Bohemians at Large; Bashful Cartoon Stalks Citizens of New York

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“At first I thought it was only an obsessed fan.” An unnamed actress told me. She was of course referring to the vague sensation many in the Big Apple recently had of being watched by an unseen presence.

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“We stood in front of the statue of liberty and it was just overwhelming.” said a Boston couple and their small yippee dog. The dog was especially frustrated that it’s owners hadn’t seen what was peeking over the horizon. “It wasn’t the sun.” The dog insisted, “there was this thing but it wasn’t the sun!”

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Authorities believe that it hid itself in the glare of the sun so as to avoid detection as it peered around tall buildings. Sometime you might have caught it fleeing in the corner of your eye. What was it? What did it want?

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It’s said to have entered restaurants, shops and museums of local interest. One might have noticed footsteps concealed within one’s own in those darker, damper recesses of the art world.

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Some say it arrived on one of the dubious vessel’s docked at the South Side Pier . . .

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. . . others say it lurks amid the green vastness of central park – with the birds – (it really likes the birds for some reason.)

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There are those who say it dwells deep underground in the tunnels and sewers – with the alligators we are told don’t exist.

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Citizens taking the subway were strongly cautioned not to approach the apparition, and under no circumstances were they to emulate it’s behavior which was described as extremely unsafe.

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As of late, the sightings have stopped. Where did it come from? Where did it go?
Was it passing through on it’s way to some brighter, more slate-tinted place, or was it merely . . . on vacation?

Many thanks to Nire Leetsac for the use of these – not so typical – vacation photos.

Nire Leestsac likes to draw, juggle, and teach. Check out more of her art at: http://nireleetsac.deviantart.com

http://erincasteel.blogspot.com

Or visit her on face book at http://www.facebook.com/erin.casteel

The Riddel of Gender and Juice Boxes

of juice and gender.

Recently, I noticed a popular brand of juice had changed it’s labels. The abstract surfers I knew and loved had been replaced with photos of  famous athletes – though I preferred the look of their old labels the flavor of the juice remained unchanged and I no longer felt guilt over disposing of containers I considered beautiful.

However, I was not prepared for how this change of packaging would affect the children to whom this product was mainly marketed.

The reason I had all this individually wrapped juice laying around was that I planned to give it away to Trick-or-treaters as per Halloween tradition.

The first child arrived and I was met with a stare that made me believe she really was the medusa. Sure, juice wasn’t exactly candy but I figured the kids would get thirsty trekking all over the neighborhood. I noticed she was pointing to the biceped wrestler on the package with a look of confusion on her face, but I didn’t quite get it yet. “I want a girl one” she said. “This one’s for boys.”

Oh come on, I thought, it’s juice, but she insisted. I could have stood my ground but it was the parent’s job to deal with that sort of behavior, my job was to give her what she wanted so that I could get to the zombies waiting patiently in the yard.

I searched the box of juice packets and sure enough there was one that featured a slim gymnast with a pony tail and perfect teeth. I noted, with no small amount of puzzlement, that it was the same flavor as the wrestler box. “Here ya go.” I said, assuming she was just an odd kid.

Little did I know that the fact there were far fewer “girl ones” then “boy ones” was going to be an issue. Fortunately boys often insisted on “boy ones” so I never accidentally wasted a “girl one” on a boy. Now if the children mistakenly thought the flavor of the juice was linked to the personality featured on the box I might have gotten girls wanting boys or vice versa.

But no – girls always wanted girls and boys always wanted boys. I wondered if the kids in line heard my first argument and assumed this was how things were done. I also wondered if this was a game they were determined to play with me.

The night ended with three boxes of juice packets still unopened. I put them in the fridge and forgot this riddle of juice box gender until I shared some with a group of children whose dog had wandered into the yard. They were visiting at one of the neighbors and wouldn’t have been present for Halloween but lo and behold – they also wanted their juice personalized.

Had Capri Sun juice unwittingly created a new tradition among children? Were the boys afraid their friends would tease them if - heavens no - they were seen consuming a beverage from a container that pictured a girl? A container that would be thrown away in the two seconds it takes to drain a packet of Capri Sun? Did the girls think that drinking out of packets with pictures of men on them would spontaneously  turn them into big, smelly, wrestlers, complete with uniform?

Or was it that they thought drinking what the gymnast endorsed would make them pretty, or drinking what the wrestler endorsed would make them strong like most of us who subconsciously respond to ads? Oh but there are more then two sides to a juice packet. The box is only temporary it’s what’s inside that counts. The packet is meant to be thrown away but the contents come in many flavors and go on to have zany adventures like causing you to run rampant thorough the house destroying everything in your way.

The Burrowing Bug Beast of the Barrens and Me: A Tale of Endless Wonder.

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I was trekking across a hostile and forbidding planet;
investigating rumors of hostile aliens and photographing
eerie rock formations when suddenly -

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I happened upon a cave!

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I was horrified to see a massive set of mole claws resting just
beyond a vast and terrible shape!

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“Well hello there Off-Worlder.” Said a grotesque giant insect.
“Are you’re here for the tour?”

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The abomination started to explain the history of it’s dark den
while I stood frozen in my star armor. Dare I follow it?

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I followed it. Into a cave of wonders.

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The beast had decorated it’s historic home with huge flowers,
placed here and there along the walls. It said the smell of the
flowers helped to mask the odor of the cave, which some beings
found offensive. Through my air-conditioned space helment,
I couldn’t smell anything.

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The beast stopped me when it saw a trip wire across a passage.
“It’s a trap” said the beast. “Stay away unless you want a face
full of fire leeches – We’ve been having problems with bandits
stowing away in the cave and robbing tourists. They are noisy
too – playing loud music at all hours – sometimes I just want to
eat their heads.”

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It showed me a formation it called “The Claws of The Shoggoth”

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and “The Whale’s Head.”

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And another it called The Singing Wings, because the wind blowing
through it made beautiful music.

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There was a large room with ivory walls. Those walls made me
suspect something about this wondrous cave.

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We exited the cave through the eastern “Horn Hollow Hall”
which I found to be most impressive.

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The air was good so I took off my helment and we dined on salad in the shadow of
something truly sinister.

I too was just an insect crawling around in the skull of one of the titanic creatures
that roamed this planet!

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i.e. – a cow.

Burlap Cat Part 5

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This story can be read without it’s earlier parts.

The plot references past events. To see the series

in its entirety – see Burlap Cat – on the categories

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Joanne came home from the mall with more questions then answers. She opened her computer and pulled the list from her pocket, the list of towns and cities a local railroad once connected. It would be Joanne’s Job to learn as much as she could about each of these places, because Joanne had no idea what it was about them she needed to know.

The list was nothing so innocent as a homework assignment. The names had come from an ancient bulletin board buried in the wall of the shopping center she had just left.

Someone or something had torn through the wall when no one was looking. It was the same something that had been haunting Joanne ever since a tattered stuffed cat arrived anonymously on her doorstep.

The cat seemed to want something from her, crazy as it sounded, and now it had led her to an old departure board in a mall that had long ago been one of the area’s largest train stations.

Joanne wanted nothing more then to have the burlap cat and it’s secrets out of her life and it was only when she had followed it’s apparent instructions that the thing had decided to vanish.

Perhaps if she could figure out what the cat wanted, it would stay gone.

Joanne typed one town after another into a search engine. Most were so large it would take forever to research them. Joanne focused on the smaller towns and learned that most of these were remote outposts containing no more then a hundred people. Some, no longer existed at all.

Quite a few of these places were ghost towns, groups of empty buildings standing out in the middle of nowhere. Many of these towns had been no more then stops on the route to other places and when the trains stopped running through them, people simply picked up and left.

Now that everyone owned cars, people were starting to visit these ghost towns again. Mostly just to take pictures of the buildings before they fell apart. Joanne didn’t find any of this especially interesting her thoughts ranged from bored to creeped out, and she seemed not an inch closer to finding out what the old departure board was supposed to tell her.

She brought up pictures of some of the ghost towns on her list and found that many were taken by the same person – Shadow Wrangler 360 -

Quickly she brought up their website.

Shadow Wrangler was a photographer who obsessed over abandoned buildings as evidenced by the pictures on the site – cobwebby chandeliers, wilting ceiling fans and rusted cars laying in fields of tall grass.

Joanne was no stranger to the internet and knew there were far worse things to obsess over. She probed this Shadow Wrangler for every ounce of data.

Judging by the comments this Shadow Wrangler was a guy. He wasn’t opposed to trespassing to get the best pics. His twitter feed was full of obscure historical factoids (Snore). He tweeted often, several times a day, but his last tweet was from several days ago. Joanne shrugged – perhaps he was taking a break.

Joanne brought up another post and checked the comments. Someone named Femmbot appeared to be Shadow Wrangler’s girlfriend. Femmebot kept whining about Shadow never answering her comments.
Joanne snorted, “He’s over you, take a Hint!”.

Joanne suddenly noticed a reflection on the black plastic framing the computer screen. She turned and screamed. Sitting on a book case directly behind her was the burlap cat.

The cat appeared to have been made by tying off the corners of an old sack and adding a head. There was no tail, though it might have had one at one time. If it wasn’t for the one remaining pointed ear it could pass for a bear, a bear with a missing button eye.

“Honey what’s wrong?” said Joanne’s mother as she opened the door of Joanne’s bedroom. “Nothing!” said Joanne, grabbing the cat and hiding it. “I thought I saw a spider but it was only a cricket.” “That’s good” Joanne’s mother said as she closed the door “Cricket’s are lucky.”

Joanne sat the cat on her keyboard it’s face to the screen. “Well?” she said to it. “Am I getting warmer or colder? Last time you left when I got warmer.”

The cat said nothing – it never did – it’s only ability was to move effortlessly from place to place when no one was looking.

Joanne put the cat on her lap and noticed the recent comment that filled the screen. Femmbot really seemed to think Shadow Wrangler was in serious trouble. Joanne brought up Femmbot’s face book page. Shadow Wrangler, it seemed, didn’t have one.

Joanne left Femmbot her e-mail address and a message expressing concern for Shadow Wrangler as well as a request for more information. It was all Joanne could do until morning the next day.

The next day Joanne received an e-mail from Femmbot. It was a long one, for it seemed Femmbot had prepared a statement for anyone seeking to aid in her search.

Shadow Wrangler’s real name was Ted Cassidy. He had requested two weeks vacation from his day job and left on one of his ghost town exploring adventures out west.

He was last seen buying supplies for his journey at a gas station in Montana. Femmbot, who’s real name was Kate Day, had received calls from Ted till roughly a week ago.

Normally Ted would bring Kate and a few of his fellow ghost town groupies on his wild photographing excursions in the American back country. In fact, it was a rule among them that you never went exploring by yourself. Another rule was that you always told people where you’d be. Yet another, was that you would keep in touch with the outside world.

Until recently, Ted had followed all of these rules, but a few month’s ago, Ted started to distance himself from his friends. Kate added that he seemed paranoid. Ted had begun to leave without telling anyone where he was going. He only called Kate because she begged him to.

Ted’s parents disapproved of his hobby and were used to not hearing from him for days at a time. Ted’s friends were aware of the sudden change in him, but at the moment swore he would come back. Kate called the police but they told her that Ted was an adult who was allowed to disappear if he wanted to.

Kate listed the dangers of derelict buildings and wild nature.

She claimed to be staying in a motel near the last place Ted was seen but was running out of time. Kate said she had explored some near by ruins but wasn’t sure exactly where Ted had gone.

Joanne quickly replied to the e-mail listing all of the towns from the departure board.

Joanne preyed she wasn’t wasting the lady’s time.

Not ten minutes later, Kate sent a response.

Ted had already explored all the ghost towns on the list and quite a few that were still around. Kate claimed that Ted seldom returned to a place he had thoroughly documented and asked Joanne where she had gotten the information.

“What do I tell her?” Joanne said to the cat. Just then the door bell rang. Joanne’s Mother had changed the tone to Auld Lang Syne – for New Years.

Joanne’s friend David burst into her room and shoved a smart phone into her face.

David was the only other person on earth right now who was aware of the burlap cat and it’s powers. Joanne had dragged him into this when she thought the cat was one of his pranks.

David handed his phone to Joanne and smiled smugly. Now that it was becoming clear to him that the burlap cat wasn’t going to kill them (at least not yet) David the U.F.O nut was beginning to enjoy himself.

Joanne put down the cat and examined the picture on David’s phone. David was startled to see the cat again but kept quiet when Joanne gasped “This is it!”

On David’s phone was a fuzzy black and white photograph of a little girl sitting in a chair holding what could have only been the burlap cat in it’s younger days.

David began to explain – “This photo was taken by Miller Mans. He was a photographer in the late eighteen hundreds. Miller liked to travel around and photograph nature but earned his living taking pictures Of People and their kids. Not many people know about Miller. He is kind of obscure, but his family has a small museum dedicated to him. The Lady who runs the museum saw my picture of the cat on Face book and sent me this. She says it was probably one of Miller’s unclaimed commissions AKA – a picture he took for someone who never came to pick it up after it was developed. They keep a lot of his commissions in the attic because people will only pay to see his skulls – hipsters call him the Georgia O’Keeffe of the Camera. No one who doesn’t work at the museum would have ever seen this picture. I asked them who the little girl was and they said they didn’t know. The back of the print is only labeled “Macon Montana, 1884.” David tapped his phone and showed her the back of the print.

Joanne suddenly consulted her list. Macon Montana wasn’t on it. It didn’t matter. Joanne grabbed her computer and sent Kate a message. It said “Did Ted ever go to a place called Macon?”

“Friend of yours?” said David when he noticed Jo typing. Jo Told him about Kate and David’s Mood sobered. “Jo you should have called me the instant you discovered this Ted Cassidy guy!” Jo huffed. “and how would you have handled it!” David leaned on a wall and sank to the floor. “It’s just that two heads are better then one Jo.”

They sat together in silence until David got up and left, taking the cat with him. Though Joanne knew it would almost certainly come back.

Joanne didn’t hear from Kate again until the next week, when she received a news video.

Ted Cassidy was found, exhausted but alive, after being trapped for eight days in the forgotten basement of a leveled building. The basement was all that was left of the town of Macon Montana. Ted had lost his phone eight days ago when the ground he was standing on collapsed sealing him in a small space under a ton of rotten wood and brick. This had happened on the nineteenth, the same day Joanne had only looked at the cat on a corny occult website – only have it arrive anonymously in the mail. Fortunately Ted’s pack had been full of water and food, and he was expected to make a full recovery.

Kate had not mentioned Joanne, only said in an interview that a mysterious person had contacted her via the internet, and mentioned Macon. Kate had never heard of Macon, but a local police officer who’s grandparents used to live there, recalled how to find it, and drove Kate Day out to the site of the old town.

Ted was soon heard calling for help and was rescued from what the reporter described as an old photography lab, frozen in time.

After watching the video, Joanne saw there was a message from Kate.

Ted wanted to speak to Joanne – soon and in person. He insisted that she not contact the media.

Do the Monster Mask!

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I have long been trying to find a way to create awesome, durable masks to wear for fun and festivals.

I wanted to find a method that wasn’t too hard, too messy, or took up too much time and space.

Here is what I came up with.

Many of the products I used can probably be substituted with like brands or like substances.

You will need -

Cheap potter’s clay
Styrofoam head
Plastic wrap
Tape
Paper bags
School glue
Scissors
Celluclay
Sculpey clay
Acrylic paints.

(Some of these things may be optional)

Note – Mask creation does take a lot of time for drying

and setting but you don’t have to be present for any of that.

First you will need some basic potters clay – the cheaper the better -

as you will be wanting a lot of it.

Next you will be wanting one of those cheap Styrofoam wig heads -

try to find one that is as close to the size of your real head as possible -

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Now we can begin.

(Depending on your inherent clumsiness -

You might want to do this part outside.)

Cover your Styrofoam with plastic wrap and tape the wrap in place -

It may not be necessary to cover your wig head in plastic -

but that is what I did because I wanted to protect the head for further use.

Now you may glop clay on to the head.

(If your cheap potter’s clay has dried out completely

you can dissolve it in water and wait for it to dry down to a workable consistency -

This could take several days- when the clay is firm but not sticky you are ready to work.)

My foam head was smaller then my own head so I had to build on to it with clay until it was larger then my head.

Error on the side of caution! Bigger is better – Bigger masks can be made to fit smaller heads -

smaller masks must be given away to smaller people.

Once your clay covered head is big enough you can fashion the roughly spherical glob

into the creature head of your dreams.

(Note – keep it simple for now -

this is only a mold -

too many horns and ridges could make it hard to remove your mask from the mold,

details can be added later.)

Be sure to line up whatever face holes you came up with, with where your own eyes and nose will be

- don’t forget some mouth room if you want to be able to talk while wearing your mask

- (such as in a play)

This will prevent you from suffocating -

bumping into things

and otherwise spoiling your fun.

When you have a clay head you are satisfied with,

you can take some time off,

but don’t wait too long or the clay mold will dry and crumble.

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Next you will need brown paper bags, scissors and basic school glue.

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Cut the paper bag into strips and stack the strips smoothly over your clay head using glue to hold them together.

You could do this while watching TV.

You don’t need to completely cover your mold in one sitting but if you do, make sure the paper is layered thick enough and the glue dry enough before you try to remove your mask from the mold.

(Don’t cover your eye/breathing holes! They will be hard to cut through later!)

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By now my mold started to crack and I was able to free my mask easily.

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Note – some people can make masks using bag paper alone -

stacking it over and over -

but I got lazy and used this Celluclay stuff.

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It’s packed tight and there is more in that package then meets the eye.

I finished my mask with Celluclay to spare!

Celluclay is a finely ground paper mache with the glue included.

You wet it and it feels like canned tuna.

Most of the crests and ridges of my mask were formed in a finishing layer of Celluclay.

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Celluclay need not be applied all at once.

You can make a little at a time and let it dry a little at a time.

I added horns and a beak to my Mask using sculpey clay.

I shaped the horns onto the mask then gently pried them off and baked them.

Note – DO NOT PUT THE MASK IN THE OVEN -

Once the horns were hardened and cooled I used additional Celluclay to imbed them.

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I finally painted my mask using gold, silver, brown and three shades of green acrylic paint.

Acrylic is somewhat water resistant.

This mask can have water splashed on it and survive but I wont trust it in rain.

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Now if the mask fits, wear it!

I made a dragon, but other beasts, I’m sure, are possible.

The hands were sea creature hands bought off amazon.com.

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See you at the nerd convention!

Dragons and Fern Flowers

I was told a big, green dragon lived the fern forest. I wanted to pick fern flowers so I went anyway.

Yikes!

Yikes!


A huge, green claw caught my arm.

I was scared at first but it soon became clear that the dragon had just mistaken me for branch to rest it’s arm on. I started to quietly snap pictures of the beast’s turquoise scales,
Dragon Skin
ruby throat
Rainbow Scales!
and razor-sharp spines.
Spikes!
Eventually the dragon moved it’s claws and I was able to escape with the magical fern flower buds -
Fern Buds
that open only in the light of a full moon
Fern flowers
and are small enough to be woven into a fairy’s hair!
Tiny Fern Flowers
What? You don’t believe me?

Alright.

The flowers are from a plain old asparagus fern,
Aspargus Ferns

and the dragon was mom’s pet lizard.
Ozzy

Fairy Flowers!

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They are tiny!

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To drive the point home, here are several more shots of my gargantuan finger.

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This purple one is my favorite, or it would be, if I could bring myself to choose.

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I don’t know what many of these are. Most were weeds growing in my yard.

This daisy-like grass was growing in large patches in several places.

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This red-stemed plant is an old friend of mine. It always grows in vacant pots.

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These two are types of clover. The smaller of the two plants is the top row.

I fear the big yellow trumpet may be the dreaded burr clover that lodges its seeds

in my dogs’ feet every summer.

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These are two, thin plants found growing by themselves amid the lawn grass.

They probably have to rush out their tiny blooms between bouts with the mower.

The flowers are highly reflective, they shine powerfully in the camera’s light and are

hard to photograph clearly.

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Here you will see some type of dandelion, and the one plant that isn’t growing wild.

As you can probably guess, it’s lavender.

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I took these with a Carson Digital Microscope (MM-640 v1.1)

and a Samsung Digital Camera.

This was my favorite picture in the set.

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What’s yours?

 

If you want to use these credit me and link to my site.

But not in any way that suggests we are collaborating.

You may be running a puppy-kicking business for all I know.