27 Oct 2009, 12:41pm
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Zombie Stores

matt_meagan_zombies_smallHalloween is my favorite holiday, it always has been.

Part of the lead up to Halloween of course involves not only costume shopping, but generally trolling (hah) among halloween stores to see what beauties they’ve come up with this year. I choose to pretend the travesty of inflatable decorations do not exist, but otherwise, most Halloween decorations can’t be to cheesily spooky for my taste. Motion activated hand in a bowl, fake flaming cauldrons, strobe lights, it’s ALL good.

zombies_3You can usually get a good dose of Halloween gloom at craft stores and fabric stores. Novelty stores like Hot Topic, Spencers, and their smaller counterparts are always good for some unique creepy items. Of course the big box stores like Walmart and Target usually dedicate a decent sized section to “seasonal” items.
zombies_1
For the most pleasantly overwhelming experience though, the best source is a dedicated Halloween store. The quality of these stores varies, but you’re pretty much assured to be surrounded by grey, black and orange props, often extensively enough to spend hours giggling over fake corpses and daggers.

zombies_2Even in the “higher end” versions of these stores you’ll be hard pressed to find anything not made of plastic, they tend not to have anything particularly fine, but that’s really not the point. While a store full of Christmas decorations can probably cause a tinsel seisure, oversaturation of Halloween decorations just produces little kid giddiness.

I’m always curious about these stores though. In recent years they’re HUGE, the size of a Best Buy or a Target, because often they’re in a building that used to BE a Best Buy or a Target. Often the very same shelves that previously held decorative pumpkin scented candles, now hold… decorative pumpkin scented candles.

You don’t find this sort of retail recycling for any other holiday or event. Halloween stores are almost universally in previously empty buildings whose previous residents went out of business anywhere from 6 months to 6 years ago. Then on November 1st they’re gone without a trace like Mr. Elvis’s Magic Shop, leaving the boarded up shell in their wake.zombies_4

As much as I love these stores, I find this a little disconcerting. It seems like these stores rely on a failing economy for their existence. I’m not trying to make some political statement, revealing Halloween stores as soulless opportunists, it just seems weird. It is, appropriately, creepy.

zombies_5Where are the stores when there is not an abundance of empty buildings? Living in the Steel Belt, it’s hard to imagine this being a problem. I can’t see Halloween stores having a hard time finding a spot any time soon. But what happens on the highly hypothetical day that Cleveland’s economy explodes? Do these stores just disappear?

I don’t think so. I think they find a place where there was no space before. On a previously empty wall, a door glowing at the edges with evil smelling fake fog. A construction site completed overnight, then bulldozed again next month. Maybe a derelict house on the corner turns on a neon sign and starts selling ghosts. You follow a black cat and realize you’re lost in a part of town you’ve never seen before, and that you’ll never find again.zombies_6

How else COULD it be? It’s Halloween.

Blah blah blah blahb. Blah balh balh alh alkjek lakwje. Bewok bkjokw alek.

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  • Fast Drawings

    For this week’s Illustration Friday, “Fast” I thought I’d do a set of quick sketches.

    Click on any image to see a larger version. Everyone knows cheetahs are the fastest land animals:
    cheetah_web_small
    According to wisegeek, cheetahs run up to 70 mph. I run about 0.70 miles per hour on a good day.

    The fastest water animal, I had to look up.
    sailfish_web_small
    This is a sailfish, which I had heard of but had never really thought about much. They’re actually pretty cool looking, like a dinosaur mixed with a swordfish. Like the cheetah, sailfish travel 70 mph, so in a triathlon I suppose they’d be about evenly matched. Until they got to the biking portion, because everyone knows fish can’t ride bikes.

    Finally, the fastest animal of the air is the aptly named Sir Not Appearing in this Film. Wait. I mean the aptly named swift.
    swifts_web_small
    Swifts fly through the air at 106 mph, making them the fastest animal in the world (probably not great in the triathlon though).

    I’m pretty happy with how the sailfish and the swifts turned out. I got the cutout effect by reverse selecting the subjects, and darkening the paper grain to add in a more noticable texture. The cheetah is ok, but I always have a tough time with cats for some reason. This one looks a bit like a monkey or a hyena, but as my cats go, it’s acceptable.

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  • 21 Oct 2009, 11:42am
    commentaries drawings life
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    Frozen

    On September 29th, a U.S. District Judge dismissed Janice Langbehn’s lawsuit against Jackson Memorial Hospital.

    rights_web_small(click for larger version)

    In February of 2007, Janice and her life-partner Lisa Pond were beginning a vacation with three of their four children when Lisa collapsed on the deck of a cruise ship. Lisa was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital (Florida) and Janice followed with their children as quickly as she could.

    Half an hour after arriving at the hospital, a social worker went to Janice and told her, ““you are in an anti-gay city and state. And without a health care proxy you will not see Lisa nor know of her condition.”

    Janice, a former health care worker, responded quickly, having her legal Durable Powers of Attorney faxed to the hospital. In spite of this, Janice and their children were left in the waiting room with no information for several hours. Eventually a surgeon told her that Lisa had suffered an aneurysm and would have no recovery.

    rights_2A priest came to give Lisa last rites, and Janice attended with him, seeing her life partner for the first time in five hours. After the rites, Janice was ushered back into the waiting room.

    Lisa was in the trauma room for 8 hours, but Janice was denyed the comfort of being with her during her final hours, minutes. Their children, legal children of both Janice and Lisa, were not allowed in to say goodbye before their mother died. Jance continued to wait in a non-informational bubble until Lisa’s sister came to the hospital. At that time, Lisa’s sister was told that Lisa had been moved more than an hour ago. They had not bothered to tell Janice or their children, waiting in useless space. The blogpost explaining the case can be found here.

    rights_3In some ways, this story has nothing to do with Same Sex Marriage. Power of Attorney is exactly the legal protection someone is told to get if they want to make sure they’ll be allowed to be present in the event of a loved one’s deathbed. This is the power that allows you to make medical decisions for someone, to stay informed on their condition, to be allowed to visit their bed if it is medically possible. If a gay woman with Power of Attorney was denied those rights, there is no reason to believe she would have been given information and access even if she had a legal marriage. There was NO legal basis to keep Janice away from Lisa as she lay dying. As for keeping out the children, there is no human explanation. It’s nothing short of hateful.

    The dismissal of the case is an endorsement for Legal discrimination based on sexual orientation.

    This is not being overly dramatic. If there is no other legal basis for the decision, it can only be legal discrimination. My concern, beyond the obvious unfairness, is that if it is “ok” to discriminate based on sexual orientation for ignoring Power of Attorney, perhaps it is also ok to discriniate for treatment. This may seem like a stretch, but the precedent has just been set. I only hope they appeal.

    rights_1In other ways of course, this is entirely about gay marriage. I have never understood why people who feel it is “wrong” for gay people to marry, think their belief entitles them to make the marriage illegal. Laws are meant to protect us, not to cage us, at least in this supposedly free country. Having same sex marriage in no way harms those who feel it is immoral. Keeping it illegal on the other hand, harms many.

    I do not however think that legalizing gay marriage is the solution. Rather, I think all “legal” marriage should be abolished. Too many people of this country have proven that they are incapable of understanding the difference between legal marriage and religious marriage. Here is the point: the rights given by a legal marriage CANNOT be determined by religious standards. It doesn’t matter if we call it a marriage or a bunny rabbit; the only thing the STATE can grant two people, any two people, is a civil union. Currently, most states call this civil union a marriage. A few states call civil unions a marriage when it is between a man and a woman, but a civil union when it’s between two men, or two women.

    It’s idiotic. Let’s just call them all civil unions and be done with it. If marriage is so loaded a word that we automatically attach religious meaning to it, the state has no business granting it, any more than it should start baptizing babies, or mandating fasting periods.

    It is as problematic to have the state grant marriages as it would be to have the state tell churches who can marry. If the idea of having two men marry seems wrong to you, imagine having the government tell your church that they must allow men to marry each other.

    Leave marriage where it belongs: In church. It should be up to churches to decide who can and cannot marry. If your church says it’s a sin for a woman to love another woman, that is their right, no one can force them to allow it. That’s what a separation between church and state MEANS. Meanwhile, if those crazy Unitarian Universalists start marrying Jane and Jane, WHY SHOULD YOU CARE? Please. I am begging. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Let them live their lives freely.rights_glass

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