Tiny Basketball Cap!

I have a cousin who has managed to mold a lifelong hobby into a legitimate career.  He has lived and breathed basketball, as far as I can tell, for his entire life, and now he’s a sports writer who follows all his favorite NBA teams, watches every game, and interviews the players and coaches for a living.  (Obviously, lately he’s been following more legal shenanigans than actual games, but… that’s really not relevant to the post.)

It seemed only natural, when I learned he and his wife were expecting a little girl, to make something special and basketball-ish.

Possibly I was a little too literal?

In all seriousness, I actually put a good bit of thought into the design.  I could have gone for the plain old beanie design, thrown some stripes on and called it a day.

“Hey, cuz!  Check it out!  Now your kid’s head is a basketball!”

But baby beanies are just so… common.

Furthermore, I wanted to add some element of fashion, because my tiny victim’s mother is a dance teacher who somehow even manages to add some style to her slouching-around-the-house clothes.

Clearly, I needed some kitsch.  Something hip.  Something that says, “I look at fashion trends at least once a year… y’know… when I’m bored.”  Clearly, a newsboy cap was the way to go.

As an added bonus, I knew the smaller size of the hat would drastically reduce the problem I usually encounter with brimmed hats.  Specifically, the brims tend to get… floppy. It’s a simple matter of physics, really.  The kind of yarn I want to make a hat out of tends to be very flexible, and then the design of an adult-sized hat would call for a brim that is a good six to eight inches long, and more than an inch wide, at which point the flexibility of the yarn will cause the piece to droop.  Since I am generally far too lazy to do something as involved as conjuring plastic inserts, I just very rarely make brimmed hats.

This is especially sad because I love brimmed hats.

As usual, any excuse will do, and I made a tiny brimmed hat with a tiny brim for my tiny new cousin!

 

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Good thing we’re not paying them by the word…

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Improvised Charles Dickens?  What could possibly go wrong?

I am somewhat relieved to say that rehearsals have not actually devolved into Dickensian Speech for Sport …yet.

I’ve had the privilege of lighting this show, and it has been one ridiculous and amazing Victorian-era tale after another.  We’ve had a happy family of morticians, a secret society of lamplighters, and one ill-advised voyage to Australia.  There are top hats and tragic deaths, fancy accents and small children who speak above their age and station, all served up with the usual spontaneity and mischief that come with improvised narrative.

We will round the halfway point of the run this weekend, and I can’t wait to see what the second month will bring.

On Bird-Watching

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

 

I’ve been out in Central Texas for almost two years now, yet I’m still losing my shit every time I spot one of these guys – much less the three that appear to live – or at least feed – right along my daily commute route.  In my defense, several of my coworkers who have lived out here much longer than I have are just as thrilled as I am with our neighborhood roadrunners.

…in which I sing the praises of Lar

This guy.

Today, this guy is my hero.

Not only is Lar de Souza a brilliantly talented artist and cartoonist, not only is he one of the brightest, kindest personalities in my Twitter feed, not only does he have one of the most epic beards on the planet and wicked cool vintage glasses, but this guy has traveled from Canada to Kennedy this week for a NASA tweetup and a chance to see the final flight of the shuttle.

Had you asked me in middle school what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have told you I’d like to be a cartoonist, but I’d definitely be working at NASA.  You know how overachieving kids have the unreasonable dream and the more realistic yet lofty goal.

Funny how things work out.

Challenger blew up four days before I was born.  I grew up in a southern Houston suburb, surrounded by NASA employees during the brave post-Challenger years when the American space program stared death in the face and then dared to keep moving on.  A childhood of reading Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein put crazy ideas in my head, and then regular school and scout trips to the Johnson Space Center told me that no, those weren’t that crazy at all.  I wanted the moon and the stars, and I had plans to get there.  I was going to college to become an engineer, and I’d be helping to build the next shuttle (which, at the time, was already being planned – sort of) as part of NASA’s ginormous brain trust.

Then in 2003, two things happened to bring all of that to a screeching halt: Columbia and Calculus 2.  On the morning of my seventeenth birthday, breakfast was interrupted by shocking news footage of the future of American manned space flight silently burning over north Texas.  NASA all but shut down until further notice.

Columbia was the last straw.  After a series of embarrassing mishaps brought about by an agency trying to run too fast on too little funding, people had died – again.  The true end of the shuttle program was finally visible.  The plans for the International Space Station were scaled back.  The designs for the shuttle’s successor were scrapped.  Higher-ups were canned.  A lot of my neighbors lost their jobs.

I no longer saw a viable future for myself in the space program.

The same year, I barely passed Calculus 2, and chickened out on my plans to be an engineer.  That kind of math was *hard* and really, why did I need that much pain and suffering?  What was the point of engineering school now, without my bright shiny future at NASA?

Today the final shuttle mission has launched with absolutely no concrete plans for what is to follow.  NASA has general ideas about how America will be launching humans into space in the back half of the decade, but today’s launch is the last until further notice.

In short, I’m feeling pretty jaded.

(At least I’m in good company – Neil deGrasse Tyson’s and Phil Plait’s sentiments mirror my own and tend to be much more informed and eloquent, if you’d like to see more.)

I share all this not to be a “Debbie Downer” on this auspicious occasion, but to make you understand how emotionally invested I am in this final flight, and to show just how much it means to me that Lar de Souza has been showering the internet with kid-in-a-candy-shop tweets from Cape Canaveral for the last two days.

Here I’ve been getting all weepy and philosophical about this final flight, and he’s been geeking out, unperturbed by threatening weather, thrilled to the point of incoherency just to be there, to see a launch.

He’s taking me back to hopeful, starry-eyed, fifteen-year-old me, and making this experience more sweet than bitter.  And for that, I love him more than I can possibly say.