Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Favorites 8.30.13

Check out these slasher movie garden gnomes! I wish I had a garden (or a place for one, for that matter) so I could decorate it with this adorably fiendish little guys.

I'm not usually a fan of Modcloth's clothing because it's a bit too twee for my taste, but I'm in mad love with their Rad to the Bone dress. At $90 it's way out of my price range, so I definitely plan to wait until it goes on sale. 

Evil Spirits Distillery is a new liquor company that promises their booze will be on the shelves of liquor stores soon. I hope so, because I can't wait to get my hands on this vodka for the bottle alone. 

I've been marathoning Dexter all week in an attempt to catch up before the big finale. I love playing board games with Zack's family, and totally want to snag a copy of this to bring to family game night one of these days. 

Maiden Voyage Clothing makes the coolest posters (and tees). I would love to go decorating crazy with some of their prints. 

I just need to geek out for a minute over this incredible Vault Tec emergency kit on Etsy. As a huge fan of the Fallout franchise, this would be the neatest collectible to keep with my gaming gear. This particular seller has several replica items from series, and gahhhh I want them all. 

My search for a desk has been fruitless thus far, and I'm so bummed this setup won't fit in the available space I have. I love versatile furniture that offers extra storage space, and this desk would be perfect for storing all of my craft supplies and reference books. It's not negotiable, my next place will have enough room for an office. Unless I happen upon something more functional, I will definitely be filling it with this desk or something similar.

Too bad my sister is a square and I don't want kids of my own, because seriously, how cool would this giant Cthulu be in a nursery? My sister and I have ridiculously clashing personalities and taste, which blows because I always find cool stuff I want to buy for my soon-to-be niece and Brynn enjoys stomping all over my dreams of spoiling her daughter. Boo. But whatever. As soon as my niece is walking and talking, I'm sure we'll go on all kinds of super secret adventures her mom never needs to find out about :p Isn't that what aunts are for?

Watched This:
Stephen King's Full Dark, No Stars: Part Four: A Good Marriage // Youtube (Also check out parts one, two and three!)
The Backwater Gospel // Youtube
Read This:
Not My Brother's Horror Movie: Making a Feminist Horror Film // Gender Focus 
Dybbuk or Demon: Knowing Your Jewish Ghosts and Ghouls //
Listened to This: 
"The Good Times Are Killing Me" // Modest Mouse
"Karma Police" // Radiohead 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Oh, the Horror: August

I didn't watch nearly as many horror movies as I usually do this month. The weather was simply too nice for staying indoors, so most days I took the laptop outside to work in the sunshine instead of settling in with a full queue of slasher flicks. But never fear, I still managed to find a few awesome movies to share with you!

The Loved Ones (2009)

Australian horror films are easily some of my absolute favorites because they tend to have pretty bizarre plot lines, intense visuals and excellent cinematography. Many of them are independently made, which I prefer over the big budget CGI stuff that dominates Hollywood horror. "The Loved Ones" is the perfect example of all of the things that make Australian horror films so great, and is also a wonderful lesson in why you should never turn down your weird classmate's invitation to the prom. If you happen to have Fearnet, you can watch it for free right now on demand!

A L'interieur // Inside (2007)

A L'interieur (also known as "Inside") is a fabulous French horror film that I enjoyed but kind of regret watching so close to my sister's due date. Pregnancy-related horror films are weird to begin with, but are especially weird when you finish up, walk out of the room and run into your extremely pregnant sister standing in the kitchen. Or maybe that's just me. In any event, A L'interieur is about a pregnant woman being stalked through her own home by a mysterious, scissor-wielding stranger that wants her unborn child. It's brutal, unsettling and all of the things you probably expect from French horror if you've seen Haute TensionFrontière(s) or Martyrs

 Dread (2009)

So I definitely didn't see this movie for the first time this month, and I'm really only featuring it because I have a massive crush on Jackson Rathbone despite the fact I've never seen Twilight (and likely never will). I did, however, watch it for the dozenth or so time, and I think I like it a little more every time I see it. Based on a short story by the legendary Clive Barker, Dread follows a group of students conducting a thesis study on peoples' biggest fears. It starts out innocent enough, but things take a turn for the worst when one of them decides to take it a step further and see how people react when forced to face the things they dread most. Netflix had it streaming for ages, but it seems it has been removed from their queue recently. Hopefully it will be back soon so you can check it out!

Ghost Shark (2013)

I know the mere mention of this SyFy Channel original will send some horror lovers into a fit of rage, but I don't really care. Ghost shark was over-the-top, cheesy as hell and it made me laugh -- and isn't the point of watching movies to be entertained? I've been a major sucker for Grade-D shark films since I saw Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus, which is perhaps by biggest guilty pleasure film ever. Ghost Shark was a so-bad-it's-awesome follow up to the infamous Sharknado, and I'm crossing my fingers for some sort of collector's box set of the two. I'd buy it in a heartbeat!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Porcelain Gore // Maria Rubinke

I was in absolute awe when I first came across the work of Maria Rubinke, a Danish ceramic sculptor who creates eerie little statues that combine cute children with surrealist, grisly gore. You probably won't find these in your Nana's display cabinet next to the fine china, but you'll certainly find me wishing I could get my hands on even a single one for my collection. I think I'm drawn to these creepy ceramic cherubs because they remind me of Mark Ryden's paintings, and I'm a huge fan of his work. I can't wait to see where Rubinke goes in her career -- and what wonderful curiosities she'll create next. She's currently preparing for her first solo exhibition in April 2014. 

To see the original sources for these photos and more of Maria Rubinke's work, check out her Facebook page.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Young Crazed Peeling // Ukulele Cover

"The Young Crazed Peeling" by the Distillers is one of my favorite songs, and it was the first I learned to play when I got my ukulele. It's a fun and easy little three chord jam, and today I thought I'd share a quick video I put together of me covering it with my uke. My dogs decided to serenade along toward the end and I have no idea how to act in front of a camera, so I smile awkwardly a lot and make weird faces. For my fellow ukulele lovers, this song is just G-F-C for the verse, and F-C-G for the chorus (I told you it was super simple).

Enjoy. Or Something :)

Friday, August 23, 2013

My Tarantula Wishlist

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6
All of my friends are having babies, and I just want another tarantula.

No seriously, I've got a terrible case of spider fever at the moment and I know absolutely nothing will satisfy this feeling until I get another spider. I've spent the past few weeks browsing around trying to find the perfect T, but I've had no luck because my favorite shops have only been getting males lately. I'm trying to be patient and wait for the right one, but in the meantime I'm totally dreaming of some of the beauties I'd absolutely love to acquire.

1. Brazilian Black Tarantula (Grammostola pulchra)

The Brazilian Black is one of my absolute must-haves, but unfortunately I've never actually stumbled across one for sale at a shop or from a breeder.

2. Mexican Redknee (Brachypelma smithi) 

I feel like these guys were everywhere when I didn't want another tarantula, and now that I do, they're nowhere to be found! Seriously, I've scoured everywhere in my area looking for a juvenile or sub-adult female, and haven't even been able to find spiderlings, which would be my last resort. My heart is really set on getting a Mexican Redknee because they're notoriously docile and simply stunning to look at, and I'm hoping my patience will pay off and I'll find one sometime soon. 

3. Brazilian Whiteknee (Acanthoscurria geniculata)

When Lydia was still alive, I really wanted to get one of these and name it Beetlejuice. I'd still like to have one eventually.

4. Cobalt Blue Tarantula (Haplopelma lividum) 

I've never actually owned an Old World tarantula species, but if I ever decide to take the plunge and expand my tarantula comfort zone, I think I'll definitely be getting a Cobalt Blue. 

5. Greenbottle Blue Tarantula (Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens)

I mentioned this briefly in my post about choosing your first tarantula, but the first spider I ever owned was a Greenbottle Blue. This is still one of my absolute favorite species and I would love to have another someday.

6. Ornamental Baboon Tarantula (Heteroscodra maculata)

This is another Old World species I wouldn't feel quite comfortable taking on right now, but as I get even more experience with keeping Ts, would be a great one to have somewhere down the line.

Do any of you keep tarantulas as pets as well? If so, which species are you totally lusting after?

Friday Favorites 8.23.13

I love these Rock, Paper, Scissors necklaces and I'm totally going to order them for Meg and Melissa! This week marks roughly 11 years since Meg and I met in 7th grade science class, and 10 years since we met Melissa at the start of 8th grade! I'm so lucky to still have them in my life over a decade later, and that we're as close as we were back in the days of sleepovers, summer breaks and passing periods. We've all had so many other friendships come and go, but the three of us have managed to stay together through high school, college, several moves, a few failed relationships, countless "what the fuck was I thinking?" moments and more. It's really quite incredible, and I can't wait to be cranky old ladies with my two favorite women.

I'm a sucker for all things anatomical, and I absolutely love this heart vase.

Brian Dettmer is an artist who creates some pretty nifty sculptures of skulls and skeletons using melted cassette tapes. He also does a lot of carvings and sculptures using old books.

I really want to find a hobby that Zack and I can enjoy together on the nights we feel like staying in. I think it would be really fun to build scale models together, but cars and planes aren't really my thing. I stumbled across this 75 piece model kit for the Bates Mansion from Psycho, which is much more up my alley. I've found some other fun horror-themed ones, so I'm going to let him pick which one he wants to build!

I know it's only August, but my brain is swirling with Halloween costume ideas. I've wanted to dress up as a little sister for years, and I feel like this bow would make the perfect finishing touch.

This anatomical cutting board is incredible. I found it on Amazon, but Modcloth is selling the same board as part of their home decor line!

I'm really hoping to get a formal work area set up after not having an office for the past two years. As a freelancer, I find it a lot easier to stay focused and get shit done when I have a designated and organized place to work. I used to have an entire room devoted to my home office, but unfortunately, I don't even have a desk at the moment and am resigned to working on the couch or on my bed. As soon as I figure out where I'm going to fit a desk, I'd love to have a few of these nifty tooth planters for organizing my pens and other supplies!

While I'm thinking about my future desk, I totally want this brain container for storing my desktop essentials!

Watched This:
Drunk History Volume 6 with Crispin Glover and John C. Reilly // Youtube
Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: Evolution of the American Horror Film
Read This:
The Trauma of Being Alive // The New York Times
5 Reasons the Worst Jaws Movie Is an Underrated Masterpiece // Cracked
Listened to This:
"The Purple Bottle" // Animal Collective
"Blood (The Middle East cover)" // Mree
"The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack" // Liars

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Past Perfect // Rita Bernstein

While going through some boxes I had in storage, I stumbled across an old B&W Special Issue I've had since high school. This particular issue highlights the work of several incredible photographers, but one of them really stood out to me with her haunting photographs of old, broken dolls. Her name is Rita Bernstein, and these photographs are from her 2006 series titled "Past Perfect." Maybe I listened to too much Hole as a teenager or something, but I have a strange obsession with broken dolls and doll parts that's followed me into adulthood. These pictures show just how beautiful old, ugly things can really be, and they're some of my favorite photographs ever.

Bernstein is a former civil rights lawyer from Pennsylvania who turned to photography and art after leaving her career in law. She's also the author of two art books, and has been featured in dozens of art-related publications and galleries. In her bio, Bernstein says this about the meaning and inspiration behind her work:

"I explore the sorrows as well as the sweetness of family life and, more generally, the ambivalence that shadows intimate relationships. Although my subjects have often been young people, it is not my intention to examine childhood specifically. Rather, I am interested more broadly in the complex mysteries of the human psyche."

To see the rest of this incredible series (as well as more of Rita Bernstein's work), visit her official website.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday Favorites 8.16.13

It's been a while since I've done a Friday Favorites post, so here you go. The past week has been incredible. Zack got home on Tuesday after being on tour for two weeks, and I'm ridiculously excited for him to be back. I got an old cruiser bike while he was gone, and he's going to help me refurbish it! I ordered some new parts and accessories for it, so as soon as those get here we can get to work and I'll hopefully be able to start riding before the weather turns. My best friend moved back to town last weekend, so I no longer have to drive an hour to see her. Basically, life is just really great right now.

So in love with these hand-painted Child's Play sneakers by Seriously Savage on Etsy.

Z and I will be celebrating our two year anniversary next week, and I still have no idea what I'm going to get him to commemorate the occasion. I usually try to get him something to add to his collection of oddities, and I know he'd absolutely love this little duckling. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure there's no possible way it would get here from Ireland in time, and I'm pretty sure it's not cruelty-free (I won't buy from artists who kill their creations, no matter how much I love my boyfriend).. *le sigh* The search continues...

Perhaps the coolest looking turn table ever.

Ermmm guys... it's a ukulele case shaped like a coffin. Do you realize how badly I need this? Probably not, because I don't think I've ever mentioned my ukulele love on the blog before, but let's just say that shit runs deep. I've been thinking about posting some videos of punk rock uke covers I've done, but I don't know. Would you guys want to hear/see that?

Vaughn Pinpin (aka Hat Boy) is one of my favorite illustrators, and he's currently working on a series of drawings that imagine what Pokemon would look like if they were drawn by Tim Burton. It's rad, and you should check out his Tumblr to see the rest! 

This needle felted tarantula is so cute! I really want to get one for my nephew (and maybe one for my niece, after she gets here in a few weeks). Then we can have spider play dates!

These anatomical pillows by Neverland Dream on Society 6 need to be on my bed like yesterday.

Poison Apple Apothecary has a pretty nifty collection of body butters they creatively call embalming creams. They also have tons of perfumes to choose from! This cream's fragrance is called "Ghost of the Knoxville Girl," and I can't wait to try it out!
I really want to get this nifty pin set to decorate my new book bag!

"Bohemian Rhapsody" in American Sign Language // Youtube
Man With OCD Blows Internet Away With Haunting, Striking Love Poem // Gawker
The Bloody History of the Barber's Pole // The Chirugeon's Apprentice via Huffington Post
Why We've Learned to Hate Ourselves // The Militant Baker
Morbid Abandonments: 14 Deserted Morgues and Mortuaries // Web Urbanist
"Zut Alore" // Zorch
"Goodbye Horses" // Harlem
"The Lamb and the Lion" // The Mae Shi

Monday, August 5, 2013

Tarantulas 101: Choosing Your First Tarantula

Since I acquired my first tarantula in 2009 and my fascination with arachnids began, I've gotten a lot of questions about my eight-legged pets. Most commonly, people want to know if they're venomous (yes), deadly (no), if I've ever been bitten (not yet) and why I chose to start keeping them in the first place (because they're awesome.) Sometimes, people are interested in getting one of their own, but they're unsure where to find them, how to choose the right one and if they're really ready to commit to loving a giant, hairy spider. Guess what? I love these people!

While I'm certainly not an expert in all things tarantula-related, I've spent a great deal of time learning as much as I can about them, and I have a fair bit of experience keeping them as pets. Because I'm extremely passionate about my Ts, I'm starting a sort of series on the blog that will help educate others about them -- particularly inexperienced enthusiasts. Today I'll be covering how to choose your first tarantula, an important milestone you'll never forget.
Choosing your first tarantula is tough. It's overwhelming to sort through the Brachypelmas and the Poecilotherias to find a spider you're comfortable living with and can realistically see yourself caring for until it dies. Some people don't realize that different species have entirely different temperaments and needs, and end up selecting a specimen that's a lot more than they bargained for. Others pick out the first tarantula they see without knowing it's sex or age, and can't figure out why it refuses to eat and dies shortly after arriving home because they've been duped into buying a mature male. I've put together this guide from my own experience to help you avoid common pitfalls and make educated decisions when choosing your first tarantula. I hope it helps you find the spider that's the perfect fit for you!

It goes without saying, but research, research, research! Before you even start to narrow down potential species, it's essential that you put your Google skills to the test. Learn about tarantulas in general. Familiarize yourself with tarantula anatomybasic tarantula husbandry, the moulting process, and the difference between a terrestrial tarantula and an arboreal tarantula. Know common terms used by tarantula enthusiasts, how to set up an ICU cup, how to escape proof your enclosure and how to properly handle a tarantula. There is no such thing as too much research, and the more you know, the better care you'll be able to provide your tarantula.

Some extremely helpful resources I recommend for beginners:

  • Arachnoboards -- A forum for tarantula enthusiasts where you'll find countless tidbits of advice. It's also a great place for asking questions and getting quick, educated responses from experienced owners. Seriously, the best resource out there. 
  • Rob the Tarantula Guy -- Many American owners are well acquainted, and have likely purchased tarantulas from Rob at some point, myself included. In addition to breeding and selling Ts, Rob runs a popular Youtube channel that's great for learning pretty much all there is to know about tarantulas. 
  • Tarantula Guide -- This website is good for learning some tarantula basics and finding care sheets for various species. Care sheets aren't always entirely accurate, but they're a great place to start. Branch out and confirm information once you find a species that catches your eye. 
I'm sure someone, somewhere will beg to differ, but I do not recommend jumping into the hobby with any Old World species as a beginner. Hailing from Asia, Africa and Australia, these tarantulas are indeed some of the most stunning spiders to look at -- but they're also the fastest and most ill-tempered. New World species are native to North and South America -- and tend to be a lot slower, more docile and their venom is typically less potent. They're all-around much better suited for someone who has no experience in tarantula husbandry. However, beware; New World species have a defense mechanism Old World varieties do not in the form of tiny, urticating hairs on their abdomen. They flick these hairs when threatened and they induce a painful, itching sensation when they get embedded in your skin. I've fortunately never had a kicker (though my dear Lydia was prone to flinging spider poop at me on the regular). 

There are a few species that are commonly recommended for beginners, and are generally considered a "safe bet" for inexperienced owners. These include: 
  • Pink Toe Tarantula (Avicularia avicularia) -- Native to South America, these blue/black tarantulas stand out with the pink coloring on the tips of their legs. Slightly fast and usually docile, they're a great aboreal species for beginners. Life expectancy ranges from 5-10 years.
  • Mexican Red Knee (Brachypelma smithi) -- You probably recognize these guys from the many, many horror movies they've starred in. Native to Mexico, they're notable for their black, orange and white coloring and docile tempers. One of my absolute favorite species, and females are known to live upwards of 25 years. 
  • Chilean Rose Hair (Grammostola rosea) -- A medium, slow moving and typically docile tarantula native to Chile. One of the most common in the hobby because of their notorious easy tempers and longevity. Females can live up to 20 years in captivity. 
  • Curly Hair Tarantula (Brachypelma albopilosum) -- These tarantulas have a perpetual bad hair day, and are known for digging deep burrows where they spend most of their time. A distant relative of the Mexican Red Knee, the Curly Hair is also known for being slow and docile. 
  • Greenbottle Blue (Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens) -- Easily one of the most gorgeous New World species, the Greenbottle Blue has striking coloring as an adult and is a relatively docile spider from Venezuela. The first tarantula I ever owned was a GBB. 
Note: ALL tarantulas have the ability to be assholes, and species alone is not enough to ensure a docile spider. I've read horror stories on Arachnoboards of lunging Rosies, biting Pink Toes and everything in between. This is why it's essential to get a feel for a tarantula's temperament before you buy, which I'll discuss further in a bit. 

My first tarantula was a GBB spiderling I affectionately named Charlotte, and when she died less than three months later, I couldn't figure out where I'd gone wrong in caring for her. I had harbored dreams of raising this tiny black spider that came to me the size of a pencil eraser into a pumpkin orange, emerald green and royal blue arachnid the size of my hand. You see, I broke the first rule of choosing a tarantula and didn't do enough research beforehand. I didn't realize that few slings make it to adulthood and it's recommended that you purchase a few of them if you hope for at least one to reach maturity. I also found that caring for her was far more difficult than larger spiders I've owned. It was hard to regulate the humidity in her vial, it was difficult to remove food scraps without her escaping, and overall, it was a lot of work that I simply wasn't prepared for as an inexperienced tarantula owner. I highly recommend going for a juvenile or sub-adult spider with at least a three-inch leg span for as a beginner. At this age, they're far less likely to die while moulting, they're large enough to utilize a shallow water dish, they're big enough for handling if you so desire and they require a lot less upkeep. Best of all, you'll still get the thrill of watching the T grow and obtain it's adult coloring as it moults.
Some tarantula owners don't care about the sex of their spiders, but alas, I am not one of them. I'm incredibly sexist when it comes to my tarantulas, and I will only purchase verified females. There's a few reasons for this, but mostly it's because females of all species have significantly longer life spans than males. Females also tend to be larger when they reach maturity, and I have a bit of a "go big or go home" mindset when it comes to my tarantulas. However, to be fair, males come with their perks too. Males tend to be more active than females, and also more docile depending on the species. In the end, it's up to you which you're more comfortable with. If you're purchasing a spider that's been "verified," make sure the person you're buying from is trustworthy and knows what they're talking about. Ask if they personally sexed the spider, and how they did it. If they tell you they simply flipped the T over and had a look, that's near impossible, especially in smaller spiders. The only 100% accurate way to sex a spider is by checking it's exuvia after a moult. Also be weary of anyone who claims to have sexed a spiderling. Here's a helpful guide for sexing a tarantula yourself if you buy an unverified spider, or if you want to confirm what the seller told you after your new friend's next moult. Even if you trust the seller, I recommend doing this.
Stay far, far away from places like Petco and Petsmart in your quest to find a tarantula. They're notorious for keeping their Ts in horrific conditions, meaning you're more likely to pick out an unhealthy spider that dies on you soon after arriving home. Also, most of the tarantulas you see at large chain retailers are wild-caught adults, meaning they were literally ripped from the wild to be sold to you. Not only is this questionable morally, but many tarantula owners report wild-caught spiders being more temperamental and quick to bite. While I'm strongly against breeding cats and dogs, I'm strongly for breeding of exotic pets over wild caught. Stick with buying your spider directly from a breeder or from a small, local exotic pet shop that sources their spiders from breeders. Research the reputation of any breeder or shop before you buy. Another perk? You'll find a far wider selection of tarantulas to choose from in terms of age and species. I don't think I've ever seen anything other than a Pink Toe or a Rosie at Petco.
Pretty much any reputable exotic shop will let you handle potential T's while they supervise you, and even if you don't plan on handling your spider frequently, I think it's essential that you get a feel for their temperament before you buy. I know some tarantula owners who never handle their spiders, and I personally limit the handling of mine, but temperament still matters. The last thing you want is a spider that lunges to bite or begins flinging hairs when you're trying to feed it, change the water or rehome the T into a new enclosure. If you're hesitant to handle the spider on your own, watch an employee handle the tarantula and observe how it interacts with people. If the tarantula is slow and seems relatively at ease while being handled, you've got a winner. If the T is antsy, fidgety, starts kicking hairs or worst of all, bites, your best bet is to pass and continue on with your search.

I'm always happy to answer any questions about tarantulas to the best of my ability, so if you've got a question or concern about selecting your first tarantula that I didn't cover in the guide, please feel free to leave a comment! Have any other questions? Go ahead and ask those too!

(Note: All photos used in this post are either my own or were obtained from the public domain through Wikimedia Commons)
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