Friday, July 31, 2009

No, But I Could Beat Him/Her Up (probably)

I have never watched "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?" It is not my style of trivia show. I am more of a Jeopardy-style trivia person. That is question and answer, none of the "final answer" bullshit, talking out the answer, no help from the audience, phone friend, or partner. I believe either you answer the question right or you don't. I can't stand when shows drag 15 minutes worth of questions out for an hour, it is so boring...I think I actually become dumber myself when that happens.

Every time I see a commercial for Fifth Grader, I am curious. No, I am not really curious to watch it. I have lived my life by the credo that the less Jeff Foxworthy and I mix together, the better...and it has worked pretty well so far. It makes me curious about what it the show is trying to say about the educational system. Here are the possibilities in my mind:

  • Fifth Graders are so much smarter now, that they can easily whoop an adults ass in a trivia contest.

  • Adults should have learned all this in fifth grade themselves, but they were poor students.

  • Adults learned all this information but forgot it.

I think this show just goes to prove that the information taught in school is pretty useless in everyday life and therefore forgotten. We teach kids facts and figures, the majority of which will never be brought up again after the test next week. The brain is designed to discard useless information that it no longer needs (that is why you can't remember what you had to eat on Tuesday two weeks wasn't important or special to warrant brain and thought space). I think when you teach kids loads of facts without any context for connecting it with their daily lives they are bound to forget these facts in a short period of time. Yes, some facts are important but instead of cramming our kids full of facts, we need to teach them how to think. We need to teach a child how to research and apply what they don't know and connect it with themselves. Knowing a lot of trivia questions doesn't not necessarily make you intelligent.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Market Volatility

I never would have guessed the DVD Binder market to be so volatile.

This week:

Single Binder = $18 + free S&H ($14 last week)

Three Pack = $48.55 + free S&H ($67 last week)

Six Pack = $82.89 + free S&H ($69 last week)

binder inserts = $10 + $5 S&H ($7+$5 last week)

It is almost as bad as the stock market. Its OK, a good source tells me these are AAA rated binders.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Two Minutes Hate

Long Receipts

I hate all the information that stores put on receipts these days...well not even information, advertising and self promotion. It is just such a waste of paper and space if I want to actually keep it for returns.

Last week I went to the store to buy one single item - Trivial Pursuit 25th Anniversary Edition (number 44 or 45 I think in my collection of Trivial Pursuit games). One item - I am expecting a receipt that has the store's name, address and slogan, the time and date, the item, total and then a bar code...should be around 2-3 inches total. I was surprised when it kept printing and printing and printing. The receipt ended up being nearly 20 inches long - for one item.

Let's go through it, shall we?
  • Store Name and Address - Good.
  • On-Line Guest Survey Invitation - OK, I guess.
  • Rules for Guest Survey - Bad, why isn't this on-line, way too much detail for the receipt, 20+ lines of crap.
  • Survey Code - bad - its the same as the receipt code, I really don't need it printed again.
  • Store Name and Address (Again) - Bad, I see it at the top.
  • General Return Policies - Bad, these are already printed on the back of all receipts.
  • Check out our Web Page for coupons - OK, nice and short at least.
  • Store #, Register#, Transaction, Time, Date - Good, this stuff is necessary.
  • Sale Item - Good, but seriously the description says "Games", of all the places that I could use a better description, I think it would be here.
  • Coupon Discount - OK, but why it takes five lines to say that I used a 20% off coupon I don't know.
  • Subtotal - Good, necessary.
  • Discount (coupons) total -Bad, this is just listed a couple lines up.
  • Sales Tax - Good, but again three lines?
  • Total Tax - bad, didn't we just go through that?
  • Total - Good, necessary.
  • My Discount Savings - bad, what? hasn't this already been gone over twice.
  • Cash & Change Given - Good, necessary.
  • Items Sold - OK, but not really necessary.
  • Items Returned - OK, but only if I returned something (I didn't).
  • Sales Associate Name - OK, even though I could read her name tag just fine
  • You Saved $xxxx - Bad, this is a bullshit number that really doesn't mean any.thing. I don't care how much I saved over an artificially inflated "their price" - no one sells it for that price, it means nothing.
  • Thanks for Shopping - OK, nice to end of a polite note.
  • Check out our Web Page for coupons (again) - bad, I thought we were done, plus this is above...and the checker gave me a handful of coupons anyways, I don't really need more.
  • Store Name and Address (and again) - Bad, yes I see it the other two times, I really don't need it a third.
  • Bar Code - Good, necessary.

The good stuff that is needed literally takes up a tenth of the receipt. All this extra crap, just makes it a confusing receipt to read. It would be much better if it didn't have most this on it. Seriously people, this just reminds me of legalese where everything is written out so stupidly ("the aforementioned party, hereby and forthwith") that it takes 5 pages to say something that should take a couple sentences at most.

End Hate

Friday, July 24, 2009

It Just Doesn't Make Sense

I bought some DVD binders from Amazon last week so that I could start storing my DVDs and games in a much smaller area on my bookshelves (squeezing 5 shelves into half a shelf).

I have always really liked the DVD binders that look like books when they are sitting on the shelf but I had bought one years ago and it was total crap and fell apart within about a month. So I was a little weary when shopping. Of course they are binders, so I really don't want to pay $40 each. Finally, I settled on trying this one - the pictures looked good, it had good reviews, it would fit pretty well on my shelf.

I knew I would need 5 or 6 total but wanted to order a small amount first to make sure they were what I was looking for. So I went to order last week, a single binder cost $14+$9 shipping - not bad but not great. It is Amazon, so if I got two for $28 I would get free shipping. But they also had three packs and six packs. A three pack was only $33 and a six pack was $69. Since I was still a little skeptical about the quality after getting burned years ago but decided even for a test run that $33 for three binders was a good deal. If I loved them, I would order another set but if I hated them I would only be out $33 and could probably use them long enough to make it worthwhile.


1 Binder = $14 + $9 S&H

3 Binders = $33 + free S&H

6 Binders = $69 + free S&H

I received the binders at the beginning of the week and took a couple days to fill them full of DVDs and test how they fit and work on my shelves. I decided that I loved them and they were perfect. Seem to be very good quality construction, they look really good, have little tabs on each DVD slot that goes over the top of the DVD and keeps them from falling out if the binder is tipped upside down, and fit perfectly where I was going to set them. I went to order another three pack. The price on the three pack has now jumped to $67! It has doubled in a week, I quickly went to look at the rest of the options:

1 Binder = $14 + Free S&H!

3 Binders = $67 + Free S&H

6 Binders = $69 + Free S&H

Yes, that is right six binders now only cost $2 more than three binders. That is retarded. I just don't understand it. There was nothing special about the three pack. It's even a factory boxed three pack, it was three individual binders in a cardboard shipping box. Luckily, they are now including shipping in the single binder price so that isn't too bad...but I really need two to finish out my DVDs and want one for expansion. I could order three singles and it would be $25 less than ordering the three pack (but still $10 more than I paid last week). I think I am going to wait till next week to see if the three pack comes back down to it's normal price. If not, I will be buying three singles. I guess they don't understand the concept of someone buying bulk packs and getting a discount for it (neither does Microsoft with their Xbox Live points).

I may just get replacement insert sheets. Originally they were not as economical as the binders $7 + $5 shipping for 8 sheets (each binder comes with 12 sheets). I guess if I buy 4 packs to get free shipping I 32 sheets for $28...only slightly higher per sheet than what I got with my original binder three pack, but then again I don't want my binders to be over-stuffed and awkward to use. I may have to experiment.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hell on Wheels

I've always enjoyed roller skating. Trust me, I am terrible at it (like most things in life) but I do enjoy it. I have fond memories of the hand-me-down metal wheel skates in the 70s to the all-night skate lock-in where I witnessed the Thriller video for the first time. I liked skating but didn't get to go very often, once maybe twice a year. So, it is one of those things I grew out of and forgot about.

My interest was renewed 10 years ago with the popularity of in-line skates, but not really having a good place to skate (or more accurately learn to use in-line skates) it was very much just a passing interest. I was piqued again when CT's sister-inlaws started renting the local rink once a year for a friend and family get together. It is the same rink from my childhood where I spent time skating, playing Gauntlet, and watching aforementioned Thriller video. The rink has gone through about 10 name changes: Skate North, Skate Country, Skate 2000, etc...and is now called Incrediroll, but it is still the same place in spirit, even if I don't agree with them covering the wood floors with a skate pad. I had a great time at all these events and my amazing skating skills blew everyone away - I was just like Sweetness in Roll Bounce[citation needed]. OK maybe not. Even though my skating skills had not magically improved over the 20 years (as anyone who witnessed my Hokey Pokey skills can attest), it was a great time. These events really brought back to me how much fun skating can be when you do it well...for me that would be gaining speed and then actually accomplishing a couple foot over foot turns, it is not much I know but I take my victories where I get them. For me, that always felt like flying.

This is all a rambling lead in to tell you how excited I am to be going to see roller derby this Saturday. The Mid Iowa Rollers are skating in competition this Saturday. Yes, Des Moines has their own roller derby team and I am really looking forward to seeing them in action. I've known about them for a couple years but haven't actually had a chance to see them in action. This weekend I am making no excuses and I am going to the match (game? competition? tournament? derby?) I am not sure what the correct terminology would be but never the less, I will be there. What is better than a little skating, a little rock-n-roll, a little punk attitude, some bone-crushing hits, and a little sexuality? Awesome. All the action takes place at Buccaneeer Arena. Check it out if you don't have anything going on.

c-TAL fa-TAL (Mid Iowa Rollers Member)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Two Minutes Hate

People who quote eBay in their ads

(0bviously an adaptation of the awesome shirt.woot tee that you can get here)

I am talking about people who post For Sale ads on places like Craigslist or even your local newspaper. The only ads that I really look at regular are ads for pinball machines so that is what I will be using as an example, but I am sure it applies to all products.

Some people like to put things like "Only $(insert semi-ridiculous amount here). This item sells for $(insert completely ridiculous amount here) on eBay."

Here is one real life example (ad contact info removed to protect the retarded):

This is a vintage mechanical pinball machine.A great addition to your game
room. Works and functions fine just out of maintenance and new rubber ring
sets installed. You can view model at: (by the way, not his actual machine nor his website)
Call for details-402-xxx-xxxx asking $350 or best offer need it gone
>>>>>sells for $1200 on ebay!!! wont last

***This week's update it is "$300 firm" and "serious inquiries only!"

First off, let me say that this ad has been appearing on craigslist for about a month now. Originally, it was for $900...but of course it still sold for $1200 on eBay and won't last long. I guess my definition of long is different.

Secondly, you are taking a 75% pay cut. Why don't you just put it on eBay? I presume that this is because of the hassle of eBay or some other excuse you have. If you really had a problem with eBay, you know you can take it to most auction companies and have them list it...usually only charge 10% of sale price plus listing fees. You would make $1000...of course, if this machine really sold for $1200.

OK, let's do 10 minutes research: 1974 Chicago Coin Gin

  • 5.7 rating at Internet Pinball Database - not great, but not horrible - I think the word is that it is a mediocre machine at best.
  • A one player game? Who want to always play by themselves?
  • Chicago Coin? Not really a premiere company like Gottlieb, Bally, or Williams (ha ha Gottlieb-Premiere that's an inside joke for the pin people out there). Per wikipedia: "Chicago Coin was often seen as not being as innovative as rivals Gottlieb, Williams, and Bally. Additionally, CC pinball tables were often seen as being inferior in quality to their more popular rivals.
  • Mr Pinball Classifieds lists physical auction results - the only Gin they have in their auction database sold for $200 in Dec of 2006.
  • Oh, I bet you didn't know that Boston Pinball has been keeping track of all eBay pinball machines sales for 3+ years (42 months of data, last updated in May 2009). Ouch, 4 Gin pinball machines sold in almost 4 years with a max sell price of $406 and an average of $327.

So where did this $1200 come from? I know there are many pinball machines that do sell in the $1200 range on eBay...this is not one of them. You can not lump all machines into one category. Like everything else there are differences in make, model, and condition. You wouldn't try selling your Kia Rio for $50,000 because you saw a Mercedes sell for that.

I wish this was the only example but about 10 percent of pinball ads seem to try this shady tactic.

Stop being stupid and trying to mislead people...obviously no one is falling for it.

End Hate

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Scare Reporting

They other day while I was getting ready for work, I had the Today show on in the background waiting for a local weather report. I don't usually watch the Today show or the weather for that matter but I had some things to do outside today and wanted to know if it was going to rain, the skies looked questionable.

I wasn't paying attention, but all of a sudden I hear something like "The Security Risk for 95% of Households...coming up after the break." A little background - I have a degree in Criminology, so although I don't know much about anything, I do know a little more than the average person about crime, criminals, security risks, etc...

I knew what they were going to talk about a Bump Key (even though they refused to say the name due to the security risk). Although it seems that most people have only learned about these in the past few years...they have been around forever. I remember reading reports in 1993 about them when they were a "new" security risk (even then they were pretty old technology). Now, I will admit that bump keys are much more readily available now. You used to have to make your own, now a quick Internet search reveals several places to buy them relatively cheaply.

Here is the thing - burglary is a usually (and by usually, I mean like 99%) a crime of opportunity. This means that local neerdowell, crackhead, or bored teens sees an opportunity where the person isn't home and takes it. In these cases, a rock through the window or a swift kick to the door is just as fast...and about as noticeable. Most burglars are not really worried about leaving a trace, they know your neighbors aren't really going to notice or care to notify authorities.

Life is not like a jewel thief movie (I hear John Malkovich was awesome in that jewel thief movie)...most the time someone is not staked out at your house planning a "no clues left behind" type burglary. If they are, chances are you have something way too valuable in your house to be trusting your $30 door lock. The normal door lock is basically to stop only the most casual of thieves, anyone determined will get into your house if they really want to.

I think it is good that the Today show showed this piece, it is good information to have. I just wish it wasn't handled with such scare tactics. You do not need to go out and replace your door locks right away. Yes, your door is at risk of a bump key but it is also at risk of an automatic lock picks (which have been around for decades), and pry bars (been around a long, long time). I don't think the existence of a bump key is going to increase the rate of burglary or put you more at is just not the nature of the crime. Crackheads, bored teens, etc... are not going to order a bump key off the Internet, wait two weeks for it to be delivered, take the time to learn to use it, then perform their flawless break and enter. These are not trained, professional criminals.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Two Minutes Hate


Last week the Sci-Fi channel changed it name to Syfy. Supposedly this is to help make it seem more hip and less geek oriented. I hate it. What better time has their been to be a geek? Star Trek has been re-launched to great success. X-Men, Wolverine, Batman, and other comic book heroes are now mainstream and bigger than ever. Prime time has The Big Bang Theory, Lost, Terminator:TSCC, and Fringe. People of all ages watch cartoons. Video games are played by grandmas in nursing homes. When has being geeky ever been more popular and cool? But not to the Sci-Fi channel, they no longer want to be the geeky kids on the block, they want to be the cool kids...sorry but a name change doesn't make you cool.

To me, it seems more like a dumbing down of the channel. OMG - it is like Sci-Fi in text, LOL! Really is that what we need? It just seems r wez gonna 2 haz LOLcat speek? SYfy iz in ur tv, sendin ur showz. It started a while ago when the programming started changing. Sci-Fi started to get things that weren't really Science Fiction oriented - ECW Wrestling being the most notable example. As a self confessed geek, I could see how some other geeks might like this...and hey if it helps pay the bills for Eureka, Battlestar Gallatica, Tin Man, and Doctor Who, that means it is fine by me. Diversity is not a bad thing, I don't mind the channel trying new things even if they aren't traditionally is just that so much progress has been made over the years to make science fiction seem not as dorky to the general public that this name change seems to nullify some of that progress in my mind. It's like they are saying that they can never succeed with that name. I don't believe that. It just seems like they are trying to hide what they are instead of being proud of it. I don't know it just seems like this is the first step in devolution going from Fuddruckers to Buttfuckers.

Not that Syfy is a horrible name. In fact, there was a pretty well known (among us geeks) website names Syfyportal. They recently changed their name because they sold it to Sci-Fi channel's ownership group (as noted here). However, I never really liked the name. It always seemed really cheesy.

I do like their subtitle of Imagine Greater. I think that is subtle and yet full of potential. So good job there.

Top Five Things that pop into my mind when I see Syfy :

  1. Syfy = Shut Your Fucking Yap

  2. Syfy = Suck You, Fuck You

  3. Syfy = Syphillis

  4. Syfy = Sisyphus

  5. Syfy = Sexy Filly

Long live Sci-Fi.

End Hate

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bands You (prolly) Never Heard About (pt3)

With Hoofomobile sending me the heads up on some members of Naked Rhythm going on to form Wobble, I immediately went out and spent the $6 to buy the mp3 album. You can buy it and/or preview all the tracks here.

Two things went through my mind at first listen:

  1. I know this record and have heard it many times.

  2. I probably still have this CD in my boxes of music in my basement.

The Wobble CD is good, I like it a lot. I remember playing Miserable a few times on my hard rock radio show in college...but yet, I didn't remember it. There are probably many reasons for this. At the time I was receiving so much much that anything that was decent but neither totally fabulous (Speed Mcqeen) or totally awful (Wesley Willis) often got lost in the shuffle. There is so much good music that is just a step from being great that it is really hard to stand out. I can name many other bands that have also fallen into this category - music I liked a lot but for whatever reason was missing a little something to make that powerful connection that you will never forget.

I was much more angst ridden at the time, so darker music and lyrics often ruled the day (aka Marilyn Manson and the like). Wobble was just a little too upbeat with a southern twang and corny sense of humor to make a semi-permanent stay in my CD player and heart. Although now that I know this band is descended from Naked Rhythm, I can hear it in some of their music (although not nearly as heavy) and definitely their humor. At the time though, it just wasn't something that I would have really been into I don't think.

All their songs are decent. You wouldn't think this would be an issue, but trying to make a choice on the radio it was a problem. Picking a song that you think people will really enjoy and catch on is hard when every song on the album is good and interesting in its own way. Nothing really stuck out, nothing was super again, it all just got lost in the shuffle even though all the music was good.

Finally, I never saw them in concert. I would always give preference to bands that toured the area in both my personal playing and college radio show. Mostly this was because of my love of concerts and if I saw a band live the music would stick with me more because of that experience. Iowa's music scene can be pretty limited at times, so I always tried to reward the bands that made the extra effort to play here. Would I have liked the Naked Rhythm CD even though I didn't see them in concert? Probably, but also probably not as much...that CD was in my CD player for weeks so that I could try to remember all the details of the concert.

Wobble is a fun CD that I think would be great for long road trips because all the songs are good and they have a pretty diverse sound throughout the album. Miserable, Molecule, and Saddlesore Romeo are all standouts in my mind although I do enjoy every song. I thought it was a good buy for $6, but your mileage may vary.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Suck Updates

Attention! Attention!
Very important Suck Updates (Suckdates? No Suck-Ups!)

First - relating to my previous post about bands you never heard of - Naked Rhythm. I am trying to host some of the songs so you can give a listen if you would like. I am obviously no webmaster expert, so I am not sure exactly how it will all work out. Here is my first is kind of a down and dirty quick fix. Please let me know if you have issues. Note: you may want to right click and open in a new window.

Naked Rhythm - Break You
Naked Rhythm - Mountain
Naked Rhythm - Improv Cafe

Secondly - Hoofomobile says he found info that some of the Naked Rhythm band members went on to form the band Wobble. You can test all the tracks at Seems pretty decent. I'll give an update on the whole CD sound within a couple days after I listen to it a few times. Definitely sounds in the Naked Rhythm/Saigon Kick style from the 30 second teasers. Thanks Hoofomobile!

Finally - after work on Tuesday, I wasn't much in the mood for a concert...especially if the Black Crowes were just going to jam all night. So I skipped the show. I have heard (quality of source unknown at this point) that they put on a good show with jamming the first half and then hits the second half. Playing most their hits with the one notable exception of She Talks to Angels. If so, good job Black Crowes! Sorry I missed it.

You may now resume your lives.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Project Bookcase

Slightly better pictures of my recent home improvement project of a built in bookcase with bench seat.

For those interested (AKA no one):

Overall, 13ft long x 8ft tall

16 inches wide on the lower bench shelfs

8 inches wide on the upper shelves

Bench seat, 86inches long x 30 inches wide.

Overall view: Still a mess that needs organized, and more fillings.

Medium Close-Up on my Lord of the Rings Books and bookends (yep, dork city). Above is my Anne Rice Witch and Vampire books.

Sin City graphic novels and dragon vase (full of pennies! don't steal it, it is like $2 worth!)

Close-Up of can kind of see the dragon bookends in hte lower left corner...and yes, Buffy season 5 & 6, as well as, Ren & Stimpy above.

Close up of the redirected heating/air conditioning register that was right under the proposed shelves. This was before I cleaned up all the wood filler and paint splatters. I was going to go with a traditional register cover but it seemed really boring, but then I saw this at "art" piece at Hobby Lobby for $6.

Two Minutes Hate

The Black Crowes (Live)

I love The Black Crowes but I hate the Black Crowes in concert. They used to put on an awesome concert that was just packed full of rock. I have seen 4 (I think) amazing concerts by the Black Crowes, but the last 2 or 3 times that I have seen them it was all about jamming. I am not a fan of jamming. I want to hear all their great songs and not just a few (usually mediocre) songs drug out to 15 minutes. Jamming doesn't usually add anything to a song for me...hearing the same riff over and over with just the slightest variation gets real boring, real quick. I don't mind jamming if they get to the rest of their songs. BCs don't. During a two hour set you may hear two of their hit songs...and that is if you are lucky.
I'm not saying that the rest of their non-hit songs are garbage, they are not. They are decent and there are many hidden gems scattered throughout the Black Crowes discography. However, you'll be lucky to hear those too. BCs tend to play and jam on the songs that I really don't like, making their jamming that much more intolerable (although maybe it is good that they don't molest their good songs?). Their jamming may even be decent at times, not anything profound but decent. However, it doesn't do to the crowd what a good concert should do. There is no energy, no focus, the crowd is just rambling around (like the music). You might not really notice what you are missing until they decide to finally play one of their hit songs. When they play the first chords of Jealous Again or Twice as Hard...they crowd goes crazy and everything is exciting and united. That is what a concert should be. Unfortunately, there is only 5 minutes of this out of a 90-120 minute set. It is such a waste of talent, energy, and potential. The crowd just doesn't walk away with that "wow factor." Walking out the past few shows, the only people that I heard that REALLY enjoyed it were the people that were super high or super drunk.

The radio ads for a Black Crowes show sound so enticing with She Talks to Angels, Jealous Again, Hard to Handle, Remedy, etc...but don't be fooled, I doubt you will hear those. I may have also been spoiled by their early shows which were just incredible.

Yes, I am going to see the Black Crowes again tonight, hoping for a different outcome...

End Hate

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Next I'll be Wearing a Turtleneck and a Beret

Des Moines Art Fest part 2

So I ended up going to the DM Art Festival twice this year. The first with CT for the concert...we did wander through the artists booths a little while before heading to the other concert (had we known the bands were actually going on almost two hours later than we thought, I probably would have just had the one trip). I hadn't been to the Art Fest in years...and the last time I had been there, it kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. Traffic was horrible, the people were rude, the art was good but nothing amazing, and it was literally like 110 was just an all around miserable experience. The small taste I got Friday night made me hungry for more and I knew I would be back. When Jessica (ex GF-Unit) said that she really needed a break from her son and needed to got out...I suggested we head down there the next day (just friends), so that I could do some more in depth exploring of the artwork.

We had a good time looking at art, chatting, and Jessica getting tips from the professional photographers. I was a world traveler on the cuisine side partaking of both Ecuadorian and Indian food...both very tasty. But is was about the art, so here are my favorite artists from this years festival.

#1 Rick Abrams - my favorite of the show, Rick paints pop style art on glass and then mounts over various backgrounds. It was a wonderful mix that really made the paintings pop out and look 3D. These pictures really don't do it justice at all, in person they were much more amazing. I loved his style - it was like a combination of comic books and pinball backglasses (which of course are two of my favorite things). It was a really fun style that was bright and colorful but yet didn't seem too serious. They paintings' graphics had the smooth shiny texture of glass over a colored, textured background; giving them a little bit of a surreal look. I loved the comic panel and cover recreations as well as the 1940ish pulp magazine/book drawings. I also think that his art was some of the fairest pricing that I had seen at the show. I enjoyed everything he had at the show and made multiple stops at his booth...greatly tempted each time. These pictures brought joy to my heart with captured images from childhood (and dork-hood since I still like all those things). That is also Rick's gunslinger at the top of the page...I came very close to purchasing it. If only, I have a little more spending money at the moment. I am definitely going to be keeping up with Rick and hopefully own something in the near future.

#2 Vic Lee - Vic was my second favorite painter at the show. I really liked his work. Paintings of beautiful girls with wonderfully expressive faces and eyes. Each painting seemingly sweet and innocent at first glance but the subtle dark and twistedness sinks in the longer you look. They reminded me of more subtle version of Mark Ryden. I could definitely see these in my house and me staring at them all the time. Again, I though the prices were really fair for the size and quality of the paintings that were displayed. I was having a really hard time deciding which one I liked best. I liked the colors on one, but the girl's expression better on the other. Almost every single painting had something that I really liked about it. I don't think this picture was at the show: The Awakening of Coppertop. If it had been, I don't think I would have been able to resist, I think it is amazing. I love the girl's pensive expression, delicate features, body posture, her wings, and her red hair (have I told you that I have a thing for red heads? Yes, yes, I do.). She is so pretty and sweet and yet you know she is a little disturbed. It makes me want to just give her a big hug and try to make everything alright. It's not quite as obviously dark as the rest, but it does give you a little bit of an unsettling feeling in your stomach. If this picture was at the show and I missed it, I will be more than a little pissed off. I did really enjoy The Descent of Sophia which I did see at the show.

#3 Nicario Jimenez - Nicario creates these amazingly detailed dioramas. Each had many individually hand sculpted figures creating the scene. Some of the larger works had hundreds of figures, decorations, and structures. You could look at one piece of art for hours and not pick out all the intricate details. I particularly liked his El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead holiday) dioramas. Yes, I am the type of person that enjoys skeletons and skulls. I thought they had a lot of humor and fun...skeletons celebrating and drinking too much, etc... Unfortunately, I could not find any pictures of them right off hand. I was very impressed with how much narrative Nicario was able to get into each piece. Here is a picture of a piece that was on display at the festival. Even this picture doesn't do a great job of showing how detailed these pieces of art were. You could get lost in some of dioramas trying to look at everything.

#4 Kina Crow - Kina is a sculptor that had a lot of pieces expressing various human conditions. My personal favorite was "The Thought Escapes Me" pictured to the left. I just thought it was a great but simple representation about how we all feel at times. I also liked to think of it as a person being one person but also having all these other persons or traits inside them...making everyone hard to classify as one thing. Human nature is complicated. But I also just liked the idea of all these thoughts in your head and some trying to escape. Here characters reminded me a lot of the styling of Bill Plympton...simple but exaggerated in the right areas to get the point across.
I wish all the best for these artists and the rest of the artists that took part in the festival. They really make me wish that I had any kind of artistic talent at all. I don't. I hope to see them again in the future when I can actually afford to get some of your lovely art.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Congratulations Angie

I met Angie almost 10 years ago when I was dating Amanda The First (of far). Angie and Amanda were good friends, went to the same church, etc... Angie is one of those people whose personality was just so warm and compassionate, she would make you feel comfortable and welcome no matter who you were (even a total dork like me). Angie is a person who has always amazed and surprised me. She always has a sparkle in her eyes that brightens your day every time you see it. She is beautiful and yet the nicest, humblest person that you could ever meet.

I never got to know Angie well enough to be friends with her on my own standing, so when Amanda (the first) and I ended, I didn't really see Angie much any more either. It totally sucks how that happens, but that is the way life goes. A few years later, Angie was in an automobile accident where she was paralyzed. She now spends much of her life in her wheelchair. I have seen her a few times since the accident (though probably not as much as I should). The first time I was very scared that she would be a different person, bitter, angry, and depressed...and there was a tiny bit of that, which I definitely could understand. Mostly though, she was exactly the same. Warm, friendly, loving...with that beautiful sparkle in her eyes. This is just part of her amazing spirit, she can overcome anything.

I was happy when I heard about Angie becoming Ms Wheelchair Iowa. This was in I am very late getting to this (what can I say, I suck). She deserves this and so much more...but more than that, I think she will do a great job of bringing awareness and understanding for those in wheelchairs. They could not ask for a better spokesperson, representative, advocate, and inspiration. Angie is also the current president of the Spinal Cord Injury Association of Iowa, and has Associate Degrees in Science, Art, and Business. Angie is incredible.

Congratulations Angie!

Ms Wheelchair Iowa 2009

Angie, you are an amazing person and an inspiration to us all. You make me feel proud to know you. As always, I wish you nothing but the best and I know you will succeed in whatever you set out to try.

Please click here to read an article from the Des Moines Register to learn a little more about Angie and here for a Radio Iowa story on one goal she is trying to accomplish.

Please click here to learn more about the Ms Wheelchair Iowa organization.