Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Vigil For the Victims of the Pulse Nightclub Shootings

It is not often (thank goodness) that you turn on the news to find a horrific act of violence has happened in a place you are familiar with. That happened for us this past weekend. DH grew up in Orlando, so even though he didn't know any of the victims, he was very familiar with the area. Just the weekend before we had driven past Pulse more than once while we were in Orlando for DH's sister's retirement party.

Watching the news has been very hard for the last few days. Watching the mother standing outside the club crying because she had no news about whether her son was alive or dead, I cried. What mother can watch that and not imagine herself in that woman's place?

Last night, Blaze and I attended a vigil for the victims at the Florida State Capital. It was not as well attended as I had expected, but was beautifully done. Wild flowers and candles were handed out to all the attendees. There were chants and singing. Members of the clergy spoke. What I was most impressed by, though, was the eloquence of the college students who spoke. These were leaders of various student organizations, who spoke with such passion and clarity that it gives me hope for what the world will become under their leadership.

About 20 minutes before the actual event:
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Musician preforming and leading the group in songs:

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Some people brought signs from home, while others were making posters with material provided on-site.

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Some of the most eloquent speakers of the evening:

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The candlelight vigil:

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The T-shirt that Blaze is wearing was made by a student, who brought a large bag full to hand out to the crowd.
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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Eat Our Dust: A Very Pink and Frilly Teapot Racer

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This is my newest teapot racing creation, made from a remote control car's chassis that Blaze and I found at the Goodwill Goodcents store for 97 cents. There was no "car" attached to it, but that was fine for our purposes. It was still a risk to purchase it, though, because it also didn't have a remote control. Lucky for us, Blaze found the perfect remote buried in his toy box at home.

It was originally black, but I spray painted it gold to match the trim on the Mrs. Potts and Chip Funko Pop toys that I had decided to use for this racer.

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There is, also, no cover for the batteries, but a little packing tape seems to do the trick.

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The "table top" is a piece of foam board left over from the last teapot racer I made and the "table cloth" is an old doily that I dyed pink using a half package of very old cherry Kool-Aid powder.

I wanted to make something that was completely different from any of the other racers I had built and I think I accomplished that.

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There was an open slot behind the "table" that bothered me, but Blaze came up with the wonderful idea of seeing if teabags could be carried in that space. They fit perfectly! He says that the teabags should be given out to each person who's toes get run over by the racer.

I have heard of teapot racing competitors writing poetry or songs to give the judges, but I had never felt inspired, until now. Having a Beauty and the Beast theme, I felt that this racer needed its own version of "Be Our Guest".

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Splendid Teapot Racing at the Steampunk World's Fair

This year, teapot racing was added to the schedule at the Steampunk World's Fair for the first time.

The quickly growing popularity of this sport was evident in the crowded boardroom where the Splendid Teapot Racing panel was held Saturday morning. This picture was taken at the conclusion of the panel, after some people had already left. Before that, it had been standing room only and two of the attendees stepped out into the hall, to make room for other people who were trying to enter.

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I had the honor of being one of the panelists, along with the founding fathers of American teapot racing, Stephen Chapman and Daniel Lee Hawk.

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The medals and trophies created by Lois Wallace:

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The race itself was early (9:00 a.m.) on Sunday morning. On day three of a convention that includes late night activities, 9:00 a.m. is a difficult time. This past Sunday, the difficulty was increased by President Obama speaking at the commencement at near-by Rutger's University. People who were not staying in the host hotels, were redirected at road blocks. My family ended up seeing much more of the town and Rutger's than we intended, after receiving bad directions and getting lost. As a result, we missed most of the teapot racing, but Blaze and I were still allowed to race once we got there.

Daniel Hawk captured the whole race on video:

The main race was followed by the chaos that is Teapot Drag Racing. Many of the racers were on the same frequency, which caused them to go wildly astray and look more like bumper cars, except for Daniel Hawk's little teapot racer, which zoomed straight for the finish line.

My husband's video of the drag race:

James Hatton was the MC for the races. I don't believe he had ever seen a teapot race before. He had, also, been Master of Ceremony for the Speakeasy and burlesque show the night before, so he should have been half-asleep at an early morning event like this, but a true showman never lets the audience down. He kept things moving at a good pace, filled in the "dead time" created by the judges calculations, and kept the crowd laughing.

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He was so excited about teapot racing that he became airborne:

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The judges inspecting the racers:

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There were so many creative entries!

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Tallying the points:

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The coin toss, because two racers were tied for first place:

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The winners:

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One person, who showed up with a racer at the panel, never showed up at the race. I had been looking forward to seeing his teapot racer in operation, because it both drove along the ground and flew, which raised some interesting new questions about rules. I don't know if he overslept or was lost some where in Piscataway, NJ.

There was a good turnout for the races, which increased in number as the races went on, but I have a feeling that it would have attracted even more contestants and spectators if it had been held at a more sensible hour. Personally, I'm a fan of teapot races at teatime.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

More of the Steampunk World's Fair 2016

"People watching" was a big part of the fun. There were so many creative costumers!

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Blaze and I attended The Queen's Tea, a tea party where we were able to try several kinds of tea and eat pastries. The hosts asked tea related trivia questions and the winners were given additional packages of tea as prizes.

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The gift bags at each place setting were full of both single-size and pot-size tea bags for each attendee  to take home, so we left with a lot of tea.

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Blaze and I were wandering aimlessly when we noticed a crowd of people and went to investigate. It turned out that what they were watching was a puppet show. Pineland Puppets has, very cleverly,  updated classic Punch and Judy shows by preforming them as the Joker and Harley Quinn.

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This works amazingly well and modern children still enjoy the slapstick humor of the original scripts.
One adorable toddler came running up to watch while we were standing there, she stood watching for a minute, giggling the cutest, infectious giggle, and then pushed her way between two strangers to make room for herself on a couch, so she could watch the rest of the show.

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Later in the day, Blaze and I were witnesses to puppet Joker and Harley Quinn meeting human Joker and Harley Quinn.

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It rained off and on all weekend, but during one of the dry periods, we also enjoyed watching an aerialist perform.

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And, of course, there was more music.

Frenchy and the Punk:

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Crafty Crow