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Why this Star Wars moviegoer really admires Luke Skywalker.

Hateful people are exhausting.

She encouraged a girl she babysat. Eleven years later she received a special thank you letter from the same girl.

Why we’re underestimating American collapse.

44 majestic facts about Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.

Why you’ve never heard of the six Chinese men who survived the Titanic.

A former Amazon employee sheds light on the company’s dark side.

Ten stunning 3D prints in Polyamide (SLS).

Woman finds ring filled with Charlotte Brontë’s hair and is now $26,000 richer.

Embroidery tattoos are actually a thing and they look realistic.

Doctor Who fan builds TARDIS-inspired free library in Detroit.

Woman takes anti-selfies stance by “dying” at famous landmarks and they are strangely hilarious.

LEGO funeral set exists to help children learn about death.

Historical colorized pictures show Native Americans at the White House for receiving full U.S. citizenship in the 1920s.

The first inhabitants of Asia were black.

When Charlie Chaplin entered a Chaplin lookalike contest and came in 20th place.

Leonardo da Vinci’s earliest notebooks are now digitized and made free online.

The little-known Underground Railroad that ran south to Mexico.

A rare interview with the woman who inspired David Bowie to write and record his song “Life on Mars.”

The founder of Chicago, Illinois was a Haitian man named Jean-Baptist-Point Du Sable.

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Immaculately restored film lets you revisit life in New York City in 1911.

Russian man finds skull in garden. Wife tells him it belongs to her ex-husband.

A glimpse of life inside Prince’s Paisley Park.

America’s drug war is ruining the world.

Judy Blume taught a generation of young girls to be feminists.

Former Trump VP spills the beans on Donald Trump’s awful dealmaking skills.

The BBC is letting you download more than 16,000 free sound effect samples from its archive.

Traditional masculinity officially labeled as harmful by the American Psychological Association.

Teen buys every cupcake in shop after customer fat-shames her.

The wild Baroness of Greenwich Village who was the real artist behind Duchamp’s urinal.

Why this South American company is making laptops in Rwanda.

Religious Trauma Syndrome: How some organized religions lead to to mental health problems.

This Instagram account shows how Instagram photos look the same.

A woman escaped from Saudi Arabia in order to seek a better life.

Teen siblings create app for people struggling with mental health.

Here are 53 songs written or sung by R. Kelly that are now tainted.

Photographers document India’s wondrous and weird church architecture.

This teacher tried to simulate a dictatorship in her classroom. The students crushed her.

These photos of Senegalese in the 1920s and 1950s are a reminder of a forgotten elegance.

The tragic decline of musical literacy and quality.

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Original, very rare footage of Heller Keller in 1930.

The Hate Industrial Complex: How YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are the new Fox News (but worse).

How The Story of Ferdinand became fodder for the culture wars of its era.

The exhausting work of fact checkers who track Donald Trump’s barrage of lies.

If graphic novels are hip for adults, why not picture books?

Narcissists are sick, stressed, and insecure.

The flashy colorful side of Managua, Nicaragua.

How the U.S. has systematically destroyed Hawaiian culture for 240 years.

Nineteen never seen before pictures of Lucille Ball.

Never forget: The Devil’s Punchbowl where 20,000 freed slaves died after being forced into post slavery concentration camp.

The benefits of having friends who aren’t “just like us.”

The latest front in Russian infiltration: America’s right wing homeschooling movement.

Hollywood’s weird “twin film” habit. It’s never really an accident when two different movies have the exact same plot.

Inside the GM plant where nooses and “whites-only” signs intimidated workers.

This is not your usual dollhouse. This one is interactive and it features lighting and shutters that can all be turned off and on using a PlayStation Move controller.

Meet the economist behind the one percent’s stealth takeover of America.

Depressed people see the world more realistically.

Under Trump, Made in America is losing out to Russian steel.

Forget a fast car. Creativity is the new midlife crisis cure.

China has a very Orwellian reason for banning typing “1984” on social media, while allowing people to read 1984.

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Ramadan

I used to go to The Wind-Up Space, located in Baltimore’s Station North Arts District, for the Baltimore chapter of the Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School. In fact, Dr. Sketchy’s was usually the main reason why I went to The Wind-Up Space and it was mainly because of the hour-long commute from my home (which is closer to Washington, DC). (The Station North Arts District is located in the northern most area of Baltimore—far from the downtown Inner Harbor area.) I was a regular at the Dr. Sketchy’s events starting in 2011, when a costume designer known as Paigey was the model that evening.

I enjoyed my first time at Dr. Sketchy’s so much that I kept on going for a few more months in 2011 until hip problems prevented me from making the trip. I resumed going in early 2012. By that time I was on the road to recovery while, at the same time, I was dealing with the aftermath of my husband’s sudden walkout in late December, 2011 (there months after I had hip surgery). From that time I would make the hour-long trip to North Baltimore for the Dr. Sketchy’s sessions at The Wind-Up Space. I really enjoyed going there and I had a chance to hone my drawing in a fun atmosphere.

In time a DC chapter of Dr. Sketchy’s was formed and I began going to the Baltimore’s Dr. Sketchy’s only on the months when the DC event wasn’t happening mainly because the two events tended to be scheduled so close to each other on the same week that I found going to two Dr. Sketchy’s events to be a bit much for me. (The Baltimore event was held every month while the DC event was held bimonthly.)

The last Baltimore Dr. Sketchy’s event I went to was in December, 2017 when a burlesque performer known as Jacqueline Boxx was the model. (Link is NSFW.) A month later the alimony payments from my ex-husband ended and I wasn’t able to find work other than a short-lived job where the boss promised that I would eventually work full-time but I never was able to crack 18 hours per week. I had some really bad financial problems so I had to cut my expenses to the bone, which meant I had to give up going to the Baltimore Dr. Sketchy’s events. I continued to go to the DC events mainly because they were held closer to my home.

Earlier this year I had a new job. I attempted to go to the Baltimore Dr. Sketchy’s event back in March but, due to my work schedule, I arrived late and I found that it was a full house that night so there were literally no seats available. I had to content myself with taking advantage of the increasing longer spring day by taking pictures of the newer wall murals in the area that had been painted since my last visit in 2017.

I attempted to go to another Baltimore Dr. Sketchy’s event last month because I was laid-off from my job so I had some free time to make the long trip. But then a friend from my church called me just a few hours before I planned on leaving because she was frantic about getting me to come to her place to help her with emailing pictures regarding this flood that happened in her apartment. She was trying to send them to her brother, who’s a lawyer, and she said that she couldn’t wait until the next day because she wasn’t sure about her brother being available to see her pictures. So I went to her place, helped her with the emails and I shot some video footage of her apartment while it was covered in plastic wrap and the work crew that the apartment management sent over were busy with repairing the dry wall. (Her upstairs neighbor had put in a portable washing machine, in violation of the tenant lease, and they began to run the machine then decided to go out somewhere.  The machine began to overflow with water and, since no one was home to turn it off, it seeped into my friend’s apartment below.) She took me out to dinner at a local Chinese restaurant as a thank you for helping her with the emails and shooting the video. I thought that I would definitely go back to the Baltimore Dr. Sketchy’s next month and nothing would stop me from going.

A few days after missing that event, I got word that The Wind-Up Space was going to close down for good on June 1. Dr. Sketchy’s was going to have one more event on June 1, just a few hours before The Wind-Up Space would wind down for good. I purchased a ticket online just so I could be there one more time and I was afraid that this event would be sold-out if I didn’t buy it in advance. But then the car that I’m currently driving developed problems. The car was sent to the shop last Thursday and the mechanic still has it as of this writing. So I faced spending a weekend without having a car to drive. I looked into taking public transportation to Baltimore only to find that I would be dealing with weekend schedules and the one-way trip would be at least an hour and forty-five minutes to get to The Wind-Up Space. I would’ve done it if it weren’t for the fact that I had plans to help a friend with one of his vendor booths at the annual Maker Faire NoVa in Virginia the following day and I feared that the nearly four-hour round trip to Baltimore and back would’ve left me too exhausted for the next event. (At least I was able to carpool with him to that event.)

So I lost the $10 fee that I spent purchasing that ticket online and Jacqueline Boxx was the last Baltimore Dr. Sketchy’s model I ever drew at The Wind-Up Space. The Baltimore Dr. Sketchy’s chapter is going on hiatus and there is no word on whether it will regroup at a new venue or become defunct. The DC Dr. Sketchy’s chapter hasn’t had an event since last October. (Link is NSFW.)

I could practice my figure drawing skills using the 3D models on Figurosity but it’s really not quite the same. You don’t get the interaction with other people that you would get when you participate in a life drawing event in real life. I’ll probably look into seeing if there are any kind of life drawing events using live models in my area that are affordable to me since both the Baltimore and DC chapters of Dr. Sketchy’s are currently on hiatus.

I’m going to do my tribute to The Wind-Up Space by reposting this drawing I did of the owner, Russell, that I did at Dr. Sketchy’s back in 2017. (Link is NSFW.) Ruby Spruce was the model for that event. There was a contest where we had to somehow incorporate Russel, Ruby Spruce, and the upcoming Black Friday sales event. Here is what I drew (where I included Donald Trump).

I’ll end this post with the various photos I’ve taken of both outside and inside of The Wind-Up Space over the years.

Artscape 2012, Baltimore, Maryland

Originally posted on July 25, 2012.

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Originally posted on April 22, 2014.

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photo2

Originally posted on April 30, 2014.

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Originally posted on January 9, 2017.

Originally posted on April 10, 2017.

Originally posted on November 28, 2017.

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Ramadan

Black-owned restaurant in Dallas reserves Mondays to serve the homeless.

When America forgot about its black World War I soldiers.

19-year-old student hides spy camera in his clothing to take secret street photos in the 1890s.

The problem isn’t robots taking our jobs. It’s oligarchs taking our power.

How to make a shiv with hard, dried fish.

Twitter drags down conservative radio host after he “jokingly” mocks his son’s LEGO robotics tournament.

The invisibility of being old, disabled or both.

Even as a child Donald Trump was a horror.

Watch Russian dancers appear to float magically across the stage.

From most hated to American hero: The whitewashing of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Ramadan

Photographer shoots forest animals like they are professional models.

Condoms that change color in contact with STD win tech award.

Best friends for 60 years learn that they are biological brothers through DNA site.

Black children don’t have Nick Sandmann’s rights.

Richard Branson sank a ship and turned it into a sea-saving monster.

Martin Luther King warned us about the well-intentioned liberal.

Why women must be at the forefront of the technical revolution.

U.S. cities sidestep Trump to embrace the U.N.’s social goals.

The Polish ballerina who shot Nazis on her way to the gas chamber.

Revisiting the horrifically sexist Battleship game cover from 1967.

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Ramadan

Last week I learned that Grumpy Cat passed away. She was only seven years old. Her death was announced on Twitter with this message:

We are unimaginably heartbroken to announce the death of our beloved Grumpy Cat.

Despite care from top professionals, as well as from her loving family, Grumpy encountered complications from a recent urinary tract infection that unfortunately became too tough for her to overcome. She passed away peacefully on the morning of Tuesday, May 14, at home in the arms of her mommy, Tabatha.

Besides being our baby and a cherished member of the family, Grumpy Cat has helped millions of people smile all around the world—even when times were tough.

Her spirit will continue to live on through her fans everywhere.

Grumpy’s Family—Tabatha, Bryan, and Chyrstal

Grumpy Cat’s death was covered by the mainstream media both here in the U.S. and abroad.

Back in 2014 I was teaching myself how to use Inkscape, which is the free open source alternative to Adobe Illustrator. In the process I did some tracing over photos of animals who became Internet celebrities. One was of Boo the World’s Cutest Dog (along with his older brother and best friend Buddy). The other was of Grumpy Cat, which you can see below.

grumpycat

I later uploaded that digital drawing to OpenClipArt.org, where you can download it and use it for free.

Earlier this year Boo passed away and I devoted a Throwback Thursday post to that pooch where I mentioned that Inkscape graphic I did of Boo and Buddy. I never thought that in the same year I would be devoting another Throwback Thursday post to Grumpy Cat while discussing some of the Grumpy Cat-related creative projects I did but that’s the way it goes.

Like Boo, Grumpy Cat also got her start on social media. (Yes, that cat was definitely female.) She was born with feline dwarfism and she had an underbite, both of which contributed to her looking like she had a permanent scowl on her face. When her owners posted her photos online, people soon began using them to create memes, several of which have been posted on Metro News as the 30 most iconic Grumpy Cat memes.

I even did a meme of Grumpy Cat myself back in 2017 when I made fun of the sudden celebrity of Danielle Bregoli (also known as “Bhad Bhabie”) whose defiant retort to Dr. Phil when she appeared as a guest on his TV show went viral: “Cash me outside, how bow dah?” Here is the meme, which I did in Adobe Photoshop.

grumpycatcashmeoutsideparodymeme

I tried uploading the meme to various Facebook and Twitter discussions about Bhad Bhabie but I couldn’t get the meme to take off in a viral way so I gave up after about a week or so of trying.

I also incorporated Grumpy Cat in a drawing I did once. Here is some background. Back in 2013 I went to Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School in Baltimore (link is NSFW) where the model for that evening was a burlesque performer named Lady Satine. I took part in a contest where we had to do a drawing where we incorporated Lady Satine and a cat. So I drew Grumpy Cat protesting “Lady Satine laid on a box I was in once. It was awful!”

Lady Satine and Grumpy Cat, Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School, Baltimore, August 12, 2013

My drawing failed to make it to the finals but I still had a blast drawing the two of them together.

Then there was the time when I made a meme that poked fun at Ann Coulter in the wake of her poking fun at then-First Lady Michelle Obama’s efforts to publicize the plight of the 300 Nigerian girls who were kidnapped by a terrorist group Boko Haram. I promptly posted that meme on Twitter.

In the meantime I followed Grumpy Cat on all of the social media sites and I still have a DVD copy of the movie Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever, which I play around the holidays about once a year or so. A couple of years ago I purchased this small stuffed Christmas Grumpy Cat plush that I now display underneath my small Christmas tree during the holidays.

One Halloween I purchased a Grumpy Cat hat from a temporary Halloween store, printed a few sheets of paper that had slogans that one would find in a Grumpy Cat meme and I went to a couple of Halloween parties dressed as Grumpy Cat.

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I ended up wearing that hat again just a couple of years later when I participated in the Women’s March on Washington the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. The march organizers were putting out the word that people should come to the march wearing knitted pink pussycat hats. I got the word of this march on such short notice that there was no way I could knit something up in less than a week. I ended up taking my Grumpy Cat hat out of storage and wearing that instead.

Women's March on Washington

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

I also wore that hat at the Women’s March the following year.

Women's March on Washington 2018

Women's March on Washington 2018

I even read a few issues of the comic book series The Misadventures of Grumpy Cat (And Pokey!). I found the series pretty amusing.

Grumpy Cat was probably one of the few famous felines that I actually liked. I have an allergy to cats so I can never keep one as a pet. As a result, I ended up liking dogs better and I’ve even stayed with a few dogs over the years with no problems. I think Grumpy Cat’s perpetual scowl and the sarcastic memes that her face generated really resonated with me.

Grumpy Cat’s online fame even inspired me to think about an online project that almost became a reality. Back in 2013 I thought about creating a Facebook page for my pet hedgehog Spike because he was incredibly photogenic and I thought that he had a chance at being an Internet celebrity. I felt that the fact that he was a hedgehog instead of the usual dog or cat would only increase his chances of becoming famous. I was going to launch his Facebook page in late November, when most people tend to be home for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. As to whether Spike would’ve ever become as famous as Grumpy Cat is pure speculation now because I was never able to put that plan into action due to the fact that Spike died in September of that year.

Grumpy Cat’s online photos turned into memes led to a bunch of spinoff products that were profitable to her owners but there was also some controversy over her fame. There were accusations that Grumpy Cat’s initial fame stemmed from a meme whose joke was stolen from a comic strip. There were also accusations that Grumpy Cat was being exploited by being forced to make numerous public appearances all over the U.S. and in a few other countries as well. A writer for Jezebel summed up his one and only meeting with Grumpy Cat in person with this headline: I Met Grumpy Cat and It Was Fucking Abysmal.

Since Grumpy Cat is now deceased all of those exploitation allegations are moot. Regardless of how you personally feel about Grumpy Cat’s huge amount of public exposure, she had generated a log of spinoff products in her short life, most of which sold very well. In fact, I saw an article a few days ago that had this headline: Grumpy Cat’s owner is facing a major financial loss—there’s no insurance for pet influencers. There’s no denying that Grumpy Cat’s family will be taking a major financial hit because, for the past few years, they had basically lived off of the revenue that Grumpy Cat generated. In contrast, the owner of the late Boo the World’s Cutest Dog works for Facebook so she had a career to fall back on when her dog died earlier this year. I guess the moral of that story is that if you have a pet who has become a celebrity, always make sure that you have a job or some alternate source of income that’s completely unrelated to your pet because one day your pet will die and your finances could end up in dire straits if you don’t have any contingency plans for that event.

In addition to the hat, DVD, and Christmas plush that I purchased, there were plenty of other Grumpy Cat products I saw on the store shelves and wrote about in this blog over the years. I photographed just some of the ones I saw on store shelves.

Grumpy Cat Stuffed Animal in Store Window

Originally posted on March 29, 2014.

Grumpy Cat Coloring Book

Originally posted on July 1, 2015.

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Originally posted on April 20, 2015.

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Originally posted on August 12, 2014.

Finally, here’s a photo of two plushies—one is based on Boo and the other is based on Grumpy Cat. And both of them have now crossed that Rainbow Bridge in 2019.

Internet Celebrities as Stuffed Animals

Originally posted on July 28, 2014.

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Ramadan

Sure, you could buy that book online for $15. But here’s what that book really costs us.

A 14th-century nun faked her own death to escape convent life.

The 40 oldest color photos show how the world looked 100 years ago.

The U.N. report says the U.S. is the most unequal developed nation with 40 million in poverty.

They were there: Composite photos of Queen, Mick Jagger, The Beatles, and Pink Floyd on London streets then and now.

New study shows that the genocide of Native Americans left so much untended land that the Earth’s climate cooled.

How to get back into shape and stay in shape.

25 things you do as an adult when you’ve experienced childhood emotional abuse.

Unearthed in Rome’s new subway: Extinct elephants and Persian peach pits.

The FBI plot to bring down the gay man behind the 1963 March on Washington.

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Ramadan

The resurrection of an obscure, niche vinyl format: The 3-inch record.

Autographed Trump hats and books sold on his website were signed by a machine.

Willie Nelson rescued 70 horses from a slaughterhouse and let them roam free on his ranch.

These CEOs make 1,000 times more than their employees.

At just 21, Iddris Sandu is the tech genius behind Uber, Instagram, and Snapchat.

Uber and Lyft drivers say riders are paying more for price surges but drivers aren’t receiving extra pay.

Giving generative art its due.

A billion dollars can be raised in two days for Notre Dame while poverty and starvation is ignored.

The healing power of gardens.

The antitrust case against Facebook: a turning point in the debate over Big Tech and monopoly.

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Cinema’s first sex symbol was also America’s first goth.

How the Red Scare weakened radical feminism.

3,500 occult manuscripts will be digitized and made freely available online, thanks to Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown.

Meet the family who “world schools” their children by traveling full-time.

Virginia students learn in trailers while state offers Amazon huge tax breaks.

Saudi Arabia runs a huge, sinister online database of women that men use to track them and stop them from running away.

A look at the Vincent Van Gogh action figure, complete with detachable ear.

Pennsylvania coal region’s industry burned out. What remains are pockets of poverty where people get sicker.

A look at the African village where every house is a work of art.

Squatters turn oligarch’s empty London property into homeless shelter.

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