Stacking the Shelves: August 2016

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

2016-08-16 - New Comic Books - 0002 [flickr]

2016-08-16 - New Comic Books - 0008 [flickr]

It’s been a rather shitty month (literally and figuratively, hardee har har!; no but really, the new fosters introduced a worm into the pack, and everyone’s had varying degrees of diarrhea, yay!), so I decided to treat myself to a few comic books from my wishlist. Also: A Helena Pop, because 1) it was on sale and 2) Helena is easily the best character in one of the best shows on television, so.

2016-08-19 - Kaylee Pop - 0001 [flickr]

2016-08-19 - Jayne Pop - 0002 [flickr]

…aaaand of course, once you buy one Funko Pop, you can’t stop. My next two purchases were Kaylee and Jayne, in honor of my little ladies, may they rest in peace. Kaylee looks scrappy as heck – wtf is up with that hairline!? – but there’s no way I can return her. Besides, my Kaylee was pretty funny-looking too, so I guess it evens out.

2016-08-19 - Kaylee & Jayne Pops - 0010 [flickr]

Pictured here with our 2011 FSMas card, which featured some pretty hardcore cosplay. (We leave a laminated version on the fridge year-round, because how could we not?)

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Book Review: Joss Whedon and Religion: Essays on an Angry Atheist’s Explorations of the Sacred, Anthony R. Mills, ed. (2013)

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

“Oh…my…Goddess!” (In which an “angry atheist” is pleasantly surprised by a religious journey through the Whedonverse.)

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program.)

As a Joss Whedon fan and a fellow self-described “angry atheist,” I approached Joss Whedon and Religion: Essays on an Angry Atheist’s Explorations of the Sacred with some trepidation. Specifically, I was worried that the authors who contributed to this anthology – many of them theologians – might be dismissive of or downright hostile to Whedon’s beliefs. Happily, this isn’t the case. After all, many (if not all) of them are fellow Whedon fans, even if they don’t share in his atheism. While some authors are critical of certain aspects of Whedon’s work, I suspect that this primarily comes from a place of love: it’s those you respect most who have the greatest potential to let you down.

As with any anthology, Joss Whedon and Religion is a bit of a mixed bag, with all of the pieces trending toward “adequate” to “excellent.” Some authors are heavier on the academic jargon than others; overall, I found most of the contributions to be fairly readable. (Some of the heavier stuff is tempered by more enjoyable, in-depth discussions of, say, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Dollhouse. Warning: you will want to revisit your favorite shows by book’s end!) Occasionally, I had to take a breather to further research a specific topic, usually religious in nature; those who have a better background in religion (specifically Judeo-Christian) will no doubt have an easier time of it.

Due to the religious iconography prominently displayed on the cover (which is consistent with the Catholic imagery common to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel), I anticipated a largely Christian perspective. While I can’t comment on the authors’ personal religious convictions, I’m happy to report that they address a variety of religions and ethical systems, both mainstream and not: Wicca and witchcraft; ancient Greek and Roman gods and goddesses; the philosophies of Aristotle and Kant; even Ayn Rand gets a chapter (alongside Stan Lee, natch). A few essays don’t really seem to pay much mind to religion at all.

(In an especially amusing aside, Dean Kowalski gently pokes fun at K. Dale Koontz – who penned the forward – for reading too much religion into Whedon’s work, a criticism one could perhaps level at many of the contributors to this volume. See page 105.)

Of course, Christianity does receive the lion’s share of attention.

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Y is for Yoga Cookies

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

Y is for Yoga Cookies [Chloe's Kitchen] (0017)

Rolling the dough for these cookies, I was reminded of the scene in Firefly when, upon trying repeatedly and unsuccessfully to sneak a bite of her Ice Planet, River Tam infamously complains: “My food is problematic.”

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So named because Chloe frequently enjoys them as a post-workout snack, the Yoga Cookies from Chloe’s Kitchen are as tasty as they are a pain in the ass to make. The components can be separated into two parts: the dough proper, and all the extra add-ins (rolled oats, walnuts, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, and raisins – replaced here with dried cranberries because yum), which the dough is supposed to bind together.

Problem is, there wasn’t nearly enough dough to properly perform this most important task. Assembling all these delicious bits into cohesive cookies was difficult at best, and progressively more so the further I got into the process. The last two cookies were so unstable that I dared not try to flatten them, lest they crumble back into their individual parts. And at the end of the day, I was left with enough bits to form one more cookie, but not nearly enough dough to hold it all together.

Y is for Yoga Cookies [Chloe's Kitchen] (0001)

Instead, I sprinkled the leftovers – which resembled uncooked granola – onto a bowl of strawberries. Spoiler alert: it was ridiculously good. So much so that I’m thinking about turning this into a granola recipe!

The cookies stabilized a bit once they were cooked, but not enough that I could easily handle them without pieces of walnuts and flakes of coconut breaking free left and right. Still, they’re damn good cookies, and I think I’d like to give this recipe another go. Next time I plan on either increasing the dough by 50% or cutting down on the rolled oats by a like amount – I think that ought to do the trick.

Y is for Yoga Cookies [Chloe's Kitchen] (0020)

Since these are a yoga-themed snack, I really wanted to photograph them with my “downward dog” (really play bow) rat terrier figurine, but he was a little too big for this project. Instead I used one of my many (many many many) dachshund trinkets, who conveniently comes equipped with baskets to carry all your vegan goodies. He’s not performing any yoga pose that I know of – in fact, that arched back looks so unnatural that I suspect a real dachshund back might snap if stretched that way! – but he’ll have to do.

Y is for Yoga Cookies [Chloe's Kitchen] (0025)

Incidentally, my ratio of dachshund to rat terrier figurines is so skewed that it’s actually a little comical, considering I’ve only been owned by one dachshund in my life – compared to six rat terriers.* Rat terrier nicknacks just aren’t that common, whereas dachshunds might be the single most popular breed for collectibles. Wiener dogs are hilarious, yo! Everyone loves a sausage doggeh.

* Now that Ralphie’s gone we really look like breed snobs, but really it’s just because terriers are so common (and thus commonly abandoned) in the Midwest. You can’t throw a homemade biscuit in the pound without being trampled by a pack of ’em, I tell you what. Mags and Finnick are the only two who we adopted specifically because of their looks – and that was because of Mags’s resemblance to dear Kaylee, not her “charming” rat terrier personality per se.

Y is for Yoga Cookies [Chloe's Kitchen] (0022)

 
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"I got heathens aplenty right here!"* Merry CriFSMas from our crew to yours!

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

2011 FSMas Card MAIN

May your holiday be bright and shiny,
and your ‘verse, filled with shindigs and thrilling heroics.
– Kaylee and Jayne
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Happy holidays, y’all! As I said the other day, I’ve been dying to do some holiday cosplay with Kaylee and Jayne ever since we adopted them five years ago, and this year I finally got to it! I decorated the entire tree with pirates in their honor (The crew of Serenity? Space pirates! Totally relevant to Pastafarianism, since doctrine holds that the decline in pirates is correlated with global warming – and thus in order to avert the apocalypse, we have to bring back piracy. Check and mate.), which was no small feat seeing as I made most of the ornaments by hand over a two-month period. I also hired someone to custom-make Kaylee Frye and Jayne Cobb outfits way back in August. Oh, the planning that went into this holiday card!

Unfortunately, my seamstress totally flaked (Updated to add: full story here!), leaving me to cobble together costumes from off-the-rack pieces at the last minute. Instead of a green mechanic’s jumpsuit and floral blouse, Kaylee is wearing her shindig dress – that is, a Cotton Candy Dog Dress by East Side Collection. And while Jayne isn’t sporting a trademark brown Jayne Cobb ringer tee, she does look pretty badass in a green army jacket – really an Army Green Utility Jacket by Zack & Zoey.

Of course, the Jayne hat is the star of the ensemble; I actually had three custom-made for me by two different etsians: Sam’s Crochet (that would be the adorably floppy, Rasta-style hat Jayne and Peedee are wearing) and Whitaker Knits (the smaller hats with the orange tie, as seen on Ralphie and O-Ren, below). Rounding out Jayne’s look is a Browncoats logo pin I scored on Amazon. (It’s on her chest and not clearly visible in all the photos.) I also picked up some cute ID badges on eBay, but couldn’t find a place for them in the final outfits. Instead, they became ornaments for the tree.

Here’s a little character collage I put together for my family, who are not Firefly fans (THE HORRA!) and thus didn’t get the reference. Side-by-side comparison time! How do you think I did?

2011 FSMas Card - Kaylee-Jayne Comparison Collage

All’s shiny that ends shiny, I say.

Outtakes and extras after the jump!

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"Ha HA! Mine is an evil laugh!" (i.e., the shiny-yet-sacrilegious CriFSMas finery post)

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

This year I’d really hoped to do a “31 Days of CriFSMas” series. There was to be tutorials for making ornaments by hand, decorating tips, diy greeting card ideas, menu suggestions – even a list of festive viewing options. (Actually, I’ve planned on doing this for several years now, but veganmofo always leaves me exhausted and burnt out.) This year seemed an especially opportune time, seeing as I’ve been planning it since July and created many of the ornaments on the tree from scratch. But since time cannot be rewritten – that is, unless you are a Timelord or happen to know one – I’ll just have to cram it all into one ginormous megapost. Sound good?

The Pirate Tree

2011-12-05 - Pirate Tree - 0001

What better place to start than the tree? Whereas in years past I’ve gone heavy on the pasta-themed ornaments, this year I decided to do a full-on pirate theme – with a special focus on Firefly. Space pirates are totally relevant when you’re a Pastafarian, yo! Also when you’re the guardian of two dogs who are named after characters on the show! I’ve been dying to do some holiday cosplay with Kaylee and Jayne ever since we adopted them five years ago, but this year I actually took the initiative and did it! (Hence the early planning.) I’ll post photos of the dogs later this week, but suffice to say that their costumes directly influenced the look of the tree. Since I’ve never done a pirate tree before, almost all of the ornaments and decorations are new this season.

The decorations are mix of re-purposed items (pirate toys from the Dollar Store; some cool and inexpensive pirate and nautical wood party favors from Jo-Anne Fabric; glass bottles that look as though they might hold messages from castaways, also from J-Anne Fabric; “gold” skull & crossbones metal charms found on eBay), Firefly merch (ID badges for Kaylee Frye and Jayne Cobb; a Serenity keychain), and diy ornaments made by gluing pirate stickers and photos onto bottle caps and card stock.

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2011-11-22 - Pirate Ornaments - 0013

It’s this last group that I wanted to make a tutorial for but really, it’s all very simple. Throughout the summer I saved up whatever bottle caps and lids I could (the flatter, the better) and when I had a pretty good collection going, I laid them all out on the floor of the barn (on top of a drop cloth, natch) and spray-painted them black. Since you’re likely to have collected lids made of variety of materials – plastic and metal, mostly – make sure you buy a spray paint that’s suitable for each.

Then hit the internets and gather up as many pirate-y pictures as you can: google Firefly/Serenity (the art produced by this fandom is both plentiful and delightful!), Pirates of the Caribbean, pirate Amy Pond, women pirates (girl power!), etc. (Though that last search term turns up some rather depressing results. To cut down on the number of sexy pirates, search for historical woman pirates. You won’t get many results, but the hits you do get will be awesome!) Next, resize ’em so that the portions of the photos that you’d like to use are similar in size to your caps and lids, then copy and paste them onto 4×6, 5×7, and/or 8×10 canvases (depending on the size, you’ll be able to fit between one and five images on each), and either print them up at home or order them online at Sam’s Club or similar.

The hardest part is cutting the images to fit snugly inside the lids. Cutting a circle freehand is pretty much impossible, as I quickly learned. Instead, try to find a circular item – a cup or bottle, for example, or even another, slightly smaller lid – and use it to trace a circle on the image. Though still difficult, the guide will help you to cut a much rounder circle. (Just go slowly!) When done, simply glue the photo into the lid. (A heavy-duty, acid-free glue stick works well for this.)

If you can find circular stickers – I happened to have some 1.5″ round skull & crossbones stickers left over from last year – these are a nice option too. While they don’t offer a whole lot of variety, they do come pre-cut. Score!

For hanging, you can either glue a jump ring (used in jewelry making and available at craft stores) to the back of the lid or, if it’s made of plastic and thick enough, drill a small hole into the “lip” of the lid. Either way, string some curling ribbon or a pipe cleaner through the ring or hole to make a loop that can then be used to hang the ornament from the tree. (Curling ribbon is much easier to work with, imho.) We stuck with black to match the tree’s color scheme (namely, black and gold).

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