Posts Tagged ‘pictures’

So, with the impending apocalypse supposedly happening tomorrow, I thought I’d go out and see the final moonrise:


…The earth is fucked, people.

~ Ian


It’s getting to be the Holiday™ Season® again, and we all know what that means:

Consumer catalogs mailed to every door in the country.

One of these consumer catalogs that arrived at our house was an American Girl catalog. You’ve probably heard of them: they’re the people who make various polyethnic dolls that live all throughout History Times. Now, since there are not and have never been any people living in the Johnson Household who fit into American Girl’s target demographic, I fully expected the catalog to go to that great recycling plant in the sky. But since I wanted to read something quick while my waffles were in the toaster (as I am a compulsive reader), I picked up the catalog, and flipped through it.

Now, I have seen some scary things. I have stared into the abyss, where madness and chaos doth lie. I have stood atop tall mountains and slid down them at high speeds with nary a butterfly in my stomach. I have even cleaned out what has come out of my brother’s dog’s butt (although that tested the limits of my sanity).

Suffice it to say, I am a brave and hardy fellow.

Which means that when I say that the following images WIGGED ME THE FUCK OUT, you can know how incredibly fiendish and terrifying they are.












Axolotl Ceviche readers with sensitive stomachs may want to avert their eyes.











No, seriously. You’ll want to back off now.















Okay, fine. Don’t say I didn’t warn you:







I can’t imagine what kind of parents would ever buy these… garments for their CHILD. I mean, considering the vast existential horror of the advertisements, don’t you think that any sensible head-of-household would immediately picture their sweet baby angel permanently disfigured by the mere touch of the outfit, burned and warped so that it turns into nothing more than a surface on which bleeding pustules grow, their infant-smooth epidermis contorted into a vessel for dark bile and hate?

I mean, look at this:




Looking at this picture, we can see a number of children, ostensibly happy, carrying dolls with the same appearance and ethnicity of the girl who bears it.

Now, wouldn’t any logical, sane person assume, when looking at this picture, that each doll was once human? And that she, when she was a living, breathing girl, had a dark twin, an evil doppelgänger who cast some manner of enchantment on her, cursing her to take the form of a doll forever, while her evil twin walked the earth in her place?


Of course, this final image seals the proof that American Girl is actually some kind of evil, supernatural force working for the active destruction of the earth and the bringing of the Apocalypse. Like Wolfram & Hart, only less cuddly:

Look at this picture. Now, normally you would assume that this was an ordinary-sized girl, holding an ordinary-sized doll.

But look at the evidence. The size of the furnishings. The rendering artifacts. The tasteful, modern sans-serif font in the product description. No, clearly the doll is actually THE SIZE OF A HUMAN CHILD, and has been turned into a doll by a MALEVOLENT, TEN-FOOT-TALL GIANTESS.

And do you know what’s worst of all? THEY DID THE SAME THING TO THE LITTLE GIRL’S CAT.

So, that’s American Girl for you. They’re enchanters, black magicians, possibly Satanists, and cat-murderers.

Tell your congressman.


~ Ian





Image Credit: SF Chronicle

So, the San Francisco Giants won the World Series last night.

Which makes this their second win in three years.

After spending nearly half a century without a World Series win.

I’m pretty damn happy about this.

But I don’t want to share with you guys how incredible the Giants played this postseason, or all year, for that matter. This isn’t a sportsball blog.

Instead, I want to talk about some of my memories of baseball, and of the Giants.


If someone were to say that I bleed orange and black, they wouldn’t be entirely wrong, even though that sounds like a horrible blood disease that I have to get checked out immediately.

My first Giants game was probably around 1993 or 1994, when the Giants were still playing in Candlestick Park. I was a wee little nipper of a thing then. In fact, somewhere in my parents’ photo archives is a picture of me sitting at Candlestick Park, looking as innocent and cute as a little bunny rabbit. It’s a sweet picture, especially when you take into account that I may be many things today, but “innocent” and “cute” are neither one of them.


Number of Pictures on Axolotl Ceviche With Ian Photographing Himself While Wearing Hats: 3

When I was a nine-year-old kid, before I wanted to be a writer, I wanted to play third base for the San Francisco Giants. I only played two years of Little League, and my teams both times were always the best at sucking. And I wasn’t the best player, either. I wasn’t bad, mind you. I could hit and run and field and throw pretty okay. But I wasn’t one of the stars of the team. I was more of the “team oddball”. You know the type, if you ever played in a peewee sports league: the kid with so many mental health issues that he can barely hold a conversation without either imploding into anxious tears or punching you in the face, but who you still feel a sort of odd affection towards, because he’s your kind of weird. Even so, it was my dream to play professional baseball one day, even if my chances at ever doing that were about as low as you can get while still keeping your chances a positive number.

When the Giants got to the World Series in 2002, it was a cause for celebration around my cohousing. We all piled into our common house living room and watched the Giants rise up to the precipice of victory, and then have that all shattered by the Anaheim Angels (WHICH IS CORRECT NAME FOR THAT TEAM, I DON’T CARE IF THEIR OWNER WANTS TO CALL THE TEAM THE “LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM”, THAT IS RIDICULOUS ANAHEIM IS NOWHERE NEAR LOS ANGELES WHAAAAARGARBLE) in the last three games. Then came the long slump of the mid-oughties under Felipe Alou, when the Giants sunk towards the crappier end of the NL West, when the team was mired by scandal (mostly because of that egotistical fucker Barry Bonds… but that’s a completely different story).

In high school, I decided baseball was no longer “cool”. Sports were for dumb jocks. I was too busy going off and memorizing Pink Floyd lyrics and reading Discworld novels to be bothered by jockish nonsense. It was only when I got into college that I rediscovered my love of the game. And it was the perfect time for it, too: that year, 2010, was the year the Giants finally took home the Commissioner’s Trophy, when a gang of freaks and misfits thumbed their noses at the odds and stole it all away. I fell in love with the 2010 Giants, with the fact that none of the players were great as individuals, but were incredible as a unit. In fact, there was no good reason that they should have worked as a unit. The SF Giants in 2010 were like a V12 engine made from rubber bands and spit. And somehow they won.

In 2012, I was there all throughout the season. I watched Matt Cain pitch his perfect game on June 13, 2012 (which might have been the best game ever played in Giants franchise history). I saw them come close to the breaking point when they were down 2-0 in the division series against the Reds, hang on by the skin of their teeth, go 6-0 in elimination games, and steamroll over the Tigers in four games to win it again. I wouldn’t have thought it possible, at times… but the Giants are all about the impossible, somehow. They take statistics and they beat them to death with shovels and they hide the remains in Brian Wilson’s beard. Most of all, they’re my team, and to them, I have only one thing to say:

Well played, sirs. Well played.

~ Ian

PS: I’ll try to find some pictures of me from the periods of Darkest History that I’ve described. You might get some amusement out of them.

I was trying to do some black-and-white night photography up at UCSC last week.

These were two of my less-successful attempts.

Culturally-appropriate Island Greeting!

I wanted to do this post on Wednesday, but I’ve been having computer issues since I got back from Hawaii, which makes me RAGE, because the place where the entire Shafer clan (of which I am an offshoot) had our Hawaiian vacation was an army base, and the military is surprisingly disorganized, so they didn’t know that you had to actually connect the internet to an outside source for there to be internet on the base, which meant that the only time I was on the internet for that whole week was at a Starbuck’s, and then I had internet issues when I got home, so as you can understand, I was going through internet withdrawal and I should probably stop this massive run-on sentence at some point or another, because otherwise my hand might get a cramp and you guys all probably fell asleep halfway through this sentence.

In any case, here are some pictures from Hawaii.


This is where our family stayed. It’s a place called Pokai Bay, located on Oahu’s leeward shore. (Fun fact: “Leeward” is actually pronounced something like “loo-erd”. I was not aware of that.)

Because we were on the leeward shore, all the grass was dead and brown, so I felt somewhat at home, since the grass in California from about May to December is also dead and brown. It was humid, though, which I guess I should have been expecting. I’m a California boy. I hate all humidity. I prefer my weather to be either bone-dry or raining. So you can guess why I felt like I was breathing through a wet towel my whole time in Hawaii.


This is not the leeward side of Oahu. In fact, this is the windward side of Oahu, which means that it’s gray and rainy a lot of the time. I don’t mind– I like the rain, and this meant that there was a crapton of greenery all over the place. I mean, look at it: it’s so green!

(A phonological note: windward is pronounced exactly how you think it would be pronounced.)


A large and pointy mountain.


The mountain on the left makes me smile, for some reason.


This picture also made me smile. Maybe it was because of the guys falling off the edge of the cliff over to the right.

I think this means I’m a horrible person.


One thing that the brochures don’t tell you about Hawaii is that there are feral chickens all over the place.





The place.



(In related news, apparently I stopped maturing when I was thirteen…)


One thing that I found cool about Hawaii was that all the rocks were completely different.

I mean, I guess that shouldn’t surprise me. The area around Santa Cruz is built on a bed of the crushed skeletons of squishy marine organisms, and Hawaii is made out of the extruded flaming rock that dwells deep within the earth. The two areas have completely different geologic histories.

But still. I liked it.


We stopped to get shave ice on the North Shore.

For those of you who don’t know what shave ice is, think of it as sort of like a hybrid between ice cream and a Slurpee: a bit like a snow cone, but not really, because shave ice has delicious tropical fruit flavors like passionfruit and lychee, and it is also huge, with balls of flavored snow easily the size of my two fists put together.

It’s also delicious. Seriously, we need to get some of that over on the mainland.


Across from the shave ice place was a graveyard.

I won’t lie: I love graveyards, and I always have. Even when I was a tiny kid I never found them scary, but instead thought of them as a simultaneously thrilling and restful place. So far, my favorite graveyard I’ve ever visited was Trinity Churchyard in downtown New York, which was a colonial-era churchyard in the shadow of the absolutely massive steel-and-glass skyscrapers of lower Manhattan. But this graveyard was almost as cool.


This one made me sad.

(If you can’t guess why, look at the birth and death dates.)


There was one family plot that I thought was cool, which was a family of European missionaries who lived in the area back when Hawaii was actually a country. This is their son, who died at the age of twelve.

(I am actually curious, and ask anyone who might know: what does “died in the hope of the Gospel” mean? Does it mean that John L.S. Emerson wasn’t baptized? That would surprise me, since he was a missionary’s son, but still. Anyone know?)


This cool old tombstone was actually in Hawaiian!


This is a picture of a semi truck’s wheels.




Most of the things that I found different and cool about Hawaii were the little things. And one of the little things that’s different about Hawaii is this: when you’re on the mainland, and you see one of these little sign things warning you that there is a CAUTION WET FLOOR, then there’s always a little thing below it that says: CUIDADO: PISO MOJADO. This is because it is automatically assumed that you either speak English or Spanish in the US. Spanish is the default second language.

Not in Hawaii. There’s tons of Japanese in Hawaii. There’s Japanese writing everywhere. Kanji, hiragana, katakana– it’s all there. All over the place. And while I was in Hawaii, I didn’t see a single word of Spanish.

I thought that was cool. It’s the little things that really show how much different places are different. And I guess it’s true what they say: that Oahu is the fifth main Japanese island.


Hiking up Diamond Head, I was pleased to see another Zelda fan had been there.

(I tried playing “Zelda’s Lullaby” on my spare ocarina. It didn’t do anything.)


Now, I’m the first to admit that I’m out of shape. I’m fat, I have huge thighs, and I pant going up most of the hills in Santa Cruz. So when I hiked up Diamond Head, it was hard going, what with all the tunnels, and stairs, and forty-five degree inclines.

But when I got to the top of Diamond Head?



A “sign” at Pearl “Harbor”.

Somebody, needs to “learn” how “to” punctuate, (properly)\


An interesting cave.


Along with graveyards, I really like caves. Maybe this just goes to show that I’m a vampire dwarf.


A glimpse of the rare East Pacific Yellowtree (Hawaiian name: Kapunapunahamale’e’a’a’apa’a’a).

The yellow color is to lure pollinators in towards its flowers (fortunately not in bloom in June, since they are toxic and give off the smell of burning offal), where it devours them with its fanged stamens.


On our last day in Hawaii, we were glad to see something that reminded us of home.


I think this is a good place to stop.


~ Ian

This Sunday, I went on a dorm-sponsored trip to here:

For those of you who don’t know, this is Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, location of the de Young art museum and a lot of really cool paintings. Which are the things I looked at.

Now, I respect art as much as the next person. I mean, I write, and the creative process is similar for writers and painters.

However, I’m also an irreverent bastard. So when I looked at the paintings, my mind couldn’t help making lame jokes. So I decided to mix two forms of art: the high art that is on display at the de Young with what many consider to be the lowest form of art: the internet meme.

Here are the results of my visit. Hope you enjoy.

~ Ian


PS: A note to anyone from the de Young who reads this post: I really did like your museum. The paintings were beautiful, and I had a lovely time. Sorry for making a mockery of your art.

That being said, you had some really funny paintings there…

So, I had a long, complicated dream last night. And because I sometimes get ideas from dreams, I decided to write down the idea that I had from this dream in my Book O’ Ideas (which I carry around all over the place, and no, you can’t look it it).

In any case, the dream was huge and long and beautiful and moving, with a massive cast of characters and an epic scope.

That’s all I can remember, though. Everything else? Gone.

So, I wrote down the three words that were in my head when I woke in the middle of the night at about two AM. And… well… here’s what they said:

My thumb is included with no extra charge.

Keep in mind that I don’t remember this dream. I have no idea what I was dreaming about. None at all.

So I ask you, my dear readers: what the hell does “Skyrim Bucket Grab” mean?

Yours befuddledly,

~ Ian

The epic trilogy CONCLUDES!

Okay. Now the afternoon winds down at Maker Faire. As the epic trilogy of blog posts concludes, we come to the anticlimactic climax of my adventures at Maker Faire 2012, which does not contain tiny teddy bears with spears. However, it does contain Warhammer 40k cosplay, Bradburian fire trucks, and bubbles.


After seeing the MOST AWESOME SCULPTURE EVER, I came over to the midway to listen to some music.

These guys (I didn’t catch the name of their band) sounded like a combination of the Dresden Dolls and Queen– which, of course, is a good thing.

Now, if you look over to the right of the picture, you can see people on bicycles, pedaling. These people were providing all the power to the amps for the band.

I pedaled for a little while, turning gyro into G-chords, and helped the following band to make wonderful music.

It was fun. And good exercise.

My legs were tired afterwards.


A jeep! That you can affix Legos to!


Guess what you just lost?


Here at Maker Faire, the fire trucks don’t shoot water. Rather the opposite, actually.




I don’t know what kind of beast is being summoned here. All I can guess is that it’s from the Elemental Plane of Water, and it hates all life.




This was really cool.

It’s a working replica of the 1960s teaching computer, the Digi-Comp II. But instead of electrons, it calculates things using billiard balls.

I find it shocking and amazing that humans from the Digi-Comp II to the PlayStation 3 in just forty years. And that the PS3 costs far less than a DCII did in its day.

People are awesome.


Jannek was delighted to see an antique German fire truck at the Maker Faire.

And I got to learn an awesome new word: Feuerwehr!

(It means Fire Department. Unfortunately, ich kann nur ein bisschen Deutsch sprechen.)


A Lego metropolis– Legopolis, if you will.


Finally, we end with this picture that really demonstrates what Maker Faire is all about: a man riding a gigantic bicycle through the fairgrounds, a thing that should not be and yet his, a thing that he built with his own hands.

Maker Faire demonstrates something important that we’re in danger of forgetting. Creativity isn’t something that is taught. It’s not something that you have to go to school to learn. It’s inherent in all of us– whether we’re high school students building a BSG flight sim in our garages, a bunch of friends who get together to make music in the sunshine, or a guy who gets snails to eat through paper. Nobody has a monopoly on creativity. Ideas come from everywhere. Science isn’t something done by stern men in white coats in secluded desert laboratories– it’s something that surrounds us and permeates everywhere we go. And people should never let what other people say is possible get in the way of doing something awesome.

Godspeed, Maker Faire. I’ll see you again in 2013.

~ Ian


PS: If you want to go to the Maker Faire, but are one of those people who live in the secluded hinterlands, despair not. There are other Maker Faires, including ones in New York and Detroit which are coming later this year, as well as dozens of mini Maker Faires held all over the world, from Ghana to Gujarat, from Melbourne to Minnesota.

Here’s a link to the main Maker Faire page.

But look at me still talking when there’s science to do! Be good to each other. ~ Ian

Gaaah… tired…

I promised you guys a second Maker Faire post though, so here it is.

My previous post brought you guys up to lunchtime. With that in mind, I’m going to talk some about the things that happened after lunch. Here we are with Episode V (which, not surprisingly, is the best of the trilogy), which contains giant cast-iron sculptures that shoot flame, children engaged in combat, and snails.


What does one have for lunch at the Maker Faire? Well, typically, a big plate of this:

This is paella. For those of you who don’t know, paella is a Spanish dish that is prepared by taking a net, dragging it across the bottom of the sea, and cooking whatever you catch in it.

It’s by far the most popular dish at the Maker Faire, so the line was huge. As much as I enjoy todos los mariscos, I decided to avoid the line, instead choosing to get a gigantic gyro and a cup of lemonade that had no sugar in it, so it tasted more like watered-down lemon juice.


This face loomed over the eating area.

Its eyes, eyelids, eyebrows, and lips moved. Rest assured, this was CREEPY AS FUCK.


Snails, making art.


The SCA was there, allowing small children to sample the art of warfare…


…as well as pursuits of a more peaceful nature.


3D printers were there in abundance.






Now, this next section is so incredibly awesome that I need you guys to brace yourselves…












Are you ready?















You sure?











Okay, check this out…



This image doesn’t appropriately convey the size of this giant iron dandelion (and, by the way, Yrön Dåndélyönn is the name of my new black metal band).

It’s about twenty feet tall.


Not really a fire-shooting sculpture, but this thing was cool and looked like something you’d see in a Fallout game.


Of course, this was the thing that made the heavy metal fan in me die a little with joy…







I was gazing raptly at this giant, beautiful monstrosity, thinking, This is one of the coolest things at the Maker Faire so far. The only thing that would be better is if it could breathe fire. 

The second I thought that, this happened:


This was the shortest turnaround from dream to reality that I’ve ever experienced.

I never got the names of the people who made this beautiful piece of congealed epic.

I bet we could hang out.


Actually, you know what? I’m having an upcoming D&D campaign this summer. Now, it’s a bit of a stretch, considering the medieval fantasy setting I’m considering, but I kind of want to put this monstrosity in my campaign.


My friend Finn has been on me to make a steampunk-themed campaign. If I ever do that, I’m definitely going to put this thing into the story.

You know. Because steampunk D&D campaigns absolutely HAVE to have a fire-breathing robot dragon.

I think it’s in the DMG.


This fellow had a nice bicycle.

Since I mentioned that I wanted this picture for my blog, he gave me the business card for his website, in case any of my ten regular readers are interested in wooden bikes with piratical themes. They’re called Masterworks Wood and Design, and they’re based in San Jose.

You know. Check them out.

That’s all for today. My trilogy of Maker Faire retrospectives wraps up tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Now my reward… blessed, blessed sleep.

~ Ian

Today I went to Maker Faire.

It was awesome, as usual.

For those of you who don’t know, Maker Faire is an annual DIY festival held in San Mateo, and it is awesome.

The closest description I can give to Maker Faire that comes close to portraying the whole thing is that it’s half hacker convention, half industrial art exposition, and half street fair. But this description is absolutely nothing like what it is.

(Yes, I know– there are three halves in there. But Maker Faire is so cool that it defies the laws of mathematics.)

Fortunately, for those of you who weren’t there (I’m looking at you, Steve), then I took pictures.

Lots of pictures, actually.

Almost two hundred, in fact.

So, I’m dividing my account of the Maker Faire into three parts. This first part, which I have chosen to designate as Episode IV, contains cyborg plunger-monsters, lightning-producing supermachines, and  hats.


A view of the West Entrance of Maker Faire.

Observe the man in the robot costume in the foreground. As you may not be able to tell, his costume is also a soundsystem.


These teens built a flight simulator of the Viper from Battlestar Galactica.

All that I could think about while watching this was, damn, I wish I was that creative and brilliant when I was in high school.


The Dalek was popular with the children…


…as was the fleet of Astromech droids.








Personally, I can think of no higher aspiration for humanity than to put children in a cage and shoot lightning at them.

(Oh, don’t look so shocked. The children were fine– except for one who came out with white hair and the ability to control electricity with her mind. But personally, I count that as a net benefit.)


A typical form of public transportation at the Maker Faire: Peyote.


As usual, the steampunks were out in force.


Steampunks, with their newfangled Horseless Carry-azhe™.




I decided to try on the most manly of the hats.

In case you’re wondering, this is the second installment of the ever-growing chronicle of Ian Photographing Himself Wearing Strange Hats (the first being, of course, my Jayne Hat picture).


And finally, as a sign of What Is To Come…

You will come to notice that Sculptures That Shoot Flames™ are a recurring theme at Maker Faire.

More tomorrow,

~ Ian