Tarantula costumes for dogs: a to-do list

People are dressing their dogs as other animals—like lions and spiders—and playing awesome pranks with them.

If I had a small dog, and an enormous tarantula costume, here are some things I would do:

  • Re-enact the part in Home Alone where Kevin throws the tarantula on Marv. This would involve finding a friend willing to have a small dog thrown at their face.
  • Leave it in the laundry room at 10:00 pm so my neighbors freak out if they try to do laundry after the 10:00 pm cut off.
  • Bring it to the post office. A friend from work gets away with bringing her little white dog into the post office all the time. Surely, an enormous spider canine is no different.
  • Go shopping with a dog in my purse, but the dog looks like a giant spider. I would first need to buy the type of purse people do this with, which would mean first going shopping with a faux-tarantula in my sweatshirt. I would especially like to do this at a high-end clothing store, but I dress too much like a vagrant to pull that off. They’d be eyeing me suspiciously the instant I walked in.
  • Drape it over my mom’s sewing machine, assuming the dog-spider can stay still. My mom always had awesomely grossed out reactions to my Creepy Crawlers when I was a kid, the kind of adult gross-out reaction that kids dream of when they bake up their rubbery little insects. I would like to see that again.
  • Bring it hiking. Many of the trails in my area are popular dog-walking spots. I wonder how it feels to see someone’s enormous, be-leashed arachnid pooping on the side of the trail?

It’s not Halloween yet, but here’s a story

It’s about six months until Halloween. Since I’m not really a glass half-full kind of person, I can’t help but notice that they are some of the absolute worst months to be standing between me and a chilly fall night lit by jack-o-lanterns.  My spellcheck wants me to change “jack-o-lanterns” to “storm-lanterns,” because it obviously hates Halloween.

I could use more Halloween now. If you, too, are parched for eerie happenings, check out Banshee, a flash fiction story about a punk band struggling to save their show when it’s upstaged by the wail of a real banshee.

Brought to you by the mind-mingling of various Halloween thoughts with the music of X-Ray Spex.

hanginthere

Wisdom from a bath in Fairyland

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It’s on my bedside table because it’s a good book to read in a cozy place.

I recently read The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente. The book is endearing right from the beginning, but even more so after the main character, September, meets a wyverary, a creature who is half wyvern and half library (on his father’s side). How could I not love that?

Shortly after, there is a passage about a bathhouse run by a soap golem named Lye.  It sums up a lot of what I loved about the book:  that it is adorable, whimsical and imaginative, yet so smart at the same time.  In the first few chapters, I thought the book was mostly smart in the sense of cleverness, but the baths September goes through show how much wisdom is in the book as well.

September first has to go through a Bath of Courage (it’s not called that in the book, at least not with the capital letters), in which she is washed of the various fears that accumulate throughout life. Valente describes the process of courage-washing, in rich language, lyrical yet simple.

Realizing how much fear has influenced my adult life, and trying to change that, has been a huge undertaking in the latter half of my twenties.  In fact, due to anxiety after anxiety, it took me nearly a year to fill out the About Me page on my own website.  Lye the soap golem informs September that the service of courage-washing is difficult to come by in our own world. Very true.

The bath in which Lye helps September wash her wishes resonated with me in a similar way:

The water of the bronze tub gleamed icy and green, redolent of mint and forest nights and sweet cakes, hot tea and very cold starlight.

“This is for washing your wishes, September,” said Lye, breaking off another of her fingers with a thick snap. “For the wishes of one’s old life wither and shrivel like old leaves if they are not replaced with new wishes when the world changes. And the world always changes. Wishes get slimy, and their colors fade, and soon they are just mud, like all the rest of the mud, and not wishes at all, but regrets. The trouble is, not everyone can tell when they ought to launder their wishes. Even when one finds oneself in Fairyland and not at home at all, it is not always so easy to remember to catch the world in its changing and change with it.”

I think that the idea of washing your wishes is a creative way to rephrase a wise piece of advice: that wisdom comes from accepting the world as it is, and acting accordingly.

In The Legend of Korra, one of my all-time favorite TV series, cartoon or no, Tenzin gives Korra this same advice. And it’s easy to gloss over when Tenzin says it, because, yeah, whatever, Tenzin is super wise and stuff. He’s saying wise things all the freakin’ time, so it’s easy to overlook the true gems and give them their due. But reading Lye’s version of this idea, and how September processes it, brings the point home.

Like dealing with accumulated fear, this is another piece of advice that has been hard-won in my own life, and I hope Valente succeeded at passing on that wisdom to younger readers.

Ways to follow this blog

Last Monday, I posted The Ultimate Smoothie of Power.

Shortly after this, one of my readers informed me that I needed to post more.

“I’ll have you know that I added a new post yesterday,” I replied with a great deal of haughtiness, self-satisfied in the knowledge that this conversation was occurring the day after I had actually posted something.

“What? I didn’t know that.” He sounded surprised. I don’t know if that was because I’ve put out so few posts in 2015, or because he’s such a fervent and fanatical follower of this blog (for thrills like the alliterative spectacle you witnessed previously in this sentence) that he was shocked at having missed a post.

Or maybe, he has a room full of assorted elves and capuchin monkeys sitting in cubicles and refreshing blogs he likes.  And now, one of those capuchin monkeys is going to have to go out and get a crappy retail job because her clever little fingers were nicking a soda when last Monday’s post went up.

He did say he tends to forget RSS readers exist.

In any case, I informed him of the various options available for following this blog.

Here’s what I told him:

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And there’s another RSS icon on the sidebar, and another in the footer. Such excess!

1. Follow by RSS

Click any RSS icon to access the blog’s feed. Since I have Mozilla Firefox, when I do this I have the option to follow this blog from my browser with live bookmarks. Mozilla Thunderbird also has the capability to track RSS feeds.

You can copy and paste the feed’s address into the RSS reader of your choice. I’ve been using Feedly since the demise of Google Reader. You can paste the RSS feed directly into their search bar.

2.  Follow by e-mail

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No, it’s not just you. The follow-by-e-mail icon in the sidebar isn’t the easiest thing to find.

Click the e-mail icon on the sidebar to receive my posts directly in your e-mail. Although 2015 has been a light on posts so far, I’m aiming for three per week.

One of the trials of using WordPress for my site has been picking through the gazillions of available plugins to choose the best ones. I do my best to test all of them, so I can confirm that this will not make you sign up for a membership anywhere, and you can unsubscribe easily.

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Someone with her own newsletter should have a better caption.

3. The Kris Bowser Newsletter

This exists mainly for those interested in receiving news of my fiction as I release it. To be honest, this is in the very early stages, and I’m not totally sure what other content I’d like to include in the newsletter. However, I plan on including links to at least a small amount of blog content.

4. Social Media

Posting links to my blog on social media tends to make me feel kind of spammy and awkward, so I haven’t done a lot of this. Generally, I only do so if there’s a post I’m particularly proud of, if a post sums up my current state of mind better than a status update would, or if I wrote something that I truly think the people who have followed or friended me would enjoy.

If anyone requests it, I’ll post about blog updates on Twitter and Facebook. Otherwise, I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing.

Paper robots

The internet failed me.

This was back in the Fall of 2013.  I co-organize events for my local NaNoWriMo region, and our group often hands out mini-mascots at our events, things like toy ninjas, army men, and pom-pom bunnies.  That year, I wanted it to be paper robots.  I didn’t think I’d have any trouble finding instructions for such a thing on the internet, but nothing came close to what I had in mind.  Everything was either too flimsy, too labor-intensive, or kind of ugly.  Or, all three.

While these appear to be the most awesome paper robots on the internet, making twenty of them was out of the question.

What I wanted was a cute paper robot that could survive a knock from a gift bag granola bar, one that would take me less than an hour to make.  Somewhere in the back of my mind, I’m sure I was visualizing the little robot from Machinarium.

So, because the internet failed me, I devised my own means of creating a paper robot.  I went through a couple prototypes, then got what I wanted on the third try.

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Cookiebot doesn’t give a crap about the steel cut oats. Mostly, the container serves him as sort of a missile silo.

Cookiebot has an electroshock arm that extents from his body and zaps anyone who tries to steal the cookies*.  Including me, and they’re my cookies.  It’s kind of like in Super Ducktales when Bulldozertron or whatever it’s called guards Scrooge’s money bin, and no one can get into the money bin until Gizmoduck defeats him.  Only, I don’t have a Gizmoduck in my life, unless you count throwing Cookiebot on the floor and stepping on him.  But I wouldn’t do that, because he’d probably crawl away in a squashed bundle of spider limbs and have his revenge while I sleep.

Which is all to say, I made a pdf guide explaining how to make the robot.  It’s light on pictures, so I hope the text suffices.  The robot takes about 30 minutes.

You, too, can have a Cookiebot in your life.


 

*Not really.  If I knew how to make something like that out of paper, I would be leading a very different life.

Imitation invectives and their uses

Censorship breeds amusing substitutes for the common profanities we all know and love. While “fuckity fuck fuck fuck” is absolutely a phrase I over-use, I have a special place in my heart for the fill-in profanities that crop up in the TV versions of movies and in a lot of social situations involving self-censorship.

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Oh, for skunk’s sake.

Though I didn’t know it at the time, my first exposure to swear substitutes was “shoot the boot!” I’ve heard stories about parents who swear in front of their kids, and are later embarrassed when the kid swears in public. I don’t understand why it’s embarrassing if the word isn’t being grievously misused, but whatever. This never happened to my parents, because they have an inhuman ability not to swear. Between the two of them, I’ve heard swearing maybe three times ever, and those were all from my dad. When I was little, my mom frequently used the phrase “shoot the boot,” always said in a jaunty, rhythmic manner, like it was the title of a Dr. Seuss book.

This kind of fake swearing, along with cheery, defanged expletives like “Aw, heck” and “Oh, fudge” left me unimpressed with phony curses for a long time. When I became a teenager and came into my own as a vulgar human being, entitled to the full range of hard, monosyllabic curses the English language has to offer, I eschewed the knock-offs every single time I could get away with it.  And, this article argues that I was right to do so.

Until a few years ago, I saw the stand-ins as imposters. Mock swears were like a guy with a false beard conspicously saying, “No, I’m definitely not the same dude you gave the one-per-person free ice cream to a moment ago.” They’re adorably trying to be the real thing. Hearing “go fork yourself” on TV movies amused me, but it was more like a kitten playing with yarn than a Siberian tiger shredding a tapestry and roaring.

I’ve come to appreciate the fakies for their creativity.

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You can see the dedication in the 1/8 inch gouge of the lettering on this shopping center picnic table.

Recently, my grandma was telling me that if she misbehaved when she was young, her mother would come after her yelling, “I’ll give you Hail Columbia.”  My great-grandma didn’t come up with it herself, but wherever it came from, it’s still a lot more creative than “heck.” Actually, can we reappropriate “heck?” It doesn’t have to be wimpy.  Let’s say that it’s a combination of “hell” and “fuck.”

Anyway.

Think of how many other possibilities there could be.  “I’ll give you hailstones.” Actually, I’m blanking. I can’t think of any more possibilities.  “Hail” is lodged in my head.  But a number of words begin with H, no? To use George Carlin’s number, there are, what, seven good swear words? But there are a million words in the English language. What if, somehow, they could all be used as profanities?

Options!

I mean that as a swear, like a joyful “fuck yeah!” Nope, doesn’t work. But I’d bet that a large chunk of Anglo-Saxon derived words do.

From the way my grandma told it, she definitely didn’t associate “I’ll give you Hail Columbia” with wimpiness, and she didn’t think of it as a frail imitator. When she was in trouble for Whatever Shit She Pulled (my words, not hers), my great-grandma made sure her wrath was clear, no matter what the wording.

And that’s another reason I’ve grown warmer towards the substitutes. It’s not just the creativity. Said with enough vehemence, anything can be an invective.

Nerds!  Oh snap!

Recently, I heard someone say, “Shut the front door.”

Say it with the rhythm of “Shut the fuck up.” Satisfying, right?

Only a hammer is a hammer. But if you’re in a pinch, you can use a rock as a hammer. You can use a steel water bottle as a hammer. And you can use a “hammer!” as a “dammit!”


P. S. The Terribleminds Profanity Generator is a fantastic resource for long-form creative swearing.