September 24, 2011

Transformers are so five years ago.

Archie McPhee is perhaps better known in geek circles for being a purveyor of unique 21st century novelty items, a disproportionate number of which are themed after bacon and mustaches. But the website really won me over with its quirky selection of toys.

Action figures by Archie McPhee
Among other things, the site offers an honest-to-goodness line of action figures based on men and women from history. Move over, G.I. Joe! Now you too can play with your very own Benjamin Franklin, Marie Antoinette (complete with detachable head!), Charles Dickens, Harry Houdini, Sigmund Freud, and of course, Jesus Christ.

Box of Extraordinary Gentlemen Action Figure Collection
They even have their own "All Of The Above" package.

Archie McPhee doesn't just stop at famous historical figures, however. They also offer other toys ranging from the neat to the bizarre to the downright sad.

September 23, 2011

So much for maturity.

(Originally posted at the Lalaloopsy Fan Club forums last July 19, 2011, 11:34 PM forum time.

I am still ambivalent about the issue of indoctrinating little girls with the color pink.)

I'm getting one inch closer to completing the new minis! Managed to snag Jewel's Primpin' Party yesterday.

Mini Lalaloopsy, Jewel's Primpin' Party, packaging

A peek into the House of Lala

(Originally posted at the Lalaloopsy Fan Club forums last July 16, 2011, 1:55 PM forum time.

Yes, a Lalaloopsy fan club. These minis have really done a number on my thought processes.)

Just got my hands on Berry's Kitchen this week. It is adorable! The oven and sink are also pretty sturdy, which makes them an improvement over past playsets so far. Am going to get Jewel's Primpin' Party next, now all I need to do is save up for the Treehouse!

Mini Lalaloopsy, Berry's Kitchen, packaging

September 4, 2011

The Times, They Are...

I should have seen this coming. I walked into Astroplus today and there was a whole table of music CDs on sale. Two things immediately struck me: that these were actual proper albums by actual recording artists I recognized (some of which had even been on my CD Shopping List for a while now), and that they were now being proffered at ridiculously low prices. The sign even said "80% Off!"

I had already known about the radical decline of CD sales for some time now. I already know about the great sea change that lead people to get their music primarily from downloads and torrents and stuff. I even made the hard decision of making that shift myself recently, shutting away my older baggage about the medium for good. But I have to admit, seeing the great sea change with my own eyes was still a real punch to the gut for me.

Of course, even music fans know when not to be denied. As I had only a little cash left at the moment, I had to choose between this...

Kings Of Leon, Only by the Night, album cover
... and this.

The Music of DC Comics: 75th Anniversary Collection, album cover

In the end I had to go with Kings Of Leon. Admittedly the lure of having the original Superman film score, the Batman Beyond theme, Danny Elfman's Batman music AND the Justice League Unlimited theme blaring from my laptop on demand was great. However, even I had to admit that there were a couple niggles about this album that made it difficult for me to commit to it. Besides, how can you put Smallville in there without a token mention oSOMEBODY SAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVE MEEEEEEEEEEE...

I kid, I kid. I guess I can always come back for the DC album some other time. It's not like only one Astroplus is feeling the music industry pinch, right?

Spin The Gray Circle: Confessions of a CD Snob

(Originally published in my very first blog last March 26, 2007, 22:48 Philippine time.

It probably goes without saying that my CD-buying habits have not fully recovered since then.)

Sonic Youth, Rather Ripped, album cover
To put it safely, by most accounts I am very money-wise and frugal: traits I often take pride in. But if I had to have only ONE very costly, irrational and disappointingly deplorable vice, it would have to be buying CDs. (All ORIGINAL ALBUMS, mind you.)

It has come to the point that my family has grown seriously concerned, worried that an otherwise clearheaded person would willingly splurge (I prefer to think of it as “invest”) thousands of pesos on an otherwise pointless hobby. To make things even MORE drastic, practically ALL the music I personally listen to these days comes exclusively from CDs. I’m not kidding.

My “sole vice” exists in very ironic circumstances: that these days (especially right here at home) one could always opt for easier and CHEAPER ways to obtain music… Downloading songs online and tracking down in Plaza Fair home-burned CD-R copies you could literally buy by the dozen, to name a few. This isn’t the Nineties anymore, when CDs and tapes and cursory playlists on FM radio and MTV really were the be-all and end-all of music for the masses. Now, it seems you can really find EVERYTING for free online (that is, if you’re tech-savvy enough).

I personally hate being figuratively backed into a corner whenever I’m questioned about my “musical habits.” Yes, such a pastime would indicate not only material elitism, but sheer musical snobbishness. And yes, not only is it technologically backward (seeing as CDs are possibly already on the fast track to obsolescence, thanks to the Great Wide Web), but it is also the sort of counter-productive consumer behavior that keeps the big record companies ludicrously rich and the current music industry perpetually on the rocks.

So WHY do I refuse to wean myself from this aesthetically “nasty” habit, especially since I have a whole shipload of good reasons to? Well, to speak very honestly, I’m feeling kinda stumped about it myself. For me CD-buying is not just some pathologically maniacal obsession I am enslaved to. It is simply MY way of maintaining a very personal, intimate, somewhat holistic affair with an art form that has otherwise been permanently changed and spread wide open by digital globalization and quantity-over-quality megalomania.

Precisely because it has now gotten SO EASY to get gigabytes of aural pleasure online, some people now seem to get music online not because they want to, but simply because they can. This is just my opinion, but just clicking on an allegedly awesome song online just seems so antiseptic and impersonal compared to the concrete act of literally craning your neck, getting on your knees or breaking your back in search of some full musical document only Fate could bring your way, then later taking a chance and cradling it in your fingertips in some moment of surreal triumph.

In short, I hold on to my very costly, irrational and disappointingly deplorable vice… simply because I’m a damn romantic.

MY MOST RECENT ACQUISITION: Sonic Youth's 2006 album "Rather Ripped"

Google Images Versus Tiny Plastic Babies

I love Google Images. I don't know why, but today I randomly decided to play around with one of its newer features. They recently updated things so that you can find images not just with search queries, but also by uploading an image from your file.

That being said, the new image-based engine seems to run on predominantly-used colors, not unlike the search functions on sites like Etsy or Hostess With The Mostess. This is not without its foreseeable quirks.

This was a results page I just pulled up this evening:

Google Images experiment, results page
And this was the actual image I tried to bamboozle test Google with:

Carrot Jockey necklace (long story)
For some context, the Naked Mohawk Babies Riding On Carrots saga.
(It helps to know that I am also a Cake Wrecks junkie.)
I first came across the Carrot Jockey image about a year ago, happily giving it a new home in my Bizarre Stuff From The Internet hard drive repository. (What, you don't have one?) I would've easily put the whole Tiny Plastic Babies saga to rest right then and there. A chance work-related discovery, however, recently forced me to see these kitschy craft store tchotchkes in a whole new light.

I already figured there must have been a myriad of baby shower decor and party favor applications for these things. But I never imagined anything quite as specific as... well...
The [My Water Broke] baby shower game will sure break the ice at your upcoming baby shower celebration! Guests will be taken by surprise when you let them know about the little one in their favorite beverage! Prior to the shower, place a baby in each cube slot and make ice. During the shower, serve refreshments with the special ice. The guest that has their baby break free first is the winner!

Wow. Wow.

Yeah, this certainly takes the whole "icebreaker" concept a little too literally.

In short: Google Images, still an inexact science. Tiny plastic babies, now menacing ice cubes and carrots near you!