This is my blog about my arts, crafts, and photography along with the occasional rant. If you prefer to view a portfolio of my work, check out this blog’s sister site on NeoCities. (Link will open in a new window.) And while you’re there, try your hand at playing a video game that I originally designed. 😉

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Ninety years ago today a struggling young animator named Walt Disney released this groundbreaking cartoon called Steamboat Willie. The rest is history.

It can be pretty hard to fathom how groundbreaking it was and it can also be pretty hard to fathom a time when Mickey Mouse wasn’t the biggest cartoon character. While there were animated cartoon shorts before Steamboat Willie, they were silents, which meant that there were no recorded music or dialogue. They were played in movie theaters where a piano player or organist would play the soundtrack live in the theater, just like they did with live action silent films. During the silent era the biggest cartoon star was Felix the Cat.

Many people think that Steamboat Willie was both the first sound cartoon ever made and Mickey Mouse’s first cartoon. It turns out not to be the case on both counts. There were some earlier attempts at making sound cartoons, most notably Max and Dave Fleischer’s Song Car-Tunes series and Van Beuren Studio’s Dinner Time but they didn’t catch on in the way that Steamboat Willie did.

Steamboat Willie was actually the third Mickey Mouse cartoon ever made. His first two cartoons, Plane Crazy and the Gallopin’ Gaucho, were made as silent animation films but they had failed to impress audiences and Walt Disney was unable to get a distributor for those two. Walt Disney came up with the idea of making a sound Mickey Mouse cartoon after the ground-breaking live action talking movie The Jazz Singer was released and it became a huge hit.

Had the people behind Felix the Cat gotten into making sound cartoons immediately after The Jazz Singer was released, it’s highly likely that Felix would’ve permanently quashed that cartoon rodent upstart Mickey and Steamboat Willie would’ve become a footnote in the history of animation. After all, Felix was the biggest cartoon star in the world while Mickey Mouse was a relative unknown. It’s very likely that Felix’s animation domination would have carried over into the sound era and Felix the Cat would have remained the biggest cartoon star today. People would be spending the day at a Felix the Cat theme park, visiting related Felix websites online, and buying all kinds of Felix the Cat merchandise ranging from clothes to toys to high-end designer handbags.

But the people behind Felix the Cat underestimated the potential of sound cartoons and talking pictures in general. They felt they already had a winning formula with Felix so why alter it? The fact that studio head Pat Sullivan suffered from alcoholism so bad that it affected his decision making and it ultimately took his life at an early age didn’t help. By the time there was an effort to start making Felix the Cat sound cartoons, Mickey Mouse had already overtaken him in popularity and the original studio folded. While there were short-lived attempts to revive Felix the Cat in the 1930’s (as a series of color cartoons with sound) and 1950’s (as a children’s TV cartoon show), Felix the Cat had never quite regained the immense popularity he lost from that disastrous decision to delay making sound cartoons. Next year is the 100th anniversary of the first Felix the Cat cartoon so we’ll see if there are any attempts to put Felix in the public eye again.

Earlier this year I realized that this year was the 90th anniversary of Steamboat Willie when I saw these specially marked Pepperdige Farms Goldfish Crackers on sale. I purchased a couple of them and I wrote this blog post about these special crackers (which featured crackers in the shape of the usual goldfish and special ones in the shape of Mickey Mouse’s head).

If it weren’t for these crackers I would have completely missed this anniversary. But this is Disney, a giant multinational corporation, and it wasn’t going to let people forget that this year is another one of those important anniversaries where the number ends in either 0 or 5. Since buying those crackers I’ve seen other Mickey stuff in the stores. At the local Giant grocery store there was this display of Little Golden Books featuring Mickey Mouse.

The same store had special Mickey Mouse Oreos for sale. I purchased one of those packs for the heck of it. Here is what the outside package looked like.

I opened the package and noticed how the chocolate part of the cookies were designed. One side of the cookie had the usual Oreo stamp on it.

The other side had one of three special designs that were especially made for this package. One design had Mickey Mouse wearing a party hat.

Another design had a megaphone surrounded by tiny Mickey Mouse heads.

A third design had the number “90” surrounded by tiny Mickey Mouse heads.

The cream in the cookies was a special flavor known as “Birthday Cake.” Basically the cream tasted like vanilla frosting and I found it to taste far sweeter than the normal Oreo cream. While I found the taste to be passible, I personally prefer the regular cream.

If that wasn’t enough, Giant also had this special issue of Life magazine on sale, which was full of photos of Mickey Mouse over the years.

The closer it got to the anniversary, the more 90th anniversary Mickey stuff came out at a rapid rate. Here’s what I found at Target.

Of course there would be a Mickey Mouse Bluray DVD featuring “Steamboat Willie” and other seminal Mickey cartoons.

There were some special Funko Pops featuring cute versions of Mickey Mouse in his famous cartoon roles. While I didn’t see a Steamboat Willie Funko Pop, I saw ones based on other cartoons like The Brave Little Taylor and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence in Fantasia.

There were some large plush stuffed animals based on the opening sequence in Steamboat Willie when Mickey was steering the steamboat.

There were smaller plush stuffed animals as well, which not only featured Mickey as he appeared in Steamboat Willie but as he appeared in other cartoons.

There were special blind boxes shaped like Mickey heads.

The list on the label shows the Mickey figurines that one could get inside of blind box. Of course you won’t know which Mickey you got until after you purchased this special box and take it home with you.

If buying blind boxes aren’t your thing, you could spend $24.99 and buy the complete set of Mickey Mouse figurines.

I saw some special Mickey Mouse fabrics from Jo-Ann’s Fabrics & Crafts, some of which feature Minnie Mouse as well. You could make yourself a special outfit with these special patterns.

There were other Mickey fabrics as well but I only wanted to highlight the ones that had the Steamboat Willie-era Mickeys.

There were 90th anniversary Mickey Mouse Christmas ornaments and housewares available for sale at CVS.

A couple of days ago I made a return trip to Tyson’s Corner Mall. I went to The Disney Store where I saw this sign featuring Mickey and Minnie announcing that its Black Friday sale was going on right now. (By the way, my various store apps on my smartphone were pushing notifications all this past week announcing “Black Friday Preview Sales” and stuff like that? Is having pre-Black Friday sales a thing now in retail? God help us!)

There was a sign announcing Mickey Mouse-inspired activities at The Disney Store all weekend long. I showed up on Friday but I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Today they have a thing where the first 90 customers to make a purchase will get a special commemorative Mickey key. I’m financially struggling too much to go for something like that. Even if I could afford to buy something, I think I can live without a special commemorative Mickey key.

The back of the store was having continuous showings of Steamboat Willie with seats small enough for young children to sit on.

There was just one small area of the store that had the commemorative 90th anniversary stuff, most of which were geared towards adults, such as paperclips and business portfolio covers.

The Disney Store wasn’t the only place that had 90th anniversary Mickey Mouse stuff. The Build-A-Bear Workshop had a couple of special 90th anniversary Mickey plushies that one could have stuffed. One is Mickey wearing his “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” outfit.

The other one was a regular Mickey Mouse wearing his usual red shorts. Like the other Mickey, this one had special soles on his shoes that were marked 90th anniversary. (The Mickey in this photo was unstuffed.)

Lolli and Pops had imported Mickey Mouse candy with the packaging written in some Asian language. (I couldn’t tell which language it was. I think it was either Japanese or Korean.)

Macy’s had these special 90th anniversary Mickey Mouse Ray-Ban sunglasses.

The only thing about these sunglasses that I didn’t like was the fact that Mickey Mouse was visible from inside of the sunglasses frames—the frames that other people wouldn’t normally see. What’s the use of paying more money for something that can’t be seen by other people? I might as well buy regular black-framed sunglasses without Mickey Mouse lining on the inside.

Sugarfina is an upscale candy store that had 90th anniversary Mickey Mouse candy on sale. I thought about buying a Mickey Mouse dark chocolate candy bar only to find out that their candy bars cost $9.50 each. And that’s the starting price of the candy in that store.

There was a store that sold 90th anniversary Mickey Mouse watches, clocks, and backpacks.

There were a lot of stuff for the 90th anniversary that one could buy. I can only imagine what it will be like 10 years from now when the 100th anniversary comes up in 2028. While we’re on the subject, here’s one fact that frequently gets overlooked: This year is also the 90th anniversary of Minnie Mouse, Mickey’s longtime girlfriend. That’s right, she appeared in the first two silent Mickey cartoons and she also appeared in Steamboat Willie. She’s been a regular in most Mickey Mouse cartoons since.

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I used to watch Bill Maher’s Real Time With Bill Maher on HBO (back when I still had cable) and I enjoyed his documentary Religulous. He started losing me as a fan when he went off on Muslims by saying that they were all terrorists. It’s one thing to be an atheist with a low opinion of organized religion but to paint a whole group of people who practice a certain faith as terrorists is going a bit too far. Not all Muslims are terrorists just like not all Christians bomb abortion clinics.

I was also growing weary of him constantly having Ann Coulter as a guest on his show as his way of having diverse viewpoints. There’s nothing wrong with having conservatives on a liberal talk show like Real Time With Bill Maher but instead of having thoughtful dignified conservatives on his show he invites people like Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulis who say outrageous insulting stuff just for the sake of saying outrageous insulting stuff and ultimately have nothing to add to any kind of civilized discussion. When I ditched cable after seeing my bill jump from $80 per month to $200 I found that I didn’t miss watching Bill Maher’s show at all.

Now he’s really done it and the Internet is flaming him in a glorious way. A few days ago Stan Lee died at the ripe age of 95. To say that he was a major influence on the comic book industry is definitely an understatement. He took an industry that once catered mainly to children and expanded that base to adults by introducing superheroes with personal flaws and complex mature storylines that explored issues like racism, sexism, war, pollution, drug addiction, and alcoholism. There was an outpouring of emotion on social media where people came up with all kinds of tributes to the person who was nicknamed Stan the Man.

Bill Maher wrote a blog post that totally rained on that adulation. He basically said that comic books are for kids only and that he used to read them as a child until he gave them up as he got older. It’s this “comic books are for kids only” attitude of people like him that initially led me to read the one or two issues of Howard the Duck on the down low when I was around 13 years old and I ended up quitting reading that comic book because I was having a hard enough time with middle school kids harassing me without giving them another reason to make fun of me even more. The only reason why I even picked up comic books again as an adult was because my college boyfriend (whom I later married and divorced) collected them and he introduced me to The X-Men. We continued collecting comic books for the first few years of our marriage but we stopped when comic book prices rose to $1.50 per issue. (They now cost a whopping $3.99 per issue.) Nowadays the local public library in my town stocks graphic novel reprints of various comic book series so I’m able to borrow them and read them for free.

Bill Maher goes even further where he wrote what I think is the most stupidest thing he has said since his statement that all Muslims are terrorists.

I’m not saying we’ve necessarily gotten stupider. The average Joe is smarter in a lot of ways than he was in, say, the 1940s, when a big night out was a Three Stooges short and a Carmen Miranda musical. The problem is, we’re using our smarts on stupid stuff. I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to suggest that Donald Trump could only get elected in a country that thinks comic books are important.

It’s so obvious that he hasn’t picked up a comic book in years because he missed the occasional swipes at Donald Trump, such as this panel that was printed in the 2015 issue of Howard the Duck #1.

howardtheduck-irony

Bill Maher says that comic books are for kids only and slams adults who still read them yet he had no hesitation about appearing as himself in the movie Iron Man 3 which was based on—wait for it—a comic book that was co-created by Stan Lee.

I’m currently enjoying the online roasting he is getting in the comments section to his blog post, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

I don’t understand why Bill Maher is getting totally riled up about adults reading comic books. Adult comic book readers aren’t hurting anyone by reading them. What’s next? Is Bill Maher going to go after adults who collect toy cars? Or adults who collect dolls or toy robots or Breyer horses? Seriously, he needs to get a life. If he’s getting riled up over adults reading comic books then maybe it’s time for him to consider retiring from his Real Time With Bill Maher show. Jon Stewart left The Daily Show when he got tired of the day-to-day grind instead of hurling insults at adult comic book readers.

By the way, when I wrote my own blog post the other day about Stan Lee and how I once saw a vendor selling Stan Lee Cologne at the 2013 Baltimore Comic-Con, I forgot to mention another curious Stan Lee-related consumer product that I saw at a later date. Last year I was at Third Eye Comics in Annapolis shortly before Halloween and I saw that they were selling a line of Stan Lee action figures.

I didn’t buy one at the time because of tight finances. All I can say is that, thanks to his latest idiotic musings, Bill Maher probably won’t get a huge outpouring of emotion on social media when he passes—let alone anyone coming out with an action figure based on him.

A video about creature prop restoration, including restoring the puppets used in the Gremlins 2 movie.

Black women challenge the “white feminism” of the Women’s March.

This “bee-dimensional” printer creates some sweet looking prints.

A look at the deportation machine that President Obama built for President Trump.

Egyptian mummy’s secrets revealed.

Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?

The Alt-Right is taking over Renaissance Fairs.

You can now watch all of MTV’s Liquid Television, the launching ground for Aeon Flux, on the Internet Archive.

Young Patriots and Panthers: A story of white anti-racism.

Even insured Americans flock to Mexico for low-cost, high-quality health care.

The most radical digital upskilling is now occurring in middle- and lower-level jobs.

22 insane individuals that need to be banned from social media.

Donald Trump is a military coward—but that hasn’t kept him from insulting America’s troops.

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Benjamin Franklin

To be humble to superiors is duty, to equals courtesy, to inferiors nobleness.

I’m currently in this position where I’ve finished the previous freelance projects for others and I’m in the early phases of a short new project for someone else that involves animation. The temperature had been dropping to freezing for the past couple of days and today all hell broke loose as a storm that combined rain, ice, and snow hit my area. I decided to stay indoors at home today because of the ice.

These days I’m very cautious when it comes to ice ever since I went through two falls a week apart in early 2011. The first happened when I was in Florida with my then-husband and I missed a step going down into the hotel’s lobby bar. The second happened one week later when I was in Annapolis and I slipped on an icy patch on the sidewalk. That second fall was enough to snap my hip replacement completely out of alignment and I ended up undergoing hip revision surgery later that year. (That was the first in a chain of hellish events in 2011 where I had the hip surgery then my husband abruptly walked out on me just three months later and he made such an abrupt 180 degree turn from loving husband to being totally nasty towards me. I also discovered that he left me for a severely mentally ill woman, which totally shocked me and many of our longtime friends. I barely survived the insane drama that year.)

I tend not to go out when there’s ice on the ground unless I absolutely positively have to. I take a cane with me if I have to go out in icy weather. I just don’t want to go through another hip revision surgery, especially since I no longer have the economic security of being married to a NASA employee with a decent paycheck and great health insurance. Not having government-funded health care like so many other nations do (such as Japan, Norway, Sweden, Germany, and Canada) totally sucks.

Today I really didn’t have to go out anywhere so I opted to stay inside. I spent the enforced weather-related downtime working on this latest project that I’m doing for someone else. It involves making a short animation. I don’t want to go any further into this project at the moment. I’m just going to share a rough drawing for my animation project that I did today. I did the initial drawing using a 4H drawing pencil then I outlined it and colored it using ink. I did the drawing in the same notebook that I used when I participated in Inktober (which ended a few weeks ago). Well, without further ado, here it is.

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I live not too far away from Buddy Attick Park, where Greenbelt Lake is located. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that a park that is in my local area has made NBC4’s list of the Best Places to See Fall Foliage in the DC Area. So over a few days I took some photos of the fall foliage along the lake. I took the bulk of the photos in the afternoon but there were a few that I took at sunset.

For years I have heard that there is something magical about going to New England during the fall to see the fall foliage there. Having been there a few times during the fall (most recently in 2010) I have to say that, yes, the leaves are very pretty there this time of the year. I know there’s a certain romance with seeing the fall foliage in New England with all of its shades of green, yellow, red, and orange. But the foliage where I live are just as nice as what I saw in New England and I don’t have to deal with getting hotel reservations (which can be very hard to come by in the New England region this time of the year) or traveling there.

In any case, here are my photos of the fall foliage along Greenbelt Lake in Buddy Attick Park. Enjoy!

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I decided to attend a Christmas bazaar that was held at a local Catholic church known as St. Hugh of Grenoble Church in Greenbelt, Maryland. I’ve been by that building numerous times but I recently noticed something I hadn’t noticed before: A giant crucifix. That crucifix is surrounded by tree leaves in their total autumn splendor.

Here’s a shot of the church basement where the bazaar was held. There was a Christmas-themed setup on the stage.

When I walked outside again I noticed the fall leaves on the ground, which provided a variety of colors.

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Here is the last of the Halloween posts for this blog. I meant to write this sooner but I got distracted by Inktober, the recent midterm elections, and a lot of other things that are currently going on in my life.

My local Unitarian Universalist congregation, Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, decided to hold an all-ages Halloween celebration on the Sunday before Halloween. It started with an all-ages Sunday service. There were two choirs who performed. One was the children’s choir, which was all decked out in Halloween costumes.

Halloween Sunday Service

The other was the adult choir, where everyone also wore Halloween costumes.

Halloween Sunday Service

After the service ended there was the usual social hour. There were a few adults who also wore costumes, like this Jurassic Park-themed one, complete with a baby raptor dinosaur breaking out of an egg.

Halloween Sunday at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Halloween Sunday at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Halloween Sunday at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Halloween Sunday at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Halloween Sunday at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

While the social hour was going on I was busy with decorating my car trunk for Trunk or Treat. Here is what it looked like this year.

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Here are the photos I shot of other people’s decorated car trunks.

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

There were games for children to play and there was lunch served as well. There were people of all ages walking around in costumes.

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

I tried my hand at decorating a skull-shaped sugar cookie. I struggled with the icing because it was a bit on the hard side.

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

This was the best I could do for decorating my skull cookie.

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

I also shot a video of the day’s festivities including the costume parade, which went on during the Sunday service.

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Today I got word that Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee has died at the ripe old age of 95. To say that he was a major influence on the comic book industry is definitely an understatement. Even his Wikipedia page can’t really impart how big of a name he was among comic books and how beloved he was by generations of comic book fans.

I never had the opportunity to meet the person who was frequently nicknamed Stan the Man but I saw his cologne on sale when I attended the 2013 Baltimore Comic-Con.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 8, 2013

That’s right, I learned that there was such a thing as Stan Lee Cologne—the perfect cologne for anyone who ever had a desire to smell like him. (LOL!) I didn’t take a whiff of the cologne nor did I buy a bottle. I basically shot that photo and moved on. (There were tons of other things to see and do that day and I only had so much time and energy to check as much out as I could.) It was the only time I saw Stan Lee Cologne on sale anywhere in real life. I never really researched this product until now, where a quick Google search shows that one can buy Stan Lee Cologne online at Amazon. (Isn’t there anything that Amazon does not sell? LOL!) A review about this cologne on CNET has this hilarious headline: Stan Lee Cologne smells spicy, musky, superheroic.

Stan Lee may be gone but he definitely won’t be forgotten any time soon. Not if the legions of comic book fans around the world can help it.

Here is one of my belated Halloween posts for this year. I wasn’t able to write about this sooner because of Inktober, the midterm elections, and the fact that I had a lot of other things currently going on in my life.

Greenbelt Lake is a manmade lake that was originally created as part of the planned town of Greenbelt, Maryland during the Great Depression. Later on some homes were built along Greenbelt Lake. The lake has a walking path surrounding it so one can walk around the lake and see the backyards of these lakefront homes. One lakefront homeowner decided to do something special for Halloween by turning his home into a Halloween house.

The front of the home is located on Maplewood Court facing the street. You’ll know you’ve arrived at the Halloween house when you see these giant decorations on the front lawn.

Sure this homeowner has a lot of decorations in the front but the real fun is in the backyard. Like I wrote earlier, one can only access the backyard by going to Buddy Attick Park (where Greenbelt Lake is located) and take the walking path around the lake. While you’re on your way to the back of the Halloween house, you can always take in some lovely fall foliage along the lake.

You know you come upon the back of the Halloween house when you start seeing the decorations next to the walking path.

These decorations are not silent static decorations. Some of them move and talk. I shot this video demonstrating the decorations as they are moving and talking.

Halloween has long since passed this year and I’m sure that the homeowner has packed the decorations away by now. Next year it will all be back with the various goblins, ghosts, ghouls, witches, zombies, black cats, spiders, and other Halloween creatures waiting to greet those who walk, jog, or bike along Greenbelt Lake.

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