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Man builds a Furby organ using recycled vintage electronic Furbys.

From the Green Book to Facebook: How black people still need to outwit racists in rural America.

If you care at all about the idea of journalism, Project Veritas should horrify you.

Here’s a free tutorial on how to crochet a blanket based on climate change data.

The “Pocahontas” nonsense matters but not in the way that Trump might like it to.

CNN crusades against the slave trade in Libya but they knew about it for years.

A look at a LEGO set featuring the women of NASA.

The Church of Sweden no longer refers to God as “he” or “lord.”

What if American hadn’t done the dumbest thing imaginable after 9/11?

The executives who bankrupted Toys R Us want $16-32 million in bonuses for their performance.

More than 80,000 vintage sewing patterns are now available online.

The driverless revolution may exact a political price.

10+ revenge stories that will make you think twice about being an asshole to other people.

6 badass acts of resistance erased from history.

Dollar General hits a gold mine in rural America where even Walmart failed.

Will the alt-right produce the next Timothy McVeigh?

How Clinton and Obama failed to defend the middle class.

Undoing the New Deal: The 1944 coup against Vice President Henry Wallace.

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A few days before the Women’s March on Washington I attended a screen printing workshop at Art Works Now known as The Art of Resistance. The participants were screenprinting signs and t-shirts that they could use either at the march or use at a later date. I took a few photos during my time there.

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

"The Art of Resistance" Workshop

Last year I went to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore because it has free admission on Martin Luther King Day. (The regular admission price is $15.95 for adults under 60 and $13.95 for people age 60 and up.) I had a blast even though I arrived too late in the day to get a free slice of birthday cake that the museum usually serves for that occasion. This year I decided to do it again except I made every effort to wake up early and get out of the door so I could arrive by noon (when the birthday cake would be served).

So I managed to arrive earlier than last year while braving the cold weather (the temperature was in the low 20’s that day). I took the light rail into the city then transferred to the Charm City Circulator bus. I managed to arrive shortly before noon. The main disadvantage is that the museum was way more crowded than I remembered last year when I arrived later in the afternoon. But I still tried to make the best of my visit since it was free admission day.

One of the buildings had a new exhibition which featured this giant dragon sculpture that was made entirely from balloons.

There were a few wall hangings that were literally displayed on the ceiling of that building.

I managed to arrive on the third floor of the building where the birthday cake was being served along with a few other activities as well. There was an opportunity to create buttons, which I didn’t get to do because the museum had run out of button making supplies by the time I arrived. But I managed to get a photo of a couple who were able to make buttons.

The entertainment featured a children’s gospel choir known as the Cardinal Shehan School Choir, who came from one of the local Catholic schools in Baltimore. This group has been featured on Good Morning America after one of their videos went viral. After hearing them, I understood why because this choir was so phenomenal, especially since the singers were all children.

In fact, I shot this video of them doing their final number called “Rise Up” that I think you will definitely enjoy.

While the choir was performing I got a chance to look at the birthday cakes that were served to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis. The cakes were available in a variety of flavors.

The museum also gave out a variety of hot beverages (including hot chocolate and a few different flavors of tea). The next photo shows my cup of hot chocolate and the slice of cake that I chose.

This next photo should give you an idea as to how crowded this room got with people making buttons and consuming cake and hot drinks.

I stepped out of the balcony on that third floor where I got a great view of both the museum’s main building and Federal Hill.

Once I finished eating my cake and the choir finished performing its set, I left that large and crowded room and explored the rest of the museum where I took these pictures.

The museum had this special exhibit called The Great Mystery Show, which featured art related to science and mysticism. This NASA astronaut sculpture in the next photo had me thinking about how my ex-husband would’ve loved this since he works for NASA and he told me that he once wanted to become an astronaut only to find out that his eyesight would’ve been considered too poor for such a position. (He managed to study computer programming so he found another way of working for NASA even if he never became an astronaut.)

The statue in the next two photos intrigued me because it was made mostly from sea shells.

The most memorable part of the museum was seeing this sculpture of Edgar Allan Poe that was made entirely from marshmallow Peeps.

The base of the Poe sculpture was flanked by a black cat and a raven, who were both also made from marshmallow Peeps. (Those two were references to two of Poe’s famous works—The Black Cat and The Raven.)

Near the Poe sculpture was this heart that was made from glass, which was a reference to another famous Poe piece known as The Tell-Tale Heart.

The most surreal part of the museum was seeing a TV monitor that had non-stop showings of Martin Luther King giving his famous “I Have a Dream” speech while the monitor was flanked by flowers, tarot cards, two gold masks, and an Ouija board.

I was amazed by this life-sized sculpture of what looked like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz.

I found this interesting recipe posted on the museum wall that I would like to try at some point in the future.


I really liked this colorful and funky cat illustration.

This dress looked like it was made from glass with all of the glass beads.

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this inspirational quote from Leonardo da Vinci regarding science and art.

I really liked this next photo, which is a painting of Albert Einstein.

I was also amazed by what this one artist did with small tins (such as a sardine tin and a tin box that was about the size of a pack of Altoids). This person created scenes with paper cutouts. The tiny details were astounding.

I made only one purchase at that museum. I found this crochet pattern book for $5 that was about creating tiny equipment, furniture, and buildings that were small enough for LEGO Minifigs, tiny dolls, and other types of tiny toys. It looked really interesting.

Even though I had that slice of cake, it was no substitute for lunch and I was starting to feel hungry as I was touring the museum. I thought about eating in the museum’s cafe until I saw that it was very crowded. I began to become tired of the throngs of people who were crowding in the museum because they were also taking advantage of the free admission. I decided to leave the museum and walk along the Inner Harbor while taking some photos. This next photo shows a building in the middle that’s under construction complete with a construction crane.

The weather had been mostly non-stop freezing since Christmas with an exception of a couple of days when the temperature reached the low 50’s just a couple of days before MLK Day. Unfortunately that respite was short-lived and the area was plunged into yet another deep freeze. The next few pictures clearly show the effects of the below-freezing temperatures had on the water itself where you can clearly see ice that had been forming.

Some of the litter thrown into the Inner Harbor had been encased in ice.

A pair of ducks were swimming in the non-icy portions of the water.

These stone installations resembled three Adirondack chairs.

The next photo shows the statue of William Donald Schaefer, who served as the mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland.

I walked by Harborplace where I visited It’s Sugar.

 

I bought a few things in that store, including a special pack of Skittles that  was known as “Sweet Heat” because spices were added to the candy. I tried them and I found the spicy taste to be interesting but, to be honest, I prefer regular Skittles.

I bought a small box of this treat called Marshmallow Madness. The idea is based on the Lucky Charms cereal except that the cereal part has been excluded so all you get is just small colored marshmallows in a variety of shapes. I’ve seen Marshmallow Madness be available in cereal-sized boxes. On this trip I saw that there were smaller box versions of Marshmallow Madness so I decided to buy it to see what it tasted like.

My verdict is that while the marshmallows are tasty, I found myself missing the cereal part. (I used to frequently eat Lucky Charms cereal as a child. Even though I rarely eat presweetened cereal these days, I still found myself lamenting the lack of cereal in Marshmallow Madness. I guess old habits die hard. LOL!)

I purchased a pack of orange-flavored Donald Trump-themed gummy candy known as Make America Sweet Again mainly because the package design was such a hoot. I took a bunch of detailed photographs of this product so you’ll get the idea.

I haven’t opened that candy as of this writing. I have an idea of doing something creative with this candy so I don’t want to just eat it right now, especially since there are only two It’s Sugar locations in the entire Baltimore-Washington, DC area (one at Harborplace and the other in the Chinatown area of DC) and I don’t really live close to either location so I can’t shop there too often.

I took a couple of photos of Harborplace, which showed it becoming more and more of a dead mall. This was shot on Martin Luther King Day when a lot of people are off from school and work. I remember Harborplace in better days when it used to draw a huge crowd of shoppers. I remember the days when I made special trips to this place so I could spend the day there. Despite the presence of It’s Sugar, H&M, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, this pavilion is still pretty much empty. I didn’t even bother with visiting the other pavilion because I know it’s the same situation from previous visits. Too bad, so sad.

The sign announcing a “New Tradition” at Harborplace that “Begins Fall 2016” had me laughing. Or maybe having a mostly empty mall is Harborplace’s idea of a “new tradition.” LOL!

The only area of Harborplace where I saw quite a few people was at the temporary ice skating rink that was set outside of one of the pavilions.

There weren’t really a lot of affordable place to eat lunch at. (I still remember the old days when that pavilion I had just visited used to have an entire floor dedicated to a food court that had all kinds of foods ranging from pizza to sushi to Chinese to Subway subs.) I decided to go to the Così that’s located across the street from the Baltimore Convention Center for a late lunch. Except when I arrived just 15 minutes before 3 p.m. I saw a notice on the door saying that Così would be closing early at 3 p.m. for MLK Day. I basically got my lunch to go and walked around the area looking for an appropriate place to eat lunch. Unfortunately it was way too cold to eat anywhere outside. I ultimately walked to the Hilton Baltimore where I sat down in one of the cushions in the lobby and quietly consumed my TBM (tomato, basil, and mozzarella) sandwich with a bag of potato chips and a Diet Coke. That hotel was very empty that day where the staffers outnumbered everyone else.

After I finished lunch, I decided that it was time to head back to the light rail station and get out of the city. I walked past Orioles Park at Camden Yards and took this one last photo. The place definitely looked pretty sad and deserted in the off-season. Baseball season will begin in a few months so this area will have a lot of Baltimore Oriole fans entering through those gates. (It also reminded me of the fact that the last time I attended a game there was back in 2007. It was the year before my hip replacement and it was also when I was still married because I used to accompany my husband to those games. I don’t know when I’ll ever attend another game there in person.)

Happy Holidays! Retailers are still destroying unsold clothes and blankets instead of donating them. 

What’s wrong with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? It’s not what you think!

Here is the Nobel prize winning physicist’s theory on what is the root cause of all evil in the world.

50+ epic Christmas design fails that you will find hard to believe actually happened. 

Everyone can’t stop laughing after this grumpy cat crashed a nativity scene in New York City. 

Racy vintage postcards from Germany of Krampus cavorting with sexy chicks and she-devils. 

Family sends the most awkward Christmas cards for the past 15 years and the results are funny.

 A free tutorial on how to make hot chocolate on a stick.

 Dad turns his baby into a real-life Elf on the Shelf and the results are adorable.

Atheist group trolls small towns with “Church is Fake News” billboards.

Here’s a look at Woolworth’s Christmas catalog from 1954.

Here’s a hilarious look at 27 hipsters ruining Christmas.

A rant on why ugly Christmas sweater parties need to end.

Was Julian Assange attempting something far more damaging than putting Trump in office?

There’s a book of “beautiful” (but strictly unauthorized) poetry by Donald Trump and it’s a hoot.

Reckoning with Bill Clinton’s sex crimes.

It was the Democrats’ embrace of neoliberalism that won the election for Donald Trump.

This half Christmas tree is half absurd, half genius.

Media blackout as millions of Muslims march against ISIS in Iraq. 

Why poor whites are so angry.

Big Data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens.

How the Fingerling caught on as the Hot Toy of 2017.

A few months ago I wrote a post about how I got into knitting hats using a circular loom that I purchased from Jo-Ann’s Fabrics & Crafts after I learned that my church has a yarn stash that has filled at least 10 bins. (Much of that yarn came from donations either from church members who moved out of the area or relatives of recently deceased church members who were trying to declutter their loved one’s home.) Here are a couple of adult-sized hats I finished after I wrote my previous post back in May using different yarn color combinations that I haven’t used before.

I also bought a smaller circular loom with the idea of making smaller-sized hats that would fit infants and very young children. I basically used the same yarn colored combinations as on the larger hats. I didn’t have a styrofoam head small enough to display those hats. (I only have that one styrofoam head and I use that to hold this one multicolored wig that I own when I’m not using it to model my adult hats for pictures.)

So I decided to use some of my dolls to display these hats while I shot these pictures. Yes, I know that these hats are too large and out of scale for these dolls. Keep in mind that I didn’t knit these hats for dolls. (Heck, I don’t even know if there’s even a market for doll-sized loom-knitted hats.) Taking these photos have given me the chance to take a look at these dolls again and enjoy them. I had been less and less enthusiastic about dolls, especially in the early days when my husband abruptly left home (with zero advanced warning) for a friend of ours with severe mental health issues. Yeah, I was depressed for a long time. Especially since he left three months after I underwent hip surgery. There were times when I lost enthusiasm for a lot of things. I’m still trying to get back into doing things that I used to love to do but it can be hard at times with all of these distractions stemming from tight finances and the currently ugly political situation going on just a few miles away from where I live (a.k.a. Washington, DC).

So, without further ado, here are my smaller knitted hats for infants and very young children.

Since I mentioned my husband running away from home back in 2011, I’d thought I’d begin with the doll that he essentially blamed in that letter he left behind for leaving home. (He said that this doll contributed to the clutter in our home. But then I had friends tell me that he was spotted in public with the other woman less than a week after he left me and he married her two months after our divorce was final.) It was an American Girl Julie Albright doll who is supposed to represent the 1970s that I purchased the day before my hip surgery. So here she is wearing a knitted loom hat.

The doll in the next photo is also a historical 1970s American Girl doll. Her name is Ivy Ling and she’s described in the books as being Julie’s best friend. This doll was retired a few years ago when American Girl decided to get rid of its Best Friends of Historical Dolls line.

Here’s the third and last American Girl doll in this group of doll models. Her name is Addy Walker, she represents the Civil War era, and she’s wearing a hat that matches her pretty blue dress.

Now it’s time to move on to other dolls. This one is My Friend Cayla, the 18-inch interactive doll that has been banned in Germany because the authorities were concerned that the doll would spy on children. Snopes.com has a fully detailed article about the controversies surrounding that doll that has arisen not only in Germany but in other countries as well. Here she is modeling a knitted hat.

The doll in the next photo is a vintage 1970s doll from the now-defunct Ideal Toy Company known as Beautiful Crissy, who is 18 inches tall. This doll’s hair can be grown from short hair to long hair and back to short hair. (You can see a demonstration of this feature in this vintage commercial.) I had that doll as a child then my parents gave it away when I grew older. But I never forgot Beautiful Crissy. I picked this doll up on eBay a few years ago. Here she is wearing a hat.

The doll in the next photo is smaller than the others. She is 15 inches tall, her name is Velvet, and she was another Ideal doll that was released as a cousin of Beautiful Crissy. Like her cousin, Velvet also has hair that can change from long to short then back to long. I found this doll at a doll show years ago that was on sale for a very cheap price because she was partially nude and had this funky white mold in her eyes. I once wrote his blog post detailing how I managed to get rid of the mold and restored this doll to her original condition. So, without further ado, here is Velvet wearing a hat.

Here is a doll I haven’t touched in a long time. Her name is Kianna and she came from Mattel’s short-lived Teen Trends doll line. She is 17 inches tall and she has internal elastic stringing that’s similar to an Asian ball-jointed doll. Here she is modeling a hat.

And last, but not least, here is Blythe, who is the smallest of the dolls featured in this post because she stands at around 11 inches tall. She’s the same height as a Barbie doll but, due to her large, out-of-scale head size, she can wear the same hat size as a lot of the larger dolls.

Finally, here’s one last shot of the entire gang modeling those knitted loom hats.

I knitted the hats throughout the spring and summer. I did some knitting in the fall until I took part in Inktober and I found that it took up a lot of time that I could’ve spent knitting more hats. When the month ended and the annual church auction was happening soon, I spent some crunch time finishing the one last hat that was still on the circular loom before I got diverted by Inktober.

The hats were put on sale along with other wearable knitted items that were made by other church members at the church’s annual auction a few weeks ago. Last Saturday I received a phone call from a member of my church’s handcraft circle informing me that a member of our church had decided to buy the entire inventory of hats and mittens. He then donated that inventory back to the handcraft circle with the instructions that they are to be donated to local homeless shelters and other nonprofit groups that help the poor and needy this time of the year. My knitted loom hats were among the inventory that was purchased. I am very grateful to that church member for his generosity. 🙂

Twitter verifies Jason Kessler, the organizer of the White Supremacist rally in Charlottesville that resulted in violence that left one person dead.

A historian explains why the Founding Fathers would be baffled by conservatives’ obsession with flag worship.

90-year-old Czech grandma turns small village into her art gallery by hand-painting flowers on its houses.

Have Turkish archaeologists found the final resting place of Saint Nick?

Has the original Santa Claus been found in Turkey?

Guardians can sell the assets and control the lives of senior citizens without their consent—and reap a profit from it.

America is not a society that values human life.

Voices from the anti-Trump resistance.

Hogwarts actually exists? Here are 10 real-life schools for magic.

How much should you charge a band for CD and album cover art?

Yes, Stephen Paddock fits the mass shooter profile.

MilkLeaks chronicles the very worst of alt-right agitator Baked Alaska.

Giant straw animal sculptures invade Japanese fields after rice harvest.

Don’t tell Grandma but cross-stitch embroidery has an extreme side.

Americans are now paranoid that robots will toss their resumes in the trash.

We can’t ban guns in America, but we managed to ban all this other stuff.

The rise and fall of the word “Monopoly” in American life.

A disturbing dispatch from Seattle’s super secret white nationalist convention.

How Trump’s focus on working class men hurts working class women.

“X” marks the spot where economic inequality took root.

It’s time to talk about what’s radicalizing white male terrorists.

The Smithsonian presents a gallery of 6,000+ rare rock and roll photos on a crowdsourced web site, and now a new book. 11:30 am

What you need to know about the tech support scams that target senior citizens who own computers.

7 DIY projects for your old t-shirts.

A cashless society would destroy our privacy and freedom.

Twenty-one colorful cubes compose Denmark’s newly opened LEGO house.

I’m finally towards the end of the backlog of Halloween pictures I’ve been meaning to share online. Last month I got diverted by Inktober, where I was one of many artists who created one new ink drawing every day from October 1-31 then uploaded that drawing on social media and other online places. At first I thought it was fun but, by the end of the month, I began to totally burn out on this. It’s amazing how much time a daily project like this takes out of your day. (Which is why I’ve declined to take part in either NaNoWriMo or Makevember, which are both taking place this month.)

While I was finishing the last drawings for Inktober, I took part in a few weekend events. Friday I went on the First Friday Art Walk in Hyattsville then went to the tail end of the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival. I ended up filming The Mojo Priests’ performance at the nearby New Deal Cafe after the director of this documentary that I’ve been helping out with contacted me at the last minute because he decided that he wanted footage of not only The Mojo Priests but also another band that would perform at the same venue the following night. Saturday afternoon I decided to check out some Halloween-related things that were going on in Annapolis. Saturday evening I went on the Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk then I headed back to the New Deal Cafe where I filmed some footage of The Wild Anacostias. Sunday morning was the Halloween/Samhain service at my church followed by the Trunk or Treat event followed by helping with teaching an English class that my church is offering to recent immigrants.

So I got to Monday, October 30, the day before Halloween. I thought I would have a day to rest only to realize that last week I signed up for this twilight networking event that would be held from 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. at the Maryland Workforce Exchange in Laurel. By that point I was reluctant to go, especially since I had attended previous twilight networking events since January and the best I was able to get as a result was to snag a gig as an extra for a PBS television special hosted by finance guru Ric Edelman. (I found it to be an interesting experience but I really needed something a bit more permanent with a steady paycheck.) I decided to go because I felt that if I didn’t go, it would be the one networking event where there was a genuine opportunity and I would miss out on it.

I arrived in Laurel a few hours early in order to beat the rush hour traffic. Usually I would eat an early dinner at Harris Teeter at 4 p.m. so I wouldn’t go networking with strangers on an empty stomach. When I arrived, I began to feel mildly queasy, which I wrote off as nerves. (In hindsight I think it was the beginning of that stomach flu that had totally derailed me the next day on Halloween itself.) I found that there was a temporary Halloween store next to Harris Teeter known as Halloween City.

Sure I felt a little bit queasy but I felt that doing a detour in this store would calm my nerves (this was when I thought that it was stress-related instead of the beginnings of that stomach flu). I felt okay as I focused more on what I saw on sale and less on my very mild queasiness. Halloween City is like the Spirit of Halloween in that it’s a temporary store that sets up shop in an empty storefront until Halloween and it sells a variety of decorations, costumes, makeup, and masks.

I found a few Native American costumes that I’m not sure if Native American groups would approve of. In recent years various ethnic groups, including Native Americans, have complained about certain costumes based on their culture while deriving them as cultural appropriation.

The rest of the store featured more benign costumes such as witches, ghosts, superheroes, grim reapers, and more.

There was a special Day of the Dead rack where people can purchase costumes for that traditional Mexican holiday (which falls on November 1-2).

There was this incredibly creepy looking Vladimir Putin mask.

It was a brief visit and I didn’t buy anything in that store. After that visit I went to Harris Teeter where I ate my early dinner. My queasiness had totally subsided after I finished eating so that was why I thought it was nerves rather than the stomach flu. I managed to go through the twilight networking event with no major problems. There were a couple of promising leads so I was glad I went. However, I ended up not following up on them until the next week due to what came the next day.

After the event ended I went to Giant where I found this pumpkin that was on sale so I bought it. I drove to another grocery store also in Laurel where I found even cheaper pumpkins so I bought that one as well. So I had two additional pumpkins that would join the pumpkin I purchased earlier at Clark’s Elioak Farm. I spent the rest of the evening carving faces into my three pumpkins in preparation for Halloween the next day until it was bedtime.

When I woke up the next morning I really felt horrible. The mild queasy feeling I felt the day before had intensified and I spent Halloween day alternating between diarrhea and vomiting (except I was doing more dry heaves than actually throwing anything up). I felt so horrible that I was barely able to give out the Halloween pretzel treats to the trick or treaters who came to my door. I was invited to a party at a friend’s house that would begin once the official trick or treating time ended at 8 p.m. but I ended up going to Giant instead because I was running low on toilet paper and medication. I went to bed early when I returned home.

The worst part of the stomach flu was gone by the next day but I was extremely tired and weak. I spent the rest of that week just resting.

I think what happened is that I had done so much in the days leading up to Halloween that it made my body more susceptible to catching whatever germs were going around and I happened to end up with the stomach flu on Halloween. I’ve had other friends getting sick with something similar so I think there’s something that’s going around and I was unlucky enough to catch it just in time for Halloween.

I’ve learned that I’m going to have to be more picky as to what holiday events I’ll go to and stop trying to attend as many as possible, even if they are all located within a few miles of each other. That’s a valuable lesson since Thanksgiving and the winter holidays are coming up in the near future.

Silicon Valley is now using empathy as a marketing tool to sell virtual reality equipment.

The late Steve Erwin’s son is an award-winning photographer and these photos show why.

Why it’s hard to separate Woody Allen the director from Woody Allen the person.

Yes, you can make your own solar cells from white powdered donuts.

The first historical record of Jesus describes him as a “magician.”

An interesting looking crochet version of The Exorcist.

Obama goes from the White House to Wall Street in less than one year.

Amateur artist turns old flip-flops into amazing action figures.

12-year-old boy creates creepy yet awesome sculptures using found materials.

The psychedelic retro-futurism of Swedish artist Kilian Eng.

The making of the first hand-drawn VR cartoon.

People are attacking Kendall and Kylie Jenner for their racist handbags…again.

Ivanka Trump hides behind her White House job to avoid a copyright lawsuit.

LuLa Roe has just changed its return policy and its consultants are screwed.

Scenes from 30 movies re-enacted with LEGO bricks.

Eight before-and-after graffiti transformations that create beauty out of blankness.

World-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall likens Donald Trump to a chimpanzee.

Bruce Springsteen lists 20 of his favorite books.

The chateau you should visit in France instead of Versailles.

Pepe the Frog’s creator has found a reliable way to fight the alt-right’s appropriation of his character.

Street-style photographers unite to proclaim #NoFreePhotos

How the band Rage Against the Machine predicted Donald Trump’s presidency 17 years ago.

This amazing tree that shows how languages are connected will change the way you see our world.

One woman’s quest to save Baltimore television, including some early footage featuring a young Oprah Winfrey.

Download Theft! A History of Music is a new free graphic novel exploring 2,000 years of musical borrowing.

Bic ballpoint pen portraits drawn on vintage maps and stationery by Mark Powell.

Magic Wheelchair creates incredible costumes for disabled children in wheelchairs.

What it’s like to have borderline personality disorder.

A camera store shows off gear wrecked by this summer’s solar eclipse.

Nintendo reveals that Mario of Super Mario Bros. fame is no longer a plumber.

Britain’s first zero-waste store is packaging-free and only sells ethical goods.

Half of digital media time is spent in five apps.

Clear-cut tropical forest revitalized with industrial orange peel waste.

What we saw in North Korea goes against everything western media wants us to believe.

The earliest known appearance of the F-Word, in a bizarre court record entry from 1310.

Six steps for dealing with cheapskate clients, especially if they won’t pay up.

STEFDIES is one woman’s amusing war against selfies.

13 most useless job skills employers don’t want anymore.

The two English cousins who fooled the world into believing in fairies.

Nine things you didn’t know were invented by women.

Stop waiting for Obama to fight for the DREAM.

Deceased 13-year-old girl breaks organ donation record by saving eight lives.

The Equifax Hack: What you need to know and how to protect yourself.

Former television news anchor is now an adult film star.

Breaking the unholy alliance between big money and mainstream media.

Nineteen girls in the last 67 years have worn the same handmade dress to school on the first day of kindergarten.

National Lampoon’s Presidential Vacation.

Researchers confirm that a Viking warrior discovered in Sweden was a woman.

The Voynich Manuscript appears to be a fairly routine anthology of ancient women’s health advice.

The United States didn’t just help topple the Allende government in Chile—we trained the economists too.

Lost languages discovered in one of the world’s oldest continuously run libraries.

The English alphabet used to have six additional letters.

Photos of people who have found their doppelgängers in museums.

We’re spending so much time trying to become robots that we’re forgetting how to be human.

Japanese robot dog sniffs your feet and faints if they’re smelly.

A short, handy visual primer on how to rescue a wet, damaged book.

I went to my first Baltimore Comic-Con in quite a few years. I attended that event the first time in 2012 and the second time the following year. Then I didn’t go for another few years until recently. The main reason was financial. I ended up going to other events, such as Intervention Con, and with tight finances being the norm these days, I couldn’t afford to attend those events and Baltimore Comic-Con as well. Something had to give and Baltimore Comic-Con was the one that I ended up not attending.

But then a few things happened. First, my utilities company informed me that they had made a billing error in my favor for the last several months so, for the next few months I’m paying a lower bill than usual. Then I found out that Intervention Con wasn’t going to happen this year mainly because the organizers decided to focus on holding two specialized conventions instead—PotterVerse for Harry Potter fans and (Re)Generation Who for Doctor Who fans. While I like both Harry Potter and Doctor Who, I don’t like them enough to consider spending time and money at specialized conventions. I’m more into conventions that cover things like art in general or comic books in general instead of a very narrow field.

I’ll admit that I miss Intervention Con because that was my favorite convention due to the fact that it’s smaller and more intimate than—let’s say—Awesome Con or Otakon. Getting a good seat at a panel was no problem, I found it easier to meet people, and I didn’t have to do as much walking because of the small size so I didn’t become physically spent as much as when I used to go to Otakon. If you want to know why I loved going to Intervention Con so much, check out my blog posts and pictures from the cons I went to in 2013, 2014 (Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3), and 2016 (Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3).

As I was typing this, I remember that another annual event I usually loved going to at this time of the year, the Silver Spring Maker Faire, has also decided not to put on another event in 2017. I hope it’s not some kind of a sad trend where the organizers of these fun annual events have decided to cut back on holding their events because it would be really sad if that was the case. (If you want to know why I’m sad about what happened with the Silver Spring Maker Faire, check out the photos I took in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.)

Like I wrote a few paragraphs ago, I found out that I had a little bit of extra spending money so I decided to go to Baltimore Comic-Con for the first time in four years. What made it really sweet is that the famed 1980s rapper DMC (from the group Run-DMC) was going to be there and he was not only signing autographs for fans (who paid at least $20 for one of his comic books) but he was giving two panels—one on Saturday and one on Sunday.

Saturday was the only day I could go to Baltimore Comic-Con because of finances and the fact that I was serving as a substitute teacher in my church’s program that teaches local immigrants how to speak English the following day. But I managed to treasure every moment of my time there and I took a bunch of photos the moment I stepped outside of the Baltimore Convention Center and paid the $35 Saturday admission fee.

Baltimore Comic-Con

Baltimore Comic-Con

While I was waiting in line I witnessed this cute scene of a baby dressed in a Batman outfit (which isn’t apparent in the photo below because of the angle of the baby but I saw him wearing it in real life) looking at this man wearing his Spider-Man cosplay outfit.

Baltimore Comic-Con

Here’s the cover of the official Baltimore Comic-Con program book.

Baltimore Comic-Con

I even shot a short video when I first arrived soon after the convention opened at 10 a.m. that morning. Fortunately the ticket purchasing lines were shorter that morning, which wasn’t the case later in the day, so I was able to quickly purchase my ticket then go straight to the Dealers Room where I saw the convention employees actually clapping their hands at each guest who walked through the doors.

The employees only did that in the morning. When I returned to the Dealers Room at various times later in the day, the employees stopped clapping for everyone and simply looked at people’s paper bracelets (which served as our passes) before letting them in the room.

If Intervention Con is my favorite convention because it’s smaller and more intimate, then I have to say that Baltimore Comic-Con is my second favorite because the organizers are trying to strike a balance between focusing on comic books and having a few celebrities in attendance, but not as many of them as the gigantic San Diego Comic-Con. I’ve heard all sorts of stories as to how humongous and utterly exhausting it is to walk through that event and I’m pretty reluctant to even consider trying it. I had a hard enough time going to a three-day event like Otakon (which is why I’ve stopped attending in recent years) and I think San Diego Comic-Con would be even worse. I’m happy to say that finding a decent seat at a workshop or panel is still really easy at Baltimore Comic-Con. I never had to stand in any long lines in order to get to the panel of my choice (and I went on Saturday, which is usually the busiest and most crowded of the three days).

After I got my ticket I initially checked out the vendors room but I only stayed there briefly because the panel featuring DMC was scheduled to begin at noon. I found a few reminders that DMC was here at Baltimore Comic-Con this year.

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

I arrived at the panel early enough that I was able to get a front row seat. This panel was devoted to DMC’s comic book venture known as Darryl Makes Comics and it also had others who currently work on the comic book series including Greg Pak, Khoi Pham, Domo Stanton, and Amy Chu. DMC can be seen in the photos wearing the black Motörhead t-shirt.

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

I learned that DMC has been into comics since childhood and this fascination even influenced his rapping days with Run-DMC. He said he started Darryl Makes Comics as a way of getting different voices into the comic book industry who tend to be overlooked by the larger companies—including not only people of different races but also people from different classes, older people, women, etc.

I was really enthusiastic by this panel and I found out that DMC was selling copies of his comic books with his signed autograph in the Dealers Room for $20. I wanted to buy it but, unfortunately I was tempted by a whole bunch of other stuff that was also on sale in that same room and I didn’t have unlimited funds. I took a bunch of photos of some of the stuff that was on sale.

There was a booth by a company called FigureThis who had this really neat idea where they will shoot full body photos of you with multiple cameras placed all around you then send those photos to a 3D printer where it will print a 3D figurine of your image.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

I still have photos posted in older blog posts of various 3D printers that I’ve shot at various events over the seven years that this blog has been in existence. I have older photos of really large 3D printers that cost at least $2,000. At Baltimore-Comic Con I saw these smaller portable printers by a company known as M3D that were available on sale for only $295.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

What’s more, these printers were small enough that a visitor can easily carry the printer home with him/her after purchasing it. If I had more money to spare, I definitely would’ve purchased one myself.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

I was very impressed with the 3D figurines this small 3D printer was capable of producing.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

There was this really cool looking computer from a company known as Chimera Computers, whose slogan is “They might have the flash, but we have the power!”

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

There were a whole bunch of other products besides comic books (yes, they had a lot of comic books available for sale) that were on sale ranging from t-shirts to drinking glasses to vintage Nintendo video games to realistic looking figurines to superhero stories written in chapter book form for children who are beginning readers. In short, there was a little something for everybody.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

The cosplayers were out in full force and I took a lot of pictures of them as well. I saw a lot of people dressed as Batman this year because the day I went to Baltimore Comic-Con also happened to be Batman Day, a day which many comic book shops in the U.S. hold Batman-themed events to observe the anniversary that Batman made his first ever appearance in Detective Comics #27 in 1939.

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

After wandering around the Dealer Room snapping pictures for a few hours, my legs were growing tired. I decided to check out the 2:45-3:45 p.m. (yes, that was the actual scheduled time) panel on “Baltimore Celebrates Batman Day!” (That panel was how I learned that there was actually such a thing as Batman Day.) I’ve been a Batman fan from way back starting with the time my parents gave me a Batman bank as a present and I still have those early childhood memories of putting loose coins in the slot located on Batman’s back. I grew up watching the reruns of the 1960’s TV series starring the recently deceased Adam West and reading whatever Batman comic books my mother happened to purchase during her weekly grocery shopping trip. (Sometimes she would buy Batman while other times she would buy comic books featuring Captain America, Superman, The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and The Incredible Hulk.) So I was eager to check out that panel.

The panel was moderated by Jimmy Palmiotti and it had people who had worked on either the Batman or Harley Quinn comic books including Amanda Conner, David Finch, Peter J. Tomasi, James Tynion IV, John Timms.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

The panel primarily focused on the Batman and Harley Quinn comic books that have come out in the last five years while also mentioning the feature films Batman had appeared in within the last ten years. I’ll admit that I was a bit lost. That was because I haven’t read a Batman comic book since Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel series back in the late 1980’s. (I remember finding Miller’s interpretation of Batman as a very dark vigilante to be an interesting take but the story left me feeling so cold that I never re-read it. It didn’t help that, years later, Frank Miller was openly accusing the Occupy Wall Street movement as being a bunch of louts, thieves and rapists. Never mind the fact that my visits to the Occupy sites in Baltimore and DC indicated otherwise. I ultimately donated The Dark Knight Returns to an upcoming used book sale after my husband left me. Ironically Frank Miller was Baltimore Comic-Con’s 2017 Guest of Honor and he made his only convention appearance the day before. I wasn’t that inclined to even check him out in person and I don’t regret opting to go on Saturday instead of Friday.)

I watched the Batman feature films of the 1980’s and 1990’s but I stopped watching them after that because they seemed to emulate Miller’s vision of a dark violent vigilante anti-hero and I grew tired of that. The only Batman movie I’ve watched in recent years was this year’s The LEGO Batman Movie, which was excellent because it expertly combined the campiness of the 1960’s TV series with the darker interpretations of recent years and it worked extremely well. In fact, I purchased it on DVD when it was released. Maybe DC Comics should just let LEGO have exclusive rights to making future Batman movies because LEGO knows how to tell an entertainingly memorable Batman story.

My legs were a bit sore so it was a relief to sit down even if what the panelists discussed about Batman went over my head, with the exception of when they were discussing The LEGO Batman Movie. Although I was so intrigued by hearing the description of the Harley Quinn comic book series that I’m going to see if my local public library have the graphic novel reprints on the shelves. The high point of that panel was when the panelists asked if anyone had attended any of the Batman Day celebrations at a local comic book store in addition to going to Baltimore Comic-Con and someone got up said he actually went to such an event before he arrived at the Baltimore Convention Center. He had snagged some free Batman and Harley Quinn masks, which he gave to the husband and wife team behind the Harley Quinn comic book.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

The panel ended but my legs were still sore and tired. I decided to stay in the same room for the next panel that was about the legendary comic book writer and artist Jack Kirby.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Panelist Mark Evanier talked about his personal friendship with Jack Kirby, which he wrote a book about called Kirby: King of Comics. Abram Books’ Charlie Kochman was also on hand as the two of them discussed the book and Evanier’s recollections about Kirby. I found it to be a very interesting talk and it seemed like Kirby was definitely an interesting and unforgettable person.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

After the panel ended at 5 p.m. I thought about making one more return trip to the Dealers Room but my legs were really hurting by then so I decided to just take the next light rail back to the North Linthicum station (where my car was parked) and head home.

I had thought about buying one of DMC’s comic books with his autograph for $20 but I found something else in the Dealers Room that I ended up buying instead and I couldn’t afford to buy both.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

It’s a plastic ocarina, which I purchased for $20, and it came with a free songbook that provided instructions on how to play the ocarina along with songs from the classic Nintendo video game The Legend of Zelda. I paid an extra $5 for a Star Wars ocarina songbook. I bought it from the STL Ocarina booth after hearing the person staffing it playing lovely music with that ocarina. I’ve been slowly trying to teach myself how to play it but I think it will be awhile before I can play songs on it that sound just as lovely as what I heard at that booth.

As for the Darrel Makes Comics comic book, I’ll go to the local public library to see if it has a copy of any of the issues on the shelves. I would like to read it at some point since I own a couple of old Run-DMC CDs and I’ve always been a fan of the group. This is one of those times when I regret having to deal with tight finances just so I can survive.

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