Allow me to endorse, for a moment, the game "Mad Scientist University" which I played last night and enjoy thoroughly. In it, every member of the group gets an Unstable Element cart (penguins, tongs, ninjas, hairnets, divas, etc) and the judge lays out the assignment card (take over the world, raise a billion dollars, write your name on the moon, find a willing sacrifice, etc) You then have ten seconds to come up with a scheme using your unstable element, and then the player acting as judge calls on everybody and hears their diabolical plan. The judge then selects the one that works best for them (funniest, most diabolical, most well-defended, whatever) and gives them the card–first person to five cards wins.

Any game where I can yell "We’ll get to the center of the earth using genetically engineered eighty-foot tall lava-sucking mosquitos!" is a good thing. (Mind you, I got thrown badly off stride while I was rhapsodizing about how the mosquito would slide her giant proboscis into an active volcano and begin sucking the magma dry, and Mur immediately piped up with "Is anyone else turned on right now?" Hard to come back from that…) 

Had weird nightmares last night, in a vague, Stepford-Wives-meet-The-Yellow-Wallpaper sort of way, (I couldn’t have Legos, because I might do something subversive with them.) which segued into a packing dream, which wandered into a late-for-a-plane dream, which made me decide to get up, because sleep was obviously not my friend. Blargh.

But I’m conscious now! Time to face the day!

Okay.

Whew.

As of Monday, supposedly I’m done with the second run of interior illos for Dragonbreath. There’s still a crapload I have to do on other work, some of which is way overdue, but I couldn’t take it any more, and had to do a quick painting for myself before I went crawling out of my skin from art guilt. (I’m still deluged with deadline guilt and writing guilt, but the art guilt was the one that was making it hard to sleep at night.)

Four Birds

I feel better now. I can tackle that pending art with a gladder heart…

Kevin’s Utilikilt* arrived last night.

I approve.

A great deal.

It may not be possible to overstate my approval.

It’s getting cold out here–we’re about to start getting frost–so his one complaint is that he may need some kind of knit cozy for certain cold-sensitive parts under the kilt.** (I volunteered to sacrifice one of my Fuzzy Socks, but he felt that might be crossing into a weird foot fetishy sort of place.) Other than that, it’s rockin’. 

Also because it’s getting cold, it was time for my annual virtual pilgrimage to SockDreams.com. I needed hand warmers, since my fingers are ALWAYS cold, and they have really fabulous fingerless gloves/arm warmers/wrist warmers/thingies. I am particularly fond of these, but I appear to have gotten one of the last pairs.

I seem to be noticing the weather more this year, as we ease into fall…granted, fall was WEIRD last year, and I recall eighty degree, swelteringly humid weather in December…maybe because we’re dealing with a four bedroom house instead of a wee little apartment. It’s just more cost-effective to put a space-heater in the bathroom and warm it up in the mornings rather than trying to keep the upstairs completely heated. (I have no need of a space-heater in the studio, as Gir provides plenty of foot-warming ability.) It all sort of takes me back to Minnesota, and before that to rural Oregon, when we’d crank up the stove and stand in front of that to get warm.

The fireplace downstairs, though, is rockin’. It’s not quite cold enough to use it regularly, and it doesn’t heat the upstairs very well (although the stairs get nice and toasty) but laying around on the couch, fireplace going, cat on one’s torso, boyfriend idily rubbing one’s foot, hot cup of chocolate with a shot of Bailey’s at one’s elbow, and Survivorman re-runs on TV is arguably the purest expression of domestic bliss known to humankind. (God, I love Survivorman.)

Alas, such idylls must end, because Diggers need to be done and the editor on Dragonbreath just came back to say that they changed the name back to the thing that it had been before they changed the name the first time, and now there’s a blank spot on the cover and it would be great for a squid tentacle, and can I fix that by yesterday?

Le sigh. Back to the grindstone…

*Bizarrely enough, as a top-level Boy Scout, Kevin is an honorary non-voting member of a particular Scottish clan (don’t ask me which one) and thus entitled to wear a specific tartan. Unfortunately, genuine kilts are bloody expensive, and while I am a huge fan of men in kilts, he wanted to test-drive the Utilikilt first. I can respect this.

**Yes, yes, Larry, if you wear anything under it, it’s a skirt…

It’s either a commentary on the sad state of the music industry today, or on my total and complete nerdity, that my favorite song of the past year is "Still Alive" from the end credits of Portal.

Also, I keep trying to figure out how I’d make a Weighted Companion Cube my little pony mod. I may need professional help.

Milestone!

Wow, I just got recognized!

I was at the art supply store, buying gessboard and indanthrene blue–which I keep pronouncing in my head as "indanthere,"  which sounds like some kind of giant prehistoric herbivore*–and as the young woman behind the counter checked to see if I was on the mailing list, she paused.

"Ursula Vernon?"

"Yup."

"Do you–are you the one who does the gearworld stuff?"

"That’s me…"

"Oh my god! I’ve been following your stuff on-line for ages!"

Now, this doesn’t sound different from any other polite fangirling, I grant you, but I mention it because this is the first time someone on the street has heard my name and recognized me in Real Life, as opposed to conventions (where one might assume a population selected to be aware of me) or knew me from having met me somewhere else at some point and just having a really good memory.**

So I was flattered.

*The indanthere is dark blue and weighs upwards of two tons. Primarily a grazer, it is is not above browsing on tender shoots and twigs. While mostly placid-tempered, it can be aggressive and highly lightfast when roused.

**It may not top running into one of the Taxman print buyers at a party, but I’m chalking that up to friend of a friend networking, rather than completely random statistical event, because otherwise that would totally boggle the mind.

A Long Weekend

Paper Heroes Con has ended. I had a lot of fun. Sales were…well, I had a lot of fun, anyway. Jennie Breedan of the Devil’s Panties and I hung around a bit, she’s great company, and we explored the abandoned Belks.* The back rooms of a semi-trashed department store look like a zombie movie waiting to happen. The shoe storage room was particularly freaky. One of the comic book shop guys hosting the place came up to me and said "You want to see the scary place?"

Part of my brain pointed out that when a strange man** asks you if you want to see a scary place, red flags should go up. The other part of my brain shrugged and said "Meh." So he showed me the shoe storage area, and that was awesome. It was two stories, packed tightly with metal shelves, an angular little labryinth barely wide enough to walk through. If you went upstairs, there were no lights, but since the shelves were all two stories, the light streamed up through the cracks around the shelving, making a creepy-underlit maze. Jennie took photos–I’ll drop a link when they go up. There were also rooms of old perfume posters, an empty box advertising "KISS perfume" (for him and her!) an old security room with curling photos of shoplifters, giant safes, and many ruined display cases. It was awesome.

Also, my buddy mckenzee  found a length of metal pipe. They put it within arm’s reach of me. This was a mistake. The pipe is bizarrely seductive. I couldn’t put it down, despite the fact that a woman in leather and monstrous boots smacking a metal pipe into her palm is apparently not conducive to sales. Screw it, I found a new friend. The pipe went into my con kit.

Other adventures included a trip to the adult store with Jennie, where she was recognized as the video blogger from the Devil’s Panties, and I was recognized as the poor woman who’s sex toys had all been stolen. (Sure, nobody recognizes either of us on the street, but you take us into a PORN store, and we’re famous…) While we were there, a trio of giggling girls came in, who were obviously underage, and who were carded and ejected. This would be unremarkable, except that they were wearing headscarves, which made me weirdly happy for some reason–one in the eye of all those people who get grumpy about cultural acclimitization not going fast enough, I suppose.

Anyway, it was a good, if not terribly cash heavy weekend. And now, back to the grind…

*Belks is a department store chain in the South, largely unremarkable among department stores.

**Insert Mae West line here.

Life is a seesaw between fantastic and frazzlement. Kevin scored some seriously great tickets for next month, I got to see Carlota and have lunch with buddy Linda whom I haven’t seen in a dog’s age, I found a very reasonably priced carving of a Balinese guard frog…that’s all pure awesome. But I’ve got a con this weekend and I’m only half prepared, and the last Dragonbreath illos are due Monday, and I’m still slammed with orders and commissions and whatnot, and I haven’t had time to do any real, decent, meaningful art for months on end, and I’m feeling that nasty non-productive itch about it, despite the fact that all I do is paint.

And stuff still isn’t unpacked and the house is a mess and the library isn’t painted and one of the cats is acting out in that unfortunate urinary fashion that cats have, and took out a couple of prints and a t-shirt in the process, and it’s a damn good thing I didn’t catch him in the act or I’d be taking him down to the river with a sack and a large rock.* (I suspect I know who it was, and in fairness, he’s the whipping boy for the entire household, so I don’t think it’s so much an acting out or a bladder problem as a "If I go to a litter box, somebody is lying in wait and will smack me around." He is low-cat on the totem pole, and if anybody gets grumpy at anybody else, ultimately Winston gets smacked. He really needs a new home with only one or two other cats, rather than our horde, so if anybody’s looking for a young neutered male, good with cats, dogs, and kids, offers no violence to anyone…) 

Anyway. I am at the end of my rope today, because of all the frazzlement, and yet I feel guilty about it because my life is so good in many ways, what right do I have to feel like One More Thing will send me into a killing rage? 

Does that make any sense? 

*Okay, okay, you KNOW I’d never do that, but goddamnit, you pee on my stuff at your peril…

Paper Heroes Con!

Just a heads up, gang–this weekend, I’ll be at Paper Heroes Con in Burlington, NC. It’s a little start up con, but they’ve got a great guest list (and I don’t say that just ‘cos I’m on it) so it’d be awesome if people came out this weekend to support it in its early days!

I will be on panels and have prints, pins, and maybe even an original or two for sale! Come on by, say hi, throw things at the artist…y’know, the usual…

Devil’s Bargain (and way TMI)

So Kevin and I are hanging out on the deck while he has a cigarette, and we’re discussing breast reductions, because a buddy of mine is planning to get one, and somehow we got around to nipples, and nipple piercings (Kevin has both of his pierced, which makes his church’s pool parties a source of endless amusement for yours truly.) He was extolling the virtues of the nipple piercing in general, and somehow…

URSULA: Yeah, sure. Hey, I’ll pierce my nipples if you quit smoking…
KEVIN: (unexpectedly speculative look)
URSULA: Um. Wait. Hang on. I don’t think I agree to that.
KEVIN: I have two packs left…
URSULA: ….
KEVIN: (holding up cigarette) Now, if you wanted to get a hood piercing, I’d quit right now.
URSULA: Not. Going. To. Happen.
KEVIN: …yeah, I figured.

*cough* One learns something new about one’s partner’s tastes every day…Well, love or not, I suspect that pierced nipples may be rather more than I wish to deal with, mind you, particularly given that dude oughta quit smoking ANYWAY and all, but…well, that’s more serious thought than I’ve given the topic in…well…ever.

On the subject of clittoral piercings and their ilk, I recall the words of a dear friend, who said "Look. I have no problem going to my gynecologist and all, but fuck if I’m spreading my legs for a guy I just saw out in the parking lot, smoking a cigarette on the bumper of a pick-up truck." I have no ability to improve upon this observation. Also, I don’t actually care if it leads to mind-blowing orgasms. I have HAD mind-blowing orgasms, and y’know, I’m pretty sure there’s an upper limit on the things. My mind is only so blowable. I do not believe there is a qualitative level I’m missing, which would mean all we’d be looking at is reduced time-to-orgasm, to which I say–look, this is sex, not the hundred meter dash.

Those members of my readership with pierced whatsits, feel free to chime in with endorsements/horror stories/chickens.