Wednesday, October 30, 2013

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

How is it almost the end of October?! *shudder* I love it, but really, I'm no where near emotionally ready to handle the Holiday season. So I'm going to crawl back into the arms of my gothic fantasies and stay there.

On that note, meet my new favorite thing! Dracula. I know, you think you've met before. But this time he's all mine. It's all pretty steampunk Victorian vampire secret society shenanigans, complete with high class snark. I'm pretty sure someone crawled in my head and made it just for me.

When I started this blog it was because I wanted to write more, and write regularly. Well, now I'm doing it Dracula style... I will be writing for the website Fangirlish doing episode recaps, and generally anything I feel like doing related to the show. Eeeeee!!!!! So I might be a little spastic and sporadic for a while, but I'm pretty stinking excited. And I'm pretty sure I'm going to need a print of this photo to hang on my wall.

Electric Light Dracula

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pick Me! Columbus Day thrifts.

So Monday was Columbus Day, and naturally I celebrated by going thrifting. What better way to celebrate "discovery" than by going out in search of treasures that previously belonged to someone else? (Insert rant on colonization and the rights of indigenous peoples here). Deep breath. 

On to sparkly things! We started out by going to a thrift store that a lot of people talk about but that I'd never been to, Red White and Blue Thrift Shop in the South Hills. I got rather excited when we walked in, because most clothing was on sale at 50% off.  And they organize by color. I always attempt to do this in my closet, and it lasts for a bit, but then I get obsessed with dividing by genre and too many subcategories end up ruining it. Oh well. I had a decent armload of stuff when we decided to try things on and discovered there were NO CHANGING ROOMS. I kid you not. And the place is cash only, with a sign posted for no returns and no exchanges. I’m sorry, but I’m not giving you a penny for anything if I can’t try it on first and you won’t let me bring it back if it sucks (which it probably will). So, all the clothes went back to the racks.

 Things that you don’t need to try on? Wallets! I found this little pretty, and it reminds me of all the fancy journals that I buy in bookstores with good intentions and never end up using (I’ll get to them eventually!).  I need to find the perfect use for this, and since my purse situation is a perpetual disaster area I’m thinking I’ll use this to organize all the artist business cards I keep collecting from festivals. I’d be hardcore broke if I bought every beautiful thing I see, but you never know when you’ll need to bust out the perfect gift (or engage in some retail therapy) so I have a lot of cards saved.

Pretty old things.

There was also a wall of semi-crafty things, and I found little bags of mixed rubber stamps. I’m not a scrapbooker, but I do love Halloween, and I found a bag that was mostly holiday theme stamps…and heavy on the candy corn. Oh, there was also a stamp of a vintage sewing machine. That  meant I had to have it. 

Sew cute! (Couldn't help myself...)

After that, it was on to Goodwill. I guess the thrifting gods wanted me to continue with my holiday theme, because I found this brass horn that will be perfect for Christmas. Think big red bows and garland over a mantle. I usually get really angry if people try to make me think of Christmas-y things before Halloween (choir music not withstanding), but I'll admit I got a little giddy thinking about where I was going to put it. 

Bust out the carols!
I also found this small glass cloche which I had to have. I always have to have all the glass display bottles and jars. I'm a hoarder in the making here. I'm pretty sure I won't stop till everything I own is sorted and displayed under/in/behind glass. Please start buying me windex. 

For fruits. And cheese. And candles. 

We had plans to hit some more thrift shops, but when we stopped for lunch and had pumpkin soup and bread, we decided to finish the day out at Soergel's. Now I've got several pie pumpkins in need of roasting, some delicious squash for soups, and some cranberry cinnamon cheese that I might eat in one sitting. Cheese is magic.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

I'm In Love With Some Really Old Chairs

Last Saturday I got to do something really cool. My friend Emily and I volunteered to help set up for an event at the Braddock Carnegie Library, part of the Carnegie International this year.  We set up tables and moved around media displays (my shoulder still hurts) to get the place ready for All You Can Art, the kickoff of the Art Lending Collection, where you can check out pieces of artwork just like a book—you just need your library card.  How cool is that?! I had never been there before, so getting to explore the library building was pretty much like Christmas for me. I really recommend reading a little about the history HERE, but basically this library was the very first of all the Carnegie libraries, and it was almost demolished, but some seriously amazing people saved it, and are still in the process of bringing it all back to life.

Soo pretty

I love things with a history, and old buildings in particular. I like something with a story, even if the rest of the world has long since cast it aside. I’ve spent hours before on Flickr and Pinterest looking at pictures of urban decay, and marveling at how something so broken can still be unspeakably beautiful.

Empty chairs...

And every now and then you get people who love the broken thing so much that they are willing to try and put it back together, to give it new purpose. In our wanderings around the building (trying to find where the stash of tables lived) we came upon the auditorium, with rows of patchy velvet cushioned chairs that haven’t seen a proper audience in years. There, working after hours by himself, was awesome library guy. I feel terrible, I forget his name, but he’s amazing—working to replace the tiered floor that had been too damaged to support new seating. He said they originally just intended to reupholster the chairs, but as they took them out they found that the chairs were pretty much the only thing holding up the floor. This looks to be a huge undertaking, and I wish I had carpentry skills so that I could help them… I just felt an overwhelming love for that building and that room. When it’s done I’m going to the first performance, I don’t care what it is.

Balcony and new floors. 

Awesome Library Guy also makes picture frames out of the old pieces of wood, and I just happened to have cash with me (which never happens) so I picked out a nice frame to bring home with me. They also sell the frames behind the checkout desk, and he takes orders, so go buy some history. 

New chair prototype using the original ironworks.

Here's a really good article about the Art Lending Collection and the people who put it together: CLICK ME
Also, sorry the pictures aren't the best. All I had was my craptacular phone... if I had known the building was going to be a photographic treasure trove I would have brought the good camera. Oh well, now I have an excuse to go back! 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Captain Phillips: Reporting for Nachos

The EW Fall Movie Preview already came out, early Oscar buzz is floating gently in the air, and leaves are turning spectacular shades of scarlet: my favorite time of year is officially here! This is the time of year when I start going into movie nerd mode. I talk about directors and their previous works like an obsessive sophomore film student. I say really pretentious things like “That performance was so powerfully understated.” (No, really. It’s happened.)  I start to plan my own movie double feature days so that I can see as many film festival darlings as possible in the (very) limited time they stay in theaters. In short: I go a little crazy.

Essential reading. And I want that coat. 

Wednesday I kicked off Movie-binge 2013-14 properly with advance screening passes to see Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks. Based on a true story, with Hanks in the lead, it practically screams “Hey, Oscar! Look over here!”  I seem to be very busy lately, and while I did think the film looked good based on the trailer, it probably would have fallen through the cracks in my schedule if it hadn’t been for the free passes.  So, thank you universe!

Pirate photobomb!

I’ll be honest, I was only vaguely aware of the real life event that inspired this movie. This is entirely my fault, but I rarely watch the news… it usually either depresses me or makes me so angry at the stupidity and hate in the world that I end up yelling “What the hell is wrong with people?!” over and over to my cats. And they never give any useful insight. So for people like me: SPOILER ALERT.
First cats on my blog... why did this take so long?!

Captain Phillips saves his crew, and some pirates die. The film did do an excellent job of creating tension, and I don’t think I’ve felt this claustrophobic in a theatre since Titanic. (Lesson here: never go on a boat. Ever.) Hanks is fantastic at playing the extraordinary everyman, and he is very good in this part. At this stage in his career though, it is impossible to disassociate him with his iconic roles. This is in no way meant as an insult, and if anything it’s a testament to his ability to make us care so deeply and for so long about his creations. However, this can create some unintentionally funny moments. Shots of a boat alone in a vast empty sea just make you want to scream “WILSON!!”  So you just end up quietly giggling to yourself, and you know it’s completely inappropriate, but that just makes you laugh harder. Or maybe that was just me…. It probably was. I’m disturbed.

My favorite part of the evening had nothing to do with the move. The bestie came with me, and because adults can eat whatever they want for dinner, we decided to get the biggest tub of popcorn ever. And a coke (of course). As we’re walking up the hallway to the theater, we see all these official looking guys in suits standing around a table, and think “Aw, are they giving us free snacks?!” It looked vaguely brown, and low to the table, so we’re thinking … “Is it nachos? Hot dogs? I hope it’s nachos, because yeah, I’d eat that. With the popcorn. Oh yeah, this is gonna be good.”  But as we get up to the table they do a security check and tell us we can’t bring our phones in, but they can hold them for us. In brown paper bags with a number written on them, like a little techie coat check. And in that moment I think we were both really disappointed that there were no nachos.

This is what happens when you Google 'sad nacho'. 

(Or were there? What’s a phone that isn’t yours? Nacho phone! ….. yeah, it’s midnight, and I know that’s a horrible joke. But this is my blog, and I’m going with it.)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Once Upon A Time (In Pittsburgh)

There are some days that make you so happy, it actually starts to hurt.  Smile headaches are real, people. Last Friday I had myself a yin/yang kind of day… there were some truly stressful and terrible moments, but they were balanced out (and ultimately defeated) by the sound of a cello, a giant yellow duck, and one pumpkin cupcake.

When you work with the public, you’re bound to have some horror stories. One of mine yelled at me for a good twenty minutes. But it’s ok. Because every now and then you come across someone so nice it restores your faith in all of mankind. My faith came back disguised as a pumpkin (how very Cinderella of it).  Namely, a delicious pumpkin cupcake from Oakmont Bakery.  There was nothing I needed more at that moment than a smile and a sugar fix.

This is how you make friends. 

If only I had some glass slippers to go along with that pumpkin. It would have been very appropriate for the next part of my day. A friend had called the night before with an extra ticket to see Yo-Yo Ma perform with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.  It was something I had really wanted to see, but with all my other concert shenanigans this summer, I initially passed on. However, you give me a call last-minute to see a sold-out show and of course I’m going to say yes. I had no idea what the program was going to be, but apparently the universe occasionally likes to see how giddy it can make me before I explode. “Once Upon A Time” was the theme, and the hall was decorated like a fairy garden, and all the lucky (rich) people were in tuxedos and ball gowns for the Gala Soiree.  Sigh.

Even the paper felt magical. 

The music was amazing. You could have heard a pin drop in that hall; everyone was so entranced by the quiet power of that cello.  There were also several pieces by Tchaikovsky, and a general giggle went around when everyone realized Disney had forever ruined the ability to listen to The Sleeping Beauty without trying to hum along (“I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream” …I dare you not to sing it).

On the walk out, I got to talk to some other singers about our love for Yo-Yo Ma and the amazing director, Manfred Honeck. I was lucky enough to work with him earlier in the year when he directed 2,000 voices and the PSO for Singing City. His movements are mesmerizing…  I literally spent hours one day watching You Tube videos of him conducting.

I'm adorable!

Then it was time to go see the star of the weekend. The Duck!! For The Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts this year we have been given the gift of happiness incarnate. And by that I mean there is a forty foot tall inflatable rubber duck floating in the river.  Just look at it, it’s so stinkin’ cute! Designed by artist Florentijn Hofman, it exists to make people smile, and it does a spectacular job of it.

Just watching everyone on the bridge walk by...

I overheard someone this weekend say that the duck has no purpose, as if creating happiness and joy in the world is a pointless exercise. This ruffled my feathers (couldn’t help it!). Political and social commentary is fine and good, and beauty is a wonderful thing to strive for, but bringing happiness to as many people as possible seems to me an excellent use of your energies. If more people sought only to create happiness, I’m sure the world would be a much better place. More ducks please!

Mr. Duck Goes to Pittsburgh

We were actually out late enough to see them pull the duck down to his current home by the point. Being me, I got a little distracted taking pictures, and started doing some light painting. I’m kind of in love with what happened.

Just light on the water... and magic.

So next in my infinite list of projects, I think I want to get them printed on canvas, or divide one into a triptych, or just make a really awesome series. This could be the thing to finally motivate me to get my Etsy shop up and running. So many possibilities!  I should probably take a nap first…

Modern Monet. Purrty!