Don’t Quit Your Day Job


Oh yeah? That’s what you think!

There was some vague mention of a Halloween costume contest at work last week, and I’ve been itching to do a little paper mache recently, so come Monday night, I decided to make a new mask.

But what to make?

I thought about it a while, then after brief consultations with my usual co-conspirators, inspiration finally struck:

And thus, late last night, it was finished:

Ladies and gents, I give you…

Sally Brown!

I was really pleased with face part of the mask. I was a little worried about how lumpy it started out, but then I realized that it would perfectly fit with Charles Schulz’s shaky line.

(I should say now, I am not by any stretch the world’s greatest Peanuts geek, but I pretty well idolize Schulz and remember hearing about his retirement and death the same way my parents remember when Kennedy was shot.  Peanuts was just a given in my day-to-day existence growing up, and was a major contributor to my early drive to cartooning.)

The hair piece would have benefited from an extra week of work time, so I could make it fit correctly.  The shirt is actually left over from a production of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown that I directed and acted in my senior year of high school.

Today I was one of the winners of the aforementioned costume contest (along with the Box of Tissues/Sick Person pairing), and was generally met with choruses of “You made that?  No way!” all day.

Sometimes I forget that everyone in the world doesn’t compulsively make things just because things are there to be made.

The Best Shows Always Go On

I once heard an interview with Andrew Lloyd Webber in which he talked about how the secret to the long-time success of Phantom of the Opera was how people would attend multiple performances, not to see the same thing happen perfectly every time, but to see the screw-ups.  The nights that someone completely missed a line, or one of the many effects misfired were the most memorable.  Mistakes make variety, and variety is, to borrow an old and overused cliche, the spice of life.

Yesterday the Boy treated me to a most excellent benefit concert in Dell Diamond (home of the Round Rock Express, the Triple-A feeder team for the Texas Rangers, which you may have heard of recently).  The lineup included the Gin Blossoms, Five for Fighting, Collective Soul, and Tonic, which is enough to excite any good alt-rock fan who came of age in the 90s.  The first two were excellent, got the crowd properly wound up, and generally put on a high-quality show.  Tonic closed the show with a melt-your-face-off rock show like I could not have imagined.  But before that was the Collective Soul set.

When it was time for Collective Soul, the crowd shuffled forward toward the stage in the outfield, the techies shuffled equipment, and we waited.

After about half an hour, only two musicians appeared.  Lead singer Ed Roland and lead guitarist Joel Kosche tumbled onto the stage, slightly disheveled and sporting guitars borrowed from one of the opening bands.  As best I could figure, there had been a scheduling snafu and they just barely made it, fresh off a plane.

For about two seconds there seemed to be some confusion in the crowd.  “We love you Joel!  We love you too, Ed!  …where’s the rest of the band?”

Then they started playing, and we all remembered that even at half-force, these guys are amazing musicians.

The real coup came as Ed proved that he is also a hell of an entertainer.

Early in the set,  he turned to the audience and asked, very earnestly, “Now this is serious guys.  Does anyone here play the guitar?

Random dude wearing a Ghostbusters shirt in the front row was the first to raise his hand, and was promptly dragged on stage and handed Ed’s guitar.   He introduced himself – Brandon.  Joel made sure he knew how to play December while Ed literally let his hair down.  They played the most epic acoustic rendition of the song the world has ever witnessed.  Brandon was having a complete runaway with himself.  Ed was having a complete runaway with himself.  Joel was… well Joel doesn’t get all that excited usually, but he played the hell out of every note and rolled with every wacky turn Ed threw at him from that point to the end of the set.

The audience went nuts.  We cheered wildly for Brandon when he finished playing.  We threw out requests when Ed couldn’t remember how to play one of the planned songs.  We sang along to every song – even the impromptu (acoustic) Metallica cover.

Ed messed with Joel.  Ed messed with the audience.  Ed messed up his hair.  A lot.

But when the set was finished – this set that should have been a total disaster with just two dudes and two guitars – we all knew we had witnessed something great, and we loved it.  We were entertained.

This is the duty and the art of the performer.  Engage the audience, no matter what.  It’s not about playing every note perfectly.  It’s about playing every note to the audience with complete abandon.  It’s acceptable to miss a line if you do it gracefully.  It’s more than alright to play only half a concert if the audience has a really fucking good time.

Jackets for Jakes, Day 6

I put absolutely no stock in the idea that the sole purpose of the daily lunch break is eating lunch. As it fits into my (not entirely healthy) worldview, it is an hour of found time most days, and today, I found two legs and the back ribbing:

Around what should have been dinner time, I finished the hood, and Roommie and I commenced with the torture sessions fitting process.

It looked to be a good fit, but Jake disapproved and wiggled free.

I attached the buttons at the neck, hoping that would reduce the wiggle room.

Foiled again!

We decided it was too loose around the middle, so I added an adjustable gather in the middle of the back.

Somehow he still pulled a leg free, then burrowed under Roommie’s comforter to get it off the rest of the way.

I moved the gather further up the back, which held long enough for him to run out into the living room…

…where he pulled himself free yet again.

For the time being, we all give up.

Anyway, here are the less wiggly shots of the (nearly) final product:

I’ll be needing still another Joann’s run to get another set of buttons.  There will ultimately be three at the neck.  We are now effectively taking the straight jacket approach.  I’ll also see if a run through the laundry this weekend can shrink it at all.

And… umm…  Roommie doesn’t seem to be the least bit interested in this competition business.  She spent this evening’s shopping expedition getting more supplies for the wizard costume.

But the tassel on the hood is entirely her doing.

Jackets for Jakes, Day 4

Day 4

I spent three hours untangling Monday’s mess and crocheting maybe four more rows. The hood was still dumb-looking, so I pulled it all out this time, and took the extra half hour to keep the yarn un-tangled.

Tomorrow I’ll just knock out the non-hood portions and then decide where I want to go from there.  I really need to be done by Friday, so I don’t have to take this whole mess to Austin with me.

And also so I will win.

Roommie was not feeling well and went to sleep early.

I think she’s letting me win.

Jackets for Jakes, Day 2

Day 2

The body is done! My plan from here is to go off-pattern and crochet the hood, legs and back edging, because I am too lazy to do the tedious knitting in the round on the legs.

I started the hood, but it came out really big and heavy and otherwise odd-looking, so I’ve pulled out half and left a mess to clean up tomorrow.

Roommie found the pleather in a bag of fabric that been living in her car since she moved a year ago. She also found that she is low on fusable interfacing, and too lazy to make another Joann’s run today.

Saved by laziness!

Jackets for Jakes, Day 1

Jake will be spending Christmas in Wisconsin.

Jake lacks the natural insulation to survive Christmas in Wisconsin.

Dear Roommate and I will be making Warm Things for Jake to wear while in Wisconsin.

The obvious solution, to my thinking, was a knitted or crocheted sweater.  The process was simple enough.  I got onto Ravelry and found an adorable sweater pattern from Bernat.

Bernat KW - Hoodie Dog Coat (knit)It’s a hoodie.  How cute is that?  Seriously.

Yesterday I dragged Roomie to a yarn sale at Michael’s and grabbed a bunch of (relatively) Jake-proof cotton. We settled on the denim color because the only thing cuter than a doggie hoodie is a doggie jean jacket hoodie.

Then today, while I spent the better part of half an hour torturing the nice girl at the cutting counter in Joann’s (gathering materials for my Super-Duper Top Secret Christmas Project – details coming soon), Roommie found a sewing pattern for a doggie jacket/other embarrassing doggie outfits.

McCalls Pet Clothes M6218

This leaves only one possible outcome:

Race for the Jacket!

A build competition, if you will, Mythbusters-style. The first roommate to outfit our little friend with winter-wear wins.

Under normal circumstances, this contest would be a no-brainer.  Sewing something this small should be possible in a single night. However, the powers of procrastination in this apartment are mighty. If I can just focus a little more than she does, I may squeak out a victory.

So where are we at the end of Day 1?
In fairness, I did start with a bit of a lead.  Last night, after several rounds of gauge measurement and no fewer than three total restarts, I had completed… almost two inches of the body.

As of tonight, I have about half the body done.

Roommie has taken Jakes’s measurements, established that Jake is unperturbed by having strange things around his neck, and spent about three hours rummaging through her fabric stash for a piece of pleather she swears she has.

She has found about a dozen unfinished projects, some truly astonishing scraps from Christmas outfits her mother made for the family when she was little, and the stash of old t-shirts she spent hours looking for about a month ago.  She even contemplated using one particularly awesome shirt for the jacket:

…but ultimately decided it wouldn’t fit within the pattern.

I have seen not a hint of the pleather.  I am starting to doubt it exists.