Monday, October 20, 2014

Random post: Scorpion vs. Stooge

This probably qualifies as fan-fiction - I don't really know because I don't really do that sort of thing.

Anyway, is anyone watching "Scorpion"?  Network television drama.  The Scorpion team is comprised of geniuses and they assist the C.I.A in solving crimes.  It's a rag-tag fugitive group - like a hyper-Mensa bus crashes into the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine.

After watching a few episodes of this, the formula seems pretty straightforward:  Genius crime-fighters deserve genius crime-committers.  In the end, the good guys manage to outthink their opponent with logic and grace.

So I thought it was time to upset this balance.

I've watched my own genius at home - he's now thirteen.  He is able to figure out complex algebraic equations, navigate his way through a cookbook recipe, construct virtual worlds out of digital bricks, and make sense of his universe each day.

With one exception.

His little sister is the antithesis of logic and order.  If he is Science officer Spock, she undoubtedly is the loud, brash Klingon.  His attempts to apply sensible boundaries continue to go unheard like a Tazmanian Devil through cotton candy.

It is this exact scenario that I would like the Scorpion team to encounter - and ultimately fail at.

In the show, there is Happy Quinn.  She is an Asian-american engineering savant.  Show her a mechanical device and she can understand it and make it obey.  She draws strength from the engineers' design.  She is confident because she can rely on her tools.

How then, would she fare when faced with the plumbing job that Curly had wrought?

Toby Curtis is a genius at reading people.  His ability to deduce someone's behavior based on subtle clues and tells has him at a distinct advantage against an unknown adversary.

But we already know everything we need to know about Stooges.  They fight amongst themselves.  Trying to deduce why they fight is futile - they just do.

Sylvester Dodd is an obsessive-compulsive mathematical anomaly.  His eiditic memory allows him to create order from numbers and probabilities.  His weaknesses are a paralyzing fear of germs, chaotic randomness, and driving.  You put this guy in a cream-pie fight and it's game over.

The founder of the group is Walter O'Brien.  He doesn't exhibit any obvious personality deficiencies except for perhaps an overbearing need to succeed with a side-order of hubris.  He is THE wise-guy.  We all know how Stooges react to wise-guys.

Paige Dineen is the handler.  She represents the link between the geniuses and the rest of the world.  She is also, understandably, attractive.  She may be the only weakness that the Stooges have.  They aren't too concerned with people smarter than they are, because, frankly, EVERYONE is smarter than they are.  Yet they always seem to find a way to one-up everybody else.  They're the idiot-underdogs that payoff on a million-to-one odds.

Anyway, whenever the writers of this show start running out of ideas, I'd really like them to consider this one.  And make the Stooges female:  Maureen, Laurie, and Curly.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Halloween is Happy

Online relationships.  IKR?  Hear me out.

About 2 years ago, I joined this online community called "Mommyish".  They dig parenting.  I dig parenting.  We dug each other.  It was great.

We splintered off into a Facebook group that I called "The Taco Belles".  Yes, I commandeered that logo, what else is my Photoshop good for?  This group, I have to say, is just an incredible collection of like-minded moms that I'm proud to be a part of.

So, Eve (you all know Eve) sets up a gift-exchange for Halloween.  We draw names and have ~$20.00 to gift each other.

I drew Jennifer Mahoney-Sty.  She lives in Arizona.  She likes bubble baths.  I get to work.

1.  I decided on a Lush bath bomb.  Not just a bath bomb, though.  I wanted a spooky bath bomb.  In the past, Lush offered Halloween-themed items.  However, as luck would have it, nothing this year (times be tight, yo).  So, while a normal-brained person would just fixate on some other gift, I was not so normal-brained and decided to MAKE IT SPOOKY.

I really like Dia De Los Muertos Calaveras (sugar skulls).  They are just so colorful and vibrant on an otherwise grim and deathly concept.  Why not combine Day of the Dead with Bath Bomb?

I had plenty of patterns and footage to design from.  The only real considerations were:  what ink or paint to use and how to carve it out.  I could choose between acrylic paint, watercolor, and Sharpie marker.  In the end, the Sharpie ink won because it was highly controllable, non-toxic, and wouldn't dissolve the bath bomb as I worked on it.  After some X-Acto blade work, I had a really nice present.

But I needed more.

Eve (you all know Eve) had mentioned a wonderland of a candy store in New York.  Dylan's Candy Bar, it is called.  Those of you who are not familiar with Dylan's - I'll just say it's the only candy shop that I've been to where you can get drunk.  It just so happened that I was taking my family to New York City to vacation for an extended weekend.  Timing could not have been better.  There was really only one choice for this gift, though - that would be Dylan's collection of Dia De Los Muertos chocolate bars.  Maintaining the theme, right?

It was at this point I started conceptualizing the packaging.  I had to ship these gifts so they would arrive intact.  Chocolate - in Arizona.  I actually looked up a company online that provided free samples of water-activated freezer packs to keep food cold.  That combined with a styrofoam wrapper should be enough, I decided.  I had a really nice stockpile of foam packaging to keep everything stable and lots of cardboard to fashion boxes out of.  Logistics aside, now it's time to design.

I had one Treat.  Might as well make the other a Trick.  Throughout this planning, I started collecting boxes of all shapes and forms.  The hobby store had pre-made boxes with lids for $2.99 each but, again, abby-normal me rallied against it.  I did pick up a spool of black ribbon, a spool of orange ribbon, and an orange vinyl tablecloth.  This stuff is really cheap after coupons.  You really want to know how deep this rabbit hole went?  I considered making the treat box (with the chocolates inside) not-black to keep it that one-degree cooler.  Anyway, I found two box patterns that would hold my items and enough foam insulation to work comfortably.  Gloss black spray paint for "Trick" and Orange vinyl with spray adhesive for "Treat".  Contrasting ribbon work on each along with hand-made bows and chevroned tips.

I really like Victorian scrollwork and antiquated typewriter fonts for this.  Out of the myriad of fonts freely available online, I found one called "Underwood".  PERFECT - because I just finished watching "House of Cards".  Not satisfied with defaults, I customized the Victorian border with a skull.  Photoshop allowed me to match the contrast levels so it produced a fairly seamless design.

I felt I should also include a note inside the boxes - sort of like that Whitman's sampler map they give you.  Just so everybody is on the same page.  More Underwood font and tentacles.  Because cephalopods are so sexy.

That was it.  I really loved putting all this together.  It really is my favorite holiday of the year.  Jennifer was also very, very pleased.

Oh, one other thing.  During all this, Jennifer gave birth to a beautiful daughter.  I really wrestled with trying to find something for the baby but, in the end, I decided that this box would be totally hers.

Happy Halloween!