Archived entries for Shezcrafti Updates

An Awesome Welcome Home Package from The League

Spending eight hours in a cramped car driving back from vacation is not my idea of a fun day. I woke up this morning to a sunny, perfect beach day in Murell’s Inlet, South Carolina and had to tear myself away to get on the road early, if I had any hope of getting home at a decent hour. Long road trips home after vacation are the worst, especially when you’re leaving behind beautiful weather. All you can think about is how short it was, and stress about all the crap you have to do when you get home. By the time I reached Baltimore, I was in a pretty suck-tastic mood.

When I finally got home, there were a bunch of packages on my doorstep. Looking a little closer, I saw they were all from members of The League which put an instant smile on my face and made me forget how tired and cranky I was. I wasted no time tearing into them.

Package #1, from Tupa’s Treasures

The first package was a big box full of awesome retro stuff from Christopher Tupa, the talented artist and blogger behind Tupa’s Treasures. Chris sent me an intriguing email a week or so ago saying he found “something I might like” that he wanted to send me.

Tupa's Treasures

Well Chris, you have definitely done that and then some! In fact, I’m having trouble figuring out what the original “something” is, as pretty much everything in this package is a treasure. Here’s what was inside:

  • Six Guns and Shurikens, a TMNT paperback book from 1990. This took me back to 5th grade right away. I used to have this book, along with a few other TMNT paperbacks that I ordered from my elementary school’s book fair once upon a time. Flipping through the pages was like recovering a lost relic from my past.
  • TMNT Thermos with my favorite Turtle, Raphael on the front! I saw this posted on Chris’s blog a few weeks ago, which he scored for a quarter at a yard sale.
  • Invasion of the Punk Frogs, a VHS of episode 13 from Season 2 of the original 1987 TMNT cartoon. I can’t even imagine how much shelf space you’d need to collect the entire 80′s TMNT cartoon on single-episode VHS tapes.
  • TMNT toy bike; I’m actually not sure which TMNT toy line the bike is from, but it totally fits my new Nickelodeon Turtles figures. Does anyone out there know?
  • New Kids on the Block paperback book — another relic from my past! I never had this book, but my friend/frenemy across the street did. She was obsessed with NKOTB and we used to get into stupid fights about what was cooler: TMNT or NKOTB. Obviously I was the one who was correct.
  • The Last Starfighter movie novel. I had no idea a novelization of that movie existed until I saw this thing on Chris’s blog. It’s one of my favorite cheesy 80′s sci-fi movies and I can’t wait to read it.
  • A stack of Garbage Pail Kids stickers. Yes! I don’t have that many GPKs anymore but would love to start collecting again. These are a nice head start.

My favorite item, however, is this watercolor of Raphael that Chris drew and painted himself:
Ninja Turtle by Christopher Tupa

I love Chris’s cartoony, colorful style which I fell in love with when I saw the super-cute Pop Culture Road Trip souvenir map he designed for The League. I’d love to see what a whole group shot of the TMNT would look like. (Do you take commissions, Chris??)

He also included this adorable little printed art booklet called “Ode to Spring” which is literally too cute for words:

Ode to Spring by Christopher Tupa

Art Booklet - Chris Tupa

Chris, you have completely overwhelmed me with how much awesome you packed into this box. I don’t know what I did to deserve such a nice surprise in the mail, but thank you, thank you, thank you! This made my day.

Package #2, from Top Hat Sasquatch

Moving on to the soft, squishy package I got from Tommy Day of Top Hat Sasquatch, I knew right away it must have been the kickass THS t-shirt I ordered.

Top Hat Sasquatch Shirt & Stickers

Featuring original Alex Deligiannis artwork of the sophisticated ‘Squatch himself, its high brow design makes it appropriate for all occasions when an extra touch of class is needed–weddings, black tie events, job interviews, state dinners…

As an added bonus, there were 8-bit THS stickers, buttons, and a TMNT goodie bag full of retro trading cards! The Turtles lunch bag was a nice touch and really brought back some memories; I probably haven’t seen one of those things in over twenty years! My Dad used to pack all my lunches in them, and would write funny things inside of drawn-on speech bubbles.

I can’t wait to wear the shirt to work and answer the inevitable questions people will ask about it. (“Why yes, that is a fancy sasquatch in a top hat blowing bubbles from a pipe!”) Thank you, Tommy, for the wearable work of art and conversation starter!

Package #3, from Branded in the 80s

Last but not least, I received this personal mixtape (err…mix CD?) from Shawn Robare of Branded in the 80s. (To be honest, this has probably been chilling in my mailbox for a week or more, but I didn’t open it until today. Even when I’m not on vacation, I’m lazy about checking the mail.)

Branded in the 80s Mixtape

This disc is the physical manifestation of a recent League assignment–to create our own personal high school mixtape–which Shawn opted to give away for free to anyone who wanted a copy (analog piracy!) because he’s old school like that.

It’s an eclectic mix of all the songs Shawn was jamming to back in the early ’90s, and includes Ween, Weezer, The Rentals, Weird Al, and even some tracks from the animated Transformers and X-Men movies. My favorite track on it, however, is “Girlfriend” by Matthew Sweet. I’ll never forget the first time I saw that music video and thought how cool it was to have Japanese animation in it.

Shawn, thank you for going the extra mile (as you always do!) and taking the time to mix, burn, and mail these CDs out. I really enjoyed your “liner notes” and it was fun taking an audible journey into your past. One of the best ways to get to know someone is through their music, and your high school mixtape just confirms what I already suspected: you were one of the cool kids.

I’m like totally on vacation, you guys.

TMNT Beach Vacation

Hey ya’ll!

Just lettin’ ya’ll know I’m on a much-needed vacation as of today, and won’t be back until next Sunday. I won’t be in Florida like the Ninja Turtles, but I will be on a beach…in South Carolina. (That’s close enough, right? They have palm trees there.) I guess that’s why the Southern drawl is starting to creep out, as most of my family either lives down South or is from the South. It’s a wonder I can talk normally at all! Though to be fair, sometimes they give me shit about my Baltimorese.

Anyway, I may or may not be posting consistently over the next week, if at all. I know, I know, HOW WILL YOU LIVE?? I will have my arsenal of gadgets on me and the beach house I’m staying at supposedly has Wi-Fi (which is always a crapshoot), but I do want to try to relax and actually enjoy myself, so please forgive me if I don’t make the effort.

In the meantime I’ll leave you with a couple of “beachy” posts of recent past:

The system was down.

Strong Bad Technology

So apparently you guys killed my bandwidth last night and ShezCrafti.com was down for over 12 hours. Good job!

I apologize to the three or four of you that actually come here on a daily basis. To make up for it, CATS WEARING HATS FOR EVERYBODY!

You forgive me maybe?

This Site Needs an Enema

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06kXXJUddHQ

This is the official “please pardon my dust” notice for ShezCrafti.com.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been working on sprucing things up around here, now that the site is getting a respectable amount of traffic and I’m no longer just talking to my imaginary friends (you’re still cool though, Zombie Chris Farley and Unicorn Shark).

Here’s what I’ve been doing/plan to be doing to make this place suck a little less:

Implementing a New Comment System

I’ve tried a few different comment system plug-ins over the last month, some you’ve probably been unaware of, to make things easier for you and integrate better with the social platforms you prefer. I think I’ve finally settled on Disqus which is currently in the process of importing all of my blog’s existing comments. I may keep it, I may ditch it and try something else. We’ll see how it goes.

Mobile-friendly Improvements

According to Google Analytics, something like 25-30% of my site traffic is mobile. I haven’t really been going out of my way to make this site more mobile-friendly, but I plan to soon, so you might be seeing some weird things here and there as I try out different themes and options.

Features

In an attempt to make things easier to find, I added a Features link to the main menu, which gives you a page that lists the types of content I do (or plan to do) on a recurring basis. The Features page itself is pretty plain at the moment; I’ll be tending to that soon.

Link Love

My links page has been updated to include some of you cool people in The League, as well as other friends from around the blogosphere. However, I still consider it a work in progress, so if you’re wondering why your site isn’t listed there, it’s probably because I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

In Search of Better Video Solution

Right now I’m using something called Flowplayer for features like Movie Montage Monday, but honestly, I think it kind of sucks. I’m in search of a better solution for sharing self-hosted videos (i.e. not YouTube or Vimeo). If anyone has any good suggestions, I’m all ears.

Monthly Poll

I added a poll feature to my sidebar which I plan to update on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. It’s just for fun and the questions will pertain to the silly, stupid, and/or pointless things I care about. It’s always amusing to see what types of responses people give to these things.

Search Fixed

For a while my search bar was doing some weird-ass things and returning 404 errors for certain queries. I think I’ve got it straightened out now, and hopefully this will stop happening.

Lost & Found: Nerdy Drawings I Made in Middle School

I was going through a box of junk in my closet earlier tonight in search of something completely unrelated (Chinese therapy balls–don’t ask) when I discovered a thick stack of drawings that I apparently did in middle school, because they’re dated circa 1993 – 1994.  I would have been in 7th and 8th grade.

Check out the handiwork on my cross-eyed Chun Li:

Nerdy Middle School Drawings

Pure skill.

The funny thing is, I’m not sure I could draw any better if I tried today. With the exception of a poster-size George Harrison portrait I once drew for my boyfriend in in the early ’00s, I haven’t put pencil to paper since high school art class, where pretty much all I did was dick around and take stealth naps.

Anyway, here’s the rest of the drawings I found:

[nggallery id=7]

Looking at these drawings at age 30 is like opening a time capsule of my past nerdy interests: X-Men, Sega games, Animaniacs, Disney, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles… Oh wait, I still like all that stuff.  But it’s funny to examine them through the lens of my twelve year old self.  For example, I must have thought Psylocke was one of the coolest X-Men because I drew her three times.  I must have also been really obsessed with the Sega CD game Vay at the time.

Nowadays most of my art is done on a computer screen, but there was a time when I would spend hours on end sight-drawing random subjects from whatever nerd paraphernalia  I had laying around–game manuals, comic books, trading cards, Sega Visions magazine…

I would put on music (probably Ace of Base, lol) and just go to town until my hands went numb and eraser shavings covered my lap. I remember insisting my mom buy me those nice black Pilot ink pens which I used to painstakingly trace over my pencil lines.  Also: I’m not very skilled at coloring with markers.

Sometimes I think about getting back into the habit of drawing regularly–I have several half-ass sketchbooks that were started with the best intentions–but the problem is that I tend to think of a zillion other more productive things I could be doing with my time and the novelty wears off right quick.

Maybe I should just start drawing Ninja Turtles every day.

‘Play Games’ Page Updated (Finally)

Free GamesMy poor Play Games page has been neglected for an awfully long time.

I had high ambitions for it when I first put it up, but to be honest, I just kind of forgot about it.  So for the past year or so it’s only had two games on it. Sorry about that.

Today I finally got around to fixing things up over there.  I added a ton of free games to my collection and spruced up the layout a bit with a fun vintage television set theme.  Basically it’s no longer the big pile of suck that it once was.  I’ll also continue to add more games as I go along, because I’m sure I’ve overlooked stuff.

Here’s a sampling of what’s in the collection:

  • Freeware browser & HTML5 games
  • Old school adventure games
  • Pure text adventures
  • Retrocade games
  • Virtual 80′s toys
  • Interactive books
  • And other fun stuff & things!

Now you have no excuses to be productive, doing whatever it is that productive people do. Head on over to my free games page and have some fun!

I’m on Pinterest Now…Doing Pinteresty Things!

 

Today I finally joined all the cool kids on the visual crack site known as Pinterest (thanks to my awesome co-worker for the invite!) and I’m beginning to understand why they say it’s addicting.

 There are just so many cool people over there posting pictures of amazing/beautiful/interesting things. I just—can’t—stop—looking—at stuff—and things—OMG!  Is there some kind of therapy for this?

I’ve only been a member for a few hours and I’ve already created eight boards! EIGHT!  I’m planning to use Pinterest as yet another curation tool to discover and share new things, track my interests, and help feed my blog and Twitter.

Somehow Pinterest (the fastest-growing social network which now nearly equals Twitter and Google in terms of driving referral traffic, by the way), created the secret sauce for success, which seems to taste something like this:

    1. “Pinning” something doesn’t require much effort.
    2. People like making lists. Especially lists about lists.
    3. Especially visual lists about visually-appealing things.
    4. People enjoy coveting pictures of awesome things they’ll never have.
    5. And most importantly:  it’s fun!

Pinterest Power Mushroom Social Icon by ShezCrafti

If you’re on Pinterest and want to follow my pins (which you can expect to cover the same type of material I blog/tweet about), here’s where you can find me.  Or you could just click the cute little power mushroom over there on the left. 

What do kittens, web development, and home improvement have in common?

Answer: they’re all things that have kept me from blog­ging.  Sorry I’ve been so M.I.A. lately; my sin­cer­est apolo­gies to the two or three of you out there who actu­ally read here.

Here’s what’s been keep­ing me so busy (besides the usual mountain of work and side projects):

A Sad Goodbye

A few months ago, after 17 years of faithful, furry affection, my beloved cat, Moo Kitty/Teedi/Oreo (she was known by many names), passed away.  Up until around late January, she seemed to be in good health despite her age; ate well, still playful, all that sort of thing.  So I was taken by surprise when her illness came on quite suddenly (I suspect she had a bad stroke while I wasn’t at home) and rapidly grew worse.  I watched her closely for over a month, but she wasn’t making any improvement. Toward the end she completely stopped eating, could barely walk, acted confused, and would disappear for long stretches of time.  (They say that animals who know they’re going to die often go off alone to hide.) And so, I had to make the extremely difficult decision to have her put down. She had been a family pet since I was in 8th grade, out-lived several dogs, and eventually came to live with me when I bought my first home; my little four-legged roommate.  She was good company and I miss her dearly.

Hello, Kitty

It seems as soon as the word gets around that you’ve lost a pet, people start coming out of the woodwork trying to pawn a new one off on you.  Still in a bit of a mourning phase (and warming up to the idea of not having to clean litter boxes anymore), I wasn’t at all excited when I heard that my mom’s friend had rescued a litter of kittens and was trying to find homes for them.  I buried myself in work and other projects for a while, and politely let it be known I wasn’t interested.  That is, until Mom forwarded me an email with kitty pictures…and one of them just so happened to look a lot like Moo Kitty. Ugh!

All right, so I caved.  His name is Simon Belmont.  At first it was just a funny, geeky reference, but now his name is entirely fitting.  At three months old, he’s capable of jumping impossibly high, regularly performs leaps of faith, and whips his tail around like a weapon.  I haven’t seen him stake any vampires yet, but he takes on houseflies as if they were flying Medusa heads.  As you can see from the photo above, he has a fondness for sitting on my laptop.  For the first few weeks, getting any work done was nearly impossible unless I kept him confined to a different room.

Super Secret Video Game Project

So, a friend of mine is developing a video game for Google Chrome and has tapped me to design the game’s website.  I can’t say much about it yet, but I’m really excited to be involved in the project.  Expect to see more info about the game soon!

This Old Townhouse

I’ve become something of a DIY weekend warrior lately, having a bit of extra money from working so much lately.  In the past few months I’ve installed hardwood floors, closed off an entryway for more wall space and division, put up crown molding, hung  window treatments, painted, primed…  Of course, I didn’t do all these wonderful things all by myself.  I have my amazing father to thank, who, among other things, is a very talented builder and a generous soul (*cough* free labor *cough*).

6 Geeky Things I’m Thankful For

Thanksgiving is just two days away. Come Thursday I hope to be in a full-fledged turkey and wine-induced coma, surrounded by family and friends, kicking off a blissful four days of gaming, couching, Netflixing, and leftovers. Gearing up for the long weekend has got me thinking about all the geeky things I’m thankful for.

Here’s a look back at 2008 from a grateful geek girl:

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. RowlingI’m thankful for The Tales of Beedle the Bard, the new children’s fairy tale book and Harry Potter companion piece from one of my favorite authors, J. K. Rowling. Since 1997, I along with most of the world have adventured alongside Harry in his seven-year battle against You-Know-Who, and like so many other fans, was depressed when the series came to its heart-wrenching conclusion last summer. Looking forward to the book’s release this December 4th, when I and legions of Potter fans can delve once again into a small piece of the wizarding world.

The Dark Knight

The Dark KnightI’m thankful that The Dark Knight was a pivotal box office phenomenon, and arguably one of the best super hero movies ever made. I’m thankful that Heath Ledger will be remembered for one of the most riveting and brilliant performances ever known to big screen villainy. I’m thankful that this movie has defined the new standard against which all future super hero movies should be judged, and I’m optimistic that Hollywood will start paying attention.

The New Xbox Experience

New Xbox Live Experience with NetflixI’m thankful for the New Xbox Experience, and Microsoft’s partnership with Netflix to bring the “Watch It Now” movie service to the Xbox 360 console free of charge. Netflix subscribers that own an Xbox 360 no longer have to face the inevitable decision to shell out $100 for a Roku Netflix player, yet another peripheral that would clutter up our home entertainment systems. I’ve found the high-quality streaming service to work absolutely perfectly. It’s just too bad about Sony’s sour grapes.

Wii Fit

Wii FitI’m thankful for Nintendo and their seemingly endless innovation when it comes to producing fun and easy to learn yet challenging games for the Wii, most notably 2008’s simple but surprisingly effective title Wii Fit. While Wii Fit certainly doesn’t score any points for breathtaking graphics or intense gameplay, there is something to be said for any game (or non-game) that motivates us lazy gamers to get off the couch and get physical—and have fun doing it.

The Twilight Saga

The Twilight Saga by Stephenie MeyerI’m thankful for Stephenie Meyer’s ridiculously cheesy Twilight Saga, whose sophomoric books managed to completely suck me in for a good two weeks of unadulterated guilty pleasure reading, the perfect antidote to a stressful month . I’m also thankful that the equally cheesy and unintentionally hilarious Twilight movie—which grossed $70 million on its opening weekend, thanks to dreamy Rob Pattinson—made for one of the most entertaining and memorable girls’ night outs I’ve had in a long time.

Wrath of the Lich King

Wrath of the Lich KingI’m thankful for Wrath of the Lich King, the latest and greatest expansion to the second life I know as World of Warcraft, which gave me the excuse to get back in touch with old guildies and good friends (some virtual, some real) and fall in love all over again with the sheer awesomeness of this game. Blizzard has really outdone themselves with this release. The stunning visuals and beautiful music score alone were worth the wait. Indeed, things were getting pretty boring around Azeroth until you showed up, Arthas.

Looking forward to all the geeky things 2009 will bring!