Monday, December 29, 2014

Toe Insurance

I got a call from some auto insurance quote mill and launched into my Diksmash Mikironkok character. Diksmash wanted to know why he'd need a quote for "toe insurnce" when he has all ten toes and is unconcerned over losing them. Since I was somewhat pressed for time, I stopped the gag about a minute in and told the poor auto insurance quote lady that I was just messing with her. She seemed rather annoyed.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Fence Wood Dandelion Painting

If you've got a girlfriend, you've got to learn to love Pinterest. It basically serves as a wish list for her birthday, Christmas, your anniversary, etc. When I noticed that my own girlfriend had pinned a custom painted fence wood dandelion painting from an Etsy store named InspireMeHomeDecor, I decided to see if I could buy her one. As much as I loved the artist's work, the price I was quoted just wasn't within my budget. I became determined to re-create the painting myself.

I started by scavenging some old pallets. They're pretty easy to come by where I live, otherwise, I would have just pulled a few from the back of my local grocery store. Ideally, I'd have chosen some pallets that had been kiln dried or otherwise heat treated, but that didn't seem to be an option. I merely selected some gently weathered pallets that didn't appear to have any contaminants. It was also important for me to choose pallets that were not too damaged and were free from bowing and warping. I also disregarded any pallets that smelled weird or had stains/oil marks on them. Once I got the pallets home, I yanked the boards off of them using a hammer and crowbar. In some cases, I was able to bang the nail out from the reverse side. Mostly, I just pulled and pried. I soon noticed that the weathering was different among each of the pallets I had chosen, so I would have to work with the material from one pallet if I wanted to keep a consistent look for the fence wood dandelion painting.

Pulling the boards off gave me six plank boards that were approximately 5 feet long. And while that would have roughly worked with InspireMeHomeDecor's dimensions for the original fence wood dandelion painting, I felt it was too big for what I was trying to do. I decided to cut the boards in half, resulting in 12 plank boards that were two-and-a-half feet long. This would prove to be much easier to manage. I used a power saw to cut the boards in half. Precise measurements weren't needed as I knew that I'd be assembling them boards in a somewhat scattered pattern. I just tried to get as close to 30 inches as possible on each boards. Once the boards had been cut, I considered sanding them down, which would have made them easier to work with, but I decided against it as it would take off the weathering pattern.

I assembled the boards into a scattered pattern. I had originally planned to use two more pieces of plank wood to run across the height of the canvas at both ends in order to hold the planks together. However, seeing as some wood from the packaging of a recent flooring purchase was available, I used that instead. I bound it all together with a staple gun and two-and-a-half inch staples. I picked up a pair of picture hanging hooks, screwed them to the tie-boards and ran piece of wire between them. This would make the painting easier to mount on a wall.

Actually painting the thing was the trickiest part. Even though it's a simple picture, I'm no artist. And I had absolutely no idea what materials I would need to work with in order to achieve the look I had been wanting. I had to punt and consult an actual artist at this point. Pallet wood is very porous and soaks up paint very easily, so painting it as is would present a challenge. It was suggested that I prime it. Indeed, InspireMeHomeDecor had white washed her planks when she created her fence wood dandelion painting. I decided against treating the wood in any way as I really wanted to keep the original petina. This meant that the dandelion image had to be painted very carefully and it took a fair amount of effort since the planks tended to suck up the paint like a sponge.

The end result of my efforts to create a fence wood dandelion painting is below. Overall, not bad for a guy who had no idea what he was doing to begin with. But, would you actually pay money for it or pin it to your Pinterest? That's up to you.

My Version Of A Fence Wood Dandelion Painting

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Five Ways Sony Can Save Spider-Man

In the wake of the massive hacking attack suffered by Sony Pictures, there has been a lot of talk about the direction of Sony's Spider-Man franchise. The last two movies weren't exactly the pinnacle of cinematic excellence and Sony can't seem to figure out whether they should continue on with Amazing Spider-Man 3, start over again or reach out to Marvel for help. The thing is, as much as I hated The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the situation isn't as bleak as we've been led to believe. The franchise doesn't really need saving because there's not that much that's wrong with it. The last two movies were beautifully shot, well cast and well directed. The problem is with the writing and the pacing and the overall "big picture". We were given two films over-stuffed with plot threads (many of which went nowhere) topped with one-dimensional villains with dubious motivations.

As much as I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, tossing Spider-Man back over to them is probably a bad idea. While it will certainly result in better movies, it means that, due to all the characters in rotation, we'll be getting fewer Spider-Man movies. Sony can still pull this out of the fire. Here's how:

Five Ways Sony Can Save Spider-Man

  1. Dump Avi Arad. He's the head honcho of all things Spider-Man over at Sony and he's the main problem with this franchise. He has made a number of poor creative decisions regarding the direction of the franchise over the years, the most egregious being the way he forced Sam Raimi to use Venom in Spider-Man 3. Arad sees Spider-Man only as a money making asset and all of his creative decisions are built around that. 

  2. Keep Andrew Garfield. He did really well with what he was given in the last two movies. He looks the part of Peter Parker and acts the part as well despite Peter being written as a miserable douchebag. He has a real passion for playing Spider-Man and if he gets a decent script in his hands, he'd really make it fly off the page. 

  3. Bring in actual writers who are longtime fans and trust them to get the job done. The writers of the last two movies, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are hacks who write by stringing together various set pieces and sprinkling them with pop culture references. They shouldn't be allowed anywhere near Spider-Man. It's time to bring in someone who has respect for the character who can write a compelling, layered story with an exciting villain that is a character piece first, an action movie second, and a romance third (if at all). Whomever this writer turns out to be should have little studio interference as "too many cooks" is what has spoiled the last three Spider-Man movies. 

  4. Build the universe, but don't make it look like you're trying to build the universe. One of the main problems with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is that it was trying to quickly shove a bunch of universe building references into it. Overall, it felt like a 90 minute advertisement for Sony's planned Sinister Six movie or maybe The Amazing Spider-Man 3. Either way, story elements took a back seat to introducing characters that may or may not be followed up on. They key here is to be subtle. Work slowly and methodically. Build the Sinister Six like it was built in the Spectacular Spider-Man animated series. 

  5. Play nice with Marvel. I don't mean that they should give the reins back to Marvel. Sony doesn't have to collaborate with them on main Spider-Man movies, but they should encourage Marvel to "borrow" Spidey as a supporting character in their movies and maybe "borrow" Nick Fury or Coulson for their Spider-Man movies. The franchise has lost a lot of credibility lately and sucking up some Marvel cred would do it a lot of good.  .