for $10 for boxes up to 18 ounces."

Seeing that this woman was obviously going to be a problem, I called my manager over. Thankfully the manager at the time was Julie, one of our most "No Nonsense" managers. I knew she wouldn't let this lady get by with any shenanigans.

"This is the wrong size." Julie politely explained, and gestured toward the end of aisle 6. "We have a display on the end cap over here of the cereals in the ad."

"Well, the ad says up to 18 ounces, and these are 18 ounces!"

"Let's go look at the display, ma'am. We'll see what the price is on the shelf."

 And she led the woman away.

While they were gone, I flipped through one of our flyers. The ad in question read
"Kellogg's cereals, Selected Varieties, 9 - 18 ounces."
On the end cap, and pictured in the ad, were the 9 ounce boxes of Rice Krispies. Also on display was the new cereal Krave, and 18 ounce boxes of Corn Flakes. These were the three "Selected Varieties" from the ad.

On the shelf in the cereal aisle, the 18 ounce box of Rice Krispies was marked with a large sign, quite clearly at $4.50, while the 9 ounce box had a large ON SALE sign marking it at 6 for $10.

Because the woman had to have gotten the boxes from the shelf where they were unmistakeably marked, she obviously knew that the 18 ounce boxes were not on sale, and had come to my line with the direct intent of causing a problem and getting twice as much cereal for free.

After a few minutes I saw the woman sulkily pushing her cart out of the cereal aisle with the 9 ounce boxes in it. She pushed her cart up to the counter and thumped down the boxes. "You should have given me those boxes for 6 for $10! The ad says up to 18 ounces!"

"I'm sorry, ma'am." I told her. "I can't make that call."

"We'll it was your mistake, and that ad is misleading. I should get them for that price."

"I'm sorry, I'm not allowed to do that."

"Well that price is wrong. They should be 6 for $10, and actually, you should have given them to me for free! They rang up wrong and you're supposed to give me anything that rings up wrong for free!"

"Well, I'm sorry but I don't have the authority to do that."

She continued to complain and insist that we were being dishonest throughout the entire transaction. It took every ounce of self control I had to keep the voice in my head from coming out and asking her if she would like some diapers and a pacifier, because she was behaving like a pathetic little baby. (Actually, the voice in my head asked if she wanted nappies and a nuki. The voice in my head is kind of British.)

She was barely silent long enough for me to smile and tell her to "Have a nice day."

"Hmmf. Well, I'll try." she replied, grumpily, stomping away.

You know how when you're at work, and you have to be polite to people no matter how rude they are? Does the voice in your head tell you what you SHOULD have said, over and over, getting more and more clever the longer you let it go on? Mine does, and it was quite active today. The diaper crack was just the tip of the iceburg. I had the rest of the afternoon to rewrite the encounter with the grumpy old woman.

Instead of a grumpy old woman, in my head, she's a crabby old hag who stomps out of the cereal aisle in a huff, and angrily slams the boxes onto my counter. Well, actually, it's more like she "Thuds" the boxes onto my counter. She's not very strong.

"You should have given me those boxes for 6 for $10! The ad says up to 18 ounces!"

"Actually ma'am, the ad clearly reads that this sale is for 'Selected varieties'. The box pictured, as well as the box on the display, clearly shows that the variety selected, was the 9 ounce box. If you had half the brain of a watermelon, you would have been able to figure that out for yourself."

"Well it was your mistake, and that ad is misleading! I should get them for that price!"

"I'm sorry, my mistake? You're the one who believes that 'Selected Varieties' means 'Every single box of cereal manufactured by Kellogg's.' I really don't understand how this is anyone's mistake but your own."

"Well that price is wrong! They should be 6 for $10, and actually, you should have given them to me for free! They rang up wrong and you're supposed to give me anything that rings up wrong for free!"

"No, actually, the policy states quite clearly that 'If the shelf price is different than the price at the register, you get the item for free.' The price on my register is exactly the same as the price on the shelf. Therefore, you do not get it for free. The only place the price is wrong is inside your ancient, wrinkly, little head.

At this point, the old lady in my imagination brains me over the head with her purse, which she has filled with bricks, knocking me to the floor. Then she throws all the cereal at me, and marches out of the store in a flurry of angry exclamations, while I lie on the floor laughing hysterically.

As you can see, the voice in my head isn't quite as well mannered as I am in real life. :p

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

WAAA!!! Facebook Changed Something!!!

Warning! Warning! Sarcasm Ahead! People who are unable to understand the clear difference between sincere outrage, and sarcasm used to humorously prove a point, should turn back now, or risk hurt feelings, raised blood pressure, and maybe a really bad diaper rash. You have been warned.

A few days ago, with great weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, the people of the internet cried out against Facebook for "Secretly changing their e-mail" as though Facebook had just committed some unspeakably evil act against them. As I usually do when such outcries arise, I rolled my eyes and moved on with my life.

Yesterday I clicked on my personal page, which I had not done for quite some time, and was met with a message that TOLD ME IN PLAIN ENGLISH that my display e-mail address had been changed. I typed that address into an e-mail and sent myself a message at the new address just to see what would happen. The address they now display sends a message to your messages folder on Facebook.

If you choose to do so, you can replace the Facebook address with your personal e-mail address for the entire world to see, but for me I think the new address idea is great. Maybe I don't want every creepy little internet stalker who wanders by my Facebook page to know my real e-mail address.

Facebook was not keeping this change a secret, it's just that no one had bothered to go to their own homepage and find the message. They just saw the alarmed outcries plastered all over their friends walls and blindly proceeded to re-post them. It was yet another manufactured outrage over nothing. Furthermore, the change was to protect the user's privacy, should they choose not to give out their real e-mail address. What, may I ask, is wrong with that?

Good gravy, internet. Get over yourself.

Kind of, but not really Sincerely,
Jonathan North

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Art Gallery - Our Final Project

In Design 2, our final project was not an art project, but it was a project that used our already existing artwork. We put together a gallery display. Most of mine was photography, but I did feature a few paintings as well. I took pictures of the process so you can see what all we did.

The first thing we needed to do was to get the photographs ready. We have a large photo printer in the Mac lab, so we were able to get all our photos printed for free right at school. We then attached the photos to mat board with a special paper to get them ready to be vacuum sealed.

This is the machine that seals the photos. It seals any kind of artwork, but we mainly used it for photographs.

Joel is covering the photos with a non-stick board that protects the inside of the machine. The paper that we used to seal the photos to the mat board is melted after all the air is removed to make the pictures perfectly flat. If the non-stick layer weren't there any paper that shows under the photo would be melted and could stick to the inside of the machine.

After everything is in place we close the machine and start it up. It takes around 5 minutes to vacuum all the air out and melt the paper.

After the photos have been sealed, we remove them and use a large paper cutter to cut off the excess mat.

And the photos are done!

My Beanie Baby display. I have two posts dedicated to these pictures on my photo blog. You can find the dinosaur storyline HERE, and the cats HERE.

Some of Joel's artwork.

More by Joel.

Pieces by both Joel and I.

Getting this gallery ready was a lot of fun, but showing it off to our friends was even better. When we went to see Brave in Omaha we stopped by the school to show them our gallery. I'll have a post about that soon! :)