Photo Friday: Scribbles

I’m just going to own up to the defunct-ness of my sketch-a-day blog, The Dapper Doodle.  While originally intentioned as a way to force me to dust off my creaky drawing habit, it turned out to be an obligation more than a hobby.

I used to “draw” quite a bit as a kid but it’s dropped to the wayside as Geeky, Acne’d Loner Teenager Me changed into Geeky, Acne’d Married Adult Me + Dog.  (In that first year of puppyhood, don’t expect to get anything done, like, you know, read a book or anything.)

So let’s take a trip down Memory Lane, when I was still a glimmer in Lance’s “desperate for a man” hopes and dreams, to revisit one of my latter “art projects.”  Can you spot when my dream to become a Disney animator or comic book artist crashed in a fiery heap on the side of the road?

Right before Lance and I were to officially move in together, he commissioned me to create a few paintings to hang up in our new place.  The theme was X-Men…or probably more accurately, X-Women.  Storm, Jean Grey/Phoenix, Rogue, Psylocke, Jubilee, Kitty Pryde, Emma Frost, DAZZLER…the list goes on and on.

Why the women of the X-Men?  I dunno.  Something about Storm in particular is very appealing to gay men, as far as I’ve been able to tell during my extensive anthropological studies of gay culture.

We’d been watching a lot of the Justice League cartoon around this same time, and I love Bruce Timm’s very angular, geometric, exaggerated (enormous chin on Superman, bodacious hips on Wonder Woman) simple character designs.  They may be perpetuating sexist imagery to children, but hey!, it looks cool.

A few examples:

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I definitely don’t claim ownership over any of these. These were created by acclaimed “Batman: The Animated Series” co-creator Bruce Timm.

So with this sort of style as my guide, I starting putting these together. I started with Jean Grey/Phoenix, my favorite X-man:

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Original sketch on canvas.
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Original coat of acrylic, then orange background filler, since it’s Lance’s favorite color.

Next, I moved on to Storm, in classic “X-Men: The Animated Series” uniform:

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It will melt your brain if you think too much about Storm’s anatomy here.

And I finished with Rogue, also in her “X-Men: TAS” uniform (seriously, these characters change costumes like every six months).  I originally had Rogue in a different pose than what she ended up with:

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This wasn’t dynamic enough, I didn’t think, to balance out all the crazy baloney that’s going on with my Storm, so I went a different route, and based (err, stole?) the final pose from the cover of Rogue #1 by the late, super great Mike Wieringo.

Above: Wieringo’s original piece.

Below: mine, which is basically the same thing:

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Together and displayed as intended, the three pieces looked like this:

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These garish things hung above our sofa for two and a half years…and now occupy a snug little corner of our storage unit.  Anybody who wants ’em, let me know–we’ll barter.

What sort of decorations/artwork have you created for your humble abode?

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Travel Tuesday: More Bang For Your Buck

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(Yes, I am reusing this doodle since it’s fairly appropriate.)

Sure, sure, this isn’t a travel blog, it’s a relationship/marriage/humor/pet hijinks blog. However, one of the things Lance and I love to do is travel; it’s a core element of our relationship.  We’re also extreme-coupon’ers-in-training, so when it comes to travel, I will search high and low for the best deal, the biggest bonus points offer, etcetera, etcetera.

Since Lance and I have a few trips planned on the horizon, I’d been looking for good deals on hotels for Hawaii and Southern California, our next two destinations.  The goal of this game I play is to get the nicest product for the cheapest price.  At this point in my life, I’m not looking at Days Inns or Holiday Inn Expresses if I can avoid it; my target hotels are Hyatt, Hilton, and, sometimes, Marriott (which tend to be a little older fashioned, decor-wise, than what I like, but they have nice amenities).

Marriott has a pretty solid Best Rate Guarantee, which will match any lower price you find from a third-party website plus an additional 25% off.  I had successful matches at the Courtyard Marriott Kauai at Coconut Beach (bringing a nightly rate of $179 down to $86 a night) and the Anaheim Marriott down the street from Disneyland (original rate: $139/night; updated rate: $72.15/night).

Four nights in Hawaii for under $400 after taxes and four nights in Anaheim for under $350 after taxes, both at pretty decent hotels, are some good deals, right?

Wait; it gets better (™, Dan Savage).

Marriott is currently running three different promotions (one with United Airlines, one with Amtrak, and one with Southwest Airlines, though I’ve only utilized the latter two). on their own gift cards.  You know how these things work: around the holidays, Ruby Tuesday will offer to give you a $10 coupon if you buy $50 worth of Ruby Bucks (or whatever they’re called).  This is something similar.

Marriott’s promotion with Amtrak will get you a 10% bonus on any gift card purchase over $25 using promotion code AMT (more detailed information about this promotion can be found at LoyaltyLobby).  I purchased $310 worth of Marriott gift cards for our trip to Anaheim, and got a $31 bonus, which covers the cost of our stay.  This bring our effective out-of-pocket cost for four nights from $340 down (again, for a room that originally cost $556 before taxes) to $310.

LoyaltyLobby also featured another Marriott gift card deal:  with gift card amount over a certain dollar amount, you’d get bonus Southwest Airlines points, called “Rapid Rewards.”  As I’m pretty close to the amount I need to redeem for a flight to Orlando on Southwest, I took advantage of this deal to pay for our hotel in Hawaii.  I already had some Marriott gift cards from another promotion, so I only needed $250 worth, and was able to get 3000 bonus Southwest Rapid Rewards.  Granted, I could’ve opted to use the above promotion to save myself about $25, but I figured since the 3000 Rapid Rewards will get my Southwest account up to where I can redeem for an airline ticket (which would probably cost $125+ out of pocket otherwise), I figured it was worth it.

I hope y’all who like to travel out there can take advantage of these deals. The gift cards don’t expire, so if you see yourself staying at a Marriott family hotel (Courtyards, Fairfield Inns, Residence Inn, etc.), it might be worth stocking up on some of these if you’ve got the cash lying around.

Then you just need to be careful not to lose them!

Mouse Attacks!

blog 8.1.13At this point, I can’t remember why I was sleeping on the sofa, but I was.

I rolled over, the fuzzy promise of a hot cup of coffee emerging from the fog of sleep.

What I got instead was a little brown mouse, just chilling right next to me on the sofa.  Kitty was perched up, front paws batting at the stunned rodent.  Her eyes were wide, as if saying, “Look!  Look what I got you, Dad! You love me more than the dog now, right?”

“What the fuuuu–” I did not scream. I didn’t yelp or jolt.  I was surprised, sure; I’d never seen a mouse inside my, you know, place of residence before.  I guess I was more perplexed than anything.

I wrapped my hand in the blanket and flicked the mouse off the sofa.  It landed on the rug and stayed there; it was alive, but Kitty had either stunned or paralyzed the mouse, because it just lay there, twitching slightly.

I quickly assembled a plastic bag/paper towel disposal device, and took the mouse out to the Dumpster.  Now, before all you PETA (or just generally nice) people get on me about this, I recognize I was not wearing my “humane” hat in this scenario.  I wanted the little rodent out of my house.  Truthfully, I probably should’ve just killed it as Kitty had gotten it halfway there already.  But I couldn’t do that either, because I’m a wuss.

Going back into the apartment, I was shaking.  I don’t usually get worked up about this sort of stuff (mice happen, you know?), but it really bothered me–probably since, instead of waking up next to my husband or recently out Ben Wishaw (don’t worry, folks, Lance and I have an agreement), I woke up next to a half-dead mouse.

I went into the bedroom and woke up Lance, who, I was certain, would freak out just as much (and likely more) than I was.  “Honey, honey,” I whispered.  “I woke up next to a mouse! Eek!”

Lance just grumbled and rolled over.  “Eh.  Why are you bothering me with this…?”

“Because I didn’t want you to be sleeping and have a whole bunch of mice crawl all over your face!!”

“Grumphhh.”

So that was that.  Lance, when he finally did wake up, was quite amused by my reaction, though nevertheless required me to go out and buy mouse traps that afternoon while he went on a boating adventure with some friends to which I was not invited (whatever, I’m not mad or anything).  I did buy some humane traps that wouldn’t kill the mice, feeling guilty over my cowardly disposal of Mouse Prime.

Mouse Prime, you ask? We found a hole where we suspected the original mouse squeezed in to the apartment, plugged it up, and we went for weeks without seeing a mouse.

Until I went home to Michigan by myself.  Just a few hours after I landed, Lance called (and he never actually calls me unless he’s been rear-ended (but not by Ben Wishaw)).

“OH MY GOD I’M PEEING MYSELF RIGHT NOW,” Lance squealed.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I GOT HOME FROM WORK AND THERE WAS A DEAD MUTILATED MOUSE UNDER THE COFFEE TABLE AND I THREW UP A LITTLE WHEN I HAD TO PICK IT UP TO THROW IT AWAY AND KITTY WAS LICKING HER LIPS AND WHY DOES THIS STUFF ALWAYS WHEN YOU’RE NOT HOME AND I’M GOING TO STAY IN A HOTEL.”

“It’s okay, it’s not going to hurt you,” I said, hoping my calm, soothing voice would placate Lance a little bit from a thousand miles away.

“OF COURSE IT’S NOT GOING TO HURT ME IT’S DEAD BUT I CAN’T DO MICE. I AM THE INDIANA JONES OF MICEEEEE.”

So.  We have mice.  We live in the city and should’ve expected as much, and should be honestly surprised we haven’t seen any in the past six years we’ve lived here.  We had the exterminator come out and identify possible points of entry, and our building’s maintenance team plugged those up; there haven’t been any mice since.

I suppose one good thing to come out of Mousegate 2013 has been that Lance kinda, you know, likes Kitty now.  Kitty lost Lance’s favor after the compounding effects of 1) shedding, and 2) the dog.  “You fat old lump,” he’d say to her dismissively.  “Maybe I’ll accidentally leave the front door open…”

Now that Kitty has demonstrably contributed to our household as a fearless guardian against rodents, Lance has re-developed a fondness for our feline friend.  I think he even pets her every once and a while now.