Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Potions Master


I'm getting ready for Halloween!

I'm going to a Halloween murder mystery party this week. The character I've been assigned is a sorceress who's an expert at making potions. The costume suggestion notes suggested I bring "samples" of my potions to show the other party guests, and I thought, "Hey! That sounds fun!"

It was, indeed, fun. It was also kind of a mess.


I had a handful of the materials at home, but I bought most of them from my local Dollar General Market. I bought food coloring, glitter, corn syrup, rubbing alcohol, a medicine dropper and baby snot sucker combo pack, and Krazy Glue for under $20.

I didn't go in with much of a plan. I was hoping to find glycerin, but they didn't have any. I saw corn syrup and thought, "Hmm, that is also colorless, thick, and sticky. Worth a shot." Corn syrup, as I should have realized earlier, since it's basically sugar, dissolves in water. That was bad news for my hopes of creating stratified layers of liquid, but it was very, veeery good news for my cleanup attempts. It absorbs food coloring very well and is excellent at keeping glitter suspended throughout it.

I also didn't originally intend to buy a baby snot sucker (apparently it's called an aspirator, but "baby snot sucker" is more fun to say). I wanted a dropper of some sort, and the only one I could find came in a package with the baby snot sucker. The package was inexpensive, so I reasoned that I could throw away the snot sucker without hurting my feelings (or my wallet) too badly. Luckily for me, I tried using the snot sucker to transfer liquids into my bottles. It turned out to be WAY better for working with corn syrup than the medicine dropper was.

Once again, I didn't have much of a plan going in. I mixed stuff together in red Solo cups, using such scientific measurements as "smidges" and "bits." Some things turned out cool enough to preserve in bottles. Others went down the sink. Within ten seconds of opening a glitter tube, I spilled glitter on the counter and started regretting everything (I probably owe my roommate an apology).

The bottles seem to be working pretty well so far. I found them on Amazon by searching for "potion bottles." The package arrived on my doorstep looking kind of beat up, and the box inside was squished and spilling open, but not a single one of the 18 bottles was broken. I was highly impressed. The corks seem to fit pretty snugly in the bottles, but the reviewers online warned that they wouldn't stay watertight, so I applied Krazy Glue to the corks before sealing the bottles. Hopefully that'll help. If not, I'll have a bag full of sticky, glittery goo.

It was a delightful way to spend an evening! If I have the time and energy, maybe I'll concoct a few more potions before the party this weekend, although I honestly don't think I will. I'm not sure what to do with the 12 bottles left over. Maybe I'll get a head start on Halloween for next year.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Ungenerous Descriptions of Disliked Food

As a small creative writing exercise, here are some ungenerous descriptions of food I don't like. If you'd like to guess what they are, the answers are provided at the bottom. As a fair warning, this post might induce you to lose your appetite.

Also, I make no apologies for any of these descriptions. I stand by what I say. If you like these foods, you probably need to reevaluate your life.

1. Gross, cold, mustard-flavored mush with little boogers mixed into it.

2. Rubbery vegetables that weren't meant to be sugary sweet but, for some reason, are, and somehow manage to be both crunchy and mushy simultaneously.

3. A whitish thing that's definitely not liquid but too mushy to be a solid, and it used to be filled with this dry, crumbly yellow stuff, but somebody had the bright idea to pull the crumbly stuff out, mix it with gunk and boogers, and then put it back in. As if that made it any better.

4. Leafy lumps that look small but still manage to take up all the room in your mouth, and they disintegrate into warm mush and spread their juicy dirt taste all over your mouth when you eat them.

5. Acidic, sour ooze that hides on your cheeseburger and stabs little pitchforks into your tongue when you least expect it.

6. An entire jar of soggy boogers swimming in their disturbingly sweet sweat.

7. Minuscule fire bombs that don't taste like anything- they just hit your tongue and start searing and burning and eating away at it. Like hot acid, only dry.

8. Chicken, but... it's smelly... and the texture is just... off, somehow.

9. Tiny shreds of chewy, limp, soggy, stringy idiocy stewed in bile... and there are so many of them.

10. An insult to fruit. So nice to smell, and so sweet on your tongue, but then you bite into it and you chew it and chew it and chew it, but it resists the grinding prowess of even your toughest molars and hangs around in your mouth all stringy and hairy even as it continues to tease you with a sweet, sunny, tropical taste that makes you confused about whether you want to spit it out.



Answers:
1. Potato salad
2. Dill pickles
3. Deviled eggs
4. Brussels sprouts
5. Mustard
6. Relish
7. Pepper
8. Fish. Any kind. It's all the same, no matter what anyone says.
9. Sauerkraut
10. Coconut

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Snowy City Sunset


I did a little pseudo-Impressionist art tonight. It was based on a project I did in art class in fourth grade.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Simple Summer Setting


I felt like doing a little art tonight, so I pulled up the old Paint 3D app and tried out the oil brush setting. The texture reminded me of something one might have seen on Blue's Clues- maybe one of the paintings or felt pictures Steve and Blue skidooed into?

I liked how simple and soft it felt.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Goodnight Moon, Goodnight Breeze, Goodnight App That Lets Me Share Art With Ease


Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is a classic children's book. I highly recommend it.

Some friends and I like to stay in touch and plan activities throughout the week by group text messages, but recently our group has grown larger than some people's phones can handle, so we've moved the conversation over to GroupMe. So far it's working out nicely.

On a whim, I downloaded the GroupMe app for my laptop, and I discovered it's ridiculously easy to share my little digital doodles on it. Some apps, like 3D Paint app (which I used for this little drawing) have a "share" function that allows me to slap my drawings up on GroupMe or other social media apps without even saving them to my computer first. I am absolutely enthralled with this feature and intend to drive my friends crazy with every little doodle that pops into my head.

(If you don't comment on the fact that I used 3D Paint to make 2D art, I won't have to make a mean face at you)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day to the Safety Ghost


I have a lack of Father's Day wrapping paper, so I made my own and got my sister's input for design ideas. This was one of the decorations that ended up on the wrapping paper.

Once upon a time, my family lived in a house in Oklahoma that had a comfortable, functional kitchen. And one night my mom wasn't around, so it was up to my dad, my sister, and I to make dinner if we wanted to eat.

I was somewhere between the ages of 5 and 9. My sister Mikayla was somewhere between the ages of 2 and 6. We weren't exactly the best chefs. But on that night, we were going to make dinner. By ourselves.

I don't remember exactly how this was decided, but I have a feeling it was my dad's idea. It was probably meant to be an educational experience. I remember suspecting laziness as a motive.

It wasn't a difficult meal- it was just Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. We'd seen our parents make it before, and there were directions on the box. But let's be honest, here- using the stove can be kind of a daunting task for a- shall we say, eight-year-old and five-year-old?

We did our best to get started, but it wasn't long before I found myself unsure of how to proceed. I turned to my dad, who was lurking by the fridge behind us, to ask him a question.

He replied that he wasn't really there; he was the Safety Ghost, who would make sure that my sister and I didn't hurt ourselves or set the kitchen on fire, but he couldn't provide any advice or assistance. Because he was just the Safety Ghost.

I remember being annoyed. I remember none of my attempts to get help working. I don't remember how the macaroni and cheese actually turned out. But I know the kitchen never caught fire that night.

Although it was infuriating at the time (SERIOUSLY, JUST ANSWER THE QUESTION!), it makes me smile to look back on my childhood and think of all the times the "Safety Ghost" supervised my sister and me in the kitchen or other projects. I'm glad my dad trusted us enough to let us try some things on our own. I'm glad he wanted us to learn how to do things and figure out how to problem-solve starting at a young age.

The first appearance of the Safety Ghost is the most vivid in my memory. I asked my sister if she had any good stories to share with the Internet, and she said I should talk about the time Dad was supposed to be the Safety Ghost for my Rube Goldberg project in high school but ended up practically taking over the project because he just couldn't help himself. The man loves a good project.

All jokes aside, thanks for letting us use power tools, Dad. Not all little girls had dads who would let them help out with building furniture or constructing holiday decorations, and it means a lot to me that I was allowed to try my hand at building things. Those experiences helped me become the crafty, creative, resourceful person I am today!

So thanks for letting us get our hands dirty! Thanks for pushing us out of our comfort zones! I still think you were just being lazy sometimes, but it worked out all right in the end! Happy Father's Day, Safety Ghost!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Who Killed Jonathan Larson?: A Grudge of Three Years and Counting

There was once a young man who had a passion for acting. He followed his passion wherever it led him, even to SeaWorld, where he did a comedy act as an opener for Shamu. He settled down for a time at a university in the southern United States to pursue a graduate degree in his field.

He had a number of adventures during his time there. He connected with other aspiring thespians, lent his talent to the university's theatrical productions, and even taught undergraduate theatre classes.

One such class was called Introduction to Theatre, and its aim was to inform students about the history, culture, and diverse genres of theatre. Most of his students were not theatre majors; they were there to earn their required fine arts credit. But this didn't faze the young teacher. He put long hours into preparing lectures and compiling video clips to give his students the best possible understanding of the field he loved so much. He varied his teaching methods to engage the class, and he usually succeeded in capturing their attention. Some days he even inspired lively debates.

The young teacher was undoubtedly the person with the most theatre knowledge in the room at any given time. While some of his students certainly had a deep appreciation for the craft, he was the one pursuing theatre at the graduate level. No one had a reason to question his knowledge or life experience. What he proclaimed from the front of the classroom was gospel.

He referenced many shows throughout the semester. One of them was Rent, the rock opera telling the story of starving musicians living and dying in New York under the shadow of the AIDS epidemic. The young teacher showed the class a video of the song "La Vie Bohème," a sort of anthem of the starving artists, to give them a taste for the musical's spirit and the way it tackled taboo and unpopular topics. He made sure to tell the tragic story of how the show's creator, Jonathan Larson, died of AIDS just before the show opened, never to see the success of his creation.

There was once a pair of girls taking an eighth grade Civics and Economics class. They were required by their teacher to enter a history contest with the theme "Triumph and Tragedy in History,"  and they were encouraged to do so by creating a short documentary in their school's video editing lab.

Since the girls shared an interest in musical theatre, one girl proposed making a documentary about the creator of one of her new favorite musicals- Rent. His story included both triumph and tragedy in spades, and the visual and musical aspects would shine brighter in a documentary than in any other medium.

The other girl knew nothing about Rent or its creator, but she agreed to team up for the project. She spent the next few months educating herself and quickly fell in love with the musical and the story of its creation. She listened to the original Broadway cast soundtrack constantly and watched whatever video clips she could find online. She found the creator's other musical, tick, tick... BOOM! and analyzed its similarities to Rent. She read the officially-published libretto with its wealth of behind-the-scenes notes, the autobiography of one of the original cast members, and several fan sites full of information and opinions. She watched the recently-released film adaptation, although she concluded it was far inferior to the stage version, and she poked around to see what the arts foundation formed in the creator's name was doing at the time.

The team cobbled together a decent almost-ten-minute documentary using iMovie. It earned them a good grade in their Civics class, performed well in their school's local level of the contest, and moved on to the next level, where it earned third place in their division but did not score highly enough to move forward.

Soon afterwards, the friends parted ways. The girl who had originally known nothing about Jonathan Larson or his popular work moved to the southern United States, bringing her wealth of new knowledge with her. She fell in love with many other musicals over the years, but Rent remained one of her sentimental favorites even as she started her undergraduate studies.

In the last semester of her senior year, the girl found herself in a very enjoyable Introduction to Theatre class. She enjoyed the teacher's personality and his efforts to make the class interesting, and she loved all the musical video clips that he shared with them. She nearly exploded in excitement when the teacher brought up the topic of Rent one day.

The teacher introduced the video he was about to play as "la VEE bo-HEM," which made the girl cringe. She tried to forgive his poor pronunciation and reminded herself that not everyone was minoring in French like she was. But her irritation mounted as the video concluded and the teacher continued to mispronounce the song title, despite having just heard the performers singing the correct pronunciation ("la VEE bo-EMM") over and over again. She tried to ignore it and simply enjoy the conversation.

Then the young teacher proceeded to tell the tragic story of how the show's creator, Jonathan Larson, worked hard to write a musical that would show the victims of AIDS in a sympathetic light and challenge the perceptions people had of them at the time, but he died of AIDS before the show could even open.

The passing of all those turbulent teenage years could not erase long hours of impassioned research from the girl's mind. She knew Larson had gone door-to-door as a child to see which of his neighbors weren't home so he could swim in their pool. She knew Larson made a giant pot of spaghetti and portioned it out as his supper each night of the week while he was writing music. And she knew Jonathan Larson never had AIDS- he had died of complications of his Marfan syndrome.

She sat at her flimsy desk, her burning rage and indignation manifesting in a frown that she directed right at the teacher, almost daring him to see her expression and ask what was wrong. Her hand twitched, desperate to shoot up into the air and silence the teacher mid-sentence, but she bit her tongue. "Don't be that person," she repeated to herself like a mantra. The teacher was doing his best and didn't deserve to be called out by one of his students in front of the entire class. Don't be that person.

She managed to stay quiet throughout the class, and she resisted the urge to approach the teacher after class, but the frustration burned within her. She overthought and overanalyzed- where had the teacher gotten his information? A simple Google search would have told him the true story. Had he heard about Larson's untimely death and just assumed that, since so many of his characters had AIDS, he had to have had it, too? If so, it was a lazy excuse for proper research, and Jonathan Larson deserved to have his story told correctly.

The girl complained to her friends about the blatant misinformation the teacher had fed her class, and she seethed about the incident whenever she thought about it, but she resisted the urge to confront the teacher during his office hours or send him a snotty email informing him of his mistake. Don't be that person. Don't be that person.

She held her tongue until the end of the semester, when teacher evaluation forms opened up online. She rated the class fairly, discussing how it was usually informative and entertaining. She praised the teacher's efforts. But she could not resist a parting shot in the comments box, informing the teacher as politely as she could that he was wrong.

Obviously, that girl was me, and I'm still a little irritated. I'm aware that I'm a snob and a know-it-all and I need to let it go. I know that interrupting the class to correct the teacher wouldn't have helped anyone and would've cost me my classmates' good opinion. And in the teacher's defense, it was a fairly reasonable assumption to make. He was doing his best to make the lesson interesting, and he had provoked a genuine emotional response in my classmates. It wasn't his fault he had a fanatical Larson subject matter expert in his class.

But he did. And the discomfort of hearing someone present incorrect information about a topic I know and love well was real. And to this day, I still don't know how I stopped myself from being a terrible human being and blurting out the "Well, ACTUALLY" in my head.