Posted in Arty sparks

Sasquatch and Co

Amy Sullivan lives in Colorado, but her imagination clearly takes her to many different places. Amy sells her work on etsy and I have picked some pieces (from an amazing collection) to share. In keeping with Mother’s Day on Sunday, they are family scenes from her Cryptozoology series and feature real or imagined characters – depending on your beliefs…

There’s Sasquatch and Son…

MerMan and MerBoy…

Big Nessie and wee Nessie…

Kraken and Kids…

And then there’s this, which I also love – a print of an illustration by Amy entitled: Sasquatch Loves Modern Chairs. Uh huh.

If you’d like to check out more of Amy Sullivan’s work – for something a little bit different – her shop is here on etsy.

Posted in Food sparks

Guten tag, McBurger

I work with a very nice German lass called Kristina. One day, we were in the kitchen talking about McDonald’s (as you do) and Kristina was raving about how much better McDonald’s is in Germany. I noted the existence of something called the ‘McOz’ burger (I think it’s the addition of beetroot that the marketers think makes it an authentic Australian burger) and expected Kristina to admit defeat. But, nein – Kristina laughed heartily and began to tell me all about German McDonald’s, a magical place where you can drink beer with your meal (presumably not with Happy Meals)…

German McDonald’s recently held a competition for the general public to name some new burgers on the menu. The winner was the new McPanther burger, on a cheese & onion bread roll, with mozzarella, beef, bacon & smokey tomato sauce. No panther, it turns out, just traditional beef. Laws for deceptive & misleading advertising mustn’t be quite as tight in ol’ Deutschland.

Then there is the fantastically named Crockstahzumjot. Kristina said there was no translation for this word, which is fine by me. But then I googled it – turns out that before it was a rockin’ burger, Crockstahzumjot was a rockin’ band. Their 2012 tour is called Hip Teens Wear Tight Jeans. Uh huh. The burger itself is pretty fancy – crispy chicken and bacon on ciabatta bread. Ciabatta bread, if you don’t mind! According to the website, this burger will be available later this month, from what I can gather with my limited German skills.

Then there is another great name – the Lauginator. Sounds like the Terminator only tastier, with cured ham and Italian grana pardano cheese. The bun, you ask? Why, it’s made of pretzel bread. That’s right, your burger is nestled onto a bun that is really A GIANT PRETZEL. Genius. Sadly, this came last in the public vote and its creator, Bastian K, will never see his dream become reality.

Then there is the McHaudegen, which came fourth in the public vote – sesame roll, three layers of beef, honey mustard sauce and bacon. I think it got lots of votes because the photo on the website shows its inventor, Sven G, standing behind the burger. And Sven is a big guy, covered in tattoos.

Then there is McOerms, which will also be available at the end of this month – it’s a spicy little number, featuring (according to my trusty translator Kristina), “jalapenos, chorizo, beef, curry chilli sauce, beef”. It seems there is no translation for ‘oerms’ either, but the combination of ingredients makes me think it is possibly either ‘yuck’ or ‘ouch’.

In addition to the wacky competition and the occasional theme-menu options (Mexican, Asian etc) that Kristina assures me are big deals, German McDonald’s has a McWrap with prawns, a McRib with marinated pork ribs and a Veggieburger on the standard menu. Crikey.

Ich bin am ende! (That’s “I give up!” in German. I think.)

Posted in Sparky gifts, WWWhat?

A bit of geekery

A confession – I’m not really all that cool. I like gadgets, good spelling and other things that I guess could be described as ‘geeky’. So it should make me happy to know that I’m not alone – and my measure for that is of course the most popular craft marketplace in the world, etsy. There is a whole category of ‘Geekery’, featuring nearly 118,000 items, catering to crafty geeks (or crafty people who know and love geeks) across the globe. But I found a lot of the geekery to be kinda scary. Here are some highlights…Cool kids, consider yourselves warned.

For the geeky home accessory, or if you’re after a romantic trip down memory lane, here’s an Etch-a-Sketch cushion for your beloved. Sure, the white knobs don’t actually work and you can’t shake it to erase and start again, but the writing is still as wonky as the real thing. Part of a collection of geekery made by Cindy and Randy Green, this is one of the few things in their Yellow Bug Boutique that I actually ‘get’. They have a lot of chemical and periodic table type gags (!), but I’m afraid the memory of struggling through high school Chem classes means that I’ll never find that stuff funny. (I do also like this black & white cushion in their shop, but I think it would bug me too much to have it lying around. Which, come to think of it, is maybe why I need it.)

If you’re a Dr Who fan, you might appreciate this Tardis beanie (more than I do). The Gromidez shop also has other beanies that might appeal to geeks – including these cute and colourful numbers modelled on those ghosts in PacMan. And some other Pokemon things, which I am far too old to understand. The shop also sells a cool SpiderMan web blanket, just in case you’ve been looking for one to complement your new lounge.

Or maybe you’re looking for some geeky jewellery that also serves a practical purpose. If so, apparently you will really like the BitofSugar shop. Who knew that beautiful Hawaii could be a hotbed for so much geekery? They sell this ‘Zombie Antidote’ necklace, by asking: Are you preparing for the eminent zombie invasion/apocalypse? If you answered “yes,” this zombie antidote necklace is the most important component of your stockpile. Ah, the old marketing technique of scare tactics, gets ’em every time. But in a somewhat evil twist, they also sell a ‘Zombie Virus’ necklace, thereby cleverly creating the zombie virus market of supply and demand. Genius.

I’ve only scratched the surface of Geekery, but if you’d like to see more, you should check out etsy. If the cushions are to your liking, the Yellow Bug Boutique is here, and the beanies can be found at the Gromidez shop here, while the zombie antidote (and virus, if you’re so inclined) are for sale at BitofSugar here.

Posted in Arty sparks, Sparky gifts

Sock it to ’em

Sock monkeys seem to be everywhere at the moment. Well, not wandering the streets or catching buses or seeing movies, but everywhere in shops that sell cool toys. I like them a lot and think they’re a great gift for young and old alike, but they can be a bit same-same looking, without a distinct personality or style. Enter the clever people at You Make Me…Me, who sell their ‘handmade sock softies and baby books’ on my beloved Australian handmade market site MadeIt.

These are more than sock monkeys. These are movie stars. Whether you’re a fan of Star Wars, Harry Potter or a whole heap of other films, you’ll find your match here. It was this Yoda who first caught my eye – firstly, because he is a favourite beacon of wisdom in an often dreary world, and secondly, because in this incarnation he looks a little bit like a dodgy gremlin or an old man you might see in the park…

Or if Wookiees are more your thing, then here is Chewbacca in sock form. I find him almost as scary in this form as on the big screen, but since he means no harm (at least, that’s how I remember it), he’s probably a safe addition to your home security detail. 

Then there is that pesky boy wizard Harry Potter, complete with dorky glasses, scar from that failed homicide and a little wand to cast a spell on those around you. As always, I take no responsibility for whatever happens if you bring Harry into your life – that kid did get into quite a lot of trouble…

You can also get custom-made supporter sock monkeys in your team’s colours, along with a range of more traditional looking sock friends. If you’d like to brighten your life with the company of these ‘sock softies’, then check out the collection in the MadeIt shop here.

Posted in WWWhat?

Kickstarting ideas

You might have already heard of Kickstarter, which is basically a website / online community that offers start-ups the opportunity to pitch their project to the world and get donations from ‘backers’. Or as they say (in a much clearer way): it’s the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. They have arranged all of the pitches into different categories and, although most of the projects are from the USA, there are some from other parts of the world too. It’s interesting to have a look at the range of ideas – some very clever, some very weird and some very dodgy.

I found this one in the ‘game’ section: Unemployment Quest! (With an exclamation mark to show you that it’s FUN!) With 14 days still to go, it is 503% funded (that’s over $5,000 when the developer only asked for $1,000) and has attracted donations from nearly 500 backers. If you donate at least $5, you get a copy of the game (with other treats added if you donate more cash).

The game was developed in New York by this chap named Charles. Apparently, Unemployment Quest is a game about the experience of unemployed youth. Now, I’m no geeky gamer, but that doesn’t sound like much fun to me. The graphics look pretty basic and Charles says the game’s story is minimalistic. And it seems that the music has been recorded to sound like those annoying soundtracks to early computer games. So why would anyone want to play this game, Charles?

Instead of fighting typical fantasy monsters, your foes will include “Doubts,” “Isolation,” “Shame,” and the main villain “Uncertain Future.” The aim of the game is to turn the negative experience of joblessness into something less terrible, while still having fun gameplay that will not bog down players by requiring gigantic time investments.

Because presumably you should be spending that time, well, you know, applying for jobs. Or doing something a bit more productive than playing this game. But far be it from me to know what the market wants – perhaps there are bzillions of people just waiting to experience virtual unemployment. Even if they are experiencing real world unemployment at the same time, as per Charles’ target market.

Whatevs, gamers, if you want to check out this project and maybe help Charles make his dream come true, you can find Unemployment Quest here. Or you can just have a look at some of the other ideas on Kickstarter here. And as a person with many, many kooky ideas, I really should get started on some Kickstarter pitches myself – there seem to be some generous people out there!