Ladies I Love: G is for Grumpy Cat! Meow!

Today we have another non-human A to Z Challenge Ladies I Love-themed post for the letter G.  Let us return to the year 2012.  April 4, 2012, to be exact.  Events that occurred on this day in the little town of Morristown, Arizona, resulted in the world being forever changed: a little bit furrier, a little bit cuter, and a whole lot grumpier.  On April 4, 2012, Tardar Sauce (a.k.a. Grumpy Cat) and her brother, Pokey, were born.

Tardar and Pokey

Original Grumpy Cat photo that swept the world up in a fit of crabbiness!

The original grumpy cat photo that unleashed unprecedented crabbiness into the world!

According to Grumpy Cat’s head minion (and yes, Grumpy Cat *is* a female), Tabatha Bundesen, Tardar’s features are permanently grumpified as a result of feline dwarfism, which has also left her back legs somewhat out of proportion to the rest of her body.  But her vet has given her a clean bill of health, and Tardar has the green light to spread curmudgeonly crankiness to her heart’s content.  But truth be told, as grumpy as Tardar Sauce looks, she’s actually the more friendly of the two, with Pokey being the grouchier of the siblings.

The Grumpy Cat phenomenon all started when Tabatha’s brother uploaded an excessively grumpy photo of Tardar Sauce to Reddit (back in September of 2012), and the world has reveled in the glow of a cat that is both adorably cute and excessively grumpy ever since.  Some of Grumpy Cat’s favorite phrases, built into popular memes that have circled the Interwebs thousands of times over, include “…it was awful”, “…I hate it”, and the classic “NO.”  Grumpy has an official website (The Daily Grump, where you can purchase Grumpy Cat Odor Eliminator and Grumppuccino), a Grumpy Book, and more awards than you can shake a stick at, including the Lifetime Achievement Award that she received at the 2013 Friskies.  And she deserves it – with a face like hers, she’s impossible to ignore, especially when she’s throwing insults around like nobody’s business!  Here are some of my favorites:

And speaking of Friskies, Tardar Sauce has done several commercials with Friskies in the “Will Kitty Play With It?” series!  They are grumpy and adorable!  But, in honor of Tardar’s second birthday (she’s entering the Terrible Two’s, everyone!!!), here’s a special Friskies birthday video (no, I’m not a sales rep for Friskies…they just do great Grumpy Cat videos!).  Long live Grumpy Cat!!!

Ladies I Love: F is for Frida Kahlo

Frida KahloFrida Kahlo is one of my favorite female artists, and is therefore, perfect for my A to Z Challenge theme, Ladies I Love.  Born in Mexico City in 1907, she started painting at the age of 18 while recuperating from a bus accident in which she was impaled through the hip by a metal bar.  While at the National Preparatory School, she met famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, whom she later married in 1929.  They had a rather tumultuous relationship, both having affairs outside of the marriage.  A communist political activist and feminist, many of Kahlo’s paintings contained surrealist images that conveyed often controversial images of womanhood, pain (she had three miscarriages) and dreams.  She used bold colors and traditional Mexican elements in her artwork as well.

Frida Kahlo died at the age of 47 in Mexico City after several years of declining health.  Her work continues to grow in popularity, and she is seen as an icon of female creativity.  Her life story was made into the film “Frida“, starring Salma Hayek.  I encourage you to search for images of Kahlo’s paintings and enjoy her creative works yourself!  Here are a few of my favorite Frida Kahlo images:

Ladies I Love: E is for Éowyn, Badass Shieldmaiden in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy

I thought finding a Lady I Love for the letter E was going to be a tough one in the A to Z Challenge, but if you haven’t figured it out by now, I do have a bit of a geeky side to me which means literary resources abound.  And today that will manifest itself in the form of crushing on one of my favorite fictional characters, Éowyn from the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien.  I read the trilogy many years ago, and my all-time favorite scene by far is from Return of the King, when Éowyn is fighting the Witch King during the Battle of Pelennor Fields.  Although Éowyn was a trained shieldmaiden of Rohan, her uncle, King Theoden, ordered her to stay behind with the women and children to guide their people while the men went to their almost certain doom to fight against the tides of Sauron.  She said, “screw that” and disobeyed him, dressing and acting as a man to sneak her way into the battle.  In the book, she meets the Witch King (the head of the ghost kings with the Nazgul) on the battlefield just as he has injured Theoden.  The Witch King is all, “No living man may hinder me!” because there’s a prophecy that states that the Witch King could not be felled by the hands of a man.  But Éowyn takes off her helmet and reveals herself, saying:

But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.

And the dumb-ass Witch King attacks her, but surprise!  Éowyn ends up kicking his ass and killing him.  Well, Theoden still dies, but it is a fantastic scene.  The movie plays it down a little bit, but it’s still a highlight for me.  To get the full impact, you really should read the book, but here’s a clip for you to enjoy in the meantime!

Ladies I Love: D is for Drew Barrymore, because I’m a Drewbie!

Ten reasons why I love Drew Barrymore

Today’s A to Z Challenge post is brought to you by the letter D!  I know it’s kind of silly, but I’ve had a girl crush on Drew Barrymore for as long as I can remember.  She’s only a year younger than me, and I’ve always admired her because she seems like a real person – she’s definitely had her ups and downs, and even though she’s Hollywood Royalty, she doesn’t take herself too seriously.  She’s not afraid to be dorky or play real people in her movies, people who aren’t always beautiful and perfect.  I don’t know – maybe I’m projecting my admiration onto someone without really knowing who they are, but from what I see, I’m proud to be a Drewbie!  Here are only ten of the many reasons why I love Drew Barrymore:

  1. Drew is a great sport, and seems to be without the Hollywood snobbery that many movie stars are afflicted with.  Watch My Date with Drew, a documentary produced by a guy with a huge crush on her, who has one goal: a date with Drew Barrymore.
  2. Drew is the godmother of Frances Bean Cobain, the daughter of the late Kurt Cobain and his wife Courtney Love.
  3. Drew is the youngest person to have ever hosted “Saturday Night Live”; she was only 7 years old at the time!  She then went on to host SNL five more times.
  4. Drew (born Feb. 22, 1975) and I (born Feb. 25, 1974) are both Pisces, the best astrological sign to be.
  5. Drew doesn’t seem to care about being dorky, and even makes being dorky awesome.
  6. Battling world hunger has been an important cause for Drew in the last several years.  In 2008, Drew donated $1 million to fund the Word Food Programme’s school food projects in Kenya.
  7. Drew is undoubtedly beautiful, but in many ways, she doesn’t embody the typical Hollywood beauty standard of being impossibly thin with perfect features.  Yet she was crowned the No. 1 Most Beautiful in People Magazine’s annual “100 Most Beautiful People” list in April 2007.
  8. Drew’s struggles during her childhood were very public when it came to drinking, drugs, addiction, family instability, and recovery.  She survived a lot of turmoil and came out on top, writing a book (“Little Girl Lost“) about her challenges at a young age, then continuing on to have a very successful career in film and directing with her own production company, Flower Films.
  9. Drew is an animal lover!  She has been a strong supporter of the work of Southern California’s Wildlife Waystation.
  10. Perhaps the number one reason I love Drew Barrymore (even though this is listed as No. 10) is because she’s a fan of roller derby, as evidenced by the fact that she made her directorial debut with the movie “Whip It” and even did a lot of her own skating for the film!

Ladies I Love: C is for Ceratiidae…or “warty sea devils” to you and me

So cute, right?

Ladies and gentlemen…for today’s A to Z Challenge “C”-related post, I give to you our first non-human, but very real, Ladies I Love: the female warty sea devil!  Oh, come on – I’m a fish biologist – you can’t tell me you weren’t expecting this, can you???  Well, since it’s my blog, and my Ladies I Love theme, I can do what I like.  And what I’d like is for YOU to learn something about the deep-sea anglerfishes of the family Ceratiidae, or the warty sea devils!  This is no ordinary family of fish, you understand.  Anglerfish on their own are very interesting; surely you’ve seen them before (you know, from your nightmares, or from this scene in Finding Nemo).  Their name comes from an appendage that extends from their head to out in front of them, with a bioluminescent bulb dangling from the end, acting very much like a lure (making the fish itself an angler).  Smaller fish are attracted to the light (“ooh – what can that be down here in the darkness?  I must investigate…”) and then CHOMP!  The anglerfish takes its prey (clever girl!).

Triplewart Sea Devil – um, maybe not so cute.

But to be more specific, sea devils, and warty sea devils in particular, are quite interesting for one primary reason and two words: sexual parasitism (ok, I can feel your eyes glazing over, but this gets better – I promise).  There’s a great amount of sexual dimorphism in anglerfish – that is, females and males physically vary quite a bit from each other .  The female is often quite large compared to the male, and they’re not very common, either.  You’d think that these two would never actually even find each other, hook up and create new cute(?!?) little baby warty sea devils, but here’s where it gets interesting.  The male has either very good eyes or a strong sense of smell that alerts him to the presence of a female.  As soon as he nears her, he grabs onto her with his mouth, at which point enzymes immediately fuse the male’s mouth to the female’s body.  Their circulatory systems soon merge, and the male basically lives a parasitic life, with its organs dissolving away until he becomes no more than a sack of gonads that is ready to provide sperm when the female wants to reproduce.  Crazy, huh?  What’s also unique is that these fish are genetic chimera (one organism having more than one genetically distinct set of cells, in this case, cells from both the male and female), and that the chimera is a required part of its life-cycle.

Want to learn more about the anglerfish?  Here’s a “somewhat educational but mostly entertaining” video about the anglerfish, NOT narrated by Morgan Freeman:

And finally, this cartoon lovingly drawn by The Oatmeal (click here for the full strip).  Oh, I love the Oatmeal.  And he definitely loves my anglerfish lady.  And you should too!

Ladies I Love: B is for Lynda Barry (who gave me permission to doodle during meetings at work)

Lynda Barry and Marci

Me and Lynda at San Diego Comic-Con in 2008!

Up next in the A to Z Challenge is the letter B! And since my theme is Ladies I Love, I will tell you about one of my all-time favorite artists, Lynda Barry.  I read her first book, Girls and Boys (1981), before I was ten years old and it left an immediate impression on me.  I had never read comic strips quite like hers – funky people, honest stories, smart humor and a fearlessness and vulnerability that I had never seen anywhere else.  While my earlier exposure to Lynda Barry’s work came in the form of comics and drawings, Lynda has diversified her art and interests as her career progresses.  She wrote a couple of novels (Cruddy is one of my favorite works of hers), and more recently, a pair of drawing and writing books called “Picture This” and “What It Is“.  Her research asks “what is an image?” and examines the connection between drawing and writing with brain function and the resulting physiological responses of doing art.  She has done a number of interviews (a couple of good ones are here and here) describing this line of research.  Currently, Lynda teaches classes about drawing and writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; you can follow along with her lessons through her tumblr (which I am obsessed with).

Lynda Barry

Two panels of a comic by Lynda Barry. Child-like and often semi-autobiographical, Lynda tells stories from all of our youth experiences.

I love Lynda Barry.  She has been a creative influence on me since I was a young kid.  I tried to emulate her spirit in my own cartoons.  I met her at Comic-Con.  I’ve bought a couple of her paintings.  I WISH I could take one of her courses.  But because I am not a total stalker, I will, for now, have to settle for taking some of her advice about doodling to a practical level.  Doodling, according to Lynda, can increase concentration and rescue us from tedium.  This advice has resulted in, for you, a small collection of some of my favorite doodles that I’ve done during meetings at work.  You can click on the images to make them bigger, and for a short description of the meetings during which they were yaawwwwnnn…oops…I mean drawn.

There is a kind of monkeying around with our hands that changes our sense of time in a tiny way that can make a big difference. Like doodling in the margins during a very boring meeting. It can make time feel like less of a cheese grater and more like sandpaper. That’s a small but critical difference. People employ doodling all the time, even those who are certain they never draw will make a complicated pattern of marks with their thumbnail on a Styrofoam cup when someone very boring is speaking at length. Nearly everyone does this.  — Lynda Barry

Lynda Barry-inspired work doodles drawn by me:

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Ladies I Love: A is for Anya Marina

It’s the start of the A to Z Challenge – hurray!!!  And that means that today, April 1, starts off with the letter A.  My theme is Ladies I Love, which will feature individuals, or groups of women, a type of woman, non-human women, fictional women, and who knows what else (but still women)!  Today’s featured Lady I Love is Anya Marina, a Portland-based singer-songwriter that I actually learned about when I was living in San Diego.  She has such a sweet, smooth voice and her music is simple, which I appreciate in a world full of noise.  My absolute favorite album of hers is called “Slow and Steady Seduction: Phase II”.  It is my favorite because it reminds me so much of the time that me and my husband were dating back in 2010.  In fact, Christopher played “Vertigo” from that album on his phone while he was waiting for me to get done prettying myself up in the bathroom so that he could propose to me!  I took so long that I finally noticed that the song had played like three times in a row, so I came out to see what was going on, and there he was with the ring, with “Vertigo” still playing in the background.  Here’s the song for you to listen to and enjoy!

Every time I hear Anya Marina’s “Vertigo”, I think of my Christopher and that perfect day.  And just fyi, if you’ve made it this far, I’m proud of you.  This is my mushiest, sappiest post in April, so thanks for reading and make sure to come back again!  I’m excited about the other ladies that I’m featuring this month!

And my theme for the 2014 A to Z Challenge is…(drum roll, please)…

Ladies I Love!

2014 A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal

I am a great admirer of many ladies, and I hope that after the month of April when the A to Z Challenge ends, you will be too (if you aren’t already).  Actually, the phrase “Ladies I Love” is a bit misleading, because really, I’m talking about females in general; for example, I am female, but I don’t consider myself to be a lady*.  I don’t spend my days swooning about in taffeta frocks and meandering about the garden with a parasol and pair of gloves, no, and there are few females that I know who do.  However, I didn’t quite connect with the phrases “Females I Favor” and “Women who are Wonderful” and “XX Chromosomes that XXCite me”.  So, I went with “Ladies I Love”.  Short, sweet, simple.  But deceptive!  For, as you shall see during the month of April, these “Ladies” may (or may not?) include the following sorts:

  • Actual human females who could be artists, scientists, writers, innovators, or role models
  • Non-human females who are interesting or unique in one way or another
  • Non-existent females who have contributed to the feminine mystique through time, history and space

And your mind just exploded!  Keep visiting Fuzzy Undertones to find out from which of these three categories my daily Lady I Love comes from.  And if you have a Lady You Love and you want me to know (or maybe even feature), feel free to drop me a comment!

Fritz Zuber-Buhler: A Reclining Beauty with Her Cat

Fritz Zuber-Buhler: A Reclining Beauty with Her Cat

* Lounging around loosely clothed in bed with at least one cat?  Maybe I am a lady.  Shit.

Zero to Hero: Done and Done!

word.Day 30 of Zero to Hero is complete!  A lot of the program was “behind the scenes”; i.e., not actual blog posts, which I enjoyed.  It made me think a lot about how my blog and brand is presented, and helped me solidify what I want my blog to be.  I’ve got some great ideas in the works, which I’m very excited about.  But now on to the next blogging adventure:  April’s A to Z Challenge!  I’ll be blogging every day in April (except for Sundays), with each day corresponding to a letter of the alphabet.  I even have a theme, which shall be revealed on March 21.  Stay tuned!