Thankful

Growing up, Thanksgiving was always sort of a big deal. My mother always invited over the holiday orphans, so a small dinner would consist of about ten people while our largest capped out at forty-five. It was the one time of year that we were guaranteed to have fresh veggies instead of frozen, real mashed potatoes instead of the type that start as flakes in a box. She made stuffing from scratch – one batch with sausage and oysters, and another with only oysters, “for the vegetarians!” my mother always said, though really it was for our friend Allayne who didn’t eat red meat.

My mother woke up at six in the morning every forth Thursday in November, and most other days as well, but she made a point to tell people about the Thanksgiving thing. That way she could slowly prepare things and take a break at nine to watch the Macy’s Day parade with me and my father. It was the only television we ever watched on Thanksgiving. After the parade wrapped up my she would go back to cooking and ordering me around the kitchen. I peeled potatoes, I topped and tailed green beans, I emptied her ash trays and made fresh iced tea. Sometimes, like the year we had forty-five guests, I ran out for last minute extra food. She always wanted to make sure there was more than enough food for everyone.

At six or so the guests would arrive with wine and beer and various side dishes. While my parents entertained I mashed potatoes with too much butter and cream then waited for dinner to start. When everything was set out my mother would stick a frozen pie or two in the oven and watch as people dug in. It was always buffet style with people squeezing in wherever they could and usually eating off their laps. My mother would sit at the head of the table smoking and chatting, but never eating. She was thrilled by watching people happily consume things she had prepared but was so sick of looking at the meal after twelve hours that she couldn’t stomach it. When the pie came out she would eat a slice of apple with cheddar cheese with everyone. Later on, when everyone had left, she would make a little plate for herself and eat it slowly, or wait until morning and prepare a leftover feast for one. When I was a teenager the day after Thanksgiving was also reserved for my mostly male friends to descend like locusts and clean out the fridge.

I was twenty years old the first time I spent Thanksgiving away from home. I was in Portland, Oregon visiting a friend and she took me to her friend’s parent’s house. Because the holiday had always been so important I remember feeling strange spending it with another family. I’d never had an afternoon Thanksgiving before. I’d never seen football on Thanksgiving before. I awkwardly insisted on making the mashed potatoes because I felt out of place not helping, then was confused and upset that they only had a potato ricer and not just a regular masher.

After getting over my initial weirdness, it ended up being an incredibly nice holiday. The food was delicious and we left full and happy in the early evening. My mother was fine back in New York. She still had her orphans and my friends still went over the next day to eat leftovers and hang out.

In the intervening years she sold her big house in the West Village, so the parties became smaller just because they had to. As my friends got older and started having Thanksgivings of their own they would invite my mother. This alleviated her from forty years of hosting duties and made it easier for me to be away again when the time came.

Our first Thanksgiving on the road was spent surrounded by absurd amounts of family. We spent Thanksgiving Day at Kyle’s Aunt’s house with cousins and friends and a ton of food. The following Saturday we were off to Kyle’s Mom’s with all his siblings, his father and his father’s new wife. It was there that I had deep fried turkey for the first time and honestly, why would you eat it any other way? Turkey is far and away the least desirable fowl, but it is downright scrumptious when fried.

Last year was a bit less traditional. We were rushing back to the East Coast to return a rental car after Designer Con and ended up eating at a Waffle House for the first time. It had a typed sign on the door explaining that smoking was now only allowed on weekends and hoping that it didn’t cause any inconveniences. There were a couple of truck drivers playing board games inside and, all things considered, it wasn’t a bad Thanksgiving.

After last year I realized that Thanksgiving isn’t about the turkey, it’s about who you’re with. So this year Kyle and I went to see Coco (pro-tip get there half an hour late because that Frozen short is absolute trash) and then headed to Dave and Busters. We had some cards from our last visit with a ton of tickets on them, so we traded the points in for some nachos and had a great night.

The point is, Thanksgiving is whatever you make it. Next year, when we’re not nomads anymore, I’m probably going to make a pork shoulder or a ham. As long as you’re spending time with people you like, isn’t that what’s important? Who knows? Maybe we’ll just spend it at Dave and Busters again.

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Designer Con 2017

We woke up on Monday morning and bid a final farewell to our beloved Pasadena Convention Center. Not because we’re never going back to Designer Con, but because Designer Con is moving to Anaheim next year! This is great news for the convention itself, but bittersweet for us personally. The last three years we’ve been able to organize our thoughts and set up for the convention at Kyle’s Aunt and Uncle’s house only five miles from Anaheim, a house that is currently on the market. So we’re a little upset, but mostly incredibly excited for a bigger, better, THREE DAY convention next year.

Everyone we spoke to agreed that this was the busiest DCon has ever been – it was absolutely slammed. And while it was great for sales, it meant that neither Kyle nor I could get out of the booth for more than a few minutes at a time to actually see anything. We have friends who had booths who we never even saw because it was just that insane. We’re hoping that spreading it out over three days will alleviate some of the pressure, but also will not complain if the show is super busy again. Who’s going to complain about more people seeing their booth?

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Designer Con was, as ever, amazing. It’s a truly magical thing to get so many like-minded people in the same space. People who love weird art and each other and beer. We feel so fortunate to have found this merry band of misfits who speak the same language as us and are passionate about the same niche interest. 

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We’ve always been really lucky with convention booths – at our first New York Comic Con we had a massive storage area behind our booth, at Five Points our booth was our house, and at our first DCon there was an empty booth next to ours where we could leave things. This year was no different and our booth had massive windows and therefore massive window sills right behind it. It was a perfect storage solution and a nice place for a quick nap.

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This also marked the firs time we displayed The Final Willo which will go up for pre-order in January. I’m continuously blown away by the work that Kyle does and I think this send off is such a testament to his talent. What you can’t see in this photo is that it is absolutely covered in tiny hand sculpted skulls, that tentacles form from eye sockets, and that those wings look real. I am going to marry a very gifted dude.

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As with our last custom show, every piece that came back blew our minds just a little bit more. The Willo and Bloom figures are so close to our hearts that we’re always surprised by other people’s interpretations of them. We sold a bunch of pieces at the show, and the available remaining pieces are going up on Kyle’s Storenvy. If you want to pick one up – I’d recommend it. They’re all beautiful.

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Night Crawler by Brent Nolasco

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Jump by Riser

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Cursed Corsair by JPK

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Untitled by Infinite Rabbits

 

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ARW Samurai by ITP Studios (Yes, that *is* paper)

 

Also, as a side note, I just need to shout out these amazing pre-teen humans who are so much cooler than I will ever be:

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The holidays are coming! Why not take a gander at my ETSY and start your shopping early? Only 39 days till Christmas! AND TWENTY SEVEN UNTIL HANUKKAH – aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

The Road To Designer Con

November is here which means it’s almost Designer Con 2017! This will be our third year in attendance and our second year with a booth. At our first DCon we hosted a wildly successful custom show, so we’re doing it again on a much larger scale. Here’s a run down of our first show from Tested:

A custom show is what happens when a group of artists are tasked with putting their own spin on an established piece. It’s like being given a blank sheet of paper and being told to do whatever you want, only the paper is three dimensional and has antlers. Sometimes there is an overarching theme, but it’s usually ignored. Our first show was themed around the idea of bringing offcast Willos back from the dead, but this one is a total free for featuring both Willos and Blooms.

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It’s Allergic Bob Bloom by WuzOne

 

As more and more pieces make their way to us we are once again blown away by the sheer volume of talent in this little community. It’s been amazing.

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Untitled Willo by Infinite Rabbits

You can keep tabs on the finished works as their posted on Instagram by checking out the tag #DConVagabonds! And check out all the artists below!

Benny Kline

The Bots

Boy in the Corner Studio

Brent Nolasco

Cat Atomic

Chris RWK

Czee

Dethchops

doubleparlour

DrilOne

Elloo

George Gaspar

GOREilla

Igor Ventura

Infinite Rabbits

ITP Studios

Jon Paul Kaiser

Josh Mayhem

Kyle Kirwan

Leecifer

Lou Pimentel

MaloApril

NervisWr3k

Nugglife

One-Eyed-Girl

Reactor-88

Rich Page

Riser

RunDMB

Scam2?

Scarecrowoven

Seymour

Stuart Witter (Who also designed the flyer!)

Tasha Zimich

Task One

Topheroy

Trutek

W.A.R.

WuzOne

Needless to say we are very very excited about this show. Come visit us at Designer Con on November 11th and 12th in beautiful Pasadena, California! We’ll be in the hallway in booth 1434 and we’d love to see you.

Winds and Wildfires

Being a native New Yorker means not growing up with threat of flood or earthquake or fire on the regular. It means being completely freaked out by evacuation warnings and the ground shaking and hot winds that attack for days that west coasters think are normal. Where I come from you might get a day off for snow or threat of snow, but you never have to worry that your school will cease to exist because it’s fire season.

Kyle and I woke up a few weeks ago and noticed a slight smell of smoke in the air. It continued to increase until I called the local fire department who assured me it was just a combination of high winds and the remains of a contained canyon fire. As the smell of smoke increased and ash started falling from the sky we were informed that there was a new fire nearby being dubbed Canyon Fire 2. Apparently the people who name hurricanes have enough on their plates.

We followed the fires movement as the day progressed – keeping a close eye on the evacuation map that we were suddenly on the very edge of. We never entered the mandatory evacuation area, staying instead in the “advisory zone” for two days. “We advise you to pack a bag and be on your toes as we could send cops down your block at any moment to forcefully evacuate you from your homes. So BE READY.”

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The sky turned an angry shade of yellow, then black, and the sun became a minute red dot. The air no longer faintly smelled of smoke, it reeked.

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By nightfall we were out of the woods but the whole experience was upsetting. To me. Kyle spent the entire episode talking about how normal it was. That yes, we were in danger, but probably not that much.

“I mean, if the fire jumps this freeway,” he said while gesturing to the map I had pulled up on our computer, “then we’ll have to evacuate. But it’s unlikely.”

“What do you mean, ‘jumps the freeway’?” I asked, because in New York fire doesn’t decide to jump across four lane highways. Or it wouldn’t…if we had any.

“We’re lucky! We have our house. We can just drive it away.”

Which, yes, is great, but did nothing to alleviate my new found fear of jumping wildfire. I was aware it spread, but had never really thought about it jumping. 

Now we’re in the throes of a heat wave coupled with some EPIC Santa Ana winds, a meteorological event I was previously unaware of. Because, like jumping fire, we just don’t have any in New York City.

The Santa Ana winds are strong, extremely dry down-slope winds that originate inland and affect coastal Southern California and northern Baja California. … These low humidities, combined with the warm, compressionally-heated airmass, plus high wind speeds, create critical fire weather conditions.

Thanks, Wikipedia!

In their milder form they contributed to the spread of Canyon Fire 2 – in their current form they are trying to make me the most miserable human being alive. There has been a steady, hot wind for about thirty-six hours now. It’s dried out my entire body. Going outside feels like being in a sauna without any of the enjoyable parts. No nudity, calming eucalyptus, or cool swim afterwards. It’s a hundred degrees in the shade and much hotter in the sun. I’ve been in a heat wave before, but when the wind kicks up during those it cools you down – the Santa Anas make it somehow hotter.

The temperature is due to drop in a few days, but until then I’ll be cranky as hell.

Utah is for Burgers

Since leaving New York in June of 2015 people have been asking us, “Have you been to Utah yet?” When I thought of Utah I had visions of Mormons and weird liquor laws. I thought back to the time my ex-boyfriend was on tour through Salt Lake City and got stuck by a broken down van then threatened by militant straight-edge kids. As someone who had previously not been particularly outdoorsy I didn’t really picture much else.

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Utah is full of surprises.

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In Moab we found this amazing sign for a restaurant that boasts the best margaritas a specialty we did not get to sample due to it being very early in the day.

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Everything looks insane in Utah. No matter what direction you’re looking in it’s more than likely going to be spectacular.

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We skipped all the national parks because of a combination of time constraints, general brokeness and already being absolutely flabbergasted by the landscape no one felt the need to charge admission for.

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We spent a few nights holed up on BLM land where we encountered another storm that left beautiful patterns in the ground after it moved on.

At that same BLM land there were actual dinosaur tracks preserved by a combination of good fortune and algae.

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There are signs all along I-70 beckoning you to pull over and take in a scenic overlook. We were able to resist the call of most, but one proclaiming “GHOST ROCK” was too good to pass up. We were not disappointed. It was like a scaled down Grand Canyon. It had all the majesty and none of the crowds.

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After Ghost Rock I noticed that Kyle had turned off Tom, our GPS. He said it was an accident but it didn’t matter because we knew we were continuing down the 70, so it was fine. After a while I re-entered our destination. When we were getting close Kyle started telling me a story and missed the exit. It was six miles down the road before we could turn around again and as we had just made a rule that banned back-tracking more than five miles Kyle decided we should just head on to the next stop. Forty-nine miles down the road.

Now I knew something was up. Kyle doesn’t like driving more than a hundred miles in a day. And while, yes, we were slightly behind schedule, we weren’t THREE HUNDRED MILES behind schedule.

So what was so important? What could possibly be in Washington, Utah that just couldn’t wait? That warranted driving hundreds (HUNDREDS!) of miles?

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That’s right. In-N-Out.

You can take the boy out of Southern California, but you can’t take the Southern California out of the boy.


News!

We are gearing up for Designer Con 2017 where Kyle is organizing another custom show, this time with Willos AND Blooms.

We’ll be in booth 1434 – so come visit us in Pasadena on November 11th and 12th!

In addition to the show we’ll have enamel pins, trading cards, and other fun surprises! It’s going to be the best. We love DCon.