shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
I learned recently that I've created my own personal Pavlovian response. I've been using asthma inhalers for over twenty years, now. In case you've never used one, it goes kinda like this:

1. Shake inhaler.
2. Exhale fully.
3. Raise it to your mouth.
4. Spray it in your mouth as you simultaneously inhale.

I also have been using a steroidal spray to help counter post-nasal drip, which is a big trigger for asthma. It goes like this:

1. Shake bottle.
2. Exhale fully.
3. Raise it to your nose.
4. Spray it in your nose as you simultaneously inhale.

I've recently started taking Vitamin B12 supplements in the form of an oral spray. Whenever I go to use it, I do the first two steps every time. There's no need to exhale. I drink the stuff; I don't breathe the stuff. Yet it takes a major conscious effort to avoid exhaling. Not that exhaling makes a difference, one way or the other. It's just fascinating to me how I've formed this habit.

Conditioning is "a behavioral process whereby a response becomes more frequent or more predictable in a given environment as a result of reinforcement, with reinforcement typically being a stimulus or reward for a desired response" (Encyclopedia Britannica). I'm not even getting a reward for my reinforcement. Well, not an immediate, perceivable reward, at least. So I guess it isn't conditioning, after all, but ritual, instead: "A ritual is...any act done regularly, usually without thinking about it" (Cambridge English Dictionary).

What are your rituals and conditioning?

(Elder Squirrel Demon Ritual Summoning Circle)

shanmonster: (Liothu'a)
My sweet little chinchilla was euthanized yesterday after her health continued to deteriorate over the past couple of years. She was about 15 years old. I miss her very much.

[Last visit to the vet]
shanmonster: (Liothu'a)
Dreams & Symbols is the culmination of surreal artifacts and the disintegration of procrastination. It all began several years ago when a local used book shop had moved to a new location and left behind a crate of books the proprietors didn't want to bring to their new store. I rooted through the box and found a book called Dreams & Symbols. I thought it was a bunch of malarkey, but there were numerous beautiful full-colour images inside. I brought the book home so I could do collage or decoupage with it.

For about the same amount of time, I've been keeping a rough pine crate which had initially been used to store cannisters of tea. It was covered with unattractive stamped print, but I always meant to get around to doing something with it. For this project, this finally happened. The pine crate met the metaphysical coffee table book and together, they became transformed into this cabinet.

Surreal images were cut with scissors, or with a utility knife on a cutting board, then affixed in place with high-gloss Mod Podge. I also attached a pressed flower to the upper shelf (which is removeable) in this way, and sealed it with copious amounts of Mod Podge. In order to dry the thick amounts of sealant/adhesive, I jerry-rigged a hair drier on top of some clay pots on medium heat and let it dry while I worked on the rest of the cabinet.

The few parts of the box which have not been decoupaged have been coloured with ink and accented with bindis.

I consider the cabinet itself to be part and parcel with the collection. The decoupage work is a collection in itself, and accents are added with metallic ink.

The objects without the cabinet vary, depending on the placement of the cabinet. When the cabinet is on my window sill, the collection sprawls out on either side and on top, including such objects as an hourglass, candles, plume, stone goblet, brass bell, a hand-made spider pendant, rose beads, and incense. The plume and rose beads I fashioned myself. I believe the scent of roses and incense are just as evocative as the visuals, and the sand trickling through the hourglass places a temporal value on the exhibit.

When the cabinet is in a smaller area, the viewer's eye is directed more toward the interior of the cabinet. Skulls, heads, bone beads, Catholic saints, North American aboriginal spirit stone, and voodoo dolls lurk in the upper level. In the lower level, hand-painted china boxes (painted by me), a feather, a curious metal button, a rabbit skull, and two thimbles (modern and reproduction Viking). The collection is meant to be dreamlike and to provoke strange mental connections.

Images aplenty )
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
Elder Squirrel Demon Summoning Circle is an environmental installation artwork piece which I placed on my back deck. A multimedia piece, it incorporates a demonic squirrel head, chalk, roses, herbs, peanuts, salt, and pinecones.

I created the centrepiece by hacking a Big Head Squirrel Feeder. Horns were fashioned out of Sculpey by my roommate Amelia, and I affixed them with KrazyGlue. The eyes and eye rims were painted with bright red nail laquer, leaving slit-shapes unpainted for the irises. This gives the eyes a blood-filled, demonic aspect.

Next, lengths of binding wire were attached overhead to the roof and a nearby tree. The wire is green and blends in with the foliage. I next connected the wire to the head with lengths of transparent bracelet cording. This transparent cording makes the head look like it is hovering unsuspended.

I next adjusted for height by winding the binding wire until the head hovered the correct distance from the ground. Because of the elastic nature of the transparent cording, this process had to be repeated several times during the exhibition of the installation piece. Once the head was in place, I marked the centrepoint beneath and sketched out a circle in chalk. I drew the pentagram, then added Enochian text traditionally believed to have been used to summon demons. Technically speaking, a traditional demon summoning circle looks different (and contains far more Enochian text), but for the purpose of making the circle more identifiable to the average viewer, I chose to go with a circle of protection. Besides, I doubt squirrels know the difference. ;)

To add colour and to tie in the elements with nature and the history of the occult, I also added roses from my garden, herbs, small heaps of rock salt, and pine cones gathered at a nearby cemetery.

Since I intended to make this piece interactive with nature, I included peanuts to summon the squirrels. Then I sat and waited for the squirrels to get cheeky and brave enough to approach while I awaited with my camera. To aid with the summoning, I participated in a dread occult practice: the osculum infame. In other words, I made kissy noises.

Eventually, a black squirrel demon was summoned.

My ritual worked!

As a note, no squirrels returned the next day, but two days later, when I went to look, the peanuts were gone, and in their place, at the centre of the summoning circle, was a cherry. I summoned a demonic cherry! I swear I did not put it there, and no one else was in the yard all day. Ooooo. Spoooooky!

I confess that I ate part of the cherry, but as of this time, I have not evinced any signs of demonic possession....

Pics and video behind the cut! )
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
This past year has been tricky for me. I recover from one issue just to fall back into another. My hip is feeling pretty good, but my peroneal tendonitis has flared up again and put my training on the back burner. So much for the running I was hoping to do.

Still, I survived the Louise LeCavalier workshop last weekend. Although the choreography with its tic-like specifics combined with jumps and full-body movements eluded me, it was because my brain and choreography don't mix well. Physically, I was fine. I was tired from the intense training, but not as tired as from one of my usual training sessions. I could tell the other dancers were feeling it, though. Although everyone else had the choreography better than I did (no surprises there), I suspect I was the only one who wasn't feeling muscular soreness from the training.

As a note, tricky dance workshops are not a good match for wicked menstrual cramps. That is all. UGH.

In regards to the material itself, we worked on conditioning exercises drawn from boxing. I am not a boxer. However, I have studied a variety of martial arts for over a decade, and know how to deliver a solid punch, and how to use my body mass to drive that impact. There were a few stylistic differences between my trained/natural fighting stance and the stances expected by Lecavalier. She wanted us to put more weight on the front leg, which may work fine for boxing, but for any sort of fighting where kicks or leg sweeps are a possibility, it's not so ideal. I did as she said, because it was a dance workshop, not a fighting workshop. Still, a few things niggled at me. The guard position she touted had the elbows touching or almost touching the torso. This is a weak defensive position, just begging to be jammed. And when we were doing punches, she said I was hitting too hard. This boggled me until the end of the workshop, when we got to do a Q&A period. This is when I learned that although she does a lot of boxing training, she never competed, only sparred once, and hates hitting things.

Ahhh... This explains much.

The choreography she taught was a combination of elements from Édouard Lock and another choreographer whose name I didn't catch. Lock's elements were twitchy and precise, with jumps and arm waves. The other choreographer's work used more space, larger, less specific movements, and incorporated rolling and floorwork.

When it comes to dance, Louise Lecavalier is amazing. She's a living legend who's been accorded the Order of Canada. When it comes to applicable martial arts, though, seek someone else. After having taken two workshops with her now, I think I have no more need to do it again, unless she showcases new content. The material was almost identical for both.

Nevertheless, I recommend her workshops to any dancer who gets the opportunity. She is a sweet, highly-skilled dynamo, and holy heck, she sure is fit. She did two workshops each day, back to back, and did most of the work alongside us. That's some serious endurance. She also has an incredible memory, and called out to each of us by name throughout the workshop with corrections/critiques. To top it off, without introductions, she remembered me and the other student who'd taken the workshop with her two years ago by name. And I look very different now from then, too!


On March 10, I performed at 60x60 again. It went well. Here's a still. )
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
So I got thinking about the arbitrariness of modesty. As a generalization, women have boobs. In western culture, at least, so-called modest women's clothing allows for this, and doesn't try to hide the fact that the women have breasts. And so we see images like this: )

Drop It

Apr. 9th, 2013 11:02 pm
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
Today I'm a bit grumpy because it was cold and rainy out, and I wanted to bike, but knew if I did, I'd be absolutely drenched for my aerial silks class. My shoulder/neck has been overly tight for a while now, and my tendinitis has been tweaking for two days. I have a dance workshop with Louise Lecavalier in three days, and I don't want to have to worry about my neck and ankle slowing me down.

*cue sound of needle being scratched along a record*

Wait a minute. How about some perspective, Shan?

Three months ago, I wasn't sure I'd be able to walk on anything but level ground again without a limp. Any time my foot skidded out on a bit of ice, or I took a step with anything more than a mincing nature, it felt like someone had taken a potato peeler to the inside of my hip joint.

My hip has improved drastically. My worries from not so long ago have already dissipated.

These sore bits are nowhere near as scary as the hip issue was. I'm hoping a tune-up with an RMT tomorrow will do the trick.

In the meantime, here's something I did today, which my hip would NOT have allowed me to do even a month ago. )

Glub Glub

Dec. 26th, 2012 05:44 pm
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
I was having a shitty day so I decided to draw.

Drawing an octopus made it better. )
shanmonster: (Default)
Once again, we woke up at dark o'clock to leave for the Inca Trail. We breakfasted on the exact same foods that we'd eaten for the past three breakfasts (the restaurant didn't believe in variety), stowed our extraneous gear one more time in storage, and took our seats yet again in the lobby. Once again, no one else was waiting with us. The appointed hour came and went, and my feet were tapping and fingers drumming with nerves and anticipation. Was it going to be another fuck-up day? Were we being forgotten? )
shanmonster: (Default)
By this point, I think everyone's stomachs were rumbling in an overdue dinner kind of way. Magda made the strange announcement that we would all be dining at different buffet (pronounced "buff it") restaurants. Honey Badger Driver drove us back to Urubamba village and began dropping off groups of three to six people at various dining establishments scattered around the valley. [ profile] knightky and I were dropped off with the largest group of all at the scenic Tunupa Restaurant. )

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