My Friends Do Cool Stuff: Volume V

Okay, okay, I know it’s been a while since I did a MFDCS post. I’ve had pseudo-posts, like about that time when The Boyfriend was in The Music Man or when The Roommate went to a Masquerade, but I used to write about my friends’ jobs and hobbies in depth, and because I have phenomenally awesome friends, I decided it was just about the right time to bring this series back.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Katherine.

katherine on a log in hawaii
Here, we see her in her natural habitat. Or in Hawaii, which, let’s be honest, is everybody’s preferred natural habitat.

Katherine is an entomologist. She studies bugs. She is a bug scientist. That picture up there is of her collecting samples, which quite frankly takes an amount of courage that I doubt many of us possess.

The actual definition of entomologist is here: “a scientist who studies insects. Entomologists have many important jobs, such as the study of the classification, life cycle, distribution, physiology, behavior, ecology and population dynamics of insects.”

So, um…WHAT??? How freaking cool is that?

(Also, she’d probably like me to remind you that “bug” isn’t a terribly specific term. She works with parasitic wasps, which are actually called microhyms in scientific circles, and which definitely don’t make me want to scrub all my skin off in a panic.)

She is currently working on her PhD after graduating from an Ivy League college, so if you thought you were talking to the smart one in my group of friends then I regret to inform you that you are sadly mistaken. Katherine can look at a wasp underneath a microscope and determine which of the hundreds of categories available it falls into. Then, she is responsible for categorizing them like this:

a bunch of samples on cards
Look closely. There are wasps on these sticks.

And blowing them up into ridiculously detailed posters like this:

giant blown up pic of a bee

Really though, she’s one of less than ten people in the world – that’s the ENTIRE WORLD – who study the taxonomy and systematics of these wasps. She even presents at conferences, such as the meeting of the Entomological Society of America.

image
In this photo: An entomologist looks more professional than I ever will.

And the best thing ever? Katherine is as big of a nail art junkie as I am. This is the answer to your question if you wondered how on earth we’re friends when I write a blog about my fingernails and she works for the freaking Smithsonian in her spare time. Her recent hymenoptera-inspired manicure looked like this:

 image

And she would like to comment that “the little grey dots on the green are parasitized stink bug eggs on a leaf.”

…I’ll just leave it at that.

Buzz you later,

Mary

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He’s a what? He’s a what?

And more importantly, she’s a where?

Yep, that’s right, somehow I’ve manged to go the entire month of July without updating this blog. I wish I could say that I had better excuses than work, but I haven’t. I could say I’ve been busy, but I just haven’t been able to manage my time as well as I’d hoped recently, and for that I apologize.

One of the things that’s kept me busy these past few weekends is attempting to see Sterling Playmakers’ production of The Music Man as many times as possible during its run. I was in a production of The Music Man myself a few years ago…

I'm the one on the left, and I'm not sure what the Mayor's Wife is going for with her hand there...
I’m the one on the left, and I’m not sure what the Mayor’s Wife is going for with her hand there…

…so obviously this show is very near and dear to my heart. More importantly, The Boyfriend has a pretty large role in the Sterling Playmakers’ version – he plays Marcellus, who sings the fabulous Shipoopi while wearing a plaid wool suit that I swear I’m going to acquire photographic evidence of before the show closes. For the record, I didn’t kiss him on the very first date, so I suppose I’m not usually a hussy.

He's pictured here with Sara, aka Ethel, with whom I had a stern talking-to about their onstage
He’s pictured here with Sara, aka Ethel, with whom I had a stern talking-to about their onstage “romance.”

And of course, I won’t leave you hanging about what I did with my nails for opening night. The band uniforms are always depicted as red and white in this show, so I thought it was appropriate to do some red and white stripes on the majority of my nails using Julep Ellen (which is far more of a red in real life than the “deep berry creme” described on its page) and the classic Julep Brigitte.

The black music note accents were done with Sinful Colors’ Black on Black and my trusty dotting tools – I used a larger dot for the two notes themselves, and then a very thin dotting tool to draw the staffs and the connecting bar. And I was SO MAD when the note smudged a little when I put on the Seche Vite top coat – seriously, isn’t that the exact opposite of what Seche Vite is going for?

Smudged and chipped, but the effort is there.
Smudged and chipped, but the effort is there.

Either way, if you’re in the Norther Virginia/DC area, I’d recommend stopping by Potomac Falls High School and seeing The Boyfriend in his ridiculous suit, as well as one of the happiest and most uplifting musicals of all time (and this is coming from someone who loves things like Les Mis and who can’t stop listening to Fun Home, so enjoying a happy musical is rare).

Goodnight, my someones,

Mary

My Friends Do Cool Stuff: Volume IV

There’s something different in the air tonight: I’m featuring two friends instead of one!

Everyone, meet Kelsey and Liz. They’re some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and The Roommate and I are currently in talks to move in with them at the end of the summer (because I don’t know about you, but DC area rent is far less stressful when it’s split four ways instead of two).

Kelsey and Liz do something that I had honestly never heard of when I met them. I’d heard of karaoke, of course, and I’ve participated in it a few times at bars that fall everywhere on a scale of “dive” to “whoa, are we even allowed in here?”, but man, they take karaoke to the next level.

I present to you: District Karaoke.

That’s right, there are teams that compete all around the DC area in various match-ups, with both solo and group numbers. Points are awarded for creativity, and these girls get these points in spades. Here’s Kelsey and a few of her group members performing the final number from School of Rock on the 2000s themed night.

district karaoke 1
The Boyfriend is in this picture too, but it wouldn’t be fair to do a post about him. Just accept that he’s pretty cool.

As you can see, costumes and props are encouraged. One time, Kelsey sang “Say Something I’m Giving Up on You” (I don’t know the actual name of the song, but I think it’s by Christina Aguilera?) as Tom Hanks’s character in Cast Away at the moment he lost Wilson to the sea (I’ll give you a moment to sob). And here’ Liz in a solo competition, singing Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” to a box of Ikea furniture.

district karaoke 2

So basically, Kelsey and Liz have discovered the absolute COOLEST way to get out and have some fun at a bar on a Tuesday night. Seriously, I’m not even a huge fan of the bar scene and I can’t wait to hear what they’re coming up with next. I’m hoping it has to do with Harry Potter, because that’s actually something that I talk about with them on a semi-regular basis.

Talk to you soon,

Mary

My Friends Do Cool Stuff: Volume III

Before we begin, a Public Service Announcement: today at Starbucks, a barista was wearing a Captain America Tiara. I am happier than I’ve got any right to be about the fact that these things exist.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

On today’s episode of “Oh my god, these people are so talented, why the hell do they hang out with me??” I present my friend Melissa, who is the most talented artist I’ve ever met in real life.

She’s posing with a llama, because I saw no reason not to include a picture of her posing with a llama.

Online, you may have heard of her, especially if you’re involved in some video game fandoms. Her handle is LuckyBlackCatXIII, or Lucky for short. She’s actually done Let’s Plays on YouTube and has quite the following on various art sites. Within the next couple of weeks, she’ll be displaying her art at a few Conventions (as we speak, she’s flying on a plane somewhere over the Midwest on her way to a few weeks/Cons in California), and I’d freaking love it if you’d support her.

Want some examples of her art?

I’d really love to see more of the home world trio later on, too bad Lapis is fused with the cheese puff though. Damn it. 

Marisa Kirisame mini print! Out of the two main playable characters she’s always been my favorite. I really loved her theme and outfit in Fairy Wars but I think short sleeves fit her personality more than long sleeves.

And that’s the tip of the iceberg. I’ve picked three of her most recent pieces from her website, but she does things in about a million styles and in every type of media, so there are sure to be cool things at her booth in Artists’ Alley at Fanime.

You can check out her art, her wit, and her very liberal use of emoticons at her Tumblr, which can be found at this link. I think this is also the best way to contact her if you’d like to commission something – she’ll definitely talk to you about doing a piece for your very own!

And just to reinforce how awesome she is, here’s a picture of Melissa and her girlfriend Chelsea as Grunts from one of their favorite games, Amnesia: The Dark Descent. These costumes and the characters both terrify me, but that’s kind of the coolest thing ever.

I promise, more mani pictures will appear within the next few days – my new stamping plates finally came in, so I can’t wait to show off the cool stuff I’ve been doing with them!

All the best,

Mary

My Friends Do Cool Stuff: Volume II

One time, I tried cross stitching. It didn’t work.

Thankfully, the idea worked out for my friend Lauren, who I met when I was a second year in college (I went to a college that uses the term “second year” instead of sophomore…yes, we were pretentious). She seems to have figured out how to take all of the horrible thoughts that float through our heads and turn them into the most hilarious embroidered home decorations I’ve ever seen.

I personally have bought this adorable little snail from her. I think his sentiment sums up my life quite perfectly:

I can't even

My friend Katherine, who I’m sure will be featured in another MFDCS post because she’s a freaking entomologist (yes, you read that right. She’s a bug scientist), found the perfect workstation decoration:

Presented to you in SnapChat form.
Presented to you in SnapChat form.

If you’d like to get a slightly (or possibly more than slightly) inappropriate framed cross stitch for your very own home, check out LAUREN’S ETSY SHOP. Please be warned: there’s more than a little foul language. Unsuitable for kids under 13…maybe 15. I’m not so good at judging what’s appropriate.

Have fun,

Mary

My Friends Do Cool Stuff: Volume I

Welcome to the first edition of “My Friends Do Cool Stuff,” a series I’ll hopefully be able to keep up every Wednesday. Let’s face it, I’m surrounded by too many awesome people not to showcase them, and you could all use a break from my fingernails every once in a while.

Anyway, without further ado, I’ve been best friends with Helena since we were 13 years old.

Helena
A coffee addiction is something we share.

There’s a story behind it – Helena was the shy new kid looking for a place to sit in the crowded middle school cafeteria, deciding if she would sit with the Cool Asians, Girls Who Don’t Eat Anything, or the Plastics (Mean Girls reference? Anyone?), and somehow she wound up at the table that hosted yours truly and my crazy friends. She sat down, we got to talking, and we warned her that we were pretty much the clique that the rest of the school raised their eyebrows at whenever we started laughing at a fruit roll-up or something. She informed us that people called her weird at her old school, but she took it as a compliment. We informed her that we got a lot of compliments.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Helena, unlike me, has always had a vested interest in politics. She pays attention to world news to the point where I don’t actually have to watch the news in order to know what’s going on – she keeps me up to date. She can tell you just about everything there is to know about pop culture (which I can do only to the extent that it relates to an upcoming movie release). And, not to put too fine a point on it, her taste in music is AMAZING, and I get at least >50% of my recommendations from her. And she’s happy to do the same for you.

Behold: HELENA’S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER!

That’s right, you too can be amazed by her world news knowledge and, honestly, kickass music recommendations. I highly recommend you subscribe – seeing the newsletter in my inbox every Friday is a highlight of the day and a great way to wrap up the week.

CLICK HERE to subscribe!

Have an awesome day everyone,

Mary