The weekends seem the time in my life that leads me to make creative decisions. Poster framing, building lamps, scrap-booking, they all seem like creative outlets that only appear on the weekends for me.

Okay, I’m lying about the scrapbooking. I just needed another word to fit in that sentence to make it feel better…

Well add another creative outlet to the list.

I am unofficially the official winner of the 3rd anual Pumpkin Carving Contest held at my friend’s house.

And this claim would not be complete without a little photographic evidence of my mad carving skills.

 

And now with a little more mood lighting.

What’s the secret to my insanely developed pumpkin carving abilities?

Hitting the gym. All the time. Eat, sleep, gym, repeat.

Okay, that’s a lie too. The real truth?

Very sharp pearing knives and crappy flexable steak knives. One should also have a little creative know-how (and by little I mean verrrry little) and approach the project with a sense of dignity and respect for the soon to be gutted pumpkin.

I would even like to consider myself more of a “pumpkin purist”, if you will allow me to say so. I usually don’t go for any fancy techniques because I prefer the old fashioned jack ‘o lantern. Just a big grin and some triangle eyes. That’s the kind of person I am. But not this year. I needed to change things up if I wanted the “W”.

Background for the competition?

Well, a friend was having a little get together at his house and decided there was going to be a pumpkin carving contest. And really, the only people who would be at this party are couples. I guess he just figured it would be a good thing for boyfriends/girlfriends and husbands/wives to compete against other couples. Everybody could bond with their significant other while at the same time have fun meeting new people. A real romantic romp.

But that’s not D.A.’s territory. Like I mentioned before, I’m sort of… not… uh… dating…

Since I’m a loner and am always willing to step on people’s toes, I threw my hat in the ring anyway and immediately decided to win the competition.

So, I did the first thing that every red-blooded American should do before any competition that is hardly a contest at all.

I talked crap. Like a boss.

I told everybody that they might as well not even try to compete with me because I was practically already the winner. This really helped me hype up my pumpkin well before it was even purchased or planned. Point one for me. I was in their minds.

The next points were scored when I decided to use cheesy special effects on my pumpkin. I purchased some Flarp gooey children’s toy and decided that would be my pumpkin’s “saliva”. (I figured many people would try for the throwing up pumpkin gag, so I needed to be a little different). The really nice thing was that the Flarp was kind enough to stay in place while still allowing a good amount of drool to occur.

Victory was surly mine.

But just in case you don’t believe me (and I know you all trust me to the fullest extent that you possibly can) check out my competition.

See what I mean? pumpkin guts vomit. Sooooo overplayed.

Bug eyes and pumpkin guts… No surprises here…

Yes, that pumpkin has corn in his possession…He also has a creepy evil clown feel to him.

Pi… Yeah, I get it. Took me a second, but Pi. Pumpkin. Pumpkin Pie…

Wait a second… What do you mean you don’t think these pumpkins are all that bad? Are you telling me you think these are better than my own?

WHA- WHAT?!?!

How can you say that? What are you talking about?

Mine had slime! Slime for goodness sake!

Pi? Pumpkin Pi? Oh, sure, that’s got a little wit in it. And it was carved quite nicely. And it even has a nice proportions… but no! Mine was better!

And yeah… so what if my pumpkin comes across as a little… boring. I’m a purist. And the judges were purists… so there…

I still win. That’s all that matters.

I see your judging eyes, you think you got a better pumpkin than me? Prove it! Write a post or something that displays your pumpkin carving skills and we’ll see who’s really boss. Post a link to it in the comments.

Or don’t. You probably won’t. But … you know… just some friendly competition.

Sincerely,

D.A. “The Pumpkin King” Bancroft

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Remember My Lamp?

October 18, 2011

Me too!

Just in case you don’t remember, I have been working on a “steampunk” themed lamp for the past…oh let’s say 3 months.

And it’s not because I have been hard at work looking for the right kind of material, making plans, or cutting and welding pipe. It all because I’m a lazy bum that doesn’t manage to finish what he starts.

Well, the past weekend, I committed a little more than I usually do and actually made some more progress!

Now it is officially glued and painted. See for yourself.

Annnnd from another angle…

Yeah, it looks like a real mismatch of pieces and parts. It even looks pretty coppery (if that’s even a word). So i’m thinking it meeting my idea and my theme. So there is at least one goal accomplished.

For those of you who still have no idea what my original plan was, allow me to explain. If you notice the base of the lamp itself (notice the brass colored fixture in mid front) is going to seperate from the lamp shade. This is unique because lamp shades are usually connected to the light fixture by some shade support build into the fixture. This lamp will not have a shade connected in this manner.

Instead, the shade will be dangling above the bulb via an long extension of pipe that takes an upside down L shape from behind and moving forward on the lamp. (It’s the seemingly useless part reaching up into the sky).

In my exploratory project here I found out why my plan really wasn’t a very good one. Or, maybe I was just a little too ambitious for a first try.

 

It is much easier to center a lamp shade position when it’s always connected and centered to the light bulb itself. As you will notice in the photo above, the hanging pipe for the shade is about an inch and a half to two inches behind the base of the bulb.

Whoops.

This is not only going to make to process longer to complete (because it must be corrected), but it also jeopardizes the whole integrity for the support pipe of the shade. I will have to add an extension and that could add too much weight and make the whole contraption bow or bend.

All in all, I think this is just one teensy little problem that can be smoothed over soon enough.

Another problem I had earlier was picking out a lamp shade to go with this thing. And I did that! It’s a utensil carrier/holder that you would usually see in school lunchrooms. I think the color and the size are just about right. Plus it also has holes which will make it look more… cool… I guess. (By the way, I picked this little thing up from Ikea while I purchased my big ol’ picture frame last weekend.)

Oh yeah, I have a picture of that too!

Yeah, I think that’ll do juuuuust fine. (Truthfully, I’m just happy to finally pick something to cover of this thing.) I’m not sure if I will line the interrior of the shade with a paper/material to help “soften” the light as it exits those holes. And that’s just a small decision that I will make when I’m about to put the thing in its final position.

Still, there is one more thing. A big thing. And the big thing is the small things. Detail.

My photos don’t really show this problem, but maybe you noticed it. The color of the whole thing is not what I really want. It doesn’t look like I’ve made this thing from copper. I’ve been many hours researching and playing around with different mixtures of color on how to create a “patina” on copper in order to make it look more genuine, yet there is no success. I have no idea how I will accomplish this goal.

Keep in mind I made this whole kaboodle out of CPVC pipe. (I didn’t want to spend nearly $50 and risk burning my fingers off trying to assemble a real one.) Since it’s just black and copper spray paint, I want to find a way to make it look more… messy. More dirty. More real. Even though it’s about as fake as a seven toed wallaby I want it to look as natural as possible.

And I just can’t figure it out. I’m not sure what to do.

I may end up just completing the thing as is and worry about little details later. (But more likely I will say ‘done is done’ and never touch it again.) But I guess I should just be happy if I even finish the thing.

Anyway, sleepy time she comes,

D.A.

Something I’ve noticed

October 15, 2011

As we all know, I’m a big fan of the sci-fi genre. Hey, I live and die by the sci-fi mantra.

Just in case you don’t know what that is…

“It’s not fun unless their are lasers involved.”

Yeah, that pretty much sums up my entire life of entertainment. And let me say, we rarely see any lasers anymore. So I’m usually disappointed.

Something I’ve noticed about the interwebs is that there aren’t many blogs that feature original sci-fi content. As a matter of fact I’m willing to make a bet with you. If you go to your tag surfer option on WordPress and you look up the tag “sci-fi” then you will get many hits that are nothing more than book reviews and anime references.

That’s all.

Come on. Aren’t we a little more fairly represented than that? I mean, I feel like the only good sci-fi / nerdy blogs I’ve come across seem to be the peoples who’s blogs I’m subscribed to.

I want fresh meat!

So, if you know about a good and fun to read sci-fi themed blog, let me know about it. I will then hunt that person down and give my subscription. Then I will comment on their blog and will end up indirectly offending them. Then it will likely result in a law suit.

Happy Saturday,

D.A.

Gee Willikers

October 13, 2011

It’s been another rough week.

At least I haven’t taken any cell phones from students this week… (he says before Friday)

I know you ravenous followers of this blog have been wondering, “What did D.A. do this weekend that was so cool that he couldn’t come and chat with us?”

I’d rather just show you.

 

That grainy photo is a photo of my bedroom wall and what hangs from it in peaceful splendor.

What do you mean you don’t know what it is?

I’ll tell you what it is! It’s actual, glorious, magnificent, lovely, genuine, bona fide, autographed memorabilia. Autographed from a Mr. Frank Miller.

Yeah, THAT Frank Miller.

A true legend. And I have a poster that has been signed by his hand. The same hand that wrote The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One. The creator of the 300 comic and film. The man behind Sin City, Ronin, and reviving Daredevil from the ashes. The man known for his hard scowl and his preference of fedora hat choices. 

And gee willikers does it look fancy. A fanboy’s dream come true. And it’s alllllll mine!

How much would you say something this incredible is worth?

$200? $300? $1000?!?!

$10.50 plus tax.

Yes, it’s real. Yes, it’s pretty cool. But it’s not all that awesome when you think about it. Allow me to ‘splain.

The poster was free. I got it from one of my awesome cousins who managed to attend Comic-Con San Diego this year. She was smart enough to have him sign a few posters as well as put them safely in her room while she attended other festivities. She talked to me and said, “Hey, you like comics, you will probably like this.” And she was right, I did.

Since this was my first autographed piece of … something… I then decided I should try my hand at making it presentable as well as preserved for any future plans.

So I bought a big frame from Ikea and a sheet of red poster board.

Voila! Magic.

The poster board is the exact same red that is used in the poster. The black frame is just classy enough to look stylish as well as collective. It’s well done if I do say so myself.

Is the poster/signature worth anything? No, not really. It’s a poster of Mr. Miller’s most recent release called Holy Terror. He was signed a butt-ton of them at every event he’s attended for the past year.

The comic the poster is for? It’s gotten some pretty bad reviews because it’s designed to offend almost everybody with a conscious that reads it. I don’t plan on reading/owning this graphic novel, but it’s history is just strange enough to be of some mild interest to some die hard Miller fan. Apparently this was supposed to be called “Holy Terror, Batman!” and it was to feature the Caped Crusader battling Al-Qaeda. Turns out it was too bloody and too heartless to be a Batman comic, so Miller dropped the idea and gave it to a whole new character named “The Fixer”.

Now that you’ve had your fill of useless comic book knowledge allow me to also declare that I have made myself very proud in my ability to dress things up more than they are worth. I think this poster looks like it belongs in some office with black leather furniture and a big sexy desk. (I don’t know why I used the word sexy right now, but it seemed to fit.) It should also feature a life sized replica of an Imperial Guard in the corner.

So, there it is. The reason I couldn’t get to all of you this weekend was due to my shopping experiences and construction of this project. (And yes, it did take some time trying to center and mount this silly thing.)

Now, as for why I haven’t posted during the week… well that’s another issue entirely.

I never got around to dumping a whole lot of posts on here and then setting them up to post throughout the week. That would have been really smart of me. But, that’s soooo much work. And I already work a lot during the day. So…. yeah.

Anyway. I hope your time perusing around here was enjoyed.

D.A.

 

 

 

And This is a Post

October 6, 2011

That is just proving that I’m not dead.

So you can put away your daggers and knives. You didn’t have to exact your revenge on anybody for killing me. I’m alive, I just didn’t post anything yesterday.

Now that I’m writing, can I say this?

I think there was a small conspiracy with the whole death of Steve Jobs. For some reason my iPod alarm did not go off the three times I designated it to do so this morning. (This caused me to be massively late). I think his death “shook” up the Apple Inc. world so much that their clock feature was amiss.

So I guess I can say that the death of Mr. Jobs has made a direct impact on my life.

Oh! And…

I became mildly depressed today when I visited my friend in his new apartment. He has so much stuff going on for him it’s crazy. Like, he’s getting married a few months. He finally moved out. He can poop with the door open if he wants. He has to pay rent. He lives off of questionably old canned food.

That’s cool adult stuff.

I don’t do any of this because I still live at home… and it really doesn’t bother me all that much. Which, kinda bothers me.

But I don’t have this huge desire to move out. Is that bad? Does that make me a loser? Am I ill?

By my age most guys say something along the lines of “Man, I can’t stand living with these people anymore. How am I supposed to live like this?” Then they get in some big argument with their family and almost feel like everybody will be happier if they just move out. Or they end up getting in a serious relationship with somebody and they just want to start a new living arrangement with that person.

But none of this applies to me.

I hardly see any of my family anyway. I am asleep before they get home usually and I leave before they wake up.

No, I don’t have to pay rent, but I do pay my own bills. I buy my own food.

To my family, I’m probably just a shadow of a man that lives in their son’s room. Sometimes, when he’s not sleeping, he shuffles into the kitchen to drink some orange juice. He might even say hello to anybody he sees. But that’s all I am. Just a shadow. I just occupy space. Nothing more.

There is an upside to all of this though.

Why waste money trying to live out alone? I could make better use of my money if I saved it and put it to use earning more money rather than living in a run-down apartment when I have to deal with crack dealing neighbors. Right?

Well, I got labs to do in the morning,

D.A.

P.S. – No, I didn’t really edit this post at all, I just wrote what came to mind. So if you read this and it doesn’t make much sense and the pieces don’t seem to fit quite right, now you know why. I’m a lazy editor.

I think my generation was the first generation to have the VHS tape player at it’s regular disposal. Yes, it existed for many years before I was born, but when I really started growing up and forming memories I think was around the time when VHS tapes were easy to find and purchase. So, kids like me watched a lot of movies.

Most of you will probably say that you love movies as well, but for some reason they seem to be stuck in my mind and connected to important childhood moments. I can remember how I learned what a flash flood was thanks to the movie Rock-a-doodle. I remember learning that penguins ate fish because that’s what Oswald Cobblepot ate in Batman Returns. I even remember why we’re not supposed to mix frog and dinosaur DNA to reanimate long extinct organisms.

Another influence on my life

These movies from my past act a lot like bookmarks for my memory. As soon as I see one of these movies again I instantly recall simpler and more enjoyable times. (I’m not saying times are bad now, but I am saying that things just seem much better when you’re a kid).

Now that you know this about me, I would like to begin work on something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. List my favorite movies.

The actual list for my favorite movies would be….gigantic. I’m not sure I could do all that work. So I will just throw up a few that seem to have made a lasting impact on me when I was just a youngin’.

The Brave Little Toaster– A movie that both captivated and terrified me when I was growing up. I will never be able to ignore the ping of fear every time I see that window mounted air conditioner.

Batman– I had actually memorized every word of this movie by the time I was 4 years old. I believed I would become Batman. Genuinely and truly. I thought I would be able to do any and everything he did. I even drew “blueprints” for constructing my own batmobile.

The Witches– Movie freaked me out, but in a great way. Witches walking around wearing masks to hide their ugly faces was a cool thought to me. Also, I wanted to become a mouse/hamster for a while.

All Dogs go to Heaven– Dogs talking and being cooler than any of my uncles was a pretty big win for me. Later in life I found out that Burt Reynolds did the voice of the main character. Then the movie got that much cooler.

Big– I wanted to be a grown up. This kid became a grown up. A grown up that worked for a toy factory! Not to mention, I always wanted a best friend like the kid Josh had in the movie. They had a cool song/handshake they shared. I still think many 20 something guys want a best friend like this because of this movie.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory– Candy, candy, and more candy. Also, a crazy guy who says some funny stuff always seemed to stick with me. This was even one of movies my parents would watch with me even though they had seen it 40 times before. I think it’s because when they were in high school they saw this movie together on a date.

Ghostbusters– Funny, ghosts, cool costumes, and a giant marshmallow man. What doesn’t appeal to a kid in this movie?

Aladdin– A very fun movie to watch. Not only is it Disney goodness, it’s also Robin William’s first appearance in my life. I watched this movie dozens of times because I just wanted to laugh at the same jokes I had laughed at all those times before. The only problem was that I didn’t totally understand every joke he said, but still, I laughed.

DuckTales: The Movie – Treasure of the Lost Lamp – I wanted to swim in my own pool full of gold coins. I also made sure I ate chocolate ice cream covered in chocolate syrup every time I watched this movie. No joke. If I were to watch it again, I would desire that mouth watering sweetness in my mouth.

Like I said, these are movies I saw at a very early age that had influenced me. They helped to make me who I am. And I really mean this. I learned a lot of moral and social ideas from these movies. So what if they were cartoons and so what if they had quite a bit of violence in them, I still learned a lot. And there are probably 30 other movies that I watched way too many times, but for your sake (and mostly my sake) I’m not going to throw those up here.

So what about you? What movies helped make you who you are? Or were you more of a normal/healthy kid and you didn’t get to watch many movies because you were too busy playing outside?

D.A.

So I actually read a book

October 3, 2011

Yeah, it’s been some time…but I finished reading a book today. I did it in homeroom during our mandatory “Must read throughout homeroom” policy. Am I complaining? No chance. I look forward to homeroom every day. I can read…and get paid for it. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me. Even if it is only for 30 minuets.

The book I read? On Writing of course. Took me about two weeks I think. And that’s only me reading it during our 30 minute blocks at school. It’s also hard to read when you’re constantly trying to play the role of reading nazi in a class of a room full of 11th graders.

Lousy kids… not wanting to read… What’s wrong with them anyway?

How was it you ask?

Flipping fantastic. I will be sure to read it again. Which is saying a lot coming from a guy like me. There are only a few books that I have read multiple times. They are:

  • Go Eat Worms by R.L. Stein
  • Monster Blood; Monster Blood IIMonster Blood III; and (of course) Monster Blood IV by R.L. Stein
  • Matilda by Ronal Dahl
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund
  • Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Shadows of the Empire by Timothy Zahn
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Yeah, that’s every book I’ve ever read more than once. Yeah there are some strange ones in there. For some reason I love cheesy Halo books. Also, for some reason, I have read and reread the first of the Little House of the Prairie series… Don’t you worry, my masculinity is still in place. I think…
So what do I plan on reading next?
The Windup Girl again… because I still haven’t finished it. I’m going to give it one more real go before I give up. I hope I’m not too far removed from the story to remember important details. And hey, if I am, I will soon find out and will just give up on reading it. That’s alright. I can always try again some time down the road.
Anyway.
There you go. My short and nearly pointless post for the night.

 

It’s WHAT?!?!

October 2, 2011

Apparently it’s Sunday.

This is the day that follows Saturday. It is also 4th day that follows Wednesday. Wednesday was the day of my last post.

Whatever happened to me working on this blog? Actually trying to get better at writing…?

Oh, that’s right, I’ve been pre-occupied trying to do all these things:

  • Learning material I have to teach.
  • Delivering material I have to teach.
  • Learning how to teach the material I have to teach
  • Grading papers
  • Writing referrals
  • Making up labs
  • Buy class material when I need them
  • Worry about parents yelling at me
  • Putting grades online
  • Submitting lesson plans
  • Making arrangements for my observation for my teacher evaluations
  • Stress out about my teach evaluations
  • Doing attendance in hindsight because I can’t remember to do it during class
  • Taking away student’s cell phones
  • Wonder if I need to start carrying a baseball bat in my classroom just like Casey Jones.
  • Trying to stay on schedule
  • Turn in any forms I am supposed to turn in during the week
  • Make myself lunch and dinner (Ramen Noodles)
  • Wonder where my time for fun went
  • Find my time for fun laying in a gutter, bleeding, crying, like it had been beaten within an inch of it’s life by Mr. Casey Jones.
  • Get angry at the Florida Gators for losing a game in such a way that they did
  • Help people move into new apartments as they move on with their life
  • Eat bowls of Ramen Noodles as I don’t move on with my life
  • Look at my friends who have happy and loving relationships with people they are going to marry
  • Look deeper into my bowl of Ramen Noodles looking for solutions to the problem…
Things suspiciously absent from my list:
  • Sleeping
  • Having coherent thoughts
  • Peace of mind
  • Enjoyment from students learning new material
  • Good test grades
  • Writing
  • No pain in my feet
Anyway, what I guess I’m trying to say is that I’ve been a little busy, and time seems to fly when you’re busy.
So here is my new goal. To make sure I post at least 4 times this week. That will run from today (Sunday) and will not include this post.
This is now my excuse to write: “Oh, I have to post something online tonight. I made a promise to potentially 3 billion readers. I can’t let them down.” Yes, that isn’t a very good one, but it is at least one.
Now, keep in mind, I have been writing, but not very much, and not for this blog. I started a really cruddy story that I plan on writing into something with a purpose and a real direction. So maybe by the end of this week I will have finished writing/working on this story.
I’m making no promises on how good the story will be, but remember, the goal is just to write. It’s okay if it’s a turd. As long as it’s my turd made from my own effort and time then I will consider it a victory.
In a weather related note I should mention that Florida finally had Fall arrive. It is currently 75 degrees outside for the first time in about 9 months. So, at least I’ve got that going for me.
Alright, I’ll be back… You just keep checking to make sure I do come back. And if I don’t send a group of mercenaries to hunt down and kill my captors. This is because the only reason I would not come back in time for a new post would be due to my being taken hostage and held for a very high (or sadly low) ransom.
D.A.