Monument Valley Game

A year ago if you Googled Monument Valley, you’d come up with well-known images and wiki entries about the place in Southeast Utah (on the Arizona-Utah state line, near the Four Corners area). And perhaps even now, your top 20 hits might still be about one of the most photographed locations in the world. But if you searched a little further, or added ‘app’ or ‘iPhone’ after it, you’ll surely come across results that welcome into the world of the beautifully designed and engineered app game from UsTwo Games.

The game, which many compare it to something out of an M.C. Escher dream, is mesmerizing in every way possible. UsTwo has woven adventure, logic, storytelling and beauty all into one amazing game. At first, I didn’t even realize it was a story, but by the time I had completed the game (which was only a couple of hours later) I was in awe. The fact that I could become attached to some little character living in an imaginary world that has no place in reality, was mind-blowing. This game really sets the highest bar I can imagine for smart phone apps.

One of my absolute favorite scenes from the game is when one of the characters, Totem, bursts through a wall in hopes of reuniting with his friend.  As a tribute, I created a GIF of it. I don’t know if I’ve broken any copyright laws by doing this, but I will say that this GIF is derived directly from the game. I own no part of any of it, except for the fact that I created the GIF.

This GIF was created using scenes from the UsTwo iPhone app game. None of this content is my original work.
This GIF was created using scenes from the UsTwo iPhone app game. None of this content is my original work.

 

Baking like Grandma

I was fortunate to grow up with both of my grandmothers alive during my childhood, and enjoyed diverse cooking between the two of them (Italian and Jewish). And while they both made amazing dinners, especially for the holidays, my Jewish grandmother was favored more by my sister and I as a baker. Anytime you walked into her home, you’d know to go straight to the kitchen to see what was newly baked and sitting on the table waiting to be devoured. Of all the sweets she baked, I think her lemon iced lemon cake was by far my absolute favorite. And it’s likely why I have a penchant for it til’ this day. But aside from the smell of bread or cake baking, there was always another familiar scent that occupied her kitchen. I never knew what exactly it was and just associated it with the baking process.

When my grandmother passed away a few years ago, my family made sure one of the things we didn’t discard was the tool she possessed for over 50 years which helped bring her creations to life – a chrome Sunbeam Model 11 Mixmaster.

Sunbeam Model 11 Mixmaster - 1956

It sat undisturbed somewhere, packed away for a few years, complete with the glass bowls it came with it. I can’t recall if it was used since my grandmother’s passing prior to this Christmas but the minute I turned it on, that familiar smell buried deep in my brain woke up. It was then I realized that the scent which accompanied all of her baking came from the mixer. This model mixer, manufactured in 1955/56, still functions perfectly after all these years. I was able to make a cake with it, and while I did I admired this machine as it churned away, thinking about the hundreds of desserts my grandmother lovingly made for her family. I think the motor needs a replacement as it gets pretty hot on the higher speeds, but until it completely conks out I continue using it and thinking of the woman to whom it once belonged.

 

Zombie in 20 minutes

As a  follow-up to my post from October 5th when I attended the New jersey Zombie Walk, I wanted to post a few pics from when I had again went into zombie mode for my company’s informal Halloween party. On this occasion, I had way less time, but still managed to make a pretty convincing zombie, even without the contacts.

It took me 20 minutes in the bathroom, some fake blood, cotton balls and latex to turn into this

First phase of zombie makeup, with latex, cotton balls and fake blood

It took me another hour or so just to get the contacts in

Second phase of zombie makeup, with more latex, cotton balls and fake blood and contacts

Which is why I opt for glasses 

Final phase of zombie makeup, this time with my reading glasses and fake teeth

 

World’s largest zombie gathering

Saturday, Oct 5, 2013, marked the World’s Largest Gathering of Zombies by Guinness World Record™. It all went down on the Asbury Park Boardwalk in New Jersey. 9,592 undead turned out for the NJ Zombie Walk to reclaim the title from the current record breaking event which took place at the 8th annual The Zombie Pub Crawl in Minneapolis, Minnesota at Midway Stadium on Oct 13, 2012.
nj zombie walk 2013 record breaking photo
screen shot take from njzombiewalk.com
Unfortunately, I didn’t make it there before the gates closed for counting but I was definitely there in spirit and in costume. My boyfriend, who had taken classes in special effects and has always been inspired by the work of Tom Savini (Dawn of The Dead, etc.), decided it would be fun if he got me into character for the event. He hadn’t done makeup in a while so it was partly experimentation, but we both enjoyed the process and transformation and had a lot of fun taking pics.

THE TOOLS

makeup tools laid out on bed
Tools used for the makeup included: bottle of liquid latex, fake red and black blood, ben nye products, paint brushes, cotton balls, eyeliner, stipple sponge, baby oil/mineral oil, elmer’s glue stick, rubbing alcohol.
various paint brushes used for makeup various markers used for makeup fake blood and other makeup tools makeup tools laid out on bed makeup tools laid out on bed

THE PROCESS

latex and cotton application to build up features
latex and cotton application to build up features

black makeup application around eyes and mouth first layer of makeup and detailing mean zombie face

close up of zombie face
I purchased fake zombie teeth to enhance the effect. They’re a little clunky but funny looking.
latex on hands
We added nails and covered my hands really quick just to help them match my face. By the time we got to the boardwalk it was already peeling.

latex makeup mask in full zombie makeup on the street

 

latex makeup mask
The grease makeup prevented the latex from sticking to every part of my face. By the time the night was over, I just cut the mask in half and peeled it off my face, leaving only the edges.

latex makeup mask

after makeup/latex is removed
the latex peeled off, but getting it off my hairline and neck took time. I used uni-solve (used in hospitals) and it worked great. The green around my mouth is food coloring that I used to darken my teeth and the edges of my skin underneath the latex.

3DEA: 3D Pop-up Print Store in NYC

If you still have AOL (like me), or frequent Huffington Post, you might have already read the story on HuffPost’s Weird News about 3D Dildo Print-Outs from 3DEA. Ironically, I hadn’t. So it wasn’t until I came across the pop-up 3D printing store 3DEA on 6th avenue and W 29th St. that I got a chance to see where the future lies for 3D printing. Dildos did not seem to be present (perhaps because they were all sold out, or because this looked to be a family-friendly environment), but I did get to browse and see some other rather interesting things.

To read more about the vendors, such as Ultimaker and ShapeShot (creator of the dildos), take a visit to the shop’s site. 3DEA runs until Dec. 27 and is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11a-7p and Sundays from 11a-6p.

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA, a pop-up 3D printing store in New York City

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave) 3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

3DEA: A pop-up 3D print store in NYC (West 29th and 6th Ave)

The Desired Things

For the past couple of years, I’ve been living with my sister and soon-to-be brother in law – by financial, rather than personal, choice. I have my own room and belongings, yet most of my possessions are in storage. And while I recognize how fortunate I am to have a sister who has a home with enough space and amenities to accommodate me tenfold, I can’t help but feel that my life has somewhat been on hold for as long as I’ve been here.

The other day I took a trip to the storage facility where part of my existence has been tucked away since the end of 2010. Sometimes when I visit and see everything that was once at my fingertips stacked high and packed tightly out of my grasp, I dwell over the fact that I’ve missed the enjoyment of so many things I own – books, photos, plates, pillows, etc. This past Saturday, I was there to store some more stuff I no longer had room for at home. And as I do on most occasions, I opened up a few boxes to both reacquaint my mind with those things I had since forgotten, and to evaluate what if anything is no longer worth holding on to.

I rummaged through a bunch of old papers I had saved from past jobs and schools, happily purging things I felt I wouldn’t even remember existed. My eyes  perused everything, quickly opening folded papers to check the importance of their contents. After throwing away a small chunk of overstuffed, disorganized folders, I opened one of my many worn out cardboard boxes and came across a piece of white paper haphazardly folded, peeking out from underneath an old DVD/VHS player. Thinking it was nothing, I hastily grabbed and opened it. At the top were the words “La Desiderata”  (Latin for “desired things”). As I started to read, I thought about who could have given it to me. I could not recall for certain, but believe it was my old design teacher from the Creative Circus – Sylvia Gaffney. I vaguely remembered her doing so, and it seemed like something she would leave us with upon our departure from school onto our next step in the world of advertising.

La Desiderata is a 1927 prose poem by American writer Max Ehrmann (1872–1945). Largely unknown in the author’s lifetime, the text became widely known after its use in a devotional, after subsequently being found at Adlai Stevenson’s deathbed in 1965, and after spoken-word recordings in 1971 and 1972 (Wikipedia). The poem is one that makes you stop what you’re doing and reflect upon your life at that very moment. It forces you to take a step back and put everything, all the your sadness, anxiety, uncertainty and anger, into perspective. On that one sheet of 8.5×11 paper, words served to remind me of the most important and meaningful lessons in life. And now I will safely store it very close by so that my fingertips can once again touch it at a moment’s desire.

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

On the Star Wars Front

If I didn’t know any better, I’d assume that a new Star Wars movie was on the horizon. It seems that every day or so, I come across something on the web or receive an email about SW news or related creativity. I subscribe to DesignTAXI, a news and editorial site that is updated daily with inspired creativity and innovation. Just looking back to my emails from February, I count about 15 messages related in some way to Star Wars. Most of the articles are pretty enjoyable as it’s interesting to see how someone has yet again reinvented the cult classic. I’ve watched the first 3 movies and can’t remember much of either except the famous scenes that people can recite by heart. Yet, growing up in the 80s, I will always have affection for the trilogy. And so to keep that nostalgia alive, I’ve compiled some of the more enjoyable Star Wars-related pieces that I’ve found from DesignTAXI and elsewhere in the universe. Click on the titles/photos to read the full article.

Darth Vader As Don Draper?

Reimagination of ‘Star Wars’ Characters As Samurai

‘Star Wars’ Characters In Various Yoga Poses

LEGO Releases Official Ultimate Collector’s ‘Star Wars’ R2-D2 Set

What Happens When ‘Star Wars’ Characters Meet Zombies?

‘Star Wars’ Condoms Offer Full Protection Of ‘The Force’

Teach The Alphabet To Your Child With ‘Star Wars’ Characters

When ‘Star Wars’ Meets Steampunk

‘Star Wars’ Propaganda Posters

LucasArts Reveals ‘Star Wars 1313’

‘Star Wars’ Shower Mosaic

If Dr Seuss Did ‘Star Wars’

‘Before Star Wars’, Vintage Photos of Darth Vader And Co.

Official ‘Star Wars’ iPhone Case To Be Released

‘Star Wars’ Flash Drives

Darth Vader Hot Air Balloon

What Happened To The ‘Star Wars’ That We Used To Know?

Iconic Images Redone with ‘Star Wars’ Action Figures

‘Star Wars’ Brand Wars

‘Star Wars’ Swimsuits for the Ultimate Geek Girls

‘Star Wars’ Fans Save Luke Skywalker’s Home

Tattoos For Badass ‘Star Wars’ Fans

If I Had My Life to Live Over

Throughout our life we encounter things that become part of us forever – a scene burned into our minds, a song which never leaves our ears, words that indefinitely stay on our lips. Erma Bombeck’s retrospective anecdote If I Had My Life to Live Over is precisely that. I first discovered it 14 years ago hung on the wall at my part-time job. I had never heard about it before and didn’t know who the author was, but it immediately made my eyes well up with tears. It seemed apparent that the person writing it had come to the end of their life and was realizing that, over the course of their existence, they made decisions which were now regretted and could never be remedied. Yet, that wasn’t true at all. Erma Bombeck died in 1996 at the age of 69 due to an unsuccessful kidney transplant, years after this was published (Wikipedia). I like to think that her self-awareness at the time this was quoted taught her to live the remaining years of her life to the fullest, and any regrets she had upon passing were consciously and willingly made by her.

If I Had My Life to Live Over was Bombeck’s answer to a question posed to her on December 2, 1979. In her column she wrote “Someone asked me the other day if I had my life to live over would I change anything. My answer was no, but then I thought about it and changed my mind.” (Snopes.com)

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.” There would have been more “I love yous.” More “I’m sorrys.”

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute…look at it and really see it. Live it and never give it back. Stop sweating the small stuff.

Don’t worry about who doesn’t like you, who has more, or who’s doing what. Instead, let’s cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us.

In addition, I cannot go without mentioning Nadine Stair, for whom I cannot find any further information other than that, at the age of 85, she gave her own introspective answer to the same question.

If I had my life to live over, I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.

I’d relax, I would limber up.

I would be sillier than I have been this trip.

I would take fewer things seriously.

I would take more chances.

I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.

I would eat more ice cream and less beans.

I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I’m one of those people who lived sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, day after day.

Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.

I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute.

If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.

I would go to more dances.

I would ride more merry-go-rounds.

I would pick more daisies.

Freelancer’s Toolbox: Hours Lapsed Calculator

As a freelancer, or anyone that has to keep time manually, there is one thing I find really annoying about the entire process – tallying up my hours. It seems like such a simple task, which it is, but I often find myself sitting at my desk counting on my fingers, writing down the time I came in and the time I left, accounting for my time out to lunch, and then realizing I made a mistake and having to start all over. In theory, it shouldn’t take much time – it’s simple addition and subtraction, but even that little amount of time frustrates me. I think it’s the AM/PM difference and the .75, .25 and .50 intervals that irk me. So, call me lazy or what have you, but after a few weeks of doing this, I realized that surely someone must have created some type of program that easily calculates lapsed time from AM to PM. I came across a bunch and finally found the most simplest one. The website is called Calculator Soup. The real benefit if having this isn’t that it does all the work for me so I don’t have to think. It helps me double check my calucations so I don’t short myself hours, or claim I worked more than I did.

Chachke Chick

I tend to associate the word Chachke (more correctly spelled Tchotchke) with people who have nothing better to do than collect worthless trinkets and display them amongst the clutter in their home. Which makes sense, since according to Wikipedia, the term has a connotation of worthlessness and has long been used by Jewish-Americans and in the regional speech of New York City. (The word “tchotchke” derives from a Slavic word for “toys.” Apparently, tchotchkes are often given at Chanukkah as part of a game.)

I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised then, when after admiring my souvenirs from my last trip I realized that I was a Chachke Chick. Considering I am 1/2 Jewish and from NY, this would be the only justifiable reason for it. That, and probably because I consider myself a sentimental person. I admit that I am guilty of buying these cheap souvenirs. I enjoy squeezing them into my already over packed luggage, so I can then take them home to add to my expanding collection of trinkets, or just admire them for a day and then pack them into another case for safe keeping. I’ve even gotten my family into chachke collecting, though not voluntarily.

When I recently returned from my trip to San Francisco and reflected on my chachke shopping, I thought about how many other things I had brought home or collected over the years, or better yet given to my family. I started to wonder if every time I gave someone something they secretly rolled their eyes. But then I realized something. Although these toys might be worthless to everyone but the person who buys it, they most certainly do have value. For me, each time I look at them, I’m reminded of where I was, who I was with, the type of day, the weather, and everything else associated with that moment. Who’s to say that the only things worth buying and collecting are those that cost tons of money? Yeah, maybe they’ll have a great resale value in 50 years, but should I forego buying a memorable souvenir simply because it didn’t make me broke? I think not.

And so, when I came back from SF, I brought with me:

  • 4 ceramic vases with bamboo stitching from Chinatown – thoughtfully signed by the artist
  • A toothpick holder, tree magnet and wine bottle cork, all from Muir Woods
  • Two spoons (that can be used as necklace charms) I bought from a street vendor that have little images of SF, covered in colorful beads and coated in resin
  • A hat made to look like a cat, that I bought from a woman on a street corner (perhaps this doesn’t really constitute a chachke, but nevertheless it’s on the list.
  • A pin from the hotel I was staying at (Hotel Des Arts), promoting one of their artists

While some of these do serve a purpose, a few of them really don’t. However, I will say that I made it a point to buy something that was built or created in SF. When I’m visiting a city/town I want to support that community, and so I would rather buy a spoon covered in resin from a guy that lives in SF, than some expensive scarf made in Malaysia.