This weekend I’m taking part in two shows that are being held simultaneously. Here’s a short list of my activities.

From September 5-7 this Butterfly watercolor will be on display at the Greenbelt Labor Day Art Show in Greenbelt, Maryland. This show is being held in the Greenbelt Community Center concurrently with the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival. Click here for more information and directions.

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On Sunday, September 6, I will be selling my wares at the ReCreative Spaces Perry Street Collective Open House + Makers Faire from 1-5 p.m. This event will be held at 3501 Perry Street, Mount Rainier, Maryland. (Click here for the map location.) For more information, see the event’s Facebook page and the Gateway Arts District of Prince George’s County site. I will be mostly selling my superhero comic book coasters, such as the ones below. (If you’re curious, you can read about how I came up with the idea of making comic book coasters in the first place.)

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Today I’ve uploaded the second video in my new series about my experiences with the My Friend Cayla interactive doll.

This one is known as the “opening” or “unboxing” videos. These kinds of videos have long been made by those in both the Asian ball-jointed doll and American Girl doll fandoms. (One recent example, which has just been uploaded a couple of days ago, is an American Girl doll fan opening the box of the newest BeForever historical character, Maryellen Larkin, who’s supposed to represent the 1950’s.) Since My Friend Cayla is the same size as an American Girl doll, I’d thought that such an opening video would appeal to the fans of that doll. Here it is.

If you’re more interested in the interactive capabilities, don’t worry. I have a few such videos in the pipeline and they will be eventually uploaded.

I’ve also set up a playlist of all of the videos in this series so you can watch the ones you’ve missed or even watch your favorites all over again.

I’m starting a new series of videos based on my experiences with a new doll that I’ve just purchased from Target. Her name is My Friend Cayla and she’s not your typical doll. She’s interactive and has both Wifi and Bluetooth connections. I’m only making the videos in the hopes that I can earn a little extra money through YouTube’s profit-sharing program. For the next week I’m going to release one new video per day in order to coincide with the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend in the United States. I don’t know if it will work out but, if it does, I could end up with at least a part-time revenue stream.

Below if Part 1, which is a basic prelude that explains what led me to purchase a My Friend Cayla doll from Target. It includes short clips from two other videos I shot years ago (2009 Barbie Convention in Washington, DC and 2010 Otakon Convention in Baltimore, Maryland). I also mention instances of interactive living dolls in pop culture such as The Twilight Zone‘s “Living Doll” episode, Chucky from Child’s Play, Mitsukazu Mihara’s Doll manga, Yumiko Kalahari’s Dolls manga, Rozen Maiden, and Chobits.

Anyway, if this prelude video isn’t your cup of tea, wait until I start uploading more videos, all of which will deal with my direct experiences with the My Friend Cayla doll. (By the way, if you’re intrigued by the doll, check out the official website.)

So, without further ado, here is Part 1 of my new multipart series about my experiences with the My Friend Cayla doll.

I’m participating in the Greenbelt Labor Day Art Show next weekend. Here’s a preview of the piece that I will enter.

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You can learn more about the making of this piece right here. I will also make it available for sale so if you’re interested in buying it, come on down! For show times and exact location, click here.

I was on a trip to Target recently when I saw some interesting things for sale. When I went down the cereal aisle, I saw an entire row of cereal based on movies. Seriously!

Cereals Based on MoviesCereals Based on Movies

I saw a couple of robots on sale. One is the MiP robot, which has been out for over a year. The other is one I hadn’t seen before. It’s called a MiPosaur and it’s a robot dinosaur with a soccer ball!

RobotsLast, but not least, is this doll I’ve been hearing about on the Internet. She is known as a My Friend Cayla doll and she is the same size as an American Girl doll. Except she has something extra. She can connect to the Internet and she can carry on a conversation with a person. One can interact with her using a smartphone. She can speak either English or Spanish depending on which language app you download to your smartphone. This doll reminds me of the Japanese anime series Chobits. My Friend Cayla

Benjamin Franklin

Fear God, and your Enemies will fear you.

I created this animation piece during the spring of 2002 in the same computer animation class (which I took at a local community college) where I also created The Running Girl and Apparition of Face and Fruit on a Beach. This animation was my final project in the class. The idea was to create a slightly longer piece than the previous projects that could be based on anything we wanted. For inspiration I looked through a book of Aesop’s Fables where I saw The Dancing Monkeys and I thought that it would make a great Looney Tunes-inspired slapstick comedy.

The Dancing Monkeys took several weeks to complete and it was loaded with tidbits from my personal life as well as other types of humor that only certain animation buffs would get. The theater where the monkeys performed was named after my father, who passed away just two years before I went back to school and took the computer animation class. Two of the monkey pairs were dressed in outfits much like the ones that Princess Fiona and Lord Farquaad wore in the DreamWorks animated movie Shrek. The rest of the monkeys were dressed like the princes and princesses in the following Disney animated movies: Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty.

As for the rude audience member who threw a banana on the stage (which set off the whole slapstick comedy chaos), I scanned in a photo of my then-husband’s high school yearbook photo that was taken during his senior year then traced over it in Flash. I was inspired to do so because my husband was always a bit of a smartass (he had a wicked sense of humor) and he used to say to me that he prided himself for being evil and devious and he would rather be known for being mischievous than for being a well-behaved goody-two-shoes.  (At that time I thought he was just kidding when he used to say those things to me before erupting in laughter. I would later be exposed to a very dark side of him when he abruptly left me for a friend of ours who has severe mental health issues.) When I showed this animation to him after I finished, he roared in laughter. He told me he loved my depiction of him and he told me that he would’ve felt tempted to do something similar had he attended a performance like the one in the animation.

My computer animation teacher loved what I did and he gave me an “A.” Since that project counted towards a significant part of my grade, I ended up with an “A” for the entire course.

The following fall I took a digital imaging class at the same college. I had a different instructor but she was the head of the Art Department and she knew my computer animation instructor. She was also the faculty mentor for the Student Art League, the campus student organization who helped with organizing the Student Art Show that took place during the fall and spring semesters. Well, anyway, for some reason the art show had gotten very few computer animations that were recently completed that could be shown in the Student Art Show. My teacher was desperate for more animations and she knew that I had taken the computer animation class the previous semester so she asked me if there were any animations that I didn’t submit to the previous semester’s art show that I could put in the new show.

At that point, the only animation from the previous spring that I didn’t submit was The Dancing Monkeys but that was because it was the final project and my class didn’t even begin working on our final projects until after the deadline for submissions. However, there was a snag. The rules for the Student Art Show state that only work that were created in the same semester as the start of the latest Student Art Show could be submitted. Under those rules The Dancing Monkeys would not have qualified because it was completed the previous semester. The teacher was so desperate for animations that she willingly bended the rules so The Dancing Monkeys could be accepted into the fall show. Well, anyway, The Dancing Monkeys was accepted into the show and visitors had the chance to see my work and what I was capable of doing.

I would later post it on my now-defunct Twisted Unicorn website. For this YouTube upload, I remastered it in high definition, added a new song (Johann Strauss’ “Blue Danube,” which I obtained from YouTube’s collection of free music), and added new sound effects.

So, without further ado, here is The Dancing Monkeys.

The weekend of August 15-16 was a tough choice because of two scheduled events that I was interested in. Since I had a scheduling conflict on the 16th with the watercolor workshop at Makerspace 125, the 15th was the only day I could do something fun and I had to choose. One was the annual Intervention Con in Rockville. The other was the 60th anniversary of the day that the Enchanted Forest amusement park opened its doors to the public, which would be held at Clark’s Elioak Farm (which houses most of the attractions that were once at the Enchanted Forest, which has long been since closed and a shopping center now stands in the amusement park’s former location).

There were two factors that helped me make my decision. One was that I attended Intervention Con for one day in 2013 and all three days in 2014 (see Day One, Day Two, and Day Three). I looked at this year’s schedule and I found that they were repeating some of the same panels I went to last year and I wasn’t really interested in the other panels and events that I was less familiar with. As for the Enchanted Forest celebration, this year is the 60th anniversary, which is a milestone. I still have fond memories of when my parents used to take me there as a child. And I liked what Clark’s Elioak Farm did with the old attractions. So I chose the Enchanted Forest anniversary event instead.

The only downside of my decision is that it was the usual hot and humid weather that permeates August in the Mid Atlantic Region. (In contrast, Intervention Con is held inside an air conditioned hotel.) I later learned that the temperature reached a high of 95 degrees Fahrenheit. I made the best of the situation despite the hot weather.

It turned out that there was more to this celebration than just the 60th anniversary of the Enchanted Forest. Earlier this year I read that Kimco was prepared to get rid of the last vestiges of the old Enchanted Forest amusement park that still reside around the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center. (Yes, the theme park is now a suburban shopping center.) Last October I took this photo of the shopping center. Old King Cole continues to point the way to what is now the shopping center. Directly behind the sign is the Enchanted Forest storybook sign. Right next to that is the castle that was both an entrance and a gift shop.

Enchanted Forest Shopping Center, October 18, 2014

Here’s a closer view of the castle, along with the lute-playing dragon on top, in its original location.

Enchanted Forest Shopping Center, October 18, 2014

I managed to get a telephoto shot of the Gingerbread House that was behind the shopping center.

Enchanted Forest Shopping Center, October 18, 2014

The only shot I didn’t get from that prior trip was Cinderella’s Castle mainly because it was placed so far into the property that I would’ve had to risk arrest for trespassing in order to photograph it.

Basically the castle and storybook sign were moved to Clark’s Elioak Farm while the Gingerbread House and Cinderella’s Castle were completely razed. (The two buildings were too big to move to the farm and both structures had rotted so much that the shopping center’s owners felt that they had become a liability.) These days Old King Cole with his finger pointing now remains the only reminder of the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center’s theme park past.

Even though I left for Clark’s Elioak Farm early in the morning, the parking lot was already filling up to the point where I had to go to the overflow lot. When I arrived I saw that there were not one, but two castles.

The Enchanted Forest's 60th AnniversaryThis castle is a replica of both the original castle and the lute playing dragon. Rapunzel standing on the balcony is the only one that came from the original castle. Like the original this one also serves as a combination entrance and gift shop. The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

When I entered through the replica castle, I noticed that a few new items had been added near the ceiling.

The Enchanted Forest's 60th AnniversaryBoth the original castle and the storybook sign had been moved to the entrance of the pine maze (where some of the Enchanted Forest attractions are located). The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

This is definitely a contrast to what the entrance to the pine maze used to look like. (I originally took this photograph in 2013.)

Entrance to the Pine Maze

This next photo shows a panoramic view of the storybook sign, the original castle that now serves as the entrance to the pine maze, and the castle replica that serves as the entrance to the entire farm. You can also see the crowd that had gathered to a formal ceremony celebrating the move of the latest items to the farm.

The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

Here’s a closeup of the storybook sign.

The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

Here’s a close-up of the castle. The door entrance to the maze was blocked by a ribbon. A portion of one of the castle turrets was covered as well. The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

The ceremony began at noon. The speeches and proclamations from local officials were truncated because of the very hot and humid weather and the fact that the ceremony took place in full sun. The next few photos show the ribbon cutting ceremony at the entrance to the pine maze.

The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary
The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

Then there was a second unveiling of the one area of the castle turret that was covered. The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

The Enchanted Forest's 60th AnniversaryI thought the figure under the cloth would be another Rapunzel. But I was surprised to find someone else instead. The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

It’s Old King Cole standing at the turret. In a way it’s fitting that he’s there instead of Rapunzel since the original is still busy pointing the way to the shopping center.

There was one more unveiling that needed to be done. There was another sign that had been hidden. It was unveiled to reveal a sign announcing the arrival of dinosaurs to the pine maze next month.

The Enchanted Forest's 60th AnniversaryOnce the ceremony ended, many people stepped through the entrance into the pine maze. Here are a couple of views of the castle from the back. The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

The Enchanted Forest's 60th AnniversaryThe pine maze was well shaded so it was a definite improvement over being directly in the hot sun. There was a mix of one or two new touches with the fairy tale attractions from the original Enchanted Forest. It’ll be interesting to see how the coming dinosaurs will be integrated into this. The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary
The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

The Enchanted Forest's 60th AnniversaryMost of the anniversary-related activities took place in one of the barns where they served free slices of cake on a first-come, first served basis. I managed to snag this delicious slice of chocolate cake with white icing that had a digital image of what looked like the original Enchanted Forest castle. (Much of the cake had already been cut up by the time I arrived.) The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

Half of the barn space was devoted to an art show where local artists created their own versions of the Enchanted Forest in a variety of media. Most of the art was for sale.

The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary
The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary
The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary
The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary
The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary
The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary
The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary
The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

The rest of the space was devoted to vintage artifacts from the original Enchanted Forest during its heyday.

The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary
The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

There were even a few personal family photo albums on display, which showed various people of all ages enjoying the park.

The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary
The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

There was a mini fair where local groups and vendors could set up canopies and either sell their wares or provide free information about a particular group. I purchased one item from one of the booths that I’ll write about at the end of this post.

The Enchanted Forest's 60th AnniversaryThere were a few special decorative touches throughout the farm just for this occasion. The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

There were entertainment for children, such as Anna and Elsa singing songs from their movie Frozen.

The Enchanted Forest's 60th AnniversaryMother Goose was on hand for some craft projects. The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

The Enchanted Forest's 60th AnniversaryThere were a few new items I noticed on the farm since my last visit last year. They were relatively minor compared to the arrival of the original castle and storybook but I still noticed them nonetheless. The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary
The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

This next photo shows what the landscape of Clark’s Elioak Farm looks like on a very hot and humid day with full sun.

The Enchanted Forest's 60th AnniversaryI focused the bulk of this visit on the castle and storybook, the special dedication ceremony, and all the things in that one barn. I skipped the rest of the exhibits (including the petting zoo) because I began to feel overheated after two hours so I decided to leave. I didn’t feel too upset that I didn’t see half of the farm because I’ve seen them before on prior visits. I feel tempted to return for a visit in the fall after the dinosaurs arrive, when the weather will be much more pleasant and the leaves will turn into lovely shades of red, orange, and yellow. I would also be in a better frame of mind to visit the animals in the petting zoo.

I drove to the nearby Enchanted Forest Shopping Center where I ate lunch at this bagel place that’s located there. (I’ve eaten there last year and I really like the food.) I saw the empty spots where the castle and storybook used to be located. I didn’t take any pictures because I just couldn’t stand being out in the heat and humidity any longer. (At least the bagel place has air conditioning.) Additionally, someone announced during the dedication ceremony that there will be a special plaque commemorating the former location of the castle and storybook that will be placed there within a few weeks. So I have a reason to make another trip to the shopping center in addition to Clark’s Elioak Farm sometime in either September or October.

I purchased this gingerbread man from one of the vendor booths at Clark’s Elioak Farm. The cookie crumbled in transit but it still tasted very good. It was made by a local baker called Touché Touchet, which is located in nearby Columbia. The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

The Enchanted Forest's 60th Anniversary

UPDATE (August 27, 2015): Just one day after I posted this one, I found an interesting story in Smithsonian magazine about both the Enchanted Forest and the moving and preservation that was done at Clark’s Elioak Farm. That link also includes a bunch of photos that includes vintage photos of the original amusement park, the attractions that were in various states of decay prior to the move to the farm, and what the attractions now look like in their current location.

I was at a local Wegman’s recently when I found some candy based on Paddington Bear. I took a photo and uploaded it on my Facebook account because I have one friend who was into Paddington Bear as a child and I figured that she would get a kick out of it. She did and so did a few of my other Facebook friends as well.

Paddington Bear Candy

I went to yet another session of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School that was held at The Wind-Up Space in Baltimore. Even though the days are still longer, the weather had become the typical August weather in the Mid-Atlantic Region: hot and humid alternating with rain so I didn’t do much walking around the Station North Arts District this time around. I managed to take just a few photos on my way to The Wind-Up Space.

I saw a sign posted that announced a DIY Festival that will happen in this area in October and they are looking for participants.

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Someone had recently put up this really cool looking outside bench in the area between Red Emma’s and Liam Flynn’s Ale House on West North Street.

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In the space next to The Wind-Up Space is this sign announcing a potentially interesting looking storefront that’s opened only on the weekends. I may have an incentive to go back to the Station North Arts District on days other than when The Wind-Up Space is having a Dr. Sketchy’s event.

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Once I was inside The Wind-Up Space I took only two more photos. One was a postcard announcing that The Wind-Up Space is hosting a Drink and Draw event on the first Wednesday of the month. It may be something for me to keep in mind in case I have a need to visit The Wind-Up Space for events other than Dr. Sketchy’s.

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I also saw this interesting looking leopard couch that was in a storage area right next to the stage and near the restrooms. That couch would later be used during the Dr. Sketchy’s event.

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For the rest of the evening I switched to paper and pencil since photographing the model at a Dr. Sketchy’s event is a definite no-no. The model for this event was Sophia Sunday of Gilded Lily Burlesque. Since she is a burlesque performer, most of the drawings in this post are definitely not safe for work or school.

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One of the contests I took part in that evening was one where we had to incorporate the board game Monopoly because it was the anniversary of the day that the game was first released to the general public by Parker Brothers. I drew a scenario where Sophia Sunday was sitting in the spare tire that’s located on the back of the car in the Free Parking space while Mr. Moneybags is ogling her through the back windshield. That drawing didn’t make it to the finals.

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At one point the really cool leopard sofa that I photographed earlier in the evening was brought up on stage and I drew this picture of Sophia Sunday lounging in it.

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I took part in the last contest of the evening. Sophia Sunday was in the process of moving away from Baltimore and her participation in Dr. Sketchy’s was the last event before she moved away. The contest theme was imagining where Sophia was going to go next. I pictured a scenario where she simply moved 30 miles south to Washington, DC after she made history as not only the first woman candidate but also the first burlesque performer to hold the nation’s highest office. (Yeah, I know it sounds ludicrous but I’m old enough to remember a time when people used to laugh at the idea that a Hollywood B-movie actor would be elected president until Ronald Reagan prevailed in 1980.) As the caption reads: “President Sophia Sunday’s First Day in the Oval Office.” That drawing failed to make it to the finals.

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That contest was the last pose that Sophia Sunday did for the evening. It was raining as I was driving home but it wasn’t too bad. I’ve driven in worse weather on Dr. Sketchy’s night in Baltimore so I had no complaints at all.

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