House Poor, Mindy Kaling’s new web show.

October 31, 2008

I luuurve (lurrrve?) like Mindy Kaling, aka Kelly Kapoor, also writer & producer on The Office. And now look what she went and did on the internet!

This isn’t as rad as The Office, but come on. It’s episode one, you guys, and I have faith. She also has a shopping blog that she’s totally abandoned, but the archives are good.

Happy Hallowe’enie!

October 31, 2008

I have a couple of kickass Hallowe’en links to share with y’all, but first, friends, let me remind you of the true meaning of Hallow’een. It’s not scariness, or candy. The fundamental question for Hallowe’en is actually,

How can I make my costume sexy, even if sexiness is not at all relevant to my costume?

Alison and I went to an actors’ Hallowe’en party last night, which was filled with professional dancers and musical theatre performers. As you might imagine, most of them were partially nude. There was a sexy cop, two Playboy bunnies, a gaggle of Gladiators, a shirtless Batman, a sexy female Robin in a sports bra, sexy Terminator team complete with flashing LED bionic eye and sexy tight pants, and even a sexy Woodland Minotaur Lady-Goat with shaggy brown furry legs and a bare torso strewn with strategically-placed flowers.

Oh, also there was a slim 6’5″ dude wearing 5″ heels and a fluffy blonde wig, towering over the party as a sexy draggy seven-foot-tall Nomi Malone (that link is not the link we’re here to discuss, but it’s a tangent well worth clicking, friends).

One guy was just wearing a strawberry blond afro wig with his regular clothes, and I jokingly said, “hey, you could say you were Richard Simmons if you were wearing short-shorts.” He made a sort of sheepish face and I thought “oops, I embarrassed him,” but then I noticed he was removing his pants and rugger shirt, revealing a perfectly toned mandancer’s body in red hipster underoos and a tank top. Before the jeans were even past his knees he was already posing for photos. It was just that kind of party.

Artist's interpretation of that guy last night.

Artist's interpretation of that guy last night.

Alison fit right in, dolled up in her little pencil skirt and secretary hair- she looked like the first act of a certain kind of movie. But me? In my suit and flat shoes and 5-o’clock shadow? Not sexy. Unless you think clever political satire revealing the satirist’s unapologetic Liberal bias is sexy (which I totally do, can I get a what-what?) But honestly, this wasn’t that kind of party.

Let that one be a lesson to you.

Let that one be a lesson to you.

We’re going out again tonight and I’m totally planning to be Sexy Obama: the same hair, ears, eyebrows, and blazer…. paired with a bustier, miniskirt, fishnets, and high boots. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Oh wait, didn’t I promise you two good Hallowe’en links way back up a the top of this post? It was so long ago, I barely remember, but — Yes. So what I was going to say was, learn from my mistake: make sure your costume is sexy.

And here’s promised link #1, a great primer to get you started: PlanetDan’s Sexy Hallowe’en Costume Guide



(thanks to dziga for yet another killer link).


Today’s Wicked Ween Link # 2 reminds me of a trip I took to Germany some years ago. The German friend I was staying with sang in an a capella man-choir (I know!), and let me come to one of his rehearsals. They sang jaw-droppingly complex arrangements of American pop songs in their German accents, and I loved them so much I made my friend burn me a CD of their music, which I still listen to on occasion. Imagine 30 earnest German guys in perfect precision, belting out Right Set Fred songs. Amazing.

I was right back there in Bavaria when JP flung me this incredible YouTube video today. I think it’s the French accent that really does me in. I recommend viewing it in fullscreen, and make sure to watch ’til the Vincent Price voiceover, which kind of sounds like Jean Chretien doing a Vincent Price voiceover:

So there. Happy Hallowe’en, friends and neighbours. Don’t eat unwrapped candy, wear light colours so you don’t get hit by a minivan, and for the love of the Great Pumpkin, make sure your costume shows your navel.

Idea Conference: Elliott Malkin’s talk

October 30, 2008
It will all make sense if you listen to the talk.

It will all make sense if you listen to the talk.

My friend Elliott Malkin will be more familiar on this blog as dziga, bearer of interesting links. He recently presented at Chicago’s Idea Conference – billed as “A conference on designing information spaces of all kinds”.
He’s an information architect and new media artist, and at the conference, he spoke about several mostly-unrelated things:
the Orthodox Jewish structure known as an eruv,
the process of collecting biographical information about his ancestor Hyman Victor, who emigrated to Chicago from Eastern Europe in 1918,
and his interest in feeding monarch butterflies on his Manhattan balcony.

I think the talk is well worth listening to- his projects are cool, and meticulously documented. Plus he has a strong Chicago accent which is not to be missed.

You can listen to the full talk in 3 separate sections (totalling about 30 minutes) here.

Senator Biden is now my Homeboy: 9-year old interviews the VP candidate.

October 27, 2008

Thanks to dziga for the tip.

How to be Barack Obama for Hallowe’en

October 26, 2008

US Presidential elections follow hot on the heels of Hallowe’en, and apparently for the past seven elections, a reliable predictor of who’ll take the election is whichever candidate’s Hallowe’en mask has sold out first. Using my deductive superpowers, I draw the obvious conclusion: the more masks you buy, the more likely your candidate is to win. So this Hallowe’en, get out there and do your part!

click to enlarge.

click to enlarge.

Call me a prude, but I don’t like walking around with my head in a latex bag all night, so I modified a latex Obama mask & used some makeup wizardry to look like our intrepid hero. There’s a large-size pic of the final face at the very end of this post.


Black eyeliner for your eyes & brows
Navy blue eyeliner
for your lips
Pink lipstick or lipgloss
Dark brown eyeshadow
Black cream makeup – Mine was about $3 for a tube. Pick one with water as the first ingredient, because if the first ingredient is petrolatum or mineral oil, you’re gonna have a nasty, greasy face all night.
A kitchen sponge – the yellow & green kind with a scrubby side
Spirit gum & Remover – This is a pine-sap based glue for wigs & beards. You only need a little. Should be about $5.
Dark suit, dress shoes, tie.
Barack Obama rubber mask In Toronto, you can get these at Laughing Stuff on Yonge for $28. If you can’t find one, you can improvise with a Spock rubber mask (trim the ears into human-shapes), or paint Obama hair onto a latex bald cap and oversized costume ears.

Obama campaign pin
(Alison made mine by freehand drawing it onto paper. I used clear packing tape to laminate it to a button I had lying around.)


Get dressed & cover your clothes with a towel so you don’t get messy.
Flatten your hair– I did braids, coiled & pinned flat. You can also make a wig cap by cutting the legs off some old pantyhose. Pantyhead!



Sweep dark-brown matte shadow immediately above & below eyes. Because my eyes are slanted up and Obama’s slant down, I also added a little black liner at the outer corners in a downwards direction to make my eyes mimic his shape a bit. I traced a little white pencil into the inner rims of my eyelids to make my narrow eyes look brighter. Finally some mascara, because even when I dress in man-drag, I still wanna look cute!

Contour your cheeks & nose:
Suck in your cheeks & use a blush brush to apply some dark brown shadow under your cheekbones to make your face look more chiseled & handsome.
I also used a little brown shadow on the sides of my nose to make it look longer. I intensified the contrast in this photo to show the contour lines on my nose:

Shading on sides of nose, and at outer eye corners.

Shading on sides of nose, and at outer eye corners.

Open a photo big photo of Obama on Google.
Use the black eyeliner to copy the shape of his eyebrows. They’re about 1cm thick. They slant downwards slightly, and they angle down more sharply at the outer corners.
Use a brush to powder gently over the liner to set it.

Right beside his left nostril, the Senator has a mole.
Use a brown or black eyeliner to dot it on, then powder gently to set it.

Man-skin, aka 5-o’clock shadow:
Use your finger to apply a very light layer of black cream makeup to the scrubby green side of the sponge. You want the makeup to be floating on the top fibres of the scouring pad, not soaking into it.

Gently dab black all over your chin & mustache. Should look like fairly realistic stubble.

Now it’s time to blend. Wet the sponge and squeeze it damp. Use the smooth, clean, damp side of the sponge to blend the black into your face so it’s just an even greyish shadow. Rinse the sponge & repeat this step a few times, til the shadow is as dark as you like, then let your face air-dry. Set the 5-o’clock shadow with a quick sweep of powder.

Obama’s lips are an unusual colour: sort of purply brown with hints of blue. To re-create, start with a bit of lip balm. Lightly colour your lips blue with the navy eyeliner. It’ll look freaky, but then you add some pink lipstick or gloss over it to blend. Keep adding dabs of blue and pink, and blending with lip balm til the colour’s right.

Now you’re gonna ruin a $28 mask, so first put it on and take photos!

Ha ha ha, ok, enough of that.

The idea is to make the mask into a hat with ears. You want all the hair intact, and the ears attached, so you can put it on your head like a helmet & glue it to your face so it stays. Here’s how to do it:

Cut the mask:
Use sharp scissors to cut out the face from your mask. Leave the hairline & ears totally intact, and keep about a 1-inch border of mask all around the ears. Remember you can always cut off more later, but you can’t put it back when you cut too much.

I kind of screwed this step up, so I can’t show you how to do it right. But basically you’re gonna glue the mask to the sides of your face, so you need at least an inch of flat mask in front of & below the ears to adhere the glue. And you want the mask to have enough surface area left that it fits easily. If it’s pulling tight the glue will rip. Put the mask on a few times as you cut to see how much to take off, and remember to be conservative & cautious with this step.

Most rubber masks have a split up the back. You might wanna carefully measure & trim a slim wedge out of this slit so the mask fits better, then tape the slit closed from the inside.

Glue the mask:
Use spirit gum to glue the mask to your face around the ears. Little dabs of tape will help hold it in place while it sticks.

If you cut off too much in the previous step like I did, there won’t be enough mask to use the spirit gum, so you’ll have to make sideburns out of black duct tape & use them to stick the mask to your face. Or else use some black cream makeup on a brush to make sideburns and camoflague the transition. Note that Obama’s sideburns are points, and don’t make the points too long or he’ll look like a Vulcan.

That’s about it. Oh also, I forgot the first step. This one takes some planning, but it’s worthwhile in the long run. Go back in time a few years, and cultivate a friendship with a doe-eyed brunette who wil accompany you as Sarah Palin and talk like an idiot all night to make the likeness complete!

Note the duct-tape Vulcan sideburns in this pic.  Oops.

Note the duct-tape Vulcan sideburns in this pic. Oops.

Enjoy your Hallowe’en, and if you see another Hallowe’en Obama or Palin, send ’em along!

Want more funny?
Well, this one time, I brought homemade bacon candy to a Jewish dinner party. Yeah, that went well.

Obama for Hallowe’en: I hope to believe in change we can believe to hope for.

October 26, 2008

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Karate cat: the filet mignon of the internet

October 24, 2008

When she heard I might lose my internet access for the rest of the night, Hill proved herself a true friend and served me, as a sort of last meal, a clip that I seriously think is the truffle-encrusted shark fin steak of the web. Punchy and brief, this is choice online hilarity. Karate cat, y’all. Watch this.

Ten perfect seconds.

Ten perfect seconds.

You’re gonna wanna watch it a few times (in fact, I defy you not to). Look at the moment the kitten realizes he’s about to get plowed. His tiny paws hesitate just for a moment, and then, RRROW. So good.

Also I realized I can still be online if I hold the charger cord at juuust the right angle. The stupid charger and its cord are heating up like you wouldn’t believe, and if I fall asleep doing this, the detestable thing will likely melt into my carpet and set my apartment on fire for the second time in 13 months, but I have internet, y’all!

What Google thinks it means, Volume One

October 23, 2008

I came up with a new thing for on here! A way to combine my love for the internet with the spirit of inquiry. I’m gonna do Google Image searches for things, and then post the top thing for each thing on my blog. Because the thing is: if Google thinks a thing should be represented by a thing, then that’s what the thing is.

For example:

Top image result for “funny” comes from an Irish website called LOLZ.IR. It’s a photo of two cocks playing football. While crossing a road. You guys, that is a lot of funny all densely concentrated up in there.



I am happy to report that the top Google Image result for “Paris” is the city, not the coy Hollywood douchette. (She takes spot #5 though.)



And (thankfully) most of the Google Image results for my name are actual photos of me. But not this pretty lil gem, who snagged the #6 spot. NEVER FORGET, guys. NEVER FORGET:



“ME”, AS IN “YOU”.
The previous line of inquest led me to ponder what is perhaps the most existential 2.0 question of all: what jpeg would Google Image offer up to represent “ME”, like the actual word “ME”…?

Is your mind totally blown yet?

Seriously! Which “ME”, of all the many people in the world, would be the most powerful, the most iconic, the most universally represented “ME”? The answer, my friend, may surprise you. It certainly surprised “me”.

I present to you the quintessential “ME”, according to Google Images: A Scandinavian businessman awkwardly sitting in the lap of a bronze bear, while her displaced cub looks on with envy. Obviously.



Hallowe’en costume suggestion: Bert & Ernie, awww, cute!

October 21, 2008
You could be this charming childhood duo for Halloween.

You could be this charming childhood duo for Hallowe'en.




Egg containing a chicken. But which came first?

October 20, 2008

The other day I was half-asleep while Scott made breakfast. Out of nowhere, he said,

“I found something awful in an egg. You wanna see it, or not see it?”

“Are you kidding me? Outta my way.” I haven’t leapt from a bed that fast since the house caught fire last year.

It was a tiny, jelly-bean sized chicken embryo. Heart, blood vessels, and eye were clearly visible.

A quick browse of the interweb makes me think my little Foghorn Leghorn was about 3 days old.

Now some people might have been grossed out by Chicken Little here, but not me. I scientifically removed it from its veiny yolk with a fork and plopped it onto the table, where we could gaze at it in wide-eyed, horrified joy.

I dunno about you, but when I make a meaningful scientific discovery I always like to consult with colleagues, so I called the cat over to investigate. Like any true scientist, the cat collects his data methodically. In this case he used several of his senses to gather qualitative data about our little specimen. He looked at it intently. He sniffed it daintily. He licked it oh-so-gently. And then he swallowed it with a single toss of his fur-covered head, smacked his chops, and looked expectantly in the bowl in case there was another one.

Rating: Tastes like chicken.

By the way, we scrambled the remainder of that egg with three of its siblings, then scattered on some shreds of sharp cheddar, coarsely-ground black pepper, and a few dashes of Tabasco. Science is delicious.