Monday, October 28, 2013

The Belyoak Landscape

At the Salt Lake City ComiCon, we stumbled upon Kat Martin, an artist who takes cheap landscapes and paints different characters onto them.  Like this Doctor-Who themed one:

We loved the idea and decided that if we ever found a cheesy landscape, we would upscale it for our home by adding characters representing each of us.  Because Mr. Charming is crazy talented like that.

So, a few weeks ago we found this at DI:

And because we were at the onset of a kid-free weekend, we decided to go for it. 

First we picked characters for the kids and us.  And then Mike worked his magic and transferred his representations of those characters onto the painting.  I was his paint-by-numbers assistant--filing in the outlines with the appropriate colors--and he worked behind me, shading them so they looked real.  He’s super good at it, and I’m not just saying that because I sleep with him and stuff.

See for yourself.  This is the Spiderman I painted:

Mike took that sad sorry thing and turned it into this: 

Mr. Charming's pretty amazing, right?  He’s also blindingly handsome with a rock-hard heiny.  

With each picture, I became more and more amazed at my husband's talent. 

Claire’s Peace Sun:

Carma’s Rarity:

Greyson’s Minion:

 Leah’s Rainbow Dash:

My Alias (Sidney Bristow) Pony:

And Harrison’s Banksy Mouse:

We almost finished the entire picture in one weekend, but ran out of time after painting the TARDIS and Mike’s Cthulu tentacles.  But just this weekend there was a window of time where Mike was able to finish shading both.  Here’s the finished product:

I heart this.  Almost as much as I heart Mr. Charming's heiny.  Almost.

And that’s why we decided that instead of hanging it in the basement like we first planned, we would hang it over the mantel in our family room, for all to see.  Because we’re nerdy like that.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

In Which Post My BFF Slaughters Five Chickens

There are times in our lives when friends outgrow us and move on. It may have less to do with incompatibility and more to do with the need for greater stimulation.

This past weekend, my BFF slaughtered 5 chickens and graduated from our friendship. Love may no longer be enough to keep us together.

But first, a little backstory.

By Monday morning I had decidedly had a rough weekend. The last 60 hours had included the apprehension and prosecution of one in-house vandal, a basement sleepover robbing 9 people of 38 hours of sleep, and a garage cleanup which resulted in 6 cans of garbage, one truckload of furniture donations and 7 hours mediating the usage of an industrial broom by five children.

Story problem: After the aforementioned 60 hours how much sanity remains between the two step/parents?

Answer: There may not be enough back episodes of Parks & Recreation to completely recover.

So when I called my BFF on Monday morning to debrief, she calmly listened to me recount my weekend, for which she offered the appropriate amounts of sympathy. Then I asked how her weekend went.

BFF: I slaughtered the chickens.

ME: What? Where was Jason?

BFF: He had to fix the van so I told him I would take care of the chickens.

Before we go any further, let me just say, yes, of course they have chickens. It’s like Little House on the Prairie, Idaho Falls edition.

My next thought? If me and Mr. Charming were to ever have chickens needing slaughter, and he said, “Hey, honey. I’ve got to fix the car today.” I would immediately reply, “Ok, dear. I’m going to postpone the slaughtering of our chickens until next Saturday.” Because in no alternate reality can I imagine myself volunteering to decapitate, pluck and gut 5 chickens—and I don’t even know if that’s the proper ordering of butchering tasks.

The truth is my BFF has been leading up to this for some time. Since spring of this year I believe she’s canned or pickled quarts and quarts of peach jam, strawberry jam, apricots, black, white and pinto beans, tomatoes, zucchini, grape juice concentrate, apples, and jalapeno carrots—all while managing the affairs of a third-world country via email transmission.  Ok, so that last part’s not true, but it’s totally within her capacity.

This woman is better prepared for the zombocalypse than me, and I’m married to the man who actually created a board game about it. My BFF now simultaneously awes and terrifies me.

So thus you see how I am concerned I may not be enough friend for my bestie. She may be better aligned with a warrior princess from the Amazon. You know—like with an invisible airplane, a lasso of truth, and bulletproof golden bracelets?

Until then, I’m here as long as she’ll have me.  And when she offers me a jar of pickled jalapeno carrots and a budgeting plan that could restart the government, I’ll offer her a ride to Sam’s Club and a sneak peak at my column.  Heck, maybe I’ll even write one about her.

Because that’s what friends are for.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Wrath of ComiCon

For months my three kids had been planning to attend the Salt Lake ComiCon with their father. So when we discovered, last-minute, that my ex would be unable to take them, Mr. Charming and I decided to go in his place.

I will never be the same.

For those of you who may not know, a comicon is an annual convention originally intended for comic book, sci-fi/fantasy fiction, television and movie fans which has long since expanded to include enthusiasts of any movie, sitcom, anime, video game, board or card game. Plainly put, if you like something a whole lot, can make your own character costume for it, and are willing to sweat it out in full regalia at a venue that defies fire regulations, you’re ComiCon’s intended demographic.

First of all, deciding to go was a no-brainer. My husband is a consummate nerd; the only dilemma was in attending ComiCon without a genius costume. People plan for these things weeks, if not months, in advance, and we were leaving for Salt Lake just hours after purchasing our tickets online. So—armed only with our Teefury shirts and a combined encyclopedic knowledge of Marvel Comics, Doctor Who, My Little Pony and the world of HP Lovecraft—we set off.

Entering the Salt Palace Convention Center for ComiCon is like walking into the mosh pit of junior-high outcasts who had finally shed their alter egos, bad acne, and aversion to deodorant. Within ten minutes we saw (and photographed) 4 Doctor Whos, 2 Spidermen, all the Avengers, assembled—including Spiderman, who was never officially an Avenger but helped them out in a few issues, 2 Wonder Women, 1 Rainbow Dash, 2 post-apocalyptic cyber-guys, Russell from Up, the entire Hobbit cast, 1 dancing Wolverine, 2 Ghost Busters, and a weeping angel.


We spent our first three hours there gawking at all the elaborate costumes, and then, like giggling groupies, asking perfect strangers if we could take pictures with them.

My son, whose Doctor Who costume has become a daily uniform, had suddenly joined an army of 11th doctor clones. While ecstatic to happen upon so many Whovians, he was downcast at being one of the least originally dressed. This is where the more obscure your costume, the geekier—and thus, cooler—you and anyone who recognizes you becomes.

The absolute best part of ComiCon for us was a photo op with Stan Lee, 84-year old father of Marvel Comics and ultimate hero of my 9-year old boy. We stood in line for 3 hours to get one 8x10 of a frail Stan Lee with his arm slung casually over Zack’s shoulder.

While waiting, I noticed one woman in a DC comic shirt ahead of us in line. “The nerve,” I whispered to my husband. “Wearing a DC comic shirt at a Stan Lee photo-op.” If my sons had taught me anything, it was that Marvel and DC were rival comics, and you never aligned yourself with a DC superhero.

Mr. Charming looked at me in mock surprise and said, “Wow! Can’t we just all get along?” He then reminded me of a Coexist shirt we had seen with letters comprised of DC and Marvel superhero logos.

So, that warm and fuzzy feeling I had that weekend? It came from the realization that ComiCon is where all —regardless of race, creed, gender, political affiliations, life form, alternate reality, bond or free, Orc or Hobbit—are welcome and celebrated. So to all those who have ever been tormented, mocked or alienated for being a nerd, remember, it gets better.

And there is always ComiCon.