November 30, 2008

Clever 2 min video featuring candy corn corn corn and a plate of utterly inedible spaghetti.

Thanks to Cho for the tip.

Disney artist Carson van Osten’s tips for good composition

November 29, 2008
click to see full-size image.

click to see full-size image.

These composition, staging, and posing tips are specifically for comic artists & animators, but I thought there were some good principles in here for directors, and even actors. More here.

Hamster. On a piano.

November 28, 2008

1 minute of a ridiculously cute inbred rodent.
Turn the volume down a bit, maybe.

Thanks, Jessperson, for the tip.

There’s an ass for every seat.

November 27, 2008

These are some of the search terms that sent people to this site today:

postmodern christian painting
using someone else toothbrush
hollywood babies
novelty festive mugs
asian men sideburn
ugly donkey

I am glad to have been the seat for these noble and varied queries.

Diamonds at the ROM

November 26, 2008

Last weekend my friend Jenn & I checked out the blingy extravaganza that is the Diamonds exhibit at the ROM.

It starts with a hallway of background info about the formation and chemical composition of diamonds, although unfortunately, the crowd was shoulder-to-shoulder and we weren’t able to read much of it. Our visit coincided with the Santa Claus Parade, so I’d hoped the hordes would be out there instead- but apparently Toronto has more than enough Atheists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and bachelors to keep the ROM well packed even on that Exmassy day of days. Be warned, the weekends are gonna be nuts there for a while yet.

Next up: diamond jewellery from across the ages. Mughal Indian chokers: strange to see ginormous diamond necklaces that attach with thread cords rather than metal chains. Uncut diamond rings worn by the Romans: pointy! And then, progressively more ornate pieces- turns out the sky’s the limit, design-wise, once you figure out how to cut a diamond. Hint: use another diamond. Or call Nelly and ask to borrow his dentures.

Nelly, now we need to talk about your gums.  They just seem... drab.

Nelly, now we need to talk about your gums. They just seem... drab.

The heart of the exhibit is dominated by a vault in which the really jewel-thief-worthy stuff is ensconced. The centrepiece of the whole shebang is the Incomparable Diamond. I tried to come up with something to compare this gem to, but strangely, nothing came to mind.

It’s a yellow diamond the size of a baby’s fist that was found by a little girl in Congo as she played in the no-doubt delightful playground that is the pile of rubble outside a diamond mine. She gave it to her uncle, who sold it to the jeweller who eventually cut it. No mention is made of the price that Mr. Uncle got for the 890-carat raw diamond, but I’m sure it was totally fair and he gave his niece a generous cut that paid for her University education and her first Honda Civic.

Can I compare thee to a... uh... hmmm.

Can I compare thee to a... uh... hmmm.

elton john diamond shoulder pin brooch

Speaking of prices, actually, one thing that would make the exhibit a bit more accessible/inaccessible would be disclosure of the original & most recent selling prices of the pieces.

I like having financial goals, see, and if I’m gonna buy Elton John’s dangly pavé diamond lapel pin in time for New Years’ Eve, I need to know how many no-whip skinny extra-foam vanilla soy chai mocha macchiattos I’m gonna be giving up.


My favourite piece was this question-mark choker, with its glitzy roses that cunningly draw the eye down into a lady’s magical pillowy area. It was hard to pick a favourite, though- there really are some lovely pieces. A pair of black lacework diamond cuffs stood out, as did some gorgeous corset-brooches, very romantically called “stomachers”.

Linguistic nerd that I am, I was pleased to learn the literal meaning of a phrase I use so often it’s become run-of-the-mill. The phrase I’m referencing is in fact “run-of-the-mill”, see what I did there? I’d never given this any thought, but it literally means the hourly output, or run, of an actual mill- the various uncut diamonds in assorted sizes that a specific diamond mill is able to process in an hour. The ROM showed one particular mill’s run: a heaping palmful of diamonds, ranging in size from “dot” to “pea”. Those are totally the actual gemologist terms. There’s also “gumball”, “junebug”, “nostril”, “nipple”, and “oh my sweet lord put that in your pocket and let’s get out of here before the alarm goes off”.

So that’s my trip to the ROM. The coverage of the blood diamond aspect of the industry is much too thin- it feels weird to be all “ooh pretty shiny diamonds and science” for two hours and then “boo, conflict and dead Africans” for three minutes and then “but ooh so shiny pretty” the rest of the time. Shiny! Then die-y! But then Sparkly! It’s understandable even if it’s not right, though: the exhibit is sponsored by a major diamond company, so while it would be noble of them to go deeper into it, their gentle skirting of the issue is at least predictable. Too much Liberal guilt would probably dampen enthusiasm for sales, and Secular Consumerist Christmas is coming, after all. If anyone’s interested, I’d like a Ring Pop, but with an actual diamond on the plastic part. And a set of Nelly-brand Rapper-Teeth Grillz.

Amelia – modern ballet by Edouard Locke & La La La Human Steps

November 26, 2008

Fun fact- once I stayed at the super-cute Montreal apartment of the female dancer in this video. She has the extremely charming habit of travelling a lot and making her place available to friends-of-friends she’s barely met while she’s out of town.


Mistaya Hemingway & Keir Knight of La La La Human Steps, directed by Edouard Locke.
~7.5 minutes, gorgeous.

Chickenhead: not just an insult anymore.

November 26, 2008

2-min video. Be sure to watch to the end.

Update: I love this dude. Here’s another super-cute one, 2.5 mins.

Puppy coat

November 23, 2008


Herbal Essences Conditioner

November 18, 2008
These are the two formulations of Herbal Essences I've come to depend on.  I imagine that if you were to chemically analyze me, you'd find I'm probably about 15% composed of this stuff by now.

These are the two formulations of Herbal Essences I've come to depend on. I imagine that if you were to chemically analyze me, you'd find I'm probably about 15% composed of this stuff by now.

It appears that Herbal Essences is discontinuing its classic conditioners (depicted above) in favour of a new line of candy-reeking ones with annoying, cutesy names (None of Your Frizzness! SHUT UP.) and packaged in wavy bottles designed to appeal to 13-year old girls. Guess how I feel about that.

Classic Pink Herbal Essences Conditioner is the only thing I’ve ever found that makes my giant hair look good. I use it in obscene quantities- half a cup to condition & detangle every time I wash my hair, and then another half-cup after every shower, combed through & left in to make the curls stick together, and then another teaspoon every other day or so, smoothed over the surface of my head to keep things looking tidy. I go through at least 2 bottles a month. Luckily it’s only $4, and it’s really the only product I use, so my haircare expenditures remain very reasonable even if my usage does not.

Why is it so good? Let me count the ways. It makes my hair slippery, no easy feat since my long, curly, fine, endless pelt wants to live off the grid, back to nature, in a big fat frizzay knot on the back of my head. Herbal Esssence conditioner is moisturizing without being greasy, and it coats my nest of hair so it doesn’t get all staticky and fluffy- yet it still makes it shiny. Also it smells okay, kind of like candy-flowers, familar candy-flowers. I’ve been soaking my head in this stuff since I was 18, so I actually can’t smell it any more, but anecdotal evidence tells me I smell of this product very strongly indeed. So the fact that it doesn’t smell like butt is nice. Every time I’ve tried switching to another product, it’s been awful because I use so. very. much. conditioner. that when it’s a new scent and I can actually smell it, I gag from the candy-coated floral sweetness of my own head. My life is really hard, you guys!

So I’ve been keeping an eye out for this stuff, and to my dismay, most stores have ceased to carry it. I’m down to my last half-bottle, and today I looked in a major drug store, a major grocery store, and three corner stores– and I only found one bottle. None of the Toronto grocery delivery services had it, either. With growing anxiety, I declared it an emollient emergency and started trolling Amazon and Ebay for American suppliers.

I sent a terse, panicky email to Reuben asking him how much of this stuff he’d allow me to ship to, then stockpile at, his place in NYC ’til some undetermined time in the future when I cross the border (no doubt surrounded by a maelstrom-like mushroom cloud vortex of untamed hair) to pick it up. Bless his heart, his reply came in minutes: “as much as you need, I’ll find a way to store it.” This is a true friend. At some point I will undoubtedly make him sorry he’s so nice to me by deluging his apartment with a flood of sweet-scented pink slime, but first there was one more avenue to try.

Using every wile I possess (mostly my whiny whiles), I convinced Scoots to brave his most hated of places, that palace of economy, Wal-Mart. And guess what? The giant box store of evil overconsumption not only enabled my addiction, but did so for $2.97 a bottle, which is 25% off what I usually pay! But I only bought a few. Just what was on the shelf. I didn’t, like, ask anyone to go to the storeroom or anything, that would be unreasonable.

Brand loyalty. The cat isn't judging me.

Brand loyalty. The cat isn't judging me.

I feel much better now.

In which I speed the decline of print media

November 18, 2008


Our records indicate that your subscription to Harper’s Magazine will expire soon. Renew your subscription today before you miss a single insightful, thought provoking issue. I’d just like to remind you of just a few of the unique editorial features that a subscription to Harper’s offers:

INDEX… the facts and figures below the surface of the news– sometimes amusing, sometimes disturbing, always enlightening. READINGS… provocative excerpts from sources as diverse as letters, speeches, books, plays, magazines, newspapers, research reports and government documents. ANNOTATION… giving context to the common yet often obscure language of such ordinary documents such as tax forms and hospital bills, restaurant menus and concert tickets. ESSAY, REPORT, CRITICISM, FORUM, NOTEBOOK… all the serious, quality writing you’ve
come to expect from HARPER’S.

A two-year subscription- 24 issues- is only $34.95, and renewing is just a click away.

Shawn Green
Circulation Director

Hello Shawn Green and Harper’s Magazine,

I’m writing to thank you for a good couple of years.
I like the magazine but I just don’t have time to read it since getting a laptop and becoming addicted to the internet. Now I spend my every moment of horizontal eye movement on pixels, not pages. While I still read the Harper’s weekly review by email, the dead-tree issues are piling up. That growing stack is in my bathroom, and frankly a pile that high is sending the wrong message to visitors. I have decided not to renew my subscription, and would ask to be removed from the list of people who receive tantalizing envelopes stuffed with offers to re-subscribe. These mailouts will not sway my decision, so they just waste money and trees. If I decide to re-subscribe some day, it turns out that I’m very web-savvy (yay laptop!) so I will know where to find you.
Thanks again, though- Harper’s is a good read.
Nicole Stamp