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Friday, October 9, 2009

Chuck Palahniuk's Tips on Writing

13 Helpful tips if you're at all interested in writing from the author of "Fight Club," Chuck Palahniuk.

originally spotted on today's Page 2 in Slashfilm.

Empire Magazine's Tour of Pixar

Originally spotted on Slashfilm, check out this sweetness from Empire Magazine- a tour of Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, CA -

Moreover, on Pixar and originally spotted on Slashfilm, Den of Geek reflects on Bambi and Pixar's latest Up.

Painting, Vector Graphics, and You

original painting by me and yes - it doesn't have a frame, 
i just hold it up like that all the time like that for all to admire

Most of us that have or have had a significant other at some point in their lives have been tasked with preparing gifts for them.

For Gus, or BBE as he told me he'd like to be called in this blog (Best Boyfriend Ever, obvs), I have come up with a lot of interesting stuff over the three years and change we've been together.

For one such occasion, Valentine's Day, I decided I would paint him a picture. My art skills are somewhat decent, but I was definitely in need of an easy, relatively quick way to create the painting. Then I heard of something called a vector graphic and- ah ha!

My problems were (mostly) solved.

So what's a vector graphic or image? Check this out from our new favorite site - Vector Magic at Sanford University.

Vector images are images described by shapes such as circles and squares, as opposed to bitmap images which are described by pixels - squares of color arranged in a grid. The shapes are precise mathematical descriptions of the image and can be scaled without becoming blurry or "pixelated" (that blocky look that bitmap/raster images so often get when scaled up). In other words, it smooths out any pictures so I can easily identify the shapes and paint them! Woo, yay vectors.

Here's what "vectorizing" does -



From there, I printed the image to the size I wanted it as a painting.

I took that print out and an artist's canvas and sandwiched a piece of carbon paper inbetween (black carbon side touching the canvas, see image). From there, I outlined every line and shape, pressing down hard with a pen. The outline transferred (via the carbon paper) directly onto the canvas, leaving me with an artsy image to start painting with! To complete the painting, I used a small kit of acrylic paints.

This isn't the only use for Vectorizing images. Have some fun with it at VectorMagic - you have to sign up for an account but you get two conversions for free!

Interested in more fun things to do with photos? Check out Photojojo, where I originally learned about VectorMagic.

Carbon paper photo from Wikipedia Commons.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hidden Potential: The $10 Nightstand

Today, I'll be doing the first of hopefully several postings on amazing bargains on home decor that have equally amazing hidden potential!

How is this potential revealed (you ask in your head quizically, hoping that the next sentence or two will reveal the awesome)? It's revealed via paint, sandpaper, several gallons of Diet Coke, and countless "thank yous" to Gus (my love) for giving up a Saturday afternoon to help me paint and move heavy furniture for the 16th time.

Without further adieu, our first project, dear blog friends -

The $10 Nightstand! 
dun dun dun...

Here it is, in all it's hidden potentialnessocity. I spotted it at my local Salvation Army for $10 (on sale from $20 apparently.) In hindsight, I probably could have paid even less for it but alas, it was my first thrift store purchase ever so I was more excited about bringing it back to life to worry about such things.

There were several nicks in the wood which I filled with wood filler (didn't worry about the color as I knew I was going to paint of it anyway.) There's a piece of scrapbook paper resting on the bottom shelf which I used as inspiration for painting the top of the nightstand (as you'll soon see).

So yeah, pretty sad huh? I actually think this is a piece from Wal-mart of all places that got some serious mistreatment.

Never fear- it was still no match for my unending dedication to creativity!

The first step was used in the wood filler (which you can see above as the light brown blotches). I then sanded everything down. Using a small can of dark brown latex paint, I went to town and painted countless coats until it felt ready for greatness.

Using painter's tape, I masked off areas in a grid that I wanted to paint. Painter's tape was a godsend on this project- there would have been no way to keep any straight lines on it at all!

Here's a look at how that process looked - 

Using the aforementioned scrapbook page, I painted a design with acrylic paints and went each part with a few coats each (probably 3).

Post-paint, I modge podged everything to seal it and protect it from the harsh elements of my living room. In the last step, I affixed a new knob (complete with leaf detail oooo) and placed white contact paper on the drawer inside the table.

So here it is - 
The final result:

I used the table all of last year as an end table in my living room. Currently, it's living in my new bedroom but I'm thinking of finding a new home for it as I'd like to have matching nightstands in there and I'm tired of it as an end table.. Hmm.

Perhaps it has another round of Hidden Potential lurking in it! Only time will tell. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Blank Slates: My First Apartment

Lovely card and doormat greeted me when I moved in from Miss L. 
I doubt H-land residents are getting the same treatment these days.

It was a very big step for me - my first grown-up apartment. Senior year of college, I lucked out and got a single with its own bathroom, but this was the first time I'd have my own real (read: not dormy, cinder-block wall treatment) apartment.

A little over a year ago, I moved out here and took up residence in this humble little 780 sq foot gem in Sherman Oaks, CA in a complex that will be known to you as "H-land." I had a great first year at H-land, thanks mostly to Miss L, my friendly resident manager.

However, nothing great lasts forever apparently and this summer, Miss L was out and new management was in. I recently moved from H-land to M-ville, a delightfully cheaper, brand-new complex that is (thus far) management drama free.

On this blog, I'm going to be doing a lot of features on decorating my *new* M-ville apartment (more on that move later). So really, it's important that you have a sense of where I started and what's going to change in the new place.

Here we go- here's my blank slate from July 2008 - (I'll be posting pictures of how I decorated this apartment in future posts.)


 Oo, look at all that natural colored wood. And a bar! Ate at that a few times before I had an actual table. The rest of the time, it became my catch all for papers I was too paranoid to toss out.

THE BEDROOM (oo la la)

The humble beginnings complete with sweet Duke T-Shirt comforter
(most of those shirts were free believe it or not) and yes, yes that is Batman.

Hey look, there's the corner. Exciting!

What's up Mr. Walk-in Closet? Guess what my "lovely" apartment manager says to me when I moved out of this apartment, "oh you got really screwed on the closet! Mine is way bigger here."
Yes, you're starting to see why I moved.


Okay, for a small apartment, this was a pretty ginormous bathroom, I gotta say.


And here you can see my super neutral couch...

PS - As you can see, I had a deck but I was out on it maybe once in over a year of living there. Part of the problem was it was right next to the front of the building and felt almost like a playpen for people to watch me hanging out there from the street.

OH, and my bedroom window was right by the box to buzz people in. People also liked to have arguments out on the stoop (right beside my window as well). So that was fun and felt very safe too. Not to mention the fact that after Miss L left, there was a distinct increase in the loudness and obnoxious of the people outside my window.

Coincidence, I think not?

Look out for a few posts on my move shortly.

Monday, October 5, 2009

It's a Muppet-kind-of-Monday

There's nobody quite like Jim Henson. At least not to me. I read a script about a year ago that was floating around the industry- The Muppet Man, a biopic for Henson. By the time I finished the story, I was in tears as it ends with his sudden death in 1990. Later, I was amazed to find that a lot of what happens in the script was based on actual truths from his life. It re-awakened in me my childhood love and identification with the Muppets. 

It probably all started with Muppet Babies, but really - even now, things like the Muppet show and the movies - the sense of humor, the sense of innocence and irreverence, the undeniable strength of heart the characters have - it all still really moves me. 

Out here in LA, I saw a posting for a position with the Jim Henson Company. It had all the normal requirements but there was one that caught my eye and has definitely stuck with me since -to work for Henson, one must have a "sincere love of silliness." A sincere love of silliness. Yep, that fits me to a T. 

Below is a really honest and touching segment from the Muppets post-Henson's death. They sing "Just One Person," a song that was apparently his favorite and it really hits home when you think about his legacy and all the creations he brought us. If you look further on YouTube, there's a lot of clips from his funeral that are equally haunting and inspiring. Be sure to check out Frank Oz's touching speech and Big Bird singing "It's Not Easy Being Green." 


Living with Annie means appreciating Pixar movies on a deep level

As you'll soon learn, I'm a big Disney and Pixar-phile and currently work for Disney Animation. I'm working on my story skills, reading lots of books on development and screenwriting, and just generally trying to get up to speed on how to make the kinds of movies that I find so incredibly inspirational and heartwarming. Today I found this great, brief feature article on Totalfilm in which Pixar mainstays like Lasseter and Andrew Stanton share their insights on very memorable moments in the studio's history. Take a look - I got a lot out of it!
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