Tag Archives: music

Kaito from Vocaloid Cosplay Photoshoot

3 Dec

DSC_6462

On Sunday, my husband and I picked up our good friend Diego for a fun cosplay photoshoot on the beach in Gulf Breeze, Florida.

Diego is a cosplay buddy from California (in fact, the last time I saw this guy, he was cosplaying as Hugh Maes from Fullmetal Alchemist at Ani-Me Con in Fresno, California), but as luck would have it, he moved here to Pensacola, Florida to attend Pensacola’s Christian College around the same month we moved here!

I’ve been itching to do a cosplay shoot with Diego for ages now, and I never fathomed we would eventually get around to it… on the Gulf of Mexico. Haha! Life sure is a twisty, turny, never-know-whats-coming-next thrill ride, isn’t it?

Anyhoo, check out the shots we got of Diego’s Kaito cosplay from Vocaloid. He made it from scratch with his mum. Whatcha think? ^_^

DSC_6748

DSC_6491

DSC_6791

DSC_6546

DSC_6771

DSC_6884

kaito1

DSC_6556

DSC_7372

DSC_7339

Gallery Night in Downtown Pensacola

22 Oct

DSC_1143

Jonathan and I took Tessa to the local Gallery Night at Downtown Pensacola… lots of live music, local art and al fresco dining by local businesses. I was amazed at how hoppin’ this place was. It was much more bustling than the Los Angeles Art Walk, and there was the added bonus of not having to worry about half dressed drunks peeing on the sidewalks.

I much preferred this cleaner, family friendly version, strolling along the brick sidewalks of Downtown Pensacola, with the festive, block-party atmosphere. This is gonna be our regular monthly thing as long as we’re here. I really need to stop falling in love with Pensacola. This spring, and Jonathan’s final orders, are only a couple months away. (Eeeep!)

DSC_1135

DSC_1172

art1

DSC_1197

art2

DSC_1149

DSC_1182

My Antique Phonograph Horn iPod Player

6 Oct

DSC_0400

I talked about the restoration of my horn in an earlier blog post, but here’s the finished product. This took me long enough, but I was waiting for a good time to actually take video of my horn in action. And the longer I waited, the more I kept noticing that each time I pick up my camera, it’s too dark out, or too bright, or too busy, or the baby was crying, or my iPod wasn’t charged enough to play on the horn or, or, or..

So today, as the tropic storm from Hurricane Karen rolled in, I finally grabbed a short little video of the antique phonograph horn player my husband made for me before Tessa was born. (You can hear the rain in the background, which is perfectly fitting, since rain moves me to cuddle up by the horn in my wingback chairs on the balcony, listening to Al Bowlly and guzzling ungodly amounts of coffee.)

The construction of this bad boy is really quite simple. We got the night stand off of Craigslist back when we went on our “furnish our apartment” spree in early August. The guy was getting rid of furniture and throwing his random household goods around for $20 a pop. So we snagged the end table without any real thought as to how we’d use it. It wasn’t until I placed my horn on the table on accident that the light bulb went off.

Jonathan set to work on this thing right away, and from start to finish, it took him roughly 10 minutes to make it. I’m not even joking. He basically drilled a hole through the top of the table, and stuck the horn in snugly. On the underside of the horn, using random plastic plumbing tubing, he connected a portable iPhone speaker. The speaker has cords to connect to iPhone / CD / USB, so it’s versatile in what it can play. And voila! A beautiful, functioning antique phonograph iPod player and a lovely piece of furniture to boot! You just pull out the drawer, plug in your iPod or CD player or whatever, and press play! AND! The table makes a lovely place to put your coffee as you’re humming along to some turn of the century phat beats, yo.

DSC_0412

Speaking of phat beats, I’d like to share my:

Top 5 Songs To Listen To On A Phonograph Horn

Looking On The Bright Side by Al Bowlly

You’re The Cream In My Coffee by Ruth Etting

The Mooche by Duke Ellington

Moonlight Serenade by Glenn Miller

When You Wish Upon A Star by Cliff Edwards

Let me know what you think of my top 5 picks, and drop a line letting me know what YOU would recommend! I’m all for swapping mix-tapes. ^_^

Restoring a 1920’s Antique Phonograph Horn

29 Sep

DSC_6265

While some women spend their pre-baby nesting time painting the nursery or begging the husband to build the crib, I spent mine trying to restore a century old piece of musical history and begging my husband to build me some sort of player that would hook up to my iPhone.

Ever since I was little my tastes were… different. While everyone was jamming out to Spice Girls in elementary school, I was listening to bluegrass and big band. Long before the advent of MP3 players, when girls wanted CD players for Christmas, I wanted a phonograph horn.

This has literally been a desire of mine for going on two decades now. I blame the opening of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom ride at Disneyland. Listening to Glenn Miller’s Moonlight Serenade in the queue through the authentic crackle of a phonograph horn made me realize that a CD player- and later an MP3 player – simply wouldn’t do. The world just sounds much better with your head stuck in a phonograph horn.

The problem is, horns are old. And rare. And they are therefore quite expensive. The times that I have had it in my budget to purchase one I’ve held off, because buying a horn just commits to the follow up purchase of buying the player, which then leads to the endless purchases of the turn of the century cylindrical wax records – most of which cost $10 to $15 per song for working pieces. All in all, my dream phonograph set up would run me going on $3000, give or take a few hundred.

photo (1)

Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to find the old wax records, and I’d scoop them up as I found them – working or not – intent on one day owning my antique musical masterpiece. I’ve currently got a nice little collection that I can do absolutely nothing with at the moment so… yay me?

Anyway, all of this is to say, I was tickled pink when in October of last year, while browsing the (mostly) junk of the local swap meet in Hanford, California, I stumbled upon a 1920’s Atwater Kent Model L phonograph horn laying like a piece of rubbish among old car parts, rusted tools and scrap metal. I tried to keep my cool (though my dad, who was there, tells me I failed miserably) and asked how much. The guy, who could barely speak English, shrugged and asked for, uhh, $10? I whipped the money out so fast I felt like a ninja on a shopping spree. Then I kept shouting at people through the horn for the next few days.

IMG_3508

So, a little bit about my horn! There were only seven or eight different Atwater Kent phonograph horn models made at the turn of the century. The horn brand itself is very rare, but unlike an Edison or a Victrola, Atwater Kent was kind of like the “Walmart brand” of phonograph horns in the era, so they don’t retain as high a value as others on the market. While older wooden and hand painted Edisons can fetch upwards of $2000 for the horn alone, my little horn, in the shape it’s in, would probably only fetch somewhere between $150 to $200.

So! Once we got settled into our new home in Pensacola, I set about pestering my handsome husband on getting to work restoring my phonograph horn. My precious. My own.

The 15 inch wide horn, when brand new, featured jet black crackle paint finish. There were a number of ways to go about restoring it. We could try to make it look like it did when it was brand new. Or we could stop the rust and fancy it up, still retaining it’s obvious “old antique” look and charm. I opted for the latter.

DSC_6261

DSC_6297

DSC_6288

The horn is cheaply made, constructed of pot metal. The problem with pot metal is that after 85 years or so, the metal degrades and the various parts literally become fused together. When researching the restoration process for this particular model, I’ve run across several warnings that when disassembled, the pot metal corrodes and the horn will literally swell up and warp and in some places even crumble. So we couldn’t really take it apart for thorough cleaning. We had to work with it as is – focusing on removing what rust we could, restoring / enhancing the color and paint, and protecting from further rust and aging damage.

First, to deal with the rust:

Rust is created when metal and water come into contact. When the metal gets wet or moist, the water molecules react with carbon dioxide molecules that are present in the atmosphere. This reaction creates carbonic acid, which then weakens the chemical bonds of the metal. The metal starts to break down, or corrode. Corrosion is an electrochemical process – also known as rust. As the metal corrodes, the water molecules break down, which results in a free oxygen molecule. This oxygen molecule combines with the corroding metal to create a new compound. The new compound is an oxide. Iron becomes iron oxide and aluminum becomes aluminum oxide. There are different treatments for the different types of metal rust, but since pot metal is made up of multiple mystery scrap yard metals, an all-purpose rust cleanser was a must. There were a number of cleaning agents we could use to remove the rust from the horn, but we opted for CLR.

CLR is heavy duty enough to rinse away the majority of 100 years of grime, but gentle enough to not eat up our phonograph horn whole. It contained enough cleaning agents to cover our bases for the mystery metal elements making up the horn. CLR contains gluconic acid which dissolves mineral deposits. It also contains glycolic acid, which is used to penetrate the surfaces to get deep stains lifted and removed. And last but not least, it contains sulfamic acid which is designed to clean metal and remove rust.

Untitled-1

After Jonathan gave the horn a nice scrub and a much needed bath, we let it air dry, then I set to work protecting it and restoring its color.

While the horn had a jet black crackle finish when brand new, I rather liked the aged, brownish antique quality it had taken on. So instead of stripping the paint and recoating it, we decided leave the original paint job as is, and apply a solid coat of warmed coconut oil. Coconut oil simultaneously darkens metals, cleans, and protects from future rusting by preventing oxidation.

DSC_6385

DSC_6387

DSC_6444

DSC_6404

DSC_6446

DSC_6425


DSC_6430

After letting the horn dry (it took about a week for the slippery, glossy wet look to subside) it has taken on a beautiful dark black / brown crackle polish. Here are some examples of the finished product… though you only get a teaser glimpse, because my next blog post is gonna be about constructing the actual phonograph player! ^_^

phono1

phono2

AKB0048 Anime Review

23 Jul

AKB0048-OP-Large-01

AKB0048 is a two season long 2012 Japanese anime based on the popular JPop music group, AKB48. All of the characters in the anime are named after and voiced by the actual members of the pop group. I watched it because I heard someone say they were cosplaying as a girl from the series. Being home alone for weeks on end without my husband I intended to watch as much anime as I could, and always being woefully behind on the anime scene, I thought, “Hmm. It’s newish. It’s cute looking. It’s apparently cosplay worthy. Let’s give it a go.”

The basic story starts like every futuristic multi-world story begins: At the start of the 21st century, an interplanetary war broke out. Earth’s ecosystem was severely damaged, and humanity was forced to flee the planet. (So far I’ve just described Firefly, Trigun, Treasure Planet, and a bazillion other futuristic sci-fi flicks.)

The gimmick with this series is that in several planets of this new society, things that “disturb the heart” like music and art are forbidden. Think Footloose, but with anorexic Japanese pre-teens and robotic mecha warriors. Anyway, to combat the “no entertainment” ban, the legendary pop singer group AKB48 is resurrected as the all new interplanetary troupe AKB0048, made up of girls who carry on the title and spirit of the original members. Held as heroines by some and labeled as terrorists by others, they must take up arms to bring their music to their fans.

The first season follows a group of young hopefuls as they train to become the next generation of AKB0048, right as the Deep Galactic Trade Organization [DGTO] have stepped up their attacks on entertainment. The girls have to learn to fight while learning to sing and dance and be perfect little pop stars. It’s cheesy, feel good fun where thousands of bullets are fired and no one actually dies.

The second season gets a little… weird. As all Japanese animes eventually do. The story culminates in the pop stars transcending time and space with their power of music, and converting the hearts of the most cold-blooded anti-entertainment warriors through song and dance. In a classic Captain EO rainbows and sparkles finale, the girls sing to angry soldiers pointing guns at their heads, and the guys collapse into shudders of overwhelming love because the music is just too irresistible. Or something like that. Anyway.

Overall, I enjoyed watching this anime. Mostly because I really enjoyed the music and the animated choreography. I ended up downloading most of the soundtrack onto my iPod, especially the song “Beginner” (YouTube video of the song is posted above.) I got that stuck in my head for longer than I’d like to admit. And the marketing behind this anime? Genius. By modeling the anime pop singer group after a real, current JPop group, it’s a perfect blend of nerdtastic synergy. And it was all advertised prior to the anime’s release through four manga publications leading up to the pilot of AKB0048. So they’re selling the manga, the anime, the singers, the music, and the performance group, all at once.

Not gonna lie, I wouldn’t even call myself a fan of this anime, but if I hear that AKB48 is going to be playing at a stateside anime convention, I’ll most likely show up with glow sticks and pretend to be a member of OTA (a group of fans that fight alongside AKB members, using glow stick swords).

Will I cosplay from this series? Probably not, though the outfits are redunkulously cute. Would I rewatch it? Maybe. But not likely. There has to be a bit more romance or twincest to trigger my re-watch impulse. Will I be listening to the soundtrack? Absolutely. I already have the soundtrack on my iPod and have infected others with the songs that are stuck in my head.

So between the music and this anime not sucking as bad as the last few lemons I’ve been unfortunate enough to watch, I’m pleasantly surprised with this series. I’d recommend it if you’re into the girly animes.

AKB0048.full.1390142

Winnie the Pooh Bedtime Stories

23 May

DSC_7529

For the last few weeks Jonathan has been reading Winnie the Pooh to Tessa at night. Winnie the Pooh has been my “future baby” theme / obsession since I was a kid. Since most of our books are still in storage, my bazillion antique / collectors / random copies of A.A. Milne’s works are out of reach, so Jon had been reading the books off of his phone. But I finally insisted that we raid the local thrift stores to find some actual, physical, “these are the first books we read to you” books. I was adamant that whatever we find we need, need, NEED to make sure we get her some old school Winnie the Pooh, and as a close second, some Alice in Wonderland books. And guess what we found?

DSC_7500

Reading to a baby bump is so very, very important. Babies begin to hear around 18 weeks in the womb, and from that point on they are listening and learning and remembering during the pregnancy. Their brains do not wait for birth to start absorbing information.

Bonding with your baby doesn’t begin the day that he or she is born, it can (and should) begin way before that. While it’s no secret that baby will know moms voice at birth (being constantly surrounded by the ominous rumbling thunder of Mom-God voice), but research has shown that babies whose father’s talked to them constantly while they were in the womb were immediately responsive to the father’s voice at birth as well.

I really don’t understand why dads are cut out of so much regarding pregnancy and birth and child-rearing. Our society is experiencing an epidemic in deadbeat dads, and when there are some amazing guys out there (like my sexy-pants Jonathan) who desperately WANT to be involved in their childs life, they are often overlooked or made to feel that it’s not their place by women who see an almost sacred monopolization on the parent-child bond. I saw a whole discussion on a mommy forum where the majority of women were scoffing at the idea of prenatal bonding between daddy and baby. WTF?!

Research has proven that babies can distinguish between their parents and strangers voices while in the womb – a newborn with an involved father WILL recognize her father’s voice. With recognition comes built in attachment, and when there’s a healthy attachment between baby and parent, the baby comes to believe that the world is a safe place. This is the beginning of the establishment of trust, which is vital to personality development. Hur hur hur baby-hogging feminazis – daddies can and should be building healthy relationships with their budding spawn, too!

Anyway, one of the most upsetting aspects about Jonathan leaving in less than two weeks is that he’s going to miss out on 9 weeks of late 2nd trimester and early 3rd trimester bonding with Tessa. But then we had a rather brilliant idea. My friend Salena had given me her Lullabelly band, which she swears by. The Lullabelly band is basically a fuzzy belly belt with speakers that is iPod compatible. It matches the decibels of a normal conversational voice volume at 60-80 decibels. (See where this is going?)

So we have started recording Jonathan reading bedtime stories to be played on the Lullabelly while he is gone! That way Tessa can hear his voice every night. And we know she hears and enjoys his voice, because just a couple of days ago, while speaking to my belly, Tessa wiggled closer to his lips and started wiggling up against his face. He could even see little twitches outside of my belly where she was wiggling to get closer to him. It was so precious! (And yes, the cats are already getting jealous of the tummy time… they are beginning to treat my bump in the same way they treat books and computers – something to be sat on to intercept our attention and get ALL DA LOVES!)

DSC_7534

DSC_7539

In addition to keeping up bedtime stories with poppa every night via Lullabelly band, I am also planning on playing music (mostly classical and Baby Einstein) to Tessa. There is no definite measurable scientific proof of just how much music benefits babies in the womb, but the research done thus far points to the fact that the efforts are positive and certainly don’t hurt.

We know, for instance, that children exposed to classical music in the womb are more apt to have increased positive physical and mental development after birth. When studied at six months, the babies exposed to classical music were more advanced in terms of motor, linguistic and intellectual development than babies who received no musical stimulus during pregnancy.

Scientists explain that with every event a baby experiences – including listening to music or its parents voices – it triggers neural impulses which strengthen intercellular connections in the brain. Babies have also been proven to show signs of recognition of songs played in utero, and to be soothed and calmed faster by familiar melodies and rhythms.

As a future homeschool mom, I plan on giving my kids every opportunity to learn and grow, and to do all within my power to make their environment one in which they can thrive. And in my opinion, that responsibility begins in the womb. Along with bedtime and music with the Lullabelly, I plan on chatting with Tessa throughout the pregnancy and being the crazy lady at the supermarket discussing how sometimes potatoes look so sad to my belly. 😉