Space Slug Costume

Everything has its humble beginnings, that is to say that even I used to put my pants on one leg at a time.  It’s true, ever since that sneaky little spider set up shop in my favorite pair of pants between wearing I have been able to jump in or out of a pair of pants in one swift, hopping-while-screaming motion.  Speaking creepy crawlies, do you remember the space slug from Star Wars?  It appeared in a scene of The Empire Strikes back with a lot of awkward tension between Leia and lover boy Han and, oh yeah, a space slug was in it too.  If you don’t remember this scene you need to watch that movie again.

Did I mention the space slug?

Well, upon hearing about Sci-Fi Star Wars party one year I decided against the obvious choice for a rouge like me of being Han Solo  and bonded with the other half of my personality of being  obscure and awkward.  Although I am sure I irritated a lot people by blocking off doorways with my space hulk girth I did enjoy having the best party trick for the night of reaching for hands to shake with all of the sweeping power of the space slug as it chomped after the Millennium Falcon.  You can do this costume for $25 bucks and if you have or know someone with a medicine ball you can do it for the change in your pocket.

Star Wars Space Slug:

-large fitness ball (just make sure it fits through doorways)
-brown or grey spray paint
-an old grey hoodie
-a grey oven glove
-paper mache
-Scissors
-Sharpie (colored)

Making the Asteroid
You will spend 90% of your time making the asteroid, most of it waiting for your paper mache to dry. Pick out a fitness ball, the bigger the better because you will be wearing it like a vest and like Chris Farley’s belly bigger it is the more comical it will be.  Once you have your ball picked out you want to start layering it with paper mache.  For those of you who don’t know how to make paper mache shame on you! Just mix up a big ole bowl of flour and water, too thin to cook with but thick enough be fairly chunky (the thicker it is the harder to work with, but faster it will dry).   I suggest doing this outside as well as it will likely make a mess.

Dip strips of newspaper about 1 1/2 to 2 inches (4-5 cm) into your bowl and cover the ball.  Do not worry about wrinkles in the paper because you are making the asteroid and any wrinkles will add to the effect.  Just make sure you leave a hole around the valve roughly the diameter of your hips, this will be the bottom.  Layer it up as think as you want and finally you will want to build up at least 2 rings for crater impacts, these will be your neck and arm hole but if you want two arm holes or more feel free to add more.  The only location that matters is your neck hole.  If it isn’t in a comfortable position you will have an uncomfortable costume and that is a lot like having your favorite cereal for breakfast and then realizing you have no milk. Once you are happy with how your asteroid looks and it is good and dry. pull the plug out of your fitness ball and let it deflate, you will be able to pull it out of the paper ball and re inflate it for normal use after a good rinse off with the hose.  All that is left is to cut holes inside of your impact craters and spray paint the ball, easy.

now for the finishing touches.

Get that ratty old grey hoodie out you don’t wear any more and cut a sleeve off. Since you have one sleeve off you might as well cut the other off and make yourself a sleeveless hoodie.  Since you have a sleeveless hoodie you might as well put on “Eye of the Tiger” and run around town air boxing.  Or you could just move on to the best part, the mouth of the space slug.  I was lucky, Think Geek used to sell this.
The glove is hard to find now but I dont see why you cant get an oven glove to look like it with a little time with a sharpie or two (the Millenium Falcon in its mouth is a nice touch).  Once you finish that you are all set to start surprising guests by bursting from a crater to snag a beer or to tease the cutest Princess Leia.

I leave you with just one final word of advice.  This costume leaves you in normal clothes from the waist down, anytime you find yourself tempted to fill in the gap with a pair of  jeans or a plain T shirt, remember this:  the whole point of a costume is to suspend reality for a moment, to fabricate a little fiction. Normal clothes will remind people of the real world they are supposed to forget when they look at you, so you don’t want to do that.  I wore all black underneath but if you have a little extra time you might wear some spacey clothes or don a pair of Jedi looking boots, you are only limited by your imagination.

May The Force  Be With You

Ryu grows up

If the previous motivational video didn’t do the trick maybe this one will scare you strait.  Don’t be like Ryu.  Be like Egoraptor the animator.  I’ve watched this guy rise up with a couple other flash animators over the years, they still have fun at their job.

The Military: A Career or an Escape?

Joining the military could be one of the biggest decisions of a person’s life, and just like every election year I am torn between two options shitty options.  Politics make me turn green and start smashing things, seriously, I can’t even type when I’m like that its all just “asdhkjsd” until i get some ice cream to take my mind off things.

So as my first easy decision of the day we will talk about the military instead.  I’ve been thinking about the military for a long time and my opinion reflects on all the knowledge and people that I have met along the way.  I’ve talked to Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, civilians, ROTC candidates, pilots, and family about it and there is a lot of both good and bad to be said about signing the dotted line and joining up.  You have to think about what is important to you before you even consider it.  If a life as a piece in a large machine doesn’t appeal to you don’t even think about it because you will not enjoy yourself.  I’m talking about the life away from family, the long hours and the structured lifestyle of belonging to a militaristic organisation.  For me this is no obstacle, as a lot of jobs that appeal to me force you to sacrifice for your commitment to the job, for example; police work, being a fisherman, even life at an advertising agency will put a strain on your life at home.

But lets take a step back, joining up is unique to any other career for one reason.  It’s not that it is dangerous, there are thousands of ways to die and I’m not sure on the statistics but I’m more afraid of cancer than anything right now.  Cancer is a cold blooded killer, cancer and those plastic things they hold 6 packs of pop together with, i get caught on those things all the damn time.

I’m talking about the commitment you make when deciding on joining the military.  Once in there is no backing out until your contract expires.  This poses a real factor to consider and you shouldn’t need me to think about the impact on your life it could mean.  I talking about unconditional commitment to your government for upwards of 6 years.  So that vacation to Europe will have to wait.  Because of this I suggest finding something you want out of your time in the forces.  Something worth while and something you can use once you are out.  Too many veterans complain of their struggle to acclimate back into civilian life after their contract.  If you find a job within the force that interests you and is marketable in a civilian environment you are set.  For me it is medical training for others it might be pilot experience others still strive for the leadership that comes with an officer position.  Once you have your goal don’t let anything others say change your motivation for this because the recruiter is not your friend.

I mean it, If you ever find yourself in a recruiters office you will find a lot of friendly people who might buy you lunch and ask about your life but when it comes down to it, they have a job to do.  Their commanding officer has told them what jobs are in demand and what jobs are not, more than likely if you want a cool job there is a lot of competition for that job.  Lets look at Navy SEALS shall we?  If you have done your homework you know that about 2/3 of recruits drop off in hell week alone.  The ones that actually earn their badge are the top 5% most dedicated and talented soldiers of the recruits who thought they wanted to be a SEAL this kind of drop off is typical for most special forces.  Now put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter, here is another punk civilian who wants to be a SEAL because he’s played too much call of duty and wants to shoot all those ear splitting guns that, much to the annoyance of mom upstairs, he has been fraging noobs with for the past few years from the comfort of his couch.  I would tell him whatever it took to not to waste his time and the governments money trying to train him to be something he is not.

So, you have weighed your options and found something you want to get out of the military, something you won’t let go no matter what the recruiter tells you right? Good.  Now I suggest you do more research.  You need time to make sure this is right for you.  If you want to be a SEAL read a book on it, I suggests “Down Range” By Dick Couch.  Or if you haven’t been able to make time for the gym much before, look up a PST style training program. Most of these workouts don’t require much equipment and no matter what you do you will be required to be in decent shape.  If you have your eyes set on being an officer take a ASVAB test and see where you need to focus your studies.  If you are still dedicated and self motivated enough to stick to your goals then perhaps the military is for you.  Dedication is the word of the day and despite all the bad things said about the military, a dedicated soul will make his loved ones proud when he comes out of the force decorated with all of his achievements.   The slogan starts to make sense now “Be All You Can Be”  its a promise first but more importantly a reminder.

Advice From the Competition

If you have been following the blog you will know that I am a very whimsically unemployed college graduate.  I think I represent a unique generation in America because it seems like the first time in our history where a college degree doesn’t = cash money.  It sucks, to be sure but if I know one thing it is how to lose well.  Losing is something everyone does, we lose at loose slots, we lose when we pay social security, we even lose an hour every year at daylight savings.  People tell me I get it back in six months but I don’t see any interest, I don’t see compensation for the week I pay dearly in the AM.

This model alarm clock is wifi connected to an atomic clock and has no snooze button.

The point is the numbers are against job hunters right now.  Its like that part in the The Hunger Games where the grandma with the midlife crisis is drawing names for the special kid sleepover, but instead of a grandma with a laughable wig its a business professional with a suit worth more than yours, and instead of a sleepover with swords and ninja gear its the job that will dictate how you can afford to live your life for the next few years.  No sweat.  Just take a couple shots before the interview and pop in some gum before you go in to show that you are totally cool and everything should be fine.  Oh wait, that’s for dates…

Truth is I couldn’t tell you how best to prepare for an interview or how best to set up your resume.  You have to do that yourself, and if you haven’t heard already there is no shortage of people who think they know best on this topic.  Seriously relatives, friends, people I just met, back up for a second.  When I tell you I’m looking for a job it means I’m asking you for contacts not that I wan’t your advice, its all just white noise at this point.

Rather, you should learn how to bounce back from the mistakes you made, don’t take your loss too seriously but do learn your mistakes.  In the end the ones who want the jobs more than the rest will get them.  Its a simple truth.   Indomitable, that’s what you must be.  As unyielding as a mountain, because the backbone of everything you are is reliant on your willpower to do so.

Enjoy!

Japanese Death Poems

Poetry is a fascinating thing.  Like most things we do not understand we are quick to dismiss it after our first encounter should it be a bad one we also tend to shun what we do not understand.  Poetry is much like the literary victim of prejudice in this regard.  I will admit, for the longest time I did not care for poetry there is too much that is far to abstract for my sheep like brain.  Dada poetry, to me, sounds like the language my Sims would wail hopelessly out of their cruelly shaped mouth before I would use the last of their hard earned simoleons to slot into place the last wall of their starkly lit tomb where I would then toy with their electronic lives like ants with a magnifying glass.

Every time I am made to sit through a Dada poem a Sim dies.

Haiku’s on the other hand are brief, artful and  poetic in the purest sense, at least to me.  A simple metaphor is all you need to make a scene come to life.

Sunset Seduces; each step brings me no closer the horizon flees.
-Unknown (to me)

In the death poem in particular, the essential idea was that at one’s final moment of life, one’s reflection on death could be especially lucid and meaningful and therefore also constituted an important observation about life. A very fitting setting for a Haiku in my opinion. The poems are often full of symbols of death, such as the full moon, the western sky, and images of the season in which the writer died.  With that in mind try out these few poems and feel free to add your thoughts to the comment section below.

Pampas grass, now dry,
once bent this way
and that.

– Shoro

The snow of yesterday             
that fell like cherry pedals        
is water once again.

-Gozan

Earth and metal…            
although my breathing ceases              
time and tide go on.

-Atsujin

Now you have been exposed to two very different kinds of poetry and I hope that at the very least it has helped you to keep your mind open about new and old forms of art alike.  Or take this lesson and apply it to all things, people are works of art too and just because you met one (insert race/religion/lifestyle) doesn’t mean the rest are the same as the first.  Keep your mind open and keep calm, everything will be alright!

Rammstein Jacket

I may have only been alive in the 80s for one month, but even I knew that to be cool in the 80s meant to listen to Joy Division.   I’m the proud owner of an Unknown Pleasures t-shirt and I made my girlfriend sit through the depiction of Ian Curtis’s self loathing in Control.  I remember one scene from Control showing an angsty Ian Curtis leaving his pad to apply for a job.  “No Love Lost” ramps up while Ian stops to light up a cigarette as his eyes adjust to the light.   We see him walking towards the camera with contempt written on his face, he is nicely dressed in a shirt and tie under his black jacket.  As he turns a corner the camera slips behind him and shows that on his jacket he has painted “HATE” in deliberate capitals.

The rage of a punk rocker all grown up in a suit and tie, or, post-punk.

Well it just so happens that I got myself a ticket to see Rammstein.  Say what you want, but they a notorious for putting on a show that promises lots of pyrotechnics, thus I find myself putting together something to wear for the show so I don’t look like a frat bro in comparison out there.

I heard that half of succeeding is showing up,  I’ve also heard someone say that half is succeeding is looking the part, so I’ve come to the conclusion that all I need is a suit and a rocket and I can still be an astronaut even if  the manned space program got the plug pulled.

So here I go, much to the detest of female members in my family, I set to work on my black jacket. Stenciling out the letters with scotch tape then filling them in with whiteout.  I chose whiteout for two reasons.  First, so that I could get two tones out of the color, a half saturated white and a full white, the result was…well…pretty metal.

Secondly, and this might be the big take away, whiteout comes out of clothes with an alcohol based cleaning product like acetone (disclaimer, acetone will melt nylon so make sure there is none in the clothes you try this on).  I won’t say it was easy, it wasn’t, but the alternative is permanent so take your pick.  I doused the white out in WD40 to loosen up the white out then scrubbed it with a rag wet with acetone to remove it.  You should see it lift some of the white right off.  After a run through the washing machine my heart sank, instead of having a jacket with white letters across the back I had a jacket with a white cloud between the shoulders.  On the other hand, there was noticeable less white out on the jacket and the washing machine had a significant effect on it.  After another go with the the WD40 and acetone things were starting to look good.  By the third time through my jacket was back to normal and all it cost me was a few bucks in cleaning supplies and the sneaking feeling of cancer seeping in through the cut in my finger from repeated exposure to that nasty acetone stuff,  ‘Clean things and die young’ I always say.

My jacket after two WD40 washes.

Finally my jacket was clean like that spot behind my ears that I always remember to clean.  Bad analogy I know. I’ll work on it.  Maybe you have a better one?

Money

Yeah, I finally watched Into the Wild, and though I haven’t read the book and I think I might want to.  On second thought, maybe I won’t.  This is a great coming of age story about a kid who is fed up with society, or was it his parents?  Wasn’t he complaining about love too?  Okay it’s a movie about a bit of a cry baby who ran away from everything he knew in hopes of reaching some nirvana like realization.  My apologies should this reach any of the McCandless or any other friends and family of Christopher McCandless.  Truth is I see a lot of myself in Chris, but in fear of letting this post turn into a review I will stop here and get on with it.

In the movie, (I can’t speak on the actual memoir as I have not read it) he obviously displays a distaste for money and all things materialistic. I suppose its fits my demographic as a broke post-grad, but I can see how he felt that way.  It is sometimes peaceful to think of a time when we didn’t have savings accounts and stocks to watch while the nation reaches some insurmountable fiscal cliff looming over our existence as a reminder of how irresponsible we are with money.  Almost is if the cliff is taunting us saying “if your country cant manage its money what hopes do you have of ever doing so.”  Think of a time when the folds of your mattress was your bank bank account and anyone could tell you that the going price for a milk cow was just two chickens and five bales of hay, at least, as long as if you throw in your daughters hand in marriage to seal the deal.

The truth of the discussion where we say that people in simpler times had less to worry about, is that we are in fact being spoiled little pricks.  Sure they didn’t have quite as many appointments to keep track of as us but they were busy worrying about real problems like: getting enough wood to not freeze next winter, being robbed by bandits, or dying from this plague or that.  Besides, since money has been around since 2000BC is pretty much a good thing, you know things like, the wheel, and the alphabet and pet dogs.

Originally, money was a form of receipt, representing a store of food the community might share. This could be anything really; sea shells, bones, or pieces of jewelry.  The problem with this is that your currency loses all value outside of your sphere of influence.  It would be like trying to buy groceries with that holographic Charizard you saved from your Pokemon cards.  To a collector it is worth something but not to anyone outside the collector sphere.  Eventually people started digging up shiny rocks and trading them instead of those other fads like ivory beads, or Pokemon cards.

This led to coinage, where gold, silver, and copper were melted down and stamped for assurance of value.  There lies two problems with this.  First is that counter-fitting was easy as mixing gold with any old substance   Take some gold, mix it with bronze, lift the stamp, and make your own coin and -profit.  Second is that it relied on the three metals keeping the relative same price.   These days, precious metals change like Colorado weather, take a look http://www.goldprice.org/

In response, paper money was introduced and soon you have fait money, which is what most modern countries deal with today.  Fait money is currency given value by the government who issues it.  Which is why paper money from WWII was stamped “HAWAII” so that if Japan took the islands from us we could void all the currency in Hawaii.  Think of it as insurance in case the Emperor tried to buy our supplies from us with our own money.

You have to think of Money like the tool that it is.  One to keep track of worth and to unify people by giving them something everyone want to trade with, not just Pokemon cards.  True it can be hard to scrounge up at times.  Yet like the apple seed, if you invest in it and give it the right attention you can profit from it as well.