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Today’s Artwork: “The Ladies”

My sister commissioned a piece of artwork today — sitting me down and handing me brushes and paints is pretty much the only way to get me to do art lately — to fit in a small frame she had found and had my father fix while here was here over the holidays. She had them cut a piece of masonite and gessoed it for me…and then said, “I want you to paint one of your ladies.”

I didn’t realize I had “ladies.”

I did the Dream-Haired Woman (the one up there at the top of this website). I started my Bruxa Evora shortly after that…but I’ve only painted the woman. I haven’t started any of the collagework yet. I’ve had more than a few compliments about the piece in the past few months. Apparently, she looks awesome just as she is. Now I’m almost afraid to finish.

So Soteria commissioned a “lady” — the lady is the easiest part! — it was teeny-tiny enough to finish in an hour or so… I accepted. Why not? I paged through a gorgeous book of paintings from the Prado and selected a woman with great hair from one of Goya’s paintings to use as a reference.

Here is my miniature version of Dona Arias.

I hereby promise to do more painting in the near future. Perhaps some more ladies? Hmmm…I might just smell a New Year’s Resolution…

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Bibbidy Bobbidy Byes

This essay is one of the “Lost Blogs” that was discovered in the wildlands of the intarwebs by my friend Eric James Stone after the publication of Beauty & Dynamite. I’m posting it in response to something Kelli wrote recently called “Boyfriend 47,”, an essay ranking the merits (or lack thereof) of the respective Disney princes. Personally, I think Prince Charming’s not so bad…if you know the whole story.

This is also apropriate because Mom and Dad are headed back to Florida this morning, and I’m just plain-old going to miss them.

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Bibbidy Bobbity Byes

Original post date: 12/8/2004

I dropped Mom off at the airport this morning. On the long, lonely drive back to work, I tried to think of other things in an effort to distract myself from being emotional. After covering traffic and other people who hate goodbyes, my brain settled on Cinderella.

I’ve always favored the Grimms’ telling of Cinderella over the Perrault or Disney versions. Some may find that surprising, seeing as I’m a bit of a Fairy Godmother In Training – the Grimms’ tale hadn’t a fairy godmother in sight. (Not to despair, Briar Rose still had them to sort out that whole curse thing, so my future career choice is still justified.)

No, the less popular – and much darker – tale had Cinderella weeping over the grave of her mother. Birds in the tree planted on the grave spoke to her on her mother’s behalf and helped her out in her times of need. They came to her aid when the evil stepmother gave Cinderella impossible tasks to accomplish. She didn’t go to the ball once but three times, in dresses thrown to her from the birds. When the Prince came around to the house bearing the slipper, the stepsisters maimed themselves in their avarice, slicing off pieces of their feet in order to fit into the shoe. The Prince rode away with the wrong woman twice, and twice the birds warned him of the blood in the shoe and sent him back for the proper girl.

Being caught inside the whirlwind that my life has been lately had me thinking about Cinderella. Empathizing, asking questions, and coming to realizations. Somehow, Cinderella MUST have met the Prince prior to the ball. I’m not quite sure how she pulled it off, but there’s no way she would have done all that stuff for him without being completely in love with him first. Big Love, capital letters and all, not just a crush on a pretty face and a castle. Showing up at a ball in a nice dress hoping to snare a man reeks of pettiness. I have to believe that Cinderella was much better than that. Picking a girl out of a crowd and marrying her solely based on her looks is equally as shallow. I have to believe that the Prince was much more than that too.

Cinderella was an introvert, my brain rationalized.

It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? She kept her head low and kowtowed to the evil women who took over her house and took away her life. There is NO way on Earth she would have gone through the trials she did and forced herself to be the center of attention three times for anything less than Big Love. My guess is, attending those balls was the most brave, scary, nervewracking thing she had ever done in her life. I’m betting she had more than a few panic attacks. But she still did it.

Then there’s the issue of the Prince – who KNEW darn well what his True Love looked like, but his integrity still forced him to stay true to his word and ride away with the wrong woman. Can a man with a code of honor like that marry a virtual stranger? Well, the proclamation did say that his bride would be the one who fit the shoe… Good thing those birds were there to give him a suitable out-clause.

It certainly gives the tale more depth when you consider that Cinderella was probably a borderline basketcase coming out of her shell; the Prince, a tormented knight in shining armor with an annoying amount of moral fiber.

But the story is really about a mother’s love for her daughter – a love so pure and strong it reaches from beyond the grave. Her birds don’t exactly tell either of the lovers what to do, only nudge them a bit to help them down their paths. And so, Cinderella and her Prince lived Happily Ever After.

The moral of the story: Mom is always right.

Love you, Mom.

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On Shopping

Yes, the curse of the post-Christmas-birthday Capricorn is that everyone–especially your Gemini mother–is all about taking advantage of post-Christmas sales on your behalf. For the ever-practical Capricorn, this presents a double-edged sword dilemma. On the one hand: bags full of free clothes you inevitably need at prices you won’t likely be able to beat the rest of the year in as few stores as possible. On the other hand: POST-CHRISTMAS SHOPPING??? ARE YOU CRAZY?!?

As we’re in downtown Charleston, and I had a targeted list of necessities, our choices were narrowed down to Mount Pleasant or the Tanger Outlet Mall. The Tanger Outlets are all set up like one of those newfangled outdoor malls, a veritable small city of shops connected by stone pedestrian walkways and lots of benches and fountains. The weather today was cloudy and 57. We voted the latter.

There’s a lot to be said for these types of malls for those of us with short mall-shopping-motivation spans. If the stores are too crowded, just step outside into the fresh air, where scads of dads with purses are scattered about, bent over their strollers and smart phones. The stores weren’t that crowded, and the “hallways” less so. It was actually a rather enjoyable experience. We went to three stores. I got everything I needed and then some (read: cute shoes!). Mom paid for two-thirds of it. Score.

Mom also pointed out that post-Christmas shopping is a good idea because we try on all those clothes and say to our mirrors, “Bleh! Time for that post-holiday diet!” She’s absolutely right. Bleh. But I’m still a happy Capricorn.

Because no matter how much weight I gain or lose, those shoes are still going to be cute.

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Happy Holidays 2009!

AlphaOops: C is for Christmas!

This year’s Happy Holidays CD cover was designed by Bob Kolar, illustrator of Racer Dogs, Big Kicks, and the AlphaOops books.

Track listing:

1. “If We Make it Through December” — Merle Haggard
2. “First Train Home” — Imogen Heap
3. “12 Days of Christmas” — Relient K
4. “Susie Snowflake” — Rosemary Clooney
5. “Christmas Gift” — Margie Joseph
6. “Presents for Christmas” — Solomon Burke
7. “Fast Forward” — Alan Silvestri (from Serendipity)
8. “Bells Will be Ringine” — Eagles
9. “Northern Sky” — Nick Drake
10. ‘Holiday Road” — Lindsey Buckingham
11. Mad World — Michael Andrews & Gary Jules
12. “I Wish it Could be Christmas” — Wizzard
13. “Love Like Winter” — AFI
14. “Deck the Halls” — Smokey Robinson & the Miracles
15. “We Got Lost in Winter” — Backseat Goodbye
16. “Mele Kalikimaka” — Jimmy Buffet
17. “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” — Gayla Peevey
18. “Love Came Down at Christmas” — Jars of Clay
19. “I Heard the Bells on Christmas — Casting Crowns
20. “Winter Wonderland” — Jewel
21. “New Year’s Resolution” — Otis Redding w/Carla Thomas
22. “This Year” — Chantal Kreviazuk
23. “Beloved” – VNV Nation

Happy Holidays to you all! xox Princess Lee

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Because We’re Insane

Two seriously crazy geeks.

Eddie and I are in the Barnes & Noble at the Avenue. The weekend before Xmas. We came for the Starbucks & wifi. I’m going to download this Memorex Label Design Studio and print these labels if it kills me. (It just might kill me.) This would be SO freaking easy if the desktop weren’t dead. Did you know you can get a Canon color printer at Wal Mart for $30? No kidding. Cheaper than ink.

I’m sure everybody in line looked at me funny when I opened up my Jolly Roger computer bag and pulled out two laptops — an HP and a Macbook — each with their own Van Gogh schticker (HP has Starry Night & Mac has Apple Blossoms…because it’s ironic) — and proceeded to boot them both up. I’m ambicomputerous. Today, it’s coming in handy. Now I get to blog on the Mac while Eddie tries to find the Memorex software for the PC. Why is this hard to find? For that matter, why are decent CD labels so hard to find nowadays? No dice at 2 Wal Marts, K-Mart, or Target. Thank goodness for Staples. Silly Memorex.

One day I suppose I’ll get one of those printers that prints directly on to the CD. Do those things really work?

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Help, I’m a Prisoner at the Auto Shop

I’ve been here since 7:45 this morning. It is now 1:37. For all you math-challenged people that would be almost six hours.

Six. Whole. Hours. They should pay me for working the entire day here.

It was recommended to me on Twitter that I just start writing. So here i am, writing and hoping that it’ll be like going to the bathroom in a restaurant so the waitress will come. I’m going to keep updating this post every time I write a section, so click back to see how long it actually takes me to get out of here. Ready? Set? GO.

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I came here for two simple things: to get my struts replaced and to fix the thermostat (which is the reason my Check Engine light is on). I’m about to drive 8 hours to SC before Xmas and then 10 hours back to PA after Xmas, so I was going to be a good girl and make an appointment with my favorite Auto Doctors so I would have a smooth, worry-free ride.

I brought my laptop and CD envelopes and CDs to burn — that’s right, though belated there WILL be a Happy Holidays 2009 CD. If you receive yours after Xmas, you’re just going to have to forgive me. Life has been a little insane. It’s probably more insane of me to be trying to shoehorn CD-making into everything I’ve got going on, but this is my 9th year of making it and there would be too many disappointed people — including me — for it to not happen. So it’s going to happen.

I actually took Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword OUT OF MY BAG before leaving the house, but I did have the presence of mind to take the apple I stole from the bowl yesterday afternoon in Awesome Kitchen.

See? I can be smart sometimes.

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I originally had plans for lunch. I was going to have sushi with some of the girls from the office. Only I got an out of office message from the one I emailed this morning — a couple of texts and a few messages later I discovered that Tracy was incredibly sick, Lillie was at the doctor’s too, Shannan’s departmental potluck had been rescheduled for today, and lunch was rescheduled to Monday.

Which ended up being a good thing BECAUSE I’M STILL HERE. See? Everything does happen for a reason.

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So the struts that we ordered, after checking the production date on the car and everything, didn’t fit. This was about 2 or 3 hours into the visit. They did make another size strut for the Volvo wagon that year, but no dice trying to get one here by Monday.  Shortly after it was discovered that the thermostat bolt had been stripped. Easy enough — pop across the street to the Auto Parts store and get one. Only…they don’t have one.

Kenny from the front office actually drove to the Hardware Store to get some bolts to try. He and another guy both offered to pick me up something to eat. (Luckily, I found some peanuts in my bag from last night — thank you, Southwest.) I thanked them both but declined, asking them to please just PUT MY CAR BACK TOGETHER.

This is my last weekend in TN for a while. I’ve been planning exactly what I want to eat and from where before I go. This afternoon was going to be Newk’s Deli. Tonight, Eddie and I are getting take-out from Taste of China. Tomorrow might be a stop by the Noodle House or Slick Pig. Either way, it’s definitely our bagel place for breakfast.

In none of these scenarios was McDonald’s ever an option. I’d rather starve. So I am. Kenny got back about 20 minutes ago. He seems to think one of the bolts he found would work. My fingers would be crossed if they weren’t too busy typing for warmth. (Did I mention it was cold in here?)

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I finished signing all the CD folders and writing my website on them — I plan on posting the playlist online so everyone can check it out. Only I don’t like giving the songs away too soon — part of the present is the surprise of wondering which crazy song the princess is going to add next. I’ll hand off a box to the girls Monday at lunch, and probably post the songs and artists…how about Christmas! That would be a good Christmas present. Cool. I could even start writing that post NOW. Except I’m too busy writing this one.

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Sweet!! Kenny just got an email. He can have official honest-to-god bona fide Volvo struts here by 1:30 on Monday. I would happily stay in TN another full day if it means I can get this all fixed up. It also means that I can go to lunch with the girls and then just come back here straight after. HOORAY! See? The universe does provide. It’s all a little bit of good magic.

Shame I’m not a more patient individual. Then again, I think 6.5 hours is pretty darned patient…

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Christmas is going to be awesome, btw, and not just because it’s the second time in 17 years that I’ve had more than one day off for the holiday. (That’s a big factor, though.) If you happen to be in Charleston SC on Christmas Eve, we’ll be partying all day at Dixie Dunbar Studio with champagne and wassail and all sorts of other goodies until close. 192 King Street, Charleston SC. Bookmark it into your iPhone and come on by!

(And yes, if you bring copies of AlphaOops or the Dark-Hunter Companion or Beauty & Dynamite or anything else I would be happy to sign them. I don’t have a huge stash of my own to sell you, though, so think about picking some up before you come! If you order now on Amazon you could have them by the 24th using Standard Shipping…or ship them straight to the studio with a note including your name on it so we know to hold them!)

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A guy just came in and started telling me about how his buddy had promised him all kinds of favors and then never fixed his car. It’s okay because he has a ride home for Christmas, and it’s been nice saving money while it’s been out of commission, but it’s nice to have a car, you know? Oh, and the dog winked at him.

Did I mention Murfreesboro was a college town?

We’re easing up on hour seven. How long does it take to replace a bolt? Scratch that. I don’t actually want to know. But if they want to lend me that classic black Impala just inside the door, I’d be happy to vacate their lobby and go run my errands. I need to stop by Wal-Mart and pick up better CD labels because the ones I got are crap. And I need another printer, because I killed my desktop before I left and the printer I have, though wonderful, is too old to connect with a USB cable.

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HOLY CRAPINOLI, THE BOLTS WORK. *sob* When I come back on Monday I’m bringing CDs and cookies and hot chocolate. And one of the books I need to be reviewing for my next IGMS column. And a cushion for my tushie.

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And you know what? I’m still going to Newk’s for lunch. And when Eddie gets here we’re still having Chinese. I can always skip the bagel place and have leftovers for breakfast.

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AlphaOops: H is for Halloween is a Junior Library Guild Selection!

SWEET.

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What Happens When Geeks Are Given Glitter Pens

That’s right, baby. A TARDIS stocking.

And yes. It’s bigger on the inside.

Dear Santa, I would like the 10th Doctor for Christmas. Thanks!

Dear Santa, I would like the 10th Doctor for Christmas. Thanks!

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Apex Magazine Story of the Year Award

Apex needs your votes!

Click on over to the first annual Apex Magazine Story of the Year Award and cast your ballot. Yes, for those curious persons, I do have a story on the ballot — “Poor Man’s Roses”, which appeared in October.

Voting starts tonight and will continue through January 30th. The story receiving the most votes will be announced on February 1st. The author of the Apex Magazine Story of the Year will receive a trophy and the unique distinction of being the best Apex had to offer during 2009.

…and we thank you for your support.

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What It Takes

It all started with an innocent Tweet, as many things this day and age do.

After a long, magical weekend at Horrorfind, a group of us retired back to Kelli & Bob’s house. The weather was beautiful. Worn out as we were, we decided to just sprawl all over the front porch. There were no theatrics or rip-roaring conversations; mostly we just huddled in silence not wanting the weekend to end. From where I sat, leaned up against the railing at the opposite end, I took a picture so that I would remember that moment forever. And I tweeted it.

And so Awesome Porch was born.

At first it was just an inside-joke, a beloved memory, an endearment between friends who already had pet names for each other: Dickie, Tomo, the gypsy, the hippie, the princess, Anubis, Qwee. And then it started being referenced by other people. Greg Hall mentioned it during his interview with Kelli for The Funky Werepig; he wanted to know how he could be a member and get his own nickname. We all laughed — it’s not like we all carry cards or have a dress code or secret handshake or anything…apart from the odd Anubis gang sign…and the stripey socks…

The joke has been made more than once that if Awesome Porch was a reality show, it’d be watched religiously. Not that we’re not already doing our best populating photo albums and creating Facebook Applications and adding each other into Twitter groups and writing each other into stories. It was the pizza place that clinched it, though. Kelli placed our order for delivery, and instead of saying, “Is that the house with all the Halloween decorations still up?” the guy asked Kelli, “Is that the house with the porch with all the awesome people on it all the time?”

It seems we’re now locally famous. How about that?

And then there are the people who end up tripping into a coveted spot on Awesome Porch, achieving a hug and a nickname and immediate entre into the core group.

Meet Chuck, a.k.a. Justin, a.k.a. JP. Kelli even called him Big Mac for a time, because he worked at McDonald’s, but to us it was just Justin. Justin who lives across the street, who has two younger siblings, who likes Buffy & Angel, and who has someone else’s kidney. Justin’s a good kid. We like Justin.

And then, one ill-fated Saturday night,  Justin threw up all over the bathroom. ALL over the bathroom. I’ll spare you the stories about the light fixture and the broken toilet seat. Needless to say, the hippie is a God.

The next day, when Justin walked back over to prove to us all that he was alive and well, he got quite the ribbing. I was in the living room, listening to the porch through the open front door as they decided what terrible teasing nickname we could give Justin that would torture him for the rest of his life.

“Chuck!” I yelled through the screen door. It was simple, really. Obvious. The porch laughed. And so Chuck was born.

Last weekend, Kelli bought a new toilet seat. As penance, Chuck had to install it. Click on the picture below to forward through the photographic montage.  We’ve still got the old one — I think we’re all going to autograph it and bestow it upon him at the next Awesome Porch gathering.

Toilet seat: $10.

Tossing your cookies until you’re passed out on the bathroom tile: all your pride & humility.

Getting a nickname on Awesome Porch: priceless.

Have you got what it takes to be a member of Awesome Porch?

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