Saturday, April 18, 2009

Alabama Junk Day

Some days, its good to live in Redneckia.

I don't know what they call it, but once or twice a year the city says it will haul off to the dump anything you can drag down to the street in front of your house. Maybe its got something ironic to do with Earth Day. At any rate, there are piles like this one every few houses on ever road in my neighborhood. Its like a big drive-through thrift store that encourages five-finger discounts! After work I just drove around, filling my car with other peoples discarded treasures. I filled it twice. Some highlights:
  • two turn tables
  • three TVs
  • 5 cassette decks
  • two VCRs
  • three DVD players
  • a guitar
  • several brass lamps
  • two sets of fire place tools
  • toy guns
  • Darth Vader mask
  • old clock
  • old fan
  • sewing machine
  • folding desk chair
  • tool box full of old tools
  • giant rusty old trunk
  • plastic rocket sled
  • ionizing air filter

So, its gonna take me a while to break it all down for parts, but its like bringing home a gold mine. I feel like this must be illegal or something in other, more progressive regions, but right now I'm happy to profit from Alabama's good ol' boy tendencies.

There is one thing about it that is still sort of appalling is just how much of this crap still works. Some of it, like the air filter, looks like its never been used. Undamaged, almost unused stuff, just tossed out to the road. No wonder out economy is fucked -- these ass holes are borrowing money to buy expensive shit they don't need and then chucking it in land fills instead of any other method (recycling, selling, donation, etc.) of getting rid of it. I mean, some of this stuff has nothing wrong with it at all other than it doesn't play Blue Rays. What, you ain't got a second TV down stairs? Maybe not, if that's where all the TVs came from.

So it was a gold mine for me, but it really started to bother me towards the end of testing as I realized just how functional most of this crap is. While picking it up I'd just assumed it was all broken and that I'd strip it for parts. Now, I'm wishing I'd picked up the remotes, I could sell this crap!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

work in progress...

Here's a crappy cell phone shot of what's about one or two more sittings worth of work away from finished -- a SteamPunked Guitar Hero controller. Goofy, yes. Also, fun, and a really good test piece for that fake wood action that I'm wanting to use later for something else. Anyway, I just wanted to have something up here related to what I've been spending so much time on lately. This weekend or so I'm planning on doing a bunch of photography of other recently completed 1:1 scale projects.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

FroliCon 2009

We spent our Easter weekend in Atlanta with the fine partiers of FroliCon! We've been eye-balling this con for years, but never mustered up the courage to go. Well hot damn, am I glad we finally ponied up! This was not the camera-fest that I usually partake in at cons. Not that there wasn't anything worth taking a picture of, I just had other things to do with my hands, and the vibe is different. Everything was more personal, less over the top and showy. But I got a few shots I can share. The caption for this first pic is a quote from the individual depicted: "Moderation in all things."

We didn't get a room at the con hotel itself -- no surprise there, as we didn't decide to go until about 2 weeks before the event. But we had a fine little room just a few blocks away. Out in the quiet airport neighborhood the quick little car hops were just fine for the two days we were there (We got in Friday, partied that night and all day Saturday, then had to bug out ass-early Sunday morning.) but it did convince me that it's worth the extra cash to not have to fuck around with cars at all for DragonCon.

So, what to say about FroliCon? Obviously, its not as big as a Dragon or anything like that. It was even smaller than ImagiCon, but it was all in one wing of a smaller hotel, rather than spread all over the damn BJCC, so it didn't have that ghost-town feeling. And there were NO tourists -- hell, in this crowd a straight guy in a fully articulated Doc. Octopus costume would still just be vanilla. I don't mean that to make the party sound elietist, just hard core. Every body there was hard core. There were pleanty of other FroliCon virgins, but everybody there knew what was going on and was there on purpose. It was a really fun, accepting, sociable crowd. Sure, you could see some cliques, but that's just human nature. Everyone was just hanging out, kicking back, and chatting it up. Seriously good times.

Speaking of Doc Oc, there was a serious absense of named character costumes, which was a very refreshing change. People were dressed up and dressed out, but it had a more self-expressive vibe, instead of the normal character reproduction you typically see. It was a really cool way to roll, and probably sprang from folks doing some very personal things at this party, and dressing to reflect it. Even the obvious character costumes were generally of characters created by the costume's wearer. Freaks flying in their natural colors, amplified.


I wish I'd gotten a good picture of him, maybe we did on one of the other cameras, but there was a guy there in a psudo-German uniform, and his method was brilliant. It was an SS uniform, but he'd replaced all the icons and badges and stuff with things he liked better. They were still in the right style, just not actual Nazi shit. He told me that he'd gathered all the stuff he wanted to use in a pile, dumped it out in front of a bunch of girls, and had them pick out anything frightening or offensive. Bits he really wanted to use, like the belt buckle, had the offensive details hammered off. Brilliant!

There were, of course, a decently broad range of representatives of Her Majesty's favorite new genre, SteamPunk, with all the high-detail hand-made goodness we love.

These folks were the first of several people around the con to mention Harbor Freight when talking about where they got parts for their experiments. I'll have to dig through that site later.


Some folks take their steam with an extra dose of weird.
Apparently, this guy does this for a living, make props and costumes for a local haunted house.

The SteamPunk part of the show was rounded out by the Extraordinary Contraptions, an Atlanta-local SteamPunk -styled power pop band. Very cutely costumed, and wonderful folks to hang out with. I had great fun swapping maker tips with their chief engineer (who also mentioned Harbor Freight). Not really my sound, but still, great people.
They played a real set, but I only got pics of them messing about in the convention space.
I also fell in love with her stockings a little bit. The lines aren't woven, they are painted or marked in some way, and I think I've got an idea how to replicate the effect with an airbrush on a pair of normal hoes. So I'll find out at some point and give it a try.

Gotta give a shout out to Big Momma, too! One night we took in the show by Big Momma's Productions, and it was an absolute hoot. Bama burlesque girls, take note: you could learn a thing or two from these folks. Take everything I said about the dance at ImagiCon, and take the reverse. Their show was great -- engaging and funny hosts, beautiful girls, skill on display in thought-out, coreographed routines, and the great solo bit from Big Momma herself at the end of the show. This is was burlesque is supposed to be like!

Pinky and the boys from the Sadistic Scenic City SideShow also put on a good act. As we watched the show, Mrs. Utini would comment on each act comment on each act with an "allowed" or "not allowed." Ya gotta love clarity in communication and expectations.

As always, Mrs. Utini and I found our doom in the dealer's room. We always talk so much about being good this time....sure, right. At least this time we didn't load up on small little chochky shit. We got a few particular items of significant quality. The market was small but focused, not a lot of space but not a lot of off-topic bullshit, either. Lots of sex toys, some very out there, like the medical equipment. Most of what we saw we were more interested in for ideas that we can use in our own stuff, and the things we bought were just beyond our skills/time to replicate. Mostly, we spent our money at Delicious Boutique. I came out of it with this pimp shoulder holster:

and Celeste got the most Celeste-like skirt ever made (for a very reasonable price, that's what I keep telling myself) which I can't seem to find on their website.

We chatted some with Jennie Breeden, the artist behind The Devil's Panties. She's a certain kind of devilishly adorable, and if you are into the con thing and don't read her stuff you suck. We had us a good laugh about how everybody from my wife to my mom thinks this is a picture of me:

This was my first event with an open dungeon play space. Wow. Damn. No, like seriously, holy shit! What happens in the dungeon stays in the dungeon. But holy shit, what happened in the dungeon...

Saturday night we hit a few of the room parties, particularly Master Andre's ConTorage party. Kick ass party, man (you too, BamaSpider!) and what the hell kind of girlly-attracting magnet did you have in the back room? I think we were in and out of the party about 4 or 5 times and every damn time when I peeked in the back... :-) So ya, I'm totally looking forward to hooking up with you guys again at DragonCon, if not some thing sooner. Despite the fabulous parties being thrown (ya know how at big events you have to hunt to find the good parties? At FroliCon, the good parties are looking for you!) We never really did the party-all-night thing at this con. Somehow, the atmosphere at this event inspired us towards our own festivities.


So, if it's not obvious, we had a great time. We're already talking about next year. I think this might have been the con that finally won me over to the "small cons are actually better" way of thinking. And there were some things from this con that I could happily see spilling over a bit more often into every day life. We had a great time, an awesome weekend, and I got a nice fresh mental reboot, which is exactly what I was hoping for.

Monday, April 13, 2009

HeroScape with a buddy and son

Got in a game of HeroScape Thursday with a buddy and his son. It was fun, one of those classic passing of the torch to the next generation of geeks kind of evenings. Good times.